Sunday, November 30, 2008

Simply Fabulous Blogger Templates

Playing around with the templates to my blogger blogs and I ran across this gift from this blogger, some fresh new 3 column templates to use.  I liked what I saw and immediately began changing the templates on several of my blogs.   You can play around with your templates too --- visit her site .   Oh and a little bonus, she has added many holiday templates

Friday, November 28, 2008

Wind Power Plans Coming to Pacific County? Will the communities accept new eco-industry?

article at Daily Astorian

If a project isn’t sold to the community it will struggle to gain public acceptance

There are suddenly plans for a lot of wind-based power generation blowing into Washington's Pacific County, possibly a hint at what may occur in many of the coastal counties of Oregon and Washington in the years ahead.


A "joint operating agency" of Washington state electricity providers is planning an 82-megawatt wind turbine farm in the Naselle area, with completion of up to 45 wind turbines eyed in 2011. A smaller, very interesting four-turbine project is getting started in northern Pacific County and southern Grays Harbor County. In total, all this may be enough to power some 40,000 average-sized homes.


The Pacific Northwest and the nation need more of the relatively clean energy that wind farms provide. Pacific County can use the construction and operation jobs that Radar Ridge would generate along with electricity. A similar-sized plant in Calgary cost about $140 million Canadian in 2006, perhaps not far different than what the local project will cost in U.S. dollars a year or two from now. That's a mighty big and mostly welcome investment.


At the same time, it's important to note that phalanxes of giant wind turbines have not met with universal acclaim everywhere they've been constructed. Residents often complain about the impacts they have on landscape, bird migration, traffic, hunting access and other rural values.


Quoting Canada's National Post, "Activists now decry windmills with a fervour once reserved for nuclear plants. To some, it seems strange to waste time railing against a power source that does not generate greenhouse gases, is relatively quick to construct and can serve as a powerful symbol of a community's environmental convictions. They say critics are only displaying a modern strain of 'Not In My Backyard' syndrome.


"Opponents, however, say they are driven by concerns about windmills' effects on everything from bird migration to health to property values to earthworms.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

The End of American Thanksgivings; A Cause for Universal Rejoicing



Nobody celebrates Thanksgiving quite like Americans celebrate Thanksgiving. It is reserved by history and the intent of “the founders” as the supremely white American holiday, the most ghoulish event on the national calendar. No Halloween of the imagination can rival the exterminationist reality that was the genesis, and remains the legacy, of the American Thanksgiving. It is the most loathsome, humanity-insulting day of the year – a pure glorification of racist barbarity.


We at BC are thankful that the day grows nearer when the almost four centuries-old abomination will be deprived of its reason for being: white supremacy. Then we may all eat and drink in peace and gratitude for the blessings of humanity’s deliverance from the rule of evil men.


Thanksgiving is much more than a lie – if it were that simple, an historical correction of the record of events in 1600s Massachusetts would suffice to purge the “flaw” in the national mythology. But Thanksgiving is not just a twisted fable, and the mythology it nurtures is itself inherently evil. The real-life events – subsequently revised – were perfectly understood at the time as the first, definitive triumphs of the genocidal European project in New England. The near-erasure of Native Americans in Massachusetts and, soon thereafter, from most of the remainder of the northern English colonial seaboard was the true mission of the Pilgrim enterprise – Act One of the American Dream. African Slavery commenced contemporaneously – an overlapping and ultimately inseparable

Act Two.
The last Act in the American drama must be the “root and branch” eradication of all vestiges of Act One and Two – America’s seminal crimes and formative projects. Thanksgiving as presently celebrated – that is, as a national political event – is an affront to civilization.


Celebrating the unspeakable
White America embraced Thanksgiving because a majority of that population glories in the fruits, if not the unpleasant details, of genocide and slavery and feels, on the whole, good about their heritage: a cornucopia of privilege and national power. Children are taught to identify with the good fortune of the Pilgrims. It does not much matter that the Native American and African holocausts that flowed from the feast at Plymouth are hidden from the children’s version of the story – kids learn soon enough that Indians were made scarce and Africans became enslaved. But they will also never forget the core message of the holiday: that the Pilgrims were good people, who could not have purposely set such evil in motion. Just as the first Thanksgivings marked the consolidation of the English toehold in what became the United States, the core ideological content of the holiday serves to validate all that has since occurred on these shores – a national consecration of the unspeakable, a balm and benediction for the victors, a blessing of the fruits of murder and kidnapping, and an implicit obligation to continue the seamless historical project in the present day.


