One of my beds

Carbon Carbon Carbon

California Governor Brown addressed a UN Summit Tuesday attended by 120 world leaders on the subject of carbon emissions. For California, he set a target of 2030 for drastically reduced emissions which will be more ambitious, more difficult to achieve, because technology has to step forward to help as well as a very large political input.

Notably absent from the summit were the president of China and the prime minister of India, whose countries along with the United States are the worst polluters.

Isn’t it interesting how the enormous slate of GOP presidential candidates has been evading mention of climate change? Wonder if they are working behind the scenes to convert the coal-fired industry in their states so they can finally can come out of the closet? But Senator Inhofe of Oklahoma? He’d rather drown on his mountaintop than even mention climate change.

Pinky trying to sit like me.

Carly Fiorina said What?

Why on earth she has thrown her hat in the ring again is beyond me, although I am bemused at the further splitting of votes for the widening field of GOP presidential candidates. At this rate, each might receive 10,000 votes. Just kidding. But that is the gist of what may happen.

I am taking exception to Fiorina’s comment that she is against the right to abortion. She is saying that no one should have the right to choose, that a 15-year-old child should carry her pregnancy to term and find herself unable to care for the baby, and to hand it over to her parents (if they were around) or give it up for adoption — if that were available.

Life is precious, she implies. Well, yes, even if the unwanted baby must join others of its kindred neglected or inadequately nurtured for lack of time and resources. Imagine its future in this beleaguered society.

At least she is in accord with Pope Francis who also is against abortion. Again, no one speaks of expanding access to contraception, which at least Fiorina could do if not the Pope. Then she might be making sense in her campaign.

The China syndrome

China is burgeoning at an alarming rate, her original communist manifesto now thoroughly mixed with capitalism. My mother’s country wants to expand, install naval bastions in waters in Southeast Asia. Korea is alarmed and her former ally Vietnam is stirring uneasily.

I will never never go back within a thousand miles of that country. If I were of an age to do so I would enlist and fight them if it came to that between countries. I hold a grudge that goes deep for forcing my mother to beg on her knees in Shanghai to join us, her children waiting for her in Hong Kong.

Even being interrogated for six weeks at the hands of the secret police, cold-eyed men trained in the north by Russian communists, does not linger in my psyche in anger. That was what they did — hundreds of foreign nationals were put through the same treatment. Holding Italian citizenship through my father, I was lumped in with the others. Sign this confession or be executed, they told me. I was 18 and a bit young to be charged for spying, for the United States, no less, but I suppose any crime would do in the process of eliminating the unwanted elements of their new society.

Stubborn and angry, I refused to sign, and they didn’t execute me. The Italian citizenship was a deterrent and they executed only Chinese citizens anyway — 20 million, most for nothing more than being “capitalists” or for having been reported for saying something uncomplimentary about the regime. Parents stopped speaking their minds in the presence of their children, who got medals in school for telling on mommy and daddy.

The basic grudge I hold includes the sending of my family out of China with 50 American dollars each to start a new life. My father spent the entire 33-day voyage from Hong Kong to Italy in the cargo ship’s sick ward. His dying was completed a few months later.

Do I forgive China? Do I turn the other cheek to the new China’s billionaires for their causing the approaching extinction of elephants for their tusks? A pox on them, to the death.


HP printer follow up and the Pope

To assure all HP users or would-be purchasers, I hasten to report that my ENVY 4502 all-in-one is working faultlessly.

As for Pope Francis, I was bemused to read in the newspaper recently that he has sent out warnings on climate change, saying flat out that global warming is upon us and the world’s populace should take heed. This announcement is particularly interesting, coming upon, so to speak, the heels of Pope Urban VIIl’s condemning Galileo in 1634 to life imprisonment for the heresy of his belief in heliocentrism. The sun does not revolve around earth, he asserted; it is the other way around. The Roman Inquisition begged to differ.

