Obama’s first 100 days


I had this ambitious blog post in mind where I would tackle a whole list of specific topics within specific categories and analyze/grade them all. Well, THAT’S not gonna happen. I did, though want to note that the more political reading I do, the less cognitive clarity I get. Particularly with criticism of Barack Obama, I hear apparent faux pas by the Obamas towards the Queen of England lumped together with legitimate concerns over whether the economic stimulus will work fast enough to avoid staflation down the road. It all becomes noise.

Listening to the Sunday morning talk shows, it seems that the greatest concern about President Obama is “where he draw the line in the sand?” Whether it be economic issues – will he pour MORE money in the banks if they fail the ‘stress test’? or foreign policy – he can talk to our adversaries, but what if that doesn’t work? I’ve come to believe that it is Obama’s seeming malleability, after years of George W. Bush’s apparent certainty, hat seems to make the pundits nervous.

I specifically recall the Sunday morning of April 12. What’s he going to do about the Somali pirates holding Captain Philips? Doesn’t he appear weak when the White House says he’s “monitoring the situation”? By the end of the day (in the US), the story had totally changed.

I fully support talking with our enemies. That’s what Obama said he’d do in his campaign, despite some criticism, and I believe it’s the right course. He’s already made substantive and long overdue changes with regard to Cuba. So, Hugh Chavez showboats by giving Obama a book (which subsequently jumps up the Amazon book sales list); doesn’t matter in the long run. Talking with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad would be better than not talking. It seems that the concern is that our adversaries are all willier than the US is and that the talks are stalling tactics that ultimately won’t work. Maybe so, but that doesn’t mean we don’t try.

When he was in Europe, Obama made comments about some mutually negative attitudes which I thought were accurate. It was embarrassing, e.g., back in 2003 when the House of Representatives renamed French fries and French toast.

I’d like to see more investigations, by Congress if not the Justice Department, in a couple areas. One is the collapse of the economic markets. The auto industry was merely incompetent, but as I heard on Bill Moyers’ show, William K. Black suspects that it was more than greed and incompetence that brought down the U.S. financial sector and plunged the economy in recession — it was fraud. And he would know. When it comes to financial shenanigans, William K. Black, the former senior regulator who cracked down on banks during the savings and loan crisis of the 1980s, has seen pretty much everything.

Black made a great comparison with plane crashes. When there’s an accident or even a “near miss”, there’s an investigation. If after a crash, the authorities said, “Let’s move on,” what kind of confidence would be derived from that?

The other area I’d like more information involves torture. Congressional hearings may begin to address this. It appears clear to me that Obama wanted to denounce torture, put out some documents, then move on. But “move on” just won’t cut it. As Salon put it, “President Obama released memos that describe, in horrific detail, the torture techniques authorized by the Bush administration. The memos make clear that top Bush officials didn’t just condone torture—they encouraged it.”

Finally, there’s the economy. Robert Reich gives his grades, which I think are about right. I believe that some sort of massive health care initiative needs to come out of the budget, that putting money in prevention and well care will save money down the road. But I’m STILL unconvinced that the bailout, operated by insiders such as Tim Geithner and Larry Summers, will do anything. The TARP money, going back to 2008, has been spent with ever-changing goals, without any noticeable oversight. To quote Marvin Gaye, “Makes me wanna holler, throw up both my hands.” That’s because, at this juncture, I don’t know WHAT should happen. Those first quarter bank “profits” are largely a result of changes in the reporting mechanism.

Most people are reasonably happy with Barack Obama as President. I am, too. He’s smart, he’s articulate, and he’s more energetic than he has a right to be, given the scope of the issues facing him. It feels like much more than 100 days, since he started dealing with them before the inauguration. I watched the press conference last night, and he proved to be – and this is by no means belittling – competent., which is a refreshing change.