The Thanksgiving story is an absolution of the Pilgrims, whose brutal quest for absolute power in the New World is made to seem both religiously motivated and eminently human. Most importantly, the Pilgrims are depicted as victims – of harsh weather and their own na├»ve yet wholesome visions of a new beginning. In light of this carefully nurtured fable, whatever happened to the Indians, from Plymouth to California and beyond, in the aftermath of the 1621 dinner must be considered a mistake, the result of misunderstandings – at worst, a series of lamentable tragedies. The story provides the essential first frame of the American saga. It is unalloyed racist propaganda, a tale that endures because it served the purposes of a succession of the Pilgrims’ political heirs, in much the same way that Nazi-enhanced mythology of a glorious Aryan/German past advanced another murderous, expansionist mission.
Thanksgiving is quite dangerous – as were the Pilgrims.


Rejoicing in a cemetery


The English settlers, their ostensibly religious venture backed by a trading company, were glad to discover that they had landed in a virtual cemetery in 1620. Corn still sprouted in the abandoned fields of the Wampanoags, but only a remnant of the local population remained around the fabled Rock. In a letter to England, Massachusetts Bay colony founder John Winthrop wrote, "But for the natives in these parts, God hath so pursued them, as for 300 miles space the greatest part of them are swept away by smallpox which still continues among them. So as God hath thereby cleared our title to this place, those who remain in these parts, being in all not 50, have put themselves under our protection."


Ever diligent to claim their own advantages as God’s will, the Pilgrims thanked their deity for having “pursued” the Indians to mass death. However, it was not divine intervention that wiped out most of the natives around the village of Patuxet but, most likely, smallpox-embedded blankets planted during an English visit or slave raid. Six years before the Pilgrim landing, a ship sailed into Patuxet’s harbor, captained by none other than the famous seaman and mercenary soldier John Smith, former leader of the first successful English colony in the New World, at Jamestown, Virginia. Epidemic and slavery followed in his wake, as Debra Glidden described in IMDiversity.com:


In 1614 the Plymouth Company of England, a joint stock company, hired Captain John Smith to explore land in its behalf. Along what is now the coast of Massachusetts in the territory of the Wampanoag, Smith visited the town of Patuxet according to "The Colonial Horizon," a 1969 book edited by William Goetzinan. Smith renamed the town Plymouth in honor of his employers, but the Wampanoag who inhabited the town continued to call it Patuxet.



The following year Captain Hunt, an English slave trader, arrived at Patuxet. It was common practice for explorers to capture Indians, take them to Europe and sell them into slavery for 220 shillings apiece. That practice was described in a 1622 account of happenings entitled "A Declaration of the State of the Colony and Affairs in Virginia," written by Edward Waterhouse. True to the explorer tradition, Hunt kidnapped a number of Wampanoags to sell into slavery.


Another common practice among European explorers was to give "smallpox blankets" to the Indians. Since smallpox was unknown on this continent prior to the arrival of the Europeans, Native Americans did not have any natural immunity to the disease so smallpox would effectively wipe out entire villages with very little effort required by the Europeans. William Fenton describes how Europeans decimated Native American villages in his 1957 work "American Indian and White relations to 1830." From 1615 to 1619 smallpox ran rampant among the Wampanoags and their neighbors to the north. The Wampanoag lost 70 percent of their population to the epidemic and the Massachusetts lost 90 percent.


Most of the Wampanoag had died from the smallpox epidemic so when the Pilgrims arrived they found well-cleared fields which they claimed for their own. A Puritan colonist, quoted by Harvard University's Perry Miller, praised the plague that had wiped out the Indians for it was "the wonderful preparation of the Lord Jesus Christ, by his providence for his people's abode in the Western world."


Historians have since speculated endlessly on why the woods in the region resembled a park to the disembarking Pilgrims in 1620. The reason should have been obvious: hundreds, if not thousands, of people had lived there just five years before.


In less than three generations the settlers would turn all of New England into a charnel house for Native Americans, and fire the economic engines of slavery throughout English-speaking America. Plymouth Rock is the place where the nightmare truly began.


The uninvited?


