Monthly Archives: October 2008

Pro-evolution – and a pumpkin pootie

Just got back from 8 days out of town. It’s Halloween and here are three pictures for your viewing pleasure:

Now that’s scary.  I think McC should be shrunk and put to the far right on this picture…  like maybe even turned on his side like the first terrestrial fish….

Praying to false idols?

Pray: v. to address a solemn request or expression of thanks to a deity or other object ofworship 

I thought Christians didn’t worship false idols. But what do I know, Unitarian-Buddhist-Pagan that I am? According to the Christian Broadcasting Network, Prayers are needed for global economy:

In January of this year, Cindy Jacobs was in a worship service when the Lord spoke to her, “Cindy, the strongman over America doesn’t live in Washington, DC – the strongman lives in New York City! Call My people to pray for the economy.”  

For these and other reasons Cindy is calling for a Day of Prayer for the World’s Economies on Wednesday, October 29, 2008. They are calling for prayer for the stock markets, banks, and financial institutions of the world on the date the stock market crashed in 1929. They are meeting at the New York Stock Exchange, the Federal Reserve Bank, and its 12 principal branches around the US that day.  

We are going to intercede at the site of the statue of the bull on Wall Street to ask God to begin a shift from the bull and bear markets to what we feel will be the ‘Lion’s Market,’ or God’s control over the economic systems,” she said.  “While we do not have the full revelation of all this will entail, we do know that without intercession, economies will crumble.”  

So hundreds crowd about the sacred bull on Wall Street:

As Wonkette says:

Don’t they know that God taking over the economic systems would be SOCIALISM from SPACE? Also: God will be very mad that they are worshiping a bronze idol here, since his second commandment PROHIBITS THAT, duh? 

Really! And conservatives get all exercised if Obama forgets his flag pin?

Patience and the present moment

Patience: n. the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without gettingangry or upset 

Present: adj. existing or occurring NOW.

When I started 365 P Words back in April, 225 posts ago, it was my intention to focus on words that represented problematic issues for me – like productivity, practice, perfection, procrastination, perseverance, and PATIENCE.  

It quickly became apparent that other P words would intrude on these ruminations – some inconsequential: poodles, post-its and purple poop – and others of consuming passion: politics, prevarication and Palin. 

This week, I’m parent-sitting my 94-year-old Mom at my sister’s home in Nashville while she and her husband take a much-needed vacation, and PATIENCE is the word of the week.

Mom is trying to maintain her grip on reality, but her brain seems only able to grasp what is directly in front of her. This means that when I leave the room she’s in, I disappear, just like an infant thinks the toy you hide under the covers is gone. 

My sister’s house is not big, but it’s laid out in a meandering pattern, so it’s easy for Mom to lose track of her companion.  If I’m in the kitchen and she’s in the living room, she suddenly notices nobody’s there and she starts a quest for the missing person, poking her head in each room, calling, “Hello?? Anybody here??”

This morning while I was dressing in my bedroom, she came in three times, to call, “anybody home?” I tell her I’m dressing and she wanders off, momentarily satisfied, then in a minute she has to check in again. 

I know she doesn’t mean to drive me nuts, so I breathe deeply and try to avoid rolling my eyes. It wouldn’t be so bad to just hang out with her, but she wants to be good company, so she keeps asking me about my life – her attempt to be a good conversationalist.  In the moment, she is a good conversationalist; but my patience is tried when it’s the same conversation we just had.

I’ve been living alone for six years and have come to savor the chatter of my own tiny mind and I don’t like being interrupted. After decades of living with kids and a super-talkative spouse, I need the external silence. I can’t think or write without it. 

My sister and brother-in-law are singer-songwriters (in Nashville, what else?) – how DO they DO it with Mom always nattering away?  I’m in awe of them.

At the rate I’m going I’m not going to be a Buddhist monk any time soon. Patience? What’s that? I can be infinitely patient in traffic or in a slow checkout line, but in the present moment with my own mother? Not now.

Perspiration and perseverance: campaign staffers

Perspiration: n. the process of sweating

Perseverance: n.  steadfastness in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success

In 2006 I hosted a young woman who had taken a semester off college to work as a field organizer for Senator Maria Cantwell’s re-election campaign.  This year I’m hosting a gal who’s come down from Governor Gregoire’s campaign office in Seattle to work on her re-election bid against the smarmy Dino Rossi (bought and paid for by the Building Industry of Wsahington) in SW Washington.

It’s easy to host a campaign staffer, because you NEVER see them. They go to work by 9am and don’t get home till 10 or 11 at night. In between they are getting crooked necks from being on the phone all the time. They talk to voters, recruit and schedule volunteers, arrange trainings and candidate events, raise money, talk to more voters, talk to more volunteers, talk to more donors and more voters.

Occasionally they get out to doorbell around town for the candidates in the rain and heat and cold. They subsist (barely) on coke, coffee, cold pizza and stale cookies. 

