Sunday, December 27, 2009

December is About Music

Music is number two on my list of the five best things in life. Number one is love. That includes both friends, family and lovers. But music is number two. I love jazz, rock, some country, folk and blues. I love hearing new stuff. I'm not a fan of hip-hop, but I could be. I love learning-I just need someone to help me select the good stuff---whatever does not include cocky people rapping about how much money they have, or bitches and hos etc. But I digress. Having grown up in the late 60s/early 70s, I guess the classic rock genre defines me the most. Early in December I watched the HBO special "Rock and Roll Anniversary Hall of Fame Concert." Mostly I watched it because of the presence of my musical hero, Stephen Stills. But several more of my lesser heros also showed up, and it affected me to the soul. Their faces are weatherworn, and their voices are careworn., but the music....ah, yes; the music. If I had to pick some songs that defined me, they are probably all by Jackson Browne. I remember in 1972, when "Doctor My Eyes" came out, it made me stop and sigh. I know that adolescent teens are pretty impressionable, but that song hit me hard. It made me a rather unlikable person in some ways because it gave me permission to stop thinking about issues and decide where I stood. I was very sure when I got to that point. Very unshakably sure. Since then I've realized that some of those things I was so sure about were wrong, and some just evolved over time. And it has led to me wondering at times which comes first, the teen angst, or the songs about it? By the time he got to "Running on Empty" and "The Pretender," I was done for. After Jackson Browne played came Simon and Garfunkel. Their songs have also stirred me. "Bridge Over Troubled Water" and "Sounds of Silence" were the songs that all the guitar playing girls in my high school performed for the talent shows...and all the other high school girls in the audience sang along. But "The Boxer" made us weep. All those feelings came rushing back through the three hours of the concert. Bruce Springsteen came along at the end of my teen years. I was never a fan..."stadium rock" was not at all for me. As you can probably guess, the 80s were not good musical years for me. But I have a great deal of respect for Bruce when I hear him perform his blues/folk style. I'm became convinced that he simply followed the wrong muse, though with all his fame and money, why he or anyone would care about my opinion is beyond me.

Of course, it could be that my lack of gainful employment, the holiday season, the short days simply made me nostalgic for a time when my life was in front of me and regret was something I couldn't imagine. But it could also be that the television is on too much, and the concert provided a much needed "sanity break" from the free credit report and commercials. When I see that beautiful woman in the white coat singing, "O, o, o, the big, big O" to the tune of Jingle Bells, I wonder what my husband would think if I gave him a gift in a box with a "big O" on it. Would he think, "Cool, I'm off the hook," or "What is she complaining about?" "Where the ads take aim, and lay their claim on the heart and the soul of the spender." These rabbit chases aside, the song that has haunted me ever since that evening is "The Pretender." Yes, I've reached an age when looking back and seeing both what was and what wasn't is a frequent activity. And like the pretender, I had some big dreams that never happened. In all honesty, each one of these failures is ultimately because of one decision or another that I made, so this is not a whine about how life has let me down. This is about how a few great artists have captured the feelings of regret and disappointment that come at times with looking back. "I want to know what became of the changes we waited for life to bring. Were they only the fitful dreams of some greater awakening. I'm aware of the time going by. They say in the end, it's the blink of an eye. And when the morning light comes streaming in, we get up and do it again." It circles in my mind when I walk my dog, and when I look for a job or cook or put laundry away. "I'm gonna rent myself a house in the shade of the freeway. Gonna pack my lunch in the morning, and go to work each day. And when the evening rolls around, I'll go home and lay my body down. And when the morning light comes streaming in, I'll get up and do it again." I was going to be an actor. A writer. I was going to study environmental science and public policy and work to make the US greener. But I'm looking for jobs as a secretary. Or in a retail store. Or a call center. Anything, because I'm "caught between the longing for love and the struggle for the legal tender." Ever the egalitarian, I've always held that there is nothing to look down on about honest work of any kind. So why do I feel that I should have done something "bigger?" Is it because of the self-esteem movement? Because I'm a Leo? Because I spent so much time reading books and seeing movies about people who achieved huge dreams through sheer luck. It doesn't really matter why, "where the sirens sing and the churchbells ring and the junkman pounds his fender. And the veterans dream of the fight, fast asleep at the traffic light..." How long does that veteran dream of the fight once the war is over? Is he able to find another way to define his life?

I've been writing this posting in my head for a month. I began putting it down earlier this week, but tellingly, I'm finishing it on New Year's Day 2010. I've been unemployed for four months, and had only one interview in that time. I try to stay optimistic about finding a new job, but that is tough sometimes. Like so many others in this country today, it just seems that I'm spinning my wheels and my unemployment is about to be cut by twenty percent."They strike at the world with all their might, as the ship bearing their dreams sails out of sight."  But this is not only the first day of a new year, it is the first day of a new decade. There are so many reasons to feel hopeful, and not to feel hopeful. On Monday I am very sure that my phone will begin to ring, and some of these applications will begin to play out. I wonder where the "Pretender" is, thirty years on? Could Jackson Browne give me any words of hope? Or does he know someone who is hiring? Because "out into the cool of the evening strolls the pretender. She knows that all her hopes and dreams begin and end there."

Monday, December 7, 2009

Good Movement Gone Bad

Vonnie Shallenberger/ 14 November 2009

I hope none of my liberal friends read this. Many years ago I was working third shift, and occasionally would turn on the TV overnight and watch Rush Limbaugh. I was taught that it helps to fight an enemy if you know his position, so I gave him a shot. One night he got it right. Of course he ruined it later on in the same show, and he hasn’t come close since, but that night in 1993, he said something that I agreed with, and have come to agree with more and more since.

The self esteem movement started out with great intentions. Most social movements do. But then they go too far and lose the truth of the initial premise. I was on the side of the attempt to make children, especially minority and poor children, feel better about themselves. I still am. But the movement lost its soul when it went from trying to help children feel as if they are as good as other people, to being a way of giving children the notion that they are awesome and that the rules set by our civil society do not apply to them. Whether it is simply because children aren’t able to process the information fed to them, or if parents haven’t been taught where the boundaries lie in this message, I don’t know. But it seems to have led to a generation of spoiled, narcissistic young people bent on ruling the world on their terms.

A couple of examples I have personally experienced:

1. A former teacher who is a friend of my family told the story of having corrected a young student in his classroom. This story would not have meant much to me except that the student involved grew up to become Miss America after she graduated. The mother of this student came to visit him, and scolded him for “damaging her self-esteem.” This man responded with, “Madam, nothing could damage your daughter’s self-esteem.” He was not teaching in that school for long after that.

