Thursday, March 31, 2011

Michigan Government By Think Tank

Rachel Maddow reported MI HB4218, expanding powers of emergency financial managers allowed in Public Act 72, was written by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. The Midland, MI libertarian think tank has familiar donors. Charles G. Koch Foundation, Prince Foundation, Dick and Betsy DeVos Foundation. Remember DeVos' unsuccessful bid to be governor? Sound familiar to Scott Walker, Madison, Wisconsin? Privatization is their buzzword. Outsource everything. The Mackinac Center has filed through FOIA to get any emails from labor professors at MSU, WSU and UofM that include the words Madison, Wisconsin, and Maddow. The FOIA got a similar request from the Wisconsin GOP. And what donors can The Buckeye Institute (the think tank behind Governor Kasich) claim? Round up the usual suspects. What is fascinating about all this nonsense is that the libertarian think tanks that have pummeled the Midwest with their agenda have the balls to criticize their puppet governors for not going far enough, AND going too far. Ohio's Buckeye Institute, cautions Governor Kasich, not about his entire budget, but perhaps privatizing every damn thing is premature, and will impact return on investment. Mackinac tut-tuts Snyder's "smart growth" community initiative as discriminating against the middle class. Doublespeak and balderdash. Find an ultraconservative think tank that gives a rat's patoot about the middle class. The marionette governors are having their strings shortened by the very puppetmasters that created them. I can't wait to see which wooden boys survive.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Dukes v. Wal-Mart: So Maybe Size Does Matter?

Supreme Court is hearing Dukes v. Wal-Mart this week. Scalia and Ailito have already asked "well, is it corporate policy or store management [to discriminate against women]?" The answer, boys, is probably both. The size of the class action suit is why the Supremes took the case. Is this a good case? I don't know. Has Wal-Mart discriminated against lots of women in pay and promotions? The fact that, since the suit was filed in 2001, Wal-Mart has increased the number of women in lower management positions, and restored Dukes' pay rate may not reveal anything, but Wal-Mart did both. The fact that Wal-Mart has chosen this sidebar issue to take to the Court after 10 years of unsuccessfully ditching the case is significant. Women in the United States still make less than men in same positions, women are underrepresented in senior management. This graphic shows women in positions of power in Afghanistan and the U.S. I can't find good numbers for the blank percentages for U.S., and I'm not sure that's insignificant. Our United States has still not ratified the United Nations Convention to End All Forms of Discrimination Against Women. It was ratified by the UN in 1979. What other countries join us in abstaining? Iran, Somalia, Sudan, Narau, Palau and Tonga. The 186 countries that ratified CEDAW pledge to take action to end discrimination against women and girls. The Obama administration strongly supports ratification. The bill has languished in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee since 1979. The U.S. is still mulling over an implementation plan to support U.N. Resolution 1325 ten years after, and 60 years after the Declaration of Human Rights. That America cannot get its arms around gender issues, except to diss other countries about their issues, that the 112th Congress and too many state legislatures are busy undermining and reversing human rights issues by attacking women's health and safety, that we cannot get a simple resolution out of committee while violence against women has increased around the world, that the Supreme Court might decide that a 1964 Civil Rights Act violation affecting hundreds of thousands of women is just too damn many women, is an appalling indictment of our culture's ideology, our government's priorities. We can do better than this.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Bank of America: Good Guys?

Bank of America will pay to demolish 100 homes in Detroit. These are homes owned by BoA which means BoA foreclosed on the houses. While donating the land to the City of Detroit is a noble concept, I just itch to hear the story of the foreclosures on what BoA is calling abandoned houses. This is good public relations for the richest bank in America, although I wonder if the demolition of 100 repossessed homes in Detroit neighborhoods really has the $1,000,000 pricetag BoA claims. And tax write-offs? Getting the properties off the books? I'm suspicious of motivation here. CEO Moynihan is glad to "help right-size" the city. Oy! BoA will also offer 10 renovated homes on their books to police officers who may (or may not) return to the city. A 1999 state law ended city residency requirements. I lived in the city from 1977 to 1988, in East English Village, one of Mayor Bing's designated enhanced city services areas. There are beautiful homes there still. The other houses are in Boston-Edison, a once fabulous neighborhood, trying hard to come back to its former grandeur. Mayor Bing will choose the houses to renovate. If this is a multiple choice exercise, then BoA also owns more than a dozen foreclosures in those neighborhoods as well. My higher self wants to believe BoA is trying to do good deeds. My other self wonders if BoA bought itself a new PR firm.

