Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Unity '08 -And the 2008 Presidential Elections

I signed up to be a delegate for Unity '08.

I tried installing their widget, but it doesn't work in a post, so I'll just put a link to their site.

The whole point of unity '08 is electing a bipartisan presidential candidate through an online primary.

I'm staunchly liberal but I'm far from a staunch Democrat.

More like a Democrat by default.

Lesser of two evils...

...ugh.

More on Unity '08 tomorrow.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Uri Avnery -Child of Israel part III


Uri Avneri is one of the few critics of Israel who can't be called an anti-Semite.

He loves Israel and he desperately wants to see it survive as a nation.

Uri Avneri is a Jew, and was a member of the Revisionist Zionist movement before he became an outspoken liberal peace activist.

"You can’t tell me about terrorism, I was a terrorist."

My husband (also Uri) and I have been reading his work for years and have a great deal of respect for him. Anyone wishing to get a greater understanding of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict should read Uri Avneri's articles. He is one who truly labors for humanity.

I wanted to do a post on Uri Avneri today because I was worried that my previous posts on Israel might give people the mistaken impression that I am against Jews, or even against Israel, when nothing could be further from the truth (my husband is a Jew). I would like to see Israel succeed, but I think it must drastically change its policies of aggression and oppression before it will be able to exist in peace.

I was reading through the Uri Avneri archives when I found his piece, "War Is a State of Mind," in which he spells out my exact sentiments in yesterday's post, "Cycle of Violence". Needless to say I feel much more secure in my original analysis when I see that someone else has said the same thing. Of course, Mr. Avery's account is a much more thorough and credible one since he has experienced the cultural phenomenon first hand.

I'll recap some of the main points, but I really recommend reading the article.

(Regarding the experiences of a child of Halocaust survivors) "This is violence--not physical violence, but violence nonetheless. Many Israeli children have experienced it, even when the State of Israel became more and more powerful, and Security--with a capital S--became its fetish."

"I once read the reports of a class of Israeli schoolchildren, who had been asked to write down their conclusions after visiting Auschwitz. About a quarter of them said: My conclusion is that after what the Germans have done to us, we must treat minorities and foreigners better than anyone else. But three quarters said: After what the Germans have done to us, our highest duty is to safeguard the existence of the Jewish people, by every possible means, without any limitations."

"This feeling of being the eternal victim still persists, even after we have become a powerful nation in the State of Israel. It is deeply embedded in our consciousness."

Monday, February 26, 2007

Cycle of Violence -Child of Israel part II

The "cycle of violence" is when a child who is the victim of abuse...grows up to be an abuser.

This usually happens because an abused child is a fearful and insecure child who grows up to be a fearful and insecure adult, and a person who turns to violence for a sense of security.


Could a sort of "cycle of violence" apply to nations?



I don't know.



But I do know that we live in a time of fear and insecurity, and we try to solve our problems with violence.

While violence can be necessary at times, it is never an acceptable way of life for a person.

And it is never an acceptable way of life for a people.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Child of Israel

Speaking of kids and war, I'm sure everyone remembers these images of Israeli children signing the bombs that would be used to kill Lebanese children during their latest 33-day conflict. The whole Israel thing is a touchy subject, but one that must be addressed, so I'm going to spend the next few days trying to address it.

Aside from the obvious evil insanity of encouraging children to sign BOMBS...



It's difficult to have a conversation about Israel because anyone who is critical of Israel is labelled anti-Semitic.The United Nations is the latest organization to fall under the "anti-Semite" banner, having recently confirmed what every human being of conscience already knew: that the Israeli government is imposing a cruel and inhumane apartheid on the people of Palestine.


Israel's crimes are mind boggling in their irony. Having been one of the primary victims of one of the most evil regimes in human history, they have become a mirror image of that which they claim to despise.
Though I would like to clarify up front that Israel and Judaism are not the same thing. Israel is a nation and Judaism is a religion. Criticism of the nation of Israel does not equal criticism of Judaism or Jews.

Dems Hemming and Hawing over Murtha Bill

The plan seemed simple enough. Tie war funding to proper equipment for the troops and giving the troops back their R&R.

The idea was to force Republicans to explain why they had not equipped the troops properly and why they had taken away their R&R.

Somewhere along the line, the plan fell apart. The Republicans united and the Dems split down the middle.

Frankly, I don't care why this issue fell apart because it's the wrong issue! I know the war is something tangible, and something the voters care about, but everyone is divided on a solution, and it's such a mess that there are no good answers right now.

