Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Hillary's Condescension Toward Barack Won't Work!

I turned a corner, and felt protective of Barack when I heard Hillary's condescending remark about Barack's performance in the debate the other night. "He's very frustrated...looking for a fight." Please, Hillary! Barack's trying to stay above the fray. Get your claws out of him! Tell Bill his so-called headgames are not going to work- Bill looks like he's been having acid flashbacks- that man needs a rest.

Have Hillary's doctors injected her with some stamina-enhancing speedo monster adrenaline drug or implanted a computer chip in her brain? Is she human? Is there any document or verbal exchange she can't recall in the heat of battle? How is it possible to have such an acutely venomous memory at her age? If she's being treated with some sort of performance enhancing hormones- won't she eventually crash? What goes up must come down. She can't sustain this pace for long! Someone stop her!

My daughter texted, joking, the other night during the debate that Hillary is a powerhouse, a machine, a monster, scary, but that she feels safe just having her on the TV in her house. I thought that was one of the funniest observations I have heard- will Hillary win just because she (and Bill) are superhumanly smart? She might.

I'm feeling protective of Barack, and I doubt I'm the only one. But what I would love to see is this: Why doesn't Barack just stand up and say "I'm half white! At least. Let's not forget my mother! I went to Punahou! I was summa cum laude at Harvard Law! I'm not some little ghetto boy made good!"

Please Hillary. Stop giving Barack those ugly hateful dirty looks. Sticks and stones will break his bones but names will never hurt him. Well, actually I know better, considering the electorate, of course names can hurt. But I'm losing whatever admiration for Hillary I had, because of that petty mean streak of hers.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Robert Burns Night Coming Up: Don't miss the Presentation of the Haggis in your neighborhood!

Need a little psychological boost for the cold coming weekend? Surrender logic and pay homage to Robert Burns this week, the great Scot who composed Auld Lang Syne, and who could make the ridiculous sublime by composing dignified tongue-in-cheek poetry for a mouse ("the best laid schemes of mice and men") or a lump of sheep innards (Address to a Haggis")....The highlight of the evening is The Presentation of the Haggis when some sturdy men with kilts a flappin, play bagpipes and march into your cozy bar or town hall carrying a lump of ground meat on a silver tray. Sound silly? That's ok! It's wonderful! It lifts your spirits! Life is good again.

Robert Burns Suppers are held all over the world in honor of his birthday on January 25th. The dinner may occur on the 24th or 26th, check your local community listings. It's worth a 30 minute or an hour drive at least, if you have a designated driver, cause you'll need one. There will be poetry recitations by your favorite local Scotsman or Scotophile, plenty of singing, plenty of drinking, and of course, the bagpipes. And no, you don't have to like haggis or even eat it. There will almost certainly be a substitute offered. Haggis isn't most people's favorite dish, it's definitely an acquired taste. That's kind of the point: the humble little haggis made noble for a night, in honor of Robbie Burns's comforting humor, sweet melancholy, and grace.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Einstein Daily Quote

I love my iGoogle Desktop Google Gadgets, especially Art of The Day- Biblical and Einstein Quote of the Day. My keyboard is broken so I can't elaborate about how inspiring Einstein's quote is today. Suffice it to say that effort is what makes life worthwhile:

"Measured objectively, what a man can wrest from Truth by passionate striving is utterly infinitesimal. But the striving frees us from the bonds of the self and makes us comrades of those who are the best and the greatest."

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Planning Ahead - Beyond Ripe Fruit

My idea of planning ahead is buying a banana that won't be ripe til Tuesday. But I'm open to suggestions. I love the Dennis Hopper ads, urging Boomers to get a plan. I'm basically a Boomer still casting around for new prospects, still checking out and the Peace Corps every once in awhile, still daydreaming about a pied a terre in the city, still hoping to get organized some day down the road. I pay bills when I think of it or find them in my car. I go to the post office at five minutes to five. I invite ten people for dinner two hours before meal time. I like things this way. But now in my dotage I'm loosening up, losing my touch for pulling it off quite as smoothly as I used to. My ADD kicks in, and a touch of mad cow. I forget the stamps. I forget the dessert. I get flustered. I'm willing to consider some modifications to the laissez-faire approach of my youth, in light of some disintegrating executive skills that could use a boost.

