The Gypsy's Caravan

Monday, October 31, 2005

Special Ed

Bonus Dragon: perfect for fall

By Lynne H Goodwin

From the looks of it, it could have been drawn to illustrate the McCaffery stories.

The Valerie Plame Controversy

Valerie was an innocent in this whole affair. Although there were suggestions that she was behind the decision to send me to Niger, the CIA told Newsday just a week after the Novak article appeared that "she did not recommend her husband to undertake the Niger assignment." The CIA repeated the same statement to every reporter thereafter.
~ Joseph C. Wilson IV: "Our 27 months of hell

You know what fries my bacon about this affair (besides the thousands of people dead and wounded)? It's the assumption underlying the whole thing, that being recommended by his wife to undertake the assignment was about equal to being gelded.

Turn it around: imagine Valerie Plame is a respected ambassador, who has been in the area for many years and is in a position to easily get at the truth. Her husband is an intrepid and sexy secret agent, and gives her the heads up: something smells wrong here. She goes over there to find out what's up..... This could be a major movie, (but Hollywood would inevitably have her husband swooping in to save her from the bad guys... damn!)

But still, even with the hollywood ending, noone would find it amiss for him to make the suggestion to her, yet it's a ball buster that she would even be suspected of making the suggestion...

Sunday, October 30, 2005

DCCC @stake

The DCCC left a message in my inbox with the following questionaire:

"What Budget Cuts Do the Republican Members Support?"...

1. Medicare Cuts - Will you support the Republican proposal to raise health care costs for the 23,380,500 children in this country who rely on Medicaid in order to pay for the $10 billion "slush fund" giveaway to insurance companies and HMOs?

# Yes _____
# No _____

2. Energy Costs - Will you support Republican efforts to do nothing to relieve the price of gas and bring down the cost of home heating so that you can pay for the $14 billion in giveaways for the energy industry, an industry enjoying record profits this year?
# Yes _____
# No _____

3. Veterans Benefits - Will you support cuts to veterans benefits by $600 million, which will deny health care to 100,000 veterans, and disregard the American Legion's plea to, "keep in mind the personal sacrifices and hardships endured by America's veterans" - so that you can pay for the corporate tax shelters for companies that send American jobs overseas?
# Yes _____
# No _____

4. National Security - Will you continue to support a budget that does not get the 30,000 Marines in Iraq the equipment they need and the 1,000 Humvees the armor they still lack in order to pay for the $7 billion, no-bid government contract given Halliburton to rebuild Iraq's oil infrastructure?
# Yes _____
# No _____

Good questions. Where will your local Republicans fall in the battle against Republican extremism?

Too bad we cannot force the powers that be to answer these questions in public, for all to hear

Cows, The Constitution, and the 10 Commandments

My best friend from Oregon has sent me another thought provoker...


Is it just me, or does anyone else find it amazing that our government can track a cow born in Canada almost three years ago, right to the stall where she sleeps in the state of Washington. And, they tracked her calves to their stalls. But they are unable to locate 11 million illegal aliens wandering around our country. Maybe we should give them all a cow.


They keep talking about drafting a Constitution for Iraq. Why don't we just give them ours? It was written by a lot of really smart guys, it's worked for over 200 years and we're not using it anymore.


The real reason that we can't have the Ten Commandments in a
courthouse........You cannot post "Thou Shalt Not Steal," "Thou Shalt Not Commit Adultery" and "Thou Shall Not Lie" in a building full of lawyers, judges and politicians! It creates a hostile work environment!

The gift of fantasy has meant more to me than my talent for absorbing knowledge.
- Albert Einstein

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Saturday Dragon Blogging

I thought this was an art-worthy fence

It looks fantastic with snow on it...

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

The Bitter Fruit

I was moved to the depths of my soul with this slide show called The Bitter Fruit. Go there, watch it. Experience it.

Hattip: Charliepotato

The Santa and Sleigh Project

This is my project for the next month or so - I have to finish by Thanksgiving, so it can go on the lawn with the Sleigh, and Reindeer.

Here I'm carefully tracing the santa image, and noting the colors.. and below, is the tracing that I have to paint. My sweetie does all the woodworking, I do all the decorating.

The Man Behind the Curtain

In the New York Times article "Republicans Testing Ways to Blunt Leak Charges" By RICHARD W. STEVENSON and DAVID JOHNSTON Published: October 24, 2005 they say this:

Congressional Republicans have also been signaling that they want to put some distance between their agenda and the White House's potential legal and political woes, seeking to cast the leak case as an inside-the-Beltway phenomenon of little interest to most voters.

"I think we just need to stick to our knitting on the topics and the subjects the American people care about," Senator Sam Brownback, Republican of Kansas, said on "Fox News Sunday."

All I can say is : if Senator Brownback thinks that the American public is not interested in a case where a highly trained employee of the United States government is rendered unemployable and many highly sensitive investigations are threatened... Senator Brownback would be wrong.

