Monday, November 20, 2006


I just returned from a visit to Denver with my Wife. I went for a sustainable building conference called "Greenbuild". It was very enlightening but not so much the way you might think. I was able to listen to Jeffery Sachs discuss extreme poverty in the world and its ties to sustainability. He first made the case for climate change and then showed that extreme poverty results in extreme responses i.e. people clearcutting all the wood in a region just to light fires to cook, fighting wars over water, killing over farmland. I will not try to make this point abundantly clear here because I am going to recommend reading his book The End of Poverty and then maybe checking out our website this week for a more thorough post by me.

Anyway I think I have started a paradigm shift in my thinking about poverty and the Lord brought me somone to help tonight. Right after dinner there was a knock at the door and I went to see who it was. There was a man there with a pleasant but pleading look on his face. He described to me how his youngest child was without formula and the cheapest stuff was $8.99 and he jsut didn't have the money. He brought his family here from Kingston, Jamaica because he said his daughter is a brilliant writer and he needed to bring her here to get her a real education. I told him I would be right back knowing that I didn't have any money to give him. I just went inside and stood there for a minute thinking about what he needed. I asked my wife if we still had any formula from when we were given it from the hospital with our kids. We didn't. I went to get some change out of my change jar and I think that God told me to give him the whole thing. I said to myself, I think there is probably at least $100 in this thing, do I really need to give it to him? Then I started to question whether he was even authentic, was he just another homeless guy looking for a handout? That I did not know, but I am sure that I was supposed to help. My wife then said we should give him the rest of our dinner in a container for him to take to his family. I bagged up about $12 in change and brought the food back out to him. I asked, to make sure, if he was going to bring it back to his family and told him it was good stuff and to please eat it. I gave him my card and told him to call me because I thought I might be able to help him find work.

I am not telling this story for any self recognition but just because I feel like I have to put it down on paper so to speak. It is not like anyone reads this blog anyway. I am very touched right now with how much effect we can have on oneanother when we look outside ourselves for a moment. Oh well, I will tell you two things I learned from Jeffery Sachs: 1) It would only take 1% of the world's income to put us on a course of sustainability to shift the ecological stress we have created and end poverty and 2) for me Ignorance Ends Today Negligence Starts Tomorrow.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Hi there.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Star Spangled Banner

So I was taking the kids to the park today and the coolest thing happened. Do you ever just feel really great in a moment? Like everything is just cruising along as it should be. Well I was driving down to Southside Park and was listening to NPR and the kids were talking in the back seat, and on NPR came this news story which I have heard recently but was being recounted again. So this guy Tan Nguyen running for a congressional seat apparently sent out a letter telling 14,000 Hispanic immigrants that if they were illegal immigrants and voted in the next election they could be deported or even arrested. While this report is playing my daughter is belting out the Star Spangled Banner in full voice. I had to just smile at the innocence of my daughter exalting our freedom while we were listening to a man who was trying to squelch it. I love that girl.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

A Great Environmental Tale

I just started taking a UC Davis class titled, "Sustainability and the Built Environment" which is a broad overview of the sustainable or green architecture, planning, and building movement. I have long held a passion for this work and am finally being given the chance to pursue it under the guise of "my career". I love it. Anyway the professor opened the class last night by reading us the Lorax, by Dr. Suess. It was strange enough to be going back to college after so long but I really felt like we were reverting back to kindergarten. The professor stood up front and held the book open while he read to us. They even had snacks, not milk and cookies, but close.

The story is great. It walks through the product development process for a Thneed. It is something everyone needs. You should read it. It is an enlightening look at what can happen when capitalism runs rampant. So we walked through the things we could have consulted the Once-ler on in providing a much more sustainable Thneed. For one the Truffula trees should have been sustainably farmed or possibly only had the leaves harvested rather than cutting the entire tree down. Secondly the Bar-ba-loots could have been employed in the production of the Thneeds rather than run off. The factory should have been located outside of the canopy of the Truffula trees to preserve the habitat.

Anyway Dr. Suess must have been a little ahead of his time. Our children may wonder why we didn't listen to the stories we read them.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

When do you call em' on it?

We all have friends or family who we just wish would snap out of it. To coin an Australian phrase, "They've lost the plot". You know, people who, no matter the urging, discussing, prodding, encouraging, they just can't change their ways. I have a friend who is struggling with one of his closest friends on this issue. The friend of my friend is "Systematically destroying all of his relationships". I have a relative who just can't seem to get out of a rut. She talks about wanting change, seeing the world, not really caring about her boyfriend, but then doesn't do anything except repeat the same old habits.

What is it that keeps us from calling them on their #$%&!! For me it is probably that I hate conflict and to really call them on the carpet would mean an emotional "what the heck are you doing". But that is because these repeated habits and behaviours have been compiled in a "things that they keep doing" file in my brain and I don't think I can rationally bring up the issues without getting sidetracked on the sorrow I feel for their situation. Or maybe the issues have been raised before with these people and there have been moments of change or spasms of action, yet they resume old behaviors.

I guess I wish I had had someone slap me around a few different times in my life. If we really love these people aren't they worth slapping? I really love Dreyers Rocky Road ice cream.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Is anyone else saddened?

When I went to Turkey in September 2001 we were welcomed by everyone we met. We traveled a large portion of the Country from Kussadasi to Ankara to Cappadoccia to Istanbul and received much the same response from people. I read in the Wall Street Journal recently that the US is now third from the top on the most disliked country according to Turkish people. Germany and Palestine are the only ones liked less than us.

From what I read this falling from grace is the same around the world. Maybe I am naive about our standing in 2001 but we traveled the world and found ourselves respected as Americans for the most part. Of course there were plenty of outspoken Westerners who put us in our place, as if we had a direct line to the Prez and helped form the foreign policy of the US. Anyway the point is that now traveling around the world as an American you have a much larger target on your back.

Muslim Jihadists are blowing up tourist destinations in Turkey, Thailand, Gaza, Bali, India and probably a lot of places I don't know about. Not much else to say but I can't wait to go back to Nepal.

Friday, September 15, 2006


Unions are killing our countries' creativity, dynamism, and competitive ability. They were valuable when they were created because they protected people's basic human rights. Today they are rife with corruption, disention, misguided leadership, and a flawed sense of entitlement. More often than not they are publicized for blackmailing companies for raises, more benefits, and working standards. I have personally witnessed many accounts of waste in their operational structure. Early roll-up periods at the end of shifts for walking to the car, dual-gate systems for working with non-union peers, strikes, and forced use of apprentice or journeyman labor are just a few examples. Recently the garbage haulers in Sacramento County have been striking due to a decrease in health benefits. Funny thing is, everyone's healthcare costs are going up. These kind of essential services should be taken away from unions and the ologopolies broken up. It would be interesting to see a union garbage hauler's reaction when entering the emergency room mortally wounded from the joystick thingy they use to pick up trash to find the ER doctors standing outside with picket signs drinking coffee.