2. I was supervising a third shift call center. I was over three males and one female. The female tended to order everyone around. So one night she gave me an order, and I said, “Please and thank you!” She proclaimed that she did not say please. Please is a begging word and she does not beg. I said, “No, please is a polite word.” She said, “I asked nicely-I don’t need to say please.”

I think where the movement went wrong is in allowing "as good as" to be interpreted as ‘better than,’ which has lead to the crass notion that everything one feels should be aired because every feeling is valid. This has led to a loss of concern for how others feel, a loss of manners, empathy and decorum, and a belief in one’s self that just may not be supportable by the facts. Limbaugh’s remark was that, “Self esteem should be based on something.” I agree-children need to be taught that they are just as good as anyone else. They are neither inferior nor superior to anyone else. Everyone deserves respect-rich, poor, black white, EVERYONE. Every person has a gift. That gift should be encouraged, and children should also be encouraged to explore their interests and discover that gift. But no one can pick a gift-Dad can’t expect Junior to be great baseball player just because Dad was at that age. But the idea that every child should consider him or herself King or Queen of the World is false and dangerous. I recently heard a psychologist talking about self esteem when he was presented with the idea that perhaps serial killers have low self esteem. He said that most serial killers are just the opposite- they tend to be narcissists who believe that the world is not treating them as they deserve. So these people have obviously not been taught that other people deserve respect, have they?

So while Rush Limbaugh may not have learned the lesson he was preaching on that fateful night in 1993, his premise was actually correct.

Marry Me?

I grew up in the south. After I was grown it became known as more “southwest,” but a local humor writer proposes the theory that the “south” is any state that seceded during the war of northern aggression, so Texas counts as the south. My mama is Baptist, and came from rural Arkansas to west Texas, then Fort Worth, where she married very young and raised her five children, four girls and then a boy. I am the oldest of those five. And a dreamer. Always a dreamer. I was going to be an actress. But I am a dreamer. I lived my life in books and movies and dreamed. I emphasize this point because being that much of a dreamer can lead to being that instead of a doer. And those dreams not coming true can lead to great disappointment in later life.

So, besides being a famous actress or writer (or a great writer who gets to star in the movie of her ‘great American novel?”) what do girls growing up in the south in the late 1960s dream of? Marriage. Being a housewife-having a husband who will take care of her financial security, while she takes care of his more personal needs- freshly pressed shirts, happy babies that know how to behave well when Daddy comes home to a delicious meal and lovely dessert. Of course, this family is the pillar of the community and active in the church. This was what every girl dreamed of and planned for. The big wedding with lots of flowers and bridesmaids and the perfect, happy life after. The girls who didn’t dream of this perfect family life got ‘talked about.’ No one wanted to undress next to them in P.E. The ones who didn’t turn out to be gay were simply thought to have something wrong with them that prevented them from meeting that expectation that everyone held to be the natural progression of our lives. I can remember once going to a movie alone; something I still don’t mind doing, and my maternal grandmother saying, “Why, don’t you have a boyfriend to take you to the movie?”

In this day of ‘social networking sites,’ I have been privileged to discover that this dream happened for some of the girls I dreamed with through our high school graduation in 1975. For many of us, though, it didn’t happen quite that way. For me it certainly didn’t. Many of us, including me, greater happiness came the second time around. Some have had to try more than that-some have not found that ‘soul mate’ who can provide the realization of all those dreams.

Now many of us have daughters, and some have granddaughters. What will they dream about? I hope that we are a little further removed from the ancient writings that have led so many of us to that grave disappointment in life that the young girls growing up now will not believe themselves to be lacking in any way if they simply decide that they do not wish to follow that same path. Patterning ones’ life after the expectations of others can only lead to disappointment and disillusionment.

I had a conversation with my nephew a couple of years ago. He will be 29 in 2010, and is a very highly “evolved” young man. He has never been a serial dater, but tends to have one long, serious relationship at a time, and they typically last about 3 or 4 years. The relationship he and I were discussing ended a few weeks ago, but on this particular evening I asked him if he thought that it would end in marriage. His parents were divorced, and his response was, “You know, everyone tells me what hard work marriage is, but no one has come up with a reason that it is worth doing.” We talked about the usual reasons (apart from the moral teachings of the church, which we have both left behind) such as children that marriage is worth doing-besides being partnered with someone you love for a lifetime. He said he believed he could do that without the ceremony…the same answer applied to having children.

Nieces from another sister feel the opposite; they want to get married and have babies. So while there is hope that this won’t continue to be what defines women, it still haunts the edges of our consciousness.

When I began to question the faith I was raised with, one of the things that I noticed about the writings in the bible on wifely behavior didn’t sit well with me. Then I realized that all of them were written by men. I also noticed that men seem to get more out of marriage. I read that women are more likely to describe the relationship is unhappy, and women are more likely to file for divorce. “Of course,” I thought. Marriage was designed by men, and benefits them more-why should they want to end it? Those men spent over 6000 years telling women that they were property, and that they must submit to the authority of their husbands. Why didn’t god tell women that? It just seems suspicious to me for someone to say, “Hey, God told me you have to submit to me or else.” Had I not figured it out on my own, and someone actually told me that, I probably would have to respond with, “Yeah? He’s got my number-tell him to call me himself!”

Women live longer, and work harder to take care of themselves. Women work full time jobs and still wind up with more responsibility for taking care of the house, the kids and elderly relatives. Women have been going to college and graduate school more than men for the last several years. Women have come up with life changing inventions and scientific, mathematical advances, and have worked harder to prove that they are just as smart in math and science as their male counterparts. And yet, women earn .73 to each dollar a man makes, and women still feel inferior if they can’t find someone to marry them? It is time for this paradigm to change. I know that at least one generation after mine still has the notion that traditional marriage and family is the best life path for a woman to take. So my generation may not have been the last to hold this notion, but I do hope it is being chipped away at, and before long, we will not be defined by our ability to find a man to marry.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Post Traumatic Stress

 I am one of maybe three liberals in my family, so I am used to having a different view than the majority, and mostly to keeping my opinions to myself. The tyranny of the majoirty rules.

