Sunday, January 27, 2008

O'Bama Mania; I can't help but be smitten; I was smitten with JFK, as well.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket Caroline Kennedy endorsed him yesterday.

If you're not sure what he stands for, listen to this interview. The San Francisco Chronicle endorsed him today.

This is the man. Now is the time. We can do it. YES WE CAN!

Edited to include another video 1/29:

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

What's New.

Em's still sick, although not as bad as he was. He's eating a little more now, his cough is more productive, and he's able to walk around some. Still off the cigarettes, although he asked me yesterday what happened to them, beseeching me to NOT give them away because he might want one. He still hasn't been outside and I think he's given up on the coffee. No. 1 stopped by yesterday with two more bags of CUTIES; Em's going through them like crazy. They're tangerines that sell in the stores this time of year, if you're unfamiliar. From MY perspective, he needs to eat a whole lot more and forget about smoking at all. He was already skinnier than 170 lbs BEFORE he got sick, and he's down to 160 now. Not big enough, IMO, for a 6' tall man. But, that's from MY perspective, and he's his own man.

No. 1 and I went shopping this past weekend together several times, as well. Mostly grocery sale items to replace soups, cough/flu medicines for us, but there were sales on makeup, so No. 1 took advantage of those, as well. I needed potting soil to do some household transplants and start the seeds for this year, so we went to Home Depot where we got a big bag of soil and THIS:


It's 100% plastic, 100% made in China, but works really well. Instructions state that it holds enough water for 11 hours, but I filled it 2 days ago and it's still shooting out spurts of steam (as you can see). No. 2 has one just like it. I'd asked her where she got it, but she didn't say Home Depot, and when I saw it there I just grabbed it and put it in the cart with the soil. I think we needed a fun addition to our home, so don't feel at all guilty. I love to just sit and watch it spoof and we didn't have a humidifier or vaporizer, so I think it's playing an important role in curing Em of his chest congestion.

Also in the "we didn't have" department, I bought us both slippers at Thrift Town last week Monday and within one week they've become a part of our lives. I don't think we noticed cold feet before this year, but now we wonder how we ever felt comfortable without slippers. Thrift Town had a 30% off sale on Monday of THIS week that I would have loved to attend, but life is what happens when you have other plans.

No. 1 will be doing 25 hours of community service at Texas Masonic Retirement Center to fulfill the requirements of one of her Social Work classes. She stopped by (with the cuties) yesterday after checking out the place. "This is where RICH people go to die; the place is a MANSION!" The social worker who will be showing her the ropes of elderly institutions (her desired specialty) told her that other places will NOT be this nice. Besides that class, I think she's taking Anthropology and 2 literature classes. No. 2 is taking Nutrition, Ethics, Music Literature, and College level Algebra, while #3 is taking Advanced Operating Systems, Computer Forensics, and Advanced windows administration. He's on quarters, while the others are on semesters. Lots of school and work going on with the younguns this year.

I'm thinking a lot lately about this year's garden in addition to getting some painting done inside. We're totally not handy and have no desire to paint walls and ceilings ourselves, so I'm going to call a guy who did some work for us a few years back. He's handy AND local. Not sure he's still doing handywork, but it's worth a check. He had a truck (last time we used him), so he could haul some gardening stuff for us, too.

Think I got a small piece of glass in my left foot. There's a little hard BB-type "ball" shape underneath the skin right on the outside edge parallel to the metatarsal arch. I remember a walk we took a few weeks back wherein I had to remove my sandal to shake some (most likely) glass that was hurting my foot, so I think a little piece of that glass got stuck and I'm just noticing now. I've already started "surgery" to remove whatever it is.

In the Who Knew? department, there's THIS:


Monday, January 21, 2008

I have a Dream ... Let Freedom Ring!

45 years ago.

Remarks of Senator Barack Obama: The Great Need of the Hour Atlanta, GA | January 20, 2008

The Scripture tells us that when Joshua and the Israelites arrived at the gates of Jericho, they could not enter. The walls of the city were too steep for any one person to climb; too strong to be taken down with brute force. And so they sat for days, unable to pass on through.

But God had a plan for his people. He told them to stand together and march together around the city, and on the seventh day he told them that when they heard the sound of the ram's horn, they should speak with one voice. And at the chosen hour, when the horn sounded and a chorus of voices cried out together, the mighty walls of Jericho came tumbling down.

