Friday, May 30, 2008

Retitled, Re-tooled

New Title: The Worms Crawl In, The Worms Crawl Out, How I Learned To Play Pinnocle On Your Snout, by "Beam Me Up" Scott McClellan

Friday Granddaughter Blogging

Gramma is coming to visit me again tomorrow and I can't wait. We'll go to the zoo and maybe a baseball game and I can eat hot dogs. We went to see Mickey Mouse and I got scared at the rides. I'm having a onion pinyon about the Priminster of Izreal because he should resign because he took bribes and he doesn't want peace. And he's sposed to go to Egypt with somebody named Barak who is not the same as Barack Obama, because this Barak is the Izreal minster of defence and they're sposed to talk about a sees fires with Gaza. And this Barak and lots of other peoples in Izreal are telling the priminster to resign because of craolushun crupshun. I think he's a bad man like the prezlinet of America and they should put them all in peaches.

I like to draw on the steps with my giant chalk. Bye bye. Let's have peace.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Sydney Pollack

Sydney Pollack died Monday.
"if you have a career like mine, which is so identified with Hollywood, with big studios and stars, you wonder if maybe you shouldn't go off and do what the world thinks of as more personal films with lesser-known people. But I think I've fooled everybody. I've made personal films all along. I just made them in another form."

He was a director with integrity. RIP Mr. Pollack.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Liz Trotter commits a Federal Crime on Fox News

Hat tip to Robert Rouse for this. It was bad enough that Mrs. Clinton, once again, invoked the assassination of Robert Kennedy as a reason for her to continue campaigning. I have not weighed in on this before, because I actually don't want to give Mrs. Clinton the time of day. There are enough people on the "internets" doing just that, and I would rather focus on the positive. However, Mrs. Clinton did not suggest that anything should happent to Mr. Obama.

Not so Liz Trotter. Fox News has repeatedly and deliberately misspoken Barack Obama's last name, calling him Osama more times than I am capable of listing. But in discussing the Clinton debacle with anchor Eric Shawn, Ms. Trotter not only refers to Obama as Osama, she says we should knock off both, if we could.

This is a crime. I mean, an arrestable crime. If someone other than a Fox News person made this suggestion, they would be arrested by the Secret Service and tried. After our nation's sordid history of assassination, the Secret Service takes this threat quite seriously. But this is Fox News. Ms. Trotter has "apologized."

Not good enough. Not good enough at all. Contact the FCC and demand that Ms. Trotter be held accountable:

How to Contact the FCC:

To Contact the Commissioners via E-mail

Chairman Kevin J. Martin:
Commissioner Michael J. Copps:
Commissioner Jonathan S. Adelstein:
Commissioner Deborah Taylor Tate:
Commissioner Robert McDowell:

United States Postal Service First-Class Mail, Express Mail & Priority Mail

Federal Communications Commission
445 12th Street, SW
Washington, DC 20554

United States Secret Service

Do something.

Memorial Day

The last day of a 3-day weekend; the official start of summer; the weekend many Americans kill themselves on the highway, too drunk to see straight at the wheel. Picnics, baseball, barbeques. Family gatherings. Gatherings of friends. Party, party, party.

Or, honoring our soldiers who have fallen in various wars. From the Minute Men who fought the Revolutionary War; the soldiers, North and South, who fought over the Union of North & South; the soldiers who died in the trenches of both World Wars; the soldiers who died in Korea; in Viet Nam; in the Gulf; in Iraq; in Afghanistan.

It is not the soldiers who I have issue with. It is those people in the highest offices who believe that war is ever a solution. They send young men and women to fight THEIR fight, while they sit behind their desks, guarded and separated from the wishes of their people. Our soldiers are brave, and risk their lives for the hubris of others.

My son-in-law never knew his father. His father was MIA in Vietnam, and eventually found dead there, killed in action. His name is on the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, that sleek long granite tombstone that so elegantly and heartbreakingly marks that war. That police action. That disaster that ripped our nation apart. I am sorry I am not in Washington, placing flowers at the place that shows his name. Instead, I will recall our fallen, and reflect on peace.

Naj has a great idea

Naj has a great idea: Recipes for Peace. She's asking the following:


You are cordially invited to post one of your most favorite "ethnic" recipes.
Recipes from Israel; Iraq, Jordan, Syria, Egypt and Saudi Arabia are particularly appreciated. If you know of symbolism of a dish or ingredient, please let me know.
Folkloric food stories are particularly welcome. If you are or know of an Israeli restaurant in North America or UK, please let me know.

I posted my felafel recipe at Naj's place. Please visit her and give her some of your favorite recipes for peace.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Fiesta Hermosa

Today began with rain; it's been cold, windy, and just plain weird weather for the Beach Cities of Los Angeles. But, as I do each year on the Sunday over Memorial Day Weekend, I headed down to Fiesta Hermosa with friends. But because it was cold and rainy, I wore my Obama hoodie to keep me warm.

So I stopped at this booth of Island Carvings - the artist, Sami, works in whale bone, fossilized mammoth tusk, whale tooth, jade and cow bone. He's from Oahu, his work is gorgeous, and I wanted to ask him about some designs. Instead, he says "You like Obama?" I said, "Yes I do." He says, "He's a local boy, from Hawaii, grew up near me." I asked if he liked Obama too, and he said "You know I do, he's a good man." He bent my ear about the lack of dignity or decency among other candidates without mentioning names, but he was quite clear in his intent.

Little later, we left the fair, went to lunch at Veggie Grill in El Segundo. And as I went to place my order, the young woman at the register went on and on about how Obama gives her hope, and it is way beyond time for a change, and how could she get a hoodie like mine, and oh, sure, go ahead and order your lunch, you must be hungry, but I love Obama. I left a big tip in the tip jar.

Funny how a little visibility can connect total strangers.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Friday, May 23, 2008

Friday Granddaughter Blogging

With gas is being more than $4 I maybe shouldn't be driving. My gramma wants to work from home so she doesn't have to drive every day. The people who want to be prezilnet are all making stuff up about gas to bring the prices down, even the one gramma likes. She thinks that prezilnet Bush and his friends are doing something to barrels like maplate matulipating the price or something. I like baseball. I like the Cubs. I want a new prezilnet because the one we have is a bad man and he should be in peaches.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

For Enigma4Ever and DK Raed

A remake of The Four Yorkshirmen as made famous by Monty Python, which was actually a remake of the original version from an earlier show, "At Last, the 1948 Show."

Remember, ladies, Rickman is mine, all mine.

The Impact of Senator Kennedy

The Washington Post calls Senator Edward Kennedy Congress's best dealmaker and boldest liberal. Kennedy's ability to cross the aisle and broker deals brought about the first Campaign Finance legistlation; Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, the State Children's Health Insurance Program and many health care initiatives. He backed Title IX, which brought about equal funding for men's and women's athletic programs in colleges. He has been a driving force behind minimum wage increases. And for every program he's pushed through, he's often had a Republican beside him.

As much as I dislike Senator John McCain, I agree with his assessment of Kennedy: "I have held that view because he remains the single most effective member of the Senate if you want to get results."

Will Kennedy continue in the Senate while he is treated for malignant glioma? Selfishly, I hope he does. We need his voice. He's the second longest-serving Senator in office right now, not up for election until 2010. He's a fighter. We need him. On the other hand, he's facing an agressive treatment with a poor prognosis. He deserves some peace.

Although I met him once, briefly, when he was a brand new Senator - I shook his hand - I feel that Senator Kennedy is part of my family. Like so many others, I feel heartbroken at his diagnosis. Keep him in your heart.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

My day so far

Chapter 1:

La, di da, here I am getting ready to go to work. La, di da, I leave my house. La, di da, I close and lock the door.


OH, NO. I have forgotten to take my keys. I am locked out of my house, and I have no keys. No car keys. AH, but at least I have my cell phone. I will call the office. I will admit that I am going to be later than usual. Oh, NO.

Chapter 3:

Hello, office? It's me, the Diva. I have locked myself out of my condo. I have to break in. Yes, indeed. And climb through my window, which is not exactly the most graceful thing to do when you're pushing 60. I mean, really. I am not going to quit my day job to become a cat burgler.

Chapter 4:

La, di da. Here I am at work. Like nothing happened at all. La, di da.

Government Explained

You have two cows.
Your neighbor has none.
You feel guilty for being successful.
Barbara Streisand sings for you.

You have two cows.
Your neighbor has none.

You have two cows.
The government takes one and gives it to your neighbor.
You form a cooperative to tell him how to manage his cow.

You have two cows.
The government seizes both and provides you with milk.
You wait in line for hours to get it.
It is expensive and sour.

You have two cows.
You sell one, buy a bull, and build a herd of cows.

You have two cows.
The government taxes you to the point you have to sell both to support a
man in a foreign country who has only one cow, which was a gift from your

You have two cows.
The government takes them both, shoots one, milks the other, pays you
for the milk, and then pours the milk down the drain.

You have two cows.
You sell one, lease it back to yourself and do an IPO on the 2nd one.
You force the two cows to produce the milk of four cows.
You are surprised when one cow drops dead.
You spin an announcement to the analysts stating you have down sized and
are reducing expenses.
Your stock goes up.

You have two cows.
You go on strike because you want three cows.
You go to lunch and drink wine.
Life is good.

You have two cows.
You redesign them so they are one tenth the size of an ordinary cow and
produce twenty times the milk.
They learn to travel on unbelievably crowded trains.
Most are at the top of their class at cow school.

You have two cows.
You engineer them so they are all blond, drink lots of beer, give
excellent quality milk, and run a hundred miles an hour.
Unfortunately they also demand 13 weeks of vacation per year.

You have two cows but you don't know where they are.
While ambling around, you see a beautiful woman.
You break for lunch.
Life is good.

You have two cows.
You have some vodka.
You count them and learn you have five cows.
You have some more vodka.
You count them again and learn you have 42 cows.
The Mafia shows up and takes over however many cows you really have.

You have a cow and a bull.
The bull is depressed.
It has spent its life living a lie.
It goes away for two weeks.
It comes back after a taxpayer-paid sex-change operation.
You now have two cows.
One makes milk; the other doesn't.
You try to sell the transgender cow.
Its lawyer sues you for discrimination.
You lose in court.
You sell the milk-generating cow to pay the damages.
You now have one rich, transgender, non-milk-producing cow.
You change your business to beef.
PETA pickets your farm.
Jesse Jackson makes a speech in your driveway.
Cruz Bustamante calls for higher farm taxes to help "working cows."
Hillary Clinton calls for the nationalization of 1/7 of your farm "for
the children."
Arnold Schwartzenegger signs a law giving your farm to Mexico.
The L.A. Times quotes five anonymous cows claiming you groped their
You declare bankruptcy and shut down all operations.
The cow starves to death.
The L.A. Times' analysis shows your business failure is Bush's fault.

I have to laugh. Despite the overwhelming saddness I feel about Senator Kennedy's illness, I have to find a way to laugh. Despite the frustration I feel that the two remaining Democrats continue to have a slugfest, I have to find a way to laugh. Myanmar refuses to accept US Naval aide to the cyclone-ravaged Irrawaddy River delta region, which boggles my mind, but I have got to find a way to laugh.

Because if I don't find some humor somewhere, I will become buried in grief, anger and frustration. Senator Kennedy will fight with all he's got to live his life to the fullest. We cannot eulogize him yet, he's still among the living. Yes, it is a terrible prognosis, but he's still very much among the living. I expect he will move forward with courage.

Eventually, we will have a Democratic Party nominee for President. It will be either Obama, or Clinton. And I have got to find a way to laugh because this is waltzing into the realm of the surreal. We're in at an extraordinary historic juncture. For the first time, the United States will nominate EITHER a Woman, or a Black - and this means that the White House is no longer the exclusive domain of White Male Protestants (or the one Catholic). This is exciting. But what do we do? Obama supporters demonize Clinton; Clinton supporters demonize Obama. And the McCain supporters sit back and let us do their job for them. If that's not hilarious, I don't know what is. Okay, maybe not hilarious. It's black humor, though, please give me that much.

As for the military junta in Burma - I mean WTF! Aid is aid, and to refuse the US Navy because they don't LIKE us is tantamount to murdering their own people.

But if I do not find a way to laugh, I might begin to sob and never stop. Right now, I feel I could drown in a sea of my own tears.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

AA Exec Assesses Impact Of Fuel "Tidal Wave"

You're not the only one in pain at the pump. American Airlines is losing $3 million per day under the current fuel prices. Fuel costs have become the airline industry's greatest expense.

Speaking to the Association of Corporate Travel Executives Global Education Conference and Corporate Travel World, American Airlines senior vice president of government affairs William Ris said
"For every $100 dollars of revenue that an airline takes, right off the top $20 or $25 go to taxes and fees. Now with the fuel prices, $40 goes just to fill up the tank. That leaves just 40 more dollars to buy airplanes, maintain the fleet, pay our people, fund pensions and healthcare, pay rent and a variety of other expenses. That is not a sustainable business model."

Ris says that the solution is not in raising fares or reducing operating costs. He feels that a reduction in capacity (fewer planes, fewer routes) is the direction to go. Since deregulation, airlines have lost about $1.76 per passenger. This year, 2008, they are losing $10.89 per passenger. The price of fuel has gone from 10% of American Airline's costs to more than 40%. Deregulation has created more problems than it solved, and this, along with the obscene prices for fuel, may bring the airline industry to its knees.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Hi Ho, Hi Ho, it's off to Meme we go...

I have been tagged by the charming and irrepressible Utah Savage. Memes are interesting if I'm reading someone else's, but for me to do one is a pain in the ass a great honor. So here goes nothing.

One: What was I doing ten years ago? You're kidding. I can barely remember what I did this last weekend, let alone ten years ago. Oh, well, I'll try. I was living in Chicago with my adorable Doberman/Shepard and working as a travel agent in Evanston. I won my first Opal Award for Excellence as an Aussie Specialist. And I lived in a world where there was a Democrat as President. Oh, and I was training to do the Twin Cities to Chicago AIDS Ride, a 500 mile bicycle ride that raised money for AIDS-Care facilities in and around Chicago and Minneapolis/St. Paul.

Two: Five thing on todays to-do list.

Was I supposed to have a to-do list? Yikes. I KNEW I forgot something.

  • Pick up my Lipitor. Okay, THAT'S boring, but I have to get it today.
  • Finish a huge itinerary for the new Australia/New Zealand client, which I really don't want to do because they won't listen to my suggestions.
  • Pedicure, manicure, eyebrows. I need a visit to the spa, but it ain't gonna be today, so that's on tomorrow's list as well. And the day after. And the day after that, too.
  • Work on finishing the tank top for Beanie. Yes, I knit. Wanna make something out of it?
  • drink more water. I never make to-do lists. This is so hard challenging, trying to organize my inner alcoholic.

  • Three: Things I'd do if I were a Billionaire. I love being a billionaire. Can I be a billionaire forever?

    okay, so but I have unlimited money, here goes nothing

  • I would set up a scholarship at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where I got my BFA. This would be for aspiring female sculptors. I say this because sculpture has been such a Boy's Club for so long, despite some amazing women sculptors.
  • I would set up a foundation to end world hunger, and would build affordable housing. And if people could not afford that affordable housing, I would let them live there in exchange for work - like, you can't pay the subsidized rent? Okay, then make the garden grow; keep the grounds clean. Live here for free, but help maintain the grounds.
  • Okay, I would hire a personal trainer, and a cook, and have a tummy tuck. If Oprah can do it, so can I.
  • I would contribute mightily to AIDS Care, Prevention, and attempts to find a cure. Rather than set up a new foundation, I would fund the best of the existing choices.
  • and since my funds are unlimited, I would go back to school - I don't know, to learn screenwriting, or something. Hell, it's my fantasy money, right?

  • Four: Three bad habits?

    How to limit, how to limit?

  • I like to isolate. Yes, it's true. I can go into hiding at the drop of a hat. It's not that I don't like people, it's that I don't like making the effort all the time.
  • I blog while I should be working. Yes. I do. When I should be paying strict attention to clients, I happily type away, paying no attention to which airline went bankrupt today.
  • I eat way too damn much, don't get enough sleep, and hate to exercise. So. I have to balance this, so I go boogy boarding, and walk.

  • Five places I have lived. Hmmmm.

    My dad wanted to move us to a Turkey Farm in Zion, Illinois, when I was a kid. Didn't happen.

