Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Can We Please Cut China Loose?

    He made an appeal for his life, a long, rambling one as people suffering from bipolar disorder are prone to do.
     The judge laughed, and the execution went ahead.
     No, this is not from some ancient tale. It happened yesterday in China, per BBC News. Akmal Shaikh, a UK citizen, was put to death for smuggling heroin. Dealers in Poland took advantage of his vulnerability, telling him they'd make him a pop star in China if he would just...
    The UK government, his family, forensic psychiatrists all offered strong evidence that Mr. Shaikh had no way of really knowing what he was doing. The Chinese government told the UK, in essence, to grow up or else.
    Yeah, manufacturing is dirt cheap over there. The burgeoning middle class makes China a desirable trade partner. But at what cost? The US has entered into a state of economic codependency with them, making trade decisions based on placating them rather than taking into account the true cost of business on their terms:

  • How many children worldwide have suffered from the effects of cheap toys manufactured there?
  • How many of their children were hurt when melamine was added to milk to artificially bulk up protein levels?
  • How many pets have died, both in 2007 and this year's cat food recall, again because of melamine?
  • How many more human rights violations must we sponsor before we say enough?
      I know it's hard to do, and I'm doing my best not to myself. But can we include buying as little as possible manufactured in China this year, and perhaps drop President Obama a line at to let him know what's on your mind?

Monday, December 28, 2009

The Sound of Hot Air Leaving a Republican Balloon

   One of the Republican candidates (Candidate A) for US senate is trying to block an opponent's (Candidate B) ads.
   Candidate A has caused no end of grief for many people in the state because of his archaic family values/pro-corporate taxes/no public health care/anti-choice stand. He has gone to court to block ads by Candidate B.
   Candidate B, as reported by a reputable news station, has an ad outing Candidate A. A's manager denies the allegations by B. After all, A just can't be one of those, can he?
   While the vast majority of Democrats and not a few Republicans couldn't care less about sexual orientation as long as someone does a decent job, there's a sizable faction that believes that denying basic human rights to the LGBT population will somehow keep the sun shining on America. It won't.
    It only makes them look more hypocritical and suspect. Mark Sanford and his trip to see his mistress in South America; the string of evangelical preachers who have had spectacular falls from grace involving sex scandals; preaching love with one hand while slapping down the different with the other. On goes the list
     I really wish that I could stop giggling about this. Honestly. The decision to come out of the closet is a serious one due to the potential upheaval, and one that is that individual's choice alone. It should not be done by another party for gain of any kind.
    Still, there's no sweeter sound than air leaking from a hypocrite's balloon.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Merry Freakin' Christmas

funny pictures of cats with captions
see more Lolcats and funny pictures

Somehow, there just doesn't seem to be much else to say.
Whatever and however you celebrate it, hope it's a good one.

Monday, December 21, 2009

A Holiday I Can Live With

       This morning, Orion walked me in the fresh snow. It clings to the long-leaf pines at the forest preserve where we walk on days after storms due to less than optimal roads to our usual park. A silence gently embraced the silvered woods.   

    Solstice doesn't carry the emotional baggage that Christmas does. It's not been exploited commercially, and the weight of being expected to play nice with people who believe that DNA connection is an excuse to behave badly. It's a time in the quiet to think about winter aspirations, and to get busy working on them.
The extra seconds of light at the end of today remind us that it gets better from here. We certainly have storms to weather, but we are compensated by day digging in its toes just a little longer.
    Blessed Solstice, everyone.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Swan and Iris: The Second Coming

Welcome to the world of e-publishing.
I had published Swan and Iris as a traditional hardcopy type of publication, but now with technological advances, it's back in a PDF format. The mission statement: "supporting our readers in living authentic lives of spirit, substance, and serenity."
The debut issue has articles on time banks, how Europeans stay thinner than people in the US, acupressure for dogs, an interview with Joan Norton, author of 14 Steps to Awaken the Sacred Feminine, media reviews, and a journaling exercise.
If you buy your clothes on the basis of what fits you instead of making yourself fit someone else's vision; if you believe that working for social change is a spiritual practice; if you prefer independent artists; if you honestly don't give a crap which celebrity buys what; and if you believe there's more than one way to have a relationship with That Which Is Out There, Swan and Iris might be for you. 

