What a storm! Thank goodness, FEMA will pitch in to recovery, but . . .

Mega-Storm

Satellite image of Sandy approaching the Mid-Atlantic area.

By Isis Win

Disclaimer: English is my second language and regardless of all my efforts, I fall short to master it in a way that I make myself easy to read. Please, be patient and hopefully you get the idea at the end of my text. However, feel free to leave any criticism, suggestion and comment. That will help me and expedite my learning of your wonderful but no so easy language. Thanks!

A perfect storm hits the east coast to teach many that we cannot assume life is free, safe and fun when it comes to mother nature. In fact, when we think of mother nature, although we can get awed by the beauty that most of us appreciate so much, it will do from time to time what it is due to do. Those other natural things that disagree with populated areas and lives. Scientist frequently have offered their opinion in this regard to bring consciousness about a natural global change that will onset what we have known historically. Weather patterns are changing and with them, disasters that although no new in our planet, today, they are unprecedented. This mega storm makes the case clearly. Nevertheless, although sadly it brought a loss of two dozen plus people and damage still is not truly evaluated, we know it is something that will take quite a long time to fix it. It is estimated that it will exceed the one billion dollars, perhaps two. Since we all are familiar with the caliber of this disaster, I will spare you from reading redundancy. Instead, I will like to address part of this mother nature reminder. Same that I blogged about, a year ago when Romney during a debate to gain the official republican nomination, stated that FEMA’s budget needed to be reconsidered and his statement clearly sounded like it should be reduced or removed. Our lower financial health is the number one national security threat. Managing our budget to pay off our national debt to foreign loans and reducing our growing deficit is a needed action to take place right away. Reducing or removing federal aid to FEMA would be as dramatic or worse than ignoring the budgetary problem or the mega storm itself. The voice that presented that scenario, is the voice of a business man who sees opportunity on simply shutting down an ill businesses and sell what is left as a scrap. Fine, if that works in that business but removing federal aid to the nation’s problem does not any promise eliminating that national threat. Interestingly, Romney’s supporters missed the eloquent value of that idiocy of his when addressing a needed federal change that he only could deliver. Today and again, he changed course and supports FEMA’s needs. He is going to do whatever he feels is necessary to grab the sit even if he does not mean what he says or he says what he doesn’t mean.

When Al-Qaeda attacked the Twin Towers, didn’t exclusively contemplated the immense loss of lives the caused. All involved well knew that in order to hurt the USA, putting the country in a precarious financial situation would do much more damage than anything else. Certainly there were huge financial losses as result of this attack. But the American resilience overcame this promptly and effectively. However, as well, that attack was an aggression that provoked action and such action will be reflected in a military response that would cost the US a fortune. This situation was so cleverly managed by extremists, that British and American intelligence gathered false information that pointed Saddam Hussein involved in the attack and that Iraq owned weapons of mass destruction. Even though the UN inspectors insisted that was not the case. Ten years later, not only we know that was false, but we added five thousand lives into our loses and financially, the US was in need of borrowing a few trillion dollars to finance the wars. We can look with positive eyes at this military effort if we wish. Using the fact that Hussein is no longer in power so there is no threat and as well that Bin Laden and some of his top people are no longer – adds to this justification that most would or will celebrate. But the financial damage is here and it will be extremely difficult and lengthy to fix. We will, as we had with many other troubles. It will require loads of compromises, perhaps sacrifices, such as a tax increase once the employment numbers improve but reducing the programs that usually are reduced such as education and FEMA in this case, will not pay off as the businesses that made several million dollars to Romney. However, there is one impending threat that nobody has anything to do with and no one can stop: Mother nature.
Whether we are passing through a man created global change or it is part of nature’s cycles, it is clear the natural disasters of the last decade or so, are beyond imagination and extremely costly. Those disasters will not cease for as long as the weather patterns do not return to the known old patterns. The presence of natural mega tragedies will continue happening and that not only will impose a grand amount of dollars costs but as well, will make unstable our economy every time a grand disaster happens. I bet you that couple of days the Stock Market closed, because Sandy, will cost several millions of dollars to investments.
We’ve seeing huge and strong hurricanes and many more that were usual. Uncanny sand storms, unbelievable rains producing massive floods, droughts unparalleled to our records, extreme temperatures. immense wild fires, and more. And there is no much we can do about it, but endure it. As if that would not be enough, our seven billion population make this tragedies a tremendous losses due to death and displacement of massive numbers of people. This has been happening all over the world not just here. And when these tragedies happen in other region of the world, although what we contribute to help those suffering nations is not significant compared to their tragedy, it adds to our financial toll. But we cannot close our eyes to the pain and suffering of the world. That is not the role of the most powerful nation in the world. Unless we don’t care for what the world perceives of USA. As well, we have to look at the secondary results of these disasters. Gasoline and food go up and even after the situation is normalized, they stay up. Take for instance, Florida recently faced one of the worse freezes in history. Citrus went up at least 50% or more. OK, demand is large, supply is low. However, the prices never went down after they resumed normal production. At least in the Mid-Atlantic area. Same with gas prices. Demand went up, prices went sky high. Demand went down and the small reduction of those prices does not reflect the prices we were paying at the pump when we consumed those lower levels.

