Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Monday morning commute

This is the view from the new 35W bridge, which I cross everyday on my way to work.
This is our new ward.

We are fostering her for a while. We have been calling her Betty (Betty Boop). Betty is a sweetie, even Buster likes her, although he is a little resentful of all the attention she gets. They are about the same size, except that Buster weighs more (he's 15 pounds!) and Betty's head is bigger.

I've been online learning about the care and feeding of pugs. They are very sensitive dogs that cannot tolerate chills or heat above 80 degrees. They have delicate constitutions and are prone to all kinds of ailments, foremost among them breathing issues and obesity. Betty snuffles and huffs and wheezes and snorts and snores. The information I have been reading suggests that there is no way to avoid life-threatening or quality-of-life illnesses, which makes one wonder how the breed has survived these last several thousand years. They even require a special diet (Pat has refused to cook for the dog).

They sleep a lot, about as much as a cat, which is half of the day. But she gets very excited and squirrely when I walk through the door, and she loves her 4 or 5 short walks a day.

Who can resist?

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

My two cents

Yesterday on Talk of Nation, Neal Conan asked, "Where does the Republican party go from here?" The guests were Michael Gerson, ex-Bush speechwriter and current op-ed columnist for the Washington Post, Rick Santorum, who so famously had some human excretion named after him by gonzo sex-advice columnist Dan Savage (Santorum, the "frothy mix of lube and fecal matter that is sometimes the byproduct of anal sex") and Tom Davis, whom I don't know a thing about except that according to what I read on Wikipedia he was probably considered the moderate of this panel.

They were going on and on about getting back to "conservative values" and puttin forth policies to match instead of fighting the culture wars with issues like abortion, and blaming Bush for being so unpopular that they were bound to be caught up in his sinking, stinking dragnet, blah, blah, blah.

I missed the first 10 or 15 mintues, but during the rest of the show NOBODY mentioned their complete abandonment of the concept of the "fair fight;" their Malcolm X-style politics of winning by any means necessary, using fear and smear tactics, voter disenfranchisement and purging voters from the rolls; their myopic loyalty to the party above all else, shredding many constitutional protections and the thorough politicization of the justice department being the most blatant examples.

I dialed and redialed and redialed only to receive multiple busy signals until the producer finally answered and said in rapidfire, "I'msorrywe'verunoutoftimethankyouforcalling, -- click."

Listening to John McCain's concession speech last week, I perceived a glimmer of the man who earned the nickname "Maverick," a man who, at times, has joined with Democrats to pass laws that were for the good of many instead of the few:

"My friends, we have — we have come to the end of a long journey. The American people have spoken, and they have spoken clearly.
A little while ago, I had the honour of calling Senator Barack Obama to congratulate him.
To congratulate him on being elected the next president of the country that we both love.
In a contest as long and difficult as this campaign has been, his success alone commands my respect for his ability and perseverance. But that he managed to do so by inspiring the hopes of so many millions of Americans who had once wrongly believed that they had little at stake or little influence in the election of an American president is something I deeply admire and commend him for achieving . . .
I urge all Americans ... I urge all Americans who supported me to join me in not just congratulating him, but offering our next president our good will and earnest effort to find ways to come together to find the necessary compromises to bridge our differences and help restore our prosperity, defend our security in a dangerous world, and leave our children and grandchildren a stronger, better country than we inherited.
Whatever our differences, we are fellow Americans. And please believe me when I say no association has ever meant more to me than that."
McCain's words that night reflect a sentiment I stupidly believed would convert all cynics, myself included. I said to my husband, "Maybe now the devil will give him back his soul."

Then last night I watched "Boogey Man: The Lee Atwater Story." Man, was that a powerful Frontline episode! Now I see where Rove got his dastardliness. Apparently he is a forefather of smear and fear politics and a mentor to Turd Blossom. I was too young or not paying attention to know about Atwater, but I do remember the Dukakis character assassination, the Willie Horton ad and the revolving door ad. He had the gall to not only deny manipulating white folks' fears of scarey black guys but also denied being behind the ads at all. Except that one of his friends and allies told Frontline that Atwater himself showed him an advance of the tape.