John Lennon sang that life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans. My youthful response to this was to waste no time planning. I knew all about what paved the road to hell and the things that happen to the best laid plans. So I placed my bets on the moment. Be here now. Carpe diem. Too bad old habits die so hard.

They say that the ability to plan ahead is a mark of intelligence that separates us from the lower beasts. Enthusiastic studies have shown that apes can plan ahead and gather tools for future use. I can barely grocery shop. I come home with meat and no vegetables, cereal and no milk. I think maybe there's some at home, but then there's not. That may be more a function of memory, but memory and a plan have to go hand in hand, at least part of the way. How can you plan ahead unless you remember what it is you need to accomplish?

Some people might think it's a sad state of affairs that I am proud of myself for buying a couple of greenish bananas. But no! I feel in control, responsible, curiously glamorous, and I imagine that the cashier, or maybe that handsome guy behind me, looks on admiringly as I place my ginkgo biloba and almonds up there with the oatmeal and blueberries. Back in the day, when I first got my driver's license at age 16, I made sure to run errands for my mother, and clunk my keys around loudly at the check-out stand of the grocery store, showing off. Now I plop those green bananas out there with just as much attitude. Look at this all you people out there...I can think ahead with the best of them! I've got a plan! So mind your own business.

I am wondering if those folks at Ameriprise are all as cool as Dennis Hopper, and if they have any ideas about what I should have for dinner.

Sir Edmund Hillary Sets Sail

The photographs say it all, at least all that most of us can ever know. Out of all the people who have ever lived on this earth, Sir Edmund Hillary, who died this week, holds a unique spot at the top of the earth's highest mountain. He and Tenzing Norgay, Sherpa guide, conquered Mount Everest in 1953. Imagine climbing the world's highest peak without modern technology! Cotton and wool to warm you, one other human being to talk to, no outside connections - just your stamina, courage, and determination to push you onward against all odds. Most of us couldn't even walk uptown with those resources.

After the high point, Sir Edmund devoted his life to continued exploration, development,and charitable work, doing his New Zealand homeland proud. Before becoming one of the world's greatest adventurers, he had lived the contemplative life of a beekeeper. Humble and self-effacing, he parlayed his fame into far-reaching contributions to the Nepalese by establishing the Himalayan Trust foundation, protections for the sherpas and their families, making provisions for schools, hospitals and orphanages. My daughter visited the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute in Darjeeling, India, last year, and could feel the impact of Norgay and Hillary's work there. Additionally, Hillary is responsible for influencing tremendous environmental improvements. He helped commandeer the clean-up of Everest after it became littered with the refuse of careless modern adventurers.

Sir Edmund Hillary's first wife and a daughter died in a plane crash in Nepal in 1975. He leaves a wife June, and two children and six grandchildren who are involved in continuing his legacy. His son Peter and the son of Tenzing Norgay, Jamling, climbed Everest together in 2003 to honor their fathers.

Just last year, at the age of 87, Sir Edmund journeyed to Antarctica to revisit the continent he traversed in 1958. A photo of Sir Edmund sitting in the preserved hut of the explorer Robert Scott shows him, a massive man, 6'5", astoundingly strong in old age.

At various times over the years, I have imposed my Mt. Everest obsession on my family. It started in childhood when I would spend hours with my grandparents' copies of National Geographic. I felt drawn to the topography and the people from that part of the world, and in particular to the faces of men who had conquered or attempted to conquer one of the globe's most dangerous challenges. When the search for George Mallory's camera was going on in 1999, we followed the daily broadcasts from the mountain by Eric Simonson and his crew at I bought the expedition t-shirts and imagined awakening in others a beneficient consciousness of the mountain.

