Saturday, December 30, 2006

Home Sweet Home - End of 2006

Rojo at Four Months - Wonderful Pup!

Rojo continues to be a delightful newest member of our family. He can be amusing such as when he scares himself looking at "the strange dog looking at him" (in the mirror). He now (thankfully) sleeps through the night. He chews on everything - teething at four months. He is an expressive dog moaning, groaning, barking and making odd other sounds. At 25 pounds, it is getting harder to carry him. He loves being with people (including young children) and other animals.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Generosity at this Time of Year +

I clearly remember being in Milan Italy in the summer of 1964 when I was 13 years old. On a large square there was a gypsy family with a mother and a lot of children begging. I remember thinking: "this will never happen in the U.S." Hah!

Recently in Florida a family friend of my wife's mother told me of how a group of her friends and she all contributed their "Christmas gifts" not to each other, but rather to a family or cause locally that they felt was worthy. She said that they were all retired and had what they needed and wanted already.

A recent year's gift was to a poor local family that her son had told her of. They surprised the mother in the family greatly pleasing her with their gift. This family had pallets rather than beds. The preceding year one of the children stayed out of school to allow them to afford clothes for the other children to wear so they could attend school. They had no money for presents for their children.

I was amazed at the kindness and generosity that was shown by these very nice people! I'm also saddened that we can have such extreme poverty amidst all the wealth we have in the U.S.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

A Puppy's World

Rojo, our Labradoodle Puppy, must weigh close to 25 pounds now (at four months), up from 9.5 pounds when we got him (when he was 7-8 weeks old). We've grown very attached to him! He's mostly mellow. With his teething underwear, socks, pieces of paper etc. - are all "chewing toys".

In our bedroom he gets very anxious barking when he sees himself in the mirror behind the door, seeing the "other dog" there. Chewing on various of his toys, his moanish sounds are very amusing. On walks he always wants to tug and pull us to any person within sight, as well as fellow dogs (of course!). It is presumed that others want to pet and play with him.

He was filthy when he came back from the kennel yesterday. In the laundry tub when lathered up, he looked like a skinny funny looking dog, not the fluffy beautiful roundish looking pup that he looks like normally.

When I picked him up at the kennel, he seemed to barely recognize me - living in the world of play with at least 20-30 other large dogs he had been with 12+ hours each day. Now he's moving back to "normal", though he is a "little older" after being away for 6 days.

He looks funny sitting in my lap now, as his body is a little big for that.

Thankfully, now he can sleep through the night, so I don't have to get up every 2-4 hours to let him out!

It will be fun and funny to look back on his pup days far too soon when he's fully grown!

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

James Brown, Sam Cooke - Racism + Music

Coming back from Florida Monday (Christmas) morning in the airport the tv showed James Brown and I heard of his death. Coincidentally I was finishing reading a lengthy biography of Sam Cooke who was his contemporary.

The biography of Sam Cooke talked at great length of the tours that both men made in the Deep South (U.S.) in the late 1950's and the first half of the 1960's (until Cooke's death in late 1964). It is hard to imagine today a world where any Black Man (or Woman) no matter what his economic status could have been arrested, killed or harassed because of anything which might be perceived as "not respecting" any White Person.

It is interesting to compare the racism that James Brown lived through in the early days of his career with racism today. James Brown spoke up at length for Black Pride around 1960 when this was a radical and "foreign" concept in a world where "Negroes" (or worse) were expected to always defer to any White Person no matter what the circumstances.

A Black Person could never try on a piece of clothing in a "White Store" if they could shop there at all. In the South a show could only contain either White or Black performers and if the audience was "mixed" the "races could not mix" - so the Blacks were usually on a balcony only. Black musicians and other Black people - always came in the back door unless it was a Black establishment solely for Black people. Stores in Harlem and elsewhere often were owned by Whites and Blacks could only work in low paid jobs that had low status where they could work in such establishments at all.

Today racism in the U.S. is generally much more subtle! My partner (Black) can pick up how particularly in stores catering to wealthy White Women how she is looked at and treated as if she perhaps doesn't belong there, though nearly always very politely. We were shopping for blue jeans for me in Marin County, California a little over a year ago when a White Man - totally ignored B - a Black Woman - to get his clothes purchasd - she wasn't there in his world. I was shocked - B wasn't!

Often with racism today - it isn't clear that it really is racism, however because it happens over and over again, one knows some of the time racism is prevalent.

It's very interesting! Black People are of nearly every religion, different sizes and shapes, differ in their political beliefs to a large degree (though the number of right wing Black Folks may perhaps be "under represented"), have varying educational levels - yet We White Folks - think often that we "know Black People" as if they were most predictable.

For Black People, such as my partner, they exist in a world where they often feel a need to "make White People comfortable" - to translate the feelings and expectations of them, because they are Black Folks. "Passing" in this context is "passing as normal" - e.g. - comfortable to White Folks. B - is much better than I am at breaking down barriers with others. I never had to learn such things.

It wasn't until recently that Alabama, in 1998 I believe, legalized Black and White people marrying each other (though the U.S. Supreme Court had invalidated this prohibition years before). My Black Partner and I her White Husband - could have in a sense been - "illegally married" not that long ago.

I'm saddened at the death of James Brown. His music and his being as a Proud Black Man were very important in the growth of the U.S. in the second half of the 20th Century. I loved his "sweet music" such as: "Please, Please, Please" while having trouble listening to his funk and other "rougher" music.

I read a lot about Black History and Culture. I hope that many more other White Folks are similarly learning an important part of our history in the U.S.


Sunday, December 17, 2006

Looking Both Forward and Backwards

2006 has had:

1.) The clear recognition by many, if not most, USians that the War in Iraq is not being "won" and indeed may be lost either by being an endless mess or by simply being lost and

2.) Elections in November which changed the power of the Bush Adminstration limiting their powers to control Congress

It is unclear what we will learn from the War in Iraq. For some it is a repeat of the Vietnam War where "the generals were not allowed to win the War" - more troops and more money are seen as the answer as well as better leadership.

For others the War in Iraq is unwinnable because "Arabs don't like Democracy" and we can't help them because of this.

For others still we have another situation of the U.S. Government going into a part of the world that we don't understand and making numerous presumptions about the people there. As with 9/11 - we have wasted the good will that we may have had and really become "the enemy" or at least "the bully" who others love to hate.

It seems amazing to me how we can think that our military might makes us knowledgeable as to how the rest of the world functions. In our own country the intolerance for "Arabs" has translated into a world where Sikhs, and many other South Asian people who are not Muslim at all are presumed to be: "the enemy" and are scapegoated and sometimes killed or injured as a result of our ignorance.

In the Middle East we presume that Arabs are part of "The War on Terror" against us as a unified force when in fact the divisions among Sunni's, Shiites, Kurds and factions within them make forces such as the supposed "enemies" Hezballah of Lebanon and the Hamas Movement of The West Bank and Gaza as well as the various factions within Iraq, the Taliban of Pakistan and Afghanistan - as if they are unified against the United States.

While all of these forces may dislike the Bush Administration it is important to understand the fear for example that the Saudi Arabian leadership has for the Iranian Government. Lebanon has a significant Christian population. Iraq's former leader Saddam Hussein was not a religious based leader. Where all else may have serious divisions, Arabs often find unity in opposing the Israeli occupation of The West Bank. At the same time there are certainly fears within the Arab world of a democratic independent West Bank State which might threaten the autocratic regimes of all the other Middle Eastern Arab states.

Unfortunately we rarely look at the complexities of the Middle East and break things down into logical situations based upon looking at the history of the region and how it has evolved into today. We create boogiemen such as Saddam Hussein, Osama Bin Laden and now the Iranian leadership (which is extreme and poor no doubt) and fail to look at what is going on.

We have no business trying to decide who should rule in Iraq! Getting U.S. forces extricated from this quagmire may not be simple or easy, however it will be the best way to eventually get peace in this country. Increasing troops and "winning the war" is naive and extremely unlikely to do more than result in greatly increased deaths and costs to Iraq and the U.S.

It will be interesting to see how things change politically in the U.S. in 2007! Will Congressional leadership move towards positive changes such as an increased minimum wage, major changes in national healthcare and other worthwhile causes? Will Republicans be able to woo conservative Democrats or will Democrats pull "moderate Republican's" and further isolate the idealogues within the Bush Administration.

