Ramblings and thoughts by a Mensch or two.

Sunday, May 23, 2004

"I don't care about all that environmental stuff..."


"I know that most men, including those at ease with problems of the greatest complexity, can seldom accept even the simplest and most obvious truth if it be such as would oblige them to admit the falsity of conclusions which they have proudly taught to others, and which they have woven, thread by thread, into the fabric of their lives."

- Tolstoy

I was talking with a few acquaintances about my new Prius the other day, explaining some of its features (good mileage, cool technology, etc.), when one of them said, "I don't really care about all that environmental stuff, I'm mostly concerned with saving money on gas." I had to wonder: did he really not care about the environment, or was it that he feared being considered an environmentalist by others? Has environmentalism gained an extremist liberal reputation that makes reasonable people act like closet environmentalists rather than being open about their beliefs?

It strikes me as odd not to care about "that environmental stuff." Is he breathing the same air I am? With smog a recurring problem in California and the Bay Area, air quality is hardly a theoretical problem. Is he living in the same coastal region that would be flooded if the polar ice caps melt because of global warming? That topic does seem wrought with controversy, despite the fact that it's scientifically accepted.

Why is it controversial, then? Because large companies with narrow short-term-profit agendas publicize deception and bad science, people get the impression that global warming is debatable. The PBS show Nova has an excellent web page that discusses global warming and presents both sides. Assuming the scientists who express a disbelief in global warming are sincere, it would appear that they are letting their research and even their thinking be driven by political—or simple monetary—motivations. Ironically, or perhaps appropriately, some articles that oppose the pro-environment viewpoint and call into question global warming, its causes or consequences, consider arguments on the other side to be politically motivated, but don't really give a plausible motive or agenda. What possible motivation would these researchers have for using scare tactics or proposing nightmare scenarios? These scientists are sick of being ignored and want people to pay attention to them? It's true that a kook here or there might come up with a ridiculous scenario, but I personally find the consensus of more than a thousand scientists—that global warming is a serious problem, partially caused by human activity—compelling.

It's not easy to predict how an extremely complex chaotic system will respond to large inputs of CO2, and some of the potential results are so catastrophic that even if there's only a 5% chance that something like this could happen, that's too much.

As people realize that they, in fact, inhabit the environment and depend on it for life, I sincerely hope that environmentalism will be considered centrist rather than left wing, accepted as common sense rather than relegated to the closet.

Sunday, May 16, 2004

"What do you do now that you're not working?"

Deborah and I were reading Babycenter, and this is a must read for parents and anxious parents-to-be who need a serious laugh. If you've made some really, really bad mistakes with your baby, this page will show you you're not alone.

As for us, since we don't have a baby to make mistakes with yet, it simply helped us blow off a bit of nervous anticipation about the things that sometimes DO go wrong....

Saturday, May 15, 2004

And what are we getting ready for again?

Hey, the mother in question here. More about me later. Gotta bounce off Tim's post first.

So the big question for me has become, what is it that I'm supposed to be ready for?

(Esteemed new reader of Real Mensch: Please note this will make a lot more sense if you read "Are You Ready for the Baby?" below first.)

Parenthood? Yeah, I get on some level that my life will never be the same. See Tim on being ready for something supposedly impossible to understand in advance.

Labor and delivery? Hmmm. Took the classes. Read every conceivable book. Just ask Tim. Even had some moments along the way, as a few things went wrong in painful but not ultimately harmful ways, of severe pain -- enough pain to feel I was really getting a test of my ability to cope without drugs. (Now there's a bonus you won't get from clutching ice cubes!) Did a seven-day, 525-mile bike ride once. All right, all right, see Tim again on being ready for something impossible to understand in advance.

But then comes the catch. You see, the Menschkin is breech. Now, if you're a member of our health plan and don't feel like paying cash for your ideal labor and delivery experience, that means you either get a C-section or take your chances with doctors who aren't really properly trained for breech delivery through existing orifices. What would YOU choose? So if this seemingly-ever-likelier (as all the headstands and acupuncture we can stand don't get her to turn) scenario comes true, there's a whole new thing to get ready for -- major abdominal surgery. Yeah, there's a healthy baby on the other end of it if we're sufficiently lucky, and that rates among life's Very Good Things. But you know, childbirth classes as we experienced them are not quite the preparation I have in mind for this kind of experience. **Deleted here: rant about things people say and what I want to hear. Have any of you ever had the experience of putting words out in the world and then realizing those thoughts were never meant to be public? I'm sorry to any loved ones who felt bad about what I said -- that was not at all my intention. I love you.

So who the heck am I? Well, I'm the mother of Tim's child and I have my very own name too -- Deborah. I've done a lot of secondary science and math teaching in my life, but these days my job is gestating the Menschkin and getting ready for her arrival, along with a teensy bit of freelance editing and database work. I don't get mad at other drivers on the freeway anymore; somehow being pregnant has cured me of that need. I'm a second-generation Unitarian Universalist. Enough tidbits for now? Good. See ya.

"Are you ready for the baby?"

People keep asking me this question. In some ways, the answer is yes--we've bought everything that they tell you to buy, we have space set up for changing the baby, we've looked at names. But can one ever be "ready"? I've heard over and over that everything will change, sometimes in subtle ways, sometimes in ways not so subtle, and that it's really impossible to understand what it's like to have a child until you have one.

So my question is this: How can I possibly be ready for something that's allegedly impossible to understand in advance? I've tried to prepare myself for a major change, for something that is a major life-changing event, a rite-of-passage of sorts. But beyond that, I'll just handle things as they come along; I've had good luck dealing with kids in the past, and I've decided to try to trust myself to be a good father rather than to try to worry the situation to death.

As far as being ready--regardless of whether I'm ready, the baby is going to be along any day now. The due date is May 29th; wish us luck!

Thoughts and ramblings...

I've been meaning for a while to set up a blog space online, so here goes. The opinions I post here are my own, and the content will probably be influenced by a few factors: I'm about to become a new Dad, I'm a really excellent programmer, I'm politically left leaning, and I feel that commercialism and corporate control in the US have both gone way too far. I'm a full-time computer programmer at Z-Axis (a video game company), a part-time photographer, a sometimes Linux admin (of my home system), and a full-time student of life.