  • Glencoe, Illinois
  • Ithaca, New York
  • Kibbutz Kfar Blum, Israel
  • Or Yehuda, a suburb of Tel Aviv, Israel
  • Chicago, Illinois
  • Los Angeles, California

  • Five Jobs

    An embarrassment of whatever

  • I was a waitress for a day. Twice. Got fired both times. Different restaurants.
  • I worked as a maid and cook at the Guest House on my Kibbutz. My first job in the Travel Business
  • I sorted and graded apples.
  • Political Action Coordinator for various Chicago political campaigns
  • Travel agent

  • Now comes payback the fun part:

    Tagging five unsuspecting bloggers.

  • Fran
  • Dusty
  • Betmo
  • Coffee Messiah
  • Lulu Maude

  • That was painful DELIGHTFUL.

    Obama and the Jews

    There was an outstanding Op-Ed piece by Thomas Friedman in Sunday's New York Times. Friedman begins by listing several statements attributed to Barack Obama: Obama once said there has to be “an end” to the Israeli “occupation” of the West Bank “that began in 1967.” ; and that any peace agreement “must establish Palestine as a homeland for the Palestinian people.” and “the establishment of the state of Palestine is long overdue. The Palestinian people deserve it.”

    These statements circulate as an attempt to show that Obama is anti-Israel, and pro-Palestinian. The statements are all accurate, however, they were not spoken by Obama. They are all statements made by George W. Bush over the last two years. George W. Bush, the friend of Israel.

    Friedman's editorial states correctly that America now has a bi-partisan approach to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict that can only be satisfied with a two-state solution. He states, correctly, that most American Jews ask NOT whether a Presidential candidate is good for Israel, but whether that candidate is good for American interests. For me, this includes health-care; the environment; human rights; the Supreme Court.

    But to use statements made by Bush in an attempt to undermine Obama's campaign is ludicrous. It is another example of how the Right Wing spins truth into something frightening. It is another example of mis-information and obfuscation, and I am sick to death of it. I am sick of an Administration that uses fear as a weapon against its own people.

    There is another ongoing argument people use against Obama. That is his lack of experience. In my opinion, that argument is codswallop, because it holds no real weight. That particular spin is akin to saying that unless you've been President, you can't be President. If you think you can, or if you think you can't, you're right.

    I think Obama can.

    Another WTF moment

    Hat tip to Betmo for this lovely bit of insanity. Turns out, if you need an organ transplant, don't fess up to your use of Medical Marijuana. It is considered to be substance abuse. Really.
    At the University of Washington, the transplant committee said it reviewed "behavioral concerns such as a history of substance abuse or dependency. If such a history exists, then the committee looks at the period of abstinence the candidate has demonstrated to date," as well as the patient's efforts to maintain abstinence and potential to abuse again.
    And here is where I say WTF? Medical marijuana is used to treat glaucoma - relieves the pressure in the eye. It is used in diabetes, AIDS, high blood pressure, and to relieve the nausea associated with chemotherapy.

    Nevertheless, two recent organ transplant cases were taken off the list because they said they'd used medical marijuana UNDER A DOCTOR'S SUPERVISION, BY PRESCRIPTION. Timothy Garon died earlier this month after being turned down for a liver transplant. He admitted using Medical Marijuana, and this in part made him ineligiable. Jonathon Simchen is a diabetic, and he's also been turned down. His kidneys and pancreas have failed.

    There are any number of factors that determine a person's eligiablity for a transplant. Among those are smoking anything, let alone Medical Marijuana. But to consider this substance abuse is a form of insanity.

    Yesterday, I received a text message telling me that a friend of mine in Chicago just got a kidney transplant. I know this gentleman through AA, we are both sober nearly 20 years. He is diabetic, and he's got a whole lot of other things wrong. He was a serious drunk back in the day. But he got his kidney and I'm thrilled for him. And then I read the article today and said a silent prayer. Thank the powers that be that he never told anyone on the transplant committee his drinking and drug use history.

    And here's the deal. I'm clean and sober; yet if a doctor were to prescribe marijuana to treat an illness, I would take it and not consider it to be substance abuse. My goal is to live a healthy(ish) life, and a long one, despite certain chronic conditions that effect my day-to-day. But if I were in the above described situation, I would not admit to using medical marijuana. If I used it, and needed a transplant - no way would that go on my form.

    Sometimes, ommission is the best policy.

    Saturday, May 17, 2008

    Lake Daisetta open for Wildlife Tours

    Enigma4Ever alerted me to this exciting new travel experience. I suggested to Fran at Ramblings that we should corner the market on all tours going to the sinkhole. Some minor details:

    On May 7, this itty bitty sinkhole (20 feet wide) opened up in Daisetta, Texas. Now it is over 900 feet long and 260 feet deep. And growing! That's the exciting part, it's growing. Now called Lake Daisetta, Danny Diaz, a Texas Parks and Wildlife game warden pointed out the aligator swimming around. He said that ole gator knows enough to avoid the crude oil floating at the top, which might irritate the gator's already rough aligator skin. Personally, I think Shea Butter helps, but who am I to suggest such a thing.

    Meanwhile, the cause of all the excitement is a company that sits near the edge of a massive sinkhole in Southeast Texas has been accused of violating permits for disposal of saltwater, which some geologists suggest may have caused the crater. But this li'l old permit violation is opening a whole new segment for us Travel Professionals.

    Mayor Lynn Wells is offering Guided Tours of the lake. Here is where we travel professionals fit in. Fran has asked if the guides are fluent in English, rather than merely East Texan. I want to be sure that tours include round trip transfers. We want it to include lunch. I'm worried about the souvenier shop slipping into the gator's mouth, but perhaps souveniers can come with final tour documents. You know, things like a bottle of salt waste water with some crude oil floating in it; a tee-shirt saying "I watched the Gator swim Lake Daisetta and all I got was this lousy shirt; that sort of thing. A full day tour should include pre-paid gratuities, and we're only going to charge $125 per person. Payable in full, up front, upon booking. Because, if you fall into the sinkhole, I am NOT going to pull you out.

