Friday, June 30, 2006

New Grandbaby picture

My cousins all say she looks like me. I'm not sure. But she is such a happy baby, even when she was covered with welts from her allergic reaction. All I want is a restoration of sanity to our country so she can have a safe place to grow up. I want us to stop polluting, and to cherish our land. I want her to have a better world than I came into. Is that asking too much?

Supreme Court vs. The Decider

High Court Rejects Bush's Claim That He Alone Sets Detainee Rules

The 5-3 decision was a sharp rebuke on Bush's contention that he is above international law. Bushco contends that the rules of the Geneva Convention do not apply to the USA, and that they can set their own rules in their quest for world domination. I mean, in their war on Terrorism.

In practical terms, the impact of the decision is limited: it doesn't free any prisoners; it says that terrorism suspects may be tried under rules used by the military for court-martial or even by new rules as yet to be determined by Congress.

Justice Stephen G. Breyer said in a concurring statement "The court's conclusion ultimately rests upon a single ground: Congress has not issued the executive a 'blank check.' "

The Decider, of course, responded by saying "I understand that Congress hasn't given me a blank check. But I've got me a steady supply of credit and I'm gonna just do what I want because I am The Decider."

Friday grandbaby blogging

Sans photos. The latest photos my daughter sent show Ms. Bean covered in her rash, and they are not pretty. Her allergic reaction could have been to amoxycillin, or to one of the vaccines, but it's bad, and she's quite uncomfortable. She's covered in blotches, to the point that her pediatrician put her on steroids (there goes her baseball career.) My daughter said she's responding well.

Yesterday morning I was on the phone with my daughter, Ms. Bean happily jabbering away in the background. My daughter put Beanie on the phone. She was drinking milk. She took a sip and said "AAAHHHH" and smacked her lips. She loves doing that, she thinks it's funny. So I asked, "How big is Beanie?" She shoved the phone away and threw her arms in the air -- SOOOOO Big. She's improving rapidly.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Self Portrait Marathon #18

On Sunday, my daughter called -- their neice had been rushed to Children's Hospital in St. Louis for tests, and was placed on the oncology floor. Monday, she had a bone marrow biopsy; this 12 year old child has Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia. She started chemo on Tuesday.

On Tuesday, my grandbaby began showing a rash. She'd had her chickenpox vaccine on Thursday; she visited her cousin on Sunday on the Oncology floor of the hospital. The rash looked like chicken pox. My daughter called the hospital to alert them to the possibility; everyone freaked out -- my daughter, alone (her husband is in St. Louis with his sister, to help out for the beginning treatments), went into a panic convincing herself that she had murdered all these cancer children. I spent hours on the phone calming her down -- she had no way of knowing that the baby would have a reaction to the shot, and that her real fear is for her neice.

Well, the baby didn't have chicken pox at all -- she had a strong allergic reaction to another medication and her rash is that. She's not contagious, she's completely uncomfortable, and she'll get over it. My daughter went into another panic, that now her baby would stop breathing from the allergy. Again, I calmed her -- the real fear is for her neice.

Somehow, these things change our perspective as to what's important. I have no idea if my son-in-law's sister has insurance to cover her daughter's treatments. I'm so worried for her inability to ask the right questions, and to be able to really make the right choices. I'm glad my son-in-law went down to be with her, to be her advocate. My daughter feels helpless, and that puts all her fears into her imagination. All I can do is be at the other end of the telephone for her.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006


I found Unity08 over at Pocket Farm. Their intent is to fix what's wrong with both the Republican and Democratic parties:

Goal One is the election of a Unity Ticket for President and Vice-President of the United States in 2008 – headed by a woman and/or man from each major party or by an independent who presents a Unity Team from both parties.
Goal Two is for the people themselves to pick that Unity Ticket in the first half of 2008 – via a virtual and secure online convention in which all American voters will be qualified to vote.
Goal Three, our minimum goal, is to effect major change and reform in the 2008 national elections by influencing the major parties to adopt the core features of our national agenda. With a group of voters who comprise at least 20% of the national electorate, we feel confident that our voters will decide the 2008 election.

The intention is to not waste time with the "blame game" but to just cut to the chase and right what has gone so wrong in both parties. They are differentiating between crucial and important issues, which I agree must be differentiated. Crucial Issues include anything that our future welfare and security are based upon: Global terrorism, our national debt, our dependence on foreign oil, the emergence of India and China as strategic competitors and/or allies, nuclear proliferation, global climate change, the corruption of Washington’s lobbying system, the education of our young, the health care of all.

Important issues are vital to some people, but will not determine the fate of the nation. These include gun control, abortion, gay rights, immigration. These are important issues. No question about it. But they are currently used as red herrings to deflect away from serious abuses of power which must be addressed if we are to continue as a free society.

Unity08 is worth looking at seriously.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Extended Care Facility

My friend who was hit by the car last Friday was moved Sunday night to an extended care facility to begin rehab. I went over today to bring her real food. She described what they served for lunch - mystery fowl, with some strange breading on it, and vegetable mush. Her roommate is deaf as a post, which, considering how rowdy our crowd can be, is a good thing.

Yesterday, one of our friends went to visit. Some elderly gentleman with a walker, went over to her, and grabbed her breast. He grinned a toothless grin and shouted, "I got her boob, I got her boob."