If Senator Brownback thinks that the American public is not interested in a case of the United States President lying to us in order to convince us to go halfway around the world and visit Shock and Awe upon an innocent population who were just living out their lives before we got there..... Then Senator Brownback would be wrong.

If Senator Brownback thinks that the American public is uninterested in a case where high officials (who btw are consulting with and offering advice to the president on a daily basis) of the president's administration have committed felonies, not to mention TREASON while in office.... well then Senator Brownback would be wrong.

When are the republicans going to realize that we've looked at the emperor and seen him naked, and the picture is not a nice one. No amount of "move on, just move on, there's nothing here to see - ignore the man behind the curtain - he's not important." is gonna cut it - we've seen the man behind the curtain too, and we are not impressed.


Sunday, October 23, 2005

Dragon Blogging on Sunday

Fall is truly here

I was driving to work the other day, and just had to stop to get this view. All that water vapor is rising off the stream, just beyond the row of trees.

...and right around the corner, the tortured tree is decked out in it's fall finery.

And then there's my favorite stream..

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Oh, The Cold Season

I've been a little under the weather this week, and I stayed home yesterday to get a little rest, and at the same time spare my co-workers from catching my cold. Andi, over at confessions of a first-time mother was sick also, and asked me what was good for a sore throat? So, I dredged around in my memory, and came up with this recepie, which I first experienced at a solstice campout. It sounded so good, I made some for me. I had forgotten how good it really is. Soothes the throat, and gives you some good energy while you're at it.

So here goes:

Take 3-5 fresh lemons - organic if you can get them (you don't want pesticide in this), and a knob of fresh ginger about as long as your thumb.

Slice them up in 1/8" slices and throw in a pot of water - around a half gallon.
Simmer for around hour and a half to 2 hours.

Sweeten to taste with honey or maple syrup - both have lots of good minerals, and the honey is antibacterial (that may be due to the concentrated sugars, which would not apply if mixed into this tea)

Sip warm tea to soothe your throat, reduce coughing, and energise.
It really works... Hey - I'm back at work today!

Monday, October 17, 2005

Who Will Take Out the Garbage: A Report from New Orleans by Starhawk

Hattip: Wordlacky over at DemiOrator

It’s like a scene out of a post-apocalyptic movie—a crowd of people gathered in the street outside the local tavern in the Bywater district of the Ninth Ward. The lower Ninth Ward, a few blocks away, is the scene of the worst destruction, but this eclectic neighborhood, one of the centers of alternative culture in New Orleans, has fortunately escaped heavy damage. Still, roofs are off, houses are molding away from the inside, and the streets are piled with garbage that, six weeks after the hurricane, has not been picked up.

The people gathered are black, white, gay, straight, a motley mix of artists and old-time Cajuns and circus performers, all talking madly and hugging each other and drinking beer. Malik, a founder of the Common Ground Collective, calls them to order. He makes me think of an old lion, with his mane of dreadlocks, turning his big head slowly from side to side, surveying an unruly pride. He outlines the work Common Ground has done in Algiers, tells them that if they can organize themselves, Common Ground can provide supplies and volunteers. Everyone is talking at once and interrupting each other, but there’s a lively, charged energy.

“What do you need here?” Malik asks.

“Garbage,” people thunder back. There’s a chaotic but unanimous agreement that garbage pickup is their first priority, and several people begin simultaneously to outline their failed attempts to get the city to do something.

Malik stops them. “If the city won’t do it, you got to do like we did across the river, and do it yourself. Now, who wants to do that? Who will volunteer?”

Most of the people raise their hands.

“When do you want to begin?”


We meet the next morning in Washington Square Park, where a kitchen from the Rainbow Family is providing the best free food in town, far, far better than the Styrofoam-packed chili dogs or military ration MREs (Meals Ready to Eat) available from the official relief organizations. Over eggs and pancakes, we get organized.

Who will take out the garbage? It’s the question always posed to any vision of utopia. Who will do the dirty work?

We will. Come on, it’ll be fun, you’ll enjoy it. And if we just start doing what needs to be done, others will join us and the work will go fast and pleasantly.

About fifteen of us head out, a mix of Common Ground volunteers and far fewer of the local community than raised their hands the night before We start at the corner by the bar where we met the night before, and begin picking up sacks of trash, plastic bags full of rotting food waste, and all the debris ejected from people’s flooded homes and shops. The small corner store has half its roof off and its contents on the street. We sling the bags into the back of pickup trucks, and pile it all on the meridian divider of a main street nearby, where the city can’t easily overlook it. We separate brush from mixed garbage, and stack anything usable separately. It’s hard work, and dirty, physical and sweaty and fun, like going to the gym, but more fun really because we’re working together. And satisfying as only cleaning up a really, really dirty mess can satisfy.

