If it’s Friday, it must mean leftovers . . .

 

Video of  Avalanche Creek in Montana’s Glacier National Park by Janson Jones

“Start a huge, foolish project, like Noah…it makes absolutely no difference what people think of you.” ~ Rumi 

Well, one of the only good things about being bi-polar is that sufferers of this condition have manic bouts in which they become very hyper and have a lot of energy. Granted, I don’t have these bouts of mania the way that I used to, mostly because of my medication, but since I’m not taking my medication as I am supposed to, I am now having these spurts of energy. Did you follow all of that?

Anyway, yesterday I don’t know what got into me, but I cleaned the kitchen and then proceeded to do all of the paperwork that has been backed up, which meant forms to seven pharmaceutical companies requesting participation in their patient assistance programs. In addition to the forms, I had to include supporting documentation showing why I need this assistance. After completing the forms online, I then tried to get all of the packages together but ended up confusing myself, so I enlisted Corey’s help in going through each package to make sure that I had everything.

I also had to do an explanatory cover letter, and a cover letter to my doctor explaining everything that I was trying to do. In addition, I finally got the paperwork together for my student loan requesting forbearance due to poverty, and I completed a form for another withdrawal from my retirement, this time to pay my health insurance premium. At this rate, I will have absolutely no money left in my retirement, well, very little.

But the point is that I got all of this paperwork completed and ready to go to the various places to which it needs to be disbursed; I also filed my copies and filed a pile of other stuff that was cluttering up my desk. Finally. And of course, Corey helped. So a very productive day. Today? Well today my back is killing me and I have a headache—the price for doing too much in one day.

“It is not the perfect who always succeed in life, but those who keep trying even in the face of tremendous hardships . . .” ~ Steven Apel

Termination Dust, Chugach State Park, AK by Janson Jones

The director of the publishing program at George Washington University denied my grade appeal, which I predicted he would do, but at least I finally found out what grade I got on my project for the infrastructure class. He claims that the grade was posted on Blackboard, but it was not posted for the three months that I checked. I got an A on the project, but since the project only counted for 15 percent of the grade, it wasn’t enough to balance my abysmal performance on the midterm or final exam.

Quite frankly, that class was a failure as far as I’m concerned. The professors who were team-teaching did not mesh well. Entirely too much material was presented without there being any type of background preparation. It was a very advanced course without a background course preceding it in the cohort.

A bit of background here: The publishing degree that I completed in the summer of 2008 was set up as a cohort, which meant that everyone took the same classes for the sequence of the degree, with the exception of the concentration classes. I took the e-publishing concentration, which included this computer infrastructure class. However, at no point in the sequence was there a basic HTML course or a course in creating a website. As a result, those of us with little or no HTML backgrounds were completely lost in the infrastructure class.

We were also the second cohort to complete the program, which is now undergoing a complete restructuring. In essence, our cohort, along with the first cohort, were the guinea pigs, the ones they got to experiment on to see what worked and what didn’t work. There was duplication among the courses, and then there was the problem with the e-publishing concentration.

Now I must pause here to say that overall, the instructors in the program were wonderful, with diverse backgrounds in the publishing industry. I learned a great deal, and wouldn’t trade the experience for anything. However, I do feel that we were short shrifted in that the kinks in the new program had yet to be finessed. Oh well. Live and learn.

“A thousand words leave not the same deep impression as does a single deed.” ~ Henrik Ibsen 

Paint Cans from marthastewart.com

Now that I’ve complete my major paperwork project, I’ve finally gotten Corey to agree to painting the bedroom. I really hope that he comes through this time. Originally the bedroom was supposed to be painted for Mother’s Day . . . 2008! Since it was never done, the new bedroom bureau has been sitting in the living room taking up much-needed space and is part of the reason for the clutter that I go on about so much.

We have all of the supplies to do the bedroom, but it’s such a huge undertaking that we haven’t gotten around to doing it. We have to move furniture out of the room, move things into the middle of the room, removed everything from the walls, spackle, prep, etc.

To be fair, I know personally how hard it is to get motivated for such an undertaking when you just aren’t feeling right. Being out of work for as long as Corey has been has really taken a toll on him emotionally. His self-esteem is shot, and in essence, he cannot really concentrate on anything too big. I know this feeling well.

But Corey’s job with Vane Brothers is fast approaching; his point of contact said the end of December or beginning of January. I can’t believe that it is almost December, but if we can all make it through the upcoming holidays, things should be looking up by 2010. I know that Corey will like being back at work, and I also know that it will greatly improve his state of mind.

Unfortunately, the apprenticeship with the shipyard did not pan out as Corey does not have the required background in advanced math classes, which is a requirement for acceptance. By the time he takes the 12 hours of math and technology, he will have a semester of college completed. The way he looks at it, and I agree, is that if he has to take a semester of college to get into the program, which he would complete with an Associate’s Degree (four to five semesters of work), he might as well go ahead and register for classes and get his Associate’s in his preferred field.

With the upcoming position with Vane Brothers, the disappointment with the apprentice program has been cushioned, and Corey is looking forward to getting back on track professionally.

 “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” ~ Winston S. Churchill

As for my own career, who knows? One of the areas that I would like to explore would be book indexing, which is something that I could pursue at home, which would allow me to work at a more comfortable pace without the pressures of a regular schedule. If anyone out there knows or works for someone who is looking for a book indexer, I’m available, and I’m good at it.

However, part of me really wishes that I could go back to a real job, one in which I interact with other grownups, have responsibilities, make a decent living with benefits. The reality is that I don’t know that I’ll ever be able to do that again. But I’m not giving up on the idea entirely. I suppose that it’s just one more thing in my life for which I’ll have to wait and see what the future holds.

