Comments, relating to the topic, are welcome, add a great deal to a blog, but must be in English, with no profanity, hate-filled insults, or links (unless pre-approved).

Monday, June 30, 2008

a week of grandchildren and a canoe

It has been hot in the part of my Pacific Northwest (but under 100° F.) which might not seem hot in many parts of the country unless you have no air conditioning. Fortunately the creek does cool off the farmhouse at night but daytime is a slow time. Walk in the morning early, cool off the house until the warmth begins to build outside; then hole up. I haven't really had a lot of ideas for blog writing. Can I blame it on the heat? Maybe.

It's not that a lot hasn't been going on. Last week there were grandchildren on the farm which is always a plus for grandma. Two stayed here for several days and two came out to have dinner. Still what can I write about it other than it was good? Since I don't use pictures of my family here, I can't share those even though I'd love to do so. Suffice it to say that there was good family time, lots of hugs, sharing, watching movies, going for walks, art, and love.

The youngest grandson is just beginning to crawl. How cool is that? The oldest and only granddaughter, was learning how to climb trees-- in fact it wasn't easy getting her out of them. I smiled as I watched the grandkids running up and down a pile of gravel because this spring I have watched the lamb gangs do the same thing. The three cousins, old enough to do so, had some fun times together. The youngest will be enjoying that someday; but at nine months, mommy is what he enjoys most.

We finally selected and bought a canoe last week-end which was also pretty cool but we haven't yet taken it out. Too many things going on. Last summer we got our first opportunity to use a canoe and loved it. We bought one in celebration of one of us turning 65 (Farm Boss) and the Solstice. Hopefully next week-end we will figure out where to take it. For now we are reading up on how to wisely use it as well as where.

Symbolic of the lushness of this season and in lieu of photos of my grandkids, these are of the climbing roses. I love old-fashioned roses that have histories that go back in time. Unlike the tea roses, they don't bloom all summer but while they are here, the air is full of their fragrance. It was a good June.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

right brain or left brain?

From Astrological Musings came this test. I think it probably was pretty accurate for me as I am both practical and a dreamer:

You Are 50% Left Brained, 50% Right Brained

The left side of your brain controls verbal ability, attention to detail, and reasoning.
Left brained people are good at communication and persuading others.
If you're left brained, you are likely good at math and logic.
Your left brain prefers dogs, reading, and quiet.

The right side of your brain is all about creativity and flexibility.
Daring and intuitive, right brained people see the world in their unique way.
If you're right brained, you likely have a talent for creative writing and art.
Your right brain prefers day dreaming, philosophy, and sports.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Religion and government

Obama made a speech awhile back that has totally riled up the Dobsons of the religious right. He said that this is not a Christian nation. whoops. He went on to explain that we are a nation founded under a constitution where we use logic to make our laws not expect it to come through leaders speaking directly to god or interpreting an ancient holy book for current laws. He was trying to explain the difference between faith and government. Faith can inspire someone to righteous living and laws that make for good communities but those laws will make sense and be logical not dependent on something nobody can see to test.

How do you make laws today based on the Bible? Perhaps where Jesus said if you have two coats give away one? Maybe the Old Testament where it dictated don't wear fabric of several sources? Could it be where you stone a disobedient child? How about when Jesus said to judge not lest ye be judged? Or where he said pay your taxes as in render unto Caesar what is Caesar's.

Pieces from Obama's speech on religion and government-- YouTube

Bush got a lot of folks to vote for him based purely on his saying god told him to run. Then he said that he consulted god instead of his own father for guidance. In any normal look at that, people would think the man was schizophrenic because his life shows such a contradiction between his words, but he was just fine with Dobson and the religious right.

Dobson is coming down on Obama like at ton of bricks because unlike McCain who walked away from his own wisdom in order to be nominated (remember what he used to say about christianists?), Obama is standing up for what is sensible and good. Maybe that loss of wisdom comes from too many years in DC-- that lack of experience pundits are trying to get people to worry about so much.

Not expecting divine words to decide how to vote might enable people to use their own wisdom. It could. Some links follow:

Bill Press-- God Bless Barack Obama

Frank Schaeffer-- Dr. Dobson Just Handed Obama Victory

The truth is Christianists like Dobson do not really want the words of Jesus to dictate their political positions. They are picking and choosing what suits them which is their business until they say the Bible is the basis for our government. It's not and Obama had the courage to say as much. I just hope he sticks with it because like so many other things-- he's right. (As in correct, not on the right.)

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Portland, Oregon

Although it might seem I am always in the country, once in awhile I do make it to a real city. I was born in Portland, Oregon, but grew up in the country nearby. I played in its parks as a child, went to college at Portland State, lived in its suburbs a few years, and my children were born in Portland. It's a city I have always enjoyed spending time (as long as it's not too long). I appreciate how it has worked to develop its downtown, keeping itself vital and a place people want to shop, work, and live.

From the Rose Garden to Pioneer Square to Tom McCall Waterfront Park to the Park Blocks, downtown provides places for gatherings as well as enjoying nature. Within walking distance you can get to a nearly wilderness park or walk along the Willamette River. If you don't want to walk, it has a great bus system, trolleys, and light rail.

