Saturday, June 25, 2005

Big Weather

"Life is a tornado watch. You can hunker down in the basement or get up on the roof, let the wind give you rock star hair and yell, 'I knew you were coming! That's why I didn't rake the leaves!'"

This past week, I've been reading Big Weather: Chasing Tornadoes in the Heart of America, Mark Svenvold's new book on tornados, weather in the plains states, meteorology science, and the geekiness of storm chasing. The author started the book when he was caught outside Oklahoma City during what we Oklahomans call a fairly routine storm. He continued to study tornadoes and chase during May of 2003, which from a tornado perspective, turned out to be a bit more busy than the routine spring. It's not the best-written book I've ever read, but it still fits the bill.

Big weather is pretty awe-inspiring and has been the theme of my life lately. We don't have enough of it here in Indiana. And I certainly don't have enough in my life, metaphorically speaking. We all know people who create artificial big weather around them all the time. Their lives are filled with drama, stress, fear, and chaos. But that's not real big weather. That's just an ongoing level of small, crappy weather all the time. Crazy out-of-control lives are really like, say, living in Seattle: continuous rain 9 months out of the year and a few big storms.

No, I like the awesome, natural big weather. Supercells that spring up out of a clear blue day producing real meso-cyclonic action. But in real life, tornadoes don't happen that often, and when they do, they're often unexpected and unpleasant. In the past couple of months, there's been a metaphorical storm in my life brewing up all sorts of interesting thoughts, ideas and excitement. And last week it feels like a tornado has run right down the Main Street in my small town of a life, sweeping out the old and leaving only the foundations. And it feels so good. It feels clean. Stretching out and doing what I've been ready to do for a long time feels good. It's my life today! And tomorrow, I hope! These days, I'm the one with the rock star hair sitting on the roof of the house during the tornado watch saying "Bring it a on! Bring it all on!"

Monday, June 20, 2005

Record Rain, Record Harvest

For those who've inquired about the goings on down at my family farm, they did get the wheat in. The combines, RVs, flatbed trailers, trucks and assorted vehicles packed up and moved on up the road Sunday. It took a good sized crew two days from sunup to midnight to cut about 800 acres of gorgeous, lush bumper winter wheat just north of Gruver in Hansford County, Texas. 40 bushels an acre. Yes, you heard right. Dryland wheat brought in 40 an acre. Most irrigated wheat doesn't do so well. Some years nature smiles -- and you get lucky.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

End of the World!

End of the World Sept 24, 2005. So proclaims this week's issue of the Sun, available in fine grocery store checkout lanes everywhere. I put it in my PDA as an all day event: "end of world". If it's true, it sure will make my life a lot easier. But I may have to move a hair appointment. (I wonder if I should go to the afterlife before or after I get my roots done?)

Welcome back!

At least to me...I've been a bad, bad blogger. First, I stopped writing, then I stopped reading. Really, that's all it was. I didn't stop logging in, or blogging, or any of those other things people get so hung up on doing. I just quit writing. Simple as that.

I think anyone who writes knows it's hard. It takes something out of you. It makes you just a little sad. I can't explain it. But with a few other things cooking in my life right now, writing just got squeezed out. But, I'm back now. I've conquered the hardest part for now.

In the past 7 weeks, I've done some terrific things and had some amazing experiences and I'm sure they'll make appearances as new fodder. I don't blog to journal. I blog to take a funny thought or quirky view and share it with everyone. And, as usual, the venerable Ms. Laura Lemay is my best roll model. I'll blog when I have something interesting to say.

Oh, and to update the Erudite Redneck, as of yesterday, the wheat looks terrific: Lush, big heads, nice berries, and so much of it. They expect to get it in next week. Until then, everyone is sweating the weather -- pray for no hail, tornados or even hard rain in the Panhandle for the next week. Once the wheat is in, it can storm away. (My father still occasionally tells the story of the year he and my mom drove up from their home at the time in Wichita Falls. There was a tornado on the ground as they were driving in. The combines made one short pass and they got one truckload of grain in the elevator before the crop was *gone*.)

