Monday, December 31, 2007
Arrive, meet the staff and tour the factory
At the Mill House classroom with Jo Reeve learn secrets of carding, building a rainbow, and blending fibres
Home stay for dinner
Mill House classroom with Cindy Begg learn wool classing, and novelty spinning
Home stay for dinner
Pedicure and massage pampering.
Back Country Adventure
Arrive Inverary Station and watch musterers and shearers at work then board 4-wheel drive vehicles to go across country for lunch in a musterer’s hut
On the journey home view the agate jewellery and woodland garden at Rangiatea farm and the alpacas at Homestead farm.
Mill House classroom with Priscilla Lowry learn about silk, creating luxurious yarns and dyeing techniques
Home stay for dinner
Illustrated talk on silk and the world of the Geisha.
Mill House classroom with Rowena Hart using your beautiful yarns weave a fashion garment.
Take home new skills, new experiences, the warmth of new friendships and a fibre adventure you will never forget!
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
This is one of the reasons I love what I do: in a couple of months I am hosting a segment of a World Cruise. One of the ports of call is Bandar Seri Begawan, in the Sultanate of Brunei Darussalam. Brunei is on the northern coast of the island of Borneo: an oil-rich, peaceful enclave with one of the most diverse eco-systems in the world. Nearly 80% of Brunei is tropical rainforest. When you consider that the entire nation is just under 5800 sq km, that's a lot of forest. And most is easily accessed from Bandar Seri Begawan, the capital.
Honest to pete, this is not a place that sort of comes to mind quickly. I do not get a lot of calls from clients saying "Hey, I've got an idea! I want to go to Brunei Darussalam!" But because I am going to get there, I have to read up, learn all I can, and prepare for my new adventure. More to come.
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
Since Commandante Agi asked so nicely, I'm going to make some suggestions for Madrid, Barcelona, and Paris. Let's get the annoying stuff out of the way: Security at the airports in Europe is quite tough. So when you pack, if you're even remotely in doubt, don't carry it on the plane. ONLY ONE CARRY ON, not a carry on and a small personal bag, per person!
Madrid: Visit the Prado Museum which contains the world's best collection of Spanish painting, including works by El Greco; Velazquez; Goya; Ribera; Zubaran; Murillo. The Prado also contains works by Van der Weyden and Hieronymous Bosch; it houses the most complete collection of Titian's works as well as other painters from the Venice School; and also houses a collection of first class work from English, German, and French artists. And visit the Centro de Arte Reina Sofia National Museum, which has a collection of 20th Century painting and sculpture: works by Picasso, Juan Gris, Miro, Dali, Chillida and Tapies. Finish the visit with Picasso's Guernica - the most compelling visual reminder of the horrors of war I have ever seen.
I can arrange a day of private cooking lessons in an atelier in a private home, if you would like.
Visit the Malasana quarter, and witness how a middle class neighborhood is being "discovered" by Madrid's hip, younger generation. Taberna Lardosa supposedly has the best draft beer in Madrid! This quarter is loaded with off-scene theaters, modern shops, hip restaurants and cafes, intermingling with history: the Church of San Antonio de los Alemanes is an 18th Century Baroque building with lavish frescoes.
Or, you can do a day trip to Toledo, the city of three cultures. Christians, Arabs, and Jews lived here successfully and peacefully, for centuries during the Golden Age. Churches, Mosques, Synagogues make the Old Quarter a virtual museum of diversity of architectural styles (and a testement to how people can indeed live in peace with each other.) This is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Barcelona: The heart of Modernism probably lies in Barcelona. The movement had its heyday in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries, and embodies the most innovative creations in art, literature, theater, architecture, decoration, and furniture design. Gaudi, the master of Modernist Architecture, lived in Barcelona - his works are part of what makes this city breathe. Visit his masterpiece, the Sagrada Familia Church, and also Park Guell. And visit the Picasso Museum (also the one in Paris).
I can arrange a private excursion out the the Montserrat and Penedes Wine Regions, if this is of interest.
Paris: There is a line from a movie that says "Paris is always a good idea." I could not agree more. Paris is divided into 20 districts that spiral out like a snail shell from the first, centered round the Louvre. I always walk in Paris, although the Paris underground is quite easy to navigate (and it's clean, and compared to other cities, quiet.) I walk in Paris because it's how I discover things: places like the Place des Vosges, the oldest square in Paris and a virtual oasis of calm in this bustling city. Located in Le Marais, it has a history - it was the first example of "urban planning" and dates from 1612. You can visit Victor Hugo's house for free!
Once you're peaceful, go to Musee Carnavalet (23-29 rue de Sévigné 75003): this is Paris from the Roman times to 1900… If you see only one museum, see this one! It goes on and on and on and on and on and on! I quite love it. Dine somewhere in Le Marais. You can't miss. Actually, dine anywhere in Paris. You can't miss.
I can create private tour experiences in each city that will give you an insider's view in each city, or the surrounding areas. Feel free to email me with questions!
Monday, November 12, 2007
I'm also talking about experiences, where you can rub elbows with locals and really get to know a place. When you break bread with someone, and conversation flows, your heart and mind opens. When you hold hands with a child in a local village, your heart and mind opens.
So this is where I am, and this will be my focus. Nothing more, nothing but travel.
Thursday, November 08, 2007
Wednesday, November 07, 2007
I've just signed the ONE Declaration committing myself to help fight the emergency of global AIDS and extreme poverty.
I'm asking you to make that commitment, too, by adding your voice.
I think your name belongs on that declaration, too. You can put it there by visiting:
ONE is a new effort by Americans to rally Americans - one by one. So far, over two million have signed the declaration in support of a historic pact for compassion and justice to help the poorest people of the world.
Together as ONE we can make a difference!
Thursday, October 25, 2007
A firefighter fights the Poomacha fire early Thursday, Oct. 25, 2007, on the La Jolla Indian Reservation, Calif. (Photo: Getty Images/Eric Thayer):
Burned homes surround an unburned home after wildfires swept through the area in San Diego County near Rancho Bernardo, Calif., Tuesday, Oct. 23, 2007. (Photo: AP Photo/Chris Carlson):
A San Bernardino county firefighter hoses down the remains of a burned home in Lake Arrowhead, Calif., Monday, Oct. 22, 2007. (Photo: AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez):
Rubble is all that is left of a million dollar home as strong, gusting winds push a wildfire through Malibu, Calif., Monday, Oct. 22, 2007. (Photo: AP Photo/Gus Ruelas):
Monday, October 22, 2007
Friday, September 14, 2007
I like flowers and the Zoo. We went to the zoo and then we looked at flowers and I saw a bear up close in the zoo but it was behind glass but it was in a "habitat." My mama said she likes animals that are in the wild but some zoos are good like the Lincoln Park zoo and she has a joke but she won't tell me because it's dirty and I'm two.
