naturedance: my foot, in my boot, on Mount Rainier (self-portrait)
Please consider signing this petition about the situation in Burma:

BBC coverage in-depth

More info from )

Thank you for your time.
naturedance: crafting joy (crafting joy)
I typed some of this up as a response to a post by [ profile] armchairgamer last weekend, but I wanted to post it here as well, along with some other links... this is a followup to my earlier post here about the current state of our country...

I trust Howard Dean, and the Democracy for America folks. -- they're working to put progressive clueful candidates in races nationwide, from the local to the national. That's how I first encountered Barack Obama, who's pretty amazing...

Habitat for Humanity is making a difference for good in the world...

Second Harvest is doing good work in the food bank area...

Which reminds me... the Caltech Y has a group of folks who volunteer at a local shelter here in Pasadena, cooking meals... they also do beach cleanups and such. Easy, local, make a difference stuff in the Pasadena area...

Mercy Corps is doing good things... some of my friends who dislike the Red Cross and/or the Salvation Army for various reasons give to them, and after doing a bit of research, I can see why...

Doctors Without Borders does good work...

Heifer International does, too... (plus it's just pretty cool to give a family a critter that allows them a better livelihood, you know? Critters are cool.)

There's also The ONE Campaign To Make Poverty History at

There are a set of six websites which I try to click buttons on every day... and and and and and
You can click buttons for free and goods/money/services are donated to those causes. Setting one as a default homepage in a browser reminds me to click each day... it's not just that it's a free way to help out, but it's also a conscious reminder that I'm part of the larger world and that I can make a difference in it when I sit down at the web. They also have affiliated stores...

That reminds me... about debt stuff... do you know how much your own credit card companies donate to the Republican Party each election cycle? What about the bank where you have your checking or savings account? I did some research on that last spring, got pretty angry/depressed, and realized I needed to make a significant effort to deal with my debts and my investments to make sure that megacorps weren't using my money or debt to advance their agendas which contradict mine.

Oh, and when I remember to, I check out where I'm spending my money to see if they are green or blue rather than red (and yeesh, color-coding sucks, but, hey...) I try to buy environmentally-conscious or Democrat-donating rather than Republican-donating:
And I just spotted another interesting place...

I get action alerts by email from these:
NARAL ProChoice America
Planned Parenthood
American Civil Liberties Union
NRDC BioGems
The Nature Conservancy
The Sequoia Natural History Association

I also signed up to get news emails from my elected officials a while back... the Congressional folks all have such mailing lists, linked off their official websites. I haven't yet done the same for the state representatives or local government stuff, but I probably should.

Do you read or I don't read them as much as I feel I should... I find that I get overwhelmed if I read them every day, but I can handle the smaller doses at Kit's Concatenation ( and two journals by the Plaid Adder: and

After seeing image after image online of poor black people struggling for survival, and sometimes not making it, in New Orleans, I couldn't help thinking about the United Negro College Fund and that also led me to the American Indian College Fund at I'm still looking for useful organizations for poor white folks and women to get help to pay for college.

V-Day has a press release with information about organizations assisting battered women in the Katrina disaster areas. From that page: "Following Hurricane Andrew in Miami, spousal abuse calls to the local community helpline increased by 50%. The Missouri floods of 1993 saw the average state turn-away rate at shelters rise 111% over the preceding year and an overall 400% increase in need for services." Numerous shelters in the gulf coast region need help to rebuild, and that press release has good links and info.

You can locate blood drives by US ZIP code at

And because I just want to link to pretty recycled and/or eco-conscious things right now... Natural Spaces looks like a really neat storefront.

Lately, I've replaced a couple halogen torchiere lamps with fancy fluorescent bulbs in nicer torchieres. I'd had a fluorescent torchiere once before, but the circular bulb just didn't have the brightness I needed in two rooms of my current place. But I found an uber-fluorescent bulb that works, and I'm thrilled with it. It'll save money on power bills, and it doesn't get as hot, and the light is bright enough. Yay! I use fluorescents wherever I can.
naturedance: my foot, in my boot, on Mount Rainier (cascade)
I'm trying not to be political right now, but I'm really disappointed that this multibeaurocratic beast that we call the USA has failed so blatantly to take care of our fellow humans, and I have to say this:

I "lose sleep" all the time. That's a strange little saying, isn't it? It's not like I've misplaced hours of rest, that they're just sitting somewhere I've overlooked because I happened not to notice where I'd put them or why.

