10 Word Review – Inferno

infernoDisappointing. Unfulfilled. Cast. Rushed. Score. Kinetic. Locations. Virus. Potential. No.

Ebertfest: 10 Word Review – Force of Destiny

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Love. Compassion. Hope. Humanness. Birds. Life. Art. Happiness. Soul. Yes.

10 Word Review – The Circus: Inside the Greatest Political Show on Earth

p12492641_b_v5_aaFascinating. Workings. Inside. Viewpoints. Access. Personal. Candidates. Documentary. Pace. Yes.

Olympics Commentary, Our Way (Part 2)

Here it is, just what you’ve been waiting for, the second installment of Olympics Commentary, done our way.  Enjoy!

Speed Skating – Men’s 1000 

Shmeegle wins!  No he didn’t, he came in third.  No, he was first. No he wasn’t.  Yes.  Oh, time correction, he’s second.  He had been first.  That’s what I said.  Oh, I thought he was third and the brothers were one and two.  No.  I was confused.  Yes, you were.

Short Track Speed Skating

I love that Apolo is doing commentary.  He knows so much about the sport.  Yeah, and he’s good at it.  He is.

It’s short track, one of your favorite events.  This is crazy.  It’s bedlam out there.  Anything can happen.  Skill and luck have to combine perfectly all at this one moment in order for them to win a medal.

Ooooo, was he touched?  No.  He didn’t medal.  Sad.  Viktor Ahn, formerly a Korea member, is now skating for Russia.  He is?  Yes.  He got the bronze.

Women’s Curling

Want to watch curling?  Women’s?  No.  Ha ha ha!  OK.

Women’s Super Combined

Did you see her face?  She’s so relaxed.  Uh huh. I would look like this (grimacing and clenching teeth).  Ha ha!

I can’t even snow plow.  Ha ha ha!

I can’t believe how relaxed she looks.  They are going like 80 miles per hour.

What are you looking at on your iPad?  Just reading.  Yes, what are you reading?  Just some article on the market.  OK.  By the time you have to fly to Atlanta next week you will be so grateful to watch something else on TV besides the Olympics wont’ you?  Huh?

Now they are on the second part of the event.  Looks bumpy.

Now look at her face, she’s concentrating so hard.  Bug eyed.  Yes.  Focused.

Is she going to do it?  YES.  Awesome.  Her fourth Olympics.  Cool.

 Men’s Moguls

That’s so sweet.  That just made me cry.  So touching.  His relationship with his brother is awesome.

Oh, it’s this again.  It’s the men’s final.

Oh look, American Idol is on.  Let’s watch it.  OK. We are recording, we can come back to the Olympics.

… after American Idol.

Two Man Luge

They go down together, on one sled.

Women’s Halfpipe

Drop in.

Ooooo… that looked bad.  She’s out.

I love that shot.  Up high like that?  Yeah, it’s what they see.  Look at that.  So cool.

Listen to Weston snoring.  He’s dreaming.

Is this almost over?  It’s 11:00.  Yes.  This is the last event.  Good, it’s bedtime.

Ouch.  That hurts. That was a bad fall.

That was a big yawn.  I’m sleepy.

Men’s Speed Skating – 1500

Look at their thighs.  Wow.

I want to see the Luther twins.  You mean Muhler?  Yeah, I want to see the Muhler twins.  Luther Muhler Muhler Luther.  Oh, it’s Mulder.

He looks pained.  Oh man.

Where’s that photo of us speed skating in Lake Placid?  ha ha ha!  Oh yeah.  Let me go look.  Here’s the one of you.  Ha ha ha!  I’m posting it.

Here’s the guy.  Shani Davis.  He looks like he’s slowing.  Oh no, he’s not even going to medal.

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Women’s Downhill

Ooooooo.  That’s gotta hurt.  Is she USA?  No.  These women are unbelievable.  That was terrible.

If you crashed on this course how could you even ski it again.  I’d be terrified.  I don’t know.  They are flying.

Look how steep that is. Wow. Ew.

I love the people in the start gate who are yelling at them.  Uh huh.

Speed Skating – Women’s 1000

I love this chocolate pudding with the toasted coconut.  Tastes like an almond joy.

Women’s Skeleton

Look at the bird.  Isn’t that cool?  Yes, that is cool.

Head first.  Man, that’s fast.

Nickotina?  Nickotna.

The butter on the toast?  My honey loves that analogy.  Butter on the toast.  I do.

One curve at a time.

Men’s Ski Slopestyle

I wonder if he will tap the doll?  Nope.

He has poles.  That first guy didn’t.  He has time to adjust his jacket.  Ha ha!  Yes he does.  Wow, that was huge.

… hums the Olympic theme

He cracked the egg.  Where is he from?  France.  With his dreads and huge clothes.  He will have scrambled egg.  Wait, he’s from Sweden.

Oh, he landed backwards.  OH, c’mon dude, make it.  He did.  He landed backwards again.  He’s an American dude.  That was very good.  He’s number one.  By a lot.

Nice stretch.  Sometimes a woman just has to stretch.

He touched the doll.  He did?  Yes.  I didn’t see it.  Rewind.  Yep.  He touched the matryoshka doll.  What is a matryoshka doll anyway?  I’m looking it up.  Oh, it’s one of those nesting dolls.  That must be their actual name.  Who knew.  Hmmm.

