Friday, August 02, 2013

Watching the tide go out

Watching the tide go out

 Every day, there is a bit less.
He's no longer angry, but has no sense of humor anymore, either.
No push-button issues anymore, but few memories of the past either.

Got to get some gas for my car, he says.
Daddy, you don't have a car.
Oh yes, I have a car.
Where are you going to drive your car?
He doesn't remember
Even when I mention some of his favorite trips
The drive to Paradise
Up and over the North Cascades Highway.

When I mention the drive past Crater Lake, he wakes up.
You drive up through all the trees, and then suddenly you're out of them.
Then there's ... nothing.
Nothing? There is Crater Lake! Bluest blue in the world.
No memory of that, it seems. Just driving over the treeline.

Or perhaps he means that there was once a mountain,
And it's been blown to smithereens
Leaving only a lake to fill the empty space.

2 August, 2013

Thursday, April 18, 2013


As a followup to my previous post, I can only quote Gabby Giffords, in part:

People have told me that I’m courageous, but I have seen greater courage. Gabe Zimmerman, my friend and staff member in whose honor we dedicated a room in the United States Capitol this week, saw me shot in the head and saw the shooter turn his gunfire on others. Gabe ran toward me as I lay bleeding. Toward gunfire. And then the gunman shot him, and then Gabe died. His body lay on the pavement in front of the Safeway for hours. 
I have thought a lot about why Gabe ran toward me when he could have run away. Service was part of his life, but it was also his job. The senators who voted against background checks for online and gun-show sales, and those who voted against checks to screen out would-be gun buyers with mental illness, failed to do their job. 
They looked at these most benign and practical of solutions, offered by moderates from each party, and then they looked over their shoulder at the powerful, shadowy gun lobby — and brought shame on themselves and our government itself by choosing to do nothing.
Quoted from

Her entire Op-Ed is well worth reading. I hope every United States Senator reads it, and takes it to heart.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Cravens, Courage in the US Senate today

RAGE! That was my first response to the news that the US Senate today was unable to pass even less-than-universal background checks for firearm purchases -- even with a majority, and even with the vast majority of Americans, even gun-owning Americans, even NRA members -- in favor. Now comes discouragement. How will we progress as a country, if over ninety per cent of us are ignored? Only the gun manufacturers and their toadies get their way.

Here are the nays, from

Alexander (R-TN)
Ayotte (R-NH)
Barrasso (R-WY)
Baucus (D-MT)
Begich (D-AK)
Blunt (R-MO)
Boozman (R-AR)
Burr (R-NC)
Chambliss (R-GA)
Coats (R-IN)
Coburn (R-OK)
Cochran (R-MS)
Corker (R-TN)
Cornyn (R-TX)
Crapo (R-ID)
Cruz (R-TX)
Enzi (R-WY)
Fischer (R-NE)
Flake (R-AZ)
Graham (R-SC)
Grassley (R-IA)
Hatch (R-UT)
Heitkamp (D-ND)
Heller (R-NV)
Hoeven (R-ND)
Inhofe (R-OK)
Isakson (R-GA)
Johanns (R-NE)
Johnson (R-WI)
Lee (R-UT)
McConnell (R-KY)
Moran (R-KS)
Murkowski (R-AK)
Paul (R-KY)
Portman (R-OH)
Pryor (D-AR)
Reid (D-NV)
Risch (R-ID)
Roberts (R-KS)
Rubio (R-FL)
Scott (R-SC)
Sessions (R-AL)
Shelby (R-AL)
Thune (R-SD)
Vitter (R-LA)
Wicker (R-MS)

I want to call out the Democrats who voted no, as a Hall of Shame.

Senator Baucus of Montana, for shame.

Senator Begich of Alaska, for shame.

Senator Heitkamp of North Dakota, for shame.

Senator Pryor of Arkansas, for shame.

Senator Reid of Nevada, so much shame on your head.*

I can't begin to express how much disappointment and sadness you have brought to me.

On the positive side, there were Republicans who bucked their party, and they should be called out as well. These Republicans showed as much courage as the roll above earned shame today.

The Roll Call of Courage:

Senator Susan Collins, of Maine, thank you.

