Saturday, December 27, 2008

The Cyber Life

Many times in the past few weeks, I have been reminded of the old Joni Mitchell song lyrics You Don't Know What You Got 'Til It's Gone.

The day before my vacation in November, my home computer died-- again. It had the same symptoms as when it died in June--OK one day, dead the next. To add insult to injury, while I was on vacation, my laptop decided to stop accepting my broadband antenna. Great. Instead of being able to access the Internet anywhere I could get a signal on my Verizon phone, I had to scout around for Internet cafes or unsecured networks to latch onto with the wireless card. (Let me tell you I was jonesing for a Crackberry during those dark wintry days in Ohio. I longed to hear from my friends and family in Tucson. Why did I return that cute red Crackberry back in February? What was I thinking? I didn't think I needed 24/7 access to the Internet. Ha! It was a jittery time of withdrawal.)

When I got back from vacation, I contacted the techie who fixed the computer just a few months earlier. He said that the 5-year-old motherboard was shot and other parts would fail in the new future. He suggested that I let go of the old machine once and for all. On Christmas day--after much pleading with him-- I got my new computer. It is such a joy to behold-- fast, quiet, sleek, my black beauty. I love it!

In recent weeks, I had become a fixture at Ike's Coffee Shop on Speedway. Their free WiFi (which works 85% of the time) led to completion of 2 coffee cards and consumption of too many chocolate scones for breakfast. :-)

I was surprised at my reaction during those few weeks without the Internet at home. I really missed it! I love blogging, reading blogs, reading online news, and e-mailing (as many of you know!)-- especially since I don't have television reception at my house.

Yesterday and today, while installing my software on my new computer, I have been contemplating the Cyber Life.

At Brake Masters yesterday-- yes, the car needed repair also!-- I read an interesting article in a 6-month-old Newsweek. (My reading choices were an old Newsweek, the apartment guide, or sports magazines!)

Anyway, the techie author was talking about his addiction to e-mail, Instant Messenger, text messages, MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and his multiple blogs. He waxed poetic about being able to continuously update his friends and business contacts and about receiving similar messages from them. "I'm hungry." "I'm going to eat at Joe's." "I'm going dancing." "I'm bored." (You get the idea.)

Although he really enjoyed all of these technology-based forms of communication and used them to their fullest, he found himself in an existential quandary. Just because he and his friends could continuously update each other with often minute, inconsequential life details, should they? Is communication through a mechanism like Twitter or Tumblr really communication? Or is it just noise? Just another distraction in our bustling technology-based lives?

This lead me to analyze my own communication habits, as I languished at Brake Masters--without my laptop. (Did you know Brake Masters on Grant has free WiFi? If I had only known!) As mentioned above, I enjoy blogging and e-mail, and I use text sometimes because my friends do. I have 5 e-mail accounts, 3 IM screen names, a Facebook account, a few online dating profiles, 3 meet-up memberships, and dozens of online accounts with software vendors, retailers, banks, and other businesses. Consequently, I have a notebook of passwords.

Recently, I've become more enamored with Facebook and social networking communication tools. I use Facebook to keep in touch with my friends, to flirt, to waste time on silly quizzes, and to promote my artwork.

What is fascinating to me about Facebook are the tiny glimpses of people's lives. Most of the posts are answers to the question: What's on your mind? There were hundreds of answers to this question. When I'm off of Facebook for more than a day, I am shocked at what I had been missing! One friend said that she and her hubby were hiding in their bedroom because a sleep-over was taking place at her house. (I thought this sounded a little funny, but I'm assuming that she meant one of her kids was having a sleep-over.) Another friend was knitting. Someone was freezing in Chicago. Their posts always prompt me to post or comment.

In other words, there is a lot of chatter going on, and I have only 70-some friends. My thoughts come back to the question posed by the Newsweek author: Just because we can continuously update each other with often minute, inconsequential life details, should we? I must admit I am engaged by the chatter and the photos on Facebook and on blogs. Some of my "friends" on Facebook are really acquaintances. My blogging friends are people I've never met. Reading little snippets of their lives is helps me know them better.

My conclusion is that, although these messages are tiny bits of people's lives, they are valuable in that they help friends, family members, and acquaintances stay in touch and learn about each other in a non-threatening way.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Dancing in Ohio

For the past week I have been in Ohio visiting relatives. While in the Heartland, I've also have had a few dancing opportunities.

Early last week, I was in Columbus. First let me say, the weather SUCKED-- rain + snow + grey skies. Aaaahhhhhh, the memories of driving Interstate 71 under terrible conditions danced in my head as I carefully maneuvered my rental car through the snow flurries. Monday and Tuesday, the weather threatened to slide into freezing rain, but luckily, I was spared. Freezing rain is one of the main reasons I moved to Tucson in 1981.

Anyway, I digress. Monday night I went to the weekly dance of the Columbus West Coast Swing Club. It was a blast. My friend Maru (former roommate from the Phoenix 4th of July convention) and I made plans to see each other while I was in Columbus. She is such a sweetie. She called ahead and told the swing club organizers that I would be there. Everyone was very friendly and I had several great dances that night. The Columbus swing club dances in the Bowties lounge at the Ramada Inn on Sinclair Road. The dance floor was about 1/4 the size of the Women's Center where the Tucson Swing Dance Club holds its weekly dance, but there were plenty of dance partners. (That's the important part of any dance!)