There’s big pants.  I wonder why he wears those big clothes.  More comfy I guess.  How could they be more comfy, look at how they sag down like that.

Don’t be so excited honey.

Nose butter?  Did he just say nose butter?  Yes.  What is that?  I have no idea.  His pants are falling off.  He has straps.

He’s the dog lover.  He has taken all these twitter pics of himself with stray dogs in Sochi.  He’s paying to get some vaccinated.  I love the dog lover.

Muting TV and yelling to K upstairs… Huh?  I didn’t say anything.  Oh, OK.

There’s the little dude.  He says, give me a joint and I’ll go down.  Ha ha ha!  Oh, dude, that was amazing.  He could be a pants model.

He’s not in the top 8.  Why?  Because he’s short.  They take off points for being short.  No they don’t.

Ooooooo!  That was awesome.  Watch him land.  That was so perfect.  Look at that happiness.

Different rails have different points.  I don’t know if tap the doll is more points or if it’s an easy one.  That was a pretty big backseat right there.  Honey, you know the lingo.  He looks like a girl. Don’t be sexist.  I’m not, look at him, he looks girlish.  OK, you’re right.  He does look like a girl.  See.

The U.S. Sweeps.

Men’s Figure Skating Short Program

Oh no, he had to withdraw.  He’s in pain.

Ooooo.  Wow.  He crashed into the wall.  He’s going to get up and finish.  Wow.  That was a terrible fall.  That was.  Ouch.  That didn’t feel good at all.

Nice pony tail.

He waves goodbye, smiling.  And then goes to have surgery.  Ha ha ha!

They have a lot of different things they wear.  Yeah, it’s the swag.  They get all of it when they make the team.  It’s a lot, this coat, those pants when they ski, that sweater from the opening ceremonies, and pajamas.  ha ha ha!!  They probably have pajamas with a drop seat.  It is Russia.  It’s cold.  ha ha ha!!

Love

I’m actually sitting here at a loss for words.  Shocking.  Yesterday I was jumping up and down, crying, pumping my fists in the air, and trying to mouth the words, “it passed!” to K who was on the phone in a meeting for work.  It was a comedy of sorts.  She involved in her meeting, me jumping and crying and trying to shout without saying a word.  She mouthed the words, “what’s up?” and I just kept whispering that it passed.  We had a mini failure to communicate until she just asked the person on the phone to wait a second, held her hand over the headset mic, and said, “what’s going on?”.  I could then finally answer aloud.  “It passed!  It passed!”  She got excited, had to tell the person she was on the phone with what I’d just said.  Finally, we could semi celebrate together.  When she got off the phone we hugged each other.  I was still crying.

I spent over two hours yesterday with headphones on, computer tabbed to the state house feed, listening and watching the debate about the Illinois marriage bill.  It was infuriating, enlightening, glorious, encouraging, a tad scary at times, and ultimately wonderful.  Whether people said things I agreed with, or not, it was fascinating to watch and listen to the process.  When the vote finally came it happened so fast it was almost anticlimactic.  They vote electronically so it took less than 10 seconds.  Bam.  Done.

I don’t expect everyone to agree with me on this.  After all, there are many people, who for religious reasons, feel my right to marry who I love is wrong.  And, oh well.  I don’t expect people to agree.  It’s a divisive issue.  Always has been.  I see it as the civil rights issue of our time, and others see it as a religious issue.  I could argue that, as I have in the past on this blog, but today I won’t.  Today I guess maybe I want to write about love.

I am in love.  Since April of 2003, and if I really admit it to myself it was probably a couple of months earlier, I’ve been in love.  In the beginning I was scared as hell.  Me being in love with a woman was not something my family would expect and at that point didn’t know anything about.  So I was scared.  In love, but scared.  Would they accept her, would they cast me out, would they turn their backs or talk behind mine?  One of the reasons I kept being gay a secret for so long was because I didn’t want to go from being Tam to being gay Tam.  Because whether people mean to or not, that’s exactly what happens.  You suddenly become something different from what you were to other people.  Not always in a bad way, but different none the less.  I didn’t want that first perceived difference, until I met her, and then I didn’t want to keep it a secret or hide her from everyone in my life.  I wanted her to be a part of my family.  I wanted to live a whole and authentic life and to do that I had to tell my truth.  So I did.  And yes, I became gay Tam.  But then — then I was just Tam again.

A lot happened right after the coming out thing, as you can imagine, but what mostly happened was a whole bunch of acceptance and love.  Love.  I have friends who are pretty religious people, but they still loved me.  One of them, a super spiritual Christian guy, came to see me in person and ended up telling me he loved me, no matter what, and that it wasn’t his job to judge or condemn me.  You know, the judge not lest ye be judged thing.  I love him for that.   I respect him for that.  And I respect his beliefs.  We differ, but that’s OK.  My grandmother, who my mom elected to tell (with my permission of course) said, and I quote, it was about time I came out.  ha ha ha!  That still makes me smile and laugh.  She’d suspected, she kind of already knew, she was OK with it, and had been impatient for me to just say it already.

Love.

I think I was surprised at how well people just sort of accepted K into our family, into our lives.  Friends I’d had forever accepted her as well.  People treated us as if we were just like every other couple.  Because, you know, we were.  We are.  We’re the same — mortgage, dogs, making dinner, working, pulling weeds in the garden, going for walks, taking vacations, watching dumb television shows, having the occasional argument, babysitting the grand boys, grocery shopping.  Same.  We love.  We are loved.