    Friday, May 16, 2008

    Friday Granddaughter Blogging

    I like Minnie Mouse dress. It cute.

    My gramma sent a email to the pretzlenet in the white house telling him he made her real mad about what he said yesterday in Israel. Thie pretzlenet is digutsing. If you go to J-Street you can send a letter too.

    Bye bye, I hafta go to school now.


    UPDATE: Cinema Verite, take two, a musical:

    MOMMY: (Driving the car, Beanie in the backseat in her car seat) What shall we sing?

    BEANIE: O Mick Donnal

    MOMMY: (sings, with BEANIE prompting each animal, each possible pet, and then making that sound until they've all been sung) What animal now, Sweetie?

    BEANIE: Gramma!

    MOMMY: (Singing) Old MacDonald Had a Farm, E-I-E-I-O, and on his farm he had a Gramma, E-I-E-O, with a:

    BEANIE: Snore snore snore snore snore



    Thursday, May 15, 2008

    How I learned to Drive Manual Transmission

    Yesterday, I spoke with my ex-husband about his upcoming trip to Israel with our son. They needed a car, they needed trip insurance, they need some hotels, and he needed my professional help. Yes, I'm a travel professional. Don't try this at home. We talked about what kind of car he wanted to rent, and he said "Not a Fiat 500" and we both burst out laughing. We'd met on Kibbutz, in Israel, and that Fiat played a part in our story.

    In May, 1969, I moved to Israel. I was 20 years old, a college drop-out, and an idealist who felt shattered by the direction the United States had moved: Richard Nixon was our President, we were enmeshed in a horrible war in Viet Nam, our nation was torn apart. What better thing for a young Jewish girl to do than move to a new nation, become a pioneer, farm, get my hands dirty. My parents dropped me at the airport, and off I went on my new adventure.

    I met my ex- on the first day I arrived. He literally grabbed my art portfolio out of my hands and carried it to the housing block I was assigned. He was on a bicycle. He thought he was dashing. I thought he was an asshole. So began 22 years of ragged togetherness before it ended in divorce. Hell, we get along better divorced than we ever did married, but that's a whole nother story.

    This story is about a four cylinder Fiat 500, a car that was manual transmission and only had two cylinders working. It wasn't our car. It didn't really belong to anyone, exactly. This girl purchased it in Spain for $500, drove the hell out of it until she appeared on the Kibbutz one day, parked it, and stayed for a month. She left, and somehow the car (and the keys) stayed. Somehow, we had those keys. So, we just sort of decided we had right of first whatever.

    Israel in 1969 was very much a country on defense. Still bearing the swagger of the Six Day War, when the Golan Heights, East Jerusalem, and the West Bank were captured, there was a bravado that defied the constant sense of looking over one's shoulder. We were not far from a small border town, and that town was constantly being shelled by Katusha rockets launched by Palestinians in Lebanon. It didn't stop us from hiking the hills - in fact, we felt in more danger from the wild dogs than from the rockets. Kids in their twenties feel immortal.

    I cannot describe how beautiful this region was. The light, the colors of the land, the Jordan River - all of this begged for exploration. And we had a car at our disposal, so explore it we did. But there was the issue of the two cylinders - we would pull into gas stations not to fill up with gas, but because the radiator was about to overheat and we needed to add water, or coolant, or whatever it is you put into a car to keep it from blowing up. The other issue was that because Israel was at war, there were roadblocks set up all over the place. My ex- was without a driver's license; I didn't know how to drive stick. He decided there was no time like the present to learn.

    Oh, there is a third issue. I don't like to take direction much. And one of the reasons he's an ex-husband is because he was a bit over-bearing. (I love it when I understate.) And I am a natural blonde.

    So we pulled over into a secluded area to teach me the workings of manual transmissions, and clutches, and forward, and not grinding gears, and when to shift, and "GODDAMNIT, STEP ON THE CLUTCH AND THEN EASE IT INTO GEAR", and then it was time for my first roadblock. It did not go well. I lurched the car forward, I jerked it and it stalled. I tried again. Stalled again. The soldiers told my ex- to get me out of the drivers seat or they would run me in. We decided that my driving was not so good, and we'd be better off with him driving without that pesky credential. License? We don need no stinking license. Thus ended my driving experience in Israel.

    I eventually taught myself in an emergency back in the States. My son spiked a sudden fever at age 4. My ex- had my car, I had our VW Bus, which was manual, and I needed to take my son to the doctor. I somehow managed to get there without a problem, except I couldn't figure out reverse. Later that weekend, I learned.

    But we lived in Israel for a year before we moved back to the States. It was in Israel that I listened to Neil Armstrong's voice as he took his first steps on the Moon. The night of July 20th was hot, sticky and cloudless as we gathered around the radio - staring up at the moon - the first steps toward extraterrestial colonization after we completely fuck up Earth.

    I was in Israel when my beloved Cubs folded to the vile, loathe and disgusting New York Mets. Not the Miracle Mets, no, nay, never: The MALEVOLENT Mets, forever evil in my book. I was in Israel when everyone was going on down to Yasgur's farm for the Woodstock Nation. I was in Israel for a year, and it changed me forever.

