Friday, January 23, 2009

Oh, Deer!

Last night when I came home from work, I flipped through the various envelopes and circulars delivered in my mail. There was a large postcard among the bills. It was announcing that a local park - a reservation just down the street from where I live - would be closed Tuesdays and Thursdays for the next month, starting January 27.

Why? you may ask.

Because, for the second year in a row, our lovely county has given the green light, amidst much protest, to move forward with the deer hunt in South Mountain Reservation.

This cheeses me off like you wouldn't believe.

The supposed reasoning behind the deer hunt is to cull the deer population by bringing in licensed marksmen to shoot - and kill - deer in the park, mostly females, to ensure that the population doesn't get out of control and that they do not suffer a shortage of resources, like food. The unofficial reason is that many who live in the area, who have expanded into the natural habitats of these animals, can't deal with having deer in their yards - eating their plants, crossing the well-traveled roads, existing in "human space." There are just too many of them!

Last year, the first hunt was held after years of protest. By the time it was all done, more than half of the estimated deer population in the reservation were killed. As mentioned earlier, this park is not far from my home. During the month-long hunt, it sounded like 'Nam in the morning.

Now, my neighborhood is anything but rural. The local train line run passed one end of our street, and a main road runs passed the other. Two major highways are nearby. Houses are built almost on top of each other. Not to say it's a bad place to live - in fact, it's a pretty, wealthy, upstanding kind of place - but like most towns in Northern NJ, it's overpopulated with people, roads and shopping malls. So - where do you want the deer to go, people? We have a family of deer that come into our yard now and then, and it's beautiful. To think of them being hunted down is more than tragic.

This hunt is so wrong is so many ways, it would need its own blog to discuss all the issues. But for sake of brevity here, I will say this. As far as I am aware, the citizens of Essex County had no say in this. There was no vote among the people; it was determined by county officials. Also, shooting an animal is not humane, no matter how loudly Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo says that it is. Lastly, at the end of last year's hunt, DiVincenzo claimed it was a success and that people in the community were happy about the results. Really? Who were these so-called people? No one that I know.

How much longer will this go on? I just hope that, come spring, our deer family returns to our backyard once again, unaffected by all this madness.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Presidential Poetry

Tomorrow is going to be a huge day. HUGE. Not just here in the U.S., but no doubt, around the world. It's Inauguration Day for our new President.

From my previous posts, one might infer that I do not support our soon-to-be President. That would be incorrect. He is clearly an intelligent man with a new approach to things and has given our nation hope in one of its darkest hours. I may not have shared the fervor that so many have expressed, as I am a skeptic all around and prefer results rather than speculation; I may not agree with all of his proposed plans, and am not easily persuaded by his iconic stature, but I do look forward to better times ahead and, like many, am filled with hope that it all begins tomorrow.

But first, the celebrations. The swearing-in ceremony, the crowds, the music, the speeches, the poetry. Yes, the poetry - a small, but significant part of the day. The first inaugural poem in recent memory (not mine, mind you!) was read by Robert Frost at Kennedy's inauguration. Only Bill Clinton followed suit, having an inaugural poem at both inaugurations. Now, it's up to Yale Professor Elizabeth Alexander to capture the momentous occasion of having the first African American become President. The pressure is on to select just the right words, both solemn and celebratory, because, for certain, will the poem be immortalized. There was an interview yesterday with the poet; the interviewer asked if it was difficult to create a poem "on demand." She agreed it was, but said she was not scared by the challenge.

I am so glad to have the inaugural poem receive so much awareness and anticipation. Readers of THP version 1.0 might recall my attempt to encourage awareness about poetry in our times. It's not "fluff." It deserves attention, and tomorrow will put it front and center, if only for a minute in history. As one who dabbles in poetry myself, I admire Elizabeth greatly but do not envy her in her task to encapsulate the day. It is a tremendous challenge, indeed. But, I look forward to hearing her words tomorrow.

So, kudos to Elizabeth, and kudos to President Obama. Tomorrow will be their moments to shine, and we will feel the warmth of the glow.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The Charlie Browniest

To say I love Peanuts is a huge understatement. Totally.

Snoopy and I go way back. I won't bore you with the details, but let's just say over the year I've amassed a collection of Peanuts paraphernalia that could easily fill an entire room in my house. When I was two years old and hospitalized for spinal meningitis, I wasn't allowed to have any toys or dolls for fear of infection; once I began to recover, the first doll that I received was Snoopy. I still have that doll. In college, I gave a presentation during my public speaking class on Charles Schulz, Peanuts and the evolution of his comic strip (it was made more poignant when he passed away shortly thereafter). Faithfully, every year for each holiday, I watch all the Charlie Brown cartoons on TV (the ones from the '60s were the best, in my opinion); I have the DVDs. And that's just a sampling.

I'm an adult now and don't have any children. But Snoopy and the gang just hold a soft spot in my heart, and no matter how old I get, they will always be with me. Which is why I almost cried tears of joy when I saw this commercial:


Monday, January 12, 2009

Hindsight is 20/20

How will history remember G.W.?

