Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Washed Away

There was once a young boy who spent almost his entire life near the beach. The sand held little fascination for him. He felt an intense attraction to the ocean. He had always been drawn to the water and it mesmerized him for as long as he could remember. He would spend hours standing in the surf gazing at the sunlight rippling across the endless blue, as the waves broke across his legs to meet the shore.

One day as the boy stood knee-deep in the breakers, he saw movement on the shore from the corner of his eye. He was compelled to turn away from his regular vigil and focus on what had appeared. It was a young girl. He couldn't turn away from her exquisite beauty. As she walked towards him on the dry sand, and he waded towards her through the shallows, he fell deeper in love with every step. She was a petite form of stunning beauty, like a faery that had been sculpted by gods of myth and then brought to life. Her skin was perfect. It's hue was a beautiful mixture of tan and light olive, with kisses of pinkish rose that were barely visible. Her eyes were almond shaped, like deep brown jewels in perfect settings that sparkled brighter than any gem. Her hair was like silk. She smiled at him and the effect of her beauty was intensified a thousand-fold.

The girl spoke with a voice that was as euphoria inducing as her appearance and asked if the boy would help her build a sand-castle. She stated in a sweet and soft tone that she was having difficulty doing it alone. There was a kindness and welcoming warmth about her that the boy had never felt from the ocean. He happily agreed to help her, but asked that they stay near the shore. He was basking in the new found feeling of love that she had brought upon him, but his bond to the vast body of water was still very strong.

Together they built a small castle from the sand. Shortly after they finished, a wave came forward and struck the spot where they gazed starry-eyed at each other over their first misshapen attempt at architecture. They laughed together about their slight misfortune. The girl suggested that they try again a little further from the shoreline. The boy glanced at the ocean and then looked back at the girl. He smiled and agreed.

Together they moved slightly further up the beach and began again. This time as they combined their efforts, every now and then the boy's attention was intermittently drawn back towards the sea, while the lovely girl was completely focused on the construction of the castle. Each time she looked up and smiled at him as she worked, he was once again enveloped by her gaze. He could see that she sincerely loved him too. Upon the completion of the second and improved structure, they stood up and joined hands, looking down at what they had created with mutual joy, their backs to the ocean. They had not realized that the tide had come in while they had been engrossed in their accomplishment, and one another. Once again a wave came and turned the castle to a distorted mound of mud.

The girl kissed the boy gently on the cheek and stated that it did not matter. She said that they could try again in a spot where the ocean could not ruin what they would build. The boy looked into her caring eyes with a mixture of comfort and unease. The ocean was all he had ever really known and it's pull on him was strong. As she smiled up at him with love, he was sure that what he felt for her was stronger than the beckoning water. He looked briefly down the beach to the shore and then took her by the hand. He led her to a spot where he felt certain the ocean would not reach them.

As the as the castle grew into a magnificent work of art, both larger and grander than its predecessors, it was the girl who made most of the contribution to it's creation. The boy could see that she had learned what she needed to continue alone. The deep and vast expanse of the ocean pounded the shore beckoning his returning presence. It would never let him go. He knew that he could not continue to resist its call. He never wanted to let the waves wash away what she might build again. He loved her too much. As the girl was engrossed in her task, the boy softly rose and gazed down at her one more time as the sunlight illuminated her countenance. He turned and walked back towards the shore.

When the girl was finished, she stood up triumphantly, expecting to see the boy looking back at her over the top of the castle. She looked around, but could not see him anywhere. After several minutes of waiting for his return, she proceeded towards the ocean. As she walked up and down the shoreline, she came upon a set of eroding footprints that led into the surf. The waves continued to roll up onto the wet sand, filling the tracks with water until they eventually disappeared.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Oil well that never ends well

I am trying to look at the current British Petroleum (BP) situation in the Gulf of Mexico objectively. This is hard for several reasons. The first and most obvious reason, in my opinion, is the maddening fact that every form of mass media in this country seems locked into labeling this as a spill or leak. The apparently endless contamination of oil being pumped in the Gulf is not a spill or leak. 12,000 to 19,000 barrels a day over a period of 45 days and counting is a flood. If the flood of oil pouring into the Gulf averages 15,500 barrels a day, that equals almost 700,000 barrels of oil so far. A standard barrel of U.S. oil is 42 gallons. That’s almost thirty million gallons of oil and it is not slowing down to any significant degree. If you are not going to refer to it as a flood, at least call it what it really is. A human induced catastrophe.

It has been stated that BP has the best equipment available to try and end the flood, but that equipment is inadequate to deal with a problem of this nature and magnitude because up to this point, the oil companies were not regulated to the degree that they should have been. Let’s face it folks, Big Oil is the most powerful entity in the United States. Money equals power and there is no doubt that Big Oil has the most money. As a result of this status, Big Oil has been allowed to regulate itself. This is the equivalent of giving a 3 year old child a bag of their favorite candy, leaving them alone, and expecting them to maintain their own personal hygiene in lieu of consuming the contents of the bag.

As for as evaluating how the current Presidential Administration is dealing with the resulting mess, it is easy to point the finger at the current President and complain that he is not addressing this problem aggressively enough without considering all of the factors. To make the statement, “The President should be angrier about this!” is akin to saying that the average person should employ anger and aggression to settle every conflict or problem that they encounter in life. If this is your method and/or philosophy, then I have some bad news regarding the probable status of your overall mental wellness, or lack thereof.