There are many lessons to take from this passage, just as there are many lessons to take from this day, just as there are many memories that fill the space of this church. As I was thinking about which ones we need to remember at this hour, my mind went back to the very beginning of the modern Civil Rights Era.

Because before Memphis and the mountaintop; before the bridge in Selma and the march on Washington; before Birmingham and the beatings; the fire hoses and the loss of those four little girls; before there was King the icon and his magnificent dream, there was King the young preacher and a people who found themselves suffering under the yoke of oppression.

And on the eve of the bus boycotts in Montgomery, at a time when many were still doubtful about the possibilities of change, a time when those in the black community mistrusted themselves, and at times mistrusted each other, King inspired with words not of anger, but of an urgency that still speaks to us today:

"Unity is the great need of the hour" is what King said. Unity is how we shall overcome.

What Dr. King understood is that if just one person chose to walk instead of ride the bus, those walls of oppression would not be moved. But maybe if a few more walked, the foundation might start to shake. If a few more women were willing to do what Rosa Parks had done, maybe the cracks would start to show. If teenagers took freedom rides from North to South, maybe a few bricks would come loose. Maybe if white folks marched because they had come to understand that their freedom too was at stake in the impending battle, the wall would begin to sway. And if enough Americans were awakened to the injustice; if they joined together, North and South, rich and poor, Christian and Jew, then perhaps that wall would come tumbling down, and justice would flow like water, and righteousness like a mighty stream.

Unity is the great need of the hour - the great need of this hour. Not because it sounds pleasant or because it makes us feel good, but because it's the only way we can overcome the essential deficit that exists in this country.

I'm not talking about a budget deficit. I'm not talking about a trade deficit. I'm not talking about a deficit of good ideas or new plans.

I'm talking about a moral deficit. I'm talking about an empathy deficit. I'm taking about an inability to recognize ourselves in one another; to understand that we are our brother's keeper; we are our sister's keeper; that, in the words of Dr. King, we are all tied together in a single garment of destiny.

We have an empathy deficit when we're still sending our children down corridors of shame - schools in the forgotten corners of America where the color of your skin still affects the content of your education.

We have a deficit when CEOs are making more in ten minutes than some workers make in ten months; when families lose their homes so that lenders make a profit; when mothers can't afford a doctor when their children get sick.

We have a deficit in this country when there is Scooter Libby justice for some and Jena justice for others; when our children see nooses hanging from a schoolyard tree today, in the present, in the twenty-first century.

We have a deficit when homeless veterans sleep on the streets of our cities; when innocents are slaughtered in the deserts of Darfur; when young Americans serve tour after tour of duty in a war that should've never been authorized and never been waged.

And we have a deficit when it takes a breach in our levees to reveal a breach in our compassion; when it takes a terrible storm to reveal the hungry that God calls on us to feed; the sick He calls on us to care for; the least of these He commands that we treat as our own.

So we have a deficit to close. We have walls - barriers to justice and equality - that must come down. And to do this, we know that unity is the great need of this hour.

Unfortunately, all too often when we talk about unity in this country, we've come to believe that it can be purchased on the cheap. We've come to believe that racial reconciliation can come easily - that it's just a matter of a few ignorant people trapped in the prejudices of the past, and that if the demagogues and those who exploit our racial divisions will simply go away, then all our problems would be solved.

All too often, we seek to ignore the profound institutional barriers that stand in the way of ensuring opportunity for all children, or decent jobs for all people, or health care for those who are sick. We long for unity, but are unwilling to pay the price.

But of course, true unity cannot be so easily won. It starts with a change in attitudes - a broadening of our minds, and a broadening of our hearts.

It's not easy to stand in somebody else's shoes. It's not easy to see past our differences. We've all encountered this in our own lives. But what makes it even more difficult is that we have a politics in this country that seeks to drive us apart - that puts up walls between us.

We are told that those who differ from us on a few things are different from us on all things; that our problems are the fault of those who don't think like us or look like us or come from where we do. The welfare queen is taking our tax money. The immigrant is taking our jobs. The believer condemns the non-believer as immoral, and the non-believer chides the believer as intolerant.

For most of this country's history, we in the African-American community have been at the receiving end of man's inhumanity to man. And all of us understand intimately the insidious role that race still sometimes plays - on the job, in the schools, in our health care system, and in our criminal justice system.

And yet, if we are honest with ourselves, we must admit that none of our hands are entirely clean. If we're honest with ourselves, we'll acknowledge that our own community has not always been true to King's vision of a beloved community.

