May 31, 2006

Not again?


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and friend

Ah, a stone maiden -- Everytime I leave town on an expedition of any sort, I lose my impetus to write this blog. I freeze, stop thinking altogether, and go back to DoodooDedooLand.

Then I read other blogs, and get even more discouraged. The vision of thirty two million of us putting it out there, expressing ourselves, adding to human consciousness, (and unconsciousness) at a speed that only precipitates further curdling of the addled brain, does nothing to inspire.

There is the temptation to rant about the the lying dictatorship, it's progress, and Congress's recent inspiration to FINALLY stop the bulldozers of the executive branch as they crush democracy. But that would be counter to my purpose of feeling good today, now wouldn't it?

I am therefore left to publish a metaphorophoto of my condition (frozen, not stoned). Notice the "wire(d)" baskets, in which said statue could deposit her fruit, if she had the flexibility to do so, as well as the crank behind her back in the window, potential for a possible start.

Photo note: The main street of Hudson, New York, home of adorable urban renewal, and a plethora of amazing antique stores, where I shot rather than purchased.

Posted by Dakota at 06:21 AM

May 30, 2006

Country Life


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the view
of the
north forty
from the
barn door

Photo note: Really, that's what it is. Spent part of the weekend viewing a barn with a half finished house inside, and 40 very pretty acres in upstate New York. The romance of farm life was spoiled for me long ago by Willa Cather and O.E. Rolvaag, but having a place where one could churn a little goat cheese has renewed it's appeal in light of recent events.

Listened to "Skinny Dip" by Carl Hiaasen on the four hour conestoga trip west (you can see how my taste has been corrupted). The detective in the novel is named Rolvaag, which I took as a sign of sorts. Other signs were a welcoming mother deer posed right next to the driveway upon arrival, Nubian show goats in the shed, a hip real estate agent/biomedical researcher about my age who is into rescuing homeless alpaca, and a barn large enough for a foreign film festival (warm enough, is another question )-- a summer film festival. Oh, and I found and purchased a copy of "Walden" at the Fire Auxilary Tag Sale. We'll see.

Posted by Dakota at 06:35 AM

May 26, 2006



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Since this is a family run blog, we have not found a proper substitute to cover for us over Memorial Day weekend. Be assured the we shall have our laptop glued to us should a wireless connection waft through the summer air.

Arianna Huffington, firedoglake or atrios would never let something like that happen. Dan Froomkin at the, however, takes every weekend off. We miss him so when he does.

It's a good thing that no one depends on us for anything more important than imperial commentary, and a modest digital extravaganza.

Photo note: Loose associations to the image. Going to upstate New York to look at a barn, thus the barn doors. Boarding up the blog, or Zzzzzzzzzzz snoozing

Posted by Dakota at 02:23 PM

This and That


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Just a followup on our American Hero, Jean Rohe. First, Bob Kerrey, President of the New School, "defended" his students for their protest against John McCain. And then Jan Klausen, a protest organizer, who teaches creative writing at the school, tells us what Mr. Kerrey failed to mention. Ann Coulter, bless her little black heart, has provided us with an excellent example of projection, in her comment on Jean Rohe, just in case we needed another one. (Perhaps there is a twinge of narcissism involved as well -- that's just a guess).

And speaking of narcissism, The Houston Chronicle quotes Lay and Killing's responses to their guilty verdict in the Enron trial, " 'Certainly we're surprised, more appropriately to say we're shocked ... I firmly believe I'm innocent of the charges against me,' said Lay. He noted that he's still a blessed man because of his family and friends. 'We believe God is in fact in control and indeed he does work all things for good for those who love the Lord.' [me too, whose God?] Skilling said he could not admit he broke the law. 'Some things work, some things don't,' he said of the verdicts."

George W., on the other hand, has expressed mild remorse, inspired either by his flushing toilet poll numbers or his acting coaches, for one 159/160th percent of his poor judgement, impulsive and greedy behaviors, and gross misdeeds. Let's hope this is a trend. We're glad he's not going to be a cowboy anymore. How about laying low on the mass murder?

Do you think George W. ever had anything to do with Ken Lay when he was just a cowboy? Quite a lot, it seems and Digby documents it all.

Finally, a terrible thing has happened to veterans -- they have had their personal information stolen by thieves. Here's the puzzling part. They are understandably very upset by thieves having this information -- worst case, they'll have their identity stolen. However, they don't seem at all horrified by the extent of government intrusion into their personal information --- worst case they'll be sent to Guantanamo, held indefinitely and tortured. Guess they think that won't happen to them.

Photo note: An edgy shot. Plates, in sunlight, stacked rather precariously, like the elements of this entry -- I never claimed to be either neat or organized, now, did I?

Posted by Dakota at 09:06 AM

May 25, 2006

Not Quite a Plague of Locusts, But Close


the wisteria
is wormy

the only crop
that ever
the trellis


thirty years
of roses

sweet peas
morning glory
failing all
to grasp
the task

at longest last

a bumper vine
looping tendrils
cast in air


spoiled by
pale moon

all the way
from China

who have
their young
to munch
and suck

the fragrant
of my truimph

Photo note: Here's a photo of the winter moth whose larvae ate all my wisteria, my flowering cherry tree, and at least two maples. The moths were all over my screens this winter. Now their offspring are all over the 'hood. I discovered the extent of their invasion when greeted at the door of a house warming party by the six year old son of my new neighbors, who proudily held a bowl of green worms up to me, as if passing tarts. A real ice breaker. The worms were all over the patio, and the green canopy above was almost eaten clean. Several other neighbors at the party reported that they had had their trees sprayed with a non toxic oil -- evidently the worms prefer their leaves without dressing, Being from China, the voracious little critters evidently do not have a natural predator in the area. It was suggested to me that I mix a few green worms with my birdseed to help the local birds expand their palates. Ironically, China is having a similar problem - the joys of globalization.

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Posted by Dakota at 07:29 PM

May 24, 2006

The Tastee Queen Emerges


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Back to the unpleasant chore of gathering dissociated parts of self and making them conscious Why, you ask, do you constantly subject us to this most unattractive process?

The answer is that when we have active aspects of ourselves that only reside in our unconscious, and are never brought to the "light" of consciousness, we have a tendency to project those parts of ourselves (which we often cannot face for fear or shame) onto others.

We can know what is in our unique personal darknesses, by examining our projections onto others. As we make others the enemy, the victim, the oppressor, the lesser, we are showing ourselves more fully

If we are not aware of our dissociated parts, and we have power without wisdom, we do things like start wars, or maybe torture "bad" people. If everyone identified, contained and understood dissociated aspects of themselves, rather than projecting them, the world would be a better place. So I'm just trying to be a good example here, and peek inot my own darkness.

I hope your eyes are glazing over just about now, and you decide to look at the picture, and skip this part -- my shameful self discovery. I refer you to a recent post about the more-than-prompt return of my photographic portfolio after submission to a gallery. I took it harder than was necessary. The reason, my friends, is that I projected my own harsh judgement about the work of others onto the gallery owners, thus wounding myself unnecessarily. They might simply have said, "gee it's not our thing, thanks ". Tis I who judge and trash.

That aspect of myself (of course, she's not associated with the sweet and lovable Dakota) is the Queen of Taste, looking down from her throne, continually judging the creations of others --- wondering how people could possibly paint their house, their picture, or their fingernails that color, live with those curtains, put googlie eyes on their canvas, take another flower picture. I'm sure you know what I'm talking about, since, to my shame, she emerges from the pages of this blog all too frequently. Even though I wrote volumes about the gallery experience, I seem to have missed this part of myself entirely. Did I mention, she's extremely funny.