I think about all sorts of things, and I worry about all sorts of things. When I do manage to sleep when I'm really worried, I have pretty spectacular nightmares that are more exhausting than staying awake.

Usually, I cope... I'm not posting this just to wail and gnash my teeth. What I'm trying to say is that when I know badness is happening somewhere, it bothers me, and as a coping skill, rather than just worrying and awfulizing, I try to brainstorm things I can do to make a difference, do some research, make a checklist, and get off my butt about it, doing what I can. If I had to sum up my goals on this earth, in this life, it would be to leave this place in the black rather than in the red.

So how furious do you think I am to read that after getting a call from Governor Kathleen Blanco at 8:00 pm Monday night (the day the hurricane hit), asking him to send them "everything you've got", the President of these United States went to bed?

I'm somehow supposed to have sympathy for poor George. Having to cut short yet another five-freakin' week vacation to deal with the biggest natural disaster in the US in recent memory... but apparently still going to bed by 9pm. Not bothering to figure out what exactly was happening, how dire the sitation was.

By the way? I thought long and hard about taking a three day vacation right around Labor Day. Things have been really busy at work this summer and if I took any time off the catch-up would have been more brutal than just plowing through. I'm not saving anyone's life, I'm not doing groundbreaking scientific research... I'm just doing my part on a team keeping a university's central computing infrastructure working. I'm not deciding where and when to wage war, I'm not deciding who lives and who dies, I'm not deciding where to send limited military and civic resources to respond to disasters both natural and man-made. I'm just little ol' me.

And I'm furious.

I realize that disasters happen all the time, and that human suffering worldwide is a huge and ongoing problem. I realize that the scenes of refugees trying to get to safety on the Gulf Coast are no more or less poignant than similar scenes that happen around the world... and that American lives are no more and no less valuable than lives anywhere else. But it is frustrating and disheartening to see such poor coping skills, such lack of empathy and capability, such piss-poor organization of immediate assistance in crisis in my country. We have so many resources, there are so many of us, we should have been able to do more, sooner, to assist those in the path of Katrina. Mismanagement, miscommunication, lack of leadership, lack of planning, disaster plans that ignored the needs of the poor and the elderly and the ill... at this point, I don't know where all the various bits of blame should be laid, and I'm sure there are enough faults to go around about this, but I do know that there's one place where the buck stops for federal aid... the White House. At the end of the day, the captain of the ship has ultimate responsibility for his or her sailors and where the heck the boat has gone, you know?

I do my best to make a difference where I can. I work and I pay my taxes and I volunteer and donate where I can, and I doublecheck before I give of my money and my time to know it will be well-spent. I think about the big picture and what we as a species are doing to ourselves and our world. It's more and more obvious that though individuals may be like me, they're not the ones in charge of the power structures in this country.

MSNBC Newsweek: How Bush Blew It

Read [ profile] plaidder. Read [ profile] twistedchick. Read (...Parenthetically Speaking). And please, don't ask me how angry I am that many if not most of the rebuilding contracts for the damaged Gulf Coast region have been awarded by the US Government to Bush's friends at places like Haliburton.

I hope someone has the guts and the opportunity to speak truth to power. In the mean time, I'll try not to vent too much of my frustration here... that's not the purpose of this journal, and besides, I have work to do orienting all the new students so they don't infest the network with viruses, spyware, worms and spambots, plus my other job duties, and I'm digging into my second class of my graduate school program to get my MSIS.

Which reminds me... (...Parenthetically Speaking) linked to an article on computer security that I want to finish reading when I get a moment.

I hope the Red Cross and other relief organizations and simple heroic individuals can make the differences where our goverment has not. I made what donations I could this month as the hurricane made landfall. And now I've got to get back to work...
naturedance: my foot, in my boot, on Mount Rainier (spring valley)
... and nature decided to mark the day by making me sneeze my head off.