It is not at all clear what happened at the first – and only – “integrated” Thanksgiving feast. Only two written accounts of the three-day event exist, and one of them, by Governor William Bradford, was written 20 years after the fact. Was Chief Massasoit invited to bring 90 Indians with him to dine with 52 colonists, most of them women and children? This seems unlikely. A good harvest had provided the settlers with plenty of food, according to their accounts, so the whites didn’t really need the Wampanoag’s offering of five deer. What we do know is that there had been lots of tension between the two groups that fall. John Two-Hawks, who runs the Native Circle web site, gives a sketch of the facts:


“Thanksgiving' did not begin as a great loving relationship between the pilgrims and the Wampanoag, Pequot and Narragansett people. In fact, in October of 1621 when the pilgrim survivors of their first winter in Turtle Island sat down to share the first unofficial 'Thanksgiving' meal, the Indians who were there were not even invited! There was no turkey, squash, cranberry sauce or pumpkin pie. A few days before this alleged feast took place, a company of 'pilgrims' led by Miles Standish actively sought the head of a local Indian chief, and an 11 foot high wall was erected around the entire Plymouth settlement for the very purpose of keeping Indians out!”


It is much more likely that Chief Massasoit either crashed the party, or brought enough men to ensure that he was not kidnapped or harmed by the Pilgrims. Dr. Tingba Apidta, in his “Black Folks’ Guide to Understanding Thanksgiving,” surmises that the settlers “brandished their weaponry” early and got drunk soon thereafter. He notes that “each Pilgrim drank at least a half gallon of beer a day, which they preferred even to water. This daily inebriation led their governor, William Bradford, to comment on his people's ‘notorious sin,’ which included their ‘drunkenness and uncleanliness’ and rampant ‘sodomy.’”



Soon after the feast the brutish Miles Standish “got his bloody prize,” Dr. Apidta writes:


“He went to the Indians, pretended to be a trader, then beheaded an Indian man named Wituwamat. He brought the head to Plymouth, where it was displayed on a wooden spike for many years, according to Gary B. Nash, ‘as a symbol of white power.’ Standish had the Indian man's young brother hanged from the rafters for good measure. From that time on, the whites were known to the Indians of Massachusetts by the name ‘Wotowquenange,’ which in their tongue meant cutthroats and stabbers.”


What is certain is that the first feast was not called a “Thanksgiving” at the time; no further integrated dining occasions were scheduled; and the first, official all-Pilgrim “Thanksgiving” had to wait until 1637, when the whites of New England celebrated the massacre of the Wampanoag’s southern neighbors, the Pequots.


The real Thanksgiving Day Massacre


The Pequots today own the Foxwood Casino and Hotel, in Ledyard, Connecticut, with gross gaming revenues of over $9 billion in 2000. This is truly a (very belated) miracle, since the real first Pilgrim Thanksgiving was intended as the Pequot’s epitaph. Sixteen years after the problematical Plymouth feast, the English tried mightily to erase the Pequots from the face of the Earth, and thanked God for the blessing.


Having subdued, intimidated or made mercenaries of most of the tribes of Massachusetts, the English turned their growing force southward, toward the rich Connecticut valley, the Pequot’s sphere of influence. At the point where the Mystic River meets the sea, the combined force of English and allied Indians bypassed the Pequot fort to attack and set ablaze a town full of women, children and old people.


William Bradford, the former Governor of Plymouth and one of the chroniclers of the 1621 feast, was also on hand for the great massacre of 1637:


"Those that escaped the fire were slain with the sword; some hewed to pieces, others run through with their rapiers, so that they were quickly dispatched and very few escaped. It was conceived they thus destroyed about 400 at this time. It was a fearful sight to see them thus frying in the fire...horrible was the stink and scent thereof, but the victory seemed a sweet sacrifice, and they gave the prayers thereof to God, who had wrought so wonderfully for them, thus to enclose their enemies in their hands, and give them so speedy a victory over so proud and insulting an enemy."


The rest of the white folks thought so, too. “This day forth shall be a day of celebration and thanksgiving for subduing the Pequots," read Governor John Winthrop’s proclamation. The authentic Thanksgiving Day was born.



Most historians believe about 700 Pequots were slaughtered at Mystic. Many prisoners were executed, and surviving women and children sold into slavery in the West Indies. Pequot prisoners that escaped execution were parceled out to Indian tribes allied with the English. The Pequot were thought to have been extinguished as a people. According to IndyMedia, “The Pequot tribe numbered 8,000 when the Pilgrims arrived, but disease had brought their numbers down to 1,500 by 1637. The Pequot ‘War’ killed all but a handful of remaining members of the tribe.”


But there were still too many Indians around to suit the whites of New England, who bided their time while their own numbers increased to critical, murderous mass.


