Sunday, November 22, 2009

The Box

I’ve been seeing trailers for the movie The Box. The plot is that a couple is offered $1 million if they push the button on a box. The catch is someone on the planet will die.

So, the question is, would you be willing to let someone die if it means you’d pocket one million dollars?

In a way, it's a laughable proposition. One million dollars isn't even that much anymore. It's a lot. It's enough to pay off my house and our Home Equity Loan and still replace the exterior siding. We would still have enough left over to throw some fresh sod on the front lawn. But it's not the unimaginable sum it once was (as Dr. Evil discovered in the first Austin Powers movie.)






I wouldn't do it for 1 million or 20 million. Not because I'm such a decent human being. More because I don't want to be a really indecent human being.

Although, there are a few people that I would like to see off the planet anyway. So, if I could Nero a thumbs down to those specific people while pocketing $1 million for my suggestion, why not?








But really, other than a common criminal, what kind of a person would take a life for financial gain?



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Hey, remember Donald Rumsfeld? It seems this was widespread knowledge but I have only recently learned that he was a former chairman of the company that makes Tamiflu. He left that position to become Secretary of Defense but retained several million dollars worth of stock in the company.


The US Government stocked up on Tamiflu to combat the H1N1 virus but back in 2005 it was stocking up on Tamiflu to combat the Avian flu virus. Crazy coincidence, what with Rummy being part of that administration and all. And remember back in late 2001 when we were ripe to be worked up into a frenzy of fear? We were fearful of envelopes in the mail and salad bars and we hoarded rolls of plastic and duct tape . . . just in case. The threat of biological weapons was just entering the collective consciousness of The Homeland and who knew what man-made plague could be inflicted by the Evil-Doers?



So you have to ask yourself, if there are those willing to concoct nasty viruses for political/religious statements, why not for profit?



I am in no way saying that Rummy had anything to do with the release of a lab-created virus into the general population. I’m just saying that there was a profit to be made and where there’s a profit to be made, anything is possible.



Just saying.


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And while we’re on the topic of Crazy Coincidences, how did you participate in this year’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month? Is there really a single person out there who would not be aware of breast cancer were it not for its special corporate sponsored month? Were you also aware that the company that is the principle sponsor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month is also responsible for tamoxifen, one of the most commonly used drugs in the treatment of breast cancers? Maybe you don’t see a conflict there. Maybe there’s a conflict in this (from The Sierra Club website)- The primary sponsor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, AstraZeneca (formerly known as Zeneca), is a British-based multinational giant that manufactures the cancer drug tamoxifen as well as fungicides and herbicides, including the carcinogen acetochlor. Its Perry, Ohio, chemical plant is the third-largest source of potential cancer-causing pollution in the United States, releasing 53,000 pounds of recognized carcinogens into the air in 1996.

Maybe there’s a conflict in that information disseminated during Breast Cancer Awareness month never points a finger at environmental carcinogens. It’s all about lifestyle and early testing. It’s all laid at the feet of the patients, never at industrial polluters.

In addition, apparently the Susan G. Komen Foundation (sponsor of The Race for the Cure) also owns stock in AstraZeneca as well as in General Electric, another big time polluter and "one of the largest makers of mammogram machines in the world." For more interesting details on The Komen Foundation, including the foundation’s support of tamoxifen in spite of evidence that its use is implicated in uterine cancers, see here.


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Suddenly, pushing one button and causing the death of a single person in exchange for financial gain seems like such a minor thing compared to the causing the deaths of thousands or millions for the sake of financial gain.



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And to think, some people's biggest fear about healthcare is the possibility of socialized medicine.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

CoolWall

I recently received an email from Costco hawking a product called “COOLWALL.” It’s an exterior paint that the manufacturer promises will keep your home cooler and never requires reapplication.

As removing the aluminum siding will be our big project for next year, this could be an interesting product. According to the web site, their dealers must do the application. OK, sounds expensive, but I like the idea that it will never have to be done again. If we go with this product, I just hope we’re happy with the color we choose.

I’m thinking of either Budding Bough or Essex Green -



Here’s their main selling point: “COOLWALL® is a patented, non-toxic, heat-reflective exterior coating that reflects the sun’s heat back into the atmosphere. This unique product reduces the outside wall temperature of your home up to 40ºF, helping your home stay cooler without overloading the air conditioning on even the hottest summer days.”

