Once again my life has taken an unexpected dramatic turn. I am reminded of the Chinese saying my father told me two years ago in a similar situation – “May you live in interesting times.” Things got real interesting Saturday – and the fallout is coming day by day.
I must have made a mistake somewhere if I could let someone I didn’t know nine months ago have so much power over me today. I guess I(and maybe we)’ll be stuck in a holding pattern until this is all worked out.
The Monday before this one (before I fell ill) I discovered a Check Engine Light lighting up my life. I went to AutoZone to see what the code was – “Low Emmisions leak – very small.” This is apparently the infamous Mazda6 “loose gas cap” code – so I decided not to do anything about it until my next oil change/service (in a few weeks). Yesterday – the CEL vanished.
Good thing too – it was bugging me that I was going to drive to San Diego today with a CEL (“very small” or not).
For what seems like the first time in a very long time I’ve fallen ill.
I think the worst of it is over now, thanks to timely gifts and cooking from those that I love. I received a “care package” from mom yesterday and a valentines day gift from Beverly of an LCD photo-frame. She had been commenting lately about how I take an extraordinary amount of photos just to get one good shot. Well, now I can fill this thing with photos and bring it to work (she knows I’ve been stressed out there lately). It is always a challenge to come up with a gift as timely and a card as witty as hers; I’m continually impressed.
The cooking I was referring to were the home-baked chocolate chip cookies from my mother (which I will enjoy on the first day I’m NOT sick) and the delicious home-made chicken soup that Beverly cooked up for me Wednesday night that I’ve been enjoying every day since.
I do wonder if this sudden illness can be traced back to stress. As most of you know I’m under a lot of pressure in the workplace at the moment. I’m also considering a major life-change at the moment that would significantly impact me for the next three years – and I’ve been preparing for the past month or so with a constant feeling that I’m behind schedule. I don’t want to let the cat out of the bag about this until everything is squared away. Look for a big announcement in April (or nothing at all – but I hope the former).
I took my first sick day today for the first time in years. I decided to still make myself useful after trying (in vain) to sleep in. I’ve spent the entire day taking the online traffic school course prescribed by the court last month. The system forces you to stay by the screen and answer “check-up” questions for a timed eight hours all in all. Not sure when I would have had time to do this if I wasn’t taking a sick day….
On the last day of January Beverly and I headed to UCLA Anderson School of Business to watch the documentary 11th Hour. It wasn’t a very convincing argument for the “turning point” (Mr. Gore would prefer I say “tipping point” I’m sure) our society has on it’s hands. The film featured dozens of interviewed scientists (some well known such as Stephen Hawking) and government officials and was narrated by Leonardo Dicaprio (who also produced the film). After the film there was a question and answer panel with the film’s directors/writers (Leila and Nadia Conners) and two of the featured scientists in the film. We didn’t stay long as we had arrived after the free food had been gobbled up and so were quite ready to go get some food in our gullets.
What stood out to me was the score. I knew that Leonardo liked Sigur Ros – but by my count he fit at least 5 songs (although none from Takk) into the 90 minute film (confirmed here). The culmination song at the end of the film was the full 4 minutes 19 seconds album version of Mogwai’s “Auto Rock” from their latest album Mr. Beast (2006). Curiously the soundtrack only features two Sigur Ros songs and one Mogwai song (“Mogwai Fear Satan). Upon credits rolling the more mainstream kids in the audience recognized Coldplay’s “Politik.”
I have a few theories of my own on global warming and the future of the planet. I think a few of them could be turned into decent science fiction films – so I’ll spare those of you who haven’t gotten an earful in person (yet). However, I will say that there is a certain part of me that thinks that the Earth’s pollution problem is not unnatural. It is damaging to humans and our race may die out – but it certainly isn’t “unnatural.” It may just be another phase of the Earth’s development. There have been ice ages and mass extinction events before – why is it so unbelievable that we’d cause one ourselves? As Ishmael says – we have bobbled about for thousands of years thinking we are exempt from the laws of nature – so it is almost time for nature to exempt us from the privilege of life.
Would a president that hadn’t lifted environmental laws for eight years have helped? Maybe, but perhaps only to prolong the inevitable. If the human race is to survive we need a truly massive psychological shift. And it can’t just be rich Americans – which is where the theory falls apart. Even if hundreds of millions of Americans switch to green living, the billions in China (or Africa) who have just now come into their own sense of entitlement to excess that Americans enjoyed for over a century will fight to their last breath to not go green. The air quality in Shanghai is so bad that Beverly’s father remarked on how “clear” Los Angeles’ sky was – and we haven’t even begun to see an economy in China where every citizen owns a car.
We may be living just outside the cusp of the last golden era of man (at least in the West). I would say that from the end of World War II until the 1973 oil crisis was the pinnacle of mankind’s existence. Things got better and better every year, excess was the standard and everything kept getting smaller, cheaper and with no (known) side-effects. 1973 was the first indication that something had gone wrong with our usage of natural resources. That was the beginning in broader society of trends scientists had noted years earlier. Soon cancer rates would increase (or only the recognition that they were from “unnatural” causes), and new super viruses (ebola, AIDS, etc.) would begin eradicating select economic groups. Now man couldn’t even procreate (the one thing any animal is born to do) without grave consequence. Our world was shrinking, yet our population was growing (thank god the pope opposed birth control), and we were on a collision course. My generation is the last generation to have the option to “do something” or ignore the problem. I fear those that follow will not be so lucky if we choose the latter.