March 23, 2011

History Channel on March 23, 2011

History had a program about building American cities.  Wonderful stuff especially for history geeks and fact ferrets like me.  Here are a few links that struck me as I watched that I will be checking into for more inspiration.   We are not alone in our fight for social justice.  It happened back in the 1890s and was documented extensively by the photographer Riis back then.

  1. Images for how the other half lives jacob riis

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  2. The Progressive Era: 1890s: Jacob Riis

    Apr 5, 2009 ... How The Other Half Lives (1895 edition). This pioneering work of photojournalism by Jacob Riis focused on the plight of the poor in the ... › ... › progressive era: 1890s - Cached - 

Going to the Cats....Yippee!!

I get to pick up that cute orange stripe little guy, Patrick Murphy today!!  Yea!!  So, yes, going to the cats is a good thing!!!

March 19, 2011

Who Rescues Who? Who Cares?

Sometimes we have our lifes’ work right in front of us. I know for me that is writing, books and rescue. Certainly my liberal education in the humanities prepared me for the writing part but I didn’t realize that until I was checking last week on website which had a chart saying what each major qualified a person to do in life. I just knew I write and write compulsively. The better I get from the pain, the more I write. The worse I get from the pain, the more I write. It is a release, a celebration and a distraction from things like dealing with real life. But I digress.

In my place right now there are three cats, art work I created over the years which surprises me by how much I continue to like it, antiques I inherited and shelf after shelf of old books my mom had back in the 30s. From these things, my life is made. Of course, cluttered up in that mix are all the family papers I inherited as well.

We are hoarders in my family when it comes to saving newspaper articles and obituaries and photographs. Hoarders of this type are treasured by historians. We are the ones who save the physical history of a time until the bulk of the materials can be preserved and explained to others. 

What I didn’t realize about being raised as a hoarder is how it slanted my view on life. I never learned to let go of memories – whether bad or good ones. I never learned to let go of emotional trauma. I never learned to let go of relationships. And I never let go of physical pain.

While I realized eventually I never let go of things, I only recently realized that having all of these feelings and memories and pains inside me made it easier for me to be overwhelmed by day-to-day life. Being overwhelmed made me draw back from friends, family and people in general.

What finally brought me back out was my commitment to rescue. It first started as a flicker of an effort to rescue myself and has now grown into where I have identified who I rescue and why and make arrangements ahead of time to assure a smooth rescue and recovery. These are concepts I never even dreamed of when I took that first step to find relief from pain. I just knew I had to do something pretty damn quick or drown.

Until all beings know peace, Know peace.

March 17, 2011

Who Rescued Who

In letting go of pain, there is the problem/benefit of refilling the hole in the soul that pain leaves behind.  Of course, letting go means bringing in, vacuums being what they are and Rescue filling the Gap

I choose to fill that hole left behind with cat rescue.  That's why I so often write about cats.  But cats are not the only things needing rescue.  Warehoused people in old age homes need people who can bring animals for visits.  Libraries (in this era of firing librarians) are in need to volunteers to continue the good work of restoring books to their proper places on the shelves and identifying books that belong to other libraries or which need repair.  Truck-N-Paws (a volunteer group committed to moving cats and dogs from kill shelters to sanctuaries) need people to drive a small distance to make a great amount of change.

And then there are the usual and not so usual suspects--from the Red Cross to training dogs for search and rescue, to supporingt public radio and public television or supporting animal relief.  Then there is the Guttenberg Project which rescues books that are out of copyright and can be typed and uploaded onto the internet.  And it is free to anyone who wants to work on it.  Volunteering at soup kitchens or hospitals or libraries gets people out of their homes and into contact with other people.  Even going for a walk to the local store can bring you into contact with school kids or people who are walking their dogs or just watching the birds and squirrels in the area.

There are so many ways to give back in gratitude for not having to let pain run our lives anymore.

Judaism believes that when you kill someone,  you kill a whole universe.  And the obverse as well.  When you save someone, you save a universe.  That is my fundamental belief in rescue.  A bumper sticker I saw yesterday said it all.  "Who rescued Who"  And  that is why rescue continues to be so important to me.  Rescue can mean many things other than animals.    Letting beauty come into the space formerly occupied by pain is one of the most powerful medicines I know.

