Monday, September 29, 2008

I thought this was funny on

The 10 Spot Blog
by Pete McEntegart

Repeat after me

* 12:03 PM ET 09.29

As many of you know, I root for the New York Mets. Some might have noticed that the Metropolitans suffered a minor setback yesterday to fall short of the postseason for the second year in a row.

Am I disappointed? Sure. But I’ve learned to take a detached, philosophical view of the fortunes of my favorite teams. It’s just sports, after all. Grown men playing children’s games. A pleasant diversion, granted, but not life and death.

Since I’m a giving person, I’d like to share this hard-won knowledge with whatever readers are still able to find the 10 Spot. Here are some of the things I’ve been telling myself this morning to help keep sports in perspective:

10. There are 1.3 billion Chinese who don’t give a darn which old people win

9. A strong gag reflex is actually nature’s Heimlich maneuver

8. If your team balloons its payroll, maybe it will be judged “too big to fail”

7. Enjoy the outdoors, before it’s consumed by global warming

6. How’s this for feel-good: a new novel about Wall Street!

5. Take the kids to the park now that the authorities pledge it’s predator-free

4. Learn a skill, like field-dressing a moose

3. At least those damn bank CEOs won’t get golden parachutes

2. Just be glad you have your health, since you likely have no medical insurance

1. This year’s collapse was 50 percent improved!

Read here at:

Friday, September 26, 2008

"Transition Town"

Tuesday night I was able to attend a seminar about "Transition Towns", towns all across the world committing to local resilience, zero waste, being carbon neutral, fossil fuel independence, local food producers/food security, net-zero energy consumers, etc.

The presenter was Michael Brownlee, who works with Boulder Valley Relocalization. Boulder County is one of the first counties in the US to attempt to become a transition town and reduce their dependence on oil, encourage energy conservation, etc.

The seminar took place in two parts: 1) the bad news and 2) good news if we start to adapt to conditions that will force us to adapt anyway. By adapting early, we can head off some of the worst shocks we will face.

Mr. Brownlee shared about peak oil and global warming. Peak oil, conceptually, is where world oil discovery and production will start to decline in the next few years while world oil demand will continue to rise. This will force oil prices to keep rising. Oil geologists are fairly consistent in their assessment about peak oil coming and coming soon. The new consensus seems to be towards a peak oil year closer to 2010 than 2015 or 2020 which was previously forecasted. After 2010, oil will only get more expensive.

One new problem that I hadn't expected, which we saw in an unrelated field this summer, is hoarding/export stoppages for particular products. When there was a fear this summer of shortages of rice, many countries just stopped exporting rice in order to lessen political pressures within their own countries. There is a real possibility that this will be the case with oil. There is speculation that exports of oil will completely stop 9 years after peak oil. Within the 8 years after peak oil, exports of oil will decline each year until the 9th year, when exports will completely stop.

Mr. Brownlee cited a number of different sources to defend the concept of peak oil, including the commissioning of the Hirsch Report by the Department of Energy in 2005, which immediately suppressed the report. The Oil Drum, an oil think-tank, expects oil to rise to at least $300/barrel in the next 5 years.

Since so much of our economy is based on cheap fuel, we can see facing a number of shocks to our way of life. As a side note: for a good movie documenting the effects of evaporating oil supplies, view The Power of Community to see how Cuba fared after the Soviet Union collapsed. We don't think of all the products that come from oil: plastics, fertilizers, etc.

Cuba was forced to rely on the following:
-neighborhood organic gardens
-utilizing a more vegetarian based meal system
-riding bicycles
-using public transportation
-helping each other in the midst of potential threats to community.

Transition towns hopes to emphasize the following in adapting to the shortage of oil.

-local production of food, energy, and goods
-local development of currency, government, and culture,

To read one town's transition, look at the Kinsale Energy Descent Action Plan 2021.

More soon....