Gov. Snyder to Unemployed: Eat Cake

Gov. Snyder today signed into law a reduction in unemployment benefits for laid-off Michigan workers. Since 1954 we've had 26 weeks of unemployment benefits as has every other state in America. Now Michigan is the only state with 20 weeks unemployment. Snyder calls this "breaking bad habits." It took one day to railroad this nasty legislation through the Michigan Congress. Talk about bad habits! In a response to an action alert issued by, Snyder wrote "HB4408 will allow job providers to redirect their limited financial resources to potentially rehire those currently receiving assistance." Get out the hip boots, boys and girls. There were other ways to go about extending the federally-funded benefits that will run out at the end of the year. Employers' contributions to unemployment benefits will not be reduced in any way by this bill. Snyder is the mouthpiece of the pro-business Chamber of Commerce, recently touting the same BS rationale. Czar Snyder continues to overachieve in favor of corporations at the expense of working families, the poor, and children. Snyder thanked Mitchell Hirsch for willingness to participate in the democratic process. Recall is a nice way to participate in a democratic process, too.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

How Forgetting Makes Me Healthier

Went to the grocery store with a list in my hand. I parked far away so I could enjoy the bright day and get some exercise. Came back to the car, list still in hand, and then looked at it. There were only two items on the list and I forgot one. Back into the store. I'm learning not to go ziggity boom about forgetting. Today there was no choice but to laugh. I got twice the exercise because I forgot the chicken stock. If only forgetting always worked out so well!

I'm Afraid

Fear is a powerful emotion. Fear can be irrational and contradictory and still profound. I'm afraid of water, yet I paddle a canoe. I'm afraid of relationships and dying alone. I'm afraid of failure and success; afraid of cancer and going to the doctor. Friend Joel and I have a phrase we use by request when afraid: "tell me I'm being irrational and stupid." "You're being irrational and stupid." Sometimes it works, often it does not. The new book I'm not writing is hiding in the dark in a folder. I cannot visualize the worst evil to continue writing the antagonist. I've asked friends in the writers group "what's the most malevolent confrontation imaginable? what's the nastiest thing you can think of to face?" I think perhaps it's fear. Humor is how I fight fear, but it merely slathers it with ointment - it doesn't get rid of the infection. It helps. When I was most afraid, I went to the bookstore to find a humor book about cancer. There was only one then, and maybe only one now. The title is "Not Now, I'm Having a No Hair Day" by Christine Clifford. Christine thinks humor is a healer, and laughter is good medicine. Mostly I agree. Rosemary and I went to a presentation on the Rubenfeld Synergy Method last weekend, and the practitioner played a tape of pop songs that encourage us to suppress our emotions. We're taught that way. Letting the fear out doesn't make it stronger, it gives me a chance to look it in the eye, and find the best approach to wrestle it best 2 out of 3. Again and again.

Facing Fear

For Linda. I tried replying/adding a comment to your comment and I cannot make it work. I hope you'll see this post. I am so sorry to add to your fear. You are courageous to have taken steps before, and you are courageous now. You are taking good care of yourself just by making the appointment. Please understand my case was severe and extremely rare, and the outcome was excellent. Take a loved one with you, or a good friend. I hope you are comfortable completely with your dermatologist, and if in doubt, seek another opinion. Children are the most beautiful: they love completely always. Children know when to hug, are not afraid of people they love, and are eager to make everything better. This picture is one of my favorites, I carry it in my wallet to remind me of the enormous power of love. Bianca and her mom were visiting me. Bianca was out of the room for a little while, and when I called "Bianca?" she said "be right back." She came around the corner carrying my mother's bunny. Bianca had put a bandage on the bunny's nose, her own nose, and used my extra glasses to tape them to her forehead, just like mine. Not only was there no fear, but she wanted to help me to feel better by sharing. Children love and will continue to love, Linda. My thoughts will be with you on Tuesday. You are brave and you will conquer.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Feminism and Beauty: Aging Partners

It's hard to harumph out of one side of your face, while squirming with the other. Read a post by Vivian Diller this morning titled The Beauty Paradox: When Feminism and Vanity Collide. Diller has a new book, Face It: What Women Really Feel as Their Looks Change. We have stuff to grapple with as we age, but the beauty part seemed the least troublesome bit to me. "When you reach 50 or 60, feminism can feel like a directive to let looks go, while caring about one's looks can feel narcissistic or anti-feminist - a dilemma many Boomers were not prepared to face." Oh, dear. I feel dragging feminism in to portray an artificial devil's advocate against beauty is incendiary. The message of the gargantuan beauty industry is that we are never to be happy with our looks at any age. Does this book contribute to our well-being, or poke the disharmony drummed into our psyches? Diller uses the phrase "unshaven, aggressive women." The author calling that phrase a cliched perception does not forgive using it. In order to recapture balance and harmony and unclench my jaw, I contemplated what my true feelings are. I cropped a photo of me close up to see if I can face it. Maybe it was a sideways blessing to have multiple face surgeries: after the big one to get all the cancer, when I expected to lose my nose, my eye and maxillary plane, every concern about beauty vanished in the recovery room. A coworker said "that scar tissue, you know, one side of your face is going to sag faster than the other." It has. Swell. I have a nose. Maybe it's made of my thigh, lower abdomen and cartilage from my ear, and hikes up to chat with my eyebrow; but my smile works, my twinkling eyes are my own, and I can store spare change in the lines in my forehead. Though I am surprised by my reflection occasionally, I do really love the feminist I see. Feminism is a life companion, a strong and resilient partner in my overall beauty.

