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Monday, August 31, 2009

No great genius has ever existed without some touch of madness --- Aristotle

Just ask George Gordon. He understood what living with Bipolar Disorder was all about. He, also know as Lord Byron, wrote "I must think less wildly. I have thought too long and darkly, till my brain became ...a whirling gulf of phantasy and flame." (from Childe Harold's Pilgrimage)

Living with Bipolar II is difficult. Being able to recognize when moods are shifting is critical to surviving. I have never (knocking my head on wood) experienced a manic phase that put me into a hospital (or jail, for that matter). I count myself fortunate that I live with the type of bipolar disorder where my moods only swing from hypomania to deep depression. Manic phases can be bizarre and I want no part of them.

In my experience, the deep depressions are the most dangerous and life threatening. I have been in the depths of suicidal depression and I choose not to ever reach those lows ever again. I have a network of support here and it is not very likely that I would sink deeply into a depression without someone noticing and calling attention to it. In fact, my doctor has contacted my brother to make sure I was doing okay on one occasion due to depression and another because of another "tropical" illness.

In treating my type of bipolar disorder, anti-depressants and mood stabilizers are important. The drugs used to keep the bipolar I's' from reaching mania aren't necessarily effective (for me) when my needs are to keep me from falling into deep depression. A mood stabilizer that affects both mania and depression are what I need. Thank goodness, medications have been identified that assist us and more testing and trials have identified others that also may help.

"Bipolar Disorder: A Guide for Patients and Families", by Francis Mark Mondimore, M.D. is a book with a wealth of information about bipolar disorder. I have recently found it quite useful in understanding my illness and identifying (and confirming) the treatments that have been found to be the most effective. As with any illness, each individual is unique and requires treatments tailored to their needs and physical health. I am not so unique, it seems, but my bipolar coaster ride is adversely influenced by my having a wonky thyroid gland. Yep, just another little twist in the tracks ahead and behind.

I am fortunate that after years of suffering from severe depressions a general practitioner listened to me describe my periods of depression and my periods of "crazies". He sent me immedicately to a qualified pyschiatrist who did indeed correctly diagnose my illness. Over the years, I had seen 3 other pdocs and 5 talk therapists and none of them ever properly diagnosed my condition. Interestingly enough, that fact is not so rare either. It seems there is a significant number of folks with bipolar disorder whose diagnoses have taken years to be made correctly.

Live and learn. Yes, I will continue on this course and hope that the coaster ride doesn't soar too high nor plunge too deeply. What a helluva ride.
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Music Video Monday

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Photos of the Day


Today, it is overcast and cool. The hurricane on the Pacific side of Mexico is a big factor. The skies are cloudy but the glare of the sun manages to come through and sunglasses are still needed.

The photograph above was taken by Memo. Please note the dirt and grassy area in the foreground. Last year at this time that area was under water. This season's rains have been lacking. This is a scene along Lake Chapala here in Ajijic.

The second photograph was taken by me. That is Memo and our best friend, Christian. They were mugging it up at the Plaza in Ajijic.
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Thank You!

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Saturday, August 29, 2009

Michigan Politics As Usual

Just another disappointment. Michigan's 11th Congressional District is represented by REPUBLICAN Thaddeus McCotter. Money and power seems to be all that the Republican Representatives and Senators care about. And, all that my own representative from the 10th Congressional District and Mr. McCotter seem to care about is getting re-elected and gathering all the monies to do so from folks, groups, and corporations from outside of their Districts. The health care reform foes, which include the health care industry, are making huge contributions to those they wish to influence. That is so very wrong.


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This Is Your Brain


We have some good news and some bad news for all of us that want to live long and happy lives. First, the bad news from the journal Human Brain Mapping and a UCLA professor of neurology, Dr. Paul Thompson:

"A new study finds obese people have 8 percent less brain tissue than normal-weight individuals. Their brains look 16 years older than the brains of lean individuals, researchers said today.

Those classified as overweight have 4 percent less brain tissue and their brains appear to have aged prematurely by 8 years.

The results, based on brain scans of 94 people in their 70s, represent "severe brain degeneration,"

Yikes. More about the study may be found here.

Now, the good news is found online from a study about the brain in the journal Neurotoxicology and Teratology and reported on by KTVU.com:

"Marijuana may protect the brain from some of the damage caused by binge drinking, according to a new study.

Researchers at the University of California San Diego performed brain scans on 16- to 19-year-olds in three groups: binge drinkers, binge drinkers who also smoke pot, and those with very little drug or drinking experience. Binge drinkers showed damage in their white matter. But those who drink and smoke showed more damage than the control group in only three of eight areas of the brain. In seven of the areas, their brains were in better shape than the binge drinkers.

Researchers said in a news release from the Marijuana Project that the result was unexpected. They said it could be that marijuana somehow stops alcohol from damaging brain cells."

That's really good news for the many binge drinkers I know.

So, what have we learned today? If you want a healthier brain, lose weight and, if you must drink, smoke a little mota.
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Thursday, August 27, 2009

Make It Stop!


Sometimes the bigots of this world say such stupid things that I think my head might explode. Take, for example, this quote from a lawyer representing the hate-group called Americans for Truth About Homosexuality (AFTAH). Discussing a discrimination lawsuit against a hotel for denying them use of their facilities, