Thursday, December 20

Clear Skies for Christmas

I am looking forward to clear skies on Christmas. The world needs all of the clarity, light and love we can generate. Let's have some good times this holiday season and keep the "goodness" momentum going all year long.

May all beings know love and peace!

Monday, December 17

Two Good Reasons... get rid of my favorite shoes: 1) it's Christmas and I bought myself a present of a new pair of super comfy, not-pretty, on-my-feet-all-day shoes; and 2) I can no longer stand the hypocrisy of berating my husband for hanging onto to his disgusting hiking boots. If I'm able to throw out my Hush Puppy suede loafers, knowing that they are no longer manufactured, the hiking boots are not long for his feet.

I am not a "saver" and any junkiness (e.g., mail, broken stuff, cartons, cans, newspapers) are in the trash/recycle bin faster than a speeding bullet. Many people hang onto their clutter and old, battered junk without noticing the growing mounds and decreasing space around them. After debating for months whether to continue wearing these destroyed and smelly shoes, I have compassion for "these people" even though I do not count myself among them. I have, after all, thrown my anchor out and have not perished from remorse or blisters. To keep something that is worn out and no longer functional vs. getting rid of it is an ongoing debate in our house.

btw - A similar debate, (I know, I know, I'm reeeaallly stretching it here) is currently underway in the US Senate over renewing the heinous P.L. 110-55 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act revamp approved by Congress in August which will sunset in February 2008. Senator Chris Dodd and Russ Feingold have put forth an amendment to the renewal of this Act which would remove the retroactive immunity provided to telecom companies (AT&T) who cooperated with GWB before 9/11 in wiretapping innocent US citizens. After watching Harry Reid bog down in logistics - the debate is delayed until January, after the holiday recess.

This is an issue so important that even Brittany Spear's underwear status or who will compete in the next American Idol show pales in comparison. I hope, Reid and other representatives like him toss out their useless ballet slippers and get a new pair of sturdy Doc Martins steel toed boots. It's time to kick some ass and save some Constitutional rights to privacy, free speech, and equal treatment under the law.

Monday, December 10

The Anaconda Effect

It has been a while since my husband and I ventured into the party scene - a long while. As I surveyed our sadly outdated party clothes, I made a short list of essentials for each of us.

My List:
Expensive top - low cut
Kicky, flirty skirt
New dress shoes
Spanx Bodyshaper(s)
Rejuvenating face mask/firming moisturizer

His List:
Suit (remove all junk from pockets and dryclean)
White shirt
New tie (hide his crappy bow tie)
New leather loafers or retrieve and polish old ones (hide his crappy hiking boots)
Mapquest directions to ET Holiday party

Sigh! A full week's worth of shopping, cleaning, primping, listening to him worry about the weather-coworker's who would not go to party-condition of car-comfort of his apparel - yaddayaddayadda. Once he was in his suit, he'd look fantastic. I, however, had to transition from frump to glamour girl in under three days and while I felt daunted and overwhelmed, those Friday nights watching "What Not To Wear" on the The Learning Channel gave me some good guidance. I'd find a two piece outfit, ruched in the front, with a bias cut or wrap tie, no horizontal stripes, rich tones and pointy shoes.

After I found a really nice outfit at Loehmann's, I realized that WNTW neglected to discuss solutions for those bulges and lumps which were disguised in the front but were obvious from the rear - I hate those dressing room mirrors. Hmmmm. I thought I had an undergarment or two that might take care of that problem, but I must have gotten rid of them and I couldn't find much in Macy's. The salesgirl suggested Spanx full body shaper hose (??) at Nordstrom's and off I went. I located the appropriate item that encased me in a steely band of spandex from just under my bust to my toes. It felt like I was swallowed by a hungry anaconda and I rejoiced at the sleekness while trying to keep my lungs from collapsing. What a goddsend!

On the night of the big bash, both of us looked transformed and handsome in our new/different duds. We drank too much (open bar, huzzah!!) and stayed seated most of the night, but enjoyed the Sunset Strip and a tiny bit of glamour. Now... on to the next bash and maybe I'll try the spanx hide-n-seek, strapless cami this weekend.

Tuesday, November 20

Count Your Blessings and Your Misfortunes

Not long ago, I worked with a woman who was competent, energetic and stuck in a divorce time warp. She could not get over her ex-husband's infidelities. I'm sure this guy had more flaws and faults that the San Andreas, but I only got as far as his disloyalty and deception. When I knew I'd be spending a few minutes working with her, I felt fear. Her resentments stirred up old memories of my first marriage and divorce. I tried controlling the conversation and guiding it into more positive, neutral areas, mainly work related, and this approached was successful for a while, until Father's Day rolled around.

Her son was visiting from out of town and she resented his plans to see his father, her ex. I actually shook my head listening to her rant about the obvious reason the kid was visiting - it was Father's Day - he wanted to see his father. Her bitterness and resentment were poisonous. I really wanted to be somewhere else and prayed that work would intervene and save me.

Finally, she more or less asked me to buy into her rant and all I could say was "Wow, I'm really sorry about that. I hope you can get past it and feel better, soon."

Later on, I learned that she quit the next day. My supervisor said she quit because of scheduling problems, but I think she may have been offended by my response to her ongoing battle with her ex. I felt badly. I experienced a smidgen of Catholic guilt and then I realized that she reminded me of a lesson I thought I had learned years ago: put down the microscope and pick up the mirror. Her words, her experiences made me afraid. I feared something that didn't exist because of my past and her present. Crazy!

She was a good teacher and I'm grateful for knowing her. Thanksgiving is often represented as a time to be grateful for our blessings and that's good. It's also a time to reflect on our misfortunes and pick up the mirror so we can see how much we've learned from those difficult teachers and life lessons that come our way. By knowing her, I've learned that I have gained forgiveness and need to be more compassionate. Always something to learn in life and nothing more important than compassion.

May all beings know love, abundance and peace.

Friday, November 16

Silver Lining

"SAN FRANCISCO - A federal appeals court sharply rejected the Bush administration's new pollution standards for most sport utility vehicles, pickup trucks and vans and ordered regulators Thursday to draft a new plan that's tougher on auto emissions."

"HEAD START UPDATE: Congress on Wednesday passed and sent to President Bush a five-year Head Start bill that opens up the popular preschool program to more children while taking steps to see that it is well-run and that its teachers are better qualified."

