14 October 2009

The Last Day

(Reprinted from a journal from c. 2002. Also reprinted at my mysticangelhealing.net blog.)

What would you do if you learned that today was your last day to live? What exactly would you do? When I asked myself this question, I wasn't surprised to hear the answers I gave. What surprised me was the thought that followed the answers.

I thought about the people who live far from me, whom I love dearly. I know I would need to call each of them to say "goodbye." Would there be any words left unspoken? I can't speak for them, but I can say that I haven't left much unsaid over the years. I'm one of those people who says, "I love you" rather frequently--in person, in letters, in actions. I want the people in my life to know that I love them. I don't love them all equally. I don't love them all the same way, but I do love them, and I think it's important to let them know that. While I couldn't very well call everyone I know individually, I would call those closest to me. For those less close, I would write a letter or an email to let them know that I was thinking about them too in my final moments.

I know I would need to say goodbye to my pets. Cuddle them one last time and assure them that I had been blessed by their presence in my life, and that I would meet them again on the other side. Then I thought that I would want to spend some time out in nature, walking along the shore or in the forest. Probably on the shore, if it were the very last walk I'd take. I know who I'd want to spend those last hours with, the one whose soul resonates most closely with mine. We would spend hours, walking and sitting by the shore, talking about everything or lapsing into silence when talking wasn't enough or was too much.

I thought about how this day would feel, how powerful and poignant it would be. Even if nothing is said and nothing is done, I would want to know that it was a day well spent, not cleaning the house, mowing the yard, or washing the dishes, however important those tasks may be in the day-to-day scheme of things. I thought about how rich all the colors would seem, how the smell of the ocean would be more enveloping, the sound of the waves more centering. I thought about how little I would need to say to everyone. My final words would probably be, "I'm not afraid, so you don't have to be afraid or sad for me. If you are afraid or sad, then be those things, but only for yourself."

I could feel the intense nature of this day inside my chest as I thought about it. It caused a quiet sort of hush inside my body and mind, rather like the silence between two waves crashing on the shore. That is when the words came to me, "Live each day with that kind of intensity." That is true awareness. That is true living. It is so much more than being alive. When you reach the other side, all our existence will be lived on that level of intense awareness.

Beth Mitchum is the author of five novels, one collection of poetry, and one music CD. Her works are available at Amazon.com through the following link:

http://tinyurl.com/bethmitchumbooks

25 May 2009

Trip to Alki Beach with Facebook Friend

(Reprinted from my other blog http://allgoodnewsalldaylong.com for May 24, 2009)

I got the wonderful opportunity today to meet up with one of my Facebook friends, Kerstin, who lives in Germany. I've only ever interacted with her on Facebook, but she let me know when her airline (Lufthansa) was coming to Seattle so we could meet. I went over on the Bainbridge ferry this morning and picked her up at her hotel. I found out that she loves pizza, so I took her to my favorite pizza place in Seattle (Pegasus on Alki Beach). We walked along the waterfront for a while in the beautiful sunshine, talking and getting to know one another a little bit. I want to share some photos of what we saw today. There are a lot more on Facebook, if you happen to be there too. Thanks, Kerstin, for being willing to meet up with a virtual stranger today and leave at the end of the day with a new friend.


Seattle Skyline from Alki Beach (Photo by Beth Mitchum)

Seattle Skyline (Photo by Beth Mitchum)

Tacoma Narrows Bridge (Photo by Kerstin Oswald)

Mount Rainier from I-5 South of Seattle (Photo by Kerstin Oswald)

Beth Mitchum is the author of five novels, one collection of poetry, and one music CD. Her works are available at Amazon.com through the following link:

http://tinyurl.com/bethmitchumbooks

18 May 2009

NH Same-sex Marriages Legal but Not Made in Heaven

In order to pass a law to allow same-sex marriages to be performed legally in the state of New Hampshire, the governor is asking for some allowances to be made for religious institutions to continue practicing discrimination and homophobia without censure. While I think it is good that the law is going to pass, I also believe that if religions are going to be allowed to operate in a manner that is clearly discriminatory against certain groups of human beings, then they should be stripped of their tax exempt status. Why should the ones who persecute the LGBTQ community for wanting "special rights," which amounts to the same rights as every other American citizen, be allowed the "special right" of not paying taxes? In what world does this make sense?

I ask only to be treated as an equal to all other citizens of the United States. That I would have equal rights under the law, equal rights that include being able to wed the person of my choice, to adopt and care for children in need, to obtain and be able to keep a home or job of my choosing. Like Martin Luther King, Jr., I have a dream. It is one where Susie and Becky, Bobby and Teddy, will be able to run around on the playground holding hands without fear of taunting, when they are six and also when they are sixteen. A dream where parents correct their own children when they toss the word "gay" around in a way that is clearly intended to be taken negatively. Those kids would not do that unthinkingly if parents would educate them about gay children and teens who have committed suicide because of the teasing they received from peers. They would not do it if they knew that their parents would call them on it, just as they would if they had used a racial slur in their presence.

I have a dream that one day the rest of the population of the United States will wake up and realize that discrimination against same-sex couples has no legal foundation or justification. That it is only personal and religious beliefs, which have been drilled into all of us since birth, that makes anyone think they have a just cause to limit civil rights to certain groups of people in this country. A significant portion of the population has already realized this truth, and thankfully they are joining the movement to end legalized discrimination in this country. Hopefully too, more people will realize how wrong it is to allow special tax exempt status to religious institutions that seek to deny equal civil rights to certain groups of American citizens.

http://www.care2.com/causes/politics/blog/freedom-to-marry-and-freedom-of-religion-a-win-win/

Beth Mitchum is the author of five novels, one collection of poetry, and one music CD. Her works are available at Amazon.com through the following link:

http://tinyurl.com/bethmitchumbooks

03 April 2009

Corporate Greed: It's About Time for a Reckoning

The United States, it seems, is sorting its priorities in a rather public manner. The citizens of this country are outraged at the chasm that has been revealed between workers and executives in terms of salaries and other compensation. While workers show up for work every day and perform the work that keeps the wheels of the operation turning, they are often paid barely a living wage. When executives show up for work to steer the operation, they are rewarded lavishly. Even if all the wheels fall off the business and it crashes, they are granted huge bonuses and for what reason? Because the company wants to keep these talented people on board? If they are so talented, why did the business crash?

For fifteen years I worked on the front lines of a Fortune 500 company. Okay, so they weren't a Fortune 500 company when I started there, but that's where they ended up, near the top, if never at the top. I was in retail management, an industry that definitely illustrates this chasm in pay between the people who make the company money on a daily basis and the people in cushy offices who are soaking up the profits with their high six and even seven-figure salaries and bonuses. Sure they were calling the shots up there, but their shots usually meant more work for the workers and managers with little or no tangible results and certainly no rewards for our extra efforts. Oftentimes what they had us do was counterproductive and counter-intuitive, wasting money on signing and staff, while granting us no extra allotment of payroll hours. Essentially, we as managers were forced either to do the extra work on our own time or have our staff do it while also attempting to offer excellent customer service. A scattered focus leads to scattered results every time. This was clearly displayed in sales data during the weeks when we had to take on these new corporate-initiated directives.

Originally the company I worked for had been owned by another corporation, a good organization, but one that began to struggle in the changing retail market and growth of big box stores. Our division of the company, however, was solid and, while it needed a little trimming, was largely successful and profitable. So much so that the company that owned us sold us to keep themselves afloat with the money they gained from our sale. Only they sold us to an upstart of a company that had barely cut its teeth in the industry, an industry we had survived and thrived in since the late 1930s. Yes, our part of the company had survived the Great Depression then expanded as America grew stronger, until by the early 1970s, we had stores in all fifty states. We were the first chain of our kind to achieve this and remained the only one with such a presence for more than a decade. The company who took over ours wasn't even in existence at that time.