Senator Mark Kirk, of Illinois, thank you.

Senator John McCain, of Arizona, thank you.

Senator Pat Toomey, of Pennsylvania, double thanks to you.

Thank you to all of the heroic victims of gun violence who spoke up, who worked, wrote, raised money, and lobbied for gun safety. Thank you to all of you in the majority who voted for gun safety.

There is so much more I want to say, but while feeling so full of rage and sadness, I will refrain. We must be the change we want in the world.

*I've heard that this NAY vote was "merely procedural." I guess time will tell if that is true or not. However, by not reforming the Senate rules when there was a lot of momentum to curb the power of the minority, Harry Reid set the stage for this heart-breaking vote today.

Friday, April 05, 2013

We know better. Why aren't we doing better?

It began with me complaining a bit. My dad said, you're a bit negative tonight. So I turned it around. I said, Dad, we know how to do better. Why aren't we? We have in the past. I grew up in the Fifties, in the decade following the Second World War. We had a Republican president, yet we managed to build the interstate highway system, and send all the returning veterans to college! Of course the top tax rate was above 90%, yet the rich were doing very well. And the average worker was doing well too, and unions were, not coincidentally, very healthy.

So I guess I got used to Stuff Getting Done. As I came to adulthood, I saw the war on poverty, the voting rights act, Medicare, cleaner air, cleaner water -- all efforts to fix big problems in American society. We saw problems, and made real efforts to fix them. What happened to that?

We know that global climate change is getting more extreme, faster and faster now. And we know what to do to slow down the destruction, and even turn things around. And we in the US do nothing, at least on the national level.

At one point, we saw poverty as a terrible national problem. Now we have more poor Americans than ever before, and it's barely mentioned. Half the food that we grow is thrown away, yet more people than ever before are hungry. We used to care about this, and made HUGE progress with the commodities food program, and food stamps, and various welfare schemes, but rather than expand these effective programs, we're shrinking them!

The US puts more people on prison than almost anywhere else on earth. Why? We know how to bring down crime. We've done wonderful pilot projects where young parents are given excellent help to learn to be good parents, and know that that brings down crime rates. We know that high-quality preschool helps kids all the way to college. But we haven't made preschool available for every American child. And many American kids get no sex education, and even more are never taught about how to handle relationships, and use birth control. The result is that American teens have babies at much greater rates than the rest of the Western world. We know what works, but we aren't doing it.

When we sent American GIs to college, the US vaulted into the future. We aren't we sending ALL American kids to college, who want to go? Why are we building more prisons, instead of more colleges?

I could provide many more examples, but they all illustrate the same point. We know what to do, and we're not doing that. Often we're doing the opposite, or rewarding "bad behavior" rather than what serves the country's progress, public health, economy, prosperity, job growth, and on and on.

Why aren't we doing better? My dad had no answer. I know the common answers -- money in politics, growing inequality, etc. But again, we know what we need to do, and we're not doing it. Why not?

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Common-sense gun safety legislation

I'm a gun owner. I want common-sense gun safety regulation. What is currently under debate in the US Congress is less than adequate, yet it certainly is better than nothing. If the assault weapons ban had not been allowed to lapse, Adam Lanza (the Newtown shooter) would not have had access to the weapon and 30-round clips he used to murder so many people in less than five minutes. I was upset when the ban was allowed to lapse; first, I couldn't understand why it had a "lapse date" in the first place. For another, the Vice President at the time supported renewing it. Yes, Dick Cheney supported the assault weapon ban. And yet, Congress was so gutless that it was allowed to lapse. The President nor the Vice President back then provided any leadership on the issue, and neither the Republicans nor Democrats seemed to pay a price for their cowardice.

How many hundreds of thousands of Americans have died from gun violence since that happened? Certainly not all of them would have been alive today if we had never decided to allow civilians to own military-style assault weapons, extended magazines, and armor-penetrating bullets. Guns designed to kill lots of people, as quickly as possible. However, many of the mass shootings which have so shocked the nation and the world would not have happened, or at least had fewer dead.

Now we have a chance. We have a President willing to spend his political capital on gun regulation, rather than privatizing Medicare. We have a Vice President willing to spend lots of time and energy on fact-gathering, dialogue with those on both sides of the argument. We have great new groups newly-energized, and willing to spend money and energy to fight the pernicious influence of the NRA.