Guest’s head on a pole


By the 1670s the colonists, with 8,000 men under arms, felt strong enough to demand that the Pilgrims’ former dinner guests the Wampanoags disarm and submit to the authority of the Crown. After a series of settler provocations in 1675, the Wampanoag struck back, under the leadership of Chief Metacomet, son of Massasoit, called King Philip by the English. Metacomet/Philip, whose wife and son were captured and sold into West Indian slavery, wiped out 13 settlements and killed 600 adult white men before the tide of battle turned. A 1996 issue of the Revolutionary Worker provides an excellent narrative.


In their victory, the settlers launched an all-out genocide against the remaining Native people. The Massachusetts government offered 20 shillings bounty for every Indian scalp, and 40 shillings for every prisoner who could be sold into slavery. Soldiers were allowed to enslave any Indian woman or child under 14 they could capture. The "Praying Indians" who had converted to Christianity and fought on the side of the European troops were accused of shooting into the treetops during battles with "hostiles." They were enslaved or killed. Other "peaceful" Indians of Dartmouth and Dover were invited to negotiate or seek refuge at trading posts – and were sold onto slave ships.


It is not known how many Indians were sold into slavery, but in this campaign, 500 enslaved Indians were shipped from Plymouth alone. Of the 12,000 Indians in the surrounding tribes, probably about half died from battle, massacre and starvation.


After King Philip's War, there were almost no Indians left free in the northern British colonies. A colonist wrote from Manhattan's New York colony: "There is now but few Indians upon the island and those few no ways hurtful. It is to be admired how strangely they have decreased by the hand of God, since the English first settled in these parts." In Massachusetts, the colonists declared a "day of public thanksgiving" in 1676, saying, "there now scarce remains a name or family of them but are either slain, captivated or fled."


Fifty-five years after the original Thanksgiving Day, the Puritans had destroyed the generous Wampanoag and all other neighboring tribes. The Wampanoag chief King Philip was beheaded. His head was stuck on a pole in Plymouth, where the skull still hung on display 24 years later.


This is not thought to be a fit Thanksgiving tale for the children of today, but it’s the real story, well-known to the settler children of New England at the time – the white kids who saw the Wampanoag head on the pole year after year and knew for certain that God loved them best of all, and that every atrocity they might ever commit against a heathen, non-white was blessed.


There’s a good term for the process thus set in motion: nation-building.


Roots of the slave trade


The British North American colonists’ practice of enslaving Indians for labor or direct sale to the West Indies preceded the appearance of the first chained Africans at the dock in Jamestown, Virginia, in 1619. The Jamestown colonists’ human transaction with the Dutch vessel was an unscheduled occurrence. However, once the African slave trade became commercially established, the fates of Indians and Africans in the colonies became inextricably entwined. New England, born of up-close-and-personal, burn-them-in-the-fires-of-hell genocide, led the political and commercial development of the English colonies. The region also led the nascent nation’s descent into a slavery-based society and economy.



Ironically, an apologist for Virginian slavery made one of the best, early cases for the indictment of New England as the engine of the American slave trade. Unreconstructed secessionist Lewis Dabney’s 1867 book “A Defense of Virginia” traced the slave trade’s origins all the way back to Plymouth Rock:


The planting of the commercial States of North America began with the colony of Puritan Independents at Plymouth, in 1620, which was subsequently enlarged into the State of Massachusetts. The other trading colonies, Rhode Island and Connecticut, as well as New Hampshire (which never had an extensive shipping interest), were offshoots of Massachusetts. They partook of the same characteristics and pursuits; and hence, the example of the parent colony is taken here as a fair representation of them.


The first ship from America, which embarked in the African slave trade, was the Desire, Captain Pierce, of Salem; and this was among the first vessels ever built in the colony. The promptitude with which the "Puritan Fathers" embarked in this business may be comprehended, when it is stated that the Desire sailed upon her voyage in June, 1637. The first feeble and dubious foothold was gained by the white man at Plymouth less than seventeen years before; and as is well known, many years were expended by the struggle of the handful of settlers for existence. So that it may be correctly said, that the commerce of New England was born of the slave trade; as its subsequent prosperity was largely founded upon it. The Desire, proceeding to the Bahamas, with a cargo of "dry fish and strong liquors, the only commodities for those parts," obtained the negroes from two British men-of-war, which had captured them from a Spanish slaver.


Thus, the trade of which the good ship Desire, of Salem, was the harbinger, grew into grand proportions; and for nearly two centuries poured a flood of wealth into New England, as well as no inconsiderable number of slaves. Meanwhile, the other maritime colonies of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, and Connecticut, followed the example of their elder sister emulously; and their commercial history is but a repetition of that of Massachusetts. The towns of Providence, Newport, and New Haven became famous slave trading ports. The magnificent harbor of the second, especially, was the favorite starting-place of the slave ships; and its commerce rivaled, or even exceeded, that of the present commercial metropolis, New York. All the four original States, of course, became slaveholding.