She'll be there for 28 days, because she can't put weight on her hips -- no standing. She intends to have a party July 30. Knowing her, she will. She says her physical therapist is built like a rock, as buff as a guy can be, she wants to jump him. She's 67, and he's in his 30s. Why not, I say. Why not?

This place is depressing, sad, scary. For her, it is temporary. None of us wants to wind up in a place like this, and so my friends and I all discuss purchasing a group home, where we can care for each other on into our dotage. My cousins often talk about doing that as well. The idea of a commune for seniors is very appealing to me, one where we all contribute something -- from growing the vegetables, to cooking, to managing the bills -- I lived on a Kibbutz in Israel many years ago and hated the lack of privacy. Today, the older I get, the more I see the real value in that kind of support system.

Most of us in America have become quite isolated. Long gone are the days when people lived very close to family, often had extended family living with them. That is no longer the norm. The very nature of family has changed.

How does a group go about starting this sort of thing? What do we do? What are the steps? Because at this point, I am seriously looking at it.

Jeb Bush emulates his brother

Hat tip to Helen Wheels on this: Governor's veto halts access to documents. Gov. Jeb Bush on Monday vetoed a bill that would have allowed lawmakers to gain access to secret documents held by executive branch agencies.

The Bush brothers have complete disregard for anything but their own personal interest and gain. Ya think Jeb's running for President in 2008? I do.

Eat Local challenge for June

Liz, over at Pocket Farm has a lovely challenge for the summer. The rules? Make one dinner entirely out of local foods during each of the twelve weeks of summer. The only non-local ingredients allowed will be oil, salt, pepper, spices and herbs (although there should be no excuse for not finding fresh herbs now). Everything else should be from your local foodshed. You can stick with the Eat Local Challenge 100-mile radius, but if you need to expand that a little, feel free.

Now, for those of us in the Los Angeles area, there is a farmers market every day of the week with good, fresh, local produces including cheeses, olive oils, you name it. What is interesting is the number of convenience foods we fall into using.

I love my local farmers market. Mostly organic stuff, which means no nasty poisonous fertilizers screwing up the precious water tables, and no chemicals running through the system. Our local market even sells ladybugs and snails to control nasty bugs. I've got my own tomatoes growing.

So, I joined in. I'm doing three fun challenges -- the Self Portrait Marathon is almost over -- that ends July 8. The Tomato Challenge is still ongoing; and now the eat local challenge. Are you in?

Monday, June 26, 2006

Self portrait Marathon #17

a memory she was there for a wedding. The taxi cab she rode in struck and killed a child who was riding a bike. The bike, and the boy, were crushed beyond repair. The taxi driver stopped the cab, got out, and took the boy's fingerprints. He returned to the cab,. As he turned on the ignition, the woman asked him what was he going to do about the child? He told her he would stop at the next village, and leave the information with the local authorities. He said that two years before, there had been a terrible earthquake, killing tens of thousands. He said "what's one more small boy? You're here for a wedding. Celebrate the living."

The day before the wedding, the bride left under cover of darkness. All arrangements were called off. The bride didn't even say goodbye to her mother, come all that way from New York. She left her mother, her brother, her intended. She left 500 pounds of meat to spoil in the summer sun.

Work got in the way of blogging today

What a wild and wooly day today. Working on a large family group for next summer, regular clients of mine who I really like. They're a rarity: wealthy people who live in a Red State but vote Blue. They have solid Midwestern values, and they're very kind people. But they really have been putting me through my paces. By 3 PM, I realized I'd still not gone to lunch, so I sent them an email saying that the two options I currently held were all that would work for their 33 people. I got the sweetest email back, had lunch, and made a few more changes -- and now it's perfect. I'm so happy.

And I mean that. My job is about service. I facilitate dreams in the form of travel. Sometimes it's enjoyable, sometimes I want to run out of the building screaming, but when I can work with decent people and make them happy, it is quite satisfying.

One client recently lost his wife of 60 years. I've got six honeymoon couples going to Fiji, all around the same time. I've got more than six honeymoon couples, but six to Fiji is unusual.

In my workaday life, I avoid talking politics, unless the client says something that indicates they are on the same page as me. I have a new client who is booking a wonderful trip, but she said "this will happen only if that idiot in Washington hasn't taken away all our passports." And I suddenly realized that could happen. Shrubya, Blasty McBirdshot (I do love that name, Alicia) and Minister of Evil Propoganda, Herr Rove, might just drop the gate on international travel at some point.

We've already arrived at a time when people are expected to spy upon one another. At work we have more spyware on our computers than you can imagine -- it's a fucking TRAVEL AGENCY, for god's sake -- but we have spyware. The only reason I'm not in trouble is because I produce. If that falls off, I'm toast, because I ignore the rules and blog away.

And a quote today from Thomas Jefferson about sums up what we're losing:

"I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty than to those attending too small a degree of it."

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Self portrait #16

Pilot precise pen. Very disconnected material. Won't use this again.

Those pesky WMDs

Warnings on WMD 'Fabricator' Were Ignored, Ex-CIA Aide Says. But Colin Powell plunged ahead anyway. This despite a significant paragraph being removed from his speech, and then re-instated. Seems the source was an Iraqi defector who was suspected of being mentally unstable and a liar.

So now, the death toll of Iraqis tops 50,000, which is roughly equivalent to 570,000 US soldiers. All over fabricated information. Someone tell me how this government is not acting criminally?