There is some question as to whether Atwater was sincere when he repented
at the end of his life those mean-spirited and divisive acts when he developed a brain tumor that would eventually kill him. One guy said he began reading the Bible, and that one passage particularly haunted him suggested that the attainment of power through less than scupulous means was an empty achievement and comes at a high cost. Atwater wrote that, in the end, relationships, not power, are what's important. Apparently he sent letters of apology to anyone whom he thought he'd hurt, even Willie Horton. But another guy, in helping to clean out his stuff after his death, found Atwater's Bible still wrapped in the plastic it came in. He accused Atwater of spinning to the end.

Now that we can see light at the end of a very long, dark tunnel, assessing the legacy of such scorched earth tactics is important for Republicans if they are to move forward in the spirit of cooperation, reparation and renewal of our planet, our politics and our policies. With a few exceptions (Retired OK Congressman Mickey Edwards, who wrote in the Huffington Post earlier this year, "
Republicans in the House and Senate (have) repeatedly humiliated themselves in their willingness to toss aside the most important elements of American constitutional government"), I don't hear many of them doing that. It doesn't seem like they have learned a thing.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008


During the Halloween festivities of the past week I saw someone dressed as a pilot and remembered, HEY! I could wear my old flight attendant uniform next year! So I went home and went to the closet where I was sure I would find it. It wasn't there. I went to another closet, no sign of it.

We only have 3 closets, and I went through each of them twice. I searched my memory bank. I hadn't seen it in a long time. My husband of 14 years said he has never seen it. I decided I must have gotten rid of it in a fit of closet purging before we moved. But I was sure I would have kept my wings, so I went looking in every nook and cranny of my house.

I have pulled out and picked through every drawer, every box, every bag and satchel and found stuff I can't imagine ever needing again, but no wings.

I am gripped with nostalgia and longing for my Pan Am history, even though I haven't given it any thought for years. I'm going as a flight attendant next year if I have to create the costume from scratch.

So I went on ebay.

I know I'm late coming to this party but I've become completely obsessed. I have purchased two things from that site in the past but I did not bid for them, and this bidding thing is whole new drug.

When I got on the site on Tues, to distract me from the election fervor, I found a treasure trove of Pan Am memorabilia: posters, postcards, replica airplanes, ash trays, clocks, t-shirts, time tables, menus, advertisement reproductions.

I have so far bought 2 old ads and And replacement wings?

There was one set of the style of wings I wore - I was outbid. There are a couple of the metal ones that were given away to kids - I'm still in the running but have competition, so I'm "watching" those.Watching apparently means checking the website every 10 minutes even though the bidding doesn't end for another day.

I had to set up a separate "ebay" folder in my email inbox to track of my bids.

There are a couple of groovy scarves from the 70s - I'm also in the running for one of those.

My heart is racing, my breath is short and fast. I'm reviewing all the stuff on the watch list in my dreams. Which do I really want? How high am I willing to go? Or have I just gotten caught up in the fervor of competition? If this keeps up I'll have to check myself into treatment.

I've already bought 2 advertisement reproductions -- one with a beach scene of Impanima and the other and ad for in-flight movies -- and a blue Pan Am globe ornament.

The big ticket item? Original, mint condition wings from the 1960s. Yes, I bid on those, too. I'm out of control. My husband would freak, and I think I will too if I'm the winning bid, so I can't say how much.

I guess this is what political junkies do when they no longer have a campaign to occupy their attention.

UPDATE: I won the pin pictured above!! Next up: this scarf from the 70s uniform:

Friday, October 31, 2008

Halloween Memories

I had recently quit my flight attendant job with PanAm and was back working at Sweeney's full-time. I had bought a 1-bedroom condo (15-foot ceilings, walls painted turquoise and cranberry -- very hip) that was conveniently situated a block and a half away.

It was Halloween, I think it was a Friday, and it started snowing. I must have worked the lunch shift (odd) but I feel like it was around the time residents, in their cars, were returning to the neighborhood from their work day. Snow had started to pile up at least a foot. The then head cook, Duke, and I got bundled up in our parkas and Sorel boots and headed out to play in the storm that seemed to come out of nowhere.

We didn't know it at that moment, but that event would come to be known and remembered fondly as the Halloween Blizzard of 1991. A real "where were you when . . . ?" or "I survived the . . . " event.

The snow was heavy and clingy and cars were getting stuck, so Duke and I jumped in to help push a few out of their snow-bound ruts. The snow kept falling for most of the evening. Such circumstances are considered by neighbors and bar regulars occasions for drinking, so everyone within walking or snow-shoeing distance gathered at the bar to drink hot chocolate with Rumplemintz or some other ear-reddening beverage.

