Bad habits are hard to break…

Why are we just now thinking about reducing our energy consumption? Why now?

A year ago, I wasn’t this concerned with the amount of plastic I was using or how many miles I was driving in my car. Now, I’m completely obsessed with it and cringe each time I can’t recycle something. I think that it’s because this oil spill has really hit home for me. I thought that the oceans and beaches of my hometown would always be there. In the back of my mind, regardless of where I was living at the time, I knew I could go home, and they would be there waiting for me. Well, that’s not necessarily true anymore. I’m nervous to put one toe in that water, especially because of the Corexit. Which is so crazy, because that is the exact same body of water that I spent years of my life swimming in. 

For the first time in American history, we’ve got friends and families who are divided over whether or not to swim in the Gulf of Mexico, a giant body of water that has been there for thousands, if not millions of years. That’s heavy. I mean, really, really heavy when you stop and think about it. In fact, last week they were telling people in Pensacola not to make sandcastles because of the amount of oil underneath the sand!  Not making a sandcastle at the beach? What is this? The Book of Eli? I mean, seriously. That’s pretty post-apocolyptic to someone who has built thousands of drip sandcastles in her lifetime…here’s the video to go along with it:

So, is this all a part of the great awakening? A friend of mine is very much into 2012 and the events that surround it. I’m not so sure about the whole 2012 thing, but I have to say that more Americans are thinking about their energy consumption.  I guess when you see millions of gallons of oil spewing out of a fractured hole in the ground it does something to you.

Or does it? What did it do to you? Did you reduce your energy consumption for a few weeks and then fall off the wagon? Hell, I’ll admit that I did. And, it was subconcious. The other day, I left almost all of the lights in the house on. I like light, it makes me feel good, and I typically like to have a few on. But, after that oil spill, that was it. I was like a Quaker. My house was almost completely dark. It looked like a Hobbit Hole.  I didn’t care. I just wanted to do something in my life to make a difference. But, just like a recovering alchohlic, I hit the bottle again. I turned every one of those damn lights on without thinking about it. A few minutes later, I thought “Shit! I left all the lights on!”  I guess what I’m trying to say that is that we’ve got some bad habits that we’ve got to break. My gramma used to put tabasco on my fingernails so that I wouldn’t bite them. If that’s what it takes then I’m puttin’ tabasco on those damn light switches. And my steering wheel. And my toaster oven. 

What are you gonna do to fight your energy addiction? Even if it’s turning off one light switch or walkin’ to the store, you’re doin’ somethin’….as my dad likes to say, “Git ‘er done”.

Help for Gulf Coast Homeowners?

Alright, I’ve got friends and family on the gulf coast who are considering forclosure due to the combination of the housing crisis and the oil spill. In light of this, I just got a flyer in the mail  about “Hope for the Gulf Coast” .   It reads, “Struggling to Pay Your Mortgage? Need Assistance to Save Your Home?”. 

This article shows how much value gulf coast homeowners will lose this year and over a period of five years due to the oil spill. It’s pretty crazy.  But, the National Association of Realtors posted this article on their website with alot of great information regarding real estate claims, including interactive videos put out by the Emerald Coast Association of RealtorsThis is another article on oil spill claims from the Emerald Coast Association of Realtors.  I realize that the claims process has been reportedly slow, but I would contact these folks before completely giving up, because you just never can tell…

So what are these nonprofits from “Hope for the Gulf Coast”  going to help the homeowners of the gulf coast with? Are they going to sit there in their metal folding chairs at the Pensacola Fairgrounds and pass the buck? Or, are they really there to help? I honestly don’t know. But, I think it’s worth checking out.  There are three events, one in Kenner, LA on Sept. 21st, one in Biloxi, MS on Sept. 23rd and the last one in Pensacola, FL on Sept. 25th.  Here is the listing of events for 2010.  The events are listed as “a broad partnership of the mortgage industry, non-profits, and local partners coming together to lead Gulf Coast homeowners down the path of recovery”.  Let’s hope so. There’s a lot of folks on the gulf coast who want to walk down the path of recovery, I can tell you that.

Hang in there!

I was talking to my mom on the phone last night and we were reminiscing about all of the time my brother and I spent in the water while we were growing up. She said that she was really happy that we were able to swim, surf, and enjoy the water before the oil spill.  When she said that, I started to feel so many different emotions.  Anger, regret, sadness…and then, a will to fight.  That’s why I started this blog in the first place. To continue to fight for my hometown and the people in the gulf.

Battle fatigue has set in across the nation. Many people have turned to other news, such as Hurricane Earl, Paris Hilton’s recent jail time and the upcoming season of Dancing with the Stars.  Where will the people of the gulf fit into the daily news feeds? Well, we’re slowly fading away, thanks to the federal government’s recent announcement that the oil has “disappeared”.   Tourists are slowly coming back to the gulf coast, but the locals know better and aren’t going in the water.  Where’s the disconnect here?