Now with Sir Edmund gone, a rare species of man may be gone forever. It can't happen again, that a man will stare at earth's highest mountain, where noone known has gone before, and tackle it victoriously. The mystery of why he did it can't be discerned for sure, but it's a kind of complexity, strength and greatness that show in a man's face and demeanor. I can see it in the photos. Can you?

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Obama Gracious, and Hypnotic, in Defeat

The polls were wrong about New Hampshire, and Obama didn't win after all. But he decided to go ahead and pretty much give his victory speech anyway, and it was fantastic. Talk about graciousness in defeat! He can really get us souped up with his ardor. You can't help being bowled over. But after he's finished, you need a little slap on the face and a glass of water so you can come to. "Uh...what happened? Where was I? Wow! That was amazing!"

Not that he talks mumbo-jumbo, far from it, but where are the details? Have I heard a plan in there anywhere? A rookie needs a solid one. Maybe his plan is to corral us all into one place, to unite us as a nation - God knows we need an organizing principle - and to get to the details later. But let's hear it! And soon.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Feeling Guilty for Being Sick

If your mother ever made you feel a little guilty for being sick, if she thought you just wanted to stay home from school, chances are that feeling will stick with you for a lifetime. Even now, fifty years later, when my thermometer reads 100 degress, I doubt myself and think I must be faking it somehow. I want it to say 100, I'm glad that it does, because I love that affirmation that I'm staying home from work fair and square, but I still get that old feeling that mom won't believe me. Why in the world was she so committed to sending me to school, anyway? What in the world could she possibly have to do during the day if she wasn't taking care of me?

Nobody takes their temperature as much as I do. Especially when it's real. I could be sick as a dog but I can still find strength to reach for that thermometer and get it to my mouth just for the victorious moment when I read that magic number.Even a 99.6 is good. But I immediately start to second guess myself. Take it again! Are the blankets keeping me too warm? Was it the sip of tea I had an hour ago? Am I cheating somehow? Is the thermometer broken? When I'm not sick, my temperature is usually in the 97.6 range, does that mean now it's equal to one full point higher, a 101? Maybe it's pneumonia. Am I really this sick? Wouldn't mom be worried about my high temperature? Wouldn't she, with a concerned expression, lay her lovely hand gently upon my brow, just once more? Am I hallucinating? Take it again.

Not that it's good, or fun, to be sick. Hours and days go by and you don't even know where you've been. You remember your son and daughter stopping in, bringing sustenance, but it's all a fog. Two days go by and you haven't gone to your mailbox, watched TV, or even thought about your car. You've stumbled to the refrigerator a few times, managed to eat more calories than you should have, and gotten a shower. But how will you ever get it all together to go back to work? Will anyone be mad at you for being sick?

Will they look at you suspiciously? Should you have taken a picture of the thermometer reading, for proof? Chances are the world kept turning, and nobody noticed you were gone. No need to feel guilty. Be glad you're well. Mom always was.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Looks Like Barack Obama Has it: Is the Main Political Event Already Over?

OK, time to relax. My TV is back to Turner Classic Movies. From the looks of things now, the main event has already happened: even before New Hampshire, Barack Obama has clinched it. Lord have mercy, we have a leader at last. So lead us on.

And now for a non sequitur, to get back on track:

The quality of mercy is not strained.
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath. It is twice blest:
It blesseth him that gives and him that receives.
Tis mightiest in the mightiest; it becomes
The throned monarch better than his crown.
His scepter shows the force of temporal power,
The attribute to awe and majesty,
Wherein doth sit the dread and fear of kings.
But mercy is above this sceptered sway;
It is enthroned in the hearts of kings;
It is an attribute of God himself;
And earthly power doth then show like God's
When mercy seasons justice.

-Shakespeare "Merchant of Venice" Portia to Shylock Act IV, Scene 1

Saturday, January 5, 2008

But Do We Have Time for All the Trappings of Obama's Greatness?

OK, I go back and forth from candidate to candidate, party to party. I was swept off my feet by Obama's speech in Iowa. But I'm already worried about the prospects of an Obama presidency. Maybe the whole greatness thing is over-rated. I'm not sure I want to spend the next four years observing self-conscious greatness surrounded by a smug sycophancy. It's all good, but do we really have time for that? We've got a few jobs to get done. Like, yesterday.