My mama has a bad cold that is in her chest and she's supposed to go on a cruise tomorrow and fly on an airplane so she's on drugs but she's still not feeling perfect. She watched the movie "Children of Men" yesterday but she thought it was depressing so then she watched "The Search for John Gissing" which she said made her laugh. She says she would watch Alan Rickman read the phone book but I think that's boring. What's good about a phone book?
Okay, bye bye
Friday, September 07, 2007
The Second Step of Alcoholics Anonymous explains why I’ve become a bit silent as a blogger of late. The step says simply: “Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.” Of late, I’ve been feeling off-center, dis-eased, and this emotional imbalance has been fueled by rage and a focus on what is wrong with our nation. I confess, it has been making me feel thirsty - a dangerous condition for a person like me.
Over the course of the year, I have participated in the blogswarms against theocracy in July and in April because I believe in a power greater than myself. Isn’t that a paradox? I am not anti-religion; I am very much about mandating how I should believe. But then I remember what it says in Step Two:
We gloated over the hypocrisy, bigotry, and crushing self-righteousness that clung to so many `believers’ even in their Sunday best. How we loved to shout the damaging fact that millions of the `good men of religion’ were still killing one another off in the name of God. This all meant, of course, that we had substituted negative for positive thinking.What I can control is my own behavior. I am unable to continue to point out the wrongs of others, because it makes ME feel ill. I have the disease of alcoholism, and for me, focus on negative thinking makes me feel ill, and when I feel ill, I feel thirsty. I want to drink at the problems. I feel overwhelmed and incapable of fixing anything. I substitute negative for positive thinking.
So I became quiet at my own blog. I’ve posted infrequently here. I’m trying to focus on what I CAN do, which is simple and clear and clean: I need to practice ethical morality and be the example of what I want to see in the world. As a sober woman, I need to be the change I want to see. And while I have not closed up shop completely over at Journeys with Jood, I will not post on a regular basis. I must really keep it simple, for me. Anger is a luxury I cannot afford. Once I know the problem, I have to focus on what makes it right rather than how wrong or fucked up it is - rage is something that younger people can handle but I cannot.
I am not silent - but my focus must change. My method of speaking and reading must change. It must, or I will lose. And frankly, my friends, it is ALL about me!
(cross posted at The Sirens Chronicles and The Fat Lady Sings
Thursday, August 23, 2007
The best aspect of blogging has been the friends I've made - wonderful people who care deeply about our world and who want to make a difference. The worst aspect has been the amount of time it takes - sitting at a computer, when it's goregous outside, gets tedious. I want to be outside, in the water, playing.
And so I'm not exactly closing Journeys with Jood; I'll pop in from time to time when I really have something to say. But right now, I have nothing to say. I don't even feel like visiting other blogs because I have nothing to add. And what little I do have to say, I will say at The Sirens Chronicles.
For all of you who do visit, thank you. Thank you for your opinions, your comments, your humor, your challenges - you've all made me grow and think, and stretch. But now it's time for me to get quiet.
Peace, love, and understanding!
Saturday, August 18, 2007
August 18, 1963, James Meredith gradutated from The University of Mississippi with a degree in History. That doesn't sound very impressive by itself, because plenty of people graduate from Ole Miss. However, James Meredith is black. He was the first Black student to graduate from this former bastion of segregation.
Meredith had applied to the University twice, and was denied admission; eventually accepted, he attempted to enter on September 20, 1962 but was barred from entering. Governor Ross Barnett, a staunch segregationist and alumni of Ole Miss, opposed Meredith's enrollment and riots broke out on campus. President John F. Kennedy sent in US Marshalls to qwell the riots, which killed two and injured hundreds, and on October 1, 1962, James Meredith became the first Black student to enter the bastion of Whites-Only education.
Why is this important today? Why is Meredith's quiet heroism important today? And he doesn't see his actions as heroism, all he wanted was an education - something that ALL US Citizens should desire, but apparently don't. Meredith's actions are important today because they remind me of how far we've slipped away from decency, dignity and acceptance.
This week, Jose Padilla was convicted on all charges in his "terrorism trial." What does this have to do with James Meredith? Really?
When Meredith entered Ole Miss, he was
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
Mr. Padilla's trial proves that we need to keep our Constitution and return to a real rule of law. Waging a "war on terror" does not require giving up our rights under the Constitution and substituting Constitutional Law with Military Law, which, under this administration, is not law at all.
Padilla, a US Citizen, was arrested in May 2002 in Chicago under a warrant to testify before a Grand Jury. He was held in civillian custody for a month, but on the eve of his hearing in Federal Court, President Bush decided he was an "enemy combatant" and Padilla was whisked off to a military cell in South Carolina. Then-US Attorney General John Ashcroft said that Padilla was part of a terrorist plot to set of a "dirty bomb" in a US city.
Shades of Snidely Whiplash.
For nearly two years, Jose Padilla was denied all access to his lawyers, his family and the court system. The Bush administration claimed that he could be held without trial until the end of its "war on terror."
The war on terror is endless. It is a war on an idea, and an idea whose sole goal is to keep people terrified. Padilla was tortured. He was deprived of sleep. He was subjected to extreme temperatures. He was kept in stress positions. He was held without human contact; without natural light; without a clock - complete sensory deprivation.
I'm not going to list the details of the Padilla case - other bloggers have done so, and done it well. No. What sickens me is how we, as a nation, have gone so completely backward since James Meredith gradutated, with dignity, from Ole Miss and gave that University some measure of dignity with his presence. Meredith broke down a wall of fear. And since September 11, 2001, the Bush Administration has rebuilt that wall bigger, higher, thicker, and with mortar made from the poison of hate.
Jose Padilla and James Meredith are worlds apart. Padilla was a small-time thug, a petty criminal who has become an important symbol of how our government uses fear as a weapon. James Meredith is a writer, an educator, and an example of good. But does that mean Padilla should be stripped of his rights as a US Citizen? Not at all. Not at all.
Padilla did not set out to be a hero, nor is he. The heroes in his case are the attornies who worked on his behalf, and, ultimately, on my behalf and yours attempting to keep our Constitution out of the shredder. We are not out of the woods by any means. Our President is making noises to justify his desire to invade Iran; I still fear an "October Surprise" in 2008 which will let him invoke Martial Law, suspend elections and declare himself President for Life - after all, the "war on terror" is endless if you are in charge of it.
Franklin D. Roosevelt said after the attack on Pearl Harbor "The only thing to fear is fear itself." How the Bush administration has twisted that - because this administration has created so much fear in order to keep people afraid.
