Friday, August 29, 2008

Loose Cannon for president?

Surprisingly, I found out I could get on dial-up at Old Faithful Inn. Still no television but for tonight I have connection to the world. When I was on the Shields and Yellowstone rivers, I had written a blog to go tomorrow but things seem to be moving so fast that I may not use it as it was. What a time politically.

I really enjoyed reading the comments here on the Obama speech. Although I will not be able to see it until I am back on the farm, from all I have read, it is apparent he met all possible expectations and then some. Is it possible that Americans can really look at someone for their abilities and not their gender or skin color? We'll see.

When I got online and saw who McCain picked (not even good radio reception driving here), I thought this will truly test the women who are so angry about Obama winning the nomination and then not picking Hillary for his Vice President. They now have their chance to vote for a woman-- a woman with very little experience, with rigid right wing viewpoints on religion, a woman who looks good, and maybe that will be all they want. We shall see.

Sarah Palin does not even believe in abortion in cases of rape and incest. A first time governor, a mayor with some failed policies, someone who barely has paid attention to what is going on in Iraq through her own words, she is the person John McCain has decided should be president if he were to die in office.

I would guess McCain's talk about Obama needing to be more experienced will now be history. It looks to me like Palin's sole qualification is being a rigid Christianist fundamentalist. Except are fundamentalists really those who go off leaving their small children while they run for office? Does she have a stay-at-home husband who takes care of all their kids while mom runs off? Is the important thing in her resume that she wants to have creationism taught as a science?

I think this very much validates all that I have been saying about McCain. He made a major choice that, except for religious fundamentalism, goes against everything he's been saying for the last months about what is needed in a president. He's a loose cannon and I hope Americans realize it before it's too late.

Now I have to figure out if I can rewrite what I wrote while on the Shields and Yellowstone Rivers to make sense and still use some of it. I had some great photos. In fact, I have had a ton of great photos with a few more to come when I leave Yellowstone tomorrow to spend a few days on the Henry's Fork where once again I may not have internet access (but might schedule up that one on the Shields and Yellowstone if I can update it to make sense).

The photo is of Old Faithful this afternoon. It's a powerful thing to watch that geyser do its thing. It is a reminder of the power of nature and of life. I truly am hopeful for our country that people will see McCain now for what he is. My hope is that those who thought Obama was the empty suit will take another look at both men. The last thing this country needs now is another irresponsible, unthinking leader.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

I have a dream

Today one party in the United States is putting into nomination, as their choice for president, a man who represents white and black. He is the living embodiment of something Martin Luther King Jr. spoke about August 28, 1963.

Back then it was summertime, between quarters of college. I was about to be a junior, had decided on a major (education), was not yet married nor even engaged. I was almost 20. For me personally, the Civil Rights movement was both close and far away; but for all the years since that time, more and more of us have gone amen to the dream King wrote about. Can we truly see beyond the barriers to who each of us truly is? While some feared King's words, others thought please let it be so if not today then someday.

Someday is so close. Much of the country has come a long way toward seeing past gender or color of skin. I thought repeating the key words from King's speech would be a good reminder of his dream. Recently, talk of a dream has been ridiculed by those who understand the power of a dream to bring about change-- change they do not want as they take larger and larger slices of the pie. For those who value King's dream, it's time again to stand up for it.

His words were said for the United States, but they are words worthy of a worldwide dream. We are all humans. We are more alike than different when we push our governments out of the way and look at our real needs. It is up to us, not our leaders, to make it be so. It can happen if we have a dream.


"I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal.

"I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

"I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.<

"I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. I have a dream today!

"I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification; one day right down in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers. I have a dream today!

"I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together.

"This is our hope. This is the faith that I will go back to the South with. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day. And this will be the day, this will be the day when all of God's children will be able to sing with new meaning, "My country 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the Pilgrim's pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring!" And if America is to be a great nation, this must become true." -- Martin Luther King Jr.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008


Isn't a dream one step toward claiming power?
Some claim dreams are not real.

It may take years to realize a dream, but dreaming itself is an elevating experience.
Maya Angelou

Go confidently in the direction of your dream. Live the life you have imagined.

Hold fast to dreams for if dreams die, life is a winged bird that cannot fly.
Langston Hughes

Dreams are necessary to life.
Anais Nin

Materialize your dreams and begin to live them. Build that magnificent dream lodge within you with total commitment.
Lynn V. Andrews

Tuesday, August 26, 2008


Many times in the last year I have written on why Obama. Over the years, as I am sure is true for many of us, there have been times (many) I have voted for the lesser of evils. I have looked at someone like McCain and thought nobody could be worse. I have supported other candidates but more out of have to vote and do not feel good about the other option. I don't think it's necessarily a wrong way to vote, but it sure does not build up much enthusiasm.

This time it's not so for me. I have a person to support that I truly believe in his abilities to make a difference, to fulfill the promise of this country. We have given money to help elect Barack Obama and will give more.

To be honest, I have not gone the extra mile and volunteered my labor other than supporting him through this blog. Then my almost 10 year old granddaughter (who is an ardent Obama supporter) asked, So are you volunteering? My excuses were many: I don't appreciate getting those phone calls, wouldn't like someone knocking on my door, but in the end, she was right. I have to volunteer.

It's not enough for those of us who really do believe in Obama to just donate money or write about the issues in our blogs. I have to go down to the headquarters and volunteer. I have to do it because I have to know I have done all I can to make this happen for our country.

It's not just my fear about McCain, but that I honestly truly believe in Barack Obama's promise. Not his promises, not every issue for which he stands; but the promise of who he is, his temperament, his goals, and his abilities. He represents a hope and right now it's the only hope.

This was in Huffington last week and it was a good piece on what Obama must do to win: Robert L. Borosage: Obama: Hope for a Change. It's not about playing dirty, not about following the Rovian tactics (which have been bring up his poll numbers substantially and what does that say about Americans who want cleaner elections?).