I’m lucky.  I know this.  When I say it’s not every day people find the kind of relationship we have, I mean anyone.  Gay, straight, somewhere in the middle.  People strive for this, this thing we have.  This absolute certainty that we are.  We are more than just meant for each other or made for each other or any of that.  We are.  Simple.  When I met her it was as if everything snapped into place, an audible click.  Home.  I still feel that way.  Lucky.

Yes, alright — we argue and somehow she puts up with me when I get too emotional.  I put up with her need to do a million things at once which sometimes leads to her not listening as well as I’d like.  We do struggle at times.  Of course we do.  We aren’t perfect.  What’s great is that no matter how much we struggle or how angry we get or how hard things sometimes feel there’s never a feeling of wanting to end it, or go, or take a break, or any of that.  The tough stuff always makes us stronger as a couple if we let it.  We let it.  We can’t imagine our lives without each other in them.

We’re lucky.

Love.

We’ve already been married twice.  To each other.  This makes me smile.  The first time we got married we were alone on a beach in Hawaii.  We’d purchased rings and found our spot and did it ourselves.  Words spoken, rings exchanged, happy tears shed, poetry, and a sand ceremony she’d surprised me with.  We still have that bottle of sand.  We’ve considered ourselves married since then.   I think, really, we’ve considered ourselves married since that first date.  I know I was.  It’s why we count our anniversaries from then.  But the ceremony in Hawaii was a real marriage for us.  Maybe not sanctified or certified or papered in any way, but real none the less.  The second time we got married Oregon had just passed a domestic partnership law.  I worked for a county in Oregon at the time so during a break I walked down to the proper desk, paid the fee, we filled out the paperwork, and a week later there it was, our certificate of domestic partnership.  Not really a marriage, but a legal thing, even if it seemed slightly empty in a way.  We laughed, but at least that, combined with the $1600 in paperwork we’d done with an attorney, sort of protected us as a couple.  Sort of.  I say this because later, when at different times we were each hospitalized, we had to give the hospital with our powers of attorney, etc. so that we could make decisions for each other.  It added a stress regular couples don’t have to deal with.  Nothing like worrying if you’ll be kicked out of your wife’s room because she isn’t legally your wife.  Luckily those strangers were kind and gentle and accepting.  So much so one of the nurses mentioned to us how fantastic our relationship was and that she rarely saw a couple so devoted.  It was a compliment.  It was a commentary.  It spoke directly to the we that is us.

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Love.

We’ve never had an actual ceremony in front of people.  A ceremony the kids and my mom and my brothers and sisters and K’s brother and sister and parents and our friends, etc., etc., could attend.  As a young woman I never thought I’d be able to have a wedding.  It was so far out of the consciousness I literally never even imagined it.  Later, K and I vowed not to do it until/unless it became federally legal.  Our paperwork and our own private marriage were what we’ve had.  And on one hand they’ve been enough.  The hand that says we don’t need anyone telling us our relationship is valid and important and real.  We know it is.  We live it and feel it every day.  On the other hand not being able to legally wed has denied us many rights other couples who can get married enjoy and take for granted every day.  Some of those rights legal, like getting the same rights for the taxes we pay, and some human, like being recognized in the same way as all other couples who love each other and last are when they are married.

And again, I’m not trying to convince anyone of anything here.  I’m just speaking to my own personal experience.  Yesterday, when marriage happened for us in Illinois, I cried.  I cried because it’s another step toward being culturally real.  Toward begin a part of something bigger than just us.  It’s being looked at, from the outside, as legit and meaningful in the same ways as other couples who are devoted to each other, who have taken that step.  It means my mom can be at my wedding, the kids can be there, our family and friends can be there.  It means we can celebrate and rejoice and affirm the love we have and have had for each other for over 10 years and our families and friends can hug us and share in that moment.  I means all the same protections and privileges will then apply to us.  It means inclusion, not exclusion.  And it means so much more than I can even put into words.  Which, as I said in the beginning of this, sometimes fail me.

Love.

There is nothing more important in this life than the people we love and who love us.  Period, the end.  Love is beautiful and special and precious and real.  Man, woman, gay or straight.  Ours is.  Our love for each other and our love for the people in our lives.  This latest happening in Illinois is a victory for love.  It’s very existence has advanced us, as a species.  It’s propelled us a bit closer toward a place and time when all people will be loved and accepted and celebrated for who they are.  A time and a place that’s hopefully not too far off in the future.  Love always wins.  Eventually.  Love of our spouses, our children, our families, our friends, our fellow man and woman.  I believe this.

I believe in love.

The world’s best cities are …

I’ve been to 5 of the top 25 cities in the world and all but one of the top 5 U.S. cities on this list. Looks like I need to put my travel pants on!

The world’s best cities are … – CNN.com.

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A Win For Love

Today the Supreme Court ruled DOMA, the Defense of Marriage Act, is unconstitutional.  Love wins.

The liberty protected by the Fifth Amendment’s Due Process Clause contains within it the prohibition against denying to any person the equal protection of the laws. […] While the Fifth Amendment itself withdraws from Government the power to degrade or demean in the way this law does, the equal protection guarantee of the Fourteenth Amendment makes that Fifth Amendment right all the more specific and all the better understood and preserved.