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Poll Question on this Morning

Would you eat Ben & Jerry's ice cream if it were made with human milk?
Yes 10% 14980
No 90% 133262

Linked to it is the following article from Channel 5, WPTZ Waterbury, VT: People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals sent a letter to Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, cofounders of Ben & Jerry's Homemade Inc., urging them to replace cow's milk they use in their ice cream products with human breast milk, according to a statement recently released by a PETA spokeswoman.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Which is Worse?

1) Being driven home by a little-league baseball assistant coach, looking under the floormat on the passenger side and seeing pavement go by, because a two foot rectangle piece of metal had been removed from the underside of the car? (The assistant coach who had a wooden leg....insert menacing laugh).
2) Having my uncle sanitize a bedpan at a local hospital, fill it with chocolate pudding, and walk around the hallway eating from the bedpan?
3) Having Dirkson, our black lab/irish setter mix, get loose one day only to look for him a little less hard that day? He was a dog that ran over our first fence, then jumped over it when it was reinforced, then dug under it after we heightened the fence. He ate the siding off the house and the t.v. wire to the antenna on the roof. He also dragged me through a number of ditches forcing me to take a shower with my clothes on.
4) Having a cousin put all his boogers on the wall going up to the bedrooms of his townhouse, and naming them all?
5) Playing card games late at night, in rural Georgia, during a hot & muggy summer, with a great aunt with a glass-eye?
6) Having huge black crows fly towards and dive-bomb all the kids coming out of our house each morning on our way to school?
7) Playing Dukes of Hazzard, cutting local cattails, and pretending these were the dynamite arrows they shot.
8) Putting peas in the ice cream of a sister who refused to eat them for dinner, only to have dessert ruined for her.
9) Being part of a mens' choir, which was named glee club?
10) Having my voice change so late in life, that a musical piece had to be abandoned by the choir director, because my voice couldn't go that low?...even to second tenor range (I'm a baritone-bass now).

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Which is Worse?

In honor of Jara's "which is worse?" blog entries:

1) One brother taking gum out of a urinal and eating it.
2) Leaving another brother at a rest stop (failing to keep the count-off method once back in the car on vacation). *We didn't leave the off-ramp...we were seen backing up the 15 passenger van back to the gas station oasis.
3) Forgetting said brother's birthday.
4) Hearing about neighbor boys who had helped each other get their diapers off and then using the poop for finger paint all over the bedroom and themselves.
5) Having my younger brother's friend come over frequently to our house and mysteriously poop somewhere (numerous times; never in the toilet...always in a closet or under some stairs).
6) Having one sister get in the car and put the car in neutral, only to have the car roll down the driveway across the street into a ditch.
7) Having to listen to 14 hours straight of the dueling pianists, the Bowker brothers, on tape while traveling to/from Georgia.
8) Having to listen to Kenny G for same trip, different year.
9) Breaking all the piano keys off my dad's (who was a music teacher at the time) keyboard (or whatever those early mini-electric pianos were called).
10) Seeing my dad dressed as the bearded lady (with a dress on) for Fall Party. (We didn't do Halloween at my house).

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Nature v. Nurture

My parents have been mom and dad to lots of adopted and bio children (11), but also have welcomed into their home: missionaries, unwed mothers, foster children, teenagers with developmental difficulties, and neighborhood children that still call our folks: mom and dad. We have had our fair share of small victories and a lot of heartache. I have loved being a part of a big family despite these heartaches.

Being a part of a big family affords small experiments regarding nature v. nurture.

At the start of our big family, mom and dad thought that by nurturing children in the home, that almost all of the problems they had experienced previously could be overcome. All of the "nurtured" abuse a child experienced could be overcome by the overwhelming love and security that being part of a loving family afforded. But also they believed that genetics, personality, etc. would not play a heavy part in how well the child survived or thrived.

Mom and dad were heavily on the "nurture" side of the spectrum.

We were able to welcome all different ages of children and adults into the home to test this theory. One child we took home from the hospital when he was 7 weeks old; his only trauma came from the drug-use of his mom. Certainly, mom and dad's "nurturing" would create a fertile environment so that he would thrive.

And after 32+ years, they are on the opposite side of the spectrum. That almost everything can be attributed to nature and very little to nurture.