The only dance that really sucked was with a very good dancer. Ironic, huh? I had seen him dance with others, so I asked him to dance the cha-cha. I love the cha-cha and believe that it is one of my best dances. He started to dance (and didn't do the started step-- which surprised me-- since he seemed to be sort of "ballroom"). Anyway, the problem arose at the very beginning because he was TOTALLY off the beat. Ok, I took music lessons from 3rd grade through my freshman year in college. Plus, I have always had natural rhythm. According to my Dad said, the Irish have natural rhythm.) Whatever. All I know is that is nearly impossible for me to dance off the beat. I naturally kept trying to get on the beat. (Sometimes guys will start off wrong and adjust.) This dork just said, "LET ME LEAD" and shook my arms. We struggled through the dance. I think he was impressed with my moves when we were apart, but when he was holding me it was... well... messy.

Today, I left my home town of Amherst, Ohio, for Twinsburg, Ohio, south of Cleveland. I registered for one day of the C.A.S.H. Bash (Cleveland Akron Swing Hustle) convention. You can tell how exciting this convention by the fact that I am in my room blogging!!!! It took me forever to pack this morning, so I got here aroun 10ish-- just in time for the tail end of breakfast. I took one workshop with John Lindo, who is a great dancer. (He actually won the champion contest at the 4th of July convention. For a very large man, he's an absolutely great dancer.) So, the workshop and the dancing beforehand were good. The afternoon dancing was slow, so I came back up to the hotel room. The dancing goes until 4a.m., so maybe people are napping. There are some really good leads here, so I'm looking forward to great dancing later. BTW, the off-beat cha-cha dancer is in Cleveland. (I saw him watching me shaking my booty earlier today.)

So, far my 2 complaints about this convention are:
1) The music is boring. (No blues. No country. And, although it's not my fav, no electronica. The music in Cleveland--- and also the music in Columbus-- is primarily slow disco. Yuck. The dancers are also very "ballroom". West coast swing is much wilder and free-form in the west. Hey there, dance partners, I miss you!)
2) They don't have enough place setting for all attendees to have dinner! How lame is that? Only the people who signed up for the whole weekend get dinner. So, I guess I'll do room service. I was looking forward to mingling during dinner, so I could strike up acquaintances with more dance partners.

Overall, I was underwhelmed with the C.A.S.H. The dinner dance was very "ballroom" and mostly couples. The music stunk-- mostly sort of old-fashioned disco swing (in there is such a thing). No country music and very little blues, which is perfect for swing dancing. I longed for the dance scene in Tucson!

NOTE: A general rule of the web is to search carefully. I searched for "Columbus swing club", so I could link the dancing venue to this blog. Note that I forgot to put the word "dancing" into this search string. This is what I came up with. They didnt' have THOSE types of clubs in Columbus when I lived there!

All Souls Procession 2008

As usual, the All Souls Procession was an amazing event again this year. Although this post is dated November 29, 2008, I'm actually posting it on December 27, 2008-- due to multiple computer problems in recent weeks.

I had a real scare regarding my DOD pics. I prepared them for uploading a few days after the procession but didn't actually upload them to the blog or to Flickr and didn't back them up to my external drive. My bad. When my computer crash, I was really sweating it. Luckily, the motherboard was bad and not the hard drive. If it had been the hard drive, I would have lost my DOD photos and other recent images. Yikes!

I'm just uploading a few here. (Yes, that's me with my Roma look on the right.) Log onto my Flickr account to see Day of the Dead photos from 2007 and 2008. Cheers!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Studio Tour Recap

The studio sale went well this weekend-- lots of visitors-- far more than last year. Sales also were good. Here is a picture of my cute, little studio. Below are some of the mosaics I had for sale.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Buy Local: Reduce the Carbon Foot Print of Your Holiday Shopping

This weekend, November 8-9, Southern Arizonans have a great opportunity to view and buy local arts and crafts. More than 150 local artists are participating in the Tucson Pima Arts Council (TPAC) Open Studio Tour.

Artists all over town will open their studios to visitors from noon to 5 pm Saturday and Sunday. The TPAC website offers a tour map and an alphabetical list of artists.The Studio Tour is self-guided. With the map, you can pick artists that are in a certain part of town, or if you are looking for a particular artist, you can use the alphabetical list to find their studio address. There are so many studios clustered in the midtown, university, and downtown areas that you can bike the tour-- a real reduction in your holiday shopping carbon footprint. (A friend and I did this one year and it was loads of fun and great exercise.)