Unlike certain unnamed people, I want him to succeed. His attempts to create more transparency, while incomplete, is better than I expected. Good luck, Mr. President , on the next 1360 days or so.
***
Oh, Arlen Specter (D-PA). Just wanted to write that. The Republican chair, Michael Steele, said Specter’s switch is an “outrage” because he switched for “political expediency”. It’s true that he almost certainly would have lost his party’s nomination; it’s also true that his former party has moved so far to the inflexible that he was no longer comfortable there.

ROG

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SOLD OUT, Part 5 by John Hebert

Before I get to John’s rellections, a couple comics-related things:
1. Len Wein, creator of, among many other things, X-Men staples such as Wolverine, Storm, and Nightcrawler, had a house fire, as I’ve mentioned. Here’s info for the Let’s Restore Len Wein’s Comic Book Collection Project. Contact Evanier before sending anything.
2. Free Comic Book Day is this Saturday, May 2; hope it doesn’t interfere with the Kentucky Derby. In all likelihood, I’ll go to Earthworld in Albany, as usual, get a bunch of free stuff for the kid and for me, and end up buying something i didn’t know I wanted.

Now, back to John, after I show you his X-Men 100 swipe homage with a circus strongman, Rowdy Roddy Piper, every guy who ever worked at an amusement park in the 80’s, and me.

I was a penciling fool- working and reworking pages here and there all that summer of 1986, getting the then-girlfriend to letter and dying to get to the inks. I’d been very fearful of inking my first book because I didn’t think I could ever be much of an inker. When I’d started trying to bust into the biz in earnest a couple of years before, I’d decided that penciling was a little too complicated so I thought to break in as an inker first and learn from whomever I’d inked and go from there. This brainstorm lasted just about a month- or the time it took for me to @*%*&^ up my copy of the Marvel Tryout Book and then be told by Zeck that my inks sucked, but that my pencil work had potential, so I’d gone with it.

Anyway, I’d shortly have to put my brush handle where my mouth had been. Once I’d penciled the entire comic, we’d all set a date where Tom, Roger, she-who-was-not-to-be-ignored, as well as FantaCo stalwarts Matt Mattick, Hank Jansen, and Joelle Michalkiewicz and myself would sit down, spread all of the pages out on the floor of the back office and take the “SOLD OUT!” experience in before committing it to ink, deciding what worked and what didn’t, what needed to be punched up and where we needed to tone bits down. It was a bit frustrating, to say the least. While almost everyone agreed that it was a very tight piece of effort, there was always a bit of niggling back and forth where everybody but one person would just love something, but that one detail bothered that one person which seemed to corrupt the entire apple cart and then we’d rework the damned thing until somebody else wasn’t happy and then…..Suddenly, at some point, after a very long day in the back office and losing the daylight, we staggered out into the early autumn evening clutching the bulging manila folder of pages ready to be committed to ink. My moment of truth had arrived.

One of Tom’s primary requirements for the artist was that he or she could draw a reasonably realistic turtle and hamster.

I’d put everything into the pencils, to the point where I needed to go to ink just to stir up the old creative juices with a change of technique. Even though I’ve never thought of myself as a particularly good inker and with the additional weight of the fear of screwing it all up with bad inks, I think I did a pretty darn serviceable job- especially on the first half of the book when my energy level was high and I was interested, and in fact, thrilled to be doing something other than penciling. I did a really broad John Beatty type brush style throughout most of the book with a swatch of Jerry Ordway and a ton of zip-a-tone tossed in for good measure and just enjoyed the Hell out of most of the experience, but before long, I was tiring of inking as well, especially after we’d begun making last, last-minute changes as I was going along, sometimes scrapping panels after they’d been committed to ink and making me feel like a rat in a maze.

Our deadline was fast approaching too, as was Halloween when we’d hoped to have the book on the shelves, the girlfriend and I went into overdrive, always expecting the project done “the next week”, then still spinning our creative tires in the not-so-creative sand and shooting for the following week. It finally came down to the very cold day before Halloween of 1986, when I, having been up for something like 26 hours, leaned over the drawing board in my humble, yet tastefully appointed studio, forcing myself to ink those last few pesky panels that I’d put off inking for various pointless reasons for so long. The edict had come down from Tom Skulan – the book had to be done THAT DAY!!!! We’d already missed one scheduled press day and it was not to happen again.