In one of the Harry Potter books, the Wizard Students are learning about "boggarts", dark magic creatures that are our deepest fears. The way to combat a boggart is the charm "Ridiculos" - so, to Bush, Cheney, and all their cohorts, I say to you "RIDICULOS" - you are ridiculous. No, I will not cave in to your example of fear and hate. I choose to follow the example of James Meredith. I choose dignity.
cross posted at The Sirens Chronicles
Friday, August 17, 2007
Shhhh. I have to laugh now. I can't laugh if everybody is all pissy and angry because the government is a mess - right now, right this minute, on Friday, I have to laugh. It's summertime, and I can chase butterflies. And I can go to the beach, and I can play in my wading pool in the back yard. I can jump on doggie, and jump on Mommy. I can't jump on Mama because she's not here all the time but she's coming to visit again in a couple of weeks. I told my uncle "wait a minute" so I could show him my ouchie booboo on my elbow and he could kiss it better. I have to laugh. So everybody shhhhh about the bad people for a few days.
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
The Bush administration is preparing to declare that Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps is a foreign terrorist organization, senior administration officials said Tuesday.
So, really, how's all that workin for ya, George?
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
The Israel/Palestine Center for Research and Information wants you to Walk the Green Line. Nov. 29th marks the 60th anniversary of the UN decision to partition Israel/Palestine into 2 states - one for the Jews and one for the Palestinians. This 3-day trek is a political action that provides a unique opportunity for participants to learn first-hand what the conflict is really about. The route is the Green Line, which demarcates the border between Israeli and Palestinian territories. The trek is being publicized in Israel, Palestine, and internationally and intends to draw attention to the urgent need to resolve the conflict on the basis of two states for two peoples.
IPCRI is a joint Israeli-Palestinian peace center and think-tank, located in Jerusalem. This fund-raising trek is intended to support bringing Israelis and Palestinians (and the world) together in people-to-people programs that advance peace. To participate, you must raise $2500 plus supply your airfare.
UN Resolution 181, on Nov. 29, 1947, resolved that this land be divided into two states: one Jewish (Israel) and one Arab (Palestine). Israel became a state in 1948, but Palestine has yet to be created.
The Green Line border set in the armistice agreements of 1949 marks the line that designates the basis of the future border between Israel and Palestine. Since the beginning of the occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem following the June 1967 war, the green line border has been gradually disappearing. Walk the GREEN LINE is a political statement aimed at marking the line where the future border should be so that Israeli-Palestinian peace can emerge and develop.It means a withdrawal by Israel to the June 4, 1967 borders and an end to armed conflict based on respect for International Law. It means cooperation between two sovereign nations that would be for mutual gain. It means peace.
The trek is 3-days, but you sleep in hotels along the route, and the day-to-day itinerary includes meetings with a variety of people:
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
The Gilboa: Mount Avinadav view over Jelaboun, walking along the view line to the area of Mt. Yitzpur over looking P'koa
Bus to Nazareth for the night
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
Central area: Barta'a – walking along the green line, bus to Baqa al Gharbia – walking along the wall, bus to Tzofin and walk along the area of Modi'in Elite.
Bus to Nazareth for the night
Thursday, November 29, 2007
Jerusalem area: Walaja, Batir, Nahal Hamayanot, Wadi Fuqin – meeting with residents of the village. Ending of walk – Abu Dis.
Bus to Bethlehem for the evening
Evening program – political event marking 60 years since UN Resolution 181 on the partition of Palestine into two states.
This is, my friends, a unique opportunity. Support Peace in the Middle East, please.
Cross posted at The Katrinacrat
Monday, August 13, 2007
SCHIP, or the State Children's Health Insurance Program is a state-and-federal program that successfully provides medical insurance to children whose families cannot afford insurance, and who do not qualify for other programs, such as Medicaid. But the program is in trouble. The AMA is worried that the Senate may move to strip the Medicare physician reimbursement increase out of the children's health legislation and dubs the negotiations in both Houses as "contentious." Just before leaving for their August recess, Congress passed a measure that would prevent Medicare physician pay cuts for the next two years; the next day, the Senate passed Children's Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2007 which did nothing to change physicians Medicare payments. Because the bills are substantially different, when Congress reconvenes in September a committee will attempt to work out a compromise to save SCHIP before it automatically expires Sept. 30th.
But the program remains in serious jeporady. In his infinate lack of wisdom, President Bush threatens to veto ANY legislation he's sent:
"The program is going beyond the initial intent of helping poor children. It's now aimed at encouraging more people to get on government health care. That's what that is. It's a way to encourage people to transfer from the private sector to government health-care plans."Yeah, THAT's the ticket. Pesky government health-care plans sounds like (gasp) Socialized Medicine.
"(The program) has a solid track record of working to get kids covered and that's important because kids who don't have health care coverage are less likely to see a doctor," said Elaine Arkin, communications director for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Vincent DeMarco, of the Maryland Citizens' Health Initiative, an advocacy and lobbying group based in Baltimore, says that SCHIP is, in his opinion, one of the most successful government programs ever.
Barbara Ehrenreich suggests a solution:
Open up pet health insurance to all American children now!
This year, Americans will spend about $9.8 billion on health care for their pets, up from $7.2 billion five years ago. According to the New York Times, New York's leading pet hospitals offer CT scans, MRI's, dialysis units, and even a rehab clinic featuring an underwater treadmill, perhaps for the amphibians in one's household. A professor who consults to pet health facilities on communication issues justified these huge investments in pet health to me by pointing out that pets are, after all, "part of the family."Well, kids are part of the family, too, and can do almost as many tricks as your dog! And they snuggle as well as your cat. So, why not? Pet insurance is not very expensive, around $33 per month. Of course, Ms. Ehrenreich refers to an article by the NY Times' Bob Herbert from June of this year. In the article, Mr. Herbert wrote about Diamonte Driver, a 12-year old boy who died recently from an abscessed tooth because he had no insurance and his mother could not afford $80 to have the tooth pulled. And he also wrote about 14-year old Devante Johnson, who died when his health insurance ran out in the middle of treatment for kidney cancer. Both these kids could have been treated by a Veterinarian. Instead, their lives were cut short for lack of insurance, for lack of $80.
We can, we must, do better. Shame on you, Mr. Bush, shame on you.
cross posted at The Sirens Chronicles
Saturday, August 11, 2007
A Chicago police officer tickets the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile in the 400 block of North Michigan Avenue.
American Scot of the blog AYE! has become my favorite source of Chicago images - makes me homesick, he does! However, this story just did me in:
A massive hot dog clogged Chicago's main artery Thursday morning.
In a rare occurrence of an encased-meat vehicle committing a traffic violation, Chicago police ticketed the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile for illegal parking on the Magnificent Mile.
The incident began at 10:57 a.m. in the 400 block of North Michigan Avenue. At least two members of the Wienermobile entourage left the vehicle in the six-lane street with its emergency blinkers on. The vehicle is registered to Kraft Foods under the Wisconsin license plate "WEENR."
A police officer approached the Chevrolet with the 27-foot fiberglass sausage and removable bun roof. The officer radioed for a tow truck.
Matt Smith of the city's Streets and Sanitation Department said the city would have been ready to handle the job.