If the Dems want to be the champions of the American people, they need to repeal the Military Commissions Act and give us back our Constitution!

Show us some backbone! Do something important! Win the support of the public while getting Congress and the media to debate the issue that will REALLY demonize the republicans who passed the Military Commissions Act.

Then maybe you'll have enough credibility to get something done about the war.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Fear of Clowns

Misplaced had a post about fears which got me thinking about my fear of clowns.

For some reason, I can tolerate Krusty.

When I was four, my babysitter made a toy clown for me. It had a plastic face and a knitted rainbow-colored body.

It's possible that I hated and feared the clown because I hated and feared the babysitter's teenage son in ways my four-year-old psyche couldn't really understand.

Regardless of the reason, I loathed the clown. My parents set it on top of the chest of drawers at the foot of my bed. It was by the window, and at night the moonlight cut rigid lines of light and shadows across it's squinting, grinning face.

Even when I hid beneath my covers I could feel it staring at me.

Squinting.

Grinning.

I think I had already turned five when I'd had enough. I needed to get rid of it, but I couldn't reach it. I decided to pull the dresser drawers out like stairs, climb up there, grab the clown and throw it in the closet.

I got halfway up the chest of drawers when the whole thing toppled over and pinned me against the bed. That damned clown must have figured out my plan!

My dad came in yelling at me. The moment he freed me from the chest, I seized the clown and threw it into the closet. Victory!

But I've never really shaken free of my fear of clowns. I'm not terrified of them or anything, they just really give me the creeps.

Child Iraq

My friend and mentor Larry Gross was kind enough to promote my blog on his today using a post I made here a few months back called "Crimes Against Humanity."

The picture he used for that post is touching on many levels.

I have looked for pictures of Iraqi children before while corresponding with my brother and trying to talk him out of joining the ARMY.

If you type "child Iraq" into Google, most of what you will find is absolutely heartbreaking.

There's something about pictures of children that reach the core of our humanity.

Those eyes, that little face, no different from our own little ones.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Tax Time

Luckily we're usually due a refund, but it seems like every year there's an issue getting it.

Last year we were counting on our tax refund to help us with our move to California. We filed electronically and were due to have our refund any day when we received a notice saying there was a problem.

I called the IRS. They said we didn't pay our taxes in 2003. I told them we most certainly did. It turns out that it was a issue with the spelling of my husband's name. Okay, problem solved, but it would be three MORE weeks before we get the refund.

Three weeks later, no refund. What's the problem? You didn’t pay your taxes in 2003. Are you kidding me? Oh, I see what happened! No problem, you'll be getting your refund in about three weeks.

We moved to California in March and we got our refund in June.

More fun this year.

The IRS says we're scheduled to receive our refund this week, but H&R Block says the IRS has rejected our return. There isn't a single employee at either institution who is capable of thinking outside of what their computer screen tells them, and they are both equally sure that their computer is right.

Meanwhile, I'm struggling to make ends meet and just hoping that the refund comes without a problem.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Big Win for Bush Aministration -big loss for U.S. Constitution

It is now more important than ever for Congress to immediately repeal the Military Commissions Act of 2006.

The Washington DC Circuit Court of appeals has denied detainees at Guantanamo Bay the right to challenge their detentions in U.S. court. The decision is based on the Military Commissions Act, which states that any person deemed an unlawful combatant by the president, or anyone to whom he gives that authority, can be forcibly abducted, detained, and interrogated indefinitely without any access to due process of law and can be convicted by a military tribunal (not a jury) without being present at the tribunal to defend themselves.

Of course most of the media outlets reporting this court decision are failing to mention that the Military Commissions Act applies to U.S. citizens as well.

Luckily our laws are set up so that if this ever happens to an American citizen, they can appeal to the court system…

Well, you know, AFTER they've been released from custody because while they're in custody, they would have no access to the outside world, let alone a lawyer...

But let's not forget that the Military Commissions Act provides that they can be held indefinately.

I just cannot understand why more people are not FREAKING OUT about this!

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Hilary

Well, it seems like Hilary may have a shot at the presidency.

I'm torn on Hilary. For the most part, I like her, but her stance on the war ranges from ambiguous to odd. She voted for the war every chance she got, but now that it's unpopular she's backtracking. A few weeks ago she proposed cutting the funding for Iraqi troops to encourage them to "step up."

