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May 2010

The Gulf Oil Disaster has a Fine Cast of Characters

Here I am in the middle of another state test, and I prefer to sit around on my butt and watch the mess in the Gulf unfold on my Vizio. Thanks to this mess I am liable to flunk EC-6…now that would be embarrassing.

Bobby Jindal, governor of Louisiana, is beyond handsome riding around in the air boat with Anderson Cooper of CNN's 360. Tony Hayward and Doug Suttles of BP are both nice looking professionals. President Obama missed a lot of great photo opportunities; he would have fit well into this menagerie of over-the-top beautiful middle aged men. All of them serve to remind us of how feeble we are compared to the forces of nature. We are all gorgeous, highly intelligent, and capable of almost any scientific endeavor, yet, this catastrophe could change life on the entire planet.

The woman at the middle of this scandal, Liz Birnbaum, of the Mineral Management Service is not glamorous by any stretch.

Look at the link to view a ridiculous letter from her department.

You could have emailed her with your comments, except she cleaned out her desk today.

Doug Suttles of BP graduated from the University of Texas at Austin. He spent time in Oklahoma and then he moved on to Alaska. In my opinion he is sincerely distraught and unhinged by this disaster. He has a connection to the area and a love for the culture and people.

In the future, many of these talented engineers, leaders, scientists, and decision makers at BP will pay with their careers and credibility. I am hoping Suttles is able to avoid some of the fallout.

I wonder if the mess will be cleaned up by the time I am dead. Not that I plan on going early, it's just that something like this could take decades to resolve.

I guess when school gets out Vince and I will head off to Galveston for our beach and oysters. It doesn't take us long to drive down and we both need out of here for a day or two. While we are there we will sit close to the surf, hold hands, and say a special prayer for the people, animals, and special way of life just across the way.

It is a nightmare in progress.


The Gulf Coast, BP, and Honesty

Tonight I went back to Oklahoma to a time when the raindrops would just fall into the earth and leave dry round pox in the powdery soil. The wind was hot, and blew across the fields relentlessly, drying crops, and withering the faces of the people who lived in the shacks scattered along the narrow roads. I am happy to not be in Oklahoma, yet, I am afraid its era of failure and blight are coming to our more modern America.

I don't feel any rain in the air today, just dry heat and hot wind. This is something that everyone born in Oklahoma lives with, the feeling of doom.

When I was young my family would load me into the Peterbilt and haul me to Houston to unload grain grown in my home state. I would get out of the truck and play in the clam shells, watching the public port cable-lift strain with the weight of our truck dumping our load into bins for the ships to haul away. We would go into the cool air conditioned bar and order sandwiches, short glasses of Coke, and beers for my step dad. Sweat ran down my shirt, through my shorts, and into my sandals, and I could smell the fish frying and see the prostitutes joking with the truckers. They all looked so normal.

My Mom would walk me down to the wharf and we would gaze at the ships together thinking of my dad. We could smell the Gulf air, and watch the fishing boats come into port. We would visit my brother who lived near the waterfront, and then my Mom would be ready to go back to Oklahoma and her normal life.

Now that she is long gone, and my brother too, I often wonder what they would think of our new world…

My brother would be heartbroken about the mess in the Gulf. I know I am. They all would see it for the nightmare it is…

I went back to Oklahoma to a time when men were more honest about religion. I knew a man like that. He was as honest as dirt, yet, he lied about facts. I loved him anyway. We would sit on the step together and I would ask him a question about some dramatic female event, and he would answer with simplicity, earthiness, stripping away the frilly-dilly nonsense forcing me into reality and a sensible, logical solution. I am thankful for those tough men in my life…those honest about religion. He had a voice like velvet, but a hard face and frightening temper. He looked like the devil, but he was honest about religion.

Most people are not honest about anything.

Sometimes I needed a ride to school. When I was desperate and the weather was really miserable, I would call Don. He talked in riddles and it would take me weeks to figure out what he meant. I would be completely confused and finally I would understand his message. People stood aside when his big brown car pulled to the curb; he had a reputation. He was honest about religion. He would be sick about the Gulf, but he died in prison.

Strange how none of these tough and honest people can take BP by the horns, and force them to stop this gaping wound in the floor of our earth. My guess is that the men and women at BP are not honest about religion.

A Few of the Reasons I Love Steinbeck

When you drive into Salinas, California, from the North 101, you are instantly reminded of its most famous resident, John Steinbeck. He has streets named after him, and the only museum dedicated to a single author; his truck and camper from his novel, Travels with Charley, is parked inside and clips from movies that were made from his novels are constantly looping. But Steinbeck was not always California's favorite son.

Born in 1902, he was of German and Irish descent. This made him uncommonly honest, and fearless. His mother was a former teacher, and John shared her passion and outright love of reading. He graduated from Salinas High School in 1919, and briefly attended Stanford. Later, his father allotted him a small sum and a cottage on the Monterrey Peninsula. It was from this little cottage that Steinbeck published his first critically successful novel, Tortilla Flat (1935). His work started to feature icons from the dust bowl era: Okies, poverty, homelessness, concerns about ecology, and the dark side of capitalism.