One of the most beautiful lines I ever read is consistently in Tony Hillerman's mysteries and is a Navaho greeting.  "Walk in beauty."  I try.

Until we all know peace, Know peace

Dealing with Fibromyalgia Pain, Letting Go, Finding Peace

I practiced martial arts for many years and have written about that time before in this blog and in my original website called  Imagine my surprise though when a friend told me about a technique to help with the gnawing pain of fibromyalgia.  And what surprised me wasn't that there was a technique I hadn't investigated.  There are plenty of those.  What surprised me was that one of the first things martial artists learn is to use their bodies as weapons and the influx of adrenalyn when going into a fight to stiffen their arms and legs.  In fact, we were always told to keep the fight techniques simple because of this stiffening.  The better fighters, though, were always able to maintain fluidity in their fighting techniques flowing from one hit to another block to a third strike and then circling out to start the cycle again.

Fluidity, letting go, circling are all essential in moving from pain into non pain.  Stretching helps muscle stiffness, meditation helps mental stiffness.  But perhaps the most powerful technique, for me at least,  is asking a leg or an arm, or a hand,  or a back to 'let go of pain.'  As I sit here typing this post, my hands don't hurt, my typing errors are fewer, and that comes the awareness of pain creeping back in and reminding my muscles to let go. 

Pain in my case is a habitual frame of mind and body.  Relearning how not to live in pain will be the work of the rest of my life and I think I can live with that.

May all beings know peace.

Rescue on St. Patrick's Day and a Cat Called Elvis

I feed the stray cats who live in my neighborhood.  Every morning the cats know to come over to my front porch for breakfast. That way  I keep track of who is a new stray cat and how the regular strays are doing in all sorts of weather.  Some of the cats are true ferals and only eat at night or when they think no one can see them.  Some cats belong to neighbors who think cats in busy suburban neigborhoods are perfectly safe being outside all the time.  Generally these cats are fixed and have collars and know where they live.   And then there was one cat who either had no owners or very neglectful owners who never bothered to get  him fixed and then let him out to run around in the neighborhood. 

So I have been keeping an eye on this cat.  He has been running around with a cat called Elvis.  Elvis is the character of the neighborhood.  He trips people, jumps up on legs and twines around ankles being as cute as possible.  But show him too much attention and you will get clawed.  Recently, Elvis has been hanging out with a small orange tiger stripe cat.  Very friendly, very sweet, very hungry and very male.  This lasted  for about 3 weeks with Elvis showing the younger cat the ropes of being outdoors.  But it couldn't last forever.  Elvis started striking out at junior as the younger cat matured and I made a mental note to get ready to pull junior to safety.

That meant getting out the cat carrier, making sure it had a towel in it and everything was stowed in the car for a quick drive to the local FOHA vet.  It also meant taking the initiative and talking with the intake officer of FOHA about helping this poor little guy.   I also talked with the medical officer who knows about every vet in the area and has all of them on speed dial and email contacts.  (I mean, doesn't everybody have their vets on quick call?  If you are rescue, this is standard operating procedure because when things go wrong in rescue they go wrong very fast and you need to be able to get help as fast as possible.) 
But I am happy to relate that things went very, very well today.  I scooped up Elvis (while putting out the breakfast in my 'jammies).  He  was trying to beat up junior.  And I told him 'no.'   Then I  ran upstairs to get dressed and headed to the car.  Naturally, junior was no where to be found, but I heard the squirrels hissing at something and looked down at the base of their tree.  And there was junior. 

"Little man," I called to him.  "Come over here."  And he did because he knew everytime I called to him before he would get hugs, protection, love and food.  All powerful motivators.   Building trust is essential in what I do.  It takes longer to rescue building trust but it makes for a much better relationship between the cat and the human going forward.  So once the cat came over I gave him a hug and then just held him close and got into the car closing the door and putting him into the cat carrier. 