Maybe she's ticked off because I haven't finished reading that book about peak oil I'd planned to?
naturedance: my foot, in my boot, on Mount Rainier (reflective)
I love the reading list of journals I've collected here. A sampling of random interesting things that have caught my eye lately:

[ profile] sclerotic_rings linked to a neat site about Lithops, sometimes called "living stones", and Charles Darwin Has A Posse which is interesting in and of itself, but also because it talks about the damage that the acidity of Post-It adhesives can do to books, even after the Post-Its are removed.

I read an RSS feed of [ profile] pandasthumb, and this recent post includes a list of books I'd dearly love to see donated to every school in the country. I've read a significant number of them myself, and expect to work my way through the rest of the list at some point.

[ profile] yesthattom linked to an interesting article about why some protests make the news and some don't. Did you know that a huge anti-war demonstration by millions of people happened last weekend?
naturedance: my foot, in my boot, on Mount Rainier (Howard Dean)
I seem to be having odd dreams, and waking up unrefreshed. I'm not sure if this is because of the sinus meds I'm taking, or stress, or just sheer randomness. In any case, I'm not feeling rested.

My cat is doing better thanks to the insulin shots I'm giving her morning and night. She's more active, and just perkier, but she's still passing a lot of water through her system, so I suspect we need to increase the dosage. I need to take her back into the vet early tomorrow morning to have her glucose levels tested again.

There's ten tons of political stuff going on, as the election looms. It's stressful.

The deadline to register to vote for the November 2 election in California is October 18, 2004. More information from the CA Secretary of State:
Voter Registration Information
Voter Information
Election and Voter Information
The Official Voter Information Guide (Principal and Supplemental) for the CA November 2, 2004 Election

Cripes, I need to read up on all of those propositions. There's all sorts of important stuff going on.

League of Women Voters
LWV's site for Election 2004: Candidates and Information lets you type in your zip code for information about you specific candidates and ballot measures.

Yes, I'm aware of media spin and megacorps and all sorts of misinformation, propaganda and bullshit. Voting may not make as much difference as it should. But every citizen's voice is important. Voting, for me, is more than a right. It's a civic duty, a responsibility and an honor to cast my ballot now for me, and for those who came before, and for those who will come after.

Do you feel empowered yet? Feel like standing up and making your voice heard? Or do you need more inspiration?
naturedance: my foot, in my boot, on Mount Rainier (Default)
I made a really hearty bean/lentil/barley/onion/chicken soup/stew last night (with garam masala seasoning! I'd never before thought to try that in soup!).

Work was really, really busy yesterday. There's just so, so, so much to do.

Oci seems to be doing better, but she's still drinking more water than she should need.

The petunias and geranium I planted last weekend seem to be doing OK. The pepper plants are still under siege by those blasted whiteflies. I sprayed them again. I'm considering buying a canister of ladybugs, since they supposedly would eat the little bastards.

Somehow we have a cricket taking up residence on our back patio, even though it's a few stories off the ground. I salute that little critter's determination...

I never thought I would be considering writing to my elected representatives about a bill concerning suborbital tourism, but... here is some information about HR 3752. I want to research it further. Googling a bit turns up:

Off to work...
naturedance: my foot, in my boot, on Mount Rainier (reflective)
Remember this mess about WalMart building a store at a really stupid, dangerous location where I grew up?

Wal-Mart withdraws plans for WRT store

Residents glad retailer dropped push for new store

What these articles do not mention is that the 24-hour megastore would have been situated right next to and around a funeral home, and near a large cemetary... and that Hoosiers stop traffic completely for funeral-related automobile processions.

There are so many more suitable areas for commercial development which are already zoned commercial... but as I understand it many of those locations aren't connected up to the local sewer system yet, which means that putting in those connections would add significantly to the cost of putting a store at those ideal locations.

It's all about the money, and suburban sprawl, and open spaces and farmland disappearing, and about people dying on narrow low-capacity roads as traffic increases faster than the public works are prepared for it.

My parents were part of the group of activists who made their voices heard.