There is a tragic flaw in our precious Constitution, and I don?t know what can be done to fix it. This is it: Only nut cases want to be president.
- Kurt Vonnegut

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Self Portrait Marathon #15

Charcol and I are not great friends. That's all I have to say about it. Unless it's charcol for barbque, and then I like it.

The weekend

Projection for record heat, but I plunge ahead.
1. Farmer's Market, yay.
2. Improv Class, yay!
3. "A Prairie Home Companion." and dinner with friends.

That's today. Tomorrow:
1. Visit a friend who was hit by a car yesterday while driving. T-boned. Both hips broken. Cracked ribs. Ruptured spleen. Lucky to be alive. And she asked the paramedics to take the cookies from her trunk to our AA meeting. They refused. They're moving her today which is why the visit will be tomorrow.
2. Go to a housewarming in Chatsworth, where record temps will make it more like a house-melting.
3. Laundry.

Feels like a really good weekend ahead!

Pay raise and non-terrorist threat

Ya gotta love California for its chutzpa. Top California Officials to Get 18% Pay Hike. In a state where people are really struggling to keep up with inflation, and where the budget can't really keep up either, the California Citizens Compensation Commission voted the increase against a lot of criticism from fiscal conservatives.

The Governator doesn't accept his salary -- he's a millionaire and doesn't need the $200K so it stays in the state funds. It's the only thing the Governator does that I applaud. Not a reason to keep him in office, of course, but still.

The Attorney General's salary is below many first year associates at top California law firms. There is an imbalance, across the board. Is a pay raise the answer? Maybe slashing the perks the very wealthy get is a better start.

And, FBI Says 7 Terror Suspects Were Mostly Talk. All I can say is election year.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Self Portrait Marathon #14

At the end of a six day work week. I'm tired. But, a marathon is a marathon is a marathon.


36 have been accused of spousal abuse

7 have been arrested for fraud

19 have been accused of writing bad checks

117 have directly or indirectly bankrupted at least 2 businesses

3 have done time for assault

71,repeat 71, cannot get a credit card due to bad credit

14 have been arrested on drug-related charges

8 have been arrested for shoplifting

21 currently are defendants in lawsuits, and

84 have been arrested for drunk driving in the last year

Can you guess which organization this is? NBA? NFL?

Neither, it's the 535 members of the United States Congress. The same group of idiots that crank out hundreds of new laws each year designed to keep the rest of us in line.

Friday grandbaby blogging

Yesterday, my daughter called me with a wonderful bit of news. She'd given Ellie raspberries for her desert. It was the last of the batch of raspberries, so my daughter kept saying "Ellie, give mommy a raspberry." Ellie would pretend to give my daughter a berry, then laugh, and pop it into her own mouth. This was a great game until the last berry. Ellie looked at it, picked it up, pretended to eat it, then gave it to her mommy. Wow.

I'm still working on the last set of photos my daughter sent me, and need more new ones. I love hearing her sweet voice on the phone. Yesterday, Ellie told me "Ahhh bab nrdrdrdrnrdr" then gave the phone back to her mommy and sat on the dog.

Say hello to a fairly new blogger

Say hello to BZ of Intrepid Flame. He's a new blogger with a lot to say. Quite thoughtful, too. Give him a visit!

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Self Portrait Marathon #13

Kommandos project

Those of you who missed the first round of a grassroots protest - come on, you know you love to exercise your first amendment rights - generated by Kvatch at Blognonymous can get in on a second round of the action slated for Independence Day. It's really quite simple.

Step 1 -Get yourself a bag of plastic green army men (as to why there are no women in these stashes is a whole other issue).

Step 2 - Get some tape and paste a political message to an appendage.

Step 3 - Deploy your troops in conspicuous locations for others to view or move to new locations.

Step 4 - Log your grassroots political action over at the Kommandos Project blog location.

The more participating Kommanders we have, the stronger the message.

Blog on all, and may the victory go to the glorious.


Several bloggers have mentioned on their blogs a need to be quiet suddenly, almost all citing the news as a source of "what more can we say?" I wonder if it is despair, or is it simply that it is summer in the Northern Hemisphere? Summer is a time when my brain turns quiet -- I listen to birds as they wake me; I love the sound of wild parrots in the evening as they flock to trees to nest -- lots of them in Hermosa Beach -- parrots that had been pets, and were released, and now live wild, breeding. Not native, but they've certainly moved in.

A lot of what I have to say is being said in my self portraits. I see how restless I feel; I see anger; I see fear for my granddaughter's future. I see that the lines in my drawing are saying more than I have in words at times.

What do you do when you need another outlet for your emotions, your thinking, your hopes? When words go quiet, what do you do to keep from going mad?

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Self Portrait Marathon #12

I drew this in "Paint" on my computer. It's like working with the opposite hand. I also looked through any number that I am doing that I will not post. I wonder about what images don't make the cut and why, not just with me, but with others.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Self Portrait Marathon #11

I have no idea what this is about.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Self Portrait Marathon #10

Graphite wash on paper again, only much darker. 8B graphite wash pencil. Moody but not unhappy. Bolder.

Loose Change

Helen Wheels and Tina were posting about a film called "Loose Change, edition 2. I'd never heard of the film, so I googled it.

It is a documentary looking at a conspiracy theory surrounding 9/11/01. They offer a free DVD to anyone who lost family or friends, which you must documents.

I lost a friend, Laura Lee Morabito, who was one of the sweetest, nicest people I've ever known. She was my sales rep from Qantas when I was in the Chicago area. When she moved to Boston with her husband, we were all so sad to lose her. But she mentored me and encouraged me to move from Chicago to Los Angeles. I saw her in August, 2001, right after I'd moved. It was at our Aussie Specialists Corroboree. She was part of the "Qantelles", a singing group made up of the sales reps, who entertained us in silly costumes, singing the praises of the airline. She and I caught up, chatted about all kinds of stuff -- and at the end of the weekend, said "see you in September" -- she was coming back to Los Angeles on Sept. 11, for a sales meeting.

I ordered the DVD from the Loose Change website. The website alone makes me sick with rage; if 1/10th of what they are saying is indeed true, then this administration did more than simply allow the attacks to happen. There is a screening on June 21st, 7:00 PM, The Art Theater 4th + Cherry, Long Beach, California. Free Admission, Q&A Session. Not sure if I will make the screening, I have a committment on Wednesday from 6 - 7, so if I can get out of it, I will be there. If what they say is true, then we are in more trouble than any of us can imagine. If what they are doing is to raise questions, I applaud them for that. If what they say is true, I fear for their lives. Because an administration that is capable of attacking its own nation is certainly capable of "disappearing" three young filmmakers.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

From the first 10 days of the Marathon

Sparky Donatello, the man who threw down the challenge for the Self Portrait Marathon, began this poster on Friday, completed it today and put it up on his blog. It is the first ten days from all the participants so far. I love this poster. But more than that, I am in awe of what he's done. Not just the poster, which is great - I'm in awe of the way he challenged artists and non-artists to really look inward and see what we come up with. It's open to everyone, and it is growing daily. Go over to Sparky's place and jump in!

Self Portrait Marathon #9

The company I work for is open 7 days a week; Saturdays & Sundays are by volunteer staffing. Many of us trade weekend days for future time off, or against cost of travel. I'm building time to pay for my flights to Bhutan in November. So I worked today. And it was insanely busy - I felt like my hair was on fire. Grocery store after work; then laundry; then a drawing. Red. For fire.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Self Portrait Marathon #8

In today's class at LA ComedySportz, we did "space work." At first, I thought Lauren wanted us to do mime, but that's not what it is. Mime is an (annoying) art form by itself. Space work is this: hold a cup; then someone remove that cup from your hand, but your hand remains in the shape the cup occupied. Space work is the same thing artists do when creating an image. It's not necessarily about lines, or the actual subject you're drawing. Sometimes it's about the negative space surrounding everything. In improv, you have to establish the WHERE of everything by doing solid space work. It was hard, but great fun.

Adventures of a travel agent

True Stories From My Desk

Yesterday, I received a call from a man: "I'm Dr. G... I want to take a luxury cruise to Bhutan."

Me: "Can you hold the line for a minute?" I placed him on hold, fell on the floor laughing. My collegues rushed to my desk -- was I having an epileptic seizure? No, just stupid client call. You see, Bhutan is a small kingdom in the Himalayas, completely landlocked, between India and China.

Me: "Thank you for waiting, Dr. G. There are no cruises that would be suitable, nothing goes to Bhutan. It is surrounded by China and India."

Dr. G: "Look, I'm an American Express Platinum member. I am a member of Andrew Harper's Q Club, and I'm a very busy man."

Me: "I understand. But, sir, there are no cruises that can accommodate you. I do have a guide in Bhutan who is amazing. I can arrange a trip with him."

Dr. G: "I've already contacted Aman Resorts. Give me his name."

Me: "I don't think so. If you want me to plan and book a trip for you, I am happy to supply his name. But otherwise, not."

Dr. G: "Look I contacted you because I thought you could get me a deal. Keep me posted."

Me: "Oh, yes, absolutely. Buh-bye." Arrogant prick. I deal with a lot of luxury clients, and most of them know geography. At one point, I thought he was going to tell me to build a ship and a canal to get him to Bhutan. He wants a cruise and that's that.

People have called me to see if they can rent a car and drive from Los Angeles to Hawaii. They ask if they need to exchange money to go to Alaska, or if they speak English in Alaska.

The clients I just fired a couple of months ago were geographically challenged, and also booked their travel based upon which of their A-list friends have stayed where. I'm sure that now that Brad & Angelina have gone to Africa, the ex-clients will have to go. But she'll want to be sure that no animals harm other animals while she's there.

For a while, I worked for a company that only worked with travel agents. An agent called, upset. Her complaint? No one told her the Great Barrier Reef of Australia was under water. She said she would never have sent her clients there, because they couldn't see it. Sigh.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Self Portrait Marathon #7

Graphite wash, colored pencil, water color on paper. Graphite wash pencils are amazing -- one of my favorite things to work with. Need more tooth on the paper though. Not sure where this one fits, but it's what came out of my hand today.

Colbert does it again

Crooks & Liars has a video from last night's Colbert Report skewering Freshman Congressman Lynn Westmoreland. It is hilarious. You do have to scroll down to it on their page.

I adore Colbert. To quote Lola Heatherton, I want to bear his children.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Friday grandbaby blogging

She's so intense. Have no idea what Ellie's doing. Maybe she's trying to fix a Diebolt machine.