Tomorrow we will try to get a flat-bed trailor and pick up refrigerators. Almost every house on the block—in the entire area, has a dead refrigerator, some taped shut. People are warned not to open them inside the house, that you can’t get rid of the smell. You can clean them time and again with bleach, leave them baking in the sun for days—and still days later the smell will remain and bugs will be pouring out of the innards. The phenomenal waste of the embodied energy in all these appliances is appalling, but I can’t think of any real good use for them myself except possibly to fill them with cob, cement them shut and stack them for natural building blocks. A refrigerator-block wall—good insulation, poor thermal mass, and really hard to get anything else to attach solidly. And the bugs would still be a problem. But these are the sorts of things the mind ponders while picking up trash.

Meanwhile Juniper makes a valiant attempt to alert the city agencies that the trash will need to be picked up. She is told to call 211, for Emergency Services. Emergency Services tells her that the Southern Baptist Convention is responsible for solid waste disposal. Huh?? Even in Bush’s new faith-based world, we can’t quite believe this. She tries the local waste management company—they say that the mayor has replaced them the week before with the Army Corps of Engineers. Juniper eventually gets through to some puzzled woman at a phone service in Tennessee from the Corps who has no idea what she’s talking about. After an hour and twenty-five phone calls, she’s back to 211 and the Baptists. Now, the Baptists are a fine religious organization but we had no idea they were experts in solid waste management. Maybe it’s the immersion thing—some deep religious connection to cleanliness? Accept Jesus into your heart, and He will rapture your dead refrigerator into some other dimension? If every Baptist in the south were to suddenly appear in New Orleans and pick up even one sack of garbage, we could get the place clean in a day, but really, a few Bobcats and some big garbage trucks would actually be more to the point. Couldn’t we just go back to the Mafia? Or, what a radical idea, what if everyone in the city and the country regularly tithed some of their income to provide the services everyone needs, so we could pool our money and afford things like bulldozers and regular trash pickup that actually got around to all the neighborhoods where people lived? We used to have such a thing—it was called ‘government’ before Bush and his cronies on the far right began to systematically starve it and convince people that it was better to depend on religious charity to solve all their problems.

But the Baptists are not all that well schooled in solid waste management—we’re not sure they even know that the City of New Orleans is expecting them to pick up trash in the Ninth Ward. In any case, they are not in evidence here. Instead, it’s a group of neighborhood folks and a few volunteers I know for a fact are Pagans, anarchists, atheists and other undesirables, who have just started doing it.

Across the street, a battered white house sports a big American flag. The man inside, a big Cajun guy in a baseball cap, comes over and offers us water. He’s an ex-marine who used to train the Contras in Honduras to attack the Sandinistas, I’m told, until he became sickened by what was going on. He’s delighted we’re cleaning up the neighborhood, tells us stories of the hurricane, how after it was over the neighbors all got together and had a big barbecue with the meat that would otherwise rot in their freezers. He tells us how he worried about the older black folks across the street who had diabetes, tried to get them fruit and keep them fed.

“I don’t understand racism,” he says. “I’ve got six kind of blood in my veins. My people been here for generations, five thousand years. I’m part Chittimacha Indian. The reason I look white—my mother married a German, but my great-grandaddy was a six foot African man.”

He was one of the snipers, who sat on his roof with his rifle to shoot suspected looters. The area is full of signs that say, “We are home, you are being watched!” “Mean dogs inside.” “This area protected by Smith and Wesson.”

He put up his flag as soon as the wind stops—but he hates the government. To him, that flag means the American people.

“This is so great,” he says as he brings us over cold water and hand sanitizer. “And that it’s people doing it, not the government.”

At the end of the day we go over to BJ’s, the neighborhood bar where everyone hangs out. “This is our living room,” one woman tells me. They are newly back—today is the first day many people have come home, and it is so beautiful to see how happy everyone is to be back. They are running up to each other and hugging their neighbors, laughing and crying. One of them buys beers for everybody on the cleanup crew—we have forty offered to us within half an hour, more than we can drink.

It’s what’s so wonderful about New Orleans, and so different from most cities in this country—these tight-knit communities, where neighbors know each other and care about each other and have place where people go and meet and hang out together, Cajuns and radicals and artists and circus performers, newcomers and old timers all.

“Click your heels together three times—we’re home!” says another big guy in a baseball cap, beaming. They all hug us and thank us. They’re dealing with the damage in their own homes, trying to clean up and clear out and make them liveable before they get back to work—if they still have jobs.

“But will people come back, do you think?” I ask a blond woman who is trying to get me inside to play pool.

“They’ll be back,” she assures me. “You won’t be able to keep them away. We have a neighborhood blog, and we’ve kept in contact, and everything all over it is all, “when can we go home?’ ‘When will they let us back?’ ‘We want to go home!’