As my shaman, with whom I was exploring this matter, said, different souls are at different developmental stages and we much be respectful and appreciative of everyone's creative process, whether or not they meet our "standards" of excellence. She gave the example of a Sufi hula, which she, herself, a Martha Graham girl, had to stretch to appreciate -- she was able to understand that it was very accessible to the audience, who were having a great time.

The reason I was so undone by my rejection is that I projected the "Queen" onto the rejectors. I must remember that the Queen is mine, an introject from my mother the primo projector and art teacher -- though I have certainly given this part of myself rich soil in which to grow. The distainful, superior, narcissist, who often prefers not to think, (all the things I loathe about George W and project onto him, of course) are me. Oh well, better late than never.

As a much more evolved friend said to me the other day, George Bush has his purpose too. He is here to provide contrast and stimulate a veritable rush of true desire for enlightened truth, freedom and democracy. He is doing the thing that he trained to do his entire life, and repeats over and over again, dependably--- binging, first on drugs ,now on power. He is playing his role in the creation/destruction cycle very well.

Jean Rohe is a very good example of mature psychological development. She saw the truth and stood up for it before power, while not projecting evil onto others. Neither Mark Salter, or John McCain are as evolved.

The universe is helping me finish this piece. Look what popped up from the pile of mail just minutes ago (from an ad for "Buddha at War" by Robert Sachs:

"Robert Sachs points to the old Buddhist adage 'It is far more difficult to cover the world in leather, than it is to put on shoes.', or more simply put, change must begin with ourselves.
"'Ultimately it is only from a mind that is transformed, free, and cheerful that action to create lasting peace and happiness are possible", writes Sachs,' Let us enter on that path starting now.'" Yeh, let's.

Photo note: Another in the Vinyl Storm Window Shape Shifting Illusion Series. It does look pretty queenly to me, matronly, perhaps Dairy Queenly.

Posted by Dakota at 07:04 PM

May 23, 2006

Oh hell, It's Spring


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your eyes
with iris
and ivy


how many I's
it takes
to irritate

not that many

Photo note: Unnecessary, given the subject

Poetry note: Shoot me if I ever tell you that I'm going to try to get my poetry published.

Posted by Dakota at 07:45 PM

May 22, 2006

Jean Rohe Joins Cadre of Courageous American Heroes


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I hope that all of you have seen the unpleasant attack on our angelic Jean Rohe by Mark Salter, primo aide to John McCain, and her fearless, truthful response to Mr. Salter's admonitions. Would it have been considered uncouth if Mr. McCain had engaged directly in an open dialog with Ms. Rohe? Sadly, he did the cowardly thing, by sending his character assassin instead. Cowardly acts are becoming his habit lately.

It was pointed out to me by one far wiser, that Jean Rohe is a real American Hero. She is the youngest of several American Heroes who have dared to speak the truth directly to power in a public forum in the past year. Let's see there's Steven Colbert, George Clooney, Mary McCarthy, Al Gore, Karen Meredith, the eleven widows of the Family Steering Committee of The 9/11 Commission, Joe Wilson, Jimmy Carter, Russ Tice, Cindy Sheehan, Dixie Chick, Natalie Maines, everyone who eulogized Coretta Scott King. Unfortunately, too few heroes are Democratic leaders.

The reason that speaking the truth requires such heroism in this day and age, is that the backlash and hatred that is directed at the person who dares, is fearsome indeed -- certainly not for the faint of heart.

Fortunately, Jean Rohe, is operating with the knowledge that tells her that her own fear and anger, projected onto others, is the real danger in the world. This is called psychological development. She has it , and she is standing up under the shower of vitriol like the goddess of consciousness that she is.

As someone in the thirteen pages (so far) of positive comments she has received from her response to Mr. Salter on The Huffington Post, asked, "Where's"

Photo note: This is a jazzy American flag, in honor of the fact that Jean Rohe is a jazz vocalist. I think this is her. singing. I hope so. (it's had 768 hits, more than 200 in the last day). I want a CD.

Posted by Dakota at 07:34 PM

May 21, 2006

Voice of an Angel - Jean Rohe


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up close

up close with voice and vision in orange

Jean Rohe, the graduation speaker at the New School, (where John McCain campaigned all over their ceremony), was recruited by angels, probably born to and raised by them too. She's a singer, and she sings like one. Draw your own conclusions.

The last paragraph of her commencement address:

"Finally, Senator Mc Cain will tell us that we, those of us who are Americans, 'have nothing to fear from each other.' I agree strongly with this, but I take it one step further. We have nothing to fear from anyone on this living planet. Fear is the greatest impediment to the achievement of peace. We have nothing to fear from people who are different from us, from people who live in other countries, even from the people who run our government--and this we should have learned from our educations here. We can speak truth to power, we can allow our humanity always to come before our nationality, we can refuse to let fear invade our lives and to goad us on to destroy the lives of others. These words I speak do not reflect the arrogance of a young strong-headed woman, but belong to a line of great progressive thought, a history in which the founders of this institution play an important part. I speak today, even through my nervousness, out of a need to honor those voices that came before me, and I hope that we graduates can all strive to do the same."

Here' s what she was going to talk about, a wonderful message that shouldn't be missed:

"I wanted to speak about communication, and how I have found that one of my strongest and most enjoyable methods of communication is music. I wanted to talk about the New York City public school preschoolers with whom I work each week and how they've been empowered through music, how they've been able to learn linguistic and social skills by singing together. I wanted to talk about my grandfather, who, despite the fact that he has Alzheimer's disease and cannot remember even my name, still knows all the songs he sang in his youth. I wanted to talk about music as a powerful tool for peace. I wanted to encourage everyone to identify his or her talents and to always use them for the greater good."

I hope that Jean Rohe is catapulted to fame for speaking the truth. I hope that people will hear her message over and over again through her music for years to come.

Photo note: How's this for a metaphorophoto-metamorphophoto combo? I do have a couple of angel shots that are a little more classic, but I thought this looked like a modern angel, luminous, embedded in the material world --seeing and speaking the truth, thus the touches of orange at the eyes and throat. And the flowers! " LILY, WHITE: Purity, modesty, virginity, majesty, it's heavenly to be with you. The white lily is linked to Juno, the queen of the gods in Roman mythology, by the story that while nursing her son Hercules, some excess milk fell from the sky creating the group of stars we call the Milky Way, and lilies were created from what milk fell to the earth. The Easter lily is also known as the symbol of the Virgin Mary." Mother's milk, the milk of human kindness.
Pussywillow: "Motherhood" -
seen as "a sign of spring, characteristic of this time of year's spiritual rebirth. It harbors leaves in itself but does not put them out and thus gives us to understand that our joy from the feast of the Lord's Entrance, is not complete but conceals itself in the beginnings of the great joy of Pascha. " You could call the pussywillow a container (bayt) for the unstructured energy of the universe (aleph), I suppose. You could call it the symbol of containment and directed expression of universal life force energy into the material world through vision, communication and consciousness That is, if you're so inclined.
Let's hear it for the sacred feminine!

Posted by Dakota at 06:27 AM

May 19, 2006

Go Shoot a Peacock - The Story of My Shame


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Yesterday I received a self addressed package in the mail. It was returned less than a week after I mailed it. My portfolio was rejected.--- summarily. The worst of it was that the gallery didn't even keep it a day for consideration. Really, I don't know how artists do it.

It took me twelve hours to open the package. Thank heavens there was a polite kiss-off note included, wishing me good fortune in my future endeavors. Now the trick will be to conquer my shame, pick up the pieces of my shattered ego, duct tape my punctured narcissism, and move forward into those future endeavors. It's hard to retain a snappy attitude in the face of rejection.

There is, of course, the comfort of the blog. The fantasy that someone, other than myself, is looking at my product, delighted by my eye, amused by my witticisms, impressed by my political insight, resonating to my pathos. It is the fantasy of between ten, and thirty two million of us. Quite delusional, now that I think of it.

