Monday, June 7, 2010

Flea Bag Shakedown

The way I see it, that Deepwater Catastrophe was actually a fatal stab to the jugular of this planet. I can almost hear the frantic screams from the depths of our Mother and imagine SHE is not taking this calmly. The pictures I see look more like hemorraging of blood than oil. I have read way too many references to Revelations and those seven vials. Not that I believe that, but it is looking more and more apocolyptic by the day. For the folks whose lives depend on fishing and other ocean and beach related careers, it is the end of their world as they know it. The anger and fury grows by the day as citizens wake up to the realization that Big Business and Government or truly a symbiotic pimp/prostitute enterprise.
Does anyone really know what the purpose of oil in the earth is there for? Is is some kind of vital fluid for the earth much like our own blood plasma? Have we consumed so much of it now, that our living organism we call home is near anemic. Did BP actually rupture an irreparable puncture to a vital organ? Did greed overcome sense this time,drilling a mile beneath the ocean and then 35,000 more feet into the bowels of this 3rd rock from the sun. What does any human understand at those depths? Are we so full of ourselves that we think we can control these unknowable pressures and forces? It appears we may have crossed all known technologies in the quest for the next Saudi Arabia size oil field.
The light at the end of this tunnel is that WE are all in agreement that this epic event is going to change the way we think of cheap oil and maybe just maybe we will demand that sustainable solutions to our energy needs are implemented. Ya think? We shall see. But right now, we are in some unfathomable kimchi and if we do not pull ourselves together, and hoist our butts away from the flatscreens, we are looking at a very prolonged economic downturn that will surely make the 1930's look like the Golden Age.
I have long thought that the Earth is much like a dog and we humans are the fleas. We have infested and overpopulated and are biting and feeding off the host more than Fido can handle. When, not if, the dog shakes itself to bounce those ukus (hawaiian for tiny pest) off its skin where we land is open to speculation. We have been warned over and over again, still we refuse to listen. How long can we continue before the big "Fleabag Shakedown"?

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Facebook Me-Lessons on Social Fabric Mending

My good friend Teresa thinks that Facebook has the potential to be a great healing force for the collective consiousness. She says that society is reconnecting the threads to each other which ends up patching up lots of little holes in this giant quilt of humanity. I think it is profound and accurate. It also explains the gargantuan and ever growing popularity of this particular networking site.
I am a testament to the miraculous networking tool of Facebook since I recently found my estranged father on this site. My mother and he split before I was two years old. She excised his image out of every photograph that she had. I had no idea what this man looked like and had nothing but negative commentary from my mother. It certainly left a serious gaping hole in my heart. As I entered into my tumultuous 20 something decade, the curiosty burned in me. It seems as if I was always looking for him, but I never could find his name or address.
I was living in Vermont ski bumming while my non skiing boyfriend, Tom, had hightailed his scrawny butt to California for the winter. When he asked me to join him in March of 1983, I was more than eager to get out of remains of the lingering slushy Vermont winter/spring. There was no question what my main reason for going would be. It was to find my father, to do it with my quirky, worthless but lovable boyfriend at the time, added a sweet layer to the whole venture. This was my golden chance to finally find this elusive and unknowable figure who contributed to half of my genetic structure.
I went to all of the libraries I could and looked in phone books and city directories. I found his name in the San Francisco library of all places. It listed an address in San Jose. Who would imagine I would find my first clue in the city I happened to be born in!
I headed to San Jose to track down his location. This was in 1983 mind you, back before PC's were such an everyday appliance. I went from one lead to another trying to find out his last known place of employment. It seemed as if he changed jobs every 6 months. He is a Gemini so a certain amount of mercurialness is acceptable, I guess. After going through about 10 places, I reached a dead end, and ran out of leads. I was explaining my quest to a warm hearted waitress at a strip mall diner that was next door to the last known business location he had resided. There happened to be a cop on his donut break, socializing at his preferred booth. She asked him if there was anything he could do to help me. He replied that it was against the rules to use the drivers license data base for a query of that nature. Of course. But 5 minutes later she was running out with a piece of paper with Gordon Sagert's address.
I drove there in 10 minutes and then loitered across the street for 3 hours until a cadillac pulled in the driveway of the two story ranch home. My boyfriend walked up to the door and knocked. A man came to the door, Tom asked him if he was "Gordon Sagert." He said, "Yes, I am", and then Tom told him who I was. Gordon burst into tears and hugged me. He had not seen me since I was 2 years old. At the time, I did not realize or accept that this man, my father, in spite of what my mother had told me all my life, obviously loved me. I know I cried, too, and later sobbed buckets when my brother dropped what he was doing and raced up from San Diego to meet our father. But something inside me failed to open up when my fathers love beamed at me. I suppose it was a combination of factors that kept me somewhat removed.
Soon after, I went back to Vermont, six months later, I had downsized and stuffed all of my belongings in a tiny uhaul trailer and headed west to the land I was born, California.
I attempted to have a relationship with my father, but resented him when he tried to BE MY FATHER. My thoughts were "Who does he think he is?" He has no right to try to be my father now! I just want him to be my friend.
The idea of a father was something that was NOT a very good image in my mind-think stepfather here. So it was not long until I became disinterested in pursuing a relationship with this strange man who had been painted with so many brush strokes of my mother's memories.
Twenty six years goes by, its Fall of 2009 and I live in Hawaii, married for 15 years with two boys. One day my husband is soaking up the thousand words a picture tells. The picture is of me at six years old. He sees in the little girls face that someone loves her very much. He sees that someone is her father. The father she has never really known. My husband wants to contact him, I say "Not only no-but HELL NO."
I wonder what the reason was that I had to be raised by the horrible stepfather, that I hate. Why him? Was there something I needed to learn from this person that Gordon could not teach me? I accept this fate.
I had searched for Gordon on Facebook when I first got on a year ago, but nothing. Then two months after my husband had expressed his desire to contact my father, I searched for him again. This time Facebook had made a major change in its network and seach engines. This time, I find a Gordon Sagert, and sent him a brief, emotionally detached note. Ten days later he responded. (I yet to ask him what took him so long. Maybe he was away from a computer for awhile, who knows. But when he answered, I could see he was overjoyed and excited.