Self Portrait Marathon #6

This is crayon on paper. I thought color might help my mood. It didn't. We had a lunch meeting at work today, the owner of the agency came in to see us in our office (he's usually at the main office). We talked about "An Inconvenient Truth" and actually how what we do for a living contributes to global warming. I am tied with another agent as the top luxury cruise agent -- we put a lot of people on a lot of cruises. And from a vacation standpoint, it's great. However, those gigantic ships get about 1 foot to the gallon. I'm talking about the floating cities. Every time an airplane takes off, it's polluting the atmosphere with greenhouse gasses.

I'm torn between wanting to leave my job, sell my home and go live on a farm and paint; and being a responsible grown up. So I'm in a bad mood. It will pass. What I really would like is balance between art, work, and activism.

Supreme Court Votes 5 - 4 to support illegal search and seizure

Here we go. So, okay, they had a warrant. But the police marched in without knocking and the divided, conservative, Bush court says that's just fine. More erosion of the constitution.

It is part of a series of decisions by this court that expand police powers. Be very vocal in your opposition, people. The time for silence is long past.

Describe anyone you know?

I subscribe to an email blast from Wordsmith. Today's word:

theomania (thee-o-MAY-nee-uh, -MAIN-yuh) noun

The belief that one is God or specially chosen by God on a mission.

[From Greek theos (god) + -mania (excessive enthusiasm or craze).]

This mania often strikes rulers of nations and is highly recommended
when planning to attack other nations. It soothes conscience, clears
the path, and removes all doubts. After all, if one is channeling God,
why worry about rules and conventions of mere humans?

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

An Inconvenient Truth

I saw An Inconvenient Truth this evening. Run, don't walk, to see this essential film. Gore delivers the message clearly, so if you have concerns that it will not be understandable, forget it. This is a global crisis, and what is astounding to me is that in the course of Gore's presentation, he shows how we can actually reverse this crisis IF WE ACT NOW. Each one of us can have an impact. Each individual can have an impact.

Toward the end of the film, Gore says "Political will is a renewable resource." We have a voice. He shows how this administration willfully ignores the crisis; how it won't sign the Kyoto agreement; and then he lists the States and cities in the US that are adapting the standards of the Kyoto agreement.

Little things make a difference: Recycle. Buy energy efficient light bulbs. Buy energy efficient appliances. Make your home weather-ready with proper insulation. If you can, buy a Hybrid or Electric car, or one that runs on alternative energy to oil. If you can, walk to work, or ride a bicycle. The list of small things is endless. And it can make a difference.

The message in this film is one of hope through action. It is essential viewing. Don't wait. Visit the site to learn more.

Self Portrait Marathon #5

I jumped into this self-portrait marathon with both feet, thinking it would be a great way to make me get back into the discipline of drawing. I'd not done any self portraits since 1995 -- and that was a four year journal of self portraits I began as I got divorced after a 22 year marriage. Nobody sees those drawings. They are dark. Dark dark dark. But something else is going on, and I don't know what it is. Restless, irritable, discontented, a bundle of nerves. I go to work and I think I should be doing something else (so I blog from work). Here's the fifth image in this marathon.

Kudos to Ava Lowrey

Ava Lowrey has been attracting attention for a while now. But today even the NY Times paid attention in this editorial. Ava produced one of her brilliant animations for Yearly Kos Convention, which can be seen at youtube here, or at her own site, Peace Takes Courage. Here you can see all her animations, which are quite powerful. I posted about her when I saw one of her early animations, because at 15, she has the eye of a more mature artist. She is a true patriot, because she is unafraid to speak the truth in defending our Constitution and calling the liars by name. Just, watch it.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Self Portrait Marathon

Suicide as act of war

Hats off to Old White Lady for the tip on this article at Why Now called Framing the American Gulag. Bryan says that for our government to claim suicide an act of war is paranoid. While I agree in this case -- conditions at Gitmo are deplorable, holding people without charging them, without regard to rule of law -- Guantanamo is a camp similar to those camps our government created for Japanese Americans during World War II. The detainees are suffering from depression, despair, complete and utter hopelessness.

However, I recall the Bhuddist Monks self-immolating in South Viet Nam during the early stages of the "Police Action", as we sent "Military Advisors" over to get involved. Suicide was an act of war at that time. It got the attention of plenty of people -- and it was necessary. Horrific, but it was a necessary, selfless act.

I don't believe the suicides in Guantanamo are consciously political -- I believe they are the last act made by hopeless men who have been robbed of their right to due process. They are being made political by the Administration, and I suspect that it will backfire -- that it will help to unmask conditions, and help to draw attention to the lies and obfuscation this government dumps on us.

What do we do next? Someone please tell me what's next, because I feel like we're drowning in a cement of lies.

Why we fight in Iraq

An article in today's LA Times should come as no surprise (other than the fact that it was IN the LA Times, four years after the fact).
EPA Rule Loosened After Oil Chief's Letter to Rove
. I think my favorite line in the article was this:
In 2002, a Texas oilman and longtime Republican activist, Ernest Angelo, wrote a letter to Rove complaining that an early version of the rule was causing many in the oil industry to "openly express doubt as to the merit of electing Republicans when we wind up with this type of stupidity."

Gosh, I ask myself the same thing every day. Last night I watched a program on Nova which addressed the speed of global warming. Most scientists feel that we have less than a decade to reverse the process of global warming before the effects are irreversible. Yet this administration does everything it can to pollute the atmosphere, to pollute ground water, to destroy natural habitat.