Portland, at least downtown, is a young city and it seems every time I go there I am more aware of that youthful quality. People on bicycles, walking, enjoy the delis, the museums, art galleries, theaters, interesting grocery stores, apartment buildings overlooking parks, diverse restaurants, businesses, and all that with a vital, active downtown.

Probably there are other cities like it but within five miles you can find everything from multimillionaires, average working people and the homeless all living and functioning close together. Because of that diversity, the grocery stores do have uniformed guards on alert duty which is something I don't see where I shop most of the time.

I have often thought the ideal life would be an apartment or loft in Portland's Pearl District, and then a wilderness cabin in the mountains or over in Eastern Oregon.

Last week I was in Portland for two nights while my husband flew to California on a quick business trip. I mostly walked, visited Powell's Bookstore (three stories and a full block), ate at an Irish pub one night and otherwise at delis, and visited the Portland Art Museum.

I especially enjoyed the hotel where we stayed. At one time it had been a Days Inn and I liked it even then for its location-- walking distance to everything. It was sold awhile back and closed for remodeling. So we kept our eyes open, whenever up there, to see what would be coming next.

It reopened in June happily in time for our stay. Hotel Modera calls itself a boutique hotel which I had never heard of before I began looking for a room up there two weeks ago. Basically they evidently have been popular in Europe and now in various cities. Theoretically, according to my reading up on the subject, Hotel Modera is a bit larger than the usual boutique hotel, but it has the qualities, interesting art, full services, beauty, security, and uniqueness.

From the lobby with its modern art to our own room with a king-sized bed, faux fur comforter, art on the walls, a view of the city, a flatscreen TV, and full wireless, for what more could a gal ask when in a big city?

(Photos are all in Hotel Modera either from the hotel room, its view or the lobby. The manager said all art was by area artists.)

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Reel Geezers

Reel Geezers movie reviews on YouTube are just plain fun even if like me you get to movies seldom. Two octogenarians, Marcia Nasatir and Lorenzo Semple, review the films they saw as they discuss life in the business and their opinions about the craft of good film making. I started to watch one and went through quite a list of their back reviews just for the fun of watching their discussions.

Lorenzo was a top screenwriter in the 70s and has written for television and movies. Marcia produced and was an agent; so when these long-time friends review movies, it's from the standpoint of insider as well as viewer. They are so vital and attractive that it makes getting into your 80s not seem so scary

Beware-- in their reviews they pull no punches.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Obama and public financing

Whether you read and listen to right or left wing pundits right now, most are in agreement. Obama broke his word to take public financing in the fall. Public financing, which has been used for presidential campaigns since 1976 would have this fall limited him to $84 million. McCain quickly jumped on it saying he was going to take the money and attacked Obama for flipflopping.

Is this a sign that McCain doesn't remember his own changes on policies-- some that matter a lot more than this? Did McCain wait to announce his decision to slam Obama? Despite his saying he hadn't decided earlier, McCain probably had no choice on it given he had financed his primary campaign with the guarantee that, if he won the nomination, he would use taxpayer funding for his fall campaign.

Why would Obama opt out of free (if you don't count that it's taxpayer money) campaign funds?

Let's start with the loopholes in the public financing laws (some of which McCain put there). For instance he freely uses his wife's corporate jet-- still-- and doesn't reimburse her for the amount it actually costs... when he reimburses her at all. This is a benefit to all rich men if the money that they pay for travel, which is a lot, doesn't count. His travel would not come out of that taxpayer funded $84 million. Obama's would.

Then there is the question of the 527s. McCain has already made it clear he can't stop them from what they are already doing. Slander Obama and that's nothing to him (unless he can use it himself in a sly way in his next speech). 527s (for either side) are unlimited in what they can put out and have no accountability under election laws. They also would not count under that $84 million taxpayer funded campaign. In 2004, we saw how effective these kinds of ads can be.

Although McCain hasn't been raising as much money as Obama on a personal level, the Republican party is way ahead of the Democratic party. Their ads also will not be counted in allowed campaign costs. They can run unlimited ads in ways that benefit McCain while putting down Obama.

McCain has been running his presidential campaign all spring, since he secured his party's nomination, while Obama was still working to earn his nomination which gave McCain a big head start. To make it even sweeter for McCain he's using Hillary's talking points now against Obama.

One could argue that in a time where the government is in debt and borrowing more every year, that $168 million could be better used other ways than in campaigning since both candidates can raise more if they want, but that's not really why I believe Obama made the right decision.

Obama has already had all kinds of garbage being thrown against him. Oh yes, the McCain camp is innocent in doing it. They don't have to be involved. McCain says he can't control it even when it goes too far or spreads lies. Maybe that is so. It doesn't particularly hurt his cause to let it happen though while he keeps his hands clean. How many people today fear voting for Obama because they think he's a Muslim terrorist or his wife is bitter and hates America?