You can chalk it up to perceived failures: children making bad choices (prison records, low college graduation rates, etc.). Growing up, you can also see how different each child is: that each child expresses him/herself completely differently based on personality. Even being reared in the same environment, there is wide disparity regarding: temper, willfulness, the ability or inability once enraged to come back into rationality for some time, a child's propensity to throw things/break things. We saw all the typical heartache kinds of things: abuse, drug-abuse and addiction, trouble with the law, etc.

Mom and particularly dad have studied some of the research on nature/nurture. Evidently, there are certain parts of life that are statistically prone more towards nature or nurture. For instance, athletic ability might be 95% geared towards nature, 80% of IQ towards nature, personality 55% towards nurture, etc. These statistics are made up....I don't remember the figures my dad relayed...However, it is interesting that these topics are being studied and researched.

I personally think that mom and dad may come back towards the middle of the spectrum in a few years. That they will see the nuances of the nature/nurture debate within our own family. (But I've also been saying that for several years...oh, just wait till the boys get out of their teenage years...just wait till the boys get out of their early twenties and start getting jobs, etc.)

There is research to suggest that certain behaviors are statistically better in an adopted home, than in a difficult home environment. (Steven Levitt and college participation for adopted children). And I'm almost positive that all of the children are happy having been a part of the family and that new opportunities were created because of mom and dad's love.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Introducing 'Mary'

My first conversation with ‘Mary’ in the stairwell of my apartment building (9.4.08): I am 6’6”, white and lanky, and 34. She appears to be black, light-skinned, and around 25 years of age.

Mary’s dialogue: bold
My dialogue: italics
My simultaneous thoughts left unsaid: { }

Do you know if ‘Jim’ is in?
I don’t.

You’re really cute (repeated 3 times during conversation).
…Uh…thanks and finally…you’re pretty.
{No one has ever said that to me before; … she must be high}

Do you smoke weed?
{She is high}
‘Jim’ does.

Do you have anything to drink?
I don’t have a lot of anything …mumbling off into incoherency
{I can’t send her off with a bottle of whiskey}

Can I wait for ‘Jim’ with you in your apartment? I’m bored to hell.

{Oh my gosh, I REALLY don’t want her in my apartment but am I appearing impolite?}

I’m ‘Mary’.
Hi, I’m Brent. Nice to meet you.

Now that we know each other, can I come and wait in your apartment?

Can I recharge my phone with your charger?
What kind of phone do you have? Let me see.

Yes, come on up. I think my charger will work.

Door opens.

Please, have a seat.

All you guys in these apartments seem to have painted. Did you paint this yourself?

I am really wanting to get me a white boyfriend.
{Some people have told me I should look for a woman of color; I agree. Just not her}

Have you heard the phrase: once you go black, you never go back?

Nervous laughter

At this point, she makes some other remark which I don’t remember…maybe telling me I’m cute again. I think it’s inferring that she would like me.
Why…is it because I’m black?
{I have black, no…bi-racial, family members. Let me show you my family picture}

Why are you so nervous?
The phone charger isn’t working. Let me get you a beer before you go.
My mom is going to f’in kill me. She’s already mad… (she goes on)
{I stop listening although I do keep trying to look at her pupils to see if they are dilated or jumpy}

Can I have five bucks? I need the money for the bus.
I don’t have money.

I’m not going to rob you.

What I meant was that I don’t have cash. I use a credit card.

It was nice meeting you.

She points to the beer on the table to make sure I really offered it to her, takes it, and leaves. All of this takes less than 5 minutes.

Thursday, September 4, 2008


I was thinking about how much I've been away from family since college.
Averaging maybe 3 visits home per year the last 10 years.

I started thinking that if my dad lives the average life expectancy of US men (76), and he is 67 now, that gives me 27 more visits with him.

Makes me really appreciate all the time we spend together.

Back in Omaha

I got back to Omaha early Tuesday morning (around 12:30AM).
I didn't want to unpack everything when I got home so I used an extra toothbrush I had in my medicine counter.

I was really sick the next two days.

Makes me think I brushed my teeth with the toothbrush I used to clean the bathroom.