Monday, March 21, 2011

U.S. Limited Engagements in My Lifetime

I was born not long after World War II stopped. Everyone born in the late 40s, early 50s grew up with the Cold War (which was not a war, but a spookfest). Early adulthood - Vietnam. Then the list gets crazy with "limited engagements." Vietnam wasn't a war: it was a conflict. Military advisors, war on terror, limited engagement, whatever you call it, our economy is whipsawed by military activities in foreign countries. While we languish at home in a nightmare economic condition, with reduced wages, expensive healthcare, food and gas prices rising daily, we're off on another supposedly internationally-led "limited engagement," in Libya, with Congress moaning about how they were excluded from the decision. We're losing our soldiers in limited engagements that are without limits, and have no defined mission. We continue spending billions we do not have in Afghanistan and Iraq. How can we stop the war machine? Why haven't we had enough of war?

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Michiganians or Michiganders?

What do we call ourselves? Friend Eden said good-bye from California and a lovely conversation last night with "please do a post about Michigander - it's pejorative." Intrigued, I did a little research this morning. Scholarly work by Hans Sperber, Ohio State University reviews Andrew Marckwardt's "Wolverine and Michigander." Sperber claims dialectically and linguistically that Michigander has no right to exist. It is a unique formation, and absolutely isolated in its origin. Okay. Eden mentioned an attribution to Abraham Lincoln, the gander meaning to imply goose. The quote is from a speech in Congress on July 27, 1848. Maybe Lincoln was not the first to use it in his campaign against Lewis Cass for President, but it appeared in the Whig and Free Soil literature of the 1848 campaign. I followed links and trails to a treatise on the use of live wolverines at the University of Michigan stadium. You'll be glad to know no live wolverine has appeared on the field in Ann Arbor for 50 years. Whew. Aside: Michigan will meet Duke today at 2:45 EST. Hail to the victors! Back to Michigander: recent governors have used Michiganian. Snyder reverted to Michigander. A new poll by Resch Strategies over a list of 600 voters, reveals 58% self-identify as Michiganders. Resch Strategies is a new company (2009) with public relations backgrounds around a particular party. So, who knows. 600 is not a large sampling, and the timing is...interesting. I've used "Michiganderanian" in jest, much the same way Lincoln used Michigander, but if I'm serious about proper etymology (which I am), and proud to be a Michigan resident (which I am) then henceforth I will call me a Michiganian. Thank you, Eden!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Alternative Energy: No More Nuclear

I looked in my albums for this picture, that I may hold in my hand the energy of these students in Tokyo in 1986. We pray for recovery, relief and safety for the people of Japan; let us also pray for an end to the terrifying use of nuclear energy. Nuclear energy is not safe. We can do better.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Women & Girls in Pop Culture: Mean, Dumb, Expendable

I read a short story listed for the Nebula Award. It's written by a woman about little girls who choose bloody violence as initiation in the posse. I have respect for the Nebula Awards, since 1965 showcasing the best of science fiction and fantasy. There are plenty of reviews on how women are portrayed in this genre: some of my favorite authors had issues depicting women. Since I read this nominee story, my mind's keyed to current writing about women and girls; to movies greenlighted. The original title of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is Men Who Hate Women. The gory redo of Red Riding Hood. Twilight series: a young girl who wants to not be who she is. The Little Mermaid gave up her voice to change her personhood: Meyer adds flesh rending. Bad Teacher - I don't want to know what that one's about, but I guarantee the teacher is a woman. Stroll the aisles at your video store: how many movies have a woman bleeding on the cover? A review on goodreads noted a book had girl-on-girl scuffling, and that inclusion redeemed it. Search the web for "mean girls" and find 23,000,000 results. I wrote about the Jell-O commercial with a mother scaring her children. We got rid of the coffee klatch in recent memory: now we've got desperate housewives. Hen parties are back. Cat fights are in. Look at the comments on web posts; read facebook entries. Civility is out: mean is in. Feels like the 50s again, minus the pearls, aprons and great hats. But now we have the women in the game. What are we teaching our children about women in our country? What are we showing the rest of the world? How can we rise above the baseline we're creating for ourselves?

The Boot to Kraft Foods - Parents Bullying Children

With all the discussion of bullying, Mean Girls and the pop culture lack of respect for anybody, Kraft Foods needs a boot to the noggin for the Jell-O Strawberry Temptations commercial fouling our TV screens. Is a parent scaring a child funny? NOTE: it's the Mom who tells the story of tossing children in a cave. Does it sell product? The main point of advertising is to remember the brand: boy howdy, will I remember this one. Not only will I not buy Jell-O products, I threw out the ones in the house. Pitiful advertising. Who got the big check for this mess?