But what the hell. We're fighting in Iraq to keep Texas safe for Big Oil.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Ben Laden's All-Klezmer Network

This guy has really born the brunt of 9/11. He's got a Klezmer band called Benny and Vildachayas (which in Yiddish means "wild animal" and refers to unruly kids) and this article really sums it up. Ya can't make this stuff up. Thanks Helen Wheels, for the tip to Jewsweek.

Self Portrait Marathon

There is a Self Portrait Marathon going on at another blog. It has gotten my attention, and I'm going to participate, either officially or unofficially, and give it a go. This is a portrait of the artist as an inner child. A detail from a larger painting I did, which I called "Holy Family", it sums up a restless, irritable and disontented inner soul that always keeps me searching. Somehow, after almost 18 years of sobriety, I am able to be at peace with myself most of the time.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

There, and back again

Family is always an interesting group. On the one hand, who pushes our buttons faster than family? On the other hand, who else shares so much of the same history -- good and bad?

My mother was one of ten children -- 8 women, 2 men. Only three of the aunties are still alive, all 90+. There were over 20 first cousins; we've almost all had children. Those children are producing children. We all have the same face == all the men look alike, all the women look alike. In the photo, I am between one cousin who is the spitting image of my late mother, and another whose daughter resembles my daughter.

My cousin who calls me her evil twin (actually, she's my evil twin although she's much shorter than I am -- and I know you're laughing at this, D) and I told each other that we make the worlds best salad. SO I told her what I do, and she said that was the exact same recipe she uses. We are all very very connected.

The birthday was a 60th birthday celebration. It was held up in the hills in the desert at the home of one of my cousin's closest friends. It was a mix of family and friends, and it was a great celebration. At one point, we were supposed to tell a funny story about her -- and my table was all family -- it was a lot of "no, can't tell that. No, not that one either." WE were laughing, but oh, well.

It was a gorgeous evening. Full moon, clear skies, not too much wind, not excessive heat -- great food, a real celebration. This morning we all gathered for breakfast -- we had three generations in this photo. I love these people. They all make me crazy, and I'm sure I make them completely crazy, but I really adore them all. We know each other's secrets, we share a history. We survived, and we are thriving. We are all very lucky.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

driving in my Civic Hybrid

So, I get out to Palm Springs, averaging about 75 MPG, and my cousin tells me that people driving Hummers are getting subsidized gas. General Motors just announced that if you live in California and buy a Hummer H2 or H3 or another beast such as a Tahoe, Suburban or Yukon, it will give you a card that lets you cap your gasoline at $1.99 a gallon until the end of 2007.

This is sickening. Another case of big oil supporters getting and using way more than their fair share.

Road trip

My cousin's 60th birthday is this weekend. Huge gathering near Palm Springs -- she told me 24 cousins, and 24 therapists, which is hilarious, given our family insanities. But this is a special birthday, because she was treated for colon cancer about a year ago. That cancer was found by accident -- she'd gone to the doctor for another, routine exam -- was refered to another doctor, found a blockage, and turned out to be a stage 3 colon cancer; one lymphnode away from stage 4. It was scary.

Along the way, I will deploy some of my anti-war soldiers -- 29 Palms, or Joshua Tree -- tagged with "Bring us home from Iraq" -- just put them out there for people to see.

I'm in slow motion this morning. Can't quite get a move on. Work was stressful this week, and I'm at a funny place. Many of my friends are retiring. Through blogging I am remembering that my real path has always been fine art, and I'm in the middle of a resentment: Why do I have to work at an office job when I have a Masters of Fine Art? It sounds like such a whinge as I write it, but my innards are having a temper tantrum. And I like my job, go figure. It allows me to travel the world at a level I'd not be able to afford otherwise.

Still, I need to find time and space to paint. To write. I'm taking an Improv class which is great fun, but it is a means to another end. Not sure what that means yet, I just know that I am on a path and I don't know where it is leading me.

So on a longish drive today, I will have some good time to stop and take photographs, and to deploy plastic soldiers, and think. Same thing on Sunday, a meander home.

Friday, June 09, 2006

more grandbaby blogging

I could just eat her up.

DIY Impeachment

"This American government—what is it but a tradition, though a recent one, endeavoring to transmit itself unimpaired to posterity, but each instant losing some of its integrity?" Henry David Thoreau, "Civil Disobedience."

I saw this link on Generik's blog. This is a site dedicated to a Do It Yourself Impeachement process. If you gohere you will find a downloadable PDF form to fill out and send in to your Representative.

"I became convinced that noncooperation with evil is as much a moral obligation as is cooperation with good. No other person has been more eloquent and passionate in getting this idea across than Henry David Thoreau. As a result of his writings and personal witness, we are the heirs of a legacy of creative protest." - Martin Luther King, Jr, Autobiography, Chapter 2.

Civil disobedience has a long history, and I contend that the time is urgently upon us to take that route again. We need focused protest, and we need to bring about the impeachment of this President and Vice-President for abuses too numerous to mention here.

I wasn't going to give Ann Coulter's book the time of day

But this is too much. O'Reilly: Coulter has "valid point" about 9-11 widows
Summary: Bill O'Reilly downplayed Ann Coulter's recent attacks on the widows of the victims of the 9-11 terrorist attacks, baselessly alleging that "some far-left pundits have said far worse things." O'Reilly added that "it looks like there's a double standard" in the treatment of conservatives and liberals by the "mainstream media."
Ann Coulter's statements about the widows of the victims of 9/11 is beyond cruel. O'Reilly is as sick as she is.