My midtown studio is one of the stops on the tour. I have several new mosaic designs and tons of jewelry for sale. Stop by, have a snack, and check out the specials including buy one pair of earrings, get the second pair half off. TPAC has created a full color calendar that includes maps and artist descriptions. Some locations-- including my studio-- will have these available for tour guests.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Dia de los Muertos: Altars and Artwork on Display at Raices

Each year in honor of El Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead), Raices Taller 222 Gallery hosts a unique show of commemorative altars and artwork. This year, I had the honor of creating an altar honoring my father and grandparents. Assembling the altar was a moving experience. As I dug through old photos and mementos, I realized that every piece of the altar -- from the red nail polish to the can of sauerkraut and the chocolate cover cherries -- tells a story about my family. The opening was last Saturday, November 1, 2008 and runs through November 22.

Election Day 2008: Watching History Unfold

I probably should have put this post up yesterday-- election day-- but after the election of Barack Obama, I was too busying partying with Democrats across the country and progressives around the world. As Ronald Reagan would say, it's a new day in America!

I took yesterday off of work to volunteer to help the Pima County Democratic Party Get Out the Vote Effort. I have never seen so many people at the headquarters. There must have been 60-100 people making phone calls asking people around Southern Arizona if they had voted and/or turned in their mail-in ballots.
There were so many volunteers that some of us were outside under a tent making phone calls. Gabrielle Giffords, our Congressional delegate, and some state legislators stopped by to cheer us on. Here I am-- near my outdoor calling post-- with Gabrielle. After 4 hours of phone calls and some free food, I drove around looking for long voting lines to photograph but couldn't find any. I went home for a few hours, and later in the day I joined my fellow Drinking Liberally peeps (below) at Gentle Ben's for an election watch party. Drinking Liberally is a national organization of progressive political nerds who get together weekly to kibitz about politics and progressive issues. As the excitement mounted, we all headed over to the big Democratic Party Party at the Marriott nearby. The celebration at the the Marriott was amazing. The ballroom and most of the lobby were packed with noisy, excited Democrats of all shapes, sizes, colors, and ages. Two big screens of election results and music by the Wayback Machine entertained the crowd. As we watched Washington, Oregon, and California turn blue, there was a roar from the crowd, and the election was declared for Obama. Men and women alike began cheering, screaming, hugging, dancing, crying, and offering high-5s to each other. It was exhilarating. I think the pictures tell the story.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Early Voting: How Cool Is That?

I just returned from dropping off my early mail-in ballot at the local City Council Ward 6 Office. Today is the last day in Arizona for early voting. I was shocked how many people were waiting in line to vote or dropping off completed early ballots. About 25 or so people were waiting in the noon-day sun to vote--before election day. Nina Trasoff, our local city council representative, and her staff were busily putting out chairs to keep the voters comfortable. Nice touch.

When my brother and I were kids, I can remember waiting in line in bad weather (in Ohio) with my mom when she went to the polls after work. It's great that we now have early voting in person and by mail-in ballot.

Now, let's get the rest of the voting hassles and barriers out of the way! I heard on NPR that the US has the most constrictive, convoluted voting system of any democracy in the world (ie, voting on a weekday, requiring registration in advance, requiring identification, challenges to voter registration, etc.) For example, Here are some items that I believe should be changed.

1) Do away with the electoral college.

2) Standardize voting procedures. It's absurd that in some states counties make the voting rules. Come on, people, can't we agree on nationwide procedures? Other countries can!

3) Make paperless voting systems illegal.

4) Make your birth certificate your voter registration. I heard Michael Moore on Democracy Now today. He said that everyone born in Canada is automatically registered from day 1. Seems like a simple idea that would actually save a lot of money. Only naturalized citizens would have to be registered.

5) Mandate shorter campaigns! In most countries, they campaign for 6-8 weeks. Why do we need 2 years?

6) Make campaigns publically financed... period.

Regarding next Tuesday, all I've got to say is, "Si, se puede!"

Image credit: I love this illustration of Obama. I saw it on the Free Will Astrology website. Here is the blurb about the illustration: "Artist Scott Siedman created this painting of Barack Obama, titled 'The Man from Illinois,' as a tribute to this extraordinary candidate. By placing him within the traditional American "heartland" mythologies, he celebrates Obama as a son of the Midwest, linked in metaphor to the land, to books, and to the possibility of connecting to Lincoln's 'angels of our better nature.' Prints are available at"

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

New Feature: the Blog List

I was busy last night adding by Day of the Dead post and pictures (below) and updating the format of my blog. I added a new feature-- a Blog List-- below on the right.

I had always had a list of blogs and websites, so what's the big deal you ask? The big deal is that the blog list not only shows the blog name but also shows the last post and when it was made. In some ways, this allows blogs to act more like social networking sites. It helps me (and other readers, I hope) keep up with posts on other blogs.

So, any of you who are reading out there, if you you read my blog and you have a blog, maybe we should link using this new Blogger feature? Let's talk...

Monday, October 27, 2008

El Dia de los Muertos

One of the most unique holidays in Tucson is El Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead). Historically, November 1, the Day of the Dead, has been a day where primarily Hispanics honor loved ones who have passed on. They bring food, drinks, music, flowers, and momentos to local cemetaries and have parties or picnics graveside.

Several years ago, a band of local artists started the All Souls Procession in Tucson to honor the dead. What was once a small rag-tag procession around downtown has turned into two weeks of events, with a huge procession as the finale. The link here goes to the main website and calendar for this year's events. The procession itself is November 9, 2008.