We have scorned our gay brothers and sisters instead of embracing them. The scourge of anti-Semitism has, at times, revealed itself in our community. For too long, some of us have seen immigrants as competitors for jobs instead of companions in the fight for opportunity.

Every day, our politics fuels and exploits this kind of division across all races and regions; across gender and party. It is played out on television. It is sensationalized by the media. And last week, it even crept into the campaign for President, with charges and counter-charges that served to obscure the issues instead of illuminating the critical choices we face as a nation.

So let us say that on this day of all days, each of us carries with us the task of changing our hearts and minds. The division, the stereotypes, the scape-goating, the ease with which we blame our plight on others - all of this distracts us from the common challenges we face - war and poverty; injustice and inequality. We can no longer afford to build ourselves up by tearing someone else down. We can no longer afford to traffic in lies or fear or hate. It is the poison that we must purge from our politics; the wall that we must tear down before the hour grows too late.

Because if Dr. King could love his jailor; if he could call on the faithful who once sat where you do to forgive those who set dogs and fire hoses upon them, then surely we can look past what divides us in our time, and bind up our wounds, and erase the empathy deficit that exists in our hearts.

But if changing our hearts and minds is the first critical step, we cannot stop there. It is not enough to bemoan the plight of poor children in this country and remain unwilling to push our elected officials to provide the resources to fix our schools. It is not enough to decry the disparities of health care and yet allow the insurance companies and the drug companies to block much-needed reforms. It is not enough for us to abhor the costs of a misguided war, and yet allow ourselves to be driven by a politics of fear that sees the threat of attack as way to scare up votes instead of a call to come together around a common effort.

The Scripture tells us that we are judged not just by word, but by deed. And if we are to truly bring about the unity that is so crucial in this time, we must find it within ourselves to act on what we know; to understand that living up to this country's ideals and its possibilities will require great effort and resources; sacrifice and stamina.

And that is what is at stake in the great political debate we are having today. The changes that are needed are not just a matter of tinkering at the edges, and they will not come if politicians simply tell us what we want to hear. All of us will be called upon to make some sacrifice. None of us will be exempt from responsibility. We will have to fight to fix our schools, but we will also have to challenge ourselves to be better parents. We will have to confront the biases in our criminal justice system, but we will also have to acknowledge the deep-seated violence that still resides in our own communities and marshal the will to break its grip.

That is how we will bring about the change we seek. That is how Dr. King led this country through the wilderness. He did it with words - words that he spoke not just to the children of slaves, but the children of slave owners. Words that inspired not just black but also white; not just the Christian but the Jew; not just the Southerner but also the Northerner.

He led with words, but he also led with deeds. He also led by example. He led by marching and going to jail and suffering threats and being away from his family. He led by taking a stand against a war, knowing full well that it would diminish his popularity. He led by challenging our economic structures, understanding that it would cause discomfort. Dr. King understood that unity cannot be won on the cheap; that we would have to earn it through great effort and determination.

That is the unity - the hard-earned unity - that we need right now. It is that effort, and that determination, that can transform blind optimism into hope - the hope to imagine, and work for, and fight for what seemed impossible before.

The stories that give me such hope don't happen in the spotlight. They don't happen on the presidential stage. They happen in the quiet corners of our lives. They happen in the moments we least expect. Let me give you an example of one of those stories.

There is a young, twenty-three year old white woman named Ashley Baia who organizes for our campaign in Florence, South Carolina. She's been working to organize a mostly African-American community since the beginning of this campaign, and the other day she was at a roundtable discussion where everyone went around telling their story and why they were there.

And Ashley said that when she was nine years old, her mother got cancer. And because she had to miss days of work, she was let go and lost her health care. They had to file for bankruptcy, and that's when Ashley decided that she had to do something to help her mom.

She knew that food was one of their most expensive costs, and so Ashley convinced her mother that what she really liked and really wanted to eat more than anything else was mustard and relish sandwiches. Because that was the cheapest way to eat.

She did this for a year until her mom got better, and she told everyone at the roundtable that the reason she joined our campaign was so that she could help the millions of other children in the country who want and need to help their parents too.

So Ashley finishes her story and then goes around the room and asks everyone else why they're supporting the campaign. They all have different stories and reasons. Many bring up a specific issue. And finally they come to this elderly black man who's been sitting there quietly the entire time. And Ashley asks him why he's there. And he does not bring up a specific issue. He does not say health care or the economy. He does not say education or the war. He does not say that he was there because of Barack Obama. He simply says to everyone in the room, "I am here because of Ashley."