Obama has asked those who donate to him to not give to other groups, not wanting to see his own 527s sprout up. I don't think those kind of ads are good, like by that group that has the emotional young mother with her baby on her lap and telling McCain (regarding his hundred years in Iraq statement), that he can't have her son someday. I don't respect McCain's viewpoint on the war (or anything else) but that ad really is also about scare tactics.

What Obama would like to do, and it's not easy, is keep his organization under his control-- something novel I know but encouraging for how he might run his administration someday. If money goes to 527s on his side, it will have garbage piling up on both sides, changing the tone of the whole campaign to a point where nothing that matters even gets discussed.

If Americans don't like Obama's decision on campaign financing, they don't have to donate to him. He is taking a risk that they might listen to the many talking heads who immediately jumped onto this by accusing Obama of losing his honor over it.

To me it was something he should not have promised in the beginning, but sometimes we learn as we go. I think he hoped the campaign would be different than it has already been. Personally I like the idea that he can look at something and do a reassessment for what is best even if it's not what is popular.

Maybe he hoped there wouldn't be 527s this time. Call it naive. Maybe he thought McCain really could or would stop them. Whatever his original reason, the initial indication he would take public financing was his mistake, not his reassessment that it would cost him the race if he limited himself that way.

All of the pundits and likely the talk radio show hosts were repeating what Fox has said which is that Obama signed a promise to take federal funds for his fall campaign. That's not quite how it was. It was a questionnaire that he checked the box saying yes that he would take it if the Republican did, but he wrote quite a bit explaining his reasoning about how he felt campaigns should be run. You don't hear about those words.

Personally, I think if the 527s were not already operating, if McCain had had control over their content, this might have gone the other way; but as it is, Obama needs to have the money to react quickly to whatever comes against him. He's not the soft, weak man that the Republicans have been trying to sell. Next we'll hear he's too tough...

Officially today is the last day of spring and first day of summer-- Summer Solstice. In honor of that and because when I write about something difficult, I like to add something pretty, I decided to use a few wildflower photos from recent hikes in the Coast Range and Willamette Valley.

It's a hard time right now with scary weather talk, difficult decisions to be made in government, economic difficulties, major questions about what is really going on in many areas, but life isn't just about that. There is beauty. There are good things out there. As the saying goes, stop and smell the roses-- especially the wild ones.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Woodland trails

When Parapluie, Fisherman, Farm Boss, and I go hiking, the guys blaze the trail-- so to speak. To be exact, they just keep walking and maybe sometimes eventually realize Parapluie and I are not always there.

She and I like to stop, take notice of the intense color of a wildflower, watch a bird soar as we try to decide what it is, find joy in the way a stream turns, the shadows formed by the trees overhead as the sunshine barely reaches the valley floor. She will also sketch. I could do a blog just of photos of Parapluie sketching or painting from years ago to recent week-ends-- if I could find all the photos.

Currently, for me, a woodland trail is not so much about sketching as about taking a photograph, moving until the lighting is right, deciding what to put in focus, checking the polarizing lens to be sure it's contributing to the composition, and wondering how it will all look when I see it enlarged.

I always enjoy seeing her sketches and the resultant paintings. I like how she finds the soul of a place, not just its individual elements. (You might check out Parapluie's blog Umbrella Painting Journal for her latest plein air paintings. This is one she created from one of our recent hikes-- Plunkett Creek Loop.)

Out of hundreds of photos from any such hike, I delete many, then select a few I hope will capture what her paintings do-- the spirit of the place, one photo that lets you know what it was like to be there. There are always too many from which to choose-- one of the big perks to shooting with a digital camera. Each shows something different but which does it best?

Should it be the moment standing on a ridge looking out across the hills toward the ocean. The clouds gathering there might be right along the beach as the ocean is only about thirty miles west as the crow flies.

It might even be visible if that last hill wasn't in the way. We could walk to the Pacific, but it'd take awhile as from here to there are no trails or any roads.What are a few rivers to swim and many creeks to wade? Might take a few days... maybe.

Or how about the feeling of walking under a seemingly primeval forest canopy, a place man hasn't touched. Well he must have since there are trails. When using the imagination such details aren't important.

This small stream's water is headed for the ocean but it will take awhile to get there. It has other streams to join, then rivers. They meander, seeming sometimes to be going the wrong direction.

I dip my fingers in the water knowing it will someday reach the ocean even if some must evaporate, turn into clouds, fall as rain, and once again join a stream. It will get there. A stream is very much a metaphor for life.

Sometimes, in a deep forest, all you hear are your own footsteps on the soft dirt trail, the brook nearby, and the sound of your breathing. Around each bend there could be a new wildflower, a fawn and doe, or will it be a bear? Life takes on enhanced intensity when walking woodland trails.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

art as political statement

Check this out:

This is an example of the power of art in the hands of the artist. There have been many in history like Diego Rivera, Francisco Goya, Salvador Dali, etc. who have used it as an editorial tool. Parapluie follows in great footsteps and does it well-- in my opinion, of course.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Maya's Granny

This afternoon reading the blogs, I learned Maya's Granny has passed away. It seems this has been a hard week-end with Tim Russert passing away on Friday. Though most of us never met him, he came into our living rooms and gave us information making us feel we did know him. Suddenly he was gone and it seemed way before his time.