"We have access to tow trucks that could have handled a Polish sausage, not just a hot dog," Smith said.
The officer wrote the ticket and affixed it to the wiener's footlong side mirror. Ed Walsh, a spokesman for the city Department of Revenue, said parking in a "Parking/Standing Prohibited Anytime" zone is a $50 violation.
About 15 minutes later, as curious passersby snapped pictures with their camera phones, the driver and passenger of the vehicle returned before tow trucks could arrive. "The situation was resolved without the use of ketchup, which in Chicago is a big thing," Smith said.
The entourage got a grilling from the officer.
"You can't just park here," the officer said.
One of the passengers, who declined to be identified, said they were visiting a Wienermobile alumnus who worked nearby, but were unaware that one could not park a giant sausage in the middle of the city's busiest thoroughfare.
Sydney Lindner, a spokeswoman for Kraft Foods, said the Wienermobile is on a nationwide tour promoting a contest to sing the Oscar Mayer jingle in an upcoming commercial.
She said "regardless of the reason" the driver had for parking there, the company neither condones nor relishes such actions.
"It's against company policy to park in undesignated area even if you're driving a company vehicle that's shaped like a giant hot dog," Lindner said. "We appreciate the police doing their job and we regret any inconvenience this may have caused."
The hot dog was last seen driving north on Michigan Avenue.
Friday, August 10, 2007
So but I love flowers and insects and trees and birdies and fish and stuff and so we found out this report that Arctic Sea Ice broke the record for the lowest recorded ice area in recorded history. I know that the lowest recorded Golf score wins because my Daddy is teaching me golf. Not really yet but he got me my own plastic golf clubs and I play with them. But the lowest recorded sea ice is not a good thing. But so this this other scientist says it really won't break the record but it's close.
Mark Serreze of the National Snow and Ice Data Center said that there's a triple whammy. A high pressure system makes the clouds stay away, and lots of winds from the south with warm air, and lots of open water. I like no clouds and I like warm winds and I love water, but this is way too much of these things. My mommy says that I have to get out of the water after playtime is over.
There is still a whole month left before the sun sets in the Arctic, so there might be more melting ice. Where will the polar bears go to rest? They can't all go to the zoo, they don't like the zoo, they like to be outside. I like the zoo, but I'm two and I'm not a bear. My mama is coming to visit again soon, I talked to her on the phone yesterday and said "Hi mama. I'm TWO."
And then all these big government people are getting all mean about who owns what shipping routes and planting flags and threatening, like they can't share. They should all go to pre-school, we learn to share in pre-school. The Russians planted a flag in the sea bed in the North Pole, and the Canadians got all huffy. I think Government people never went to pre-school, I'd bet all my Elmos on it.
Bye-bye, I have to go to pre-school now.
Thursday, August 09, 2007
Sumo told me about this article at Alternet called Neocons on a Cruise: What Conservatives Say When They Think We Aren't Listening. Johann Hari, the reporter, set simple ground rules for himself when he booked himself as a guest on the National Review's annual cruise for Conservatives. He had one rule for himself:
If any of the conservative cruisers asked who I was, I answered honestly, telling them I was a journalist. Mostly, I just tried to blend in - and find out what American conservatives say when they think the rest of us aren't listening.
If you have not read the article, you must. The cruise was organized through one of my competitors, which doesn't surprise me, and people paid a massive premium to join the cruise. But I looked into the one that just ended: Alaska, on the ms Noordam, July 29 - August 5, 2007 so you can't get on. However, when you click on the link, John Bolton's face pops up at you telling you he's just been added as a speaker. What is it about Neo-Conservatives that when they try to smile, they look like it hurts?
One of last year's cruise guests, Steven M. Warshawsky, wrote this article about his experience. He said
We weren't on the cruise for the sunny and scenic destinations; we were on it for the conservative camaraderie and bonhomie for which National Review cruises are well known. The NR cruises offer an unparalleled opportunity for ordinary folks like us to meet and mingle with leading conservative academics, commentators, and politicians.
Isn't that nice? Ordinary people getting to experience conservative camaraderie and bonhomie. How nice. Johann Hari describes this bonhomie well:
The etiquette here is different from anything I have ever seen. It takes me 15 minutes to realise what is wrong with this scene. There are no big hugs, no warm kisses. This is a place of starchy handshakes. Men approach each other with stiffened spines, puffed-out chests and crunching handshakes. Women are greeted with a single kiss on the cheek. Anything more would be French.
Sounds delightful. Mr. Hari mentions a Judge he encounters on the cruise who is the founder of Canadians Against Suicide Bombing Mr. Hari asks him if there would be many members of Canadians FOR Suicide Bombing, and the Judge, confused, replied that yes, there would be. Hmmmm. Yet at dinner, one of Mr. Hari's table-mates said, regarding the United Nations building in New York, "They should suicide-bomb that place."
Mr. Hari confronts Kenneth Starr:
Mr Starr, do you feel ashamed that, as Osama bin Laden plotted to murder American citizens, you brought the American government to a stand-still over a few consensual blow jobs? Do you ever lie awake at night wondering if a few more memos on national security would have reached the President's desk if he wasn't spending half his time dealing with your sexual McCarthyism?Starr replies with a series of legalese versions of "It's not my fault." No accountability. No concern. Conflicting morals. A cruise fueled by hate. Not a way I want to spend MY summer vacation.
Wednesday, August 08, 2007
So I will post a picture of Alaska instead of having any rational thought today.
Tuesday, August 07, 2007
August 6, 1945 was the real day that will live in Infamy. On that date, the United States became the first, and so far, only nation, to use Nuclear Weapons against other human beings. And we did it again, three days later. The bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki created a class of people known as the hibakusha (A-bomb victims and survivors). It is essential to learn from them. They survived the most inhumane act, infernal pain and suffering, and have opted for a path of reconciliation. Their wish: “I want no one else to suffer the way I did”.
But the Hibakusha's average age is over 70 years - they will not be with us forever. They have so far effectively prevented the third use of atomic weaopons; their goal is a complete elimination of such weapons. War is not the answer, and this genie must be put back in the bottle.
And as my own country devolves further and further into a totalitarian regime devoid of conscience and decency, I see it all falls to us. To me. If I must fold 1000 paper cranes to create peace, I will do so. I don't believe that the citizens of the United States are inherently evil; so why do we allow evil in our government? I will fold 1000 paper cranes, and this is also my wish:
This is our cry. This is our prayer. Peace in the world.
Monday, August 06, 2007
Harriet Hands George the Osama Memo - Logo by Tengrain of Mock Paper Scissors
Today is the six year anniversary of the Presidential Daily Briefing entitled "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in US."
This July 31st article in Alternet both confirms the date of the PDB, and walks us through the outsourcing of the most sensitive national security document: the President's Daily Brief.