Last week’s telethon “The Gulf is Back”  looked like it was sponsored by BP. The panaoramas of tourists eating gulf seafood and playing in the water was maddening.  I had to change the channel because it just isn’t true.  The tourism boards want gulf seafood to be safe (we’d all like for it to be safe, if that truly was the case) and the water to be crystal clear. But, the truth is always right underneath the surface…all you have to do is scratch a little bit and you’ll find it. Kinda like scratch off Lotto tickets.  The tarballs are right underneath that first layer of sugary sand, waiting to be exposed. If you scroll down and look at the fine print of the “Gulf is Back” website, you’ll see that it’s sponsored by the State of Mississippi…hmmm.  I mean, on one hand, great, I know people are losing money and revenue needs to be created…but like I’ve said in the past, does it have to be at the expense of the health of American people?

So, how do we combat battle fatigue and keep going? Here’s some inspiration from Kristina Johnson, Senior Press Secretary at the Sierra Club, as she writes about the resiliency of gulf coast residents.  Her story is short, but sweet.  The skeptical side of me always cringes when they call us “resilient”, though.  Aren’t there other resilient folks in the rest of the US? But hey, let’s not focus on that…we are resilient, we will keep going…this is a great article written in the LaCrosse Tribune about disaster fatigue and how it shouldn’t foil relief efforts in the gulf.

One of the things that we have to do is manage our stress about the oil spill…starting this blog was one of the ways that I’m managing my stress. I mean it, I couldn’t hardly sleep. So, I decided to start blogging and telling my story.  Are you telling your story about the spill and about the gulf?  I’m trying to find the positive in all of this and let me tell you, it’s difficult. But, I’m reminded of people like Jack Rudloe with Operation Noah’s Ark who are fighting every day to be heard. He’s not giving up, and neither should we. I’m always reminded of the cat hanging onto the tree limb with the quote that says “Hang in there!”  Find your groove and hang in there, guys. It’s may be tough, but we can do it. I’m counting on you!

Hang in there

Gulf Seafood’s “Silent Spring”?

When I was six or seven, my gramma dared me to eat my first oyster for a dollar. I accepted the challenge, but it felt like wet snot going down the back of my throat. I gagged and she laughed, telling me that it would put hair on my chest. I remember thinkin’ that she was crazy, because I was a girl and heaven help me if I grew hair on my chest.  She replied with her quintessential “tough titties” comment. 

Years later, she passed away. One of her best friends, Arnette, owned a local oyster house in Ft. Walton and it was my gramma’s wish to have her memorial service there.  So, we all packed into that dark, lively oyster house to say our farewells to one of my favorite people.

Will these recent events change our coastal history? I do believe they will…unfortunately.  What will happen to gulf seafood now? I have so many memories of fish frys, trips to the seafood market, going down to the docks at Destin, and everyone eating oysters by the bushel…topped with hot sauce on a saltine.

It’s not only gulf seafood that may not be safe, but also our culture and our way of life.  It’s strange, because if gulf seafood truly isn’t safe to eat, those fish frys, restraunts, seafood markets and daily catches will only be a memory. In my heart, I want those events to carry on, but I’m not sure how they will.

The fear surrounding gulf seafood is so high, that people are asking if the oysters or fish were caught in the gulf when they order from the menu.  The federal government came out today with “Dockside Chats” which will promote the safety of gulf seafood and answer questions from the public. I’m curious how they’re going to pull this off, because the last time I checked, many fishermen were opposed to selling and eating gulf seafood.

This reminds me of when DDT was really popular and everyone used it. The government touted DDT as “being safe”, when in fact, it caused cancer and eventually was banned in the US, thanks in large part to Rachel Carson’s book, Silent SpringThis is an article from the Journal of the American Medical Association about long and short term affects on the food chain. What gets me, is that JAMA, one of the most respected medical associations, is publishing this type of information and we’re having “Dockside Chats” on how safe gulf seafood is?

I know that the fishing industry will crumble if gulf seafood is truly not safe to eat. The Obama administration must know this too, but at the expense of the American people?  I’m so sad about what has happened in my hometown and throughout the oil spill area, and losing my right to eat gulf seafood just chaps my hide. But…and this is a big “but”…what a disservice the Obama administration is doing to all of us if it isn’t truly safe.  Mother Jones magazine is also questioning the safety of gulf seafood in this article.  

Now, granted, I’m sure that you have to eat a lot of shrimp or a lot of crab to end up with an oil spill related illness. But, have ya’ll ever seen a buffet that has shrimp, oyster or crab? Man, it’s like somethin’ I’ve never seen before…there is so much food consumed in one sitting. I mean, my dad and brother alone can go through like 2 pitchers of beer and 3 dozen oysters at one time. So, we know that you don’t eat just “one” oyster or “one” shrimp. It’s sold by the pound and the bushel…and that’s where the oil spill starts to creep in…you’re eating pounds and bushels of oysters, crabs and shrimp over a period of years…if gulf seafood isn’t safe, it’s bound to catch up with us.

The Dream is Over…

Anyone who thought that Obama truly stood for change is probably having a hard time grasping why he has recently abolished the transparency role he established over at the White House. I wasn’t ever truly sold on Obama, but I thought that he could do better than the last administration. Especially when it came to disasters. I mean, I watched Bush and Brownie dance their way through the Gulf Coast almost five years ago on their FUBAR tour and it wasn’t pretty. I figured that Obama would do a much better job of handling a similar situation, but he hasn’t.

