Tuesday, December 30, 2008

I know that there have been other stories that have captured the interest of the media and the public but this is an important story. The fact that millions of pounds of toxic waste have been dumped into East Tennessee demonstrates the danger of coal and its usage. When those that come in contact with this stuff and inevitably develop cancer and other ailments, they will have to manage alone through private healthcare and sit through years of legal wranglings.
Pathetic. We need clean energy.
This is but one reason why.

From the New York Times
December 30, 2008
At Plant in Coal Ash Spill, Toxic Deposits by the Ton
In a single year, a coal-fired electric plant deposited more than 2.2 million pounds of toxic materials in a holding pond that failed last week, flooding 300 acres in East Tennessee, according to a 2007 inventory filed with the Environmental Protection Agency.
The inventory, disclosed by the Tennessee Valley Authority on Monday at the request of The New York Times, showed that in just one year, the plant’s byproducts included 45,000 pounds of arsenic, 49,000 pounds of lead, 1.4 million pounds of barium, 91,000 pounds of chromium and 140,000 pounds of manganese. Those metals can cause cancer, liver damage and neurological complications, among other health problems.
And the holding pond, at the Kingston Fossil Plant, a T.V.A. plant 40 miles west of Knoxville, contained many decades’ worth of these deposits.
For days, authority officials have maintained that the sludge released in the spill is not toxic, though coal ash has long been known to contain dangerous concentrations of heavy metals. On Monday, a week after the spill, the authority issued a joint statement with the E.P.A. and other agencies recommending that direct contact with the ash be avoided and that pets and children should be kept away from affected areas.
Residents complained that the authority had been slow to issue information about the contents of the ash and the water, soil and sediment samples taken in and around the spill.
“They think that the public is stupid, that they can’t put two and two together,” said Sandy Gupton, a registered nurse who hired an independent firm to test the spring water on her family’s 300-acre farm, now sullied by sludge from the spill. “It took five days for the T.V.A. to respond to us.”
Richard W. Moore, the inspector general of the authority, said he would open an investigation into the cause of the spill, the adequacy of the response, and how to prevent spills from similar landfills at other authority plants, according to a report in The Knoxville News Sentinel.
Elevated levels of lead and thallium and what the Environmental Protection Agency called “very high” levels of arsenic have been found in water samples taken near the site of the spill.
Though the E.P.A., the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation and the authority have spoken daily about their efforts to monitor air, soil and water quality, complete results have been released for only two samples, both taken from a drinking water intake site that is upstream of the spill. The water there met drinking standards.
A test for heavy metals in water, soil or sediment should take two to eight hours, said Peter Schulert, the chief executive of the Environmental Science Corporation, an environmental laboratory near Nashville. “There’s no reason why you couldn’t have the results within a day,” Mr. Schulert said.
The data on the toxic compounds produced by the plant was filed with the E.P.A. this year, said Barbara Martocci, a spokeswoman for the power authority. It was posted on the authority’s Web site only in a section labeled “air quality.”
At full strength, the plant uses 14,000 tons of coal a day and supplies enough electricity for 670,000 households. Its refuse, the ash, rose 55 feet above the banks of the Emory River, which flows into the Clinch River and then the Tennessee.
Early last Monday, after a period of heavy rain, the earthen dike that contained the ash breached and 5.4 million cubic yards slid away, covering 300 acres in muck and knocking a nearby home off its foundation, according to the T.V.A.’s estimates. Mike Farmer, the Roane County executive, said three houses were left uninhabitable and 36 more residential properties had sustained damage.
The authority has been using backhoes and heavy equipment to clean up the ash and is building weirs, or underwater dams, to try to keep it from traveling downstream. Officials do not have an estimate of the cost of the cleanup or how long it will take, said a spokeswoman, Catherine Mackey.
The spill has reignited a debate over whether coal ash should be regulated as a hazardous waste. In 2000, the E.P.A. backed away from its recommendation to do so in the face of industry opposition, promising instead to issue national guidelines for proper ash disposal, though it never did.
Stephen Smith, the executive director of the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, a nonprofit policy group based in Knoxville, criticized the T.V.A. for not providing more information to residents, including the sample results.
Mr. Smith also criticized the agency for increasing the flow of the Tennessee River to keep the ash from approaching the drinking water intake for Kingston, a town a half-mile up from the confluence of the Clinch and the Tennessee.
“They’re actually moving the stuff further downstream, in order to protect the drinking supply at Kingston,” he said.
I have a deep love for animals..I guess that really goes without saying. But I have favorites. One is the elephant. I suppose their massive size, their intellect and their strong sense of family and community has something to do with it as well as the horrific abuse they have endured. Circuses that use exotic animals have to be a thing of the past. Period. There is no way to train the largest land mammal on the planet without violence. Please support the actions below:

Federal Lawsuit against Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus for Elephant Abuse goes to Trial

More than eight years ago, the Animal Welfare Institute, former Ringling Bros. employee, Tom Rider, and three other national animal welfare organizations first filed suit against Ringling Bros. and its parent company, Feld Entertainment, for the mistreatment of Asian elephants under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Following countless legal challenges by the defendants, this groundbreaking lawsuit is finally going to trial on Tuesday, February 3, 2009 in federal court for the District of Columbia.
The ESA prohibits any activity that "takes" a species listed as endangered. This includes any acts that "harm, wound, injure, harass, or kill" an endangered species—both those in the wild and in captivity.
Asian elephants, the only elephant species used by Ringling Bros., are currently listed by the ESA as endangered. Our lawsuit alleges that a number of routine practices by Ringling Bros. violate the Act, including: (1) the forceful use of bull hooks to control, train and "discipline" the elephants and (2) the chaining of the elephants for most of the day and night.
We have amassed a wealth of evidence to support our claims, including video footage, photographs, eyewitness accounts, internal Ringling Bros. documents and investigative reports from the United States Department of Agriculture. Three former Ringling Bros. employees will testify at trial about the elephant abuse they observed firsthand while working for the circus, and top experts in the field of elephant behavior from around the world will be on hand to testify on our behalf as well.
In addition to demonstrating how Ringling Bros. mistreats its Asian elephants, we will also present evidence involving the deaths of at least four baby elephants who have died in the care of Ringling Bros. over the past few years: Two-year-old Benjamin died when his trainer came after him with a bull hook, four-year-old Kenny was made to perform in three shows when he was extremely ill, eight-month-old Riccardo mysteriously broke both of his hind legs while "climbing on a round platform 19 inches high," and eleven-day-old Bertha died in the summer of 2005, her birth and death never even announced by Ringling Bros.

Bull Hook
A "bull hook" or "ankus" is a two- to three-foot-long club or stick with a sharp metal or steel hook attached to the top. Ringling Bros. uses the bull hook repeatedly to beat, hit, stab and poke the elephants—especially when they are young—to control and "break" them so they perform as required. Although elephants are thought to have strong hides, their skin is extremely sensitive, particularly around the ears, face, trunk and head—places where they are most often struck with the bull hook. Elephant skin is so sensitive that these animals often throw dust or mud on their backs in the wild to protect themselves from sunburn. Once the elephants have been repeatedly abused with the bull hook for long periods of time, just showing them the instrument often causes them enough distress to make them perform as desired.
We have substantial evidence establishing that Ringling Bros. abuses its elephants with bull hooks, including eye-witness accounts of former Ringling Bros. employees who have witnessed vicious bull hook beatings of elephants and the daily hitting and hooking of these animals to make them stay in line, move in a particular direction or perform on cue. We also have hours of video footage showing Ringling Bros. handlers hitting and hooking elephants with bull hooks, not to mention internal Ringling Bros. documents illustrating the abuse. In one such document, a Ringling Bros. animal behaviorist reported "an elephant dripping blood all over the arena floor during the show from being hooked."

Ringling Bros. keeps the elephants in large, heavy-duty chains for most of their lives. One of the only times the elephants are not in chains is when they are displayed to the public, such as during the "Open House" and the actual performances. This has been confirmed by several former Ringling Bros. employees who say the elephants are not only chained continuously, but spend much of this time standing in their own feces and urine.
Internal Ringling Bros. train records show that the elephants are chained in boxcars for an average of more than 26 consecutive hours. When the circus travels from city to city, elephants are often chained for 60 to 70 hours at a time, with records showing some cases where the duration reaches 90 to 100 hours.