Obama could do the same thing. He could bring up McCain's possibly shady connections but who wins with those tactics? Certainly not the American people. Obama needs to just clearly state the difference between their stands on issues, their wisdom in the past on various problems, and yes their character where it comes to being a good leader.

Borosage said that if Obama lets this be made into purely a debate over him, he will lose. He has to show that his character is stronger, more right, and that he is the one who knows what this country needs as the entire world heads into even more perilous times.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Choosing Wisely

To me, Joe Biden, for Vice President, was the perfect choice for Barack Obama who listed the qualities that he felt would be most important for an Obama administration-- someone with experience, who would speak their mind, and with whom he could work in tandem.

If Hillary Clinton had been chosen for vice president, she would have been constantly undermining Obama. Look at how much of a starring role she has sought in the Convention. A president must trust his vice president and I think he knew that was impossible where it came to her. He may well ask her to join his cabinet, if he is elected, but working at his side, after the primary, was clearly not realistic.

As for her supporters, who say they will now vote for McCain, it is almost an insult to her that they would say such a thing. It means her fans weren't caring about issues-- something many believed to be the case.

I understand those who want to see someone of their own gender or race finally attaining power, but is this the time for such thinking with such serious problems facing the world? I think it has to be about who can most help the world and in my opinion, that will be the team of Barack Obama and Joe Biden.

Biden was someone I really would have favored even in the primary, but he didn't have what the majority of voters wanted (1% of the vote) and whether someone thinks it's not how it should be, it was how it was.

He will be in a very strong position as Vice President with a Barack Obama presidency because I think Obama will turn to him for insights and advice. He can use him around the world. Obama had to choose someone with whom he could work. He decided that combination of experience and a personality that meshed with his were found in Joe Biden. It pleases me also that he overlooked what Biden said in the heat of the campaign for what he saw as most important for the country. It means Obama can get beyond ego for the good of the country. He also didn't turn to someone who could deliver a big state. He did what I hoped-- chose someone who could help him govern.

Some say choosing an insider was a mistake for Obama, but if he had chosen someone with no more experience than he had in Washington, it would have played into the hands of those who saw his presidency as a risk and too inexperienced. Choosing Biden means he will have someone working with him who understands what has been going on for the last 30 years, someone who will speak his mind, the inside and the outside came together with a chance for a genuine new directions at a time where we desperately need them. To me, it's a no brainer that the person with the new ideas and charisma choose the war horse to help him carry out those plans.

These photos are all from around Missoula. They are part of Montana's beauty but also represent looking at the long distance, the way that water beats against rock to finally see changes, and the tiny, beautiful things that we often walk right past without seeing. More pics to come whenever I can get online. So much to enjoy and see; so little time.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Who Started Cold War II

Pat Buchanan makes so much sense in any article he writes that it always amazes me when I see him on any of the talking head programs and he seems to defend the right wing policies in lock step. Maybe that's his job there to present the 'other' side, but when he's writing about things like this, he presents questions that both Obama and McCain need to take seriously.

There is little doubt, given his rhetoric, that McCain will welcome another world war but why is harder to figure out. He knows what it's like to suffer. He must have some vague idea of how over extended we are. So is it all about his own temper and his feeling that war solves everything? I do not understand.

Friday, August 22, 2008

The Eye of the Storm

The United States is starting into two weeks of political conventions while I am heading toward a vacation in Montana, Yellowstone Park, and Idaho. I hope to post some photos as I go but am not sure where I will have internet access.

Because this is such a hot time for issues, it was easy for me to write several to schedule ahead. I love how blogger now lets us do that. I hope that those of you who have equally passionate concerns for what is going on in this country will post comments which I should get some chance to read.

I am feeling edgy today as I get things ready to be gone. I have been watching to see if there will be early news on who gets the nod for Vice President. Personally, I am hopeful it will be Joe Biden. I like Biden, enjoy listening to him and think he'd make a good choice; but Obama has to pick who works best with him. Whoever he picks, he will have my vote in November and support through this campaign season.

This is an article that I thought pertinent in terms of issues. There are so many things that we as a country face but one that most impacts our children and grandchildren will be global dynamics-- keeping peace on a world wide scale and not ending up in a new world war. This article by Andrew Sullivan expressed my own concerns: The Eye of the Storm.

Times of plenty, peace, war, times of shortages, if you look back through history, they go in cycles. It is possible that even if GW Bush had been a wise president, we'd have been facing a rising Russia. Even if we had used more wisdom in our oil policies, maybe the money would still be flowing into the coffers of many who could be our enemy in the near future. The problem is we didn't face these issues and we have had a president who has purposed himself to be ignorant, who has sold us out on so many levels, and he's leaving us (and the next president) with some ugly possibilities in the near future. Americans need to stop thinking they can have it all for nothing because this country is too deeply in debt for that pipe dream.

Personally, I am looking forward to 9 or 10 days in the mountains, with rivers, wild animals, fishing, painting, reading the books I have put off, good wine, discussions, and places that speak to my heart and rejuvenate my soul. If I have a chance, I will share some of that interspersed with the political blogs I have already posted. If not, it will be waiting for when I return to the farm.

Photo is a cobbler of wild blackberries freshly picked today. I am about to pour some coffee and cut into it. Want a piece?

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Purposeful Ignorance

I keep hearing about people who are not interested in politics. That's fair enough. If someone has no interest in August, I can understand that as it's been a disillusioning time to pay attention; but if that same someone still isn't interested in October, I hope they don't vote.

Nobody should vote for either candidate, none of the above, or one of the third party candidates unless they truly know for what each candidate stands. Not voting is bad. Voting in ignorance, based on a soundbite in late October, that finally caught a spark of interest, is worse.

Here is a thoughtful article on John McCain by Frank Rich. It is full of links to check whether he is exaggerating or telling the truth: The Candidate we still don't know. Tip: it's not Barack Obama.

Jack Cafferty wrote what I am thinking: Is McCain another George W. Bush? The answer is yes; and if you aren't scared at that thought, you have not been paying attention.