So other than those tidbits, I don’t have a lot to report, but here are a few thoughts for Friday:

  • How did Heidi Klum manage to walk the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show only six weeks after giving birth to her fourth child? That woman must have incredible elasticity in her skin, that and very good genes.
  • Carol Hannah Design from Project Runway Finale
  • Speaking of Heidi Klum, Project Runway finished last night with Irina being declared the winner. Personally, I liked Carol Hannah, but I knew that Irina would win. That show is one of my guilty pleasures.
  • I read that a man in London has been found not guilty for strangling his wife. Apparently, he has suffered long-term from a sleep disorder and has automatism, a condition in which the sleeping individual has no control over his or her actions. Brian Thomas, the man on trial, strangled his wife because he mistook her for an intruder. Hmm, things that make you go hmm.
  • In Peoria, Arizona, a family’s home was burglarized. The intruders took electronics and a music box containing their deceased baby’s ashes. Man, I’d like to know what kind of person steals ashes.
  • Linday Lohan is upset that she wasn’t allowed to take $15,000 worth of jewelry from an event. She was promised between $1500 and $2,000 of loot for her appearance. Hello? I would show up wearing a gopher suit to get $1500 worth of free loot, and I wouldn’t complain. I mean, I’m a lot funnier than Lohan, whose only claim to fame at the moment is that she does nothing.
  • Hershey Co. is making a bid for Cadbury PLC. This disheartens me. I don’t really like Hershey’s chocolate, but I absolutely love Cadbury as it’s the chocolate that I ate as a child in England. Cadbury Fruit and Nut Bar, Cadbury Caramello. Um Um Good.
  • MSNBC regularly posts photographs of people who have had Ambush Makeovers. These are “Today Show” fans who are grabbed off the street and given a makeover. I wonder if they make house calls . . .
  • Speaking of house calls, I am seriously thinking of submitting our house for “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.” I know that we don’t have eight children, but geez, does every deserving family have to have a boatload of kids to qualify? What about normal everyday people who have a real need? Maybe they could consider someone like us for a change.
  • And speaking of houses, I’m not liking the current season of “House” that much. I mean, the two-hour season premier was wonderful, but since then, it doesn’t seem to have its usual bite.
  • Dr. Warner (Tamara Tunie) of Law & Order SVU
  • And while I’m on shows that have lost their bite, “Law & Order SVU” might be on its last leg. What makes that particular L&O franchise so good is the interaction with the criminals and the nature of the crimes themselves. This season is spending too much time on the personal lives—a show about Olivia, a show about Elliott, a show about Huang. An episode about ADA Paxton. Get back to the squad room and the victims.
  • The long nightmare is over: Jon & Kate are finally saying buh bye. Never watched the show myself, but am soooo tired of hearing about this two. And what’s with her hair?
  • And finally, an image of the Virgin Mary holding the baby Jesus has appeared on a piece of glass in a church in Latvia. I don’t mean to be mean, but the image that they are showing looks more like the snow suits that Luke and Han wore on the ice planet in Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back. Does that make me a bad person?

Many thanks to my comrade Janson Jones for the inspiring video. More later. Peace.

One of my all-time favorite songs: “Chances Are,” by Bob Seger and Martine McBride from Hope Floats.

 

If it’s Friday, it must mean leftovers . . .

Norma Desmond

Gloria Swanson as Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard

 

Joe Gillis: “You’re Norma Desmond. You used to be in silent pictures. You used to be big.” 
Norma Desmond: “I am big. It’s the pictures that got small.” ~ From Sunset Boulevard

No post yesterday as I could think of absolutely nothing interesting to say.  Hate it when that happens.

A few bits and pieces for my Friday Leftovers:

One of my favorite bloggers has taken down her blog. I deleted it from my blogroll today and have to say that it gave me a pang of sadness to do so. She is a wonderful writer and has a great turn with words. I’m hoping that she will reconsider and come back with a new iteration. Although I must admit that I understand too well her comment about how she feels that her blog has become too whiney. I often feel that way myself, although, it doesn’t stop me from continuing to whine and post. Perhaps she has the right idea . . . Just a thought.

I’ve been reading the latest on what Junior Senator Al Franken of Minnesota is doing, and boy am I glad that he was finally sworn in. The man is incredibly intelligent and is working quickly to make a name for himself. In one article, Franken took to task conservative economist Diana Furchtgott-Roth for claiming that the Democrats’ healthcare reforms would increase the number of bankruptcies filed for medical reasons. As Franken pointed out, countries with national healthcare, such as Switzerland, Germany, and France had exactly zero bankruptcies due to medical crises last year. So nice when sweeping generalizations are countered with cold, hard facts.

Sunset Boulevard Movie Poster
Movie Poster for Sunset Boulevard

In my ongoing quest to add new titles to my music playlists, I have downloaded some songs from the movie Across the Universe, which features covers of Beatles’ songs. Even though the Beatles still rank as one of my favorite bands, I am not a Beatle elitist, and I really enjoy a good cover. I’m including one of my favorites at the end of this post. It’s by Fiona Apple, who has a wonderful voice. The song is actually not from the movie but from the television show “Smallville,” but it is a Beatles’ cover nonetheless.

I have asked Corey to go through the storage bins again and find me some new-old reading material. I haven’t read a book in almost two weeks, and I’m going through withdrawal. Of course, for most of those days, I couldn’t read because of the blasted migraine, but the pain has settled into just a general tight discomfort, so I want to read. In particular, I’m craving my Ann Rule books. If you like a tightly-written true crime novel, she is the best in her genre.

Speaking of migraines, I think that I’m clenching my teeth again. Actually, I’m sure of it. When I first wake up, my jaw is very tight, and it hurts, just like it used to years ago when I was clenching and grinding in my sleep. I actually had two jaw surgeries because of my TMJ. I hope that just by being aware of it now I can reteach myself not to clench. No more surgeries for me.