I want to talk a bit about the NRA. I grew up looking at Daddy's American Riflemen magazines, which were mostly interesting to me because of the photos of gorgeous countryside and animals. I knew Daddy had hunted in the past, but he never shot Bambi while I lived at home. Later he did do some moose hunting in Canada, and I loved eating some of that meat. Back in those days, the NRA stood for the average hunter, and marksman. Sure, there were a few ads for guns, but it seemed that the money Dad sent them was spent on hunter safety classes and such. In those days, the NRA stood for gun safety, in extreme contrast to its present stance. Why the difference? I think it's the source of money. They claim four million members, but the vast predominance of money in the organization comes from gun manufacturers. They actually have protected the gun manufacturers from civil suits! Can you imagine how much more unsafe our cars would be if the car manufacturers were safe from being sued? This fact shocked me, and shows to me what they really care about; the money from their patrons, the gun manufacturers -- no longer the average gun owner.

If you care about this issue, contact your Representatives and Senators. If do not have contact information, the League of Women Voters have the easiest way to find out:
Or simply call the the U.S. Capitol Switchboard (the phone number is (202) 224-3121 locally or toll-free 1-800-962-3524 nationally) and ask for a particular legislator. You can even just leave a short message with the operator. This week, legislators are in their home districts, so you can call or visit their local office if you prefer.

We can allow nothing to happen, or we can provide the impetus for change, if we act. Let's do so.

PS: When gun manufacturers are again subject to suit, I'll be more satisfied.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Kitchen! DONE!

Not sure why that last drawer took soooo long to do, but it is DONE. Which means the kitchen is DONE. New skylight, new paint, clean cupboards and drawers, every one, inside and out.

And that took what, a month of work? Totally worth the time. What I started with on that last drawer:

Contents of the junk drawer
Junk drawer now
Silverware drawer
Kitchen tools, silverware
Kitchen tools

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

When I was a kid, and now

When I was a kid, a Republican president proposed and got passed the Interstate Highway system. This was passed as a non-partisan issue, and has been the backbone of the rise of the modern United States.

Now, under a Democratic president, his tiny (by comparison) American Jobs bill can't even get a hearing.

Before I was born, a Democratic president decided that the long-postponed racial integration of the US Armed Forces would take place, whether his generals and the people of the United States agreed with it, or not. Simply because it was the right thing to do. And it worked.

Just this year, another Democratic president finally ended official discrimination against gay and lesbian soldiers and sailors. While it seems to be a non-issue in the services, he's catching hell for it on the right-wing airwaves.

When I was a kid, a whole generation of young Americans were going to college, courtesy of the GI Bill. This was mostly men, but even so, American business was propelled ahead by the brightest and most-educated workforce ever. Even poor folks, however, were able to get to college if they really wanted to attend.

Now, we are burdening all but the richest and poorest with enormous debt to attend college. What the hell is wrong with us? The rest of the world has figured out how to do this better. So can we, if we want to.

When I was a kid, people didn't complain about their taxes. People knew that taxes paid for not just government, but also the armed forces, and the nation's infrastructure. They were proud to be able to contribute. The taxes on the rich were very high, and yet the US prospered and grew.

Now, the rich control most of the wealth and power in this country, and have the lowest tax rates in fifty years. Many corporations pay NO tax, using not only sleazy tax-dodges, but also off-shoring American jobs, impoverishing the country but still posting record profits. And now they are allowed, as "legal persons," to make unlimited political contributions. And our jobless rate hovers around 9%. The Republicans in Congress have almost all signed a pledge to NEVER raise taxes.

And the American Jobs bill still gets no hearing.

I grew up Republican, proud of the Party of Lincoln. President Lincoln kept the Union together, won the Civil War, which ended the horrible stain upon US honor, the agony of slavery. But I grew up to see Republicans vote against the Civil Rights Act, and oppose school desegregation.