I know, I will simply ignore the rejection. I'm fairly good at that.


But of course, the package was delivered on Thursday night, just to kick start my weekly Friday Fit. Wouldn't you know, sychronicity being what it is, my Ladies Group was meeting at 9:30 AM. We began the group with a Tibetan Singing Bowl Duet in low C (heart) and D (solar plexus), because one of us purchased a lovely quartz singing bowl when visiting Santa Fe last month. The sound went right to my feet and legs, which are much improved, but not perfect.

Our leader began with a little talk about the discomfort of dealing with parts of self that are not integrated --a most timely topic.

Here's why its uncomfortable, in my opinion. It's really difficult to step back enough to observe your own pain, while simultaneously feeling it, respecting your resistance to feel it, and maintaining patience with the process. It takes practice.

We have a new group member (having lost our dear drummer in a dissociated part accident)-- a landscape painter, whose mother lived in Santa Fe for the last twenty years of her life. Synchronicity. As an artist, she had much to say to me about exhibitions, and the energy friends create at an opening, as well as the pain of viewer disinterest, or dislike, especially when your little soul is out there, dangling in your product.

Then the group set to work on me, even though it seemed my issue was the least pressing of anyone's. I think I took up too much time. Rather than raging, my unintegrated little part was feeling mighty blue, collapsed, despairing folded up, shamed, dispirited (the perfect word). Oh well. The angels came, with their lovely soprano trills, as did the bears, and the Indians, but it was hard to move the despair, which has a place so close to my heart. With everyone's help, I managed to joggle it sufficiently. I also did some lovely coughing and gagging.

I listened to Esther Hicks on way home. Perfect. She was talking about her book making the New York Times Best Seller List. After awhile, checking the list daily lost it's thrill. In fact, it became quite unpleasant. . The real thrill comes from feeling good while you're deliberately creating. She cautions against getting confused by listening to someone else's GPS system -- sometimes six at once. Follow your own guidance.

Later, in another supportive setting, I understood what really hurt about this experience -- which painful old wound it touched. So what if a hip downtown gallery rejected my photos? Am I counting on my photography as a way of making money? Do I want to be part of a scene, other than the one I have? Do I want to spend my time sweating over a hot printer? Not exactly.

Here's what I really want to do. I want to heal the part of me that was mightily squashed whenever I did or said anything that felt like differentiation to my poor mother, so it doesn't keep falling out of sorts. You can imagine that my mother's technique may have had an rather negative effect on my creativity. Not only was my originality stunted, but I cowered in anticipation of the punishment that came from showing my autonomous, authentic self. Early on, I decided never to do it -- that is, if I could help it.

So I witnessed how devastated the little part of me was by my mother's rejection and punishment. I felt the hurt and despair (not my favorite step), then I felt appreciation for all of the parts of myself that keep me away from those dreadful feelings. I decided that everything was going just as it should, and determined to approach this process (integrating dissociated parts of self) with curiosity and patience. I also took responsibiity for the fact that I sent my pictures out from a (slightly) downtrodden place. What kind of response did I expect? I am now awarding myself a girl scout badge.

This entry is getting out of hand, but I need to remember what I decided --maybe not so publicly, but what the hell. I appreciate that the rejection was a perfect trigger for the Friday Dissociated Parts Retrieval Project. It was a mirror to my own lack of confidence. I know because it landed so hard. Otherwise, I could have dismissed it easily.

In the meantime, I got a print portfolio together, so I can show my work in a clump, off-line. I decided to print a couple of large (2x3) photos and frame them. I am considering posting an on-line gallery somewhere. Then, if someone finds me in that pile, it was meant to be. Right now, I don't want to expend my energy pursuing an exhibition. My job is to continue to do what I am inspired to do, without being thrown off track by gathering up the energies of others.

Okey, dokey.

Photo note: Painted peacock perched precariously above the entrance to a delicatessen. A metaphorophoto of sorts.

I'm publishing this unclickied. You know I could have gone to town on this one. Check back later -- I will try to add emotional images, then again , I might not.

Posted by Dakota at 06:17 AM

May 18, 2006

Internal Struggle #268


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This is for
the part of me
that loves
a triangle
and plays
what can
I shoot
at red lights
all the time

and needs
a very long
to separate
these two
they don't
go together
at all
in her


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and this is
for the part of me
that loves
the light
and promised
my landlord
to send
along some
garden pics
and can't
to show you
what she shot

no wonder
there are

inside my
being and
that's not
half of it

Photo note: Unnecessary

Posted by Dakota at 07:56 PM

May 17, 2006

Bird Flu Brewing


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The bird flu is brewing. You may have heard that Indonesia has a cluster - eight members of a family infected, six are dead. However, if you read the front page of the New York Times on Sunday, you would think everything was peachy. Or if you watched the made for TV movie, "Fatal Contact" on Wednesday, which did not get good reviews, you are just awakening from your faint. (How our President likes you best). The part about being quarantined behind barbed wire was particularly offensive, though let's not rule out the administration's use of barbed wire for any number of other purposes, .

The source a girl can really trust, Revere, over at Effect Measure, said yesterday "Clusters are worrisome". Today he posted an excellent essay on the unpredictable nature of clusters, in which he said, "My personal opinion is that the Indonesian cluster looks like it is a possible instance of either increased bird to human transmission or an instance of human to human. These cases have occurred before, but the size of this cluster makes one ask if something has changed. Henry Niman derides the idea it is enhanced bird to human transmission on the grounds that bird flu is very hard to catch from a bird. True. There are millions of bird human exposures and very few human cases. On the other hand it is hard to catch from other people, too. So I'm not sure I understand Henry's point (although I am quite sure he'll tell me, in his usual gracious way)"

Yesterday the Santa Barbara News-Press published this warning , which I found in my email. Looks like it's time to read Peter Sandman's excellent essays on risk communication again. He has a new one that addresses the lessons from Katrina. One of his contentions is that we need to learn how to scare people, and we need to dare to scare them. Surprizingly, journalists don't seem to be knocking down his doors.

The Santa Barbara News Press mentions an information site which is new to me and, I am sure, is chock full of good information. like how to plant a large garden cheaply. I haven't had time to mine it yet. Fluwiki remains a most stalwart and dependable resource.

In any case here's my preparation list once again, should it not be indelibly written on your soul. Speaking of which, Pat Robertson, had a communication from god that lends itself to this entry. I wonder if he thinks global warming has anything to do with his predictions.

Addendum: Follow up on Indonesian cluster from Dem from CT at Daily Kos.

Photo note: This is the blue heron I stalked last fall.

Posted by Dakota at 07:08 PM

And the Sun IS Shining


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This morning the sun is shining at long last, draping itself in luminous sheets on every available surface. I bustled around the house first thing, trying to capture the miracle digitally. I did, but the results were mlldly disappointing.

I was determined to find joy in spite of the fact that Arlen Spector, after another phoney display of constitutional fortitude, once again sold out the nation by acquiescing to the administration. They no longer have to bother with that silly FISA Court. This enormous "compromise" , was obscured by all the flap about immigration, and basically went unreported. Good job Georgie, great distraction with the meaningless TV speech. Threw us right off the track, before we even noticed.

Now the executive branch of our government can do anything they damn well please, legally, without any oversight whatsoever. Do we still qualify as a democracy?

As any third grade teacher knows, you can't let a bully out on the playground without supervision, because people will get hurt. In this case Iraqi civilians, American soldiers, Quakers, whistleblowing patriots, and now reporters have been mistreated, some to death. That's what you get when you elect a third grade bully for President.