    Last night, I was watching Neil Jordon's film, "Michael Collins." In the extras on the DVD, Jordon writes that Michael Collins developed new strategies for the independence of Ireland. His tactics include what are now recognized as urban guerrilla tactics - Jordan is firm in pointing out that Collins was a soldier, a politician, and would deplore terrorist tactics. In fact, in the 1940s, the underground Jewish militia, the Irgun, patterned itself after the Irish Republicans. Yitzak Shamir so admired Michael Collins that he took the nickname "Michael."

    I believe that Yassar Arafat was of this ilk: he was a soldier, and his PLO employed the kinds of urban guerilla tactics that Collins developed. Not so the terrorist group, Hamas. Hamas straps explosives onto the bodies of young, disenfranchized men and tells them to go blow up a coffee house. Attack civilians. And then Israel behaves like the British did and bulldozes houses; cuts off water, electricity; builds a fence. Our world has gone insane.

    This morning, Dusty sent me a link to this article from the New Republic. The article goes into depth about J-Street, the new lobbying group and political action committee that says it will represent the interests of liberal American Jews.
    The group, according to its website, favors "diplomatic solutions over military ones, including in Iran; multilateral over unilateral approaches to conflict resolution; and dialogue over confrontation with a wide range of countries and actors when conflicts do arise." Perhaps most controversially, its founder favors negotiating with Hamas.

    "It's true that American Jews are overwhelmingly liberal on most issues; the problem for J Street is that Israel simply isn't one of those issues." My own family is an example: my ex-husband and son support Israel and Israel's actions completely. My ex-husband speaks of Palestians as though they are less than human. Sort of the way Jews were talked about in the past. My daughter and I support a two-State, diplomatic solution and to me, this means that Israel must talk to Hamas. They must. To pursue a military stance will ensure the destruction of Israel. The only way for Israel to survive, nay, thrive, is through diplomacy.

    What the Palestinians need is a Michael Collins, an Eamon de Valera, a Yitzhak Rabin. What Israel needs is some restraint, and a lobby like J-Street to make the Government listen. Most Israeli citizens support a two-state, diplomatic solution, as do a growing number of American Jews. J-Street supports peace, a two-state solution, security for Israel, and using diplomacy, rather than military force, to deal with countries like Iran and Syria. It is only the far Right wing (the millenialists, the Religious Right, the Rev. Hagee) who want Israel to keep Gaza and the West Bank.

    Perhaps, as my ex-husband and our son drive around Israel in the car I've secured for them, they will come to terms with a more even-handed point of view. I can only hope.

    Wednesday, May 14, 2008

    The Empire Strikes Barack

    Hat tip to The WIZARD,fkap for this bit of brilliance:

    With correct spelling.

    A Gap In The Space Between Life And Art

    Robert Rauschenberg, a true 20th Century Master, died Monday May 12 at 82 years of age. The critic Robert Hughes once said that Rauschenberg "showed America that all of life could be open to art." Still, people fail to look, fail to see.

    Rauschenberg used to say that he worked in the gap between life and art. I can say without question that his works fill that gap. There was a joy in his work, a playful seriousness that never failed to amaze me. Rest in peace, Mr. Rauschenberg.

    Tuesday, May 13, 2008

    Chicago Cubs Baseball

    This makes me happy. Yes, that Sam Zell will not let former Illinois Governor Jim Thompson and his Illinois Sports Facilities Authority turn Wrigley Field into another U.S. Cellular Field (a disaster of a park if I ever saw one) and sell equity seat rights, which requires a person to sign a long-term contract to buy a specific seat for a price that is either fixed or rises in an agreed-upon way, much like a fixed or adjustable-rate mortgage.

    I can imagine it now - selling sub-prime seats to a baseball game. No money down. And a balloon mortgage at that. What happens if the buyer defaults? Does the bank forclose on the seat? "Sorry, jerk. Give up that popcorn and hot dog. You're outa here."

    Maybe there will be some kind of insurance clause to go with it - like to purchase seats, you have to get pre-authorization from your insurance company. And if you are lucky enough to get a generic seat, it will cost only $10; but if you have to have something that's non-formulary, well, it will cost you your first-born. But you can see the game, right?

    Maybe the seats will only be available to people who have never thought about recycling their plastic, and drive Hummers (don't they still get subsidized gasoline?)

    I digress. I love the Cubs. I'm glad that Thompson won't get the park. I like this bit of history. But frankly, I think that the greed that's involved ruins the game.

    Around the "Internets"

    Around around around the world wide web. I'm finding so many interesting sites. Here are a few that have my attention now:

    Simply Wait is a writer's blog. She is thoughtful, and raises interesting questions. I just found her via New Dharma Bums.

    Anitazanaxnow is an eclectic mix of thoughts. She also writes beautifully. Found Anita through Utah Savage who I found through Redheaded Wisdom.

    And the aforementioned Utah Savage, who is quite eloquent and quite political. Interesting stuff, these writers. I have nothing more to say about it, other than go visit.

    Monday, May 12, 2008

    Israeli Center Against House Demolitions

    It's the government, not the people. Another Israeli organization that actively opposes the Olmert Government's policies toward Palestinians is The Israeli Center Against House Demolitions. Their current project is to rebuild 18,000 homes that have been demolished by the government. Peace WILL prevail.

    Reflections on family

    My mother died in 1984 from ovarian cancer. The year was hellish on many levels. My mother and I had never been close; she was cold, a hypochondriac, paranoid, fearful. She self-medicated with pills and alcohol, and did not get the help she so desperately needed. There were circumstances that drove her to the mental state she lived, but suffice it to say that, as one of ten children, she struggled for attention and never had the tools to properly nurture. Far from it; at one point, she told me that if I had been a better daughter, she would never have gotten ovarian cancer.