Blogs also form a kind of distant community where we may never physically meet; but we get to feeling we know each other; and so it was for many of us with Maya's Granny. It is a loss for us but of course nothing like for her family and close friends. I won't go into details regarding any of it as you can read her blog for yourself if you were one of her many fans. If you hadn't ever read her words, go there, check back through her archives, and you might just become a fan: Maya's Granny.

Life comes and goes. It is a cycle and we all know we will one day pass to the other side; or if we don't believe in another side, that we will be no more. I do believe in another side. I think that a dream her daughter had shortly before her mother died was telling her how it is now for her mother. I am not going to repeat the dream here because you can go there to read it for yourself and form your own opinion what it meant.

Life is beautiful, tragic, filled with love and sometimes hate, laughter and tears. If you believe as I do, it is also mysterious. Even believing there is more to life than the flesh we know today, still I feel teary about a good woman dying prematurely but also warm inside thinking of her daughter's dream that fits with so much of what I believe. Yes, there is more here than we know.

"Begin doing what you want to do now. We are not living in eternity. We have only this moment, sparkling like a star in our hand -- and melting like a snowflake."
Sir Francis Bacon

Great Blue Heron

The creek here at the farm has a semi-resident Great Blue Heron of which I have zero photos-- absolutely none-- though I have seen it fly off many times. Well I might have taken a few of its tail feathers or a ghostly shadow as it flew past. One time I even saw it right outside my bedroom window, thought ah ha, but still it flew away before the camera could focus.

Fortunately, the Great Blue Herons at Cabell Marsh, where Parapluie, Farm Boss and I walked last week-end, were less skittish-- also farther away. All photos were taken by Farm Boss with a 400mm lens. Parapluie sketched and from that came this painting: [Cabell Marsh].

There is a lot of appeal to the heron and its sculptural shape. In China, cranes (which look pretty much like herons to the casual viewer) are highly revered. The Chinese make paper cranes for symbolic luck and protection.

With most animals, to consider their spiritual qualities, you think what you observe about them. The heron symbolizes vigilance, quiet, the power of water, the underworld, tact. As they delicately move, they are grace personified. They are considered to represent both life and transformation.

To the Celts, the heron is Creyr, the taker of life or the bringer of it. As the Teutonic peoples saw the stork bringing babies, the Celts saw this as done by Creyr. Images of the heron, as protector, are common in Celtic art. The symbol was put on shields as their belief was if you saw a heron, you were going to die; so they made sure their enemies saw one.

In many traditions, the heron (or similar appearing birds like the Ibis ) is a sacred water bird. Since water, astrologically speaks to our emotions and interior life, the heron symbolically represents our guide to self reflection and inner discoveries. Looking at it as it patiently studies the water, waits, becomes one with its environment, who can deny this image as a focusing tool for developing those qualities in ourselves?

To Native Americans, the blue heron brings messages of self-determination. Herons represent the ability to move forward with life and change as needed. The long thin legs illustrate that we don't need massive pillars to remain upright.

Herons are lessons in patience. They are the ones who observe and wait, moving swiftly when the time is right.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Keith Olbermann on John McCain

[Saturday morning update: There were two really good links in comments which I thought worth posting out here so no one misses them. The first is from Parapluie: Andrew Sullivan on who Obama is. These are both insightful and typical of Sullivan's logical way of approaching things. The second is from olpine43 (known to regular RainyDay readers as Farm Boss): We invaded to liberate.]

This is for those who don't get cable or may not have seen Keith Olbermann's MSNBC Special Comment on John McCain. Obermann uses McCain's own words to discuss his most recent comments about who cares if we stay in Iraq for a hundred years as long as soldiers aren't dying. I don't know how that fits with his tax cut rhetoric, but nothing McCain says makes much sense to me.

Yes, I understand how many people are tired of this, don't want to think, listen, or read more about it. I share those feelings that I'd like to just enjoy my life, work on my own problems, but something bigger than me is going on in our country. There is a struggle to see the United States turn away from the path it has been on. That struggle is not finished. It is not until November that we will know if we truly are starting on a new road.

Will it happen if enough voters are bamboozled by lies? It's been working in the past and this spring distortions and sly suggestions took Obama's numbers down even within the Democratic primaries. Fear of his middle name, that he's a Muslim, fear he's a secret terrorist come to destroy the whole country, that his wife is a racist, that he will spend all our money and put us into debt (oh wait that's been done so wouldn't represent change) and on and on and on. You think it was bad so far, just wait. It is repulsive, but can you afford to tune out and sit back?

My fear is because the Democratic primary has been hard fought that a lot of Democrats feel worn out. They feel it's done. Reality is it has just begun.
If we aren't getting involved in seeing who the next president will be, I hope we also won't be whining next year at this time if it turns out to be President McCain.

