Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Bald and Beautiful

It was the spring of 1995. Dan and I were having a little outing in the city, and had seated ourselves at a table in a small semi-posh restaurant. The waitress had taken our order, and as we waited for our food to be prepared, we couldn’t help overhearing the rather loud conversation at a nearby table.

Two women were going on about how hard it was to get a good hairdresser these days, all the trials they’d been through, trying this color and that style, all ending in exasperation.

I reached up and touched the bare stubble of hair on my scalp, and an evil thought crossed my mind. I leaned over and whispered to Dan, “They better STAY AWAY from my hairdresser if they know what’s good for them. I’ve been going to the Hairdresser from Hell!”

I write this as a salute to my then-self, and to all women who choose as I did, to go bald in chemotherapy. There is something powerful and good about loving yourself no matter what. Deciding to stand up for honesty, for simplicity, for not hiding or needing to hide.

Wearing a wig may be just the thing for some women, but for me it was hot and itchy, an unnatural thing on my head, when my scalp just longed to breathe free. Some women wear fancy scarves or hats, and I do not object to their choices. Of course wear a hat on a cold winter day, or if feeling especially jaunty, adorn your head with something fun. But let it be for the joy of it, and not out of fear of how you look.

When strangers noticed me on the street, I thought with my bald head and big smile I might look like a rock star, a Buddhist nun, or a chemo patient just glad to be alive. Occasionally someone would know, and just give me a smile and victory sign – those were the best.

The trials of chemotherapy are long behind me. I’ve had countless haircuts since that day. But today, when I met another bald-headed woman, it gave me such a feeling of joy to find another one unafraid to be herself. It is a sure sign of life, and I celebrate her life even as I celebrate my own.

Gail Murray 1/31/2007

Monday, January 15, 2007

The Moon Shot of this Age

Solving the energy crisis will be the Moon Shot of this age. Not only finding clean new sources of energy, but the more challenging task of developing the infrastructure to store and deliver it to wherever it is needed.

Local generation of energy is the ideal - using whatever is locally abundant - solar, wind, geothermal, waves, etc. I had a neighbor who illustrated this in a low-tech way with a solar panel in the bed of his pickup truck, trickling hydrogen into a tank, and running his truck on that.

This is not an insurmountable challenge - if the desire and will and resources are there. People will figure this out. There will be new storage technologies too - better batteries or something even more elegant. Consider the leap we have already made from diskettes to flash drives as an example of the transformation required. There is such an urgent need for this that engineers and tinkerers all over the world are working on it.

Whenever the price of gas jumps a nickel and people start worrying, I always think it should cost $10 a gallon! Maybe then we'd see some serious energy research. In the meantime, it may help to keep framing the Iraq war as Zbigniew Brzezinski did recently on the PBS Newshour, as a colonial war in a post-colonial period. And I would add, a colonial war for energy.

Gail Murray 1/15/2007

Friday, January 12, 2007

Bad Examples Also Serve

Years ago, Kurt Vonnegut in his eerily humorous novel, Cat’s Cradle, coined a phrase that seems to fit the circumstances George W. Bush finds himself in today. A wrang-wrang is a person who serves as a bad example to others by showing what happens when a line of thinking or action is carried to its logical conclusion.

The president of a democracy who believes in the joys of liberty and speaks of them all the time, but acts like a dictator, ignoring the will of his own people – that president serves as a wrang-wrang to leaders of would-be democracies throughout the world. Don’t become a democracy if you don’t want to be undone by the will and authority of your own people.

I believe we have reached that point in America where the people will not stand for it any more. No more blood for oil. No more raining devastation on civilian populations. No more time wasted when we could be developing our own energy and health care solutions. No more turning away when we could be proudly joining with other nations in finding environment solutions that will help the whole world.

A president always hopes for a legacy. There certainly is one now. But in a curious way the image of Bush as a wrang-wrang could serve to strengthen our own democracy as Americans rise to reclaim the power and goodness that has always been ours.

Gail Murray 1/12/2007

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Send in the dead

And now for the computer error that says it all - they're sending the dead to fight in Iraq! No, this isn't the roaring finale to The Lord of the Rings, it's today's news.

Here is a simple human error, compounded and multiplied by the computer. Heart-wrenching for those who received such letters, yet on another level, sometimes an error unwittingly points to the truth. Why is the military stretched so thin? Why so many tours of duty? Why these letters right after Christmas?

I first spotted this article in the wee hours on the AP site, then on CNN. Strangely, a short while later, both items had disappeared. Now you can find it on, or with careful googling, the original Reuters story will come up. Perhaps, like the Watergate break-in, the story behind the story is one that is growing by the minute.

- Gail

January 6th, 2007 2:26 pmArmy mistakenly asks deceased to re-enlist
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Army said on Friday that it will apologize to the families of deceased and wounded officers that it mistakenly encouraged to re-enlist via letters sent out in late December.
About 75 families of deceased officers and 200 families of wounded officers received such letters sent to more than 5,100 officers between December 26 and 28, the Army said in a statement.
"Unfortunately, the database used to address those letters contained names of officers who were killed in action or wounded," the Army said. "Army personnel officials are contacting those officers' families now to personally apologize for erroneously sending the letters."
The names of these soldiers had been removed from the database, but an earlier version of the list was mistakenly used, the Army said.
The Army said it is taking steps to ensure this mistake does not happen again.
On Thursday, a U.S. soldier was killed in western Baghdad, bringing the total to 3,006 the number of U.S. soldiers killed so far since the U.S.-led invasion in March 2003.
The United States has 132,000 troops in Iraq and President George W. Bush plans to unveil a new Iraq strategy as early as next Wednesday that could include a short-term increase of up to 20,000 U.S. troops in the country.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

First Step

(c) gg murray 2007