He also had a beautiful sense of humor. Sometimes when he traveled to award ceremonies, universities, and political events people would confuse him with Ernest Hemingway. When they would gushingly ask "Mr. Hemingway" for his autograph, John would just smile and say, "But, of course!" He would sign Hemingway's signature with a flourish, and walk away smiling.

Steinbeck's work is especially relevant now as we struggle with our new economy and issues with ecology. The Grapes of Wrath (1940 Pulitzer Prize) features the Joads, a family coping with poverty and homelessness; this theme is not uncommon in our world today. The novel was also banned by the Kern County, California, school board; many of his former neighbors and friends were insulted by the truth in his fiction. The moral and ethical dilemmas that made Steinbeck's liberalism unpopular in his day are now becoming current once again. In 1962 Steinbeck won the Nobel Prize for literature. Steinbeck passed away on December 20, 1968; the year before his death, he spent time in Vietnam as a war correspondent.

L. Eckert

I am waiting on the National Steinbeck Center to ship my copy of "Working Days," a personal journal of his daily life. You can also reference the book below to examine an author's journey into biography. Very fascinating.

Benson, Jackson J. Looking for Steinbeck's Ghost. Oklahoma:

University of Oklahoma, 1988

This comment should speak for itself. It is the height of stupidity.

But Transocean's Newman said offshore production projects "begin and end with the operator, in this case BP" and that his company's drilling job was completed three days before the explosion and there's "no reason to believe" the blowout protector mechanics failed.

I borrowed this comment from:

Tiger Woods, Sarah Palin, and Other Disappointing Characters

After all of the encouragement the world has given Tiger, he decides to limp off the stage with a neck injury. And now Sarah Palin is squawking again when most of the civilized world just wishes she would shut up. My child is acting up in school, and three of his A's are slipping into B's. Tonight I am dealing with the swing between older brain and very young; I had to help create an Alamo visual. Most of the time, I can't remember if my comma goes before my 'and,' or after. My life is that confusing.

Poor negative little me…

I am tired at the keyboard; my eyes have sand in them, however, I want to write something to the people who follow me relentlessly. I want to remind you that I am grateful for your loyalty. Even if you have to sneak up in the dark of night wearing nothing but your nightgown to read me, I consider you loyal. You do not disappoint me.

Today I was walking around an apartment complex with the hot wind blowing sand into the cracks of my toes. My pants kept creeping down, and I knew my hair was full of dirt and sweat, but I was happy.

I ponder this question of disappointment and negativity…hmm. I think I am surprisingly positive considering my obstacles. I am angry.

That's why I always keep a dog. You can always rely on your dog to love you.

I keep thinking about Tiger Woods. He can do what he loves and make tons of money. But for whatever reason, and I bet it's financial, he is so upset his neck is killing him. He has a pain in the neck. I understand that.

Sarah Palin is running around threatening the disabled and elderly again with fictitious panels…shouldn't she be out there yelling "Drill Baby Drill" like some psychopathic derrick hand?

I really wanted to write the great American novel tonight, or maybe a classic poem. But I am just too negative and tired. I have these terrible issues…pages and pages of unfinished business. Lately I have written under myself…that's because I am fed up with the oligarchy again. But I am finding wonderful material, and I hope other writers can find this in my pages too.

The debauchery of gossipy old goats is fodder for the pen.

I can hardly wait to get started on a day when I am more alert…another great classic is coming.

Back to this discussion of loyalty…isn't that the real issue? Some people are so two-faced they don't even know how cheap their veneer. Mine is at the very least high quality. You can find me at Horchow's.

Well that is it for tonight. A real weblog it is, nothing special to communicate, nothing that obvious.

Gushing Oil and Stolen Lives

Today I wanted to read from Sand Creek, written by Native American poet and author Simon Ortiz. When I opened his book to find a favorite poem, my hand guided me to pages 52 and 53. Simon was writing about a moment in his life when he was being watched suspiciously by a clerk in a Salvation Army store.

I couldn't have stolen anything:

My life was stolen already.

His life was stolen, and I understand his meaning. My own experience is similar to his… .

We both understand something about catastrophe, the lies, and unmitigated cruelty. Simon has a closer connection to the earth than most do. He is a man involved with nature, and so are many of his people from Acoma Pueblo.

Now the lives of many Gulf Coast residents will slowly be stolen by a sheen of oil. I feel sorry for the people who work in the fishing industry.

Today I watched a senator from Louisiana talk about reparations for the people who are going to lose their way of life. I had to laugh. No checkbook is large enough to clean up the mess from this catastrophe.

You might be offended by my negativity…hmmm, I really don't care. I suggest you look into realism, a type of literature. I suggest you read about loss, and theft. You might find it isn't negativity, it is only realism. People who believe money fixes every problem, are narrow and superficial.

While I was attending a paralegal school in Houston, I was asked to write a paper about success. My teacher loved it. She said I was the only person out of hundreds who defined the term. My thesis was simple: success is a moment in time when you have accomplished a goal, that feeling of euphoria that comes from doing something you love. It isn't the culmination of a journey, but the journey itself.

When you have stolen someone's life, then you have sullied your journey.

Whatever BP does to repair the damage, it will never be enough for the people who are now suffering;  the Gulf waters will take years to recover.

BP has sullied everyone's journey.