The girlfriend had shown up at around 8 a.m. and we’d torn into the unfinished pages immediately, determined to deliver the entire finished book to FantaCo by noon for one more final “look-over” be various staff-eyes, and then we were to drive the entire project out to the printing plant in Gloversville, NY, some 90 minutes away. I was so tried and ragged by that point that I didn’t think I’d make it and longed for the peaceful reassurance of the void I was sure to encounter as I’d fall asleep at the wheel and swing the Camaro in front of a speeding semi on the Thruway…..”Don’t bother calling an ambulance Ferdie- he was a funny book artist, now he’s road pizza!”

So, we made it into the store at around one in the afternoon and dropped the packet of pages on Skulan’s desk, ready for criticism and a very, very long nap. Tom and Raj were the primary editors now, going over every panel and page, never missing a misspelling or uninked eye on some tiny figure in the background that no one would ever notice, but we fixed everything right there in the back room where it had all begun just a few, short, holy mackerel- it was, like FIVE months earlier, what was I thinking?!?!? Anyway, thankfully, most of the required changes were of the lettering variety and she-who-must-not-have-been ignored took care of them with white out and a couple of markers while I slipped closer and closer towards comatose while sitting on that very cold, uninsulated office floor. That cold and the aching in my joints were the only things keeping me awake, but somehow, it was finally done and the time had come to drive the darned book to the printer. The pages were lashed together in a large shiny orange folder and away we went, towards the beginning of the rest of my life, the world’s smallest Pontiac dealership, and the embarrassment of being photographed in a skirt on a busy Albany street.

To be CONCLUDED!

John Hebert
***
Miss Marvel, Mister Roger, Miss Lydia, May 3, 2008, Earthworld


ROG

O is for Opportunities

OK, I am a sucker for good causes:
BlogCatalog and Heifer International are partnering to call for the end of world hunger and start of hope on April 29. All we ask is that you join thousands of other bloggers and write a post about world hunger on April 29.
You Can Make a Difference.

I am posting this a day early in case others want to join in.

* Right now, more than 500 million people are living in “absolute poverty” and more than 15 million children die of hunger every year.
* World Health Organization estimates that one-third of the population is underfed and another third is starving.
* Even in the United States, 46 percent of African-American children and 49 percent of Latino children are considered chronically hungry.

Organizations like Heifer International are the solution. Every day in April, Heifer International is lifting people out of poverty by providing communities with livestock and agricultural training to improve lives and inspire hope.
What can you do for Bloggers Unite For Hunger And Hope?

* Join this event by visiting Bloggers Unite and adding a badge to your blog before April 29.
* Visit Heifer International to learn more about Pass On The Gift.
*Make a small donation or take some other action to end world hunger.
*Blog about world hunger on April 29 with links to solutions all over the world.

I was stuck for an idea about what different perspective I could bring to the topic, until yesterday, when my American Institute of Philanthropy Charity Rating Guide and Watchdog Report showed up in the mail. Among other information, the website designates the top-rated charities in a variety of categories. For hunger, they include, with links:
Action Against Hunger – USA A+
Bread for the World B+
Bread for the World Institute A
Feeding America (formerly America’s Second Harvest) A
Food Bank for New York City (formerly Food for Survival) A–
Food for the Hungry B+
Freedom from Hunger A–
Global Hunger Project A
The grades are based on “rigorous analysis. Groups included on the Top-Rated list generally spend 75% or more of their budgets on programs, spend $25 or less to raise $100 in public support, do not hold excessive assets in reserve, and receive ‘open-book’ status for disclosure of basic financial information and documents to AIP.” Knowing this information is extremely helpful, for, in the words of the newsletter, “As the unemployment rate continues to rise and home foreclosures increase, it is more important than ever that those who are able lend a hand to their neighbors who need it.”

