September 18th, 2008

barack obama

Good Morning!

I rose early, and sat on the couch in the dark, with Bella on my lap.  We meditated together.  I am trying to focus on all the space within and use it to feel more space without.

When I opened my eyes, I could see the curve of the hill.

I came to my computer and a good friend had sent Anne Lamott.   She is always good for practical cheer so here she is for you too.

Again, I suggest reading Joe Biden's autobiography because it does a beautiful job of showing how the political process works and why we need Obama-Biden, and how Bush was led so far off track.  

Here's Annie.  I note that she lives in Marin County, CA and has an unusual sense of humor so don't be thrown off by Texas and the wolves.  The Dove bar must have gone to her head.

A call to arms
How to handle the fury brought on by this election? Register voters, hit the streets, pray. Stop talking about her. Talk about Obama.
By Anne Lamott
Sep. 16, 2008 | I had to leave church Sunday morning when it turned out that the sermon was not about bearing up under desperate circumstances, when you feel like you're going crazy because something is being perpetrated upon you and your country that is so obscene that it simply cannot be happening.
I sat outside a 7-Eleven and had a sacramental Dove chocolate bar. Jeez: Here we are again. A man and a woman whose values we loathe and despise -- lying, rageful and incompetent, so dangerous to children and old people, to innocent people in every part of the world -- are being worshiped, exalted by the media, in a position to take a swing at all that is loveliest about this earth and what's left of our precious freedoms.
When I got home from church, I drank a bunch of water to metabolize the Dove bar and called my Jesuit friend, who I know hates these people, too. I asked, "Don't you think God finds these smug egomaniacs morally repellent? Recoils from their smugness as from hot flame?"
And he said, "Absolutely. They are everything He or She hates in a Christian."
I have been in a better mood ever since, and have decided not to even say this woman's name anymore, because she fills me with such existential doubt, such a sense of impending doom and disbelief, that only the Germans could possibly have words for it. Nor am I going to say the word "lipstick" again until after the election, as it would only be used against me. Or "polar bear," because that one image makes me sadder than even horrible old I can stand.
I hate to criticize. And I love to kill wolves as much as the next person does. But this woman takes such pride in her ignorance, doesn't have a doubt in the world about her messianic calling, that it makes anyone of decency feel nauseated -- spiritually, emotionally and physically ill.
I say that with love. As we say in Texas. (Also, we say, "Bless her heart.")
We felt this grief and nausea during the run-up to the war in Iraq. We felt it after the 2004 election. And now we feel it again.
But since there are still six weeks until the election, and since the stakes are as high as the sky, which should definitely not be forced to endure four more years of the same, we have got to get a grip. There are millions of people to register to vote, millions of dollars to be raised. We really cannot go around feeling flat and defeated, with the need to metabolize the rotten meat that this one particular candidate and the media have forced upon us.
One of the tiny metabolic suggestions I have to offer -- if, like me, you choose not to have her name on your lips, like an oozy cold sore (I say that with love) -- is to check out a Web site called the Sarah Palin Baby Name Generator. There you can find out what she and her husband would have named you if you had been their baby. My name, Anne, for instance, would be Krinkle Bearcat. John, her running mate, would be named Stick Freedom. George would be Crunk Petrol. And so on.
First of all, go find out what your own name would be. Then for one day refuse to use the name of these people who are so damaging to earth and to our very souls -- so, "I don't have to understand anything, it's all fuzzy math. Trust me. I'm the decider." From now on, when working for Obama, talk about Obama, talk about his policies, the issues, the economy, the war in Iraq, poverty, the last eight years, Joe Biden. You don't have to mention Crunk Petrol, or his sidekick, Shaver Razorback.
And you sure as hell don't have to mention Claw Washout -- she is absolutely, hands-down the most ludicrous person ever to be nominated. She's a "South Park" character. There was a mix-up. Mistakes were made.
Everything you need to know about how to bear up during these two months is already inside you. Go within: Work on your own emotional acre. Stand still, and hurt, and feel crazy. Then drink a lot of water, pray, meditate, rest. Rest is a spiritual act. Now, I am a reform Christian, so it is permissible for me to secretly believe that God hates this woman, too. I heard God slam down a couple of shooters while she was talking the other night.
Figure out one thing you can do every single day to be a part of the solution, concentrating on swing states. Money, walking precincts, registering voters, whatever. This is the only way miracles ever happen -- left foot, right foot, left foot, breathe. Right foot, left foot, right foot, breathe. The great novelist E.L. Doctorow once said that writing a novel is like driving at night with the headlights on: You can only see a little ways in front of you, but you can make the whole journey this way. It is the truest of all things; the only way to write a book, raise a child, save the world.
As my anonymous pal Krinkle Bearcat once wrote: Laughter is carbonated holiness. It is chemo. So do whatever it takes to keep your sense of humor. Rent Christopher Guest movies, read books by Roz Chast and Maira Kalman. Picture Stick Freedom in his Batman underpants, having one of his episodes of rage alone in one of his seven bedrooms. Or having one of his bathroomy little conversations with Froth Moonshine. (Bless their hearts.) Try to remember that even Karl Rove has accused him of being a lying suck.
Reread everything Molly Ivins and Jim Hightower ever wrote. Write down that great line of Molly's, that "freedom fighters don't always win, but they're always right." Tape it next to your phone.
Call the loneliest person you know. Go flirt with the oldest person at the bookstore.
Fill up a box with really cool clothes that you haven't worn in a year, and take it to a thrift shop. Take gray water outside and water whatever is growing on your deck. This is not a bad metaphor to live by. I think it is why we are here. Drink more fluids. And take very gentle care of yourself and the people you most love: We need you now more than ever.
-- By Anne Lamott