The problem that I have is when the people on that other side cite the worst and most hateful anti-Obama garbage. There is not one shred of evidence, not one, that the election was stolen. ACORN doesn't even have that kind of power and influence-they would have had to produce 9.5 million votes in order to do that. The only reason that ACORN has become such an easy target, in my opinion, is that they are run by black people, and try to help the poor.  The whole story is just the next salvo of a group that was upset because the lies of the birther movement didn't get rid of someone they don't like, so that had to come up with a new lie. It disturbs me beyond comprehension or words that anyone buys it. It is the most hateful and dishonest of the Beckian-Dobbsian dystopian fantasy of diseased hordes of non-white people rushing over our borders to take our jobs and services and give nothing in return for it. I have watched and listened to both of them, and they don't even bother to support their fearful rhetoric with facts or documentation of any sort. When Dobbs was confronted on 60 Minutes with facts about his story of Mexican illegals coming here and spreading leprosy being wrong, he just said, "If we reported it, then it's true." Not, "But here is the documentation we used to support the story."  The fact of the matter is that if Americans were getting nothing from illegal immigrant labor, they would stop hiring them. But it saves these businesses money and the trouble of having to follow labor laws. An illegal who complains of illegal treatment will be at risk of being deported or arrested. And isn't the right usually in favor of whatever helps business? The free, unregulated market?
It doesn't bother me that to be on different sides politically from any one person or idea. But hate and irrationality are things that don't allow a conversation to go on. There have been times that a rational presentation of ideas and facts have swayed me-I am willing to listen. It doesn't even bother me that some are against health care reform, which seems to be a huge focus of the whole anti-Obama/Tea Party movement. And the red-herring being used by the talking heads against, not just health care, but any and everything that President Obama is for, is money to take care of illegal immigrants and provide abortions. But the argument that health care reform will provide money for illegals and abortions is moot-they have has already been clearly prohibited in the bills. So it is just more fear and smear tactics that keep those stories coming. I do wish that those who are against reform would understand, even if they don't change their minds or positions, that there are all kinds of reasons why people may not have health care. There are humans behind those stories.

I remember a favorite professor of mine in college talking about what has to be taught to soldiers at war in order to allow them to kill is that the other side is not human. That is why there are always other names for the enemy-gook, chink, sand-nigger, towel head, etc. It dehumanizes them and helps the conscience not kick in and prevent a soldier from doing his job. But there is a huge cost-it also dehumanizes the soldier-hence the reintegration problems on returning. But the enemy at war, and those without health insurance,  are people. Right or wrong, agree or disagree, and they deserve to be respected as people.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

How to be a good conversationalist

I am a dog person. Not one of those kinds of dog people who believe that you can't be a dog person and like other animals. I have known a few (mostly cat people) who think you must choose one or the other. I used to have cats, and remember those days fondly-I still pet and cuddle the cats of my friends and family when I see them. But when I started being owned by dogs, it was all over. On Sunday, the New York Times Week in Review published an article called "Good Dog, Smart Dog" by Sarah Kershaw. She talked about how much we're beginning to understand about how much dogs can learn, and just how much smarter dogs are than we ever gave them credit for. At the end, Ms. Kershaw cited a Dr. Clive D.L. Wynn, psychologist of the University of Florida who said that we should be careful about comparing dog intelligence to human intelligence; dogs can learn quite alot, but have a different way of thinking than we do.

My husband and I have had four dogs in our ten year marriage. The first was a border collie mix who was a 9-11 rescue. From the moment he and I locked eyes I became his human. His name was Nestor, and he was brilliant and intuitive, but he also had severe separation issues, presumably from his time as an orphan of the 9-11 attacks, and he became increasingly aggressive and after several biting incidents had to be put down in April of 2007. I was devastated, and still get misty eyed when I think about him.

The second dog we got was intended as a companion for Nestor. She was a lab who was already six years old when she came to live with us. She was a gentle though dominant soul, and lived to be twelve. We lost her this past February. After we lost Nestor I thought we would be a one-dog home. I was so lost without Nestor, with whom I had been attached at the hip for more than five years-I just wasn't ready to bring another dog into the house yet. What I had not bargained for was how much Maddie grieved for him. She had been so dominant, I thought she would be happy to be an only dog. But she broke my heart-lingering to sniff at the places he marked (and yes, I do observe their behavior enogh to notice a difference.) I finally convinced my husband that we should get another dog to be a companion for Maddie. He wanted something smaller, so we agreed on a beagle. I watched a beagle rescue in Illinois, and we settled on a beagle-mix, named him Darwin. Darwin was a sweet dog, but so completely out of control that we still haven't been able to tally the stuff he destroyed-shoes, hats, electronics, anything he could reach. And whatever he was mixed with made him bigger than a regular beagle, so he could reach quite alot. He was also a master escape artist. Once I got our backyard fence secure enough that he couldn't go under it anymore, he started going over. But one he did that and his collar got caught on the fence, I was afraid for his safety and decided to surrender him to the rescue. I still wrestle with guilt over that, and feel like a terrible "dog mom" for giving up on him. I truly hope he found the right family that could channel his energy and keep him safe.

After Maddie died we weren't going to get another dog. We agreed to get a cat-less labor intensive, easier to leave alone, etc. But shortly after Maddie was gone I told my husband that I just didn't want to be a home without a dog. So I went to the local shelter, got there before they opened, and started walking through the kennels in the first building, thinking to myself, "It has to be a small dog, it has to be a small dog, but I could love any one of these guys." I think it was around the seventh kennel that I saw this scruffy little terrier pull herself to the door and look at me as if to say, "I think you're my mom." I said, "Yeah, I think so too." I later found out that Abigail had been brought into the shelter as a stray, and that the day I found her was the first day she was available for adoption. When I got her home, I couldn't believe anyone would not try to find this baby-she had obviously been worked with. She was already nearly housebroken, she knew a few basic commands, and she was a quick study on others. Even though they hadn't even bathed her or brushed all the burrs out of her coat, she was the perfect dog for our family.

I could describe the intelligence of our dogs in this way: When I am cooking, all the dogs like(d) to lie in the floor near the stove, in case anything accidentally dropped to the floor, and I would carry on conversations with them. Maddie, the lab, would like it me as if to say, "Ok, Mom, but could you pet me now?" Abigail, the terrier mix, will look at me as if to say, "Yeah, Mom, could you hurry up? I'm bored, and I want to chase squirrels and grasshoppers." Darwin, the beagle would look at me as if to say, "Whatever. Can I have some food?" But Nestor, the border collie would look intently at me as if to say, "I understand completely."

One thing that was suggested in Sunday's New York Times article was that what dog intelligence has given them is not a capacity to think and learn like a human, but perhaps the intuition to understand our signals and what it takes to please us. That sort of empathy is a great gift. I don't think any of my dogs would ever have given me a frying pan for Mother's Day as my husband did-they care too much about my feelings, and whether it is intuition or abstract thought that gives them this ability, it is extremely important. It has always been important to humans to feel understood.

