Dan Valentine, just rambling

May 14, 2010

Ever so often my dad would write a column tagged “JUST RAMBLING”, bits and pieces of off-beat facts and observations and tidbits, a little this, a little that …

Hence, today, “JUST RAMBLING:

To save money, when I had a little, I had a routine in Nashville. I would walk downtown to the Marriott, pour myself a free cup of hospitality coffee, and put a free hospitality orange or two in my pocket.

One morning I’m standing on a corner by the Marriott, peeling an orange, in my own little world (my friend calls me The Man Who Isn’t There; inside my head I’m always writing), when it dons on me that the street is jam-packed with bystanders gathered around watching a bench being hosed down.

I asked a cop what was up, and he told me somebody had put a couple of bullets into the body of a homeless man sleeping there.


A few days later a homeless man sleeping in a dumpster was found burned alive. Someone or three had poured kerosene on him and lite a match.

I googled “homeless” “murders” a couple of months ago and found a website–can’t remember what it’s called–listing murder after murder, day after day, of homeless people all over the country. With pics! It doesn’t make the nightly news. Cable is all commentary now, little news. They don’t want to upset the viewing public, I guess …

When I was in Austin, there was a story in the local paper about the many people who would back up their pick-ups and dump their trash into Lake Lady Bird.

I don’t get it.

I stayed a month in Jamaica Beach, down the road from Galveston, by a canal. I’d be sitting on the porch and every so often someone in a pick-up would back up and–you guessed it–dump his/her trash into the canal.

I don’t get it.

In Nashville, this past September, when classes first started at Vanderbilt, I’m walking down the street and a young college kid with a beer in his hand, chugs the contents and tosses the empty on the sidewalk before walking into a bar. He was two feet from the door. He could have just as easily put it in the trash inside.

I don’t get it.

But bless their kind!

The first day I was homeless, I’m walking down the street in front of Embassy Suites when I happened to look down and see a discarded room key-card on the ground.

Thank you, thank you. Bless you, bless you.

From that moment on, I ate very well. Eggs and ham and bacon, hash browns, coffee and cream, orange and tomato juice, fresh fruit …

At night I would go to the free cocktail hour for a couple of V.O.’s-and-water. The first few days the bartender on duty would ask me if I was a guest and I’d show my key-card. But, after a week or two, the bartenders simply poured me drinks.

Funny. It’s a cognitive thing. The more they saw me, the more important and successful th thought I was. Only a big music exec with a large expense account could afford to stay at Embassy Suites that long.

I was dressed well. A blue sport coat, pressed shirt and slacks, polished shoes, neatly-trimmed hair.

Then reality sets in. The shoes start to show their wear and tear. Your shirt and pants begin to wrinkle. Your hair grows and starts to look unkept, and, well …

To be continued.

Tomorrow, the night I was awakened by the police, hands on holsters …

Pinewood Derby, Scouting and the West Wing

May 14, 2010

What if you were a Cub Scout, hoping to win your Pack’s Pinewood Derby, but your father worked at the White House?  Does the White House support Scouting?

Robert Gibbs at White House press briefing, February 12, 2010

Robert Gibbs at White House press briefing, February 12, 2010 - White House photo

Transcript of White House press briefing from February 12, 2010:

Q    As the honorary President of the Boy Scouts of America, what is the President’s reaction to the New York Post report that because the Scouts have a policy similar to our armed forces, “New York institutions are barring scouts from meeting or recruiting in all public schools”?

MR. GIBBS:  I have not seen the New York Post report and can have somebody —

Q    Well, does he think that it’s fair for them to cut the Scouts out of this?  How does he support — does he disagree with the Scouts or what?  (Laughter.)

MR. GIBBS:  Where are you on this, Lester?  Are you — is this —

Q    Nowhere.  (Laughter.)

MR. GIBBS:  Yes, I do know where.

Q    I support the Scouts.  Do you support the Scouts?

MR. GIBBS:  My son is — we’re constructing the pinewood derby car as we speak.  (Laughter.)

Q    He’s a Scout, your son is a Scout?

MR. GIBBS:  He is, and I think he’s going to be disappointed if his car doesn’t do well, but his father tends to be constructionally challenged.

Thanks, guys.

1:52 P.M. EST

“America’s Climate Choices” – the video

May 14, 2010

This video, from 2009, explains why the National Academies will release four reports on climate change, three of them next Wednesday.

NAS explains it this way at their website:

As part of its most comprehensive assessment to date, the National Research Council – the operating arm of the National Academy of Sciences and National Academy of Engineering – will release three new reports examining how the nation can combat the effects of global warming. One focuses on the science to better understand climate change, and the others review options for limiting the magnitude of and adapting to the impacts of global warming. The reports are part of a congressionally requested suite of studies known as America’s Climate Choices.

National Academies report, “America’s Climate Choices” – coming May 19, with webcast

May 14, 2010

I get e-mail from the good press people at the National Academies (of Science, Engineering, and Medicine):

America’s Climate Choices Reports to be Released May 19 at a Public Briefing

On May 19th, three reports in the America’s Climate Choices suite of studies will be released at a public briefing that begins at 10 a.m. EDT in the Lecture Room of the National Academy of Sciences building, 2100 C St., N.W., Washington. The reports are: Advancing the Science of Climate Change, which focuses on the scientific evidence regarding human-induced climate change and future research needs; Limiting the Magnitude of Future Climate Change, which assesses options for limiting greenhouse gas emissions and taking other actions to reduce the magnitude of climate change; and Adapting to the Impacts of Climate Change, which focuses on options to improving the nation’s capacity to adapt to climate change impacts.

Ralph J. Cicerone, president of the National Academy of Sciences, will deliver opening remarks, and members of the panels that authored the reports will discuss the reports findings and take questions.

America’s Climate Choices also includes two additional reports that will be released later this year: Informing an Effective Response to Climate Change will examine how best to provide decision makers with information on climate change, and an overarching report that looks across the topics of the four panel reports to offer an integrated view of the challenges and opportunities in the nation’s efforts to confront climate change.

The public is invited to the briefing and should RSVP to attend at  americasclimatechoices.org. Those who cannot attend may watch a live video webcast and submit questions at http://www.national-academies.org.

This address works better for giving your RSVP to attend.  A fourth report pends:

Still upcoming is the fourth and final panel report, Informing an Effective Response to Climate Change.

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