Mixed in amongst the latest Bush appointee confirmations and the defeat of the latest health and education spending bill are several positive items. I'm really looking hard for a glimmer of a silver lining these days. I just order a book written by Studs Terkel titled "Hope Dies Last." It is supposed to be excellent and inspiring. If it is anything like his book, "Working," it will be an influence for good in my life.

Update and another silver lining seeker: Here's a good answer to a good question!

Monday, November 12

T J and the American Way

"Archie Gates: What's the most important thing in life?
Troy Barlow: Respect.
Archie Gates: Too dependent on other people.
Conrad Vig: What, love?
Archie Gates: A little Disneyland, isn't it?
Chief Elgin: God's will.
Archie Gates: Close.
Troy Barlow: What is it then?
Archie Gates: Necessity.
Troy Barlow: As in?
Archie Gates: As in people do what is most necessary to them at any given moment.
- Dialogue from the 1999 movie, "Three Kings" written/directed by David O. Russell

I wish I could say that I am not a sheeple, wandering through aisles of Walmart discounts while my country froths at the mouth in fear. The dire results of a fear-based government are not hidden. If and when I get my head out of my consumerism, I can ferret out tv programs, reports and press releases that tell us about the outrageous errors and omissions of the GWB fear machine. Most of the outrages are reported, as they happen, and the press sheeple, don't know what to do with it. Is the "leak," the "interview," the "briefing" fact or fiction. Is it a political trap set by Rove and his acolytes to destroy someone or some fact? Because of BushCorp's spinning information roulette, is it any wonder the media is so lame. After six plus years of shoveling through bullshyte to find a nugget of intelligent information, is it any wonder the sheeple don't read, investigate, listen? Even Nixon was more truthful than this crew and he was impeached, successfully.

I knew the repugnatans, neocons, whatever you want to call the ex-Reaganites had changed the game when only Poindexter, Weinberger, and North out of the whole demented gang were indicted in the Iran-Contra Affair. If you've forgotten about this horror show, the same people working for GWB were busted for selling arms to the enemy and for using the proceeds to fund an illegal war. Reagan "misspoke" and said this did not happen and recanted when faced with reports published in Lebanon telling the truth. Reagan was not impeached for his part in overseeing or not overseeing this disaster. He may not have "pulled the trigger" but he sure did load the gun by appointing and protecting these shady characters.

And... no surprise here... the gun is still loaded and blasting away. Instead of Poindexter, Abrams, Negroponte, Allen, and Gates supplying arms to Iran to fund an illegal war in Nicaragua, these same repugnatan/neocons are out-of-the-closet with their dirty tricks and spoiling for a fight with Iran and their supposed illegal nuclear weapons. They don't even bother to cover up their crimes. They simply go to Congress and have the laws changed to suit their "security" purposes.

Sheeple started feeling the heat in 2006 when gas prices climbed to more than $3 a gallon and when the hypocrisy of the "born again" Congressmen pedophiles and molesters hit the papers. The Democrats/saviors/purveyors of truth, justice and the American way were elected to replace repugnatans and were expected to end the Reagan/Bush/BushCorp rule. Unfortunately, somebody has something on some Dems, because they are caving in under the pressure.

Truth, justice and the American Way have not improved noticeably with the democrat majority - we have watched Cheney dance from the Senate to the Executive branch to the twilight zone avoiding accountability laws, particularly papertrail procedures prescribed by law. He claims he is above this law - on the same level as the president and now, thanks to democrats, Schumer and Feinstein, BushCorp has Mukasey, an attorney general who agrees with this elastic interpretation of executive power.

The dems were elected to stop this train wreck and they have the impeachment tools to do the job, but the demsincharge insist that holding Cheney and Bush to a reasonable standard of conduct (e.g., no lies that start wars, no torture, no blatant incompetency ala Katrina, no corruption, no erosion of the constitution, no subversion of the press for political purpose) wastes time better spent on bipartisan or non-partisan issues. While I applaud the "get it done" approach, I bemoan their shortsightedness. Unless these repugnatans are held accountable and banished from public office - they'll be in the next Republican president's cabinet.

The American sheeple are being herded into smaller and smaller pens filled with the fodder of economic ruin and debilitating fear. Our big screen TVs filled with Britney bashing, crime, car commercials and Walmart shopping happiness are distracting us, but the distractions are wearing thin. More and more of us are paying attention and keeping track of the cons of the neocons. More and more people are realizing that it is necessary to spend less time consuming and more time participating in our communities and our government so that we can do something about the things that terrorize us (e.g., waterboarding, internet surveillance, detention without due process, class division, racism, poverty) and push for things that enhance and promote truth, justice and the American Way.

Tuesday, October 30

The Guide

Yesterday was Betty's 89th birthday - we spent the weekend with her having interesting talks, visiting with neighbors, sprucing up the house, going out to dinner with friends, watching and participating in a pretty good play at a local church with friends and enjoying ourselves. She is an inspiring guide on the path of life. Despite some physical setbacks, she forges on, taking classes, keeping fit and having fun. A good life is filled with friendly people, meaningful activities and laughter. We enjoyed being a part of Betty's birthday celebrations... they are still in full swing right now!

Happy Birthday, Betty! Party On!

Wednesday, October 24

The Winds

Southern California is on fire... again.

Many people I know are in shock. Some have had to evacuate their homes, one friend lost her home and business, others are coughing up their lungs from breathing soot for the past few days. Many of us, myself included, are grateful for so many good things each day and feel very lucky. I wish I were wise enough to know how to help those that are suffering right now. I stand by, ready to help. I also acknowledge that humans often forget that nature is not the enemy. Nature does not love us or hate us. Nature "is what it is" and is the purest, most non-judgmental teacher in our lives. What we learn from nature is up to us and while many cling to the notion that "global warming" or "endangering the environment" is a left wing fantasy, the rest of us are experiencing the change and must decide to be part of the problem or part of the solution.

Today, I am reminded that humans must adapt or die. When the winds blow, make sure your brush is cleared, check your emergency supplies, make sure you've updated your insurance and financial documents, have gas in your car and an escape route embedded in your brain. There are those that ridicule us for living in "Malibu" or in places that are prone to earthquakes, fires, floods, drought, hurricanes, tornadoes, arsonists, terrorists. The list can be longer... it can include the dangers of smug and useless bastards that do not realize they sit on a powder keg just like the rest of us. At some point in this painful cycle, everyone will conclude that it is wise to adapt to mother nature rather than kill her. I hope more people, myself included, have the will and intelligence to adapt sooner rather than later.