I have yet to meet an American citizen who was not personally affected by the murders of 9/11. Personally affected. We either knew someone who was killed, or we know someone who lost a friend or relative. A good friend of mine was on AA11, a woman who worked for Qantas Airlines en route from Boston to Los Angeles for a sales meeting. My friends in Los Angeles had a good friend in the first tower. These people, good people, are all united in death and those deaths are now being trivialized by the likes of Coulter and O'Reilly.

The right wing can't have it both ways: They cannot use 9/11 as the rallying cry to support an illegal war in Iraq and then minimize the deaths with callous "get over yourselves". Evil has a new name: Ann Coulter and Bill O'Reilly.

Friday grandbaby blogging

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

My favorite holiday today

Today was National Chocolate Ice Cream Day. But you can still celebrate -- this is one holiday that's always in style.

Chocolate Ice Cream

Yields: About One Quart


2 cups whole milk
5 large egg yolks
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1 cup heavy cream
10 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted
Bring milk to a simmer. Meanwhile, combine egg yolks and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer. Beat at medium-high speed until very thick and pale yellow, 3 to 5 minutes.

Add half the milk to egg-yolk mixture and whisk until blended. Stir into remaining milk and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until mixture is thick enough to coat a spoon.

Remove from heat and immediately stir in cream. Pass mixture through a strainer into a medium mixing bowl set in an ice bath. Whisk in melted chocolate and let chill, then freeze in an ice-cream maker according to manufacturer's instructions. Store in a plastic container in the freezer.

California Primary results

Mixed. Angelides beat Westly, so Phil Angelides will run against the Governator, time to mobilized for Phil Angelides. Jerry Brown beat Rocky Delgadilo for the nomination for Attorney General. The sad news: Marcy Winograd lost her bid to defeat Jane Harman. However, Marcy and her campaign made Jane accountable. It flushed out Jane's pro-war votes, it made her actually campaign for the first time.

Marcy Winograd got into the race late. Because of this, she didn't have the organization she needed, and I think that's what cost her. She'll be back, and she'll be visible from now on.

But as Newton Minnow predicted, television continues to anesthetize people, as shown by low voter turnout. When he began his tenure as chairman of the FCC, Minnow delivered a speech in May, 1961 which is as pertinent today as 45 years ago. (I've tried to link the full text, but it doesn't work. Sorry. It's called Television and the Public Interest, and worth finding.)

Most well known comment from that speech: When television is good, nothing--not the theater, not the magazines or newspapers--nothing is better.

But when television is bad, nothing is worse. I invite you to sit down in front of your television set when your station goes on the air and stay there without a book, magazine, newspaper, profit and-loss sheet or rating book to distract you--and keep your eyes glued to that set until the station signs off. I can assure you that you will observe a vast wasteland.

You will see a procession of game shows, violence, audience participation shows, formula comedies about totally unbelievable families, blood and thunder, mayhem, violence, sadism, murder, western bad men, western good men, private eyes, gangsters, more violence, and cartoons. And, endlessly, commercials -- many screaming, cajoling, and offending. And most of all, boredom. True, you will see a few things you will enjoy. But they will be very, very few. And if you think I exaggerate, try it.

Also in that speech: Some say the public interest is merely what interests the public. I disagree. So does your distinguished president, Governor Collins. In a recent speech he said,

Broadcasting to serve the public interest, must have a soul and a conscience, a burning desire to excel, as well as to sell; the urge to build the character, citizenship and intellectual stature of people, as well as to expand the gross national product. ...By no means do I imply that broadcasters disregard the public interest. ...But a much better job can be done, and should be done.

I'm amazed that so many people pick up the phone to call in their votes for American Idol as if their lives depended on it; yet when something actually matters, and affects them, they stay at home. I know I should not be amazed, especially when I go back to Minnow's speech -- but we are beyond numb at this point; and the media is complicit with government in keeping us this way.

We are our own tragedy in the making.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

This is SO reassuring

I don't know how I MISSED this: Condi Rice was among the millions who watched the American Idol finale — and her man won.

That just makes me feel so safe. I mean, who cares about Haditha, or econonmic growth, or even pulling out of Iraq? Amazing.

Election Day

Just a reminder to everyone in California: today is election day and it is essential to vote. We can start a process to take back our country.

On another note, I had voice messages from Ed Begley Jr, Magic Johnson, Steve Westley, Jane Harman, and somebody else -- I forget -- telling me to vote for -- I deleted the messages -- all yesterday. Sorry Steve & Jane, I'm spoken for. But my god, I thought I was some kind of D list celeb for a second... Not really.

Vote. Marcy Winograd has a very good chance at unseating Repulicrat Jane (or is that Democrin?) Harman. Phil Angelides is capable of defeating AH-nold in November. Vote, before that right is taken away from us by Herr Bush.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Haditha: Blame the administration for this travesty

25 years

Twenty-five years ago today, AIDS got a name. I simply want to say that we all have a responsibility to find a cure, and a vaccine. We all need to help end what has become the 4th leading cause of death worldwide after infectious diseases, lung & heart disease, and cancer.