Sometime around midnight I decided it would be a good idea to get in my car and drive to Minneapolis to track down a lover who didn't have a phone, and got my own car (a late 70s Dodge Colt with a hole in the passenger-side floor) stuck on Lake of the Isles Parkway. It was dark and there was no other traffic, nobody around to help.

I eventually worked my car out of the rut and got myself home. Yes, I was sufficiently humiliated by the stupidity of my impetuousness (but equally proud of my winter driving skills).

The city was shut down for a few days. Nobody would get in their cars. Most of the neighborhood denizens were smug about being such hearty Nordic specimens and eager to hunker down and wait out the winter just like that. There was talk that the bar would run out of booze because the vendors would be unable to reach us to make deliveries. Since I lived so close, some of the Sweeney's gang spent the next couple nights on my floor.

But within days the possibility of being snowed in lost its charm. Eventually, the streets were cleared, life returned to normal, cars returned to the roads, and my ad-hoc roommates stopped showing up.

This morning, Mark Seeley, U of Mn climatologist and regular weather guru on MPR, had this to report:

"For many Minnesotans the most memorable Halloween was that of 1991 when a blizzard started and began to paralyze the state well into the first two days of November. At least 30 communities reported a snowfall of 20 inches or more from this storm, including a record 28.4 inches in the Twin Cities, and 36.9 inches at Duluth. A 180-mile stretch of Interstate 90 was closed as winds up to 60 mph produced snow drifts of 10 feet or higher. Snowfall intensity at times was equivalent to 2 inches per hour during the storm."

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Fall Color

It's a beautiful if bittersweet time of year, when the colors are so vivid they break your heart wide open, and you realize they signal the coming of winter, when all color disappears.

Enjoy some random photos of our beautiful metropolis:

Once upon a time

Once upon a time in a land called St. Paul, a group of bar workers formed a group called the Vulcanettes. The Vulcanettes were an answer to the vulgar Vulcans, who, in their red jump suits, black&red capes and goggles, stormed through bars and parades during Winter Carnival, disrupting carnival events, getting drunk and smearing grease paint kisses on everyone in their path, willing or not.

The Vulcans were founded in 1886 as a legitimate group of the Winter Carnival, a foil to King Boreas, who is enchanted by the beauty and glory of winter. "The King of Fire.Vulcanus Rex is the TRUE KING of the St. Paul Winter Carnival. Vulcanus battles to end the cold of winter, and seeks to bring the warmth of summer back to the beautiful City of Saint Paul."

Anyway, in 1991 I was working at Sweeney's Saloon when the owner decided it would be fun -- and no doubt a good marketing tool -- to form a group of his own mischief-makers, whom he dubbed the Vulcanettes. He had a small van painted with the Vulcanette logo, outfitted about 10 of us in red satin jackets, capes and masks, and set us loose on the town.

Those were some fun times. I don't remember details -- it was an occasion for much drinking -- but I do recall storming into bars in a cacophony of screeching whistles and giving out candy to enraptured children on the sidelines of parade routes.

This weekend one of the girls on that original squad had a costume party. I pulled my old costume out of the closet and was surprised to find how easily it all came together. I figured she would be the only one who would know what I was dressed as, the only one to laugh, and I was right.

So here we are, 17 years later. Fellow Vulcanette Shamala is dressed as a Vikings cheerleader, "Roxie."

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Tram City

I just submitted this to the Strib, but I'm posting it here to enlist the help of the universe and cyberspace to get it published!

"Help keep Melbourne a butt-free city" read the sign atop the tram from which we disembarked. The sign spoke directly to one of my pet peeves – litter – and to the growing awareness of our collective responsibility to tidy up the planet. Melbourne, in the southeastern corner of Australia, in the state of Victoria, is indeed a clean and amiable city, melding old world charm with a modern sensibility.

My husband, Patrick, and I had just arrived in Melbourne, Australia, after an 18-hour flight; we left LA on a Tuesday and somewhere over the Atlantic we jumped over Wednesday and landed in Thursday. I had been making and cancelling plans to come to Australia for over a decade, but I was hooked after reading the hilarious Bill Bryson’s “In a Sunburned Country.” Bryson wrote, “When finally I made my first trip Down Under . . . I was actually able to be astounded to find it there at all. I clearly recall standing on Collins Street in downtown Melbourne, so freshly arrived that I still smelled of (possibly even glistened from) the insecticide with which the flight attendants sprayed the plane before arrival, watching the clanging trams and swirl of humanity, and thinking ‘Good Lord, there’s a country here.’ It was as if I had privately discovered life on another planet, or a parallel universe where life was at once recognizably similar but entirely different.” Now that friends were living here on a work visa, I snatched the opportunity.