When our new owners took over our division of the company, they squeezed the life blood and revenue out of it, cast thousands of talented employees aside, and have thus far reduced the number of stores by about eighty percent. They downsized perfectly viable and profitable stores because they wanted to expand their side of the corporation in the then growing economy. They are now in dire straits and deeply in debt to foreign investors. It's no wonder either, given that they closed the very stores that had provided the cash flow, which had enabled them to open more of their stores. The new "bigger and better" stores sometimes thrived and sometimes failed and have since closed their doors.

While I was a store manager, I led my team to victory after victory. Yes, we won awards (non-monetary, of course) and got bonuses (puny in comparison to the money we were raking in and what the executives were getting in stock options, salaries, business expenses, and bonuses). Only management (usually two people per store) got a bonus at all. From the start, I shared my bonuses in a small but tangible (read, monetary) way that my employees instantly recognized and enjoyed as most unusual for this outfit in its current incarnation. Small as they were, the rewards motivated my staff by helping them to feel like their input was making a difference. This sense of belonging and purpose then spurred our store on to greater successes, despite the fact that the company began making it harder and harder for employees to merit a yearly raise.

Most of the time, the workers got no pay increase unless they were a superstar in all areas, and, to be truthful, no matter how awesome an employee was, we were not allowed to give them superior ratings in all categories. We were not even allowed to give them a preponderance of above average ratings. We were required, in fact, to give them a "needs improvement" in at least one category, even if they had been with the company for twenty or thirty years and excelled at their jobs. We had employees in that category because originally, it had been a good company to work for. Sadly that is no longer true and their ledgers and payroll rosters reflect this reality. Although the huge bonuses and perks continued to flow at the top, they throttled the company by siphoning off the overflow to the workers. Executives got everything. Employees were lucky if they got a raise that was the equivalent of a cost of living increase. This new trend started about five years ago.

To make this more concrete, I offer the following example. After sweeping all the sales awards for our district and being one of the few stores in the company that made their yearly plan that year (never mind that we had exceeded our goal by between 5-10%), I received a piddling two percent increase that year as manager of that store. It became clear in that moment that my future in the company was counterproductive to making a real living. Never mind saving enough to make a down payment on a house. That was my thanks for having shaped a winning team of employees and growing my store sales $200k in two years. I had grown that store from an $800k store to a million-dollar-plus store in two years. I posted an extra $200k in sales and got a two-percent raise for my efforts (equal to less than $600/year). Plus I was told by my district manager that I should be happy with that, since most of my fellow store managers had gotten no increase that year because they had not met their yearly sales plan. I nearly choked on my shoelaces, I was so floored by this spin on the situation.

Meanwhile the executives were tossing around millions of dollars in bonuses for their efforts. Most of their efforts involved changing gears every year or two when they changed top executives. Each one in turn decided that the company needed to head in a different direction. Is it any wonder the whole corporation began to resemble a drunken sailor after a night on the town following a six-month tour of duty on the high seas? Stocks began to dip then plummet, and this was before the economy went down the tubes. This company, in fact, was part of the same sickness, a.k.a., corporate greed, that has led the United States to the brink of economic ruin. Only they started falling apart before the most recent debacles, so they will probably not be subjected to the same humiliation as AIG and now American Airlines. Their huge corporate bonuses are long since spent and cannot be called back, any more than the thousands of jobs that have been lost because of store closings.

While I have made peace with my departure from the company, and am glad for it actually, I am still happy to see a public reckoning for a vice that has been an integral part of our society for too long. None of this is written in malice towards the people in this company. Nobody wants to see good companies go down the toilet. I think, however, that what we are seeing now is that the truly good companies are the ones who reward their employees on a more sensible and realistic level. Lots of smaller bonuses and rewards for more people doing a great job. I have no objection to a top executive, doing an awesome job, receiving a nice bonus and a handsome raise. But that top person wouldn't be succeeding without thousands of workers who show up for work each day to do their jobs, which ultimately leads to that executive looking good. All I'm saying is that the workers should be getting a share in the spoils of success. The success of a business should lead to all of its employees, or at least the ones who are pulling their weight, being rewarded for their efforts. Remember the old phrase the "trickle-down effect?" Whatever happened to that concept? Oh yeah, the companies that are surviving the current economic situation are still operating their businesses using that model. It's about time the United States re-awakened to this simple concept of fairness in employee compensation. It is good for our economy. Corporate greed is not, obviously, and it's about time we figured this out and made big business accountable.

Beth Mitchum is the author of five novels, one collection of poetry, and one music CD. Her works are available at Amazon.com through the following link:

Beth Mitchum's Books and Music

24 March 2009

Desire, The Mother of Ten Thousand Things

All of creation arises from desire. Was is not desire that created this entire world we live in? I know that it is from desire that I write novels, essays, poetry, and songs. It is a result of my desires that I paint pictures, photograph nature scenes and wildlife, and make love. Desire builds bridges and buildings, corporations and institutions. Whatever has come into being has gotten here as a direct result of desire. Yet we learn from Buddhism that all suffering arises from attachment to desire. So how do we desire without falling into the trap of attaching ourselves to the desire and thereby causing ourselves and others untold suffering? How do we desire and let go of the object/subject of the desire at the same time? Therein lies the paradox.

An example of fulfilling our desires without attachments could be the writer who writes because she/he cannot help but write. I have always tried to write what I would want to read and what I want to say. I may have an audience in mind, but I don't change what I write because I am concerned that it won't be acceptable to someone in that audience. Do I desire to be commercially successful with my writing? You bet I do, but I don't write with an attachment to the commercial end of it. If I did, it would take away not only the joy of the writing, but the purity of the writing act. I don't write because I want you to like me for it. I don't write because I want to become a millionaire. I write because that's what I do. That's who I am. I write because words and ideas and the DESIRE to express them arise from the depths of my soul and, like a fountain, bubble forth and splash onto others. If you don't like me for what I write, then the result is that you don't like me for what I write. Nothing else. I don't curl up and die over that, and I certainly don't stop writing because of it. The fountain will not cease to flow and run over. It continues to recirculate, to renew itself constantly because it does not depend on the end result for its renewal. It relies on the source, the desire itself. It does not become attached to anything else. In the writing, there is also release.

The same should be true of a love relationship. Do you love someone or do something for someone so they will love you in return? I hope not. That is the kind of conditional love that will fall apart as soon as the conditions cease to be met. You should love without requiring love to be returned and give because your life is so full that you want to share without thought of reciprocation. If love is reciprocated, then that is wonderful and a deep blessing indeed, and a relationship of mutual loving is born. This kind of relationship is like the fountain that is continuously renewed. In the loving, there is also release.

So how do we go about desiring without attaching ourselves to our desires? I think here we need to think in terms of the end result of our desires. That, I feel, is where the potential for attachment lies. We may have a pure desire that is good in itself, but if we attach ourselves to the end result of the desire, then we fall into suffering. We give and instead of releasing the act to go wherever it will, yielding whatever harvest it will yield, we try to control the end result. That is attachment. That is the road to suffering.

To avoid attachment to the end result, we have to maintain awareness. When we slip into unconscious living, we more easily fall into the trap of attachment, of wanting something in exchange for something, tit for tat. We want to decide on the outcome of our actions. But if we focus on the source, the original desire, to fill us, then we can move through our lives loving and releasing, giving and releasing in a way that we can't if we are worried about who is giving or loving back. If we allow the desire (the writing, the loving, the giving, etc.) to go forth into the world on its own terms, simply allowing it to have whatever results it will have, then we are yielding to our hearts' true desire and living according to our inborn purpose, while letting go of any control over the end result. I'm willing to bet that the more each of us lives according to the desires of our hearts, without attaching ourselves to the outcome, the more we will reap a harvest of blessing.

Beth Mitchum is the author of five novels, one collection of poetry, and one music CD. Her works are available at Amazon.com through the following link:

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/search-handle-url/ref=ntt_athr_dp_sr_1?_encoding=UTF8&search-type=ss&index=books&field-author=Beth%20Mitchum

23 March 2009

Beware the Half-Warmed Fish

(Reprinted with permission from http://mysticangelhealing.net)

"We all know what it is to have a half-warmed fish inside us." Rev. William Archibald Spooner

The beauty of the Law of Attraction is that, with focused attention, you can create a miraculous life, full of love and light and, well, fullness itself. You can have exactly what you want in your life, if you are willing to do what it takes to draw it to you. It's a very simple concept that is not so easy to do at first. The good news is that it does get easier with practice. The beastly side of the Law of Attraction is that if you don't follow-through with your beam of focused attention, you'll get the "half-warmed fish."