Then there is this on Russia and what the Bush people are doing. Amazing to me that there has been so much talk about a few (yes, they were just a few and still are in comparison to other potential dangers) Muslim outlaws being responsible for starting WWIII, which gave the Bush administration an excuse for taking away American rights; and yet here we have trouble igniting in the region that began other world wars where there is Russia, who actually has the power to start WWIII, talking about sending missiles to Cuba, arming Venezuela, occupying part of Georgia for oil power. To find out what is going on takes some work. If you haven't already been studying it, here is a start: Russia is not Jamaica.

Americans are being bamboozled into thinking they need a guy who isn't particularly smart. Actually, that's who the behind-the-scene power brokers need. What the American people need is an advocate for sensible governance, with good judgment, and whether that benefits us individually or economically at the moment, it will benefit us all in the long run.

There is a new, anti-Obama, swiftboater book out which supposedly rushed to the top of the best seller list. It's full of footnotes (to questionable sources) to prove it's serious journalism. It is touted by its publisher, Mary Matalin (Cheney hack), by Sean Hannity, and Fox news. What more could you need to know? Maybe that these best sellers are generated by right wing organizations and to assure they will be at the top of the list they buy them by the truckload, hoping to fool the American people, which seems all too easy in a population with a 7-second soundbite attention span. It's worked before. Just suggest higher taxes to avoid borrowing from China and the right wingers come unglued. Where is that ballot to vote for another Bush 4 years!

This is a complex world, and things aren't going to get easier for a long time to come-- if ever again. Whatever advantage the United States had, it has at least temporarily blown fighting a war in Iraq and ignoring the coming storms. However someone chooses to vote, they should make sure they read both sides and are truly informed. The country doesn't need the vote of those who choose to be ignorant. It's not fun to be informed, but it is responsible.

Then again maybe purposeful ignorance in their candidate is exactly what many voters do want. Some think McCain knows what he needs to know. Since he's a senator from Arizona, wouldn't this be under the category of should know: McCain campaign clarifies his Colorado water grab statement. I am not sure what McCain has been doing in all his years as a senator, but maybe it's been more posturing than learning on anything.

Fran from Sacred Ordinary (linked alongside here), in a comment here, mentioned this site, Brasscheck TV. She thought I would have known about it. I didn't, but it's a good one to find videos on many topics. Compilations of candidates own words probably come closest to telling us who these people are.

Do NOT count on the media, any of them, to tell the truth. I don't know what's up with them, but we don't have a media we can trust with a very few exceptions. They either have a hidden agenda or are being driven by forces they don't even recognize. Real journalists are not at the head of most of those programs. The pundits who are, as with McCain (no wonder they like him so much), do better at posturing than research.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

McCain and the Solzhenitsyn story

There was a McCain/Obama kind of joint appearance on the week-end in a religious forum at Pastor Rick Warren's church. I will be upfront that I had no interest in watching it. I have seen Warren's book, the purpose filled life or something like that but have not read it either.

I have mentioned before that I do not particularly like what religion has done in recent years as people like Pat Robertson have taken it into the political arena. I guess Warren is a different sort of pastor and perhaps it's why Obama agreed to appear before a group that was going to be unsympathetic to many core Democratic values.

It wasn't about Warren though why I didn't watch it. Although I enjoy discussing spiritual issues one on one with people, sometimes even here, I do not enjoy listening to any politician talking about their spiritual belief because I don't trust it nor do I think righteous talk equates to righteous action.

So given that, the media and pundits apparently agree that McCain won that 'debate'. Obama put too much thought into his answers. McCain used succinct, well-packaged answers, said what that group wanted to hear ( I will follow bin Laden into the gates of Hell-- but he wouldn't have gone to Pakistan as it might offend a kind-of-for-today ally). McCain doesn't care if he tells the truth on any of it (might not even remember it) as in the debate he mentioned what a waste of money studying bear DNA is even though he voted for it-- his line got much applause which is all he wanted from it.

So, Pastor Warren asked, when did they each believe life actually begins. Obama said knowing that is above his pay-grade. Basically saying he doesn't know because it's a question about spiritual mystery. Not McCain. Life begins at the moment of conception hence apparently he will favor overturning Roe v Wade as well as installing criminal penalties on anyone having an abortion or doing one. I mean if life is of equal value from the moment of conception, what else can you say regarding the necessary government action?

There is some controversy over whether McCain possibly was told the questions ahead of time because, instead of being in a 'secure' location, McCain was actually in a motorcade with his staff, who were capable of listening in on the live debate with their Blackberries-- if they so chose. Actually, would they have even had to tell McCain why they were able to prep him for what was likely to be asked? He doesn't seem technologically too savvy.

The reason Obama supporters wonder if McCain was prepped was because of his tightly canned answers, but that's no proof. McCain always gives those. Both candidates knew pretty well what would be asked. McCain though did add something else of interest. He has spoken about it before evidently but now it is taking on some new questions for exactly what it means.

Was this a pretty amazing coincidence or did McCain, through the years, add onto time as a POW: [Solzenhitzen story shows up in McCain's personal testimony]. To add to the complexity of this story, even Solzhenhitzen may not have experienced what was in that story about the Christmas cross. It may have been one of those Christian fabrications intended to inspire believers: [McCain, Salter and Solzhenitsen] [and yet more from Salter]. Yet another exploration of the timeline for when McCain began mentioning this cross story: [Did McCain steal his cross?] (The spelling of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn changes everywhere I see it written; so that's why the diversity here. I do know how to say it, not sure how to spell it.)

I guess if someone is most worried about their taxes (amazing how many fans of the Iraq war fall under that category) and wants 4 more years of GW Bush, they won't care about this kind of thing. Is it okay that over the years McCain has embroidered facts (if this is one, it would be the least of them) just so long as it helps him win?

The cross event was not in any of his early recitals of POW events apparently first appearing in 1999. Why lie about such a minor thing when he already had a powerful testimony. Except evangelicals hadn't thought it was enough and so did he give them more? Or by then had he forgotten it was not his own experience? He was a huge fan of Solzhenitsyn, and sometimes such people lose track of the line between themselves and their hero.

