A place for family and friends to see what I'm up to. Visitors welcome here.

Hail Guest, we ask not what thou art.
If Friend, we greet thee, hand and heart.
If Stranger, such no longer be.
If Foe, our love will conquer thee.
-Old Welsh Door Verse

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Obama's Economic Plan

Alaska's Anti-Palin Rally

They just keep coming.

As I watch my sitemeter it appears I've driven away some of my conservative blog friends but I just can't stop posting this stuff. Here's the latest with an introduction from an email. The friend who sent it to me is good about checking Snopes for confirmation or denial. I have to assume the narrative is "real"; hard to deny the pictures.

The Alaska Rally Against Sarah Palin for Vice-President

[The] Alaska Women Reject Palin rally was to be held outside on the lawn in front of the Loussac Library in midtown Anchorage. Home made signs were encouraged, and the idea was to make a statement that Sarah Palin does not speak for all Alaska women, or men. I had no idea what to expect.

The rally was organized by a small group of women, talking over coffee. It made me wonder what other things have started with small groups of women talking over coffee. It's probably an impressive list. These women hatched the plan, printed up flyers, posted them around town, and sent notices to local media outlets. One of those media outlets was KBYR radio, home of Eddie Burke, a long-time uber-conservative Anchorage talk show host. Turns out that Eddie Burke not only announced the rally, but called the people who planned to attend the rally 'a bunch of socialist baby-killing maggots,' and read the home phone numbers of the organizers aloud over the air, urging listeners to call and tell them what they thought. The women, of course, received some nasty, harassing and threatening messages.

I felt a bit apprehensive. I'd been disappointed before by the turnout at other rallies. Basically, in Anchorage, if you can get 25 people to show up at an event, it's a success. So, I thought to myself, if we can actually get 100 people there that aren't sent by Eddie Burke, we'll be doing good. A real statement will have been made. I confess, I still had a mental image of 15 demonstrators surrounded by hundreds of menacing 'socialist baby-killing maggot' haters.

It's a good thing I wasn't tailgating when I saw the crowd in front of the library or I would have ended up in somebody's trunk. When I got there, about 20 minutes early, the line of sign wavers stretched the full length of the library grounds, along the edge of the road, 6 or 7 people deep! I could hardly find a place to park. I nabbed one of the last spots in the library lot, and as I got out of the car and started walking, people seemed to join in from every direction, carrying signs.

Never, have I seen anything like it in my 17 and a half years living in Anchorage. The organizers had someone walk the rally with a counter, and they clicked off well over 1400 people (not including the 90 counter-demonstrators). This was the biggest political rally ever, in the history of the state. I was absolutely stunned. The second most amazing thing is how many people honked and gave the thumbs up as they drove by. And even those that didn't honk looked wide-eyed and awe-struck at the huge crowd that was growing by the minute. This just doesn't happen here.

Then, the infamous Eddie Burke showed up. He tried to talk to the media, and was instantly surrounded by a group of 20 people who started shouting O-BA-MA so loud he couldn't be heard. Then passing cars started honking in a rhythmic pattern of 3, like the Obama chant, while the crowd cheered, hooted and waved their signs high.

So, if you've been doing the math… Yes. The Alaska Women Reject Palin rally was significantly bigger than Palin's rally that got all the national media coverage! So take heart, sit back, and enjoy the photo gallery. Feel free to spread the pictures around to anyone who needs to know that Sarah Palin most definitely does not speak for all Alaskans. The citizens of Alaska, who know her best, have things to say.

My second favorite is


Saturday, September 20, 2008

Randy Newman - A Few Words in Defense of Our Country

I've loved Randy Newman's work since I read his name on the jacket of the soundtrack for The Natural. He's done a lot of beloved music (like "You've Got a Friend in Me" from his Toy Story track. So I picked up Harps and Angels while on vacation. First time I'd heard this one. Amen.

Friday, September 19, 2008

I'm very confused.

Eden, Utah - where I'm NOT living thanks to government un-regulation of financial institutions.

I had looked forward for three years to retiring last June. We listed our condo in Utah for sale two years ago this November. We had hoped to start construction on our retirement home last April. We had dreamed of moving into that home next month.

We're not moving anywhere, maybe ever.

I'm still working, probably until I'm 75.

I'm working so that we can continue to squeeze out payments on the condo that won't sell and property taxes on the property we can't build on.

Here's why I'm confused. Conservatives say big government is bad; regulation - especially of financial institutions is bad. It was OK with them for families to be sold homes they couldn't afford so that CEOs could reap bonuses in the tens of millions of dollars.