We definitely don't have time to prep for the picture-perfect Christmas card from a Romney White House. They better get off their high horses and get real! I loved when McCain said that Romney has been busy "looking at his shoes." I didn't think I wanted to look at the McCains for four years, but we have to get down to business, and McCain looks like he's ready to roll up his sleeves and kick ass. There are real threats out there, sinister folk just waiting for us to kick back on our laurels at a bunch of inaugural balls, toasting our various social policies, affirmative action, youth and beauty. Better watch our backs.

We need some greatness and glamour after what we've been through, God knows. But what kind, and how much?

Friday, January 4, 2008

The Kennedy-esque Kenyan and the Aw-Shucks Bass Player

I feel proud to be an American this morning. We, vicariously through Iowa, are showing the world that change is coming, that here in the land of the free and the home of the brave, we can lift a man named Barack Hussein Obama to the world stage on our behalf. Obama is a magna cum laude graduate of Harvard Law School, and was president of the Harvard Review. It's beyond reassuring to imagine replacing Georgie Porgie with real brain power. Imagine a great orator in the White House! Remember Kennedy!

Mike Huckabee is a Baptist preacher who can rock the bass guitar. Let's not forget how he morphed physically, losing a hunded and twenty pounds a few years back. Mysteriously, if you look over Huckabee's shoulder, you may see a cross or you may see Chuck Norris. I look at him and am reminded at times of Kevin Spacey. This kind of stuff catches ordinary folk's attention. Huckabee has captured the Iowans' votes with relatively little money and virtually no political machine.

I can't wait to see what will happen in New Hampshire. It's fabulous to see democracy in action, and to watch the race crystallize. It can make a person feel vital, young, excited, hopeful, proud, and alive.

Power to the people!

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Most Exciting Presidential Campaign Ever!

I'm glad I don't live in Iowa, because I don't know what I would do tonight. Supposedly nearly half of Iowans don't make up their minds until the last few days, and I would be with them, going down to the wire in the next hour, still not 100% sure.

Like a multitude of Americans, I can't make up mind about the candidates. It's an embarrassment of riches - so many good people! This morning I thought I had finally settled on Obama, and I was mad about Hillary's last Iowa TV ad. All that make-up when we know she's not really a heavy-make-up kind of girl! But today it occured to me that Hillary is most certainly grieving for Benazir Bhutto, and deserves our sympathy and admiration for the stresses she's enduring so well. Bhutto and Clinton -two such highly-principled women on the world stage, making tremendous personal sacrifices for the sake of democracy- surely connected at a number of levels and may have been friends, I don't know. I regret being so critical of Hillary at such a tender time. She has tried very hard for us. She tried to fix health care, she messed up, but she tried. She's out there for the people, we can't take that away from her. And it's an interesting package, since she comes with Bill. It would be simple-as-pie for them to go back to the White House: a turn-key operation.

But what do we really want? Not the Clintons again, right? We like to laugh once in awhile, with a President we can look up to. We want to stop the insanity in Iraq, but noone seems to know how, since we're in so deep already. Who is experienced and tough enough to deal with terrorists and complex Mid-Eastern governments? McCain has the inside track on the tough guys, they don't come much tougher than he is. Is he our man? Or do we need to invest in, nurture and capitalize on Barack Obama's youth and intelligence, and trust him to lead us forward?

Who will also protect the environment while we develop alternative energies to make us less dependent on foreign oil? Who will help us live in peace and prosperity? Who will keep us safe? Whatever happened to Al Gore? Is he still hanging out with Michael Bloomberg? Will they jump in? I'm so excited about all the prospects out there that I can barely stand it. Don't give up if you're not sure yet about who to vote for. We just have to keep watching and listening as the democratic process unfolds. We're all in the same boat and should be grateful to be moored at the land of the free and the home of the brave.

Do you know when your state's primaries are?

Will Hillary's Last Minute Mystic Temptress Ad Do the Trick?