Our friends had a natty little apartment across from the boardwalk, on the wide mouth of Port Philip Bay, and, if you craned your neck just so, you could just see the masts of boats at St. Kilda Pier. They insisted we get out and walk and see the sights and try to stay awake until evening, so we decided we could handle a not-too-strenuous tour of Melbourne by tram. They lived two tram connections away from where the action was in the CBD (central business district); once there we would take the City Circle tram to the Victoria Market to get some souvenir shopping out of the way.

Melbourne came of age during the gold rush of the mid-1800s, right about the time Minnesota was becoming a state. I wasn’t expecting a western-style frontier town, but I wasn’t prepared for old Europe either. In the stupor of jetlag, I had the suspicion that we had bought tickets to Australia but the plane was diverted to the other side of the globe to, say, Antwerp. The Victorian gables, Italianate columns and the pointed arches and spires of neo-Gothic buildings blend into the skyline beside Art Deco and 20th century glass, cement and steel styles.

Melbourne’s population is about the same as the Twin Cities’, 3.8 million. The city is graced with lovely parks and gardens, wide boulevards, and a multitude of outdoor cafes and world-class restaurants, to which smartly-dressed Melburnians flock on their two-hour lunch breaks. In its heyday, Melbourne overshadowed Sydney in size and importance. To move all those important people, a tram system was built beginning in the 1880s. The present electric tram network, one of the largest in the world, makes up the core of the public transportation system in and around Melbourne.

Our tram to the CBD headed away from the harbor, squealed eastward around a corner park, and then ran along the center median of a wide boulevard. Modern glass office buildings swallowed and spit out suit-clad types with cell-phones pressed to their ears. Cars sped to and fro’ on either side of us – on the wrong side of the road – and, given our weariness, made me grateful I was not driving.

Because it was early June – the beginning of winter Down Under – the tourist count was as low as the sun; the days were short and the shadows long. It was jacket weather, high 60s, yet locals were clad in coats and scarves, and some even wore gloves. Walking to the next tram stop, the food stand Lord of the Fries caught my eye. French fries are my weakness, especially those “tossed with sea salt” so we stopped and ordered a cone-full. On the menu board there was a long list of sauces in which to dip the fries: “Belgian - our famous euro-mayo; Indian - spicy mango chutney, sour cream; Vietnamese - thick sweet chili mayo; Thai - golden satay sauce; Aussie - rich tomato sauce, vinegar; American - southern bbq sauce.” “American-style bbq sauce” was an everyday condiment here, as would learn, even as a topping for eggs.

We waited for the City Circle at a common Melbourne meeting place, “under the clocks” of the baroque Flinders Street Station. Built in the early 1900s, it is the oldest station in Australia and one of the busiest, a bustling hub where trains hustle passengers to and from the outer suburbs and beyond. Around the nape of the ornate, imposing bust of the station dangled the glistening Yarra River, bejeweled with glitzy shopping malls, elegant government buildings, a casino, and restaurants opening onto the quay.

The City Circle, which runs in a rectangle around the CBD, would take us past many of Melbourne’s notable locales, including the serene Fitzroy Gardens, to the largest open-air market in the southern hemisphere, the Queen Victoria Market. We planned to buy the obligatory souvenirs to bring home to family and friends. Along with T-shirts, hats and key chains embroidered with “Australia” or adorned with illustrations of kangaroos and koalas, we were also hoping to find a didgeridoo for a musician friend.

The Vic Market takes up 17 acres on the edge of the CBD. The market may be over 200 years old, having grown up along with Melbourne itself, but the electricity it uses is very 21st century: the largest urban solar panel installation on this half of the globe was recently set up on the roof. The market and many city buildings use the power generated by those 1,328 solar-harvesting panels.

We bought the didgeridoo from a stall run by two Aboriginal men. The older, lankier man sported cowboy boots and an Elvis pompadour and claimed to be a singer/songwriter of country music. We declined the offer to buy his CD and asked to examine his collection of didgeridoos. He explained that the instruments, some of which look like a giant’s walking stick, are naturally hollowed out by termites before being carved and painted. To help us decide which one to buy, Elvis “played” a few of the didgis to demonstrate their unique tones, treating us to that eerie serenade that falls between a sustained hum and a groan.