Apparently in my exuberance to throw open the doors of my heart and make a wish, I allowed my attention to meander a bit. I got a little sloppy in what I was putting out there, so what I got back was messy and a bit of a "half-warmed fish." By this I mean, instead of getting exactly what I wanted, I got sort of what I wanted, but definitely what I asked for by not being specific enough. It manifested back to me as the half-formed wish (or "half-warmed fish") that was sent out by my heart via psychic fax into the universe.

The fish reference is a partial quote by Rev. William Archibald Spooner, a nineteenth century Anglican priest and scholar, who had a peculiar habit of mixing his words up so you understood what he meant, but it wasn't quite right and usually ended up sounding rather comical to the listener. This type of speech pattern is called metathesis, which means essentially, transposing or switching around. Since Rev. Spooner's time, his special way of switching around words has come to be known as a "Spoonerisms."

Had Rev. Spooner lived out his life speaking seldom so that his verbal blunders didn't come into the spotlight, not only would we know less about this speech pattern, but many of us would have spent a great deal less time laughing and playing around with Spoonerisms. I was introduced to this concept from a friend of mine in college (thank you, Penny, wherever you are!), who used to tell the stories of "The Pee Little Thrigs," Wo Snite and Deven Swarfs," and "Rindercella," (you know, the gal who slopped her dripper that was later returned to her by the Pransome Hince).

Fortunately for us, Rev. Spooner didn't hide his gift for unusual speech in obscurity. Instead he became a well-known and unforgettable part of ecclesiastic and linguistic history. For sixty years he lectured at Oxford, and later became a dean and president at the same institution. At the bottom of the page, I will include, for your amusement and mine, links to some of his many oft-quoted transpositions. In the meantime, let's get back to the half-warmed fish.

If you've gone a long time without eating and have allowed yourself to get truly ravenous and probably a little shaky and unfocused from low blood sugar, you really have to be careful with yourself. If you go into a restaurant, sit down, take a look at the menu selections, and point somewhat haphazardly at something in your excitement at the prospect of eating, you may get something you don't want because you aren't paying close enough attention to what you were asking the waiter for with the careless placement of your pointing finger.

Now you can refuse to eat what gets served to you because of your shoddy communication style, but it's likely that you'll have to do a lot of apologizing, explaining, and some careful reordering from the menu. At best, this results in a delay in getting what you really wanted. When you're hungry, that may hurt a bit, but at least if you are careful the next time, you will get what you really want in exchange for a little delayed gratification. At worst, you may have to end up paying for both orders--the one you didn't want as well as the one you did. In this case, I recommend you check to see if it's tax deductible under the category of a lesson well-learned. Seems like an education expense to me. If, however, you decide to settle for what has arrived because you are too hungry and shaky to wait until what you really want can be prepared for you, then at best you'll be disappointed with what you get. At worst, it could make you sick.

What am I choosing to do? I'm sending back the half-warmed fish and going back to the source to order what I really want, much more thoughtfully and with greater attention to detail this time, and with the awareness and intention that I am actually ordering something. It's amazing how quickly I manifested the first order, the half-formed wish. Although it wasn't quite right, it was probably as accurate as I had been in my wishing. Even if it takes a little while to prepare what I order the second time, because I'm much more specific, it's still better than settling for less than the best for my life.

Now for more on Rev. Spooner and his infamous "Spoonerisms:"

http://www.badpuns.com/jokes.php?section=spooner&name=spooners


http://www.fun-with-words.com/spoon_history.html


Beth Mitchum is the author of five novels, one collection of poetry, and one music CD. Her works are available at Amazon.com through the following link:

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/search-handle-url/ref=ntt_athr_dp_sr_1?_encoding=UTF8&search-type=ss&index=books&field-author=Beth%20Mitchum

18 March 2009

Quick-Thinking Pilot Averts Collision with Van

(Reprinted with permission from http://allgoodnewsalldaylong.com)

You gotta love Reuters "Oddly Enough" news feed. It's a great way to start the day scratching your head, wondering what on earth some people are thinking. This one today is a classic example of that. The good news of course is that it has a happy ending, although no doubt there were a few scary moments for the 80 passengers on board a Philippine airplane that was attempting to land at Legazpi airport.

Apparently a couple in a van were driving across the runway as a Cebu Pacific airplane was landing. The quick-thinking pilot managed to take off again, avoiding certain collision with the van in its path. It seems that the son of a local aviation official was teaching his girlfriend to drive, using the runway as a driving range of sorts. The man in question has now been suspended from duty.

Legazpi Mayor Noel Rosal told the press, "It could have been a disaster if not for the presence of mind of a veteran pilot."

Personally I would like to nominate the "driving teacher" for a near-miss Darwin Award. If you're not familiar with the Darwin Awards, you should become acquainted with them. They are given out on behalf of people who rather ingenuously remove themselves from the gene pool. I for one am delighted that this man and his girlfriend will be receiving only a near-miss honorary mention, since they probably would have taken out dozens of other unsuspecting bystanders with their thoughtless stunt. It's a airport, for goodness sake. What was he thinking? Ah, obviously, NOT! Anyway, all are safe thanks to the pilot of the Cebu Pacific airplane.

http://www.reuters.com/article/oddlyEnoughNews/idUSTRE52G2ZW20090318


Beth Mitchum is the author of five novels, one collection of poetry, and one music CD. Her works are available at Amazon.com through the following link:

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/search-handle-url/ref=ntt_athr_dp_sr_1?_encoding=UTF8&search-type=ss&index=books&field-author=Beth%20Mitchum

12 March 2009

Where in the World is Delaware?

Anyone remember the video game called "Where in the World is Carmen San Diego?" It was a fun game if you lean to the geeky side of life, which I definitely do. I am interested in many topics and have been known to go off on research binges--hunting down listings for books on certain subjects, reserving them, and having them sent to my local branch of the library. Then I check them out as they come in and read like crazy on a subject until my curiosity is satisfied, I run out of books, or I veer off to another interesting subject. It's no wonder my masters degree is in humanities. Nothing like majoring in generalities. That would be my focus of nonfocus, a masters degree in lotsa stuff.

So anyway, I have liked geography ever since seventh grade when my mom was helping me studying for an exam, and she started singing a song about Copenhagen. I just googled the song and found it on YouTube of all places. To my knowledge I have only been exposed to that song from my mom's use of it as a way to help me remember Denmark's capital city. I aced the test and the class, so she must have done a good job drilling me. Anyway, I still enjoy learning about other places in the world, so the Carmen San Diego games were a sure bet for me.

Now there's a game on Facebook called "Kidnap!" where people kidnap each other and take them off to exotic or not so exotic hideouts. I'm currently in Dublin, although I change my hideout rather often. Once you've been kidnapped, you have to answer trivia questions to get out of prison. They give you a cheat sheet, but you have to go and read about the city where you're imprisoned in order to learn the answer, which is the key that unlocks your prison, unless of course you just happen to know the answer off the top of your head. I've gotten a few answers that way, but not all that many.

Now by this point you may be wondering what all that has to do with Delaware? The answer is absolutely nothing. That's just my rambling, tangential way of writing, while throwing bits of knowledge and trivia at you before getting to the point. You have to admit that more times than not, you probably learn something while reading one of my blogs. You can thank me later when you are able to spout bits and pieces of fascinating things at people during a dinner party. Just mind your manners and don't spit anything else at them please.