So discussions about what dog intelligence really is may be irrelevant. Dogs and humans are irrevocably bonded-in the past, the survival of each species was dependent upon the other. I say, let's stop using human yardsticks to measure them against us, and just keep throwing new things to them and see if they learn. I'm almost certain we will continue to be surprised and gratified by the result.s

Friday, October 30, 2009

How Deep Does Ignorance Go?

After my divorce in 1995 I moved in with my parents. Though I was working, I was; left with some bills from the marriage, and a little extra money could come in handy. So Mom suggested that her neighbor across the street could use a little help watching his son in the afternoon. I told her I would talk to him about it, and I made an appointment to do that. In the middle of our conversation about what he needed for his son, seemingly out of nowhere, he made a disparaging remark about black people. I did not take the job, and have referred to that man as "The Grand Dragon" ever since. Yesterday afternoon I took my dog out for a short walk around our apartment complex. Usually I use her leash, but not always, this afternoon being one of the latter trips. The head of our maintenance department, a very pleasant fellow, saw us, and said that he knew I didn't let my dog run wild, and that I carry puppy-poopy-pouches,  but many don't, so the complex is planning to start reinforcing the rules about keeping dogs on leash, etc. Again, out of nowhere, came a completely bizarre negative remark about minorities. I was completely perplexed-on top of my moral offense at racial bigotry. I realize that racism is based on ignorance, but are the people who hold those ignorant views so out of touch that they really assume that all white people share their view, and therefore they can just casually drop these remarks? I don't get it. And I don't know how to respond.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

What's Up With Earthworms?

We are having heavy rains today. I mean really heavy. So I just took my dog outside in the rain because she just couldn't wait anymore...this rain has been falling for hours and hours. Coming back in I saw a familiar site; hundreds of earthworms driven onto the sidewalk by all the water. That is my question...why do they do that? Don't they "understand" on some wormy level that they need to be in the dirt, so once they get out and see that they aren't in dirt anymore, why don't they just go back and go in a little deeper? When I can, I do pick up living ones from the sidewalk and put them back on the grass. They always seem to wriggle happily when I do that, so why do they put themselves in that position?

I'm just asking.

Notice Anything Familiar?

I said last year this would happen, and I was right. A little more than a year ago we were paying $4.50 for a gallon of fuel. Then, in large part because of the age old law of supply and demand. We couldn't afford to pay that, so we cut back. The price of oil fell. Now the rise is more subtle. But what I predicted then was that once the price dropped people would quicly become complacent and start driving again, and buying big fuel suckers. Sure enough, today oil topped $79. per barrel, and the cost of a gallon of gas has jumped about .20 in the last two weeks. It will shortly be $3.00 again, and if we don't wise up, it will keep going up. We don't need to do this to ourselves, and it gives away our power as consumers to allow oil companies, whose obscene profits are not being talked about right now because of all the chatter regarding banker bonuses. Ok-don't talk about it, but don't let it slip your mind either. Consumers have the power to see to it that we are able to continue to pay an affordable price for our petrol.

How Serious is This Really?

Ok. I'm human. Sometimes my body eliminates waste regularly, and sometimes it doesn't. I've never discussed this with a doctor. I never thought it was that big of a deal. So when I see commercials about people who can't play with their grandchildren or go swimming because they have "occasional irregularity" I am confused. Is it just for dramatic effect that these commercials make it sound like a crippling disease that leaves sufferers bedridden and sick? I don't know how serious this really is, so I hope the people who are suffering from this condition aren't offended by my ignorant notion that if we eat some veggies and yogurt it should help us feel better.

This is not a question...I'm upset!!!

I was at a class yesterday on how to punch up my resume. The group was small and personable, and we spent some time off topic, usually for jokes. But one of the things we got off task for was a discussion of whether or not to shake hands at the end of an interview. The consensus was no, unless the interviewer extended his hand first, do not offer yours because of the fear of flu. One gentleman had to leave before we were finished, and the teacher extended his hand. The man, who I must add looked remarkably like John Ritter, with perfect comic timing shrunk back in horror that the hand was extended. We all laughed.

Secretly though, I was really bothered by the whole notion that we can never touch each other because of fear of disease. Now, this is not a scientific statistic I'm sharing, but in my experience, the people I have known in my life who feared germs the most have been sick more often than "regular folks." But I've read scientific articles that the fear of germs has led to people being sicker because their immune systems are not faced with disease, and therefore they have no defenses when diseases strike. Our immune systems must be challenged in order to work. That's why injecting a small amount of disease can give us immunity to certain microbes. In my life, I have never had a flu shot, and have had the actual flu only one time. One time. I know people who get flu shots every year, and still sometimes get sick because the inoculation was not for the correct strain. We evolved immune systems that help us fight disease. According to the most basic evolutionary principle, the ones who are not protected have some other weakness that makes them more vulnerable to illness, and they get sick and do not survive. But I am not an epidemiologist, so I won't spend anymore time on the science of germ warfare.

The thing that bothered me about the whole conversation yesterday was the idea that we as humans should not touch each other. Women of my age (early 50s) and had or ever hoped to have children were taught that babies can literally die if they are not touched enough. We not only evolved immune systems, we survived as a species because of our sense of community. We need each other-and the simple act of shaking hands is the minimum demonstration of our attachment as a species. If we touch someone who has been exposed to a virus but isn't sick we might actually get a bit of immunization. (That's just an unprovable theory of mine.) But we connect with each other by touching. I like the comfort of the touch of a hand on my shoulder, a firm handshake, or having someone pat me on the back. It makes me feel less alone, and during the last couple of months my need for that has been powerfully illuminated.

In conlusion, as I said in the beginning, in my tiny piece of the world, anecdotally, the people I've known who fear germs the most get sick more often. Therefore, I believe that fear is a dangerous disease that leads to our bodies not being able to fight disease. Statistically, people die from the flu every year. Every year, 34,000 people die of the flu. But people with a healthy immune response are the ones who will survive. The only thing we have to fear is fear. So lets all come together for a big group hug.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Could Someone Explain This To Me?

Why is gravy considered a carb? It is made from some kind of fat, a little flour, but the main ingredient is milk. Why then shouldn't it be considered a protein, therefore healthy?

Sunday, October 18, 2009

In Memoriam: February 26, 2009

Not long ago I commented to my sister that if there was one thing spiritual I could believe in, I would want it to be reincarnation. Wouldn't it be great do have "do-overs?" She replied, profoundly I thought, with the first law of thermodynamics: Matter cannot be created or destroyed. I was surprised, but this comforted me. We may not know exactly what happens when we die, but we do go on, albeit in another form.

