22 December 2012


During the winter, Matt and I often eat lunch in our backyard. We see lots of birds in the trees, but Friday we saw something neither of us had ever seen: Peregrine falcons -- a pair of them. You can see a photograph I took of one of them. I was surprised how small they are. Is this normal size or maybe they were youngsters. We have seen red hawks, and several years ago we saw an eagle atop our telephone pole; but this is a first.

20 December 2012

How Will the World End?

So, it's already tomorrow in places like Australia; but it's still 20 December here in Arizona. Does this mean the world is ending in Australia, but we still have 15 hours? Or, will the world end when it's 21 December here, giving Australia an additional 15 hours (which I think's pretty unfair). I'm confused.

16 December 2012

14 December 2012

Guns Don't Kill People

With the recent shootings at a Portland mall, and now school kids dead in Connecticut, I wonder how many people these crazed gunmen or gunwomen would have been able to kill if they did not have such easy access to guns -- and had only, say, a knife. Really? Guns don't kill people? Really?

07 December 2012

Remembering Pearl Harbor

It was 71 years ago today that the attack on Pearl Harbor began at 7:48 a.m. local time. More than 2,400 people lost their lives that day. It was the beginning of the end of World War Two.

The world has changed since the events that led to the attack and those subsequent to it. But it's important that we never forget the futility of war.

I did a radio documentary in observance of the 50th anniversary of the attack. I was fortunate to interview a man who had been on a ship that was attacked and survived. The story of his experience that day was chilling and made we wish (then and now) that no person ever experiences anything like it again.

The attack on Hawaii figures prominently in much of my writing for reasons I can't explain. I had relatives who fought in the war, but none were on the islands on that day. And, although the attack occurs several years before the story I tell in my novel "News on the Home Front," the ramifications of it figure prominently.

So, why does Pearl Harbor come up in my writing so often? Maybe to make sure we never forget it happened. I don't want anyone to wonder -- as some did in relation to the movie "Titanic" -- whether it was a real event. It was real. Real people died. Real lives were forever altered. The memories should be just as real.

(The photograph is of a 1942 ceremony honoring those who died in the attack.)

06 December 2012

05 December 2012

Oh, What a Beautiful (cough!) Morning!

It's finally happened, but it's not like we didn't expect it. With winter in the "Valley of the Sun" comes pollution -- wretched, deathly pollution made up of car exhaust and fireplace residue and dust and probably some insect parts. Usually, we get brief respites from the pollution when we get rain -- but we've not had any rain since 10 September (and October is supposedly our wettest month). The pollution has been increasing without let up.

Today, for the first time this season, our particulate matter has reached the "unhealthy" level (see image) which means the air is unsafe to breathe. People will get the sniffles, will cough, will have all kinds of problems but just assume it's a seasonal cold. Why? Because it seems no one ever wants to mention our air pollution -- bad for the "snowbird" industry (people vacationing in Phoenix away from snowy climates).

We went to an outdoor festival last weekend. One of the vendors was commenting on the "perfect" weather (near-record-breaking high temperatures and, yes, bad pollution) and said "We have nothing to complain about." My reply: "Nothing except all the air pollution." The vendor shrugged her shoulders. So, warm polluted weather is better than snow. Whatever.

Although it doesn't seem to make the local television news, our daily newspaper did a multi-part story on our air pollution earlier this year. I suggest you read this before coming to visit the metro Phoenix area this winter.