So back to Delaware, or more to the point, NOT back to Delaware. Recently on Facebook, I got one of those "lists" things where all 50 US states were listed and you were supposed to check off the ones you've visited. Although the vast majority of the traveling my mom and I have done has been separate from one another, we have both been to 47 out of 50 states. Oddly enough, we've been to exactly the same 47 states. Back in 1985, on a trip from North Carolina to Canada, we drove up Interstate 95 and purposefully tried to find Delaware along the way because it was one of the states neither of us had ever visited. As far as we know, we still have not been there. If we drove into Delaware, we did it without noticing it, even though it appeared to be on the map, and despite the fact that we were looking for it. I'm not utterly convinced that it exists anywhere except on a map. I know it's a small state, but so is Rhode Island, and we managed to locate that state without difficulty.

I finally concluded that all Delaware consists of is a single post office, which they built for credit card companies to use as a billing address, since that's the only thing I've ever noticed as having a Delaware address. Do you know of any people who are from Delaware? I've met people from all around the world, but I've never encountered one person who claimed to be from Delaware. Do they never leave the state? Are they too embarrassed to say they're from Delaware? I'm still convinced that it doesn't exist and you're going to have to take me there in person and solve the mystery of "Where in the World is Delaware?" before I change my opinion. So there.

Beth Mitchum is the author of five novels, one collection of poetry, and one music CD. Her works are available at Amazon.com through the following link:

Beth Mitchum's Books and Music

01 March 2009

Cotton Candy Clouds


The clouds are tangled in the trees today.
Spun white cotton candy stretched
and intertwined 'round evergreen spindles,
rising from the island across the way.

18 February 2009

Grab a Book, Grab Your Knitting Needles, Grab Your Joystick?

What do reading, knitting, and computer games have in common? According to a US study, these activities are amongst the things that can keep dementia at bay. Yep, it's true. Now you'd expect reading a book to be good for your mind. That's a bit of a no-brainer (insert groan from the audience here). But quilting and knitting? Computer games? That is the message from a recent study anyway. What wasn't on the list? Watching more than seven hours of television a day. Seven hours? Wow! That seems like a lot of television. I think they need to clarify what you watch for those seven hours. Discovery Channel or the History Channel would be good for your brain, but reruns of Gilligan's Island (raises one eyebrow)?

Okay, seriously, though, more research needs to be done because the study is based partially on asking people between the ages of 70-89 what their lifestyle was like twenty to forty years ago. In other words, what kind of mental activities did they engage in from age 50 to 65? I don't know about you, but I have to wonder about the soundness of this information. This was a study involving a group of people who had already been diagnosed with mild memory loss. (Raises eyebrows) How do we know they remember what they were doing twenty to forty years ago? (Scratches head and furrows brow) Do I remember what I was doing twenty to forty years ago for mental stimulation? Hmm. And what makes them think there wouldn't be a little bit of white-washing of the old memory banks? Forget the hours in front of the telly and cast a hopeful, hyperbolic glance at the three or four books on the bookshelf that they think they might have read during that time. They look familiar, after all. You really have to question the memory of an octogenarian who recollects all those video games he played when he was fifty. What was he playing? Pong? More to the point, do you remember Pong? It was less stimulating than staring at a hospital vital signs monitor (whack to the head). Oh! That's probably what he remembers as playing computer games.*

Anyway the good news here is that doing something is better than doing nothing. Keep the body and brain alive by keeping them active. It's really just common sense. Keeping the brain active helps to keep the old synapses firing, and physical activity keeps the muscles toned and the heart in good shape. So get out there and get some mental and physical exercise. Heck, you can even use your Wii Fit games to be mentally stimulating at the same time as you're getting some exercise. Whatever you do, make sure it feels good and you don't overdo it. Check with your doctor, etc., etc., and all the other disclaimers that go along with making sweeping health statements in a public forum. AND because I care about you all, here is a link you might like to use. You might want to put it in your "favovites" or bookmark it so you don't forget where you found it. I'm just saying.

http://www.fitbrains.com/

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/7896441.stm?lss

*Said octogenarian is a fictional character used to add humor (hopefully) to the article. How's he doing?


Editor of AGNADL

15 February 2009

Ripple Effect of Good News

On President Obama's Inauguration Day, I launched a new blog: http://allgoodnewsalldaylong.blogspot.com. I started it because a friend of mine was saying that it would be so great to turn on the television and get good news for a change. I had to agree. I too was tired of so much bad news everywhere. Following the advice of Mahatma Gandhi, I decided to be the change I wished to see. I don't happen to own a television station, but I am a writer. Thus the new blog, which now has nearly as many postings as this one, which was started a long time ago in comparison. The new blog operates on the spiritual principle that what you focus your attention on expands. Focus on good news, then good news expands. Focus on bad news, well... we're done with that now.

Today I learned from Seattle Times writer, Danny Westneat, that there is a radio DJ, Kevin Ebi, who is sharing only positive news on his morning news program on KJR-FM 95.7, the classic rock station in Seattle. Not only does it play very cool music, but now it has an upbeat news program to help you start your day.

So while we're all catching this good news vibration in the Puget Sound area, I hope it will become the pebble tossed into the water that creates a ripple that crosses the oceans and eventually returns to us in a tidal wave of positive energy and even better news for all of us around the world. That's my hope and wish for each of you today and for the rest of your lives. May good news follow you like a puppy in need of a home.

http://www.957kjrfm.com/pages/kevin_ebi.html?page=1

http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/dannywestneat/2008746417_danny15.html

07 February 2009

Each One Holding Up the Light

(Reprinted from my other blog: http://allgoodnewsalldaylong.blogspot.com).

I came across an article in the Seattle Times today that brought tears to my eyes. Not because it was sad, though of course it was sad to think about where we used to be in this country in regards to racial issues. We've advanced a lot in the past couple centuries, although I'd say we still have a long way to go, and I definitely hope it won't require another couple of centuries to get there. The reason it made me want to cry was the deeply symbolic nature of the story.

The story is about the honoring of two Seattle gentleman, who are leaving tomorrow morning on an Amtrak train bound for Oakland, California. They are heading for a celebration "to honor railroad porters of yesteryear as part of Black History Month." I direct you to the full article to read for yourselves, but there are two parts that stood out in particular to me. The first was the recollection of Troy Walker, who was first hired by the railroad 65 years ago. While he really enjoyed his job, there was also a downside, which included Blacks being barred from being promoted to supervisory and steward positions on the railroad, muttered insults from passengers, and having to stay in separate hotel rooms from the rest of the railroad staff. It wasn't until 1971, when Amtrak took over the railroad where he worked, that Mr. Walker was promoted to a supervisory position. He retired in 1982, three years after he transferred to Seattle.

The second Seattle gentleman is Thomas H. Gray. He worked only summer jobs as a chair-car attendant while he was in college, so he's a little reluctant about this honor. But his late father, Thomas J. Gray, and his grandfather, Henry Jones, were members of the Pullman union. They both worked for over 35 years for the railroad. He recalls a most touching story about his grandfather. Sometimes in the summer when Gray was working, his train would pass the one his grandfather was riding on. They knew when this would happen, so they would each hold out a light to signal their presence on the train to the other. Thomas would hold up his lighted flashlight, and his grandfather would hold up his railroad lantern. The trains were traveling so fast (70 mph) that it was not possible to see the individuals, but they could each see the light, and they both knew who was holding up the light to the other.

That's the part that really made me cry because it is so powerfully symbolic. We each do our part to make this world a better place, and sometimes it may not seem like a lot and that it passes by all too quickly. But it in the end what is seen is the light, shining out into the world. During a time in American history when Blacks were not treated very well, Henry Jones held up the light to signal to his grandson, Thomas, that he was there. Gray, a 71-year-old retired Boeing engineer, will be going to Oakland this weekend, and I think Mr. Jones will be there as well even if Thomas can't see him. He'll still be holding up the light to guide his grandson's steps.

http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2008717392_porters07m.html

05 February 2009

Random Acts of Rugness




No, that's not a typo. It's not supposed to say kindness or ruggedness. It's rugness, and it refers to a habit that my kittens seem to enjoy. They like to rearrange the rugs in my house. A flat, straightened out rug is BORING! They don't know why I go around straightening all the rugs behind them, and I don't know why they go around messing them up behind me. But we all keep doing what we do, and it's starting to get really funny. So I decided to lay out a rug carefully in their main play area. Not that they don't play wherever they happen to land, but it's what I think of as their main play area. They probably have different ideas entirely about that.