To further brighten my day (and now yours), I read how much Dick and George are worth :

"Vice President Cheney disclosed a portfolio worth as much as $94.6 million in 2005. [but remember, he doesn't have his health]
Most of the Bushes' wealth was in real estate and a diversified trust, which combined were worth as much as $10 million, the 18-page statement showed. Much of the rest of their holdings were U.S. Treasury notes and certificates of deposit. The 1,583-acre Bush ranch near Crawford, Tex., was estimated to be worth between $1 million and $5 million, the same range given in last year's filing. Bush also disclosed a health savings account worth as much as $15,000 and a 401(k) retirement plan from his days as Texas governor valued at as much as $250,000."

Dick and George were both required to disclose gifts they received last year. We heard alot about what they gave one another, but, and herein lies the spiritual lesson you've been awaiting, Bush received " an Apple Computer Inc. iPod music player and a book titled "The Message: The Bible in Contemporary Language," written by Eugene H. Peterson, from U2 lead singer Bono". Completely brilliant, Bono -- a book Bush MIGHT actually read. He might get the hang of Christlike behavior in the process. Maybe it's a book on tape and he'll listen to it, while he's on the ttreadmill. I guess W. didn't get the sterling silver martini shaker I sent, or maybe he's just not required to report it anymore.

George also received "a chain saw, with accessories, from Home Depot Inc. President Robert Nardelli." As if the man needed another chain saw, but we all know how he does love making a mess.

Photo note: Lemons in the shadows -- quite a Spector

Posted by Dakota at 06:34 AM

May 16, 2006

A Modest Proposal -- Helping Out the NSA


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May 16, 2006

Dear Mr. Rove, or maybe Mr. Cheney:
To Anyone in the Upper Echelons Who Hasn't Been Indicted,
Gentlemen and Condi:

It is my contention that this administration is not utilizing one of America's most valuable resources to its fullest.

We have not yet tapped into (pardon the pun) the vast potential power of American Youth . It is time for a new initiative to revive freedom in the heart of America, and in every classroom. Through the public school system across this great nation, we must begin to organize our young people to work for the great goals of America. I leave it up to Mr. Rove to create a good name for this initiative -- Petite Patriots (too French?), Teens against Terrorists, Future Freers of America ? We already have an excellent motto, "Don't be left behind"

Let's put our children to work for us. Terrorist spotting can be easily integrated into the existing curriculum. These kids were raised on the Blues Clues, they'll be great. Put Laura in charge. She's an educator.

As soon as our children are trained to identify terrorist behavior, they can report unpatriotic neighborhood activites and dinner table conversations to their teachers at show and tell. They can print out google search histories for the family computer at regular intervals and turn them in for screening.

Once the kids get the hang of it, the youth initiative can be easily extended to identify illegal immigrants, gays and liberals. The possibilities are unlimited. Think of the time and trouble it will save the NSA.

If any of those liberal teachers (and we know we have a few) object, we'll know who they are. The kids will tell us. We already have their phone numbers, and they can be fired (rendited and tortured) for abetting terrorism. There are plenty of good Christians graduating from college to take their places. We can pare down the education budget , even more with all the money we'll save.

I haven't thought out all the details. A pocket sized little red, white and blue manual of inspirational sayings would be nice, maybe a snappy uniform, some after school seminars on surreptious surveillance or perhaps blind obedence --the possiblities are endless.

Yours in solidarity and safety for all Americans now and in future.


Posted by Dakota at 06:16 AM

May 15, 2006

Bleeding Heart -- White Version


is a

of devotion


is sexually

Photo note: I was trying to improve my mood with flower photo after more than a week of torrential rain, but it didn't work, although I did manage to amuse myself.

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Posted by Dakota at 07:01 AM

May 13, 2006

Plopped in the Middle of The Showplace


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How's this for a manifestation? Even though I try to restrain myself from publishing all of the flower pictures I take, especially in the spring, I adore flowers.

I don't suppose I'm a bad gardener, but I don't do it because I have no garden imagination. I cannot make color and height decisions from all those little brown potatoes and I cannot wait that long for feedback. I never liked anything I made in ceramics for the same reason -- working with glazes that all seemed alike when raw. I was never able to create what I had in mind. So at my house, I do shrubs instead of flowers. Most of the shrubs were planted before 1900. Draw your own conclusions.

Then, what ho. My dear landlady, who has always had a lovely garden, decided this year to make her property "a showplace" It's simply spectacular, and I have reason to believe that the display is just beginning.

A landscape architect, on viewing the new garden, remarked on its beauty. She said that planting flowers is the tweeking of much larger canvas. The final touch. I have been operating on the mistaken assumption that "gardening", as ladies of a certain age define it, means primarily flowers and too many tomatoes. Guess that's the difference between a landscape architect and a gardener. Now ask me where I have spent many a photo hour this spring -- Mt. Auburn Cemetery, where flowers abound, but are the least of it. No Awareness Awards here.

The lesson here is something about looking at the big picture. Zoom out, as we say in amateur digital photograpy.

In that vein, someone in my sphere last week brought up intergalatic astrology. The notion that it ain't just the planets under which you were born that influence your astrological chart -- there's alot more out there. Enough to boggle the mind of a person who needs instant gratification and has a short attention span.

But I digress. Each day I have the great priviledge of seeing and photographing a real showplace, with no expenditure of time, effort or money on my part. A lucky ducky of whom Esther Hicks would be proud.

Photo note: The plot outside my window. Since the sun hasn't shown in many days the photos are a bit dark. I can tilt my laptop screen to make them perfect. Maybe I'll photoshop them again, but then again, maybe I won't.

Addendum: Happy Mother's Day to all of you who celebrate this trumped up Hallmark Holiday. There's nothing like having sons to get you over the disproportionate sentimentality of the occasion. I'll send them out in the yard to pick the lilacs, if they make their presence known.

Posted by Dakota at 05:02 PM

The Rain Goddess Returns


The Rain Goddess
our spring

to the season


heedless of
our sun starvation
our D deficiencies
our SAD

and our hair

just look
at hers

Photo note: You have seen the rain goddess before -- last spring, in fact. Here she is again with updated text. She gets published when we are expecting the glory of spring, and it rains for more than ten days in succession. You pray to her if you get the blues under those conditions. Remember, effective prayer must come from a place of gratitude and appreciation.

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Posted by Dakota at 06:29 AM

May 11, 2006

Freaking out on Friday


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Well it seems that Fridays are my Demon Day. A day set aside from my usual schedule to wrestle with all of those disintegrated, unintegrated aspects of myself. A day when I give them time to emerge -- P.S. they are furious right now because they're ready to come out and I keep repressing them. Worse, demonizing them.

I demonize those parts of myself just like the early Christians did the Gnostics, thus keeping important information out of circulation (my consciousness), until folks (I) were (was) psychologically developed enough to handle it.

The time is ripe to integrate something new. Cosmically, Dan Brown has been on the best seller list with his gnosticish novel for at least a year. The National Geographic, (a finer American Institution cannot be found), has pasted together, published and televised the Judas Gospel. All those National Geographics disintegrating in everyone's attic -- piles none of us could bring ourselves to discard because of the photos --- must have had some cosmic effect. Though I hear that a substantial part of NG's motivation to get this project out, came from fierce competition with the Discovery Channel.

Personally, as my loyal readers know all too well, I have been very busy trying to calm my autonomic hyperarousal and hypervigilance, so I can live my life in a curious state, rather than a fearful one. Taking pictures has helped alot with this project, and the blog too, because putting experience into words moves it from the amygdala, where it fires randomly and keeps all of us here at Dakota off balance, to the frontal cortex, where cognition resides and thought, framed with language, can be applied to experience.