It is a life only a young person could tolerate. Thank God for their energy and enthusiasm! They are what make campaigns happen. Obama would be toast without them. I am in awe of them.

And what do these staffers get out of it besides a modest salary and a 50-50 chance of winning (or losing)?

They get unbelievably useful life skills which come from confronting some of our worst fears. Think about it: making phone calls to strangers, trying to influence others’ political views, asking strangers for money, knocking on doors where you know no one, training novices of all ages and abilities to do tasks that terrify them (phoning, door-knocking, etc).  To many, that’s Life in Hell.

But after the 100th phone call or door-knock, they realize it’s no big deal, really. They learn “it’s not about me…”  It can be pretty exhilarating to break through these psychological barriers. 

A glutton for punishment, my current visiting staffer says that when the campaign is over she will look for work fund-raising for a non-profit.  Her future boss will be thrilled to have someone so skilled. She says it will be like a vacation.

Play! Happy music with Muppets, Yo-Yo, and Bobby

Play: v. to engage in a recreational activity, to make music, to have fun

Someone sent me this yesterday, which reminded me that I was as big a Sesame Street addict as my kids were – my daughter even went on to work for the company. I’m also a huge Yo-Yo Ma fan. Here he joins three “honkers” for a musical quartet.

Which linked me to another video of Yo-Yo with three other extraordinary musicians – Bobby McFerrin, Edgar Meyer, and Mark O’Connor.  I’ve attended several concerts by both Meyer and O’Connor, and one where Yo Yo played the entire set of Bach cello suites – a lonely figure on a big stage, playing his heart out – but I’ve never seen Bobby McFerrin.

Since I was on a roll, I found Bobby McFerrin’s famous “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” – the perfect antidote to today’s bad economic news. The clowns are Bill Irwin and Robin Williams:

Purposefully passive campaigning: Obama lies low

Purposeful: adj. intentional, done with purpose

Passive: adj. receiving or subjected to an action without responding or initiating an action in return

I’m about to make a politically incorrect association after reading Stanley Fish yesterday in the NYTimes. He writes about how Obama has used an unexpected approach to campaigning. While the McCain campaign is doing the typical Republican rabble-rousing, fear-mongering, mud-slinging thing – trying to tar and feather Obama with dubious associations, Obama is doing something new. 

Nothing much. The purposefully passive campaign.

We saw it in the 10 days when the activity around the mounting economic crisis was at its height… Media commentators went from one hysterical prediction to another. John McCain went from saying there’s nothing to worry about to saying there’s everything to worry about to saying that he would fix everything by suspending his campaign to saying that he was not suspending his campaign and that he would debate after all.

And Barack Obama? He didn’t do much and he said less (O.K., he did say some reassuring, optimistic things), and his poll numbers went up.

Weeks later, the pattern continues, but in an even more intense form. The McCain campaign huffs and puffs and jumps from charge to charge

Instead of tossing legitimate mud back at McCain and Palin, like:

bring up the Keating Five… McCain’s treatment of his first wife, or make fun of Sarah Palin (she doesn’t need any help), or disparage his opponent’s experience, or hint at the disabilities of age.

Obama just stands there looking languid (George Will called him the Fred Astaire of politics [love that!]), always smiling and never raising his voice.

Fish takes the high road and is reminded of Milton’s Paradise Lost, where Satan can’t seem to get any traction in his attempts to rile up Jesus.  Me, I’m reminded of one of the non-PC Uncle Remus stories, “Brer Rabbit and the Tar Baby”…

Brer Fox wants to bring the uppity Brer Rabbit down a notch, so he creates a babylike creature of paper and sticky tar, plunks a hat on its head and sticks it in the middle of the path Brer Rabbit will travel.  When Brer Rabbit, being mannerly, encounters the Tar Baby on the path, he tips his hat and says good morning, but the Tar Baby says nothing. Meanwhile, in the words of the storyteller, “Brer Fox, he lay low”, watching from the underbrush as the scene unfolds as he’d hoped).

Brer Rabbit gets pissed that the tar baby isn’t responding and he starts threatening it. (Brer Fox, he still lay low.) Eventually he hauls off and punches the Tar Baby, getting his paw stuck in the tar. He gets madder, insisting that if the Tar Baby doesn’t let him go, he’ll punch him with the other paw… [and you can see where this is going.  The story is a classic American folktale – read the whole thing here]

McCain, like Brer Rabbit, has completely lost his cool, while Obama, he lies low, crazy like a fox, dumb and sticky like a tar baby.  

During the debates when McCain would slime him with some easily refuted garbage, I yelled at Obama/the TV: “Ask him about that right-wing pastor! Ask him about Cindy stealing drugs from her charity and causing a couple of respected docs to lose their licenses! Ask him about Rick Davis’s ties to Fannie Mae!”  

But he just smiled knowingly, and lay low.

It looks like the high road is paying off.

Placeholder: parent-sitting

Placeholder: n. an empty frame inserted into a document to hold space for text or graphics to come later.