May all beings displaced or harmed know healing love and peace.

Monday, October 22

Stinkbug Reflections

One day, I looked up and saw massive red rock cliffs, burning blue skies, and a few hawks circling overhead. I looked around and noticed the sparkle of fast moving water, the vivid blue of a morning glory on barbed wire and dewy spider webs. I walked along and wondered at the human arrogance inherent in the initials carved in trees, chiseled in rock and burned into fence posts. Then I looked down and watched a large black stinkbug walking across the warm rock toward the shelter of green shrubs. He detected me somehow and did a headstand with his rear end bobbing up and down warning me away. I stepped around him - avoiding the stench, and continued to enjoy a morning filled with sunshine.

I'm going back to that place tomorrow.

Saturday, September 29

The Whole World is Watching... Just Watching.

Buddhist Prayer for Peace

May all beings everywhere plagued
with sufferings of body and mind
quickly be freed from their illnesses.
May those frightened cease to be afraid,
and may those bound be free.
May the powerless find power,
and may people think of befriending
one another.
May those who find themselves in trackless,
fearful wilderness ~
the children, the age, the unprotected ~
be guarded by beneficial celestials,
and may they swiftly attain Buddhahood

May peace and freedom flourish in Myanmar.

Saturday, September 22

Attitude of Gratitude

In the past week or so, I have noticed a downward slide in my spirits - for no reason. Ennui? Langueur. Tédio. Boredom. I am not alone. It is the time of "seasonal affective disorder."

I'm not alarmed or concerned, but I am ready to level off and stop the downward spiral. A friend of mine who moved to Rome, New York, and developed severe depression, bought a sun lamp and kept it on 24/7 until she started to feel better. My sister-in-law recommends a frothy calcium/magnesium mineral drink called Ionic Fizz for sleep disorders and mild depression. I've heard that the hormone, melatonin, might also help relieve the symptoms of SAD. Several friends swear by the simple act of counting their blessings - being grateful!

All of these remedies are worth trying.. and that is the critical step in getting rid of depression. Try something.

For people who have never experienced severe depression, it might seem silly to emphasize "trying" or "doing." They may not realize what a gigantic effort it takes to move forward - to move, really, once depression sets in. Sufferers know when it is time to put the brakes on and avoid this unhappy paralysis. Panic and fear only worsen the condition and gratitude seems to lighten the mood and keep the panic under control. I have learned that saying "thank you" gives me the time I need to take vitamins, adjust the lighting, fire up my aromatherapy potions, exercise, get together with friends and family, volunteer, join a group, journal, etc. These actions and brighter days eventually eliminate the spiral. Time for my ionic fizz and a five minutes on the treadmill!

I just found the website Zen Habits and these two links, plus this YouTube video. Good stuff.

Why Living a Life of Gratitude Can Make You Happy
4 Simple Steps to Start the Exercise Habit

Thanks for visiting!

Friday, September 7

Men on the Edge

"Men go to extremes more than women. It’s true not just with IQ but also with other things, even height: The male distribution of height is flatter, with more really tall and really short men." - from the essay "Is There Anything Good About Men?" by Roy F. Baumeister

It's all good, imho. Baumeister recognizes the gender "good" via a historical perspective in this essay. His ideas offer some explanation for the seeming powerlessness of women throughout world history and redefines the concept of power. A good mid-day brain snack for us all.

Monday, September 3

Firebreathing Nuns

“The National Coalition of American Nuns is impelled by conscience to call you to act promptly to impeach President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney for ... high crimes and misdemeanors,” the group wrote in a letter written on behalf of its board members.

The letter says that impeachment is warranted for their “deceiving the public under the false pretense that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction” and “destroying” the reputation of the United States and the good will of other nations." - published Sept. 1, 2007 -

You know things are bad when Catholic nuns get agitated. These ladies have a long history of addressing society's injustices and so I should not be surprised at their latest jab at the big kuhunas of injustice.

One of my earliest schoolroom memories is of Loreto nun, Sister Xavier, dressed in her black, heavy nun's gear, dripping sweat while teaching first graders their ABCs in the heat of an Arizona Indian summer. She always smiled and never complained. That was what really impressed me, even as a kid.

Whew! It's only 11:15 a.m. and the temperature is 98 degrees. Hot, hot heat! I'm thinking of Sister Xavier's sweaty brow and brilliant smile, right now. Our traditional Labor Day backyard BBQ is cancelled today - my husband is working and it will be even hotter in a couple of hours. With weather like this, I think I know what it's like to breathe fire.

Monday, August 27

Ding Dong...

Shame. Thy name is Alberto Gonzales.

I felt a personal relief and an overall lessening of fascist gloom when Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, and Rove resigned from Bush & Co. Even though I realize that Gonzales is a mindless drone, his resignation is different. When I read or hear his name, I see the word, "torture," and feel sick. His mindless droning (e.g., political bias, disregard for international law, disdain of Congress, and heartless cruelty in advocating torture) has carved up justice and fed it to the war dogs.

I doubt the dogs will go hungry once GWB appoints another Gonzales carbon copy.

Saturday, August 25


"There is increasing concern amongst a wide range of commentators that human nature is in the process of being irrevocably changed by technological advances which either have been achieved or are in the pipeline." - Ray Tallis

My maternal grandmother, Eleanor, was a remarkable woman. She died when I was a child and I saw her from the perspective of the very young. My early memories and impressions of her were of a big woman in dark clothes who lived in Buffalo, New York, and brought a whiff of urban grunge to our pristine, suburban, Arizona household.

Everything about her was strong. Her face was dominated by a proud, Roman nose and intelligent eyes. She was stout. I never saw her wear a garment with frills. Her shoes were tough, designed to last for decades. She survived world wars, a depression or two, and maintained her independence until the day she died. She shared my bedroom on her annual visits and we would talk a bit about life. I discovered that I knew very little about struggle and deprivation and Gram was an expert.

"What's the most important thing in the world, Gram?" I chirped one morning.