The Revolution that exploded in 1770s New England was undertaken by men thoroughly imbued with the worldview of the Indian-killer and slave-holder. How could they not be? The “country” they claimed as their own was fathered by genocide and mothered by slavery – its true distinction among the commercial nations of the world. And these men were not ashamed, but proud, with vast ambition to spread their exceptional characteristics West and South and wherever their so-far successful project in nation-building might take them – and by the same bloody, savage methods that had served them so well in the past.



At the moment of deepest national crisis following the battle of Gettysburg in 1863, President Abraham Lincoln invoked the national fable that is far more central to the white American personality than Lincoln’s battlefield “Address.” Lincoln seized upon the 1621 feast as the historic “Thanksgiving” – bypassing the official and authentic 1637 precedent – and assigned the dateless, murky event the fourth Thursday in November.


Lincoln surveyed a broken nation, and attempted nation-rebuilding, based on the purest white myth. The same year that he issued the Emancipation Proclamation, he renewed the national commitment to a white manifest destiny that began at Plymouth Rock. Lincoln sought to rekindle a shared national mission that former Confederates and Unionists and white immigrants from Europe could collectively embrace. It was and remains a barbaric and racist national unifier, by definition. Only the most fantastic lies can sanitize the history of the Plymouth Colony of Massachusetts.


”Like a rock”


The Thanksgiving holiday fable is at once a window on the way that many, if not most, white Americans view the world and their place in it, and a pollutant that leaches barbarism into the modern era. The fable attempts to glorify the indefensible, to enshrine an era and mission that represent the nation’s lowest moral denominators. Thanksgiving as framed in the mythology is, consequently, a drag on that which is potentially civilizing in the national character, a crippling, atavistic deformity. Defenders of the holiday will claim that the politically-corrected children’s version promotes brotherhood, but that is an impossibility – a bald excuse to prolong the worship of colonial “forefathers” and to erase the crimes they committed. Those bastards burned the Pequot women and children, and ushered in the multinational business of slavery. These are facts. The myth is an insidious diversion – and worse.


Humanity cannot tolerate a 21st Century superpower, much of whose population perceives the world through the eyes of 17th Century land and flesh bandits. Yet that is the trick that fate has played on the globe. We described the roots of the planetary dilemma in our March 13, 2003 commentary, “Racism & War, Perfect Together.”


The English arrived with criminal intent - and brought wives and children to form new societies predicated on successful plunder. To justify the murderous enterprise, Indians who had initially cooperated with the squatters were transmogrified into "savages" deserving displacement and death. The relentlessly refreshed lie of Indian savagery became a truth in the minds of white Americans, a fact to be acted upon by every succeeding generation of whites. The settlers became a singular people confronting the great "frontier" - a euphemism for centuries of genocidal campaigns against a darker, "savage" people marked for extinction.


The necessity of genocide was the operative, working assumption of the expanding American nation. "Manifest Destiny" was born at Plymouth Rock and Jamestown, later to fall (to paraphrase Malcolm) like a rock on Mexico, the Philippines, Haiti, Nicaragua, etc. Little children were taught that the American project was inherently good, Godly, and that those who got in the way were "evil-doers" or just plain subhuman, to be gloriously eliminated. The lie is central to white American identity, embraced by waves of European settlers who never saw a red person.


Only a century ago, American soldiers caused the deaths of possibly a million Filipinos whom they had been sent to “liberate” from Spanish rule. They didn’t even know who they were killing, and so rationalized their behavior by substituting the usual American victims. Colonel Funston, of the Twentieth Kansas Volunteers, explained what got him motivated in the Philippines:


"Our fighting blood was up and we all wanted to kill 'niggers.' This shooting human beings is a 'hot game,' and beats rabbit hunting all to pieces." Another wrote that "the boys go for the enemy as if they were chasing jack-rabbits .... I, for one, hope that Uncle Sam will apply the chastening rod, good, hard, and plenty, and lay it on until they come into the reservation and promise to be good 'Injuns.'"


Our military leaders in Iraq continue to personify the unfitness of Americans to play a major role in the world, much less rule it.