Last week this time it was about 46° F outside. Today it’s about 80° F. I love this area. It’s just a hotbed for extremes, which wreaks havoc on the sinuses. Common saying about Tidewater/Hampton Roads: “If you don’t like the weather, just wait a few hours.”

I glanced at the calendar today, and am completely mystified as to how it is October already, let alone almost Halloween. I am so not ready for the holidays. I hope to make it through November reasonably well this year, but I never know. November is such a horrible month for me—too many bad anniversaries. Here’s hoping that I don’t crash and burn like I did last November.

Norma Desmond: “There once was a time in this business when I had the eyes of the whole world! But that wasn’t good enough for them, oh no! They had to have the ears of the whole world too. So they opened their big mouths and out came talk. Talk! TALK!” ~ From Sunset Boulevard

Another political aside: Darth Dick Cheney received the Center for Security Policy’s Keeper of the Flame Award. Looking on and listening to Cheney were convicted felon Scooter Libby and former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. Great company. Essentially, the speech was filled with more of Cheney’s nonsensical commentary about how life was safe under Bush and Cheney (for, and I quote, “seven years, four months, and nine days”) and life is horrible now because . . . well . . . Obama hasn’t resolved the war in Afghanistan that Cheney started . . . This administration isn’t using the former administration’s review of the eight-year-old war. I believe the word dithering was used. Hmm, if Cheney had such a great plan to end the war, why didn’t he do it when he was in office? Why did requests for more troops sit unanswered for eight months? Why was Afghanistan clearly relegated to secondary status after Iraq? But most importantly, why is this man still speaking, and why are people still listening? “Keeper of the Flame”? More like perpetuator of flaming discord. Beh.

One more: When I mentioned earlier that I didn’t think that President Obama’s White House should openly engage in a fracas with Fox Noise, I said that the publicity would only encourage them. Boy was I right, and not in a good way. People: Calm Down. Some of you need to be reminded that the Bush administration regularly neglected to allow commentators and news people from networks and radio stations that were perceived to be too liberal or anti-Bush. Whenever W. invited talk radio hosts to the White House, liberal hosts were never included, but conservative braniacs like Glenn Beck were. In the last two years of the administration, NBC, and MSNBC were regularly left off lists. And dare I mention that little tidbit about how W.’s communications people paid journalists to ask questions? Remember Jeff Gannon of the questionable Talon News? ‘Nuff said.

Sending good luck wishes across the world to Australia for Maureen of White Orchid, who is waiting to hear about her new job, and her daughter Prue, who is scheduled for surgery. A stressful time for everyone. Hoping that everything turns out well.

On this front, still waiting to see if Social Security is going to approve my disability claim this time. Had to send them additional information. Have I mentioned before how much I love bureaucracies and paper work?

Someone please explain to me why it would be bad to have healthcare for everyone who needs it? I know that we aren’t going to get exactly what we need, but if we get nothing again this time, then I am going to work my butt off in the campaign to rescind healthcare for Congress at no cost. Why do they deserve healthcare, but everyone else does not? And don’t try to tell me that this statement and the one above contradict each other. I would gladly fill out forms if it meant that I was getting somewhere. It’s the constant completion of forms without any forward progress that irks me.

President Obama is coming to Virginia on Tuesday on behalf of Democratic candidate for governor Creigh Deeds. About time, I say. I’m not really sure why Obama waited so long to get involved in this race as it’s a big one. Virginia almost always goes with a Republican governor when the President is a Democrat. This time, we had a chance to keep a Democrat, yet Obama has not done much in the way of supporting Deeds. You would think that he would have worked harder to retain a state that went blue for the first time since 1964.

Windows has come out with Windows 7. Excuse me, but I still can’t use this frigging Windows Vista without my computer locking up at least once a day. Windows XP was a wonderful operating system. I loved it, loved everything about it, considered it the best since Windows 95. What is it with Windows? I know, Macs are better, but who can afford a Mac? If they weren’t so blasted expensive, I’d say convert all of the PC’s to Macs, but of course, that is completely out of the question. Corey likes to remind me that he has no problems with Vista. Yep. Okay. Whatever.

Norma Desmond: “We didn’t need dialogue. We had faces.” ~ From Sunset Boulevard

Carol Burnett as Norma Desmond
Carol Burnett as Norma Desmond

When I proofed this post on Sunday, I realized that an entire paragraph was missing, the one that explains the whole Sunset Boulevard theme: In case you did not recognize the quote “I’m ready for my close-up, Mr. DeMille,” it is taken from Sunset Boulevard, a classic movie starring Gloria Swanson as Norma Desmond, an aging, delusional movie star. That particular line comes at the end of the movie. Some of you may remember Carol Burnett’s hilarious turn as Norma Desmond on the old “Carol Burnett Show.”

Nothing yet on the job front for Corey. He did submit his application to Newport News Shipbuilding for their apprentice program, but we have no idea as to how long that process takes. If he gets in, it would be a great move. He would get a decent salary as an apprentice with full benefits, plus he would finish the program with an Associate’s Degree. I’m really hoping that this works out because the whole tug boat thing is at a standstill.

Mom decided not to replace her roof right now, this after weeks of calling us every couple of hours about what to do. My mother is decidedly single-minded once she is focused on something, and then, she turns on a dime. Not even trying to figure her out any more.

By the way, any more is technically supposed to be two words all of the time. Over time, anymore as one word has been substituted, but it is not preferred grammatically. The difference is that any more as two words signifies any longer. When used as one word, it is a colloquialism for nowadays: Not a day goes by without a headache anymore. Yuck.

Other than that, everything else is pretty much normal. Tillie is fine after her last episode. Brett is trying to stay caught up in school, and Eamonn is still working on his construction job until the new school semester. Not hearing a lot from Alexis these days. Not sure if she is in one of her moods, or just extraordinarily busy. Such is life when everyone is busy with their own things. Oh yes, the van is still running nicely, and the truck is still dead.  Good and bad, as usual.

Here’s hoping that nothing else too dramatic happens in the next few days. However, I’ve been on the phone (currently on hold) with my retirement fund for the past 20 minutes regarding a withdrawal, and I don’t think that I’m going to hear what I want to hear; this after speaking to three different people about this transaction and being told that everything was fine. Why oh why, I am whining to myself.

 

More later. Peace.

Peace has to be created, in order to be maintained. It is the product of Faith, Strength, Energy, Will, Sympathy, Justice, Imagination, and the triumph of principle. It will never be achieved by passivity and quietism.” ~ Dorothy Thompson

Barack Obama 10-2009

President Barack Obama, Winner of the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize

Manners people, please! 

“Manners are of more importance than laws . . . Manners are what vex or soothe, corrupt or purify, exalt  or debase, barbarize or refine us, by a constant, steady, uniform, insensible operation, like that of the air we breathe in.” ~ Edmund Burke

Sometimes, I really think that I must be living in some kind of fairy tale world, one in which individuals treat each other with respect, one in which the office of the President of the United States still commands respect, one in which the failures of a nation, as in the ability to secure hosting of the Olympics, would not be turned into a sabre-rattling challenge of President Obama’s abilities as Chief Executive.

I also believe that puppy dogs are cute, oatmeal is good for you, a flat tax is the only fair way in which to tax people, national healthcare is a good thing, Asian horror movies are better than English-language horror movies, cotton candy is only good for the first half of the cone, and you don’t yell out of turn on national television during a presidential address. You wait until a maroon from Fox News asks you what you think, and then you open your mouth and let the drivel pour forth.

I know, my liberal bias is showing. But not really. See, if by some strange stretch of the imagination W. had won the Nobel Peace Prize, I would have been amazed, dumbfounded even, but I still would have considered it one in the bonus slot for the country. That’s just how I am: I may not respect the man, but I do respect the office. And I’m pretty sure that I didn’t coin that phrase, that someone years ago came up with it first.

american_flag I would think, given that I consider myself to be pretty patriotic, that having the President of the United States win the Nobel Peace Prize would be a cause for celebration, elation, and a groundswell of that old proud to be an American feeling. But once again, I find myself to be hopelessly clueless in daring to consider such nonsense.

Apparently, there is a group of people out there—composed of both liberals and conservatives—who do not believe that President Obama deserves the much-honored prize because he “hasn’t really done anything.”

According to one article that I read, Erick Erickson of the conservative RedState.com contends that the President won in part because he is black:

“I did not realize the Nobel Peace Prize had an affirmative action quota for it, but that is the only thing I can think of for this news,” Erickson wrote. “There is no way Barack Obama earned it in the nominations period.”

That is just a vile and ignorant thing to say, and I am not going to lower myself to respond because my blog might get censored.

Fortunately, some Republicans were more gracious. Senator John McCain commented in the same article, saying that while he “could not divine the Nobel committee’s intentions,” he did think that “part of their decision-making was expectations.”  McCain said that he was certain that the “the president understands that he now has even more to live up to. But as Americans, we’re proud when our president receives an award of that prestigious category.”

Look, I will admit, as I have done before, that Obama has failed his supporters on some promises. But at the same time, I try to remember that it is only his first year, not even a year actually, and it takes time to get things done in Washington, D.C. I’m still willing to give him the benefit of the doubt and hope that he follows through on more campaign promises than he lets fall by the wayside.

Having said that, I would like to point out that this is a pretty big deal, folks. Only two other sitting presidents have been awarded the very illustrious Nobel Peace Prize: Woodrow Wilson won in 1919, predominantly for the formation of the League of Nations, and before him, Theodore Roosevelt won in 1906 for his role in helping to end the Russo-Japanese War.

peace-earthSince its inception in 1901, Alfred Nobel’s Peace Prize has been awarded to 96 individuals and 23 organizations, including ex-secretaries of state, journalists, priests, writers, ambassadors, professors, the 14th Dalai Lama, the International Red Cross, Amnesty International, and International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, to name but a few. All with differing backgrounds, viewpoints, countries of origin, and accomplishments.

President Obama may not be the man you cast your vote for in November, but he is the man who holds the Oval Office, and the naysayers should remember that regardless of their politics, the person in the Oval Office is due the respect of this country’s citizenry.  Winning a peace prize of the calier of the renowned Nobel brings with it a great history of tradition and enormous recognition. Not to mention that it could go a long way in enabling the POTUS to mend international fences after years of eroding relationships with many countries around the world.

No, he hasn’t ended any wars. No, he hasn’t brokered any peaces between nations as President Carter did between Egypt and Israel. But by awarding him this prize, the  Nobel committee gave President Obama a show of support for his policies, for his far-reaching vision regarding diplomacy, and for his hopes for a brighter future for the citizens of the world. 

Let us stop to consider those reasons for a moment, shall we? If the reasoning behind the award is the belief in a man for what he may be able to do for people, a desire to show support for this man’s values, then that is quite a statement. A reflection, if you will, of not just mine, or hers, or my friend’s  or sons’ desires, but a desire on the part of the world’s citizens to make tangible strides towards stopping the leaks before the entire ship Mother Earth has to be scuttled.

 I, for one, am still willing to believe.

“We should take care, in inculcating patriotism into our boys and girls, that is a patriotism above the narrow sentiment which usually stops at one’s country, and thus inspires jealousy and enmity in dealing with others . . . Our patriotism should be of the wider, nobler kind which recognises justice and reasonableness in the claims of others and which lead our country into comradeship with . . . the other nations of the world.” ~ Lord Baden-Powell

peace activist posterIn case you would like to know more about why, I have included the entire text of the committee’s announcement:

OSLO — Following is the text of the announcement Friday by the Norwegian Nobel Committee giving the Nobel Peace Prize to U.S. President Barack Obama taken from the National Post:

“The Norwegian Nobel Committee has decided that the Nobel Peace Prize for 2009 is to be awarded to President Barack Obama for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples. The Committee has attached special importance to Obama’s vision of and work for a world without nuclear weapons.