Should you wish to make a donation to help us with our mounting legal bills, please send a check made payable to the Animal Welfare Institute and mail it to:
Animal Welfare Institute
P.O. Box 3650
Washington, D.C. 20027
Note on check: Ringling Bros. Lawsuit

They also accept donations made by credit card (Visa or MasterCard). Should you wish to make a donation in this manner, please call the Animal Welfare Institute at 703-836-4300 and ask for Tracy Silverman

Friday, December 19, 2008

Animal Rights Musings

It appears that Britney has made a comeback with an album titled circus that came in at number one. I have nothing against Britney, in fact, I wanted her to get her life together as I know how much two little guys desperately need their mom. 
But then I see the video.
I know the innocent, clueless demeanor is her "thing" but using wild animals in a video? Really? 
For all the information out there, there is no excuse to not know what is going on. Reports have come out now that show documented evidence that elephants in captivity - zoos, circuses and other places - live 1/3 as long as elephants in the wild. That's accounting FOR poaching. Why?
I guess it might have something to do with torture and stress. Every facility that harbors elephants uses some form of punishment - bullhooks, electrocution, etc. - as these are the largest land mammals on the planet and it is hard to get them to stand on those little tiny stools or do other unnatural acts without the presence of fear. 
And that is what it is all about. 
When one lives with that sort of stress, the constant threat of violence as well as being taken from their normal and necessary family structures, it is inevitable that it would take it's toll. 
How do you think they get those animals to do those things? 
I suppose it is just human nature to overlook the background of things, the inner workings and just look at the end result. 
It's easier. 
Once we know that these huge animals that form complex social hierarchies and relationships that migrate in the wild hundreds of miles are systematically beaten bloody with baton-like clubs with metal hooks on the end until they scream, the fact that they are balancing on two front legs and their trunk doesn't seem all that appealing anymore. 
Who wants to see the result of torture? 
Because that's what it is. 
Animals that are used to moving, being chained in one place for hours, days on end. Sensitive skin ripped by abuse for tricks to show a paying audience. Have you ever heard an elephant scream? It will pull your heart out of your chest. Especially, ESPECIALLY, when it is a baby.

And then we move to the buyer beware portion of our animal awareness diatribe. If you wear fur, leather, sheered wool, or other animal products, then you owe it to the animals to watch what they endure to bring you those products. And if you wear "faux" fur, you need to be very, VERY careful because fur from China and other places is not labeled as being fur. Tests have proven repeatedly that the fur from dogs usually stolen from homes are labeled as faux. There is some loophole that allows any material under a certain percentage of the entire product to be labeled as faux or not labeled at all. Go to "Youtube" and then search "who's skin are you in?". It is a comprehensive look at all the different products that we use. 
Did you know that most fur bearing animals are anally electrocuted to maintain the coat?
Did you know that dogs and cats are stolen habitually from homes, shoved into wire cages until they literally cannot move, loaded onto trucks, tossed from the trucks and one by one removed, hung upside down on a crude wire, and while they struggle the knife rips into their skin and is torn from their bodies as they scream. Once it is removed, they are dropped from the wire and tossed into a pile of writhing, living animals until they die an excruciating death of exposure. Can you fathom that sort of inhumanity? 
I know we all want to believe that little bunnies are kept in a happy place and are gently euthanized as their little heads are stroked. It is in our nature that we want to believe that the animals that die for us are humanely treated. But it simply is not the case. It is NEVER the case. If you are wearing fur, you are wearing the skin of an animal that was kept in a filthy, tiny wire cage, stacked on top of other cages to the ceiling. It was given water and minimal food and left in an ammonia filled building standing on wire with no exposure to the outdoors. It was cage crazy - circling endlessly, chewing their legs down to the bone out of sheer boredom. It was terrified by the noise, the sound of the people that offer nothing but fear. Day and night, 24/7/365 they are in those cages, in the dark, choking on the smell of excrement and urine, in pain, in fear. Until the end of their miserable lives when they are pulled from their filth by the scruff of their neck and an anal device is inserted and they are electrocuted to death. 
That's what your fur coat is. Fear, torture and death.

Watch the video. I know it's hard to watch. But you don't know what you are contributing to when you buy leather, fur, and other animal products. I understand that ignorance is bliss but it's not just the dying. It's the way these animals are treated day in day out that will change your mind. It is the cruelty with which these animals are handled that will break your heart. Sure, we have all seen the baby seals being bashed over the head by the sealer (yeah, that's STILL going on). But what you don't see is the single bash, and then the sinking of the spike into the body of the live two month old pup as the sealer drags the pup across the ice to the pile and leaves it there...suffering....still alive. Seeing that pup desperately trying to drag its little body to safety will make you realize how cruel the entire industry is. Seeing these dogs stuffed into a wire cage like sardines, dogs that look like anyone's pet, some with collars, knowing that they will suffer one of the most horrendous acts of physical violence a man can inflict on an animal. It has to change you. 
It has to inform you. 
It has to enlighten you to the fact that your idea of the reality is just that - an idea. 
It has no basis in fact. 
The dog that you brush, pamper, feed and walk, love and nurture has a cousin that is being tortured for trim on a jacket. Or boots. Or gloves. There are so many alternatives out there. Please PLEASE watch the video. 
If you can't bring yourself to watch, then stop wearing animal products until you do. 
It's the least you can do for the animals that are suffering for fashion.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Cody Homecoming 08
Josh Senior Year

Pretty happy this morning for reasons I will explain later. Got to work and put my lunch in the frig. Went to the ladies room.
Something that I have started doing is covering the toilet seat. Not sure why, I just do. If there aren't covers, I'll lay toilet paper in strips around the seat.
Anyway, did that whole o/c ritual, washed hands and left.
Grabbed my tea and as I was headed back to my office someone came up and said there was someone outside who had a meeting with our director at 7:30. It was now quarter to eight so I thought the least I could do was get him in out of the cold and have him sit inside. I went and fetched him, led him to the kitchen for a cup o'java because that's how I roll. Led him to a seat in the foyer as he strode behind me talking about being an engineer for some unfamiliar firm. I sat him down, turned and went into my office. The admin asst, Grace, came in and told the guy (and me) that the meeting was in a different place. I led him again to the kitchen for a travel cup and sent him on his way.
I stopped by Grace's desk to chat a bit and as I walked away she said 'what is that sticking out of your shirt in the back?" I did the dance of the foolish trying to see what she was talking about and grasped the offending intruder.
A piece of toilet paper.
Draped over the band of my pants like a tail.
That engineer will never forget me.

Yesterday after going through the torture that is jury duty, I ran around getting groceries, making dinner, picking up wayward soccer players from practice, delivering ConLaw and Interp performers at school, the usual stuff.
Lance and I left Cody to do his homework at home and we went to watch Josh perform his duet piece for Interp. This was the first time in the two years that he has been truly involved in Speech and Debate that I have ever seen him perform as he usually only allows others to see at tournaments. He tried to get me to abandon the notion of coming but there was no hope in Hades of THAT happening.
Sometimes my kids take my breath away. I know Josh is smart and creative. A true out of the box thinker. But his performance went so far beyond my expectations. It was fantastic.
We watched the others and left for home around 9, stopping to check mail. In it, a letter from a college.
Josh has been accepted to St. John's University in Queens New York on a Presidential Scholarship, four year, full ride. Holy CRAP! What a relief that is He still wants to go to UT but we will be visiting the SJ campus to see if it's a possibility.
I of course called everyone that would pick up their phone.
Cody came down and handed me an essay. It was a character and theme analysis of Lord of the Flies with a sprinkling of symbolism evaluation. Now Cody is a smart kid. Really smart. But his focus has always been on the social and athletic angle of school as opposed to the academic. I read the essay spellbound not just by the insight but also by the fact that that kid has spent the past two hours working on a two page, single spaced, typed essay that was really spectacular instead of watching MTV Cribs, playing Halo and texting..all...at...the...same.....time :/.
Like I said, sometimes, they take my breath away.
It was a phenomenal day.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

There's something amazing about satisfaction. I am finding that cool, calm, balanced place is a wonderful residence. There's the euphoria of joy, the exhilaration of falling in love, the sweeping blackness of sadness. Those ups and downs have always been a place I haven't minded residing. But I have found a wonderful place called satisfaction. Where I feel an overwhelming sense that all is right with my world. Normally this would be a temporary time, a day where all that I wanted to accomplish, do, see, be would come together. That, in the past, is how that has always been. But recently I have found that what I have accomplished in a day, is as much as I wanted to accomplish. What I have seen, what I have done, what I have been has been enough. I love my job. I love my family. My husband is my best friend and the love of my life. My children are the light of my life. My best girl friend has found love. That had been an obstacle to the destination of satisfaction for me that I didn't fully realize. I couldn't be truly happy until the important people in my life had what I have. And now she has it, and I am awash in a warmth and peace that was always been fleeting. 
It's a good place. 
It's a place I think I have been searching for all my life. 
Whatever situation. 
Whatever substance. 
Whatever person. 
Whatever brought that beautiful place into my realm brought it temporarily, leading me to believe that it was only achievable by external intervention.  
Now I realize that is not the truth. 
The truth is that it is inside me. 
Inside you. 
It is achievable by finding what makes you tick. 
What makes you happy. 
What the things are inside of you that you need to fulfill. 
It's different for everyone. 
The little things. 
The big things. 
The easy things. 
The difficult things. 
The seemingly unattainable things. 
It really seems that since my brother died, my life has taken a dramatic turn. I believe to the core of my being that my brother has been guiding my life. He hated to see me struggle. He wanted to see my life ease. I know that. He saw me constantly battling, constantly treading water while more and more was heaped onto my shoulders while I struggled to stay afloat. I watch programs about orphans in Africa and think that even at the worst periods in my life I have been so very blessed. But we all have our struggles that are enough to make us feel that we are on the verge of complete destitution. There is no minimizing that. I feel my brother has helped me, has guided me, has made things happen for me that have changed my life. 
Changed me. 
And I am grateful. 