The class to which DOMA directs its restrictions and restraints are those persons who are joined in same-sex marriages made lawful by the State. DOMA singles out a class of persons deemed by a State entitled to recognition and protection to enhance their own liberty. It imposes a disability on the class by refusing to acknowledge a status the State finds to be dignified and proper. DOMA instructs all federal officials, and indeed all persons with whom same-sex couples interact, including their own children, that their marriage is less worthy than the marriages of others. The federal statute is invalid, for no legitimate purpose overcomes the purpose and effect to disparage and to injure those whom the State, by its marriage laws, sought to protect in personhood and dignity. By seeking to displace this protection and treating those persons as living in marriages less respected than others, the federal statute is in violation of the Fifth Amendment.  ~ Justice Kennedy, writing for the majority

 

Someday Soon…

Everyone knows how much I love Karen.  At least they should given the fact I plaster it all over Facebook and nearly all of my many blogs.  I do.  I love her.  She is life and breath and hope and happiness and joy and light and peace.  And those things, my friends, do not even begin to encompass what she is to me.  Suffice it to say she is big love.  We have big love.  Still.

Today I read that Prop 8 was ruled unconstitutional.  This is a lovely thing.  Wonderful.  And hopefully it is just the beginning of what will be a wave of equal rights and civil liberties running rampant across this country and throughout the world.  This is my hope.

I know there are some people who believe with everything they are that gay marriage is evil.  But seriously people, what’s it to you?  If you believe in God, and this is the reason for your objection, read scripture and you will find passages saying things like judge lest ye be judged and do unto others and love your fellow man as yourself.  If you believe God won’t approve, then let God decide.  That’s how it’s supposed to work.  You aren’t God.  Just sayin’.

I don’t believe I’m going to be judged.  I believe in love.  I believe in hope and happiness.  I believe my love is no less important than yours.  I believe that if Karen and I were allowed to marry legally this would not undermine what you consider to be traditional marriage. I don’t care who you marry, as long as it doesn’t hurt either party involved, and I expect that I should have the same rights as you.

I’ve found the someone I will spend the rest of my life with.  I’m lucky.  And someday soon I will be able to legally marry her in any and every state in this country.  I believe this to be true.  Today’s ruling gets us back on the right road.  We’re going to get there.  Slowly, maybe, but we will get there.  And when we do Karen and I will stand up in front of friends and family and say I do.  Just like we did privately 8 years ago on that beach in Hawaii.  Someday soon…

To See or Not to See

This is an amazing story about beauty, perception, art, and what we see, or don’t see, as we go about our daily lives. Do you stop and notice, enjoy, live in the moment with something beautiful or do you walk past without a glance, without a thought for what’s happening right in front of you. What would you do?

Testing The Twitter Link

This is sort of a non-post post.  Which suddenly just made me think of post toasties.  Wasn’t that a cereal once?  Or possibly still?  But, I digress.  Here’s the deal.  Most of you who know me know I’m a bonafide geek.  Very nerdy, in a cool flip flops and t-shirts tokenhippygirl kinda way.  I love all things gadget.  All things geeky electronic.  All things techie.  This probably stems from my early exposure to the original Star Trek series, among other sci-fi/fantasy greats like Land of the Giants, Godzilla movies, and the Six Million Dollar Man/Bionic Woman series on TV.  So when this whole social networking thing started I was in.  First… I blog.  Then… I Facebook.  Then… I Tweet.  Now… I integrate these things into one tokenhippygirl network that will some day <insert evil laugh here> take over the world.  Uh… was that my outside voice?  I think it might have been.  Now, though I don’t know if I’ve done it correctly, when I blog a snippet of that blog will appear on my Twitter feed with a link back to my blog.  Circular dude.  Very circular.  I love this.  I also am totally in love with Twitter right now.  At first I was like… OK, how is this cool.  But seriously… it’s cool, to this geeky girl anyway, because I can pick people to “follow” and when I do they start to appear in my stream.  How is this cool you ask?  Well let me tell you… it’s cool because I have decided to follow things/people like The New York Times, Rachel Maddow, Neil Gaiman, Time Magazine, Ann Curry, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jason Mraz, etc.  It’s cool because when one of them posts something, I see it.  Which means that I’m getting great live streaming news action snippets all in one place.  I can scroll through and if any one particular thing looks interesting, and there’s a link attached to it that will whisk me away to the main story page, I can then get whisked away to the main story page and read the meat of what’s there.  Great for a person who likes to get her info from many different sources.  Great for a girl who’s interested in many different things.  I’m following news agencies, family, writers, actors, friends, sports people, magazines, etc.  And now I don’t have to “run around” to various different sites.  I just go there, and I get what Anderson Cooper has to say, or Air America Media.  It’s awesome.  L-O-V-E it.  Not what I thought I’d ever use it for, and totally what I’m ending up using it for.  It’s a real tweet for anyone like me, get it… tweet… bah ha ha ha!!… OK, I’m better now… Anyway… it’s a treat for any geeky jeans and shorts wearin’ corny curious soul of a person like me.  Check it out.  What can I say… it’s cool.

The Family Think Tank

My feeling of hope, good, and that something magical just happened have not diminished in the days since the inauguration.  In that vein I’d like to post here a couple of e-mails I, and the rest of my family, received from one of my uncles, and then a response written back to him by one of my aunts.  They are posted down below the next paragraph.  Take a gander now if you like.  I love you guys.

