February 28, 2006

Inspiration to Leave The Vegetative State


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"The latest CBS News poll finds President Bush's approval rating has fallen to an all-time low of 34 percent, while pessimism about the Iraq war has risen to a new high. "

"In a bright spot [CBS is scraping the bottom for a bright spot, here] for the administration, most Americans appeared to have heard enough about Vice President Dick Cheney's hunting accident. More than three in four said it was understandable that the accident had occurred and two-thirds said the media had spent too much time covering the story. Still, the incident appears to have made the public's already negative view of Cheney a (sic) more so. Just 18 percent said they had a favorable view of the vice president, down from 23 percent in January."

Even with polls bottoming out, there's very little that can be done to stop the current administration, rather, dictatorship, from toodling right along implementing their now, ostensibly, unpopular agenda. Democrats, real democrats, not the Lieberman sort, will have to take back the majority in the house and senate in November. So invest in democracy, the Constitution, and a government of law -- contribute to house and senate campaigns that will make a difference. We have a little work to do on those Diebold machines , given these recent developments. So while you're making your contributions, give a patriot a helping hand.

Photo note: Stretching it, but I risked my Whole Foods experience just to snap this surreptiously, so I had to publish it. If you plan to stack your parsnips this way, please give credit to their vegetable display designers.

Posted by Dakota at 11:57 AM

February 26, 2006

Not a Pretty Picture, or Packing in the Metaphors While Sacrificing the Aesthetics


A weathervane askew
atop a slated turret
with bird and arrow
moving forward
east to west

toward blowing banners
spangled stars
black with oil derrick
a red flag warning
over twisted antennae

not a pretty picture

Photo note: I saw this right after a conversation with an old friend who thought preparing for bird flu (etc.) was a waste of time -- I didn't press the point. Maybe I should have.

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View weathervane closely

Posted by Dakota at 05:40 PM

February 24, 2006

Untimely Death


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She started her part with, "I never expected to be here. If everything had gone as planned, my son would have been burying me--- many years from now. "

Because he was, technically, a Jew, the funeral was held immediately, last Sunday, at a temple -- so swiftly that I hadn't heard about it. Instead, I found myself sitting at a memorial service in a cavernous old sanctuary, updated awkwardly by the Vineyard Christian Fellowship, (next to a friend who also has a challenging, 20ish, adopted son), listening to my old friends, who I hadn't seen in many years --- grieving parents, psychologists, a liberal Jew, and a waspy convert, struggling to make meaning as they eulogized their dead child. They were eloquent. I don't know how they did it.

He died last week driving a Pontiac GTO at 147 miles an hour. They know precisely, because his passenger survived.

At the service his father described the accident, and then, his son's last moments, in excruciating detail -- lying crushed under his beloved car, screaming for help. This was intentional.

Many of his friends were there. Some from earlier in his childhood -- scrubbed, middle class, articulate kids -- others from a later, more troubled, period in his life, AA, NA --"program" friends. They spoke first to these friends, trying to teach in their grief, counting on grim details to penetrate the invincible fog of adolescence, hoping that their son's death would serve as a lesson that would save the lives of others.

He was the only child of this union, a sweet and caring, insatiable and earnest, inattentive and infuriating boy, adopted from Texas, two days after his birth. His siblings, all five, were half -- two from his adopted father, three from his birthmother.

We are told that she, too, had struggled with bipolar disorder, ADD and substance abuse, and had died an untimely death herself, two years earlier, three days before he was scheduled to meet her for the first time. With that loss, his self destructive behaviors escalated, so severely, that nine months before, he had received an ultimatum -- the choice of inpatient rehabilitation, or leaving home.

Rehab had been successful. He detoxed, then spent eight and a half months at Heartland, clean for the first time in years, learning auto mechanics and courting Jesus. If Jesus worked, everyone was happy he found Jesus.

But Heartland wasn't real life. He knew it. He chose to come home to finish high school at the new year, conscious that he was leaving absolute protection for his sobriety. He was welcomed.

Some friends shared memories of him during the service. One spoke, who was there, at the party when he had his first beer, back in his real life. People were shocked. They asked him what he was doing, and he said, 'I'm a grown man, and I can have a beer once in a while'. But he couldn't. On Thursday, he had three.

Don't drink and drive.

And what are the lessons the rest of us learned?

That adolescents lose half of their brain cells at puberty, and those cells are not fully replaced by the body until age 25, accounting for their astonishing lack of judgement.

That it is possible to bear the worst thing that can happen. and to speak about it honestly, with consciousness, and to find the positve in deepest grief.

That we all show terrible judgement sometimes, and that some of us are lucky enough not to pay with our lives. That his father, at age eighteen, had skidded badly while driving too fast on a slippery highway with a friend, and then had driven back to the icy patch, immediately, to replicate the experience.

That both nurture and nature play a role in the development of personality

That adoption is not a perfect solution, and it has repercussions for all who participate

That being high on Evangelical Christianity is a better alternative to other addictions

That it is possible to experience more than six emotions simultaneously

That the testimony of loved ones left behind, if they can bear to speak, is much more powerful than any prepackaged words offered by clergyman

That having a PhD in psychology (or even two) cannot prepare you fully for the challenges of raising children

That your life can change forever, in an instant, when least expected.

That parting in anger is unwise. That it is important to set aside differences to express love for one another. They had, the morning of the accident, and it remains a great comfort.

That the love and support of friends and community are crucial in times of tragedy.

Those are some of the lessons that I learned as I listened to their eulogies. I'm sure there are many more that they will teach me, over time, as they come to terms with this.

Photo note #1: I shot the irises last week. The transition from reality to shadow makes it both a metaphorophoto and a metamorphophoto.


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Photo note #2: Yesterday, I stopped briefly in an cemetery, between errands, and saw these tombstones in the snow. A memorial to a more timely death, perhaps. Perhaps bearing the message that as a parent, when you lose a child, you also lose part of yourself.

Posted by Dakota at 06:45 PM

February 23, 2006

The Dome


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The Askari Mosque at Samarra was destroyed yesterday.

