Sunday, September 30, 2007

back home

Ah, the familiarity of a dark, drippy Sunday morning in Portland.

We landed around 11 pm and were home before midnight. The dog and cats were happy to see us - the house was in pretty good shape - just a pizza box, a slightly-disheveled guest-room bed, and other assorted debris to let us know that teenagers were here.

Mom was to spend Saturday night in the hospital and should be released this morning. She was obviously improving by the time we said our goodbyes, Saturday afternoon.

Although we did have about an hour in the Minneapolis airport, I didn't go seeking the Larry Craig bathroom. I guess the novelty has worn off. I did use the facilities there, but did not accidentally touch the foot of the guy in the next stall.

One moment from this trip stands out. We went for a very brief walk outside Mom's facility. Next door to it is a children's DayCare, and there were a bunch of very energetic little kids, running around the play structure, jumping around, and squealing.

With us watching from across the fence, I flashed on the end of '2001 - A Space Odyssey', where we cycle through a human life, young to old, with the constantly shifting perspective. That's Life, I guess, except for the part about being reborn as a cosmic baby - the jury's still out on that.

Cleaning the house, going thru the mail, talking to the still-pregnant-and-enormous cat, doing laundry, preparing a shopping list - all the domestic chores for today. It's somewhat reassuring.

Scanned my calendar for October - lots of events coming up in the next few weeks, culminating in our next trip - a flight to south Florida for a week-long Caribbean cruise. Still, I put my duffle-bag in the attic - don't need to think about repacking it again for a little while.

Wondering when, and under what circumstances, I will be seeing my Mom again.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Friday night in Wisconsin

Karen and I stopped by my Mom's Assisted Living place this morning. Mom was not looking all that great - seemed pale and was breathing with a little difficulty. Nevertheless, we took a very short walk outside, so that she could enjoy the warm sunshine.

At lunch time, Karen and I took off for Cedarburg, a nearby town famous for its antique stores and restored brick buildings. It was charming. We had a little lunch, then browsed around for a couple of hours. Karen bought some antique salt-and-pepper thingies and a glass plate. I bought a CD of Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie tunes ($3). Each to his/her own.

We got back to Mom's around 2:30, and she was looking awful - breathing with difficulty and hands shaking. We phoned my sister-in-law, and decided to take her to the Emergency room. We spent the next 5 hours there, while they did some tests, administered some medications, and analyzed the x-rays and tests. She was visibly better by early evening, but they decided to keep her there overnight, for observation.

My brother said that Mom has been in just about every different examining room at the Emergency dept. of this local hospital, over the past three years. Sucks to get old.

We finally got back to my brother's house around 8, ate some dinner, then tried to relax. Karen is watching a DVD - some Jerry Bruckheimer action/sci-fi film, with Denzel Washington. Allen went to sleep. I retreated to the bedroom, to read blogs and get ready for bed myself.

We head to the Milwaukee airport late tomorrow afternoon, and should be landing in Portland just before midnight, tomorrow night. All in all, it's been a nice visit - Karen and I went bike-riding yesterday, returning to my brother's house 10 minutes before the lightning and hail storm hit. The countryside around here is pretty, in a gently-rolling-but-mostly-flat sort of way.

Tired now. Long day.

Monday, September 24, 2007

simply brilliant

this ad campaign from Horizon Air, touting their Portland-Seattle shuttle flights.

Anyone who is a fan of the Ken Burns 'Civil War' documentary will hoot with pleasure at this. Someone deserves an award.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

I scream at my TV again

Last night, as we generally do, we watched the ABC Evening News. I love doing this because, as a less-subtle arm of the Bush Administration, ABC News accomplishes its mission thru less-flagrant innuendo and distortion than its cousin, Fox.

In other words, you have to think about both what they are saying and what they are leaving out, in order to fully appreciate the delusions being perpetrated. For example...

Last night, they did a brief piece on the alarming shrinkage of the Arctic ice-cap. A nice animated graphic showed its shocking reduction, over the past couple of years. They then immediately morphed into a series of quick cuts, showing naval vessels from several countries, all making their presence known to each other to bolster each country's claims on the newly-accessible seabed.

Then, the piece teasingly asked, 'and why is everyone so interested in the newly-accessible seabed?', and ended with the confident statement that it's the new oil fields that are certainly there, just waiting to provide a cash bonanza for the lucky country who establishes the right claims.

And there the story ended, moving quickly on to OJ.