At age 53, I have opened my heart to this man, and am exploring uncharted waters.

It seems that Facebook is a manifestation of our great need to collect all of our loose ends and start tying them back together. And now there is even a reality show called "Find my Family". Just what is up with all of this anyway? Is this a spiritual and emotional revival of some sorts? Could it be that Consumer Nation is finally moving away from the national past-time of "Sport Shopping",uber consumption, and the toxic "Life takes Visa" mentality? Are we moving into a more emotional and spiritually involved pursuit of mending our torn psyches? Is this for real? I wonder how many folks actually hate such spectacles as "Real Housewives of Orange County" that parade their pultritude of phony wealth paid for with stacks of plastic cards in every flavor?
Why is it in this age of nano-second technology there is an even greater need to connect with our lost loves, and estranged relatives? This is a wonderous time for humanity because of the utilization of infinite tools to find each other in a very economical pursuit. There is few excuses to put off patching up all of these pukas in our lives from torn relationships.
I suppose any dufus could have seen what would come after the collapse of fake wealth taught humanity the lessons of compounding interest and living in homes where keeping up with the cable bill would send scores into a cascading collapse of defaults that followed through to subsistance dwelling in SUVS and detached tents in the county parks.
I know for certain that we are all about to make a quantum leap into some kind of hyper awareness. There is this growing urgency,to heal and patch our collective quilt. We are being prepared for this leap, and where we are going, I have no idea.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Starving the Beast

Over on Ticker Forum which has been my number one Favorite Internet Addiction for over 2 years now, we talk about "Starving the Beast". The beast, here refers to just about any company found on the S&P 500, DJIA or NYSE. Mostly though, we are referring to the Big Banks, the ones that the Uncle Sam and Turbo Timmy Geithner have deemed "too big to fail". The same ones that send us all of those tempting offers for O% introductory-no-payments-for-the-first- six -months-Credit Cards. In the seventh month they do the stealth stun gun attack with the under the fine print 29% interest rate charges.
Just how does one "Starve the Beast"? First, though, lets talk about what the beast eats. His favorite meal is a big juicy credit card balance, 29% interest rate, marbled with loads of saturated fat, as in 5 figures worth of charges. The sizzle on his plate is, YOU- making the minimum payment each and every month til death do you part. This meal makes da Beast waddling fat and grotesquely happy. He can then stagger and wobble around looking in his overfilled coffer and sit around and do whatever he wants and not worry about when his next "Hungry Man" meal is going to show up. He loves You all bound up and enslaved to him, handfeeding him his minimum payment, and if you pay one second too late that is some thick icing on his triple layer double chocolate cake!
Now, I am going to tell you how to starve him, and become part of this secret little consumer revolution that is beginning to gain speed as it rolls down the mountain.
I do have to confess, that, in the past I have contributed to the beast's meals. I am NOT his favorite feeder ,though, since I have always served him ultra low carb single portion mini bites, lets call it "Amuse bouche", except he is not very AMUSED with such tiny tidbits.
You see, I bought my house with a mortgage several years ago. Back when you had to put 20% down and have the right income to debt ratio. Some of you may remember those types of mortgages. They called them Conventional Mortgages. Those kind forced you to do ridiculously impossible feats, like buying a house that had a payment that was roughly one third of your average take home pay. Then you had to save money for the down payment, and...get this, after coughing up the 20% down, you still had to have at least 3 months of living expenses left in the savings account. My GAWD, who in the world could do this now ?? But people did it back in the day, even up to the early to mid nineties. All for the simple reason so they could quit flushing the rent payments down their nasty ass landlord's low flush toilets.
This was how most everyone bought a house up until 2002 or so when Alan Greenspan unleashed the gates of liquidity and Bush declared "Everyone can own a piece of the American Dream"! Money shall rain down from the sky and every American shall be wealthy! The successor to Mr. Greenspan and the current Fed chairman, Ben Bernanke, once said he would thow money out of a helicopter if that was what it would take to keep the US economy afloat. Gee, Ben, I guess your not worried about paying ten bucks for a quart of milk are ya?
(Gosh, I wonder, what drugs these people were taking? They must have been candy coated rainbow kind!)
It's been nearly a year now, since Henry Paulson threatened Financial Armageddon if Senate and Congress did not pass the TARP bill. Banks have now gorged on our tax dollars, made it work for them big time. Now they can borrow the green they need for the day from the Fed for 0% interest and then push loans on "We the People" for usury, Guido type interest rates of say...29%. If this is not a robbery of untold magnitude, then clearly we can just sit here and keep our eyes glued to all that shiny, sparkly stuff on QVC.
So, here goes, this is a simple way to starve this monstah beast. PAY OFF those credit cards. I mean it, and I mean as quickly as possible. Once you pay them off, you can still use them, but pay your balance in full every month. The Banks hate this kind of prudency. They call these type of payers "DEADBEATS". Yes, I am not shitting you, Deadbeats. Go, wiki it and its the seventh definition. Now, isn't a deadbeat someone who stiffs the lender on their obligations? Well it used to be. But apparently the banksters have managed to make a lot of changes into the American lexicon and this is one of them. used to be shameful to be in debt as well, but that's a whole other blog post.
My new favorite patriot is Ann Minch. She lives in Northern California, is a self proclaimed rocker chic and pretty much an average working mom and wife. She did a focused angry video last week calling for a debtor's revolt against theiving, fraudulent banksters when they raised her interest rate on her Bank of America Visa card. She never missed a payment, had an interest rate of 13% and was solidly employed. Suddenly, her interest rate morphed into the "Guido" range of 27% and this was without any notification whatsoever. She felt this was on the level of criminal activity and thus made the video. As she was uploading it to YouTube she prayed to God that it would go viral. God happened to be receiving messages that night and her prayer was answered, the next thing she knows, she is a YouTube star with over a quarter million hits in two days. Next thing she's fielding a ringing-off-the-hook-phone when the networks and news outlets start pestering her for interviews. And, of course, it did not take long for the head of credit card relations at BofA to tell his assistant to "get this dumb bitch on the horn immediately before this things goes ballzout viral!" He spoke to her in his nicest indoor voice and did agree to give her original interest rate back. P retty darn smart of him, it must have been difficult to remain calm when a tsunami of consumer anger was threatening to suck all of his gourmet, butter dripped, saturated fat main courses right out from that SubZero in the well stocked bank vault. You can see the video right here or go click on the link at my favorite internet addictions. Her site is called "Debtor's Revolt Now". This lady might just be our leader for this ongoing consumer revolution that seems to be picking up velocity every minute that clicks by.