We do get the government we work for and scarily maybe the one we deserve. The bad part is sometimes when freedoms are thrown away, they cannot be retrieved without even more struggle.

It's hard for me to believe that anyone, Democrat or Republican, can see clips of McCain saying such totally contradictory things (and they are easy to find on YouTube) and not want to do whatever they can to see that the powers of this country are not put in that man's hands.

McCain is not a straight talker. He's either confused, can't keep track of what he says, or is a pathological liar who doesn't even know he lies. Most of us, when we have said contradictory things, we try to straighten it out and admit our earlier goof. He is counting on 'his' people not bothering to look at the actual clips and just trust him. Trust him to do what is what I'd like to know!

The recent Supreme Court decision for prisoners in Guantanamo saying that the United States lives under a Constitution and the statutes in it must be observed, is a good example of why this election matters so much. One Justice, one vote, made the difference. Everyone that Bush appointed, who was supposed to be moderate, were straight down the line believers in absolute power for the current administration and the Constitution? Oh it's just a piece of paper to forget when conditions warrant. One more judge will change that vote the next time it comes up.

What got me was the dissents from the supposedly Constitutionally caring judges as they said this will cost lives? Why? If the prisoners down there did crimes, what is to fear from a trial? A real trial? That's the way this country has always worked. If there is no evidence to hold a trial, how do we know they did anything wrong? Gut feeling? The power of the dictator?

McCain has assured us all that he will select more judges like the four that dissented on this opinion. He has reassured Americans that he follows in Bush's path. If that is reassuring to you, it's not to me. The idea that he would appoint more judges like Scalia, Thomas, Roberts, and Alito should be enough to get Democrats energized if nothing else can. We are holding on by a fingernail to the liberties we have valued so highly, that so many have died to get and then protect. Just one more judge...

Keith Olbermann YouTubes Parts 1 and 2:

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Internet rumors

One of the problems with the internet is also one of its wonders-- the ease with which information can be spread. Whether something is true or lied about the stories go every which direction. They turn up in blogs like this one as well as through emails with-- did you hear?

The one I read yesterday was about Obama not being possibly qualified for being president because he wasn't really born in Hawaii. The stories are too far fetched to go into the details; but it's a good example of do not believe something until you research it thoroughly.

I went looking for more information on this rumor and mostly found right wingers repeating it. Fortunately Daily Kos did a piece yesterday with a point by point rebuttal. Today they had the birth certificate. As Kos said, as a bonus, now it enables astrologers to more accurately do a natal chart of him-- Obama's Birth Certificate. I have found myself more and more going to Daily Kos to get their take on what is being said.

This is going to be a brutal campaign season. We just thought it has been tough before.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The Politics of Greed

Who would have thought it? David Brooks in the New York Times wrote my blog for me-- The Great Seduction. Well maybe not totally wrote it as there is always more to say when it comes to something this important although a lot of what I would write is yeah and that too. He nailed it so well.

Greed and instant, no-cost, no-work rewards has become a big problem in our country (and my bet is anywhere that life has gotten easier). Brooks sees it as having happened here in the last 30 years. I am not sure of its timing; but it wasn't this way when I was growing up in the 40s and 50s.

If you are old enough, you remember when credit cards were not the norm for everybody. There was a time when if I saw a dress I liked but could not afford it right then, I would arrange to put it on layaway where I would pay so much each week until it was mine. Same thing with refrigerators or most everything except the largest purchases like cars or homes where loans were arranged. Today's world doesn't wait. They put it on a variety of credit cards and worry about the payments the next month.

Personally I think some of this I-want-it-all-now came with the lottery. I looked up when that happened and the first state lottery was New Jersey in 1970. Indian casinos began popping up in most states after they were okayed in 1988 by federal law. [High Court clears way for Casino].

I know the arguments. Nobody is forced to gamble. The fact, that most lottery tickets are bought by people who can't afford them, isn't salient to those who like the idea of their services being funded by someone else. The thing is what else is this costing, and I am not referring to those who are addicted. To what has this attitude led?

When I was growing up, back room gambling, betting on the horses, and Las Vegas didn't support state services. Today gambling, including the state run lotteries, is a $400 billion dollar industry if you only count the legal varieties. It is in every grocery store with promises of instant solutions to financial problems.

Some see it as bad because government is relying on a regressive tax that people pay because they are bamboozled into thinking their odds of winning the jackpot are not that bad. (Getting hit by lightning is more likely).

I don't like the lottery because of how I think it has been one cog in the process of transforming the thinking of our country. Easy money. Don't have to work for what you get. Luck will transform your life. If not luck, then easy credit. Don't save for anything. Have it today. A culture of greed leads to a politics of greed. Fix it for free. Easy solutions are promised by politicians only to get power. An irresponsible culture tolerates or even encourages an irresponsible government to whom it gives the power.

An example of how this all plays out is in today's home loan crisis of foreclosures and cries for government to fix it. Except exactly whose fault was it that people took out those variable interest, second mortgages to buy what often amounted to frills? Who should be blamed if we buy a house we couldn't afford just because the bank didn't stop us?

