Wednesday, February 16, 2011

I write letters (you should too!)

In Maryland, we have one state Senator who has announced both that she plans to "pray" on how to vote on the Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Act, (yes, that makes my head spin, too!) and that she won't vote for a bill that looks like it will fail. (Because being on the winning side is always better than being on the right side, I guess.) I think she needs to hear from us.

Dear Sen. Conway,

I write to ask you to vote for the Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Act. As a religious person myself, I know that you mean well when you state that you will pray for guidance on how to vote on this issue. However, I also know that some people use interpretations from the Bible as an excuse to discriminate against gays, despite the fact that other faiths interpret those same passages quite differently. I feel compelled to remind you that we do have a First Amendment guarantee of separation of church and state, and while I respect your right to hold your own personal religious views, you were elected to represent ALL your constituents. There are faith traditions that currently perform same sex marriage ceremonies, and they want those marriages to have the same legal recognition as marriages performed for heterosexual couples.

Marriage equality is a church-state separation issue and we must not allow our laws to be based on one belief. I would respectfully ask that you put aside your own personal religious positions and vote for this Act. I would be happy to speak with you in person about this very important matter. There are thousands of lesbians and gays who reside in Maryland, and we deserve full and equal representation by our elected officials.

Written with some previous text I got from my friends at the wonderful Americans United for Separation of Church and State.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Friday Music Video: Make that joyful noise!

We made it through another week, my friends -- let's get joyful with the Derek Trucks Band!

It's a little messy right now ....

Please be patient. We're doing some redesign at the House of Jello, and it may get a little ugly around here for a bit.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Wednesday Poetry Break: "God made me a businesswoman and I made myself a poet"

Actually, in my case I think God made me a poet and I made myself a businesswoman, but that's the familiar quote from Amy Lowell, who was born on this day in 1874. Here's one of her poems that evokes the warmer weather.

The Garden by Moonlight

A black cat among roses,
Phlox, lilac-misted under a first-quarter moon,
The sweet smells of heliotrope and night-scented stock.
The garden is very still,
It is dazed with moonlight,
Contented with perfume,
Dreaming the opium dreams of its folded poppies.
Firefly lights open and vanish
High as the tip buds of the golden glow
Low as the sweet alyssum flowers at my feet.
Moon-shimmer on leaves and trellises,
Moon-spikes shafting through the snow ball bush.
Only the little faces of the ladies’ delight are alert and staring,
Only the cat, padding between the roses,
Shakes a branch and breaks the chequered pattern
As water is broken by the falling of a leaf.
Then you come,
And you are quiet like the garden,
And white like the alyssum flowers,
And beautiful as the silent sparks of the fireflies.
Ah, Beloved, do you see those orange lilies?
They knew my mother,
But who belonging to me will they know
When I am gone.

-- Amy Lowell

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

We are not the Beale sisters

Cross-posting when I remember ...

Yesterday I got home from work and mowed the lawn. Normally this is a weekend project for me, but last weekend was very busy, and although I did get around to some yard work on Saturday, mowing never happened. But Tuesday evening when I was changing out of my work clothes I looked around the upstairs rooms and realized we had gotten stuck in the middle of our seasonal clothing change-over. In case you're one of those people living in a "new" house with those new-fangled things called "closets, let me explain. The change-over is when people who live in old houses pack up the out-of-season clothes into large plastic boxes which are then stacked into the one or two oddly angled spaces we call "closets." So now, we are pulling the boxes out and unpacking the the warm weather clothes (cargo shorts!), throwing them in the wash, and packing up the cold-weather garb (fleece!). Except -- with a cold snap a week or so ago, we got confused. So there are piles of clothes everywhere, and warm-weather and cold-weather have been mixed together.

I stepped over piles of laundry and then took the dog out back. Looking around at the overgrown lawn and the general messy state of the patio, I suddenly thought: "We're becoming less 'House of Jello' and more 'Grey Gardens'!!"

Although there is a certain charm in an unkempt garden, the lawn is mowed, and tonight the laundry will be sorted. This weekend, the patio must be cleared. The corners of the yard, though, they may just be left to their own overgrown devices ...

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Catching Up With Teh Internets

Well it's once again been a busy week on teh internets machine, hasn't it? I am finding it difficult to make the time to both read and write about it all. A more cynical person might say here that some people in power are liking that just fine -- the busier we are, the less time we have to think about things like, oh, I don't know: war?