Interested in a sample? Email me at 
the journal coach (one word)

(Take that, spammers!) 

Thanks for reading my blog and thanks for your interest!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Working Out, Python Style

Monday: cloudy, and it started raining.
Tuesday: rain, snow, rain, sleet. Monty Python fans, please feel free to hum "Spam."
Wednesday: wind whipped snow and temperatures dropping like rocks down a well.
Thursday, today: Humans live in this? The flawless aquamarine sky belies barely above zero temps. It's about 4 above. Tomorrow will be a near tropical 20-something. 
The two big challenges: not succumbing to boredom-fueled snacking (much easier now that I don't bring stuff into the house) and keeping Orion entertained. We just can't walk as we usually do. The frigid weather limits our time outside, so we must take measures. 
Just now in the yard, Orion tended to his personal business. 
I jogged in place and did jumping jacks to keep warm.
Orion started to paw in the snow, as if wanting to play with it. Then he began tracking one of the critters who runs through the yard.
I, clad in a purple down coat, kept jogging and doing jumping jacks. I started singing "The Lumberjack Song."
Orion gave me a horrified look and ran for the back door.  

Monday, December 7, 2009

The Truth Shall Set You Free, But at What Cost?

   I'm still giggling and grateful. This lunch break's whoop of joy came in the form of Charlie Rose's interview with Robin Williams. They talked of Robin's current tour and two current movies, heavily sprinkled with references to George W. Bush, Lindsay Lohan and other topics of interest.
   In the middle of all of this, Robin spoke of Richard Pryor's  influence on him. The late great Mr. Pryor always told the truth, his truth of a childhood in a brothel and of his problems with drugs, through his jokes. The humor provided a catharsis for him, and Robin said that he noticed a difference after he had performed.  
    Once I heard a literature professor say that since the the advent of psychotherapy, there had been no great novels. I wouldn't go so far as to say that. It can be incredibly freeing to write about one's demons, to speak of their signatures upon one's soul. I would add the caveat that it matters not that you do it; simply pick your venues carefully.
   We can't all, nor should we, make our confession or plead our case to Mother Oprah in front of a live studio audience. Not everyone wants to hear a story, and not everyone involved needs to have their lives disrupted because of someone else's sins.Even if deserved revenge is a factor, or the hope that others who have suffered the same plight will take courage, and even if it will, one thinks, be part of the healing process, it's best to be discreet.
   Write in a journal. Write not just what happened, but consequences for the wrongdoing. Put it into a work of fiction. I once met a mystery writer who taught high school English. He was union steward for his school. After meetings where someone had annoyed him to no end, he would write a scene where the colleague would perish in a most foul and untoward manner. If it still worked the next day, he would write it into his current book. 
    Use your truth as a starting point for a project, and let it take its course from there. Do it for yourself, and other on the path will find you.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Luncheon with Miss Austen

I am Marianne Dashwood!

Take the Quiz here!

Some years ago, I worked as an addictions counselor at a community based counseling center. Some of my clients chose to change. The court system forced others, many of whom could not wrap their brains around why everyone was so upset that they'd had a couple too many beers and tried to drive, or thrown a plate or two during an argument, or perhaps that maybe staying with someone using them to transport contraband wasn't a good idea.
I lasted for eighteen months.
I lasted that long because of my lunch ritual. Get lunch from lounge fridge. Brew tea. Close office door, and opened the portal of the pages take me back in time to Regency England. Manners, respect, even from the darkest of scoundrels.
So we flash forward to tonight. Tiger Woods' alleged indiscretions almost one-upped President Obama's speech about sending another 30,000 troops to Afghanistan, a/k/a the graveyard of empires. I Bing'd in Jane Austen, and through the magic of links, found this quiz. And my alter ego.