We all know about Blackwater USA, which bills itself as "the most comprehensive professional military, law enforcement, security, peacekeeping, and stability operations company in the world." That's a fancy way of saying they are paid mercenaries. Founded in 1997 by an ex-Navy Seal, Blackwater was awarded a $21 million no-bid contract in August, 2003, to supply security guards and two helicopters for Paul Bremer, the head of the U.S. occupation in Iraq. The company also provides security for food shipments in the Fallujah area.
But what is not generally known is that the secret side of the Iraq War and the larger "war on terror" is also conducted by private corporations, fielding private spies. The reach of these corporations has extended into the Oval Office. Corporations are heavily involved in creating the analytical products that underlie the nation's most important and most sensitive national security document, the President's Daily Brief (PDB).
A question was raised in the comments to my post about King Dick, Granny asked "Who is pulling Dick Cheney's strings?" The answer becomes clear when we learn that 70 percent of the intelligence budget goes to private contractors.
And this is true of every branch of our Intelligence Network. Between 50-60% of the CIA's National Clandestine Service, which is responsible for the gathering of human intelligence, comes from employees of for-profit corporations.
Corporate intelligence professionals from companies such as Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, Booz Allen Hamilton, SAIC and others are thoroughly integrated into analytical divisions throughout the intelligence community, including the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. It is the ODNI that produces the final document of the President's Daily Brief.
It was the PDB that warned on August 6, 2001, "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in US." Of course, the PDB has all kinds of corporate logos printed all over it, and the Alternet article indicates that it is almost impossible to tell if the work is the government's, or the corporate intelligence-gathering.
Concerned members of the intelligence community have told me that if a corporation wanted to insert items favorable to itself or its clients into the PDB to influence the US national security agenda, at this time it would be virtually undetectable. These companies have analysts and often intelligence collectors spread throughout the system and have the access to introduce intelligence into the system.
So when we have our most sensitive security analysis being done by people with allegiance to a private company, with private agendas, it tends to color that analysis. There is nothing fair, or balanced in any of this. It is all about who is going to turn a profit this year. Bush's allegiance is not to the citizens of the United States of America; it is to those various CEOs who drive the conversation. Cheney belongs to Halliburton.
And what do we expect of this Administration? Yesterday, August 5th, Mr. Bush signed into law a bill that broadly expanded the government’s authority to eavesdrop on the international telephone calls and e-mail messages of American citizens without warrants. I speak to people in foreign countries daily - I wonder how many of my conversations will be monitored? Free travel advice, get your fiber optics monitoring systems while they're hot!
Can this be fixed? Yes. It would take the Director of National Intelligence to develop a spine, acknowledge the problem, and mustering the political will and leadership to work toward a solution. It would take Congress to step in and Impeach those in charge who have consistently broken the laws of our nation. Speak up, people. Speak up.
Friday, August 03, 2007
I love my swimming class, because I love the water. Mommy goes with me. When Mama visited last week, she went with me too and stayed on the pool deck taking pictures of me, and of Mommy. Mommy lifts me up out of the water and then puts me back in and I laugh and then I do reach and pull, reach and pull, and then I do kicks and then we sing songs and we have fun. When I am going to swim class, I sing "pool, pool, pool" all the way there. And I cry when I have to leave.
And when Mama took this picture, Mommy and I were saying "CHEESE" because I think that's funny. Bye bye, I have to go to school now and play.
Thursday, August 02, 2007
Hat tip to Mentarch, who refers to VP Cheney as "Regent Cheney." Mentarch builds a case for Cheney's Office of the Unitary Regency of the U.S.A. (O.U.R.U.S.) here, and here, and here, confirming for me that Richard Cheney is the most dangerous man in the United States.
Earlier this week on CNN, Cheney told Larry King
I made the decision when I signed on with the President that the only agenda I would have would be his agenda, that I was not going to be like most Vice Presidents, and that was angling, trying to figure out how I was going to be elected President when his term was over with.
But there is no need to angle to figure out how to become President after Bush is out of office, because Cheney has been calling the shots since day one. King asked Cheney "Does it pain you when Brent Scowcroft says, 'This is not the Dick Cheney I knew'?" The response says so much via a slip of the tongue:
Brent doesn't walk in my shoes these days. He's not in the job I'm in. He's not responsible for making the decisions the President has had to make and those of us who support him and advise him.
So it does beg the question: is Cheney indeed confirming that HE is responsible for making the decisions the President has had to make? Sure sounds like it to me.
Wednesday, August 01, 2007
A little while ago, Peacechick Mary created the Mega Meme to End All Memes. So the winners were announced yesterday with appropriate fanfare and other cockamamie whatsitz, and yes, my bribe worked. I am a winner. One of six. Of course, there were only six entries, so what can I say?
Peacechick Mary wrote:
Since nearly everyone I visit has been tagged, here is what I propose: We hold a final runoff and select the Greatest Thinker of All Time (for the moment) and the Biggest Fat Ass Schmoozer. Now tell me you aren't lusting for one of those faabulous titles? All you have to do is write a post using two keywords (see below) linked to ending the war in Iraq. Our distinctive panel of judges will select the winners and post the results by the end of the month.
Keywords - Lust and Bee
Well. There we are.
Not now. Now it will belong to Rupert Murdoch, who also owns Fox
But I hope that someone with photoshop will re-do the Wall Street Journal so it fits well with THESE:
Tuesday, July 31, 2007
I like to believe that people in the long run are going to do more to promote peace than our governments. Indeed, I think that people want peace so much that one of these days governments had better get out of the way and let them have it.
Dwight D. Eisenhower (1890-1969)
If there is to be peace in the world,
There must be peace in the nations.
If there is to be peace in the nations,
There must be peace in the cities.
If there is to be peace in the cities,
There must be peace between neighbors.
If there is to be peace between neighbors,
There must be peace in the home.
If there is to be peace in the home,
There must be peace in the heart.
Lao Tzu (570-490 B.C.)
If we are peaceful, if we are happy, we can smile and blossom like a flower, and everyone in our family, our entire society, will benefit from our peace.
Thich Nhat Hanh
The goal toward which all history tends is peace, not peace through the medium of war, not peace through a process of universal intimidation, not peace through a program of mutual impoverishment, not peace by any means that leaves the world too weak or too frightened to go on fighting, but peace pure and simple based on that will to peace which has animated the overwhelming majority of mankind through countless ages. This will to peace does not arise out of a cowardly desire to preserve one's life and property, but out of conviction that the fullest development of the highest powers of men can be achieved only in a world of peace.
Robert Maynard Hutchins (1899-1977)
A truly free society must not include a "peace" which oppresses us. We must learn on our own terms what peace and freedom mean together. There can be no peace if there is social injustice and suppression of human rights, because external and internal peace are inseparable. Peace.is not just the absence of mass destruction, but a positive internal and external condition in which people are free so that they can grow to their full potential.
Petra Karin Kelly (1947-1992)
If everyone demanded peace instead of another television set, then there'd be peace.