Interesting. As we’ve elected to forgo air conditioning, this could make a big difference in the months of July, August and September. I’m not sure about that part that claims “heat-reflective exterior coating that reflects the sun’s heat back into the atmosphere.” Is that what the planet needs, to have all this heat bounced back into the atmosphere? Yikes. Is that balanced out by the fact that I’m not eating up energy running an A/C unit? But, isn’t all that heat going back into the atmosphere anyway? Just because my house warms up, that doesn’t mean the planet is staying any cooler, does it? ‘Cause, my house is on the planet, so my house absorbing heat doesn’t take any off the planet, right? Ugh. My head hurts now. Al Gore, call me. I can’t work out this climate math on my own.

If you’ve ever heard of this product or known anyone who has tried it, let me know. I like the idea of only painting my house once but I don’t want to be the 2010 equivalent of those all those suckers that bought aluminum siding.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Twenty Years Later

Today the world celebrates the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. Twenty years ago, K and I were living in Germany. We didn’t live in Berlin. We lived almost 300 miles from where the action was happening that day. As I recall, that was about a five-hour train ride. I don’t think we had a television at that time but we listened to the news on radio. We knew we were missing an historic event. It seemed like a shame to miss it. We wanted to be there. Not for any good reason other than just to be there - to later say we were there. We thought about getting on the overnight train.

We didn’t get on the train. We heard the trains that night were packed. We’d heard there were no seats. We’d have to stand through the whole 5-hour trip. We’d have no place to stay once we arrived. We’d likely have to sleep in the train stations or on the sidewalks as we heard so many others were doing. This would all be for the thrill of “being there.”

That night, at about 4 a.m. for us, a friend called from California to ask if we were seeing any of the action. He wasn’t any more clear about our location than our time zone. “No,” we answered. “We’re not even close to it.”

Not boarding the overcrowded trains was a practical decision. Staying home that night was the right thing to do. I hate crowded trains and I knew there was no way I was going to sleep on a sidewalk. Even in my youth I was fussy and a little germaphobic.

We let it go and 8 months later traveled to Berlin for a concert at the site of the downed wall. We collected our own little chunk of it from the rubble that still remained.

While our choice made sense at the time, I’ve always felt a little regretful about that decision - the practical decision – for choosing physical comfort over witnessing history.

Twenty years later, it’s easy to regret not having been there.

In a lifetime, our regrets are probably more often about the choices we didn’t make or the things we didn’t do than about the things we did do. I don’t know if anyone regrets having attended Woodstock. We all know what a muddy, uncomfortable mess that was. But you never hear anyone say, “I wish I’d stayed home.”

It would have been cool to be there. But we weren’t there.

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What does this have to do with my house blog? Maybe nothing. Or maybe it’s about those who choose the physical comforts of a large house located in an area of cultural deprivation. Or maybe it’s about those who don’t opt for the turnkey condo, choosing instead the more adventurous path of fixing up an old but interesting home, located in an interesting but perhaps dicey neighborhood.

I often wonder what fun and creative things K and I would have done over the past seven years had we stayed in our apartment.

But hey, twenty years from now, we won’t wonder if we could have made something livable of that fixer upper we passed on.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Porta Potties

I kept seeing this truck full of toilets parked down the street and around the corner and here and there around the neighborhood.

I finally had a chance to take a picture -


It wasn't until I was taking the picture that I saw that the truck once belonged to the City of San Diego -



No big deal.

Bigger deal is that the truck was missing a license plate in front -




and back -


There's a story here. I just wish I knew what it was.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Why I Live in Los Angeles

I don't drive in snow. I've never driven in snow. I never will drive in snow. If I ever HAD to drive in snow, I wouldn't. I would just stay in and order Pay per View or something.

I know my limits, especially when it comes to operating machinery and Newton's Laws of Motion.

This kind of stuff is making me stay put:



Loook Ouut!!!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

How I Roll

Change is good. That's why I'm changing up my blog roll a bit. I've added a few new blogs that I've been following, replacing a few others. I find it easier to follow blogs through my own blog roll than via the Google Reader, so the ones I've added are ones I especially want to keep an eye on.

If you notice your own blog gone and want back in, let me know and I'll put it back. If I've never featured your blog but you want a space on my list, let me know that too.

If you're not already familiar with them, I encourage you to visit the new house blogs I've added. At Fun and VJs, Brismod is having fun with her Australian Sow's Ear to Silk Purse transformation. Goddess of 4 is making her magic in my husband's birth state and they're fixin' it up in Toronto at 416 Fixer Upper. When you're tired of watching the progress at other people's houses, check out the art and poetry being conjured up by The Conjurer.

I hope you enjoy them.