Something grim descended upon me Friday morning. The first indication was that I couldn't find a single photo of mine that I liked. I even tried looking at my favorites for a minute. They all seemed insipid and ugly. I felt my plug had been pulled. The mood lasted all day, which I spent on the edge of anger. I was attracting anger like mad (pardon) from the universe--- Idiot SUV drivers honked at me at least five times.

It might have been really funny, but those parts of me that are not integrated have absolutely no sense of humor left about this matter anymore. They say it's funny like President Bush's comedy routine last year at the White House Correspondent's Dinner, when he crawled under the podium looking for weapons of mass destruction. CLUELESS. You simply have to be clueless to make a joke about a lie, a warped power plan, that has ruined so much for so many. Forgive him , he knows not what he does. Aside: I am preferring to think that Bush has helped me value democracy, and the environment in a much more conscious way. I (am trying) to think about what is really important to me, and how much I appreciate the freedom and beauty of my present circumstances. Hopefully, Bush has inspired others to do the same - to imagine what they really want. .. Well, I couldn't do that on Friday either.

I did try to change my vibration along the way, to no avail. I went to the most beautiful of all cemeteries, and took photos. I specifically took the picture above, because I thought I had some demons staring at me, little green ones, but demons nonetheless. When I got the photo home and looked more closely, one of the ferns seemed quite the crone, and another, a parrot. A vast and interesting improvement. I must also remember that ferns open, grow and develop. Who knows what shapes they'vetaken now.

And then there was the frog. I've been seeing frogs everywhere. Froggish photos abound -- clay frogs, marzipan frogs. Two people mentioned vernal pools to me on the same day in the last week or so. On Friday, as I stood in a slow line at the Verizon store in the mall to get my replacement cell phone, I saw yet another frog. This one was a human, dressed in a frog suit, employed by the Rain Forest Cafe right across the mall. (It occurred to me that the reason the technicians at Verizon are so snarly is that they listen to the Rain Forest's lion roaring every thirty seconds all day, every day). Maybe the lion was roaring for me too. The SUVs certainly were.

I must say that I was better at containing what I think of as the black energy, (which at the moment is roiling anger), than I have been before -- on other Fridays, at least. I only projected it onto two people, who probably didn't need it, but seemed deserving at the time, given their own unintegrated black energies. I was a little huffy with the clerk at an insurance company, regarding her request to submit paperwork for a fifth time, and with the tech repair guys at Verizon.

However, since I was in my brain tumor prevention mode, I went inside the Verizon store (where the lion doesn't roar) to look at cellie earpieces because I'm not crazy about the one I have. A sweet angel took care of me -- "Oh this, is the ear piece I LOVED before I got Bluetooth." That really helped.

I forgot to say that when I went to get my phone replacement (wasn't I Iucky it was still under warranty?), the technicians told me it would take an hour. I could have raved, needing little excuse, but I decided that this was an opportunity to improve my vibration. I had the time and the mall, so I decided to make the best of it, and go shopping of course

In Sephora, the makeup store, I found feather false eyelashes. You can get a whole feather lash or a mostly hair with and two feathers at the outer end. I took clandestine pictures. That changed my mood a bit.

I decided that the darkness is what you do not know, or cannot tolerate about yourself. Examining the darkness iproduces KNOWLEDGE. If you don't care/dare to do that, you must simply make assumptions about it . In other words you BELIEVE something about about the darkness. Generally, when it comes to darkness, what most people believe isn't very good, and it generally isn't about themselves, it's about the other. Projection. Take Judas for example.

This entry took me a week. I'm having difficulty reading it straight through to see if it's coherent. I still don't have it organized correctly, but I'm publishing anyway. Integrating aspects of self is really uncomfortable, and I am far from finished.

Here's the picture I took Thursday night, before this began. Prescient, huh?.


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Posted by Dakota at 09:28 PM

Wiretapping and Our new CIA Chief


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Well folks, USA Today just broke the news that NSA has a massive data base of America's phone calls. It's out. The phone companies (with the exception of Quest, bless their little hearts), succumbed just like Google and Yahoo, and released their records, with nary a peep, to the NSA in 2001. That's what GENERAL Hayden, I mean, Mike, has been up to. Now he'll be in charge of the CIA. And guess what? He's no incompetent like his predecessor, Porter Goss. No siree, this guy is organized. He knows what he's doing. You betcha.

But you don't have to worry, really. You're probably not doing anything wrong, right? Like advocating for peace, or maybe alternative energy sources, or civil rights for gay people, evolution, science, secular humanism, telling your friends to watch Steven Colbert's speech, or the the Emperor has no clothes. .... gee, that list could get very long. Should you have trangressed, criticized, railed or deviated, you'd better stop because the Panopticon is already in place, and it is now possible to watch you, very carefully. We shall all be inspired to behave ourselves. Of course the NSA can apply all these techniques to finding terrorists, but terrorists are much more likely to know how to avoid surveillance than you are.

Robert Block, who has been writing a series on domestic surveillence for the Wall Street Journal (of all publications to bring light to the subject), was interviewed by Robin Young on WBUR the other day. (Sorry I can't find the link) He said that if you're looking for a needle in a haystack, it doesn't make sense to increase the size of the haystack. That's what the NSA is doing by spying on citizens, most notably peace activists, Quaker groups. But perhaps their purpose is to supress dissent in the USofA. Since Quakers have a long history of pacificism, it seems unlikely that they are harboring terrorists in their bosom, but who knows what else itson their minds, deep breathing, helping needy children?.

As Block points out, the military is free to gather information on citizens with no holds barred, no accountability to anyone, and to keep the information for ninety days to use as they see fit. No wonder democrats, and even some republicans, are worried that an active military man has been appointed to run the CIA. It'll come in handy if we have to institute to martial law -- or maybe we have it already, and they just haven't announced it yet.

Oh good,news just in -- what a relief.! All that worry for nothing.

One man's story

Photo note: Stuff like this is ubiquitous, how would you ever know if they're tapping you.

Posted by Dakota at 09:41 AM

May 09, 2006

Fish in Mouth


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As you have no doubt heard, our esteemed leader, when asked by the German weekly "Bild on Sontag" to describe the best moment of his presidency replied "I would say the best moment of all was when I caught a 7.5 pound (3.402 kilos) perch in my lake." Once again demonstrating for the world that the Emperor has no brain cells. He also seems to have confabulated once again, a symptom of Korsakoff's Syndrome.

At least he had the decency not to say that 9/11 was his best day because it provided him with the opportunity to take charge and begin to demolish democracy for all his neoconservative, and fundamentalist buddies. On that fine day, he went from ineffective,confused wimp (reading "My Pet Goat" ito kindergarteners) to Big American Hero, Fearless Freedom Forcer, Our Savior.

I'm really worried about the guy. Remember Boris Yeltzin and his little problem? "The complexities involved in situations such as Yeltsin's were examined by the Committee on Governmental Agencies, Group for the Advancement of Psychiatry, in its study The VIP with Psychiatric Impairment. ('VIP,'of course, stands for 'Very Important Person,' a term coined by Sir Winston Churchill.) The study noted that associates of a public personality tend to 'conceal the weakness of their leader from public view, to the point of blocking diagnosis and effective care' It said that competence to perform a job or hold political office is generally considered not a medical question but a matter of political judgment."

Dan Froomkin at continues to impress all of us here at Dakota with his honest reporting, from deep within the bowels of a newspaper which continues to harbor the disgraced Bob Woodward. They must not know about him, or he gets so many hits they can't afford to fire him. Anyway he often quotes the President verbatim, rather than trying to make sense of his syntax and impaired thought process. Here goes:

"After talking about his rug (see Peter Baker 's classic story from the Post in March) and even before getting a single question, Bush started venting.