And then, when the inevitable doo-doo hit the fan and those unaffordable mortgages collapsed and then, also inevitably, the financial institutions that loaned that money and gave those obscene bonuses in the first place collapsed,


So now I, who am working into my retirement to pay my bills, will also be paying more taxes (wait a minute, don't Republicans promise tax CUTS?) to bail out the same financial institutions that clamored for no government regulations.

We can socialize our financial system, but not medical care?

Thursday, September 11, 2008

It's just too important!

I loved this.

If you're a minority and you're selected for a job over more qualified candidates, you're a "token hire."

If you're a conservative and you're selected for a job over more qualified candidates, you're a "game changer."


Black teen pregnancies? A "crisis."

White teen pregnancies? A "blessed event."


If you grow up in Hawaii, you're "exotic."

Grow up in Alaska eating mooseburgers, you're the "quintessential American story."


If you name your kid Barack, you're "unpatriotic."

Name your kid Track, you're "colorful."


If you're a Democrat and you make a VP pick without fully vetting the individual, you're "reckless."

A Republican who doesn't fully vet is a "maverick."


If you spend three years as a community organizer growing your organization from a staff of 1 to a staff of 13 and your budget from $70,000 to $400,000, then become the first black President of the Harvard Law Review, create a voter registration drive that registers 150,000 new African-American voters, spend 12 years as a Constitutional Law professor, then spend nearly eight more years as a State Senator representing a district with over 750,000 people, becoming chairman of the state Senate's Health and Human Services committee, then spend four years in the United States Senate representing a state of nearly 13 million people, sponsoring 131 bills and serving on the Foreign Affairs, Environment and Public Works and Veteran's Affairs committees, you are woefully inexperienced.

If you spend four years on the city council and six years as the mayor of a town with less than 7,000 people, then spend 20 months as the governor of a state with 650,000 people, then you've got the most executive experience of anyone on either ticket, are the Commander in Chief of the Alaska military and are well qualified to lead the nation should you be called upon to do so because your state is the closest state to Russia.


If you are a popular Democratic male candidate, you are an "arrogant celebrity."

If you are a popular Republican female candidate, you are "energizing the base."


If you are a younger male candidate who thinks for himself and makes his own decisions, you are "presumptuous."

If you are an older male candidate who makes last-minute decisions you refuse to explain, you are a "shoot from the hip" maverick.


If you manage a multi-million dollar nationwide campaign, you are an "empty suit."

If you are a part-time mayor of a town of 7,000 people, you are an "experienced executive."


If you go to a South Side Chicago church, your beliefs are "extremist."

If you believe in creationism and don't believe global warming is man-made, you are "strongly principled."


If you cheated on your disfigured wife and left her to marry a rich young heiress, you're a Christian.

If you have been married to the same woman for 19 years and are raising two beautiful daughters, you're "risky."


If you're a black single mother of four who waits for 22 hours after her water breaks to seek medical attention, you're an irresponsible parent, endangering the life of your unborn child.

If you're a white married mother of four who waits 22 hours after her water breaks to seek medical attention, you're spunky.


If you kill an endangered species, you're an excellent hunter.

If you have an abortion, you're a murderer


If you teach abstinence only in sex education, you get teen parents.

If you teach responsible age-appropriate sex education, including the proper use of birth control, you're eroding the fiber of society.

I was following my usual morning routine on the morning of September 11, 2001. I'd awakened early, taken a shower, and had turned on the TV to CNN to listen to the news while I checked email on my computer. As I watched the first tower burn, my first thought was that there was a new movie trailer on and the special effects were fantastic. Then, when I realized I was watching a real fire and heard the frantic report that a plane had hit the World Trade Center, I felt incredibly sad for the people who had surely lost their lives in what appeared to be a terrible accident. Glued to the set now, I watched another plane plow into the other tower and realized, in horror, that this was no accident - this was an attack.

And that's when the panic set in. My son and future daughter-in-law were in that city.

I'm usually pretty good about staying off the phone in emergencies. Wildfires and earthquakes hit the town where my parents live too frequently, but I usually give it a few hours before I try to call to confirm that they're OK. Not on 9/11, though. I called my son on his cell phone, breathed a sigh of relief when he answered. Then about lost it when he said that his fiance had already left for work in Manhattan and he didn't know where she was. It took three hours to track her down and get her back home. She had already boarded the train out of Brooklyn and, 80 blocks away from home but not yet in in Manhattan, they had stopped the train and told everyone to get off. Of course, the passengers had no idea what had happened, just that it had to be something bad. Finally, they made cell phone contact and started walking to each other, returning home to watch the news with the rest of us.