"Health," and Gram further explained the importance of every aspect of health, including the absolute necessity of regular bowel movements. She was an advocate of Gaylord Hauser's "natural way of eating" and introduced our family to herbal remedies and enemas.

Gram also explored religions and did not "believe" in any one system or teaching. She formed a spiritual philosophy based on what made sense to her from all religions. I didn't realize it at the time, but she was a very progressive social thinker and a political libertarian, suspicious of government at every level.

"Will my friend go to purgatory because she's Mormon, Gram?" I was really bothered that my best friend would not go to heaven because she was not a baptized member of the "true" faith.

"Purgatory, humph, now that's one of the silliest human inventions, ever. The only invention that is sillier than that is hell and your friend won't be going to either one, Kathy."

"That's not what the church says, Gram." I was now worried about Gram's soul and thought maybe my mother would be a better person to ask about this worrisome problem. I listened to Gram's religious philosophies for a while until I managed to escape and search out a better source of religious information. It took a while before I realized that mom and dad agreed with Gram's explanation of purgatory and hell and over time, I realized that religion is a human interpretation of the way to god, not god itself. This concept was further reinforced when the Catholic church reversed itself on the sinfulness of eating meat on Friday. When a belief as embedded as meatless Fridays is changed, anything can and will change. In my heart of hearts, I applauded this change and always maintained a mild excitement about change, mixing things up, progression.

"Gram, would you like to go to the moon in a spaceship?" asked one of my little brothers as we watched the launch of a Gemini rocket during one of her visits.

"I can't keep up with stuff like this, kids," and she didn't say much more while we all cheered another rocket ship lift off.

Later, she explained how each technological advance in her lifetime seemed so strange initially. She used the telephone as an example of a technological marvel in her childhood that progressed from a luxury item of convenience to a daily necessity. The newness of the phone, the car, the airplane, had gradually become a blur or background for their usefulness in the present day. She became really excited about antibiotics. I didn't know that medicine and the delivery of medicine was a new technology or science until Gram talked about her early years before an established health care system. In those days, thousands of people died of simple infections, pneumonia, flu, and even childbirth.

It was clear to me that although Gram was sometimes overwhelmed and mystified with "science," she was not afraid that these inventions would negatively impact the human condition. She had experienced the "promise" or hype of technology and lived to see the hype evolve into human solutions for human problems. I believe she welcomed innovation because she had see it harnessed by human need and made ordinary.

My family was open minded and no one feared science or innovation. Like my grandmother, I recognize the awesome potential of technology, but I do not fear it. It has been my experience, that science advances and improves the human condition. We are a healthier, better informed, more secure and peaceful world, thanks in part to technology and science.

The destruction of humans and/or the world will not come about because of a scientific breakthrough. The human body and that which is rooted in the material world is frail and short lived. The intellect, fueled by the spirit, finds ways to transcend this limited and pain-filled human condition. I can only conclude that anyone who chooses to impede or disparage this process of transformation cannot accept the basic principles of change.

Tuesday, July 31

The Getaway

"There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the ways in which you yourself have altered." - Nelson Mandela

Thursday, July 26

Another Reason to Fight the Fat..

"Obesity can spread from person to person, much like a virus, according to researchers. When one person gains weight, close friends tend to gain weight too."
- Reported in San Francisco Chronicle

This is alarming and strange news. It does not explain why I am overweight though, since most of my friends and family are fit. The best explanation for my weight problem is overeating and underexercising. My youngest and very fit brother also offers the insight that I overthink (i.e., do nothing) about this problem and insists that regular exercise is the solution. *sigh* The truth hurts sometimes.

Time to renew the eternal battle of the bulge.

Wednesday, July 25

Watching the System Work

"WASHINGTON - The House Judiciary Committee approved a contempt of Congress citation Wednesday against White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolten and one-time Counsel Harriet Miers, setting up a constitutional confrontation over the firings of federal prosecutors." - Yahoo News

Earlier today, my husband commented that Congress was getting ready to cite White House officials for contempt of Congress.

My first reflex was to sneer, "Oh yeah, that's gonna work," while I gave the coffee beans an extra grind or two.

The citations seemed like such a wimpy response to the corrosive bile spewed by the GW Bush Corps on the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights, that I was dismissive and spewing bile, myself. I really do admire hubby for keeping up with the many scandals, misspeakings, presidential directives, presidential signing bills, and proclamations of executive privilege all of which circumvent or weaken our government's checks and balances. We watch the system work or not work and by keeping informed, we push for action. This is a painful process but necessary to maintain a free nation.

So right now, we are witnessing the usefulness of "the system." Congress is flexing its underused and flabby oversight muscles without much success, in my opinion, but the muscle is still there. The courts continue to restrain the GWB government in key areas, and while I complain about the gutless press, there is good info being reported (and not reported unfortunately) that keeps us alert and informed.

The system is working and it needs to work harder. Every oversight and restraint, including impeachment must be used, soon, to reign in GWB/Cheney and make them earn the public trust and the salaries we pay them.

Wednesday, July 11

Feelings...Nothing More Than Feelings....

Our local news/radio station, KFWB, broadcast a report this morning that the head of the U.S. Homeland Security Department, Michael Chertoff, had a "gut feeling" that terrorists will attack America this summer. His statements were made in Chicago with the intention of explaining or justifying the draconian measures he plans to put into place this summer.

So... based on his knowledge of past terrorist activities, his "gut feeling" and some other "plan" that the public has or has not approved, the DoHS is gearing up to arrest people, close borders, and restrict the rights of American citizens. The White House has downplayed Chertoff's comments and at the same time is promoting the second "phase" of it's Iraq "surge."

Gut feelings about violence and mayhem are worthless. Broadcasting these feelings under the guise of public service is disgusting and stupid.

Just image if Jesse Bullhar of CalTrans, Office of Traffic Safety, blurted out his "gut feelings" that travel this summer will be more dangerous on California's highways, resulting in increased traffic accident fatalities. Oh, and because of his "gut feelings" anyone suspected of unsafe driving habits would be arrested. Oh!!! ... and travel to and from certain "unsafe" areas would be restricted, and, ah, don't be alarmed if your neighbors' civil liberties are violated. Would we thank Mr. Bullhar for his feelings and allow him to violate our basic civil rights in the interests of "safety?" Jesse would be out on his nervous, quaking ass for blatant fear mongering and creating chaos in an already chaotic environment. He would not be thanked by anyone for creating fear while promoting partisan politics.