And yeah, I have the coolest parents ever.
naturedance: my foot, in my boot, on Mount Rainier (reflective)
But for now, I'd just like to point anyone reading this to go read these entries over at Fusion Reaction.
naturedance: my foot, in my boot, on Mount Rainier (spring valley)
Unpacking the dusty dishes yesterday gave me a bit of a headache this morning. Bleurgh. Other than that, I'm doing OK. Glad I got an iced coffee this morning, though.

Yesterday afternoon and evening were good. We found the dining room table in time to have sushi for dinner, and spent some time going through my ridiculously overflowing fabric stash.

It feels good to be simplifying some of my life... I've taken three or four carloads of excess stuff to Salvation Army over the past weeks. I'm usually very easy on my belongings, and I have so many interests... I accumulate a lot of stuff because it lasts and seems like it would be useful to have, but it's gotten to the point that I was more than a bit weighed down by it all. Someone will get some use out of the things I've given away, I'm sure. And I've still got a bit of optimization to do in the bedroom before I'll be satisfied with the shelves and tubs there, but it's progress.

Stuff still to do at the new place:
- finish organizing bedroom shelves and tubs
- get a wrapping paper box which actually will fit under my bed, rather than the one which is two inches too tall to do so
- secure the tall bookshelves
- secure the ethernet cable
- give away and/or recycle the collapsed boxes from the move, so we can reclaim our balcony
- hang up the art prints and sit out the random artsy objects
- hang the pressure rod across the washer/dryer closet doorway
- go through the file boxes and give the shredder a workout (why do I still have phone bills from 1993?)
- sort, put away, file and/or shred the contents of the three boxes and one laundry basket of fairly-recent paper-clutter labelled "sort me!"
- build our container garden on the balcony

Oh, [ profile] fusion_reaction has links to women's issues in the news today, and Parenthetically Speaking has news from yesterday about Diebold voting machines being decertified in California. I'm also heartened that concerns are being voiced back in Indiana and other places as well. Sheesh. How very fragile is our democracy that a couple very powerful companies can decide whose vote is counted and whose isn't, and who finds out about the process? I hate megacorps.

Ah, well, the coffee's kicked in, so I'm back to work. Whee!
naturedance: my foot, in my boot, on Mount Rainier (skyward)

Yes, I sent in my first contribution to the Kerry campaign today.
naturedance: my foot, in my boot, on Mount Rainier (Howard Dean)
This server is getting hammered as word spreads, but... allows you to type in your street address and zip code, or to type in a last name, to search for political contributions which are part of the public record.

Now you are only a couple of clicks away from knowing who you don't really want to invite to your backyard barbecue, or which folks on your block you might feel comfortable talking about politics with. And your neighbor's kids are only a couple of clicks away from knowing whose house they might want to throw eggs at, or worse.

And yes, I'm waiting until (a) Dean endorses Kerry and (b) I do some personal budget projections for now until November before I donate to Kerry's campaign, or to any of the local-to-national races which Dean's new organization will be spreading news about.

Yay, activism...

Oh, and yes, you can search for names like "George Bush" (George H.W. gave $2000 to George W. Bush) or "William Gates" ($2000 to George W. Bush) or "Al Gore" ($1000 to Howard Dean). Or... "Joan Jett" ($2000 to Howard Dean).
naturedance: my foot, in my boot, on Mount Rainier (cascade)
One of the local newspapers in Greenwood is running an unscientific poll today, March 18th, about putting in a Walmart near where I grew up. For years the roads there have been unable to handle the traffic there is already, and Olive Branch is very narrow and twisty. I don't remember how many friends got into accidents on that road, but it was a high number even when I was in high school a decade ago. On top of that, the proposed Walmart center is right next to the funeral home there... how tacky is that?

Please go to and vote to oppose the Walmart at Olive Branch and 135. Thank you.

Additional information:
naturedance: my foot, in my boot, on Mount Rainier (Howard Dean)
Dean for President 2004 may be over, but Dean for America is only beginning.

I got involved in the campaign to take my country back from faceless megacorporations and special interest groups with hidden agendas. I got involved because I wanted my voice to be heard. I got involved because Howard Dean was a catalyst for hope.