The solution to the financial US problem only have one solution and that solution does not depend on our government. It depends on all of us. But the government can very well help to a point that we move in that direction. We need more professional people in all research, development and implementation fields to export our advances and goods. But that cost money. Tons of money and Romney, contrary to Obama will like to reduce the budget for education and related resources. We need millions of professionals that collect incomes in the six digit figures and create new businesses through new technologies. However, wise investors such as Romney, will only invest in secured profit operations and new technologies are not that secured. Unless they prove it over an extended time. Take for instance Facebook. Personally, I do not appreciate the contribution of Facebook, but I admit, my imagination falls short to envision the future benefits of Facebook. However, that new field grew faster than anything previously known. I became parallel to Microsoft, Cisco, Google and many more newer mega million businesses. But investments into Facebook are not moving as it would a share from Apple or Goggle, etc. What is the problem with the investors? The want a secured, sure and fast return. OK, everyone is entitled to do so but we cannot disregard the fact that the USA became what it is, thanks to those professionals, entrepreneurs, scientists and manufacturers and workers. Our most important task is to secure we continue doing so and before other nation wins that technology. China as we speak, is moving forward and faster than any other nation towards Wind Technology. Because Solindra failed we should not push that industry? Obama took a risk and didn’t pay off. Oh well, so what is next?

The legislative body now, specially with the coming elections, is holding Obama’s power and initiative, so he is unable to make drastic investments and subsides to newer technologies. Something that he promises to do if elected. I hope so, because I am sure there will be many more natural disasters and at some point we are going to need to relocate massive amounts of people (think the coast line), develop, create and build new technology in home building industries. As well, we need to do whatever it takes to insure our water supply and agricultural areas are well if we are punished again by mother nature. Natural disasters not only kill tons of people and produce massive costs, but does not allow to survive properly those that heavily depend on meeting ends in this bad economy.

The Obama administration was on top of Sandy. Hurray for Obama! At this point, a few important people are recognizing that this has been the storm of the century. I hope the worse that NY city faces ever! FEMA is ready to tackle the humongous task they have in their hands. Both legislative parties seem to be in agreement about providing the needed funds to FEMA and the rest is a matter of time. Hopefully we put this in the past promptly and likely we will forget about it during the election day. But we maybe thrown back into remembering it, depending on who is elected. We don’t need another Bush and Katrina. Hopefully, Obama receives the deserving credit for being there when he was needed and wins this election. As you can see, at this point I truly know who I am voting for. I am voting for progress, change and a future that we all can count on!

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“Satellite picture” of planet earth

By Isis Win

Forgive me if you believed you would find a photo from any of the earth’s orbiting satellites. I meant to say, not a bird’s-eye view but farther than that. A quick glance of our planet and all in it. And for the sake of considering that we must commit to two things in life: First to enjoy to its fullest what we have and make the best out of it. Anyone older than 40-year-old can testify that regardless of how tough and complex life was for them before that age, when looking back, everything improved, for most part. Second, whether it is timely or not, we all must do everything within reach to aid our planet that is suffering from neglect and abuse for centuries, especially post the Industrial Era.

About the first one, I enjoy repeating what my dad told me when I was a young 20-year-old. “Reach for full happiness, fulfillment and nurturing because it takes as much effort than not to.” That day changed my entire life forever. Before that day, I had the notion that reaching for the stars was some form of “greed”. After that, although there might be very few possible dreams that cannot be achieved, most are possible. However, depending on what, the odds might be really large and bad. But it is possible to reach almost the impossible and for as long as we invest into that reaching our goal. Take for instance, people who were told that they will never walk, and not only did they, but as well many became achievers in sports. Hopefully, you’ve not been overwhelmed by cynicism resulted by the latest US and world issues, therefore stop reading me.
In regards of the second one, if we remove our selves from the self-centered ego, we may admit that we are a guest in this life and planet. Therefore, we must pay our utmost respect and gratitude towards it. Something that doesn’t happen in the large-scale.
Just take that orbital view for a second.

