November 2008 Archives

And Then There's Copper


It's not often that I get to read about my home in the NY Times, but here's a story and a video (scroll down and look on the left side of the screen) discussing the current state of the copper industry in southeastern Arizona, which, along with Chile, "continues to rank as one of the two richest copper provinces in the world."

The article refers several times to the "Safford valley" in Graham County, but there's no such place: The name of the place is the GILA Valley; Safford is merely the county seat and largest town. (Thatcher, the town I grew up in, is the next largest--and still quite small--and now right next to Safford, though they used to be miles apart. Historically, Safford was the business center; Thatcher the intellectual and religious center, the place where the college and the church headquarters were.) There's a mention of the recently opened pit mine there, which just about everyone I knew was in favor of: sure, it was going to be UGLY, and extremely visible, given that it was just across the Gila River (hence the name of the valley) to the north of town, but hey, it would bring prosperity.

The article mentions that Safford's Main Street, which was "once full of empty storefronts with boarded-up windows, is nearing 95 percent occupancy." And I guess that's a good thing: I worked in a couple of businesses on Main Street, and it was indeed depressing to walk past these abandoned businesses. Though the tone of the article suggests that lay-offs and boarded-up storefronts are imminent. We'll see.

(by the way, in case you didn't recognize it, the title of this entry is taken from "Moonstruck," and occurs in a line delivered by the plumber dad about the virtues of copper pipe.)

Save the Bees, and Lose the Bee Catchers


When I moved to Utah, I began noticing this strange thing in people's yards: weird plastic containers hung from tree limbs, and full of dead bees. I found them gruesome and strange, never having seen such a thing before, but soon I began noticing them for sale in stores: bee catchers! Yes! For around fifteen bucks, you too can help destroy one of the world's most invaluable AND threatened species, putting all life on this planet at risk!

I don't know why I never saw these dreadful objects before; I'm guessing they can be found elsewhere; perhaps I just never noticed. But they're EVERYWHERE in Utah, particularly in Salt Lake City's (less enlightened and more Mormon) suburbs--one of which is called Fruit Heights. That's right: northern Utah is flush with orchards, producing apples and peaches and plums and pears and god know what all.

And WHY are there all these orchards in Utah? Well, one reason is because there are BEES to pollinate the trees.

If you want peaches every fall, put up with some bees the rest of the year. DO NOT CATCH OR KILL BEES. THEY ARE THREATENED, AND WE NEED THEM. WE REALLY NEED THEM.

In fact, bees were recently named the planet's single most invaluable species. They pollinate a third of the things we eat--including chocolate and coffee--and they are also one of the main polllinators of cotton. In fact, one scientist argues that "If the bee disappeared off the surface of the globe then man would only have four years of life left. No more bees, no more pollination, no more plants, no more animals, no more man."

So I don't care how afraid of bees you are; suck it up and get over it, because the planets needs them.

Will Someone Please Explain This to Me?


Here's a strange little video I found in the British Press on bras for men.

I don't know what to say.

I've been to a couple of rallies protesting the passage of Prop 8 lately, and I have realized that I HATE signs that read something like "I'm straight but I don't hate" or Straight but not Narrow." Can't you just carry a sign arguing for gay and queer rights? Or even a sign like this? Do you have to somehow announce your A) straightness and B) broadmindedness in a way that suggests you're actually really afraid someone might think you're (gasp!) gay?

Second, I always feel vaguely disreputable and uncomfortable when people argue for the validity of gay rights on the grounds that sexual orientation is not a choice. This doesn't mean I reject the compelling scientific and personal evidence supporting the claim that sexual orientation is not a choice. I believe it's not a choice. I just think it should be respected as a choice, because even if orientation isn't a choice, deciding to pursue a relationship with someone of the same sex IS a choice--a completely legitimate choice, as far as I'm concerned.

I don't see why someone shouldn't be able to CHOOSE a same-sex partner, for any reason whatsoever. I think doing so should be about the same as becoming a poet or a vegan or a tuba player: OK, not choices most people make, but entirely respectable nonetheless.

The Saddest Headstone I've Ever Seen


One of the reasons I like Salt Lake is that it's great for talking walks, which is one of my favorite forms of exercise--I do it often enough, quickly enough and for long enough that it actually constitutes real exercise. The U of Utah, City Creek Park, Liberty Park, even downtown: these are all interesting places to walk. Plus the whole grid for the layout of the city and the use of coordinates as addresses make it really easy to know where you are and how far you've gone.

But one of my favorite places to walk is the city cemetery, on the northeast side of the city. I was walking there not long ago, when I saw the saddest headstone I've ever seen in my life. I realize that gravestones aren't exactly cheery--as Morrissey sings in "Cemetery Gates,"

so we go inside and we gravely read the stones
All these people, all those lives, where are they now?
With loves, and hates, and passions just like mine.
They were born and then they lived and then they died.
Seems so unfair, I want to cry.