I am interested to hear from any of you , especially outside the Unites States, to find out if watchdog groups such as AIP exist elsewhere.
***
Also, here’s something I learned about watching Bill Moyers’ Journal on PBS, American public television:

Playing For Change — Songs Around The World CD/DVD in stores now

After 4 years of filming and recording musicians around the globe, we are finally releasing our album “Playing For Change: Songs around the World,” featuring a 10 song CD and 7 track DVD. This is a collection of songs and videos featuring over 100 musicians from around the world that have never met in person, but have been brought together through the power of music.

Today is our chance to show the world that independent projects designed to connect and inspire people can be successful.

The album demonstrates that regardless of our religion, race, gender, or political views we can unite through music. The time is now to unite as a human race and this global collaboration driven by your love and encouragement is designed to lead us in that direction.

The CD/DVD is available online or at that increasingly popular purveyor of music, Starbucks.

ROG

iTunes Meme

The meme: the last vestige of the desperate blogger. Thom wrote about the number of cuts from groups and solo artists that populate his iPod. well, I don’t have one, but I do have iTunes, so I thought I’d list those folks.

Unlike Thom, most, though not all, of mine are culled from albums. But it’s not a particular reflection of my whole collection. For instance, the Beatles, who I own extensively, only have 14 cuts, all from the Help! album. Sometimes I remember to add songs and sometimes not. Apparently I have more recently, since most of the artists represented have birthdays in the past five months. So this list might look quite different in a few months. Links are to videos of songs I like and I own.
1. Johnny Cash (Feb)- 153. I do love John R.
1. James Taylor (Mar)-153.
3. Frank Sinatra (Dec)-114. A couple box sets
4. R.E.M. (Michael Stipe: Jan)-110.
5. Burning Spear-101. This was a group that got downloaded from someone else’s list.
6. Aretha Franklin (Mar)-98. Largely from a box set
7. Temptations-95 (Eddie Kendrick: Dec; David Ruffin-Jan; Dennis Edwards: Feb)
8. Heptones-87. Likewise from someone else’s roster.
8. Elton John (Mar)-87. Same birthday as Aretha, BTW.
10. Marvin Gaye (Apr)-80. He also died in April, a day shy of his 40th birthday.
10. George Harrison (Feb)-80.
12. Eric Clapton (Mar)-79.
13. Supremes (Diana Ross, Mary Wilson: both Mar)-76
14. Neville Brothers (Aaron: Jan)-73.
15. Elvis Presley (Jan)-72.
***
I mowed the lawn for the first time this season yesterday. When you have a push mower, timing is everything. The mower doesn’t work well on dewy mornings and I don’t do well in the heat of the day. So mowing at 6 or 7 pm is optimal, if it hasn’t rained.

I always listen to music when I mow. Today it was Herbie Hancock’s Maiden Voyage. The title track also appears as the last track of a disc on a six-CD set Say It Loud, which covers 100 years of black music. On the compilation, the Hancock cut sticks and never gets past 4 minutes of the 7 minute song. When I listen to the Hancock album, I expect the same result, but of course it plays fine.
***
Charles Mingus Cat Toilet Training Program. Yes, THAT Charles Mingus, no joke.

ROG

The Lydster, Part 61: What She Watches (which means I watch too)

Lydia’s pediatrician has a real antipathy about children watching television or videos. While most guidelines suggest avoiding kids watching TV before the age of two, we waited until she was three.

Most of the first programs were actually videos – programs on something called VHS – which we acquired from my now-18-year-old niece, all circa 1994. Surprisingly, given the fact that Alex was obsessed with him in the day, there was only one Barney video. (I remember specifically being chastised by my parents for NOT buying her a Barney thing in the day; it wasn’t my antipathy for Barney, it was “What do you buy someone who seems to have everything already?” It’d be like buying me Beatles stuff until they put out new product.)

I DO have antipathy for this Barney DVD I got from my in-laws, a “live-action” game show with a studio audience of kids and adults. My wife said that I might applaud if I were in the audience; maybe, but I just don’t want to SEE grown-ups getting all excited about the antics of a purple dinosaur.