Hillary Clinton's last minute TV spot in Iowa is really scary, or maybe just funny. She appears a la hazy-Liz-Taylor-perfume-ad, going for the angelic temptress look, with a halo around her head, in heavy make-up, speaking with pursed lips in sultry tones. Sure, she was jealous of Mike Huckabee's Christmas ad, with the cross appearing mystically in the bookshelf behind his shoulder. So she, true liberal that she is, goes for a stream-of-radiant-light look, suitable for all faiths and non-faiths. It's a little like the opening sequence of Six Feet Under, very bright there for a moment.

So her advisors convinced her to try the archtypal priestess/seductress image. Who's idea was that? Bill's? God knows he might have some fantasies that need fulfilling long about now. It's just hysterically funny that Hillary (who, let's face it, has got to be utterly exhausted at this point) could allow this distortion of her image to be her last hurrah. Don't know though- that Clinton machine is mighty powerful. They're handing out snow shovels in Iowa, and doing some shoveling. Pretty smart moves.

But I can't vote for someone who sells out like that! I don't know much about politics but I am, like most people, massaged by the media, and sometimes rubbed the wrong way. Will people really fall for the Hillary ad? In the end, they won't stand for Romney's strange-rich-boy-flip-flopping, Giuliani's bragging, Huckabee's foreign policy naivete (though he's rocking the bass guitar and looking very Kevin Spacey-esque lately, the coolness factor has to work in his favor), good John Edwards having to leave his wife's side, Bill Richardson's excessive comfort-level, or Thompson's shuffle. Everyone knows Kucinich and Paul have had some fun, fought the good fight and made it interesting at times, but that's it for them. Sadly, the men of most apparent character and brain-power- Dodd, McCain and maybe Biden- have been marginalized, and don't seem to have a chance in hell.

So who's left? You already know. If you imagine stepping into a voting booth, wanting change, wanting hope, wanting the world to like us again, you want John and Jacqueline Kennedy in the White House. But that's not an option, not even close. I see a glimmer of hope for us in Barack Obama. Do you?

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Ancient Secret of the Fountain of Youth

A good motivational start to the New Year can be found in "Ancient Secret of the Fountain of Youth", Part One, by Peter Kelder, first published in 1939. Kelder describes a secret teaching from the Himalayas, five yoga movements he learned through Tibetan priests. A friend taught me these five little exercises (called 'rites') about forty years ago in Santa Fe. I wish I had continued to do them consistently rather than sporadically throughout my life! They take so little time, a few minutes a day.

Kelder, writing in stilted old-fashioned language about his Himalayan experience, attributes these five rites to miraculous rejuvenation for countless people. There's no evidence that these rites are actually Tibetan, but Kelder thought they were, and even if he was confused about the exact location of the lamasery, no matter. They are yoga-centric, you'll recognize the basics. You have to wade through a lot of words to get to the exercises. No need to buy the book. You can read it all, and see photos of the postures, thanks to someone in Australia, at

The idea is to get your chakras going. Between these rites, and my Soloflex Whole Body Vibration machine (see previous blogs)- I know I can knock out any pockets of debris or stasis and start all my molecules spinning and sparkling like stars. I remember experiencing transcendent moments in youth when I had an awareness that every atom in my body was a separate and distinct entity, adhering to my spirit, coexisting with all other atoms in this universe in such a way as to allow my great good fortune, this moment in time, my life.

By the same logic, the elements, molecules, atoms, subatomic particles- whatever they are- that allow us to exist, also assemble through hormonally-charged attractions and unions, into the bodies and lives of our loved ones. I believe that we live our lives in eternity with one another, in different forms, different roles. In this lifetime I am your mother, in the next you may be mine. Even the people whose eyes we catch briefly on the street are with us in eternity again and again. By practicing loving-kindness in the midst of our lives' turmoil and hormonal flux, we journey towards enlightenment.

So for starters, if you don't have a Whole Body Vibration machine handy, try the five rites. It's a free and easy start to getting your molecules lined up for the New Year.