The reason I told you about Ann is because she got so angry at what this big bailout bank did to her, that she decided to fight back. She fought the beast and won a victory for herself. She had decided this monster can be fine with a lowfat-sugarfree diet. Apparently, he settled for it, but we shall see if the promised paperwork confirmation of this actually arrives in her mailbox. If I were BofA I would have called quickly, too, since if Ann's video went any more viral, they would have had a serious starvation epidemic in their midst with zero chance of receiving the 7 figures annual bonus check.
BofA practically invented the Visa card back in the late 50's and were the innovators with the idea of bringing in the low FICO folks who could now buy now and pay later in easy minimum payment monthly installments. Bank of American called this division, their "cash cow" in fact! It wasn't long before all of the other financial institutions also thought it looked like their Fat Jersey milker, too.

Other ways to deny da beast is to buy stuff used and pay cash. There's an Everest size mountain range of stuff on this planet and especially in the US of Consumeramerica. We do not need any more cheap Walmart crap, puhleez. Salvation Armies, Goodwills, garage sales, charity sales, and even Kea'au Recycling Center have piles and piles of good useful treasures if you just gotta have "STUFF". Way better than the crap at Walmart. I was in Wally's yesterday and noticed how the clothing looks thinner and cheaper than usual but the prices seem to be higher, of course.
I know this idea isn't anything unique, but it works well for us.
Here's a little subversive "starving the beast" tip you can use to feed your own sub-unit beasties. You know McDonalds and their fabulous dollar menu? (This was the real reason I WAS at Wally's yesterday! ) Well, I take heavy advantage of that menu when my hungry adolescent male offspring are pestering Mom for some kaukaus for their perpetual bottomless pits. Several McD's around here even have self service drink fountains. BONUS! We only go to those McD's, order everything off the dollar menu and then have all the cornsyrupy cola juice they can handle. Oh, quit throwing you coffee cup at the computer screen, I know its disgusting, but gimme a break, they're guys and they love this stuff. I myself, hate McD's and everything it stands for, but I am over-ruled by the men folk, ugh.
So, a family of four can get a burger, fries, salad,and drink for the measly sum of $16 plus tax. Now that's a cheap night out. That and the dollar movies at Kress, and we are talking frugal nirvana! I think going the dollar menu at McD's is pretty much starving that beast since I doubt they make much of a profit on that menu. Then add in the unlimited drinks and I just don't see anything but red on the balance sheet. Besides, the cost of the more premium stuff they sell just seems ridiculous to me. I refuse to pay $7 for a big mac meal. And it does not even include a salad.
Now about mortgages and THE BEAST. I like to run figures on spread sheets, being that I am pretty much a pennypinching numbers nerd. It is truly mind boggling how much money the banks make on mortgage interest. Even the puniest interest rates means mega bucks for the banks on a thirty year fixed. Let me give you an example for a 100k loan at 5% interest. If you pay for 30 years on this loan, the amount of interest profit you will feed the bank is $93,255. If you pay for 15 years, their share is $42, 234 a substantial reduction from the thirty year loan. If you could pay this off in 90 months then their share would be a puny $20, 124. Being of the opinion that feels that Banksters are obscenely obese, I choose to pay these types of loans off as fast as possible. Is it a sacrifice? Not to me. If one can live with a McD dollar menu option and thrift store hand me downs, fresh eggs from backyard chickens, organic produce picked out of the garden, old paid for-well maintained autos, walking instead of driving, a small efficient house, one TV, one fridge, no freezer, less convenience food, and less time saving devices then paying off a mortgage as fast as humanly possible is a great joy and gift. Besides, the less we have to do with these Beasts, then the less opportunities they have to gorge on our hard earned profits, and the less chance they will enslave you in their debt traps.
You know why I think God answered Rockerchic's prayers so fast? Maybe, God hates debt slavery, too!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Planet Infestation