There is blame to go around though as business and government had a hand in what happened. Government changed programs already in place allowing businesses to make money at other's naivety. Government wanted people buying homes they couldn't really afford because it was making the economy look good-- until it didn't.

Constantly you hear politicians saying-- you can handle your money better than we can. The suggestion slyly is given that tax cuts solve every problem. Those tax cuts usually give ordinary people a few dollars while it gives somebody else thousands.

And how exactly can the citizens handle that money better when it comes to building freeways, making sure food is handled safely, making standards for safe construction, educating children, and on and on? The truth is that unless we live in the woods, miles from anybody and never come out, we need government and how is a government going to be free? Logically we know it's not.

Consumerism has been the answer to every problem. What did Bush ask of Americans after the tragedy of 9/11? True his reason might have been wanting Americans distracted so they didn't notice what happened next; but what he asked people to do was not to sacrifice anything but to spend spend spend (while their freedoms were taken taken taken).

Currently when the economy is in the toilet and trying to avoid being flushed, what was the government solution-- $600 rebates to everybody. What can you buy with $600? Mostly the kind of feel good products that temporarily give the economy a bump. Although it might not even do that given people have so much debt they may be paying that down or using it to buy gasoline that has doubled in cost in one year.

I wish I had a tidy solution to this but my only answer is individually. Quit admiring greedy people. Those ostentatious homes built to impress could instead be considered an embarrassment-- like how gaudy and distasteful. What if we went back to admiring people for their character not their fortune? Admiring them for what they give to the world, not what they take? Would it change things? I don't know but admiring greed sure doesn't help.

What if all of us only borrowed when it was absolutely necessary. Save today for what we want tomorrow instead of buying today and paying somebody else for the instant pleasure. Ever notice how much our banks look like temples? It might be suggestive of what we actually worship but there is another element to consider. What do you think is paying for those temples?


Finally because it followed the YouTube in the last blog, I wanted to be sure that no one missed this link from the UK and so am carrying it forward. It really does explain a lot about Obama and McCain. We are a product of our upbringing in so many ways. I know my attitude expressed above comes from my parents. It's worth looking at these two men and what impact their parents had on them:

To understand what this race is about, consider who the fathers of these two men were and the impact that has had on who they are.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Worth considering

If you support Obama or you are not sure about him, either way, this is worth watching: Obama speaks to campaign staff after winning nomination.

I know there are doubters about him, about his abilities, but this time isn't just about him and he knows it. If we want somebody to do it for us, it won't happen. This is about all of us caring about the things he mentions in this talk to his staff on June 6.

If you don't care about those things, if getting your personal taxes cut matters most to you, or you're still mad that Hillary didn't win, you may support John McCain. Please do at least think about the things he's talking about because what seems best short term is sometimes a disaster long term. You'd think after nearly 8 years of George Bush, everybody would know that. Unfortunately that's not the case.

And then there is this from the UK: To understand what this race is about, consider who the fathers of these two men were and the impact that has had on who they are. For some, what John McCain represents will be what they also believe in. Just be sure that if you support him, you feel the same way.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

William L. Finley National Wildlife Refuge

Recently, I have very much enjoyed some hikes with Farm Boss, Parapluie, and her husband, Fisherman (so nicknamed here by me for his love of fishing). Farm boss and Fisherman have been buddies from before they met and married either of us. Although we all enjoy each other's company, have shared lifetime experiences, recently we had not done a lot of hiking together; but that changed in May, and I hope will stay changed.

This first hike is a wetland nature preserve south of Corvallis. I had heard of it but simply hadn't stopped to walk there. I was very impressed once we did. We got some good exercise, saw a variety of birds and wildflowers, Parapluie sketched, I got photographs, and we all had some good conversations. You can't ask for more than that from a hike.

As with so many places like this, the Finley Wildlife Refuge was set aside due to the efforts of individuals. Sometimes land is donated. Sometimes it's groups who get together to protect a certain place. Whatever the case, it's worthy of commendation as due to these kinds of people, future generations will see bits of nature as it once was everywhere. In this case, an important wetland was preserved for migratory geese.

There are those who say-- who cares about the least of us! Others instead would say-- the care we give to the least of us represents the best of us!

(Click on images to view more fully. In one (not saying which), the heron had just caught lunch.)

Friday, June 06, 2008

youth in leadership

When I wake up in the morning, I don't open my eyes right away unless I must as I try to access the things that came from the night. Sometimes that will be a detailed remembering of a dream. Other times I won't remember the dream events, but I am left with some ideas which might be about my personal life or broader concepts.

We spend about 1/3 of our life sleeping if we get the traditional 8 hours. Some might consider those hours to be only about our body resting, but they can be beneficial for working through problems. We can plant both intentions and ideas to consider before we go to sleep. It's why it's good to take those moments right at waking to see if anything came from our subconscious.

Yesterday morning my thinking was on politics and in particular the issue of youth in leadership. Many say that Barack Obama at 46 is too young to lead this country. The argument goes: Give him more years in DC to see how things are done and then he'll be ready.