John Lennon (1940-1980)
Peace will be victorious.
Yitzhak Rabin (1922-1995)
I was once asked why I don't participate in anti-war demonstrations. I said that I will never do that, but as soon as you have a pro-peace rally, I'll be there.
Mother Theresa (1910-1997)
Monday, July 30, 2007
1. Using or marked by prudence, expedience, and shrewdness; artful.
2. Using, displaying, or proceeding from policy; judicious: a politic decision.
3. Crafty; cunning.
I grew up in Chicago. I grew up a Democrat with Independent, Liberal overtones in Chicago. I was an activist, and a campaign worker for Democratic Congressman Abner J. Mikva who taught me a lot about what is right, and what is possible. I also grew up in a time when people actually debated issues and discussed, and still went into smoke-filled back-rooms to hammer out a compromise that wasn't perfect, but often worked.
Just back from a week in Chicago visiting my daughter, and my granddaughter - two evenings, when Ellie Bean was safely in bed, sitter at home, my daughter and I went out touring the city which has changed so much in the six years I've lived in Los Angeles. Mayor Richard M. Daley (the Younger) has turned the entire lakefront into a park - it is magnificent. And when I'm back there, away from blogging, safe in thoughts of my granddaughter and her perfect, immediate world, I look at things with a more politic eye.
Senator Barak Obama (D-IL)defines Politic for me. He grew up politically as an activist on the streets of Chicago, and he doesn't shy from compromise. This is not an endorsement of Obama, nor is it a criticism. I simply think he can get things done. He's one of several Democrats running for President who I think could get things done. And no, he's not perfect.
But he is a consensus-builder. He believes in bi-partisanship, and compromise, and pounding out a solution, and he gets things done. He is practical, and right now, we need practical.
Paul L. Williams, a lobbyist in Springfield and former state representative who is a supporter of Mr. Obama for the Democratic presidential nomination, characterized Mr. Obama’s attitude as, “O.K., that makes sense and sounds great, as I’d like to go to the moon, but right now I’ve only got enough gas to go this far.”
We want peace. We want an end to the destruction of our Constitution. We want so much, but perhaps we only have enough gas to go so far? We have a lot of work cut out for us, and we need to find a leader who is capable of building bridges and finding solutions. Is it Obama? Is it John Edwards? Is it Mike Gravel? I ask this in all seriousness. I want solutions. I want an end to the arrogance of greed that the present administration wields like a club, and I want decent, affordable health care for all US Citizens, and I want affordable housing for all US Citizens - how best to achieve this? I ask, in all seriousness. How best to get a POLITIC solution, how to find a solution?
(cross posted at The Sirens Chronicles)
Friday, July 27, 2007
First, I call my mommy Mommy, and I call my gramma Mama. So last night I was sitting on Mama's lap looking at her pictures of me but I didn't have my diaper on so Mommy got a little mad at me and I threw a tantrum and Mama said it was her fault so I cried more but I got my stories anyway and went to bed right away. Mama has been here all week and we play when I am not at school which is really day care but I learn all kinds of things and gave my Mama paintings that I made. Tonight after school Mama is meeting me and Mommy and we are having dinner out at my favorite place and then we'll go home and Mama will watch me and Mommy will go out to play with her friends and Daddy will be at work. Tomorrow we have swimming class and that's my favorite. I blow bubbles.
Okay I have to go to school now, bye bye.
Wednesday, July 25, 2007
Dan Froomkin hit the nail on the head when he labeled President Bush Al Qaeda's best publicist. Apparently, Bush named Al Qaeda 118 times in a 29 minute speech yesterday at a South Carolina Air Force Base. This speech has got to be Bin Laden's wet dream come true - make no mistake, Al Qaeda is a terrorist organization that wants people to be terrorized, particularly US Citizens - and it wants people to think it is more powerful than it really is - and what better use of PR than a President who constantly speaks their name, and tells his own citizens how powerful they are? I mean, you can't BUY this kind of publicity.
Which begs the question: Does Bush want the citizens of the United States to be terrified? Is he a member of Al Qaeda? Doe Al Qaeda work for Bush, and Cheney? I'm just asking, is all.
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
Friday, July 20, 2007
“Premature and public discussion of the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq reinforces enemy propaganda that the United States will abandon its allies in Iraq, much as we are perceived to have done in Vietnam, Lebanon and Somalia.”
“Such talk understandably unnerves the very same Iraqi allies we are asking to assume enormous personal risks.”
Thus spake Eric Edelman in a
letter to Senator Hillary Clinton, a woman who rudely asked the Pentagon if it had a plan for withdrawal from Iraq. How unpatriotic of her. I mean, she hasn't given the surge time to work at all, and she's asking for a plan. No wonder people don't like her.
Eric Edelman is Under Secretary of Defense for Policy; he snuck in as a recess appointment August 9, 2005 after his nomination was blocked by the Senate. So Bush made a recess appointment.
This is not Edelman's first dance by any means. He has a long history of serving the Neo-Con agenda:
Edelman advised Cheney in the months leading up to the US invasion of Iraq; he was appointed Ambassador to Turkey shortly after the invasion. It was thought that his close family ties to Turkey (his grandmother fled Russia in 1920, settling in Turkey; his mother was born in Turkey) might help sway the growing anti-American sentiment there and gain a backdoor entry into Iraq through Northern Turkey. It seems that then-Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz was not having any success convincing Turkey to let us use them for our dirty work; Edelman was also unsuccessful.
Edelman's two-year stay in Ankara turned into a lightning rod for deepening anti-U.S. sentiment in Turkey. The Turkish columnist Ibrahim Karagul wrote: “Edelman is probably the least-liked and trusted American ambassador in Turkish history” (quoted in K. Gajendra Singh, “U.S.-Turkish Relations Go Wobbly Now Over Syria,” Al Jazeerah, March 23, 2005).
Edelman was also part of the group that crafted the 1992 Defense Planning Guidance, an early formulation of the neoconservatives' post-Cold War agenda. The "shop" included I. Lewis Libby, Paul Wolfowitz, Zalmay Khalilzad, Richard Perle, Albert Wohlstetter (former mentor to Perle and Wolfowitz), and Andrew Marshall. Oh, and lest we forget, then-Defense Secretary Dick Cheney was at the helm.
The DPG was eventually rejected by President George H. W. Bush (41), and evolved into The Project for A New American Century, one of the most blatantly evil "think tanks" ever created. That's my opinion, I could be wrong.
So now what? A guy with a career in Foreign Service insults Senator Clinton for asking a valid question: "What's the plan for withdrawal? Is there an exit strategy?" He attacks her for being dangerously unpatriotic! I assume you all saw Keith Olbermann last night, so there is no need for this little blog to run the video. I have to tell you, right now I'm with Senator Clinton: what's the plan? When are we going to withdraw?