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

GOP Has Its Roots in Michigan: Can We Unroot It?

There is a grand tradition of the Grand Old Party in Michigan. The name was launched by Horace Greeley. A Republican was someone who cherished liberty, and didn't want to be called a Whig for opposing slavery. In 1854, the first Republicans took the state of Michigan, and by 1855 held a majority in the U.S. House of Representatives. The majority we have in the House of Representatives today is not the same Republican Party we found forming "Under the Oaks" in Jackson, Michigan. The demonstration - and arrests - in Lansing today bear that sad news. Republicans value local and state government, less centralized, less federal government and yet, in Wisconsin and Michigan and Ohio, there has been a hostile takeover legislated of cities, municipalities, townships and school districts. This is not the Republican Party I knew, the candidates the party fielded that I voted for, or the party that held the finest goals of the United States first in their hearts.

GOP Calls Emergency Meeting

The Boot (both) to the Republicans in the House who met in emergency Rules committee session today to discuss - not nuclear power, not relief for Japan, not the economy, not the budget, not jobs, jobs, jobs - no. Defunding NPR. The vote will be tomorrow, with no debate. NPR defunding is an emergency. I'd call these birds names, if I wasn't a lady. Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-TN, was her usual quotable self. "This is what America asked us to do." If I, as an American, asked you to go to hell, would you? Pointy boots, size 23EEE, to the grand ol' party for their whacked sense of emergency.

7 Summits Climb for Alzheimer's Research

Memories Are Everything is the subtitle of Alan Arnette's mission to climb the 7 summits - the tallest mountains in the world - to raise money and awareness to fight Alzheimer's Disease. Arnette lost his mother, Ida, to Alzheimer's and this is his quest to end the reign of the terrible disease that is the 6th leading cause of death in the USA. Check Arnette's website for information on what organizations are sponsoring, what research organization will benefit, and how you can join in, either by climbing or supporting a climber, or donating directly. Here are the climbs:

1) Vinson, Antarctica, Elevation 16,067 ft. *Summited December 09, 2010*
2) Aconcagua, Argentina, Elevation 22,841 ft. *Summited January 29, 2011*
3) Everest, Nepal, Elevation 29,035 ft. Next to climb April/May2011
4) Denali, Alaska, Elev. 20,320 ft., Scheduled for July 2011
5) Elbrus, Russia, Elev. 18,481 ft., August 2011
6) Kilimanjaro, Tanzania, Elev. 19,340 ft., Sept. 2011
7) Puncak Jaya, Papua Province, Indonesia (New Guinea), Elev. 16,023, Nov. 2011
8) Mt. Kosciuszko, Australia 7,310 ft., EXTRA CREDIT CLIMB, Dec. 2011

Follow the climbing blog, donate, and wish the climbers safe journey.

Michigan Emergency Financial Managers

Emergency financial managers in Michigan are at work in Benton Harbor, Detroit Public Schools, Ecorse and Pontiac. The people are Robert Bobbs, EFM Detroit Public Schools (although his current appointment was to end February 28, 2011), Michael Stampfler in Pontiac, Joyce Parker in Ecorse, Joseph Harris in Benton Harbor. It's intriguing that EFM Joe Harris' previous job was as CFO and Auditor General, City of Detroit. An Analysis of Emergency Conditions by Eric Scorsone in 2010 discusses the previous public act that allowed EFMs to be appointed. The EFM does not have to be from, or live in, the jurisdiction and serves at the pleasure of the Local Emergency Assistance Loan Board (Michigan legislature). House bills 4214-4218 and 4246, approved in February, and this month's approval of MI Senate 153 expands the power of the EFM, as noted in the article regarding Robert Bobbs' proposal to turn 41 Detroit public schools into charter schools. He has not met his previously mandated goal to reduce the deficit as financial manager, yet with the new law he will also be empowered to make academic decisions. Here is the Benton Harbor 2010 Financial Plan. The City of Pontiac Amended Financial Plan is here. Both of these plans include laying off police and fire, and in Pontiac, to contract with the Oakland County Sheriff's Department for public safety. The Pontiac Police Department voted to dissolve their union contract, and within hours, Police Chief Val Gross, a 29 year veteran, was fired by Michael Stampfler. The Benton Harbor plan proposes eliminating 911 service, and privatizing the water department. I need to look for evidence that privatizing anything works to reduce costs. These cities are operating deficits, not solely due to lousy accounting practices, but because the money going out exceeds the money coming in. Property taxes in arrears won't be collected by knocking down houses, building new housing, outsourcing public safety, and tidying up the backoffice. We can all agree that cities are in serious trouble. So is the economy of the country. Layoffs won't fix the mess. Public works initiatives won't nudge the bottom line into the black. We need bigger thinkers. As Einstein said, "You cannot solve a problem from the same consciousness that created it. You must learn to see the world anew." Where's the new thinking here?