Then Juniper and Lisa and I head out. We decide to drive through the lower Ninth Ward. Today is the first day that people are being let back in, to all but the very worst-hit neighborhoods. But we talk our way through the checkpoints, and drive through the blasted streets where the levee broke and the homes were assaulted by a mini-tsunami, a twelve-foot high wall of water. It’s a scene of unbelievable devastation. Streets reduced to piles of rubble, houses that are nothing but a roof in a sea of mud. One house has floated off its foundation and rests atop a car. A truck has careened into the side of a house, its front end resting on the lintel of a second story window. Other houses are simply piles of wood and scattered shingles.

There is no going back here, no happy homecoming for this neighborhood. No bomber, no invading army, could level it more thoroughly. It is Iraq brought home, literally, because the agent of destruction here was not the hurricane, but human neglect and warped priorities. The money that should have maintained the levees, like the National Guard that could have contained the looters, went to Iraq. Homeland Security, brought to you by Bush and neocons. Do you feel safer, now?

We walk briefly on the street closest to the break in the levee, a sea of churned mud. A room is ripped open, the whole house destroyed, but inside, a chandelier hangs intact. I’m thinking of a story I read somewhere, about a poor Southern family, where the mother’s deepest desire, her symbol of everything that meant comfort and safety and beauty and a good life, was a chandelier. In the story, they finally got one, and then some catastrophe struck, I don’t remember what. But this chandelier, intact among the ruins, seems to symbolize that some hopes and dreams can survive even this devastation. They might not be my hopes, or my dreams, or my vision of what is beautiful, but they are someone’s.

And that’s my own particular faith—that if we support each others’ dreams, if we deal with the garbage, if we take care of each other and do what needs to be done, some beauty will be born out of all of this mess. Click your heels together. There’s no place like home.


Feel free to post, forward, and reprint this article for non-commercial purposes. All other rights reserved.

Starhawk is an activist, organizer, and author of The Earth Path, Webs of Power: Notes from the Global Uprising, The Fifth Sacred Thing and other books on feminism, politics and earth-based spirituality. She teaches Earth Activist Trainings that combine permaculture design and activist skills, and works with the RANT trainer’s collective, that offers training and support for mobilizations around global justice and peace issues.

Hundreds of groups are collecting money to aid hurricane victims. If you want to help the efforts of these grassroots groups, you can donate directly to Common Ground at their website:

Tax deductible donations can also be sent to:

1405 Hillmount St.
Austin, Texas

Come join us! If you have skills to offer, particularly medical training, building skills, child care experience, counseling, or just a general willingness to clean up garbage and do what needs to be done, there is lots of work to do. Volunteers will be needed for months to come, as relief turns to rebuilding. You can come for a short time or the long term.

For more information:
An e-mail to will get a response as soon as possible.

There is also useful and updated information at the following web-sites:

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Saturday Dragon Blogging

I did this one onto a T-shirt a while back.

The Drought is Ended!

Here's a before and after view of a stream on my way home from work. The first pic was taken on the seventh, and the second was taken on the tenth of Oct, just three days later. We have had another five days of rain since the second pic. I checked it out as I drove by on Friday, and decided that a trek through the underbrush in the pouring rain to see a dangerous flood was not in the cards.

My garden at work (shallow well, no irrigation) has finally taken off after all this rain. The dahlias that should have shown their heads in July are all full of blooms, and the zinnia that I despaired of have started to blossom out. It may all be gone in a week or two, as the cold comes in from Canada. Right now there are flood warnings for most of the state of Connecticut, and Massachusetts, and the water's just pouring out of the sky.


Friday, October 14, 2005

Open letter to the DNC

Dear Sirs,

This organizational rebuilding is all well and good - and I mean that literally. It is indespensible for a viable party, and should have been followed all along.

That said, what's sorely missing is for the politicians - the erstwhile "leaders" of the democratic movement - to stand up and proclaim their support for the base. To stand up for progressive principles, and mean it.

We are all so tired of the corruption in Washington, and the Democrats in congress are feeding from the corporate trough just as much as the republicans, they are just not getting as fat as their opponents! I call it the training program: get them used to handouts from lobbyists, make their own bought and sold politicians bulletproof thereby. (you can't complain about someone else's corruption if you are doing the same thing...)

And so - stand and be counted! Articulate the progressive ideals, and grow in influence. Give us the same old same old, the Bill Clinton triangulation, and we will find someone who really believes to carry our torch. We don't need the scheming and cynical mouthing of what you think we want; the campaign promises that fade away as soon as the election is over.

This country desperately needs the progressive agenda set out fluently, cogently, and pursuasively. It can only be accomplished by people who believe in the equality of all people, the importance of living sustainably, and the strength of the middle class to spread prosperity. For, that is what we are talking about: prosperity.

When the republicans cling to the dying remnants of the oil economy, they are looking backwards to the gilded age of limited resources and diminishing returns.

When the progressives say: let's build a new economy on limitless sustainable and renewable resources, we are looking forward to a new golden age of prosperity. Choose well, it will affect your lives and family for generations.