Job almost done because then I needed to call the medical officer to make the date for me at the vets and then needed to drive out there.  Once I was there, junior and I figured out his name from one of the other dogs named Murphy who was there for an early morning appointment.  Seeing as it was St. Patrick's Day, junior became Patrick Murphy which really seems to suit an orange tiger striped yearling who weighs all of 7 pounds 5 ounces. 

All that remains after I dropped him off at the FOHA isolation room to wait for his neutering operation is to locate Elvis's owners address so that I can tell the medical and intake officers just in case Pat the Cat actually has owners even if they were careless with him.  And then tell the Fairfax County Shelter exactly where I first saw him and where I think he might have lived considering who he was associating with.  So tonight I get to amble down the street and make a note of the street address to email to the officers at FOHA.  And if he doesn't belong to them and isn't claimed in 60 days by anyone else in this area then he belongs to FOHA and can be adopted out. 

Until we neuter the owners and save the animals may all beings know peace

March 16, 2011

Yea for finding a way to get phone photos onto computer

I have had a memory stick in my camera for about 6 months but forgot where I put the adapter.  I looked everywhere -- no luck.  I went to Target, Best Buy, and finally Radio Shack.  Whew.  Now the pictures are in the computer.  Finally.  I hate needing something and not being able to find it.  Frustrating experience.  If I ran the universe I would have all adapters for memory sticks be the same size.  Sometimes too much diversity is just a marketing technique to keep customers.  Grrrr

Typing is getting tougher, folks

Typing is much harder these days--probably due to the fibromyalgia pain getting worse.  What is making typing even harder though is that my keyboard skills are deteriorating.  My fingers hit multiple keys at once and all of a sudden my screen goes blank or my text goes somewhere else on the page.  It is weird.  I am sure there is a fancy long name for this condition.  I just think it is annoying, frustrating and weird.  Gah.  More later after I do a little research to figure this out.

News agencies found

I am a sometime news junkie.  It depends on what the news is covering.  The best news coverage I find comes out of Japan itself from  Or just go to on your computer and that works as well.  Fascinating and far less strident than the U.S. news.  Less personality and more news.   It is too sad that disasters force me to find new sources for news.  The last time I had to do this was after 9/11 when U.S. news sources were far behind the curve of the news.  BBC covered events faster and more thoroughly.  Since then, I try to stay open to other ways to learn.

May all beings know peace

March 15, 2011

New Uses for Old Things

My cats and the Friends of Homeless Animals cats have taught me that nothing is waste.  They play with milk bottle caps and the stips of plastic that secure them.  They curl up in litter boxes and in feeding bowls.  The more scared of the cats curl up in litter boxes and literally guard their own turf.  But even my cats at home reuse litter boxes are places to curl up into.  Especially my big cat who is either a Norwegian Forest Cat or a Maine Coon Cat who is too big for most laps.  He loves curling into the box. 

More things that can be recycled include old sweaters.  Take them apart at the seams and then wind the wool up into a ball for a later project.  This is also a lot of fun to do with the cats who want to play with the string jerking along on the floor. 

Hand Juicers can be used to squish whole canned beets to use in salads as well as draining tuna fish for terrific sandwiches and additions to salads. 

Doublesided tape can be used for those pesky art projects that are too expensive to frame if you are unhandy like I am when it comes to wood working.  Talk to me about embroidery and art projects or word work and I can hold my own.  My eyes glaze however when you talk with me about squares and saws and mitre boxes.  And don't even try to talk with me about clamping a frame shut while it is being glued.  I go into complete brain freeze just typing this.

Old tennis balls are great back rubs if you live alone.  Just put them on the floor and lie on top of them wriggling to get the sore places where they to be to get relief. 

More to come as I go through the scraps I have around here.