'The interesting thing about Washington is that they want me to change -- they being the -- and I'm not changing, you know. You can't make decisions if you don't know who you are, and you flip around with the politics. You've got to stay strong in what you believe and optimistic about that you'll get good results.'And so --the other thing I want you to know about me is that no matter how pressurized it may seem, I'm not changing what I believe. . . . I'm not changing. I don't care whether they like me at the cocktail parties, or not. I want to be able to leave this office with my integrity intact.'
And he referred to the Oval Office as 'a shrine to democracy. And we treat it that way. When people walk in here, they -- they don't come in here in bathing suits and flip-flops. They come in here dressed like they'd come to a shrine.'"

Well okay.

Really, as Steven Colbert would tell us, this is no laughing matter. I received this email, which I'm assuming is permissible to publish (so sue me, people need to know) to which I cannot link due to my lack of technical expertise. Thus I shall drop the whole thing upon you in an extended entry. It is from the Nelson Report, a subscriber newsletter written by Chris Nelson, former UPI reporter, and involves the faux pas that happened during Chinese President Hu's visit. China holds alot of US currency, and it behoves us to treat them well, lest they find themselves upset with us;

Photo note: an oldie that was too perfect to pass up.

we see mistakes, Chinese see intent
SUMMARY: a really interesting "behind the curtain" drama is playing out as senior level sources in Washington and Beijing tell similar stories about a series of incidents during the Hu/Bush White House meeting two weeks ago...but the explanations, and the potential outcomes stemming from these interpretations, could not be more different.

The bottom line, we are told by both US and Chinese sources, is that President Hu and his advisors were infuriated by the incidents (detailed below), that they absolutely are convinced that the incidents were intentional, and not "mistakes", and that tempers have not calmed since returning to Beijing.

Whether any of this substantively affects either Chinese or US negotiations on the Iran situation at the UN, or the 6 Party Talks, must be pure speculation and, in any event, one would have to hope that professionalism, and common sense assessment of national interest would overcome almost any personal slight, whether intended, or not.

On less cosmic level, however, both Chinese and US sources say there is word that Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing almost certainly will be fired because of the problems, and that the career of the very able, respected Ambassador Zhou Wenzhong may also be in jeopardy. Indeed, a close family member has been telling friends that his fate seems sealed.

On the US side, it is not clear how much the senior levels of the White House quite grasp the Chinese perception of the incidents and mistakes, but some sources say that at a minimum, the various problems help explain why there has been no decision announcing the permanent appointment of NSC Acting Senior Director for Asia Dennis Wilder.

First, here are the basic stories, as retailed to us by a variety of US and Chinese sources. Please understand that we are not in a position to say which version is fact, but we can say that these are stories which the Chinese side, at a minimum, say they feel are true:

1. You already know of the first faux pas, the White House announcer intoning, "And now, the national anthem of The Republic of China"...that is, Taiwan. No one on the Chinese side thinks this was anything less than deliberate, especially in view of the rest of the issues. No one on the American side thinks it was other than gross stupidity and staff failure.

2. You already know about the Falun Gong journalist turned demonstrator; our initial report (4/21) asked whether the NSC's Wilder had responsibility for clearing her in. We were then told that Wilder had not been involved; finally, we were told he was involved, but had scrubbed her name. Sources familiar with the Chinese position say the Falun Gong lady's name was specifically supplied to the Secret Service with a demand that she be excluded, since she had disrupted then-President Jiang, on Malta, five years ago.

-- it took the Washington Post less than an hour after the White House incident to learn of the Malta event, leading both US and Chinese sources to ask whether the Secret Service ran any check at all on the reporter, before clearing her in.

-- US sources say this time, it was the NSC press office which did the clearance, not the Asia Directorate. However, a US source says that Wilder and the NSC were involved in press clearance for the Crawford visit which was cancelled last year. This source speculates that the basic list from that date may have been used for the White House visit; but the source could not recall if the Crawford list was for organizations, or also included individuals.

-- either way, the Chinese say the demonstrator was specifically ID'd in advance, yet still was admitted to the White House grounds by the Secret Service, and they ascribe purpose, not sloppiness, as the reason.

3. Chinese and US sources say that when the Falun Gong demonstrator started to shout, the Chinese liaison to the Secret Service demanded immediate action, but was told that since the woman had passed through the full weapons inspection process, she was not a security threat, and so was subject to action by the D.C. Police. This is why it took some three minutes for authorities to get to her, we were told.

4. Chinese and US sources say that while the Falun Gong organization was given a permit to demonstrate in Lafayette Park, the written permit expired at 11 p.m., by agreement with the Secret Service, thus allowing President Hu a quiet sleep. At 11 p.m., the demonstrators were still carrying on. Sources say the Chinese called the Secret Service to complain, but were told that this matter falls under the jurisdiction of the D.C. Police.

-- sources say that when the D.C. Police were called, the Chinese were told that they had a long-standing overtime pay dispute with the White House, and that their responsibility expired at 10 p.m.

5. Bush's State Department supplied translator is said, by sources on both sides, to have done a poor job. We are told that the NSC had had problems with this individual's competence before, and had basically told State "send anyone but...". But State sent this individual. Given what the Chinese see as an overall pattern of apparent sabotage, this becomes an "incident".

-- explanation, if any there be, ranges from the conspiratorial (State was resentful at some lengthy period of bickering over difficult issues) to the mundane...there's a duty list, and that's who was on that day. One would think that for a US-China summit nothing less than the absolutely agreed-upon finest personnel would be involved, but if overall supervision is flawed, or lacking, what seems logical from the outside may be irrelevant in practice.

6. More generally, Chinese sources charge that the Hu visit was deliberately disrespected by the White House in a variety of symbolic ways (despite the full-State Visit grant of a 21 gun salute, the ceremony on the lawn, etc.) such as the decision that no Chinese flags would be flown, even though India, also on a "working visit", recently had flags everywhere.

-- some of this sounds silly, but taken in context, and taken in consideration of the massive Chinese campaign, reaching back some 18 months, for a full State Visit, you can see how the importance of any one request denied, or mishandled, when combined with the various incidents noted above, could lead even the most open minded Chinese to "connect the dots" and, at the very least, to ask some hard questions about White House intentions.

7. In fact, as we noted above, Chinese officials, from the senior level on down, are now clearly acting under authorization to express, with some detail, the displeasure of President Hu and his senior aids...and some sound quite sincere in speculating that heads will roll both here, and in Beijing, as a result.

-- whether any similar analysis or retribution is contemplated by the White House is anyone's guess...but on the weight of six year's evidence so far, whenever there's a question of loyalty vs. punishment, loyalty wins every time. How China will interpret that is not hard to guess.

8. After hearing some of this directly from Chinese sources, one friend asks how any serious Chinese official could construct a logical explanation for why the White House would think that the US would benefit from a deliberate orchestration of all these events?

-- one answer comes from another US expert, who notes that "a Chinese assessment of our intentions [that] statements that people in important positions want to humiliate, contain, and change China. These people [it is felt] work indefatigably to sour the relationship and harm China--and also will go to any lengths to preclude Taiwan reunification--even if desired by the people of Taiwan", according to Chinese who hold that assessment.

9. While it is fun to talk about The Blue Team, to most of us, such a "conspiracy theory" so obviously collapses of its own weight as to not merit serious discussion. Not that there aren't some seriously anti-China players in the Bush Administration, as in any administration since Nixon...but the idea that President Bush and the NSC would plan and carry out any such series of public humiliations of Hu, the man they are trying to convince to support the US on Iran at the UN...please...

-- not to mention the other, equally obvious points of common interest...N. Korea, trade, terrorism, etc.; not to mention simple common sense and protocol.

10. But in some ways, the truth is almost equally disquieting as the conspiracy theories held by some Chinese. Looking at each of the incidents noted above, a common theme emerges, and it is not flattering:

-- incompetence, sloppiness, passing-the-buck, incredible stupidity; fatigue, too much to do for too few people; distractions; White House staff turmoil, turnover at the can make your own list, and then ask where the above list differs, in structure and implication, from Katrina, for example, or if you really want to get down to it, Iraq?

