Crack in the neighborhood

I came down to the garage to hop on my motorbike yesterday and discovered the spark plug caps had been smashed off.  Now, I know this phenomenon exists in certain parts of the city where crack is notoriously smoked, as the ceramic insulators are used for smoking rock, but I live in an apartment complex and this type of thing is usually a street-parking crime.  I was surprised and upset not because of the crime (it took me a few hours to go get some new plugs and reinstall them, though some of the air vent fins are irreparably smashed) but because of what it meant.  Someone in our building is smoking crack, literally, and now they are so desparate that they’re committing petty crimes like this.  Thsi does not bode well.

Apparently some other vehicles around our parking spot were also vandalized, so we know the user is in a hurry, meaning they’re desperate for a high.  Also not good.  This kind of crime, to me, means they are also going to be probably dangerous since they are hardly being sneaky.  I notified the manager and filed a police report.  I’ve also noticed that neighborhood car windows are being smashed almost nightly.

Drugs are bad, but bad drug use is really bad.

Keeping track of reading

I guess it’s no surprise, I read a lot. Unfortunately, I read all sorts of things that go unaccounted for, so when people ask, “What are you reading?” or “What have you read lately that’s good?” I usually am mixing book reviews liberally with what I have actually read. It’s a bit like DJ’s–no one really has time to listen to all that much music, but if you add reading to it, plus “dropping the needle” on a few tracks to see what they’re like, while adding in some additional information and insights from friends who recommend, plus the “guilty by association” qualities such as the publisher and author’s past works–you can make some pretty good estimates before you open it up.

So, now that I’ve begun keeping track of my reading on LibraryThing, I can see how much it really does add up. I’m remembering a site I saw way back called What I Have Read Since 1974 which I found incredibly awesome. Not only does he keep track of what, but when and where. If you’re a book addict, this site is the coolest. It’s a giant list which, if you read it carefully, you see the mnemonic stream of his life–his facination with certain genres in childhood which led to his eventual future become clear. Amazing.

I don’t think I’ll ever get to this point, but it’s going to be cool to see if LibraryThing pans out for the future, as it will be the coolest thing to see what I’m like over the next 30+ years via my reading!

Losing Little Bear

LB looking upLittle Bear had to be put down this morning after a long weekend at the SF Veterinary Specialists hospital. It happened so quickly, but looking back, the signs were there and we just didn’t see them.

Apparently, she’d been suffering from pancreatitis for a long time, a somewhat mysterious affliction in cats (after I learned that 80% of cats suffer from periadontal problems as well and having her front teeth removed). At first, it seemed like she wasn’t eating because her front teeth were coming out, causing her pain. After coming home one evening to her sticking her tongue out to keep from having her incisors punching into her lower jaw (and consequently slobbering all over the place), I took her in to have them removed. She returned home to eat a bit, but soon stopped again. Later on, her skin started turning yellow.

After looking things up on the web about cats and yellow skin, it seemed like I needed to get her to the vet ASAP. Thanks be to our Flexcar account, I have been using the car repeatedly to make these trips to the vet! The vet took some blood samples and sent us home with a syringe to have me try to feed her. She tolerated it, but didn’t like it and soon was throwing up what little I gave her.

Getting her blood work back, the vet at Especially Cats said it was important to get her to an emergency care faLB with her dadcility where more tests could be done, as her skin color and lack of apetite was cause for concern. Her emergency trip there on Friday turned into a several night stay where she was diagnosed with pancreatitis–blockage of the gall bladder by a swollen pancreas–which cause the bile to go into her system and give her skin the yellow color. They tried giving her hormones which decreased the swelling, but her red blood cell count continued to diminish. Plasma was given, but this didn’t seem to help increase the count. It looked bad, and there is not cure for pancreatitis (nor is there a known cause). The doctor said that the feeling, as described by humans, is “like being stabbed repeatedly in the stomach.” Gah.

Everyone at the hospital said she was a real trooper, and that she was very kind and didn’t fuss or cry. Her spirits seemed to rise each time we went to visit her (which was encouraged, to my surprise, by the hospital), but at four this morning the doctor said her red blood cell count was down to 10 and she needed a blood transfusion to keep her going. She still hadn’t eaten, and was expected to need a nose feeding tube to be inserted. She was so skinny and getting thinner and more tired each time I visited.