Last year, I walked in the procession (in costume, at right) and took tons of pictures with my Nikon Cool Pix. That camera has a "party" setting which allows for two flashes within one long time exposure. I used this setting for most of my procession pictures. At top is "Danny Boy, the Pipes Are Calling"; this photo will be hanging in the Go Boldly Exhibit at Central Arts Gallery in November. There are some here and more on my Flickr site. I'm looking forward to seeing how my new Nikon digital SLR does at the procession this year.

On the weekend, my daughter and I shopped around on 4th Avenue for costume accessories for this year's procession. I bought a red petticoat and long red satin elbow-length gloves. What fun! Stay tuned for 2008 DOD pictures.

Nail Art: a Small, Personal Protest

In this highly charged political year, we all have our own ways of expressing our poticial views. Some people have yard signs or bumper stickers. One of my friends decided to express her views with nail polish.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

'Tis the Season to Forsake the Chinese Children and Buy Local

It's almost Halloween in the US, which means it's time to start shopping for the holidays! :-)

Seriously, folks, with all of the economic doom and gloom, retailers around the world are quaking in their fur-trimmed Santa boots for fear that we will cut back our holiday spending this year. Although I agree that prudent shopping is a good idea, I'd like to suggest that you forget about buying cheap goods made in the world's sweat shops and instead shop locally for your holiday presents.

Tucson has many fine artists, crafters, galleries, and gift shops, which all have one-of-a-kind locally handcrafted goods that would make memorable holiday presents.

Besides shopping the local galleries and gift shops that have regular business hours, there are art openings and arts/crafts shopping opportunities in the coming weeks-- including the Tucson Pima Arts Council Studio Tour, the Tucson Museum of Art Holiday Craft Market, the 4th Avenue Street Fair, and the Cascabel Christmas Fair.

Here is a list of art openings where you can buy or view my work:

- My studio will be open for the Tucson Pima Arts Council Studio Tour, November 8-9, noon to 5 pm Saturday and Sunday. I have several new mosaic pieces and lots of jewelry for sale. I will be offering a studio sale special on jewelry and beaded wall hangings-- buy one piece at the regular price and get the second piece (of equal or lesser value) at half price! Such a deal. You know what I always say, "You can never have too much jewelry!"

- Celebrate Life mosaic wall hanging at the Tucson Pima Arts Council Studio Tour Preview Exhibit, October 23 - November 6 at Galeria Mistica, 2318 S. 4th Avenue. Artists' reception on November 6, 6-8 pm.

- Dove of Peace mosaic shrine at the Artists for Obama Exhibit and silent auction, Saturday, October 25, 6-9pm at Representative Raul Grijalva's Campaign Office, 452 S. Stone Ave.

- Danny Boy, the Pipes Are Calling digital photograph in the Go Boldly Exhibit at the Central Arts Gallery, 274 E. Congress St., November 8 - 28. Artists' reception on November 8, 6-9 pm.

- Mi Corazon, Mi Vida mosaic wall hanging currently showing in the Basically Simple Exhibit at the Central Arts Gallery, 274 E. Congress St.

- I also will be participating in the Cascabel Holiday Fair again this year, December 6-7.

As the dates approach, there will be more details on these future shows.

In addition to these special events, I have a number of mosaics at the Bohemia, Tucson Museum of Art Gift Shop, and the Triangle L Gift Shop.

So with all of these opportunites, I urge you to forsake the Chinese children this holiday season and buy local!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

New World Order?

To date, I have resisted the urge to comment on the collapse of the financial markets in the US because the story was evolving too fast for me to collect my thoughts. Now it's not just the US economy but the world economy that is crumbling. This is a fitting end to George Bush's disastrous presidency.

I heard one promising story this morning on NPR. Nicholas Sarcozi, president of France, called for a complete overhaul of the world economic system. The current world banking system was devised after World War II. According to the NPR story, the new world order will rely less on the health of the US economy-- good idea-- and it is likely the Europeans will play a larger role in developing the system-- also probably a good idea, since our politicians seems to have a hard time making politically unpopular decisions that could help the country but cost them their jobs.

Mulling over all of the recent ups and downs and bailouts, there are a few questions I still have:

1) Who ever thought it was a good idea to allow financial institutions to borrow $30 for every dollar they had in the bank? That's not banking. That's gambling.

2) If the banks had been a little more lenient with defaulting homeowners a year ago, wouldn't everyone be better off now?

3) Will our new president and Congress have the guts and know-how to solve the crisis and cooperate with other countries?

4) How many more financial instutions will be saved with taxpayer funds?

5) Who will want a bailout next? I heard one NPR comentator say that unless business turns around in a major way in the next year, GM and Ford will go under. They are expecting the automakers to ask for bailouts next. I really object to this. It was their bad decison to continue to make primarily gas-guzzling vehicles. They should be held responsible.

6) Is capitalism dead?

A final word... here is a link to a thought-provoking NPR story, "Are We Teetering on the Edge of Depression 2.0?", comparing the current state of financial affairs to 1929. You should check it out to see the pictures of the tent cities, if nothing else. Chilling.