Another batch of videos features “the Magic School Bus.” Voiced by Lily Tomlin as The Frizz, and occasionally Malcolm Jamal-Warner in the ending segment, they were so successful with Lydia that she now has over a dozen books and a DVD.

Not much else really stuck, other than Arthur, the aardvark, though she was briefly enamored with this funky 15-minute (in English, followed by the same in Spanish) home safety tape with the catchy tune, “Code Red Rover, grown-up come over.”

Ultimately she found there were shows on TV for her. Her first great love was Little Bear, based on the Maurice Sendak-drawn books from a half-century ago. She was onto Little Bear, and Emily, her doll Lucy, Cat, Duck, Hen, Owl, Mother Bear and Father Bear every day for about eight months until we were seeing the same episodes for the third time. Still we read the books, which are direct sources for some of the episodes.

Lydia’s current favorite TV show is Franklin, which again has but one character with a name other than Bear, Fox, Skunk, Mr. and Mrs. Turtle and so on. She likes calling Franklin Frank; she thinks this is wildly hysterical. The theme song is by Bruce Cockburn of “If I Had a Rocket Launcher” (“some [s.o.b.] would die”) fame.; actually have a half dozen Cockburn LPs.

But she has branched out:
Angelina Ballerina: on once a week, has fueled her need to dance. Not to take lessons, mind you, just to twirl in front of the set.
Ni-Hao, Kai-lan, Blue’s Clues: doesn’t actually watch unless it’s on in real time.
Jack’s Big Music Show: a program I’d almost watch without her.
Dora the Explorer: she watches relatively little of this, but she has Dora pajamas, Dora Band-Aids, several Dora books and she got a Dora DVD for her birthday. Why does she, and her cousin Diego, seem to YELL all the time. “WHAT WAS YOUR FAVORITE PART OF THE STORY?” And they are so damn earnest, too.

Her upcoming favorite is the Wonder Pets. a hamster, a turtle and duck get in their flyboat and save other animals. There’s always a costume change relevant to the location and some difficulty before they get going that turns out to be useful later on.

It was my wife, though, who noted the operatic stylings of the introductory piece:


Imagine if you can that, instead of Linny, it is a basso profundo singing: “The phone, the phone is ringing.” That octave descent alone would be stunning. Then a tenor, not Tuck, singing the second, a non-lisping contralto, rather than Ming-Ming, on the third. There’s a certain drama in the presentation.

The rest of the music is tied to the situation or the geography. Recently, WP saved the Rat Pack (three rats, one named Blue Eyes), a fiddler crab on the roof and a bluesy Louisiana bullfrog. This is award-winning stuff against stiff competition.

I figure that I’d better record this stuff now before she heads for school, for while I think I’ll “always remember”, chances are that I won’t. ROG

Being Alone QUESTION

My wife has this book called “The Daily Spark: 180 easy-to-use lessons and class activities!” They are journal writing warm-up activities. I was leafing through it when I came to an entry called “All Alone”:

“Mark Twain once said, ‘The worst loneliness is not to be comfortable with oneself.’
“What do you think he meant by this? Does this idea apply to your own life?
Conclude your entry by explaining how you feel about being alone. Do you dread it, or do you enjoy having time to yourself?”

I think people have always thought of me as a social being. Yet, even as a child, I always enjoyed the comfort of my own room. It wasn’t the room itself, which was tiny. It was what the room represented, which was (relative) solitude. I’d read there, or create imaginary baseball games or look at my postage stamp and coin collections – where IS my postage stamp collection anyway?

I suspect that some of the difficulty I’ve had in relationships in the past is that my desire for alone time was perceived as some sort of rejection of the other.

These days, I try very hard to take off one day per month, usually a Monday. I can play racquetball a little longer than usual. Then I’ll come home, eat, read, watch TV, blog, whatever I want, in my own house. It’s the only time I can be in my own home by myself, especially since the child arrived. I used to go to the movies to see a film my wife didn’t want to see, but lately the desire for that has been outweighed by other needs. if it’s nice, though, I might trek to a park and read there for a while, if it’s quiet.

