Monthly Archives: December 2005

Tsunami: One Year After

One year after the great wave of the Asian tsunami washed over the Indian Ocean, people paused to remember the hundreds of thousands lost on that fateful day.

2005 was a year of struggle for many of the survivors, picking up the pieces of shattered lives and homes. Much has been accomplished in 12 months, but more help is still needed. I urge readers to donate to the Mercy Corps, they are an excellent relief organization that makes a difference in the lives of those affected by war, natural disaster or famine. Through their help, and that of other aid agencies, famine and disease were averted for the hundreds of thousands of survivors, and the rebuilding process spurred into action.

Please help.


This looks pretty cool, it’s a personalized streaming music service called Pandora. There’s even a Dashboard Widget for it. Too bad it won’t play more than 5 seconds of music before stalling and rebuffering. I’ll try again sometime soon, hopefully my bandwidth will increase…

More Housing

Happy Holidays! Sorry for the lapse in posting; Blogger has been quite nice to me lately and I’ve let my other web oriented things slide.

Anyways, here are a couple cool housing links:

  • EcoHouse Urca – a sustainable design/retrofit for a house in Rio de Janiero.
  • ehabitat – since I seem to be fascinated with prefab housing, here’s a cool design from Australia.

Say Hello To 2¢ Stamps

This one just kind of sneaked up on me; the US Postal Service is set to increase postage rates on January 8th, 2006. I got a pile of 2¢ stamps last week to use with all the 37¢ stamps I bought in bulk last year. Enough to tide me over at least. Seems like they just increased postage a year ago; no wait, the last postage increase was in 2002.

Not only is first class postage increasing to 39¢, postcards are increasing a penny to 24¢ as well. So maybe I should get a few 1¢ stamps to boot. Sure seems like postage rates have skyrocketed in the last few years. Though I shouldn’t complain, my 39¢ stamp gets a letter halfway around the world—if it doesn’t end up floating around the Marshall Islands.

Christmas Dinner

I know my family is worried about my holiday plans, so here’s a photo of me amidst the Germans at Christmas Dinner last night. Dianne prepared a magnificent feast of prime rib with Yorkshire pudding, asparagus, mushrooms, roast potatoes and onions. I skipped the potatoes and pudding, but the prime rib was delicious. And the company was wonderful too, with Reiner, Peter and Claudia providing plenty of fascinating topics. All those Germans at the table made it seem more like Weihnachten than Christmas in Yoña last night.
Claudia, Peter, Thomas and Reiner at Christmas DinnerThanks to Dianne for a wonderful evening of meat and converstion!

Ghouls Of New York

A piece of ghastly news made the rounds yesterday. Apparently funeral homes in New York City are harvesting the organs of the deceased and selling them for medical transplants. This is done without the family’s knowledge or consent and the tissue is often mislabeled and transplanted in unsuspecting people in need of live saving transplants.

Investigators exhumed a woman from Queens and discovered the bones in her legs were replaced with PVC pipes. Famed British broadcaster Alistair Cooke, who died last year at 95, was also desecrated in this manner, along with dozens of others. In Cooke’s case, the tissue taken from a cancerous 95 year old body was tagged as coming from an 85 year old that died of a heart condition. His remains could never have been used because of his cancer, yet the ’tissue processors’ deliberately mislabeled it for resale.

I don’t know what’s worse in this ghoulish story, the illicit harvesting of organs from the dead by funeral homes; or the fact that the organs are deliberately mislabeled and implanted in desperately ill people that need transplants to survive. The whole business is just ghastly.

Truer Meanings

Let me take a moment to remind folks that most of the world is still poor and hungry on this day. From the homeless boys in Africa’s markets to the children in Brazil’s favelas, far too many boys and girls go hungry and live a life of want and destitution. Do something; anything, no matter how little helps ease the suffering of the poor. And wasn’t that the message of the Christ child, born into penury amidst a stable and forced into exile as a babe?

Boris Pasternak

A wonderful little site featuring the poetry of Boris Pasternak, author of one of my favorite novels, Doctor Zhivago. Pasternak was first and foremost a poet, and he was very popular in his lifetime. He based Zhivago on his own life, antipathy to Bolshevism and his extramarital affair with Olga Ivinskaya, the prototype for Zhivago’s doomed lover Lara.

“Your Picture”
It’s with your laughing picture that I’m living now,
You whose wrists are so slender and crackle at the joints,
You who wring your hands yet are unwilling to go,
You whose guests stay for hours sharing sadness and joys.

You who’ll run from the cards and Rakoczy bravura,
From the glass of the drawing-room and from the guests
To the keyboard on fire, unable to endure
Bones and roses and dice and rosettes and the rest.

You will fluff up your hair, and a reckless tea-rose,
Smelling of cigarettes, pin to your bright-red sash,
And then waltz to your glory, your sadness and woes
Tossing off like a scarf, beaming, breathless and flushed.

You will crumple the skin of an orange and swallow
Cooling morsels again and again in your haste
To return to the hall, to the whirling and mellow
Lights, and air with the sweet sweat of fresh waltzes laced.

Defying steam and scorching breath
The way a whirlwind dies,
The way a murid faces death
With wide unflinching eyes.

Know all: not mountains’ noise and hush,
And not a purebred steed-
The reckless roses in your sash
Are riding at full speed.

No, not the clatter of the hoofs
And not the mountains’ hush,
But only she who stands aloof
With flowers in her sash.

And only that is really It
What makes our ears ring,
And what the whirlwind-chasing feet,
Soul, tulle and silk sash bring.

Until sides split the jokes are cracked,
We’re rolling in the aisles,
The envy of the romping sacks-
Until somebody cries.

Merry Christmas

A very merry Christmas to everyone…

I hope all are safe and sound this holiday, and that next year will be a fruitful and pleasant one.
Photo by Lee Shannon Rhoades

In Japanese culture, snow in the garden is considered to be a ‘flower.’ The elegant way snow accumulates on bare branches and garden accessories is a viewing pleasure, and in fact, certain elements—such as the yukimi or ‘snow-viewing lantern’—are specifically designed to be appreciated in the snow.

Magic and Thought of Ursula K. Le Guin

The Guardian has an excellent interview with one of my favorite authors, Ursula K. Le Guin. Years before Harry Potter, Le Guin was writing stories about a wizard school and a young student with great promise. The Earthsea stories remain one of my favorites, mostly because these children’s fantasies offer uncommon depth and subtlety, richly informed by Jungian thought.

Guam Mails Rains Down On Majuro

Wednesday a cargo flight for the US Postal Service ran into trouble over the Marshall Islands, spilling hundreds of pounds of mail and packages into the lagoon near Majuro International Airport. Apparently the rear cargo door of the 727 Asia Pacific Airlines fell open shortly after takeoff and spilled mail onto homes, streets and the lagoon.

This doesn’t make me happy at all. The mail was from Guam and Hawaii and only some of the mail was recovered. What happens to all the mail that was lost? I mailed out some bills this week, if they were lost in the lagoon I don’t think I should be held responsible for this mishap. Here’s what the PDN has to say about this in their article:

When First-Class Mail does not arrive, the postal service has no sure way of knowing what may have happened to the item. Only Registered Mail™ and Express Mail® items are accounted for during their entire journey through the mail system. However, customers may file a complaint of non-received mail. If expected mail has not arrived after sufficient time has elapsed (about 14 days from its date of mailing), please fill out PS Form 1510, Mail Loss/Rifling Report. This form is available at your local Post Office.