    My father died in 1996 from pulminary fibrosis, a calcifying of the lungs which causes suffocation. He'd had lung cancer 25 years before, and this pulminary fibrosis developed eventually because of the aggressive treatment he'd had for the lung cancer. Pa was one of seven, but not as cleanly as my mother was. My father's mother and father were divorced when he was four; she eventually remarried, and her second husband (grandpa) had five children with his first wife, Molly, who had died from cancer. Then grandma and grandpa had one more child, rounding out the seven.

    My father was a fun guy; he was the classic "hale fellow well met", a screw-up in business, and a drinker. He was unhappy in his marriage, but refused to divorce because it just wasn't good for the children. I don't think he ever forgave me for divorcing, but that's another story.

    While I was in Chicago, my mother's sister Sally died at age 98. This leaves only two of the ten left, and they are both in their 90s. And yesterday, I received an email from one of my cousins telling me that my father's sister Anne died May 8th. He had a link to the obituary, and the shock of all shocks: since Anne was one of grandpa's five from his first wife, the obituary only listed those siblings - a complete erasure of my father and my aunt Junie. Aunt Anne was the last of my father's siblings - so now, my brother and I, and our cousins on Pa's side are the older generation. We're it. And I feel adrift in a world of chaos.

    My upbringing was not easy. Still, with the tools of recovery in Alcoholics Anonymous, I feel that I've made strides in forgiving my parents for their mistakes - my mother did not have any tools, and frankly, what she experienced was pretty awful. I know that she did the best she could with absolutely no tools for living. I know that she was not intentionally cruel, but that she really thought she was doing her best. I know that I did NOT cause her ovarian cancer. And I know that I've become a better mother even though I didn't have an example of good mothering to follow.

    Still, I feel that I lack something, some deep ability to make a real connection with others. I live alone, and I am happy to isolate. I have friends, and I do see them with regularity, but am equally happy to sit at home without contact with others. That's so weird! Even I know it's peculiar. But reading that obituary yesterday put me in a very dark place.

    At any rate, Beanie and my daughter called me yesterday morning to wish me happy Mommy's day. Beanie talked a lot, she's really exploded in her language skills, and she's having a field day making fun of my snoring. Then my son called in the evening to wish me happy Mother's day, and I had a great conversation with him. He's so funny, and he's brilliant. I am very proud of my kids, despite the fact that they don't get along with each other. My fault, I know it. I don't know how to fix it, as they are 37 and almost 35. I'm done raising them.

    Life is messy. Family is messy. We all do the best we can, and we all muddle through. But today, today I feel a bit blue, and lost, in a sea of chaos.

    Sunday, May 11, 2008

    Random thought for Mother's Day

    Found this by way of Anitaxanaxnow:

    Your Brain's Pattern

    Your mind is a firestorm - full of intensity and drama.

    Your thoughts may seem scattered to you most of the time...

    But they often seem strong and passionate to those around you.

    You are a natural influencer. The thoughts you share are very powerful and persuading.

    Friday, May 09, 2008

    Friday Grandbaby Blogging (Cinema Verite)


    BEANIE: (CRYING, SHOUTING) Mommy, Mommy, I needa go poopie!

    GRAMMA: C'mon Beanie, I'm here, let's go potty.


    GRAMMA: Good job, Beanie. Let's clean up. (GRAMMA HELPS, THEN THEY WASH HANDS). Okay, it's still night, let's go back to bed.

    BEANIE: It still night. I seep in Gramma's bed.

    GRAMMA: (MELTING) Of course you can. (HELPS BEANIE CLIMB IN.) It's still dark, Mommy's sleeping, so let's go back to sleep.

    BEANIE: Still dork. Mommy seeping. Gramma seeping.


    BEANIE: (POKING GRAMMA) Gramma, stop making noise! (GRAMMA IS BUSTED.)




    Thursday, May 08, 2008

    Slow Day at Work

    What does it mean to be Pro-Israel?

    I recently joined J-Street, the political arm of the pro-Israel, pro-Peace movement. J-Street was founded to create meaningful American leadership to bring a peaceful end to the Arab/Israeli and Palestinian/Israel conflicts.
    J Street represents Americans, primarily but not exclusively Jewish, who support Israel and its desire for security as the Jewish homeland, as well as the right of the Palestinians to a sovereign state of their own - two states living side-by-side in peace and security. We believe ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is in the best interests of Israel, the United States, the Palestinians, and the region as a whole.

    Today, I received an email from founder Jeremy Ben Ami, with the text of an article he'd written in a recent Washington Post issue. I print it in full:

    5 Myths About Being 'Pro-Israel'
    By Jeremy Ben Ami

    Six decades ago, my father fought alongside Menachem Begin for Israel's independence. If you'd have told him back then that politicians in the world's last superpower would be jockeying today to see who can be more "pro-Israel," he would have laughed at you. Grateful as I am for decades of U.S. friendship to Israel, I have to wonder, as the state my father helped found turns 60, just who is defining what it means to be pro-Israel in the United States these days.

    Some purported keepers of that flame claim that supporting Israel means reflexively supporting every Israeli action and implacably opposing every Israeli foe -- adopting the talking points of neoconservatives and the most right-wing elements of the American Jewish and Christian Zionist communities. Criticize or question Israeli behavior and you're labeled "anti-Israel," or worse. But unquestioning encouragement for short-sighted Israeli policies such as expanding Jewish settlements in the West Bank isn't real friendship. (Would a true friend not only let you drive home drunk but offer you their Porsche and a shot of tequila for the road?) Israel needs real friends, not enablers. And forging a healthy friendship with Israel requires bursting some myths about what it means to be pro-Israel.