Here's a link AIDS Combat Zone if you want to keep informed.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Welcome a new blogger

A friend of mine just put up her blog -- don't know what her direction will be, but maybe stop by Rose Hut and say howdy.

She has a great rose garden, and she's a terrific photographer, and a good friend.

June Tomato Report

My two container tomato plants are both Brandywine variety -- and doing quite nicely. This is the first report from me for the Great Tomato Contest, sponsored by Dr. Charles, and there is incredible competition from some incredible gardeners. Frankly, I'm going to be thrilled if I actually get tomatoes off the vine -- while I love the tomatoes from the Farmers Market, they aren't quite the same as from your own garden.

But I do have buds!

It's never too late

Started my improv class yesterday at LA ComedySportz. Two and one half hours of blistering fun. Improv is about being completely committed and in the present; in that sense it is something of a spiritual experience.

I've wanted to do this since I was in High School, where I took every drama class offered. Painting, and theater -- those were all I wanted to pursue. My parents were dead set against me doing anything on stage; they allowed me to pursue an art minor while studying something more "acceptable" in college. I dropped out after 2 years, moved to Israel, got married, moved back to the states, and raised a family. After years, I went back to school -- to The School, majoring in studio arts, went on to get an MFA from UIC and had a growing career as a painter. Divorce ensued, then a long road to finding my way, until now at 57 years of age, I am finally taking a class I've wanted to take for forty years.

It is never too late to follow a dream. I had so much fun in my first class -- it was a safe place to learn. There are three levels, my intention is to take all levels, and perform a few times a year with the senior level (as in class level, not age level) -- it stretches me.

How many of us pursue a dream defered? What are they?

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Election Reform

Three articles in today's LA Times sort of sum it all up. The first,Bush's India Plans At Risk, sparked a ray of hope in me. It appears that the growing opposition in both House and Senate will tank this insane plan, which "the White House considers one of the most important pillars of President Bush's foreign policy legacy." There is strong opposition internationally, and growing opposition within India. My hope was that within the States, our lawmakers are starting to rein in this rogue administration.

The second and third articles brought me to reality. The result of a 3-day United Nations Conference, 14 Nations Will Adopt Airline Tax to Pay for AIDS Drugs to make them more accessible. The US opposes the tax, siding with 'unlikely allies such as Syria, Yemen and Pakistan in opposing "empowerment for girls" in birth control and marital relations, and it fought to water down financial targets despite its own substantial contributions.'

And last, Gay Marriage Amendment Getting a Presidential Push. "But even before administration officials announced the event, some invitees denounced it as a sham." Most social conservatives say it is too little, too late, from the administration, however, the timing is clearly intended to galvanize the religious right prior to the mid-term elections. But Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev) says it best: "Our country faces great challenges: record high gas prices, skyrocketing healthcare costs and an intractable war in Iraq. Yet instead of addressing these issues, Sen. Frist has chosen to put the politics of division ahead of real progress by pushing for a debate on a divisive amendment that will write discrimination into the Constitution."

That, my friends, is the goal of this illegal administration: to write discrimination into the Constitution. To make discrimination law.

The actions of the last six years have been a clear erosion of civil liberites: TWO elections stolen; our phones are monitored without warning; we are living in a constant state of terror; and our government is on a mission to colonize the Middle East in order to control both oil and nuclear weapons. The 2000 election was a bloodless coup; Albert Gore won that election, yet Bush wound up in the White House.

Anyone who does not see the parallels to Nazi Germany is not paying attention.

In Germany, many Jews who had assimilated chose to ignore the warning signs: they stayed. They said "this can't happen to us, we're German." I'm not saying that liberals and the left should leave America. I am saying we have an obligation to take our country back from this would-be dictatorship. Steven D is absolutely right -- THERE CAN BE NO ELECTION REFORM UNLESS THE PEOPLE UNDERSTAND WHY REFORM IS NEEDED, and without election reform, nothing is going to change.


Friday, June 02, 2006

Friday grandbaby blogging

Inspired by Friday Cat Blogs, and not having a cat, I have to admit to being one of "those" grandparents who have to show everyone their grandchild. Her chubby legs are a complete joy.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Was the 2004 Election Stolen?

Robert Kennedy, Jr's. lengthy article about the 2004 election is online at Rolling Stone. It is a must read. The online article has a number of "web only" citations; it is backed up with facts. And the first fact is this:

Republicans prevented more than 350,000 voters in Ohio from casting ballots or having their votes counted -- enough to have put John Kerry in the White House. BY ROBERT F. KENNEDY JR. (my emphasis).

The number of registered voters who were disenfranchised in Ohio alone is staggering, but Kennedy's article describes massive irregularities that the MSM ignored. Anomolies are one thing, but we experienced widespread fraud that benefited Bush and harmed Kerry.

What will prevent this administration from declaring an end to elections? Don't tell me our Constitution -- this administration has displayed blatant disregard for our Constitution; our laws mean nothing. Our phone records are monitered. Racial profiling is at a high level. How far will we slide down the slippery slope toward dictatorship?

Just say "no" takes on an altogether different weight when stacked up against these abuses of power.

First Thursday and GOTV

First Thursday in San Pedro is a monthly street fair, where art galleries and artist studios, and local businesses remain open til about 8:30 PM. Tonight, Winograd for Congress campaign will have a table set up at the fair -- I will be there working the table. With six days left before the election, San Pedro is an essential target -- lot of identifiable support here. Come on down!