The million Coqui band playing all through the night reminds me daily that this planet is infested with a lot of creatures that maybe trashing the environment past the point of no return. Here on the Big Island, it's the little coqui frog, imported from Puerto Rico in a potted plant journey halfway across the globe via Matson Lines. Then there's the feral pigs from the Polynesian ancestral homeland, brought here thousands of years ago on the voyaging canoes. The pigs and the frogs have a dizzying pace of reproduction and no natural enemies and are a huge worry for many residents. It's not their high pitch chirping that worries me either. The pigs are even more worrisome, though, especially if they are venturing into human's domain. Imagine what those pigs do to a precious little backyard vegetable garden and it is clear that those things could be competing with us for sustenance.
Today, I opened up my Volkswagen, which had been sitting idle due to its overdue need for a new timing belt. It had been sitting for over a month. I was horrified to find mold spores growing all over the interior and dead coqui frogs under the seats. A solution of hot water with a splash of bleach and a drop of soap took care of the mold, but the dead coquis left no question that we are over run by these little shrill creatures. Maybe they will die out, from starvation. No one knows what they eat. My husband thinks they eat mosquitoes. That may be true, because I have not seen too many mosquitoes despitethe fact of a lot of rain and standing puddles everywhere. So if they run out of kaukaus then what? The same with the feral pigs. What do they eat? Why am I seeing wild pua'a in places that they were never seen before? Their only enemy is da pig hunters. I am beginning to think this island may have quite a few more pigs than pig hunters these days. My friend, Carmen, who lives in Hilo, in a fairly posh
neighborhood for that town, told me that she sees a family of 5 wild pigs running up and down the ravine behind her house. This in an area of nice homes on average quarter acre lots in the middle of Hilo!
So, having said this about creature infestation, can humans be infesting the planet as well? Most of you who read this blog, would not argue that statement. I was reading Alternet, which is my favorite online newspaper and I see this-"Kids are a Pain in the Ass-40 Reasons not to Have Kids" Turns out, its written by a French woman. The French get away with the most outrageous stuff since they could give a rats ass what anyone thinks about them. But....of course we want to hear what they have to say about this.
The main reason, not to have kids, according to the author is they spoil your sex life. Well, no shit. Also, they leave you broke and penniless, and then grow up to be ungrateful, spoiled rotten, good for nothing little shitheads! And if that isn't enough to make you grease up the diaphragm, they leave big carbon footprints, (especially if you diaper them with disposables and feed them formula and solid foods made by multinational corporate agro biz!) The rob all your creative energy with the incessant demands, and make you feel like an indentured servant in your own home. There's more reasons, but you can read the article yourself.
The Chinese tried to limit their infestation with the "One Child" policy. We saw how that panned out. Americans adopted their baby girls, and now millions of young horny men have no place to put their pecker. Too bad the Chinese didn't get the opportunity to change their way of thinking to the French model!

Friday, July 24, 2009

The Backyard Garden Revolution on 60 Minutes

I just read this in one of my favorite blogs, Life after the Oil Crash and felt a surge of pride that one of my New Year's predictions had made a major media vehicle, 60 minutes, no less. Yeah, yeah, I know, this is a no brainer. When the economy is this bad folks have got to pull all the panties they got and bunch em together. Besides, Michelle O and her Whitehouse organic garden deserves the lion's share of the credit for getting people back out into the earth and getting in touch with their spirits. There is much more to gardening than some fresh salad greens in a bowl and a steamed side dish of crisp Kentucky pole beans.
For me, creating the rich soil and then digging it up and turning it over gives me a rich sense of connectedness and accomplishment. When I see all of those fat earthworms wiggling around, dashing back into those dark depths of black, wet earth, I know I have done something life giving and profound. Harvesting vegetables and then walking them to the sink to clean and slice and throw in a pot of steaming water, to serve to husband and boys makes me feel as if everything is perfection in my universe. It is unlike any spiritual path I have ever taken in that it is so tangible and immediate. I do believe if everyone was growing as little as a window box of kitchen herbs, the rate of pharmaceutical addictions would start to take a cliff dive. How much more basic and life sustainable is growing a simple garden?
"Doctor I need some antidpressants- Can you write me up a prescription for three months supply of "Seeds of Change" please, Doc! Hurry, Summer is half over."