Saturday, November 29, 2008

My son finds Thanksgiving confounding. Why do we celebrate a event which led to the decimation of indigenous people? It's one thing to celebrate something before you truly acknowledge the actual incident. I grew up with the whitewashed version of history - very little Hispanic, African, Indigenous influence. I got the whole happy Indians helping out the white folk version...with very little background on what was the standard operating procedures for Euro-Adventurers. For a very prestigious school, I got a very skewed version of history. Thinking about it though, it is in keeping with how few minorities were allowed in...that weren't part of the staff.  
But now that we know what Thanksgiving really symbolizes, shouldn't we modify? I know we try to paint it as a great opportunity to count our blessings and such. But shouldn't we do that on a more regular basis anyway? I mean, shouldn't we be thankful for the supportive people in our lives, the love we get from our families and friends, the blessings of health and abilities? Should we be thankful for all the freedoms we have on at least a monthly basis? I mean, shouldn't we just sit and reflect occasionally about the many fabulous things we get to experience, the wondrous miracles that present themselves into our life unprovoked? 
I remember when my boys were really little, like toddler little. They were thirteen months apart and I was wiped most of the time. I remember how I would be so frazzled and exhausted. It was just an endless stream of diapers, feeding, wiping, monitoring, entertaining, teaching, being on alert. Regardless of how bad the day was, how stressed I was, there would be one thing, one single moment when I would get a look that only someone who adores you can give, one little hand reaching for mine, one tiny little body climbing up into my lap to get as close to me as possible because he was he and I was his. In those spectacular moments, my entire day would change. Everything was worth it. Everything faded to black and the light would shine from my heart to his. I can still bring those moments up from my memory banks. I can still feel the overwhelming, cup runneth over emotions. There were so many of those moments that I can close my eyes and like a playlist on my Ipod, scroll through all the options and choose the perfect incident.  
I am so grateful every day for the opportunity to be a part of these two precious lives. For all their weirdness and teen boy angst, they are the perfect angels that would reach up to be carried, look to me for guidance and allow me to hold their hands on their life journey. What an incredible honor. 
So I don't need a day of thanks. I love the idea of getting together with my people and celebrating our relationship. That appeals to me. But I don't need to have a day to give thanks. Much like I don't need a mandated day of love. I get that some people need a day - a father's day, a mother's day, a valentine's day to remind them that the people so instrumental in making the world a brighter world with unconditional love should be valued....at least once a year. I think it should be part of the lessons we teach our kids. Valuing those that impact us. Appreciating those that brighten our day, are a shoulder to lean on. Randomly. Not orchestrated by society or commercial entities. But inspired by genuine love. 
That is the Thanksgiving lesson that I hope to give to my boys. That they demonstrate their love for others, the appreciation for those that give to them unselfishly, joy for the friendships they have found, for the those that love them regardless of their errors, mistakes, shortcomings. 

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

I saw the most recent video taken in one of the many nondescript places where they slaughter turkeys. I saw it about a week ago but I am still having nightmares about it. How do you stomp, repeatedly, on the head of a defenseless animal, over and over again, turn away while it desperately tries to right it self, how do you insert a rod into the anus of an animal in your care and rupture its bowel...and then go home at night, cuddle your kids, pet your dog and sleep peacefully? 
How do people get so desensitized? 
I would think that you are around all this noise, this terribly stifling ammonia saturated, unventilated building with wards that flap and run and squawk and resist, I would think that if you do this for any length of time, it wears you down to the point that you don't care anymore. You not only don't care. 
You hate. 
You hate where you are. 
You hate how little money you make. 
You hate how you smell. 
You hate how you feel. 
And the only ones that you can take all this hostility and aggression out on are the ones dependent on your grace. 
But who has shown you grace? 
Who has cared about your family, your living situation, your troubles? 
Who is empathetic about the despondency that overtakes you every morning when you awaken to the fact that you have to go back and work in a foul smelling, desperate environment for minimum wage, no benefits and horrific conditions? 
You work sick, you work injured, you work regardless of personal need. 
I can only imagine the desperation. 
But even though I feel such deep sorrow for the plight of the factory farm worker, I cannot begin to understand how one can inflict such terrible abuse on defenseless beings. 
How does it change you? 
Does it tag along behind you, like a shadow, this deep darkness? 
Does it taint everything you think and feel? 
Does it make you strike out at those children that refuse to listen? 
Does it make you slap down the significant other that will not get off your back? 
Does it propel you to kick at that mewing kitty or barking dog? 
How do you dislodge the tentacles of this persistent octopus? 
How do you free yourself, separate work that you do for forty, fifty, sixty, up to seventy hours a week from your personal time? 
How does it not become a part of you?
This is where the fact that all things are connected comes into play. That guy that picks up that turkey and repeatedly slams it against a wall, drops it and kicks it across the room....while it hangs on to life, cannot possibly let go of that sort of violence, that sort of raging demon that would allow him to see a defenseless animal as a legitimate target for his anger. It is there, lurking, waiting for a break in patience, a time out in tolerance, a sliver in the sleep cycle. It is waiting to come roaring back because it cannot go. It has no place to go. Those that experience this sort of soul changing conditions do not have the means to lift themselves and their families to a better place, to work through it in therapy, to power it out at the gym. Those that are remanded to this sort of labor are stuck. And there is nothing in this world more defeating than being stuck. 
We have to get to a place, as a society, of balance. Where we raise animals, if we cannot break the addiction, in a natural environment, with compassion and kindness, with gratitude for the sacrifice the animal is making for us. And when the supply is depleted, it is done. No more mass production, hormones and antibiotics. No more warehousing of sensitive souls in deplorable conditions. Respecting what has been given to us, much as we should be respecting the seas and the lands and the air that exists for us. We have progressed. We have evolved to a point that we should be doing so much better for those dependent on us. 
If you are eating turkey for Thanksgiving, there is no excuse to not watch the latest video of what they must endure for you. 
It'll upset you? 
Too bad. 
If you can chow down on these animals you damn well better get the fortitude to endure a witness position to their plight.
It is the least you can do. 
Search "Peta Turkey Abuse"


What am I thankful for...not just today, but what do I think about on a fairly consecutive basis that fills me with gratitude? 
  1. That I don't smoke anymore. I have to say, I am so thankful on a regular basis that I was able to kick that habit. The control over everything I did was staggering, looking back. I am grateful.
  2. That I exercise daily - yoga changed my life. Running and then doing self paced yoga centers me and makes me calm. It is terribly obvious when I have skipped a day.
  3. That I found the love of my life. Lance may have some shortcomings but he puts up with mine, and for that I am eternally grateful.
  4. That I was able to experience the joy, the stress, the roller coaster that is motherhood. I adore my boys. I am stunned by their beauty, their brilliance, their gifts and their very kind souls.
  5. That I have a good relationship with my immediate family. That's nothing to scoff at. A lot of people hate their siblings and parents. I look forward to being with them and miss those that are not with me.
  6. That I have a job that intrigues me. That I am part of a team that gets along, that is straight up, and that has my back. I look forward to going to work and I literally have to be dragged out of there in the evening. It is challenging so it is never dull. 
  7. That my husband and I have reached a place where we are comfortable and are not stressing over money. 
  8. That my husband has found a job with people that appreciate his abilities, that positively reinforce him and make him feel valued. 
  9. That I am healthy. 
  10. That I have some of the best friends anyone could have. Seriously, I have always envied those "girl relationships" that have been so evasive for me. I always thought of myself as a friend that was lacking...primarily because those that I had been friends with made me feel that way. Now I realize that it wasn't me. It was them. The friends I have now don't have a secret checklist by which they evaluate my behavior. I have had that so often, being held to some standard of which I was unaware only to have the grenades tossed out during a conflict in order to blow me to pieces. I have never understood it, but it happened so often that it was impossible to believe that it was everyone else. But what was happening was I was selecting the same kind of person over and over again. Those that seemed really "into" me, but who would also become extremely disappointed when I didn't live up to the standard they were expecting. Regardless, I have great friends now. I am so grateful.
  11. That I am still optimistic. That might seem weird, but I am thankful that the experiences I have had have not made me bitter. 
  12. That Obama will be our next president. Succeed or fail, I feel like my country really stepped up and showed who we are. Not the stereotypical racist majority. But good, solid people that want to work for what they get and want to care for all in society. At least, that's who I am hoping we are.
  13. That my brother is watching over me.
  14. That he is with my dad watching over me.
  15. That I am who I am. Flawed as all humans but willing to change and grow. I am grateful that I am still willing to recognize the things that need improvement and appreciate the things that are good about myself. 
  16. That my family loves me.
  17. That my husband is faithful.
  18. That my sister misses me and wants me to visit.
  19. That my boys, my husband and I will have our dream ski trip before Josh graduates.
  20. That my hair will grow after my most recent haircut that is waaaaayyyyyy too short! :)