NOTE:  I’d like to say something briefly to all those I know and love who might be a bit less than enthusiastic about this current political turn of events… and you know I’m a positive girl, so bear with me.  I tend to see the good in things, the upside, the sunshine.  I’m also quite the liberal, as you all know.  And I have some people in my life who are, shall we say, in almost direct opposition to my political beliefs.  And you know what… that’s OK.  And in fact, it’s a good thing (yeah, there I go seeing the positive again).  This place we live, love, and cherish, was built on the ability of it’s citizens to have an opinion.  It was fought for and founded so all voices could be heard.  It’s our basic freedom.  Equality of voice.  So I embrace your opinion, even though I usually disagree with it, and I say… that’s alright.  It’s OK for us to disagree.  You know I love you.  I know you love me.  We respect each others opinion enough not to try and change it.  We know we can’t.  We don’t talk politics much, and that’s OK too.  I’m tired, and I think many of us are, of the us and them mentality here in this country.  I’ve occasionally bought into that myself, and I’m trying to be done with it.  None of us can know what the next 100 days, or 1000 days, will bring.  We can’t know it.  We can all only move forward in the ways we can.  Do the best we can to forge a better place for ourselves and our world, in our own individual way.  I know, despite our differences, that we all hope for the same things, really.  We hope things get better.  We hope we keep our jobs, our homes, our incomes, our security, a way of life each of us has made for ourselves.  We all hope, as we do every day, and every year, that the people we love will be safe and healthy, that our children and their children (two or four legged) grow and live and are happy.  We hope to be happy.  It is our commonality.  It is the place where we all meet in the middle.  So, we don’t have to agree on how we all think we, as a country, can best get there.  But we can agree that we want to get there.  To security.  To personal peace.  To a healthier world, whatever each of us thinks that means.  To happiness.  I love my family and my friends, as a whole.  Every part of you, every one of you, to the last.    That’s all.  It’s simple.  I am filled with hope right now, and that hope is for all of us.

And now… on with the thoughts of my most eloquent uncle and aunt… they’re worth a read.

On Tue, Jan 20, 2009 at 5:57 PM  I am compelled to write about the events of this day……..Barak Obama today is the President of the United States of America………To me and many many millions of Americans and to hundreds of millions people around the world there is a renewed sense of hope and optimism. A sense of fairness and humanity that has been woefully absent for so many years in our leadership has now finally returned. As in the heady times of John F. Kennedy, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Abraham Lincoln and George Washington I feel as do so many millions of others that anything is possible; that at long last a feeling of brotherhood, direction and true sense of caring is once again the truth of the day. I am not disillusioned by the naysayers, the doubters, the “glass is half fullers”, the “negatoids”; those who do not want a Black man, a man of hope and positiveness to succeed. I know that there would be some if not even many who would say that those who think like me are Pollyannas. And I am under no illusion that one president can really have the power to effect much in the way of positive change. But perception can be such a powerful thing……. This is not about black, brown, red, yellow or white….It is about a Man who has such faith and hope in the American experience, the American sense of hope, justice and goodness. These American ideals have been allowed to spoil, flounder, and fall fallow over these past years. Our new President has and will revive these powerful positive attributes of which our national psyche is so capable of and I believe allow us to march into the future with a sense of purpose like never before. Shame on those of you who are not willing to give this new Chief Executive a chance. He is our new leader and we must give him our support. What a boon to our country in the eyes of the rest of the world if we all could do that, and what a blow to our detractors and those who would try to destroy us. Obama’s ascendancy to the pinnacle of American power is the absolute best proof to the rest of the world that America is still the cradle of opportunity. A citizen of our country can realistically aspire to anything. Today is the first day of the rest of our lives, and what a great day indeed!!!!!……..Richard

Dear Richard, Thank you for taking the time to put yourself out there and express your feelings on this momentous occasion. I wanted to reply right away last night when I read your remarks, but thought I would take a few hours and let my thoughts settle in and settle out. I listened to the inaugural remarks of our new president four times yesterday. I couldn’t get enough. You are right. It has been a long dry spell where hope and inspiration lay inert and dormant in our national psyche. Listening to Barack Obama’s words felt like cool spring water on the parched lips of our collective thirst. I think that is what struck me about the address and the historic nature of the event in full. I have never in my lifetime witnessed the magnitude of inspiration that this man invokes. It was like John Kennedy’s “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country” speech on steroids. Men, women, and children of every hue, thinking collectively as Americans that we can do whatever we set our minds to. Finally, I am proud to be an American again. I don’t feel we have to apologize to other countries for the ineptitude and disregard for other cultures that we saw cultivated in the previous administration. We can raise our heads and say….yeah man, Obama is OUR president!! We know the tasks set before us will not be easy. Our economic issues and the conflicts around the globe……Obama made manifestly clear that there is much work to do. But it is a matter of will…..our will. All we need is a leader who can take us there with resolve and regard. With Barack Obama as our new president we are going to surprise ourselves in what we can accomplish. But you know, I don’t think we will surprise our new president. He has high expectations for us. Susie

Will.I.AM Sums It Up

It’s a New Dawn, It’s a New Day

It’s a new dawn, it’s a new day, it’s a new life for me… and I’m feelin’ good, to once again quote Nina.