My son's school (in the Village/Soho area) was in, he told us later, what they called the "fallout zone" and the building was used for three weeks as one of the centers where the families of victims would come to see if there was any news of survivors. He had classes for the rest of the semester on Sundays to get in all the hours he needed to graduate in June of 2002.

He still doesn't talk about it.

He does say that he hates George Bush with a passion for his "go on with your lives" attitude and his posing on the rubble. People who were not there cannot possibly imagine what it was like for the survivors in NYC. All debris and stench aside, they "went on with their lives" surrounded by grief and knowing there was a possibility that, at any time, another plane could crash down upon them.

I've given a lot of thought over the last seven years to the nature of heroism. If you go to work like you always do and are killed instantly in such an attack, does that make you a hero or just a tragic victim? It seems to me that heroism takes some effort, some battle with fear. Are there degrees of heroism? If all the victims of 9/11 are to be considered heroes, who is more heroic - the workers who stayed at their desks waiting for the all clear but who died in the collapse, or the workers who jumped from the windows to escape the fires? Firefighters are always to be considered heroic for their willingness to give their lives in the fulfillment of their commitment to public safety, but wasn't it more heroic to go into tower two knowing that tower one had fallen and there was a possibility that the second tower would go, too?

Isn't there some level of heroism for the New Yorkers who went on with their lives? The students who had to find other places to live for three weeks when they were told it was too dangerous to stay in their dorms, and the people who took them in.

We were in NYC for my son's graduation the following May (2002). I loved the city more than I thought I would. My fondest thoughts and wishes for peace go to NYC on this day of remembrance.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Back to Politics

McCain's judgement...

...in selecting Sarah Palin as the next in line of succession is not to be believed.

I absolutely distrust all media. Media - even so called "respected" news media like CNN, is about entertainment, keeping people watching, keeping people buying from sponsors and therefore cannot be trusted.

So, my husband wrote to the only person he knew in Alaska to ask how she liked her governor. I guess he worded his request in a non-commital enough fashion as she answered him, then said that she never would have thought he was a conservative.

Anyway, here's just one of the stories she told us about Gov. Palin. Apparently Juneau lost a power station to an avalanche and diesel generators had to kick in to provide power to the community. The citizen's electric bills increased by almost five times their normal bill (like from $150 per month to $700-800 a month) for a couple of months. The small business owners really suffered. The citizens went to Governor Palin for some relief and Gov. Palin stated that this wasn't an emergency because they still had power. And this in a state that has made tons of money from oil drilling.

Monday, September 08, 2008

So not politics!

Just some random thoughts not related to politics.

If you're a Disney fan, go check out their faerie world of Pixie Hollow. Adorable! You can make your own faeries and decorate their houses, play fun games and test your brain (which I failed today). You can even print out stationery with your faerie's picture and name on it!

This Saturday is the third annual Visions Fantastic Scavenger Hunt at Disneyland. I didn't enter a team this year but did volunteer to help if they need me. No call yet, but for the DCA Dash in March I got a last-minute "help!" request and was happy to help out. If they don't need me, I'll just enjoy seeing everyone again and enjoy my happy place.

Things are going well at school. My students are pretty nice, overall. We settled the contract just after school was out for the summer and I was elected president of the union. I'm making a few folks mad but I don't see the point of dragging this anger around with me so I've let it go and am doing my best to build some bridges in hopes of making the district a better place to work. And seeing as a teacher's working conditions are a student's learning conditions, this should be good for students, too.

I decided to spend my raise on a gym membership for my family. It's been a little over two weeks and so far I'm making it about five days per week. I'm about 100 pounds overweight and was sedentary for over 30 years so am being REALLY careful about what I do, only walking on the treadmill at slow speeds for 45 minutes each visit. After payday I'm going to pay the $150 for an evaluation by the physical therapist (the fitness center is owned by a prominent PT in town.) I figure that will be about six weeks just on the treadmill, going a little faster each time, so I should be ready to add some other activities.

My son has been my cheerleader. When I told him how exhausted I was after school last Friday (a tough week) but how I dragged myself to the treadmill anyway and walked - slowly, but moving all the time - for the full 45 minutes, he raved on and on about what a huge hurdle that was to get over.