Undoubtably the Bush Administration will do its best to use its powers to entrench Conservatives and rightwing Evangelicals and similar in non-elective positions which they will control.

How wise and successful the Democrats will be may have a lot to do with the political fortunes of 2008. Will the candidates be: McCain, Clinton, Obama and whomever else may seemingly move forward? McCain and Obama - would certainly offer greatly alternate visions of a future in the U.S. I think that Hillary Clinton will Not have a chance to win in 2008. She may be the Democratic nominee particularly if Barack Obama's popularity does not continue to grow as it has so far.

Time will tell as 2007 begins and evolves!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Coping - and Trying - in a Trying Period of Time

Tis the Season to be Jolly, yet all is not relaxing and simple in our household! My partner's work situation is difficult, to put it mildly! Shortly, she will be of necessity seeking employment elsewhere. We moved here when she was recruited for her current job. The job has not worked out and she is made to appear the "bad guy" when clearly that is not the reality that most people in the know would conclude if they understood what had transpired.

Emotionally my partner is paying a heavy price! She takes her work very seriously and though intellectually she knows the truth, emotionally she pushes blame within herself. It is hard to face the world when it feels so stacked against you! She will make it through this period a stronger person, but the wounds and hurts will affect her for a long time.

Both of our mothers - getting older - are facing serious health issues and necessary surgeries.

I have Morton's Neuroma (a benign tumor) on the top of my right foot - which is painful at times. Next week hopefully a podiatrist will help me find a path to dealing with it.

Yesterday while spin cycling I felt a snap in my upper left leg - I strained my hamstring! I'll have 1-3 weeks of no exercise - and coping with the pain - slowing down.

Financially things will be difficult for the forseeable future.

I'm physically - very drained! Often I am rushing and multi-tasking (me the non-multi-tasker!) and bouncing from thing to thing. There is never enough time! Rojo - our puppy gets me up around 1-2:00 a.m. and then about 5:45 a.m. - usually the end of my sleep night.

Amidst all this stress though, I find an inner peace. In my younger days I would have been hyperactive and frenetic. Now I appreciate - the things of beauty in my life. I accept that things are hard, but am doing quite well at not letting the hard things take me down.

I feel good - Extremely good, considering all that is happening! I don't want sympathy. I really am happy. It is hard, but life has its rewards, amidst the difficulties.


Sunday, December 10, 2006

Separate Paths: People, Dogs & Cats

I walk our puppy Rojo several times each day and enjoy our time together very much!

In my "human" world I'm choosing where we walk, cleaning up the "messes" he makes, untangling his leash and in general trying to "run the show". My "human" world involves thinking, planning, leading and following other humans, feeling for others, feeling my own feelings and various other things.

Rojo seemingly has a simpler path! His tail wags incessantly as he move optimistically ahead. When he sees people or other animals he tugs on his leash to try to play with them. When he finds interesting smells, he pulls to a stop and sometimes tugs backwards to get at what he wants to sniff at.

Rojo is very dependent upon attention from others much of the time. At other times he's resting or sleeping or sometimes playing with his toys or whatever he can get his mouth or paws into.

Rojo's feelings are focused upon the moment - simple, but certainly there - picking up on our reactions to him.

Cats - certainly are more independent than dogs and less dependent upon others in general. Not having a cat now, I'm less in touch with them

Rojo - helps teach me to "be in the moment" and helps me be calm and just being "there". I enjoy listening to him and gaining from him what he shares with me.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

WHY ???


Commonly we individually or collectively ask: “Why?” such as:

Why was the Holocaust allowed to happen?

One may answer this question in varying ways such as:

1.) Hitler, a horrible individual came to power and together with other
evil people used the Jews and others as scapegoats and killed millions
of innocent people, or
2.) World War I began with an incident that triggered a war where there
were no “good nations” nor “just cause”. At the end of the War,
Germany was humiliated and its people collectively punished with war
reparations and related punishments. Out of the chaos that resulted
people pushed to both the radical left and right seeking an answer.
The radical right won out through Hitler as many people sought order
and self-worth. Initially Hitler gave many Germans a sense of
well-being and his cleverness pushed good people on a horrific path ….
3.) There is “no good answer” to this question. One can explain many
things, however the end was in no way justifiable or understandable, it
just happened.

The “Why” question becomes much harder when we face questions such as:

1.) Why is my child dying of cancer at a young age? or
2.) Why was “X” killed by a drunk driver when s/he was so young? or
personally for me:
3.) Why did my father (who lived a “good life”) die at 46 of stomach
cancer, while my ex-father-in-law lived to around age 80 (despite
abusing his body with smoking and drinking heavily much of his life)?

Answering such questions related directly to our own lives requires us
to do various things such as:

1.) Examining ourselves critically and looking for parts of ourselves
that may perhaps have contributed to the issue that bothers us, and:
2.) Recognizing the importance of our deep seated fears and other
emotions and relating them to what is bothering us, and
3.) Seeing how others may be different from us in important ways and
both honoring the differences and not taking responsibility for things
that are beyond us and not part of us, and
4.) Accepting reality – both our part in “why” where it may be anywhere
from totally “not our fault” to where we may have had some or all the
responsibility for what happened, and perhaps most importantly,
5.) Having faith – whether through religion, other spiritual beliefs or
simply part of our inner core – so that our doubts and fears are felt
but do not control us or hurt us more than they have to.

Life isn’t “fair” some of the time. We each face our own doubts and
questions. Individually we must find how we can best deal with our
own “whys?” recognizing our past life experiences as well as looking to
the future.

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Wednesday, November 29, 2006

The Easy (Simple) and The Hard (Complex)

Life now for me seems in a way on two parallel tracks:

The Easy or Simple
The Hard or Complex

A good example of the easy is life with our Labradoodle Puppy Rojo who is now roughly 13 weeks old. The complexities with him are when he has a minor "accident" in the house or is barking when he may awaken others or is otherwise seeking attention when we don't want to be

Far, Far more common with Rojo is the silliness and joy of a wonderful "little boy" growing and experiencing life. He's sleeping next to me now in a laundry basket with a blanket in it that is a little small for him, so his head is sloped upward at one end - looks cute, no complaints from him. On walks he draws the attention of others very easily - and basks in it when people pet him. When he's ignored by others - he forgets "the slight" almost immediately and is off on
another adventure.

The Hard or Complex is certainly a challenge; no question about that! At the same time lessons can be learned from The Easy for it.

My mother is aging and my step-father is getting really old. Their issues are hard to accept sometimes and complex to resolve as well.

By choice I am struggling with an issue involving others. I want to succeed in getting what I think is important accomplished, but my words may not change anything. I must live with whatever results may occur knowing that I am doing my best with it.

Someone close to me is depressed - life looks often like an enveloping closed small box - narrowing in. It isn't my vision of the world now, but its reality affects me and my life.

Being grounded and relaxed and in a sense like Rojo - without being "a dog" - in its literal context is important in coping with the stresses of life today. The more that I can take in and accept, without being torn apart or visibly grabbed by the difficult energy around me, the
more I can be both emotionally supportive and good for practical assistance.

It isn't easy, but it is satisfying to succeed in small ways. The larger picture I may have limited, at best, effect on. Little things can lift the heart and also lead to bigger things.

Life is a challenge! I wouldn't want it any other way.


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Tuesday, November 21, 2006

To Be Hurting Inside

To Be Hurting Inside
can bring
A Pain - A Void
No Words
to Ably Describe
the Fears
to Know Not
- - - Where or How
to Move On
a Fright - a Terror

To Be -
- - but Not
within the Tunnel
but Hearing only Whispers
the Cries are So Much
so Poignant

Being Alone
- - One - -
In Fear and Hurt

The Other Apart
Is Sad - but Necessary
Today -


Sunday, November 12, 2006

Rojo and Jaibu

Rojo - the smaller - darker pup has now been with us for 15 days. Jaibu ("Jahboo") came yesterday - he will be my partner's brother's pup after Thanksgiving. They both are delightful! I get little sleep - up twice last night to take the pups out - had been once after 5-6 hours before then with one pup. We also had howling galore - for 1 1/2 hours at first until we put Jaibu in a laundry crate by my bed.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006


I'm very happy with the election results yesterday!

