Sunday, June 15, 2008

Do You Believe in Magic?

Today we celebrate the replication of life by honoring the human seed carriers we call Fathers.

While replication of life on a genetic level is amazing, we don't call it magic. Science tells us the story of DNA replication with an RNA copy that occurs when each living cell gets environmental signals that trigger the process of cell growth or repair. That's what our endocrine system does for us, and why endocrine disruptor or mimickers in our environment are such a concern, for both
human health and all the ecosystems.

My post on Water Quality Protection speaks to behavior rules to protect water quality, but it is far from perfect in eliminating the risks of having pollutants like endocrine disruptors in our water. The source for many of these false messengers is from our own bodies, which excrete artificially high levels of pharmaceuticals, like pain medications and hormone treatments, especially birth control pills. Only a small amount of most pills are metabolized by the body, while most of it passes unchanged through our bodies. THIS IS THE MAIN SOURCE OF WATER POLLUTION, for this kind of chemical, not unused bottles of drugs being dumped into toilets, which is not a good thing to do either.

But back to the subject of this post:

Do You Believe in Magic?

Being an earth loving kind of a guy, my spiritualism naturally brings me to Earth-based rituals to honor the life giving elements of our beautiful planet. We are both humbled and in awe of our home here, orbiting at just the right angle to the only safe nuclear reactor we call the Sun. How all this happened is sometime the stuff of scientists, but more often the stuff of our spiritual practices to ponder and try to explain.

Beyond the elements of earth, air, water and fire, we enjoy life and often tend to focus on spirit, as we communicate with ourselves and each other. The duration of our spirit is what we document in our brains as memories. We'd like this record to go on forever. At the same time we know that we will return our elements to the planet someday, but wish for some magical existence, away from and after our bodies are no longer in the replication mode we call life.

I'm just now finishing the excellent book by Alan Weisman, called "The World Without Us" It is a well-researched look at the transience of human works and how nature would reclaim and undo everything that humanity has wrought on the planet. It also addresses the concept of human transference, where all your individual historical self can be uploaded into cyberspace and live there free of natural constraints, like death.

As human beings continues their foolish lemming-like mass suicidal behavior, many people are already practicing a limited versions of this strange new level of existence. All sorts of people are joining Second Life, where they create a cyber version of a person they want to be and then move that person through a cyber society, doing whatever they chose to become. It's the Sims Gone Wild, and a trip that I have not yet considered joining to date.

But then here's my blog on the Internet, available for anyone to comment and engage me in conversations that could change who I perceive myself to be and possibly changing a reader in some way.

As survivors, we all wish our life would go on forever. What we wish for are also what we call spells. My earth goddess mate, Cari, has produced an edition of an art book called Star Spell, reminding us that even things like wishing on a star is a spell.

Spells and magic are often confused in popular culture. I see magic when I wish for something that has no scientific basis and probability of occurring, but does happen after you, individually, or a group of people wish for something.

This is a very long preface to the following story of the most magical event that ever occurred for me while I have been in my career of water minding here in San Jose and California.

The Miracle March Rains of 1991
In that year, 1991, Drought is the word heard most throughout the State of California. Below normal dryness has continued for the fifth straight year in a state that had barely enough reservoir capacity to just get us through these four prior years.

In many states where rain falls all year, there is not the California obsession about building dams to catch every drop. In fact many states would not want to impede the flow of their mighty rivers, where quantities of water are too threatening and are barely contained behind miles of levees.

Water supplies in California had finally been reduced to about half the amount of normal demand for both urban needs and to sustain the life of agriculture's trees and vines. Groundwater was being overdrafted in every basin in the state, as surface deliveries from all federal, state and local reservoirs were running out.

Santa Clara County had been subject to mandatory rationing for at least three years, but the staff and Board of the Water District were in the process of justifying and mandating that water use would be reduced to 50% of the 1986 base year, and would include an outright ban for watering all landscaping in the County. The usual contentiousness of the Water District Board was much worse than ever, as business groups to homeowners associations begged special consideration to avert the impact on their individual interests. The Landscape Advisory Committee had been formed and was now advising the Board about the enormous economic impact such an action would cost the people of this county.