Rather than pontificate about any one story in this news, I think this morning I'll just pass along some good reading that I've stumbled across in the last few days. Such as:

Newt Gingrich Accidentally Names Porn Exec 'Entrepreneur Of The Year'

Oh yes he did! In fact, "Newt Gingrich's 527 group sent a letter to porn exec Allison Vivas Wednesday telling her she'd won their "Entrepreneur of the Year" award and inviting her to an "intimate event" with Gingrich."

From our pretend girlfriend Rachel Maddow's tweets (yes, I stalk her teh twitter. so?), we get:

Meeting Enrollees' Needs: How Do Medicare And Employer Coverage Stack Up?

Which includes some pretty interesting stuff, including: " Compared with the employer-coverage group, people in the Medicare group report fewer problems obtaining medical care, less financial hardship due to medical bills, and higher overall satisfaction with their coverage. Although access and bill payment problems increased across the board from 2001 to 2007, the gap between Medicare and private employer coverage widened."

Meanwhile,you may have heard about a new Census Bureau report that finds more Americans live at or below the poverty level. Truth is, it's even worse than the report's findings:

New Poverty Figures Will Show Massive Increase, but Reality Is Worse, Says UM Expert"

"... [T]he official poverty measure does not reveal the full degree of financial hardship and dislocation caused by the current downturn in the economy, says [Douglas J.] Besharov, a professor of public policy and director of the Welfare Reform Academy at Maryland. The official measure fails to capture the massive job, income, and wealth losses among the lower-middle and middle classes."

Always a good read, Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo always takes political analysis one step deeper than the rest. So it's refreshing to read his take on Politico's pseudo analysis:

"I'm seeing the Politico tell me that the Republicans are in danger of having their public profile dominated by cranks on the fringe right."

Go read it, it's short.

If you're thinking of sightseeing in D.C. today, take a cue from the gray, rainy weather and don't do it. Plus, there's this:

Exploiting 9/11, Glenn Beck, Extremists And Corporate-Backed Groups Plan Anti-Obama March

That's right a march on Washington. Or against President Obama, rather. I actually feel sorry for these teabagging marchers. Clearly they are scared and also, not very bright. They like to think that they are a part of a massive grassroots, populist movement, but of course, it's not:

"However, most of the day-to-day organizing has been orchestrated by a now familiar set of lobbyists and Republican operatives who have helped plan anti-Obama "grassroots" tea party events since February. In addition, a set of far-right groups are supporting the event, bringing along self-described "American mob members" to join in on the Obama-bashing."

On a different note, I just found out I have a new label: "agri-intellectual." Who knew?

"The sustainable-food movement needs to step up and start grappling with big questions. I’ve said for a while that I see three big challenges for the sustainable-food movement as it scales up: 1) soil fertility—in the absence of synthesized nitrogen and mined phosphorous and potassium, how are we to build soil fertility on a larger scale?; 2) labor—sustainable farming requires more hands on the ground; who’s going to work our farm fields, and at what wages?; and 3) access—in an economy built on long-term wage stagnation, how can we make sustainably grown food accessible to everyone?"

Germany has an exciting election coming up, you know. Or not.

How to Win an Election Through Boredom

"German Chancellor Angela Merkel is being criticized for running a boring election campaign. It may be part of a cunning plan to win by deterring opposition supporters from voting....

Making the campaign dull stems from the calculation that it can pay off for politicians if as few people as possible bother to vote. It sounds cynical but it works, and this can be proven. It's an illusion that all political campaigners want a high turnout. What counts is who actually goes to vote."

Never say it's dull around here, though:

Hours After Pelosi Backs off on Public Option, Health Lobbyist Announces Fundraiser in Her Honor

The headline really says it all, but go ahead and read the story anyway. And then bookmark AlterNet, please.

And finally, when we're so concerned about where our federal and state money is being spent, should we really be spending money to arrest and prosecute citizens who enjoy the occasional spliff? Because really, can you throw that stone? (heh. She said "stone." heh.)

Over 100 Million Americans Have Smoked Marijuana -- And It's Still Illegal?

"41 percent of the U.S. population say they've tried cannabis at least once in their lives, 10 percent say they've used it in the last year."

Just sayin'

Monday, August 17, 2009

Uh oh. Did the "Public Option" Leave a Living Will?