It will be a challenge for the Democrats to really produce and build towards the future.

My partner feels to the contrary. She believes that Until things get so bad that people are in the streets protesting and putting their lives on the line things won't change for the better substantively. I'm not optimistic that things will be much better now. I am clear that perhaps they won't get much worse as they were doing in recent years as a result of Bush and his cohorts.

I also don't like the "doom" approach at all. I think that a right-wing dictatorship is much more likely than a populist change for the better. IF her scenario were accurate I think there would be a minimum of 10-20 years of chaos and conflict before things were to improve significantly. In the meantime death and destruction would make things a lot worse in my estimation.

I hope - I don't expect. I try and hope that others try.

It feels good today to me!


Tuesday, November 07, 2006

To Be in Pain

To be in pain, hurting


Losing choices inside

as you had always been

Free still as

your Heart and Soul


to hold on

to your essence


the Pain

Reminding You

of your transparency

Pushing and pulling

at your Mind

Taking You

Gradually – Away

Losing a part

of your Loved Ones

Who can only be with you

to the edge

You face – with your Beloved

Keeping your Life

as normal as possible

as days grow shorter

weakening breath

Keeping your Spirit Alive

with Dignity

with Grace

Being the Wonderful Person

You’ve been

Caring for Others

Your children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren even

Neighbors, Students, Friends

Now – at Long Last


to take – a little more – offered

from those You’ve Touched

Tis Sad, but necessary

Moving on

Letting Go – slowly

A Life – Well Lived

Tears – from one whose

known you for many years

Never – really fully appreciating you

Til – hearing Your Honesty

in a moment’s breath

I’m sad – and stunned

Happy – that you shared

the Truth with me

Hoping to have another

Brief Moment

With You

Knowing and Not Knowing

Sensing – Feeling Sad

Gaining – a gift of life

To be in pain, hurting ….

- - 11/7/2006 --

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Understanding and Accepting

There are many things in life that I do not understand at a deep level.
While I can and do know why my partner cares seriously about some
things that mean very little to me, I really don't understand most such
things deeply. IF I understood such things as she did, they would
mean much more to me.

I can not understand why many people in the United States support
policies and politicians which/who are strongly opposed to their best
interests. I can see that they see things like: "patriotism" and
"religious" and "straight talker" and similar which to me mask truths
which aren't spoken.

I accept though that the realities of others are different from my
realities. Their world view is different. My "rational thought" is
equally irrational to them as theirs may be to me.

I do trust the good will of most people. While I question much, I
believe that most people wish peace within themselves and others. We
all want and need respect and love.

It is sad though that we see and often feel so much hate and seemingly
deliberate hurt in our lives. Respecting and accepting the truth of
the realities of others and their words about them is important to me.
It helps me accept and care for others who I otherwise might have
greater difficulties relating to.


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Thursday, November 02, 2006

Election Eve Almost

I can only hope that this election will be the beginning of a political period of some hope. My partner believes that things will need to get "very bad" to the point that we have major societal upheaval and change to make things better. I find that scenario wrong, because I think the result of such a state would be more likely a dictatorial-facist state, rather than a progressive one.

Obviously it will make a huge difference if the Democrats have majority status in one or both of House or Senate. I agree with my partner that: "not as bad" as opposed to: "good" is not a long-term solution to our major problems. I also believe that the current strategies kill and destroy the lives of far too many people in the U.S. and other parts of the world.

IF the Democrats should regain some power I hope that they will begin the slow process of many issues including:

1.) Abuses of Executive Power of the Bush Administration - ending or limiting actions by Bush and his cohorts which allow for the creation of tacit laws or ignoring laws that they don't like, administrative processes which ignore precedent and the law, etc.

2.) Electoral Reform - to end the buying of elections - very important - very hard to get changed,

3.) National Health Insurance - very hard to get, but getting the talking going again at least,

4.) Moving towards if not totally ending the U.S. military presence in Iraq,

5.) Helping make future military adventures less likely to happen,

6.) Helping end the polarization of our body politic - working to bridge the gap with Evangelical Christian forces and stop the scapegoating of Gays/Lesbians and others

7.) Ending the tax give-aways to the rich and starting to build towards a more progressive tax structure in general


Rojo - Update

Rojo has been a joy from the beginning! He gets me up 2-3 times each night - to go outside - rustling in his box by the bed - and has had zero accidents during the night. He walks with me with or without a leash (doesn't like the leash that much). He loves people, dogs and even tries in his puppy way to play with Stuart, the cat.

The little boy is spoilt - certainly. He also is a wonderful, loving addition to our household at 8-9 weeks of age.


Sunday, October 29, 2006

Pics II - Rojo

Photo 1 -Rojo + Me from Back

Rojo - No Longer - L-Wood

Rojo - 7-8 weeks old with me - 9 pounds - loveable - came yesterday.

He's a handful, but well worth hit - loves kids, animals and us!

L-Wood was adopted away from us - snapped at our younger child and scared him, was way too anti-social etc. - his new home with another Labradoodle and no kids will work much better.


Sunday, October 22, 2006

Dog Days

Yesterday morning - the dog was "not happy" in its crate in the living room. It was 5:00 a.m. and I was hoping to sleep until 7-8:00 p.m. because I was exhausted. Twas not to be!!!

L-Wood was happy to go on a walk. After perhaps 40 yards of walking he showed that he clearly had diarrhea. Twice more he went or tried to go while we were out. After a usual sized walk he had food and water, but didn't eat anything.

I let him walk free in our house (as I had started doing because he'd been fine). Within a few minutes I heard and saw the end of him peeing on our living room rug. I mildly chastized him, took him outside and he didn't go any more.

I then put him in his crate and he seemed comfortable there. It was now only about 6:30 a.m.!

He seemed fine in the crate as the boys watched tv after they got up. About 11:30 a.m. I tried to take him out of the crate for another walk and he wouldn't move. I didn't want to drag him out extremely forcibly so I left him there. I took a shower and tried again and again he refused to come out.

I left home with our older son alone with L-Wood (crated). At 12:40 p.m. I got a call from my step-son that he'd pooped - diarrhea inside and outside the crate. I came home, put the dog in the backyard on his chain and cleaned up the mess.

I called the vet from the younger boy's soccer game (he'd had a play date in the morning with the coach's son) and at their behest brought him in. He had parasites, 2 meds and came home where he stayed in the yard - eating the bland food they'd given me for him.

He seemed fine and normal thereafter. My partner came home late last night. This morning - I took him on a long walk. He peed on the walk and seemed very normal.

I left him in the yard when I left for working out - partner still asleep.

At 9:40 I get a phone call - he'd somehow gotten his leash unsnapped and escaped. At about 10:20 or so - I sight him about a block from our house - heading back towards the creek when I called him from a good 100 yards away. He crossed the creek (again) and disappeared again.

I walked and B drove looking for him - without success. About 11:25 p.m. - the vet's office called. Someone had found him, put a leash around his neck and brought him to the vet. He had nothing to identify him and his microchip wasn't detectible.

We picked him up and got him a new collar and a new crate so he has two crates. Friday the private trainer will be here for a 2 hour lesson! Will peace begin then?

L-Wood is a good boy - but needs to settle down - and not be so scared and distant. The vet says it may take 6-8 weeks for this to happen. He was certainly traumatized in his earlier life.

Friday - Stuart - the cat - sweet and small - calmly slowly came towards L-Wood and he was scared of Stuart! He'd previously let Stuart - sniff him several days earlier.

Hopefully - things will be calm for awhile now!


Monday, October 16, 2006


L-Wood is our new Labradoodle (Dog). Saturday we chose him among a number of Labradoodles - very scared at first - but sociable with the other dogs. Yesterday, somewhat sedated, we drove him 5 hours home. He is the most timid dog I've ever been around, though that will change. His sensitivity is obvious.

He's growled twice, but not barked at all. This morning he didn't want to leave his cage as I took him out and it took over five minutes to get him out of his cage. L-Wood met his first dog here and was very happy to do so. He likes other dogs, though seemed scared yesterday of a dog in its own yard.

Hopefully he'll adjust well in the coming days and weeks so we can enjoy our time together very much. Our younger son in particular loves animals and wants close ties with him.

