Friday, April 30, 2010

Another Katrina?

By Luke Sherlock
aka "Irish"

It is just one week after the 40th Anniversary of Earth Day and the Earth is reminding us that it is in charge. The beginnings of a catastrophe are slowing coming ashore in New Orleans again. The effects of the recent oil rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico are making landfall. Tragedy, irony and politics will now play out in macabre theater for quite some time to come.

The “worse than expected” (when have we heard that before) oil leak from the aforementioned oil rig accident is about to bring upon New Orleans a second natural disaster; this one man made. That beleaguered city is still recovering from the aftereffects of hurricane Katrina; a disaster made more devastating by man’s folly. There seems to be a message here. The juxtaposition of the timing, the location, the political climate, the economy and what may be a false celebration of a significant event cannot be ignored.

New Orleans exists primarily because of where it is. A rich seaport on the Gulf of Mexico, it has attracted people and industry for centuries now. Literally, decades upon decades of people have been willing to fight the forces of nature to forge a vibrant city sitting well below sea level. But those same people have suffered at the hands of poor planning, cheap fixes, incompetent government and false security in terms of dealing with nature’s will. And now, as the life’s blood fishing industry was beginning to make a comeback from Katrina, uncounted gallons of waterborne oil threaten to choke it off.

The ongoing exercise to stem the flow of oil is being described as the largest such operation in history. Given the relatively primitive tools available for such a task, I believe this portends catastrophic damage to the coast line and beyond. The Gulf is currently experiencing 6 to 8 foot swells. How does one contain anything under such conditions?

The timing of this event is not insignificant. Just weeks ago the US suffered one of its worst mining accidents. Two controversial sources of energy now in our faces environmentally and politically.

Following a long and possibly artificially protracted health care debate, the President hoped to move on to energy. Something, politically at least, there was a sense of unified concern about. He had even declared that there was a need for more domestic off-shore drilling; essentially trumping a Republican campaign issue. Politics being what it is, Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reed, who has the power to do so and is facing a real challenge in November, self-servingly opted to stall introduction the well planned and bipartisan supported Energy Bill, to bring Immigration to the fore.

No doubt the Immigration matter needs fair and square treatment; emphasis on the fair. But to jump it ahead of the line for political purposes with this wave of killing oil approaching our shores seems irresponsible. By the same token, reactive politics often leads to costly decisions. And, economically, whether any of the subject oil was destined for US consumption or not, the price of gasoline has risen by 13 cents in my neighborhood in the past few days.

I truly hope that proper attention is paid to this disaster, and that responsible government action and reaction follows suit. It does not provide any comfort or confidence, however, to look back and recall how long it took for Alaska to recover from the Exxon Valdez oil spill.

We live on a planet that we cannot tame, no matter how hard we try, or how much we advance technologically. Respecting that fact is the first step in appreciating our responsibility to carefully regulate and assure the operation and safety of those man made implements being use to harness the natural resources we so freely consume. One of the legacies of the first Earth Day was to motivate us be up to this task. I believe it is obvious we still have a long way to go.

Photo/quote by R. Jay Taylor: "The lower 9th Ward still looks like this 4 years after Katrina - WOW!"

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Sesquicentennial in MMX

Ambrosia & Epiphany spent this weekend gearing up for the glamorous Downstate Sesquicentennial Ball that was held at Steiner Studios on Saturday April 10, 2010 in Brooklyn. It was to be the culmination of a year of celebrations marking the 150th anniversary of medical education in Brooklyn. While there was much to celebrate in the achievements of the academic medical center, the night was mostly about the people that made it great.

Everyone was greeted at the door with a photographer, red carpet and all. The location begged everyone to linger on the roof in the cool evening breeze for cocktails and hors d'oeuvres, which, by the way were always the right temperature. But with striking views of the bridges connecting Brooklyn to Manhattan and the amazing cityscape no one heard the call for dinner which started promptly at 8:30 pm.

The service was impeccable; you barely noticed the wait staff yet our glass was never empty, nor was our empty plate left long enough to linger over it. The speeches were short and sweet even though all honorees were given time to elaborate and bask in their moment. One surprise of the night went to the organizer, Meg O'Sullivan. As she busied herself making sure the night went off without a hitch, her name was called as an honoree, for her leadership and unending service to Downstate. Shocked, she accepted the award graciously.

Ambrosia dazzled the crowd with a Champaign colored, multi layered and cascading petal dress with silver studded rock star pumps and accessories. Her play on textures reminded us of the new "Hollywood Elite" and she wooed everyone with her endearing smile. While her youthful glow was irresistible, it also lent to the iridescent colors reflecting off of her dress. It almost seemed as if she became a waterfall of free flowing flirty freshness; she fluttered by as if floating on air.

Epiphany on the other hand quietly screamed Socialite with avant garde taste. She wore a navy blue blouson dress that challenged bold sharpness. With her every twist and turn, another side to the depth of the dress was revealed. Her statuesque figure made googly eyes want to view her in the backdrop of a catwalk in Bryant Park during New York fasion week as opposed to the gala celebration at hand. The dramatic tear drop-like silver earrings complemented the whole look bringing tears of joy and threats of impending theft in the ladies room (a real Brooklyn Beat Down!).

Overall, the night was filled with laughter, camaraderie, memories and honored greatness; Downstate came full circle.

Please note: this article was selfishly written. We could have spewed on and on about the great achievements and so on, but Downstate's website has an entire section dedicated to that. SO we didn't. Click here to learn more about 150 years of medical education in Brooklyn.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

It's Only $70.00/lb

How much? My hubby said, "maybe I didn't hear right", "$17.00?" "No, $70.00 a pound 7- 0." She repeated slowly. "Yes I still want that piece." Yes, yes I know, my husband has an issue with me and yes this is our counseling forum.  

His issue - well, I have a tendency to walk into any store or open any catalogue and pick the most expensive thing. I always choose the most expensive restaurants and so on. But today took the cake for him or should I say - the chocolate. 

I didn't think anything of it, as I perused -the candy by the pound- store, I saw this bar of what look liked homemade chocolate with hazelnuts, cranberries, pistachios, raisins, roasted almonds and dark chocolate. Delicious!!  I thought, and right up my alley. Like I normally do,  I stunned by husband into silence. "What's the big deal?" Money is really - just money and you can't take it with you - Right?!". Besides this is really cheap compared to other chocolates.

As usual,  he was dumbfounded at my innate ability to pick the most expensive thing in the store. "What's makes it so expensive", he queried. The sales lady just looked at him like hello, have you been under a rock, I said " Oh honey it is the Ecuadorian Chocolate". Oooookaaayyyy!
Love what you love and if you can afford it, buy it. Life is too short. Oh wait what about all the poor people in the world? Well, that a good point isn't it? Well, I suppose if you can afford to buy something expensive, like a pound of this chocolate, then think of all the wonderful ways that $70.00 helped the citizens of the world. The lady who sold it to me, the company that provides the retail space, the electricity, the plastic bag factory that has many levels of employment. The truck drivers, and don't forget the fruit and nut growers, and the Ecuadorian organic and free trade cocoa growers - just to name a few. If we really think about it in the grand scheme of things, all of those folks are employed and then go out and spend money in the food stores, in restaurants, going on vacation, buying gas for their cars, buying houses and sending their kids to school.
I'd say that $70.00 just went around the world, enriched some lives and allowed a family to enjoy another day of peace of mine. Not to mentioned I did something good for the economy and had a delightful treat in the process. 


PS: My husband wanted to charge me ten bucks for the bite you see missing in the photo above.  Wow, talk about an easy profit.