Happy Thanksgiving everyone. Please consider NOT eating turkey or anything else that will be eternally grateful for your decision to go vegetarian or better yet, vegan.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

My friend, my best friend besides my husband, my mom and sister, is in love. I see it in her eyes, on her face, in the way she carries herself and in her energy. It is a soul inspiring thing. Especially when you are able to catch that buzz and extend it to your own relationship. I have known Lance for almost 16 years and we are on year ten of marriage. And I still adore him. He still takes my breath away. Still makes me laugh so hard I have to tell him to stop. Still get tingles up the back of my neck when I see him. Still feel the tightness in my chest when I think of him. Still feel the rush. I can totally relate to my dear friend. It is the best feeling in the world. It's why people are always searching for it. It is a feeling of completion. A feeling of high without drugs or alcohol. And when it's reciprocated. Wow. It's the most magical, most euphoric sense one can ever hope to achieve.
I am so happy for her. She deserves all the happiness in the world.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Thank you to the reader that made me aware that chaining dogs in Texas is illegal! Where the heck have I been?
House Bill 1411 states

(4) "Restraint" means a chain, rope, tether, leash,
cable, or other device that attaches a dog to a stationary object
or trolley system.
Sec. 821.077. UNLAWFUL RESTRAINT OF DOG. (a) An owner may
not leave a dog outside and unattended by use of a restraint that
unreasonably limits the dog's movement:
(1) between the hours of 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.;
(2) within 500 feet of the premises of a school; or
(3) in the case of extreme weather conditions,
including conditions in which:
(A) the actual or effective outdoor temperature
is below 32 degrees Fahrenheit;
(B) a heat advisory has been issued by a local or
state authority or jurisdiction; or
(C) a hurricane, tropical storm, or tornado
warning has been issued for the jurisdiction by the National
Weather Service.

In my previous post I didn't state that I have been seeing a red colored dog chained to a tree for a while now. Hurricane Ike blew through and exposed the misery of this animal by tearing away the fence safeguarding the owner's cruelty. Tethered to a tree it sits there day in day out with a ridiculously large chain attached to its collar. I found out from Animal Control that the owners have other dogs that they allow in the house...only that one sits alone exposed to the elements all day and night. Why have it? Why have an animal that is merely yard decor? Get a statue and give the dog to someone that will take it for a walk, feed it, stroke and love it. Why torture an animal that is completely dependent on you? Why completely screw it up emotionally, making it aggressive and unsocialized? You hear about people who victimize one of their children..while the other go about their lives as if nothing is happening. While one is tortured beyond comprehension. I don't know what snaps in people. Why they would focus all their aggression and frustration and psychosis on a single individual but it is up to us, it is up to society to keep our eyes open. To notice. To pay attention. We have to stop abuse whenever it occurs. Seeing someone belt their kid in the store cannot go without comment and action.
Witnessing unlawful behavior, we must act. We must step up. It is imperative. Most think that the demise of our society has something to do with God being taken out of the schools and a lack of moral teaching. I believe it is something different. I believe it is a lack of empathy. Sometimes that needs to be taught. Once you have empathy for others, you can't hurt them. You can't physically torture. You can't neglect. Because you feel their pain. You experience the misery. We as a society have to start putting ourselves into the position of those that are dependent on our benevolence.
When you see a kid being bullied, step in.
When you see a parent slapping the little body of a child, step in.
When you see a child hurt an animal, step in.
When you see an adult behaving cruelly, step in.
And in Texas, if you see a tethered dog, report it, citing the House Bill (which is now an Act) 1411 making that action illegal.
We owe it to those dependent upon our goodness.
I used to go to the gym at five in the morning to work out on the eliptical and rowing machines. It was nice to get it over with. Later, in the evening, I would go back to the gym to do yoga. We ended our gym membership mostly because I freakin' hate gyms (but that's another story) and it was m0ney down the drain for my family that rarely used the membership to its fullest potential. I struggled with motivation for a while and not being able to find the right balance.
But I have finally found it.
I run two miles in the evenings with one of the dogs, come home and head straight upstairs. I shut the door to the master bedroom, dim the lights, put a new agey, spa station on XM, grab my mat and start my yoga. Not listening to others grunt, inevitably yak, or the instructions of the leader has been more than I ever imagined. Taking my time with poses, focusing in the areas I want to focus in on, breathing, pushing myself, it really has been cathartic.
The run starts out stiff and why the heck am I doing this-ish. But as my poor knees loosen up, and I get into a rhythm, I inevitably go where the music on my IPOD takes me. I understand the runner's high, although I don't think I have attained the level by any stretch of the imagination that mini or full marathon runners achieve. But I understand it. Once your mind realize that no amount of negative signals is going to stop you on your quest, it resigns itself to be as far removed as possible. I have literally had an argument with myself about that pain possibly being something serious and worth stopping for. But once that is done, it becomes automatic and you can wander off some place a lot nicer and more comfortable.

It's hard resuming if you stop. I stopped for a bit and found that my energy diminished so significantly I thought there was something wrong with me...like a disease or something. Everything was an effort. I found myself falling asleep in my chair before nine o'clock at night. I started back by taking the dogs for a walk. Three separate walks equalling about five miles. Brisk walks that started leisurely.
Then I got a gift card for my involvement in the Wellness Program at work. I immediately went out and bought running shoes. That was crucial. It's shocking what a difference shoes make. I got lightweight, supportive shoes that are a dream to run in. I actually look forward to my little run now. It is dark and cool. I realized also that I hate running in the heat. In my area, that's pretty much all the time except for now. So, I will have to figure out what time of night or early morning is coolest because I want to keep this up.
I realize now that there is a reason they call those that sit around watching TV all day "couch potatoes". Your flesh begins to look a lot like mashed potatoes if you don't exercise enough. It's not pleasant. I am fortunate in that being vegan helps keep my weight down but that doesn't do jack for the tone of muscles. That takes exercise.
All I can say is, do yourself a favor and start moving. Put on some headphones, put on your favorite song and dance like a crazy person. Jump. Kick. Punch. Walk. Stretch. Lift your arms over your head and reach for the sky. You will feel so much better. And your body will thank you. Not initially. It will hurt you initially. But once it realizes that you mean business, it will be surprising cooperative and capable.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

It's funny how easy it is to minimize things that we don't really want to take the time to investigate and analyze. We are all busy in our lives. Parents running around working full time, grocery shopping, carting kids here and there, picking up last minute supplies, meeting with teachers, maintaining the home and transportation. Single people doing the same thing...just not multiplied by as much. They have to endure the stress of (gasp) dating, which I can't even fathom having to find the energy for.
So when we drive by a house and see a dog chained to a tree with a bowl and little else, it is easy to think that it has access to water and the shelter of the tree...surely it must be fine.

But I ask you to stop and think about it for a moment. The length of that tether determines the the amount of world that animal will experience. 3 ft? 4? 6? 8? An eight foot radius. In which to sleep.
Eight feet suddenly doesn't seem like much.
It's beginning to turn chilly in our area.
Down to 45 degrees last night.
That dog is still chained to that tree.
In that cold and on that cold ground.
The tree does not offer warmth.
If it rains it will offer little shelter.
Often dogs that are chained have painful sores where the collar rubs. Dogs that are chained are rarely cared for properly. They are ignored for the most part with sporadic feeding, overturned water bowls, and even less interaction with people or other animals. They often become aggressive primarily from the stress of isolation but also because their world is that radius and it's all they have.
What did that dog do to be remanded into isolation?
What happened to make someone think that leaving a living creature chained alone and exposed is ok?

I read an interesting article at the link below. I think the contest should run nationwide. We would see a huge, sweeping change in how we view chained dogs.
The next time you pass a dog on a chain,, think.
Think about the life that dog is experiencing.
I will guarantee you that it did nothing to deserve that sentence.
And if you are moved, file a report with animal control.
Ask that they talk to the owner.
Cities all across America are waking up to this terrible habit and banning dog chaining.
It is about time.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

I did a search "what do gays want"...primarily because there's a lot of false information presented to look like fact.
I think....what's the big deal?
I mean there are a lot of people that don't believe in marriage.
It's a legal thing anyway.
Legitimizing the responsibilities in a legal sense.
So, why do gays want it?
It makes it way harder to leave.
Suddenly you're in court splitting things, dividing time for the children, like so much pumpkin pie.
One piece for you, one for me. Your piece is bigger!
You get the picture.
It's never pretty.
So why not just cohab?