11. There are other issues...explanations, not excuses...which may, unfortunately, sound to the Chinese like vindication of a conspiracy: there is no question that 18 months of pestering, and often contentious negotiations with the Embassy here, and officials in Beijing, over what eventually became the working visit of April 20, left officials and staff at State, Commerce, USTR (US Trade Representative), DOD and the White House in a frequently less-than-patient mood.

-- throw in increasing US frustration, in the months leading up to the JCCT (U.S.-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade) meeting of early April, with what became obvious to all involved...that Hu was not prepared to make serious, substantive responses to many if not most of the issues which the White House, USTR and Commerce were battling, often on China's behalf, with Congress;

-- throw in increasing US frustration, in the months leading up to the Hu visit, with China's intransigence on Iran, and what is seen here, on a bipartisan basis, as China's less-than-full use of presumed leverage on N. Korea to return to the 6 PT;

-- look at the negative elements involved in Deputy Secretary of State Bob Zoellick's famous "responsible stakeholder" speech...including China's involvement with Sudan, Iran, Burma, and other international malefactors (in American eyes);

-- throw-in especially the rising White House, Congressional, and intellectual disenchantment with human and religious rights under the Hu government, press rights...add up all these issues and attitudes and more and, can see how even with the best intentions in the world, an atmosphere was likely prevalent at many levels in the Bush Administration which could...certainly unconsciously in most cases...result in a disinclination to take that extra step, to check one more time, to make sure the other person really did what they promised;

-- how much might these factors been multiplied as it became clear that while Hu was bringing a serious trade mission, he wasn't making even a single gesture in the direction of human and religious rights, despite very specific White House and direct Presidential requests?

-- remember, officials as high as Commerce Secretary Gutierrez made public statements threatening to cancel the JCCT meeting, and others asked, darkly, "Why is he coming!?"

12. A final note, on the Chinese side. Sources say that Foreign Minister Li may be unjustly blamed for the various incidents noted above, but he cannot escape culpability for really bad political advice. Apparently it was he who urged President Hu to continue to work for a White House meeting, even if it did not receive formal State Visit status...rather than the Crawford Ranch "working visit" which the White House offered last year.

-- sources say that somehow, Li missed, or discounted the demonstrable fact that to George Bush, a working visit at the ranch is a higher sign of seriousness of purpose than any mere ceremony at The White House....and that Crawford visits are both highly coveted, and rarely extended. In China, if not here, such bad advice generally suffers repercussions.

Posted by Dakota at 07:00 AM

May 07, 2006

Green Wall with Plugs + Delusion


when practicing
the craft
of metaphoro-

I often
others feel

I strew
to the net

in my
own eye
I'm on
the edge

all 30's green
high funk


full of


Photo note: An empty table at The Neighborhood Restaurant - an unusual sight.

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Posted by Dakota at 09:51 PM

May 06, 2006



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And so Porter Goss is gone, "not even citing 'personal reasons' for his abrupt, but rather jolly, (if you view the videos with Buddy Bush) departure. Most peculiar. Particularly, as Media Matters points out, because there is a big sex scandal percolating. This looks even worse than oral sex with Monica, since the indiscretions involve prostitution perks given to politicians as a reward for government contracts. Kind of a screw-the-entire-nation story.

In the olden days, why, something like that would be all over the front page. Alas, no more. Looks like we shall have to wait for the democrats to take back the White House before we can thrill to the details of sexploits. In the meantime we must satisfy our thirst for scandal with Patrick Kennedy.

I knew very little about Mr. Goss's history before he was called in to dismantle the CIA. He has done so with the same hearty enthusiasm that his boss has applied to democracy. It's enough to curl your eyelashes.


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Photo notes: My lovely landperson always plants something to delight the spirit outside my office door. This year's white tulip crop has lasted for weeks, due to the cool weather. This photo series, like the Porter Goss resignation,
shows differing views from outside to deeper into the core. Tulips are currently the official flower of journalism, soon to be changed to the forget-me-not.

Speaking of patriotism, I couldn't resist.

Posted by Dakota at 10:42 PM

May 05, 2006

Disconnect of a Spring Morn


It's one of those


not a single
looks good

no words
no outrage
no opinion
no ideas
no fun

and I ask
once again

where did
you go?


why the hell
do I do this?

Photo note: You would think with my files bursting with flower pictures that I couldn't stop myself from taking all week, I could find something more cheerful. But I couldn't. I had to go all the way back to February for this one.

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Posted by Dakota at 06:50 AM

May 04, 2006

Avian Flu - What's New (ish)


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What's a lame duck (how perfect) to do to fluff up his sodden poll numbers? Scare the masses, of course. Therefore, it's a fabulous time to release a New (ish) National Pandemic Response Strategy. At the risk of getting on the Hindenberg, right behind the Decider, I too shall, once again, discuss what's new in bird flu.

Let's see, the Newish Plan is to sink big bucks into the pharmaceutical industry, so that they will develop a vaccine, that they can sell to us when we get the flu. "Out of the $7.1 billion allocated, more than 95 percent has been directed to vaccine development and stockpiling Tamiflu and antivirals". Otherwise, folks, you're on your own. One thing you gotta say about this administration, they really know how to turn a profit out of any kind of disaster. It's impressive.

In my own preparednessness, I have stumbled across a nifty personal wind turbine that would make a perfect Mother's Day gift. I also happened to capture an excellent illustrative photo, that you see above, the domestic bird, looking pathetically at his migratory counterpart. Those of you who have finished your disaster preparations may feel free to look at the picture and move on.

Still there?

In the media, on May 9th, a two hour epic "Bird Flu in America" will be screened by ABC. The Richmond Times Dispatch reports "Bird-flu expert Michael Osterholm said the movie realistically portrays the shortages of goods and services, and some of the ensuing panic, that could occur in a pandemic.
But Osterholm frets that the blurring of information and entertainment could do the public a disservice and hopes to arrange a conference call with television critics before the movie airs to set the record straight.
He singled out for criticism how the movie shows Virginia officials using barbed wire to fence off and quarantine entire neighborhoods. 'This is far too important an issue to create further confusion in the public's mind,' said Osterholm, who directs the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota."

A handsome graphic slide show entitled How Bird Flu Kills, is now available on line for anyone who is a visual learner. A perfect moment to remind you that printing out paper copies of information you gather from the net (like how to make a solar oven, what to cook in it, how to filter water with old socks and leaves, and Dr. Grattan Woodson's popular caregiver's manual "Preparing for the Coming Influenza Pandemic") will be important, since there may not be much of an internet in an emergency.

A "mild" case of avian flu has popped up in New Jersey Everyone's favorite epidemiologist Revere, over at Effect Measure, explains why milder forms of the virus might not be so benign.

There are fingers beginning to point at agribusiness. Inhumane treatment, the use of antibiotics, genetic altering and questionable labor practices are squeezing out the small farmer, and threatening biodiversity, not just in the US, but in other countries who are adopting "modern " farming techniques. The big five (Tyson, Perdue etc), are taking the bird flu advantage and selling their chickens in this country and abroad as "safe" on the basis of the despicable way they are raised. The overcrowded, inhumane and unsanitary conditions inside their coops are breeding grounds for nasty microbes, which is why their chickens are loaded with antibiotics, and lay salmonella eggs..

Revere also directs us to the Wise Man of Jamaica who is thinking like we need to think.

