Tuesday, April 24, 2007


For the second time in as many days I drove home at a snails pace. It was a refreshing change from last weeks commute though, which was slowed by frozen precipitation. This time I was stuck behind a manure spreader. That’s a sign of mud-season spring if there ever was one.

Last year come April I was surprised when cows appeared in a field down the road. Where had they been all winter? At first I thought “come December cows must make like retirees and hop a train to Florida where they spend the winter doing . . . um . . . er . . . whatever one does in Florida. But wait, cows used to VT cloud cover would roast in sunny FL. They’d come back indistinguishable from McDonald’s burgers. Bovine migration is clearly not the answer.”

The mystery of my quadruped neighbors’ winter digs sat in the back of my mind until one day at work. “Where do cows go in the winter?” I asked my unsuspecting boss as we sped past farms en route to a site. The fit of laughter that followed made driving difficult. She’s the patient sort though, so once we were back on the road and she could talk without snorting coffee out her nose she calmly answered my question.

Oops. I try not to let my insanity show the first month on the job. Anything to hang onto one’s dignity. At least my question is resolved: cows spend the winter like us, they put on down vests, huddle in front of the heater, and slurp hot tea.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Gonzales v Carhart

Gonzales v Carhartt

The so called partial birth abortion ban doesn’t intend to protect women or fetuses. It isn’t only an effort to end post-viability abortion, it isn’t an effort to “draw a bright line between abortion & infanticide,” as congressmen so smugly claim, nor is it based on medical/public health concerns. It doesn’t even make much sense.

The ban seriously jeopardizes women’s health. We can no longer take for granted the right to make reproductive decisions based on medical knowledge and individual needs. Period. Don’t just notice this in passing. Read Justice Ginsburg’s dissenting opinion (starts on pg 54). Read the majority opinion. Read the law it upholds.

I am angry. Yesterday, when the news broke, I was seeing too much red to see the keyboard. For now the most constructive thing I can say is read the dissenting opinion. Justice Ginsburg gets to the heart of the matter: the federal abortion ban “and the court’s defense of it, cannot be understood as anything other than an effort to chip away at” women’s right to an abortion, “a right declared again and again by this Court—and with increasing comprehension of its centrality to women’s lives”

Sunday, April 15, 2007

April, you're such a tease

My discipline wanes with the melting snow. In March cross-country skiing is a treat. In April bundling up is too much of a hassle.

The first weekend of April was painfully beautiful. All of a sudden the sky, buildings, boxcars on the passing train, everything that looks so flat in the winter, when we are the filling in a gray sandwich of sky and clouds, dazzled. Even the muddy ground appeared vibrant. All this color upstaged the thrill of going outside without a down vest and mittens. My thawing toes, however, were notable. On days like this, a flatlander can’t help but expect a normal spring.

For me, normal lies (not so far) south of the Mason Dixon line. Down there puffy fruit trees bloom overnight. They capture one’s attention until the rest of the landscape turns green. While the flora struts its stuff, the temperature winds lazily upward. July will bring swampy humidity, but May is heaven so who cares?

Today’s slush-storm is a rude reality check. Up here, far closer to Canada than any outpost of the confederacy, spring would be a euphemism for the stretch between winter and summer. Would be if anyone ever bothered to use the word. Instead they call it like it is, mud season. Maybe it’s a survival technique ---don’t want to get one’s hopes up for nothing. Maybe it’s a warning—flatlanders beware: you’re in for a rough few months. Whatever the origin, one thing is for sure: every mud season I witness makes winter seem better and better.

Monday, April 9, 2007

Well, what are YOU doing here?

Dammed if I know what I’m doing in the blogosphere. I may be uptight but I’ll admit many things go better without a plan: road-trips, tough-chats with the boss, life, to name a few. Blogs I’ve read have a nice spontaneity about them that suggests the same is true of blogging. So, true to form, the control freak that rules my brain just bullied my gut instinct into shutting up, and I, on post number three, will explore my motivation for blogging.