So I laid a rug out on the carpeted floor and just left it there to see what they'd do with it. It wasn't long before the little female, Anjolie, discovered it and decided that it was altogether too tidy for her tastes. So she messed it up. I haven't straightened it up either. I'm leaving it as is. Well, that's not exactly true. When I was playing with her today, I actually messed it up a little bit more and tossed a fake mouse under it so she'd have to go find it. That was a hit with her. She found the mouse and played on the rug with it for awhile. I must say that currently this random rug is her favorite spot in the play area to sit or lay. She stretches out on the rug, rolls around on it, burrows into it, and I just let her have fun with it. It seems to make her so happy.

The male kitten, Bootsy, has not really engaged with the random rug much yet. I've seen him playing with the rugs in the kitchen, so I know he does it too. He probably just doesn't mess about in the rugs as much as Anjolie. They both like to burrow, but he seems to be growing up faster, even though they're litter mates. She's definitely growing out of some of her kittenish ways too, however, because sometimes I'll start to play with her in some way that she used to love, and she just looks at me as if to say, "Mommy, I don't do that now that I'm all grown up."

It will be interesting to see how long the random rug is interesting. I'll have to straighten it up every day, just so it will seem like a "real" rug and not some decoy, which it is, of course. I will say that the rugs in the kitchen are in the same place tonight as they were when I got up this morning and straightened one of them slightly, so perhaps it's working, and I won't have to keep undoing the damage where I need to walk most of the day. I may, of course, have to move the random rug every few days just to keep it interesting.

By the way, the top photo is of Bootsy. He's enjoying the view from atop the ladder I had out to use for painting the interior of my house. The second one is Anjolie helping me fold kitty towels her way, which is quite similar to the way she prefers her rugs. She's also a huge help when I change the bedsheets, as you can imagine. The kittens are nine and a half months old now.

01 February 2009

First Ever Openly Gay World Leader

A new day is dawning around the world. Hopefully the United States' recent surge in understanding that the color of your skin or your gender doesn't determine your ability to do the job of leading a country will continue to propel us forward to becoming a country where all of our citizens have equal rights. What? You mean you didn't realize that not all U.S. citizens have equal rights? Surely you jest. In 1954, the Supreme Court sent a message to all of its citizens in every state. That message was that "separate" rights are not "equal" rights. That message was called Brown vs. The Board of Education. So where in our country are we experiencing separate but unequal rights? In the area of same-sex marriage.

Only one state out of fifty offers same-sex couples the right to marry and enjoy the same (i.e., EQUAL) rights as heterosexual married couples. It's 2009, people, and discrimination still reigns supreme in 49 states when it comes to same-sex marriage. The Supreme Court sent a very clear message in 1954 with Brown vs. The Board of Education. It was 9-0. Now why is it that the 1954 Supreme Court got the message that separate does not mean equal, and yet the people of the United States in the year 2009 still haven't gotten that message? Sure, it's illegal now to make African-Americans sit at the back of the bus, use their "own" bathrooms, restaurants, and drinking fountains. But it's perfectly legal in 49 states to bar same-sex couples from enjoying the same rights, privileges, and, yes, responsibilities as heterosexual married couples. It's legal to discriminate against same-sex couples. LEGAL to DISCRIMINATE. LEGAL to treat ONE GROUP of CITIZENS as UNEQUAL to the rest. Why? How is it that more people in this country don't understand the concept of equality? How many centuries will it take before the United States grows up and into its own principles of equality? It's not about religious beliefs. It's about equal rights for all. Period. Same-sex couples pay EQUAL taxes. They should have EQUAL tax benefits and everything else that goes hand-in-hand with marriage rights.

I've often said that I won't believe that the U.S. has achieved a true state of egalitarianism (ALL are equal) until I see an African-American lesbian in the Oval Office. Now that we have a President who is partly of African heritage, I'm revising that to a Native American, Hispanic, or Asian-American lesbian, since we've begun to crack the racial wall that has kept African-Americans in second class status for so long. Geez, it took nearly 150 years after slavery ended to get this far. In another millennium or so, we ought to be on track.

But say, what would happen if we allowed ourselves to grow at a personal/social rate at a pace that equals the rate at which our technology is expanding? What would happen if we did something really radical and just passed laws that make us ALL EQUAL? You've already read my blog about it not being possible that same-sex marriage would lead to bestiality, since animal sex is already perfectly legal in more states than same-sex marriage and all the other forms of SEPARATE but UNEQUAL civil unions are legal. If not, go back and read it and be amazed that while it's not legal for adult, human, same-sex couples to enjoy the full rights of marriage, it is legal in a dozen or more states to have sex with your pets and livestock. That is so twisted and completely contrary to logic.

The United States has a long way to go yet, I'd say. A long way to be as advanced in our way of thinking as a country such as Iceland, where they have just appointed the modern world's first openly gay government leader and Iceland's first female Prime Minister. Yeah, their country is bankrupt and needs a strong hand to lead it away from the brink of disaster (sound familiar?). So who do they call in to fix it for them? In Iceland, it's Johanna Sigurdardottir, an openly lesbian governmental leader. In the United States, a man who is both of African and American heritage, an African-American.

A new day is indeed dawning, but it hasn't arrived in the United States just yet. Because, you see, PM Sigurdardottir is married to her same-sex partner, and if she comes to the United States with her spouse... Do you see where I'm going with this? In Iceland, this woman can become Prime Minister and no one blinks an eye. I quote from the BBC article linked in the title of this blog and again at the close, "'I don't think her sexual orientation matters. Our voters are pretty liberal, they don't care about any of that,'" Skuli Helgeson, Social Democratic Alliance's general secretary, told the BBC."

Now teleport PM Sigurdardottir to the United States, and even if she became a U.S. citizen, she wouldn't have equal marital rights. In Iceland, Prime Minister, in the United States, a second class citizen at best. I may say this a lot, but I'll keep saying it until this world changes. In what universe does this make sense?

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/7863923.stm

http://uk.reuters.com/news/video?videoId=98015&videoChannel=75

31 January 2009

You Can't Say that I Didn't Warn You!

http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory?id=6758210

You may recall that I told you earlier that the shoe hurling incident in Baghdad was likely to be the start of something big (and if you don't, please go back and catch up with the rest of the class). Well, I didn't exactly mean quantitatively big, but someone must have taken that a little too literally. The above link will point your servers in the direction of ABC News, which reported the unveiling of a sculpture of the Iraqi reporter's shoe. I'm a little concerned about the fact that this sculpture was unveiled in the hometown of the late Saddam Hussein, the fallen Iraqi ruler.

According to the ABC News report, the sculpture is the size of a sofa. Oddly enough, there is a tree sticking out of the opening of the shoe. A tree? Okay, so that's got to be symbolic of something, but I'm not sure what. So while I ponder that, click on the link and watch the video, but make sure you read the whole article from ABC News since it gives some background on the Arabic concept of throwing your shoes at someone in contempt, as well as some other links to reactions around the world to the shoe-throwing reporter.

Thoughts on the tree...From this one act of rebellion (shoe-throwing as a seed) grows a tree that symbolizes what? Iraqi freedom? I don't know. What do you think? If it is a date palm, then it all makes sense (see link below), but I can't tell what kind of tree it is from the ABC News video. It certainly doesn't appear to be a date palm. What is the meaning of the tree-growing shoe of the shoe-throwing reporter?

http://iraqthemodel.blogspot.com/2004/07/good-season.html

30 January 2009

Can You Bamboo?

I am already drooling over my next laptop purchase. I generally end up buying a new laptop every 2-3 years just because I use them constantly running a business or six at home. I reach the limits of how much it can do and still keep up with my programs and needs. But don't worry, I always pass on any old ones that are no longer being used to a friend or family member. Never, never, never do they just get dumped. People who aren't running such big memory-devouring programs end up being able to use them for many more years after I'm done with them.