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Another look at Anne Lamott -

Anne Lamott has an unusual sense of humor and people like her or they don't, but here is another look at her.  It is long but the ending will bring tears to your eyes.  

 A Ham from God

                      By Anne Lamott


                 April 25, 2003



Last week on my 49th birthday, I decided we should all kill ourselves; that it's all hopeless. These are desert days. Better to go out by our own hands than to endure slow death by scolding. However, after I had a second cup of coffee, I realized that I couldn't kill myself that morning -- not because it was my birthday but because I'd promised to get arrested the next day. I had been arrested three weeks earlier with an ecumenical bunch of religious peaceniks; people who still believe in Dr. King and Gandhi. Also, my back was out. I didn't want to die in crone mode. So I took a long hot shower instead and began another day of being gloated to death.


Everyone I know is devastated by our heroic military activities overseas. A lot of us thought things were desperate after the 2002 midterm elections, but those turn out to have been the good old days. I can usually manage a crabby hope that there is meaning in mess and pain, that more will be revealed, and that truth and beauty will somehow win out in the end. But I'd been struggling as my birthday approached. So much had been stolen from us by Bush, from the very beginning of his reign, and especially now. I wake up some mornings pinned to the bed by centrifugal sadness and frustration. A friend called to wish me happy birthday, and I remembered something she'd said many years ago, while reading a Vanity Fair article about Hitler's affair with his niece. "I have had it with Hitler," Peggy said vehemently, throwing the magazine to the floor. And I have had it with Bush.


I think the United States has done a horrible thing. We crossed a country's borders with ferocious military might, to impose our form of government on a poverty-stricken nation, without any international agreement or legal justification. Now we're instructed, like naughty

teenagers, to refrain from saying that it was an immoral war that set a disastrous precedent. You hear dozens of times a day on the news that life is better for the Iraqi people now. But will it be in six months? Will it be for my son's generation?


While I was thinking about all this, my priest friend Tom called to wish me happy birthday.


"How are we going to get through this craziness?" I asked. There was silence for a moment.


"Left foot, right foot, left foot, breathe," he said. "Right foot, left foot, right foot, breathe."


Tom loves the desert. A number of my friends do. They love the skies that pull you into infinity, like the ocean. They love the silence and how if you listen long enough, the pulse of the desert begins to sound like the noise your finger makes when you run it around the rim of a crystal glass. They love the scary beauty -- snakes, lizards, scorpions, the kestrels and hawks. They love the mosaics of water-washed pebbles on the desert floor, small rocks that cast huge shadows, a shoot of vegetation here, a wild flower there.


I like the desert for short periods of time, from inside a car, with the windows rolled up, and the doors locked. I prefer beach resorts with room service. But liberals are going to be in the desert awhile.


So the morning of my birthday, because I couldn't pray, I did what Matisse said once: "I don't know if I believe in God or not, but the essential thing is to put oneself in a frame of mind which is close to that of prayer." I closed my eyes, and got quiet. I tried to look like Mother Mary, with dreadlocks and a bad back.