1) I really hate it when we talk about Iraqis "taking responsibility for themselves." Excuse me? We destroy their infrastructure, stand by and watch as chaos ensues, execute their leadership, and then we say, "What's wrong with you people? You really need to get your act together!"

2) Cutting funds to make institutions perform better doesn't make any logical sense, especially when their poor performance is already largely because of a lack of resources not a lack of willingness.

3) I'm really tired of previously pro-war Democrats saying they were duped into voting for the war. I wasn't duped, and I'm just an average person, how could they have been fooled so easily? I knew as soon as Bush got appointed that we were going to war, probably with Iraq. I knew on September 11th that this was going to give Bush a blank check for war. I watched Colin Powell's presentation to the U.N. and said, "What a bunch of bullshit!" Sure, most people thought my husband and I were crazy, but shouldn't people in congress be a little more politically astute than the average American?

Okay, back to Hilary. For the most part, I think she'd make a good president or VP, and it would be nice to have a woman at the helm.

Still, my vote is for Kucinich. He's never been duped and never compromised his integrity.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Obama

I think America loves the idea that we've come far enough in the last 144 years to actually have a person of color for president.

We like to congratulate ourselves on how far we've come.

Ever since Obama announced his candidacy for president, however, the media has taken a really nasty attitude toward him.

But open racism is not acceptable (we have come that far, at least), so it's interesting to watch righties like Tucker Carlson twist the issue back on Obama by attacking him for attending a "black church."

See! It's Obama who's racist!

I expect that from Tucker, but last night the local San Diego news covered Obama's visit here and it was surprising. They accused him of avoiding the press while he schmoozed with his donors (and that sets him apart from every other politician in America how ?), and they even went into how much people were paying to see him. The whole story seemed really negative and accusatory.

They recorded bits of his speech through a side window of the building they were not allowed to enter, and the whole thing seemed like more of an undercover investigation than news coverage.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Our Trip By Covered Wagon

My husband found a story written by his great aunt in 1931 about the family's trip by covered wagon from Colorado to Oregon in 1897.

It was written on a typewriter. I've always said that if we didn't have computers I couldn't be a writer because I'm no good on typewriters. I think the copy I have is a photocopy, but I can't tell.

It's really neat because it's a first-hand historical account, and it's actually quite well written.

I'm in the process of copying it into a computer document, and I'd like to find someone to publish it.

Maybe I'll post bits and pieces of it here as I go along.

Here's the first bit:


Our Trip by Covered Wagon from Colorado in 1987
Written by Mrs. Olive Johnson in 1931

Many of you will, no doubt, wonder why we chose to cross the country in a covered wagon as late as 1897 when we could have gone by train. For several years we had hard times in Colorado and I don't suppose there was the price of a railroad ticket among us, to say nothing of he transportation of three men, two women, seven children and a dog. Then, too, Mr. Johnson was fond of his horses and would never have left them behind. We had to sell our last piece of household goods to pay the mortgage on these horses before we could take them out of the state; but we were young and hopeful then and willing to risk everything for the home we hoped to make.

We had heard stories of the wonderful land in the Grand Ronde Valley of Oregon, so all winter we talked and planned and on April 17th, 34 years ago this month, we left our homes, twelve of us, driving our three wagons through the snow drifts of Colorado toward the sunny valley of Oregon. In the first wagon rode Mr. Johnson, myself, Baby Andy, five months old, Nora, twelve years old and Nannie. Next, Bill Cook, my brother-in-law, came in his wagon. My sister, Eva, her husband and three children in another wagon followed close behind us.

Beside us was my little ten-year-old boy, Ed, who had to rid his pony all of the way out here.

Our first days brought us to Grand Junction where my mother and father lived. It was here we bought our tents, wagon covers, tin dishes and other things we needed. We had made all the bedding the winter before; thick quilts covered with denim to put under us on the ground and lighter ones to cover us.
It was a sad parting from my parents and friends but we had to go.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Down to the Wire

Making money writing is slow going, and I don't know if we can get by unless I go back to work.

*sigh*

No time to blog today, I have to update my resume.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Pictures

So many of my friends and family back East are snowed or iced in, so I thought I'd share some of my pictures from Sunny Southern California to help everybody think warm, happy thoughts.

Here's Pacific Beach. It gets kind of packed in the Summer, but it's nice.





Here's Seal Beach (that's the unofficial name) in La Jolla:









Ooh, my parents have sent some nice pictures from Jeddah:


Well, I hope everyone is keeping warm and driving safe.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Focus, focus, focus!