Why is Chertoff still Secretary of Homeland Security? Didn't hurricane Katrina and it's continuing disastrous aftermath illustrate the dark, paralyzed place this man inhabits?

May all fearmongers know love and peace.

Friday, July 6

The Upward Way

"For all there are two stages of the path, as they are making upwards or have already gained the upper sphere.

The first degree is the conversion from the lower life; the second — held by those that have already made their way to the sphere of the Intelligibles, have set as it were a footprint there but must still advance within the realm — lasts until they reach the extreme hold of the place, the Term attained when the topmost peak of the Intellectual realm is won."
- Third Tractate, "On Dialectic - The Upward Way" of "Six Enneads" by Plotinus (205 -270)

There are many things I love about the web. It is a source of endless learning. Today, I googled the word "emanation" and stumbled onto Plotinus, an Egyptian-Roman philosopher who had the audacity(?), inspiration(?), intellect(?) (possibly all three qualities and more) to explain the divine and how to attain unity with it.

I hear echoes of his philosophy in the writings of Thoreau, Emmerson, Ernest Holmes and even in the pop-culture mega-hit, "The Secret." The concept of energy emanating from a powerful source in a circular fashion and eventually making its way back to the source resonates with me and with my experiences in life.

"What goes around, comes around."

Might as well put out positive, uplifting wishes and thoughts and know that they will neutralize thoughtlessness and create the good we all deserve...

May all beings know love and peace.

Thursday, July 5

Thinking of My Dad Today

Vincent Ryan
(4-2-1921 to 7-5-2003)

Wednesday, July 4

The Trickster on the Fourth of July

There were not many flags flying in our neighborhood celebrating American Independence Day. Neighbors were just as friendly, just as busy and ready to party, but not ready to brag about America as "the greatest country on earth."

Years of outrageous and ugly Bush scandals have taken their toll. The "bring it on" fantasy of empowerment and triumph in a world at war is exposed. Kicking over that rock and really looking at the dangerous reality of tricky George is not what Americans want to do on their day off. So, we went for a walk this morning.

Lurking among the few flags that were waving in the morning heat was Wile E. Coyote, a comically ineffectual predator whose hunts always end in disaster. He strolled down the sidewalk, took a dump on someone's front lawn, grabbed a drink or two from a garden hose, ignored the traffic, the neighbors, the barking dogs and me. No one chased him away or even acknowledged his unwanted existence. He and his growing pack of predators are thriving while we all look the other way.

Friday, June 29

Thursday, June 28


America's political and judicial activities look more and more like a scene out of "Back to the Future."

Goldie Wilson: [rushes up to George] Say! Why do you let those boys push you around like that for?
George McFly: Well, they're bigger than me.
Goldie Wilson: Stand tall, boy. Have some *respect* for yourself. Don't you know if you let people walk over you now, they'll be walking over you for the rest of your life! Look at me. You think I'm gonna spend the rest of my life in *this* slop house?
Lou: Watch it, Goldie!
Goldie Wilson: No, sir! I'm gonna *make* something of myself. I'm going to Night School. And one day I'm gonna *be* somebody!
Marty McFly: That's right! He's gonna be mayor.
Goldie Wilson: Yeah, I'm gonna... [smiles, one of his front teeth is gold]
Goldie Wilson: Mayor! Now *that's* a good idea! I can run for mayor.
Lou: A colored mayor, *that'll* be the day.
Goldie Wilson: You wait and see, Mr. Carruthers. I *will* be mayor! I'll be the most powerful man in Hill Valley. And I'm gonna clean up this town.
Lou: Good. You can start by sweeping the floor. [hands Goldie a broom]
Goldie Wilson: [stands tall with a hand over his heart] Mayor Goldie Wilson. Like the *sound* of that. [collects George's dishes).

The constitutional conflict between the Congress and the Executive Branch (Bush/Cheney) goes back even further to the future, reminding me of this movie:

George III: What of the colonies, Mr. Pitt?
Pitt: America is now a nation, sir.
George III: Is it? Well. We must try and get used to it. I have known stranger things. I once saw a sheep with five legs...
-"The Madness of King George"

I'm stocking up on that retro icon of headache pain reflief, Alka Seltzer .

Monday, June 25

Fear and Loathing in Cyberspace

Imagine that your internet browser (e.g., Yahoo) is a car.

Imagine that you use flickr to drive your car.

Imagine that you drive the car on the right side of the road in Los Angeles, California.

Imagine that you want to drive a car in London, UK, and Londoners drive their cars on the left side of the road.

1. Would you bring your Los Angeles car to London and drive on the right side of the road?

2. Would you rent a car in London and drive on the right side of the road?

3. Would you rent a car in London and drive on the left side of the road?

4. Would you simply not drive in London.

Which two of these choices would result in the destruction of the car?

Which choice saves the car and still allows you (Yahoo/Flickr) to drive in London?

Which choice is no choice at all?

When it comes to international travel, the car must always follow the local laws/rules of the road or suffer the disastrous consequences. Vehicles on the information superhighway (i.e., the internet) must also follow local laws/rules. Can local laws which censor the internet be modified or mitigated by Yahoo/flickr? It is possible.

International laws recognize the doctrine of comity: “The doctrine of comity, in the Supreme Court's classic formulation, is "..,the recognition which one nation allows within its territory to the legislative, executive, or judicial acts of another nation, having due regard both to international duty and convenience, and to the rights of its own citizens or of other persons who are under the protections of its laws.” So, a nation can influence another nation in such a way as to modify or mitigate trade, travel, licensing, etc., restrictions.

Has Yahoo/Flickr tried to influence nations that severly restrict access to its products and services? It would seem that discussions with these nations about censorship would result in some concessions and maybe in some better solutions. So, I will ass-u-me that Yahoo has a "comity" program in place - good business for everyone, right?

I know that Google is aggressively and creatively addressing the internet censorship problem:

“The online search giant is taking a novel approach to the problem by asking U.S. trade officials to treat Internet restrictions as international trade barriers, similar to other hurdles to global commerce, such as tariffs.”

So, what does one do when confronted with internet censorship? The flickr community is facing this dilemma right now. I commiserate with flickr members who do not wish to support Yahoo's censorship solutions. Many talented artists have left flickr, disgusted with the new image filtering system and its bias toward blandness (i.e., safe images).