We've already had a lot of walks together and now that he's eaten and drunk water I'll take him out again. We want him to be housebroken as soon as possible!

A new part of our lives!


Wednesday, October 11, 2006

North Korea - Nuclear Testing

For me the current "Crises" related to North Korea's conducting a nuclear test and the resulting "lack of options" that the United States has is very illustrative and interesting.

How we can insist that the U.S. will not negotiate with North Korea directly is absurd and non-defensible to me. While the U.S. Government may prefer to have a negotiation with other major world powers is understandable. To insist however that we will not talk is crazy, pretentious and self-defeating.

The more that a situation is dangerous in the world, the more important it is that we keep communication open. The fact that North Korea is so isolated and so "dangerous" is all the more reason that we should be striving to talk with its leadership.

Whether we think it rational (and I do) or not, the North Korean leadership feels that they are in danger of a U.S. invasion or other interference in their existence or leadership. Whether they really want "peace" with the U.S. can be questioned and is by many people.

There is a danger of a future nuclear war in the world which is certainly increased as North Korea and other countries get nuclear weapons. As the United States is the only country which has used such weapons in actual wars, having killed many people with them, we are hardly the "innocent bystanders" on this issue. Though this happened six years before I was born, my government did this.

The U.S. has long supported the governments of India, Pakistan and Israel which all have nuclear weapons. Until or unless we are willing to limit our own actions and have agreements which include most, if not all, nuclear powers, we have no moral right to insist that the North Korean Government do anything.

Hearing our Government talk on this and similar issues I'm left with this lingering disgust in my mouth - we're not the pure good or better than others - as we're talked of.

We are no better or worse than others in many ways. We are THE military power in the world and many people in many countries have good reasons to fear us. We continue to push others around and act like a bully. We're far from innocent!


Monday, October 02, 2006

A Few Minutes of Total Peace - Yom Kippur

This afternoon I took almost a half hour to sit along the creek in back of our house. It was a mid-60's fall afternoon with filtered sunlight. It was so peaceful to watch and hear the flowing water in the creek.

Then I saw a single, male duck walking upstream towards me. He flew in the air into our back yard briefly and then jumped back down into the water. I thought at first that my presence was bothering him and keeping him from walking past where I was sitting on the shore.

He moved slowly along the far edge of the creek and went past me upstream after a few minutes and disappeared from my view.

The waters were beautiful and soothing. My spirit was a little troubled, but soothed by the beauty I felt - something so simple, but so important to my heart and soul.

Thanks you!

Saturday, September 30, 2006

A World of Plenty (vs. Deficit Living)

A World of Plenty vs. “Deficit Living”

I see living in general as often having two distinct life views and paths which I will call:

1. A World of Plenty and

2. Deficit Living

I try to live in A World of Plenty and for the most part I succeed. I feel myself blessed in many ways. I am content with most of my lot in life. In some ways I need to push myself to take more risks and strive for more life experiences. In my world I enjoy many day-to-day things that I experience. Increasingly I notice the trees, flowers and bushes. Today’s sunlight looks gorgeous amongst the trees outside.

A good way explain my perspective is to look at my health. On the positive side, I get sick relatively infrequently. I’m in extremely good physical shape. I exercise frequently and am good at much of what I do in my exercising.

I also am very, very aware of physical limitations that I have. Sexually, I can’t function well in some ways. Viagra only helps a little. Often it isn’t enough to make things the ways that I would want them. I am very, very aware when I’m with my partner that I can’t perform the way that I could ten years ago when I was 45. I’m also aware that she would like me to be able to satisfy her in ways that I can’t generally do.

More importantly I don’t bend as well as I used to. My body aches much more easily. I can’t see well without my glasses which I now wear 90+% of the time. When I bruise myself it seems to hurt more and take longer to heal. My teeth are far, far from the “good teeth” I used to have. Hair is increasingly growing out of my ears and nose which isn’t attractive. I’ve lost about 6-8 pounds, but want to lose another 20 or so at least over the next year and not have my visible belly. It’s hard to get over this hump.

My health is a World of Plenty because I focus emotionally upon the positive things related to it. I walk and ride my bicycle when I can. I focus on the parts of my sexuality which still work well and enjoy being a sexual person. I try to be supportive of my partner and understanding of her and to enjoy the sexual life we have together. I don’t struggle most of the time with the health issues that I have, but rather feel alive, good, and well. When I feel the aches, I get over them relatively quickly.

In the end it is my attitude which shapes how I view my health. To have that positive attitude it is helpful to have freedom from a major health crisis. IF I were seriously ill or otherwise in poor health, this would be much harder to do. I would then need to focus much of my energy on the health issue that I faced in my life.

I also need to not have a “primal wound” which hasn’t healed within me. IF I had been seriously physically or emotionally abused as a very young child, I might well have an emotional block which would make it hard for me to look at things positively. Some people can work through these blocks. For some it may seem impossible to do so.

Deficit Living is very easy to be in for many people. It is easy to never feel safe or to have enough of whatever is important for living. Life does have an incredible number of pressures for most people. They often lack time for themselves. When they do have time for themselves it often is minimal in various ways and seemingly “not enough”.

In Deficit Living it feels like one’s life is dictated by others. One’s job (if one works) has its shortcomings which are seen as major. One may not have enough friends, or enough time to spend with one’s friends. Materially one may really want things that one can’t afford. One may buy things and they seem to be “wrong” or not to give one what is expected from them.

We all have periods where Deficit Living situationally takes over our lives. We are sick and wanting and expecting to get well. Our relationships have issues that overwhelm us. We lose close relatives or friends and feel the losses deeply. We may be in a major car accident or have some other “calamity” befall us.

When Deficit Living is our norm, such situational things fit our life view. A health crisis is a blip in our life showing us how horrible our health is in general. Our bosses tirade or threat to our job helps show how horrible the job really is.

Where one lives in a World of Plenty one obviously experiences the same health crisis, but looks to move beyond it or how to cope with it as time moves on. The “lows” of life may be felt much more vividly when living in a World of Plenty because of how they contrast with our normal view of life.

IF part of our World of Plenty is really a denial, rather than a “true” life perspective, our world view may be really severely tested during the difficult periods of life. Seemingly being an “eternal optimist” can be a cover for one who really doesn’t experience some of the lows of life. We may cover them over or “sedate oneself” with “bribes”. We may try to cover up our feelings. This may be self-defeating. It is important to experience what happens in our lives and to really allow our feelings to get churned up and dealt with.

Living in a World of Plenty may also involve living in a narrow world and not taking risks in one’s life. Obviously for such people it may be helpful to challenge some of their life experiences and values and try to grow outward and inward. I plead guilty to this one in parts of my life.

Deficit Living may also serve as a mode for staying motivated and trying to move forward. Seeing the world as “evil” or “difficult” and seeing oneself as “up against it” can help motivate some to try harder and do more in their lives.

I would argue that where motivation comes significantly out of anger, pain, or “against” things as it often may do in Deficit Living it isn’t a healthy long-term path for living. It may mask an: “I’m not ok” part of our primal being; a hurt from early childhood.

For me moving ahead in a World of Plenty is a particularly healthy strategy to live as I move in my retirement at the age of 55. Outwardly perhaps my life faces a lot of “downs” and difficulties as I move towards being an “Older Person”. In other ways it is far easier as I don’t face the pressures of work and of moving towards the prime period in my work career.

I would argue that living in a World of Plenty or trying to move in that direction is particularly helpful for people whose lives feel trapped or otherwise difficult. It is easy to live in such a world when one has few pressures in life. Where one has the pressures of children, work, relationships and other things that can be time consuming and stressful it is particularly important to find ways of coping and feeling good about things.

There is no simple way to move towards a World of Plenty. The path in that direction must of necessity be found by each of us for ourselves. Breathing deeply, yoga and many other things may of course help.

None of this is easy or straightforward! I think it important though.


Tuesday, September 26, 2006

The "Rule of Law" and Different Realities

In reading an article in the New Yorker which focussed on Richard Cheney's legal advisor a Mr. Addington it was noted how few of the current Republican Adminstration are lawyers and how the role of "Law" in their actions is "different". From the article and other things I've read it seems clear to me that when one comes into power with a "radical ideology" it leads to trying to shape things to fit that perspective.

