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