“Obama has as president created a new climate in international politics. Multilateral diplomacy has regained a central position, with emphasis on the role that the United Nations and other international institutions can play. Dialogue and negotiations are preferred as instruments for resolving even the most difficult international conflicts. The vision of a world free from nuclear arms has powerfully stimulated disarmament and arms control negotiations. Thanks to Obama’s initiative, the USA is now playing a more constructive role in meeting the great climatic challenges the world is confronting. Democracy and human rights are to be strengthened.

“Only very rarely has a person to the same extent as Obama captured the world’s attention and given its people hope for a better future. His diplomacy is founded in the concept that those who are to lead the world must do so on the basis of values and attitudes that are shared by the majority of the world’s population.

“For 108 years, the Norwegian Nobel Committee has sought to stimulate precisely that international policy and those attitudes for which Obama is now the world’s leading spokesman. The Committee endorses Obama’s appeal that “Now is the time for all of us to take our share of responsibility for a global response to global challenges.”

Now, more than ever, Peace.

 

“The price good men pay for indifference to public affairs is to be ruled by evil men.” ~ Plato

U of AK campus October 2009

Another photograph from Janson Jones’s blog: Floridana Alaskiana: University of Alaska Campus, 10/09

“Always watch where you are going. Otherwise, you may step on a piece of the Forest that was left out by mistake.” ~ A. A. Milne 

Warmer today than it has been. From the pictures, it looks like autumn in Alaska is beautiful.

 I spent an hour scrubbing down the kitchen this afternoon, and then another few hours downloading music for my computer playlists. The result is that both my neck and my lower back hurt. How tedious.

I don’t really have much to say today. My mind is filled with music instead of words, which is just fine with me. Sometimes the words running through my head become too heavy with an unexplainable weight, and I wish that I could just tilt my head and let everything sift out, like fine grains of sand. Empty head, start over—kind of an appealing idea.

I received another letter from Social Security today. We’re currently doing this dance in which my long-term disability insurer is passing me along to the Social Security administration (which, if approved, would relieve the insurance carrier, of course). The SS administration is kind of like DMV, no, make that very much like the DMV: bureaucracy, forms, endless forms, requests for mor information, requests for clarification.

My long-time disability insurer assures me that the SS administration denies everyone the first time, and so I should be prepared to file an appeal, which they did on my behalf. Quite frankly, I just don’t care. Or at least I don’t care at this moment. I’m tired of forms. Tired of explaining the same thing over and over to different people. Tired of telling people about my health problems. More tedium.

So for now, tonight anyway, I’m going to ignore the forms, requests for information, etc. I’ll tackle that and the pile of stuff from my closet tomorrow, or at least, some of it, as much as my back allows.

“Don’t underestimate the value of Doing Nothing, of just going along, listening to all the things you can’t hear, and not bothering.” ~ A. A. Milne

That being said, I don’t have much more to add. I think that basically I’m just weary to the bone. Bone-weary. Eyes blurry. Not in much of a hurry to take care of the details. I don’t want to tackle the horrible topic of the high school student being who was beaten to death with railroad ties in Chicago. It’s too heinous.

I cannot even begin to ponder the implications of a healthcare systems that denies care to prior victims of abuse, something that has come to light during this great, supposed debate in which our country’s political leaders are involved. Don’t believe this could happen? Read this article , “Abused Then Denied Care: 8 States Allow Practice,” on MSNBC.

I just had to take a minute to have a play fight with Tillie as she placed herself on the middle of the bed and began thrashing around—a clear signal that a play fight is called for. She is pretty strong, though, so my fights only last a couple of minutes. She is such a bratsky of a dog. One of the best presents that I have ever gotten in my life. She has the ability to make me smile no matter how bad I feel.

Anyway, as I was saying, I don’t have much to contribute in the way of thoughtful prose, which I will take as a sign that I should add a nice video and call it a night. So here is a video created by Janson Jones on the Matanuska Glacier. I hope that you enjoy it.

 

More tomorrow with any luck. Peace.

“The 700 Club and The Weather Channel”

 gay-marriage-sticker1

Stephen Colbert Takes on the National Organization for Marriage

National Organization of Fear-Mongering

gathering-storm-slide-cropped
Image from "Gathering Storm": Woman on Left represents physician; woman on right is "afraid"

On April 8, 2009, the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) released a $1.5 million ad (using this term very loosely) called “The Gathering Storm” to be played in certain market sectors of the U.S. The ad was set to run on CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC. The ad is set to air eight times per day in New York (which is considering lifting the ban on gay marriage), Connecticutt, Rhode Island, and California (which banned gay marriages with Proposition #8).

In this ad, a seemingly diverse group of people talk about a “coming storm.” That storm is . . . wait for it . . . Gay Marriage. Quick, hide the children and the dogs (ToTo, too) before they get ideas in their heads.

These seemingly everyday people are standing around hither and yon, with body posture akin to the people in The Invasion,with Daniel Craig and Nicole Kidman, you know the ones, the ones who have been vomited into, hence causing a psuedo-catatonic state of well-being.

One woman purports to be “afraid” by saying, and I quote: “I’m afraid.” Another woman says that she is a doctor who must choose between her religion and her job;another woman is a parent who must stand idly by while her children are brainwashed in public schools about alternate lifestyles. Ultimately, the message is that straight people will lose their rights if this rampant gay storm thingy isn’t stopped.

Teeth gnashing and hair pulling from the viewing audience. “What are we to do? Oh no. They are among us.”