Shopping made us hungry so we headed toward the deli stands. Our friends had recommended a particular ethnic lunch-time favorite, borek, a Turkish bread roll-up stuffed with a savory ground of lamb, cheese and spices. That’s what I decided on, while Pat chose a crusty French bread sandwich of bratwurst and onions. We sat in the sun at a ubiquitous sidewalk table and traded bites of our satisfying fare, quenching our thirst with cold beer. Erected near the curb was a six-feet-high glass wall, allowing us to feel a part of the bustling street scene without having to consume exhaust from the passing cars. Melbourne was treating us well so far.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

How to Operate the Shower Curtain

Shouts & Murmurs

How to Operate the Shower Curtain

by Ian Frazier January 8, 2007

Dear Guest: The shower curtain in this bathroom has been purchased with care at a reputable “big box” store in order to provide maximum convenience in showering. After you have read these instructions, you will find with a little practice that our shower curtain is as easy to use as the one you have at home.

You’ll note that the shower curtain consists of several parts. The top hem, closest to the ceiling, contains a series of regularly spaced holes designed for the insertion of shower-curtain rings. As this part receives much of the everyday strain of usage, it must be handled correctly. Grasp the shower curtain by its leading edge and gently pull until it is flush with the wall. Step into the tub, if you have not already done so. Then take the other edge of shower curtain and cautiously pull it in opposite direction until it, too, adjoins the wall. A little moisture between shower curtain and wall tiles will help curtain to stick.

Keep in mind that normal bathing will cause you unavoidably to bump against shower curtain, which may cling to you for a moment owing to the natural adhesiveness of water. Some guests find the sensation of wet plastic on their naked flesh upsetting, and overreact to it. Instead, pinch the shower curtain between your thumb and forefinger near where it is adhering to you and simply move away from it until it is disengaged. Then, with the ends of your fingers, push it back to where it is supposed to be.

If shower curtain reattaches itself to you, repeat process above. Under certain atmospheric conditions, a convection effect creates air currents outside shower curtain which will press it against you on all sides no matter what you do. If this happens, stand directly under showerhead until bathroom microclimate stabilizes.

Many guests are surprised to learn that all water pipes in our system run off a single riser. This means that the opening of any hot or cold tap, or the flushing of a toilet, interrupts flow to shower. If you find water becoming extremely hot (or cold), exit tub promptly while using a sweeping motion with one arm to push shower curtain aside.

REMEMBER TO KEEP SHOWER CURTAIN INSIDE TUB AT ALL TIMES! Failure to do this may result in baseboard rot, wallpaper mildew, destruction of living-room ceiling below, and possible dripping onto catered refreshments at social event in your honor that you are about to attend. So be careful!

This shower curtain comes equipped with small magnets in the shape of disks which have been sewn into the bottom hem at intervals. These serve no purpose whatsoever and may be ignored. Please do not tamper with them. The vertical lines, or pleats, which you may have wondered about, are there for a simple reason: user safety. If you have to move from the tub fast, as outlined above, the easy accordion-type folding motion of the pleats makes that possible. The gray substance in some of the inner pleat folds is a kind of insignificant mildew, less toxic than what is found on some foreign cheeses.

When detaching shower curtain from clinging to you or when exiting tub during a change in water temperature, bear in mind that there are seventeen mostly empty plastic bottles of shampoo on tub edge next to wall. These bottles have accumulated in this area over time. Many have been set upside down in order to concentrate the last amounts of fluid in their cap mechanisms, and are balanced lightly. Inadvertent contact with a thigh or knee can cause all the bottles to be knocked over and to tumble into the tub or behind it. If this should somehow happen, we ask that you kindly pick the bottles up and put them back in the same order in which you found them. Thank you.

While picking up the bottles, a guest occasionally will lose his or her balance temporarily, and, in even rarer cases, fall. If you find this occurring, remember that panic is the enemy here. Let your body go limp, while reminding yourself that the shower curtain is not designed to bear your weight. Grabbing onto it will only complicate the situation.