The current administration perspective on terrorism and related issues focuses heavily upon the purported need to adjust regulations to recognize that "terrorists" are not a state. Through this distinction these people are seen as not having the rights that countries and their citizens have.

In looking at this and similar perspectives it seems clear to me that we have totally different realities that makes talking with each other very difficult. For these people terrorism is something that has come upon us totally unjustifiably and unrelated to anything that we've done. For me terrorism is has evolved due to a variety of causes which in part relate to how the United States has dealt with the rest of the world.

For me the United States does good things, but also does horrific things in the world. To those "on the right" the United States is - good - good - good.

It's hard to talk with each other when our basic premises are so different! We still need to find ways to reach others to help them see more of our perspectives on such issues.

It is important!

More later!!!!


Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Killing - Respect

It's very sad to hear the story of the shooting of five Duquesne University basketball players! As the news is to date at a University sponsored dance, some of the basketball players talked and "flirted" with one or more young women. Several young men who weren't students evidently found out that there was no search for weapons at the dance (and a sponsorer/organizer evidently knew that they were bringing guns into the dance). They went in and took offense at the "flirting" with one or more of "their" girlfriends and shot the five basketball players.

I would like to hope that the young women in question could choose to talk or not talk with the basketball players. IF they did want to talk, that should have been okay. IF they did not want to talk, there should have been a non-violent mode of resolving such an issue.

"Possessing women" shouldn't be an issue. Talking through things peacefully should be possible.

"Respect" is about living peacefully with others - listening and acting responsibly.

It's very sad that killing and seriously injuring others with handguns in particular is so easy, common and "normal" in the sense of being normative among so many people.


Sunday, September 17, 2006

Tears - Feelings - Mortality

I'm crying now as I write. I'm reading Lauren Bacall's autobiography. I just read of her beloved Humphrey Bogart's death January 14, 1957 after his struggle with cancer. I cry when I feel sad or touched at times.

My tears are increasing thinking of my own father's death Friday, November 13, 1964 when I was 13 years old. I remember my mother awakening my (younger) brother saying: "Wake up boys. Daddy died this morning." My father had been very sick. His death was entirely "logical" to me then. At the same time I'd never consciously been aware that he was dying. Death wasn't talked about commonly then and not in our family.

As I get older I think of death more and more. It gets gradually easier for me to think of it at all.

Since my father's death I've been relatively lucky related to losing family and friends. One hard moment was when my friend Pamella's younger sister was shot-to-death in the parking structure of the New Orleans Hilton in a hold-up in her 20's (I think) years ago.

Now my step-father is in his mid-80's and next year my mother will have her 80th birthday.

We each have our own personal visions of both life and death. While we can share some of our feelings, it is our own path largely apart from others. We can receive and give love and support.

I try to appreciate and enjoy the life that I have! I've been fortunate to be able to retire at age 55 and to have the time to do some of the things that I want to do for myself. I hope to continue to enjoy living for as long as I have. Each day, each month, each year - is something much appreciated!


Friday, September 15, 2006

Hypocrisies - Galore

Yesterday listening on National Public Radio I heard the author of a book talking about Karl Rove, the political guru for George W Bush and the Republican Party in general. Apparently his father came out as Gay - when his son was 19 and they had a good relationship until the father's death in 2004.

It seems rather hypocritical that Rove could strategize the demonizing of Gays - Gay Marriage etc. - to win Ohio in particular and the election in 2004 and other similar battles while being obviously aware of what being Gay is really about.

Now Torture Galore - but doublespeak about it - hits the Senate in the U.S. - courtesy of Mr. Bush - who doesn't seem to understand the need to live by the rules he wants others in the world to live by.


Monday, September 11, 2006

9/11 - A Political Charade

9/11 - Today - which should be a remembrance seems rather a day when President Bush desparately tries to salvage a political victory out of the disasters he has helped create in its image.

It was the greatest opportunity he could have had for true leadership and moving forward! Instead it bred a campaign of fear and innuendo - hatred and anger - rather than love and unity.

So sad!


Saturday, September 09, 2006

The Divide - Feeling a Little Weird

I read of the continuing efforts of the Bush Administration to push any faintly, faintly reasonable limits towards autocratic power free from Congressional and Supreme Court intervention. I think of how crazy and bizarre it is when purported terrorists potentially could be put to death with secret testimony and no right to confront their accusers directly.

I think also of how splintered U.S. life is between people who seem worried about a "breakdown in values" where Gays and Lesbians can somehow threaten their Christian lives by simply existing and trying to be "normal" and others whose views may have more similarities with my values. I think of how I could possibly believe in the dangers of "liberalism" and feel that other people were beneath me and needing to lift themselves up by the bootstraps absent decent healthcare, education and peace in the streets near where they live.

I really hope that more people will see the cronyism, deceit and gross inefficiency and lies of the past years when voting this fall and two years from now.

I wish I could simply believe that things like Al Queda were "the problem". I see instead a world where we create more and more terrorists with our disasterous foreign policy. Hatred and fear do not give us peace of mind and peace.

It simply isn't that complicated for me to see so many things. Others may get confused with all the lies and misinformation out there.

I'm cautiously optimistic that things will get better! I hope also that the "left" and liberals will gain and use power wisely. That seems unlikely absent electoral funding reform and other necessary changes.


Saturday, August 26, 2006

A Sad But Necessary Moment

I am a recently joined member of a Jewish Peace Group locally which already means a lot to me. Recently we had a much needed mediation effort related to difficulties primarily between an "older" member, who founded the local group and (basically) the remaining core of the leadership of the group (who are much younger).

At the meeting it became clear to me that the three (of 12 total) attendees who appeared to be over 70 had a totally different vision of an activist group which was incompatible with the rest of us who were there.

My activist awakening came in the 1980's struggling (at first) with a men's anti-rape group as we built ourselves into a wonderful, successful group. Building trust, working by consensus, and learning to respect each other (as men) took time and a lot of work. Through the hard internal work we did together, we were able to do incredible work for quite a few years. We built the respect first of the local feminist community and later many others locally and nationally.

Now, twenty years later working primarily with younger women, I can see tinges of what we faced before in my past life as well as new, welcome, but difficult challenges.

The strong, wonderful "older" woman has now decided to leave our Group. We hope that she will share her incredible knowledge and contacts with us as she intends to do.

To be an effective group we need to both work together cohesively and to struggle with issues that divide us. Reluctantly I feel that this woman, despite her warm heart and love for so much that we believe in, could not work effectively with us.

Fortunately, her activisim will continue, unabated. Now unhinged from the constraints we, of necessity, tried to begin imposing, she, hopefully will find an easier and more fulfilling path. Now we, as a group, can begin learning our lessons from what happened and move forward on our desired path.

It is sad, but I think necessary!


Friday, August 25, 2006

Iraq - "Have a Plan to Kill Everyone You Meet"

1.) Be polite,
2.) Be professional
3.) Have a plan to kill everyone you meet

These are words from the wall of the Marine base in Barwana, Iraq (NY Times Magazine, August 20, 2006, page 37).

How can anyone say that we are the saviors of Iraq, when everyone is a potential enemy?

What gives us the right to intervene now in the struggles for power there?

How benevolent are we?

We certainly help create a more extensive terrorist network throughout Islamic Communities in many countries by consistently alienating many through our actions in Iraq, in Lebanon-Israel-Palestine and elsewhere.

Our "benevolence" seems strangely tied to "strategic interests" - e.g. oil in the Middle East and the money to be made by many U.S. and multi-national business interests. "Democracy" as I think of it seems irrelevant when what it really means is how can we and our allies profit generally at the expense of the poor of Third World Countries as well as the United States.

We are destroying the lives of many in the Middle East through our actions and inactions. We also are destroying the lives of many idealistic young people and their families in our country who are killed, injured and traumatized by their experiences in Iraq.

I try to trust everyone I meet. I try to be supportive of everyone I meet.


Wednesday, August 23, 2006

US Politics and Change ?

I am not alone in welcoming the first bit of optimism in years with the November, 2006 elections coming up. It appears that finally the domination of the Republican Party may be over.