In 1987, a charge of plagiarism cost Joe Biden a presidential shot when it was revealed he'd given a speech where he used some phrases from someone else without crediting them. Never mind that Biden had credited the original speaker in all other speeches using the same terms, back then once was enough to end his run.

Do you think the mainstream media will explore this story about McCain, find out the truth of it, bring it up at all, or have they been intimidated by charges of unfairness into dropping it like a hot potato. Today do the majority of Americans care as long as it's their guy and they are told they will not have to pay more taxes? Do the majority expect something for nothing?

Conjure up those wizards because we are going to need them.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

A thunderstorm

Yesterday, on the farm, was hot and sultry. Such days in August and even September are not unheard of, but they are not the norm. If they were, this house would have air conditioning. Generally the creek cools the bedroom off enough at night that sleeping is not a problem

This last week, that wasn't how it worked. There had been virtually no breeze, and the heat was intense. Fortunately the farm's irrigation lines are up and working (when they get moved by somebody), or the pastures would be completely dried up.

Because of the heat, I keep an eye out for promising sunsets especially if the clouds are right. Last night the sunset wasn't so spectacular in terms of color. Beautiful where it was but it didn't cover the whole western sky, but there was something very interesting in the cloud formations, kind of a streaking through them that made it different. Perhaps it was an omen for what was coming.

About 12:30 AM, I woke to the crash of thunder and then the flash of the lightning against my closed eyelids. I have been in a lot of thunderstorms but mainly because of growing up in the Columbia River Gorge and traveling. In Tucson, come July, the monsoons kick in and the extravagant, showy storms follow. That house is well situated to pour a glass of wine, open up all of the doors, and sit on the living room sofa to watch the show.

Here at the farm I sometimes will hear storms move up the main Willamette Valley but they are generally farther away. If overhead, they have been short-lived and inner cloud. Last night was different. I heard one of the calves low, the sheep complain, and more rapid flash to crash and decided to get up to watch. Two of the cats were in hiding, but the young black one was as excited as me and raced between screen doors and windows.

Some of my concern was whether fire would go with the lightning that was definitely hitting the ground, but a rain came along and most likely any fires would have been quickly doused. I would guess it lasted less than an hour, but it seemed to be right overhead half that time as there was little time between bolt and thundering crash. I saw one really thick bolt hit the ground directly to the west, no side shoots and straight down-- well as straight as lightning ever gets.

The flashes would brighten the pasture as I watched the cattle move across it heading toward the south, but not in a panic, just that herd way of movement. Mostly the calves were the ones making complaining sounds. The sheep stayed in the barn which the cattle would have been wise to do, but something in their instincts told them to be out there. It's not like they could not be hit. The bolts seemed to be going to all the higher hills around us but it's not as though lightning follows rules. Perhaps they felt it was best to be away from the creek which would mean heading toward the south part of the pasture, under the rim of the road with higher forest above. Since they haven't seen a storm like this before, I have no idea if primal instincts governed their movement-- or just general edginess.

Between crashes, I also heard the wild turkeys gobbling to the east, the coyotes yodeled up the valley. No animal likes lightning much, and I don't blame them because if I was out in it, I'd not have been as impressed either. The instinctive thing for a human would be to get under a tree, but I have seen trees after they have been split apart by the bolts, heard the stories of those killed who sought shelter when it wasn't.

If I am ever out in a storm hiking, with no choice to get out of it, I would do what is now recommended, squat down low as possible and hold that pose until the storm passes. It wouldn't be easy to do or comfortable, but they say lying down leaves more body to travel through if the lightning hits the ground nearby. There are no rules for where lightning will hit although getting off any high ridge would seem to be smart. Thunderstorms come up so fast that it's not always possible to do anything other than experience what is going to be.

I would love to photograph lightning. In Tucson I have taken a lot of photos of storm clouds but haven't gotten the knack of having my camera set and knowing when to click. Last night I didn't even try. I just let the energy of the storm soak in much as the heavy rain soaked the ground. This morning I am enjoying the smell of the ground after that kind of rain.

These photos are a few from that sunset before the storm.

Friday, August 15, 2008

A Gatekeeper Event

Three months before or after turning 65, all United States citizens must go to a Social Security office, for a prearranged appointment (of which you will be reminded by three phone calls and letters), to establish you are who you say for signing up for Social Security.

When it came my turn to do this, it seemed to me a seminal event. It only takes about ten minutes, but on the other side of the interview is official old age. On this side, well it really isn't that different except for how the government sees it.

Although it didn't make sense to Farm Boss, I put some thought into what I wanted to wear. He said, it's casual. Wear anything. He didn't get 'it.' This wasn't about what the office would expect, but about me. I finally decided on a sundress I bought earlier this summer and tan high-heeled sandals. I put on make-up, made sure my hair had some curl. I was going in to declare myself officially old, but I didn't want to look any older than was necessary while doing it.

There are a few gateway moments in our lives like graduation from schools, confirmation into a religion, marriage, birth of children, and even funerals. We wear something special for most of them. Okay, not the childbirth but it's in a class of its own.

In fiction books, when the hero enters into the adventure of the story, she/he passes by the gatekeeper or into an event that defines entry from one world to another. This is what it felt like for me to gather up my birth certificate and passport, Social Security card, and go into the government to prove I am not only me but soon to be 65 years on this planet.

If you haven't already been through this experience, it is not something most can choose to do or not. You sign up during a 6 month window or there is a financial penalty for signing up later.

With proof of identity in hand, and in my case, since I had not been a working wife (the farm does not count), proof of being married to someone who had worked and through whom I had had insurance. I had the Farm Boss with me to sign the necessary paper. Interestingly I never had to sign anything, but my verbal yes or no was reminded to me several times to be under threat of perjury.

When the administrator asked if I had any outstanding felony warrants, I said no, but then my sense of humor kicked in. I asked if anybody ever admitted to that. I could visualize as they admit it and the police show up for the arrest. Even as I had asked it, I wondered if joking was permissible (it's not in an airplane these days); but he smiled and said some should.

As a wife coming in under her husband's authority, I was first signed up, connected to him, and then disconnected to have my own Social Security, my own Medicare. The actual taking of Social Security benefits will wait until Farm Boss turns 66 next year but Medicare has to start at 65 as at that point we both lose his corporate retirement benefit.

Part way through the process, an Oriental couple took seats in the booth next to ours. I was listening to my own questions but did hear the son's talking as he tried to get his mother signed up for Medicare. She had not been here long. I am guessing they were either Taiwanese or Chinese as she didn't speak English at all when she and her son conversed. The administrator quickly told her son that she could not qualify since she had never worked in this country and had not lived here long. The son was perplexed. He asked how long would she have to be here to qualify? The administrator answered since 1996. The son appeared shocked. That long?

They apparently could have saved themselves a trip as the mother herself could have asked about this over the phone because Social Security offers interpreters in any language. The administrator was trying to be helpful and told them about Medicaid or the possibility they could talk Oregon into signing her up for the Oregon Health Care Plan which is for low income residents. Supposedly if she got into that plan, despite only just coming here, Medicare might then let her enroll...

When Farm Boss and I walked out of the building, I said sometimes I feel like a right winger. He laughed as he'd been feeling the same thing.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

A tale of narcissism

For some time I had even been debating whether to write about John Edwards' affair (the story was out there since last fall), and here I am writing about it again. I had written about him last winter regarding why I did not support him for president. He was in the news again when he endorsed Barack Obama, and it was distasteful to me to watch him speak as it always has been. In that endorsement, he said a lot more about his cause and himself than Obama who he finally did get around to mentioning.

I disagreed with Edwards on many issues even as I agree with him that poverty is a problem in the country/world; but what exactly can you say about poverty when you are living a life of $400 haircuts? Is there a level of hypocrisy that makes some (me) feel it might be a case of using poverty for something else-- like a platform?

Then Sunday morning I read Maureen Dowd's column: Keeping it Rielle and it nailed my distaste for Edwards and handed one more story to me. It's a tale of narcissism on all levels.

For anybody who is aware of the myth of Narcissus, there are multiple versions, but the one that fits best is the Roman one. After rejecting Echo and other lovers, Narcissus saw for the first time his own reflection in a pool of water and fell in love. There was a problem though. When he tried to reach his love, it destroyed the reflection. He couldn't even drink from the pool without ruining his reflection. He couldn't leave his love; and so he died.

Narcissism is a damaging extension of a normal human characteristic. It is good, even important to have self-love. It's bad to have it reach a point where what is most important is seeing one's self reflected in the admiration of others. This can be through actions, talents or beauty.

The story of the Edwards liaison is one of narcissism on pretty much all levels. It would be impossible to watch John Edwards talk about anything without seeing his self-love. Remember that humorous YouTube, I feel pretty? Listening to him speak even about his affair and we heard it all again. To his credit, he did admit it's all about him. I know many politicians are that way but it's not attractive-- at least not to me.

Then come the women-- first his wife. I understand Elizabeth is a courageous woman for her battle against cancer, for having more children when they lost their son; for her support of his campaign even while she was fighting what she has said will be a losing battle with cancer; but... he has claimed that she knew he had a secret that could doom his candidacy if he got the nomination and she still supported his run (at this point can we believe anything he says? Might he have lied about when he told her and she allowed it to save his career now? If that is so, she is still sustaining his lie).

Was Elizabeth's willingness to have a second family when they lost their only son still about his ego need for a son to carry on his legacy? Had Elizabeth, a woman we can only admire in most ways, become so caught up in his story and drama that she lost sight of her own?

Next is the mistress. She was a woman whose promiscuous living was so famous that she was immortalized, unflatteringly so, by an ex-boyfriend who happened to also be an author. She had turned all that over though when she discovered New Age spirituality. What Rielle Hunter Told Me.

On the one hand, she could seem like another woman caught up in sustaining John Edwards' ego, but reading more closely, it seems more about her ego. She would make him famous, help him get in touch with his real self. Well she did at least help him break up the reflection. Not sure for how long, of course.

Edwards said he did not father her child. That is possible. If so, it would mean she turned to another man when fired from the Edwards' campaign possibly after Edwards confessed to his wife. How un-broadminded of his wife to not want his mistress around!

Rielle says she won't do a DNA test to clear Edward's name. Could that be because the man who thinks he is the father isn't? Or has she been paid well to let Edwards say he would do one knowing she would not. The poor baby and the Edwards' children as they are the ones for whom I feel most sorry.

The story is very film noir, not for the potential of violence but for the bleakness of characters, the moral ambiguity, the darkness of how it makes you feel as you hear about it.

So why write about this at all? Ancient myths are lived out all the time for their truths in today's world. It's why they are still with us. The dangers of narcissism can come onto anybody who lets their own reflection (or someone else's) become more important than reality. It doesn't require beauty to do that.

(One last element arose this week as a Hillary Clinton's campaign something or other claimed that if Edwards had confessed earlier, Hillary would have gotten most of his votes in Iowa and be the candidate today. Not only is that ridiculous given Obama did better after Edwards dropped out, but does anybody think this Democratic convention is going to be peaceful?)

These photos of reflections were all taken Sunday. Some reflections are easy to discern but some look so much like what is above that you could reverse them and would not know what is up or down. I think it's that kind for which we have to be alert in others as well as ourselves.

Monday, August 11, 2008

McCain-- our next president?

If you have liked the bumbling under George W. Bush, it might explain how you could support John McCain. TPM put together this montage of McCain comments and I got it from Daily Kos: McCain's mental fumbling. I have to wonder how our country will survive 4 more years of this in a time as dangerous as that we face today; and all because of being more fun at a picnic, wearing a flag pin, or is it fear of tax increases to bring our deficit back into some control?