But within seconds, I was frantic to turn on the TV. It was like a craving for nicotine. I was in withdrawal -- I needed more scolding. Henny Penny! Henny Penny! I needed more malignant celebration. All the news anchors seem to agree that Bush has pulled off a great victory, even though we couldn't find Saddam, or those rascally weapons of mass destruction. But I didn't turn on TV. I kept my eyes closed, and breathed. I started to feel crazy, and knew that all I needed was five minutes of Wolf Blitzer. If I could hold out a few hours, I could get a hit of Lou Dobbs' ecstasy of moral rightness. I listened to the birds sing outside; and it was like Chinese water torture. Then I remembered the weekend when 11 million people marched for peace, how joyful it was to be part of the stirrings of a great movement. My pastor says that peace is joy at rest, and joy is peace on its feet, and I felt both that weekend. It didn't matter that Bush said we were just a focus group.


I lay down the floor with my eyes closed so long that the dog came over and worriedly licked me back to life. That cheered me up. "What did you get me for my birthday?" I asked. She started to chew on my head. It helped. Maybe the old left is dead, but after we've rested awhile, we can prepare for something new. I don't know if Howard Dean can lead us, or John Kerry or Dennis Kucinich: I'm very confused right now. But I know that in the desert, you stay out of the blistering sun. You go out in the early morning, and in cool of the evening. You seek oasis, shade, safety, refreshment. There's every shade of green,and every shade of gold. But I'm only pretending to think it's beautiful; I find it terribly scary. I walk on eggshells, and hold my breath awhile.


I called Tom back.


He listened to me, gently. Usually he just starts calling out to anyone nearby that I am mentally ill beyond all imagining, and probably drunk and showing all my lady parts to the neighbors, but on my birthday, he listened. I asked him for some good news.


He thought awhile. "Well," he said finally. "My cactuses are blooming. Last week they were ugly and reptilian, and now they are bursting with red and pink blossoms. They don't bloom every year, so you have to love them while they're here."


"I hate cactuses," I said. "I want to know what to do. Where we even start."


"We start by being kind to ourselves. We breathe, we eat. We remember that God is present wherever people suffer. God's here with us when we're miserable, and God is there in Iraq. The suffering of innocent people draws God close to them. Kids hit by US bombs are not abandoned by God."


"Well, it sure looks like they were," I said. "It sure looks that way to their parents."


"It also looked like Christ had been abandoned on the cross; It looked like a win for the Romans."


"How do we help? How do we not go crazy?"


"You take care of the suffering."


"I can't get to Iraq."


"There are folks who are miserable here."After we got off the phone, I ate a few birthday chocolates. Then I asked God to help me be helpful. It was the first time that day that I felt my prayers were sent, and then received -- like e-mail. I tried to cooperate with grace, which is to say, I did not turn on the TV. Instead, I drove to the market in silence, to buy my birthday dinner. I asked God to help me, again. The problem with God -- or at any rate, one of the top five most annoying things about God -- is that he or she rarely answers right away. It can be days, weeks. Some people seem to understand this -- that life and change take time -- but I am not one of those people. I'm an Instant Message type. It took decades for Bush to destroy the Iraqi army in three weeks. Chou En-Lai, when asked, "What do you think of the French Revolution," paused for a minute, smoking incessantly, and replied, "Too soon to tell."


But I prayed: help me.


I flirted with everyone in the store, especially the old people, and I lightened up. When the checker finished ringing up my items, she looked at my receipt and cried, "Hey! You've won a ham!"


I felt blind sided by the news. I had asked for help, not a ham. It was very disturbing. What on earth was I going to do with ten pounds of salty pink eraser? I rarely eat it. It makes you bloat.


"Wow," I said. The checker was so excited about giving it to me that I pretended I was, too .


Wow! How great! Henny Penny! Henny Penny!


A bagger was dispatched to back of the store to get my ham. I stood waiting anxiously. I wanted to get home, so I could start caring for suffering people, or turn on CNN. I almost suggested that the checker award it to the next family who paid with food stamps. But for some reason, I waited. If God was giving me a ham, I'd be crazy not to receive it. Maybe it was the ham of God, who takes away the sins of the world.


I waited ten minutes for what I began to think of as "that fucking ham." Finally the bag boy handed me a parcel the size of a cat. I put it with feigned cheer into my grocery cart, and walked to the car, trying to figure out who might need it. I thought about chucking it out the window near a field. I was so distracted that I crashed my cart smack into a slow-moving car in the parking lot.


I started to apologize, when I noticed that the car was a rusty wreck, and that an old friend was at the wheel. We got sober together a long time ago, and each had a son at the same time. She has dark black skin and processed hair the color of cooled tar.  She opened her window. "Hey," I said, "How are you -- it's my birthday!"


"Happy birthday," she said, and started crying. She looked drained and pinched, and after a moment, she pointed to the gas gauge of her car."I don't have money for gas, or food. I've never asked for help from a friend since I got sober, but I'm asking you to help me."


"I've got money you can have," I said.