And finally, there is a bit of Good news. Tamiflu production was always long and complicated, hindering mass production. "Now Corey [Elias J. of Harvard, Chemistry Nobel Prize winner] has devised a way to make oseltamivir [Tamiflu] without these complex starting materials and without hazardous intermediates. A second alternative route by Japanese researcher, Masakatsu Shibasaki, is also said to have inexpensive starting materials and no hazardous steps, but smaller yield...... the more important part of the announcement is that Corey has placed his method in the public domain. Shibasaki, by contrast, has applied for a patent, although this wouldn't prevent him from allowing no cost licensing if he wished. However, given the situation, Corey's move is highly significant and should be considered a model for others." What, someone who doesn't want to "capitalize" on the misfortune, an altruist who would like to help bird and humankind? He'll probably have trouble getting his method adopted since there are no profits to be made.


Photo note: What ho! Yet another shop window, this time with a birdish duo. As I wrote earlier, the domestic duck is looking up, I think in a pleading way, but that's just my projection, to the larger migratory bird, thus illustrating the cycle that has brought H5N1 to forty two countries, so far. In the background, if you look carefully, you will see a man leaning into the window of a police car. Whatever that means.

Posted by Dakota at 06:24 AM

May 03, 2006

Recipes For The Nouveau Riche, the Peasants and the Addicted


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Due to my zip code, no doubt, I was the disgruntled recipient of a thick and shiny new publication called "Lux Bond & Green". Thanks to Google, my trusty sidekick in all matters bloggish, I discovered that it's a catalog, disguised as a magazine. Journalistic pieces include, "The Rolex Mystique" and "A Starring Role: Your A to Z Guide to Building a Jewelry Wardrobe" . It even has those society headshots snapped at charity events and numbered for identification -- tuxedoed rich men and their lifted ladies, handing over checks at the gala. You can tell LBG wasted their money (and, sadly, the trees of this earth) sending their publication to me.

However, all was not lost. There is a chocolate chip cookie recipe entitled "Luxury Chocolate Chip Cookie (sic) from Bill Yosses, Josephs Citarella Resaurant, New York City", which I thought I'd pass along, as an example of wretched excess, as if we needed one. I have taken it upon myself to enhance the recipe panoptically

.....................clip along dotted lines................................................

. 2 cups Gusto's All Purpose Flour (Berkeley, CA) [Google failed me, the recipe might be ruined if we cannot locate this ingredient]
. 3/4 cup Wasanbon Sugar (Shikoku, Japan)
. 3/4 cup Muscovado brown sugar (Ile de la Reunion)
. 1 bean vanilla fresh (Tahiti)
. 1 bean vanilla fresh (Madagascar)
1 teaspoon baking soda [no brand mentioned - take a risk, use what you have in your cupboard]
. 2 cups Bittersweet 80% cacao, George Pralus Chocolate (France)
. 2 organic eggs [try for blue, what the hell]
. 1 cup Echire butter (Normandy, France)
. 2 tablespoons 100% unsweetened hazelnut paste (Piedmont, Italy)

Fresh black truffle, diced fine [don't do this if you want to keep your per cookie cost under $17-- but... if money is no object, and you don't mind a little fungus in your cookies, it might be worth a shot]

1. [have your servant] preheat the oven [no need, if you have an Aga] to 350 degress

2. Using paddle attachment of electric mixer [brand name not disclosed] cream butter with sugars and hazelnut paste.

3. Add eggs one at a time

4. Sift dry ingredients together and add with machine on slow speed

5. Add chocolate, chopped into small chip sized pieces [Nestle's does it for you]

6. Optional - add black truffles chopped fine [guess you should fee lfree t use mor than one]

7. Spoon out tablespoon size dollops onto ungreased parchment [of course] on cookie sheet. Bake for 9-12 minutes, 9 minutes for chewy, 12 minutes for crunchy. [I prefer my truffles crunchy, how about you?]

I am certain you are surprized to find a recipe in this blog. It has really never happened before (well, maybe I shared my dear friend's recipe for homemade horseradish, which is more of a potion than a recipe). There are no recipes in this blog, since it is dedicated to the Sacred Feminine, and daily cooking is one of those repetitive tasks that keep women from fulfilling their full potential in the world, at least the way I do it.


In contrast, for the simple peasants among us, here's the horseradish recipe.

4 medium beets (they can be from a can --don't put them in, if you want white horseradish)
1 pint of white vinegar
2 large horseradish roots washed and peeled
2 tsp. sugar
2 tsp. salt

Pulverize mixture in a Cusinart with regular blade until finely chopped and magenta. When removing the top, STAND BACK. (I halve the recipe, because it makes more horseradish than I could use in five years -- well worth the effort.)

And finally, Peter Feibleman in The New York Times Magazine wrote a delightful piece about growing up in New Orleans, to which I cannot link, called "Remoulade Of Things Past", in which he shares his aristocratic grandmother's secret hangover recipe

4 parts ethyl alcohol
1 part ether
A few drops of your favorite perfume

Dip lace handkerchief in mixture, and sniff, all morning if necessary.


If you yearn to be a truly innovative gourmand, skip the cookies, and hire a personal intuitive forager.

Photo note: Nouveau riche, don't you think? Also a perfect place to nurse a hangover. This is a recycled couch in a coffee shop in Red Hook, New York. In that setting, it's completely adorable.

Posted by Dakota at 06:08 AM

May 01, 2006



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Last night at dinner with friends, the subject of courage arose in relation to a ropes course upon which our hostess unexpectedly found herself. Completely terrified, but encouraged by the man who held her emergency harness, she climbed, jumped and grabbed mid air for trapezes because she realized that such activities would ultimately be useful in developing courage She has come to the understanding that fear restricts her flow.

In contrast, as I was criticized yesterday for walking my bike up a steep incline filled with loose gravel, rather than riding through it, I had the fleeting thought that I was not going to break my hip to avoid wimphood. I am a wimp -- and I was trained to be one by a master. Developing courage has never even crossed my mind. That doesn't mean that I don't know it when I see it.

Stephen Colbert addressed the White House Correspondents' Dinner on Saturday. Now that was an act of courage. He spoke the truth directly to George W. Bush and his entourage, who wriggled two feet away.

The last time the royals had to sit through something like this was when they were shamed into attending Coretta Scott King's funeral. But, there, the keynote speakers had audience support. It is much more difficult to tell the truth surrounded by those who cannot face it, who find it narcissistically wounding, who punish.

Often the archetype of the clown, the trickster is the only one who dares speak the truth to power. Stephen Colbert did just that, and it was shocking. The Pres, quite the trickster himself, walked out right after Colbert's address with the Lovely Lapsed Liberal Laura in tow-- both looked miffed. Maybe because his own hilarious antics were trumped.

Colbert has been duly chastised by an almost universal shunning in the major media I'm certain there are those who would say that his remarks were in poor taste, if they deign to mention them at all. Oops, I take that back

Jon Stewart, another truth teller from Comedy Central, did much the same thing as a guest on Crossfire last year, when he confronted Paul Begala and Tucker Carlson and told them that what they were doing was bad for America, and asked them to cut it out.

Colbert's display of courage, though gutsy beyond belief, and difficult to deliver, did not have the same kind of consequences as telling the truth in a more overt dictatorship -- the kind of courage that was needed to stand up against Hitler, or Edi Amin or apartheid. The kind of courage that it takes to speak out when your life will be endangered if you do. We're not there quite yet, but to judge from the reactions yesterday, of both the President and the press, we're headed in that direction. .

Maybe if it comes to a life and death situation, I won't be quite such a wimp, but I doubt it.

Photo note: Too bad I cut off the thirty feet from where this guy is dangling to to ground -- it would have been a more dramatic shot, but who knew I'd be writing about courage when I took it. I thought I'd be writing about spring cleaning.

Addendum: Look whatt those clever guys on the internet did! Thank You Stephen Colbert.

Posted by Dakota at 06:08 AM