Archive for July, 2006

Reunion

Jul 25 2006 Published by Brad under Everyday Life, Friends & Family

Ten years… wow. Here’s a few of the pictures. Temps that weekend were consistently in the 90’s, but everyone still had a wonderful time on the Principia campus in downstate Elsah, Illinois.

Rackham Court West
Rackham West, my home away from home for three years.

For my billions of readers who haven’t been, Principia College is perched high on the hilly, limestone bluffs above the Mississippi River. Designed by California architect Bernard Maybeck in the 1920’s, the campus has the feel of a 300 year-old English village. Little gravel lanes wind through the trees, completing the look and giving students a sense of permanence and pride of place on their way to and from class. The college was added to the National Register of Historic Places during my time there, so I was lucky enough to participate in the official ceremonies.

Makeup
Melis gets ready for the day.

Wooly mammoth skeleton
A nearly complete 15,000 year old wooly mammoth was recently discovered while doing some plumbing work. When college students have finished excavating it, it will stand roughly 14 feet high at the shoulder, and be the centerpiece of the college science department.

Abandoned barn in the woods
At the far end of campus sits this abandoned barn. Inside are several old console radios – beautiful, large pieces of furniture – that used to sit in the dormitory great rooms before the days of television.

Ryan and Brad
College buddy Ryan and me, outside our old house – RCW.

Melissa Monitors the Mississippi
Looking across the Mississippi.

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Hetch Hetchy

Jul 20 2006 Published by Brad under Diversions

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Hetch Hethcy. The valley in Yosemite National Park that nobody much visits, except those who seek it out. It’s the little brother to the big valley – you know the one – Half Dome and El Capitan. But Hetch Hetchy has been a lightning rod for debate since it was dammed up in 1923 to construct a massive, 300 foot deep reservoir that supplies electricity and water to 2.4 million Bay Area residents. It’s been suggested for decades that the dam should be removed, restoring the treasured valley that pioneering environmentalist John Muir thought more beautiful than the mankind’s greatest cathedrals and churches. Looking at this “before” view, it’s hard to disagree with the Sierra Club founder.

Now, a report has been released that studied the feasibility of such a reverse-engineering project (which would the the largest in history). It concludes that indeed, the dam could be removed and the water supply moved elsewhere. Environmentalists cheer. But the report goes on to place the price tag somewhere between $3 to $10 billion to do so, justifying those who feel the dam’s benefits outweigh its beauty. So, not surprisingly, both champions and opponents of this long-controvertial reservoir feel this report gives their side credibility and weight.

Whether or not this beautiful, hidden valley – now underwater for more than 80 years – will ever be seen again, is uncertain. I don’t have a position on this one – I’d love to visit a dry, majestic Hetch Hetchy. But no fiscally responsible state is in a position to drop that kind of money to actually remove needed energy resources for its citizens, even if it did find another source for it. So this one will continue to be debated for a long time to come.

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Here’s where I read about it.

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Body Count

Jul 19 2006 Published by Brad under Politics

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One week after two Israeli soldiers were kidnapped by Lebanese group Hezbollah, 327 innocent citizens of these two countries have died in boming raids and rocket attacks.

Because Lebanon didn’t put immediate and intense pressure on Hezbollah to release these soldiers, the blood of these people is on their hands.

Israel has not used even a fraction of the energy they put into bombing raids as they do towards persuing high level emergency communication with Beirut to resolve these kidnappings. And since they don’t, the blood of these people is on their hands.

Now, I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t have vast amounts of wisdom from which to draw this opinion. I’m a 33 year-old American who has never seen a war zone firsthand, and I never paid much attention to politics and history in school.

But I think that just about anyone could have managed this situation with a more appropriate level of response than these two trigger-happy countries. Machismo, a willingness to act without thinking, and the false security that one has superior firepower has all created another heartbreaking disaster where there might have been a chance for a peaceful solution.

I’ll add one more country to that list that has blood on their hands in this situation. Along with sending planes and ships to evacuate thousands of our own, the United States ought to have stepped in and sent their best negotiators to both Israel and Lebanon. Israel is the biggest beneficiary of our financial aid every year, and I am sick and tired of watching us stand back and shrug like damn cowards – regardless of whether they’re right or wrong. There were diplomatic options, even tactical covert operations that could have been looked at here, but Israel is using these kidnappings as an excuse to start a war with a longtime foe.

We are afraid to speak up as we watch Israel cry that they are the victim, even as they continually react and participate in a cycle of violence with its neighbors that will undoubetly provide the Middle East with generations of future soldiers, martyrs and victims.

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