Tuesday, May 13, 2008


There was a mid-size quake reportedly felt in Tokyo a couple days ago. The epicenter was out to sea, and so there wasn't a lot of damage.

And then there was Cyclone Nargis in Myanmar. And now the big quake in China. The reports I've seen said a 7.8.

Loma Prieta was something like 6.8 to 7.1. And the Northridge Quake was something like 6.7. Since the Richter scale is logarithmic, a 7.8 is ten times the energy as a 6.8. My mind boggles.

Times like this, teaching writing, Shakespeare, the liberal arts, all seems pretty useless to me. Planting trees feels useless, too. It all feels useless.


I've been thinking about getting a dog when I get home. I'm worried about the time I spend at the office, time when the dog would be alone at the house, and the time I spend out biking. Well, and, to be honest, wanting to travel without having to find someone to dogsit. And worrying about the whole resource issue. (I'm guessing my old dog had a pretty serious carbon footprint, if I think about how far his food was probably shipped and stuff. I bet he had a greater carbon footprint in his short life than a lot of folks living in the third world.)

Still, purely selfishly, I'm thinking about getting a dog. I like being part of a pack, even if it's a pack of two.

If I were half the person my dog thought I was, I'd be a pretty amazing person.


I got my incentive check, the one we're supposed to spend on consumer goods so that we can support the economy. I'm trying to decide between Planned Parenthood and the local food bank. Both organizations do good work, and both can always use the money.


I can't give blood until late January, I think. It's weird, maybe, but giving blood seems like at least an attempt to do something meaninigful. When I got back from the Peace Corps, I couldn't give for five years because of the malarial prophylaxis. But now it's supposedly a year for visiting a malaria area. (Assuming I don't come down with a surprise case of malaria, of course. I didn't do the prophylaxis thing for my short visit to low risk places, but I did smear DEET all over myself, and slept in netted rooms and such.)


  1. If you still want a dog when you get home, please let me know --- I'd love you to meet Bella... she's so sweet and should live with a person who loves her. If my sister-in-law really does want to give her up, you'd be the perfect dog mamma for her.

    The only problem concerning the dog is that she's a sweet dog -- and my brother-in-law doesn't like it.

    I'm not sure exactly what kind of dog she is, but she's got short hair, she's black with white spots and is a medium sized dog... She looks like a hunting dog of some sort, maybe a short haired springer-spaniel or something. She's probably 5 or 6 years old, very well trained and very affectionate.

  2. Yay,get a dog!
    I think there are solutions to the things you mention...dog walkers, for one, if you have some where you live.

    Also, in terms of the carbon footprint for your dog, what about feeding it locally produced raw food? That's what I'm feeding my cat. I buy it at the vet.

  3. I think pets are good. And really, their carbon footprints don't need to be all that big. I mean.... they eat, but they don't watch tvs, dogs don't blog (although maybe they should... cats are too lazy to blog), they don't drive, they don't wear clothes that take energy to wash and produce, they don't drink beer or soda.... so no need for guilt.

    I do hate the challenge of finding cat-sitters, though. I hate asking people I know to do it, I don't trust people I don't know... it's a catch 22.

    As far as the disasters go, I don't think teaching English is pointless. I think that art and expression are important. It may be that sending a cadre of people to teach English to China or Burma right now may be a serious priority problem, but just because life sucks in the rest of the world doesn't mean it should stop here (or there).

  4. liberal arts embrace critical thinking, human sharing, history -- all kinds of things that we need in the worst of times, not just "at leisure."

    sometimes what we can do during a crisis is donate diapers. that's what i did during loma prieta -- a lot of stuff was broken and tossed over at my sister's apartment, where i was staying with my babies, but we felt so lucky that we kept buying diapers and donating whatever else we'd want most if we had been a few dozen miles this way or that. for china relief, you might consider OCDF: http://www.ocdf.org/orphansupport/ [with thanks to moreena of falling down is also a gift, http://moreena.typepad.com/].

    and -- a dog sounds like a great idea! lots of pups and kitties looking for a family.

  5. I do understand the "useless" feeling about liberal arts, but then I think -- more people who think and communicate clearly are a gift to the universe. . .

    And I can't donate blood because I've spent too long in the UK since Mad Cow disease. The fact that I was vegetarian at the time is irrelevant. Argh. But Avaaz.org has links to the Buddhist monks in Myanmar who can give help in Burma/Myanmar.

  6. Inside, Thanks for the suggestion :)

    Hilaire, I can't imagine hiring a dog walker to do something I love with my dog. Hmm, maybe I should hire myself out as a dog walker! All the fun of a good walk, and no vet bills!

    MWAK, You're right about the carbon footprint. My dog ate pretty basic dogfood, and didn't drive or anything. And was happy to walk EVERYWHERE!

    Kathy A, That's a good idea about the diapers. And you're right, the liberal arts aren't just for "leisure," but help us understand earthquakes, climate change, and so forth.

    Susan, That's frustrating! Thanks for the suggestion for Myanmar.