I woke up this morning changed, the world around me changed as well.  It’s almost as if my eyes see more clearly, my heart beats more deeply, my mind is more open.  And what’s great about this feeling is that I know I’m not alone in it.  I look into peoples eyes and they look back at me, hopeful.  They look back with joy, with possibility.  There is the feeling that a collective sigh has risen from this place and spread across the world… a sigh that says… finally, at last.  We can breathe.  We can reach out and know we might find a hand or hands reaching back.  We are no longer afraid.   We have said yes, instead of no.  We can, at last, hold our heads high and be proud.  Love has replaced suspicion and doubt.  Peace has replaced unease and anxiety.  All because one beautiful, inspiring, electrifying, genuine, good man has stepped forward, taken the lead, and reached out his hand in expectation to us.  He’s said… I’m ready, come along with me… we will change ourselves, we will change our country, we will change the world.

I’ve included below the text of the inaugural address in it’s entirety.  It’s beautiful.  Words from a poet who believes what he says… who means what he says.  This is a wonderful day.  It’s the first day of a new beginning for us all.  A new beginning for the world.

My fellow citizens:  I stand here today humbled by the task before us, grateful for the trust you have bestowed, mindful of the sacrifices borne by our ancestors. I thank President Bush for his service to our nation, as well as the generosity and cooperation he has shown throughout this transition.

Forty-four Americans have now taken the presidential oath. The words have been spoken during rising tides of prosperity and the still waters of peace. Yet, every so often the oath is taken amidst gathering clouds and raging storms. At these moments, America has carried on not simply because of the skill or vision of those in high office, but because we the people have remained faithful to the ideals of our forebears, and true to our founding documents.

So it has been. So it must be with this generation of Americans.

That we are in the midst of crisis is now well understood. Our nation is at war, against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred. Our economy is badly weakened, a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some, but also our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age. Homes have been lost; jobs shed; businesses shuttered. Our health care is too costly; our schools fail too many; and each day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet.

These are the indicators of crisis, subject to data and statistics. Less measurable but no less profound is a sapping of confidence across our land — a nagging fear that America’s decline is inevitable, and that the next generation must lower its sights.

Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real. They are serious and they are many. They will not be met easily or in a short span of time. But know this, America — they will be met.

On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord.

On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn out dogmas, that for far too long have strangled our politics.

We remain a young nation, but in the words of Scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things. The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit; to choose our better history; to carry forward that precious gift, that noble idea, passed on from generation to generation: the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness.

In reaffirming the greatness of our nation, we understand that greatness is never a given. It must be earned. Our journey has never been one of shortcuts or settling for less. It has not been the path for the faint-hearted — for those who prefer leisure over work, or seek only the pleasures of riches and fame. Rather, it has been the risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things — some celebrated but more often men and women obscure in their labor, who have carried us up the long, rugged path towards prosperity and freedom.

For us, they packed up their few worldly possessions and traveled across oceans in search of a new life.

For us, they toiled in sweatshops and settled the West; endured the lash of the whip and plowed the hard earth.

For us, they fought and died, in places like Concord and Gettysburg; Normandy and Khe Sanh.

Time and again these men and women struggled and sacrificed and worked till their hands were raw so that we might live a better life. They saw America as bigger than the sum of our individual ambitions; greater than all the differences of birth or wealth or faction.

This is the journey we continue today. We remain the most prosperous, powerful nation on Earth. Our workers are no less productive than when this crisis began. Our minds are no less inventive, our goods and services no less needed than they were last week or last month or last year. Our capacity remains undiminished. But our time of standing pat, of protecting narrow interests and putting off unpleasant decisions — that time has surely passed. Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America.

For everywhere we look, there is work to be done. The state of the economy calls for action, bold and swift, and we will act — not only to create new jobs, but to lay a new foundation for growth. We will build the roads and bridges, the electric grids and digital lines that feed our commerce and bind us together. We will restore science to its rightful place, and wield technology’s wonders to raise health care’s quality and lower its cost. We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories. And we will transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age. All this we can do. All this we will do.

Now, there are some who question the scale of our ambitions — who suggest that our system cannot tolerate too many big plans. Their memories are short. For they have forgotten what this country has already done; what free men and women can achieve when imagination is joined to common purpose, and necessity to courage.

What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them — that the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long no longer apply. The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works — whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, care they can afford, a retirement that is dignified. Where the answer is yes, we intend to move forward. Where the answer is no, programs will end. Those of us who manage the public’s dollars will be held to account — to spend wisely, reform bad habits, and do our business in the light of day — because only then can we restore the vital trust between a people and their government.

Nor is the question before us whether the market is a force for good or ill. Its power to generate wealth and expand freedom is unmatched, but this crisis has reminded us that without a watchful eye, the market can spin out of control — and that a nation cannot prosper long when it favors only the prosperous. The success of our economy has always depended not just on the size of our gross domestic product, but on the reach of our prosperity; on our ability to extend opportunity to every willing heart — not out of charity, but because it is the surest route to our common good.

As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals. Our founding fathers … our found fathers, faced with perils we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man, a charter expanded by the blood of generations. Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience’s sake. And so to all the other peoples and governments who are watching today, from the grandest capitals to the small village where my father was born: know that America is a friend of each nation and every man, woman, and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity, and that we are ready to lead once more.