So do you have an inner Greta Garbo or an outer Ashton Kutcher?

ROG

MOVIE REVIEW: I Love You, Man

Here’s something that’s true; I can be a bit of a movie snob. I tend to go to movies that I expect to be good. Oscar-nominated films, films acclaimed at a film festival, and so on. Every once in a while – a GREAT while, given the more limited opportunities – I’ll go to see more popular fare.

Carol’s and my first night in Saratoga last week, we went to the Wilton Mall. I’d never been to the Wilton Mall before; it was mallish. Mallesque? One of the presents we got from one of my brothers-in-law for Christmas was a packet of tickets to any Regal Theater. This turned out to be our first opportunity to use them.

We had gotten there about 20 minutes before the film was scheduled to start, and bought popcorn. This was far inferior to the great popcorn I’m used to from the Spectrum Theatre in Albany. We were “entertained” by a package of “behind the scenes” pieces – one was for “Angels and Demons” the sequel to The da Vinci Code and again starring Tom Hanks. The segment was peppered with commercials: food commercials, car commercials, commercials for the U.S. Army.

Then it was the appointed moment. Time for…previews, the standard fare.

O.K., FINALLY, the actual movie. We’d heard some decent comments about the new evidently raunchy comedy I Love You, Man. It stars Paul Rudd, who we liked from The 40-Year-Old Virgin and Knocked Up, as a man named Peter, a real estate guy who early on becomes engaged to his girlfriend Zooey (Rashida Jones from Parks and Recreation, and The Office). The problem is that he doesn’t have any male friends, a real issue for Zooey’s friends.

Paul gets advice from his gay brother (Andy Samburg from Saturday Night Live) on how to meet straight men. But it is on his own that he meets Sydney (Jason Segel), a usually honest fellow – sometimes too much so, and they hit it off over a shared passion.

A movie like I Love You, Man can either work or not, depending on the writing and acting. I’m disinclined to over analyze it, except that it was less coarse than the last two Rudd movies I saw.

The verdict: while it has its flaws, including supporting characters that arrive but seem to get lost along the way and a joke or two that go on too long, I laughed, quite a bit actually. Ultimately, that’s all I really want in a comedy. My favorite joke, not a big ha-ha, but a knowing one took about an hour to set up. It’s a rather simple premise, but it worked for my wife and me, mostly because of the performances of Rudd and Segel.
***
Not used in the movie, thank goodness, was the term bromance, though the commentator here used it to describe this movie. I happen to dislike the term intensely, though I can’t explain exactly why. Maybe because it seems want to have it both ways: a teasing, somewhat homophobic way to show show how non-homophobic straight guys can be.
ROG

World Book and Copyright Day


From the news release:
On 23 April 2009, we will celebrate the 14th World Book and Copyright Day, proclaimed by the UNESCO General Conference in 1995 to promote greater awareness of the importance of books in the world.

In order to support the Organization in today’s society, this year international professional associations are once again kindly invited to play an essential role in informing and mobilizing both their members and their external networks of experts and stakeholders.

For this edition of the Day, UNESCO suggests to explore the topic of the paramount function of books for the development of quality education, as well as the link between publishing and fundamental rights.

One of the cool things my wife did this past year was to apply for and receive a $600 minigrant to buy books for her English as a Second Language unit that had been limited by ancient, archaic texts. Even more impressive, she got a publisher to donate – that is, give for free – an almost equal number of books.

Something I know from personal experience is that teachers often spend money out of pocket for books and supplies that they bring to the classroom. In honor of today, perhaps you might contract your local school or PTA to see what books they might need. Or contact your local library; ironically, in a period of increased demand for library services, library budgets are being slashed.

So buy a book, for yourself and/or for someone else.
***
An action film, Salt, starring Angelina Jolie, will be filmed in part on the streets of Albany. Some folks are up in arms, even though the schedule suggests that it won’t disrupt the morning or evening commutes. I think the real issue is that there was NO information at all going out to the general public until a couple days ago about something that begins today, and there is a lot of misinformation floating out there.