At the same time it seems that the Democrats don't seem to "get it" that staying in power will require them to convince many voters that they can bring real change to the U.S. Obviously election reform so that congresspeople can avoid the need to constantly raise huge sums of money might be a logical first step. Absent real reform, it will be very hard to bring about substantive change.

Democrats will also need to face serious issues such as:

1.) Tax reform
2.) Deficit reduction
3.) Iraq
4.) Minimum Wage legislation

as well as helping create an environment of cooperation and consensus building.

I hope that Democrats will defy their past and really be successful. I'm not optimistic though!


Monday, August 21, 2006

Honesty and Integrity

Several days ago I listened to a talk show on National Public Radio which talked about cheating in school. The "expert" stated that where students cheat including selectively where they deem it "necessary" or "ok" it leads them in later life to be more prone to cheat. He talked of integrity, honesty and how things are in schools, work environments and elsewhere.

It was sad to hear one caller talk of how in his wealthy high school environment things were "bad" for the students and most cheated. They then got into "excellent" colleges and didn't continue their cheating. Does the end justify the means? Doesn't it seem unfair that poorer kids obviously might have been subject to much harsher penalties if caught cheating than these poor little rich kids.

Another caller talked of how she cheated in high school, but now in college didn't cheat because IF she was caught, the penalty would be too great.

I'm happy to be a little less driven or whatever it is as well as simply wanting to live comfortably within myself in a world where I strive to be "Very Honest" and to avoid being where I might judge myself as having been "bad" in any such way. It doesn't feel like a "guilt" thing, but rather a source of pride that I earn what I get and take my lumps if I'm not prepared or in the right situation.

As I get older I try to be generous to others, letting drivers get in front of me, not being so rushed and seeing more of how I can be supportive of others. I wouldn't want it any other way!


Sunday, August 13, 2006

Recognizing our Gifts of Life and Those that Others Have (and Don't Have)

Today our houseguests will leave our house after a six day visit. Their younger son is autistic. Being around him is instructive in so many ways. His world is very different from all of the rest of us. I was with his father and him inside a live butterfly exhibit yesterday at a science museum. He was scared when the butterflies came towards us. Telling him that they couldn't and wouldn't hurt us at all wouldn't mean the same thing as it would to a "normal" child.

We often don't recognize the gifts that we may have by being "normal" as well as "exceptional" in so many parts of our lives. Seeing and feeling the gifts that this young boy has is also important.

How often in our lives we don't take the time to see and feel important parts of ourselves. We often also are impatient and overly judgmental. We were driving up a large hill behind a fairly large motorcycle yesterday with 3-4 large parts of it intended for holding possessions. It was a touring cycle. Its driver was going quite slowly and finally we passed it.

We looked back and the driver was a perhaps 75 year old man. We smiled and talked of how our image of the driver had changed as well as our acceptance of how slow he drove.

Can we understand far more complex and important things around us in our day-to-day lives?


Saturday, August 12, 2006

Respecting and Understanding Others

As children we are often raised in a gender and age based world. As boys, for example we now live in a video game world, augmented by tv and movies. This world immunizes us from significant parts of the larger world around us where old foggies like me read a lot and have a very different vision of reality.

Our children learn in specialized worlds of soccer and other activities meant to keep them busy and supposedly happy.

It is unclear to me how we are taught in such worlds how to understand and respect the many traditional cultures around us including that of the many Muslim and African peoples of the world.

In the United States our world is often extremely insular. We don't know the geography of most of the world. We confuse the politics of others. We falsely believe that things in the United States are "better" than everywhere else, when we don't despair about our crime rates and other problems.

I think it important for us to do things differently! Raising boys and girls more together, while recognizing that there are gender differences is important. Beginning to bridge the class and race differences in our own country in a variety of ways is important - through our schools and in other ways.

As adults we need to learn through volunteer work and in other ways how to better understand people whose lives are very different from ours. Ironically, as media consolidations and the politics of divisiveness push us apart, we also have things like the internet which allow us to learn much more.


Monday, August 07, 2006

Using Force - or "My ___'s Bigger than Yours"

As the Israeli military forces pound Lebanon causing incredible destruction and the Hezbollah rockets cause significant, though lesser damage in Israel I am reminded of the U.S. Government in Iraq - as our government fails repeatedly to "win" what increasingly appears to be an "unwinnable war".

In both cases there is a combination of a:

1.) We're right - "God is on our Side as well as the power of our Military" and

2.) IF we just show our military strength enough we will show "the enemy" and teach them not to defy our "superior" country they will give in and let us live in peace.

Lebanon's population is roughly 3.8 million. Israel's population is about 6.2 million of which roughly 4.6 million are Jews.

There are problems with this "macho logic". People who feel cornered and oppressed fight back and act "irrational" as has happened with suicide bombings in both Israel and Iraq. As the U.S. and Israel push their causes increasing numbers of Muslims are radicalized and start working against Israel and the United States.

As men - we can bully women and children and other men. Sometimes they will "fight back" killing us or simply pushing us outside of their lives. We lose the Whole!

Hopefully someday Israel and the U.S. will both learn that though making peace is difficult and dangerous, fighting wars and continuing to act in ways that in part are oppressive to others hurts all of us far more than it can possibly help.


Saturday, August 05, 2006

As a Man - Getting Older

I am a 55 year old White male. My father died of stomach cancer at age 46 when I was 13 and my brother was 11. I recently retired.

I am very conscious of getting older. When I was younger I could easily deny issues relating to getting older (when that meant something potentially negative). My body was strong and most things I did or tried to do I succeeded or failed at them unrelated to "being older".

I have increasing reminders of what it means to be "old", though I don't feel "old" (yet). Sometimes when I get out of the car, my body is stiff an feels immobile for a few minutes. It can be hard to move onto the ground or to get up from the ground. My back aches at various times. My vision is clearly weakening. Now I have trouble both with things close up and far away. My eyes can be blurry at times and things can seemingly "get in the way" when I look at things.

Over the past 13 or so years I have had increasing issues with getting and maintaining an erection. Viagra helps in one way at times, but I don't like it. My sexuality is not defined by my penis, but my partner is not happy with this limitation in our sex life (though she's never experienced me without this limitation).

I am also in well above average physical shape. I rode my bicycle for three hours at a good rate last Sunday and could have gone several more hours easily. I lift weights and do plenty of aerobic exercise.

As a man I have learned that I should "be in control" of myself. Learning to live with aches, pains and simply the knowledge that I'm "going downhill" isn't easy. I can laugh at some of it, but at other times my mortality is a reminder I can't ignore. I used to be extremely driven in the moments of my life. Now I appreciate taking some things slower and allowing myself to enjoy individual moments I didn't experience before. This also gives me time to think of my own limitations and the fact that I won't live indefinitely in the future.

I believe that it is different getting older as a man in some important ways from the experiences women have. I'm not sure that I fully understand the differences. Because I've not emotionally taken care of the needs of others in important ways that many women do, I am different in looking at myself. Physiologically it is also different not having the hormonal cycles and the potential of bearing children. Women seem to have more of a sense of "surviving" and living through things that they can't control than men do.

Getting older isn't easy! I am enjoying my life more now than I did when I was younger.


Friday, August 04, 2006

"Guard dog goes on a tear..."

"LONDON - A guard dog ripped apart a collection of rare teddy bears, including one once owned by Elvis Presley, during a rampae at a children's museum.

'He just went berserk,' said" .... "where hundreds of bears were chewed up Tuesday by the 6-year-old Doberman pinscher named Barney."

Oy- Vey! - I guess that even dogs may be affected by the stresses we face~


Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Allowing Space - for Those We Care About

For my partner B how we appear in public is generally very important. Looking "bad" may mean that others will judge us negatively. For her, being Black, Female, and Large Bodied are all givens. Not being noticed (further) is important.

For me walking out with my shirt tucked in or half-way in is almost never an issue. I try not to make waves, but if others don't like the way I look, for me that's their problem.

Living with and around others requires me to try to be aware of and sensitive to what is important to them. Whether I think that pet peeves should be significant or not is not the issue. Sometimes I may choose to do things "my way" and sometimes I may listen and feel what others may want or I think that they may want.

I think that in most trouble spots in the world today the United States looks foolish or worse because we generally don't see the Space that others walk in and we insult people and otherwise are inconsiderate of their worlds of honor and respect.

