Saturday, April 26, 2008

"coping with life. facing death. seeking wisdom."

Sorry I've been away. We are mourning the loss of Unnamed Partner's younger brother, who died last week after an extremely brave battle with pancreatic cancer. Although he hadn't felt up to commenting recently, longtime readers will remember his comments as "Scepter66." In fact, he was one of the first regular readers of this blog when I began writing just a year ago -- about the same time he received his awful diagnosis. He was my blogging buddy, and deserving of a special tribute here. This has been a tough post to write.

"Scepter66," known to family and friends as John, was a self-described Independent, and he was always up for a discussion on politics. In fact, at family gatherings the first thing he often said to me was "I really liked that post you wrote on ...." He held his own beliefs so strongly and passionately, but was always ready to hear another view on any issue. And in the early days when I didn't know who was reading this blog, he was often the reader I pictured in my mind as I wrote. That really meant a lot to me and I always told him how much I appreciated him and the other ... maybe 3 readers I had at the beginning.

And speaking of family gatherings, when Unnamed Partner brought me home for the first time 10 years ago, John welcomed me with open arms, as did the rest of the family. He was open-minded, non judgemental, and always striving to learn more and be a better person. I have gotten to know his wife and his three wonderful daughters over these years, and I've seen these girls grow up into incredibly strong and smart young women. Yesterday as I sat with his mother at the Funeral Home, she remembered how John and his then-high school sweetheart, eventually his wife, became pregnant when they were just out of high school. She said John wanted to marry her right away -- "He always wanted to do what was right," she said. What a wonderful legacy to leave behind and what a wonderful way for your mother to remember you.

John was an excellent writer, and always left great comments here. The thoughtful kind that I personally always have a hard time leaving at blogs myself. He also dabbled with keeping his own blog to express his feelings about the battle he was going through, although I think felt a little self-conscious about being too revealing of his emotions in front of the strangers of the blogosphere. The quote in the title is from his blogger profile. You can get an idea of what kind of man he was by reading from the last post on his blog, Colonial Vulcan, where he quotes Ben Franklin:
"How many observe Christ's birthday! How few, His precepts! O! 'tis easier to keep holidays than commandments."
And I would be remiss if I didn't also mention that John was a regular writer at a local blog that we started in our neighborhood, Harford Road, Hon. In fact, he was our regular roving reporter, with posts such as his photo journey down Harford Road on New Year's Eve. He also was a great advocate for the local restaurants in the neighborhood, and kept a keen eye on openings and closings. "Harford Road Hon" has not been the same without John, and again, I always felt he was my reader whenever I posted there. I will miss writing something funny and imagining his laugh when he read it.

It often seems cliche to say someone fought a "brave battle" with cancer -- that is, until you see someone wage that battle. When you see the terrible toll that this disease takes on the body, you wonder at how anyone could be strong enough to cope. But John fought hard and strong, keeping his dignity and compassion for others throughout his ordeal. Even when it became obvious that the experimental treatment he was undergoing was not helping, he insisted on continuing, because it might help someone else down the road. I can only hope that if faced with this type of personal challenge, I would be half as strong as John was in facing it head-on.

I know I'll always think of John reading my words whenever I post something here. Just this morning I listened to the radio on my drive in and heard about the latest debacle of the strange strained relationship of Obama and Wright. And I immediately remembered a post I wrote in the fall about the "craptacular" choice of candidates we have this year. John loved that description and we laughed about it together last Thanksgiving. I have no doubt that John is still watching the political season. But I imagine him now with an enlightened wisdom looking down at us, shaking his head at the ridiculousness of politics and saying "People! Just try to do what's right."

Thursday, April 24, 2008

McCain Watch: I guess barefoot and pregnant would be o.k., too

I was having trouble coming up with a topic to post on today, but fortunately John McCain steps right up to the plate with his latest insane move: Oppose the Equal Pay Bill in the Senate. Hey, thanks John! From AP:
Republican Sen. John McCain, campaigning through poverty-stricken cities and towns, said Wednesday he opposes a Senate bill that seeks equal pay for women because it would lead to more lawsuits.

Senate Republicans killed the bill Wednesday night on a 56-42 vote that denied the measure the 60 votes needed to advance it to full debate and a vote. Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., had delayed the vote to give McCain's Democratic rivals, Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama, time to return to Washington to support the measure, which would make it easier for women to sue their employers for pay discrimination.

Because, you know, we'll say say you women should get equal pay, but we can't have you taking it to court or anything! And true to his strong stands on the issues of the day:

McCain skipped the vote to campaign in New Orleans.

Hmmmm. Wonder how that's working out for him. I mean, the residents of New Orleans just love them some Republicans, don't they? And with good reason! But don't think the Senator hasn't been busy, busy, busy!
In recent weeks, McCain has proposed a series of tax breaks for corporations, government-backed refinancing for struggling homeowners and a summer holiday from gas taxes. He proposed another new program Wednesday: a tax write-off for companies that provide high-speed Internet access for underserved, low-income communities.
So, come on little ladies -- with all that good stuff going on, you don't want to sue your employer over something silly like equal pay, do you?

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

No question: This girl's got game!

From MyDD:

Hillary Clinton Raises $2.5 Million And Counting

Since Pennsylvania was called for Hillary Clinton 3 hours ago she has raised $2.5 million, 80% of which is from new donors.

Voters do not want this to be over.

UPDATE: Again, from MyDD:
On MSNBC a few minutes ago Terry McCauliffe announced the Hillary Clinton campaign raised $10 million online "with 50,000 brand new donors" since the polls closed in Pennsylvania last night. "The biggest day we've ever had." An impressive amount by any measure and, as I wrote last night, a clear sign that people do not want this primary to be over.
I know there's the "Operation chaos" theory, that Republicans switched their registration in order to be able to vote for Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primary and then vote against her in the general election .... on the grassy knoll, too, I suppose. Anyway, I highly doubt those party-switchers are also donating money. Gee, maybe her support is for real?

Pa. primary results raise real issues of electability

With Hillary Clinton's win in yesterday's Pennsylvania primary come some real concerns about Barack Obama's ability to win over voters. Or rather his lack of ability. The Obama campaign's defense is that Clinton had a stronghold on Pennsylvania and so her win there should not be a surprise to anyone. My issue with that defense is that these voters are just the type that he will need to win over in the general election. And I'm not sure he can do it nationally, if he couldn't in Pennsylvania, where he outspent the Clinton campaign by a 3 to 1 margin.

Both candidates have their strong and very loyal base, and that's how the voting went. CNN has the exit poll data -- click there to read all the numbers. But to summarize, the results don't show me that Obama is making any inroads with the voters he will need to win the general election in November.

Obama won
Younger voters
College grads
Philadelphia and suburbs
Candidate quality: Change

Clinton won
Women and older voters
All regions except Philly area
Gun owners
Moderates and conservatives
Candidate quality: Cares about people, experience, electability
Voters worried about the economy
Union members

But by far the most interesting result to me was this oddity (click to enlarge):

Does anyone want to explain that one to me? Because what I see is that only 79% of Obama's supporters believe he will be the Democratic nominee, and I find that stunning.

Wednesday Poetry Break: Happy Birthday Will!

Today is the presumed birthday of William Shakespeare, born 444 years ago on April 23, 1564. (Oh, I know that's not a picture of William Shakespeare, it's Joseph Fiennes playing young Will in "Shakespeare in Love." Don't be so picky -- just feast your eyes!)

And what a treat today to listen to the Writer's Almanac, and hear Garrison Keillor reading the poem below. Enjoy!

Sonnet 104

To me, fair friend, you never can be old,
For as you were when first your eye I eyed,
Such seems your beauty still. Three winters cold
Have from the forests shook three summers' pride,
Three beauteous springs to yellow autumn turned
In process of the seasons have I seen,
Three April pérfumes in three hot Junes burned,
Since first I saw you fresh, which yet are green.
Ah yet doth beauty, like a dial hand,
Steal from his figure, and no pace perceived;
So your sweet hue, which methinks still doth stand,
Hath motion, and mine eye may be deceived:
For fear of which, hear this, thou age unbred,
Ere you were born was beauty's summer dead.

— William Shakespeare

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Pa. primary night ...

I'm flipping through the channels to see what the asshats pundits are saying. But wait! It's Bravo! It's "Work Out" with Jackie Warner! No no! Must change the channel.

I don't know. Wolf Blitzer? Jackie Warner?

Tim Russert? Jackie Warner?

I ask you: Chris Matthews? Jackie Warner?

I guess I can check the exit polls ... later.

Random green thoughts today

I'm know I'm preaching to the choir here when I encourage you to go green wherever you can. You know it's important, I know it's important. So why does our society make it so damn hard to do?

My biggest issue is that I have a terrible commute to work. I'm trying to do everything I can to make less of an impact on the earth, but I'm constrained with this commute. I live about 40 miles from where I work. But I live in one large city, and work in another, on the East Coast. You might think I would be able to take public transportation -- especially since both cities are adjacent to Interstate 95, a major north-south highway. You would be wrong.