ROG

N is for Nature


I’m old enough to have participated in the very first Earth Day, April 22, 1970. For that occasion, I joined some of my fellow students in picking up the trash around my high school. For whatever reason – perhaps because my father was a smoker – I decided to concentrate on one of the smaller, but more annoying pieces of litter, the cigarette butt. I recall picking up 1300 of them before I lost count. And I thought I was really doing something.

Today, I recognize that saving the nature of our earth involves a lot more than picking up litter. Not that I’ve stopped; my daughter plays at the local elementary school playground, and I’ve picked up the trash three days in a row, knowing that the garbage I picked up on the third day was not there on the first.

I’m pretty much an obsessive on recycling. I’ve discovered that, e.g., another unit on my floor will have ordered a large deli plate. In these parts, the base is flat and black, while the top is clear and a hemisphere. Both parts are recyclable, with a 1 or 2 in a triangle. Yet someone has often thrown them in the trash. Well, not IN the trash; they are so large that they’ve been placed NEAR the trash. I pick them up, wash them off and take them home.

I often read newspapers on long trips or even taking the bus to work; instead of trashing that read paper, I’ll bring it back home.

Recently, we’ve acquired some large canvas shopping bags from our local public radio/television station, WMHT; unfortunately, we’ve lost one. However, I was carrying the other one around when shopping at the local CVS pharmacy. The clerk commended me, “I wish more people would do that.” On the same shopping trip, I stopped at the nearby Price Chopper supermarket, and the clerk there gave me three cents off my purchase; all the stuff fit in the same bag, BTW.

At my office in the past three years, we’ve sent out our research on links to PDFs rather than printing and mailing them. Not only have we saved whole forests of trees, we’ve saved a bunch of money on paper and postage. Generally speaking, we have – as most UAlbany e-mails suggest – think before we print.

The state of New York has recently passed a better bottle bill. Starting in about six weeks, it won’t be just cans and bottles of beer and soda that will have a redeemable five cent deposit, it’ll also be on water bottles. Knowing full well that this will be a pain for retailers and distributors, because neighboring states haven’t enacted a similar law, I think it’s on the whole a good thing. However, I expect an uptick in the number of bottle entrepreneurs rummaging through my recyclables bin on trash night looking for the returnables that I never put there but that other neighbors inexplicably do.

But all of this seems like small potatoes. We’ve recently got a better front door and better windows, but should we get a solar paneled roof? Can we AFFORD a solar paneled roof in the short term, even if it pays off the long run?

I get peevish about some neighborhoods’ behavior in limiting environmental consciousness. Some in the United States actually ban people from hanging clothes outside on a clothesline, saying that it will reduce property values, as though the current recession hasn’t already done that. Similar bans exist on the aforementioned solar panels for the same reason.

Here are some links that deal with some of the more substantial issues of Earth Day:
What to Do to Celebrate Earth Day?
How To Teach Your Preschooler to “Go Green”
My college’s current sustainability bulletin -PDF
My college is also participate in the ongoing IBM Smarter Planet University Jam, April 21-23: “Faculty and students from more than 170 academic institutions around the globe will be participating in the Jam. Beginning 12:00 AM EDT on April 21st and continuing for a 72-hour period, they will be coming together for an on-line conversation on
important topics such as the vulnerability of global supply chains for food and medicine, the environmental and geopolitical issues surrounding energy, how to adapt our education system to help students acquire the skills to compete in an interconnected, intelligent and instrumented world, and more.”
Green Tax Incentives in the US

Always have to have some music:

And for a little whimsy, Welcome Back: The longer the winter, the sweeter the spring, and this winter seemed very long indeed. And if spring brings such pleasure to us now, I can only imagine the joy and relief it must have brought to man in ancient times, when winters were not so much endured but survived. (If you’re in the Southern Hemisphere, watch it in six months.)
ROG