And that's where I screamed at my TV, because the ABC copy-editors incredibly missed the opportunity (or was it intentional - you decide) to nicely close the circle on the entire piece. Here's the sentence they omitted:

"Isn't it ironic that the easing of the global hunger for new sources of oil (i.e. the 'good news' in this story) is directly responsible for the ice-cap disappearing (the 'bad news' in the story)."

In other words, burning oil has opened up the Arctic, to enable us to find more oil to burn.

Again and again, I return to the wise words of Kurt Vonnegut, who, when asked what he would say to the People of the Future, said: 'Forgive us - we were drunk on petroleum.'

Monday, September 17, 2007

technology marches on...

thanks to Shirley for sending me this link.

Now, what do you think about the recent Bin Laden tape?

Saturday, September 15, 2007

RESIST the Hillary/Obama/Edwards media focus


As it was in 2004, there is a real alternative to where the media wants your attention directed.

Friday, September 14, 2007

as always, Paul Krugman nail it

reprinted here. It's always been The Oil, and nothing but The Oil.

By the way, anyone who ever accused Bush of not having an Exit Strategy, is dead wrong. He's got it all planned.


Wednesday, September 12, 2007

listening to Kucinich on Ed Schultz

wow, the guy is great - eloquent, forceful and right!

this is weird

Both Ramadan and Rosh Hashonna begin tonight at sunset. Since Ramadan cycles thru the months, over many years, this can't happen all that often. Anybody know just how rare this is?

too good to be true?


check out the photo

here. Between the headline and the Vlad's picture, this seems a little on the ominous side.

I know it's just part of the process, but I can't help wondering if W looks at how things are run 'over there', and yearns for that much power for himself.

Meanwhile, Rosh Hashonna begins at sundown tonight. I am playing music with three other friends at a congregational dinner, before services, so I have to schlep my electric piano and amp downtown this morning for setup and the sound-check.

Happy New Year. To tell you the truth, this seems a lot more reasonable as the seasons change here in September, than in the middle of winter, but I guess you have to look at it from the perspective of northern European pagans, for whom the days after the winter solstice were reassuring, convincing them that the sun was NOT going to totally disappear ("whew - dodged that bullet AGAIN!").

Meanwhile, Kucinich will be on Ed Schultz's radio show for all 3 hours today. Should be great exposure.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Sept. 11, 2001

I woke up around 5:30 am, to the familiar sound of port-a-potty doors slamming. I was in my tent, in a pasture in Crane, Oregon, surrounded by 2000 other tents. It was the 3rd day of my first Cycle Oregon.

I had been training all that summer, while waiting for my job with Enron to be terminated. It did end, at the end of August.

I got up, and, in the chilly dawn, got myself dressed, packed up and fed. The prior day was a hard ride, up and over a high ridge, along a long, dusty gravel road, up and over another divide, and down into the flat high desert. Today's ride was only 35 miles, to Diamond. Easy.

By the time I was in the saddle, it was a bright, quiet morning, on a largely-flat two-lane blacktop, through fragrant sagebrush. After a few miles, I came up to one of the many rest-stops. Curiously, there were people clustered around one of the support vans, instead of waiting in long lines at the port-a-potty or quick-carbs stations. People were talking.

I joined the conversation. "Has something happened?" This was about 9 am. "The World Trade Center has been destroyed." "No shit?" "Yep". "Wow".

I continued down the road with everyone else. It was very strange.

Pulled into Diamond around 11 or so. Pitched my tent, grabbed some lunch, then headed over to the staging area where they had arranged buses, to take the early-birds up to the top of Steens Mountain. As I waited in line with others, I had my little shortwave radio with me, but news was spotty and reception poor.

We filled one bus and headed out. Still a beautiful, warm day as we motored down to Frenchglen, then began the gradual ascent of Steens. At the windy top, the view was impressive along the steep east face, down a couple thousand feet to the gleaming desert below. We hiked along the crest, then along the Kiger gorge. There were some rumors of what was going on in the rest of the world - some of them quite wild ("I heard that San Francisco was also about to be attacked").

After an amazing afternoon up there, we got back on the bus and were driven back to Diamond. There was the normal beer garden, and dinner lines. At the regular evening gathering, Jonathan Nichols of the Oregonian gave us what news he had, and mentioned that some folks were leaving the Tour, to try to get to their East Coast homes. He said that the directors considered cancelling the remainder of the ride, but that notion was quickly dismissed.

Someone produced a trumpet and played taps, which echoed in the desert twilight. Soon, I went to bed. The next day would bring more bike-riding and more scenery, followed by three more, taking us back, via Burns, to Prarie City and the bus-ride back to Portland.