Peacechick Mary said she wrote a thank you email to Senator Harry Reid. Not a bad idea. I will email Senator Reid, and Senator Clinton, and anyone else who is standing up and demanding an exit strategy. We need to bring our troops home. And we need to end our long, national nightmare.
If not for us, then for our grandchildren. See below.
So but I really like to play in my bath. After bath time my mommy reads me stories. But if I have a tantrum she doesn't read me stories. So but I REALLY like to play in my bath, and the other night I didn't want to get out so I cried and screamed and made a big mess. So mommy said "No stories, Beanie" and put me to bed. So but I really really got mad, and threw my binky on the floor. So my mommy came in and gave me back my binky and said "Good night now, Beanie, I love you, but when you have a tantrum, we can't read stories" so then I got really really upset and started to cry really hard, like when you can't catch your breath and just make that "huh huh huh" sound and then I cried "stories, stories, stories" so mommy picked me up and cuddled me and said if I was really good the next day, I would have all my stories. Then she said "That's enough, Beanie, I love you, but you have to go to sleep now. Say goodnight." So I got all huffy, and made a mad face at her and said "GOOD NIGHT MOMMY" and put my binky in my mouth and went to sleep. She was tough, I couldn't make her change her mind at all.
My gramma is coming to see me on Saturday. She will take lots of new pictures of me.
I have to play now, bye bye.
Thursday, July 19, 2007
We hold a final runoff and select the Greatest Thinker of All Time (for the moment) and the Biggest Fat Ass Schmoozer.Now tell me you aren't lusting for one of those fabulous titles? All you have to do is write a post using two keywords (see below) linked to ending the war in Iraq. Our distinctive panel of judges will select the winners and post the results by the end of the month.
So, here is what I have to say about it. I lust after Russell Crowe. But he's a New Zealander who lives in Australia, and therefore isn't responsible for the war in Iraq, and can't possibly end it. This despite the fact that he won an Oscar for playing a gladiator.
And my cousin has a friend who once protested the enslavement of honeybees. I wondered if she made little picket signs to tape to the bees' legs, or wings, which made my cousin hit me. My friend's cousin protests the enslavement of bees, but not the war in Iraq, so she's useless.
As for me, I have gone to Jenny Craig, like Kirstie and Valerie, so I am loosing my fat ass, which might make me ineligible for Biggest Fat Ass Schmoozer. I am completely in favor of ending the war in Iraq, and impeaching Bush, and Cheney. I've been awarded the Schmoozer AND Thinking Blogger awards which makes me a Schminker, and I have very nice hair. Whew. Now my brain hurts, because I am blond, after all.
Update: Betmo has re-schmoozed me. So I will tag five others, just because.
There are four professional schmoozers over at Live at the Gay Agenda. Pursey Tuttweiler, Lola Heatherton, Bobby Bittman, and Woody Tobias, Jr. Have at it, kids.
Mary at Get Your Own is terrific!. She gets to be a Schmoozer, too.
SB Gypsy at Gypsy's Caravan is a consistently great writer.
Alicia at Last Left Before Hooterville got me started blogging, and she's fantastic. She might not play, because she's insanely busy, but we shall see.
And if you aren't reading Proud Progressive at Some Notes on Living, you should be.
First of all, I want to know why anybody needs to make up a terrorist figure? And then, I want to know who did the fabrication? Omar al-Baghdadi was the purported leader of an al-Qaida-affiliated group in Iraq, except he didn't exist. His statements were read by an Iraqi actor named Khaled Abdul-Fattah Dawoud Mahmoud al-Mashhadani, according to US Military. Al-Mashandani was captured by US forces on July 4, and has been propoganda chief for the Islamic State of Iraq, which is a Sunni insurgent group that claims allegiance to Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida. Now, it should be noted that this group did not exist prior to the US invasion of Iraq. This group grew specifically out of our presence there. WE created al-Qaida in Iraq. We did it.
So this begs the question - does Osama bin Laden exist? I mean anymore. His death has been reported, and reported, and reported, never confirmed, but I wonder.
Wednesday, July 18, 2007
My alcoholic brain, if left untreated, wants to
But sober, I don't act that way. My late sponsor, Meri, used to tell me that 95% of life is none of my business - and the 5% that is my business is just about showing up. So that's what I do today. I show up, and I give my boss a dime for his nickle. I show up, and care about making your day a better day. I show up, and try to be a decent person (even when my brain is screaming at me.) I just show up.
And you know what? My life is good! I am surrounded by what Grateful Patty calls "The Cotton Balls of AA", the love of good friends, and a family both Calabash and Natal. I feel incredibly lucky, and incredibly grateful.
After all, it is all about me!
Tuesday, July 17, 2007
The 16th Century Kabbalist, Rabbi Isaac Luria, used the term "Tikkun Olam" to describe the role of humanity in the ongoing evolution of the world. "Tikkun Olam" is a Hebrew phrase that means "repair the world." This is both an inner, and outer journey, that requires acts of service to society and service to the spiritual life. For my atheist friends, you can indeed have a spiritual path that doesn't include a god. This is not a religious post.
What are we doing, as US Citizens, to repair the world? What? I live in the South Bay region of Los Angeles, and each day we read about local young men and women killed in Iraq. Is this repairing the world? Is our presence in Iraq repairing the world?
We pollute our atmosphere, we pollute our waters, we pollute our bodies, we pollute our minds. Daily. Is this bringing peace to our world? Hatred fills our rhetoric. Fear is the order of the day. One day last week, driving home from work, windows open - the car next to me has a talk radio station blaring - the guy on the radio is attacking Michael Moore for being a socialist and not understanding health care. I look at the driver - he's a black man, listening to a hate-spewing white guy. It made no sense to me.
Where have we gone so wrong? And how do we change? For me, it means I have to be willing to listen to other points of view, and treat others with the same level of respect I want for myself. It means dialogue. I need to be the example I wish to see. How can I "Fight" for "Peace"? It seems to be an oxymoron. Rather, shouldn't I live a peaceful life? If I disagree with you, will I be able to change your mind if I call you a pinhead? Probably not. And so, and so, it goes. More questions than answers, once again. Question everything. Question everything.
Monday, July 16, 2007
The incomperable, passionate Tina of Fuzzy and Blue has nominated me for a Thinking Blogger Award. I'm really touched, because she always makes me think.
The rules are simple:
1. If, and only if, you get tagged, write a post with links to 5 blogs that make you think.
2. Link to this post so that people can easily find the exact origin of the meme.
3. Optional: Proudly display the ‘Thinking Blogger Award’ with a link to the post that you wrote.
Now, the hard part. There are so many blogs that make me think, so I really hate to winnow it down. But I will try.
That was tough, because there are a lot of blogs to choose from. But there we are.
Well, this is interesting. Let's Talk has honored me with A Schmooze Award. What's interesting is that I grew up very shy, unable to talk to people until I discovered better living through chemistry (drugs and booze.) And now, sober, I seem to be able to talk to people and listen to people without being shy.
