Sunday, April 30, 2006


It hasn't been taught in school since the 1950's and it hasn't been practiced in decades. It's time it makes a come back.

Some British newcaster was on a talk show explaining the reason why Americans can't conserve. He talked not only about gas guzzlers but about water conservation, land conservation, and recycling. He rightly said that Americans are wasteful, and we are.

Back in the 1960s when I a sophomore in high school I wrote to the BIC people trying to shame them for creating the disposable razor and ask them why they didnt' continue with the double blade safety razor, which was more ecological sound sinc ethe metal blades could be recycled. I said that any product made from plastic was based on petrolum, which was not somethng that could be safely recycled, therefore it was an "end product". I asked how Bic could justify that. The answer? Convience.

I wrote to Pampers saying its product would create landfill problems. In the begining they told women to dunk the soiled Pamer in the toilet and flush away the fecal matter and the inner lining of the plastic pants. Those were the instructions, but people balked at that, Actually putting your "hands" in a toilet - oh yuck! So women just put the soiled Pampers int he "trash can".

I told them their product was not biodegradabel and that the Pampers would cause toxic runoff to contaminate water supplies underground. I was told that the convience they created for mothers outweighed the possible problems. Basically, don't worry about the future little girl, it interferes with our profit margin.

I was told these new products were a mark of progress and in time the manufacturers were sure that some technology would be created to solve any problems that would arise.

Guess what? They didn't. Gues what? I was right?

And now the population is unable to recall a life without throw aways.

We throw away plastic meat trays. We toss shoes (no sense paying to repair plastics). We trash clothes, appliances, and electronics because we are encouraged to "upgrade" and manufacturers no longer make replacement parts to let you keep repairing something. Nope, no profit margin in fixing things. Just trash 'em and buy new ones. By a new cell phone and it goes bad, repair it? Nope, replace it, the old cell phone didn't have the latest features anyhow and it's obsolete, at least 6 months old. So trash it.

New computer? Of course, why try to upgrade something that only has one of the boxy 13 inch monitors? It's all flat screen now. Trash the old, buy new. Create more junk. Fill more landfills with plastic and murcury and zinc and so on and so on and so on.

And the landfills grow larger, and the toxic leaks contiminate water and land and all is right in the corporate profit making world.

Before it's too late I hope someone teaches conservation again.

Or is it already too late?

Thursday, April 27, 2006

little white lies

Omit the truth and what do you get?

If you're UNICCO it's a full page ad in the Miami Herald.

Apparently they think they can shame the SEIU into quiting the quest for a card check system of voting for the union. So they bring up two examples where the union had a vote, but did NOT use the card check system. To the uninformed it makes it seem as if the union is unreasonable and that UNICCO welcomes the opportunity to allow their workers to unionize.


In other parts of the country where UNICCO has permitted union votes it has been done by the card check method. In very few instances has the NLRB method of voting by secret ballot been employed. The Union wants a card check method so results can be verified and there is a paper trail. UNICCO wants a secret ballot because they and they alone would have the actuall count and they would then release the results, which might be accurate or.... UNICCO might not decide to share the actual count with anyone, but just say "oh the vote was against the union."

To me that means that the UNICCO people can't be trusted.

It comes as no suprise around here.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

one thing leads to another

UNICCO and SEIU are still at odds, and the students and faculty support still remains strong among those who actually want to work toward social justice. Outsiders are becoimg involved, and the UM president is taking out full page ads in the Miami Herald saying how neutral the college remains in this struggle.

Neutral, yeah. These full page announcements sound more like "this isn't my problem so go away and leave me alone."

So the university is now prosecuting students for disturbing the peace, apparently. And how that could have been done when the students appeared in a protest with duct tape over their mouths I'll never know. I thought you had to be loud and obnoxious to disturb someone's peace. or were they just disturbing the peace of mind of a group of NIMBY (not in my back yard) administrators and the UNICCO negotiators?

It also seems that Miami Dade County, or is it just the city of Coral Gables, has a law/ordinance that prohibits the interruption of education or some such stuff. Heck it might even be a FL statute, It would be nice to be able to read it and see what that law actually is, but the student demonstrators are being threatened with or charged with this offense.