It's beyond my understanding how McCain has any support, but would appreciate any conservative who might read this explaining how a man, who suggested his wife might be the next Miss Buffalo Chip, could possibly be someone you could support for the presidency of this country. If he goes to Sturgis and doesn't know what that means, that's one thing; but he goes around the world with as little understanding of what anything else he says means.

That might seem like a minor problem that he can't explain himself or keep track of nations or purposes. If it seems that way to you, consider that man as a war president which is what he is aiming to be. Georgia and what Russia is doing there, ought to convince everybody that we can't afford McCain... you'd think: more war?.

The nature of affairs

Last fall when I read John Edwards was accused of having had an affair, to be honest, I figured, despite his denials, the accusations were true. I am kind of jaded about politicians while at the same time, as a Democrat, I don't generally care politically whether someone has had an affair or not.

Despite my belief a leader's personal, sexual life is not part of the public's right to know, some affairs seem more egregious to me than others. For instance when Newt Gingrich was having his affair with a woman he divorced his wife to marry, he was also pursuing impeachment of Bill Clinton for having an affair he didn't divorce his wife to marry. But that was more about hypocrisy than the affair.

Then there was John McCain's affair (the one that ended his marriage and led to a new marriage with a beautiful, wealthy woman who was not handicapped). It seems that was okay because of the divorce. Was John McCain faithful to that second wife or are the rumors about his possible other relationships true? Unlike most Republicans, if he was my candidate of choice, I would not actually care. He has plenty of reasons for me to dislike his candidacy, and his sexual habits aren't among them. His booting a wife because she was not perfect or his using someone to make his career successful, those would be reasons I would see as relating to his political ideas.
Although John Edwards having an affair would not have impacted my voting, his being a hypocrite or fraud would. Was Edwards a fraud when he presented himself as a happily married man, on a crusade to rid the country of poverty? He was doing what many powerful men do as he found his lover a well-paid staff position, so he had a good excuse to have her with him. Who paid for that? This is an area where it begins to be the public's business if the lover/employee is being paid for by donations or public funds.

Then there is the question of his judgment in choosing staff. Is the usual method for hiring documentarians to meet them in bars? The films she directed have mostly disappeared denying us the ability to evaluate whether she was naturally gifted in film making or whether the real gift was something more personal to Edwards.

The people who donated money to Edwards' poverty work might have reason to complain, but I personally didn't like him for other reasons. Revelation of his affair even now wouldn't impact my vote. It would though have made it impossible for him to be elected president probably. This country seems to have very rigid standards-- serial monogamy or nothing.

Before he announced his run for the presidency, Edwards says had told his wife about the affair. They apparently both decided it shouldn't matter. Shouldn't it have, given what happened with Clinton? Would it have ended his run if they had come out with the full truth at the start? Was his sex life any business of the public? Does being a sexually moral person mean someone is more likely to be a more ethical person in other arenas?

I used to have a saying about politicians and am trying to think of a polite way to phrase it while retaining the meaning. Basically it was that I prefer to vote for Democrats who screw women rather than Republicans who screw everybody. I personally think the Bush administration validates my theory (and who knows how many of them have been busily having affairs that are yet to be discovered).
My photos to illustrate this theme were inspired by a movie about a famous affair-- Bridges of Madison County. Interesting how often we romanticize affairs until they appear in our own lives or in a political leader.

Covered bridges can be symbolic for an earlier time where things seemed simpler. In Oregon we have quite a few that are still functional bridges. Generally they are one-way which works on gravel roads, but used to be death traps on highways, which is why the first one is now a park alongside the more effective concrete bridge.

Covered bridges serve as symbols for a way from this side to that with secrets sometimes hidden beneath their roofs. How many have served as romantic beginnings as they did in the movie? One more thought-- might, despite their beauty and our fascination with them, covered bridges also represent holding onto an antiquated system that needs changing.

I know with the Russian army killing so many in Georgia, with questions of global warming escalating Global Climate change, this topic might seem unimportant.
But is it?Are those leaders with the most potential to help solve these serious problems staying out of the public arena because their past or present cannot pass inspection? Do we reject leaders for the wrong reasons? Things like hypocrisy, misusing government funds, uncaring use of other people seem important to me but is sexual morality or immorality among them?

Saturday, August 09, 2008


Last week was one of those Grandma weeks, and I enjoyed it very much. One of the first things we did was take the grandkids to the Portland Zoo, something I have been wanting to visit for a long time but haven't been since we had children ourselves. Arriving there, it seemed this was a pretty common event for grandparents and grandkids with many doing the same thing.

When I am in Tucson one of my favorite places is the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum which is a natural history zoo in that it is all living beings whose habitat is in the Sonoran Desert from the mountains to the deserts. It is out on the desert and feels like a piece of it. It educates as well as pleases. Sometimes wild desert animals come onto the grounds to see if they can get in on the free food.

My time in Portland's zoo, which is in wooded hills, was fun. The kids were excited. The zoo was full of small 'mammals' running around and seeing animals they might have read about but would never see in nature. Enthusiasm and laughter was in the air.

Except... there was a second aspect to a zoo. The first is enjoying the animals as they moved, napped, and ate in a fairly natural looking background. But it isn't normal or natural.

I have been in zoos since I was a child and certainly some of the habitats have improved, but no zoo can be natural. Watching those animals got to be depressing. Some had outdoor enclosures, but it's a fantasy to imply it's really natural. A wolf would in nature roam over mountains and across rivers. A cougar has about a 50 mile habitat as its normal backyard. Elephants run and travel hundreds of miles when they are free. How far can you run when your enclosure is maybe 50' long? The Portland zoo used to have a large elephant population, but I guess that lost out as now it's down to only a few in enclosures that look more like the zoo of my childhood.

The only mammals that seemed happy there were the human ones. This is where my problem is: zoos at the expense of the animals living in them, do educate people. They encourage conservation, make generations more aware of what is going on out in wilderness areas where most will never go themselves. They provide pleasure and help people get a little in touch with nature.