According to Mariuca, schmoozing is the natural ability “to converse casually, especially in order to gain an advantage or make a social connection.” Good schmoozers effortlessly weave their way in and out of the blogosphere, leaving friendly trails and smiles, happily making new friends along the way. They don’t limit their visits to only the rich and successful, but spend some time to say hello to new blogs as well.
Here are my 5 recipients of the Power of Schmooze Award:
Well. Tough to limit to just five. But there you are. Now THEY have to pass it on.
Sunday, July 15, 2007
So I suggest you try it on all my posts, because I'm too damned confused to fix it.
Alcoholics Anonymous has been called "the most significant phenomenon in the history of ideas in the twentieth century." (from the introduction, The Spirituality of Imperfection by Ernest Kurtz and Katherine Ketcham)
On a chill, rainy afternoon in November 1934, two men sat catercorner at the kitchen table of a brownstone house in Brooklyn, New York. On the white oil-cloth covered table stood a pitcher of pineapple juice, two glasses, and a bottle of gin recently retrieved from its hiding place in the overhead tank of the toilet in the adjacent bathroom.
The visitor, neatly groomed and bright-eyed, smiled gently as his tall, craggy-faced host reached for the bottle and offered him a drink.
"No, thanks," Ebby said. "I'm not drinking."
"Not drinking! Why not?" Bill was so surprised that he stopped pouring to look with concern at his old friend. "What's the matter?"
"I don't need it anymore," Ebby replied simply. "I've got religion."
Religion? Damn! For a fleeting moment, Bill wondered about his friend's sanity. Ebby, after all, was a drinking buddy from way back. Now, apparently, he had gone off the deep end - his alcoholic insanity had become religious insanity!
Bill gulped a slug of gin. Well, dammit, not him. Religion was for the weak, the old, the hopeless; he'd never "get religion."Spirituality of Imperfection
Ebby Thatcher died thirty years later, destitute, drunk. He remained a periodic alcoholic. Bill Wilson never did "get religion." But he became sober, and, in June of 1935, with Dr. Robert Smith, founded Alcoholics Anonymous. Bill realized that to remain sober, "we must find some spiritual basis for living, else we die." Bill knew at his core that religion with its rules, pronouncements, and commandments would not work for him, nor would it keep him sober. He also knew that without help from a power greater than himself, he would be unable to keep himself sober by his will power alone. And here is the great paradox of AA.
Alcoholics Anonymous works because of a process of identification, through the telling of personal stories and experiences. Although AA insists on the spiritual for recovery, it is not religious. Bill Wilson once said that the problem with organized religions "is their claim how confoundedly right all of them are." And what makes Alcoholics Anonymous the most successful program of recovery for alcoholics is that the spirituality found in AA is more concerned with questions, with imperfection, than with rigid answers. The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking.
I've twice participated in The Blogswarm Against Theocracy, because I am appalled at the rigidity of theocracy in any guise. And I've come to a conclusion: militant atheism is as rigid as the religious right. Intolerance is intolerance under any guise.
Alcoholics Anonymous is based on the acceptance of human limitations and powerlessness. It grows out of testing ideas not on the basis of some dogma or "revelation," but against the realities of everyday living. Through shared experiences, through the realities of daily living, a spirituality of the mundane evolved. It works, it really does. And membership in AA includes devoutly religious people, atheists, agnostics - the umbrella is huge. There are no rules. Perhaps it is a case of the inmates running the asylum, but it works.
But here's the deal: our nation has been overrun with hatred that has grown out of fanatical religious belief. We are reviled by people who have fanatical religious belief. And those of us who have a spiritual path are lumped into the pot by atheists who are as fanatical in their hatred as the religious right. When did atheism get all the answers?
Here's what I know. I know that I used to drink when I didn't want to, and now I don't drink even when I DO want to. If I don't drink over the next few days, on Wednesday, July 18th, I will be clean and sober for 19 years. One of my dearest friends died on July 10th with 25 1/2 years of graceful sobriety and faith that God's plan for her was solid. She had the spirituality of imperfection in her soul. We are imperfect beings in an imperfect world, and the best I can do on any given day is to try to be tolerant of your quirks and foibles, because god knows I have plenty myself.
So here's the deal: your belief is yours and I respect you for it. If that belief is that there is no god, that's fine - it's your decision. If you believe that there is a god, that's fine too. It is your decision. Don't tell me how, or what to believe. Don't call me stupid, or an idiot, or a sheeple, for having a belief in god. Hatred does not solve problems, intolerance in any cloth does not solve problems. Name calling does not solve problems. Intolerance is a form of fear, and fear is the fertilizer for ignorance. Let's put an end to fear, intolerance and hatred, and let it begin with me.
(cross posted at The Sirens Chronicles)
Friday, July 13, 2007
Thursday, July 12, 2007
A friend of mine, who is Japanese-American, talks about her Calabash Family - the family that grew out of shared meals and experiences, and close friendships. Calabash Family in many ways is closer than one's family of origin, because of the choice involved. My friend's relatives (origin and Calabash) are Hawaiian, where the expression "Komo E Kaukau" (come and eat) is the mose common greeting you hear. I tell her that they are really all Jewish, like me, because of the food thing. I tell her she's really an Alcoholic, like me, because of the food thing. She says I'm really a JAP like her, because of the food thing.
But so it is in AA - we go to meetings, and then we go eat. We go to coffee. We gather in each other's homes, and we share meals, experiences, tears, laughter, friendship, joy, sorrow, pain, and strength. Meetings? One to one and one half hours per day - all the rest, hours. Friendship has no time limit.
Since I moved to Los Angeles, quite a few of my Calabash AA family from Chicago have died. There was Jimmy F., who died in his car listening to a questionable home run call during a Cubs game - heart attack. There was Mary, and Frank, both from cancer. Rosemary, who had a stroke. There was Alan, who, after recovering from 3 separate cancers, had a heart attack - they say he was dead before he hit the floor. And now Meri.
Today, I have a smaller perspective on the world. I feel powerless, and know that I am a small voice. I am strong within my Calabash, but in a larger scale, I am small. What seems important today is simple: how do I treat my fellow travelers? How do I behave at work? My goal is to be compassionate, kind, and tolerant. To be loving, and to not take myself too damn seriously - Rule 62.
Today, all I am going to do is focus on what is within my control and not worry about what is out of my hands. If I am a positive example, it spreads. That's what these people taught me, my Calabash Family. Be the change I want to see in the world. Be peaceful, be tolerant, be loving, be compassionate. Not so easy, if you're a self-centered alcoholic, like me. But nearly 19 years of recovery has shown me that change is inevitable, and so it has been with all of us who remain sober and useful.
Today, I will not wallow in anger or resentment. Today, I will follow Meri's example of joy in the small things. It's the best I can do, today.