Art and Climate Photos

Art Polanski was difficult to ignore. I was all about diversity and even I had difficulty with his acting out and belligerence. But he was a poet, a sensitive soul, and a fucking brilliant programmer. And this is a tribute to him.

Art smelled bad and looked bizarre. He wore zebra-striped pajama pants, printed tee-shirts over his barrel chest, and sandals. His hair was long and flowing, reminiscent of Sunday school pictures of Jesus, except Art’s hair was usually damp and probably greasy.

Art couldn’t sit still, especially in conversation, and would make grunting noises and seemingly uncontrollable editorial blurts.

I was told that after his first meeting with management, the deputy director erupted out of his office red faced,”Who the hell hired that guy?!?” Art had been hired, over the phone, by the chief scientist; Art was a graduate of MIT and knew the material.

His biggest crime was that he was gay. He wasn’t flamboyant; that would have been more acceptable. Art was just authentically Art. I never saw him more blissful and content than when he returned to work after the rainbow festival. But when that euphoria wore off he was back to acting out.

Art was lonely. The only family I heard him speak of was his sister; he said she suffered the same illness but hers was worse. Later, when he was arrested, the marshals found him living in squalor with cat feces on the floor.

But Art was also very intelligent. His disorder, or the medication for it, made him hot. When they screwed his window shut, he wedged a seed under the head of the screw and watered the seed. The judge at Art’s hearing, nearly a year later, said he would have done the same thing had he been smart enough to think up the seed trick.

Ultimately, Art was arrested for endangering the lives of others; he had a nose bleed and wiped blood onto the window in front of the exercise bike in the fitness room and he was gay. That made his bloody snot a ‘lethal weapon.’

Art was first put on administrative leave. I was given his project to finish. He called me late one day and he was quiet and subdued and said he didn’t blame the director; Art admitted that he had brought it on himself.

They held Art in federal prison for six months before giving him a hearing. He was charged with a misdemeanor and ‘time served.’ It was months later that he was found dead in his home.

While Art was in prison, he sent me a poem. I wish I still had it. He would stand at the window of his cell looking out at the field of yellow flowers…and watch as they were being mowed.

I took these photos of the draft climate report. My favorite photo is the one above. I first made the graph on the left in November 1997 when I finished the coding that was started by Art. My name then was Catherine S. Godfrey.

Art Polansky, this is for you.

Addendum: As a sworn civil servant, I took an oath, and because of that oath I feel bound by it to not “copy, cite, or distribute”. But I am also a photographer and writer. The draft says nothing about those activities. This is me, sticking it to the man.

 

Call it ‘Resistance Aikido’

President Trump is intent on busting up bureaucracies and destroying regulations.  Before you protest, think.  Have you ever been hampered by a governmental rule, limit, or regulation when attempting to further your causes?  Although your interests and values may run opposite to Trump’s, you can benefit from his actions and momentum.

Here are some strategies I have recommended to local resistance movements:

When the regulations are dropped, push things through. Don’t wait. In the confusion, much ground can be gained.

Can you benefit from a reduction in ethics rules? For example, government employees are (or were when I was an employee) restricted from accepting fees for public speaking. If similar regulations get dropped, how can you benefit? What have you been prevented from doing because it may be misconstrued as being unethical? Are there people, agencies, or groups you can approach now that were off-limits before? Is there information or other assistance you can get now that was not accessible or was too-classified before?

What benefits, that Trump intends for the wealthiest few, can we get in line for? What about asking the wealthiest few to pass along to the needy what has now been lost. Are there members of the wealthiest 2% that support the weak, disabled, uneducated, marginalized, or poorly tended to? Would the wealthiest tech billionaires consider devoting the money and benefits that they will soon gain, by way of Trump deregulation, to (continue and further) the efforts to provide internet, cell phone, and digital information access to the poorest communities? Has anyone asked them to?

When bureaucracies are busted up, other agencies my be able to address issues (particularly if there is a law stating that said issue must be addressed) without lots of limits yet in place. For example, in the late 1990s and early 2000s, the White House was restricted in what it could put on the internet (long approval processes) but a branch of NOAA had no such restrictions, hence my posting of data and analyses supporting VP Gore’s briefings on climate change. When we lose a government service due to the loss of an agency, try a work around. Ask someone else.