Second only to the tragic loss of life in war, is the tragic loss of art and architecture. On seeing the pictures of the devastation of the mosque, I was viscerally struck by the senselessness of this kind of destruction. I began to look for before and after photographs, and then found a site that showed the details of the mosque itself. Every surface is/was covered with complex ornamental detail. Of course, Islamic art, because it must be nonrepresentational, is chock full of sacred geometry

"From the circle comes three fundamental figures in Islamic art, the triangle, square and hexagon. The triangle by tradition is symbolic of human consciousness and the principle of harmony. The square, the symbol of physical experience and the physical world-or materiality-and the hexagon, of Heaven. Another symbol prevalent in Islamic art is the star and has been the chosen motif for many Islamic decorations. In Islamic iconography the star is a regular geometric shape that symbolizes equal radiation in all directions from a central point. All regular stars -- whether they have 6, 8, 10, 12, or 16 points -- are created by a division of a circle into equal parts. The center of the star is center of the circle from which it came, and its points touch the circumference of the circle. The rays of a star reach out in all directions, making the star a fitting symbol for the spread of Islam."

Terry Rice discusses the development and elaboration of increasingly complex geometric design in the Muslim world in his piece "Islamic Art and the Argument for Academic Geometry". Geometric ornamentation, like the kind that covers the Askari Mosque, was a collaboration between artisans, mathematicians and architects. The field of geometry was born of the problem solving that took place in building structures like the Askari Mosque.

The bombing of this mosque, or mosques anywhere, for that matter, is the eradication of an elaborate and complex work of sacred art, and it's a horrible shame.

"Forgive them, father, for they know not what they do." Am I mixing prophets?

The power of the visual should not be underestimated.

Photo note: I didn't have a photo for this entry when I wrote it, so I was on the lookout for a dome all day today. I actually shot three, as well as something that could pass as a minaret. There is something quite ageometric about both these buildings, but it was the best I could do in my native surroundings.

Posted by Dakota at 03:46 PM

February 22, 2006

A Great Week for Patriots


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It's been a great week for the spread of democracy.

First, congratulations on the successful penetration of twelve, you heard it, a dozen, statements into the media regarding the importance of wiretapping to national security. A fine job. The media network is strong in spite of Judith's resignation to write a novel.

In addition, some vicious terrorists have been vanquished, and terrorist loving leakers have been routed out and eliminated.

Victory is in sight for the culture of life, and hardly anyone is noticing. Slip it right past 'them, piece by piece. Taking it slow -- partial death abortion rights

The " National Let's Make Everything a Secret Foundation" passed legislation to toughen up public access to birth and death records It would be a good time for any of you who need your astrological chart done to get your birth information before we close it entirely..

If anyone needs a new consulting company or a lobbyist to help them with new projects, just let me know.

Photo note: Taken from behind a patriotic pickup --doesn't that fellow look just like Dick Cheney?

Posted by Dakota at 07:11 PM

February 21, 2006

Mostly About Cartoons


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It's clear from an essay by cartoonist Scott Stantis entitled "Why Cartoons Still Matter", that fundamentalist Muslims are not the only group who have an aversion to the form:

"While rioting packs of Muslim men in Afghanistan, Syria and Iran shout 'death to cartoonists' newspapers in the United States have been doing exactly that for years with lay-offs, buyouts, firings and dropping cartoons from the editorial pages.
Altogether, the ranks of American full time staff editorial cartoonists has shrunk from a high of over 200 in the 1980's to under 80 today.
Newspapers with a long and storied history of cartoonists have seen fit to cut loose this valuable resource. Papers like the Los Angeles Times and Baltimore Sun are now without a staff cartoonist. The Chicago Tribune, which recently dedicated a room honoring the late, great cartoonist Jeff MacNelly while at the same time mocking his legacy by leaving the editorial cartoonist position open since his death in June of 2000.
These same newspapers now go days without running any cartoon on its opinion sections. Presumably because the editors believe that nothing attracts and engages readers better than massive stretches of gray type.
And the cartoons that do find their way into print are more often jokes then commentary. Guy Cooper, former editor of the popular Perspective section in Newsweek magazine, told a gathering of editorial cartoonists that he would never run a hard hitting, substantive editorial cartoon on his page. He viewed them strictly as entertainment. The New York Times, which runs a small number of editorial cartoons in its Sunday Week-In-Review section has recently renamed the collection 'Laugh lines'. .......... Talk of relevance, (or lack thereof), has been grinding on the editorial cartoon profession for years.......'Do we matter?......
To answer this question editors might ask themselves: Do you think the streets of the Arab world would be ablaze if that Danish newspaper had run a series of editorials on the same subject as those cartoons?"

Undaunted, political cartoonists around the world are drawing cartoons about drawing cartoons (be sure to scroll down and follow the arrows). In fact this activity isn't limited to political cartoonists alone.

An Israeli group has launched an antisemitic cartoon contest -- you have to be Jewish to enter, but it's a terrific idea. Have you noticed that fundamentalists of most sorts, are not known for their rollicking senses of humor? That probably means that other sites of this ilk are unlikely to follow.

And then there those, like Mary Matalin who seem to be morphing into a cartoon characters-- maybe it's just the face lift and the corsage. (Watch the Meet the Press video for the full effect, and don't miss Maureen Dowd's response, our sultry and incisive goddess of truth --Mmmmm....Mmmm)

While I'm at it, I thought I'd throw in a few other comic notions that have recently landed in my vicinity, before I lose track of them.
frosting on the cake
citrus constructions (scroll down and click on the slide show on the lower right)
corporations for president

Photo note: This is a real building that just looks like a cartoon, which I found while getting lost behind MIT. Maybe Mary Matalin lives there. It's hard to look up a building on the internet when you don't know its name.-- This is the best I could do,

Posted by Dakota at 05:14 PM

February 20, 2006

Lean Pickings


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The muse, or whatever that is, has definitely abandoned me today. No passion, I am scraping the bottom for dry facts, an adequate photo.

My gas fireplace was installed today, complete, but for the plumbing inspection. Technically it would be a violation to use it before the inspection, but it's so cute and toasty I won't be able to resist. In fact it enhances the lines of the existing fireplace which is a welcome surprise. As you know, the only reason I had it installed was as an alternative source of heat, should the electricity fail for one of many impending reasons. The fact that it looks great was unexpected.