We got into Portland late Saturday night. I was tanned and very tired, having ridden about 500 miles that week. I slept a lot over the next couple of days.

It wasn't until the middle of the next week that I finally saw the video of the planes hitting the Trade Center. I had totally missed the media frenzy/nightmare. I think that was a very good thing.

Cycle Oregon is going on right now. This is the first one since 2001, where Sept. 11 has once again fallen on a Tuesday. I know they are talking about it right now, as they finish their coffee, break camp, and mount their bikes.

I am so sorry what has happened to my country in these six years. A very few people have made a lot of money from this tragedy, and surely goodness and mercy have eluded the world, while Frat-Boy smirks and his buddies send their invoices to our depleted Treasury.

We could have been so much better than this. We could have pursued justice, rather than blind revenge. We could have embraced hope, rather than fear.

Nah - no profits in hope. One Nation, Under Intimidation.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

nothing to see here - move along...

hmmm. At our camping trip last weekend, one of my friends had a copy of the new book "The World Without Us", and NPR just did a segment on that book.

The author described the crumbling skyscrapers and the huge fires that would sweep thru an unattended, unwatered Central Park. What he left out of that scenario is the likelihood that Manhattan will be under several meters of water, by the end of this century.

I pity my unborn grandchildren. They will shake their heads in disbelief, how we could have been so blind, so utterly consumed by our own consumption and diversions. They will never understand how, each night as we watched what was supposed to be the nightly news, we were told to be alarmed about restless leg syndrome.

We are a society full of Neros, fiddling around while Greenland melts.

Friday, September 07, 2007

I have to laugh

at this.

So, a wacko group up in Battle Ground, WA (makes perfect sense if you've ever been there) is urging Americans to 'boycott the Minneapolis airport'.

Umm, aren't boycotts supposed to target things or places which you can choose NOT to frequent? Anyone who is flying ANYWHERE on Northwest Airlines (which I frequently do) ALWAYS changes planes in Minneapolis (which I have done many times, and will again in 2 weeks).

I guess the folks in Battle Ground envision people saying, "You know that cross-country drive I'm doing next month? I staying clear of that airport in Minneapolis. THAT'll show them.'

For what it's worth, I've used the facilities in airports many times, and never did my feet touch the guy in the next stall. Guess my stance is not very wide.


Starting to feel like 1968 again.

I started college in 1969, having already, as a 17 year old, concluded that the Vietnam War had to end.

October 15th, 1969: I attended the first nationwide Moratorium in downtown Baltimore - my first mass anti-war rally. Big crowd, very exciting. Corretta Scott King spoke to us.

November 15th, 1969: I attended the GIANT Moratorium in DC (250,000, dubbed the 'largest anti-war protest in U.S. history' - the one shown in 'Forrest Gump'). It produced a stunning sense of solidarity, and a good time was had by all.

These two events made a big impact on me, and I think of them every time I attend yet another Stop-The-War event (there have been so many wars; so many events).

Now, it's this generation's turn to have that experience, with nationwide rallys planned for September 15th. Hope to see y'all there.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Progressive Voter Network news

I may have mentioned in prior posts that I have gotten involved with this new nationwide group (that does not yet have a web site).

It's an attempt to mobilize groups of neighbors into teams, to take specific actions aimed at influencing legislators on mostly Environmental and Energy issues. There was a nice planning meeting here at the house tonight, where I met the other local Team Leaders (I am one now).

The immediate target it to get Gordon Smith to sign on to one of the progressive pending CO2 emission reduction bills. Wouldn't it be nice if this group really developed a reputation as dedicated and persistent?

If nothing else, maybe we can all get adjoining cells at the Re-education Camp.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

It must work, or why would they keep trying?

Received this morning:

Date: Tue, 04 Sep 2007 07:46:57 AM PDT
From: "Internal Revenue Service U.S.A."
Subject: September 2007 Tax Refund

After the last annual calculations of your fiscal activity we have determined that you are eligible to receive a tax refund of $109.30.

Please submit the tax refund request and allow us 3 days in order to process it. A refund can be delayed for a variety of reasons. For example submitting invalid records or applying after the deadline.

To access the form for your tax refund, please click here :

Regards, Internal Revenue Service
© Copyright 2007, Internal Revenue Service U.S.A.

I love the 'allow us 3 days in order to process it'. If they really wanted to make it sound like an official IRS letter, they'd say something more realistic, like '3 months'.