And then I read the following. (http://www.villagevoice.com/2004-02-24/news/i-d-leave-the-country-but-my-wife-won-t-let-me/1)

Here are some excerpts...
I want to be a full citizen, with this woman [her partner, Sarah], today. I want to do whatever it takes, sacrifice whatever is necessary, go wherever I have to, for that to be so.
I want to be taxed equally. I want my Social Security benefits to go somewhere besides down the drain. I want the Fifth Amendment right not to testify against Sarah, and to protect our private correspondence from subpoena, the same as other spouses. Couples like us don't have that right.
Rosie O'Donnell and her wife were, when the lawyers came after them.
I want our politicians and religious leaders to stop going on television and suggesting that legalizing marriage for us would be like legalizing sex with dogs.
My wife, in my arms?
They are talking about my wife, in my arms.
Do they know, do they care, how much that hurts?
Where must we run to be safe from them?
I want my wife not to feel such pressure and fear that she curls up in bed at night and cries.
On the night of Wednesday, February 25, a woman in Brooklyn lay crying because she can't understand why people would hate her so, why they'd have to denigrate a beautiful and private part of her life with the most heinous rhetoric.
Think about that.
My wife lay in tears because strangers are clamoring for the power to decide whether she belongs, whether the American promise should hold true for her — as if there were any question which way they'd vote.
What stands between us and them?
A couple dozen senators, and some of those are on the fence.
Where is our right to a meaningful marriage, to the honest pursuit of happiness?
We want our justice and "domestic tranquility."
Whose country is this, anymore? Someone tell me.
I get the feeling it's no longer mine.

I found that to be so poignant.

And then I read this from here (http://www.bidstrup.com/marriage.htm)

Why This Is A Serious Civil Rights Issue
When gay people say that this is a civil rights issue, we are referring to matters of civil justice, which often can be quite serious - and can have life-damaging, even life-threatening consequences.
One of these is the fact that in most states, we cannot make medical decisions for our partners in in emergency.
Instead, the hospitals are usually forced by state laws to go to the families who may have been estranged from us for decades, who are often hostile to us, and can and frequently do, totally ignore our wishes regarding the treatment of our partners. If a hostile family wishes to exclude us from the hospital room, they may legally do so in most states. It is even not uncommon for hostile families to make decisions based on their hostility -- with results consciously intended to be as inimical to the interests of the patient as possible!
Is this fair?

Upon death, in many cases, even very carefully drawn wills and durable powers of attorney have proven to not be enough if a family wishes to challenge a will, overturn a custody decision, or exclude us from a funeral or deny us the right to visit a partner's hospital bed or grave.

As survivors, estranged families can, in nearly all states, even seize a real estate property that a gay couple may have been buying together for many years, quickly sell it at the largest possible loss, and stick the surviving partner with all the remaining mortgage obligations on a property that partner no longer owns, leaving him out on the street, penniless. There are hundreds of examples of this, even in many cases where the gay couple had been extremely careful to do everything right under current law, in a determined effort to protect their rights.
Is this fair?

If our partners are arrested, we can be compelled to testify against them or provide evidence against them, which legally married couples are not forced to do. In court cases, a partner's testimony can be simply ruled irrelevant as heresay by a hostile judge, having no more weight in law than the testimony of a complete stranger. If a partner is jailed or imprisoned, visitation rights by the partner can, in most cases, can be denied on the whim of a hostile family and the cooperation of a homophobic judge, unrestrained by any law or precedent. Conjugal visits, a well-established right of heterosexual married couples in some settings, are simply not available to gay couples.
Is this fair?

These are far from being just theoretical issues; they happen with surprising frequency. Almost any older gay couple can tell you numerous horror stories of friends and acquaintances who have been victimized in such ways. One couple I know uses the following line in the "sig" lines on their email: "...partners and lovers for 40 years, yet still strangers before the law." Why, as a supposedly advanced society, should we continue to tolerate this kind of injustice?

These are all civil rights issues that have nothing whatsoever to do with the ecclesiastical origins of marriage; they are matters that have become enshrined in state laws by legislation or court precedent over the years in many ways that exclude us from the rights that legally married couples enjoy and even consider their constitutional right.

This is why we say it is very much a serious civil rights issue; it has nothing to do with who performs the ceremony, whether it is performed in a church or courthouse or the local country club, or whether an announcement about it is accepted for publication in the local newspaper.

Much of the argument against has no basis in reality.
"You can leave money to whomever you want!"
"You can award benefits to your dog...didn't you hear about that woman that left all her money to her cats? "
"They just want their abhorrent behavior recognized by the legal system! They are imposing their beliefs on us!"
Isn't that strange? I have found that most baseless arguments involved projection - blaming others for what you are actually doing. We are imposing OUR beliefs on THEM. They are trying to legitimize their relationships not for approval, not so that it can be taught in school, but so their families are cared for when they pass, so that they can care for each other should one become incapacitated.
How awful!

It will happen.
It is inevitable.
But I understand their impatience.
They deserve to have the rights of everyone else.
It IS a big deal. It does matter.

Friday, November 14, 2008

I guess it's pretty well known now that something like 80+ churches decided to defy the separation of church and state with political sermons before the election.
Their tax exempt status was not revoked.
Now we have pastors, priests, preachers and other folks of said cloth wagging their fingers at parishioners for their possible votes for Obama. He is pro-choice...or rather as those that like to incite "pro-abortion" and therefore, doomed to eternal damnation and fast feet hot coal dancing.

Who's "pro-abortion"?
Who goes out and says I want to get pregnant so that I can live the joy of having a fetus sucked from my uterus?
And of course the implication with the alternative to "pro-life" is...anti-life? Pro-death?
Those hysterical frenzied masses that love to toss out the innocent baby images have no interest in solving the problem.
The problem being: unwanted pregnancies.
If they were interested in solving this problem, they would back the mass distribution of the "morning after pill". This way no conception occurs and no fetus develops. They don't want this available. It goes to the whole "personal responsibility" and abstinence until marriage creed they cling to. It just seems to me that this is counter to what God intends. If he wanted everyone to stay virginal until marriage...was he honestly expecting people to marry at 9,10,11...with the onset of puberty? Because isn't that what puberty is all about? Being able to procreate?
This is the contradiction that kids are facing today.
They are bombarded with images and content about sex and sexuality.
They are equally bombarded by church and parents (ESPECIALLY in the south!) about abstinence and virginity until marriage.
AND they are pushed to wait to get married until they are out of college and independent.
So what are talking about here?
Before you have sex?
Easily TEN YEARS after hitting puberty?
Why does God make men sexually peak at 18?
So they will be completely disinterested by the time they're married?
It's a bunch of human bullshit dabbling in stuff they know nothing about.
I have no issue with safe sex.
I don't.
And if something happened and one my boys came to me about a broken condom and worries about pregnancy, I would make sure that I got a morning after pill for the girl in question.
Because as lovely and wonderful and blessed children are, they are a huge responsibility. AND they deserve to be born into an environment of love and compassion and nurturing and maturity. You will rarely find that with a 17 year old.
I don't want churches preaching to my kids or to me that a vote for a certain candidate threatens my place in heaven. it is absolutely against the law of God. My place is secure. Regardless of when my kids have sex, regardless of my voting record.
It is time to get away from the unsolvable problem of abortion and get on the real solution - sex education, safe sex practices, free sexual health checkups and birth control.
In homage to those again denied their basic rights, hang in there. People will acquiesce. It is now a matter of time. Public opinion is changing. It's impossible, I know. Like seeing a child in an abusive situation until the paperwork is done for CPS. Or waiting for people to care about the plight of animals. It's heartbreaking. It's not fair. It's painful. But it will change. If we can finally elect a minority to run the country, there is hope.
You will get the rights you deserve.

Why Can't I Own a Canadian?
October 2002
Dr. Laura Schlessinger is a radio personality who dispenses advice to people who call in to her radio show. Recently, she said that, as an observant Orthodox Jew, homosexuality is an abomination according to Leviticus 18:22 and cannot be condoned under any circumstance. The following is an open letter to Dr. Laura penned by a east coast resident, which was posted on the Internet. It's funny, as well as informative:

Dear Dr. Laura:
Thank you for doing so much to educate people regarding God's Law. I have learned a great deal from your show, and try to share that knowledge with as many people as I can. When someone tries to defend the homosexual lifestyle, for example, I simply remind them that Leviticus 18:22 clearly states it to be an abomination. End of debate. I do need some advice from you, however, regarding some of the other specific laws and how to follow them:

When I burn a bull on the altar as a sacrifice, I know it creates a pleasing odor for the Lord - Lev.1:9. The problem is my neighbors. They claim the odor is not pleasing to them. Should I smite them?