Are these violations of the law or are the laws a violation of the right to assemble and the right of free speech? Seems like the question might be a constitution one, not just a rhetorical one. Maybe it's one law that should be challanged. Maybe this is one of the turning points in a pendillium swing from right to normal.

And perhaps we'd get back some of the rights we are entitled to under the constitution, you know, that piece of paper George W. wants to do away with?

Perhaps the University of Miami will be "the" turning point, something that will challange not only in labor law, but in constitutional law as well.

One can olny hope.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Farmer's Tan

I've been wondering why I have a farmer's tan so early in the season. It usually takes me well past June to show as much color on my face and neck and arms as I already have in April.

Today I figured out the reason. Wilma.

For those not familiar with hurricane damage you have to understand that the trees take a lot of damage from the high winds. This year we had brushes with Katrina, Rita and then finally Wilma, which considerably damaged the tree canopy in Miami Dade County.

I usually walk at lunchtime for about 15 to 30 minutes, to get some exercize and just to defrost from the endless air conditioned caccon in which I work. In the past I walked a specific route, staying as close to buildings or walking beneath the shade of the huge trees. (I have to be careful of sun exposure since I take blood pressure meds that make me more vulnerable to sunburn)

The trouble is I haven't adjusted my walking route and the majority of shade trees I relied upon for a shaded walk are gone. Destroyed by Wilma.

Oh sure, you can replant a tree for the one destroyed, but it will take 20 years to provide the same patterns of shade that had previously been there. Right now there is lots of greenery, and low growing shurbs and opened grassy space, but no more magestic banyons, ficus or oak trees.

That's why I have a farmer's tan.

No shade.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Sun Sentinel article

David Abraham, one of the law professor's here in Miami, along with 2 other professors, wrote a piece on the SEIU/UNICCO strike situation. His peace makes much more sense than Donna Shalala's op ed in the Miami Herald yesterday.,0,4973951.story

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

make up your mind Donna

OK, so Donna Shalala finally wrote to the Miami Herald to say something about the hunger strikers UM UNICCO and SEIU. But I'll be darned if I can figure out what she really meant.

She starts off by saying that she's between a rock and a hard place. Then she said the problem is between UNICCO and the SEIU. She says UM is out of this because it's not UM's fight and we are neutral.

How can she claim neutrality when she told UNICCO that as of a specified date the workers will be getting a raise in pay and the opportunity to buy into a health benefit plan? Of course it's not what the union wanted, but it was a good beginning.
Was making that announcement remaining neutral?

Then she says that UNICCO is not negotiating in good faith. OK, that's true but she goes on to blame not the company but the worker's union organization activities -their right to unionize.

Her logic makes no sense. I can't see her point, because I guess she has none.

NO matter what she says it sure sounds like she is anti-union and doesn't want to be blamed for it.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

UM in the news

The NYT did a piece on the hunger striking UNICCO janitors at UM. Makes Donna Shalala look like an elitist who talks neutral but looks very much like a union buster.

Is that the image she wants to project for UM?

If I were a chicken roll with mayo on white bread with the crusts cut off kind of person I would really like that attitude. The "don't the THEM get away with it or soon everyone will want a union" kind of attitude that comes from the monied elitists. Sure that's a way to bring in the snobs from the rich families, but it is not a way to offer a diversified experience to college students.

What does her inaction tell students? That it's stupid to protest an injustice? That you must accept the cards you're dealt and get on with life as you are told to? For someone who was a member of a Democratic cabinet I find that kind of thinking very Republican.

Yoiu know the Greeks on campus are trying to bring in another fraternity. I don't think there will be room for Sigma Nu or any other the others who are via for the spot. The fraternity that seems to be firmly entrenched here is the KKK.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

I am an activist

Today is day 8 of a hunger strike by workers against UNICCO and the Univ. of Miami. I have not been fanatic about supporting them physically, but I have supported them in my heart. Until today.

Today, at 1:30 on the patio near the pool, was a rally in support of the worker's right to form a union. I was there. I clapped at the speakers, I chanted with the workers and I made my presence known along with several other law school staff members and faculty members.