If, in a “worst case” scenario, you do take hold of the shower curtain, and the curtain rings tear through the holes in the upper hem as you were warned they might, remain motionless and relaxed in the position in which you come to rest. If subsequently you hear a knock on the bathroom door, respond to any questions by saying either “Fine” or “No, I’m fine.” When the questioner goes away, stand up, turn off shower, and lay shower curtain flat on floor and up against tub so you can see the extent of the damage. With a sharp object—a nail file, a pen, or your teeth—make new holes in top hem next to the ones that tore through.

Now lift shower curtain with both hands and reattach it to shower-curtain rings by unclipping, inserting, and reclipping them. If during this process the shower curtain slides down and again goes onto you, reach behind you to shelf under medicine cabinet, take nail file or curved fingernail scissors, and perform short, brisk slashing jabs on shower curtain to cut it back. It can always be repaired later with safety pins or adhesive tape from your toiletries kit.

At this point, you may prefer to get the shower curtain out of your way entirely by gathering it up with both arms and ripping it down with a sharp yank. Now place it in the waste receptacle next to the john. In order that anyone who might be overhearing you will know that you are still all right, sing “Fat Bottomed Girls,” by Queen, as loudly as necessary. While waiting for tub to fill, wedge shower curtain into waste receptacle more firmly by treading it underfoot with a regular high-knee action as if marching in place.

We are happy to have you as our guest. There are many choices you could have made, but you are here, and we appreciate that. Operating the shower curtain is kind of tricky. Nobody is denying that. If you do not wish to deal with it, or if you would rather skip the whole subject for reasons you do not care to reveal, we accept your decision. You did not ask to be born. There is no need ever to touch the shower curtain again. If you would like to receive assistance, pound on the door, weep inconsolably, and someone will be along.

Emoticons of War

This is from an old New Yorker piece I had saved and just discovered on my desk.

By Tom McNichol in the Dec. 10, 2007 issue:


No new attacks reported today.


New attack reported today.


This email is being monitored by Uncle Sam for your protection.


I'd rather not say in an email that's being monitored for my protection.


Our current leader speaks with forked tongue.


Our current leader is a bozo.


Our current leader in some ways resembles Adolf Hitler, at least in his disregard for civil liberties during wartime.


Uh-oh, what was that?


I hear screaming.


Now donning protective goggles.


Good Sammie Davis, Jr., movie on tonight.


Pope to make appeal for peace.


No, I am the Walrus.


Interesting Jimmy Carter piece in today's Times.


I am listening to my iPod.


Bovine encephalitis attack!


Latest George Will column still doesn't get it.


New Osama bin Laden message released.


Local chemical attack causing blindness.


Kiss your ass goodbye.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Twins take the lead!!

I didn't actually get to see this. Not only do we not have cable, but I was lying flat on my back in my bed, trying to groan my pain away. But I was listening. They had rallied in the 8th inning, as is their forte, to tie the game.

Joe Nathan then took the mound and kept the White Sox from scoring again. They were going into extra innings and I didn't know if I could concentrate on that while trying to calm the spasms in my back. I should have welcomed the distraction, but you wouldn't guess how hard it is not to move when you're excited about your team! Anyway, they scored in the next inning, sweeping the series and putting them in first place in the American central division.

I fell asleep with a smile on my face.

Thursday, September 25, 2008


On Tues, Sept 23, I passed a milestone: it was the 23rd anniversary of my arrival in Minnesota. I guess that would make it my golden anniversary. I can't say it was auspicious, however, since got two parking tickets at the same meter on that day. I made a bad choice, as I was in the middle of something I wasn't ready to quit. I didn't know a car could get two tickets at the same meter. Live and learn.

On Saturday the 20th I fractured a rib while boating on the Mississippi, so the parking tickets were an additional assault.

If you subscribe to the belief that all things happen for a reason, that we attract events, even painful events, because we have something to learn from them, then you will not wonder why I now ask myself, "What did I do to deserve this?" I have been exploring this question, and what I come up with is my issue with equity. Suffice to say that when we get hurt it's usually our soul, in cooperation with the universe, trying to get our attention. I need to work on my feelings of "not enough." This doesn't come as a surprise to me, but I am surprised by the force of the request.

To go off on a slight tangent, now, 23 has been called the number of synchronicity, or itself causes sychronistic events or appears and reappears whenever and where ever you see it.

Synchronicity has been described as a meaningful coincidence, a "wink from the cosmos," or as Carl Jung wrote in Synchronicity, An Acausal Connecting Principle:

"This is where the theory of correspondentia comes in, which was propounded by the natural philosophers of the Middle Ages, and particularly the classical idea of the sympathy of all things..."

