Saturday, April 28, 2007

A habitat for living jewels

I like my garden. My garden is full of weeds. When they get too big, I mow them. That's all I do. It is a haven for bugs and ants and spiders. I have earth worms and other vermin. I like it that way. My garden is green and I get an occasional butterfly to visit, and the hummingbirds have enough brush to build their nests. I don't use any pesticides and I let the snails live. Fortunately my neighbor directly next door also does not use chemicals in her yard. I wished everyone were as considerate as she is. If we all used poisonous chemicals in the garden, the flying emerald birds and the fluttering amber and topaz butterflies would soon be gone. Their habitat is shrinking. Birds need to eat insects and worms. They need thickets for protection. They don't need a monoculture. They certainly don't need Roundup and they need more people respecting how nature chooses what things grow in the garden. All nature needs is water and a bit of sunshine. Let's keep it that way.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Another thought about autism and mercury

I don't know how Cho might have become autistic. Signs indicate that there might be an environmental component. Theories have been advanced by scientists that one of those components is environmental mercury. Wouldn't it be appropriate to take a closer look at those theories?

Reading about Cho's autism

Cho is thought to have had autism. I read and hear comments all over the media that people who are autistic are not thought to be violent. I do not know many autistic adult. But the one I know is at times violent. In my previous blog I am pointing out that I thought that Cho was mercury poisoned. Mercury poisoning includes a symptom called erithism. Erithism is marked by violent mood swings that are at times unprovoked. Autism also doesn't mean peaceful. It means being unable to get outside of one's self. I hope autism will be addressed more thoroughly with tragedies like the one that happened at Virginia Tech so that they will never happen again.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

I don't get it, that business about the right to bear arms without a licence

Virginia Tech experienced a terrible tragedy. And now there is a big push to find the shooter's motives. Has it occurred to anyone that there may not be a motive? The shooter was obviously deranged. The shooter was also apparently a man with a very vivid inner dialog. But motive? Motive has to do with logical thought processes. His yen for theatrics, as could be read in his two short plays, implies that he wanted an audience. He couldn't get that in life; so he sought it in death.

Here is what I don't get. There is a presumption that thinking is always logical. The shooter had a logic that was not of this world. The flaw in his thinking was that it would make a difference to him to kill. His logic failed him there. He could not be present to see all the media attention. But if we all think back, doesn't our logic fail us ever so often?

Many Americans still adhere to the very antiquated notion that a person should never be prevented from owning a gun even though we all know by now that a person's mental age often does not meet his real age. I know this. I have a non-speaking 35-year old son. He does not talk at all. If he were able to walk, he could go into a bar and buy a beer. He could vote and he could buy a gun. If he could hold a gun, he could pull the trigger. I wouldn't want him to do that. I don't believe in guns and murder and war. But I don't get it that the majority of the American public thinks that anyone who is of age is also responsible. There is a lapse in logic to find it legal for all to bear arms.

This young man was thought by many to be autistic. His family in Korea thought he might be. When he came came to America they thought he might be. Frankly, when I first heard about him, I thought that he was mercury poisoned. Look at my website (It can be found on the side of this blog). I have tried to raise awareness about mercury poisoning for a number of years now. For some reason people often look at me with a blank stare when I raise the subject, and when I talk about it too much they roll their eyes and think, not that again.

It takes a little extra effort to know what mercury poisoning looks like. I can only tell you that it makes a person into a very strange being. It is not fast, and it is not obvious, just as it is not obvious why Cho killed at the moment he did.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

The big disconnect

I just heard about how Joshua Bell, the famous violinist, pretending to be a busker was treated no better than a busker. It made me sad, and it brought me nearly to tears. It is apparently not a given that beauty is recognized easily. I am not surprised, though. I know that context makes all the difference. The more a performance costs, the more the appreciation rises. The same goes for a painting: the more the owner paid for it the better it must be. Also, the more a person gets paid the more powerful he is.

This inability to recognize is not only apparent when it comes to art. It is also apparent among doctors and dentists who fail to diagnose because they are too busy with their own interests (dollars and careers) or lawyers who are too interested in winning (dollars and careers). For some reason the moment of recognition passes and leaves cold those who used to be passionate. Where has the enthusiasm gone with which we used to point out a butterfly? But who's looking. Where's that train that once took us there? Or is it that Alice doesn't live here anymore?

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Taxing Time

The certainty of taxes is again upon us. I suppose we'll manage the taxes. It is amazing how easily we pay those taxes, and hardly an evil word comes out anymore. People are resigned to paying when the time comes. What I don't understand is the resistance some people show when it comes to paying their health tax, insurance, that is.