I guess that officially makes me an activist for social change.

I guess I finally learned that silent support is no support.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Have you no shame?

Apparently not.

Leonard Pitts column today mentions the fact that Barry Bonds has no sense of shame about cheating - you know, the steroid use thing.

That's funny because I was thinking I haven't heard about shame since the big deal was making kids feel good about themselves. Let's not embaras kids y pointing out the fact that they have done something wrong.

So now one has asked a kid "Aren't you ashamed of yourself?" in years. To stay with fashion trends young girls feel no shame about showing body parts that don't need to be seen in public. Students feel no shame in lifting information from the internet and claiming the work is their own. Our president has no shame in making up excuses for the mistakes he's made in the 6 years.

I think that's enough.

I think we need to be back in shame mode. I thihnk we should use the word more and explain to young people what it means.

When a child acts out (the new word for misbehaving in public) he should be told "Shame on you." When a girl looks like an advertizement for a porn flick in public, she should be asked "Aren't you ashamed of yourself for dressing that way?"
We should mention shame and tell young people it is NOT a good thing to bring shame on themselves or others.

After all, there is no shame in teaching the right thing.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

changing tradition

I was a lector at mass tonight. It's Palm Sunday. the mass begins with blessing of palms and then a procession into church. Then there is a very long reading of the passion of Our Lord. It is about 6 -7 pages of reading, and it's read in parts. This year I was narrator (the part marked N in the reading)

The palm distribution used to be done differently, and more reverantly. We had been instructed, in the old days of Pope Pius XII, that the palms when blessed were sacramentals - that is blessed reminders of the passion of Our Lord. So when we received them they were to be treated with reverance.

We were also to destroy the old palm, which should have been displayed near another sacred object, since last year. We used to have to make a ceremony of it all, making sure the old palms were burned at home in a reverant manner and then disposed of in some way more dignified than having the ashes dumped in the trash cans.

My mother and grandmother even covered their heads and said a solemn prayer as they burned old palms. But not anymore. They are trashed like a discarded cereal box, or wrapping from a package of pre-sliced individually wrapped cheese.

No wonder Catholic children have no sense of sacred things any more. It's neither taught or expected.

Sometimes, I think we should bring the traditions back.

Time continues to evade capture

Lately it's beenone thing after another. Some days my appointment calendar is just as emply as a black page, and then every activity in thw world gangs up onme at once.

I don't think I have had a "free" day for over 3 weeks, it's been non stop meeting, social or business obligation or some family thing to do. Yesterday I was busy from morning to night and even this a.m. I was busy. I can't stand it...

The only me time I have had during the whole Lenten season has been the one hour a week that I promised to sit before the exposed host in the adoration time. One hour. Seemed like an eternity and a great sacrifice for me to give up on a Friday evening after work.

I usually come home on Friday dragging, call for a pizza and then just crash. For lent I decided to sacrifice and do one hour from 6 to 7 in church. I msut admit the first week was a sacrifice at first, but I cam out so refreshed from a hour alone in contemplation that I liked it. The second week I looked forward to it, the third week I was a bit rushed and frazzled, but now I am sad that Friday was my last week to do it. This week is Good Friday, and I will be in church for the Statons of the Cross, but it won't be the same.

I won't be able to rest alone with my thoughts and my God, in a quiet time set aside for my own communication and spiritual renewal. On Godo Friday, the church will be packed with people and there will be directed prayers, communal prayers. I will miss the solitude.

Those who think they know me don't realize that at times I have actually contemplated my life after the kids leave should Ken die before me. I have often thought I might like to join a contemplative lay group that lives communally and prays. I find peace is such thought. But I am sure that no matter how I envision it it would never be as perfect as it seems now.

Another thing I did for me for lent was go to a "day of renewal" for women at my church. Yesterday morning I spent withe the parish ladies, listening to a Dominican sister tell us that as women we often feel we must control everything. She made us realize that we have to "let go and Let God." Good advise. I wish someone had explained it to me several years ago as well as she did yesterday. But then again, maybe back then I wouldnt' have been as receptive to receive it.

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