Recall that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with sturdy alliances and enduring convictions. They understood that our power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please. Instead, they knew that our power grows through its prudent use; our security emanates from the justness of our cause, the force of our example, the tempering qualities of humility and restraint.

We are the keepers of this legacy. Guided by these principles once more, we can meet those new threats that demand even greater effort — even greater cooperation and understanding between nations. We will begin to responsibly leave Iraq to its people, and forge a hard-earned peace in Afghanistan. With old friends and former foes, we will work tirelessly to lessen the nuclear threat, and roll back the specter of a warming planet. We will not apologize for our way of life, nor will we waver in its defense, and for those who seek to advance their aims by inducing terror and slaughtering innocents, we say to you now that our spirit is stronger and cannot be broken; you cannot outlast us, and we will defeat you.

For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness. We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus — and non-believers. We are shaped by every language and culture, drawn from every end of this Earth; and because we have tasted the bitter swill of civil war and segregation, and emerged from that dark chapter stronger and more united, we cannot help but believe that the old hatreds shall someday pass; that the lines of tribe shall soon dissolve; that as the world grows smaller, our common humanity shall reveal itself; and that America must play its role in ushering in a new era of peace.

To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect. To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict, or blame their society’s ills on the West — know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy. To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history; but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.

To the people of poor nations, we pledge to work alongside you to make your farms flourish and let clean waters flow; to nourish starved bodies and feed hungry minds. And to those nations like ours that enjoy relative plenty, we say we can no longer afford indifference to the suffering outside our borders; nor can we consume the world’s resources without regard to effect. For the world has changed, and we must change with it.

As we consider the road that unfolds before us, we remember with humble gratitude those brave Americans who, at this very hour, patrol far-off deserts and distant mountains. They have something to tell us, just as the fallen heroes who lie in Arlington whisper through the ages. We honor them not only because they are guardians of our liberty, but because they embody the spirit of service; a willingness to find meaning in something greater than themselves. And yet, at this moment — a moment that will define a generation — it is precisely this spirit that must inhabit us all.

For as much as government can do and must do, it is ultimately the faith and determination of the American people upon which this nation relies. It is the kindness to take in a stranger when the levees break, the selflessness of workers who would rather cut their hours than see a friend lose their job which sees us through our darkest hours. It is the firefighter’s courage to storm a stairway filled with smoke, but also a parent’s willingness to nurture a child, that finally decides our fate.

Our challenges may be new. The instruments with which we meet them may be new. But those values upon which our success depends — hard work and honesty, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism — these things are old. These things are true. They have been the quiet force of progress throughout our history. What is demanded then is a return to these truths. What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility — a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation, and the world, duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task.

This is the price and the promise of citizenship.

This is the source of our confidence — the knowledge that God calls on us to shape an uncertain destiny.

This is the meaning of our liberty and our creed — why men and women and children of every race and every faith can join in celebration across this magnificent Mall, and why a man whose father less than sixty years ago might not have been served at a local restaurant can now stand before you to take a most sacred oath.

So let us mark this day with remembrance, of who we are and how far we have traveled. In the year of America’s birth, in the coldest of months, a small band of patriots huddled by dying campfires on the shores of an icy river. The capital was abandoned. The enemy was advancing. The snow was stained with blood. At a moment when the outcome of our revolution was most in doubt, the father of our nation ordered these words be read to the people:

“Let it be told to the future world … that in the depth of winter, when nothing but hope and virtue could survive…that the city and the country, alarmed at one common danger, came forth to meet (it).”

America, in the face of our common dangers, in this winter of our hardship, let us remember these timeless words. With hope and virtue, let us brave once more the icy currents, and endure what storms may come. Let it be said by our children’s children that when we were tested we refused to let this journey end, that we did not turn back nor did we falter; and with eyes fixed on the horizon and God’s grace upon us, we carried forth that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generations.

Thank you. God bless you. And God bless the United States of America.

The Key To Good Weather

 READINGTON, N.J. – Organizers think they’ve found the secret to good weather for this weekend’s Quick Chek New Jersey Festival of Ballooning — a virgin.

According to an imported superstition, good weather can be assured through a ceremony involving a virgin, some knives and fresh, whole onions and peppers.

And, no, Victoria Brumfield won’t be sacrificed.

Festival organizer Howard Freeman said a colleague heard about it in Singapore several years ago. For the past two years, it has worked in Readington. Partly because of the superstition, Freeman no longer buys weather insurance for the event, which is expected to draw 175,000 people.

Brumfield, 28, has worked with Freeman in the past and is a devout Mormon, proud of her adherence to the church’s rules, including not drinking, smoking, gambling or cursing — and no sex before marriage.

She became the festival’s official virgin last year after her younger sister, who had that role in 2005, moved to California.

It’s a mixture of “fun and embarrassment,” she told the Star-Ledger of Newark.

Here’s how she does it: She drives a golf cart to the four corners of the festival site, picks up some grass, mumbles some random words, then penetrates the produce with a knife before jamming it and the knives into the ground. The ritual was scheduled for Thursday afternoon.

The pressure is on this weekend. The National Weather Service says there’s a chance of rain each of the three days of the festival, which was scheduled to start Friday.  – AP

The New 7 Wonders

As I discussed earlier in these pages, there was a voting process going on to determine what the New 7 Wonders  of the world would be.  By clicking on the link, you’ll be whisked off to discover just what those wonders are.   