What does this have to do with the Mayflower? Everything. Although possibly against their wishes, the Pilgrims hosted the Wampanoag for three no doubt anxious days. The same men killed and enslaved Wampanoags immediately before and after the feast. They, their newly arrived English comrades and their children roasted hundreds of neighboring Indians alive just 16 years later, and two generations afterwards cleared nearly the whole of New England of its indigenous “savages,” while enthusiastically enriching themselves through the invention of transoceanic, sophisticated means of enslaving millions. The Mayflower’s cultural heirs are programmed to find glory in their own depravity and savagery in their most helpless victims, who can only redeem themselves by accepting the inherent goodness of white Americans.


Thanksgiving encourages these cognitive cripples in their madness, just as it is designed to do.


Things are looking up


We began this essay by saying that “the day grows nearer when the almost four centuries-old abomination will be deprived of its reason for being: white supremacy.” We firmly believe this. The wired world works against the Bushites insane leap to global hegemony, while creating the material basis for (dare we say the words) brother- and sisterhood among humankind. It becomes clear that the fruits of millennia of human genius cannot be captured and packaged for the enrichment of a few for much longer – and certainly not by a cabal that cannot see beyond the bubble of its own, warped history. The dim outlines of a new and more democratic world order can be seen in the often tentative, but sometimes dramatic actions of movements and nations determined to construct a fairer way to live. As the world witnesses the brutality, stupidity and sheer incompetence of the Pirates currently at the helm of the United States, the urgency of a common, alternative human project becomes apparent to all. The “end of history” that the Bushites triumphantly announce is really the end of them, through a process they have accelerated with every deranged action and delusional strategy they have undertaken since 2001.


They are like men in quicksand. White racism as a global scourge will sink with them, and eventually whither to a mere prejudice rather than a world-threatening menace.

We at BC are thankful to be alive in the knowledge that a new world is just over the horizon, close enough to sense, even if we never see it.

We are optimistic about our struggle in the United States – if not, we would never encourage anybody to fight and struggle for anything.

We are thankful for our hope that Barack Obama is the real thing and a genuine social democrat who will with our support and criticism push the envelope in civilized directions.

We are thankful we can renew our confidence in African Americans, citizens of the African World and all other people of good will who will continue to be part of the movement for economic justice, social justice and peace.

 



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Monday, November 24, 2008

Still Smoke Free but Weigh Way More!

 

Sept 2008 marked my 2nd year anniversary being smoke free after 40 years being a smoker. Quitting was not as difficult as my imagination told me it would be and I sure wish I had done it 20 years earlier or 30 years earlier or never started. But what is done is done.

I'm used to having a somewhat thin body, and the combination of going through menopause and quitting smoking around the same time has left me with weight I didn't have even during my three preganancies. Horrors!

In my mind, I simply imagine doing some of the exercises I used to do as a young dancer (ballet, jazz, aerobics) and all will be well again. Well my imagination is active, but it is not getting the job done. What is it about aging that makes physical activity less agreeable and something I have to work at to make myself do....

I admit it, I'm struggling with this stage of my life. Much as I am trying to adapt, it is not going so well. My mind's eye still embraces my young woman-ness, rejecting my middle age woman-ness. The mirror tells me a different story than my mind's eye and there is internal disharmony. Until I get to a place of resolve and acceptance, my inner world continues to fight within itself.

I didn't intend for this to be a woe is me blog post and I hope it doesn't sound like it is. These are new challenges for me and while it is creating some chaos and confusion in my inner vision of my identity and self, they are nonetheless positive challenges. Embracing new challenges, finding new reasons to look at the blessings of life, living within the framework of a new identity as a middle-age woman -- life is good.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

View Driving Home

264

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255

I was capturing some of the scenery on our drive home. We were driving home as the sun was starting to set. I was able to get a nice set before we lost the light. Not bad considering these were taken as a passenger in a moving vehicle.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

First Lady (to be) Michelle Obama phoned me at my home!!

She really did. She phoned on Veterans Day. I was sitting at my desk in my home in my lounge around the house clothes, working on my laptop. The dawning of the fullness of the recognition that I was listening to Michelle Obama, who will very soon be the First Lady hit me like a ton of bricks and blew me away. Wow, I'm on a phone call with the First Lady -- how cool is that!

Actually, it was a conference call, listen only, that Michelle Obama made on Veterans Day to Blue Star Families 4 Obama, to thank them for their pro-active help in the campaign, to thank them for their sacrifices as military families. We are a Blue Star family and I had joined the BSF4O group during the campaign at my mybarackobama campaign site.