I read about this connection with the number 23 years ago in a book by Robert Anton Wilson called "The Cosmic Trigger" which also had some history about the Illuminati and what they had to do with the big THEY, as in the people who run things, and what they have to do with the Masonic Order.

Here are some freaky things about the number 23 (make of them what you will - I culled these from the internets). Cue the Outer Limits music.:

There are 23 letters in the Latin alphabet

W = 23rd letter of the alphabet
It's symbol is 2 points down, 3 up.

W, the only letter in the English language to be renounced polysyllabically, is 23rd in line. Note also that it is a double(2)-u and that t has three(3) syllables.

WWW = 23+23+23 = 69

69/3 = 23 -> 6+9+3 = 18 = 23-5 (2+3=5)

2 / 3 = .666

23 is the first prime number in which both digits are prime numbers and add up to another prime number.

23 Axioms in Euclid's Geometry.

In Aleister Crowley's Cabalistic Dictionary, he defines the number 23 as the number of "parting, removal, separation, joy, a thread, and life..."

7.32 is the Holy Number of the First Church of Zypgx, which gives all of its members a number between 7.32 and 8. (7 being the number of luck, 32 being 23 backwards and 8 being approximately the symbol for infinity. 3.1415 is of course, the mathematical enigma which is pi. Multiply these two numbers and you get almost exactly 23. The followers of the First Church of Zypgx also believe that when pi is found to the last decimal place, the number of their Savior times exact pi will be precisely 23.

There is no known 23rd Chapter to Revelations.

The address of the Freemasons lodge in Stafford, England is 23 Jaol Rd. In New York it is on 23rd street.

October 13 (10+13=23) is the month and day that the Knight Templars were arrested in France... hence Friday the 13th being considered a day of bad luck.

The Templars had only 23 Grandmasters. Jacques de Molay was the 23rd and last of the Templar Grandmasters.

And on and on it goes.

Friday, September 19, 2008

35W Bridge is Reborn

Here's the 35W bridge that collapsed last year in August.

During construction

There are two of these vertical sculptures on either end, representing the river. They are up-lit with blue light at night (very cool)

And here it is today . . . .

It's cool. We love it.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

"Thanks, but no thanks" to the Bridge to Nowhere

The now-famous line from the RNC that Sarah Palin is repeating at campaign stops is an outright lie. Although the networks continue to repeat the sound bite, at least some mainstream journalists are reporting the facts. She is no reformer and is happy to receive ear marks and pork for her projects -- at least until those are no longer politically expedient to admit to. This is from the Sept 15 issue of Newsweek:

From early in her career, Palin got ahead by working the system as well if not better than others. She hired a Washington lobbyist and won $27 million in earmarks for tiny Wasilla. Then she worked to get big federal money for the state. Though she now says she stood up to those who wanted to build the $223 million "Bridge to Nowhere" (which actually involved two bridges), she was once a strong supporter. Responding to a questionnaire in 2006, Palin said she wanted the projects done "sooner rather than later … while our congressional delegation is in a strong position to assist." At the time, another prominent politician had called people living in the area of one of the proposed projects "valley trash." That gave Palin an opening. Campaigning in the area, she used some of her trademark humor to make her pitch: "OK, you've got valley trash standing here in the middle of nowhere," she declared to residents of Ketchikan. "I think we're going to make a good team as we progress [with] that bridge."

As Alaskan corruption scandals grew, and the Bridge to Nowhere became synonymous with out-of-control federal spending, Palin switched positions. In an astonishing pivot, she began using the rhetoric of the projects' opponents. Now she talks as if she always opposed the funding. She used one of her stock lines in her nomination acceptance speech: "I told the Congress, 'Thanks but no thanks' for that Bridge to Nowhere."

In Juneau, Palin has given jobs to friends and appointed lobbyists to oversee industries they used to represent. There's nothing illegal about it—that's business as usual in politics. But part of Palin's appeal is that she markets herself as a reformer who fights against cronyism, when in fact her record shows her to be, in many ways, a typical politician who rewards her friends and punishes her enemies.

Some reformer. Add to that her suing the federal government for putting polar bears on the Endangered Species List (because it would interfere with oil and gas exploration and retrieval), her creationist beliefs and her disbelief in global warming, and I'd say you have quite a running mate, there John.