Friday, May 29, 2009

The Idiocy of Coveting thy Neighbors McMansion

Aloha Readers, It has been awhile since I posted. My muses seem to have gone holo holo these days, or maybe I'm channeling too much creative energy into video editing for N-2 Dance.

I was struck pretty hard by this recent letter to Dear Abby in the newspaper last week. The one lazy muse that never leaves my shoulder has been riding my butt to get this response out of my brain and onto the keyboard for a national audience. We will see if Dearest Abby uses it.
The reason it struck me so hard is that I too, grapple with the same issues as this person. I, too, am a victim of this materialistic culture that constantly bombards us from every angle with our material failures as human beings.

We desperately need a new American Dream in this country. I have already addressed this in the piece about Bhutan, but I am finding that maybe, just maybe the Universe wants me to stay on this one and try to masterblast this thing out of our collective souls forever.
So, first is the first letter to "DearAbby" that got me and the lazy muses fired up enough to get off the other distractions and hit these keys to try to tap out something inspirational that is so in dire need of a thorough review.


DEAR ABBY: My husband is threatening to leave and my 9-year-old daughter is distraught because I am embarrassed about our home and our cars. We live in an affluent suburb, but we're not one of the rich families. My daughter wants to invite friends from school over, but I'm mortified about their parents seeing our home or cars.

I know these things shouldn't matter. I love my husband, but he says I'm ruining our daughter's self-esteem and disrespecting him by being embarrassed by a life he works hard to provide. What's wrong with me, and how can I get past this? I don't want to lose my family. -- EMBARRASSED IN OHIO

DEAR EMBARRASSED: What makes a home warm and welcoming isn't whether it has been professionally decorated. Your problem isn't that you're ashamed of your house or cars. It's that you lack confidence in who you are. Your feelings stem less from what material things you lack than misplaced priorities.

When your daughter's friends visit, cookies in the oven, a welcoming smile and a willing ear if one of them needs a trusted adult in whom to confide will be more appreciated than whether your couch is new or there's a late-model car in the driveway. Many children from families who supposedly "have everything" are starved for plain old-fashioned personal attention.

I often recommend psychological counseling, but in your case, perhaps you would be better served by talking to a spiritual adviser about the difficulty you're having with appreciating how much you have for which to be thankful.

Dear Abby,

Embarrassed in Ohio hit just hit millions of similar anguished American souls right between our clueless collective semi-consciousness . She asks what is wrong with her about being so ashamed of her humble lifestyle in the midst of her affluent “Hood”. This is what it has come down to in this horribly materialistic centered, joke of a misplaced, highly toxic value sytem called the “American Dream.”

Americans along with the rest of the industrialized nations seem to be witless consumers in a Madison Avenue-Wall Street fueled culture that constantly bombards us from every media venue with images that constantly deepen the pit of despair for not living up to these stylized material ideals. “It” zaps my creativity and spirit. I do my best to keep “It” away by getting in its face and analyzing it. I am thankful for what I do have, (until I look at the mismatched tiles on the kitchen floor) but then I turn on the TV or go on Facebook/Twitter and get blasted with the daily 160 character tweets and 2 megapixel cell phone images of what my friends have, and I don’t have. Then like some insidious monster, “It” sneaks back into my psyche and sticks its tongue out at me when I see the pix of the remodeled guest bath, the polished oak flooring and freshly purchased Lexus in the driveway. I wish it could make “It” go away as I gather up all my determination to drive this Envy beast away for good. But when it is so deeply mired in the collective conscious, its like trying to paddle out to surf just as the approaching tsunami has sucked out the tide.

The greed and desire festering in our souls over unobtainable and unaffordable lifestyles has trashed our national spirit in so many ways. Because of this, icons of hundred year old industrial superiority continue to implode before our eyes much like the towers of the World Trade Center. (Wasn't that a portent of things to come?) The ridiculous notion that everyone can achieve home ownership by signing the dotted line below all that cryptic, fine print, document legalese from The Pick-a-Payment Option-Arm Mortgage Company has led us to epic ruin that could lead to a period of economic malaise that few are prepared to cope with. Forcibly downsized, living out of storage facilities and SUV’s wondering where the wrong turn was in that acquisition of that hotly coveted 5000 plus square foot McMansion and all its attendant accoutrements, millions of Americans are now learning in a big way, that going into debt to have stuff does not make one wealthy.

Why is it that a family of four, in third world type countries such as Viet Nam, India, Bhutan, or Costa Rica, can sustain themselves daily, on what we spend for a cup of mocha latte? And is it true they are content and even happy? How can that be? These folks would truly feel like rock stars living in the most modest house that we privileged folks would turn our thumbs down and point our snobby noses up at. All this quest for more, bigger and better has brought us nothing but national disgrace and a rapid descent down the emotional escalator. We don’t realize it, but the rest of the world laughs at our misguided value system and believes we are now reaping our just rewards for decades of American Dreaming.

The Old Testament is loaded with verses about the folly of coveting and debt slavery. In fact there is a pretty monumental set of rules for humanity that cover a broad spectrum of issues. Its the ones that the Big Guy text messaged on to those granite slabs and then Moses carried them down to the Israelites all fried face and blissed out. THE TEN COMMANDMENTS, anyone? Yeah, those things. One of those messages seems to have gotten pretty obscured, or maybe it just got swept under the rug of old fartism. Who knows.