While I'm totally loving my current one (at least once I figured out how to turn off the weird touchpad tricks Toshiba puts in their proprietary software), I am actually dreaming of my next laptop. I don't usually do that. For me, it's figuring out when I absolutely have to upgrade and waiting as long as I can to find the best deal out there. I never buy cutting edge technology because you pay too much for it and then have to suffer through manufacturers working out the bugs in the new stuff. I wait 6 months to a year and buy cutting edge technology once it's no longer cutting edge, but still will do what I need it to do to keep up with the workload I require of it.

But now I've seen the wave of the future and it is bamboo. I'm so ready to replace yesterday's plastic casings with the warm tones of bamboo. Maybe it's all those past lives I spent in China, or maybe it's because I really love stuff made from natural materials. Whatever it is, I've found my next love, even if I have to be patient for a year or two while I wait for them to test it out on the market and give it time until the innovative becomes commonplace. In the meantime, I've included a link so you can check out the forthcoming ASUS bamboo laptop.



http://event.asus.com/notebook/bamboo/index2.html

25 January 2009

Seen Dancing

(Reprinted from another one of my blogs, published originally on October 19, 2008 at http://MysticAngelHealing.org, now at http://MysticAngelHealing.blogspot.com)

"And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music." --Friedrich Nietzsche

I love this quote by Nietzsche because it speaks to me of levels of perception. If your mind is closed to the possibility that something is going on out there beyond the world of your five senses, then you will miss so much of what is happening in the spiritual realm. I write and talk about concepts that I'm sure some people think are idiotic and perhaps psychotic. Sometimes my only explanation for those who don't "have eyes to see or ears to hear" is that I don't believe in angels just because I like the theory of their existence. I believe in them because I have interacted with them, and yes, even seen them with my own eyes. I believe in reincarnation not because I studied it and thought it was a cool subject. I studied it because I began remembering information about former lives. While my convictions about angels, reincarnation, and other spiritual concepts have been informed and shaped by my experiences, it is my openness to the possibility of the world of Spirit that has allowed me to have those experiences, i.e., experiences from the dimension of Spirit.

I never ask anyone to believe what I say because I say it or believe in it, but it is a good idea to set aside your judging mind when you read spiritual writings, much as you would have to suspend your preconceived notions of how the world works in order to watch the Star Wars movies. How else could you could enjoy the amazing power of "The Force?" When you read about angels or miracles or magic, allow yourself the same suspension of judgment accorded to works of fantasy and science fiction. If you can allow yourself, even for a short while, to believe in the existence of a Dark Lord (be it Darth Vader or Sauron from the Lord of the Rings), then you can also allow yourself to believe in angels. Shut off your judging mind just long enough to allow angels and the world of Spirit to make a positive impact in your life.

Just because you don't hear the music, don't judge those of us who are out here on the dance floor of life dancing with joy. Close your eyes for a moment and pretend that you do hear music. Begin to dance to the music you hear inside your head. That sends the message to your body and soul that you want to hear the music. Before long you'll be dancing because listening for the music has required you to unstop your ears and open your mind to what is beyond the physical world.

Namaste! Let's dance!

24 January 2009

The Year of the Earth Ox

When I think of oxen, I picture slow, plodding, hard-working animals, whose strength and accomplishments consistently exceed that of many humans. On Monday, January 26th, we begin the Year of the Earth Ox in Chinese astrology. If you're one of those people, like me, who thinks of life in symbolic terms, you'll appreciate the deep significance of this. The Year of the Earth Ox symbolizes health and prosperity that comes as a result of fortitude and hard work. As we begin a new political era under a new President, we are also beginning a new age of greater social responsibility, hard work, and a positive can-do (make that, "Yes, we can!") attitude. That "yes, we can" attitude is exactly what is meant by the term fortitude. The online dictionary I consulted defines it thus: "mental and emotional strength in facing difficulty, adversity, danger, or temptation courageously:"

In the coming days, weeks, and months ahead, we all need a good dose of fortitude, a good dose of Ox Medicine. We have much to do to rebuild our nation, and our world, since we are all connected, but it can be done. We have to be patient, focused, and diligent in our work. President Obama can't do everything all at once, and he can't do most of it by himself. He will need each of our elected officials to work with him, sharing their views, their wisdom, and even their dissent at times, in order for this nation to come back from the dark places it has experienced since September 11, 2001.

From a global perspective, we have to work to strengthen old standards and set new ones. It's time to build a new earth, each of us in our own nations, some of us in other nations. Whoever we are, wherever we are, we have to begin right now. The celebrations have ended, and President Obama started from the first day to forge a new way. We have to yoke ourselves to the plow to rebuild our own lives, and yoke ourselves together for the bigger projects of bettering our communities. Once we plow the soil, we have to begin to plant new seeds. Not just seeds of hope, but seeds of goodwill and right actions. Those seeds, if nurtured and tended, will yield bountiful crops of prosperity and good health.

President Obama is off to good start in his administration, and I have already read some accounts of him being a little bit stubborn and strong-willed. He is, after all, a man of fortitude, and no wonder since he was born August 4, 1961 during the year of the Metal Ox. Is it a coincidence that an ox is leading our nation into the New Year of the Earth Ox? I don't think so. I'd call it synchronicity.

For more about Chinese Astrology and characteristics of people born in the Year of the Ox, I refer you to the links below:


http://www.usbridalguide.com/special/chinesehoroscopes/Ox.htm



http://www.c-c-c.org/chineseculture/zodiac/Ox.html


http://sandbox14.clearconceptsllc.com/ox.aspx

22 January 2009

A New Day is Indeed Dawning in this Country

Newly-elected President Obama has issued directives to shut down Guantanamo within a year. I have to admit that for nearly a decade, I have not felt at all proud to be an American. Guantanamo was a large part of that reason. I know that I wasn't personally responsible for what was going on in the government and had not cast my votes in the direction to set that tone in our country. Indeed I cast as many votes in the opposite direction at every opportunity. I regularly contacted the wonderful senators and legislators in my part of this state (Washington) to inform them of my views, only to find that they already shared them. We were all on the side of human rights, yet still our nation moved towards the shameful actions that were taken in Guantanamo and elsewhere, secreted behind closed prison doors, away from reach of the voting public, cut off from the balancing powers of a government operating under the guidance of its own Constitution.

I supported the actions of Amnesty International and any other organization that called for the closure of these secret prisons, and while things toned down slightly in this area, still our nation continued to drift away from our longheld ideals and support of human rights. It felt to me as though many of us (myself included) had given up hope and were just biding our time until it was over, one way or another.

Ever since the Presidential elections of 2000, I have been, in turn, shocked, confused, appalled, and horrified at what our nation was coming to signify in the world. No, the United States has not always been loved by everyone around the world. We, as a people, have on occasion showed our ugly side as unruly guests in other people's countries. We have definitely showed our self-seeking side as the chief overconsumers of the world's resources. But never in nearly fifty years of my life have I been so saddened by the actions of our government, never been utterly embarrassed to call myself an American. That is no longer true.

I sit here writing this blog with tears streaming down my face because it has only been since November 4, 2008, that I have become proud of my country once again. I didn't realize how deeply the shame of this nation's actions had settled inside of my heart until now as I release those feelings. Yes, I've been angry. I've taken action where my voice and my vote could make a difference. But the shame of Guantanamo and the torture that was done with the consent of the United States of America was beyond reconciling in my mind.

But a new day has indeed dawned. It began with a man with a deep-seated hope that this country could be changed for the better, could be turned back from this nightmarish detour we had so recently taken, largely without our consent. This man managed to bring millions of people along with him on this journey of hope, and now in the fledgling days of his presidency, President Obama has shown us that he meant what he said about bringing change to this country. Do terrorists need to be captured and brought to justice? Of course they do, but justice is not found in the hands of those who view torture as an acceptable method of interrogation. It is not found in secret prisons and the chambers of Guantanamo. If it is to be found anywhere, it will be in a court of law in the light of day.