A Tsumani of Local Proportions

And here in the U.S., we face the budget tsunami caused in primary part by the deceitful practices and unholy alliances between Wall Street and Capital Hill.  And the ripple effect is enormous and just becoming clear to all of us this year.  Wisconsin and Ohio are on the Front Lines but every state has serious budget problems.  The problem started in the 1960s with the entitlement programs.  What most of us don't realize is that many of those programs were shifted from the federal budget to the States.  The federales essentially forced the states to maintain them.  But didn't offer states much support.  States have tried for years to find ways of funding but failed.  If this situation were the Chicago Fire, we would be seeing the firestorm of states failing.  State afte state faces the alarming situation of cutting budgets humanely.  Can they do it without dipping into the extremist politics of Wisconsin and Ohio?  I believe they can by pointing out to the national government that this shortfall comes from long term policies -- not short term bad budgeting.  That is not going to be a popular position but it, sadly, is the truth.  And how, then, will the government be able to pay for these short falls coming back to roost?  Again, I don't know.  Probably raise taxes or cut programs themselves.  America, the land of diminished possibilities.  America, the land of the not free.  Sure, we are free to vote but are we free from Wall Street control and fallout and political doubledealing?  Not now and probably never were.  The old song, "St. Peter, don't you take me 'cause I can't go, I owe my soul to the company store."

Until all beings know peace, pray for Japan and the victims there
Until all beings know peace, pray for all who have lost in New Zealand, Katrina, and any other global disasters and
Until all beings know peace, pray for all the pets who are put to death due to the Wall Street engendered foreclosures and short sighted landlord policies when it comes to allowing pets to come with their owners.


Is it Just Me?

What news agencies are forgetting....Japan is such a small country that what affects one part pretty much affects the whole nation.  Tokyo is only 150  miles away from the Fukushima nuclear plants.  Williamsburg, Virginia is about 150 miles away from Metro DC.  No space to run if something happens like this kind of event.  This is not like Hiroshima.  These are plants built close together on the coast that for whatever reason (tsunami or earthquake) are now at emergency levels that brave plant workers are working to fix.  Such an intense time.  My heart goes out to all who suffer there, who survived but lost everyone and everything, who face situations beyond comprehension.

I am a child of the first generation to grow up after WWII. I grew up near one of the nuclear research facilities in Northern Ohio. We were all very aware of the dangers so the nuclear drills of hiding in hallways and under desks, of listening to the loud booms of jetliners and dropping to the floor, are familiar to me. What was not spelled out at the time was the afterlife issue of radioactivity. That fact didn’t come out until much later.

What worries me about the Fukushima Plants in Japan is that the evacuation zone is so small. That research facility in Ohio? I lived maybe 15 miles away from it and we all knew it would be too close if something dreadful happened. If I were living in Japan right now, even Tokyo (150 miles away) would be too close. Perhaps I am too much a child of my generation to see anything but destruction in nuclear power. I don’t know and cannot judge at this distance how the Japanese government is doing. I do know that the alarmists in California are just that...alarmists. If they were so committed to being scared then why on earth weren’t they up in arms when the state next to them, Nevada, was used for testing? Why weren’t they protesting then? Was it because our own government told us that these air tests were perfectly safe? Ouch! That is exactly what happened. And I fear that is what is happening in Japan today and am sad to see them duped like we were.  

May all beings know peace --
Remember them all in your prayers, folks

March 2, 2011

Settling in America (Overview and Opinion Alert)

Settling in America. Sounds like the title of a History Channel program, doesn't it? Settling, setting in roots, establishing a family dynasty, making waves, making wealth. Settling means all that. It also means settling for what is reality now. Settling not for excellence but for getting by. Settling for bad jobs, bad government, bad representation in Congress, finding love on the internet, finding knowledge in online schools that advertise and aggressively pursue students, settling for not enough rather than for ... put in your own dreams. Settling for letting dreams flutter away like those lunesta moths on commercials. And isn't that just the reason why lunesta and other sleep aides sell so well?

Now we can argue that perhaps people shouldn't dream about home ownership, education, good jobs, healthcare, or wealth. Perhaps we can even argue that government has no business being in the business of providing mortgages, tax breaks for homeowners, educational loans, work place regulation, Wall Street bailouts, or public funding for the Public Broadcasting Corporation. I disagree. I think the government should be in the business of making a difference in peoples' lives. It should be there pointing the way towards excellence, towards learning, towards a safe future for its citizens.