Yesterday after work I had a flat tire coming out of the parking garage. I won't bore you with all the details, but basically because I never got around to getting my spare repaired, I was screwed. So I sat in a Merchant's Tire store for 2 hours (don't ask why it took so long -- they lost my car key -- just know that they didn't charge me in the end), but I was fortunate to have one of my new books. Yes -- see how interestingly life works out sometimes?

In Original Zinn, Howard Zinn talks about the lack of a motive for corporations to do anything about problems like pollution because there's no profit in it.
That profit motive means that homes will not be built for low-income people because there is no money to be made that way. Teachers' salaries will not be doubled, as they should be. The rivers, lakes, and oceans will not be cleaned up because there is no profit in it. We are not going to curtail the emissions from cars that are polluting the atmosphere and destroying the environment for ourselves and our children because that will cut into the profits of the automobile manufacturers.
We live in a capitalist society, and the profit motive is an ugly reality. I'm not saying we throw out our economic system, but I am saying that we need to look at the harsh side effects of it. No one seems to want to do that anymore. Back when the first Earth Day was celebrated, 38 years ago today, many decried it as a socialist movement. The fact that April 22, 1970, was the Vladmir Lenin's 100 birthday surely must mean something, right?

The movement today must begin at home. It must begin with me and with you doing what we can to make a difference. Our society has insulated us against the realities of pollution int he world and we think as long as we change our lightbulbs we've done our part. You know what? I change my lightbulbs, I recycle, I carpool, I eat meat only occasionally, I turn the heat down in the winter and up in the summer, and look what I found out when I calculated my carbon footprint:

Please look again at that last figure.

Monday, April 21, 2008



You really thought I was going to show you my new haircut? Nah. But here's a peek. The secretary in my office just said I look younger. Oh yeah, and taller. Huh.

That's better than this morning, when she it looked "professional." Which sounded to me as if it looked like I'd cut it myself ...

McCain Watch

Lest he think we're not paying attention, I'm starting a new feature here at the Jello Manse, entitled McCain Watch. We all know he's counting on Democrats to be distracted by the unprecedented competition for the nomination this year. But we're not going to do that, are we? We're quire capable of keeping up to date on the Democratic primaries while still staying informed about the Senator from Arizona's continued mistakes and outrageous statements.

Here's what John McCain is up to these days:

McCain Flip-Flops In 30 Seconds: Hagee Endorsement A ‘Mistake,’ But ‘I’m Glad To Have’ It
From ThinkProgress

STEPHANOPOULOS: So was it a mistake to solicit and accept his endorsement?

MCCAIN: Oh, probably, sure. […]

STEPHANOPOULOS: So you no longer want his endorsement?

MCCAIN: I’m glad to have his endorsement. I condemn remarks that are, in any way, viewed as anti-anything. And thanks for asking.

And in case you hadn't heard, the man's got a temper -- a nasty one .... you don't want this guy's finger anywhere near the button. This article is loaded with examples, but this is one description that I find especially worrisome:

From The Washington Post:
McCain: A Question of Temperament

McCain has built much of his appeal, especially with independents, as the fiery maverick willing to defy both parties. His tempestuousness has girded him in high-stakes confrontations, especially against Republican conservatives who regard his occasionally moderate stances as proof that he has sold them out.

"You will damn well do this. You will make this a holiday. You're making us look like fools," he privately exploded two decades ago at a stunned group of Arizona Republicans who opposed creating a state holiday in remembrance of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

Early during their days together in the Senate, Smith came to believe that McCain often used his temper as a strategic weapon, that if he "couldn't persuade you, he was going at least to needle you or [sometimes] belittle you or blow up into trying to have you believe you were beneath him, so that you'd be less likely to challenge him. He needed to be the top guy."

Smith admits to not liking McCain, a point he has often made over the years to reporters. "I've witnessed a lot of his temper and outbursts," Smith said. "For me, some of this stuff is relevant. It raises questions about stability. . . . It's more than just temper. It's this need of his to show you that he's above you -- a sneering, condescending attitude. It's hurt his relationships in Congress. . . . I've seen it up-close."

Whatever happens in Pennsylvania and beyond, whoever becomes the Democratic nominee, it's vitally important for the world that John McCain does not become the next president of the United States.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Update on Little Gray, aka "Earl"

For all who have asked, the foster kitten we took in from the cold cold streets about a month ago has been adopted by my big brother. Yay for big brothers! Yes, big brother and kitty are now best of pals, and because "Little Gray" was clearly too dainty for either of these guys, he became "Earl."

As you can see, Earl is also "Mom Approved":