Michigan Legislature Continues Hostile Takeover of State

Who are the people poised to take over school districts and municipalities in Michigan and what emergency finance manager training is underway? The Tribune reports that dozens of recruits are involved. We apparently just missed having the EMFs be corporations, but I am not comforted. An AP story in the Washington Post reports an amendment to ban local elected officials who are canned by EMF from running for 10 years was removed. But the power to remove local elected officials remains. What entity is authorized to remove incompetent emergency finance managers? Michigan's legislature gave each other absolute power over that process as well. The power to sell city assets remains. The power to dissolve legal contracts remains. There are already emergency drones in place in Pontiac, Ecorse, Benton Harbor and Detroit Public Schools. Michigan Messenger is the only source I found for information on who emergency finance managers might be, and how they will be trained. The first training was February 9 through February 10. A day and a half. Is that adequate training to take over a city? A troubled school district? No scheduled second training is announced. The trainers are accounting firms. Plante & Moran, Plunkett & Cooney, Miller Canfield, Foley & Lardner. Who is paying these invoices? Do Michigan voters have the clout to demand transparency, as the state requires of cities? Michigan's Treasurer Andy Dillon has experience as a corporate restructurer, but unlike liquidated corporations, Michigan citizens remain. Eric Scorsone coordinated the February event. What's to prevent an EMF from dismantling a city as a first step? "It's unclear to me how that would actually work," said Scorsone "how services will be provided." With budget cuts to programs targeting schools and revenue sharing for cities, the lethal combination will force municipalities into insolvency, creating a job opening for an appointed emergency finance manager. Are EMF positions the jobs Michigan is creating? How does this grow the economy? And who are the people queuing up for EMF jobs in our state? Who are the current posted emergency finance managers?

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

112th Congress H.R.554: Worker Rights Certification

When last posted, H.R.554 introduced by Thaddeus McCotter (R-M11) of our beleaguered State of Michigan, didn't have full text published. Now H.R.554 has text, and as union busting has broken out all over America, it's a bizarre twist. Freedom Trade Act: to withdraw normal trade relations treatment from the products of foreign countries that do not maintain acceptable standards of religious freedom and worker rights. Mr. McCotter requires the Secretary of State and the Secretary of Labor to certify to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs that the foreign country is not restricting the freedom of workers to associate and the rights of workers to organize and bargain collectively. Further, the rights of workers to organize include SEC.442(c)(1)(C) to be protected against dissolution or suspension of such organizations, confederations, or affiliations by any governmental authority. Workers rights include being allowed to strike, except in cases of acute national emergency. This is hot. What about American worker rights? Does Rep. Peter King know about renegade religious freedom legislation in his House? McCotter doesn't abandon his party tether, so what fresh devilment is afoot with H.R.554? Could this actually be a good piece of legislation from the 112th Congress?

Women's History Month: Women Friends

I posted a drawing of my great-grandmother Mariah earlier. She was born in 1876, and I looked for historical context. It was the Victorian Age in Europe. Finland established the first women's gymnastics club. On 4 July, 1876, Declaration of Rights of the Women of the United States was published, while the 14th Amendment was passed defining citizens as "male." Were Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton friends? Colleagues of course. Who was Madame Curie's best friend? Did Sofia Brahe have a woman friend? Who were Sojourner Truth's friends? Did my great-grandmother or grandmother have women friends in Finland? Toni Morrison writes that her book "Sula" was the first book about women's friendship - published in 1973. I listened to "Mondays with Marlo" yesterday. Marlo's guest was Gloria Steinem. The two are friends, they looked happy to be together. My women friends are who keep us healthy and in harmony; they are joy sharers, balancers, love practitioners, divas of selective forgetfulness, extraordinary huggers, goddesses of forgiveness. Do my sisters have close women friends? My father's mother, Dinah, lost her best friend Ruth when the Titanic hit an iceberg. She mourned the loss, and with grief and joy, named her firstborn daughter Ruth. I recently read "Let's Take the Long Road Home" by Gail Caldwell about her friendship with Caroline Knapp, and shared it with my friends. "Truth and Beauty: A Friendship" by Ann Patchett is about her friendship with Lucy Grealy. Then I read Lucy Grealy's "Autobiography of a Face," and her years of no friends seared my heart. My book "Chantepleure" is about - and orchestrated by - lifelong women friends; designed and brought to life by my best friend Beckie. We introduced each other to people as "my best friend in the whole wide world." Now we're friends in the cosmos, until we meet in the next wide world of best friends.

Women's History Month

This gorgeous woman was sitting on the bench outside the People's Food Co-op in Ann Arbor when I drew her. I imagine she was writing on her Mac. To her grandchildren, her PhD advisor, her lover. A column for Mother Jones, a treatise on women in Afghanistan, a memoir. Such a marvelous scene, inspiring storymaking. Has she always been so connected? Her hair was long, tidied carefully into a braided bun, with butterfly clips at the ears. Had she burned her bra in 1967? Do her children live nearby, speak with her, share her passions? Can she ski in that long skirt? Is she content with who she is? Can I share that contentment?