The movement which sprang up around him is only beginning. We have much work to do, and more direction now than we had before we began to talk with each other, connect with each other, and work with each other.

Thanks for the wake-up call, Dr. Dean. And thank you for making me proud to be a Dean Democrat this year.

If anyone wants spare buttons or bumper stickers, please let me know... I have plenty spare for anyone who, like me, is not slipping quietly back into complacency but is instead continuing to stand up and make a difference.

We've found our voice, now we need to continue to organize on a broader scale. The Presidential election is not the only important one, and community service and political activism are growing because of the Dean campaign. We are Dean for America, and we're taking our country back.
naturedance: my foot, in my boot, on Mount Rainier (cascade)
I have just read and signed the following online petition along with more than 800 other Dean supporters.

"Complaint to DNC for Compliance with Charter and Full and Fair Representation"

I personally agree with what this petition says, and I think you might agree, too. If you can spare a moment, please take a look, and consider signing it yourself.

I believe that it has been stated in comments on blogforamerica that the petition may be reported on the evening news by ABC and FOX, so please consider signing the petition as soon as possible.

(I have crossposted to [ profile] howard_dean, [ profile] dean_team, [ profile] dean_in_2004, [ profile] dean_democrats, and [ profile] dean4america. My apologies if you see this more than once, and thanks for your time.)
naturedance: my foot, in my boot, on Mount Rainier (Howard Dean)
"A Column You May Not See in the Media -- so I'm posting it here.




Dr. Dean's words and actions strike chords deep in the core of the American psyche

by Ben Bloggin

DNN-- We've all heard of them-- "Deaniacs". The term implies the phrase "Dean maniac", as in a wild-eyed, irrational fringe personality emotionally super-glued to their candidate. 'Mania' may be an explanation to start, but what about Dean can inspire such tenacity in the first place, and why among so many?

Some will say, and undoubtedly have, that it is a "personality cult". That something about Dr. Dean himself attracts these people. Examining this theory in detail, I find this a difficult sell.

For one, the good Doctor is not what one would call physically awe-inspiring. He stands a "hulking" five-foot-eight in his stockinged feet, and is rather ordinary of appearance. His tenor voice cracks when he shouts. Charleton Heston he is definitely not. We are left, then with Dean's words and actions themselves.

Dean speaks in simple, clear declarative sentences. Often, the sentences are brutally declarative-- he pulls no punches when criticizing this policy or that individual. The matters he speaks of are matters of fundamental American policy-- shall we provide health care to all our people, or not? what budgetary policies should we follow? what should our foreign policy be?

Dean's speech furthermore is steeped in the phrases and attitudes of those documents which are considered to form the cornerstone of American Philosophy, of the world view which distinguishes American culture from any other culture of the world. The Declaration of Independence, the Constitution of the United States, Thomas Paine, the Federalist Papers, and the speech and writings of Martin Luther King flavor his declamations. When one listens to Dean, one is transported back to the schooldays of one's youth, when we studied the founding of America itself, and our hearts swelled with pride at the courage and nobility of our founding fathers. The spirits of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, and Patrick Henry prowl in the back of our dreams-- and Dean, when he speaks, brings them to the fore. It may fairly be said that Dean, to his supporters, is thus a living, breathing incarnation of the founding, the foundational, principles of America. Or in another way, he is a talisman of those principles, which ordinarily are invisible, untouchable things-- but in Dean, take form and gain a voice.

This alone does not complete the story. It is possible (as many of us remember from those same school history classes) to speak of the founding documents of America in a very dry, unexciting fashion. I believe there is also a completely different Dean factor at work, one which operates on an extremely basic, almost limbic human psychological level. This is the phenomenon of The Good Pit Bull.

We've all seen one. A large, powerful, toothy family dog which dotes on the family toddler. The dog curls up around the child, allowing the tot to tug its ears and pull its tail, and bears all small-fingered torments with gentle indulgence. Let a stranger attempt to bother the little one, however, and the dog is airborne, fangs ready for blood, with no higher goal than to tear the interloper limb from limb. Listening to Dean speak, one gets the impression time and time again that Dean is the pit bull to America's, to Americans', toddler. He is not just savage, as the media love to point out. He is savage *in defense of us*.