Yes, our existing judicial system sometimes fails to live up to our own standards of right and wrong. Sometimes it gets mired in the limited mindset of the majority of people in a given moment of time. It has denied people of African heritage the right to sit wherever they wanted to on a bus or in a restaurant. It has denied couples of mixed racial heritage the right to marry. But those laws were changed by the people of this country. As our consciousness becomes more enlightened, so do our laws.

The laws of this land still deny same-sex couples the equal right of marriage in all but one state, but those laws will change as well. They have to, because they are a denial of equal civil rights to millions of American citizens. Somewhere down the line, enough of us will realize that we cannot all truly be free until we all have equal (not separate) rights. Separate marriage rights are no more equal than separate schools, separate restrooms, and separate drinking fountains were equal for the African-Americans living in the southern portion of the United States of America sixty years ago. Those injustices began to change when enough people stood up and said, "Stop! This is not right!"

I grew up in the South during a lot of the upheaval that brought about the changes that were needed there. As an ten-old-girl, I was bussed fifteen miles from my white neighborhood to one of the "Black" schools, so we could begin to become an integrated society. I stood in a classroom filled with faces I had never seen before, most of which were black. I had never been around more than one "token" black student at a time. Suddenly I felt more like the token. Was it uncomfortable at first? You bet it was. Was I afraid? Oh, yes, I was afraid, because I didn't know what to expect from all those black students and my black homeroom teacher. They were not only strangers, they also looked different to me. But with some help from my mother and a sweet, loving smile from my first black teacher, I was able to choose hope over fear. In doing so, that school year became one of my most memorable ones, and that African-American homeroom teacher, Mrs. Scott, became one of my favorite teachers.

Changes in our way of thinking usually comes through experience, positively or negatively. For me, the change came through getting to know African-American students and teachers, one person, one smile, one friendship at a time. In those early years of de-segregation, I learned a powerful lesson. People are just people. No matter what their culture, heritage, religion, ability, IQ, social status, or, yes, sexual orientation. Those first years of change in the South were definitely ones of "de-segregation." It took a little time for it to become "integration," but it did finally.

I have the same hope for laws and attitudes surrounding same-sex marriage. I currently do not have a partner in my life, but that doesn't mean that I don't want the law to stand behind me and millions of other gays and lesbians in this country. We pay equal taxes. We should enjoy equal rights. Does that make you feel uncomfortable? Maybe it does. Does your personal discomfort make it right to deny some of the citizens of this country equal rights? No, it does not. You too must choose hope over fear. It is only your fear that stops you from seeing the members of the LGBT community as equally entitled to the rights you enjoy so freely. Maybe you should try standing in a sea of faces in the LGBT community some time. Then make the choice to embrace hope rather than fear, to begin making friends one person at a time. Embrace the dawning of this new day and know that it dawns on all of us, whatever the color of our skin, the shape of our face, or the gender of our beloved.

Never to Too Old Call "Do Over!"

Reprinted with permission (smirk) from my blog "All Good News All Day Long" at http://allgoodnewsalldaylong.blogspot.com.


I had to laugh when I read that the Chief Justice led President Obama in Round Two of the Presidential Oath today. According to the New York Times article I read, the second oath took place this evening in the Map Room of the White House and took less than a half a minute. Well worth the small time investment to head off any accusations that President Obama isn't just an "almost" President.

Yesterday the two men stumbled over the placement of the word faithfully and already the political machinations were spinning an argument about the validity of an oath where a word is omitted and then reinserted in a different place. It was a case of better safe than sorry. There were, of course, witnesses present at this second attempt to get the wording of the Presidential Oath correct.

It was noted that Judge John G. Roberts, Jr. said, “Are you ready to take the oath?” To which President Obama replied, “I am. And we’re going to do it very slowly.”

You gotta love it. When at first you don't succeed... Do over! Just like when we were kids.

Link below for the original New York Times article:

http://thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/01/21/oath-is-administered-once-again/?partner=rss&emc=rss&src=ig


--Editor of AGNADL

President Obama Takes Presidential Oath (sort of)

Reprinted with permission (smirk) from my blog "All Good News All Day Long" at http://allgoodnewsalldaylong.blogspot.com.


What better way to start a "good news" blog than with the swearing in of a US President, who ran under a campaign of change and hope for a better future? What we, as a nation, can accomplish now with President Obama at the helm of the government is virtually unlimited. He can't do it alone. He is only human after all. Heck, he couldn't even make it through the oath without tripping over his tongue and getting twisted up in the incorrect ordering of the words fed to him by the Chief Justice, who was supposed to be leading him in the oath. Maybe it was embarrassing to him, but it showed the world that he is not infallible, nor is the Chief Justice. But the President seems to have an open heart and a clear vision that we can turn our country around and make it a great nation once again, a respected nation, a leader among leaders in a world that is hungry for change. There is a greater sense of accountability than ever before. Under our last administration we entered a war under a shadow of fear. Those fears, we found out later, were in large part unfounded. President Obama, in his inaugural address states clearly and pointedly, "We have chosen hope over fear."

By far, my favorite sentence of his inaugural speech was this: "To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict or blame their society's ills on the West, know that your people will judge you on what you build, not what you destroy." So we begin here to build a website of good news only.

20 January 2009

Need I Say "I Told You So?"

http://www.latimes.com/news/politics/la-na-inaug-protests20-2009jan20,0,3272330.story

A Los Angeles Times' headline captures the new trend I was expecting to surface: "Throw a shoe, sing for peace: Protesters gather in D.C." I knew that shoe-throwing Iraqi reporter was on to something big when I first read about the silly stunt of hurling his shoe at President Bush last month at a Baghdad press conference. Apparently throwing a shoe at an inflatable effegy of W has a bit of a cathartic effect on the thrower. According to the article, "Everyone who threw shoes smiled and giggled in spite of themselves." It's hard for me not to giggle just thinking about it.

Maybe this is a good thing. Not throwing shoes at real, live (heavily guarded) people, no matter what your opinion of them, but the release of the anger and frustration of the past eight years of political upheaval, government gaffs, and economic exploitations. Or anything else that annoys you. Go outside, kick off a shoe and hurl it at a pillow, if you don't have a blow-up doll handy. If you do have a blow-up doll lying around, perhaps you should seek more serious therapy OR set up a place for the whole neighborhood to hurl shoes at things/people that enrage/annoy/perturb or generally make them feel crazy inside. What a great way to meet people, make friends, and let off steam without breaking any laws or causing anyone bodily harm. They could be block shoe-hurling parties.

Of course, I'll have to offer the normal disclaimers lest someone come after me later waving litigation papers in my face, so here goes: Don't engage in any physical activity without first consulting your medical doctor (he may want to join you anyway). And you know, do it on private property and make sure no one gets hurt.

As for the karmic repercussions of shoe hurling? I'd say you're on your own there. But you might want to consider throwing that shoe in love. You are throwing something out there to the universe, so beware that it might throw something back. Forewarned is forearmed, and you may not be as good at ducking as Bush has proven himself to be.

14 January 2009

Movie Warning: Some Same-sex Comments

I was shocked to see a ratings warning on a DVD I recently rented. It states that the movie is rated PG-13 because of "some same-sex comments." Apparently the censors think it's hazardous to the minds of children under thirteen to talk about being gay. Never mind the all the simulated sex that was going on in the movie between dancing heterosexual couples or the female character who dons a fake red penis to simulate sex acts. This movie attributes its rating to one scene where a character comes out to himself. No gay sex involved. Not even simulated gay sex in a dance. I don't even recall if he kissed his newly found boyfriend. I don't think so, but if he did it was a quick, closed-mouth job with absolutely no sizzle to it. It was all so tame and as far as I'm concerned, completely unnecessary.

These days a lot of films are tossing bones to the gay and lesbian communities by having a minor character in their otherwise mainstream movie either be gay or come out during the film. It's to the point of what I'd call "gratuitous gayness." What is truly gay (as in gay male, not lesbian) about the film is that it is: 1)a musical, 2)rife with flamboyant costumes, 3)full of half-clad dancing men, 4)centered around the dance hits of the band ABBA. Other than having real gay content, it can't get much more superficially gay than that.