Thursday, October 13, 2005

Words From New Orleans: Starhawk

Sunshine after Floodwater: a Report from New Orleans

By Starhawk

I’m sitting at the block party in front of the Algiers clinic set up by Common Ground, the grassroots organization we’ve come to New Orleans to support in the wake of hurricanes Katrina and Rita. The clinic is set up in a storefront mosque in this black neighborhood on the West Bank (which oddly enough is on the east side of town) which escaped the flooding. At a table next to me, four people of three or four different races are playing dominoes. Across the street, kids are having their faces painted, and I’ila is helping a group paint prayer flags with their wishes and dreams. A white activist I know as a deeply serious person is intent on getting just the right composition of dish soap to make giant bubbles. Miss Beverly is dishing up red beans and rice from a big pot, and down the street Aaron is barbecueing jerked chicken. Rain is dancing with a boy of about thirteen who just plainly adores her, and a mix of medics and volunteers from all over the country are chatting, relaxing, and enjoying the sunshine.

The idyllic quality of this scene, like a poster picture of racial harmony and community, is all the more remarkable because a month ago this community was on the verge of a race riot. Immediately after Katrina, when much of the Louisiana National Guard was in Iraq and the police failed to keep order, white vigilante groups were roaming the streets, shooting at any young black man they suspected of being a looter. Black citizens were arming themselves in response, and the neighborhood was on the verge of a race riot.

Then Malik, a neighborhood organizer, Green Party member and former Black Panther, put out a call to some of his long time allies and the activist community in general, for help and allies. Scott Crow, a young white organizer from Austin, came down and sat on the porch with Malik to defend against the vigilantes. When the immediate threat eased, they turned to meeting other needs—for food distribution, water supplies, medical care. Out of that effort came the Common Ground Collective. And long before the Red Cross, FEMA, or any official aid arrived, they were distributing supplies and helping people to remain and return and resist coercive evacuation.

I duck inside the clinic for a tetanus shot. A big room is divided into screened cubicles and office spaces. The woman at the desk smiles at me, a young volunteer comes over, takes me aside, and quickly takes my vitals. He’s been here for a month, and looks tired but proud. The clinic is a month old and in that time, with no federal or state assistance, has served over two thousand people, many of whom have no regular medical care because they can’t afford it and there is no permanent clinic that serves this neighborhood. It’s warm and friendly—in contrast to the official clinics which, when they finally did open, are under armed guard.

I can’t remember when I last had a tetanus shot, and the medic and I joke about the fact that I’ll surely remember this one—my Katrina shot.

There are two National Guard in camo fatigues wandering through the crowd, and Baruch tells me they are guarding us from the police, who have been systematically harassing clinic personnel along with the general citizenry. Across the river, police arrested three of the young volunteers who were helping Mama D, who is cleaning up her 7th Ward neighborhood so that when people return, they will have something to come back to. Two were white, one was black: they beat the black kid severely, kicking him viciously in the chest, and stole his money. They were in jail with lots of people who were arrested simply sitting on their own front porches. In the French Quarter, someone videotaped a group of cops viciously beating an old man, and this makes the news and provokes outrage. But there are a hundred incidents like it, every day, that no one sees.

Racism is like the black mold eating away at the long-submerged houses. It permeates everything, and it spreads, corrupting everything in its path. The police, the slow and neglectful response of officials, the differing values placed on human life according to color and class. So often, it’s below the surface, lurking as spores of privilege, a deeply unconscious sense of entitlement, or lack. But the floods have wet everything down, and now it is visible, and growing. Unchecked, it destroys strong foundations and sturdy structures—and that what we’ve seen happen here, some of the basic structures of government, of simple human decency, collapsing.

And that’s why we’re here, really—to try, at least in a few places, to root it out, to save some of the beauty of the old structures and to make it possible to rebuild anew. Mold abatement.

Sunlight kills spores. Rain and Joshua are dancing, Miss Beverly presiding over her cauldron of beans and rice, the bubble mixture is finally right, and the bubbles float over the scene, iridescent spheres as ephemeral as a rainbow after a flood. And even if it’s just for this moment, the sun shines down.


Feel free to post, forward, and reprint this article for non-commercial purposes. All other rights reserved.

Starhawk is an activist, organizer, and author of The Earth Path, Webs of Power: Notes from the Global Uprisin, The Fifth SacredThing and other books on feminism, politics and earth-based spirituality. She teaches Earth Activist Trainings that combine permaculture design and activist skills, and works with the RANT trainer’s collective, that offers training and support for mobilizations around global justice and peace issues.

Hattip: Wordlacky, from The Demiorator

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Federal Flood Insurance and Rich Coastal Communities

Here it is, halfway through October, and the National Hurricane Center has only one name left: Wilma. After that, the Greek numbers will have to suffice: Alpha, Beta...