However, I belong to several US internet art communities and all of them self-regulate their sites to avoid local and international censorship problems. No matter who your imaging chauffeur may be, the site still has to deal with international censorship problems and I applaud Flickr for listening and actually making some minor advances on behalf of its members. So, I don’t see the point in deleting my flickr site when I am already paid up through 2008.

I am becoming disenchanted, however, with the increasing restrictions and filters not just on nudity but on other art forms such as illustrations and paintings, etc. The NIPSA issue especially is bothersome for people like me who create images using photoshop. So, I'm exploring other sites such as Renderosity, deviantART, Saatchi Gallery, for photoshopped images and welcome any suggestions.

The point at which I lose enthusiasm and interest for any internet art community is when it takes more time and effort to post my images than it takes to create them. I am hopeful, flickr will avoid focusing on the logistics and get back to making the community fun.

Sunday, June 24

It Can't Happen Here....Again!

"Dr. Strangelove: Mr. President, it is not only possible, it is essential. That is the whole idea of this machine, you know. Deterrence is the art of producing in the mind of the enemy... the FEAR to attack. And so, because of the automated and irrevocable decision-making process which rules out human meddling, the Doomsday machine is terrifying and simple to understand... and completely credible and convincing."

Here are five signs that the "doomsday" mentality is back:

1. Highway Watch - where truckers spy on unsuspecting motorists and report "terrorist " activities.

2. The President's New Freedom Commission on Mental Health which funds "mental health" screenings and identification of school children with potential mental health issues.

3. The FBI's "Guidelines" distributed to colleges and universities - describing the suspicious activities of students with the potential to be terrorist spies.

4. President Bush's "Warrantless Wiretap" authorizations - a secret program that bypasses legal procedures and allows the government to listen in on telephone/internet transmissions in secret and without judicial oversight.

5. The Military Commissions Act of 2006 - a response to the US Supreme Court which establishes procedures governing the use of military commissions to try unlawful enemy combatants engaged in hostilities against the United States; it eliminates their right to challenge their detention, a violation of the US Constitution which provides these rights except in the case of "rebellion or invasion." Disturbing aspects of this Act are too numerous to mention - but one big one is that the President and/or Secretary of Defense or their appointees can determine who is an unlawful enemy combatant and an even bigger one is that the illegality of an enemy combatant's actions can be determined in the past when there were not laws against the action. In other words, IDLUYF-(Idon'tlikeyouyou'refucked).

Monday, June 18

Aloha and Mahalo

Hawaii is a great place to vacation and one of the healthiest places on earth in which to live!

A recent Forbes magazine article lists this state as number one in health care and it is consistently ranked in the top ten cities with good air and water quality. Honolulu is also top ranked as a source of good jobs. Too bad I get "island fever" or I'd consider moving to this remote and beautiful place. The aloha spirit, beautiful landscape, laid back life style and wonderful family and friends thrive in this island paradise.

I'm planning my next vacation to Hawaii right now!!

Sunday, June 17

When You're Smiling

Happy Father's Day, Dad! Thinking of your smile today. I also remember the wonderful gift of music you gave me when you taught me to read music and play French Horn. Life is good!

Thursday, May 31

The Power of Sunlight

Summer is the season for fun in the sun - vacation time for many of us. It is also a time when humans become more aware of the power of sunlight. It has the ability to burn our skin, warm the ground we walk upon and change the air we breathe. It sparks the rebirth and renewal of plants, insects and animals. It extends our days and diminishes our nights. The sun is our energy source - a power in our lives. For me, solar energy is the most logical source to fuel and power our cars, our homes, anything that requires a battery or a charge and as a clean source of energy, it is our pathway to survival.

In the early, 1990s, General Motors owned a huge research and development facility in Burbank, CA. They were testing and producing their electric vehicle, the EV-1. Honda also produced an electric car and I test drove both versions. As explained in a recent documentary, "Who Killed the Electric Car," market and governmental forces combined to create a perfect storm of greed and stupidity that sabotaged this program.

I recall seeing Huell Howser, on a KCET, program showing brand new EV-1s being dismantled, compacted and sold for scrap. If you're familiar with Howser's California Gold series, you quickly get bored with his quest for clarity as he constantly repeats the comments of those he interviews.

"You mean these are brand new cars?!" he asked repeatedly as we watched them being crushed into metal rectangles. Like Huell, I was mystified at this unbelievable stupidity and was glad, for once, that Huell was as stuck as I am on this crazy fact. What is so sad is that Americans have the vision, the technical brilliance, the resources for creating wonderful things, but we lack the courage to change.

I say, "we", because consumers got close to buying and supporting this technology, but bailed out when faced with infrastructure inconveniences that only time, patience, government support and commitment can eliminate. The Department of Water and Power used these vehicles and installed charging stations. Even Costco started installing chargers in their parking lots. Given a few more years, most retail outlets, gas/charging stations, city/state/fed buildings (you get the picture) would have added to the grid. And, all of this structure would be on top of residential chargers.

Clean and abundant power was almost within our grasp just five years ago. This power source does not require acres of land and tons of water to support it as in bio fuel production. This power can reduce our dependence on Exxon/Mobile and their ever increasing prices. This power can stop our government's interest and interference in other countries energy production and consumption. It can and will end the pork barrel, energy policies of the Bush regime. My hope is that this energy dementia will end sooner or later, but it will end.

Why? Because, unlike oil, the sun is not going away. Solar power is the future, and, like Alun Andersen, former editor of "New Science," I am optimistic that this power source will save us sooner rather than later. Andersen said it best when "Edge - The World Question Center" asked him, "WHAT ARE YOU OPTIMISTIC ABOUT?" Here is his response:

"The Sunlight-Powered Future"

"I'm optimistic about…a pair of very big numbers. The first is 4.5 x 10ˆ20. That is the current world annual energy use, measured in joules. It is a truly huge number and not usually a cause for optimism as 70 per cent of that energy comes from burning fossil fuels.

Thankfully, the second number is even bigger: 3,000,000 x 10ˆ20 joules. That is the amount of clean, green energy that pours down on the Earth totally free of charge every year. The Sun is providing 7,000 times as much energy as we are using, which leaves plenty for developing China, India and everyone else. How can we not be optimistic? We don't have a long-term energy problem. Our only worries are whether we can find smart ways to use that sunlight efficiently and whether we can move quickly enough from the energy systems we are entrenched in now to the ones we should be using. Given the perils of climate change and dependence on foreign energy, the motivation is there.