I would like to sell my daughter into slavery, as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7. In this day and age, what do you think would be a fair price for her?

I know that I am allowed no contact with a woman while she is in her period of menstrual uncleanliness - Lev.15:19- 24. The problem is, how do I tell? I have tried asking, but most women take offense.

Lev. 25:44 states that I may indeed possess slaves, both male and female, provided they are purchased from neighboring nations. A friend of mine claims that this applies to Mexicans, but not Canadians. Can you clarify? Why can't I own Canadians?

I have a neighbor who insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2 clearly states he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself?

A friend of mine feels that even though eating shellfish is an abomination - Lev. 11:10, it is a lesser abomination than homosexuality. I don't agree. Can you settle this?

Lev. 21:20 states that I may not approach the altar of God if I have a defect in my sight. I have to admit that I wear reading glasses. Does my vision have to be 20/20, or is there some wiggle room here?

Most of my male friends get their hair trimmed, including the hair around their temples, even though this is expressly forbidden by Lev. 19:27. How should they die?

I know from Lev. 11:6-8 that touching the skin of a dead pig makes me unclean, but may I still play football if I wear gloves?

My uncle has a farm. He violates Lev. 19:19 by planting two different crops in the same field, as does his wife by wearing garments made of two different kinds of thread (cotton/polyester blend). He also tends to curse and blaspheme a lot. Is it really necessary that we go to all the trouble of getting the whole town together to stone them? - Lev.24:10-16. Couldn't we just burn them to death at a private family affair like we do with people who sleep with their in-laws? (Lev. 20:14)

I know you have studied these things extensively, so I am confident you can help. Thank you again for reminding us that God's word is eternal and unchanging.
Your devoted fan,

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

There are nights that for the life of me I cannot close my eyes. I am not a "worrier", at least not in the same category as my mother and sister. I do worry about things but not compulsively. I don't look for things to worry about.
I do have a tendency for "continued education" which to me is refreshing my passion for animal rights through video. There are many people that I know that cannot do it. They cannot bring themselves to watch the videos that show the plight of elephants & tigers in circuses or zoos, turkeys and chickens in factory farms, cows and pigs in slaughterhouses.
It haunts them.
It scars them.
I understand this.
But to be honest, it scars the animals a helluva lot more than it can ever scar us.
So many people that I know think I am so principled. I find that counfounding. I don't consider myself excessively principled.
I am, however, excessively haunted.
Every video stays with me. And every time I see a burger, bacon, cheese, eggs, those videos revisit me. Everytime I see the signs go up for the rodeo and the circus or the local zoo, I see the images that are burned into my consciousness.

Abuse of dependent beings is the hot button issue for me. There is no defense of it. You cannot give me a reason I will accept. Hitting children, bullhooking elephants, whipping tigers, smashing piglets onto a concrete floor, sodomizing turkeys...just not defensible.

So when I saw that yet another elephant had died in captivity in a zoo, it brought up all those images I have of "training" videos.
The gut wrenching, soul destroying "breaking" of baby elephants by being tied down and beaten bloody for days.
The screaming of captive elephants at the hands of their 'trainers".
The wild look in their eyes as a "trainer" approaches with a weapon of discipline in their hand.
Seeing the video of little Mac as he lifted his little leg at the "request" of his trainers makes my heart ache. I know what an elephant must endure in order to master that feat. He must endure screaming and beatings and relentless sadistic actions. To do something that is unnatural to an animal it takes a great deal of fear. Terror actually. The ironic part is that those in the crowd watching, see an animal - like an elephant or a dolphin - with what appears to be a smile - as if the animal is enjoying the fun game.
They do not.
I often wonder if people even think where the dolphins that jump through the rings, the tigers that hurl themselves through the fire, the elephants that mount each others' backs in a ghasty display...I wonder if anyone every thinks about where these animals come from, where they stay when they aren't performing, how they are treated.
I see videos to keep myself aware.
The dolphin round ups in the coves of Japan where the water is turned red with blood as these terrified animals are trapped in the most horrifying display you will ever witness.
The relentless bloodying of elephants to ensure they remain petrified at all times.
The greyhound dogs that are raced and then beaten, abused and neglected.
The circus ponies punched in the face for no reason.
I see what men do to animals.
From the skinning of live dogs in China for unlabeled fur trim on American coats to the ripping off of wings and legs that are caught in the cages at the slaugherhouse.
I have seen it. It is with me everyday.
Every second of everyday.
It is not hard being vegan.
As I would think it would not be hard not being a Nazi.
Or a slave owner.
Seeing and hearing how some are treated at the hands of others...it makes it easy.
Tempting? Sure.
But the guilt is not worth it.
Knowing that the piece of chocolate that will satisfy a craving for 15 seconds does not justify the hell that baby calf had to go through - being ripped from its mother, tossed into a box to become veal or ground up for 99 cent burgers.
I understand how the out of sight, out of mind theory works for most people.
I also understand how wounding a video showing what animals must go through is to most people.
My question is - how do you justify consuming animals yet not give them the respect of witnessing what they go through for you?

Mac is in a better place now. I only wish he could have lived as he was intended to live while on this earth - with a loving family, with the grass and dirt and trees around him, running for his life, learning from his family how to fend for himself and to be part of a family unit. My heart is made up of miniscule pieces, shattered endlessly by man's inhumanity yet pieced back together by those that are willing to give of themselves to make life better for the dependent beings placed in our care.

Watch Whale Wars on Animal Planet on Friday nights. It is the story of the organization Sea Shepherd Conservation Society started by Paul Watson, one of the original members of Greenpeace. I have been giving to this organization on a monthly basis for close to a year now because they go and stand in between our fellow mammals of the sea and the hunters. It is so much better than the (gag) Deadliest Catch because this it is all about the sparing of life and those willing to throw themselves into harm's way for the benefit of others.

I find that to be as close to what Jesus asked us to do than almost anything else.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

When Palin was tapped to be the republican VP, I did a little research. Just beneath the fluff, there were stories about her refusal to be briefed. She had no patience for coaching or training, choosing to be off the cuff and more natural. Which I do understand, in all honesty. No one wants to sound like a robot repeating factoids in rote fashion.
But when one enters a new realm, especially one with so much exposure, so much scrutiny, I would think that anyone would defer to those that have experience and follow their directions. Palin, it appears, refused to do so. She balked at any training or instruction which led to her catastrophic interviews. She didn't know that Africa is a continent...not a country. She didn't know the countries involved in NAFTA. I don't think knowledge thwarts one's personal style. I believe that you can deliver thoughts and knowledge with a personal flair that separates you from everyone else. That's why Obama was such a phenomenon. His intellect was only highlighted by his ability to inspire. No one wants to sit and listen to a monotone drone. We want to hear the personal, see the individual. But we want substance. Cutsy, folksy is fine if you have something to say that's relevant, insightful and knowledgeable. It is annoying when it is merely a cover for a lack of those vital ingredients.
It's funny to me that Obama was continuously cast as arrogant and an elitist, when someone who knew so little coming in refused to be tutored or informed believing that she could get by on her wits. You can do that on a small stage but on the national stage you will be eaten up.
Which is exactly what happened.
She flew like a meteor from the convention, and just as quickly, within a couple of weeks, burned out and became a joke.
Boy. I sure hope she's the face of the future republican party.
It would be a lock for the democrats for at least another four years.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

I guess the Evangelical Christians were right. God does pick the president.
Glory, glory, glory! Lord God Almighty!
Obama is our president elect.
I am euphorically soaking in the honeymoon vibes.
Let the changing begin!
And so it begins...
News like this will begin as a trickle...ending in a torrent of negatives under the Palin column.

NEWSWEEK has also learned that Palin's shopping spree at high-end department stores was more extensive than previously reported. While publicly supporting Palin, McCain's top advisers privately fumed at what they regarded as her outrageous profligacy. One senior aide said that Nicolle Wallace had told Palin to buy three suits for the convention and hire a stylist. But instead, the vice presidential nominee began buying for herself and her family--clothes and accessories from top stores such as Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus. According to two knowledgeable sources, a vast majority of the clothes were bought by a wealthy donor, who was shocked when he got the bill. Palin also used low-level staffers to buy some of the clothes on their credit cards. The McCain campaign found out last week when the aides sought reimbursement. One aide estimated that she spent "tens of thousands" more than the reported $150,000, and that $20,000 to $40,000 went to buy clothes for her husband. Some articles of clothing have apparently been lost. An angry aide characterized the shopping spree as "Wasilla hillbillies looting Neiman Marcus from coast to coast," and said the truth will eventually come out when the Republican Party audits its books.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

My contribution to election commentary at the Houston Chronicle, Politics, Blue Team:


Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Get out the vote!
Innovation and humor, that's why Barack is ahead.