Friday, October 03, 2008

New Work, New Show

Basically Simple, the new show at the Central Arts Gallery will open Saturday, October 4. The artists' reception will be from 6-9pm. This is a special evening because the Central Tucson Gallery Association is holding an art walk that evening. Several galleries along Congress Street and 6th Street will be open for the art walk. I have contributed Mi Corazon, Mi Vida to the show. Stop by at 274 E. Congress to view the new work, enjoy eclectic conversation, and have a glass of wine.

On a personal note, I have been very busy in the studio. I finished several new pieces last weekend and have been busy distributing them to galleries and shops around town. Bohemia, the Triangle L Ranch Gift Shop , and the Tucson Museum of Art all have a whole new set of mosaics. Here is a photo of new work in the final stages.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Takin' It Back

In the midst of all of this turmoil, we have to keep a sense of humor. Here are a few laughs.

Takin' It Back with Barack, Jack: a video for swing voters.

Seeking a President Who Gives Goose Bump's So's Obama: Jed Bartlet's Advice by Maureen Dowd

My Fair Veep by Maureen Dowd

Saturday, September 13, 2008

McCain-Palin: Can Liars Really Be Reformers?

With all their talk about religion and family values, you'd think that John McCain and Sarah Palin would be just a tad more honest in their campaign strategies. Maybe even follow the Golden Rule.

Since that disgusting, fear-and-smear convention, the two have been spreading lies on the campaign trail, on the Internet, and on television. Are the American people dumb enough to buy these lies? Unfortunately, they believed George Bush's lies, and look where we are now.

Can liars be reformer? Personally, I don't see these two personality traits going together. Is lying a Christian value? They didn't teach it in my Sunday school. Is someone who has been in Washington for more than 25 years, an outsider, an agent of change? Nooooo..... who's he trying to kid?

Blizzard of Lies is a great editorial by Paul Krugman in today's New York Times. Here's an excerpt:

"...I’m talking, instead, about the relationship between the character of a campaign and that of the administration that follows. Thus, the deceptive and dishonest 2000 Bush-Cheney campaign provided an all-too-revealing preview of things to come. In fact, my early suspicion that we were being misled about the threat from Iraq came from the way the political tactics being used to sell the war resembled the tactics that had earlier been used to sell the Bush tax cuts.

"And now the team that hopes to form the next administration is running a campaign that makes Bush-Cheney 2000 look like something out of a civics class. What does that say about how that team would run the country?

"What it says, I’d argue, is that the Obama campaign is wrong to suggest that a McCain-Palin administration would just be a continuation of Bush-Cheney. If the way John McCain and Sarah Palin are campaigning is any indication, it would be much, much worse."

Thursday, September 11, 2008

The Glow: Lighted Art Walk in Oracle

The Glow at the Triangle L Ranch is this weekend-- September 12 and 13-- in Oracle, Arizona. Two of my pieces, including a large alter-- La Mano Mas Poderosa (above)-- will be included in the gallery at the Glow.

The Triangle L Ranch is an old Arizona dude ranch. Each year in the fall the ranch hosts the Glow, a lighted sculpture walk. Lighted paths lead visitors around the grounds. Along the paths is a wide variety of sculptural pieces; more delicate artwork and pieces lit with candles are displayed in the adobe barn gallery. The event also features live music. For information and a map, check out the link. Here are three pictures from last year's Glow.

Desert City Swing

This past weekend was the Desert City Swing Convention in Phoenix. It was a blast. This is a smaller event than the 4th of July west coast swing convention than I attended, but it was still lots of fun. This convention is set up differently from the other in that all of the workshops are included in the registration price, but you have to pay to compete in the dance contests. This was a great deal for me because I enjoy the workshops. Between workshops and open dances, I danced most of the day on Friday and Saturday. Photo at left shows two of the champion dancers showing off their moves. Below, the champion men line up to dance in the final showcase.

This convention was held at the Point Hilton Squaw Peak. One benefit to this location was the close proximity of the guest rooms to the convention center and the Lantana Grill, the main restaurant. Although the architecture of the Point can't compare to the Arizona Biltmore (where the other event was held), the Point was very convenient location.

Sarah Palin: The Anti-Environmentalist

Thanks to the hundreds of you who have read my previous post, "Sarah Palin: The Anti-Feminist". Her are some links related to Palin's deplorable environmental views and more reasons why she is unfit to be a Vice President, let alone President.

All God's Children: This isn't really the name of this video by the Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund, but it should be. This is a video clip showing how Palin has promoted the brutal killing of wolves and other predators in Alaska. I guess Alaskans have learned nothing from the mistakes made by the lower 48 states when predators were mercilessly exterminated in the early 20th century. We're still trying to fix that bungle down here. Predators are part of God's plan, hello. They serve a purpose in the fabric of life. It also shows a frightening lcak of compassion for animals that she sued the federal government to take polar bears off the endangers spieces list. Below is a photo of an Alaskan who wanted to shoot this bear "because he was there", but the poor bear dropped over from heat exhaustion first. Climate change? That's just a theory. That's just science. Who believes in that?