John McCain, for obvious reasons, is hoping to make that case to the American people. He has been in DC a long time. He knows all the ropes and he claims he can reform the system. McCain said it Tuesday night that reform is what we need, not change. Just add on more layers, tweak what has been done, eliminate some government programs (most especially if they benefit the poor), and absolutely, we can have everything working like clockwork.

What I woke up thinking was about the great leaders of the past and what ages were they when they took power and changed the world of their time. We all know about Alexander the Great being only 30 something when he died and had already conquered an empire by then. When I got up, I looked for the ages of a few others.

Napoleon took over as absolute leader of France at 35. Genghis Khan united his world and came into power at 44. Julius Caesar had conquered the known world, completely changing Roman power by the time he was killed at 55. George Washington was 43 when he was given command of the Continental Army to fight the Revolutionary War for the next 6 years. Abraham Lincoln began his presidency and managing the Civil War at 52. At 28 Mao-tse-tung was one of the founding members of the Communist party in China beginning a philosophy and process that would completely overturn a government by the time he reached 57.

In the corporate world most of the current corporate heads are in their 50s but many got their inventive ideas much younger and some current technical empires were begun by men in their 20s who looked at what might be not just at what had been.

Some years back I read a book about how it required one generation dying off for new ideas to really take hold. The writer was referring to ideas we would take for granted today (most of us), like that the earth wasn't the center of the universe.

In short young men have done a lot of world changing. Not to say old men cannot but youth is no reason to prejudge that a man can't manage a country or an army. It is more about judgment, the strength of their goals, sense of who they are, ability to work with and lead others, and whether they are willing to question how things have been, changing them completely if they aren't working.

Being old does not mean someone cannot be open to change; but being young and outside the system could mean they are not as locked into protecting the status quo. It might be when they are told it's always been this way and it always will be that they are not so apt to bow their head and give up.

When John McCain talks about reform, it's taking the existing system and rearranging it or frosting it. Can he think outside the box, come up with new paradigms for making our system work from the bottom up. That is something you don't hear much about from Republicans who prefer to start from the top and hope it trickles to the bottom. Democrats believe that what trickles down isn't what you want on you.

Obama said the other night that it's time to make our country work from the bottom up. That struck a chord with me. It might be the biggest difference between Democrats and Republicans. Where do you start to fix the problems?

There might be valid reasons for people to not like Obama's policy ideas, just as there are valid reasons to agree with them, but one of the reasons to not vote for him should not be his age. That could be a plus. It's not that McCain is necessarily too old but more that he might be too invested in protecting the existing system to really make a difference. I believe a difference is what we need now.

For fun, check out this conversation with Andrew Sullivan on some current political thinking: Conversation around a table that isn't there.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

So it begins

In my dream, I was painting a large rather abstracted portrait of a man. He was a little like a painting I created forty years ago of a man crouching, his hands folded over his knees, very impressionistic. This one was less dark with many bright, very intense colors. As I worked a bit on his hands, I realized the painting had created images I hadn't planned. First I saw a ghostly group of four cowboys looking into the distance, lined up as though waiting for something or seeing a sunset.

When I looked to another part of the painting, I saw it all change. It was as though whatever line you saw first, that made the painting into something else and this time I saw a young woman sitting in the corner of a kitchen with two small children across the room from her.

If I tried to make the man clearer, the other images would be lost; so I settled for trying to make the abstract painting work, not look for the images and then when it was done, hope they would all be there or maybe different ones.

Except in a dream, no painting like that would really be possible, not even with digital. Trying to make other images be hidden is a common trick in painting but this was bigger than that. It was what happened, not what you made happen as the artist.

The dream was likely impacted by my own painting right now but more about the way the world appears to be. It is like a big mosaic of color and wherever you look, that is where you see the absolute, total and only truth. Except if you look elsewhere, center yourself there, don't look away, the truth shifts and it's not the same one. We think we know the truth and so does everybody else who sees it differently.

I am excited about Barack Obama having enough delegates to secure the nomination for the presidency. I am excited that many people looked at him for who he was, not his skin color and voted for him. I am not excited that many people looked at his skin color alone and found a reason to not vote for him.

The battle to change this country has just begun. The election process this fall will be brutal. The lies will be everywhere. I have heard a lot of them and it amazes me that anybody believes any of it. Barack Obama is not just multiracial, he is multicultural. That scares many people. They trust what they know. They did that when they voted for George Bush.

So those, who want our next president to be Barack, have to donate what money and time they can to the cause of getting him elected. They have to bat down the brutal and vicious lies that are going to come at them. Research research research. Good things don't come easy. When those emails come in with the charges that are intended to frighten or anger, look for whether they are true before passing them on. Don't doubt for a second they will be coming because it has worked before.

For those who believe in prayer, pray that there will be protection for Obama. For those who believe in white light protection, think of it around him whenever it comes to your mind. Don't allow anybody to repeat anything that could encourage violence-- not even in a joke. I have seen enough political assassinations to know that there are those who see that as the answer to anything that frightens or seems to threaten their existing order.