In the immediate future, no doubt, it will recall an inept, bumbling boy-man who just could never get it right. Ever.

At least, now in his final days, he's seeing that...or, more properly put, admitting it.

In his defense, being President is probably the worst job in the world. I mean, think about it. Sure, you're in a position to make change and have real impact on the world. But, especially in G.W.'s case, your very being - every move, every word, every gesture, every slip-up - is watched and criticized by the entire world. [I get upset if a single friend slights me. I could not imagine having the entire world burning my image in effigy...or metaphorically throwing shoes.] Not to mention, if anything goes wrong or some group doesn't get what they want, you're the one to blame. It doesn't matter what Congress does, or how this Committee or that Committee votes, etc. It's your fault.

Now, I'm not saying that G.W. is a victim of circumstance. He dug his own hole. The number of mistakes he made is nearly as high as our national deficit. But I'm not saying that Obama will be our savior, either, as so many believe. He, too, is just a man, and will be scrutinized as anyone in that position would be. But let's all hope that history won't repeat, and that our leaders will be a little more responsible. Mission (not yet) accomplished.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

I Want to Believe...or Not

This past Monday, there were reports of unidentified flying objects (UFOs - but no one is saying "aliens") in Morris County, NJ - very close to where I work. Per this article in a local rag, police are saying it was a prank and they're determined to catch the bugger. Others who saw it with their own eyes are not so sure.

Unfortunately, I missed it. I would have loved to have seen those red, throbbing lights in the sky. Instead, my eyes were focused on my laptop and finishing up something for work. But I digress...

Are UFOs real or not? Common sense would say "no" - and not to spend another minute thinking about it. Your archived "X-Files" episodes or Close Encounters of the Third Kind DVD are about as close as you'll get. [And don't even get me started on Signs; those green-suited men - come on, now! Don't insult us like that.] We've seen time and time again all the hoaxes (and some, very convincing) that people enjoy pulling on the gullible public. BUT...what if something is out there?

Now, I'm really not one of those sci-fi geeks (nothing personal, people), I never got into the "X-Files," I believe in evidence-based conclusions and not speculation...BUT...I have to admit, I've had my own sightings. Both were during the day in clear blue skies, both were in the same general geographic area, but happened a year or so apart. The first sighting was a single, shiny metallic "thing" extremely high up that stood stationary for the longest time then disappeared. The second sighting was three shiny, metallic "things" that formed a sort of "V" and again stood stationary, then they formed a single unit, then suddenly disappeared. Luckily, I had 2 or 3 other witnesses. Being in the NYC metro area, we are smack in the middle of the flight plans for hundreds of flights, so it's not like it's a big deal when there are things in the sky. But with airplanes, you can at least see a progression and movement, maybe vapor trails, whatever. The things I saw didn't have that - they hovered in the same exact spot for minutes. Were they UFOs? Definitely. Were they "aliens from outer space?" Who knows?

The same local rag gave some links on how to identify a UFO. Here's one of those links.

What do you think? Have you seen anything unidentifiable in the sky? Is it a big government conspiracy or just overactive imaginations running amok?

Saturday, January 3, 2009

The Year of Change

If you've been to my blog before, you'll notice something is a little different. (Hmm...what could it be?) Well, if 2008 is my self-proclaimed Year of Firsts, I think 2009 should be christened the Year of Change.

In a few weeks' time, we'll have ourselves a new president. Sure, he'll be the first African American to hold the position in the U.S., but more importantly, he's broken the Bush-Clinton-Bush chain (ok, so Hillary won't be that far removed from the chain, but still...). Whatever happens, we are guaranteed change - and hopefully (let's not count our chickens before they're hatched, people) it will be positive change. We certainly are owed that much, don't you think?

Another thing I hope is that we, as a society, learn to change our living habits. Sure, going green is trendy now but I'm thinking more about change in our spending and rethinking need vs. want. I'm talking about simplifying things. We really don't need all the stores and shops that now exist, do we? We managed before without all that "stuff" (and most of it is just crap, admit it). Maybe it's good that Linens'N'Things, Circuit City and others have closed, and that the U.S. auto industry is now forced to rethink it's position in the global market. I mean, in the immediate future, sure - these tough times won't help anyone. Many have lost, or will lose, their jobs and the near-halt of commerce has pushed us into recession. BUT - now's the time to rethink how we live, and what we need to live. I don't think any other country in the world produces quite as much crap as we do - and the funny thing is, up to this point, no one seemed to mind.

Lastly, I hope with all my might that this year brings change in the form of peace. Every day for the last week or so, I hear about the fighting between Gaza and Israel. We still have fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan; tension between Pakistan and India; tensions between this one and that one, and the U.S. sticking its nose in the middle of it all. Enough already. For once in our lives, can't we have peace? Say it now: Peace. That is a change that will be most welcomed. Let's hope it can begin in 2009.