Why not Rape Alaska? Isn't that God's Will?: An editorial about Palin's "energy policy". The delegates chanted it at the convention, "Drill baby drill." The Republicans are all for continued use of fossil fuels and raping the environment to drill to the max.

Green Candidate: Of course, I'm not referring to her. Here's an interesting editorial by Thomas Friedman on voting green.

Top photo credit: Climate Progress

Bottom photo credit: The eco-Enquirer

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Sarah Palin: the Anti-Feminist

Sarah Palin blah, blah, media hype, blah, blah, blah, snappy soundbite, blah. Ever since her scathing pit bull speech last week at the Republican National Convention, I have been mulling over my blog comments regarding the new VP candidate.

I have been a Hillary supporter for a very long time. I believe that many people thought we were supporting Hillary because she is a woman. To me, that shows a lack of understanding and an unwillingness to look at issues--not just at personalities and gender. I supported Hillary because she is and has always been a strong support of women's issues (ie, choice, health care, education, equal rights, equal pay, etc.) She was (and still is) my gal.

When she lost the primary, many pundits said Hillary supporters would vote for McCain. I thought that this was a crock. Obviously, their policies are about as far apart as humanly possible. Apparently, the McCain camp believes that having a woman on the ticket may bring some Hillary supporters over to their side. (We just voted for Hillary because she was a woman, right? Wrong!)

Since the close of the Republican National Conventions, there has been a flood of media coverage about the McCain/Palin ticket-- the illegitimate child, the down syndrome baby, the pentecostal beliefs, the earmarks, the bridge to nowhere, etc. Here is a sampling of my favorite articles and videos.

I see Sarah Palin's nomination as pandering to women voters, and red neck men who voted for Hillary. In The Mirrored Ceiling, Judith Warner talks about Palin's nomination and the trend in American politics to cast votes based upon feelings and likability rather than issues, policies, and what is best for our country. Arianna Huffington also had a great article, Sarah Palin: A Trojan Moose Concealing Four More Years of George Bush. This article focuses on how the Palin media hype has distracted the media and the American people from the fact that the McCain/Palin is more of the same, not change.

In Sarah Palin Gender Card, Jon Stewart shows how the Republicans slammed Hillary when she said she was being unfairly treated by the media, but now say that people are being sexist when they raise questions about Palin.

The maverick/reformer label for the McCain/Palin ticket is ludicrous. In Palin and McCain's Shotgun Marriage, Frank Rich shoots holes in the maverick/reformer lies. Palin is a reformer who hired a lobbyist for her small town; this resulted in $27 million in earmarks. Hmmmm.... someone should ask her what the American people bought for that $27 million investment in Wasila, Alaska. Another part of the Republican shtick is that she "took on big oil" in Alaska. On the radio today, they said that her gubernatorial inaugural ball was paid for my oil companies. Where is the "taking on big oil" part? Maybe she took them as dance partners?

In John McCain's Big Acceptance Speech , Jon Stewart compares McCain's campaign promises to George Bush's 2000 campaign speech. In some cases, they used the same words! It is amazing that people are buying these lies again. McCain has been in the Senate for more than 25 years; he voted with George Bush 90% of the time. Change??? B.S.

In Then There was One, Thomas Freidman reveals the McCain/Palin ticket's anti-environmental policies. I almost puked when the convention goers cheered, "Drill, baby, drill." I also was appalled to learn that Palin sued the feds to take polar bears off the endanger species list. What happened to the all God's children of Christianity? Animals are part of God's kingdom.

Finally, I believe that this presidential election season will change American politics forever. It will no longer be a rarity for a woman or a person of any color besides white to be a viable candidate for president or vice president. Hurray! Maybe we have moved beyond rule by old white men.

All I can say is, Vote Obama! Stop the war. Save our country from irresponsible Republican spending and kick-backs to the rich.

Photo credit: Kodiak Konfidential (Check this blog out to hear what one Alaskan blogger thinks about his governor.)

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Acts of Self-Confrontation: Opening August 23

The latest exhibit for the Central Arts Gallery is Acts of Self-Confrontation. This eclectic show will open on Saturday, August 23. The reception is 6-10 p.m. Tucson blues master, Tom Wallbank, will perform an acoustic set from 6:30 - 7 p.m. My latest shrine Letting Go will be included in the show. Stop by for some art, music, wine, cheese, and conversation.

Denver: Ready for the Democrats

On a recent trip to Denver, all I can say is that I really blew it. I made my reservations without checking the calendar closely. I went to Denver the week before the Democratic Convention. I missed all of the action, the Democratic Party dignitaries, and Obama's great stadium speech! Oh, well. I did enjoy my trip to Denver and a visit with my four cousins who live in the area.

I had a wonderful hike in the red rocks area (above). I also enjoyed hiking around downtown Denver. On the Thursday before the convention started, the city was all dressed up for the big show. The gardens around the state capitol building were breathtaking (bottom). I enjoyed the public art-- especially the giant blue bear looking into the convention center window. I wonder what he thought of the speeches?