Can it be done? I'm lucky that as a writer I get to meet some of the world's brightest scientists each year, and I know that out there are plenty of radical new ideas for a future in which sunlight is turned straight into the forms of energy we need. Here are just three of my favourites out of scores of great ideas. First, reprogramming the genetic make-up of simple organisms so that they directly produce usable fuels (hydrogen, for example). That will be much more efficient than today's fashionable new bio ethanol programs because they will cut out all the energy wasted in growing a crop, then harvesting it and then converting its sugars into fuel. Second, self-organizing polymer solar cells. Silicon solar cells may be robust and efficient but they are inevitably small and need a lot of energy to make. Self-organizing polymer cells could be ink jetted onto plastics by the hectare, creating dirt cheap solar cells the size of advertising hoardings. Third, there's artificial photosynthesis. Nature uses a different trick from silicon solar cells to capture light energy, whipping away high-energy electrons from photo-pigments into a separate system in a few thousand millionths of a second. We are getting much closer to understanding how it's done, and even how to use the same principles in totally different nano-materials.

But what of the pessimist's view that we can are just too entrenched in our current energy systems to change? There is a world-wide boom in investment in green technology already under way. And there are many transition technologies coming into operation that enable practice runs for more radical genome reprogramming and creation of new nano-structures. Although the consensus view is that the sunlight-powered future won't be taking over until 2050, I'd place an optimistic bet that one of the many smart ideas being researched now will turn out to be an unforeseen winner much earlier."

This essay and many others are available online at Edge. Check it out!

Update: Here's a winning solar idea: "Using Solar Roofs to Power Hybrids"
Here's another one: "Easy Solar Power" - thin film photovoltaic laminates
Uno mas: "GM Scorns Internal Combustion Engine "- at least they are back on the right track.

Wednesday, May 16

Protecting the Facade

"Today, the U.S. Senate rejected legislation that would cut off money for combat operations in Iraq after March 1, 2008." -AP news report

"..,Congress has approved five emergency-spending measures since Sept. 11, 2001, and other federal money has been moved into the effort to wage battle in Iraq and Afghanistan. In all, more than $400 billion will have been set aside or spent by the end of this year (2006).
The administration plans to seek the additional $70 billion as special "supplemental" funding, an emergency procedure outside the regular budget process that has stirred controversy on Capitol Hill
." - By Mark Mazzetti and Joel Havemann -2006 Los Angeles Times article

Five (or is it now six, going on seven?) times the Bush administration has asked Congress to approve additional funding for these wars. The key word is "additional." This administration is so incompetent that they cannot figure out a winning strategy or budget for waging war in two countries that have no military, to speak of. I repeat, the USA has spent billions on military industrial weapons to bomb the shyte out of people reduced to living in a virtual stone age after decades of war. I am inclined to support the President's veto of his latest request for war funds and NOT give him anything. There is a massive war budget, without this supplemental funding, for him to dip into. Maybe if Congress stopped approving these requests the war would end? I feel that this is too obvious and simplistic a solution, but sometimes the obvious is ignored.

I remember reading about the American Revolutionary War and wondering why British soldiers wore bright red uniforms, lined up in straight lines, fired guns and were picked off by American snipers and sharp shooters. It was obvious that this was wrong. Americans used tactics learned from their battles with Indians - guerrilla war tactics. Rather than be a bright red target for anyone who wants to kill something, they used stealth, withdrawal and intelligence to win the war.

The Bushites live in a "stay the course" fog that cannot be penetrated with any obvious truth or justice. What is the course??? Like the British of the 1700s they underestimate and denigrate their opposition. Bush supporters stick to their belief in a godly, military-industrial-corporate merger. They use the word "patriotism" as a glittering facade - hiding their dangerous neocon and theocon agendas for a new (or old) world order which eliminates the rights of individuals in conflict with those in power. The latest "supplemental war funding request" should be the last.. request, that is.

We are not lemmings. Suicide is not part of the American psyche. Americans elected Democrats to stop the hemorrhaging of lives, money and international goodwill. The Bush bloodletting must stop and those Democrats and Republicans that are "supporting the troops" with more of the same lies, incompetence and stupidity are choosing to kill their political careers over a losing cause. They are also choosing to put our soldiers in bright red suits with targets on them so they can be tortured, maimed, killed by the Shias, or the Sunnis, or al Qaeda, or anyone who hates America.

5/24/07 Update: Congress backs Iraq funding bill.
Reported/Estimated Deaths caused by the Iraq war.
Congress is ignoring the will of the people.

Wednesday, May 9

Hundreds Flee

Griffith Park is on fire.

My son called me from Merced yesterday afternoon, worried that the Griffith Park fire might be affecting me and my nearby neighborhood. Earlier, I listened to radio news reports of "a fire in Griffith Park," and I expected to hear another news report a few hours later that the blaze had been extinguished. Almost 24 hours later, the park is still on fire and wreaking havoc on the dry, brushy hillsides.

Last night, I worried that the animals in the LA Zoo would be destroyed and thanks to the efforts of firefighters and zoo workers, the animals are safe. Homes in Los Feliz, the Greek Theater, the new Observatory, the Merry-Go-Round and children's playground have been saved. Dante's View has been lost.

I've visited Dante's View and the other volunteer community garden, Amir's Garden, a few times. They are well-loved hiking destinations and beautiful examples of the power of an individual's passion for plants and these men connected and resonated with the community. Whenever I've hiked up to these gardens, volunteers were busy maintaining them while enjoying the view of the city and the sunshine. I have no doubt Dante's View will be rebuilt and continue to be a source of beauty and shared joy.

LA Mayor, Villaraigosa, is now on the radio and so far, the fire is about fifty percent contained and expected containment is within another twenty-four hours. Over 800 acres have been burned, one man partially burned, no structures have been burned. Wild animals, such a coyotes, raccoons, possum, have been wandering down from the barren hillsides for months. More of these animals, displaced by the fires, will be on our city streets.