Listening and hearing others is important!


Friday, July 28, 2006

Am I the Only One ? - Re: Lebanon - Tragedy

Lebanon is a small country with a population of approximately 3.9 million in an area of 10,452 square kilometers. Current estimates are that 800,000 of its population has been displaced from their homes.

In the United States Connecticut, Oklahoma and Oregon all have populations fairly close to the population of Lebanon (about 200-300,000 less). Connecticut's geographic area totals 12,997 kilometers (much smaller than Oklahoma and Oregon).

I can not imagine 20% of Connecticut's population being forced to flee their homes. New Orleans had a population of about 485,000. The displacement of population would be comparable to the dislocation of all of New Orleans and some of its suburban population. Similarly it would be comparable to Washington, D.C. and several hundred thousand of its suburbs having all their population displaced.

Lebanon is a relatively poor country with an extremely weak central government.

It seems incredibly stupid and sad that the US Government continues to support the Israeli Government 100% in indicating that the time is still not right for a ceasefire in Lebanon.

I heard a seemingly knowledgeable commentator on Lebanon on the radio yesterday. He indicated that the Israelis had assured the Bush Administration before the war began that they would sweep in and win the war easily within a week. He indicated that now the Israelis were facing the facts that the Hezbellah fighters are experienced and good whereas many of the Israeli soldiers are relatively inexperienced. For Israel increasingly it is a major problem that the war is not over.

Assuming that peace should come to Lebanon there will be a number of major problems as a result of what has transpired. At the beginning of the war the Hezbellah were the "bad guys" in much of the Arab world. The massive war effort's harming and killing of civilians has turned public opinion in Lebanon and in neighboring Middle East countries strongly against Israel.

Rebuilding Lebanon will not likely be done by the United States. Iran will likely fund much of the rebuilding. This will then build Iranian influence in Lebanon and elsewhere in the Middle East outside of Israel. The result will be the opposite of what is in the best interests of the United States and Israel.

The United States could work with Middle Eastern countries besides Israel talking extensively with Saudi Arabia and most probably Egypt and Jordan to help find an Arab lead peace initiative without any preconditions before the talking begins. Building informal, if not formal, ties with Syria and Iran with whom the U.S. has no current formal diplomatic relations would be helpful.

The United States really has been quite successful at creating enemies and taking bad situations and making them much worse in recent years! It is sad and immoral that so many people need to die and have their lives turned upside down because of the limited vision actions and inaction of Mr. Bush and those who advise him.


Wednesday, July 26, 2006

A Little Humor - for a Change

This morning my 7 year old step-son got up around 7:15 a.m. and walked out of his bedroom into the living room, got on the couch with the remote control by his hand and fell asleep without a word or other action and slept there for the next 2 1/2 hours.

It's nice - with all the craziness (e.g. now 800,000 Lebanese civilians having fled from their homes) - to simply be able to get a brief laugh out of something.

Our new house has a creek in back. Several days ago the "Owner Cat" - whose house is several houses down the block and across the street gave me an extremely disgusted look which clearly said: "What right do YOU have to be in MY Backyard!!!!" This was the 2nd time this had happened - but the cat was more emphatic this time.

Years ago, we were in a food store and I saw the mother of a two year old boy blush extremely when her son said loudly (with an inflection obviously similar to hers): "OH SHIP!!"

Any simple similar stories would be most welcome in response!


Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Lebanon/Israel - The Current War - Feelings

I'm saddened, hurt, angry and much more thinking about what is transpiring in Lebanon and Israel currently! For the first time an "Arab" ("Muslim") force, the Hezbalah has taken an action and been widely criticized by some of the conservative Arab World - including notably the Saudi Arabian Government.

Reading of as many as 500,000 people being displaced and increasing numbers of mostly civilians killed, it feels like the United States and our Government are remarkably calm. In too many ways we seem disconnected from what will, for example, make Hurricane Katrina seem like a relatively minor event in comparison most likely unless things end very, very soon and things aren't as bad as they appear now to be. The lives of Lebanese people should be seen as just as important as our lives!

This would be a perfect time for President Bush to exercise some leadership and bring about a temporary ceasefire where the bombings and rocket attacks would cease and a real attempt might be made to get the captured Israeli soldiers back in Israel - alive.

Unfortunately Bush again supports the Israeli Government and whatever they do, giving more opportunities for more "terrorists" to be born out of anger, disallusionment and more towards the United States. Killing for peace - won't work here!

Responsible Jewish leaders such as are in - A Jewish Voice for Peace -(they have an excellent website - criticize Israeli military/government actions without in any way supporting or being neutral about what Hezbelah has done and is trying to do.

I understand that Iran and perhaps to a lesser degree Syria may be involved in what is going on and that there are dangers related to this. It is also clear to me that a weak Lebanese Government is now virtually powerless and will have even less chances to internally control future actions of Hezbalah or others in the future who may try to attack Israel.

I believe that the U.S. Government and people have a responsibility to help make peace in Lebanon and with the Palestinians. This will never happen until we really mediate and are not simply allied with Israel. Being Non-Aligned need not condone the actions of others any more than we are now guilty of supporting the needless killing of many people as well as badly hurting many people who are in danger of losing their lives solely because of where they live.

It is unfortunate that the Bush Administration's actions and inactions will continue to feed Radical Islam and make future terrorism more likely!


Friday, July 14, 2006

I've joined another (Feminist Men's) Blog

I just joined the Group Feminist Men's Blog at:

Some, if not most of my Feminist related writings will be there. Hopefully it will generate more dialogue and not be a hassle if anyone who reads my blog here wants to go there.


Wednesday, July 12, 2006

"Our Enemies" - Our Government's Response

I recently read a review of Ron Suskind's new book: "The One Percent Doctrine: Deep Inside America's Pursuit of its Enemies Since 9/11". The reviewer describes how the author talking of a U.S. intelligence policy where pre-established political decisions shape the intelligence so that the CIA and others must "find evidence" to support whatever the Bush Administration wants the message to be.

The reviewer describes the capture of Abu Zubaydah in Pakistan in March, 2002. He indicates that this man was described as: "al-Qaida's chief of operations". "Abu Zubaydah, his captors discovered, turned out to be mentally ill and nothing like the pivotal figure they supposed him to be." After indicating that the prisoner appeared to know nothing about terrorist operations, President Bush, two weeks later described him as: "one of the top operatives plotting and planning death and destruction on the United States."

This man then became a major CIA focal point with some of the notorious torture (or almost torture) techniques based allegedly upon a statement Bush gave to George Tenet (CIA Director at the time): "I said he was important" and "You're not going to let me loste face on this, are you?"

Under much duress Zubaydah began to speak of a whole range of plots including attacking The Brooklyn Bridge and The Statue of Liberty. "With each new tale, 'thousands of uniformed men and women raced in a panic to each ... target' And so, Suskind writes, 'the United States would torture a mentally disturbed man and then leap screaming, at every word he uttered.'"

Being bothered greatly by ridiculous, dangerous, ineffective actions of the Bush Administration alone does little to change things! Hopefully the patterns of such efforts will haunt Bush and the Republicans in the months and years to come awakening voters to help change things.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Start the Revolution - Also Have Some Fun & Relaxation

Reading a local weekly's description of a political commune in our community left me a little sad. While the ideals of the group seem on the whole excellent, there seemed to be something really missing in their life together.

It is important that when we work for societal change that we really try our best to change our world into a better place. Obviously if we spend our time taking it easy most of the time, we may not do a whole lot for whatever causes we care about.

It also is very important that we try to look at the bigger picture, rather than getting caught up in the details of our cause(s). When we burn out "saving the world", we don't help our cause(s) much as well as making ourselves less likely to succeed in both the short and long runs.

How we take care of ourselves is very important! Viewing life and our world around us in some spiritual way often may help us. Whether this is through a religion or some other path, seeing and feeling the miracles of life however it may be is helpful. For my partner and me water has a great significance. We are fortunate now to live along a creek - which is a huge help to our morale. Seeing the large bodies of water near us as well as in other areas often helps us lift our spirits.

Relaxing enjoying music, theater, dance, sunsets and sunrises and many other things can rejuvenate us a lot. Play also is important! Children often can teach us much about play. We can also explore various areas of silliness and simply having fun.