What really impressed me about downtown Denver was the transportation system. I was staying with my cousin who lives south of town in the suburbs. She suggested we talk the light rail train into downtown. We parked at a free lot not far from her house and took a 15-20 minute train trip into the heart of downtown. The ticket was $3.50 round trip, and the price included transfers to buses and other trains downtown. The park and ride lots in the suburbs were free, but the lots downtown were $8-10 per day. Great pricing structure to encourage ridership. The trains were clean and fast.

The light rail took us right past the convention center and dropped us off at the 16th Street Mall (below). When my cousin first talked about this, I thought it was just a mall, but no, it was a long strip of shops and businesses on an open air pedistrian mall. Only pedistrians, the light rail line, and bicycles are allowed on this strip. Very nice, well-planned, well-excuted. All I can say is: Tucson, what are we waiting for?

On the way back to the burbs at rush hour, it was standing room only. Denver has 6 or so lines now. A light rail line from Colorado Spring to Denver and a line to the new Denver airport are being planned. A line to the airport is a great idea since it is way the heck out of town. For more pictures of Colorado, check out my Flickr site.

Golden, Colorado: The Town the Coors Built

The first time I visited Golden, Colorado, it was 1973. Golden was a sleepy suburb of Denver, and I was a new college graduate on my way to San Francisco to make the scene. That was a time when Coors was a local brew-- not available in Ohio. I remember sipping Coors in a small pub and enjoying the crisp mountain air on a sunny September day.

I've been to Golden a few times since then, but on a recent trip to Colorado, I was surprised to see how much Golden had grown and developed. Golden still has a small town feel, but it is a decidedly upscale small town feel. The downtown (above) has been spiffed up with a new park along the river (bottom), several downtown condo buildings, an historic park with re-enactments (below, right), restored historic homes (below, left), lots of public art, street musicians, a few small museums, and many bustling shops and restaurants. In the top photo, you can see the river-front condos on the right and the Coors plant in the distance. Detractors would say that Golden has been gentrified. OK, yes, it's been gentrified, but as a downtowner, it was heartening to me to visit a city with a vibrant downtown full of people enjoying the interesting things to do. In honor of that day back in 1973, I sat at a sidewalk cafe with my cousin, sipped an ice cold beer, and enjoyed the clean mountain air and the views.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Modern Ghost Towns

Rising gas prices and falling housing values are causing major shifts in American lifestyles. Some people are driving smaller cars and parking the SUV in the driveway, while others have purchased scooters, motocycles, bicycles, or bus passes. A signifant number of Americans have chosen not to act; in particular, many are putting off home purchases.

An interesting article on the MSNBC website discusses the woes of builders who planned to build far-flung developments (like the one pictured above). Overbuilding in a soft market has created modern day ghost towns. The development pictured above was slated to include 179 homes, but only 15 have been built. Homowners quoted in the article lament the lack of sidewalks and "safe" places for the kids to play. Oh, my gosh, their chilren are forced to play in fields and vacant lots! They also are worried because other houses are not packed in tightly around them. What's wrong with fields and elbow room? People who live in the country seem to like it.

When I was growing up, my parents' house was the first one to be built on our street. There are many family photos of our little Cape Cod surrounded by dirt and weeds. For a few years, ours was the northern most house in our small town. I can remember playing in the fields next door and picking wild strawberries-- a little bit of the country on the ourskirts of town. I also can remember being said when the last vacant lot on the block was replaced with a house and a lawn. Ok, there may have been poison ivy and bugs in those fields, but for us kids, it was FUN.

Marry Me! I Have Health Insurance!

Marrying someone to obtain health insurance is yet another example of how screwed up our health care system is. In Health Benefits Inspire to Marry, or Divorce, the NY Times offers vignettes of people who are making matrimonial decisions based on the availability of health care benefits.

I really don't know what to say about this except that the foreigners who read the NY Times must be either laughing at our collective stupidity or shaking their heads in disbelief.

On NPR this morning, the commentator said that the health care insurance fixes that both McCain and Obama are proposing are not significantly different from the proposals that were suggested back in 1992 when the Clintons tried to push universal coverage forward. Hmmmmmm.....

Maybe availability of health insurance coverage should be added as an personal attribute on the online dating sites:
Hair: auburn
Eyes: brown
Height: 5'3"
Build: average
Health Insurance: yes

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Everything We Didn't Do

As everyone knows, energy costs have been climbing steadily for several years. Gone are the days when I could fill my Toyota for $12. The last time I filled it, the tab was over $40.

As gasoline prices topped $4 per gallon, behaviors started to change. More bicycles, more scooters, and fewer SUVs and trucks are seen on the streets today than a year ago. As a result of actual behavior change on the part of Americans, prices have fluttered down a bit. After all, oil producers don't want to kill the goose who laid the golden egg by starving it; they want the goose to be fat-- if not happy.

In a previous post I lamented the switch in behaviors and policies after the energy crisis of the late 1970s. In last week's NY Times, Thomas Freidman posted an article entitled Flush with Energy. I didn't read this article when it came out, but this morning I realized it had been the most e-mailed article for several days in a row. Hmmm... if that many readers are interested enough to forward, I should read this.