They being the LGBT community.

Now, I’m not trying to make light of an offensive commercial that tries to scare people into opposing same-sex unions. Okay, well maybe I am, but only because the video is so terribly preposterous. The video doesn’t even really tackle the issue of same-sex marriages, instead focusing on issues of how homosexuality affects people of faith.

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Wicked Witch of the West . . . and flying monkey!

A “storm” coming? (Insert Wicked Witch of the West music here.) What happened to the North Koreans and Iran and nuclear weapons? Aren’t those bigger storms that would affect everyone? How about the man-made economic disaster facing the globe? I don’t remember seeing any trance-inducing videos taking on that really large problem.

Or Mt. Hood? Now that was a real storm coming: an ash storm. My god. Think of the innocent plants that suffered in that layer of sooty sludge.

Or flying monkeys, perhaps?

Okay. I’ll stop being silly.

“Pursuing a mission on behalf of a conjugal conception of marriage” . . . Excuse me, as opposed to a non-conjugal conception of marriage?

NOM was co-founded in 2007 by Princeton professor Robert George and Maggie Gallagher, both formerly of  The Institute for American Values. According to Gallagher, who says that she is “personally very proud” of the ad, NOM “pursues its mission mainly by public education and advocacy on behalf of the conjugal conception of marriage as the permanent and exclusive union of husband and wife” (from an interview with the Prince in September 2008). 

The video includes the following statements made by the 14 individuals (actors) who are supposed to represent everyday, albeit straight, citizens:

“There’s a storm gathering. The clouds are dark. And the winds are strong. And I am afraid. Some who advocate for same-sex marriage have taken the issue far beyond same-sex couples. They want to bring the issue into my life. My freedom will be taken away.”

“But some who advocate for same-sex marriage have not been content with same-sex couples living as they wish,” the ad continues. “Those who advocate want to change the way I live. I will have no choice. The storm is coming.”

equal-rights-for-all-american-buttonThis video has caused such a stir that spoofs of it went viral on YouTube almost immediately. Personally, I like the one by Stephen Colbert, which I have provided for your viewing enjoyment. This spoof is not a supposed anti-gay attack as I read on one site. Rather, it’s a very clear case of satire.

You know, satire? That rhetorical device that employs irony and sarcasm to hold up for inspection some kind of human folly, or lampooning, my favorite form of satire, which is specifically political in nature and takes no prisoners in revealing, usually through broad humor, weaknesses in opponents—something at which Stephen Colbert is particularly adept.

After airing the original NOM video, Colbert declared “I love that ad. It is like watching The 700 Club and The Weather Channel at the same time.” He then presented his own take:

 

 

“I’m a homophobe and I’m okay.” Now everybody sing . . .

But let’s look at some facts, shall we? The video uses actors to send this message of bigotry and terror. What’s wrong with that, you might ask? Well, I’ll tell you.

Instead of paying people to look wooden in a badly-written segment, if you truly believe in something, why not use real people who share your views. We saw from the recent presidential campaign just how well that tactic worked. Who can forget Joe the Plumber sticking his nose in front of the camera at every opportunity in support of the GOP’s ticket?

Or what about delusional lady who McCain had to take the microphone from because she was on a toot about Obama being an Arab? Now these were people you could believe in. They were real. They hadn’t been paid to say the things that they were saying (well, maybe Joe was, but who really cares because he was such a good source for liberals to heap outrage upon).

All of that being said (in my roundabout way), I still contend that given the ad’s purpose and message, real people should have been used, you know, real homophobes. For example, if the female actor was representing a real doctor who was upset about choosing her profession or her religion—and we know that she was because I’ll give you the case in just a sec—why not let the real doctor speak out on the subject? Is NOM protecting her (the doctor’s) right to privacy by insisting that gay marriage is not private?

After all, this physician chose not to give treatment to a patient because of that patient’s sexual orientation. If this doctor is such a staunch believer in her faith, give her the forum to allow her speak for herself. I say, stand up for your homophobic rights. Put up or shut up, as the old saying goes.

(According to the Human Rights Campaign, the video character of the female physician refers to the Benitez decision in California, determining that a doctor cannot violate California anti-discrimination law by refusing to treat a lesbian based on religious belief. http://www.hrc.org/12470.htm. And then there’s little thing called the Hippocratic Oath, but that’s probably just a technicality now.)

LIFE GAYSBut my real point is—and I do have one—the message in “Gathering Storm” isn’t just about gay marriage; it’s also about the imposition of  gay rights’ issues against people of faith. It’s a tried and true political tactic: scare people with misinformation, and for good measure, threaten their faith.

My freedom will be taken away.” Which freedom, specifically? And how will that freedom be taken away, specifically?  These generalizations do nothing but cause anxiety among people who fall prey to fear-mongering, accepting as facts statements that are opinions, and not in an humorous, ‘we’re being silly’ kind of way.

As Gallagher states: “[Gay marriage] is not a private act . . .You change the legal definition of marriage, you change the meaning for everyone, not just the gay couple down the block.” Gallagher’s statement directly mirrors the information on NOM’s website, which contends that “gays and lesbians have a right to live as they choose, [but] they don’t have the right to redefine marriage for all of us.”

I’m not really sure what Gallagher and NOM mean by that. Not in my neighborhood?  Not down my block? Or probably something more insidious, like, ‘they have a right to live as they choose, but we don’t really want to let them choose.

But there I go again, making assumptions. More later. Peace.

“The Ultimate Exit Interview”

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George W. Bush at His Final Press Conference

W.’s Final Steps in Rewriting His Legacy

He walked in affable and waving. After all, it was going to be his moment. He greeted the Washington Press Corps as if they were old friends about to have a final chat. The amiability was short and sweet. The first question hit like a boxing glove, and George W. Bush’s plans for a friendly get together took it right on the chin.