The installers, who had to climb up on the roof to weave the pipes down the chimney were brothers from Sarajevo. They clearly didn't want to talk about Sarajevo-- with me at least. I did try, since I have had Sarajevo on the mind lately, but I am left to simply appreciate the synchronicity.

Finally I have two luxurious items to recommend for your emergency stores. Canned butter , a new sensation from Down Under which, if you wouldn't be caught dead eating yourself, would be a fabulous barter item. And, for those us who worry about our hair under any conditions, there is no rinse shampoo. It comes in a variety of sizes so you can order a travel size for your go bag, if you have room.

Photo note: No muse, no photo note

Posted by Dakota at 06:37 AM

February 19, 2006

Speaking of Wake Up Calls


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Yesterday, the Fickle Finger of Fate (a phrase of my childhood-- oh, I do hope I don't date myself) picked me up and hurled me down the back stairs, flipping me entirely around so that I landed on my softest cushion, and then , like a slingshooter, arched my back to give my head a little extra momentum with which hit the Barbie -- hard. I had the presence of mind to shout "Oh shit" on the way down. I was shaken, but remarkably intact, though I can feel the various landing sites this morning. I'm really fine, but I must ask myself what the universe is trying to tell me, since it left me in good enough condition to type.

Wake up, perhaps? I certainly have been doing my civic duty by alerting my loyal readers to the burgeoning of a fascistic dictatorship in the USofA. That couldn't be it.

Maybe "they" - (oh, I'm such a polytheist sometimes, forgive me) want me to talk about the avian flu again. If you will remember, I was throwing around the the suggestion to buy Tamiflu rather early in the game. Now it's unavailable, and perhaps ineffective, but, so far, it's all the medicine we've got. You will be heartened to know that there is a new venture capital fund dedicated to pandemic prevention drug development. A chance to get rich and do something nice for mankind -- hardly ever the case in this day and age.

Actually, the media seem to be covering the spread of H5N1 more adequately -- Europe and India have it. Revere at Effect Measure says "If Europe starts to see human cases, we would be in a qualitatively different phase, no longer able to maintain it is the peculiarly close relationship with poultry in China, southeast asia, Indonesia and Turkey that has made these localities the site of human outbreaks."

I am left to remind you to be prepared in other ways, buy supplies, (at least get started), get your papers in order, and wash your hands--- to remind you of FluWiki, the term social distancing, and Dr. Gratton Woodson's Guide. which you should print out now, for future reference.

The severe weather alert just popped up on my screen, perhaps that's it. Let's see, last Sunday we had eighteen inches of show, followed by a sudden thaw with the weather reaching 60 degrees by mid-week, culminating in a massive cold front which moved in on Friday -- severe weather warnings -- high winds and rain - and now it's 5 degrees. This is not counting Katrina, Rita, the tsunami, or the melting of Greenland and the polar ice cap.

Maybe the message is to use the contrast to be cheerful and optmistic - which, come to think of it, I am. I will focus on what I want, rather than what I don't want. I do want peace, tolerance and appreciation for differences., consciousness and a global sense of safety and caring to prevail. Perhaps a wake up call is in order to get there from where we seem to be. Perhaps I am here to tell you that sometimes wake up calls don't feel very good.

Photo note: I've been meaning to publish this shot for weeks before it got buried. It's a perfect illustration for a fall down the backstairs -- those are not my backstairs -- love those triangles

Posted by Dakota at 06:58 AM

February 18, 2006

Suspiciously Out of Season


wake up
and smell
the flowers

Photo note: Let's just call this looking toward the future while staying under cover and appeasing the Big Baby

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Posted by Dakota at 07:07 AM

February 16, 2006

Double Distortions and a Distraction


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For those of you who are still interested, Cheney's story is as full of holes as poor Harry Wittington. If you have the patience to follow all the links, which I was able to do --my boiling blood fueling a delicate attention span -- you will be very impressed by the investigative reporting of BarbinMD, who displays a persistance rarely seen in the press these days, unless they're hot on the track of a pop author or the murderer of a white woman.

John Nichols at The Nation is right to remind us that the furious flurry of the White House Press Corps over the insignificant little shooting of just one guy, is a drop in the bucket. In fact, it so artfully distracts from the real issues, that one wonders if Karl Rove had a hand in the plan. Harry wasn't THAT big a donor.

"To be sure, a trigger-happy vice president makes for good feature stories – not to mention good comedy. But where were the demands for answers, where was the cries for accountability, where were the shows of righteous indignation last week, when it was revealed by the National Journal that Cheney's former chief of staff, I. Lewis (Scooter) Libby, had told a federal grand jury he was "authorized" by Cheney and other White House "superiors" to disclose classified information to journalists as part of a plot to defend the Bush administration's manipulation of prewar intelligence to make the "case" for going to war with Iraq.

In the scheme of things, the many unanswered questions about whether the vice president of the United States engaged in a conspiracy to deceive Congress and the American people about reasons for entering a war that has now killed more than 2,200 Americans and tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians would seem to be a bigger deal than the same vice president's involvement in a hunting accident.

True, it would be foolish to assume that Scott McClellan would be any more forthcoming about the administration's manipulation of pre-war intelligence -- and evidence of Cheney's involvement in efforts to attack those who exposed that manipulation – than he has been about the manipulation of information regarding the vice president's gunplay.

But if the press corps is going to rise from its slumber when it comes to Dick Cheney's secrecy and chicanery, would it make sense to get excited about the Constitutional crisis – as opposed to the veep's itchy trigger finger?" Hear hear.

And then there is the more ominous theory proposed by Jay Rosen on Pressthink, that Cheney did not inform the White House Press Corps of his accident INTENTIONALLY, because he considers the press irrelevant. Rosen suggests that it is Cheney's first overt move toward cutting the press out of the loop entirely -- frosting the fascism cake, as twere. In a dictatorship, there is no need for the people to be informed of the activities of the government, because it's none of their business. Too bad. Even though the press has not done its job for many years, lapping up the sleazy spin, failing to ask important questions, taking dictation from the administration, perpetrating endless lies without checking sources, eliminating the press corps entirely would not be an improvement -- there are still some good guys out there that haven't been coopted, smeared or tossed ..... yet.