Wow... Freidman's article chronicles changes in every-use behaviors in Denmark-- more bicycles, more wind energy, taxes to discourage oil dependence, and incentives to encourage develop of new green technologies. The Danes did everything we didn't do. With these changes, Denmark has gone from 99% dependence on foreign oil in 1973 to 0% today.

Pan across the ocean to the US, where we started to change our behaviors in the 1970s, and then went back to our old ways (and beyond) after Ronald Reagan's don't-worry-be-happy administration. Several Democratic presidential candidates have talked about behavior change and incentives for green energy. No one has mentioned the T word (taxes) or the S word (sacrifice), though. It will be interesting to see how this story unfolds in the future-- especially this winter.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

What Musical Instrument Should You Play?

I ran across this website full of little quizzes. I love these things. I guess it reminds me of the quizzes that the women's magazines used to have-- years ago when I used to read those magazines. Anyway, I took the "What Musical Instrument Should You Play?" quizz. The answer: accordion. Ironically, I learned to play the accordion when I was in the third grade.

You Should Play the Accordion

You are eccentric, funky, wacky... definitely one of a kind.

People have trouble putting you in any one particular category. You definitely have your own thing going on.

You are a born entertainer. No wonder you'd be perfect as an one man (or one woman) band.

Your musical influences likely cross all genres - and blend together in a very unusual way.

While you are definitely offbeat, you also enjoy tradition and influences from the past.

It's just your style to take an old fashioned instrument like the accordion and make it uniquely yours.

Your dominant personality characteristic: your total lack of inhibition

Your secondary personality characteristic: your interest in obscure activities and subjects

Friday, July 25, 2008

Central Arts Gallery Opening: Life on the Edge Exhibit

The Life on the Edge Exhibit will open at the Central Arts Gallery on Saturday, July 26, 2008. My photograph "Braodway: On the Edge of Fame" (above) will be included in the exhibit. Centrals Arts is at 274 E. Congress St. in Tucson. The free opening reception is 6-9 pm.

Central Arts Gallery is a cooperative arts project featuring the work of more than 40 Tucson artists and is a member of the Central Tucson Gallery Association.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

John McCain and the Internets

The New York Times recently interviewed John McCain at length about different issues, including what kind of conservative he is, what kind of Christian he is (who cares about these two points?), the current banking crisis, the Internet, and many other topics.

I was taken aback by McCain's comments about the Internet. Clearly, this guy is not qualified to be president in the age of rapidly expanding technology. Other people show him websites. He's LEARNING to go online himself. And he doesn't use e-mail. Here is an exerpt from the interview. The whole transcript is linked above.

"Q: What websites if any do you look at regularly?

"Mr. McCain: Brooke and Mark show me Drudge, obviously, everybody watches, for better or for worse, Drudge. Sometimes I look at Politico. Sometimes RealPolitics, sometimes.

"(Mrs. McCain and Ms. Buchanan both interject: “Meagan’s blog!”)

"Mr. McCain: Excuse me, Meagan’s blog. And we also look at the blogs from Michael and from you that may not be in the newspaper, that are just part of your blog.

"Q: But do you go on line for yourself?

"Mr. McCain: They go on for me. I am learning to get online myself, and I will have that down fairly soon, getting on myself. I don’t expect to be a great communicator, I don’t expect to set up my own blog, but I am becoming computer literate to the point where I can get the information that I need – including going to my daughter’s blog first, before anything else.

"Q: Do you use a blackberry or email?

"Mr. McCain: No

"Mark Salter: He uses a BlackBerry, just ours.

"Mr. McCain: I use the Blackberry, but I don’t e-mail, I’ve never felt the particular need to e-mail. I read e-mails all the time, but the communications that I have with my friends and staff are oral and done with my cell phone. I have the luxury of being in contact with them literally all the time. We now have a phone on the plane that is usable on the plane, so I just never really felt a need to do it. But I do – could I just say, really – I understand the impact of blogs on American politics today and political campaigns. I understand that. And I understand that something appears on one blog, can ricochet all around and get into the evening news, the front page of The New York Times. So, I do pay attention to the blogs. And I am not in any way unappreciative of the impact that they have on entire campaigns and world opinion."

I don't believe anyone can truly understand the scope and power of the Internet and related technologies if they have never surfed around and discovered it for themselves. McCain's statement is almost as scary as W's reference to his familiarity with "the Internets" several years ago. How can this man lead us into the future?

Update: Several other bloggers have had fun with this issue and commented. Here are a few links.

Back from the Dead...More or Less
McCain Discovers the Internet, Fire and the Wheel
My Mom is Better than John McCain

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Ghost Bikes: A New Twist on the Roadside Shrine

Dangerous intersections across the southwestern United States and Mexico often are adorned with roadside shrines marking someone's passing. Around Tucson, a unique type of roadside shrine has now appeared-- Ghost Bikes, white bicycles that mark locations where cyclists were struck and killed.

As an avid cyclist and an occasional bicycle commuter, I think the ghost bikes are a poignant reminder to motorists and cyclists alike; we all can be more careful and respectful of each other on the road.

Photo credit: Arizona Daily Star.