“I hope the tone is different for him than it was for me . I’m disappointed by the tone in Washington, D.C. . . . It’s just that the rhetoric got out of control, declared George W. Bush during his final press conference of his administration. And I think that it’s a very telling quote. George W. Bush is still in denial. The press made everything so negative for him, and his response was “disappointment.”

But let us pause her a moment to reflect with the 43rd president. His disappointment was over things such as the abuse of prisoners (torture) at Abu Ghraib, the response to Hurricane Katrina, and the fact that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Well, okay. I believe the American people are disappointed over Abu Ghraib, the response to Hurrican Katrina, and the fact that we were led into a war because of the loud declarations of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

The difference? Bush’s disappointment seems to be that things did not go as he expected or as he wanted. The use of torture was made public, and can be chalked up to a few rogue people. The response to Katrina was very slow in coming, and if only there were WMD in Iraq, he could say, “I told you so.”

Our disappointment with the same things but for different reasons: The ire of Abu Ghraib wasn’t over the few people involved, it was over the use of torture and that use being condoned by those in positions to make those decisions. The response to Katrina was very slow in coming: Looking down from an airplane on the mass destruction below is not a president being on the scene, and by the way, how are the levees coming? And WMD, we didn’t believe in them in the first place.

For example, while discussing one of the worst storms to hit the country in history, Bush said that he debated as to whether or not he should land when flying over Katrina but decided that he did not want to “burden” local officials with his presence. Why does he still not understand that at a time of crisis as encompassing as Katrina, the President of the United States needed to be seen and heard, but more than that, he needed to be reacting in a timely way.

 The record shows how poorly the administration reacted even though they were warned in advance that the landfall was going to be devastating. But don’t say that to President Bush: “Don’t tell me the federal response was slow when there was [sic] 30,000 people pulled off roofs right after the storm passed.”

(And by the way, people who fly helicopters are called pilots, not drivers, but as the president pointed out: “Obviously, some of my rhetoric has been a mistake.”)

What’s amazing is that W. still doesn’t understand that coming clean doesn’t necessarily mean that you understand what you did wrong. Confession may be good for the soul, but confession without self-realization is wasted rhetoric. For example, take his comment on Abu Ghraib: “I don’t know if you want to call those mistakes or not, but they were — things didn’t go according to plan, let’s put it that way.” And the plan was to make sure that the public did not find out about the torture? Or was there another plan?

Also very telling was W.’s preface to many answers with phrases such “the challenge was,” “the problem was,” and “the question is.” No, Mr. President. The point of the press conference is to talk about your administration’s answers and solutions. 

Bush’s biggest problem has always been the perception of his intentions. Believe it or not, I don’t think of W. as an evil man, certainly nowhere in the leagues of Dick Cheney. I just think that the current president has always been just one step out of sync with just about everything that he has done, right down to choosing the people who advised him—Cheney and Rumsfeld anyone?

Again, in the department of admissions of things that went wrong, Bush mentioned the huge “Mission Accomplished” banner: “Clearly, putting `Mission Accomplished’ on an aircraft carrier was a mistake,” he said. You think? It was that whole cowboy mentality that so many people found shocking just two months after the war in Iraq had begun, especially in light of the fact that the U.S. was still suffering casualties even as the president was declaring victory. How does a nation’s citizenry reconcile two such disparate images?

Bush’s demeanor during the press conference ranged the gamut from playful (“It’s a pretty cool job”), to regretful (on the “Mission Accomplished” banner: “It sent the wrong message), to self-deprecating (answering question about critics: “Sure. You know any?”), to downright defiant: “I strongly disagree with the assessment that our moral standing has been damaged,” when responding to a question about America’s standing in the world. “But people still understand America stands for freedom; that America is a country that provides such great hope,” he continued.

In the end though, George Bush still came across as a man who really does not know or cannot accept how the world sees him, declaring at one point, “You know, presidents can try to avoid hard decisions, and therefore avoid controversy. That’s just not my nature. I’m the kind of person that, you know, is willing to take — to take on hard—hard tasks.”

And then a few minutes later saying, “One thing about the presidency is that you can make—only make decisions, you know, on the information at hand . . . You don’t—you don’t get to have information after you’ve made the decision. That’s not the way it works. And you’re—you stand by your decisions and you do your best to explain why you made the decisions you made.

Crystal clear.

Self-justification, hostility, defiance, imagined self-pity to take the glare of the real self-pity . . . It wasn’t great oratory, but it lasted over 46 minutes, and Bush gave us more of his real legacy in this 46 minutes than he realizes. All attempts at legacy refurbishing at this point are meaningless. After all, W. himself said, “You know, where does a president’s—did a president’s decisions have the impact that he thought they would—or he thought they would, over time?”

And in conclusion: “My view is is that most people around the world, they respect America. And some of them doesn’t like me—I understand that—some of the writers and the, you know, opiners and all that. That’s fine. That’s part of the deal.”

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President Bush Leaves His Final Press Conference

I would have to say, though, that there was one point about this press conference that I truly enjoyed: Its conclusion. It’s the last press conference with a president that we’ll hear in quite a while in which the English language is turned on its ear.

For anyone wishing to check my use of Bush’s quotes, I direct you to the source: the actual transcript of the press conference, which can be found at http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2009/01/12/raw-data-transcript-bushs-white-house-press-conference/. (I deliberately used Fox News for the transcript lest I be accused of relying too much on MSNBC.

And that gentle folks, leaves us with 7 more days in which George W. Bush can attempt to persuade us that all is well and has been for eight long years, in spite of 9/11, two wars, natural disasters, rising unemployment, and a fiscal crisis bordering on the Great Depression.

Of course, there will be more later. Peace.

“I Put The Words Down And Push Them A Bit” ~ Evelyn Waugh

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A Calligram: A poem, phrase, or word in which shape relates to meaning

Am I A Blonger?