Scientists say it's not global warming causing the increase in the number of storms. It seems that we have an oscillation in the number of storms, and we have just transitioned from a period of fewer storms to a period of more storms. We have also, in this last period, seen an unprecidented number of people moving to the coastlines of the US, and a corresponding burgeoning costal property boom. There are a couple of controversies surrounding these new buildings on the coasts, and I see them both stemming from the misuse of the commons: those assets held in common for the citizens of the US.

The first argument comes from private property owners not allowing the public access to the beaches. Sure, these people who can afford to build right on the beachline want to be able to control who is in their "back yard". They don't want people camping out near their expensive houses, and they want the view that they paid so much for to be pristine. But the truth is, these beaches are not their back yard, they are held in trust by the government for the use of all the citizens, and often public taxes are used to repair and groom these same beaches. Why should citizens have to go to the expense of bringing the property holders to court in order to have access to the commons? The beaches in the US are the back yard of everyone, and noone. Certainly not the private preserves of the rich.

The second issue that I see is the national flood insurance. These houses have been built in places that are prone to flooding when a big storm (or even just natural costal erosion) brings the water in to eat away at their foundations. I have seen cottages on the pacific coast that are sticking out over the water, with beams holding their foundations from falling into the surf.

Now, mind you, there is a good function for flood insurance. In the once-in-a-hundred year storm, where there are homes that are usually well away from danger, flood insurance makes sense. But these houses built on sand dunes, and coastal islands that are only feet above sea level, and any strong storm sweeps them away - they can only be built- and rebuilt time and again, with federal government assurance that the loan will be paid.

I say that the government pays once, and if the site is deemed too dangerous, it reverts to the commons. Take the money, and go find somewhere else to site your house. Further, you should only be able to get fed flood insurance on your primary dwelling! I shouldn't be called on to contribute my taxes to rebuild some rich person's luxury vacation beach house!

With another month and a half of Hurricane season before us, it's put me in mind of Bush's infamous quote regarding Trent Lott's house -

The good news is -- and it's hard for some to see it now -- that out of this chaos is going to come a fantastic Gulf Coast, like it was before. Out of the rubbles of Trent Lott's house -- he's lost his entire house -- there's going to be a fantastic house. And I'm looking forward to sitting on the porch.

And to those who say, "Don't pull the rug out from under me - I wouldn't have built there if there had not been insurance to cover loss from storms." I say this: Exactly, and just why should MY hard earned money go to build you a new house in a place that you Knew before you built there was so dangerous that you would not risk your own money on it. Why do you feel free to risk mine?

I can think of many projects that are more worthy of government funds than building you a new seaview home so that you can deny the beach from the sun loving public.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

The Woodland Garden - Mass

I've finally found out the trick to putting more than one picture on a post at one time. I was looking at Old White Lady's It's Morning Somewhere blog, and she was having problems with Hello picture uploader. Dread Priate Roberts suggested that she use the Image uploader that's in blogger - I never noticed it before!

So, here are two of my favorite pond photos - taken in the spring at a place called "Woodland Gardens" which is a nature preserve and botanical garden.

. . . Thank You Dread Pirate Roberts!

The Sunday Belief Quiz

I took the Belief-O-Matic quiz (hattip to The Green Knight), and here are my results:

1. Neo-Pagan 100%

• Belief in Deity
Some believe in a Supreme Being. Many believe in God and Goddess--a duality. Many believe there are countless spirit beings, gods and goddesses, in the cosmos and within all of nature--God is all and within all; all are one God. The Great Mother Earth, or Mother Nature, is highly worshipped. Divinity is immanent and may become manifest within anyone at any time through various methods.

• Incarnations
No human incarnations are worshipped in particular, as all of nature and the universe are considered embodiments of God and Goddess, or of gods and goddesses, worthy of respect, reverence, or worship.....

2. Unitarian Universalism 99%

• Belief in Deity
Very diverse beliefs--Unitarian/Universalists welcome all deity beliefs as well as nontheistic beliefs. Some congregations are formed for those who share a common belief, e.g. Christianity.

• Incarnations
Very diverse beliefs, including belief in no incarnations, or that all are the embodiment of God. Some believe Christ is God's Son, or not Son but "Wayshower."

• Origin of Universe and Life
Diverse beliefs, but most believe in the Bible as symbolic and that natural processes account for origins.

This looks like a mish mash, rather than a positive belief system.

3. Mahayana Buddhism 94%

• Belief in Deity
Mahayana Buddhism (like Theravada Buddhism) posits no Creator or ruler God. However, deity belief is present in the Mahayana doctrine of The Three Bodies (forms) of Buddha: (1) Body of Essence--the indescribable, impersonal Absolute Reality, or Ultimate Truth that is Nirvana (Infinite Bliss); (2) Body of Bliss or Enjoyment--Buddha as divine, deity, formless, celestial spirit with saving power of grace, omnipotence, omniscience; and (3) Body of Transformation or Emanation--an illusion or emanation in human form provided by the divine Buddha to guide humans to Enlightenment. Any person can potentially achieve Buddhahood, transcending personality and becoming one with the impersonal Ultimate Reality, which is Infinite Bliss (Nirvana). There are countless Buddhas presiding over countless universes. Bodhisattvas--humans and celestial spirits who sacrifice their imminent liberation (Buddhahood) to help all others to become liberated--are revered or worshipped as gods or saints by some.