This morning the doctor called, after I had already visited after taking Da to work at 7am, and said she would need hospitalization for the next few days just to see if the treatment was working and to have her fed. She didn’t seem to be improving the way he had hoped from the past night. I decided it just wasn’t going to help make her life any better and went in to help with her passing.

I never thought much about my cats–I mean, a dog is quite affectionate and needs feeding and care every dLB with her sister, Emmaay. Cats seem like plants, they take water and feeding and a place to go to the bathroom. I’d gotten these guys almost nine years ago after volunteering at the SF SPCA during a time when I was moving out of a shared living space into a small apartment. It was almost a whim–adopting two cats because they were a bonded pair. She and her sister, Emma, were practically drawn specifically for the cover of the January 20, 2003 cover of the New Yorker, and it was a great gift from my best man, Owen, on my wedding day–she and her sister in our apartment, her walking in the front door while her sister waits on a chair at the kitchen table. What I realized after a seemingly long weekend which now seems so sudden, is how much she was a part of our family. Her love and affection, her bad behavior (yes, she could be vindictive), her weird, horsey-gallop and awkward slips, her graceful posture (she was always my little Audrey Hepburn), and the dependence on her sister in her bond was always around.

Now she’s gone, passing sleepily away with her head on a towel while I put it gently between her paws. The vet asked if it was my first time and I couldn’t answer “yes” for being so choked up. It was always my parents who had done this, I was always away from home when this sort of thing happened after years with a family pet. Now it was me having to help her through this and it seemed not as simple any more. I tried everything, but it just wasn’t going to change–I don’t think her life at home would have gotten any better and it seemed like she was being brave to the end. She was a good girl, but it was time to say goodbye, it just seemed all too fast.

Erykah Badu, let me count the ways…

ErykahWhat happened to soul music? I mean, like Me’shell N’dege’Ocello talks about, “Remember back in the day/when everyone was black and conscious/down for the struggle?/that brought us all together…”–just check out her influences. Not like I know exactly what she’s talking about, but I know that hip-hop and Justin Timberlake seem to have taken over where Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, Al Green, and Curtis Mayfield left off. Erykah Badu (and Lauryn Hill for that matter) mixes righteousness with deep beats and feminism that goes down so smoothly you can feel it in your toes, bringing depth back to the streets of NYC in its roots of grit to go further than pop-soul to simply “rock your body.” She’s even donating back to her community through her organization B.L.I.N.D. Don’t get me wrong, Justin’s got good beats, Dreamgirls had the pop…but where’s the struggle?

Nature or nurture: part-time Quakerism

Part-time Quakerism: I’ve wondered if this is possible…it’s probably sacreligious.

I know this opens a can of worms for any religious person, no matter what persuasion, but I often marvel at the focus and dedication of Quakers who devote and dedicate their lives to their faith and practice. Every moment seems infused with one or the other–following a leading, ministering to others, keeping an awakened spiritual life and path.

Myself, I often dream of a Quakerism which is subtle and underlying all actions and thought. A bit like a natural tendency, the feeling that all is in alignment, all is right and well, that comes from action. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized this is like your natural voice–it comes out through speech which is unconcious and selfless, the rhythm and patter that is your own–rather than doubt or insincerity that can be heard through the tightness of speech or short breaths taken.

It’s often I see this in great “natural” teachers–those who come from a family of teachers and go on to teach, themselves. There is a comfort, a patience, and confidence of an internal compass that I admire. The naturalness seems to be embodied and held internally, flowing out intrinsically through their actions and words. Quakers who possess this seem the same, with a sense of how to slice simply to the essence, produce a clear gem, then offer it to the next person.

I don’t know if this is true for me, as Quakerism tended to find me. The naturalness of Quakerism in me comes from a kinship with it, rather than a birthright. No one I knew growing up was Quaker; I never went to a Quaker school; I never studied the Bible; most of my faith knowledge is localized through my meeting. Most of my internal Quaker clock seems to have been set by me outside of any knowledge of the faith itself through events and actions I found myself in on my own.

And sometimes I relapse into my old patterns and ways. I don’t keep Quakerism at the forefront of my mind or my spiritual life. Does this make me a part-time Quaker? Does Quakerism ask to be kept in the present mind all the time? Is Quakerism nature or nurture?