Photo note: I find that pole right in the middle of my beautiful composition to be quite a distraction. It would have been impossible to leave it out of the shot, especially since I was sitting at a red light in rush hour traffic and thought it unwise to leave my car in order to give it my best effort.

Posted by Dakota at 04:03 PM

February 15, 2006

Deflated blue balloon


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I have it all inside me -- schadenfreude, sadistic glee at another's misfortune. There's something very wrong. I'm more than satisfied , nay, I am tickled pink , that Vice President Cheney shot someone. In fact, I'm thrilled that the shooting and the coverup is so straight forward that the American public can finally understand that there might be something wrong in the top echelon of our government Actually a shooting accident, and the fishy attempts to COVER IT UP (!?!) seem quite a bit worse than having oral sex with a gum snapping dittybop, and trying to cover it up. I want to prick Cheney''s arrogance, his self satisfaction, his belief that he is above the law, the Geneva Accord, the Constitution --above human decency. I'm actually celebrating someone's demise (we shoud be so lucky), and that makes me just like him. YUCK.

As I like to say to those who listen to me -occasionally - holding onto resentment is like eating rat poison and waiting for the rat to die. I cannot seem to learn that lesson for myself. I want those whom I perceive as my enemies, my nemeses, my poppets to suffer -- make that, suffer in humiliation and disgrace. And that's exactly what's wrong with the world -- Israel, Palestine, Northern Ireland, Darfur, the war on terror (whoever they may be)-- More importantly it's what's wrong with me.

In Scott Simon's book about Sarajevo "Pretty Birds" a Bosnian patriot responds to a young woman who says how much she detests war that everyone agrees that war is a terrible thing, a waste, an evil. But she goes on to ask what would have happened if England had turned the other cheek and surrendered to Hitler, like the French, preserving its cities, but succumbing to darkness.

Hating the perpetrator is surrendering to the dark energy Torturing the perpetrator is becoming a perpetrator oneself. But how does one set limits on those who have run amok, without getting caught up in the cycle of hatred?

I know from the satisfaction I feel each time a neoconservative scheme blows up, an indictment is handed down, a humiliation possible, that I am filled with that horrible combination of hatred, rage and glee. I guess I am fortunate to have a government that allows me to see that part of myself, so I can begin to work on it.

I am so far from what Jesus, Mohammed and Nelson Mandala would do, that I hardly have the decency to be ashamied yet. Get well soon Harry.

Give a dog a bone, as they say.

Photo note: A punctured mylar balloon tied to a pipe behind the party store, reflected on a white wall. That's it.

Posted by Dakota at 06:27 AM

February 14, 2006

Valentine #2


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I'm simply showering my beloved readers with Valentines today, hoping to make up for all the steamed huffing and puffing. So far, no one has sent me any four inch red spike heels, but the day isn't over.

Photo note: This was taken, with permission, from the inside of the Savoy Bakery in Brookline, Massachusetts, famous for its authentic croissant -- and now its Valentine decorations. (Ask not why I even crossed their threshold). If the truth be known, I was buying one of the apricot variety for a friend. The kind of friend who I knew would let me have a dainty bite. Since I'm rarely in the neighborhood when the Savoy is open, I felt I must not pass up this culinary opportunity -- particulary given my obligations to my readership. The croissant was everything I had hoped it would be. Taking inspiration from the winetasting community, I spit it out before swallowing.

Addendum: Really, spitting has no place on a Valentine. It's as inappropriate as a gift certificate for laser hair removal. (as heard on WBUR)

Posted by Dakota at 06:22 AM

February 13, 2006

February 12, 2006

Lessons from Sarajevo


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I'm just finishing NPR's Scott Simon's novel "Pretty Birds", based on his own experiences as a war correspondent in Sarajevo during the Bosnian Serb conflict in 1992, as well as interviews he conducted with young girls who served as snipers during the conflagration.

The novel tells the story of seventeen year old, half Muslim, Irena, who is caught in the Serbian part of the city when trouble begins. She flees with her parents to her grandmother's apartment in the Bosnian sector, where her family resettles, uneasily, to sit out the war. Irena, a basketball star at her school, is recruited to become a Bosnian sniper. Irena and her family are fans of Michael Jordan, Princess Di and the Beatles-- they dress like us, they talk like us, they could be us.

Simon's novel is a lesson in how quickly civilization, as we know it, can fall apart, and how easy it is to behave like an enemy under stressful circumstances. It elucidates the terror, the hardships, the boredom, the strange bedfellows and the numbing of war. Let's not have any more. However, descriptions of life in the Bosnian quarter have much to offer the neosurvivalist avian flu afficionado, in the form of helpful hints.

Flu Wiki has actually published "Tips From Sarajevo: 100 Items to Disappear First "