The Truth Really IS Stranger Than Fiction

I saw this article the other day and had to share. It made me laugh, and there are moments when that’s all a person needs out of life…

Naked man in high heels shuts down McMinnville building
03:18 PM PDT on Thursday, April 26, 2007
Associated Press

McMINNVILLE, Ore. (AP) — A man wearing nothing but women’s high heels was the cause of a building lockdown by police in downtown McMinnville.

The unidentified man was spotted sitting on a bench on the basement floor of a nearly vacant medical building Wednesday afternoon.

After a call to 911 dispatchers, two McMinnville police units responded and were assisted by deputies from the Yamhill County Sheriffs Office and the Oregon State Police. The building was locked down and surrounded, but alas, no naked man.

The man was described as 40 to 50 years old, bald or with short white hair, of thin to medium build.

He was last seen running down one of the building’s hallways in the heels, police said.

Nikkie Giovanni Speaks

Wow… Earlier today I watched the convocation at Virginia Tech. I cried the whole way through. I sat in disbelief and can’t put the emotions I was feeling, and am still feeling, into words. There is no understanding something like this. There can’t be. There’s no common frame of reference to help in trying to figure it out. It’s just very very sad. And… just as we, as a people, rejoice when something spectacular happens for this country, we all join in mourning when something horrific happens. It’s as if some measure of it, good or bad, touches us personally. Because… it does. We feel the fear it creates and then the struggle against that fear within ourselves.

The convocation ended with a poem written and read by Nikki Giovanni, Professor of English at Virginia Tech and a well known, widely read poet. Her reading was and event, one of those moments. It was one of those times when someone spoke words that were filled with hope and magic just when everyone needed to hear exactly that. On a day filled with so much sadness, she made the light shine just a bit… it was uplifting, inspiring, and breathtaking.

I couldn’t find the poem she read this morning on the net, yet… but I did find some of her other work… here are a couple I really liked…

kidnap poem

ever been kidnapped
by a poet
if i were a poet
i’d kidnap you
put you in my phrases and meter
you to jones beach
or maybe coney island
or maybe just to my house
lyric you in lilacs
dash you in the rain
blend into the beach
to complement my see
play the lyre for you
ode you with my love song
anything to win you
wrap you in the red Black green
show you off to mama
yeah if i were a poet i’d kid
nap you

Ego Tripping (there may be a reason why)

I was born in the congo
I walked to the fertile crescent and built
the sphinx
I designed a pyramid so tough that a star
that only glows every one hundred years falls
into the center giving divine perfect light
I am bad

I sat on the throne
drinking nectar with allah
I got hot and sent an ice age to europe
to cool my thirst
My oldest daughter is nefertiti
the tears from my birth pains
created the nile
I am a beautiful woman

I gazed on the forest and burned
out the sahara desert
with a packet of goat’s meat
and a change of clothes
I crossed it in two hours
I am a gazelle so swift
so swift you can’t catch me

For a birthday present when he was three
I gave my son hannibal an elephant
He gave me rome for mother’s day
My strength flows ever on

My son noah built new/ark and
I stood proudly at the helm
as we sailed on a soft summer day
I turned myself into myself and was
jesus
men intone my loving name
All praises All praises
I am the one who would save

I sowed diamonds in my back yard
My bowels deliver uranium
the filings from my fingernails are
semi-precious jewels
On a trip north
I caught a cold and blew
My nose giving oil to the arab world
I am so hip even my errors are correct
I sailed west to reach east and had to round off
the earth as I went
The hair from my head thinned and gold was laid
across three continents

I am so perfect so divine so ethereal so surreal
I cannot be comprehended except by my permission

I mean…I…can fly
like a bird in the sky…

A Poke in the Eye

Diver in Australia survives shark attack
12 minutes ago
A diver escaped a 10-foot shark’s attack by poking the animal in its eye after it had already chomped on his head once and was preparing for another bite, witnesses and officials said Tuesday.

Eric Nerhus, 41, was flown to a hospital with serious injuries to his head, body and left arm after the attack Tuesday off Cape Howe, about 250 miles south of Sydney.

The shark grabbed Nerhus by the head, crushing his face mask and breaking his nose, said Dennis Luobikis, a fellow diver who witnessed the attack.

“He was actually bitten by the head down — the shark swallowed his head,” Luobikis said.

The shark, believed to be a great white, came back for a second bite, clenching its jaws around Nerhus’ torso and leaving deep lacerations in his side, said Luobikis.

Nerhus wrestled free of the shark’s jaws, and later told rescue workers he had poked the shark in the eye, an unidentified worker from the Snowy Hydro Rescue Helicopter service told local media.

Nerhus was pulled from the water by his 25-year-old son and rushed to a hospital, suffering blood loss and shock.

“Eric is a tough boy. He’s super fit,” said Luobikis. “But I would say that would test anyone’s resolve, being a fish lunch.”

Shark attacks are relatively common in Australian waters, home to some of the world’s deadliest sea life. Scientists say there are an average of 15 shark attacks a year in Australia — one of the highest rates in the world — and just over 1 per year are fatal.

After reading this news item from the AP I couldn’t resist including it here. The moral of the story, and there are two… if you’re ever attacked by a toothy large beast, try poking it in the eye… I, personally, would never have thought of this… who knew? A most excellent tip. The other moral… think twice before taking a dip off the coast of Australia. I’m just saying…