Lately, most of my time was spent reading the endless reports generated by the staffs of our local water district as well as the state and federal reports which would justify cutbacks of the two aqueducts which our county relied for normally half of our water.
Even in stressful times, recreational reading is advisable to keep one from overdosing on water politics.

A friend and neighbor had married a novelist named Bruce Hendersen, who, with the famous Vincent Bugliosi, wrote a best selling account of a murder and piracy trail filed in the a Federal District Court in Honolulu, Hawaii. Bugliosi learned from his successful novel and movie rights for Helter Skelter, the gruesome account of the Charlie Manson clan and murders, that more comes with story telling than from straight lawyering fees, even being Los Angeles' chief prosecutor.

In the federal court room in Hawaii, Vincent Bugliosi, now the defense lawyer for the woman being tried for these crimes, was successful in a motion for a change of venue. Enormous local publicity was generated over arrest of the defendants for a double murder on a distant atoll in the South Pacific and the nerve of the perps to show up in Honolulu sailing the victims' boat with a new paint job. So in 1985, the trail was moved to the Federal courthouse in San Francisco, CA.

The trial proceeded with jury selection and then began with opening arguments. But on February 14, 1986, (my daughter's first birthday) what weathermen call a "Pineapple Express" set up across the Pacific Ocean and began a two-week deluge that filled every reservoir in Northern California to the brink. Weeks earlier, water districts like ours were contemplating the severity of the mandatory rationing that would be imposed if rain did not come before the end of the 1985-86 rainy season.

Flooding of many communities began within days of the continuous rainfall, and caused many residents in the Bay area to abandon normal commutes, especially from Marin County, where some of the jurors resided. Frustrated, the Federal Judge, the Honorable Samuel King, issued an order from his near empty courtroom in San Francisco that it stop raining by February 18, 1986.

This was what I read on February 19, 1991,in the novel co-authored by Vincent Bugliosi and Bruce Hendersen, that was about to be released as TV movie at the end of this month. Wanting to finish the book before seeing the movie, I came to this account of the judge's order. My senses about water issues were heightened by the drought response we were facing, so, this account in the novel, being weeks on the non-fiction best sellers list, gave me pause.

I made the decision to write a letter to Judge King and plead with him to rescind his order. I wrote (your order) "seems to have worked too well! That was the last real storm to have visited Northern California in the last five years. There may be a lesson here from the Sorcerer's Apprentice, only this time in reverse. For the welfare of the State of California, may I plead with Your Honor to please rescind your order before the entire region dries up and blows away. (Closing with) Never Thirst! Patrick T. Ferraro, Director, Santa Clara Valley Water District."

I faxed the letter from my computer to the Federal Courthouse in Hawaii. The Judge's clerks kindly forwarded my letter to the Judge who was in Los Angeles at the time for the premier of the movie, in which he was cast to play himself.

In a reply on February 26, 1991, with tongue planted firmly in cheek, the Judge King replied to me on official US District Court/Hawaii stationery as follows:

Dear Brother Ferraro:

Your plea is heard and your wish granted.

I hereby rescind my order of February 18, 1986.

I hereby order that rain shall fall again in California by

February 27, 1991.

Aloha kava,

Samuel P. King

When the paperback version of this novel was released the following year, an addition to the book was added about my letter to Judge King and his response:

"That very day rains returned as ordered. What the water experts described as a 'large warm storm coming from Hawaii' deluged drought stricken Northern California with the heaviest rainfall in five years -more than eleven inches in six days." Bugliosi also added "In retrospect, there was considerably more risk than I thought in challenging Judge King's authority."

The local media in San Jose had a great deal of fun covering this exchange over the course of the eight days between February 19 and February 28, and then through the storm that saved California from its worst water shortage in decades.

So be careful what you wish for. Sometimes MAGIC HAPPENS!


1 comment:

Suzanne said...

happy fathers day Papa