Man's Best Friend Is Who?

Sweetgrass Writers Group rendezvoused for a retreat at my matriarchal stronghold on Drummond Island the weekend of Sharon's birthday in 2009. It was a short trip, full of long lovely memories. At a rest area on the way up, I saw this scene on the dog run. The look on the dog's face! I laughed out loud. I could see the conversation balloon over his head "hey, hold up here - I'M the good boy!"

Great Grandmother Mariah

This is my great-grandmother Mariah Matilda in the summer of 1969, just before she passed on at 93. A psychic told me years ago she is my spirit guide. At the time, I laughed. So that's why I wasn't getting messages - Great-Grandma only spoke Finnish. Now I know she doesn't need to speak to me to shepherd me through. She showed up in meditation last week. We (many women unknown) were sitting in an icy wilderness around a huge fire. The wind shifted; my meditation partner and I both coughed. I had a bearskin covering me, and the other women were appropriately bundled against the cold. My great-grandmother sat in a lawn chair, in her short-sleeved summer house dress, with her white socks and broken-down shoes, watching me, as she is in this pencil sketch. I felt loved and still do.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Geomagnetic Field and Prana Vision

NASA image of geomagnetic field, and my meditation vision. The geomagnetic field moves through millennia, and that movement can be viewed in every clay pot ever made. It's wiggling as we speak. Is this part of what 2012 is about? The switch from north:south to south:north magnetic poles? Why am I seeing this activity? My thoughts are with the people of Japan, and my brother and sister-in-law in Hawaii.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Michigan Budget: The Shift Hits the Fan

Governor Snyder's budget proposal is a tax shift burdening the poor, seniors and children to benefit corporations. 1) Eliminate the Earned Income Tax Credit. 2) Reduce K-12 funding by $499-$700 per pupil, which will force some marginal school districts into a position prime for appointment of a financial manager. 3) Replace MBT with a 6 percent corporate tax. 4) Tax public and private pensions at 4.25 percent. (Problematic - Michigan constitution prohibits public pensions from being reduced.) The lowest income families in Michigan will see their taxes raised 10 times the wealthiest 1 percent. We need to do better than this. The Republican agenda is in full play: it's not about jobs, it's not about the economy. It's about reducing women's access to healthcare, union busting, eliminating democratic process, and blaming the middle class, seniors and the poor for the economy. None of what's in the Michigan budget will create jobs. Nothing. AARP is organizing a rally to protest Snyder's budget proposal on Tuesday, March 15 in Lansing at the State Capitol from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Please join us.

The Reluctant Molt

I'm molting. Someone in this house might find a weird leftover skin. Like the movie Aliens. I have no idea what me will emerge, but walking fast yesterday, my brain bouncing around stuff happening lately, this answer tumbled out. I'm molting. Old ideas aren't serving, defense postures get me nowhere, although I thought the weapons cabinet was fully stocked. Not any more. We used to have the power out often here in rural Michigan for hours at a time. I never stopped flipping light switches on for however long we were without electricity. Habit: up for on, down for off. My personal switch is broken now. Toolkit - missing. Guess I'll have to change some behavior, huh? I started today by facing the stuff I've been avoiding. Major decisions put off, action delayed. Walked to the bank, and got my account straightened out. It was a pleasant experience and the manager advised me to switch to a different type of account. Success! A problem turned into a pleasant solution. I am engaged in facing facts bravely. For now. Check back tomorrow. P.S. That's my new haircut. I can't style it, but it looks okay in a pencil sketch.

Michigan Legislature Outs Its Agenda

Gotta be jobs, right? Gotta be the economy, yes? Not so much. Adding bureaucracy and huge salaries by voting for emergency finance managers, today the Michigan legislature also voted to reverse the 2010 decision that allows state employees to add domestic partners to health insurance coverage. The benefits don't start until October 1, but by golly, this is a legislative priority. I remember a meeting at the Salem-South Lyon Library with candidates for office last year. There were 14 candidates present. Not surprisingly, the Republican incumbents in my district were absent. That includes you, Hugh Crawford, (occupied with changing deer hunting season launch date). *This is brilliant: change the Nov. 15 First Day to the second or third Saturday, whichever is closer to the 15th. WTF? How does this increase tourist revenue?* Not one of the people who did show up at my library mentioned any of the priorities the Michigan legislature is busily introducing and passing. Where are the jobs, people? Where are the economic priorities? Where's Hugh Crawford's head? For Lease, like most of the businesses in South Lyon, Michigan.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Michigan Legislature Grants Governor Dictatorial Power

The Michigan Senate passed legislation today allowing government-appointed emergency finance managers with no salary restriction, and no guidelines for behavior, to take over municipal government and school districts in financially distressed cities and towns. This bill mimics the House bill passed in February. With budget cuts across the state, reduced tax base due to unemployment, dismal sales figures, and corporate desertion, there is no municipality in Michigan that is entirely solvent. Emergency finance managers will have absolute power to repeal union contracts, reverse local ordinances, dissolve school boards and city councils. Finance managers will be given power over curriculum and staff in school districts. When an amendment was introduced to cap the finance managers' salary at the wage allowed Governor Snyder ($177,000), the Republicans turned it down, with Lt. Gov. Calley casting the tie-breaking vote. The cuts being made in school funding and revenue sharing will push many cities into bankruptcy, neatly creating plum targets to appoint more dictators. This is a hostile takeover of the State of Michigan. Any bets on whether Governor Snyder will sign this travesty?