I was also recently looking at a picture of my two beloved dogs, Maddie the labrador and Nestor the border collie who died in 2007, and it struck me how much Maddie had aged in the last two years. There was so much more white on her muzzle and tummy, and she was definitely slowing down and having a harder time recovering after a walk. I remembered the times that the three of us used to take walks in the woods down by the Sangamon River. I would let them off the leashes, and they would both run straight for the water. Nestor was a wader, so he wouldn't stay in the water long before he would come back to me and try to start a game of chase through the woods. Maddie loved swimming, and would stay in the water for a long time. Then she would get out and start on a solitary exploration, taking in every smell from every creature who had walked those woods before us. She would wander through the tall grass so that I would only be able to see the ridge of her back above it. She was untiring, and I would usually have to go track her down when it was time to go. She would resist, but she knew there were treats awaiting when we got home. Besides, riding in the car was another of her favorite things.

Lately those car rides seemed to be the only pleasure she had left. This past Saturday I got a bit of a shock when I stroked her back and could feel her spine. Her hip bones were becoming very visible as her appetite was declining recently. I'd had her at the vet a month or so ago, and he said she was anemic. He gave me some medicine, but said that labs her age often simply lost the ability to make red blood cells. He told me to let her eat anything at all she wanted-anyhing. I bought some liver and boiled it, then boiled rice in the same water. She loved it, but that didn't last long and her fatigue and lack of appetite came back. 

Last Sunday I took her on a walk down some local trails, and before we hit the two mile mark she was panting and several feet behind me. She had never been behind me before. When we got home she sprawled in the floor and slept the rest of the day. After that I tried for the next two days to get her to eat something...anything. Monday and Tuesday the only thing I could get her to eat was treats. She turned her nose up at bacon and extra sharp cheddar. Things I never knew a dog would ever refuse. I worried that I would come home from work and find her dead, but I didn't. But Wednesday when I got home she could barely lift her head, and all she would do is take small sips of water. I knew that it was time to let her go. I called the people I knew would understand how this moment feels, and we cried together. I took my pillow and blanket and got in the floor with her overnight. She could still occasionally manage a thump of her tail on the floor.

She could barely get into the car for that ride this morning, and didn't lift her head to smell the air. The vet said very little. He knew I knew it was time to let her go. It took only seconds for her to go to sleep. Now I am home. My husband is at work, and there is no one at my feet, looking longingly at me to request a pet. Her bowls have been picked up. The house feels very empty. But I am glad her suffering is over. I don't know if I waited longer than I should have, but whatever form her matter has now become, I hope it involves rivers and woods.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Who Was The First Guy...?

I won't say what I was doing, but the other day the question came to me, who was the guy (and what is the story!) who said, "Hey, instead of leaves and corncobs, why don't we chop down trees, mill the pulp into something we call "paper," and use that instead to clean ourselves after we eliminate our waste."

I see these kinds of questions up alot, but that one really makes me curious. I have an uncle who lives near a town called Ashdown, Arkansas, where there is a paper mill located. Ashdown is the worst smelling town I've ever driven through. Did that guy-whoever he was, have any idea what he was really doing? Or is toilet paper just one of those conveniences with terrible unintended consequences?

Monday, October 12, 2009

To draw out the Mama Bear, Threaten the Cub

No. I don't see myself as our president's mother; he is the first president who is younger than me (when did I get this old?) But there are only a few years between us. But the last Friday, when I saw the first headline that President Obama had won the Nobel Peace Prize, I started looking for the byline of a parody website such as "The Onion." I had seen no announcement anywhere of this except one lone header; nothing on the New York Times, nothing on, etc., so I assumed it was a joke-much like the Superman/Messiah insults that were thrown at him during the campaign. But then more and more news sites started to report the story, and I couldn't help thinking, "Isn't this early?" I made that very comment on my Facebok page, and started a firestorm that last all day long, and left some of my good friends bruised, with hurt feelings because of the passion and anger the two sides of the discussion took.

Full disclosure; I voted for Obama, and I like him. I like the direction he wants to take our country in. If I didn't, I wouldn't have voted for him. I'm not a party loyalist, but I am fairly liberal. I also unabashedly love my country. I love that we have the freedom here to have opposing points of view, and not feel threatened b expressing these views. For that reason, I try to disagree in a civilized way-use my freedom with circumspection. If I attack my opponents into hiding, I could be attacked the same way next. I have a problem with people who surround themselves daily with onl people and news sources that agree with their point of view. I think that kind of thinking with blinders on makes the reaction to other views one of shock and anger; "What-some people really feel THAT way!?" Exposing ourselves regularly to opposing points of view can prevent that visceral reaction by allowing a realization of the existence of "those others" and buffering surprise that the world is not what we assume as we live in our shells. But again, I digress.

I disagree with the Nobel committee. I disagree with giving an 'aspirational' award. I know it isn't the first time, but I still disagree. However, the visceral reaction of those who want our president to fail, and have said so since before he took office, got my defenses up. I asked them, and still ask, how do they feel about the three American doctors who won for their research on aging? People still get old. There is no cure for Alezheimer's Disease. There is no cure for aging-so these researchers, for all their hard work and years of study-have they really done anything?

I have to say that every day last week, as the announcements of the prizes were made, I was proud every time I saw, "Three Americans Win ..." And it seems that every day another American was announced a winner for something. I've had two connections with universities that had Nobel Prize winners on their staffs, and this was a gift to the universities. Science students love the idea of learning from professors who have received great honors for their work. Donors and alumni love it too-it usually means monetary gifts for those schools, which lead to more scholarships and more modern laboratories. What is the downside? On top of that, there is the notion of "American Exceptionalism." What can support that argument better than Americans being recognized by foreign committees that look at contributions to these areas from people all over the world? I am proud of our chemists, medical doctors, physicists, economists, and, yes, our president for this recognition.

It may have been too early, but the award has been given. President Obama was humble, and amitted that he didn't deserve to be in the company of some of the others who have won the award. He will not keep the money, and I'm sure he is aware of all the criticism that his opponents have heaped on him because of this award. So, can we just say, "Hurrah for America," and forget about our liberal/conservative differences for awhile?

And if the Nobel committee is going to keep giving aspirational awards, I can only hope that our president earns the award by the time he leaves office, and that we actually, for once, enter an era of peace.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

No Kidding?

I wonder if anyone besides me has wondered about the new Arby's roast beef commercials. They advertise combos for $5.01, and they say that the extra penny is for the meat. Does that mean that we have to pay FIVE DOLLARS for a bun, some kind of sauce, lettuce and tomatoes? No Kidding?