It's early May, and fire season has already started because of the extreme drought. I keep waiting for the mayor, fire chief, someone, to outline a mandatory water conservation and fire safety plan. Now is the time to drive home the seriousness of these drought conditions and to guide the the community through this crisis with conservation and safety awareness/mandate programs.

Wednesday, April 25

Access to the Experts

"Green chemistry is replacing our industrial chemistry with nature's chemistry book." - Janine Benyus

I sometimes wish I could schedule my time so that I can attend the lectures, concerts, gallery openings of great thinkers, scientists, artists and designers. Two websites give me the opportunity to do this.

On TED, there are audio/video presentations on a wide variety of themes, including art and photography. I am uplifted by biologist, Janine Benyus, quoted above, who gave the speech, "12 Sustainable Design Ideas From Nature." She explores the concept of integrating the elegant and efficient natural processes with human processes. Her talk reveals startling product design solutions.

On Listeningtowords, you can hear/see a lecture on almost any subject. Not all of the formats are easily accessible and sometimes the quality is not great, but there are some gems. I listened to former UN ambassador and US Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright, discuss "Promoting Democracy: Fourteen Points for the 21st Century." Hearing her forthright and clear discussion of the past and present pathways to a democratic world is enlightening. She confirms my belief that the Bush family's Iraq war fetish is the wrong path and will have unrealized consequences for years to come. Her insights on North Korea and the United Nations are interesting. This video and others are well worth the time spent listening. I like being able to replay portions or the entire presentation to better understand concepts discussed.

Both websites provide audio/video presentations by experts in every field of endeavor. Isn't the Internet great! Check them out.

Tuesday, April 17

Something So Ordinary...

...looks sinister today. Something we do every day, like take the stairs to our home, or to work, or to a classroom takes on a darker, deeper resonance after yesterday's Virginia Tech killings.

I live in Los Angeles, home of the LA Riots. The threat of someone going off the rails and shooting at me on the freeway or evading police and crashing into me is part of the landscape. I believe the term "going postal" might have been coined in this city and let's not forget the 1997 North Hollywood bank robbery and shoot out. All of these violent acts and many more contribute to the pervasive caution and unfriendliness of people who live in this area. This city is urban with a capital "U" and only those of us with well honed avoidance skills and short memories can tolerate it. Mayhem is shocking but not uncommon here, but it is uncommon in places like Columbine, Colorado, and Blacksburg, Virginia.

These towns are heartland icons that have had their hearts ripped out and eaten by thrill seeking, suicidal psychopaths. There is no defense against these people. There is no way for ordinary, reasonably well-balanced people to understand these people and that's a fact. Blaming the university, or law enforcement, or anything but the killer is wrong.

Only the money-hungry media benefits from speculating on blame and this blame game inflicts even greater injury on the families of those killed and injured. They get to relive the nightmare on TV, radio, and the internet for days, weeks and even years. Their beautiful children are not people with personalities but "victims" of horror. Their loved ones are not famous for the ordinary and good lives they lived. They are forgotten while the killers are made immortal. We know every detail of the lives and thoughts and writings of the killers, but we know nothing about the accomplishments of those that were shot. This is what the media and those that profit from the media do to our people. We've become a vulture culture. It's all about the biggest bang for the buck and nothing spells m-o-n-e-y like a spectacular death.

Poet Nikki Giovanni, delivered the wisest words today. She suggested that this disaster is as horrifying and senseless as the killing of ordinary people in Baghdad or in Darfur or in tsunami ravaged Thailand. She urged "Hokies" to be strong and resiliant and to continue living worthwhile and beautiful lives. She urged her community to focus on the gifts these people brought to the world before they passed on and to cherish their lives, to comfort their families and transcend the grief. Good advice for the future. Right now, we are all horrified and praying for relief from sadness and fear.

4/19/07 Update: Greiving parent asks us to remember the victims not the killer

Friday, April 13

Junk Food for the Mind

It's bad for you!

Time to go on a mental diet, America, and cut out the empty calories and toxic waste we love to consume. It's not just Imus that needs to go.

Sunday, April 8

Requiem for an Avocado Plant

Well, I am not a good gardener. The pretty little avocado plant that I grew on my windowsill from a seed is dead. It was drown in the last Los Angeles rainstorm and all attempts to revive, resurrect, rejuvenate the little guy were failures! I took a look at it this morning, hoping that the miracle of the resurrection might resonate with the spindly, dried out carcass of this avocado plant, but the lights are out and nobody's home in there.
I suppose the energy of every life form never really leaves the universe. It infuses every structure and being with the urge to create, to regenerate, to contribute and so much more. Today is a good day to think about this transformation or resurrection and reflect on the profound lessons and example of Christ and nature.
May all beings know love and peace.

Sunday, April 1

No Place Like Home

Well, we're back among the crazy folks in So Cal - very sad that the Bruins lost in the NCAA semifinals and just in time for the Burbank fire. We're still sweeping up ashes that fell from the smokey air on Thursday. Also, experienced some major computer problems which we are still trying to solve - ahhhh! Life in the fast lane ' -D!!

Thursday, March 22

A Change of Scene

Spring is in the Southern California air and it's time for a short trip up north. The coast highway should be a riot of blooming poppies, ice plants and wildflowers. So pretty.

Here's some music for the road by The National.

Thursday, March 15

Scratching the Itch

I remember reading a USA Today article a few years ago which reported a steep decline in the sexual activities of the Japanese. Apparently, things have not improved over the years.

"..,A record 39.7 percent of Japanese citizens ages 16-to-49 have not had sex for more than a month."

This is perilous news for the island nation, and reminds me of one of my favorite books and movies, "Children of Men" by P.D. James. The movie has disappeared from theaters despite it's warm reception at the box office. It's definitely on my DVD rental list. That's right, I'd watch it again - maybe buy it!

I read this novel in the early 1990s. It presents a world ruled by fear and violence in which women are unable to give birth. The pervading sense of hopelessness in both the book and movie make it hard to keep reading and watching, until one pregnant woman is discovered. What struck me when I read the book was how I never thought of a world without children, a sterile world. I developed a slight anxiety and fascination for such a fictional world, a pointless and dying scifi world.

And, like many great scifi novels, some kernels of truth in this book seems to be manifesting. Survival of the species and all urges to create, live and thrive will overcome this aberration. I'm not even going to "hope" but I'm going to know it to be true. *sigh*

May all beings know love, peace and satisfying sex.