So, kids, its that one about NOT desiring thy neighbor’s (trophy) wife, his house and all the rest of his stuff including his ox (F-350 with extended cab and bedliner), ass (Cadillac Escalade), fields (10 acre suburban estate with heated olympic pool and two guest houses), butler and maid, and all the other nifty "must-haves" like surround sound home theater system, designer apparel, blingy accessories, Coach Bags, SubZero appliances, and the whole gift wrapped box of Neiman Marcus gourmet truffles. Yes, its all right there in Deut. Ch 5 verse 2. Check it out all of you who wallow in the constant, drug fogged misery from that nagging, chronic, pain of not "having it all".
Perhaps, the Big Guy or Gal, in his/her infinite wisdom, knew where all this coveting would lead mankind. It has become a huge big deal, when one stops to think of where coveting leads the human being. The catastrophic failure in every facet of our existance and society, and worst of all, the bankruptcy of our spirits, is becoming a spectacle that few can ignore these days.

Have we ever examined the lives of those who do "Have it All?" Are they really happier than all of those masses of the Great Unwashed Trailer park Trash ? If that “Embarrassed" chick in Ohio could morph into a microchip fly-on-the-wall she might see another version of misery and despair, perhaps much greater than her own. (Remember, another saying in the Good Book? The one that says, "its easier for an elephant to pass through an eye of a needle than it is for a rich man to have heavenly grace" or something to that effect.) So, Embarrassed attaches herself to Mr. and Mrs. Hasitall's wall and becomes a witness to "Les Vida tres Fabulousse". She flies through the cracks of those sparkling double-hung French crystal windows. First thing that catches her bug-eye is the multiple stacks of unpaid credit card bills, HELOC loans, auto loan repo notices, and...gasp... the dreaded NOD statement (notice of default) for the lavish, well appointed 6 bedroom, 5 bath home on the perfectly manicured lushly landscaped estate.

Next, she would fly into the master bathroom and wing her way into the medicine cabinet, fully stocked with antidepressants, anti-anxiety, sleep aids, pain relievers and muscle relaxers. She might even wonder if the pills were the reason for the mounting stacks of bills and overdue balance notices. she begins to understand the reason for Mrs. Hasitall's slurred speech unsteady stride, and lack of focus when she tries to engage in conversations with her.

At the evening dinner table, (that's if they even dine together) the little microchip fly might witness the nightly ongoing battle between Mr. and Mrs. Hasitall and hear the accusations of marital infidelity and secret Cayman Islands bank accounts. Upstairs, she might see Muffy and Parker Hasitall in their bedrooms, hunched over their Macbooks, eating a five course Whole Foods takeout meal, purposefully avoiding the nightly dinner time dramas taking place downstairs. She would see their tear stained, French hand-plucked down pillows and feel their grinding despair over how utterly neglected and unwanted they feel amidst the bedrooms filled with all the state of the art gadgets kids in that socio-economic bracket typically take for granted. All of those things only serve to increase their misery, with each acquisition, the unhappiness dial gets turned up another notch. The expensive toys are a constant reminder of parents who keep the lights on but are never "HOME".

I hope “Embarrassed” bitchslaps herself real hard, and comes to her senses before she loses the treasures she does have with her wonderful, sensible, hard working husband and precious child. She needs to hold her head up, be proud that she is living within her means and may actually have a net worth far more than her debt laden, pharmaceutical influenced neighbors.

Not even the wealthiest are immune to this coveting thingy, you know. After all, it was none other than Jacquelyn Bouvier Kennedy Onassis's sister, Lee, who originated the universal Socialite Code of acceptable wannabe-ism, the golden adage , really, when she declared "that one could never be too rich or too thin." While "Embarrassed" is beating herself silly, because her house is not up to the standards of "the rich families", the Rich Family is slugging it out over their own inadequate structures!

Our constitution does state that we as Americans, have “The Right to Pursue Happiness. ” Is there anyone in this country that even knows what this means? Does happiness come in a 7500 square foot Architecturally designed, granite hewn, Pella windowed, SubZeroed McMansion or is it in some tricked out, dubbed up, stretched Porsche Cayenne with DVD system and fully stocked bar fridge?

The urgency of an extreme makeover on the "American Dream" is long overdue. Embarrassed in Ohio, you may have wielded the first swing of the demolition crew.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Is There a Vaccine for Affluenza?