It is about choice, BUT...

My blog being called "The Questioners Blog," there is a question I have been asking for many years, and not one person has been willing or able to help me understand the answer: If homosexuality is a choice, who would choose it? Who would choose a life in which he/she will spend adolescence feeling outcast, a life in which one is ridiculed by some groups, feared by some groups, and condemned to both hell and misery by others? There is a "Christian Minister" who travels around the US with some people he calls his "followers," but I've read that they are really just a few people he's related to, holding protests at the funerals of our soldiers who have died in Iraq and Afghanistan. This charlatan claims that our soldiers are dying because Americans are tolerant of homosexuality. There are people who believe it is ok to rant, discriminate in housing and jobs, wear clothing with anti-gay slurs, and the list goes on.

Some background; I planned growing up to be an actor, so I hung out with lots of "arty" types, of whom there were gays. I have also worked in some other businesses which traditionally have a large gay presence. Many of my coworkers became friends, though I myself am unrepentantly straight.

There was a young man with whom I worked at a bookstore in the mid-1990s, Patrick. Everyone knew that Patrick was gay, but he had not come out. Patrick was probably in his mid-20s. He finally did come out, and one evening we were talking about his decision to make it "official." I asked him when he realized that he was gay. He said he "knew" when he was seven years old, and had a crush on Leif Garrett, the pop star.

Now, being a southerner, I have lots of baptist friends, relatives and acquaintances. The are unapologetically anti-gay rights. One of them posted a rhyme the day of President Obama's speech to the Human Rights Commission that ended with a line about Obama says you can "ask and tell" and you won't go to hell.

I kept my visceral reaction to myself until I took out my laptop today, though it has been in my thoughts all day. On the one hand it is interesting that President Obama would be assigned the power and/or authority to decide who goes to hell. Especially since my friends on the right have lived the last nine months in terror that anything the president does will thrust our country on the path to certain destruction. Now he gets to make big decisions like heaven and hell? These same friends scorned the president's Nobel Peace Prize because they claimed he has done nothing. But those are questions for another day. The question for today is whether heaven and hell are even the issue in the United States of America, circa 2009, regarding the push for equal rights for gays, lesbians and transgender Americans. I think not. I think the question is much simpler. Were the framers of our Declaration of Independence telling the truth when they wrote that "All men are created equal, and are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights, among them is life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."

in⋅al⋅ien⋅a⋅ble  /ɪnˈeɪlyənəbəl, -ˈeɪliə-/ –adjective not alienable; not transferable to another or capable of being repudiated: inalienable rights.

If the Declaration of Independence is a true document that is relevant to Americans today, then there should be no question about whether all American citizens should be given the same rights as everyone else. Questions of righteous reward or unholy retribution are not for us, and not for now. Most of the people I know who are so certain that allowing gays equal rights will destroy their worlds either do not know any gays, or are not in contact with any on a regular basis. They will likely never have to see any boys kissing, and will certainly not lose jobs to gays because the access to employment and housing becomes equal. In fact, I will bet the farm that there will be fewer boys kissing on TV news once the playing field is levelled and it is no longer news. As far as movies and television are concerned, I'm guessing none of these folks ever saw "The Crying Game," "Angels Among Us" or "The Birdcage."

So it's time to reframe this debate in an honest way, not with bitterness, but with our eyes open to the reality of what our Declaration of Independence should mean to every person born or naturalized into this wonderful country that we all love.

Friday, September 11, 2009

OH NO! What if they are right?

Only in America. That is a phrase that is usually reserved for when an American does something really stupid or violent. But in the wake of Rep. Joe Wilson screaming, "You Lie," to President Obama on Wednesday evening, I had one of those "Aha!" moments.

Let me start by saying that I know evolution is a physical process. It involves tiny changes over millions of years that contribute to the survival and reproduction of organisms that carry certain desirable traits. But I also know that this lead to sociological changes; cooperation aids in survival just as much as certain physical traits, which lead to the development of communities, etc.

So what's my point? How WILL she synthesize these two seemingly unrelated ideas? Well, in the United States of America there are lots of people (I can't remember the actual statistic, but it is an embarrasingly high number) who don't believe that evolution occured. In fact, we even have a museum devoted to the alleged science of creationism. A friend of mine went there this summer. And now I am beginning to believe that these people may be right. In America at any rate.

I'll try another way to make my point. When discussing how seemingly uncivilized the people of the United States can sometimes be, I used to say that Americans are at least as civilized as our British counterparts were when their country was only 230 years old. If one is to look at British history, things were pretty rough then. Barbaric, one could say. But when I made that point in a conversation with some folks at work, one of my good friends countered that I was suggesting that civil advancement can take place in a vacuum, which it obviously can't. In other words, the British aren't the only ones who have come forward this number of years-the whole world has. All of us could be said to be advancing at the same rate.

Why, then, are Americans still so in love with their guns, their "let them get a job with insurance," the Truthers and Birthers, the OMG IT'S SOCIALISM! and making up big lies about politicians who simply look at solutions to the world's problems differently? Well-if it isn't just the that the United States is still such a young country. then perhaps evolution didn't really happen here. Obviusly the physical processes happened, but maybe the evolutionary steps that brought civilization to Europe and Asia were stopped here by something. Is it possible that the need to create a cohesive society just wasn't required here-perhaps because of the landscape. In the Appalachian and Smoky Mountains, for example, maybe the neighbors were so far apart that 'society" was not only not necessary, but not even possible. Perhaps agriculture, instead of bringing people together here, kept us apart...the cattle we raise just needed so much land that sharing with neighbors, whether those neighbors are wildlife or other people, wasn't going to happen. Anyone who rode up to a particular spread in West Texas was just as likely to be a threat as a friend. So as cities sprang up out of the prairies, we still held to the notion that other people, along with people who care about other people, were probably foe and not friend.

It has been fairly well established that there were Neanderthals present with modern man in Europe for thousands of years, until they were either absorbed or died off. Perhaps it was an opposite direction trip across the land bridge, and those threatened groups came to what is now the United States, created a closed society and reatined many of the behaviors, if not the appearance, of their Neanderthal forebears. Americans do tend to be shorter than European counterparts, chunkier in build.

So now I can feel less bad about how uncivilized the behavior of many of my fellow Americans is.

Or not.