Making money and getting published seem to be two entirely different pursuits.

I need to get published and get my name into as many different publications as possible. I need credibility.

But the money is slow coming. $75 here... $175 there...

I only have a few months to turn freelancing into a reliably-paying job, and the publications that pay good money can take five months to respond to a query (never mind accepting a manuscript and setting a date for publication).

I also feel like I'm being pulled in a hundred different directions; journalism, fiction writing, magazine articles, hmm... what about juvenile fiction, that sounds like fun!

Okay, enough babbling. I have to get back to work.

Please deposit any useful advice.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Democrats

What the hell are the Dems doing up there on Capitol Hill??

I agree with their stand on many issues, but I think impeachment and non-binding resolutions are the least of our worries right now.

The Dems have two tasks, and only two, on which they need to focus at this time.

1) Repealing The Military Commissions Act and The Patriot Act.

These acts give the Executive branch dictatorial powers. They can spy on, abduct, detain and torture American citizens without ever having to prove their case before a judge. They say they haven't used these powers (yet), but can we afford to wait until they start?

2) Getting us the hell out of Iraq before it escalates into a conflict with Iran.

We haven't defeated Iraq, how could we possibly take on Iran? Our aggressive use of military force around the world is causing the world to hate us, which is a threat to our security. An event like that which happened on 9/11, or the fear of such an event, could very well be the catalyst that prompts the Executive branch to start using the authority granted it by The Military Commissions Act and The Patriot Act.

The Dems were elected to check this Executive administration before it's too late, not to raise the minimum wage (I support raising it, I just think there are more important issues at hand).

On a Roll, Sort of...

Well, I have a little piece coming out in CityBeat tomorrow, and my queries have gotten me two requests for manuscripts (one fiction, one non).

It's a good start.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Writer's Block

In the last week, I was down for a few days because I was sick, then my computer broke, then my grandma died.

Now it's time to get back to work and I'm drawing a blank.

Okay, I'm going to buckle down and shake this today.

...

*sigh*

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Today's Post

I wrote today's post yesterday.

My grandma died last night.

I don't feel like writing another post, so here it is:

My grandparents are dying, and I'm stuck on the other side of the country.

My grandma has Alzheimer's, so it's like she's been gone for a while. I miss her so much, but she's technically still here. My grandpa has lung cancer, and the doctors have done all they can do.

I took my boys back to Ohio to see them in November. It was really hard to leave.

My grandma stopped walking, then she stopped talking, then she stopped eating.

My grandpa holds her and tells her he loves her.

They have taken her off all of her medication now except the pain medicine to keep her comfortable.

My boys are having a really hard time. They want to go back and see Grandma and Grandpa, but I can't afford one plane ticket, let alone three.

It's hard to see my boys struggle with the issue of death. It's not fair, and there's nothing I can do to fix it. I just hold them and tell them I love them.

I tell them that we have to accept these things and find peace because life is too short to spend too much of it despairing over things we can't change.

Cole wants to become a scientist and cure death, or at least cancer. Personally, I think he's an artist, but who knows? I think he can do anything he puts his mind to.

I hope he can.

Monday, February 5, 2007

Global Warming

I'm not sure about global warming.

I was pregnant during an El Niño year. The weather was insane. Akron was warm and sunny for most of the winter while kids in Florida and Texas were playing in snow.

Dick Goddard, the Cleveland weatherman, held up a newspaper from an El Niño year many decades ago before people understood this particular weather pattern. The page was filled with hysterical and ominous warnings and speculated that airplanes and radio waves were causing the crazy weather.

So maybe the global warming scare is a overreaction to climate changes that would be happening even if we weren't here.

I'm leaning towards believing in global warming now, but I'm not convinced. Either way we need to clean up our act and find alternatives to oil, which isn't going to happen until we force the oil industry to release its stranglehold on our economy.

Sunday, February 4, 2007

Politics

It seems that the country is finally waking up to the realities of the Bush administration. Even some evangelical Christians are starting to realize that they've been had.

I am happy that the masses are finally starting to come around, but I have to admit it's a bit frustrating to open the paper and find the same op-ed pieces that I couldn't get published a year or two ago.

There's even been a backlash against religion. I wish I could thank Mr. Bush personally for that.

Well, I'm glad America is waking up. I just hope it's not too late.