'Cause I think it just met Obama's Death Panel:
As President Obama finishes a western swing intended to bolster support for his signature policy initiative, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius opened the door to a compromise on a public option, saying it is "not the essential element" of comprehensive reform. White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said on CBS's "Face the Nation" that Obama "will be satisfied" if the private insurance market has "choice and competition.

I don't want to write about this story. I want Barack Obama to live up to his campaign promises so that I can spend my time writing about the German lady's TaTas, instead (Oh, go ahead and click -- it's safe for work.) But no, I have to write about how President Obama is doing some backroom maneuvering and wheeling and dealing and the end result is going to be a watered down bill that the Republicans and big pharma companies approve of -- and therefore health care will remain ... status quo.

Far from lighting up my world with hope and promise of change, Barack Obama reinforces every cynical view I have of national polititicians. He's no FDR, he's no Kennedy, he's no Abraham Lincoln, heck, I'll say it: He's no Bill Clinton. He's not showing leadership on this issue, but is letting the mainstream media run the direction of the "debates" on health care. Anyone with a brain knows at this point that these "Town Hall Health Care Debates" are not about health care -- they are about people who are fed up with government, with big banks, with unemployment, even with having a person of color in the White House. There's a lot of change in America right now, and big part of the population is not happy with it.

Leadership does not mean being led around Sen. Kent Conrad's North Dakota hometown, as Obama has done this past weekend. Can someone please tell me the point of Obama's big tour out west? Montana? Really?

The only thing I find at all heartening about the current status of the health care debate is there is still a handful of elected officials in the House of Representatives who are willing to fight the good fight and will not vore for a bill that does not include a public option. Senator Barack Obama didn't exactly light up the Senate floor with his leadership, so I guess we shouldn't be too surprised at the way he's handling the health care reform effort.

What are your thoughts?

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Why are you still coming here? We've Moved!

Go visit (and bookmark!) our new site:

As most of you know by now, I've decided to move our blog to new digs at WordPress. This blog was one of many -- hundreds? thousands? -- blogs that got caught in a Blogger "spam blog filter." I don't think there's anything devious about this occurrence. I think instead that Blogger (i.e., Google) overreacted to reports that they are the number 1 host of malware. I think, basically, they turned the spam filter to "eleven," which any Spinal Tap fan knows, is more powerful than "ten."

I was considering moving to WordPress anyway, because it's a much more robust platform for us to continue our conversations. Yesterday when Blogger locked me out, I decided it was time to take the plunge. But as you can see, only 24 hours after I received the email saying I had been locked out and could not post until further notice, Blogger reviewed this blog and we're back up and running. In the end, that's not bad for a free service.

Nevertheless, please join me at our new home, conveniently called:

Thursday, July 31, 2008

I've gotten some "unusual" emails, but this one beats 'em all

Ever since the shootings at Virginia Tech last year, most colleges and universities now have pretty sophisticated emergency alert systems that text you or email you of everything from robberies to tornadoes. But this one, this is ... odd:

July 31, 2008

There have been several reliable sightings of an animal fitting the description of a cougar on the campus. The description of the sighted cat is: light tan and tawny brown, about 4 feet long with a 4 foot tail, and weighing about 50 pounds. Several sightings have been reported from the area of Cole Field House, near the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center, and continuing through the wooded areas to the area of the Comcast Center and Arena Drive Garage. There has been no report of aggressive behavior on the part of the animal, but community members are warned that cougars are a predatory species and that, if seen, the animal should not be approached.
I work in metropolitan Maryland. You know, the place the pundits enjoy describing as inside the beltway. In case you're wondering -- no, I shall not be approaching the animal ....

Exxon Mobil profit = $1,486 per second

By now you've probably heard about the astounding profit that Exxon Mobil is reporting for this past quarter: $11.7 billion. And yes, that is an American record. (Woo hoo for Exxon Mobil and their new American record, just in time for teh Olympics!)

The Guardian breaks that figure down for us: Exxon Mobil is making $1,486 per second. Per second! So as you read "per second," they've made another $1,486. And again. And again.

But, ABC provides by far the most disgusting figure in all this, as reported here by ThinkProgress:
Exxon Mobil today broke its own record for the highest-ever profit by a U.S. company, with net income this quarter rising to $11.68 billion. While Exxon officials regularly tout the company’s investment in alternative energy, ABC reported today that Exxon spends only 1 percent of profits on alternative energy sources.

“They’re probably spending more on the advertising than they are on the research,” noted an oil analyst contacted by ABC. BP invested the most out of the big five oil companies, at 2.9 percent.