1. Generators (Good ones cost dearly. Gas storage, risky. Noisy…target of thieves, invites marauders; maintenance etc.)
2. Water Filters/Purifiers
3. Portable Toilets
4. Seasoned Firewood. Wood takes about 6 - 12 months to become dried, for home uses.
5. Lamp Oil, Wicks, Lamps (First Choice: Buy CLEAR oil. If scarce, stockpile ANY!)
6. Coleman Fuel. Impossible to stockpile too much.
7. Guns, Ammunition, Pepper Spray, Knives, Clubs, Bats & Slingshots.
8. Hand-can openers, & hand egg beaters, whisks.
9. Honey/Syrups/white, brown sugar
10. Rice - Beans - Wheat
11. Vegetable Oil (for cooking) Without it food burns/must be boiled etc.)
12. Charcoal, Lighter Fluid (Will become scarce suddenly)
13. Water Containers (Urgent Item to obtain.) Any size. Small: HARD CLEAR PLASTIC ONLY - note - food grade if for drinking.
14. Propane Cylinders (Urgent: Definite shortages will occur.
15. Survival Guide Book.
16. Mantles: Aladdin, Coleman, ect. (Without this item, longer-term lighting is difficult.)
17. Baby Supplies: Diapers/formula. ointments/aspirin, etc.
18. Washboards, Mop Bucket w/wringer (for Laundry)
19. Cookstoves (Propane, Coleman & Kerosene)
20. Vitamins
21. Propane Cylinder Handle-Holder (Urgent: Small canister use is dangerous without this item)
22. Feminine Hygiene/Haircare/Skin products.
23. Thermal underwear (Tops & Bottoms)
24. Bow saws, axes and hatchets, Wedges (also, honing oil)
25. Aluminum Foil Reg. & Heavy Duty (Great Cooking and Barter Item)
26. Gasoline Containers (Plastic & Metal)
27. Garbage Bags (Impossible To Have Too Many)
28. Toilet Paper, Kleenex, Paper Towels
29. Milk - Powdered & Condensed (Shake Liquid every 3 to 4 months)
30. Garden Seeds (Non-Hybrid) (A MUST)
31. Clothes pins/line/hangers (A MUST)
32. Coleman’s Pump Repair Kit
33. Tuna Fish (in oil)
34. Fire Extinguishers (or..large box of Baking Soda in every room)
35. First aid kits
36. Batteries (all sizes…buy furthest-out for Expiration Dates)
37. Garlic, spices & vinegar, baking supplies
38. Big Dogs (and plenty of dog food)
39. Flour, yeast & salt
40. Matches. (“Strike Anywhere” preferred.) Boxed, wooden matches will go first
41. Writing paper/pads/pencils, solar calculators
42. Insulated ice chests (good for keeping items from freezing in Wintertime.)
43. Workboots, belts, Levis & durable shirts
44. Flashlights/LIGHTSTICKS & torches, “No. 76 Dietz” Lanterns
45. Journals, Diaries & Scrapbooks (jot down ideas, feelings, experience; Historic Times)
46. Garbage cans Plastic (great for storage, water, transporting - if with wheels)
47. Men’s Hygiene: Shampoo, Toothbrush/paste, Mouthwash/floss, nail clippers, etc
48. Cast iron cookware (sturdy, efficient)
49. Fishing supplies/tools
50. Mosquito coils/repellent, sprays/creams
51. Duct Tape
52. Tarps/stakes/twine/nails/rope/spikes
53. Candles
54. Laundry Detergent (liquid)
55. Backpacks, Duffle Bags
56. Garden tools & supplies
57. Scissors, fabrics & sewing supplies
58. Canned Fruits, Veggies, Soups, stews, etc.
59. Bleach (plain, NOT scented: 4 to 6% sodium hypochlorite)
60. Canning supplies, (Jars/lids/wax)
61. Knives & Sharpening tools: files, stones, steel
62. Bicycles…Tires/tubes/pumps/chains, etc
63. Sleeping Bags & blankets/pillows/mats
64. Carbon Monoxide Alarm (battery powered)
65. Board Games, Cards, Dice
66. d-con Rat poison, MOUSE PRUFE II, Roach Killer
67. Mousetraps, Ant traps & cockroach magnets
68. Paper plates/cups/utensils (stock up, folks)
69. Baby wipes, oils, waterless & Antibacterial soap (saves a lot of water)
70. Rain gear, rubberized boots, etc
71. Shaving supplies (razors & creams, talc, after shave)
72. Hand pumps & siphons (for water and for fuels)
73. Soysauce, vinegar, boullions/gravy/soupbase
74. Reading glasses
75. Chocolate/Cocoa/Tang/Punch (water enhancers)
76. “Survival-in-a-Can”
77. Woolen clothing, scarves/ear-muffs/mittens
78. Boy Scout Handbook, / also Leaders Catalog
79. Roll-on Window Insulation Kit (MANCO)
80. Graham crackers, saltines, pretzels, Trail mix/Jerky
81. Popcorn, Peanut Butter, Nuts
82. Socks, Underwear, T-shirts, etc. (extras)
83. Lumber (all types)
84. Wagons & carts (for transport to and from)
85. Cots & Inflatable mattresses
86. Gloves: Work/warming/gardening, etc.
87. Lantern Hangers
88. Screen Patches, glue, nails, screws,, nuts & bolts
89. Teas
90. Coffee
91. Cigarettes
92. Wine/Liquors (for bribes, medicinal etc)
93. Paraffin wax
94. Glue, nails, nuts, bolts, screws, etc.
95. Chewing gum/candies
96. Atomizers (for cooling/bathing)
97. Hats & cotton neckerchiefs
98. Goats/chickens

From a Sarajevo War Survivor:

1. Stockpiling helps, but you never no how long trouble will last, so locate near renewable food sources.
2. Living near a well with a manual pump is like being in Eden.
3. After awhile, even gold can lose its luster. But there is no luxury in war quite like toilet paper. Its surplus value is greater than gold’s.
4. If you had to go without one utility, lose electricity - it’s the easiest to do without (unless you’re in a very nice climate with no need for heat.)
5. Canned foods are awesome, especially if their contents are tasty without heating. One of the best things to stockpile is canned gravy - it makes a lot of the dry unappetizing things you find to eat in war somewhat edible. Only needs enough heat to “warm”, not to cook. It’s cheap too, especially if you buy it in bulk.
6. Bring some books - escapist ones like romance or mysteries become more valuable as the war continues. Sure, it’s great to have a lot of survival guides, but you’ll figure most of that out on your own anyway - trust me, you’ll have a lot of time on your hands.
7. The feeling that you’re human can fade pretty fast. I can’t tell you how many people I knew who would have traded a much needed meal for just a little bit of toothpaste, rouge, soap or cologne. Not much point in fighting if you have to lose your humanity. These things are morale-builders like nothing else.
8. Slow burning candles and matches, matches, matches.
9. More matches

Just keeping you on your toes, so you won't get lolled into complacency.

Photo note: A bleak, but beautiful photo of the blizzard yesterday. In Sarajevo, there are no trees left in the parks, they were all burned for firewood.

Posted by Dakota at 01:32 PM

From the Park Bench


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Sittin' on the park bench this morning watching all the news go by. Actually there is a major Nor'easter going on and the park bench is under a foot of snow. This hasn't happened much this winter -- global warming working for me.