So no, it was not a personal call specifically to me, and I was having a little fun with the first part of this post. Still, I was surprised at my own reaction and recognition -- this really is Michelle Obama, she really will be the First Lady, she is talking to us on a phone conference call, talking about her daughters, getting them into schools, getting ready for the inauguration. It had a surreal feeling to it for me. I am not used to being on a phone call from the First Lady and well, the Vice President -- an earlier conference call I got to participate in (listen only) with Joe Biden.

If I were to be on a phone conference call with President Elect, Barack Obama, based on my reaction to Michelle Obama's phone conference call, I'm sure my reaction will cause my heart to beat faster.

Towards the end of the campaign, I was on a listen only conference call from Joe Biden that he set up via his email listserv. He had just concluded his speech in Tacoma, WA, thanked us and was encouraging the many of us on the conference call to get out there and keep working, and not to take anything for granted.

The audacity of hope..boy, am I feeling it!

One photo embraces Veteran’s Day

Returning wounded Iraq veteran, and now Director of the Illinois Dept of Veteran’s Affairs, Tammy Duckworth who lost both legs in combat in Iraq war with President Elect, Barack Obama on Veteran’s Day 2008;  ceremony of placing the wreath on Bronze Soldiers Memorial.

Obama Tammy Duckworth Veterans Day 2008

link - more photos and article

On a more personal note, Arthur, along with the rest of the veterans living here in our community were honored yesterday in a Veteran’s Day ceremony at our county park.  A flag flown over the White House had been purchased, and that flag was raised in ceremony by one of the veterans at our county park official flag pole.

A thank you applause to the veterans, photos and a brief speech.  Arthur is a Vietnam era veteran.  He rarely points to his own service, while humbly pointing to and honoring other veterans.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Gifts in a Jar - Collections

kitchen

Straight from your kitchen; it’s become a holiday tradition now – the growing collections of ‘gifts in a jar’.  They are all over the internet, blogs and websites.  Thought I’d make a post, open a category and collect links to what is already out there.  Since so many have built their own collections, it would be redundant for me to repeat one by one, so let’s go for collections.

Found this one today at ‘The Old Front Porch’ and they have a pretty good collection already underway there.

Online banking: Convenient but be Wise.

AP Technology writer, Jordan Robertson has an article at Newsvine.com today that speaks to this subject.

Reading the entire article is certainly not a waste of time.

Highlights:

(1)

"The most paranoid people in the world — computer security experts — say it's absolutely fine to bank online. As long as you guard against the person who is likely your biggest adversary: yourself.

If you're banking online, your top priority should be avoid these "phishing" e-mails. They led to an estimated $3.2 billion in consumer losses in 2007.

Avoiding them is simple: don't click on any links in e-mails sent to you purporting to be from your bank. Open up a separate window in your browser and navigate to the banking site on your own. That's critical to making sure you're visiting the authentic site, and will hugely cut your risk of getting hacked.

(2) Where I need self-reform ...

People should also take care to not store their banking passwords or other sensitive information about their accounts in e-mail messages, particularly if those e-mail accounts are Web-based.

If you need to write down information like passwords or account numbers to remember them, sometimes pen and paper is the safest way.

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Monday, November 10, 2008

‘Crawford’ – dvd feature film, when George W. Bush came to town

Released in 2008, the film ‘Crawford’ produced/directed by David Modigliani is a documentary/biography of the small town of Crawford, Texas before George W. Bush arrived at their doorstep, during the time of his Presidency. (And now after as new President-Elect, Barack Obama, is preparing to assume the office of President of the United States).  The film,’Crawford’  is put together in a way that shows  the residents of the town, their lives, and the impact of what happens to the town and their lives when George Bush moves to their town to set up his ranch in his campaign for President. 

The video is embedded below, obtaining it from and assuming that Hulu has necessary permissions to share it online. If the video does not work at my blog, you can view it where I did, online at his link – Hulu.

I jump ahead of the film, to my own personal experience of Crawford, Texas. Of course, part of the Crawford experience is that month of August 2005, when Cindy Sheehan parked herself in Crawford outside the President’s  ranch during his vacation. For perspective as to why Cindy decided to make her stand at that time, remember that President Bush took vacation shortly after one of his press conferences in which he identifies the deaths of troops in Iraq as having given their lives for a noble cause.

Remember that at that time, 23 marines from the Lima Company alone had been killed in Iraq in 2005, 20 were killed over 2 days in August 2005 – six on Aug 1, and fourteen on Aug 3.   Cindy, mother of Casey Sheehan, soldier, who was killed in Iraq April 4, 2004, deliberately went to Crawford almost immediately after the noble cause statement to ask George Bush personally  ‘What Noble Cause?’ .  While the film does not elevate this period of the George Bush ranch in Crawford experience,the film attempts to show the impact on local residents.