"No, no, I just need gas," she said. "I've never asked someone for a handout."


"It's not a handout," I told her."It's my birthday present." I thrust a bunch of money into her hand, all the money I had. Then I reached into my shopping cart and held out the ham to her like a clown doffing flowers. "Hey!" I said. "Do you and your kids like ham?"


"We love it," she said. "We love it for every meal."


She put it in the seat beside her, firmly, lovingly, as if she was about to strap it in. And she cried some more.


Later, thinking about her, I remembered the seasonal showers in the desert, how potholes in the rocks fill up with rain. When you look sometime later, there are already frogs in the water, and brine shrimp reproducing, like commas doing the Macarena; and it seems, but only  seems, like you went from parched to overflow all in the  blink of an eye.

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I went up to the Civic Center today for a hearing for Jarvis Masters.  I arrived early so got a cup of coffee in the cafeteria and sat outside by the fountain enjoying the green hills and blue sky, and looking up at the rim of the Frank Lloyd Wright building and the gold tower.   I wondered what Wright was thinking as I perused gold balls rimming the blue circular dome like a circus tent.  

Then I thought maybe the gold represents neutrality and the balls wholeness.  

This comes up when I google, a word that I understand will now be in the dictionary, as, of course, it should.

Marin Civic Center, 1957
3501 Civic Center Drive, San Rafael

It is said that Frank Lloyd Wright walked off the highway at this site and said "I will cover your hills with arches". The design's domed roof and arched arcades fulfill the promise. The Marin Civic Center is one of Wright's last designs, completed after his death. With an 80-foot dome as its focal point, the structure is crowned with a 172-foot gold tower. Wright used the design to embody his philosophy of government. Look for the symbolism he employed.

There are many windows in the building.  Perhaps that is symbolic of vision and seeing, clarity.  The courtrooms are cozy and round.  Of course, security is a joy.   I had to take off my watch and earrings.   The judge informed us this is the most dangerous courthouse in CA, and that is why Jarvis could not be present.   His lawyer pointed out that it is dangerous for him in jail, that the guards threaten him and say he'll never get out alive.  The judge makes a joke that a judge has already decided that.  Jarvis is on death row, but new evidence suggests he was put there falsely.  I realize I am feeling sick at heart and stomach even typing this.

This is not Law and Order where crime and justice are wrapped up in an hour.  

I must say everyone cared on both sides.  Everyone was working for a solution.  People like Jarvis.  He is a good man, as asset to San Quentin and, then,  there is the system.  At a minimum, this process will take 18 months.  People must be re-interviewed, a memo located.   This is from 20 years ago.   One important person who isn't named is in an undisclosed location.  Even the district attorney's office doesn't know where.  Will he be brought here to Marin for "interrogation," or be interviewed where he is?   Should the venue be changed?   Should the next hearing be at San Quentin so Jarvis can attend?   That would mean room for only six people like me.  There were 25 of us, all quiet, respectful,  subdued.

Everyone cares.  That's the thing and I sat listening and thinking of the money spent and thinking of the guards and the union for the guards and the budget for the state of CA and I'm not sure how it all balances out.  The Civic Center is lovely, and justice is attempted as much as is possible, and where is the place for rehabilitation and forgiveness and moving on and how is it we punish and isolate those who are dangerous and free those who are no longer a threat to society?

I came home to interview another man about fixing our road.  His truck had been broken into in front of his house in Petaluma and he had lost a good many of his favorite tool-toys, so he used his iphone for everything.   He set his iphone on the road and it works as a level.  Who knew?   Of course it didn't seem to work quite right since it said the road was sloping one way, and the casual eye saw something different, but it was exciting that he did all the calculations on his iphone.

What do I want to say?   For various reasons, the real work will be done at the next hearing which is November 7th.  Here's another judge joke.  What's another month or two in light of twenty years, and again, I am sickened because the judge really was trying, and it is true in one way and in another, I walked out of the civic center which is like a cage to me, and I realize now it does have a bird cage feel and one is stuck inside, looking through the bars, and I went to the Farmer's Market and there were peaches and corn, lettuce and tomatoes and I can't tell you how happy I am to be alive and free.

I don't think I'm going to complain about one thing for a day or two while I digest how happy I am to be free and uncaged.

barack obama

Shopping Troopergate -

Todd Palin refuses to testify in Troopergate, at least not until after the election, naturally.

One of the comments was, "Does executive privilege apply to candidates now?"

Imagine if it were reversed and we were looking at an abuse of power by Obama or Biden.