I read recently that children today, who are so computer and television oriented, are not learning about nature, have no idea what real animals are like. For generations children were raised where they knew from where food came. They helped catch, prepare or kill it. How many experience that today?

Yes, my grandchildren are more exposed to wildlife and animals bred for food. When they visit the farm they go out and help bring in the sheep, they help change the irrigation pipe. When they are with their parents, they camp in the desert or mountains. Their father both fishes and hunts for food they do consume. The zoo was still a thrill with the animals closer and then there are the ones we wouldn't be seeing in Oregon.

I know I sound like Polyanna. I logically do know that most animals in zoos today were bred there. The days of Hatari with animals being captured in the wild and sent to the zoo are pretty much in the past. I also understand some animals have come to the zoo after injuries that would make surviving in nature impossible. I understand some species might only survive in zoos today.

Oh I get it, except to see all of those animals in small enclosures, where their lives are reduced to being moved around by zoo keepers to provide any interest, well it was sad even while I was enjoying the enthusiasm of my grandchildren and all the other children running down the sidewalks.

Before we left, we bought a membership in the zoo (we also have maintained for many years one in the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum) even though we may not be back during the coming year to either one. We do it to help provide better environments for the animals.

If zoos are going to exist, and they probably are, then having the money for larger habitats, possibly less species and better accommodations might be more enjoyable for the animals on both sides of the cages. Even for the beings we consider wild animals, life is not just about food. There are some animals that perhaps don't belong in any zoo in our part of the world where the habitat is simply too foreign.

Portland's zoo now has a section that is like the one in Arizona-- animals from our mountains and deserts. It's not perfect, but it's a start.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

black and white-- monochrome

One of the things I enjoy doing with the computer is turning color photos into black and white. The possibilities are endless. A black and white photo often changes the whole feel of an image. You see shapes where none appeared before. The whole meaning of the photo can change. A failed photograph can become something new.

When I was growing up, black and white was what almost all photos were until somewhere in my childhood where color film became more available if more expensive. After awhile color was all there was; and if I wanted to buy black and white film, which I still liked for interesting geometric shapes, I had to find a specialty photo shop to develop it-- if more expensive.

Today with digital, anybody can take photos in color, then easily transform them to black and white when it will improve the photograph. To illustrate, I am using one photo of how it can work.

In mid-July, I decided to take some self timed photos with my Canon Rebel. I had bought a new top that was peasant in feeling. I thought if I set the composition right, I could have nature, Kwan Yin, and Buddha in the background representing male and female spirituality with the woman in foreground representing physical life. Interesting concept, right?

Although I took several of these, the color actually proved a distraction. This one was the best composition but as you can see, way too dark. Still, it had all those highlights and seemed worth fooling with it. When I lightened the picture, the color wasn't accurate. Besides in a way, I did not want this to be a photo of a person but rather an idea. That's when I decided to turn to monochrome.

Most photo software has such a tool. I use Corel PHOTO-PAINT 7. With it, you go to Effects--> Photo Lab--> Monochrome.

As a black and white, it seemed to me it would be stronger yet if I cropped it tighter which is the top photo. I still wanted one of the spiritual influences to be in the background. Kwan Yin being female seemed best. I needed to move her closer to the woman to link them together. This can be done with the free-form mask tool, copying the new object, bringing back up a new, enlarged picture, pasting the new object where it's wanted it. This seemed to me to create a whole new emphasis from the photo-- all from what was a failed photograph.

If a photo is washed out, there isn't much you can do about it but if it's too dark, often there is enough information, to salvage something-- or create something totally new.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Black and White-- Les Deux

We tend to think of black as being dark, forbidding, negative, bad moods; while white is pure, daylight, goodness, and positive. Since all color is part of a whole as all of life is made up of both the positive and negative, neither black nor white are actually good or bad. Both serve a purpose; but perhaps the meanings have come because of the things that can happen under cover of darkness. Still today, traditionally, people wear black at funerals and white at weddings-- usually.

The saying goes that it is as clear as day and night or as black and white. Except today what is black or white does not seem clear at all where it comes to many things. A Christian is a bringer of light to some and a taker of it to others. To some Obama is seen as black as a race and for the fear they feel at what will happen if he gets into the White House. Others see McCain as white by race and their hearts feel equally darkened at the thought he might actually gain the power of the White House.

So how can that which is supposed to be so clear seem totally unclear?

Many of us would like to think of life as shades of gray, as is the monochrome photo above; but it doesn't work that way most of the time. Life forces choices, and one rules out the other. Side with black or side with white. Most want to be on the side of good but which is that?

Some say they won't vote this time because they refuse to decide which is black or white. Or they will vote none of the above. In the end, those who are willing to make a choice will decide who runs the country and those who won't make one, will be ruled by the others.

The thing that has been getting to me is how can we see something so obvious so differently? Something happens and of course, I think, everybody will see it as I do, but they don't. Has it always been this way or is the dilemma growing? An example of what I mean follows.

When John McCain delightedly and proudly ran an ad comparing Obama (who is black) to two beautiful blond women (who are white) with the surface message being fame with no purpose, why did he choose those two girls? Certainly they are not respected today because of flaunting their nude bodies, doing bizarre things, having many lovers, little education, but that can't be the comparison as since when is Obama any of those things? How can McCain run an ad criticizing Obama for being a celebrity since he's been one ever since he came back from Vietnam, since he ran (and still runs) on being a celebrity, a famous war hero.

So, wasn't the real reason for that ad because there was another message beneath the surface? White women-- black man. Ads did the same thing to Harold Ford when he ran for the Senate in Tennessee. It worked and might be working again. Subtle as a lead balloon to someone who sees black and white as I do.. and equally the opposite to someone who sees it the other way.

When Obama reacted to what he knew had been the intent, the McCain camp was ready. Obama played the race card-- How dispicable of him!