I'm really thrilled with the results. Of course, it will be a loooonnnnngggg time before any weight loss actually shows, but I'm also working on bringing my heart rate down. Three weeks ago I was getting resting heart rates in the 80s and now I'm getting some in the 60s and 70s. When I started on the treadmill I was getting rates of 130 going only 1.2 mph. Each time I walk on this thing I have to crank it up a little faster to get it into my target range of 128. I listen to music and watch CNN, switching the headset if it appears to be something I want to hear.

I'm hopeful of conquering this fat once and for all.

Remember how proud I was to have cleared a couple of surfaces in my room? They're filled up again. Oh, well.

I did a tiny bit of stitching last night but not enough to scan. I worked on the leaves of the little Christmas bird piece I started in Utah. I don't think I will ever stitch green again without thinking about Chiloe and her green bias.

I've finished watching Season I of Heroes and need to get going on Season II. September 22 will be here before I know it.

I watched The Golden Compass last month for the first time. I'm really sorry I didn't see it in a theater first. The special effects are phenomenal. Unfortunately, I was disappointed with their treatment of the book. I'm 2/3 of the way through the final book in His Dark Materials (The Amber Spyglass) and I still am not 100% sure I understand "dust." That suspense as the explanation of all this unfolds through the three books is delightful. The movie just kind of lays some stuff out there that really should have waited for the second movie.

If there is a second I will definitely see it in a theater, if only to enjoy the effects.

I added some faeries to my collection this summer. This one, called "Sprinkle of Love," is my favorite. It's just exquisite. It's impossible to see on this little picture but she's sprinkling dew drops onto the flower and there's a tiny drop hanging from the spout of her watering can. The picture has been squashed up vertically so she looks a little chubby in the picture but she's quite long, lean and graceful. And the detail of this gown is something to "oooo" and "ahhh" over for sure.

I'm such a hypocrite. I really want the U.S. to stop buying Chinese products and bring jobs home. My commitment to that cause lasts just until I see something like this faerie. Sigh. And Saturday I'll be at Disneyland all day.

Cheap Chinese Import Heaven. Sigh.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Stevie Wonder Performs at the Democratic National Convention

Vicarious Experiences...

...are fun, too.

My friend Sam scored tickets to the final night of the Democratic Convention in Denver. She has shared her experience with her readers if anyone wants to live vicariously.

It was a special night for me in all the ways that she describes. I, too, have been an Obama fan since the 2004 convention. And while I admired all of the candidates during the primary run (Kucinich rocks!) and actually thought seriously voting for Hillary for a short time, I never really strayed far from Barack.

I described below how the opponent VP candidate pushed my son over to the final decision to vote this year, but the process started at this convention. He had managed to avoid all television surrounding the convention. On that last day, I rushed straight home from work, planted my flag on the television set, grabbed my 'monster boss' (52oz) water cup and settled in for the evening. DH joined me a little later. DS wandered into the kitchen just as Stevie Wonder was introduced. "Stevie!" we heard from the kitchen. "I'll listen to Stevie!" and he sat down to enjoy Stevie's set. ( DS is a jazz/rock/funk drummer and a big fan of Stevie Wonder). I expected him to leave after the set (short as it was) but he didn't. He whooped it up for Al Gore and listened to Barack's entire speech.

In my son I see the hope for this country. It's no surprise that a bleeding heart, left wing, liberal such as myself would be moved by Barack, just as it's no surprise that the conservative Republican base thinks Sarah Palin is some kind of heroine. The key to this election will be people like my son, disillusioned, cynical Americans who will be willing to sit down and listen with their hearts and minds open to a new message, opening a new path back to the values upon which our country was founded.

..That all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; that, to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed; that whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government...

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Jewel Cover - You Were Meant For Me

Meet my niece.

I owe a debt...

to Sarah Palin.

I'm sure I've mentioned here before (sometime) that I share an ancestor with Thomas Jefferson.

And John Marshall. And Martha Washington. And Robert E. Lee.

It doesn't make me special. There are millions of us. But it does make me pause whenever I get angry or frustrated at the current administration for their disdain for the Constitution. There have been many times over the last eight years when I was ready to pack it up and head for the Netherlands. Or Australia. Or Canada.

If they'd take me.

But when that line of thinking starts I have to stop and remember that these folks - these relatives - would not have given up on this country. So I knuckle down and get back to it.

It broke my heart when my 27-year-old announced that he was not going to vote this year. "They're all the same, so what's the point?" he said. And I almost wept.

Then along came Sarah. He just walked into the family room and announced that she is too crazy for him and he has posted a youtube urging people to vote - along with him - for Barack Obama.

Thanks, Sarah.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Sarah Palin...

