22 April 2007

Happy E'day!

Happy 37th Earth Day!

More about the woman whose work started it all will be found

21 April 2007

Let's All Go To The Bank!

There is a special place in my heart for the original Valley National Bank headquarters (built in 1931, pictured in 1944) -- which, thankfully, was not torn down in the craze to raze and replace that reshaped the Phoenix downtown skyline in the 1970s and 1980s.

Just a few doors down from this bank, when I was very young, my mother worked for a dentist (in the historic Luhrs Tower, no less). Often I would go with my father to pick her up after work, and we would all make a quick bank run.

I remember the huge doors rimmed with metal (brass?), the giant lobby, the marble floors and walls -- a grand Art Deco palace that, very sadly, has sat empty for the last couple decades, destruction eminent.

Well, it has finally been bought and will be turned into a luxury hotel. Whew! I can guarantee you that I will be there once it opens. I might even just sidle up to one of the walls and plant a subtle kiss, welcoming back this great piece of architecture.

More about its future will be found

15 April 2007

Coin of the Realm

Now it's our turn: In a few days, the decision will be made on the design for the Arizona state quarter. You can see the official candidates here.

Personally, I liked a suggestion that I read in an article. I created that quarter (pictured; click to enlarge).

Surely, no image better represents Arizona today than the wanton destruction of the environment to build more houses -- and golf courses, and shopping malls, and even more houses.

13 April 2007

Dog's Best Friend

About an hour ago, I got on the busy freeway on the way home from work. I saw in front of me these weird patches of traffic that would stop and go, then stop, then go.

As I made my way along, I caught glimpse of a dog running along the edge of the freeway -- the dangerous HOV edge, not the safe(r) edge where all the exits are. This was why the cars were stopping: the dog (looked like a small german shepherd) kept weaving in and out of lanes.

I saw cars trying to help rescue the dog: first one car then another would pull in front of the dog trying to pin it in, but the dog kept slipping by, continuing down the freeway.

It slipped by one car and I spotted an opening. I moved over trying to box in the dog, but it slipped by. A couple other cars and I spent the next few minutes sort of leap-frogging around each other pulling in front, trying to catch the dog, only to have it slip through.

One time, when I was in front, I boxed in the dog, hopped out of my car and tried to coax the dog toward me. Right when I was going to get it, a large truck rumbled by, honked its horn, and scared the dog away.

Finally, after a few more tries, another car boxed it in front (with me boxing in the dog in back). The driver got out and grabbed the dog by the nape of the neck (it had no collar). I opened his rear car door and we pushed the scared dog into the back seat.

I thanked him for catching the dog.

He drove off.

I got back in my car and went home.

11 April 2007

Being Gay: It Might Just be All in Your Head

You might or not know that I studied genetics in college. I wanted to be a genetic scientist. That didn't work out, but that's okay.

I am still interested enough in genetics, however, to try to understand the role genes play in homosexuality.

As you know, genes mutate from one generation to another. Sometimes these mutations make the offspring better in a certain way. A better offspring has a better chance of survival. If it survives, it passes on its genes -- including the newly mutated one. This is how animals adapt, survive, thrive and evolve over millennia.

However, one glitch in this process is the genetic predisposition for being gay. (For the sake of this discussion we will assume the prevailing science is correct that homosexuality is somehow related to genes.)

How does being homosexual help the offspring survive? And, even if it does somehow make the offspring better, how is this trait continued through other generations if gay men do not have children (and, therefore, cannot pass along that mutation)?

This is a grand question that has perplexed me (and a lot of people much smarter than me) for many years.

While science does not yet have the answer (although it is closing in on it), this
article gives a really fascinating summary of the current body of thought. It turns out a lot of the answer might be in the development of male and female brains.

09 April 2007

1,008,965 and Counting

Rather takes your breath away, doesn't it, knowing that someone is actually attempting to create a single database listing every living species of life on the planet.

So far the project, which started in 2000, has catalogued 1,008,965 species -- and it is estimated that number is only about half. Wow!

More on the project will be found

The illustration is by famed naturalist Charles Harper.

08 April 2007


Here's the story: Back in November 2006, an Atlantic bottlenose dolphin became stranded off a beach in Florida. Named Castaway (pictured), she was discovered to be pregnant.

Once rehabilitated, she was released, but became stranded again. She was sent to another facility where it was discovered that she was deaf -- which is probably why she originally became stranded.

Now, caretakers are setting up speakers and microphones in Castaway's tank that are connected to another dolphin tank not far away. Why?

article explains it. Isn't it wonderful when humans help other animals in need?

More about the rescue will be found

Castaway's current status will be found

01 April 2007

You Go, Zach!

Wow! Don't you wish all parents were as accepting of their children as Zach's in this article in today's New York Times?

Matt and I have been pretty lucky about the whole "gay" thing.

Although my mom freaked out (and didn't talk to me for two years), my dad was really cool. (I found out years later he had a gay brother -- about whom I had never heard a word!) Matt's parents apparently have never blinked an eye about it.

But this is about so much more than just a child revealing that s/he is gay: it is about a parent allowing a child to make life decisions that make him/her happy.

My parents were very disappointed that, as smart as I am, I did not want to go to law school (my dad) or become a doctor (my mom). I wanted to be in theater, damnit.

I had been in theater since elementary school, through high school and into college. I loved to act, dance, sing, do production stuff (props, set design, etc.). So, I dropped out of college (I was studying genetics) and moved to California where I very quickly realized I had no talent at all -- especially compared to my peers who did.

That's when I decided to go back to writing -- which I could do well.

Although my writing career has had its ups and downs I am still quite proud of the almost 31-year career I have had as a writer.

I accomplished what I set out to do: produce documentaries (many for radio, one for television), write for newspapers and magazines, write a children's book, and a lot of smaller goals along the way. Would I have been happy as a lawyer or doctor? Who knows? I still am fascinated by law and totally love medicine; but I wanted to do things my way -- and I did, and I would never have it any other way.

When I was in elementary school I created a motto for myself: I would rather do things my way and fail, than do things "their" way and succeed. I have stuck with that ever since, through the good and bad, and never changed it.

Of course, that motto eventually became my strength when I realized that liking the company of guys was the same as being "homosexual." It was a tough road when I came out at age 21 (the early 1980s): not as hard as it would have been 20 years earlier, and certainly not as easy as it had become 20 years later.

So, here's wishing you lots of happiness, Zach. You are lucky to have the family you have, and be living in the world today.