Saturday, August 22, 2009


I haven't been here for awhile, so I've seen lots of things that give me questions. Like, how does anyone still take the whole morality of the right question seriously? I know, I know-I've heard all the shit about how they're forgiven, not perfect. I've been told to my face by a Christian that it does not matter what a believer does because the New Testament says 'once forgiven, always forgiven.' But the same book also says that if your faith doesn't change your behavior, it isn't real. Now we have the "Family" in D.C. telling legislators that having power is what makes a person godly. REALLY?! I guess it really isn't the 90s anymore, when it was having money. So they make it possible for all these family values types to screw around on their wives, and tell them it's ok, as long as they keep their power. No wonder Bill Maher gets so worked up about religion. What I see is a bunch of people who got together in Nice, back in the Dark Ages, and decided that this collection of fairy tales is true, and this collection is...well-fairy tales. The Greeks also literally believed in their myths too. So did the Phoenicians and Egyptians and all the other shamans before them. I do see a place for collective stories, but as sensitive as Americans are about being considered to be like anyone else in any other country, why did we choose a mythology that is so foreign to our soil? Why couldn't we at least take up the cause of the people who were already here when the whites got here? At least they respected the land enough to try and not take more than they needed, and to use every part of the animals they killed; not waste anything.

But I digress. Or do I? I guess I'll close today's session with that question. I'm sure there are more questions to come.


Saturday, July 18, 2009

No Title Required

When Al Gore knows there are lots of folks who deny global warming, why can't he provide a forum for asking and answering questions? I have so many questions, and no one of whom I can ask them.

Why don't we take a more practical, reasoned approach to the problem? Yes, humans are affecting climate change. No, we are not going to destroy the planet. Yes, there have been global climate shifts in the past. Yes, every time it happened, there were extinctions, some of history's mass extinctions have been tied to climate change. So what happens? Well, our ascendants won't look like us. They will have to adapt to very different living conditions. But they WILL exist. Remember, when our planet first evolved, there was no oxygen in the atmosphere. Early life was anaerobic, but it gave off oxygen as a byproduct. As a result the atmosphere filled up with oxygen and aerobic life arose. Now that the atmosphere is refilling with c02, the opposite will occur.

Yes, we've discovered recently that life is possible in the nastiest of conditions (thermal, deep ocean vents.) So we shouldn't presume that life will not thrive when we are done poisoning the planet. It will. Everytime a species goes extinct, something else is able to fill that niche. Life goes on. Humans are the worst kind of invasive species. We had it good in North Africa, but we also had either a wanderlust, or we used up all the food in our own neighborhood and had to move to find more notwithstanding that we would have to displace something or someone else in order to do that. So we took off for Asia, then Europe and then the Americas-or maybe we did some of that radiating at the same time. Either way, once we get someplace we decide it's not good enough as it is, and we try to remake it in our image, and destroy its original integrity and balance. We will continue to do so, even as we drastically change the way we live, and the form of our lives.

I do, also, however, have a nihilist streak. I think the great "supervolcano" in which we live will render all of this moot at some point in the near future. I may or may not mean the word "near" by the standard of our hurried, harried time, or in geologic time, but before long, all the plants around us will become new carboniferus deposits, and all of us animals will become oil. How about that for irony?

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Additional Inquiries

Why have so many public people adopted the annoying habit of saying, "The reality is is..." Why can't they just say, "The reality is that?" I hear it nearly every day on news interviews.

Next question-do I expect too much of people who are called upon to edify the masses?

Saturday, July 4, 2009

More on the Former Star, Sarah Palin

I believe that Sarah Palin had two enemies who should make an explanation of why they left her high and dry. Listing them numerically should not be taken as an assignment of 'order;' it's just convenient.
1. Whoever dragged her on to the national stage last year. The McCain campaign was not populated with novices. They were experienced campaigners. It was quickly obvious that she was not able to handle it, and that the more opportunities she was given to speak, the less she could manage to control the message.
2. Herself, for craving the limelight to such a degree that she "said yes without blinking." Had she blinked, it might have occured to her that she would have both positive and negative stories told about her. She would have known that scrutiny would begin as soon as they were off the stage, and that her real life would not fit the story that she was packaged with for the benefit of the "base," for whom she was specifically chosen to mollify.

Both of these people owe her, and her family an apology.

Big Bang

The darkness that came that night
was not like the darkness at the end of day
it was as if there had never been day.

It was the darkness your dad says
does not exist when you are afraid
at night-
under the bed
in the closet
but you know it is there.
Will there ever be light again?
Will we adapt as the fish in the deep ocean
who no longer need light?
What will we eat?
Will we forget the sound that came before the light
went away?
Was there a noise like that when the big bang happened?
There was darkness,
then sound,
then light and energy.
Now I have hope.

Friday, July 3, 2009

More Questions

Is Sarah Palin really the best the republicans can do? Have they checked the stats on the shrinking numbers of people who fit the super-reiligious, socially backward demographic that she appeals to? To them I say then, go for it!

What is happening in Iran now? The news seems to have quieted this week, and I can't imagine that people who felt so strongly only two weeks ago would just give up and go away.

When will a politician caught in a sex scandal ever comment on their own quotes years before condemning other politicians from another party who did the same thing. A little humility would make all these stories so much easier to stomach. I would love to hear John Ensign or Mark Sanford, or any of them step before the press and include, "I realize that I've said things in the past that showed intolerance toward those who fall into these temptations. I now realize that no one is exempt from such human failings." How hard is that?

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Extremists Make Your Side Look Bad

I have a confession to make. I am one of two or three liberals in my family. I am the daughter of a dyed-in-the-wool, proud to claim it, far right wing, fundamentalist who thinks George W. Bush was one of our greatest presidents. She's been depressed ever since Sept. 2008, when it started looking pretty clear that Barak Obama was going to win the presidency. Sometimes she scares me, and sometimes she makes me want to pull my hair out. Her only news source is Fox, and she would rather die than believe that Sean Hannity or Bill O'Reilly would ever lie. Sometimes she can take a joke about it, and sometimes she can't.

This week we went to her house for dinner, and it was one of those times when she couldn't. She and my dad had changed their cable company, and they were having some trouble with some of the channels. I teased her that it was the company that was the problem, it was a sign that she should stop watching Fox. Her face turned red, and she started carrying on about how none of the other channels talked about the murder of an army recruiter in Arkansas by a Muslim extremist. I thought to say, though I didn't because at 52, I'm still scared of my mother, "How do you know they didn't, you only watch Fox?" But I went home and looked into it, and of course, she was not correct. Not only that, but Rachel Maddow, on MSNBC did a long story about it that night.

So the next day we spoke on the phone and I mentioned this, and she suggested it was only because Bill O'Reilly was on their case that MSNBC mentioned it.

Now, many years ago, and both due to the health of the mother, there were some abortions in our family. She supported them. But now she says that even though murder is always wrong, Dr. Tiller should have been charged with murder for all the babies he's killed. I had to suck hard to get a breath, and remind her that what he did was legal.