The actual status of our world, societies, cultures, etc, perhaps is not any different from our old past. It is a fact that although our current knowledge in some fields, sciences, technologies, etc, is uncanny, we are learning many folds more as we go and learn that what we once believed is not quite so. An irony, considering that our modern history presents an incredible growth, progress, etc, in just one millennia. But it is a fact that we almost are like the early men of the tribal times. People still kill people whether there is a reason or not. Consider the amount of people dying from the hand of men: although it is a little less than the previous century, we still kill millions of people every year.
Societies in many cultures as well are cluttered with serious men creating problems that negatively affect their people, society and future, such as some of the obsolete Middle East cultures that still are a century ago times with their obsolete customs. Customs that deny personal freedom, growth and choices in life. Not to mention the adverse treatment of women and children in so many societies. Many African countries are on this same boat. Even in Latin-America we can find governments that do a great job keeping their people fully repressed and contained, for the sake of political, military and corporate greed. I suppose you get that picture. One scary problem is the extensive abuse towards children and women across the world, including the US.  At this stage in our progress?
How about the lack of consideration towards our natural resources and land? This is another clear case of severe abuse and one day we may find out that the price is one that was totally unsuspected, such as the possible result of draining the water tables or the fossil oil deposits, deforesting humongous tracts of land and of course, polluting our planet with all sorts of waste.
Perhaps the worse of all problems among us people, is the fact that consciousness for the most part is not even close to what it should be. I don’t mean to blame anyone for anything, but if we look at the fact, for instance, that in 1973 we faced a petrol crisis that made evident: this is a matter of national security and our car makers and the largest number of buyers, still propagated gas guzzlers called SUV’s. Not to mention that an average of 80% of the private vehicles in the world circulate just with the driver. And let me mention that many of those rides are just a few blocks away and that errand could wait or be pooled with many errands in the same area. How about consumption of electric power? Most developed countries are simply coping with a borderline demand/supply. Here in the US, a very bad cold or hot season can very easily cripple our power supply and it can take weeks to repair it. In case you have not noticed, many summers and winters, the supply of electric power has been accomplished thanks to lowering the total output in the power stations and lines, otherwise, many users would have lost power. As important as not having the readiness to prevent serious trouble (Smart grid), our industries keep coming up with more and more electrical devices that become a “need” at most consumer homes.  
And did you say water? In many states, the water supply is dwindling really fast and badly. As well, lets take in consideration places like Phoenix that according to scientists, are sinking every year because their water table, right under the city, is becoming empty and leaving a cavity almost as large as the city. Los Angeles and San Diego are approaching a pretty bad situation too. The diversion of the Colorado river is becoming more complex, besides the fact that it has environmentally affected many realms and it is clear, southern California will need to resort to something else, really fast. They are considering desalinization of the Pacific waters, which is extremely expensive, and environmentally toxic since it consumes huge amounts of power. As well, look at our trees and the consumption of their byproducts. They are perhaps one of the most taken for granted gifts from nature and we are literally exterminating the greens from tropical and rainforest lands. Not to mention the shrinking farming land and for the sake of never-ending newer housing projects.
We must, as well, include the tremendous effects of several corporations that have no regard for anything but making capital: Mining, oil, energy, housing, even farms that abuse the capacity of the ground they use for their crops. The list can be very long.

Can we say part of those corporations is the organized crime in the world? Whatever we call it, it is a fact that those organizations are hundreds more folds damaging that the old mafia in the US and Europe. La Cosa Nostra simply looks like a joke compared to what exist today in every nation of the world. According to the reported numbers around the world, drug trafficking dollars are the largest money-maker in the world through history. And the production of firearms and its easy availability as well is a serious problem around the globe, primarily in the US.

Our presence in the planet has not improved accordingly to our growth. We are lacking and getting behind in social and natural issues and the ridiculous part of it is that only a few people take in consideration that every single person in the planet takes away some of those precious resources. Sadly, the majority settle for believing their presence is not affecting anything negatively.