Saturday, February 3, 2007

Old People part II

Mr. and Mrs. Nashif were from Lebanon. Mrs. Nashif knew English very well, but had Alzheimer's. Mr. Nashif had picked up English through his job as a blacksmith, but had no formal schooling in it when he was a child, so he was losing his ability to speak and understand it. Mrs. Nashif acted as our translator, but her Alzheimer's sometimes made that very difficult.

Many of my coworkers tried to communicate with Mr. Nashif by speaking English very loud and slow. I never understood this approach.

I decided to have Mrs. Nashif teach me a few basic phrases in Lebanese so I could better communicate with Mr. Nashif. She would tell me a phrase like, “Shu ba dek al hemem” (“Do you want to go to the bathroom?”). I would write it down phonetically and try to repeat it back to her.

But learning foreign phrases from a person with Alzheimer’s is a strange experience. If I said it wrong, she would just sit there with a puzzled stare. If I said it right, she would light up, thinking I knew Lebanese, and she would excitedly speak to me in her native tongue. This could happen several times in one sitting.

Mr. and Mrs. Nashif would also forget they were in a nursing home, and think that I was just coming by for a visit. Mrs. Nashif would say, “Come in, come in, Honey! Sit, sit. Would you like something to eat? How is your mother.”

Mr. Nashif would say, “Where is your father, Honey? I need to speak with him.”

They would say, “I love you too much, Honey. You are a good girl.”

Sometimes if my rounds were done, I would visit the Nashifs and try to forget that I was in a nursing home.

Tomorrow, I'm getting back to politics.

Friday, February 2, 2007

Old People

I was a nurse aid for several years. I worked in nursing homes, so I've gotten to know a lot of old people. I have noticed a few things about different types of personalities.

The overwhelming majority of people who live long lives are happy people. Not happy because they've lived so long, but they've lived because they're happy. There were one or two who seemed to be willing themselves to live for the sole purpose of making everyone around them miserable, but they were few and far between.

Most of the people I've known in their 90's and 100's are the most warm, happy and generous people I've ever met. Many of them have lived through poverty, illness, the loss of loved ones and their own deteriorating health, and they still had enough positive energy left over to make me feel good, even on a really bad day.

Other than their personalities, these people had very little in common. Some were poor, some were middle-class, some were black, some were white, some were really smart, others were not. Most of them had children, and a slight majority of them were women.

So the moral of this story is that what happens in your life does not impact you nearly as much as how you choose to deal with what happens in your life. I think that a person's quality of life, generally speaking, is 80 percent attitude and 20 percent circumstance.

Tomorrow, I'll tell you about a few of these people.

Thursday, February 1, 2007

Harry

Harry was my dad's cousin. Harry's parents were alcoholics. Harry and all of his siblings showed signs of fetal alcohol syndrome, and Harry was particularly slow. My dad promised his Aunt Katherine (Harry's mom) on her death bed that he would look out for Harry.

The thing about Harry was that if you just had a conversation with him, you wouldn't think he was slow at all, but when it came to holding a job and paying bills, he was simply incapable of living on his own, so Harry moved back and forth between his sisters and my dad.

Harry was a big-shouldered burly man, built for construction work but not capable of doing anything unsupervised. He was missing an eye as a result of a childhood accident, so he wore dark sunglasses all the time (even indoors and at night).

My dad always treated Harry like an idiot, and taking my cues from Dad, I did as well. They were both alcoholics, and when they argued I took my dad's side even though I rarely had a clue what they were arguing about.

One morning when I was in the 3rd grade, I awoke at 5 am to dad kicking Harry out. I was happy that Harry was leaving. About half an hour later, Harry came back to the door with his tail between his legs and told my dad that he really had nowhere to go. My dad ordered him to go to his room like a child. Harry quietly asked my dad not to talk to him that way. My dad told him that if he wanted to stay, he better just shut-up and go to his room. Harry went to his room.

I felt terrible that my dad was so mean to Harry, and I went to my room and cried.

As a teenager, I told my dad and Harry that they were like Ren and Stimpy. Harry thought it was funny. Dad didn't.

If anything though, they were probably like George and Lenny from Of Mice and Men . George admitted to being mean to Lenny at times, but when it came down to it, George looked out for Lenny when no one else would. My dad looked out for Harry the best he could, and he didn't have to. He took care of Harry because it was the right thing to do.

Harry died a couple years ago from complications due to his alcoholism.

I miss him.

Tomorrow I'll tell you something uplifting.