By itself, that single moment of recognition between that young white girl and that old black man is not enough. It is not enough to give health care to the sick, or jobs to the jobless, or education to our children.

But it is where we begin. It is why the walls in that room began to crack and shake.

And if they can shake in that room, they can shake in Atlanta.

And if they can shake in Atlanta, they can shake in Georgia.

And if they can shake in Georgia, they can shake all across America. And if enough of our voices join together; we can bring those walls tumbling down. The walls of Jericho can finally come tumbling down. That is our hope - but only if we pray together, and work together, and march together.

Brothers and sisters, we cannot walk alone.

In the struggle for peace and justice, we cannot walk alone.

In the struggle for opportunity and equality, we cannot walk alone.

In the struggle to heal this nation and repair this world, we cannot walk alone.

So I ask you to walk with me, and march with me, and join your voice with mine, and together we will sing the song that tears down the walls that divide us, and lift up an America that is truly indivisible, with liberty, and justice, for all. May God bless the memory of the great pastor of this church, and may God bless the United States of America.

Obama 08

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Cornucopians and Doomsters (food for thought and how I got my kids to go to college)

A cornucopian is someone who believes that continued progress and provision of material items for mankind can be met by advances in technology. Fundamentally there is enough matter and energy on the Earth to provide plenty for the estimated peak population of about 9 billion in 2050. However, this must also mean that there is enough for the current world population but starvation and fuel poverty have not been eradicated, suggesting that the problem is not a lack of resources but the distribution of said resources by the current economic and political system. Looking further into the future the abundance of matter and energy in space would appear to give humanity almost unlimited room for growth.

The term comes from the cornucopia, the mythical "horn of plenty" of the Greek mythology which supplied its owners with endless food and drink magically. The cornucopians are sometimes known as "Boomsters", and their philosophic opponents --- Malthus and his school --- are called "Doomsters."

I consider myself a cornucopian when it comes to environmentalism. That doesn't mean that I don't think conservation is important. I think conservation is VERY important and have spent many, many years buying less, making do, combining errands into one trip, using cloth bags to carry groceries, yadda yadda. As I said elsewhere, we heard about the environmental concerns 30 years ago. Doesn't hurt my feelings at all that conservation blends itself nicely with cheapskating either. But, having listened to a lot of predictions 30 years ago that didn't at all come true tempers any tendency I might have had to become a doomster (doomer).

One of the problems with doom think is the exclusion of human ingenuity. I saw many who said Y2k would bring the same gloomy future for mankind that peak oil activists are suggesting. Some say, "The only reason Y2k didn't result in this future was because manpower and money were thrown at it." Well, DUH! That's the problem with Malthusian thinking.

quotes from article above:

"Resources come out of people's minds more than out of the ground or air," says Simon. "Minds matter economically as much as or more than hands or mouths. Human beings create more than they use, on average. It had to be so, or we would be an extinct species."

The defect of the Malthusian models, superficially plausible but invariably wrong, is that they leave the human mind out of the equation. "These models simply do not comprehend key elements of people - the imaginative and creative."

As for the future, "This is my long-run forecast in brief," says Simon. "The material conditions of life will continue to get better for most people, in most countries, most of the time, indefinitely. Within a century or two, all nations and most of humanity will be at or above today's Western living standards.

"I also speculate, however, that many people will continue to think and say that the conditions of life are getting worse."

But you don't have to be one of those people, one of those forever Glum and Gloomy Gusses. All you've got to do is keep your mind on the facts.

/quote --

We heard the same fears then and more. The Population Bomb was going to throw us all back to the middle ages or worse as there wouldn't be enough resources for everyone. I told my kids when they were young (they were born in the late 70s, early 80s) that they'd need a college education just to get a job as a mechanic because there would be SO MANY PEOPLE vying for jobs that you'd need some way to show you were above average. But, things changed.


As population predictions have changed in the past few years, so have attitudes. The panic about resource constraints that prevailed during the 1970s and 1980s, when the population was rising through the steep part of the S-curve, has given way to a new concern: that the number of people in the world is likely to start falling. /quote

We're (as a species) very resourceful. We listen (even to silly songs), incorporate messages and modify our behavior. And that concludes how I got MY kids to go to college. :-)

Tom Lehrer's "Pollution" song.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Sleep is such a miracle healer.

Em's sick with his annual cold. While *I* get "a little bit sick" routinely, Em gets "majorly" sick once/year. It's that time.