Will limits and restrictions on what is considered a non-profit be reduced or dropped? The ruling that political statements and endorsements cannot be made from a pulpit (because it calls into question a church’s non-profit standing) is going to be, or has been, dropped. Go to it. Start preaching from pulpits. Get church endorsements for legislation or community action. Take up collections for causes during the service. Both sides get to play by the change in rules.

Going back to capital punishment in schools may possibly be addressed. What works when kids act out? Is there a method that really works? Solitude? Time alone with music or inspirational messages? Counseling?  If school prayer is implemented, then try also school meditation. What about proposing teaching kindness as a required subject in schools? What about courses on cooperation and success? When they push pledging allegiance to the flag, make sure they emphasize “with Liberty and Justice for ALL.”

Play their game. Use their changes. Call it ‘Resistance Aikido.’

Celestial Navigation

On my former blog, The View from 5022, I wrote about making necessary adjustments to one’s life and efforts by using the analogy of sailing.  The post is titled “Coming About.”  A few nights ago, I performed the equivalent of pumping out the bilge, trimming the sails, and charting a new course.

To continue with that analogy, since the end of last year, I have experienced stalls, squalls, and I’ve run aground a few times.  But more recently, there have been breaks in the clouds and a freshening breeze.  When I crawled into bed Monday night, I knew there was much to be thankful for but, because of all of it, I felt a bit battered.  I grabbed a pen and the closest thing to write on, a prayer and praise journal (which was fitting), and made an assessment of the gains and the losses.

I had been struggling for months with a particular Canadian-born bank which had mismanaged my account and reversed a payment to the IRS, costing me hundreds of dollars in penalties, fees, and increases in interest.  The government consumer protection agency and the senator’s office helping me with the issue informed me Monday that the issue is being dropped.  To stay upset would only hurt me.  I tossed the issue over-board.

Inspired by the marches on Saturday, I enthusiastically volunteered my services to the senator’s office and was told someone might be in touch…at some point…maybe.  Issue tossed.

Since just after Christmas, I have written (actual letters on actual note cards in actual cursive handwriting) to 9 friends and family members.  None of them have responded.  Looking for addresses of others to write to, I came across an old phone list.  On it was the name of a former doctor who, earlier last year, had been enduring cancer treatments and surgery, a long time friend who, earlier last year, had been reeling from the emotional blow of retirement, and a former coworker, from 2001 time-frame, who was likely concerned about the future of her career with a governmental climate science agency.  I made the calls and was met with instant re-connection, filling my emotional sails with billowed hopes.

These issues and more were lined up down both sides of the pages like small fishing skiffs bobbing in the waves…but there was something else still disturbing me…

Last Summer, when preoccupied with my sister’s arrival from Alaska, I stopped attending the small Episcopal church on the other side of town.  Driving by there late last month, I saw on their marquee a notice about an oyster roast.  On Saturday, I noticed the date had been changed to this weekend.  I called.  I volunteered to help.  However, I was informed that the priest I had known there had died, suddenly, in December.  (I wrote about several of his homilies last year.  See “To the Extent that One is Forgiven, One is Capable of Loving” and “What I Didn’t Know.”)  He was one of the few people who has believed my inner experience of God.  (Father B: “You help me because you are able to hear what it is I am trying to say.”)  Recalling that he was now gone from earth, my enthusiasm was suddenly becalmed; I felt more alone on earth than I had before.

My faith and beliefs have come under attack, recently, by bloggers from opposite ends of the religious spectrum.  On the one hand, there are the bloggers who hold that all people should believe xyz, strictly and immediately.  (I respond that each person should be allowed and encouraged to be where they are on their spiritual path to God; at least they are on the path and God is not done with them yet.)  On the other, there are those who hold a larger view but accuse me of insisting that mine is the only way.  (I am out of words with that one; My way is MY WAY and I offer it as an example…nothing more.)

At the same time, ironically, I have discovered that there is a spiritual path…a Christian path…with followers who hold the same beliefs I do.  Although I have come to my beliefs, faith, and inner life the hard way, having found them, I sought to join them.  It seems, however, that although they acknowledge my interest, I have been excluded apparently because I lack the expected background and education.  So, I will continue on my own, navigating by the heavens and sailing ‘solo.’

The course I am left with is a simpler one, lacking an itinerary with specified destinations. It is more a way of sailing:  trusting in the guiding stars (Jesus and the communion of saints) and the breeze on my face.   Watching the tell tail, testing the wind, keeping an eye on the horizon (and the channel markers),…this is the stuff of life.

 

(I borrowed the image above from the web)