So far the act of writing is reason enough. I am not by nature a concise person. Disorganized, poorly punctuated, rambling, free-associations bang around in my old dome-piece all day long. Squeezing several days worth of those into something concise enough to “read well” is rather satisfying. When I can imagine the reader (hello, are any of you out there?) laughing it is even more so. This is a surprise. I spent the better part of my education dreading papers, essay tests, really any occaison I had to put pen to paper with the knowledge someone else would read my handiwork. I like to think I’ve grown as a person, but probably its just the pseudo-anonymity of the internet.

Being a reader, though is what got me started. From the NY times, to fiction, to those freebies papers you find in the corner store, I’ll read anything, just to hear what folks have to say. If something has printed on paper and displayed in a place from which I can purchase it/borrow it though, an editor, usually someone other than the writer, has deemed it worthy of publication. I accept that. Before the internet, I did so without thinking about the writing that didn’t make the cut. Blogs, the written word without that middleman, have made me a more active reader, one who views reading as a form of communication in symbiosis with writing, which has attracted me, a reader, to writing.

What about you? Why do you blog? Read blogs? Bring on the comments, I’d love to hear.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

a little self righteous indignation, if you please

According to this week’s Advocate cover story, Hillary Clinton & Barack Obama are both completely comfortable with gays (I’d give a direct quotation, but I couldn’t bring my cheap-ass self to purchase the magazine). . Okay. Note to self: when you, Barack & Hillary are at a cocktail party, it is okay to chat. Your flaming dyke-ness won’t make them uncomfortable.

What exactly does it mean to be “comfortable with gay people” anyway? On a social/familial level it means A LOT to me. I would be devastated if the people I love and respect most saw the fact I’m queer as reason to stop loving and respecting me back. On a political & governmental level comfort is not enough.

Theoretically I care whether politicians are comfortable with gay people, because theoretically such comfort could lead to equal rights. Lets not hold our breaths though. Plenty of straight people, politicians and voters alike, are comfortable with us, but last I checked there is still a federal defense of marriage act (DOMA) on the books, trans people can be fired for being trans, and “don’t ask don’t tell” hasn’t gone away. Loads of straight people may be comfortable with us in that nebulous “It okay I’ll still be your friend way” but a large number of them are also comfortable with us as second class citizens.

What troubles me even more, is that the aforementioned laws/policies only keep LGBTQ people from embracing mainstream institutions. How is that so radical? When these things are so hard to achieve, its difficult to envision a nation where equal opportunity to enjoy the benefits of citizenship extends to the queerer of us. When folks are threatened by a man in a dress, and DOMAs are passing right and left, it is going to be an uphill battle. I suppose Hillary and Barack’s comfort is better than nothing, but its 2007, by now we deserve better.

Monday, April 2, 2007

March Sanity (In April)

As of today we know one branch of government acknowledges that the E in EPA might stand for something other than (friendly) Environment (for oil tycoons).

An agency whose mission is to “protect human health and the environment” can regulate greenhouse gases (www.epa.gov)? Craziness! One wouldn’t think a whole bunch of litigation would be necessary to arrive at that conclusion. The naïve among us might suppose the EPA would come to that conclusion on its own, based on scientific consensus regarding greenhouse gases and global warming. The naïve among us ignore the power of profits and the inertia of a fossil fuel based economy, I suppose.

Its cool to hear the Supreme Court sees the Clean Air Act as both enforceable and relevant to climate change. Unfortunately, there is a vast gap between today’s ruling and environmental policy that combats global warming. The ruling doesn’t explicitly say the EPA has to regulate greenhouse gases. You can bet there’ll be lots more litigation and lobbying before that happens.

In the meantime we Americans need to get moving. There are so many ways to conserve energy. By choosing to do so en masse we can create economic pressure to develop green products and political pressure that drives green policy. CEOs care about profit, and politicians care about re-election. That is not going to change. If environmentalism is seen as profitable, whether in terms of dollars or votes, these folks will become environmentalists. I am not delusional, just hopeful. There are significant barriers to a mass conservation movement, and change will likely be incremental. I allow myself to hope, though, that Americans will eventually muster the will and creativity to reduce our greenhouse gas output, even if it takes a little sacrifice.

Even though Massachusetts vs. Environmental Protection Agency isn’t revolutionary, I can breathe a sigh of relief. Way to go Supremes. I’d like to drive all 1056 miles round-trip just to give each of you a big hug. Don’t worry, as a token of appreciation for your green sensibilities I’ll hold back.