The distortions are ridiculous that we hear even from the mainstream media. They become fixated on something like a flag pin. It takes a lot to get genuine information on any subject. The internet is a good place to bypass the mainstream medias, but it takes being discerning even there. It's an obvious truth but bears repeating to ourselves every so often-- not every written word is truth.

On one of the current arguments going around that Hillary Clinton won the most popular votes; therefore she at the least should be Vice President. It ignores some states do caucuses, that Rush Limbaugh was encouraging some of his fans to vote for her to create chaos in the nominating process. It is a silly thing to say anyway, but silly things work if people are easily led. A coach said something that put that argument in perspective. From now on, he suggested, each season let's just count up the total points scored at the end and regardless of games won or lost, the team with the most points wins. I liked that. I also would remind voters that Al Gore had 3 million more votes in 2000 than George Bush. Who was president next?

So it's a good day and a day to be proud. I hadn't thought of it but one of the pundits said this is the first western type nation to select an African-American to run for their leader. He's not there yet and it's a long road ahead, but it is surprising that for all the bigotry we are accused of, we would be the first nation to look beyond a man's skin color and vote for him on his abilities. They say young people are more like that anyway, not letting superficial differences cloud their judgment about who someone is. Sure some voted for him because he was black but they weren't enough to bring him to this point. So it is a day to feel good but it's a long way from over.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Man with the Gun

Growing up, one of my conflicts was with my father over the television. Nobody had more than one in those days, and he liked to watch the football games. I scanned TV guides for old movies. It was not a problem with the late movies as back then there were usually one or maybe two channels that ran old films after 11:30. No games that late, but it often would be him and me who would be sitting up watching those films.

I am not sure that I saw 'Man with the Gun' back in those days. If I had, I forgot it. I read about it being out on DVD in a list of reviews of western films. Man with the Gun is a typical noir western-- black and white, dark people, with Robert Mitchum playing a hero who may or may not end up a bad guy. Mitchum played these parts so well and sometimes he was the villain but more often he was the good guy. I have seen most of the movies he made and never am disappointed at his performance.

The rest of the cast is typical for westerns with a couple of surprises like Angie Dickinson as a dance hall girl before she started her climb to fame. Some of the bad guys, like Claude Akins, only western aficionados will recognize. Henry Hull plays an old sheriff and as always adds to every scene. John Lupton, who had success in television, is the young male trying to prove himself. Jan Sterling covers the romantic interest as a strong-willed woman who takes care of herself and can stand up against Mitchum's character-- which takes some doing (not that most women would have minded trying).

Thinking about leading men's faces today, so often they all kind of blend together but nobody blends with Mitchum's face. He was a mix of many ethnicities and it shows-- one of a kind. It is easy to see him as the stranger who comes to town with a reputation as a Town Tamer. There were a few historic characters like this in the Old West, but a lot less than the movies would have us think. They fascinate because of their danger. On which side of the law they operate is a thin line.

Where the movie is accurate and fits today's political world is in illustrating what can be required to clean up political messes. Often it isn't the price the public is willing to pay. Do it without us noticing and at no real cost. Town tamers are noticed and today if we get a leader into Washington who really wants to clean up things, you will hear screaming from the right and the left.

For anyone who loves the old westerns as much as I do, I heartily recommend Man with the Gun. It has enough character development, a bittersweet love story, and enough action to make it worth seeing more than once-- for a western lover.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Scott McClellan's book

I am having a hard time understanding the outrage from both the left and the right that Scott McClellan wrote a book revealing the underside of the Bush administration. It appears that whether you are on the far right or left, you think he was, as Drudge put it, a snitch. He's disloyal and so forth.

Representing the left there is Terry McAuliffe-- "I find it abhorrent the way these people come out and write books about their boss. It made 'em money; it made 'em prestige; it gave them all this power and then they turn around and slap 'em.... I don't care who it is-- Democrat, Republican-- it's wrong."

From out of the right corner charges Bob Dole, who wrote McClellan directly and released it, of course, to the media-- "There are miserable creatures like you in every administration who don't have the guts to speak up or quit if there are disagreements with the boss or colleagues... No, your type soaks up the benefits of power, revels in the limelight for years, then quits and, spurred on by greed, cashes in with a scathing critique."

Defending himself, Scott McClellan responded to Mr. Dole publicly, saying, "I have had time to reflect and go back, and what I'm saying is sincere."

So basically what both the right and left are saying is protect our butts first and the American people? Who cares about them. Who cares about what is right or wrong. Just protect the political system at all cost. Do you hear any of these political leaders saying the truth should be told, and it's most important that it be revealed? Not a one. From Mary Matalin down the line, they see this as abhorrent. Why? Because it threatens the system that they all protect no matter what it does.

This is the system that has to be changed. I don't know what kind of person Scott McClellan is or was. I don't know if he knew when he was selling the war that it was all a bunch of lies. I do know that whenever someone knows the truth, they should tell the people, for whom they supposedly work, and not act like a bunch of high school brats protecting their gang at all cost.