The face of affluenza looks a lot like this woman I met this morning. She could be a poster child for the disease of over-consumption. Employed by the state of Hawaii as a teacher at Hilo Union Elementary, she was securely under the government blanket for most of her adult life. When asked if her colleagues were worried about their jobs with all the budget cuts on the butcher block, my questions unleashed a mini tsunami of her own personal and financial worries. I asked her if tenure meant what it used to, and she said that the only positions that were safe in the schools were the Principal and the secretary. Hawaii uses a weighted student formula which means that the schools are funded on a per child basis. Falling enrollments mean that teachers get the big C-U-T.
I could tell by the nauseas tones of her expression that she was suffering from a head on collision with Arithmetic and government entitlements. She was in the initial phases of that financial punch in the gut, the sickening "A-ha" reality check that broadsides you right out of the comfy suburban existance, perpetually taken for granted. It's that giant bitch slap that wakes you out of your world with its scoldings of the multilple consumer debts and piles of household monthly expenses. Suddenly, she is being forced to examine all of the illusions and promises that make up the fabled American way of life and finds nothing but an empty nest egg.
She mentioned that due to her secure job, with its benefits and retirement pay that her and her husband had fully participated in the great American Dream. The big house, the brand new cars, Vegas getaways three times a year, and all the lavish material possessions a low six figure income family dares to acquire. She never thought about the grocery bill and would buy whatever she wanted at KTA.
No more. Now, only what is needed to keep body and soul together.
In this post reality phase, she finds herself scrutinizing the lifestyle that she and her husband have for so long, taken for granted as their just desserts. Thoroughly hornswoggled by these myths of the good, stable government job, she has done the math and knows that Generation X, Y and Z will not amount to a large enough work force to fully fund their retirement years. Now at 60 something, and near the finish line with retirement at the threshold, she and her already retired- from-the-government-job husband face their golden years, dependent on a state government in a fiscal catastrophe of unprecedented proportions. I mentioned now would be a good time to get a garden going with some chickens on the side. She agreed that she was thinking along these lines and used the word "Downsize". Of course I plugged my blog, but I think she was so consumed with fear and worry it went in one ear and out the other.

With all of those benefits and the good pay, why not grab everything Mom and Dad said you could have if you were smart enough to land such a prized career? It's all yours, just sign on the dotted line and make the minimum payments. So, what happens when this balloon bursts from all of the economic bullets whizzing around?
Did Mom and Dad lie to us, when they told us to get our degree, get a good steady job, so we could live that dream? Is there any job that is bullet proof anymore? Oh, yes, school principal and school secretary! There you go. Did any of these American Dreams and material wealth so hawked by slick television ads ever bring anything close to true happiness? Does anyone in the western world even have the vaguest definition of security and happiness? Are we using the wrong measuring sticks to gauge the American way of life, you know that three letter acronym known as GDP. Gross Domestic Product. Perhaps a tiny mysterious Himalayan Shangri-la has a different three letter acronym that deserves a look-see? Is there, perhaps a better koolaid out there besides the "Life Takes Visa" flavor?

I happened to catch one of the most provactive shows on PBS last night about the tiny country of Bhutan. This little Kingdom high up in the Himilayas never got hooked up to the twentieth century until 1989 when they finally allowed televisions to be owned. Before that, very few were ever allowed to even visit this place and no one knew much about it. I always knew it as a place that had incredible architecture from my days at the University of Texas at El Paso. (UTEP's campus buildings are influenced by this.) The things I did not know were the deep adherence to Tantric Buddhism. They never wanted to have televisions because it screwed around with the thoughts and desires of the mind. Example: Happy Bhutanese person, content in their mud hut eating rice and bean curd, gets tv and suddenly realizes that they are missing out on Escalades, Happy meals,Xboxes and Beverly Hills chihuahuas. They begin to wonder if they are a Mac or a PC and just WHY does Life take Visa. Soon, its a slippery slope to alcohol abuse and prozac prescriptions. Hopefully, the doctrines of Tantric Buddhism have shielded their souls from the onslaught of the outside world. From what I could tell from this brilliant PBS documentary, they remain a blissfully, rich culture, proud of their "Gross National Happiness"(GNH).
The Bhutanese people have a huge message for the rest of us and it seems to be something we have suspected for the last 50 or so years. Yes, it is true, television has been VERY BAD for us, maybe much worse than we even know. It surely ties in with this "Affluenza" thing I always write about. Leave it to PBS to have such ground breaking and thoughtful productions. This one was truly brilliant and affected me deeply. I was quite blown away by the Bhutanese people and fully expect that we will be hearing a lot more about them . They do have that thing, that secret to human life, that we are all looking for; the golden keys to the kingdom. Except, what these keys lock is not found in a McMansion or an Escalade.

On another seemingly unrelated subject, a friend of mine sent me this forwarded email about an astrological change ascending on the planet. Once you read it, you will see that it really does fit into everything I have written in this post. Forgive the esoteric, new age, hippy, talk and bear with it.

We are in the astrology of major change; duh! We all knew something like this was possible some day, we just didn’t know it would happen this day. Life is change; change is law, but no one was prepared for just how fast this change has hit us. We are witnessing the end of an era: Opulence, excessiveness, elitism and favoritism have had their day, and it is done. The corporate dinosaur is dying. How many of you have been finding yourself strangely humming “The Dawning of the Age of Aquarius” over the last month? Or being drawn to the period of the American Revolution? These are themes that are in the air that are being activated by the current astrology.

Pluto has moved into Capricorn and will be here until 2023; it sets the background tone and temperament that all other planetary cycles happen within. In Capricorn, a major buzz word for the next 15 years will be “sustainability.” We are seeing the falling out of lifestyles, business practices, and financial policies that are not sustainable. Perpetual growth and expansion is not sustainable in a world of finite resources, and we will need to reset our compass accordingly, and prepare for the rebirth side of the cycle.
This is no small issue. Philosophically and politically we’ve been chanting “growth, growth, growth” for so long, it is ingrained in our psyche as if it is truth. Now we have to slow down and find ways to make life interesting other than making money.