Life is simpler in Vermont

Thanks to a tip from a co-worker who hails from "my new favorite place on earth" (note the ironic abuse of quotation marks), Rutland, Vermont, I was alerted to this important event from last week:
Crowd mobs Taco Bell opening

Rain fell through the Wednesday afternoon lunch hour, but that didn't stop hundreds of local chalupa-starved residents from lining up for the grand opening of the new Taco Bell on Route 7 in Rutland Town.

The wait time for cars at the tail end of the drive-thru line was estimated at around 50 minutes at lunch time.

"We knew it was going to be big," Matt Prouty, Taco Bell operations leader, said. "We expected this and we're excited to be here."

Customers anxious to get taco fixes were waiting outside the Taco Bell doors as early as 7 a.m. Wednesday— three hours before the doors were set to open.
"Taco fixes" at 7 a.m.? Makes me shudder. Read more from the Rutland Herald here.

(photo from Rutland Herald)

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Grammar Head alert!

I can't help it. I've spent too many years as a professional proofreader and copy editor to avoid noticing how often we mangle the English language. So I was "thrilled" when I stumbled across The “Blog” of “Unnecessary” Quotation Marks.

It's "brilliant!" Also not to be missed are:
Lowercase l

Apostrophe Abuse

Passive Aggressive Notes
And yes I am aware, thank you very much, that Grammar is #99 on the big list of Stuff White People Like ...

A killer of a different color

Because I tend to read a lot of "alternative" news sources, it took me a little while to realize that the MSM has not been giving much coverage to the recent killings at the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist church on Sunday. That is to say, they covered the event, and moved on.

But what if the killer was not named "Jim" but was instead named, oh, I don't know -- Abdul? Kamal? Hussein? I suspect we would be seeing stories nightly about how this shooting spree was planned and carried out. We would hear about every move the man made.

Instead, this is what we get from the Washington Post:

KNOXVILLE, Tenn., July 28 -- An out-of-work truck driver accused of opening fire and killing two people at a Unitarian Universalist church apparently targeted the congregation out of hatred for its support of liberal social policies, including its acceptance of gays, police said Monday.

A four-page letter found in Jim D. Adkisson's SUV indicated that he targeted the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church because "he hated the liberal movement" and was upset with "liberals in general, as well as gays," according to Knoxville Police Chief Sterling Owen IV.

Oh, well then. And at the end of the story:
Court records from neighboring Anderson County indicate Adkisson threatened violence against his spouse several years ago.
Instead of simply reporting this case as one deranged individual and moving on, the MSM needs to look at what makes a white man in America feel oppressed. Rather, who makes this member of the most privileged sector of society feel oppressed. But perhaps that is asking too much, given the shades and genders of MSNBC, CNN, FOX, CBS, and ABC. We all saw how threatened the white male anchors were by the successful primary run by Hillary Clinton -- people like Jim Adkisson are listening and reading, and believing these people.

I believe in free speech. But I also believe in responsible speech. And when the hatemongers of the right wing feed on sick and distraught individuals like Jim Adkisson, they have lost their right to free speech. IMHO.

From the Christian Science Monitor:
"There's a whole category of mass killers who are seeking vengeance against a group of people who they feel are taking away their birthright, their opportunities, and making it difficult to succeed," says Northeastern University criminologist James Alan Fox, author of "Extreme Killing." "They don't see themselves as criminals, but ... as striking a measure of justice, winning one for the little guy. This case may show that [Jim Adkisson] perceived that society has been bending backward to favor disenfranchised groups so they're trying to get some justice for their own victimization."

Wednesday poetry break

Phenomenal Woman

Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I’m telling lies.
I say,
It’s in the reach of my arms,
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I’m a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.
Then they swarm around me,
A hive of honey bees.
I say,
It’s the fire in my eyes,
And the flash of my teeth,
The swing in my waist,
And the joy in my feet.
I’m a woman

Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Men themselves have wondered
What they see in me.
They try so much
But they can’t touch
My inner mystery.
When I try to show them,
They say they still can’t see.
I say,
It’s in the arch of my back,
The sun of my smile,
The ride of my breasts,
The grace of my style.
I’m a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Now you understand
Just why my head’s not bowed.
I don’t shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.
When you see me passing,
It ought to make you proud.
I say,
It’s in the click of my heels,
The bend of my hair,
the palm of my hand,
The need for my care.
’Cause I’m a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

— Maya Angelou