...an Alaskan's viewpoint.

Check it out. This girl's a real winner, isn't she.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Sept 22 9:00 PM

I haven't been excited about a new season for a TV show in decades so am really having fun anticipating the return of Heroes. The storyline is outstanding and the writing excellent. Unfortunately, I think it would be very difficult to really "get" the show coming into it this late. Even having seen both seasons once, I've been re-watching the dvd collections to get "ready" for the 22nd.

Oh boy!

Monday, September 01, 2008

Just Checking In

Keeping an eye on NOLA

Two months before Katrina, DH and I went to New Orleans for his high school reunion. He really didn't know the people nor had he made any bonds in high school, but it was good excuse to go. We had one nice dinner with one of the other members of his graduating class (there were only three of them) but most of the time we were on our own.

We had such a great time. We could walk to the French Quarter (our least favorite part of the city) and to the Red Car stops, which took us to our favorite place, New Orleans City Park. Our favorite part of City Park was the outdoor sculpture garden and my favorite piece was this one by Jean-Michel Othoniel. Tree of Necklaces is a nod to the New Orleans tradition of throwing beads, only these beads are gorgeous Murano Glass art globes, strung and hung in a tree (I don't know what kind of tree; I was so entranced by the beads that I paid no attention to the tree).

We also spent a lot of time in the botanical garden.

City Park was badly damaged in Katrina. Amazingly, they didn't lose any sculptures in the garden (they had taken careful precautions), but the botanical gardens were under pretty icky water.

When it was time to donate, I chose to donate to Acorn and Second Harvest in hopes of actually seeing something go to people in need. I also donated to Preservation Hall (which was coordinating assistance to NOLA musicians who lost their livelihood when the city closed down). I packed up a box of OTC medications and office supplies to send to Michael Moore as part of his efforts to supply the medical assistance team at Algiers Point (about the only medical care available for weeks to the people still in NOLA) and I coordinated the "Got Your Back" campaign at my school (collected donations of school supplies from our students to fill 35 backpacks which were taken to kids in the city by one of the local construction companies). The donation I was most proud of, though, was the donation to the botanical garden at City Park. It was so little (just $100) but they were very appreciative and made me feel like I had really helped their morale, even if it didn't go far to repair the damage.

We've never gone back but I've followed the garden restoration online and it looked like they really had brought it back to its glory. Now I'm following Gustav and hoping the Park is spared.

Which then makes me feel very shallow that I'm worrying about a place when the people are going to suffer again. We didn't bond with anybody in NOLA. The people at the hotel were very nice but other than Minnie at the front desk, I didn't know anyone's name. Our hotel was mentioned in a news report. The employees had brought their children to the hotel with them as the safest place to ride out the storm (since, apparently, they had to stay and take care of guests that couldn't leave). Then there was Aaron, the tour guide that introduced us to City Park. We'll always be grateful to him. I wonder sometimes what happened to him. I'm sure the company went under. Their fleet and office was in one of the underwater areas and, judging by the condition of their bus, I suspect they were not able to get back in business.

And I wonder what happened to the little boy we flirted with on the red car back from City Park. He was gorgeous and so excited about his third birthday. He and his mom had ridden the car to the grocery to pick up his birthday cake and she was juggling it onto the car to take it home. As we followed the story of the Katrina tragedy, one of the stories that made me cry was of a group of people at one point trapped in the attic of their building as the water rose, hearing a young mother banging on the door (which they then couldn't open). They worried about her and her 3-year-old boy and I will always wonder, did that beautiful child lose his life in that flood?

I get pissed when The Sanctimonious make comments like, "Well, they had warning. They should have gotten out." DH and I were there for three days and never needed a car. The public transit in the city is (was?) excellent. Thousands of people in that city couldn't get out because they didn't own cars. They didn't own cars because they didn't need them.

So, as I follow Gustav I hope that the repairs will hold, the older levees will hold and that people were able to get out. It looks ugly again.

On a happier note, I spent Friday night at a crop at a scrapbooking store in Simi Valley. My mom, sis and one other person were there. We think we've figured out that the crowd was small because this one other person was one of the most obnoxious people I've ever met. But we had fun, anyway, and at least we had lots of room to spread out. The next day, the three of us went to a class at the same store to learn this:

It's called "Iris Folding" and my mom fell in love with a Christmas ornament sample she saw at the shop a few months ago. It was fun to do and she really enjoyed it, but I'm delighted to say that there's no siren song in this one for me.

Thank goodness. The last thing I need is another hobby.