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Where the ICLU *Should* Be

Speaking of protecting rights, here's a horrifying ruling from Indiana this week. The state sued Planned Parenthood for the medical records of 84 patients under the age of 14. Why the arbitrary age? Because in Indiana, any sexually active child under the age of 14 is considered abused. You know that privacy that your doctor (or in this case Planned Parenthood) promises you? Well, in many cases, (lately Kansas if you had a late term abortion), it's only supported by the state until, well, it's not.

In this case, the judge ruled that protecting the child (from alleged child abuse) was more compelling than protecting the child (from buttinsky social workers and teen pregnancy.) What the judge doesn't recognize (and the state doesn't want to remember) is that Planned Parenthood doctors are under the same obligations as other doctors to report abuse if they suspect it -- and in none of these cases did they suspect abuse. They suspected just what they had, sexually active 12 and 13- year-olds who were smart enough to come to Planned Parenthood for care, possibly birth control, and certainly advice. What does the state want? The state attorney general wants press and headlines for going after the partners of these abuse victims (as if the AG doesn't have enough meth labs to go after) since any and everyone sexually active at that age is abused as defined by the state of Indiana. Sadly, the loser in this will be young girls who need help. Planned Parenthood will lose more ground in protecting the rights of young girls who may possibly go for help (and birth control) when they're sexually active instead of accepting their fate of being a mother by 15. (PP did note that none of these cases involved abortion.)

Ken Falk (who seems pretty smart when he's not trying to sue the legislature for prayer) "called the state's effort a fishing expedition that will, if allowed to stand, have a chilling effect on minors' willingness to seek reproductive health care."
What's next? Planned Parenthood has asked Judge Johnson to delay carrying out his decision. Johnson could decide today whether he will issue the stay. If Johnson declines to issue the stay, Ken Falk, an attorney for the Indiana Civil Liberties Union representing Planned Parenthood, will take his request for a stay to the Indiana Court of Appeals. In any event, Falk said, Planned Parenthood will appeal Johnson's original decision.
More on the case and also the Kansas case in the IndyStar.

ICLU Makes Smart Choice...then Stupid One

Just when I had so many nice things to say about the Indiana Civil Liberties Union last week, this morning’s news reports they’ve filed a federal lawsuit asking to bar the Indiana State House of Representatives from opening their sessions with a daily prayer. According to the ICLU’s legal director, the case doesn’t technically seek to bar prayer but asks that prayers be non-sectarian and if possibly, non-Christian specific. In other words, prayers would include no Jesus, preferably no asking for forgiveness, no references to blood, communion or saviors, and quite possibly, no father, son and holy ghost. They say they only want to stop prayers that are wildly proselytizing but I’m not sure how you legislate what chaplains do or do not say. I realize it takes time to prepare a thorough lawsuit and this has probably been in the works for a while, but why, oh why, when the ICLU has had such great press in the past couple of weeks, do they need to aggressively pursue useless causes.

One would think their legal department was busy enough doing the much needed work of protecting the civil rights of Indiana citizens like the couple fighting Judge Bradford’s anti-pagan divorce degree or those disenfranchised by the voter ID bill. (I generally think their work in striking copies of the ten commandments from public buildings is fine although I think they’re wrong in the Goshen case as it seem to fit the appeals court’s requirements they be displayed with other historical documents.) They’ve been getting so much good and useful press lately that even moderates like myself have felt they were on the right track. So, why do they feel they need to actively generate press by going after a tradition that, while some attorneys could argue it’s technically wrong, is a long-standing custom. It’s the antagonistic equivalent of the ACLU filing a suit against the Department of Treasury to have “In God We Trust” removed from US currency.

Organizations like the ICLU exist to protect the rights of citizens when no one else will. Let’s hope they keep doing that good work instead of spending useless time and money fighting fights that make no difference to the average citizen and appear contrived only to get headlines.

More on the story from the IndyStar as, as usual, excellent coverage from Doug Masson.