Although scientist can’t concur about the reasons for what we’ve witnessing in our planet in the recent years, all of them agree on one item: Our planet is going through a very serious and complex change and the truth is that not even they can predict the outcome in the up coming decade. While some insist global warming is the result of human intervention, others say that what we are witnessing is another stage of our planet. But all agree with the fact that the emissions of air pollutants are rapidly increasing global warming. Regardless of what the reason might be, the imperative fact is that we don’t know for sure for how long we will survive on this planet at this rate. Several science fields support the idea that several natural factors may or will create famine across the world. Many of them insist that we are still in time to prevent making things much worse and but as well, that we need to act pro-actively NOW with measures that counteract many of those problems. The US, China, Russia among other countries simply consume as much as is supplied and their needs increase in alarming numbers. And what about our population growth? We grow like if we have places to go, food to produce and all resources are unlimited. But we fail to look into the big picture such as making sure all sorts of food can be supplied reliably, something that as well is fading because humongous extensions of land simply are drying and becoming sterile. As well, new diseases, suspected to be the result of global warming, are destroying the habitat of many species that in their turn sustain many others. And we can’t ignore the recent diseases such bird flu, among many others that at some point can get out of control and still we have no mechanisms to prevent it nor that will insure everyone surviving them.

I know this sounds like a science fiction negative review but we can’t ignore the facts that are right in front of our eyes. The point here is, that we all must actively get involved in making adjustments to decelerate this toxic process and believe it or not, all small measures add up to a point that it can make a drastic difference. A difference of life or death. Take for instance Brazil that moved from a 80% dependency from fossil fuels to less than 20%. If the Middle Eastern oil producers decide to sabotage the world, what can we do? But Brazil has taken measures to prevent this disaster. Brazil no long ago was a poor, underdeveloped country and today is moving along with the industrialized nations of the world. Today, it is one of the fastest growing economies.

Life is busy, loaded with tons of responsibilities and obligations, and at times it really is hard to cope with them. Then all we care is about resting or playing as hard, but allocating some of that time in our lifestyles to making sure at least every single individual takes care of her or his own, can make that difference that we desperately need, unless, we opt for ignoring the facts and assume that since we can only live around one hundred years, we are not going to suffer any of those cataclysms. In other words, we have the option to remain unconscious, irresponsible, self-centered and ignore that life is much more that our own selves. Not a very good option because at some point, we all will face our shortcomings and failures. It is much better doing it now than later.

As important as all of above, we must dedicate time to inventory our state of mind and happiness to adjust accordingly and always making sure we live well, happily and fulfilled.
I know it takes work and consistency to live well and achieve a state of mind in life that is fully harmonious, loving, satisfying and nurturing. For our selves and as well for others. That is something that most of us aim for anyway! At least during our first twenty or so years of life.

The demands in life are usually large, come in a lump sums and as will require the highest immediacy. Therefore it is not rare that we suffer, struggle and become frustrated. Forgetting that one of the most important elements in life is to find fulfillment while we accomplish our responsibilities and duties, is a luxury that no one can afford. However, it is not rare to see that people drift with those daily demands and forget about the search for fulfillment. This is a tendency that we must keep in check often. If we feel right and find enlightenment in life and through life, the world we live in will be enhanced the very same way. That is the most effective way to cope and deal with hard feelings, rejection, frustration, anxiety, etc. In fact, it is well-known that the contrary may lead  to illness of all kinds. Because that, we must do as much as we need to make sure we remain in that path of enlightenment as we deal with the rest of mundane life.

The reason for abuse of alcohol, drugs, sex, power, etc, is nothing else but lack of fulfillment in life. And abuse of all that leads to abuse towards people, world, situations, etc, creating a miserable world around us. That can easily become a vicious circle an it will be even more difficult to pull out of it. The other option, one that a few take, is to numb our self and keep going and going. However, if we numb our minds, hearts and soul, we lose perspective and aim. And that is a much more difficult path to endure.

At the end of the year many people tend to make resolutions that ultimately will lead to the state of mind I mention here, but it is to easy to lose track of it and as well, we can’t become obsessive about it because all we do is aim towards frustration. And in the very same way that we do that, we will do so much good taking care of our loaned planet. We will personally benefit from the same. I am sure no one can argue the fact that when we are surrounded by good and happy people, we are happy people too. So, before leaving home to work, school, find a job, etc, we must make sure we are in the highest of all spirits and we must make sure we come across that way.

Again, I hope life has not treated you so badly that you became a cynic, but even if so, you can change that. All it takes is to have the right disposition, to keep working at it and although it may take some time, you will see the results. Once there, it will be easy sailing through the waters of life and you will make room for others that seek for the very same. Just remember, we can lose everything we gained in life except who we are – as we are. That is the resource we need – when things get bad – and like a magic act, we realize that actually, although it was pretty bad, what we found is many folds much better. But keep in mind, that is not something that others or life owe to us. That is something that we earn with lots of work but it is always perfectly doable and reliable. And it takes de same amount of effort than not to!