It’s been hard to find the time to create posts this week because I have been out of town since Thursday, first visiting kids and grandkids in the Bay Area, and now taking care of my 94-year-old mom in Nashville. This is a top-of-my-head placeholder post till I have more time to think.

Mom lives with my sister and her husband (who along with hundreds of thousands other boomer couples caring for elderly parents deserve nomination into sainthood) and they wanted to take a vacation, just the two of them.  How could I say no?  

That said, Mom isn’t easy. She’s in robust health, but life with her is one continuous time loop. Like Ground Hog Day. “So… what are you doing these days?” she says, professing deep interest in my life. 

I tell her a couple of things, she nods with understanding, maybe even asks a followup question, then the conversation stops. Two minutes later, she says, “So… what are you doing these days?”

The first few go-rounds I give a straight-forward answer, but after the fifth or sixth time I begin embellishing, adding new characters, peculiar occupations, maybe jungle animals. She laughs, knowing (sort of) that I’m joking, but even so, she’ll ask again and again until I can finally steer the conversation on to an exciting new topic – like what we should fix for supper. 

Tomorrow morning we’ll go to a botanical garden she especially loves, as we do every time I come. We’ll get back and have lunch, and then she’ll say, “So… what are we going to do today????” 

I don’t know how Holly copes without throttling her.  Mom is too healthy and together to be “put into a home” but too discombobulated to be left alone. 

You could say she’s in a placeholder position too.

Primping at a price: Palin pays for polish

Primp: v. to dress, adorn, or arrange in a careful or finicky manner

Price: n. the terms for the sake of which something is done

Polish: n. a highly developed, finished, or refined state

Whatever else her defects (ignorance, shamelessness, dishonesty, bully tactics, racism, tax cheat, etc etc), Palin’s personal grooming habits should put her out of the running. America cannot afford this expensive a doll in or near the White House.

A few days ago we heard about her $150,000 wardrobe. Today we learn about how much it costs to keep her face and hair looking so perfect. From today’s NY Times:

Who was the highest paid individual in Senator John McCain’s presidential campaign during the first half of October as it headed down the homestretch?

Not Randy Scheunemann, Mr. McCain’s chief foreign policy adviser; not Nicolle Wallace, his senior communications staffer. It was Amy Strozzi, Gov. Sarah Palin’s traveling makeup artist, according to a new filing with the Federal Election Commission on Thursday night.

Ms. Strozzi, who was nominated for an Emmy award for her makeup work on the television show “So You Think You Can Dance?”, was paid $22,800 for the first two weeks of October alone, according to the records. The campaign categorized Ms. Strozzi’s payment as “Personnel Svc/Equipment.”

In addition, Angela Lew, who is Ms. Palin’s traveling hair stylist, got $10,000 for “Communications Consulting” in the first half of October.

Right.  “Communications.”

Now that I know what it takes to be a VP candidate, I think I could do it too – and I could do it for half the price.  Even though I’m not as young as Palin is, I’d still look like a million bucks. Who wouldn’t???

Puzzled and perplexed: “undecided” voters

Puzzled: adj. uncertain as to action or choice

Perplexed: adj. filled with uncertainty

I’ve been doorbelling and phone-calling local voters in an effort to determine who are “our people” – folks who will vote for Democrats and therefore need to gotten out to vote (or in my county which only votes by mail, to mail in their ballots).

While many folks simply may not want to disclose to a stranger which way they plan to vote, I’ve talked to a bunch of people who say they’re still undecided, and need to “study up a bit more…”

My question is this: have they been living under a rock for the past 18 months? We’ve been bombarded in every possible media format with candidate and economic news. Everyone is talking about the election, even my hairdresser and my mail man. How can anyone still be puzzled about who to vote for? Or do these folks just like all the attention they get from pollsters and GOTV activists like me?

The humorist David Sedaris has a fresh take on undecided voters:

I look at these people and can’t quite believe that they exist. Are they professional actors? I wonder. Or are they simply laymen who want a lot of attention?

To put them in perspective, I think of being on an airplane. The flight attendant comes down the aisle with her food cart and, eventually, parks it beside my seat. “Can I interest you in the chicken?” she asks. “Or would you prefer the platter of shit with bits of broken glass in it?”

To be undecided in this election is to pause for a moment and then ask how the chicken is cooked.

Poetry poking fun at McPalin: PFAW’s haiku contest

People for the American Way is having a McPalin Haiku contest. Go to the website and pick your favorite. Here were a few I thought were worthy.

Habeas corpus
And that pesky Bill of Rights.
Who needs’ em? WINK. WINK.  — Jean Hall

Do you want McCain
To choose a Supreme Court judge
Like he chose Palin?  — Scott & Susan Hanway

Palin knows nothing
About the Constitution.
Puppets don’t have to.   — Madeleine Kane

Dust thick on text books.
Evolution was a fad.
Science dead? You betcha.  — Laura Welch

The Constitution
Now in the toilet by Bush
McCain will flush it   — Karl Kauffman