I do believe that President Obama should have appropriate federal agencies take oversight control of all operations related to the effort to end this scenario, use whatever government resources that are applicable, and ensure that BP promptly pays the entire bill. I also believe that federal criminal investigators should have been brought in sooner to determine if criminal prosecution is applicable now or in the future. I am taking into consideration that if the previous Presidential Administration was still in control, it is highly likely that a criminal investigation would not be conducted at all.

It is inexcusable that BP just paid out 10 billion dollars to its shareholders. I don’t care if you own the stock. Playing the stock market is just another form of gambling and sometimes the dice come up snake-eyes my friend. The residents of the states of Louisiana and Florida should file a multi-billion dollar class action lawsuit against BP and the deciding jury should be made up of pelicans.

BP and the government are not the only guilty parties. I am guilty, as is every U.S. citizen that utilizes a vehicle or conveyance that is powered by fossil fuel. I love my car and can’t live without it. As a nation, it is painfully redundant to declare that we are too dependent on oil and those who provide it. I am not na├»ve enough to believe that this is going to change anytime soon, but are we prepared to accept the eventual consequences of our actions. Even more important, are we prepared to have our children reap what we have sown.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Excerpt from my novel in progress.

On the day that I left for naval boot camp, I departed from the Fort Totten Army installation in Brooklyn, New York. I arrived at the Fort Totten Military Enlistment Processing Center (MEPS) for processing at 0700 (7am) and did not depart for the Naval Basic Training Center in San Diego until approximately 2100 (9pm). Throughout the day at Fort Totten we filled out an endless stream of government forms, and were subjected to various kinds of physical evaluation to in order to determine if we were going to be in need of repair at any time in the immediate future. The military did not want us suffering from any injury or trauma that they had not elected to cause themselves through proper training.

At one point in the process I was directed to a group of prospective recruits who were standing in a long line that terminated at a pair of closed doors along the same wall, approximately ten feet apart from each other. We had been standing in lines all day and we usually didn’t find out what the purpose of a line was until we reached the end. It could result in filling out more documentation, or culminate in another type of physical test or examination. I did notice, however, that after a short period of time the door on the right would open, a prospective recruit would exit, and an elderly gentleman wearing a white lab coat and a stethoscope around his neck would beckon the next man in line to come inside. At the same time I noticed that in approximately the time it took for three individuals to enter and exit the room on the right, the door on the left would open and a prospective recruit with a horrified look upon their pale face would exit the room. A stout, middle aged woman with an agitated look upon her face would then summon another individual from the end of the line. I observed that each individual called to enter the room occupied by the angry looking female physician had a mortified expression on their face, as they were beckoned from the end of the line. It was also evident that that each person exiting the room inhabited by the female physician was walking as though they had just ridden a bull steer for a hundred miles. I continued to observe the pattern of the two doors opening and closing as I progressed through the line. The man on the right was still seeing about three times the amount of patients that the woman on the left was processing.

When I reached the middle of the line I heard someone ask “Does anybody know what we are in this line for?”

I then heard a shaky voice reply, “Rectal examination.”

Immediately my mind began to race as my butt cheeks clenched. “They have a line just for rectums?” I thought. “What is the angry looking woman doing in there that is taking so long, and why does everyone look so repulsed afterward?”

As I advanced closer to the front of the line I began to watch the doors more intently and count the number of individuals in front of me, in an effort to calculate my chances of being taken into “the room of uncomfortable intrusion.” Before I knew it I was second in line and the door on the left swung open. The formidable looking woman gazed into the eyes of the poor soul in front of me and announced in a commanding manner “NEXT!!” All that was missing from the image was her snapping a rubber glove around her wrist. I exhaled deeply as I thought “Yessssss!” I felt slightly guilty as I watched the man in front of me walk towards the doorway being occupied by the woman’s ample frame, as if he were a prisoner being called to the gallows. He appeared to be on the verge of tears. Shortly after that the door on the right opened and I gladly accepted the man’s invitation to come inside.

The male doctor seemed like a pleasant enough fellow. He was tall and had kind blue eyes which were offset by a really worn and greasy looking, brown toupee. The hair piece that adorned his head looked like someone had dipped a piece of road kill in corn oil and then slapped it on top of his skull. He introduced himself politely and without missing a beat quipped “Yowsers, drop ya trousers!” I had some quick flashes of thought regarding aliens, anal probes and holding on tightly to the soap in prison.

The doctor requested that I spread my cheeks apart, turned on a small medical flashlight, and in a matter of fact manner he stated “Say ahhhh.”

As I was laughing silently to myself about his comment, the doctor was focusing his light like a spelunker preparing to enter a dark cave. I couldn’t help but think to myself, “How funny would it be right now if I let one rip and blew that dead animal right off his noggin?” Then I thought better of it. Besides… the guy was a proctologist, and from his appearance he had quite a few years under his belt. I figured that at some point in his career someone must have gassed him, whether it had been accidental or otherwise.

After a brief look-see the doctor rose to his feet and asked, “Have you had any trouble back there recently?”

“Not that I’m aware of”, I replied.

The doctor pulled off his rubber gloves and said, “Have a nice enlistment.”