There is much more no doubt that I'm missing here! Thanks!

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Palestinians, Hamas, the US, etc.

Being Jewish and from the United States I am concerned about what transpires between the Israelis and Palestinians in the Middle East.

For many Jews, there is a fear of the Palestinians directly related to the Holocaust. Taking the Palestinian cause seriously as a valid desire for independence is equated with the appeasement of Hitler by the U.S., Great Britain, France and other countries. The words of Hamas and of individual "radicals" are taken very seriously as threatening to destroy the State of Israel and kill as many Israeli Jews as possible.

The United States is hardly an "innocent bystander" in the Middle East! At various times the U.S. has directly or indirectly pushed Israel to pursue policies seen as congruent with U.S. foreign policy. The ties between the military and intelligence communities are common knowledge.

Israel is a strong military power. While it can not compete with the U.S. in such areas, its military power is far stronger than the combined powers of its perceived "enemies" in the Middle East. Despite the fears of many Israelis and Jews from other countries, Israel is in no danger of being destroyed unless a nuclear holocaust should occur.

Currently Israel is an important ally of the U.S. Currently Israel's bargaining power with the Palestinians is very strong. Israel has repeatedly avoided what I would call "serious negotiations" over a peace settlement. The proposed peace settlement which Arafat rejected would have divided the West Bank into slices of a country with Israeli control between them. A new country there could not have survived as a viable state. More importantly any Palestinian leadership which had approved such a settlement would have lost power to militants such as the current Hamas leadership.

It is risky to really seriously negotiate a peace settlement for Israel. There are no guarantees that radicals such as those in Hamas won't be "impossible" and create extreme problems that could result in the deaths of many people.

It is also risky to continue the status quo and to build physical barriers to isolate the Palestinians within walls as is being done. Eventually Israel will lose its strategic importance to the U.S. At that time Israel will have only its military and economic force as a bargaining chip.

Israel has Not proposed offering virtually all of the West Bank for a Palestinian state including the important water rights in the entire area. It appears to me that the status of Jerusalem and its immediate area can not be resolved in the short-term.

I believe that Israel could negotiate a two step peace process which basically allows a totally independent West Bank State to exist as the first step. It would be in the Palestinians best interests to make such a state work so that they could have some bargaining power related to the Jerusalem Area. Such an agreement would be risky for the Palestinians because there would be no guarantees that the second state of negotiations would work out.

Israel will continue to face a militant Hamas (or worse) until it honestly seeks a peace settlement. It is hard to negotiate with "militants". It is a natural result of failing to take negotiations seriously with the Palestinians - previously.

I hope that there will be peace! It will only happen when Israel takes risks and helps make it happen. I hope that Jews from outside Israel will gradually see more of these truths.



Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Talking Across Borders ?

We face what I would call "cultural divides" in our views of much of reality nearly every day at least in our lives. Such divides may include things such as:

1.) Religion - in our lives - "Conservative Activist Christian" vs. "Liberal 'Accepting' Jewish/ Christian/ Agnostic/ Atheist/ Muslim (etc.)"

2.) Political - "Liberal/Radical" vs. "Conservative"

3.) Economic Perspective - "Business/Capitalist" vs. "Egalitarian/Socialist"

4.) White/Heterosexual/Upper-Middle Class vs. "Not" (People of Color/Gay/Lesbian/Bisexual/ Non-Middle Class)

5.) Male vs. Female

for example.

Increasingly we are divided into sub-parts of groups or simply identifying ourselves in different ways such as: "Christian" or "Not" - whether that means "Non-Christian" or simply not identifying with a perspective on religion as it may be seen to affect far more than our religious preferences.

I have to think before I open my mouth in some circumstances. I often presume, for example, that people are "sensible" e.g. - are "Anti-Bush" in political outlook. Obviously, my own biases affect what I see as "normal". There are, of course, people who are intelligent and sensible and who believe in a conservative outlook that is highly alien to my political beliefs.

How do we talk - With - those who are different from ourselves in important ways rather than talking At or Around them? How can we respect others and ourselves and really hear the concerns and fears and interests of others when they are different from what we believe in?

It isn't easy - of course! My sense is that those of us "on the left", "feminist", etc. - have often failed to reach others who might share some of what we believe in. Why we've failed is interesting to try to look at. Clearly, others have at times played on the deep fears of others. My sense though is that we've often (realistically) been seen as elitist and insensitive to what concerns many people have.

In the U.S. - conservative Republicans - have often succeeded in dividing and conquering the political opposition. Democrats - are squeezed between being "to the left" - which is often marginalized by others or as being "like Republicans" - hence - why not pick the "real thing".

While we can complain about the Major Media and others, we, in the end, need to really reach others and make them see that feminism isn't about "hating men" and that anti-feminist outlooks have hurt and continue to hurt men, women and children.

Obviously, White people in the US who purport to be: "anti-racist" often have not really built up meaningful alliances with People of Color. One important area now in the US relates to how we relate to the soldiers and families of the soldiers who are in Iraq and elsewhere.

There aren't a lot of easy answers I see beyond "doing the work" and living our lives in honest, caring ways. Clearly we need to do better at understanding and accepting others whose issues are different from ours. We don't have simple unifying issues which remain important year after year - as environmentalists, feminists, gay/lesbian/bi/transgender activists, anti-racism focussed people etc. need to support each other and learn from each other.

Hopefully we'll increasingly find ways to work together as well as playing together and being happy and positive despite things that are scary and difficult for us.


Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Toleration ???

In Florida on vacation we pass pickup trucks with Confederate flags. We also see cars with license plates specially ordered - saying "Choose Life" .

Now, all of us can be just a little sensitive in this "different" environment~ I - a White Man, traveling in my mother-in-law's car with my family, all of whom are Black. Oh, but you don't understand! The bumper stickers aren't threatening me or the ones I love. They are affirming of the South!

It's "more" than simple affirmations when one attests to support of a system which brutally enslaved and killed millions of Africans and African-Americans. It would be hard for me to say that these people have no rights - to do what they feel, however I also recognize some of the anger and fear that their actions can bring - as I see my partner - reflecting on the racism she's experienced - noticing that someone had started a fire on their porch - attempting to drive them out of their Florida neighborhood perhaps 30 years ago - because "Negroes" weren't welcome in the White neighborhood - which could have killed them all. Today, she fears home invaders - always wants an alarm system on when we sleep at night in our home.

It's driving by the house that they lived in starting about 1971 - 3 rooms - in an area that is heavily segregated today as when back then - poor and ugly - where mother and daughter were shocked away from the beauty of a distant Chicago suburban area - living with mostly White neighbors to a world where they could only live on "the other side of the tracks".

I try to envison - having designer license plates which say: "Support a Women's Rights to Control Her Own Body" or "US Out of Iraq" or similar. We are so free to "choose" - when it isn't against the dominant political beliefs of those in control.

Florida has some incredible beauty and plenty of very nice people. It isn't home - where I and We feel safe and comfortable. It is not "worse" than where we live - as there is racism and other intolerance in our backyards also.

Thank You!

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Retirement - Relief and Some Sadness

Friday, June 16th will be my last work day before I retire. I am very, very happy to have the opportunity to move forward and do much more of what I want to in my life. 31 years as a Federal employee is more than enough! My work has had interesting parts, but on the whole it's not the most fascinating thing to do with my time.

It will be sad to leave my co-workers. It's a little scary to feel like there is "no going back". I'm sure that this is the right decision for me and for my family. It is satisfying to move on in my life to new challenges as a househusband, volunteer and general explorer of life.


Saturday, June 10, 2006

Savion Glover - an Amazing Artist

We saw Savion Glover give a most amazing Tap Dance performance in San Francisco this evening! He performed with a wonderful backup of piano, (upright) bass, drums and tenor/soprano/flute who were all talented individual and ensemble musicians playing jazz that was influenced by Pharoah Sanders, John Coltrane and many other wonderful musicians of the past 50 years.

Savion Glover is amazingly talented in several different ways! He is simply an amazing tap dancer. More impressive though is how he can blend rhythm into the melody of his band and take in both their melody and rhythm into a melodic and fluid form. He also has a sense of humor and can be both brash and restrained/humble in his performance.

Words can not describe what I experienced!