The last time Pluto was in Capricorn was 1763-78, with the American Revolution and the birth of The United States being the core themes of the time. The end of an era. That was the end of the King era and the birth of the era of democracy. In our current era it is the corporate giants and CEOs who have been the royalty and the favorite few, and it is their regime that the current revolution will topple over, redistributing their wealth.

Are we living our vision?

The United States’ birth chart has Moon in Aquarius with the attitude of independence and freedom for all. Jupiter and Neptune are the two most positive visionary planets and are now being joined by Chiron and its sacred wound mythology; all three together in Aquarius and about to go across the United States Moon. The wound in Chiron’s mythology is not the destiny; destiny is in how life changes because of the wound. The healing that you are lead to is the destiny. We’ve been wounded and have pulled away from our heart, our Moon in Aquarius, best described on The Statue of Liberty’s famous plaque:“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free. The wretched refuse of your teeming shore, send these, the tempest-tossed, to me. I lift my lamp beside the golden door.”

Where we have not been right with our heart, problems happen. We haven’t been right with our collective heart, the American Dream became for members only, and freedom became a weapon. Yes, there is a leveling and a redistribution of wealth and a chance for us to rebuild from the bottom up rather than the top down. Trickle down got up and went, and we’ve seen it for 8 years; let’s give this new distribution of the public wealth a chance, what else are we going to do? We’ve already failed miserably with business given absolute free license, which translated as, without a conscience, and now we are given the opportunity to re-invent ourselves (as we must anyway) and with this great leveling that is happening, there will be a new distribution of the existing wealth. It’s like water, there is still much of the same water here as when the dinosaurs were here, just distributed differently. Same with wealth, there will still be the same amount here, just distributed differently. The problem with the “greatest good for the greatest number of people,” is how this inadvertently creates havoc for minorities. Aquarius is universal in scope and stands up for everyone’s need, not just the greatest number.

Saturn in Virgo: Are we as effective and efficient as we can be?

When you have plenty of anything you don’t have to be conscious of its use; “there is more where that came from”. With diminished resources you become naturally more efficient in the use of the materials available. “Listen to the whispers or Listen to the Shouts” is how it is with Saturn transits. Saturn problems always come pre-announced as gentle pressures reminding us of what we need to pay attention to. If you ignore the first subtle promptings of Saturn, the pressure increases and the noise gets louder. Saturn has been in Virgo and will stay here until Oct. 30th. Simplify, simplify, simplify has been the call. Diminish clutter, get rid of excess, make yourself and your lifestyle “lean and mean,” has been the call for nearly two years.

Earth friendly technology with the key phrase being “sustainable” becomes the premium. We are called to quickly adjust to a less is better mentality because we need to, or have to, or get to, but one way or another we are going to deal with living with less.

Saturn continues to be opposite of Uranus and will be until summer of 2010. This last happened in 1964 through early ’67; very revolutionary times with LBJ and the Vietnam War, students taking over Universities in protest, and lifestyle changes of a radical nature. Well, here we are again, with the need to radically reinvent our lifestyles and way of living. We are in the falling out period in-between eras. We are going to be a more conscious people, because we have to be. See beyond the collapse, see a more humane world on the other side of this and you contribute a great deal to help offset the fear that is rampant.

Ram Dass was once asked if he thought about Armageddon, so he thought maybe he should have an opinion. So he thought about how his life would be if it was Armageddon. He thought he would center himself with some type of practice, connect with the Divine as best he could and then get out in the world to see how he could be helpful. Then he thought what it would be like if it wasn’t Armageddon and he realized he would first center himself with some type of practice, connect with the Divine as best he could, and then get out in the world to see how he could be helpful. Since it was the same for him either way, he lost interest and went on with his life.
Seems like good advice for these times. Find activities and interests to invest in that aren’t dependent on how well the stock market is doing. One of the great things about the sixties was the “creative poverty” of choosing alternative lifestyles away from the money world. This isn’t the sixties, but if we’re going to be poor, let it be creative poor. Astrology can give you clues as to the areas of your life that can be most rewarding during these changing times.


Michelle Obama's Whitehouse garden may just be the start of a "Gross National Happiness" in this country as we begin to sift through all of the illusions of wealth and prosperity that have defined this nation for the last 60 plus years. I see a lot of Prozac and Zanax prescriptions swirling down the toilet bowl once this all kicks in. It is near impossible to be in a fog of depression after eating a meal of fresh picked green beans and digging into a bowl of crisp salad greens gathered from one's own harvests. It has taken us far too long to go back to this, but Thank God we are heading down a greener path. Mahalo nui loa, Michelle O! If you do nothing else, but this, you will earn the crown of most influential first lady.
With talk of backyard gardens and forced debt consolidations, liquidations, and pay downs, we are on the fast track to a lighter load of the old ball and chain of financial obligations and expectations. The new cool is having an organic garden, dumpster diving for household stuff, and living low on the food and debt chain.

Yes, friends, there really is an upside to an Economic Depression and it seems that the universe, including the isolated and happy Bhutanese people, have huge lessons to bring to us about the sicko culture of Western existance. Until we realize these things, the deep kimchee we are in, continues to pull many a debt ridden soul down farther and farther into its bottomless consumer trap. We have a helluva lot of digging to climb out this "Life takes Visa" shithole.