• Incarnations
The historic Buddha, the person Siddhartha Gautama, is considered by many as an emanation or illusion of the highest power (which is also called Buddha). Many believe there have been countless Buddhas on earth.

• Origin of Universe and Life
No Creator God. All matter is illusion or manifestation of the Ultimate Reality. Generally, Mahayana Buddhist beliefs don't find modern scientific discoveries contradictory to Buddhist thought.


4. New Age 93%

• Belief in Deity
God is the impersonal life force, consciousness, ultimate truth and reality, the incorporeal, formless cosmic order personified within all people and matter. God is all and all are God.

• Incarnations
Most believe there are no particular incarnations to worship, as all in the universe are embodiments of God.

• Origin of Universe and Life
The universe, life, and matter were not created by God but "are" God. The universe and life emerged out of the creative power of the eternal universal life force.

• After Death
Some believe in continual rebirth--no death--as life is spirit. Some believe that our souls rest for a time before deciding on a new body (or bodies). Heaven and hell are states of consciousness, self-imposed, due to ignorance of God as all.

• Why Evil?
No original sin, no Satan, and no evil. Most believe people make "mistakes" when they are ignorant of the power of goodness, which is God, within themselves and others. Some believe evil is perpetuated through accumulation of past-life wrongs and spiritual ignorance.

• Salvation
Salvation lies in the realization of oneness with the impersonal life force. Awareness can be heightened through methods that induce altered states of consciousness....


5. Liberal Quakers 87%

• Belief in Deity
Diverse beliefs, from belief in a personal God as an incorporeal spirit to questioning belief in a personal God.

• Incarnations
Beliefs vary from the literal to the symbolic belief in Jesus Christ as God's incarnation. Most believe we are all sons and daughters of God, with the main focus on experiencing and listening to God, the Light within, accessible to all.

• Origin of Universe and Life
Emphasis is placed on spiritual truths as revealed to each individual. Many believe that God created/controls all events/processes that modern scientists are uncovering about origins. Many believe in scientific accounts alone or don't profess to know.

• After Death
Few liberal Quakers believe in direct reward and punishment, heaven and hell, or second coming of Christ. The primary focus is nondogmatic: God is love, love is eternal, and our actions in life should reflect love for all of humanity.

I found that last one surprising - who knew I agreed with any Christian sect on matters of religion(as opposed to spiritualism)??

Saturday, October 08, 2005

The One Thing....

In the 1980's I lived in LA, and was married to my 1st husband. He wanted a Cadillac, and he got a spiffy new "compact" (1985 was the year they brought the size down from Yacht to Motorboat) and the bane of my existance was when he made me schlepp around all the (grade school age and younger) kids in that thing. (My car was a VW Van - and the wheelbase was smaller than the Caddy!) Not only did I have to worry about yogurt and cracker crumbs on the upholstery, there was this gadget that kept track of the mileage in real time. Every darn time I took his car out, I got the lecture about "rabbit starts" and "let it coast" - damn!

Not only did this thing keep stats on what you were doing in real time, it kept stats on a cumulative basis.

I was ruining his stats!


I've come to think that this could be the single easiest and most powerful gadget that could cause the United States to conserve. With real time "stats", you can modify your behavior to economise and conserve. With cumulative stats, you have bragging rights. My God - add daily, weekly, monthly and yearly, and you could BET on them...

Every new car sold in the US should have this. I mean, the technology is 20 years old, for gosh sakes! Our patriotic duty should be to conserve as much oil as possible. They could even have good citizens on local news - with their stats to prove it. What more can the guys want - more stats!!!

...time to write some letters.....

Saturday Dragon Blogging Posted by Picasa

Fall color appears sporadically this year Posted by Picasa

This is my commute to work - I'm sooo lucky! Posted by Picasa

Posted by Picasa

CT stream in the fall Posted by Picasa

The last gasp from my garden- love those little marigolds. Posted by Picasa

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Wednesday, October 05, 2005

...And the next step: Licensing Procreation

Andi has a great post about the Indiana Legislature writing a new law trying to limit the right to have a baby using assisted reproduction over on her blog: Confessions of a First Time Mother. Go there, read it, it's effing insane, it's in a word, Facism!!!!

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

President Bush: A Portrait
(oops, hattip to Andi ) Posted by Picasa

Monday, October 03, 2005

Treat Any Soldier

I found this site, by a soldier's mom, that will send care packages to soldiers who are in need - even if only in need of a care package. There are food packages, hygiene packages, cookie packages. There is a link to where you can even send armor and wicking t-shirts and armored knee pads. They even have heart pillows: God can you sleep without a pillow??? *Sniff*

If you can, do it, and if you can't then spread the word - someone else that you know may be able to. To send a box of food, some personal hygiene products, and a pillow is $127.70. Maybe your office could take up a collection and send a batch. You can pick a soldier, or have them pick a soldier for you.