It is hard not to feel angry, and I do feel confident we will win this election and then the hard work begins to turn this mess around.   At least we will have someone who speaks to inspire.

Joan posted Sarah talking today about the Palin-McCain candidacy.  Oops.   She was talking about small businesses.

I couldn't help thinking of how she brought Wal-Mart to Wasilla and wondered how that helped small local businesses.  

I google the grand opening and read about the exciting event in the Anchorage Daily News.  Don't you wish you were there?

Wal-Mart opens in Wasilla as state's largest store


(Published: October 31, 2007)

The Wal-Mart supercenter in Wasilla is now open, officially the largest in the state and most likely the only Wal-Mart of the 22 holding grand openings this month to snare a governor at the festivities.

Wasilla’s own Gov. Sarah Palin cut the red duct-tape ribbon early this morning with a really big pair of scissors and a slug of local pride.

Palin heaped praise on the store’s hard-working employees, the company’s community spirit and the hometown atmosphere that keeps the parking lot full just about any time of day.

“There’s something about Wal-Mart in the Valley that is always an event,” Palin said.

More than 200 store employees, local movers and shakers and a scattering of corporate brass from Wal-Mart offices in Seattle and Arkansas came out to rub elbows with the governor.

They heard the Wasilla High School choir sing the national anthem.

They bowed their heads for an invocation from Valley Church of Christ elder Robert Keunning: “Pray for this store and all who enter here.”

It reminds me of when Bush told us to shop after 9-11.   Since when did shopping become patriotic and a store a place or reason for prayer?

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another version of the "double standard"

* If you grow up in Hawaii, raised by your grandparents, you're "exotic, different."
* If you grow up in Alaska eating moose burgers, you're a quintessential American story.

* If your name is Barack, you're a radical, unpatriotic Muslim.
* If you name your kids Willow, Trig and Track, you're a maverick.

* If you graduate from Harvard law School, you are unstable.
* If you attend 5 different small colleges before graduating, you're well grounded.

* If you spend 3 years as a brilliant community organizer, become the first black President of the Harvard Law Review, create a voter registration drive that registers 150,000 new voters, spend 12 years as a Constitutional Law professor, spend 8 years as a State Senator representing a district with over 750,000 people, become chairman of the state Senate's Health and Human Services committee, spend 4 years in the United States Senate representing a state of 13 million people while sponsoring 131 bills and serving on the Foreign Affairs, Environment and Public Works and Veteran's Affairs committees, you don't have any real leadership experience.

* If your total resume is: local weather girl, 4 years on the city council and 6 years as the mayor of a town with less than 7,000 people, 20 months as the governor of a state with only 650,000 people, then you're qualified to become the country's second highest ranking executive.

* If you have been married to the same woman for 19 years while raising 2 beautiful daughters, all within Protestant churches, you're not a real Christian.
* If you cheated on your first wife with a rich heiress, and left your disfigured wife and married the heiress the next month, you're a Christian.

* If you teach responsible, age appropriate sex education, including the proper use of birth control, you are eroding the fiber of society.
* If, while governor, you staunchly advocate abstinence only, with no other option in sex education in your state's school system, while your unwed teen daughter ends up pregnant , you're very responsible.

* If your wife is a Harvard graduate lawyer who gave up a position in a prestigious law firm to work for the betterment of her inner city community, then gave that up to raise a family, your family's values don't represent America's.
* If you're husband is nicknamed "First Dude", with at least one DWI conviction and no college education, who didn't register to vote until age 25 and once was a member of a group that advocated the secession of Alaska from the USA, your family is extremely admirable.

barack obama

from The Writer's Almanac!!

This comes from The Writer's Almanac today.

It was on this day in 1851 that The New York Times published its first issue. It was founded by George Jones, a banker, and Henry Jarvis Raymond, who was a politician and then worked for the New York Tribune before he got fired. Raymond was so bitter about being fired that he hoped to make a newspaper that was successful enough to drive the Tribune out of business. They set up their office in a decrepit brownstone, and they didn't have lamps yet so they had to put the paper together by candlelight. But the windows didn't have glass yet, so the candles kept blowing out. The paper reached a circulation of 10,000 within 10 days. The first issue proclaimed, "We publish today the first issue of the New-York Daily Times, and we intend to issue it every morning (Sundays excepted) for an indefinite number of years to come." It's now been in print for 157 years.

point reyes shore

Playing with creation -

Tom Rothschild -

When left alone, electrons are not "things."  They do not actually exist in space and time; their existence is merely potential. They emerge into momentary actual existence by acts of measurement.  Hence, unlike classical measurements, quantum measurements are creative; they literally create the entities that are measured.