But this one, there's so much tragedy and loss and suffering conveyed by just a few lines one stone--provided you read both sides of it. Here's the front:


And here's the back:

I Need to Get This Out of the Way


Remember a long time ago, when I wrote about selling my house? Or last month, when I wrote about how a 99 cent plastic statue of St. Joseph may have helped me sell my house? Well, what I haven't written about is where I moved after I sold my house. And I guess it's time to 'fess up and make the announcement:

I moved to Salt Lake City.

Now, what I want to make clear is that although I have moved back to the west and am damn glad to be here, I have not moved BACK to Utah. One thing that offends me no end is when people assume that because I grew up Mormon, I am FROM Utah. I am not FROM Utah. I am FROM Arizona. Check out my archives: the first topic listed is Arizona. There is no topic in the archives for Utah, because it has never been, until recently, my home. (Though I did add, in May 2009, an SLC stuff category.)

Until late this summer, the only significant amount of time I spent in Utah was the two months I was at the Missionary Training Center, a place I loathed as I have loathed few places in my life. I never went to BYU. I never wanted to go to BYU. I always vowed I would NEVER live in Utah.

Armistice Day

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Something about me that sometimes surprises people is that I have an obsession with both military history and war literature. And I always observe Veterans Day, however unobtrusively--it actually does arouse reverence in me.

As you may or may not know, Veterans Day was originally Armistice Day, commemorating the day in 1918 when the Great War, as it was known at the time ended, at 11 a.m. on November 11. Thus, even though Veterans Day honors veterans of all wars, it has a special tie to World War I. Today is the 90th anniversary of the end of World War I.

The Guardian is honoring that tie today with some interesting features: a set of photos of writers from the Great War and the works they produced, a couple of less familiar poems about the war, and a link to the First World War Digital Archives. They're all worth checking out, as is this NY Times editorial on the various ways Armistice Day is still recognized.

P.S. My favorite text about the Great War is Pale Horse, Pale Rider by Katherine Anne Porter, which deals not only with the war but with the horrific flu epidemic that followed it. The final paragraph never fails to move me to tears.

Why I Love Keith Olbermann


Keith Olbermann is often considered a partisan hack, because he mercilessly mocks stupid conservatives like Bill O'Reilly. And recently Ben Affleck did a bang-up job of doing a send-up of him on Saturday Night Live, and made him look ridiculous. But I dig him. He's tall, and has that prematurely gray thing working for him in really attractive ways. And, every so often, he says something like this, about why our country needs to embrace gay marriage:

In a comment on my most recent entry, JGW pointed out that my statement that after Obama's victory, "I felt better than I would have if McCain had won, but I didn't feel great," was a crashing understatement.

I sort of knew this when I wrote it. I sort of intended it to be understatement. I wanted the entire entry to be flat and clipped and short on emotional complexity, which is how I had felt. But I didn't realize just HOW MUCH of an understatement that was--and the truth of the matter is, I probably still don't.

It's not that I was always confident that Obama would win. It's not that I couldn't imagine a McCain victory. In fact, back in September, when I was really down, I predicted that McCain would win and the US would end up a third-rate bankrupt dictatorship. But I couldn't--and frankly still can't--imagine the emotional emptiness and hopelessness I would have felt if Republican control of our country had continued.

By that I don't mean that I couldn't let myself, or wouldn't let myself. I mean that I COULD NOT IMAGINE IT. I've imagined some pretty horrible possible futures at different points in my life--for much of my mission, I imagined I would be damned because I rejected so much of the message I was supposed to preach, and living in the present with that future looming before me really sucked. But the volatile nature of the world makes it impossible to guess what's coming next for our country. Who but the people who had access to that memo announcing in August 2001 that Osama Bin Laden was poised to strike in the US could have imagined September 11? OK, Bush and Rice and Rumsfield et al should have known the attacks of 9/11 were coming, but as for the rest of us, all we should have known was that 9/11 would come after 9/10 and before 9/12.

I also feel that my imagination and my psyche have been damaged by the past eight years--and so have the collective imagination and psyche of the country. That's one reason Prop 8 passed now when a similar initiative failed in California a few years earlier--as a whole, we're less capable of compassion now than we were eight years ago.

Since Halloween


Friday I celebrated Halloween by going door to door--not asking for candy, but doing GOTV stuff for Obama. I didn't knock on the doors of strangers; I told campaign people that I would never do that again in this lifetime, having already fulfilled my quota of door-knocking for the Mormon church. Nor would I do phone banks. Instead I did stuff like data entry or hanging those little thingies on door knobs, reminding people to VOTE on November 4. Oh, and I also brooded about the upcoming election.

Saturday I felt like crap and tried to fight off a cold, and brooded about the upcoming election.

Sunday I cleaned my home really, really thoroughly, first of all for something to do. Also so that if the election went well, my happiness would be increased by the pleasure I always feel waking up in a clean house, and so that if it went badly, I could just sulk and not have to deal with housework. Then I brooded about the upcoming election.

Monday I tried to be upbeat. I wore an outfit I really like, hung out in cool places, planned a nice meal, bought booze. I worked hard at projects that needed hard work. Then I brooded about the upcoming election.

I had cleared Tuesday entirely. The only three things I had to do were A) vote and B) brood about the election until the votes were reported, and C) watch the results.


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This page is an archive of entries from November 2008 listed from newest to oldest.

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