Later this week came the story of the Utah man "on a mission to kill the president." And Newt Gingrich claiming we are "surrounded by pagans." Then he and Huckaby bleating loudly about gay rights and abortion. I feel like a tiny snow ball rolling down a high, snow covered mountain, growing bigger and going faster and faster and faster.

I have never seen the like of insanity going on in this country as I have since President Obama was elected. I remember getting to a point where I couldn't stand to see George W.'s face on TV, and many people I know felt the same way. But we never threatened to kill him, or made encouraging noises about anyone who said they wanted to. So this is all bizarre to me. First, I've never seen such sore losers. I mean, really! But all this hatred and venom is just weird to an extreme that I can't figure out.

But more than anything, it is not based on anything that can be explained to me. I've even asked one conservative who said she is sick of seeing Obama on TV to tell me specifically what he has done wrong, and she just couldn't tell me anything concrete. Nor can anyone who calls him a communist, or a terrorist. They have nothing but fear and smear to use, and they didn't even give him a chance to mess up yet. I've asked some to explain what he has done that is socialist, they mention the banks, though that started under Bush. I ask if they've ever heard him mention Marx as a favorite author, or has he said that he believes socialism has worked well in any society he's observed, they can't.

The truth is, they've got nothing. NOTHING.

I remember when a certain super-liberal website opened up and seemed to compare the Bush administration to Nazis. I thought then, even though I agreed with many of their positions, that such rhetoric would only serve to make the left look too negatively extremist. And I now say the same thing to the far right. Disagree with the president, it's ok. Dislike him if you wish, that's ok too. But stop the crazy talk. It makes you look bad, and him look even better. If you can't think of anything rational to say, don't say anything. If you can't support an argument with anything but fear and smear words, wait until you can make a real case. When you say crazy things, it often makes the other side look more rational and then you lose.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Person's Best Friend?

I have a great family. A large, loving, quirky, complicated family. And I love dogs. All dogs. I think most dogs are beautiful, and there is only one dog that I could not connect with despite trying, and that is my brother's old, highly protective Catahoula-lab mix, Chief. I've tried all the friendship tricks that I can think of, and everything I've ever learned on the dog programs on the Animal Planet and National Geographics Channels, to no avail. But I digress.

My youngest sister and I are very close. We have quite similar interests, though she is much more disciplined and organized than I am. She has a husband who probably helps her maintain that discipline, because he is one of the most disciplined people I've ever known. In fact, I think I may have only known one person in my life who can beat him in that. He also has a great sense of humor, and is one of those high energy people who never stops working at something or other. He is also a well trained nurse, and adores working with patients. He loves helping people. Loves it.

To bring all this together...that brother doesn't always understand my love for dogs. It took me a long time, but I think I finally understand this. In the last two years my husband and I have experienced some difficult struggles, which have led to some deep emotional problems; depression, arguing, sometimes feeling hopeless and ready to give up on the marriage. In February of this year, 2009, we lost our beloved labrador, Maddie. She was twelve, and had lived a good, loved dog life. But I have always been the dog person in our relationship; and I have always preferred bigger dogs. I used to say that it isn't a realy dog unless it is at least 25 pounds (beagle, basset, that was about as small as I wanted to go.)

When my first marriage was breaking up in the 90s, I credit the dogs we had with literally saving my life, because I was sometimes suicidal in those days, but on days when I was sitting on the stairs crying, the dogs, bassett hounds, would lay there heads on my lap, and look up at me, and I knew that, despite the despair I was feeling at this "failure," I was both loved and needed. So after

Maddie, I just couldn't see myself coming home to a house without a dog. So I went to our local shelter and picked a dog. Or maybe she picked me when she wiggled her entire body to the front of her kennel and pleaded with me to take her home. She is a small terrier mix, no idea really what she might be, but it was a doggy love I never thought I could feel, for a small dog. My husband is also smitten in a way I've never seen him with a dog.

All this is to say that I think I finally understand the difference between myself and my brother in law. I had one of those "Aha!" moments this week, and I hope that it will lead to a greater tolerance of this difference. Maybe he and his boys can stop joking that if I love dogs so much, next time I come over they will sniff my rear instead of giving me a hug, etc...(yes, I laugh at the jokes!) I once told my sister that I don't love dogs more than people, but I love most dogs more than some people. When my brother in law has been at his very lowest points in life, he had my sister. He had people to help, and he could bury himself in that and work through those times. I've had the same thing, but during some of the worst times, the people I would turn to lived far away from me, and phone and email just don't do the same thing. But I had dogs with me. The didn't judge or question me, they just came to me with a wag or a lick, and made me feel as if there was a reason to go on. It's not that the people in my life wouldn't have made me feel the same way, but they just weren't near enough for a hug at that moment. So my devotion to the dogs deepened. And it has never been betrayed. So, yes, I deeply love my sisters. I have often said they are my best friends. They haven't been replaced by dogs, and I don't love dogs more than them. The relationships are different, and as I've always told my kids, different isn't a bad thing. It's just different.


Cheney et al lied about everything for eight years. Why should we believe that they only waterboarded three people?

I'm curious about all those who say that we should not close Guantanamo? What was going going happen to the people there who couldn't be tried? Were they going to be kept there until they died-withouth any sort of trial (military or civilian?) Or would a scene from "Shawshank Redemption" and have the guards shoot them and say they were trying to escape?

Speaking of Gitmo the comments of the people who refute the NIMBY (Not In My Backyard) arguments, it is said that there are many terrorists already in our supermax prisons. So, how come we've never heard of this? Who are these terrorists, and when were they tried?

If "enhanced interrogation techniques" prevented specific, provable terrorist incidents, why wasn't that advertised? It seems to me that all we would need is some proof from the officials who did it, and all the foo-faa would be over. My uneducated guess is that it isn't there. I hate to think that the government would lie to us...but I was alive in the 70s.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Is it a Coincidence?

I tend to both chuckle and disregard conspiracy theorists. Honest. But I am not alone in having noticed that quite often during the Bush administration, homeland security alerts would grow in intensity just before an election. Remember? We would go for months and months at "yellow," but as the election neared it would go to the next color up. So, I couldn't help but notice the timing of the arrest of the four suspects in last week's terrorist plot to blow up a New York synagogue. After a full year of "investigating" this plot, why was there this very public arrest on the day that Dick Cheney was making his speech competing with President Obama's speech about torture and Guatanamo? Interestingly, I haven't heard anyone else taking notice of this, but the timing could not have been more suspicious.