In fact, he’s done such a terrible job that lifetimes of gulf coast residents will be dealing with this oil spill.  It makes me sick just to think about how my friends’ and family’s kids will grow up with this terrible situation. Some of these kids are only 1 or 2 years old.  Where will they go swimming and spend their summers? In a toxic waste dump full of unevaporated oil and Corexit? NPR just put out this article on how the first spill studies are showing that gulf coast kids are at risk.

I also saw that Obama didn’t go swimming in the Gulf and didn’t eat any Gulf seafood. Figures. Oh, and I love it that he criticizes BP on the air, but turns around and lets Thad Allen cozy up with BP around the coffee pot to determine “solutions” to this mess.  Unbelievable.

It’s been a busy week and I haven’t been bloggin’ as much but let me tell you, that doesn’t mean that I’m not thinkin’ about this situation every day. Catch me on twitter @bayougirlblog for daily twitter updates. There are some great folks on twitter who are spreadin’ the truth about this oil spill like wildfire…check it out and see ya soon.

Apalach

Apalach is short for Apalachicola, Florida.  I’ve been goin’  to Apalach and Port St. Joe since I was a kid.  My most recent memory of that area is hangin’ out at the Indian Pass Raw Bar, also known as Gator’s…eatin’ oysters, shrimp and hot dogs (and not necessarily in that order!) with my family. If you’re in the area, definitely head over to Indian Pass Raw Bar…they’re great folks…

From at least A.D. 1000, these areas of Florida were settled by Apalachee Indians (hence the name Apalachicola) who viewed the waterways as a crucial lifelife which provided food and transport.

As you can see from this wonderful video put out by WFSU TV in Tallahassee, Florida, not much has changed in Apalach. The water is still a crucial lifeline that provides food, transport, jobs and a way of life for many. Since the spill, the ripple effects may continue for years to come in this area. This video was shot in 2003, and really captures the spirit of the oystermen and women who depend on the water for their livelihoods.

Satan in a Sunday Hat…

If you live (or have lived) in the south, you know what this means. For ya’ll that don’t, well…basically BP and the rest of them are tryin’ to walk out of this oil spill situation and wipe their hands of it all. Put simply, you can’t trust a single thing that is being put out by mainstream media. The oil is still there, animals are still dying…it’s still happening.

 This is an amazing article by Jerry Cope and Charles Hambleton that describes the egregious crimes they are committing against us and our environment.  Check it out here.

Massive Fish Kill in Fourchon, Louisiana due to Oil Spill

Drew Wheelan, who is a Conservation Coordinator with the American Birding Association posted this article along with pictures of a massive fish kill in Fourchon, Lousiana yesterday.  This is proof that the oil spill isn’t over as BP and the federal government would like us to believe. This is an article that I really want to get out there. Please retweet, repost and share with friends and family. Here’s the link: http://birding.typepad.com/gulf/2010/08/yesterday-in-port-fourchon-louisiana-i-came-upon-an-amazing-scene-thousands-of-birds-mostly-gulls-were-engaged-in-a-feedi.html?sms_ss=email

Amazing effort to save gulf marine life…

This guy is incredible. Jack Rudloe, a respected marine biologist who is fighting to keep our marine ecosystems alive in the gulf, has started Operation Noah’s Ark. Operation Noah’s Ark is attempting to preserve marine species  if they’re wiped out by the oil spill. He’s based in Panacea, Florida on the gulf coast. Here’s a video of him and his team:

I’m blown away by this herculean effort to save marine life that is so vital to our estuaries, bays, bayous, and oceans.  Click here to link to an article that Ben Montgomery from the St. Petersburg Times wrote about Jack and Operation Noah’s Ark.  Also, here’s a link to Jack’s nonprofit organization, it’s called The Gulf Specimen Marine Lab and you’ll find links to Operation Noah’s Ark on his website.  What a great, positive story in all of this sadness and uncertainty…thank you, Jack!

Getting to the truth…Corexit fears destroying ecosystem being realized

What is the real truth in this entire oil spill situation? I’m constantly frustrated by tourism boards who continue to tell everyone that the water’s great, but then we hear about local Coast Guard offices who have rubber stamped high quantities of Corexit on a “case by case” basis.

Now, BP is pulling out of the whole situation. Where are the people of the Gulf Coast going to be left? Are we going to be left with our version of a FEMA trailer? And if so, what exactly does that trailer look like? Does it mean that we’ll start to see two headed sharks and slow swimming dolphins? What about the families from Iowa who just want to swim in the ocean on their summer vacation? What about their health?

What is the butterfly effect from all of this? I mean, think about it. If a pregnant woman from Des Moines goes swimming in the Gulf and ends up with complications or even birth defects…how many lives will this catastrophe eventually touch? No one really knows…and all they care about is the “oil on the surface”.  No one is even thinking about the amount of oil in the water column or the Corexit that is invisibly poisoning the ocean…I’m frustrated. Really, really frustrated.

My friend Tony posted this today. Apparently, Corexit fears are finally being realized…

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