But I'm a little disturbed that the movie industry is using coming-out scenes to give out PG-13 ratings. I can't imagine that if you removed this one little scene that the movie would suddenly be acceptable for all audiences, including children. It is so not a "family" or "children's" movie at all. It's all about love, marriage, and SEX, 98.6% of it heterosexual. It's clearly a movie for adults because, face it, not too many adolescents, who would be allowed to watch because they're over thirteen, would watch it because it is: 1)a musical, 2)rife with flamboyant costumes, 3)full of half-clad dancing men, 4)centered around the dance hits of the band ABBA ("Who's ABBA?"). Unless of course the adolescent is a gay male teen. In which case, he'd feel right at home.

Now I'm not saying that I didn't like the movie because I did. It's funny and campy. Watching extremely famous and talented actors pretending to be ABBA is worth the price of admission alone. The movie, which is based on the international hit musical is Mamma Mia! It stars Amanda Seyfried, Meryl Streep, Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth, Stellan SkarsgÄrd, and Christine Baranski. So if you love watching actors get paid a bunch of money to have a blast and make fools of themselves, it's definitely worth watching at least once. If you're a gay male, you'll probably enjoy it because of the reasons listed above. For me, watching Meryl Streep acting as though her character is still the young starlet she used to be is worth it all. The lady is amazing and still in darn good shape, I'd say. Make sure you keep watching as the credits rolls and the hits continue to play. The final show is the best part of the movie, I'd say.

But for goodness sake, people, lose the stupid ratings warning about "same-sex comments." Otherwise every contemporary film should have it, and be warned that the gay and lesbian community is not amused by what is definitely an insult. Hello? You have to warn viewers when you're going to TALK about being gay? That is so lame and so bigoted. Maybe my blog should have a ratings disclaimer: "PG-13 rating due to comments about half-clad men dancing to fabulous disco music and flamboyant costumes. Sheesh. I am so ready for a post-Bush world.

11 January 2009

Same-sex Marriage Not Okay; Animal Sex Okay?

I just learned today that although it is not legal in the state of Washington for same-sex couples to marry, until 2006, it was legal to have sex with your goat or your horse or your pig or even your cat and dog. In what universe does this make sense? Certainly not in mine. I've always been puzzled as to why anti-gay heterosexuals often oppose gay marriage based on the argument that it will somehow lead to bestiality. While this stance may tellingly indicate where their proclivities lie, it is an argument that has no basis in logic. On one side is a legally-recognized union that would allow adult, same-sex human couples access to federal and state tax and legal benefits that are equal to those of married heterosexual couples. It would also entitle the partner of an injured or ill lover access to the bedside of their beloved during times when hospitals restrict visitors to "family only." On the other side is the abuse of a being, who is not able to voice consent or dissent in a way that could be understood in a court of law, to a sexual act perpetrated on it by a human who has control over it, one way or another.



It doesn't even matter if the apples-to-oranges comparison isn't logical because the argument is backwards at best. Shouldn't they be worried that legalized bestiality will lead to...gasp... same-sex marriage? Shouldn't they be putting all that ecclesiastical weight behind banning a practice that is already widespread and legal in far too many places around the world? A practice that doesn't involve two consenting adults? According to the article I read, which dates back to 2005, it is legal in seventeen states (this has changed, but I'm not sure what the exact tally is now) to have sex with animals. And the tally for states that have legalized same-sex marriage? Only one state (Go,
Massachusetts!) grants same-sex marriages that include ALL the rights, privileges, and responsibilities of a heterosexual marriage. Several more offer varying degrees of rights through legalized same-sex civil unions or domestic partnerships, but only one has a law that offers true equality in the marriage arena. Yet in a dozen or more states in the United States of America, it is perfectly legal to go boink your pets or livestock, unless you do it to a degree that clearly indicates cruelty or abuse, or, as is the case in Texas, you do it in public. In Texas, you're welcome to have animal sex behind closed doors. What happens behind closed doors is your business, after all. Unless of course you're having same-sex relations. Even though the Supreme Court ruled that it was unconstitutional to make it illegal to commit same-sex acts, Texas has retained the law against it on their books, even though it's now indefensible. Hmm.



Just how do they determine that animal sex is not inflicting any damage on the animal, since an animal can't talk in a way that could be understood in a court of law? Do you have to have a physical wound in order for it to be constituted abuse? What message does that send to perpetrators of date rape or incest? Haven't we clearly established that emotional and psychological damage is present in a victim of incest, even if bodily harm is absent?



Supporters of animal sex say that it is no more cruel to have sex with an animal than it is to grind them into meat and eat them. As a vegetarian, I have to admit that I do see the logic behind that argument. That is a significant difference between the way our children are treated and the way animals are treated in our society. So, as a nation, we protect our children with legislation, but animals are on their own--in at least a dozen states and many countries around the world.



Curious as to which states allow such outrageous abuse of animals? I did a Google search to find out, and let me tell you, it is no easy task to find all that information in one place. After posting this blog, I discovered that legislation was launched immediately to outlaw animal sex in
Washington after a man died from having sex with a horse in 2005, but I still can't find information regarding the status of these laws in all 50 states. It appears that about a dozen still allow it.



All of that to say...why not same-sex marriage? Why do we not understand the concept of relationships between consenting adults? Obviously as a nation we do not. What do you say that we all start lobbying AGAINST animal sex in all states and FOR same-sex marriage? It doesn't make any sense to restrict the civil rights of millions of gay and lesbian citizens, while allowing people to have sex with their animals. It boils down to this: In my state, the state of
Washington, until it was outlawed in 2006, people having sex with animals had the right to do so, while I still don't have the right to an equal marriage under law with a same-sex partner. I repeat. In what universe does this make sense? Why aren't more of us outraged by this?



I've included a link below for anyone who would like to join the Human Rights Campaign, and me, in signing a petition in favor of same-sex marriage. It only makes sense.



http://www.hrcactioncenter.org/campaign/millionformarriageac?rk=L7fZPJ61sQJLE



I would love to offer a link where you could go to voice your outrage over animal sex in your state, but I don't know of such a place. If anyone has further information on animal laws in your state, please leave a comment for me here. I'll be glad to do a follow-up posting providing links to support legislation for criminalizing animal sex.

09 January 2009

Cloudy with a Chance of Pelicans

Just when I thought the headlines couldn't get much stranger, I come across an article in the Seattle Times that reads, "Pelicans fall out of sky from Mexico to Ore." Apparently something is making the pelicans on the west coast sicken and die. They have fallen from the skies onto cars and boats. They are huddling together in people's yards and in parking lots, as much as five miles inland. The birds that venture too close to the road in their disorientation are getting struck by cars.

A major bird rescue operation is underway, but rescuers don't really know what they are dealing with at this time. They don't know if it's a virus or if birds are being poisoned from an unknown source. Some cite possible poisoning from contaminants that washed into the ocean after the latest round of wildfires. But nobody really knows for sure. Some of the birds have swollen feet. There are clues, but so far they aren't adding up to any obvious conclusions.

So far the state of Washington and the northern part of Oregon hasn't been affected, or maybe we have but we've had our hands so full with rogue snow storms and widespread flooding that we haven't yet noticed the plague of pelicans that has beleagured our neighbors to the south of us. I've never heard of a plague of pelicans before, but it is both widespread and statistically significant. Hundreds of dead or already sickened birds have been rescued or recovered. Hopefully someone will figure out what is happening so we can help them. Pelicans falling from the sky is a noticeable call to action.

The whole thing would be terribly funny if it weren't so tragic. They're asking for help. They may even be acting as canaries to warn us of toxins in the sea that will affect all of us somewhere down the line. Whatever is happening, they've gotten my attention, and now, hopefully, they've gotten yours as well.

Lest you doubt my sanity, I've included a link to the original article.

http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/nationworld/2008597545_pelicans07.html