My cousin sent this to me in the customized format and I laughed out loud. Check it out, customize it and send it to your peeps.


Monday, October 27, 2008


Publications circulations are down, all across the country. Some say that it is because of the liberal swing, the media bias towards Obama.
This is a stretch. The trend has been a move away from print publications for a while now because almost everyone has access to the internet where all major and minor news sources live. One need not blacken her fingers in an attempt to sure up awareness on current events. No! Now we need only click a link to gain access to the writings of left and right leaning contributors to all publications. And what a glorious thing it is! Now I can go to Al Jazeera, Wapo, CNN, Fox, BBC, NYT, as well as local sites, and tap into the views of other global occupants. I wonder what the numbers are for traffic to news sites. I guarantee that especially during this election season that they are multiplying exponentially.
There's also the fantastic additional benefit that we are saving trees by reducing the number of print news sources. Going online, going paperless is a green move, and everyone can feel good about it.
So, I am all for the demise of the newspaper. I believe they served their purpose but their time has come.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Rep. Robin Hayes, R-N.C., maintained last week that, "Liberals hate real Americans that work, and accomplish and achieve."
Such notions get traction quickly in today's age of instant communication. Walk around Durango High School, where the crowd was waiting for a McCain rally to start, and people spoke glowingly of the Vietnam hero's kinship with "real America."
"It's something Barack Obama can't possibly know, because he's not one of us. It's like the way (Richard) Nixon was able to talk to the hard hats," said Jim Wilson, a district attorney.
Reese Resnick, a Durango oil and gas industry salesman, grew up in a small Texas town, the only son in a family of seven.
"I had to work for everything I got. That's what I was taught, and Sarah Palin understands that," he said. "People like Obama, they get driven in vans all over Washington. Palin's a working mom."

It's the craziest catch 22.

If black people are successful, they are latte sipping, cocktail party attending, Volvo driving, elitists that "don't get it".

Otherwise they are out there selling drugs, knocking up girls leaving them to raise babies on the taxpayer dime.

Do nothings that don't have the American grit and determination to abide by societies rules and standards of success.

But to say that about an American citizen - that he/she is not one of us.

I cannot begin to articulate the depth of sadness and despair that leaves with me.

I want to think that a lot of people have been fed bad information - like that woman that called Obama an Arab. She got that information from the McCain headquarters in her area.

That maybe once Obama is in office, they will come to see that he is good man, that wants what's best for the country.

I want to say that the people that scream venomous, spiteful, scathing commentary about Barack being a Muslim, anti-American, a terrorist, not a citizen, on and on.

I want to think that they are fearful.

Fearful of change.

Fearful of losing power.

Fearful of the unknown.

I want to think that but my experience tells me something different.

Is the throbbing undercurrent, that which lives just below our consciousness, out of our collective sight as members of the majority, but that which the minorities experience every second of their lives bubbling to the surface?

The off color joke or comment.

The dismissive or cautionary look.

The constant non verbal reminders that control is not in your hands.

It is there.

Holding up a curious George doll with an Obama sticker attached.

In the terror filled shouts of those trying to get those that refuse to listen to understand that this is a terrible, terrible mistake.

Obama is a terrible terrible mistake.

Don't let him sweet talk you.

Don't let him lie and get away with it.

They are desperate for us to hear them.

But we don't.

It is there but we will not allow it to change the course that we know, we know, is the right course for our country.

We are done listening to republicans.

Done being told that it's for our national "interest" or "security" or for the betterment of the country.

Everything they said was a lie.

They took us into a war that was categorically illegal and morally wrong.

They padded the bank accounts of their friends and allies and turned around and pointed the finger at democrats.

They twist our words and call us unpatriotic.

They tell us our tolerance and acceptance of others sexual orientation, religious affiliations and ethnicity aid and abet the enemy, promote promiscuity.

But we are done.

Done with the underlying racism.

Done with the twisting.

Done with the undercutting.

Done with the lies.

Done with it all.

We are listening to what we know is right, what we know is true, what we know our country needs.

We are trusting ourselves.

We are trusting our research.

We are trusting our choice.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Just so we are clear
There seems to be some confusion or rather, stubborn-ness, on the right in regards to this whole ACORN thing.
It is not voter fraud.
It is "possible" registration fraud.
Which was brought to light by those that review the registration forms, fact check, ensure that the information is correct, and then submit those forms to the appropriate authorities to register a voter.
Voter fraud would be someone coming in and voting under Albert Einstein with ID that said he was Albert Einstein and then returning to vote as Benjamin Franklin with an ID that said he was Benjamin Franklin.
The ridiculous way that the right, mostly the very far neocon territory right are the ones that keep repeating this false information. Of course, not acknowledging voting machine tampering in 2000 or 2006, voter records expunged, intimidation and threats, nor will the acknowledge that a republican was busted for registration fraud in California.
ACORN has been a great organization that registers poor people and minorities to vote. That is their crime. That is why they are a target. It's pathetic but this is what happens when people get desperate. They start swinging wildly. Kind of like a drowning person. Every lifeguard is trained to expect the victim to grasp, punch, tear, etc. at them as they are in survival mode. That is what is going on here.
They see the train coming and they cannot get off the tracks. They are trying but they cannot. They are about to be hit hard and they are grasping at every conceivable straw, every available lifeline.
They will not find one.
The moderates of their party have decided to send them a message. Give us our party back. You ran us into the ground. We are done with you calling all the shots. Take your medicine and let the grownups take charge.
Step aside.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

No to Dismissing the Nuts

We've heard it repeatedly - a few extremists, fringe, a sprinkling or a handful of nuts - that shout out or say an off color comment or bring a stuffed animal - preferably a monkey - with an Obama name tag or with shirts saying "Palin is a c@#t". Let's not focus on them, they are a minority, a smattering, a minuscule contingency that are bound to pop up from time to time.

Like in a UT clock tower.
Or grassy knoll.
Or with a gun pointed at a hotel balcony.
Or with an arsenal at a university.

Yeah. They pop up and if you act like they aren't there, you empower, you embolden them and they do the biding, or what they believe the biding is, of their "repressed" or "humiliated" people.

It doesn't take much. Just say that an organization is going to destroy the fabric of America and before you know it - that organization is broken into and workers are receiving death threats at home and at work. Menacing threats mentioning family member names, children's schools, times when your family are off work or usually return home. Office computers are stolen.

It is just those people that you have to keep an eye on. Not harassed for being racist, sexist, threatened and frightened, but watched to ensure that the line is not crossed. I don't want a police state, but I do want people that are dancing on the edge to have an audience.
Because it takes just one.
Just one guy that doesn't want his country destroyed, doesn't want his vote not to count, doesn't want to live in a socialist state, doesn't want to be forced to practice Islam, doesn't want to be thrust into a society he does not recognize.
And with the constant painting of one candidate as threatening, as dangerous, as mysterious, as potentially not even a citizen, that pals around with undesirables, we are going to see more and more people who are feel they have no other option.
Of course, this is America, land of the free - free to say whatever you want. But there is a huge difference between someone writing on a blog, someone speaking to another on the sidewalk, in a cafe or in a chatroom and someone putting out a national commercial, giving a press release, speaking to 10s of thousands of people at a rally or making accusations at a debate watched by millions.
It is the responsibility of all candidates but especially those embattled in the VP and POTUS to be above reproach when making statements to the masses.
What I find frightening is McCain & Palin's inability to adjust their message once items in that message have been disproved. To me, it smacks of that old neocon mantra that if you repeat a lie often enough it becomes truth.
In actuality, it becomes truth to your base. And these are the ones that are the most adamant, the most faithful, the most loyal to a particular group. Even when McCain corrected the woman that said Obama is an Arab, she did not believe him. She excused his response as not wanting to say anything negative about his opponent. Why would she think that?
Because the information she is reciting comes straight from material she picked up at a McCain headquarters.
Not a republican national headquarters.
The McCain headquarters.
Big difference.
It's the difference between a commercial that says hey! we're speaking about this guy because we back him and one that says - I am so-and-so and I approve this message.