Times have certainly changed. Pope Francis further speaks out on marriage equality, and the right of women to equal pay and recognition. What next? Is he ever going to countenance contraception beyond the “rhythm” method? not that many Catholics are concerned about that doctrine anyway.

snow leopard

HP printer megrims

My old, beloved HP printer from 2003 having coughed its last on Saturday and no online help leading to a repair, I went to Office Depot to see about a replacement. I wanted no bells and whistles and especially no 7-pack ink cartridges which the new models require. If I wanted to scan or copy, occurrences that fall to me about once a year, I would go to the photo shop.

Wayne, the nice tech salesman, took me through the steps of the HP ENVY 4502 all-in-one wireless number. The scan/copy/photo features were unavoidable, but! it needed only a black and a color ink cartridge.

I spent all of yesterday installing without success, went to an online chat who helped set it up, but only in USB. I didn’t want to know any more than that. I wasn’t going to use the unit in another room; it was going to stay side-by-side with my iMac as the old one did, and I thought I was off to the races.

But the damn paper jammed and there was no way I could see to extract it. The spaghetti tongs from the kitchen couldn’t begin to reach the edge of the jammed paper. The back could not be opened. I called HP support. The lady who purported to help me talked and talked and talked, repeating everything I said and getting it wrong. So I took my ENVY 4502 back to Office Depot where I located Wayne, who found something wasn’t aligned right inside, duly aligned it and presto, printed a page.

My trust in ENVY had gone, though, and I had brought my old printer along to take to a repair shop. Wayne got me a list of suitable repair shops, found the address on his GPS, and pointed me in a northerly direction.

The shop was more like a warehouse, stacked to the ceiling with printers of all vintages to the ceiling. The man played around with the printer, changed ink cartridges in case those were the problem, and finally told me to leave it for him to tinker some more.

That’s where matters stand. As for ENVY, I gingerly went to print something, and it did, without a whimper. But we’ll see tomorrow and tomorrow….

The Snake Woman of Ipanema

The Rio de Janeiro thing

The San Francisco Chronicle reported a few days ago that in the Ipanema neighborhood of Rio de Janeiro, the Lagoa Rodrigo Freitas, a man-made lake, was experiencing a horrendous fish die-off. Raw sewage and an overabundance of trash were blamed for this, but as far as Renato and I knew, the die-off occurred every year when we lived in a house across from the lake decades ago. Lack of oxygen was faulted, but whatever the cause, the overwhelming stink haunted our days and nights until the pitiful belly-up victims were hauled away. We remembered that view fondly.

All the residents along Avenida Epitacio Pessoa considered the annual olfactory punishment a reasonable tradeoff for the view of Corcovado, the Christ on a Cross on its mountaintop beyond the lake, the walking paths around the lake, and the vicinity of Ipanema Beach a few blocks behind us.

But the famed beach of Copacabana is now in crisis with the same fish die-off and tons of sludge and sewage, as well as all the waterfronts up to Guanabara Bay on the city’s opposite side. Anyone who dares to dip a toe there is courting serious disease. The Olympic regatta is being planned in those waters in 2016. How are they going to manage that?

The Snake Woman of Ipanema

Into the woods…

…in Brazil, that is.

We lived in the Ipanema neighborhood of Rio de Janeiro, the preference of most foreigners, but of course Americans always got it in the neck. The locals dubbed it, sarcastically, the American Slum. Wealthy enclave or not, there were these nightly offerings known as despachos on street corners.

The bowl of ground manioc with a piece of blue cloth on top together with an opened bottle of Coca Cola was a petition to Yemanjå, the Virgin Mary. Manioc paired with a piece of chicken and a bottle of beer was meant for Oxalå, or Jesus. With a bottle of cachaça, it was a call to Exü, the devil.

But street corners were not ideal for their purpose. When Renato and I went for a walk in the woods out of town we encountered despachos under trees by a creek. The trees bore colored strips of cloth. The confluence of tree, running water, and tree was best, we were told.

All of it set my imagination on fire. When we came back to live in California, I set to researching for a book, and Renato on his trips back to Brazil bought me reference works in Portuguese on various sects of magic so that The Snake Woman of Ipanema would be utterly authentic.

Each night all over Brazil thousands of spirit rituals — terreiros — burn to spirit deities. The Quimbanda sect is the scariest, and of course I had to include that in Snake Woman.