There are people who think health insurance is only for those who didn't pray enough to ward off illness. Some think those people allowed illness to invade them because they had sinned -- you know the sins of the fathers and mothers as in genetic illnesses. Do we know what those sins were that made their offspring less healthy? Maybe they didn't sin at all. Health is bestowed partly by the luck of the draw and partly by environment. We all share in it, and we all benefit from the health of our neighbors. So let's start thinking about health insurance as a charity for the greater good of all. It's a no-fault good deed. What's more it makes those we help more productive and happier and a lot more desirable.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

A fence in common

Tomorrow my neighbor and I are getting a new fence. I find the concept of a fence interesting in that it divides and at the same joins neighbors in the same objective -- that of defining our spaces. Robert Frost said good fences make good neighbors. So, I am not the first one to say there is beauty in the clarification of boundaries. For me, however, it is more than that. My neighbor creates pottery, and she is most likely going to use her new fence as an art space. And that is exactly what I am planning to do. I am looking forward to covering the newly built fence with old rusty garden tools and concrete and outdoor art.

The fence is going to be my new gallery space. The roses and clematis shall be in the foreground, but on the planks of new yellow wood I see the orange rust of ancient sheep shears, rakes and shovels and I see the gray concrete fish relief and the abstract wall hanging complementing one another. The fence brings neighbors together and it will be a joy to behold.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

It's not where's the beef, it's what's in the beef.

I visited John in Massachusetts in February. He had lost about 30 pounds and his cholesterol has come down from very high to a low of 150, as if I know what exactly that is supposed to mean. He looked very well, and he didn't have the pudgy face that he had acquired over the years while he lived on the east coast. I asked him how he had been able to control his cholesterol, and he said that he was no longer eating beef.

I am writing tonight in the middle of the night, the night after Stefan's birthday, because I think something was in the beef I ate for supper. I can't sleep. I am wound up; my heart is beating faster than it should beat. What do they feed those animals before they get slaughtered? Do I need to stop eating beef, too?

There is a very bright moon out tonight. It is casting sharp shadows over the grass, and there is a fragrance in the air that slows my steps as I look out towards the two white cars in front. What a beautiful night. But sleep would be even more beautiful. What are they putting into the beef?

Sunday, April 01, 2007

The pet food gluten, a by-product. Where have I heard that before?

I find the whole story about the pet food gluten that supposedly came from China fascinating. I find it even more intriguing because it is not news to me. Let me explain. Over ten years ago our family owned a Springer Spaniel and a calico cat. We fed them the best pet food money could buy. After a while both the dog and the cat started losing their hair. The spaniel started howling and the cat, too, was miserable. We took the dog to the vet and he said that it was fleas. At first we thought we could control the fleas with flea collars for the two animals. But it worked only temporarily. Also the hair kept falling out. Both cat and dog seemed to itch badly. The dog rubbed his back against a hedge we had till it was raw. The cat became frantic and uncontrollable. The next thing we tried was a preparation primarily used on large live-stock such as cows, by prescription only, that was supposed to work. Every time we applied the medicine the dog went into a fit. So, we quit using the medicine. The cat's reaction was not quite as pronounced. The medicine had not killed the fleas anyway. I was getting desperate. The problem with hair loss kept getting worse. At a certain point I thought back to the time when I had a Cocker Spaniel in Germany. That dog had also had fleas. But he had never lost any of his hair. There was clearly a peaceful coexistence between fleas and hair. I started getting suspicious about the flea/hair loss theory. I thought it had to be something else. I went to the pet store that used to be on California Avenue in Palo Alto and asked the owner what might be causing the hair loss. The old man with many years of experience told me to look into the food our animals were eating. He said that certain pet foods contained plastic. He specifically named certain brands (Iams, Science Diet). He also thought it was DuPont that made the plastic. He said to look at the label. If it said hydrolysed vegetable protein, it was probably mixed with plastic. He also said that animals cannot metabolize this plastic. That means it winds up in the small capillaries near the skin causing the itch.

I was surprised to hear that. But my gut feeling was that he was right. I started feeding only people food to our animals. Unfortunately, the dog was really sick by then. His system was wrecked. He became very weak in his hind legs and died soon afterwards. The cat's hair came back, and we felt that, no doubt, there was a problem with hydrolyzed vegetable protein. Did this story appear in my dreams. You bet you, it didn't. There are witnesses. Hydrolyzed vegetable protein sounds an awful lot like wheat gluten or something similar. Of course the company making it might also have been ADM or Cargill or are there others? Why don't we hear who really made the wheat gluten? I guess it is so easy to say it was made in China. Isn't everything made in China nowadays?