It will only be in hindsight, after someone has gone over the edge and does something that causes a collective national gasp, forcing all to remember yet again where they were when this national tragedy happened, that we will be able to connect the dots and see how the person progressed from ardent supporter to criminal.
I want to catch it before it happens.
I want the candidates to think about what the possible outcome could be to their words.
When they say something that could be taken in a way that causes someone to feel threatened, endangered or frightened, I want them to pause and think - is it worth it?
We have already seen it. On both sides, but more on the right. Because they know what to expect from McCain. He has been around for a while, he has voted a certain way. But they don't know what to think about the dark guy. They hear what Rush says, they hear that Sean is worried, they hear that Fox is concerned. And they hear Palin saying that he pals around with terrorist and there it is! Right there in the glossy handout from the McCain headquarters, information about his rival being a socialist, associating with those that hate our country, threaten our way of life, practices a religion that is diametrically opposed to theirs, wants to sit down with our adversaries.
Who would do that but someone that wants to give away our country?
I am saying that there are people out there who are feeling threatened. They have gone so far as to pick up a mike at a rally and say so.
They are saying they are angry!
ANGRY! Because of the socialist elite.
Do you think that they will just shrug those very real feelings off?
It is imperative that we not dismiss these people. It is crucial that we take their feelings seriously and address their concerns. And the only ones that can do that are the ones that got them all bent out of shape with inflammatory statements, with twisted words and false accusations.
It is up to McCain and Palin to take responsibility for the words they use in the messages they are broadcasting to thousands of people.
They need to take responsibility for the tone, for the inflection, for the nonverbal language they are using to get this message across. You can try to mask it with folksy verbiage, conversational "my friends" speak but it is as plain as the nose on their face. They are trying to stir up their base to encourage their friends to vote "country first" and for their existing way of life.
What they are not getting is that a lot of people's way of life has taken a serious jag towards unpleasant and the opposition is talking to them in a language that recognizes that and promises relief.
Change is scary for a lot of people.
Right now, most people want it.
Unfortunately, for some, it means something that they cannot imagine, cannot fathom and certainly don't want to come to fruition.

Monday, October 13, 2008

I guess that everything pales in comparison. I am deeply, deeply saddened that this exists. It breaks my heart that an entire group of people have to deal with this sort of vitriol undercurrent. This was on Pam's House Blend where she also had a man with an Obama sticker wrapped around the head of a curious george doll. He waved it around, guffawing and thinking himself so clever. Later, inside, the MSM focused in on him and suddenly, he didn't seems so brazen, opting to remove the sticker while looking innocently around and then handing the doll to a child.
Obama sock puppets and monkeys seem to be all the rage.
What a proud moment in American history.
I can't wait until I get to explain this Americana to my grand children.

It just seems to get worse........

This weekend Palin repeated the McCain press release, prior to the report's release, that she had been exonerated in any illegal or unethical behavior in relation to Troopergate. Even telling someone, read the report, sir.
Did she not read the part about the justification for the desire to get rid of this trooper - the tasering, the threats, the abuse - were not believed by the commission? Did she not read that they believed that she was remiss in controlling the abuse that was going on in her office, under her nose and that she did indeed violate the public trust?
Exactly were is that moral compass she relies so heavily on? Just because you get someone else to do your dirty work, does not mean your hands are clean.
I forgot.
She really doesn't read, does she?
My bad.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

So, McCain corrected some supporters about their fear should Obama become president and that he is not, in fact, an Arab....(?), and in turn received kudos across the board for stepping up and....correcting people. Even a nod from Obama thanking him for stepping up.

I feel like I am looking through one of those crazy fisheye lenses with the Twilight Zone swirling overriding my vision. Honestly. That's what I feel like.

Since when do we say wow, amazing, awesome, when someone says - uh, sorry, this is the fact. I mean, talk about your "no grades just stars for everyone!" mentality. Sorry. No. If someone stood up and said to Obama that McCain was an alien, from Mercury, would we have the same reaction? To his credit, Obama told the guy, no, that's not correct, he's a decent guy, a citizen, wow doesn't that make him a great guy!! No. It doesn't. It just makes him a guy that corrects people when they are categorically wrong.
But then you turn around, and Wasilla Barbie is again going on about the false friendship between Obama and Ayers and again, repeating the lie that supported the killing of babies slated for abortion. And then you see the judgment ads where Obama is again tied to Ayers. How can you accept praise for correcting falsehoods and then turn around and project those falsehoods to your supporters and on televsion? How does that work?
When Obama has taken the high road and refused to capitalize on the Palin abuse of power in troopergate, you still get up there a spit vicerol falsehoods. I don't get it. I really don't. What is this crazy world that Palin lives in, where she can say ad nauseum that she didn't support the bridge to nowhere, that she is fiscally conservative, that she fought big oil, that she did nothing wrong with the trooper issue and was EXHONERATED (!?) by the commission, that she ran Wasilla, that she got a pipeline up and running, all these claims and others that have been repeatedly disproven that she will not let go of. It irritates me that pit bulls have been, again, victimized and had their name sullied by some woman that is as self-involved as any I have seen. Pit bulls are loyal, selfless, wonderful animals that will do anything for their owners. That is how their nature makes them the perfect breed for abusers. Loyalty and selflessness. I don't see that in Palin.

I understand why Obama is going the way he is going - staying on task, addressing the issues - shit -someone has to!, not stepping into the muck, stepping around it and proceeding on. He is winning moderates and independents left and right with this strategy. It stuns me that McCain hasn't picked up on this and tacked that way.

I believe Obama will win in November. I think that we will have to continue to canvas, continue to talk to our neighbors and make our calls. We cannot let up and assume anything, that's when things go awry. We must stay as focused as our candidate and run through the tape at the end...no jogging or walking!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Oh dear.
Damn video cameras.

Obama on Ayers: 'I assumed that he had been rehabilitated'
From Ben Smith's Blog on Politico

In an interview with the sympathetic conservative talk radio host this afternoon, Obama offered the clearest explanation yet of how an extremely careful politician allowed himself anywhere near a former '60s radical who would become a Republican target in this year's presidential campaign.
Obama "had assumed" from Bill Ayers' stature in Chicago, he told the Philadelphia-based Michael Smerconish, that Ayers had been "rehabilitated" since his 1960s crimes.
In the interview, which was taped this afternoon and will air tomorrow, and which you can listen to above, Obama recalled moving back to Chicago after law school, and becoming involved in civic life there.
"The gentleman in question, Bill Ayers, is a college professor, teaches education at the University of Illinois," he said. "That's how i met him -- working on a school reform project that was funded by an ambassador and very close friend of Ronald Reagan's" along with "a bunch of conservative businessmen and civic leaders."
"Ultimately, I ended up learning about the fact that he had engaged in this reprehensible act 40 years ago, but I was eight years old at the time and I assumed that he had been rehabilitated," Obama said.
That may not have been an unreasonable assumption for Obama in the 1990s. Though Ayers never repented his part in the Weather Underground bombings, he had not yet become notorious for advertising them. That notoriety returned in 2001, when he published his memoir, "Fugitive Days," and reminisced about the bombings in a New York Times interview that happened to appear September 11 of that year."This guy is not part of my inner circle, he doesn't advise my campaign, he's not going to advise me as president," Obama assured listeners.
Obama also lashed McCain for focusing on Ayers on a day of dramatic economic turmoil, calling the issue a "red herring.""The fact that Senator McCain wants to make this the centerpiece of his campaign is pretty remarkable," he said. "We are going through an enormous challenge right now. "
"Senator McCain surely doesn't believe that I've endorsed any of the actions that [Ayers] has taken," he said. "They're trying to distract from the economy."
"We've got the biggest economic crisis on our hands since the Great Depression and Senator McCain's team has said in the newspapers, they've said it publicly, 'If we talk about the economy, then we lose the election,'" Obama said.
By Ben Smith 07:20 PM
This will be short....

I want to know about AIP and Palin's involvement. This is the party that preaches secession from the USA. Granted, it was the first dude that was a member. But Palin spoke at a convention and at a meeting as recently as May of this year.

I want to know about this PR firm that was hired using tax payer dollars in order to promote Palin in the national arena. Isn't that at least unethical and at most illegal?

I want an explanation as to how this would not be considered unethical - the contractor that built the Wasilla Hockey Stadium for 20 million also built her lake house.

I want to know why Palin felt it necessary to contact Monegan (Troopergate) 36 times and then claim to not have pressured or been involved.

I want to know why Palin used personal email accounts to conduct state business and is now charging exorbitant amounts of money for copies of emails.

I want to know why Palin cc:d the first dude on hundreds of state business related emails.

I want to know why Palin and McCain refuse to take some kind of corrective measure when the attendees in their rallies begin to shout "kill him" "terrorist" and racial slurs to African Americans in the crowd.

No politician is clean.
I want the character assassinations to stop.
Our economy is in freefall and we have a candidate that is mired in the 60's, obsessing on a radical extremist that is now a professor of education, a recipient of Citizen of the Year (Chicago 1997) and was involved in anti-government behavior when Obama was 8.

I want to know that seniors will be cared for and not have to choose between prescriptions and medical attention and food.
I want to know that not another child will die of asthma in this country.
I want to know that not one more family will be bankrupted due to illness and medical costs.
I want to be energy independent in ten years.
I want the use of oil and gas to be a thing of the past.
I want clean air and water.
I want green jobs.
I want the rest of the world to finally exhale after holding its collective breath for 8 years.
I want my kids to go to college.
I want my fellow citizens to love the ones that they want to love. Without repercussions.
I want my country back.
Can we focus on fixing our country...please?