Sure, people overspent in the 1980s and 1990s and on. Sure, the people were egged on by the media to 'buy, buy, buy.' Luminaries like Allan Greenspan kept saying that we were in great shape. President Clinton boasted of reducing the deficit. President Bush said he had been handed a government in debt and then there was 9/11 and we citizens were all exhorted to make America strong...spend money. And truly all this persiflage was spamming the minds of the citizens.

So, my question is just when did we go off track in this country? Everyone will have their own opinion on this. But in my own life, I would have to say around the 1970s and 1980s. Those years saw more change than the 60s. I know, I know, the 60s were magical. Women stopped wearing bras, the English invasion of rock stars, short skirts and then real mini skirts with high heels, the Pill, Roe v. Wade, Twiggy, Vietnam, and all that folk singing. Exciting stuff.  Iconic times.

But in the 1970s and 1980s, we saw stagflation, no-fault divorce forcing more women into the workplace and away their kids, from being there to wipe bloody knees and care for them to relying on the television to keep the kids company during the day. We also saw the defeat in Vietnam, President Nixon, Vice President Agnew, Watergate, Disco (god help us!), the American Embassy takeover in Iran, President Carter's inability to deal with it, OPEC, demoralized citizens who felt that the revolution was right around the corner and began to build bunkers.

All of which laid the foundation for the 1980 election of Ronald Reagan. So far, so good. President Reagan had a positive effect on the morale of the country. No matter what you thought of the shape we were in, Ronnie was able to sooth, encourage and cajole when necessary. We ignored George Bush, Sr.’s comment of voodoo economics, those of us English majors who knew nothing of math. But even I suspected something was wrong, when President Reagan began his trickle down economic policies. I didn’t know what was wrong. I just felt I’d been sold a bill of goods by a huckster, a patent medicine salesman. See for an explanation. And, of course, President Reagan had plenty of advertising face time with General Electric and was an actor and politician.  He was really good at selling a bill of goods.

And the country has gone down hill from there.

At this moment in time, March 2011, Congress is split between people who honestly want to cut the deficit and those who are using the budget cutting issue as a bully pulpit to make the rich richer and the middle class into a poor relation that is not invited to the table to eat. The real question is does Congress support the people or the people who fund their campaign?

 The proposals that are being made to reduce the debt are ludicrous. God forbid that the politicians proposed long term solutions like honestly tackling medicare and social security, government fraud, and other abuses. The key phrase in the last sentence was 'honestly tackling.'  Oh, no, these politicians just go after short term fixes like reduce funding for abortion, pre-school education, educational loans, homeownership help, funding for families in need, and then redefining rape and when life occurs.  What bunkum!

And now these so-called budget cutters want to quit funding the Public Broadcasting Corporation. Getting rid of all the educational programming like Sesame Street or Front Line would continue this 'dumbing down' of the public forcing us to 'settle' for less. While it is not unconstitutional to cut public funding for PBS, it is against the ideals of the founders who felt that an educated citizen was the best defence against tyranny that democracies have. Think about it like this...the best way a tyrant can get into power is to keep citizens distracted. I am surprised, frankly, that the government doesn't fund reality programming and 24/7 news programs.

Let's not settle for less. Let's work for more.

March 1, 2011

Roll over Rolls Royces

Hood ornaments are so cool.  Silver Phantom Rolls Royces and Jaguars, BMWs and Masseratis are metal sculptures in motion.  Art Deco come to life.  Old silver screen films of the 20s and 30s always have cars with hood ornaments.  Hood ornaments showed style, panache and the wealth of the owner. This link belongs  to the Antique Automobile Club of America which is pretty cool too.

So today when I look at my wonderful car (which is not a Silver Phantom or a Jaguar) I find my very own hood ornament....A squirrel.  A real squirrel!  Not one from this link even though those are cute too.  A real squirrel feasting on an acorn.  I guess we all have to eat breakfast somewhere!  Note to self...put out more squirrel food to keep the critters happy in this weird warm again/cold again weather we are having.

Meanwhile Happy March 1st everybody.