Since you, no doubt, have the Sunday papers to digest, I'll scatter a few jewels before your feet - to be examined before the fire, should you have a laptop, while savoring raspberry hot chocolate, should you have a country gourmet larder.

Maureen , bless her heart, does a lovely job summarizing hypocrisy. Why do I even bother? Robert Kuttner reminds us of what really matters in his plea for tolerance and civility in the cartoon wars, and the BBC interviews Texas wind men, nee oil men, evangelical ecologists and moderate Muslims.


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Speaking of whom, scholar that I am, I just understood, why there was a fatwah declared for/on Salman Rushdie for entitling his book "The Satanic Verses". They are actual parts of the Koran which were edited out, like the Gnostic Gospels in the Bible. The editor seems to have been Mohammed himself.

A sample:
"While Muhammad was in Mecca, his followers were few, his movement grew painfully slowly and he, too, felt the pain of estrangement from his tribe. According to early and treasured biographical and historical accounts of Muhammad, authored by competent Muslim scholars (such as writings of at-Tabari and Ibn Sa’d), Muhammad longed for better relations and reconciliation with his community. Thereafter, the accounts continue, God revealed Surah 53 to Muhammad up to and including vss. 19, 20. These two verses read:

Have ye thought upon al-Lat and al-Uzza
And Manat, the third, the other? (53:19,20)

Then, originally, the verses (known today as the satanic verses) followed:

These are the exalted cranes (intermediaries)
Whose intercession is to be hoped for.

The cranes whose intercession was recognized were, of course, the three deities. The same accounts tell us that after this revelation was completed, Muhammad, his followers and the pagan Arabs all prostrated. Tensions eased, reconciliation was at hand, and all were delighted.

But Muhammad soon retracted the reconciliation—how soon is not clear. For the account continues that Jibril (Gabriel), the angel of revelation, informed Muhammad that Satan had used Muhammad's desire for reconciliation with the pagan leaders to insert into the revelation of God the verses about the interceding cranes, otherwise called "the satanic verses". The verses which follow, not the satanic verses, serve as the proper sequence to 53:19,20 (above):

Are yours the males and His the females?
That indeed were an unfair division! (53:21,22)

In other words: When you Arabs have sons (whom you prefer to daughters!), how unfair of you to say that God has daughters! The idea of a plurality of gods or goddesses or sons or daughters of God is ridiculous. God alone is God. The three goddesses are false."

There's that goddess stuff again. Shut your mouth, Dakota, or you're going to have double fatwah all over you. Fundamentalists punish criticism harshly (Gonsalves is going on a whistleblower hunt, when the whistleblower turned himself in a month ago -- what ho, an agency wide witchhunt ensuing?)

And the final shot of the day. An enormous American SUV (?) with vanity plates rammed into the front of the Porter Square Bookstore. I was there, with several hundred others, taking pictures. I was actually buying a galvanized bucket with an attached wringer at the adjacent hardware store, in order to ease my laundry burden when the grid goes. It's going to be hard find time to be a goddess-like activities without the grid. Sadly there were three people injured in the accident, a passerby and two folks sipping coffee in the cafe.

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Photo note: What do you think this means? The second shot is the bench in front of the bookstore.

Posted by Dakota at 05:49 AM

February 10, 2006

The Emperor Has No Brain Cells


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Dan Froomkin over at washington post.com in his wonderful blog/column "White House Briefing" pointed out a National Catholic Reporter editorial, in which an outsider attended the Bush speech at Kansas State, listened to his words carefully, and then examined how the speech was covered in the press.

The editorialist writes: "One . . . comes away with the impression that the national media, for all the disparaging remarks tossed its way by this administration, is considerate to a fault. Comparing the sound bites and the quoted portions in news stories to what we heard and to the actual transcript posted on the White House Web site, it is clear that the president was the beneficiary of some very generous spirits. The press constructs a far more cogent argument on the president's behalf out of discrete passages than anyone could manufacture from the whole speech itself.
It is difficult to imagine that a presidency so closely guarded and protective of image could come up with nothing better. The speech jerks, in a syntactical and grammatical mishmash, from topic to topic. It engages in flights of imagination to make its case without regard for fundamental corrections that have already occurred to the record or for the deep questions posed about central tenets of this administration's policies by Republicans and Democrats alike."

Here's the full text of the speech, if you can bear it. It's so shockingly inept that one wonders why the White House published it at all. The folks over there could use some editorial help . A snippet follows, so you can get the jist:

"A shining example History has shown that democracies yield the peace. Europe is free, whole, and at peace because the nations are democratic. That wasn't always the case, obviously, in the 1900s. Two major wars were fought where a lot of Americans died, and yet systems and forms of government changed. And now Europe is completely different, in terms of security and peace. The Far East -- I just mentioned the Japanese example. And that's what the enemy understands, and that's why they're so brutal and relentless. They understand the march of peace will be contagious. Part of my decision-making process is my firm belief in the natural rights of men and women; my belief that deep in everybody's soul is the desire to live free. I believe there's an Almighty, and I believe the Almighty's great gift to each man and woman in this world is the desire to be free. This isn't America's gift to the world, it is a universal gift to the world, and people want to be free. (Applause.)

Bush went on like this for two hours. Froomkin asks "How can a president of the United States talk for almost two hours, unscripted, and be so fundamentally unrevealing?" and, I might add, so shockingly inarticulate in such a bizarre way.

Once again it makes one wonder if we are we looking at Korasakoff's Syndrome? Confabulation, inability to see that anything is wrong with your mental function, etc. Oh it just couldn't be! Jack Abramoff says that Bush "has one of the best memories of any of the politicians I have ever met". Maybe he has a confabulation advisor ?

It must have taken some mental ability to compile this a list of programs to be cut or killed.

Photo note: Ah, yet another metaphorophoto -- a shriveled rosehip barely grasping the thorny issues in front of a faded flag. Shriveled would be my best guess about what Bush's brain would look like if he had a little spectography

Posted by Dakota at 08:18 PM

Watch Your Back


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This morning, I was going to publish an entry I had prepared featuring a group that is currently out of favor, but, as I listened to discussion about renewal of the Patriot Act, I felt worried about the usual. I once again realized that the ubiquitous clickie is a covert tool for those who would like to complain (and there is much to complain about) without being rendited, stalked and shot ,or having their underwear sniffed by some official of a fascist regime, should they happen to live under one.