So let's see, if he didn't react, the subliminal message went through to those susceptible to it (it does anyway). If he did, they could accuse him of being the one to insert race-- as if race isn't already a factor given whites who say they won't vote for a black and blacks who say that's why they will vote. You couldn't keep race out of this campaign even if you wanted, but running that ad subliminally put it front and center. The McCain people knew it and knew also they could deny any intent. Whichever way Obama went, they were ready.

I don't remotely believe McCain himself is a racist, but I do believe, he's proven he will do anything to win. He showed it again as he said oh so very sadly that yes, he was sorry to say but that is Obama played the race card. Sometimes I wonder what happens to him inside as he says these things. Does he know how he's sold out? Did George Bush?

If these recent ads (the Moses one, humorous as it is, is equally subliminal in depicting Obama as an antichrist figure to anyone who knows Scriptures and those people are exactly who McCain needs to win) are not proof that Rovians run the McCain campaign, I don't know what is. Unless you see black and white the opposite of how I do.

Call me naive, but it seems strange to me. How can we not see truth and goodness as the same thing? How can what is black or white not be clear? But it apparently is not.

So black and white... and I am using Les Deux not only because they are two but because I have another blog coming on black and white-- this time photography.

Sunday, August 03, 2008


Surfing around, I came across a site where music was playing. I went looking to find the name of the song and found something more-- Playlist. I was on my way into town but thought it can't hurt to just click on the option for getting my own. Before I knew it, I had one as it was free, simple to create, and easy to add to any site.

Since I believe some music is an important part of who I am, I was tempted to add the music to Rainy Day Thoughts. Then again it might distract from the ideas; so I put it onto a blog I had created awhile back for such additional things: Rainy Day Extras.

Playlist has seemingly unlimited music available; so if you are interested in getting your own playlist or hearing the songs I have chosen as I am slowly building my own, please click on the link.

The Internet is like a treasure chest with all that is possible and much of it still free.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Best laid plans

... or if two things have gone wrong, wait for the third (or fourth or fifth).

Wednesday began the string with trying to upgrade Mozilla to 3.0 which Hotmail said I should do. At first it was fine and then everything went south quickly. I lost email and couldn't get into sites. I am a long ways from a techie but could figure out my Mozilla upgrade had damaged something else; so I did a restore to an earlier date at which time I got back internet and email. Mozilla no longer worked at all.

That meant struggling with getting bookmarks set up in Explorer, discovering my version of Explorer does not spell check, and back to more unexpected pop-ups. Before lunch, I decided to check on the sheep who were out in the big pasture *dum de dum dum*.

Blocked somewhat from seeing the whole picture, I saw a single ewe running across the field. When it's hot, that's unusual; then I saw what I thought was a small animal chasing after her. Was it her lamb or something else? This had been intended to be a casual observation; so I was dressed in sundress, sandals, and no rifle.

In such situations, there is no time to debate what's going on. Better to be wrong and run into the field yelling like a banshee just in case it was a coyote. Even in my younger days I was no sprinter; so by the time I got to where I had seen the ewe running, there was no coyote but the sheep were grazing peacefully. They didn't look like they had felt under attack.

Okay, no problem. Nothing had been there. Sheep can be nutty. If the neighbors thought I was too, nothing new. I looked around for awhile before I went back in the house and called Farm Boss, who was at work having changed hats to Techie Boss, about the Mozilla problem.

While I was talking to him, walking around with the phone as is my wont, I was looking out the window toward the fields and sheep. It didn't look right and I told him I had to go quick. I dropped the phone on the bed and headed out. This time with my .22.

Before I got to the sheep, I saw the coyote. It was looking avidly at what it expected to be lunch and at first ignored me. I couldn't get a clear shot with the sheep in the way, and I had limited confidence in using the scope with the possibility of animals that could dash between me and the intended target. Coyote eats sheep-- bad. I shoot sheep-- worse. So I kept moving and the coyote did too. The sheep? Although they had obviously all run into the barnyard, they did not seem panicked.

It's odd that the coyote even came back so recently after seeing me in the field, but it clearly had the idea that humans don't stick around. When it got almost to the back of the place, where the oblivious, no longer nicknamed guard cows were taking their noon nap, it turned to look and see if I might have left. I was in a better position to take a shot, but it was long one. Unfortunately, I missed. This time it decided I meant business and left the pasture.

It won't be gone permanently. I am now believe it was what I had seen running the first time, and it probably hid in the brush until I had gone back inside. It got one lamb several weeks ago (around the time we took the trip to Central Oregon) and Farm Boss got a shot at it then but also missed for it being too far away. We need some target practice at that distance, because once they get lamb (or mutton, they aren't picky), they have a taste for it. This is the dry season and unless humans are shooting at them, sheep are easy prey. I don't blame the coyotes but I also can't let them eat our sheep if I can help it.

I left the sheep out but spent the afternoon checking frequently-- in more appropriate garb for going into the pasture. For fun, and because nothing else had been, I took a self-timed picture of me and my gun. I love my .22 as I got it when I was 12 for the very same purpose, patrolling to protect what was then my parents' sheep from attacking neighborhood dogs.

In case you did not know, you can tell which predator killed a sheep based on how the kill is. A dog kills more like a wolf tearing an animal up, but a coyote is smaller and has to go for the throat to bring down much the larger animals.

So that was two. Was there going to be more? You know there was, or I'd not have started the way I did.

Farm Boss got home and reinstalled Mozilla after a glass of red wine -- without losing my bookmarks. Hallulujah, everything worked again. After dinner, he went out to fix the irrigation pump that wasn't working.

And along came the third (unless you count the irrigation pump which I won't since it wasn't working before Wednesday). The internet dish, Hughes Net, went out and has yet to be fixed as it evidently is something that requires more than Farm Boss's tools and who knows how long it'll take to get a repairman out this far.

So fortunately, we still have dial up but it's slow and requires using the phone line. When we depended on dial up all the time, we had two phone lines; but now there is one. Dial-up is definitely better than none, but makes everything slow and some sites are out of the question.

At least that was three and hopefully the old saw will stand true about things go in threes... and might I add grrrrrrr