I honored Teddy Roosevelt, who created the National Park System, forever protecting our most beautiful and pristine public lands. Now I see the Republicans try to sully the environment, yelling "drill baby drill!" My goodness, the Environmental Protection Agency was proposed and created by the Republican President Nixon! Now most of the Republican presidential candidates want to hobble or even disband it!

When the Republican Bob Dole was running for president, he proposed a near-universal healthcare plan, which was nearly identical to President Obama's Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Yet NO Republicans supported or voted for it.

Republican President Ulysses S Grant established the Civil Service, to get graft out of government jobs. Now the Republicans are the ones attacking government employees, and trying to "privatize" as many government services as possible. What was different in 1872 and now? People have forgotten what graft is, and what it means. How many people know what Blackwater, Halliburton and Xie have done to Iraq, Afghanistan, and the United States?

To be fair, Rupert Murdoch's FOX News and many years of one-sided (and dishonest) media pounding on the American public has had its effect. The Republican Party has responded by speaking up ONLY for the richest Americans. The Democrats have often retreated from support for the poor and middle class, minorities, children, as they lost power to the rich. But for the most part, they have done their part to protect the middle class. They have spoken up for health care for all, protection of the environment, repair of the US infrastructure, women's rights, education for all who want it.

But the money in politics is destroying us. I've signed the petition at and I hope it does some good. I worked for Pres. Obama and most of the local Democrats, and will do so again. But until we get the money our of the system, it will be much less than perfect. I've lobbied my local Congresspeople, and write and call all of them sometimes. But until we get the money out of politics, we aren't going to make the progress we really need to. I think the Occupy Wall Street movement shows that I'm not the only one who notices that something is wrong, and we need to get this turned around.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Another Sad Anniversary

Just a few days ago, it was the third anniversary of Angel's death by suicide. Time has not eased our pain, although it is not so sharp and immediate. But as time goes on, I miss her more and more. There are more times when the family is all together, but we're missing her. The world is missing her strength, her smile, her laugh, her talent, her love.

We are all poorer for her loss. Just now I found a painful but wonderful page written by the mom of a son who committed suicide at age 21. Bruce took his life, as most people who commit suicide do, because the pain of living has become too great. He didn't realize that he could have found relief for that pain by sharing his heart with those who loved him. Instead, that pain has been magnified for those left behind, empty-handed. Bruce's mother Roz shared a poem that has helped her through the years, and I hope they will help any survivors of the pain of the suicide of a loved one.
A time will come when my life will cease.

But when that time comes I ask that you remember these things

Bury my body but don't bury my beliefs.

Bury my heart but don't bury my love.

Bury my eyes but not my vision.

Bury my feet but not the path of my life.

Bury my hands but don't bury my diligent efforts.

Bury my shoulders but not the concerns I carried.

Bury my voice but not my message.

Bury my mind but don't bury my dreams.

Bury me but don't bury my life.

If you must bury something, let it be my faults and my weaknesses'

but let my life continue on in you.

-by Ronald Rohr
From Remembering Bruce:

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Summer! Not Official, but the Sun is Shining

And I'm back from Switzerland!

Today's best new thing is an old thing, TWENTY-FIVE YEARS-OLD, to be exact: Ferris Bueller's Day Off turns 25! How in the heck did that happen? In any case, the only thing that's dated is the hair and clothes, which add to the humor. What a great daydream!

Finally, someone perfectly sums up my thinking on ripped jeans: Other funny stuff there, too.

Excellent talk (about one hour) about Getting over embarrassment in order to get things done:

Listen to some fun music from the Diablo Swing Orchestra:

Very cool little film about capturing a swarm of bees, by Klaas Freitag (dragotin):

Gorgeous aurora photos/films:

Fun beer commercial:

Authors@Google: Tina Fey: (almost an hour).

Basic travel info on Switzerland, from which I've just returned:

Cool youtube: Time Lapse Sky Shows Earth Rotating Instead of Stars:

Check out the Vibram Five Fingers in action: I want some!