My friends, I urge you to baffle the data miners! Use clickes in in your email.

Who says there's "No Place to Hide"?.

Heavens to Betsy, I certainly hope I haven't given away any important information to someone shouldn't have it.

Photo note: This is an anthropomorphometaphorophoto. Big Brother is watching you and all that. See the giant set of eyes, the straight nose down the center and the white Trumpish combover ? -- That 's the reason I took it, and it's no masterwork. However, take a peek at the face in the right eye. Perhaps a demon? Or my reflection? Impossible! Those windows are twenty feet in the air.

Posted by Dakota at 05:52 AM

February 09, 2006

The King at King's Funeral


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When the very issues central to the life work of Coretta Scott King are being eroded by the misguided, her eulogists were not supposed to mention it. After all, the President was there (having been shamed into attending -- another big one, like Katrina, he almost missed). He was released from his padded cell for the day, and his policies were questioned --policies that are in stark contrast to all that Mrs. King stood for. He looked uncomfortable. It's hard to hear that there those who think you are behaving criminally, when you never have to listen to any of that nonsense.

Many in the mainstream media are complaining that the mention of wiretapping, affirmative action, and crippling cuts to every program that serves the poor, were not relevant material for King's eulogy. The Real King cannot be criticized, especially to his face. Those who dare must be punished.

By the way, who was it, over at MSNBC, that assigned Kate O'Beirne, author of the neoconservative-commissioned piece of pulp " Women Who Make The World Worse", (did she inadvertently leave King out of her book?), to do the live commentary on the funeral? You have to go out of your way to find someone who doesn't admire Coretta King very much --maybe Ann Coulter, but even SHE was there paying respects (?!?).

\Since detractors are not allowed their usual forums in the House, Senate or the Media, an internationally broadcast funeral seems a perfect place for the expression of dissent.

Photo note; Tulips (get it?) - in light and shadow. A floral tribute to Coretta Scott King

Posted by Dakota at 06:32 AM

February 07, 2006

Picturing the Light


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Rather than listing the numerous things that frosted my fascia, curdled my blood, and punctured my intestines yesterday, not the least of which was an electronic accupuncture treatment, I have chosen to focus on the light instead. You would be wise not to click those clickies.


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Did anything good happen yet?

Photo note: There's hardly anything material in these photos. Well maybe a wall or two.

Posted by Dakota at 05:55 AM

February 06, 2006

What I Did on Super Bowl Sunday


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Last night, on my way to my Abraham-Hicks Discussion and Manifestation Group, I picked up my dear and close personal friend, only to find a full-sized ping pong table redecorating her living room -- and part of her diningroom -- thank heavens she has an arch. Its purpose, which I will pass along to all of you who are interested in peak performance under deteriorating conditons, is to hone the body and mind, pleasantly. She cited a study (**that, sadly, I cannot locate) in which wheelchair-bound seniors were rolled in front of the ping pong table, and many volleys later, walked -- with improved mental acuity to boot. I thought I'd be the first to pass this along, so you can begin clearing a place for a ping pong table in your own home.

I actually have one, but it's wedged behind the anachronistic 5000 pound Steenbeck film editing machine in the garage, that no one wants because it has been replaced by a four ounce computer program. That, and a few bikes, and the furnishings from a one bedroom apartment belonging to a lovely young woman who moved to Chicago, and some of my mother's less appealing antiques. Would that I had the time to learn to use ebay. Anybody out there need a Steenbeck? But I digress.

We arrived at the meeting only to discover that one of us has manifested a new paramour from thefoodie world, who sent over a superb eggplant parm, and some Manna From Heaven-- individual bread puddings -- saturated with caramel, for our dining pleasure. That's when we all fell in love too. I was so distracted by the culinary experience, that I forgot to take a picture.

Before and after dinner, my feet were bathed in cosmic energies, until my meridians sang. A most satisfying In Lieu Of The Super Bowl gathering.

Photo note: It's a good thing that I had a shot of a ping pong ball in my archives. I do hope I'm not wasting a good metaphorophoto.

Addendum: ** Reference for improved health through ping pong.

Posted by Dakota at 06:52 AM

February 05, 2006



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I imagine everyone knows about the furor caused by the publication of the Mohammed cartoons in the Danish press. and the subsequent burning of Danish and Norwegian embassies in Damascus and Beirut. Publication of the cartoons has elucidated the differences between Western and Muslim worlds, and has ignited a smoldering tinder box of ill will.

Of course, I'd like to take this opportunity to point out that although Bush's War on Terror has done nothing to diffuse the situation, the administration right on top of this issue . Limiting constituional freedom is one thing they can really get behind.

The documentary photographer Zombie reminds us that "While the debate rages, an important point has been overlooked: despite the Islamic prohibition against depicting Mohammed under any circumstances, hundreds of paintings, drawings and other images of Mohammed have been created over the centuries, with nary a word of complaint from the Muslim world. The recent cartoons in Jyllands-Posten are nothing new; it's just that no other images of Mohammed have ever been so widely publicized." (Be sure to scroll down -- hope your index finger is in good shape.)

Photo note: Although I awakened to disturbing BBC reports of burning Scandanavian embassies across the Muslim world, I didn't think I'd write about it. However, upon examining my lastest crop of photographs this morning, I found a most mosquey frame, taken on Friday. Here's the funny part. It's a silhouette of the minaret atop the Harvard Lampoon Castle. That's an ibis at the apex, symbol of Thoth, the Egyptian god of writing and wisdom. Lately, the building has had steam coming out of it's ears, anthropomorphically speaking, but I haven't been able to stop in traffic long enough to catch the shot..

Posted by Dakota at 07:39 AM

February 04, 2006

Contradictions from The Culture of Life

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As I have said in the past, I don't know any woman who ever enjoyed her abortion, felt fabulous about the decision to have one, or thought, "What the heck, I'll just have an abortion if I get pregnant". No siree.