This evokes a protective response from his followers in turn. The pit bull's family cares deeply for the dog, often going far out of their way to ensure his welfare. You see this same response among Dean supporters. Far from fearing his toothy wrath, they offer him cold remedies on his campaign web-log, and urge him to get enough sleep. As he curls around and offers to protect them, they seek to protect him in turn.

Dean and his supporters have bonded together, as a human tribe does, in pursuit of the common goal of making America more closely resemble its foundational American Philosophy. Perhaps it is fair to say that this is one of the first, or at least one of the strongest, new tribes of the electronic age. Gathered around that Internet "campfire" known as "the blog", the Tribe of Dean warm each other with cameraderie and encouragement, share information and advice, remind each other of the principles that Dean speaks, and share the latest news and ways to further the campaign. A family-outside-the-family, the Dean campaign is a way for these humans to feel like part of a larger world, part of a larger family. These are powerful, basic human motivators, fundamental glue of human social bonds, and are difficult to break.

Posted by Dean Nut In Sandy Eigo at February 9, 2004 08:07 PM"

Have I mentioned how much I love this candidate, this campaign, this country? Go Deaniacs, go swing that bat again. Wisconsin awaits.
naturedance: my foot, in my boot, on Mount Rainier (Howard Dean)
Austin Mircheff organized a fun Visibility Day group in La Crescenta, CA, at the last minute... that's in the foothills, sort of north of Burbank for those unfamiliar with Los Angeles. We had gorgeous sunshine, about 65 degrees, blue sky and a lot of wind, which kept the big American flags we'd brought flapping and snapping in the breeze! I'm very glad I remembered to bring my sunscreen.

We stood at the corner of Rosemont and Foothill, waving and smiling at motorists driving by and holding up Dean signs. We all had Dean shirts and some yard signs, and the Mircheffs had made a series of signs that we each held, standing in a line with the big flags held at each end:

I am... Howard... Dean's... special... interest!

When some folks had to leave, we shortened it to:

I am... Howard... Dean!

We got some smiles, some thumbs-ups, some honking, some waves... and only one or two rather crass comments from drive-by Bush supporters. I'm kind of glad that sort of thing only happened after the wonderful family who had brought their little Deanie kids with them had had to leave.

This was lots of fun, and we had a great group. We talked about where we're all going tomorrow to caucus as part of the local district-level CA Dean delegates selection process... we had folks from three or four different Congressional Districts standing at the corner together, even though none of us had driven very far to La Crescenta.

A bunch of us are tabling the Montrose Farmers Market again in the morning. If you're in the area, come by for a button, voter registration forms, and to shop for the best fresh veggies around! The deadline to register to vote in the CA Primary is coming up fast!

Go Dean!!!
naturedance: my foot, in my boot, on Mount Rainier (bright dreams nasa)

From Larry in Austin )

From Christine in Mass. )

And a "what the..." moment regarding Kerry and Wal-Mart. I knew he and his wife were loaded, but cripes. Billions of bucks. Right. Teresa Heinz Kerry. That must've been one doozie of a pre-nup. Yowza.

But because I do try to be at least slightly balanced... from the Kerry campaign website: Kerry Takes On Wal-Mart. Right.


ETA: This is the Dean movement in a nutshell: go to and do a search within the page for the commenter "Freethinkin". See the first post at February 7, 2004 12:15 AM ? That's a real live undecided Michigan voter right there. Read the comments from there on down... at least to this one:

Okay, wait a minute. This is unreal. Here's my night.

Log onto the Kerry blog, it's so slow I couldn't stand it.
I got yelled at and called a troll by just about everybody over there. Kinda scary really.

I go to Clark blog, not a word. nothing

I come here and there's this bucketload of people willing to help and talk and. WOW.

You guys are the best reason to vote for Dean. That's just what I'm doing tomorrow. Thanks. Now I can rest easy.
Posted by Freethinkin at February 7, 2004 12:41 AM

I'm happy.

February 2017

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