Cool song, Norwegian? maybe. Balstyrko - Jagten Paa Noget:

One of the strangest covers of Seven Nation Army I've seen, by Veto & Lucy Love:

Silly but fun. I remember playing this with the kids. The da Vinci Robot Plays "Operation" Board Game:

Saturday, May 28, 2011

End of Spring Links

I know I just did one, but a fresh start is good, too! Plus I want to clean up my tabs again before taking off for Switzerland

Not sure if a fan video has ever *taught* me, but this one did: The Fibonacci in Lateralus (Tool)

GREAT Add-on to FireFox, which preserves all your tabs, but does NOT reload them until you click on them. Oh my gosh, I can't believe how much faster my computer feels now! Thanks for this one, Himanshu. I'm using the beta version, by the way.

Wayne Besen explains Why Gay Cultural Progress Is Meeting Stiff Political Resistance:

On the other side, D. Ruth Bavosett calls for a different kind of activism: You are awesome, Ruth!

Can't beat Jon Stewart! Daily Show: The Global War in Your Pants - Jon and the correspondents offer a public service message to the kids about a third option to sex or abstinence. "Boys have a God stick, and girls have a shame cave." Exactly the issue, Jon.

Joe Brockmeier asks, Does Amazon "owe" open source? Maybe a little: I think that we all make choices about ideas and companies we choose to support. Let's consider the kind of a world we want, rather than looking for the cheapest price all the time. I'm willing to pay more for value, and part of value is how companies treat people, and how they treat the Earth.


*Excellent* article about the Tragedy of Sarah Palin. I remember being encouraged when I heard that John McCain had chosen her as his running mate. She had been a smart, popular Governor, and I thought maybe he was returning to his "maverick" roots, which made him one of my favorite Republicans. Instead -- horrors. I really think she could have had a wonderful effect on the United States, instead of the really negative influence she has become. Truly a tragedy.

So funny! Love The Onion:

This is so amazing! The mom or dad who created this marble run - genius!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

This Week in Links - April and May

Exciting to do this! This was supposed to be weekly, but time slid away from me. But there are so many tabs open FF is hardly working, so it's TIME.

Amazing article, highly recommended: 150 Years After Fort Sumter: Why We're Still Fighting the Civil War:,8599,2063679-1,00.html. 150 years later, it is high time to look back and learn the lessons of that horrible war, and the scourge of slavery which stained this country for so long. The racism which remains shows that we have NOT owned up to that full history, but have continued to ignore all the causes. We nearly lost our Union then, yet talk of secession still simmers now.

OMG, want: Freaking all-flash site, but that coffee-maker looks amazing!

Interesting old slideshow (2004), history of the beginning of KDE:

If ever I do write a thesis, this might come in handy!

Lots of cool videos of ants in action:

Amazing track by Johnny Cash. If only the radio preacher and all his suckered believers had listened to this, instead of to the radio: The Man Comes Around.

Yay, I had lost this link until someone posted it! Great online comic:

For those who are having Flash problems recently in Linux, this is supposed to help: What helped ME in Natty was removing and purging flashplugin-nonfree, then reinstalling flashplugin-installer.

Best reply to the idiots in the Tennessee Legislature who recently passed a bill banning the use of the word "gay" or "homosexual" by teachers in school: That is SO Takei!

A series of links I've found concerning my dead mic and headphone jack:,,,,

The great Bill Withers, Ain't No Sunshine While She's Gone:

John McCain regains his integrity? A bit late, but better late than never:

The cost of cowardice. I used to support Sojourners, but they have let me down, they have let gay Christians down, and in doing so, lost their integrity and value:

Nice explanation of Kubuntu repositories:

Eric Clapton, Tears in Heaven, live:

Cool project! Use the idle time on your computer (Windows, Mac, or Linux) to cure diseases, study global warming, discover pulsars, and do many other types of scientific research. It's safe, secure, and easy: Thanks for the link, Himanshu.

Possible use for Alsachat?,

Fun link - my first computer! The Coleco ADAM:

Fascinating discussion of How Robber Barons hijacked the "Victorian Internet:

Discussion on reddit about how teams best manage artwork:

Quite funny, and a bit mind-bending for Americans, maybe:

Interesting discussion of religion and atheism (anti-religion?):

Obviously I like *this link, since I tried to raise my kids this way: Let Kids Play With Fire, and Other Rules for Good Parenting.

God Help The Girl
is a story written by Stuart Murdoch, which is in the process of being turned into a film, and which has already yielded a self-titled album, an EP (‘Stills’) and a handful of live shows.