He started getting sick last week, but flu/cold medicines kept it at bay for days. I caught the cold from him, but flu/cold medicines worked for me, too. Then, Monday night he went to bed and only woke up once during the day. I think he tried to get some coffee and have a cigarette outside, but the coffee went pretty much undrunk and I'm not sure about the cigarette. Then, he slept until 6am today when his back started complaining about sleeping so long. He got up, got dressed, made coffee (another cup undrunk) and MAYBE looked for the cigarettes which I hid while he was sleeping the day before. He went back to sleep on the couch and has been sleeping there the whole day except for when he sat up to eat some chicken soup and a tablespoon of honey laced with white pepper.

It's been hard to keep my noise level down to a purr. Had to do laundry yesterday because it was the last warm day of the week, maybe even the month and we had dirty clothes that needed to hang outside. Today, I'm staying at the other end of the house amusing myself with nonsense while jazz plays at his end of the house to cover little sounds I make.

Sleep is such a miracle healer. I slept like that when I got sick in January of 2005. Slept for DAYS. Em kept saying, "Since you haven't smoked for days, it's probably a good time to quit." Made me mad, because I wanted quitting to be MY idea, not HIS. Hope he feels the same way now.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Catching Up to 2008

New year - new files, new systems - what does it all mean?
I'm not talking about life... I'm talking about the notes I have on my desk ... with the abbreviations ... that make absolutely NO sense today, although I'm sure they made a lot of sense on the day I wrote them (maybe). If it happened last year, I don't think I need to care about it anymore.
This has been "update refrigeration" month, so I've been concentrating on the cold stuff. I keep files of food in the house, but those files hadn't been updated in a while, No. 1 has needed to take stuff whenever, we'd already taken advantage of January sales, and I absolutely HATE data entry. Finished getting the cold inventory done today, though, including the data entry for it all.
Went door to door begging picnic coolers from my neighbors to work on it all and defrosted, repacked, and inventoried the garage freezer last week. We'd already ordered a new gasket for our refrigerator because it failed the dollar bill test, not to mention how there was mildew growing around the door edges. It was just hard to get someone to help me swap out the old one and install the new one what with so much football going on this time of year. No. 1 came this past week to pick up some things, visit for a while, and have Em take her car to get fixed, so I had what I needed [more hands!]. After getting the refrigerator freezer stuff packed into the coolers I'd borrowed while No. 1 was doing other things, I cleaned out and washed up the freezer and refrigerator door. ( Em keeps the rest of the frig looking great routinely, so there wasn't a need to take everything out of the frig.)
She did the best she could helping me try to get the new gasket to stick. The "unscrew" instructions were meaningless, because the gasket is outside of the screws. That was a GOOD thing, because we don't have a Phillips screwdriver small enough for those things, anyway! Em tried to help us when he returned from getting her car serviced, but three hands weren't any better than the two we had. So, No. 1 went home to get her roommate [a somewhat handy person] while Em called upon a neighbor [the type who could build a mall with Q-tips]. Hours later, 6 people got the new gasket to pretty much fit. It's STILL not 100% right, (as in the frig runs 60% of the time and the gasket is wobbly loose on one side of the door), but Em's brother will be here tomorrow to watch a football game and he's another person who could build a mall with Q-tips. I figure it'll take him about 30 seconds to do whatever it is handy people do to fix stuff in a flash.
With that said, I was updating the garage freezer inventory with one little thing we bought yesterday and looking through the list I couldn't find the stuff I'd bought January 1. It wasn't there because I hadn't done the data entry on it, and I didn't have any notes saying that I NEEDED to do the data entry on it, and I'm NOTHING without my notes, so I had to tear into my notes ... and now we've come full circle.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

I think I'm in love...

in a non-sexual, respectful, admiring kind of way.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Armchair quarterbacking last night's election results.

We had a great time at Midcities Drinking Liberally last night watching the Iowa Caucus returns.

An informal poll was done of our group of 50. I think Hillary won. I know Obama didn't win, because Em and I both voted for Obama. We were thrilled, though, to see him win in Iowa. G O Bama!

As usual, we met several candidates running for lesser offices. We were impressed with the demeanor of Kalandra Wheeler, who is running for (I'm pretty sure) State Representative of District 92. We were disappointed to check upon our return home and find that we live in District 93. We'll be able to meet Tom Love (who would like to represent us in the US congress) next week at another function.

It's time to put on the political activist hat! It's been a LONG seven years.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Tuesday, January 01, 2008