I was part of that story, part of that August 2005 experience of Crawford.  Since I was not or did not consider myself to be a ‘peace activist’ prior to the Iraq war but chose to present as a military family trying to speak out to a new young generation of military families, the perspectives I have of my own experiences among the peace/activism communities has it’s own unique flavor.  My experience of Crawford, Texas, Camp Casey, August 2005 is colored by my experiences growing up as what is affectionately callled a ‘military brat’ on military bases in between the Korean Conflict (war)  and the Vietnam war, my experiences as a military wife of a young husband, drafted and deployed to Vietnam, my experiences living in the ‘military culture’, my professional career employment in the social services field during my adult years as a civilian employed in state level public sector, and my inexperience with the culture of peace/activism communities.

The film does justice to one of the many considerations I had when I was at Crawford.  How does this tiny town cope with having such high profile people make their mark at Crawford?  How does the town deal with and cope with the polarized, political battle of opinions here at home  on the Iraq war which I believe came to head at Crawford during Camp Casey in August 2005.  Now that I actually do live in a small town, and it is a new part of my life experiences,  I wondered how the people in the town where I live would react should something similar happen in their town and lives.

Whatever came after the August 2005, Crawford, Texas, Camp Casey experience, I will always credit Cindy with bringing to head the public discourse which at that time had been embroiled in political limitations to the language of what constitutes patriotism, the flag, and support for the troops.  The public political discourse needed to happen and the shift in the political discourse because of that month of August 2005 in Crawford that gave voice to the many-faceted feelings and opinions of the war in Iraq needed to happen. 

It opened doors within the public Iraq war political discourse that had been previously deliberately slammed shut. And I would offer those doors were slammed shut with deliberate forethought and premeditation so as to confine, undermine, and squelch any opportunity of public dialogue or public dissent.  For myself, an ordinary person living an ordinary life, my experience of August 2005 in Crawford, Texas was extraordinary and has marked me indelibly. 

But August 2005 is not the point of this film, it is a part of the film, as it is a part of the Crawford experience.  The film is presented in a way that does not favor opinions about the Iraq war, about George W. Bush, but brings to bear the experience of both along with other experiences that often times typifies small town America.  The ending of the film shook me up – was something I did not know and was very unsettling. 

I hope you’ll watch the film.  It is not a trailer, but the full length film, 1 hour and 15 minutes, so recommend watching it when you have some time to watch it. 

 

 

 

Excerpt of one review of the film ‘Crawford’ by Joe Leydon at Variety

By JOE LEYDON
David Modiglinai's "Crawford" offers an evenhanded and occasionally poignant account of the impact on the citizenry of the small Texas town chosen by President George W. Bush to be the site of his so-called "Western White House." Filmed over several years, docu plays like a rise-and-fall drama populated with colorful, contrasting characters who have profoundly mixed feelings about being used as props in Bush's political stagecraft. After a spin on the fest circuit, pic might get limited theatrical play before pubcast and/or niche-cable airdates.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Sustainable Christmas? The year of 'No Consumer Shopping' gifts

lighted Christmas tree

I've issued what I think is a fun challenge to the families that make up some of our family tree. This year, with the economic issues, downright crisis in some instances, and with sustainable living - green - recycle - reclaim - reuse - global warming, well seems a perfect year to make a change we've been gradually making anyway.

Say No to Consumer Shopping and Yes to Joyously Remade Christmas. In my challenge to my families , I put out simple rules; No purchases at stores, not even Dollar Store but Thrift Stores okay. Food gifts okay, but cannot purchase outside your normal food budget (so can't run out and buy up all kinds of holiday food items to make food gifts). How creatively can we recycle items into gifts?

I've been interested in this for a while now, and with re-fashioning clothes into other fashions, re-making used items into something else, and all the crafty, sustainable living, green, recycle, re-use, re-claim websites and blogs online, I think it would be a fun challenge for our families. What do you think? I've asked also for fun links to websites and blogs with how to tutorials, diy (do it yourself), trash to treasures kind of thing. I welcome your participation too. Tell me about your effort towards no consumer shopping Christmas gifts this year.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Will Smith on Obama ‘Oprah I'm an action hero, I can't be crying on your show,"

I’m a Will Smith fan, I just like the guy. I  like his approach and attitude and I like his movies,  and yes, he he makes me laugh.  Video of him on Oprah show after the elections results in President-Elect Barack Obama.  Watch the video at this link.

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