So cute! Animals with Stuffed Animals. And

Important to remember: Also, after reading a biography of Marie Curie when I was young, I admired her so much. But I didn't want to BE her! The reason we are here on Earth, is to be our Selves, as much as possible. In my opinion.

Bizarre, and so opposite from the xkcd message, is: This might cheer you up, though: Clickety-click!

Interesting article about Nokia and open source.

World IPv6 Day. Get ready, people! Unlike the End of the World, this is actually happening.

Open Source Sewing
? Yeah, including this Teddy Pig pattern.

Why are there so many engineers in India? Interesting article about higher education in India, some of which is true in China too.

I had a blog with links about helpful travel sites, but I think it's way outdated. Easier to link to Hypatia's blog:

This sucks, but doesn't surprise me: It would discourage me, but I just got a nice card from Sen. Fayn as a response to an email I sent him. And he's a Republican. One of the good guys.

No idea if this works, is practical, etc. But it is interesting: Android, Chrome OS, and Ubuntu United in One Platform: A new option from Always Innovating adds a fourth Linux-based operating system for a quad-boot alternative. I don't have a Beagle board, but who knows the future?

Spreadsheet with Google Summer of Code students, and their distribution around the world:

If you didn't see it, President Obama at the 2011 White House Correspondents' Dinner - now is as good a time as any!

From NPR: Size Matters: The Hidden Mathematics of Life.

That's quite enough, don't you think? I do too. More later, of course!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

OK, New Plan

This blog has gone unused long enough. I looked into using Posterous, but this is already a Link Blog, so I'm going to use it that way! I'll collect links all week, then post them once.

Today, I'll simply clean out my tabs in Firefox.

Google Voice: My number is (206) 801-0165.

The Doctor [Who] is a Time-Lord:

The real hero of Colloden, Lord George Murray:, according to Hark, A Vagrant is always worth your time!

Extreme cuteness:

Riz Khan: Status anxiety in the age of austerity:

10 Charts About Sex:

Rick Steves' Europe: Budapest:,cFull%20Episodes,1,0

This cat named Potter could be Alice' twin:

Aaron Asiego, building brand together:

Word cloud illustrating which words are used most often in ads targeting boys (top) versus words used most often in ads targeting girls. Quite shocking:

So funny I cried with laughter:

The Story of Linux: Commemorating 20 Years of the Linux Operating System:

Airfare searches:,

OpenHatch just never stops with creative ways to make us better!,

Capturing SIGCSE conversation: Computer science professors discuss teaching open source:

MultiSystem – Create a MultiBoot USB from Linux (need to DO THIS):

Richard Feynman: Magnets and Why Questions:

Wonderful photos, mostly of NYC:

Sooooo many links possible here! Absolutely fabulous sex site for women.

Erik's show, Attention All Pickpockets:

The Vaselines on Sound Opinions:,

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Lyric for One Gone

Reading the book Song, about songwriting, one of the writers ends his interview with "don't say 'cuts like a knife.'* This morning I awoke with the beginning of a song, or a poem.

Lyric for one gone

I have a ginsu that cuts like a knife;
I have a rock that's as hard as stone.
But I no longer have you, and the empty place
   can't be described.

Darling, why did you leave me?
Why did you leave us?
Why are you gone, leaving only
   this emptiness behind?

I look at old pictures, at smiling faces, and I cry.
We could have had more pictures, more smiling faces.

* Song : the world's best songwriters on creating the music that moves us; Ed: J. Douglas Waterman, page 54, quoting Henry Paul.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Closer to Equality in Washington State

Maine makes me sad, but this makes me HAPPY!

See for more information. Kathy Reim of PFLAG made an important point in an email today. While many of the votes came from King County, as expected, many did NOT. If you look at the state map and statistics on the Washington State site, you'll see that we got SOME votes in every county, and 30 to 40 percent in many of the rural counties. We are making progress, and this is not a "liberal" issue, or a "city" issue. It is simply a civil rights issue, and WE ALL HAVE EQUAL RIGHTS IN THIS COUNTRY. We just have to get the laws and judicial system to align with our Constitution.

Let's keep working.