Prior to 1963 it was even worse. We risked our lives and/or our future fertility by participating in an illegal, back alley procedures, IF we were lucky enough to find someone who would do it. With means and connections, we could solicit a psychiatrist's testimony that we would either kill ourselves or become unfit mothers if we carried a fetus to full term -- a small price to pay to have an abortion safely in a clean setting. I think that every woman I know would agree that abortion is bad.

Lately, some in the pro-choice movement are openly saying that abortion isn't a great solution, and examining a fuller range of options. William Saletan offers them up in a NYT, January 22 Op-Ed piece. "The problem with using restrictions to reduce the number of abortions isn't that the restrictions are judgmental. It's that they're crude. They leap too easily from judgment to legislation and criminalization. They drag police officers, prosecutors and politicians into personal tragedies. Most people don't want such intrusion. But you lose them up front by refusing to concede that there's anything wrong with abortion. You have to offer them anti-abortion results (fewer abortions) without anti-abortion laws. The pro-choice path to those results is simple. Help every woman when she doesn't want an abortion: before she's pregnant. That means abstinence for those who can practice it, and contraception for everybody else. Nearly half of the unintended pregnancies in this country result in abortions, and at least half of our unintended pregnancies are attributable to women who didn't use contraception. The pregnancy rate among these women astronomically exceeds the pregnancy rate among women who use contraception. The No. 1 threat to the unborn isn't the unchurched. It's the unprotected. "

Catholics for a Free Choice takes the position that "valuing yourself means taking the greatest care not to create life you cannot bring to personhood or into the world is a moral and social good".

Unfortunately, the majority of those in the pro-life movement also object to contraception, even in the face of a global epidemic of AIDs. Perhaps it's just plain sex that t really scares them. Or maybe, it's the power of the sacred feminine unleashed -- but I'll save that discussion for another time.

So we're back to abstinence, which means resisting powerful biological forces . We cannot expect too much success with abstinence, when those biological forces are surging through inexperienced adolescent bodies like tsunamis.

As the government moves toward more repression (sexual and otherwise), kids are creating their own sexual agendas. An elucidating article in New York Magazine takes a look at what some adolescents on the cutting edge are up to sexually. A sample - "Along with gay, straight, and bisexual, they’ll drop in new words, some of which they’ve coined themselves: polysexual, ambisexual, pansexual, pansensual, polyfide, bi-curious, bi-queer, fluid, metroflexible, heteroflexible, heterosexual with lesbian tendencies—or, as Alair puts it, 'just sexual.' The terms are designed less to achieve specificity than to leave all options open."

Here's an idea. We could avoid sex altogether by cloning, but, that too has its drawbacks. As the President warned in his State of the Union Address. cloning could lead to human-animal hybrids. (The Offal Office would do well to have one of those 700,000 new science teachers scan his speeches for scientific accuracy.) Not a bad alternative though, when you think of the horrors of birth control.


Photo notes: Above, a bumper sticker which I hadn't seen before I shot it, but have since come to understand is common. I know you're waiting for me to connect all those grizzly little skeletons to the text - but I shan't.

Posted by Dakota at 03:51 PM

February 02, 2006

Trellis in Winter


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I was trying
to focus on beauty,
but I couldn't ignore
the big holes
in the photo

I was struck
a loose

forgive me.


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and while
we're on
the subject

Posted by Dakota at 07:56 PM

Proceed At Your Own Peril


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Remember Seydou Keita, photographer from Mali, who documented "people on the uneven edge of modernity"? To my delight I have unearthed yet another fabulous photographer for your perusal --- someone who works in an equally exotic setting though I dare not mention the name of said setting, now that I know I may be sifted and, if so, rendited (as in rendition), held without trial and tortured at the President's whim, even though I am a proud member (oh hear this you sifters) of the American Civil Liberties Union. Although I am a cheeky girl , I hesitate to risk it.

I am counting heavily on the possiblity that the FBI, the NSA and the CIA will not have time to click on all my clickies, given that they are busy monitoring great volumes of internet activity. You will find it comforting that 56% of us don't mind a bit, since WE are doing nothing wrong. If you are reading this at your local public library, you probably shouldn't click on the clickies either.

That said, assuming that you have chosen to proceed at your own risk, let me tell you what I love about the fabulous photographer from the nameless place.

I recently wrote a poem about unstructured time, given that I allow myself so little, and it makes me anxious . In my poem, (as yet unpublished --even by myself)-- I noted that feminine energy is often constrained by the structure of caretaking in which women are embedded . An important way to liberate the sacred feminine, is to break free of these structures. It's often difficult to find our most creative selves in the repetitive and the mundane. Martha Stewart, of course, manages very well in this arena, but most of us find it draining. Our fabulous photographer, in her photo essay, "Like Every Day", captures this issue in bold and beautiful images - metatphorophotos, hung with chadors.

The fabulous photographer clearly lives in a culture that is more oppressive to women than our own. However, in any society, when women have no choice about whether or when to bear children, they are inexorably tied to the repetitive. Choice is crucial in a society that values and supports the feminine. Kiss it goodbye with Alito's appointment to the Supreme Court, and join Martha-Ann Bomgartner Alito and her dog, Avonleas's Affable Zeus, in the lobby with your hankerchief.

I should say that I wanted to email the photographer to gush about her work -- I'll tell you first, just in case they shut me down.

Photo note: Camouflage, get it? Actually this is about as exotic as my own environment gets -- the knickknack section of HomeGoods.

Addendum: Notice the map of "said setting" is one provided by the Christian evangelists -- scroll down, and you'll find some optimistic stats for possible proselytizing.

Posted by Dakota at 06:09 AM

February 01, 2006

Tranquility in the Face of Hypocrisy and Lies


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you will be
so proud of me
tucked in bed
at nine thirtee

'twas not my fate
to stay up late
and await
the Union State

no boiling blood
no outrage flood
no raging curse
to make it worse
instead I wrote
a little verse

My my mood's sedate
my heart rate's great

leaving most
of the roast
to the Huffington Post

to be read
at most
with wholewheat toast

til dawn


Photo note: A big, dewy peony to compensate that part of me that fancies herself Maureen Dowd for keeping her big mouth shut in the face of outrageous assaults to her intelligence and peace of mind.

Posted by Dakota at 05:55 AM