Barak Obama vs Dao report

Peter Daou just posted a new segment of his articles on the state of the opposition party (read it here ). (hattip to Shakespere's Sister) Following is a snippet:

First, the root deficiency of Democrats with respect to message is not that Democrats don’t match Republicans blow for blow (as Obama puts it, “energizing their base with red meat rhetoric and single-minded devotion.”) It’s that they fail to project core convictions. What passes for Democratic conviction today is a mutated form of “press release speak,” the political version of an evolutionary dead-end, a soulless evocation of ideals and principles devoid of the visceral connection with a human heart that gives it meaning.

Press release speak is endemic in the Democratic leadership, but it is absent in the blog world, which explains the appeal of blogs to rank and filers. That’s not to say that Democrats don’t give the occasional stirring speech, but the Democratic establishment sorely lacks a modern-day Martin Luther King, someone who speaks words so unfeigned, so blunt, so true that by sheer force of will their words move public opinion and rouse people to action. It is that unshakable strength of character that resonates with ordinary voters, not, as Obama says of Paul Wellstone, his “ability to deliver a scathing rebuke of the Republicans without ever losing his sense of humor and affability.” Humor and affability have little to do with netroots disenchantment, and I suspect little to do with Wellstone’s lasting and well-deserved appeal in the progressive community. What netroots activists sorely miss is the unfettered expression of a deep-seated faith in the inherent humanity and goodness of progressive ideals, the willingness to express that faith in loud, earnest, and most of all, authentic terms.
~emphasis mine

Progressives want someone with a clear voice to champion their values. Hillary lost my vote when she started to pander to the right to lifers as an effort to "triangulate" - a skill that won the White House for her husband.

What's needed now is a fresh voice, one who believes in what their constituents stand for; what we do not need is a calculating politician who is going to end up doing whatever they think will win the next election. That's the crux of the matter: if the representative does not passionately believe that progressive values will bring a better world, they cannot be expected to let those values inform their actions. Any promise is justifiable, and easily abandoned for the next calculated triangulation.

The Progressives have had a problem with the media distorting their views, shouting over everything they can say, and championing the president's propaganda. With only 6 major corporations owning all of the media news outlets, Democrats cannot even buy their way onto the small screen. Newspapers are just as bad. After the recent anti-war demonstrations, the
Boston Globe(touted as the most responsible and news-oriented paper in the states) buried the coverage of the Saturday march that drew over 100,000 people on page SIX, with no mention of it on the first page. The counter demonstration, involving only 400 people was on page TWO of the monday paper, proving that this last bastion of balanced reporting is in truth just sniffing after Bushco along with all the rest of those 'ol hounds.

As was proven during the coverage of hurricane Katrina, only gritty reality will cut through the talking points. What we need now is straight talk from progressive leaders: leaders that can speak truth from their hearts, not their calculators. We need bold speech, that outlines the good that this country does in the world when the leaders believe in the principles of real compassion, of equality, education, conservation, freedom, and liberty. And Sacrifice. Yes, that's what it'll take at this point, is a whole lot of sacrifice from the people who have been carpetbagging our south as well as Iraq. The tax cuts that Bushco pushed through in his first term have not spread prosperity. They have confined the prosperity to the upper reaches of the most rapacious corporations that don't pay taxes in the United States.

The time for tax cuts and service cuts is over. We stand at a crossroads: the Democratic party can haul their asses over to their base, and start articulating the values that created the prosperity that Bushco spent, or the progressives can declare solidarity, and leave the Dems behind - indeed leave the great experiment in democracy to it's internal rot of corruption, crony capitilism, and strongarm partisian politics, - to define a new path into the future.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

October Apple Picking

We went apple picking this afternoon, something that has been a fall tradition in Hubby's family for 38 years. We have always gone to Belltown Orchards in Glastonbury CT. Somehow the last 4 years or so, this orchard has been tightening their policies and rules(almost to the point of hostility). I'm not sure why, it could be because a new generation has taken over and they're afraid of lawsuits. It may just be the general paranoia after 9/11.

It has always been that the customer had the run of the place, and we always had a great time exploring the orchard, and sitting by the stream to eat an apple in the sun. This afternoon it was all: nothing down there to see, stay on the path, the haywagon will pick you up.

We asked the apple guy where the punpkins were, and he wouldn't tell us! Just get on the hayride, they'll take you around! We started talking about how facism was on the march, and this guy came over and got in our face! Scary...

After we rode off in the haywagon, we found the punkins, and scooped up a bunch for fall decorations. Posted by Picasa

Cortland Apples Posted by Picasa

The House on the Hill.. Posted by Picasa

They had punkins' too! Posted by Picasa

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