“If there is on earth a house with many mansions, it is the house of words” ~ E.M. Forster

Today, I did a meme on someone else’s blog; the only catch was that the answers could only be one word. Now, for most people, that would probably not be a big problem. Yes. No. One word answers come easily to many people. Red. Paris. Orchids. But you have to understand, my brain is just not wired for short, simple answers, especially not the one-word kind.

I love words. I love to roll them around on my tongue, find new ones, use obscure ones. My love affair with words has been long and faithful (on my part, at least). I mention this because it goes a long way in explaining why giving just one word answers would take me much longer than a regular meme, in which I could write whatever I wanted.

“Words are the voice of the heart.” ~ Confucius

I finally stopped struggling with this particular meme, and just went with the first word that popped into my head. If not, I would still be working on my answers, and my blog would not be written. But this leads me to another confession, one that will probably not surprise some of you:

I am a blonger. There, I said it. I admitted it. It’s out there; I’ve been vetted as a blogger and found wanting. To put it bluntly, I write blogs that are too long for regular blogs: they are blongs. Of course, I had no idea that such a thing even existed until I came across the term on another blog on which the site’s owner (are we owners? hosts? moderators? I’ll get back to that), the site’s owner used the term blong.

Now, I know that the ear may not hear the l in blong, but trust me, bonger would really not apply to me. I take too many prescription pharmaceuticals to mess with anything else. Just wanted to clarify that. But the word is blong, which I trust means long blog, hence: blong. It really isn’t a pretty word, is it? But then, neither is blog. They are both words that your ear must adjust to hearing and your spell checker refuses to acknowledge.

The point is that I cannot write pithy posts. I’ve tried.  There is too much baggage there: English Instructor at a university; writer for an art museum . . . these do not lend themselves to pithy. In fact, I used to abhor the five-paragraph paradigm for compositions, and I would go out of my way to destroy any vestiges of that construct in my composition students. I wanted them to understand that it was a format that could be used if one were totally lacking in insight and creativity, but it was not the only format allowable.

However, I know that I have my detractors, people who say that I use too many words when fewer will suffice. And in some cases, I agree. When I am in my scientific/technical mode, I use as few words as possible to say what I mean because, of course, I am writing for a specific audience type and level. When I am in my marketing mode, I write in a totally different style, the one necessitated by the product and the audience.

“Words are alive; cut them, and they bleed” ~ Emerson

But this is my blog that we’re talking about. My blog is a reflection of me, of my thoughts, feelings, dreams, and despairs. I cannot pare that down to a few paragraphs. I do tend to have convoluted sentences in which the modifiers may not be obviously apparent as I am off on a tangent, and my aim is not to parse but to create a rhythm. I have found that very few people actually pay attention to rhythm in their writing, and that’s an injustice to fiction, epistolary writing, and essays. Rhythm is not just for poetry; it is for any writing that wants to be taken seriously.

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I realize that my long blogs are not for everyone. You have to love words, and you have to understand my wit, which I will freely admit is not everyone’s cup of tea. But at the same time, I get very frustrated when I am surfing on a blogging community, and all that I see are one-sentence entries that aren’t even actually sentences (as in grammatically-correct sentences). These posts seem to belong in the realm of Twitter, which was made for short messenging, or IM (instant messenging). How can I leave a comment on a blog on which the entry is nothing more than, “Hello. I am here now.” Granted, that’s all that some people have to say, but . . .

WTF? I’m not asking for everyone to be profound or even profuse, but a “little less talk a lot more action,” as EP said.

Photographic/visual blogs are beautiful. They are not meant to be full of words because the communication format being employed is obviously visual as opposed to verbal. For most of these blogs, the visuals speak for themselves, and very often, leave me speechless because of the incredible talent that is being shared.

Blogs that are predominantly third person also kind of bother me when the site’s owner tries to pass off articles from other media as being his or her original material. If the blog’s intent is to expound upon a particular political philosophy, then it gives the site credence if sources are identified, and the writer does more than just post news; i.e., includes an editorial comment of some sort. Otherwise, what is the point? I’ll get my news from CNN, MSNBC, Salon, etc.

“The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug” ~ Mark Twain

Please don’t misunderstand: I am not trying to establish rules for blogs. Far from it. I am only trying to explain why I cannot write short blogs and why short blogs get on my nerves. Let me break it down: After a while, some blogs that continually have very little in the way of content, tend to remind me of  some of the mainstream authors who I used to read, but no longer bother to buy. Why? Because their books are all the same now. They have found a winning formula; they are turning a new book out every year, and there is absolutely no substance in these new releases.

For example, when Patricia Cornwell first began her Kay Scarpetta series, it was groundbreaking. The character was thoroughly drawn, and the plots in the first few novels were tightly woven. But then I noticed something in the 5th and then 6th books. I was flying through them and not getting very much out of them. Cornwell was skating on her success. It happens.

Am I jealous? Well, in one sense, hell yes. Of course I’m jealous that she just has to name her next novel, and it is immediately guaranteed a space on the NYT booklist. She can name her terms. She has numerous assistants. Yes, of that I am jealous. But I am disappointed that what started out so promisingly has turned into predictable shelf-filler at warehouse stores.

But again, I digress . . .

My main point in this blog was to avow the assertion that I am a blonger. I write long blogs that are filled with digressions, prequels, sequels, and commentaries. I am unapologetic about it. I started this blog to immerse myself in writing on a regular basis. That aim has been achieved. But I have continued this blog because I have made several wonderful contacts from around the world, and I love to peruse other people’s blogs to see how other people think. I have also continued because I really love doing this.

“There is a time for many words. And there is also a time for sleep” ~ Homer

When I no longer enjoy it, I will stop. So on that note, enough for now. More later. Peace.