States Legislate to Restrict Women's Health Access

These are states with legislation that not only redundantly denies funding for legal procedures, curtails availability of contraception, family planning, health testing, and insurance coverage, but adds legislative devices that treat women like stupid beasts without the brains to make their own decisions. Indiana added an outright lie to its legislation - forcing doctors to tell women that having an abortion might lead to breast cancer. Many states require a woman to view ultrasound images, or listen to an audio of a fetus. Some states added amendments to legislation to include requiring women's health facilities to have the same entryway, hall configuration and room sizes as hospitals, meaning many women-only healthcare centers (underfunded already) would have to close to avoid the prohibitive cost of all that legislated architecture. The war against women is spreading like a virus. Led by the 112th Congress with H.R.3, H.R.217, H.R.358 women's rights are under attack on more fronts every day, and this Congress has only been in session for 2 and a half months. Women have the right and the obligation to follow their own minds and hearts regarding their bodies. We do not need legislators passing laws that deny our choice to make our own decisions. Government doesn't have a brain. We do.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

100 Years of International Women's Day

In 100 years, women in the United States have gained the right to vote, personal control of our bodies, positions in government, private enterprise and churches, advancement in education and fields of study. On this centennial, some of these advances are threatened. The 112th Congress with H.R.3, H.R.358, H.R.217 is working to take control of our choices about our own bodies. State legislatures, with the support, and often at the behest of, the governor in Wisconsin, South Dakota, Nebraska are taking safe health and reproductive choice from women. Some legislation is criminalizing miscarriage. Undoing history also are Arizona, Idaho, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee and Utah. The Senate in Michigan is wasting taxpayers' time and money with redundant SB 160 impacting women's safe health, too. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in her anniversary speech said, "The United States continues to make women a cornerstone of our foreign policy." We need to keep women safe, secure sovereignty of our own bodies, reclaim our civil rights, and prioritize women in our domestic policy first. We have no right to counsel other countries when our government is busy eradicating women's access to safe health, violating our legislated freedom, and prosecuting women with ideological agendas.

Monday, March 7, 2011

International Women's Day, March 8, 2011

Draw a Cave = Reveal Prana

I tried to draw the idea of entering and exiting a cave. The first effort took too long and made me dizzy. I draw detail, and now I want to learn when to quit. One holiday card I drew took weeks. It was an animated cityscape in winter, complete with blinking traffic lights. Friend Joel called me when he got his mail. "Please tell me there aren't teeny-tiny lights in the little shop on the corner." Um. I have tried to work bigger (my therapist wondered when I was going to leave Lilliput) and simpler. One line instead of 80. Sentences of four words. Be clear. Less gobbledygook. So, when the cave in/out got too wiggy, I actually dragged it to the trash. Yay! Then I redrew the same thing, trying not to over -think and -do it. Here it is. When the into the cave group met the out of the cave group, there is the image for prana I saw once in meditation. In simplicity there is truth. If I can get out of my own way, maybe I can find some more truth and simplicity.

Enter the Cave; Embrace the Panther

This photo is the entrance to a black rock cave in West Virginia, a short climb from the bank of a wild river. The setting is evocative of life this week. We've been talking quietly in groups about world changes, unusual sensation, but last week, stunningly, the chaos got personal. One day delivered a windstorm of terrible events for loved ones. We feel helpless, confused, heart heavy. My neighbor offered a tape (she follows a channeler she used to visit in California) that unravels what is happening in a clear voice, even as we sense the occurrences and feel the pains. The old negatives are rising to the top to be confronted, and life-changing experiences are forcing new skills. Stories we invented about ourselves no longer hold truth. We need to let go, to submerge, to emerge with new knowledge. My ability to protect the ones I love is false; a comic book fantasy. I can only offer love. My shields are down. I feel exposed, scared, but as my friend Susan asked "don't you feel a little excited, too?" Messages have arrived for a couple years that I need to embrace the panther ("No way" I hollered when I flipped that card over again.) The Hero's Journey requires us to enter the cave. The cave here has red graffiti and green graffiti - mere tick marks, like a prisoner to be released; a visitor who enters and leaves. My personal cave showed up this week, and I cannot avoid entering it. Only after several more trials can I grab the sacred sword, the elixir, the sorcerer's stone and emerge at last. George Abbott advised how to write a play: 1) Get your hero up a tree. 2) Throw rocks at her. 3) Get her down. It feels more than serendipitous that the cave I photographed is just above Calamity Rock in the Cheat River. We can't cheat calamity, but we can learn how to live through it with grace.