    1.American Jews choose to back candidates largely on the basis of their stance on Israel.

    This urban legend has somehow become a tenet of American Politics 101, which is why politicians work so hard to earn the pro-Israel label in the first place. But it's a self-serving fable, cultivated by a tiny minority of politically conservative American Jews who actually are single-issue voters. Most Jewish voters make their political choices the way other Americans do: based on their views on the full spectrum of domestic and foreign policy issues.

    Moreover, the American Jewish community still has a markedly progressive bent. Exit polls suggest that nearly 80 percent of Jewish Americans voted for John F. Kerry over George W. Bush in 2004; some 70 percent of them were opposed to the Iraq war in 2005, according to the American Jewish Committee; and polls show that most American Jews say they favor a more balanced U.S. Middle East policy that's aimed at achieving peace.

    2.To be strong on Israel, you have to be harsh to the Palestinians.

    Wrong, and counterproductive to boot. One popular way for members of Congress to earn their pro-Israel stripes is to come down as hard as possible on the Palestinians, by using economic and diplomatic pressure or giving the Israelis a freer hand for military strikes. That may satisfy some primal urge to lash out at Israel's foes, but it does Israel more harm than good.

    As Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has argued, Israel's survival depends on offering the Palestinians a more hopeful future built on political sovereignty and economic development. As long as Palestinians despair of a decent and dignified life, Israel will be at war. And as long as the only channel for the Palestinians' ingenuity is building better rockets, not even the Great Wall of China will protect Israel's cities from their wrath. Helping the Palestinians achieve a viable, prosperous state is one of the most pro-Israel things an American politician can do.

    3.The Rev. John Hagee and his fellow Christian Zionists are good for the Jews.

    Hardly. Are Israel and American Jewry really so desperate that we must cozy up to people whose messianic dreams entail having us all killed or converted to Christianity? Hagee, the founder of Christians United for Israel, and his ilk believe that Israel dare not cede any territory in the quest for peace, claiming that the Bible promised all of the holy land to the Jews. In other words, Christian Zionists look at the trade-offs that Israel must make to achieve peace -- and hope to thwart them. Then again, peace is not what these folks have in mind; they hope that Israel will seek to permanently expand its borders, thereby goading the Arabs into a war that will become the catalyst for Armageddon and the second coming of Christ. Do your ambitions for Israel extend beyond turning it into the fuel for the fire of the "End of Days"? Then Hagee and company are not -- repeat, not -- your friends.

    4. Talking peace with your enemies demonstrates weakness.

    You don't need an advanced degree in international relations to recognize that pursuing peace only with people you like is pointless. Most Israelis know this; a recent poll in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz found that two-thirds of Israelis favor cease-fire negotiations between their government and Hamas, the Palestinian Islamist movement that controls the Gaza Strip, exactly because Hamas is such a bitter foe. But in Washington, we self-righteously refuse to engage -- even indirectly -- with Hamas, Iran or Syria.

    Hamas won the most recent Palestinian national elections in a landslide. Do we seriously think that it can be erased from the political landscape simply by assassinations and sanctions? Precisely because Hamas and Iran represent the most worrisome strategic challenges to Israel, responsible friends of Israel who'd like to see it live in security for its next 60 years should be engaging with them to search for alternatives to war.

    5. George W. Bush is the best friend Israel has ever had.

    Not even close. The president has acted as Israel's exclusive corner man when he should have been refereeing the fight. That choice weakened Israel's long-term security.

    Israel needs U.S. help to maintain its military edge over its foes, but it also needs the United States to contain Arab-Israeli crises and broker peace. Israel's existing peace pacts owe much to Washington's ability to bridge the mistrust among parties in the Middle East. So when the United States abandons the role of effective broker and acts only as Israel's amen choir, as it has throughout Bush's tenure, the United States dims Israel's prospects of winning security through diplomacy. The best gift that Israel's friends here could give this gallant, embattled democracy on its milestone birthday would be returning the United States to its leading role in active diplomacy to end the conflicts in the Middle East -- and help a secure, thriving Israel find a permanent, accepted home among the community of nations.

    Tuesday, May 06, 2008

    It is time for Democrats to unite

    In California, it's 9:50 PM. Indiana is still being counted, and Obama has closed the gap with Clinton in that primary. Clinton is out of money, in debt. And as she said in her speech, it is time for Democrats to work together.

    She cannot win the nomination at this point. Obama looks to be the Democratic nominee. At this moment, we have a real opportunity to come together in ways the Liberals, Progressives, and Democrats rarely are able to do. The 2008 election is, without doubt, the most important election in recent history. We cannot survive another Republican administration at this time. We cannot, not morally, not financially, not emotionally, not spiritually. But if, as we usually do, we break ranks and argue or sit on our hands because "Obama isn't experienced enough" or "Obama is too elitist" or "Obama is (you fill in the blank)" - then we effectively allow John McCain to walk into the White House.

    Republicans fall into lock step when it comes time to vote. We do not. We write in candidates. We vote for fringe candidates. We Stand On Principal just to make a point and then we wind up with all kinds of disasters. When Hubert Humphrey was the Democratic Nominee against Nixon, my brother wrote in Donald Duck. He was not alone in his "protest" vote, and the end result was Richard Nixon. His "gesture" was irresponsible.

    We must move forward. And successful politics is very much about forming coalitions and making workable compromises. Compromises are not inherently bad; they are not "selling out." Compromises are about finding a common ground and moving forward. Please, please: let us move forward.

    Friday, May 02, 2008

    Friday Granddaughter Blogging

    Wednesday we flew. Thursday we went to visit Mickey Mouse. Today we are going to see Tide Pools and play with doggies. I like California.