Still, I'm a little nervous. The media frenzy and public interest in Palin has upstaged John McCain, diverting scrutiny of his dubious claims and outright mendacity about his "maverick" characteristics and promises of reform and "change" (can you believe the gall of co-opting that message??!!). The gops are up to their old tricks, and I'm not convinced they won't work.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Indy Media and Public Demand Charges Against Journalists Swept Up In Mass Arrests

By now the world has heard about and seen images of hundreds of RNC protesters being herded by mounted police, maced, gassed, and otherwise terrorized, thanks to journalists covering the events. Many of these videographers, photojournalists and reporters were also swept up in the dragnet of arrests, some of them with fully-visible press credentials. Some journalists still have charges pending or are awaiting word whether they will be charged with "probable cause felony charges." I believe it has something to do with inciting a riot.

Many people who have attended and/or covered other conventions, including the DNC in Denver last month, said they have never seen anything like the police presence in St. Paul last week. St. Paul was given $10 million from the host committee to pay for law suits brought against the city, a fact the deputy mayor confirmed today, a deal she says they are "proud of." This, I hear, is also a first.

So, while McCain/Palin and shiny, happy "patriots" were inside the Excel Center raising their arms in praise of the American dream, citizens attempting to exercise their first amendment rights were outside being oppressed with patriot dollars.

Today I joined the Twin Cities Media Alliance , FreePress, Democracy Now staff Amy Goodman and her producers , and others in demanding that charges against journalists be dropped. As Amy Goodman so thoughtfully put it (I'm paraphrasing so I don't have to listen to the recording I took over and over again):

This goes beyond us, it goes to the issue, to the core issue of democracy in this country. When you stop journalists from operating, you close the eyes and ears of a democracy. We are here to interview people on the floor of the convention center, in the corporate suites and on the streets, to bring the full perspective, including all voices.

Amy can articulate eloquently without relying on a teleprompter, just so you know.

FreePress member holding photo of photographer getting
sprayed with pepper spray (or something equally toxic and

Sharif Abdel Kaddous, Democracy Now producer, also arrested

This reporter has been covering the conventions and
hasn't gotten much sleep.

One of my heroes, Amy Goodman of Democracy Now!

I wish I had gotten this guy's name. He was well-spoken, from
a media organization in NY.

Andy Driscoll of KFAI's Truth to Tell, the 50,000 letters
from citizens demanding that charges against journalists
be dropped.

Nancy Doyle Brown of TC Media Alliance delivering the
demand letters to the mayor's office.

The deputy mayor is "proud" they got the RNC Host Committee to
insure St. Paul against law suits brought by wrongfully arrested, abused
and/or tortured citizens and journalists.


In case you are wondering what the infamous "anarchists" look like, I got some pictures. I didn't include them before because I thought they were just punks. They were walking onto John Ireland with their arms linked, with one of them trying to get them into some sort of cohesive group. Someone asked them "are you the RNC Welcoming Committee?" and one of them grumbled something (so I don't know if they were part of that group). The next question asked was "what you protesting?" and one of them said "everything bad." That was right before the took to the street with the mounted police galloping after them. One of them tossed a trash can onto the street. I said, out loud, to no one in particular, "now, what is littering going to accomplish?"

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Takin' it to the Streets - Scenes from the RNC Protest Rally

Click on the images to enlarge and read the signs/shirts (if anyone knows how to add captions, teach me how!)

St. Paul mounted police and squads in riot gear with
Cathedral in background
The jumbo-tron behind the mounted police is an image
of Bush pouring gas on the flames of Iraq, Iran and N. Korea
I think these were anti-gay protesters. I guess they
had their convention mixed up.
Old guys at the bar talking about Vets' rights. The T-shirt reads:
"The Bible talks about St. Paul but doesn't mention Minneapolis"

This mom of a vet killed in Iraq is being interviewed by
link TV.
The red shirt reads: "Jihad profiler on duty." The white t-shirt
draped over his knees is written in something that looks like Greek.

Detail of an ice sculpture spelling out "DEMOCRACY" melting in the 90 degree heat (of neo-con rule?)
Latino groups marching around the capitol mall.

The words "Kills" and "Breaks" and something illegible are written
between the words "War" and "US"

These banners were being strung by about 10 people from
one end of the capitol steps to the other with what I presumed
to be names of war dead.
The Radical Roosters

A line of republicans greeted the protesters as they made
their way to the capitol mall.