Happy Birthday to Me

Key lime pie and a candle for my birthday. This birthday I'm giving myself a gift: me. Compassionate, ziggity boom, serene, funny, sad, loving me. This year I'll celebrate being human with all the flaws, scuffs, hanging threads, stumbling gait, bizarre behaviors being human is. I will forgive myself for sins imagined and committed, and apply the same to others. I'll use my third eye when my eyesight is blurred, and remember that the aches and pains of getting older are a reminder that I'm still here to appreciate the now with gratitude.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Gather in Circle Tonight

At 8:30 p.m., EST, we will be joining energies in circle to individually and in community send healing light to friends in need, troubled family, and burdened loved ones. I will be sending hugs to Mother Earth as well. Please join us wherever you are, in whatever form you choose, for 15 minutes of quiet contemplation in balance and harmony, with love and community for those we love in peace.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

NFL and Government vs. People

NFL got a flag on their play to build a war chest with broadcast contracts in another example of self-serving corporate behavior at the expense of the people who actually do the work. A federal judge ruled the NFL acted illegally, securing loot to tide them over if the players were locked out. State and federal government is doing the same stuff, giving tax cuts, escape hatches and subsidies to corporations and the fabulously well-to-do, while taking the handouts from the paychecks of workers. Where's the judge who will stop governors and Congress from doing the same? Any other gamechangers out there?

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Frito Lay's Stealth Technology

Dad buys potato chips every week. He buys Lay's potato chips because it used to be the better bargain. I've bought them at his request, and noticed the bag getting lighter. I started checking ounces a few months ago. Started at 13, then moved to 12.8, 12.5, 12, 11.5, and I mentioned this diminishing result to Dad. Same size bag: no reduction in packaging. Sunday I bought chips at 11 ozs. Dad bought chips today and the bag is 10.5. We understand a company trying to keep prices lower. What we don't understand - and don't like - is being tricked. Frito Lay made a choice to snow us and keep doing it and hope we don't notice. We accept that food prices are higher. We will be loyal to a brand that works with us to keep costs down. Explain it to us. Frito Lay's choice was to fool us at high speed. Our choice is to stop buying all Frito Lay products.

Predator and Prey

Being mindful walking, I looked for animal tracks in the snow yesterday. The football practice field was pristine, but for a muddled trail. Looked like a DNA strand, with riffs in the snow at the outer curves. I stared for a long time and then realized what it was. A mouse or a chipmunk, attacked by a big bird, and evading. The predator tried 3 times to grab its prey; after the 2nd, the little runner reversed course. As I read the signs and learned the story, my heart sped up, feeling the small creature doing the same. Three narrow escapes. The track ends with deeper wing prints on either side. The little creature is in Mouse Viking Heaven this day, joining the ancestors after a heroic and valiant battle.

Ziggity Boomer Goes to the Movies

I'm newsblind on the younging of the 83rd Academy Awards: like snowblind only not dazzled. The hosts were young. Bob Hope and Billy Crystal showed up, just in case young didn't work. Bob Hope's dead. I'm not sure appealing to the dead demographic is going to add audience. Young is good. I was young once and liked it. Young people spend money on entertaining themselves, which is the whole point of everything, isn't it? Money? If it is, the Oscars are even farther off base than the silly host choice. Lest we forget: there are oodles of potential moviegoers over 50. We do not go to the show for popcorn (the big money in movies is made at the concession stand), we won't even rent movies with titles like The 40 Year Old Virgin, or Saw XVII, or any movie with Will Ferrell, Vince Vaughan, or the new babe with plastic boobs, or multiples thereof. We do not go to see guys dressed up like fat women. We do not watch car chases, people crawling on ceilings, explosions, multiple throat gougings, superheroes in tights, unless any of these features are included in a movie that is damn well written. Am I getting my point across? We want story. We have lots of money to spend at the local theater, we have nice cars to take us there. We have leisure time and we're hungry for more, better ways to entertain ourselves. I read more than one article today that quoted studio executives balloon-talking like a comic strip about needing to market to an older audience whose dollars will flow from their hands if only the executives could figure out what they want. AAARGHH! 50+ movie attendees are going to spend more money on movies than any age group in a hot second. We're close to it already in 2010 - this year our age group might surpass the 18-34 crowd, if there's anything coming out worth going to see. And the studio executives are wringing their hands. They will finish by wringing each other's necks because the movies in development are undoubtedly schlock. In 3D. Ignoring plot, good acting, and a story that engages us at the major studios is going to give independents who are more nimble and savvy opportunity to elevate some good screenplays into quick release. I love movies, and I'd like to see more movies than the ones I already love on Turner Classic Movies.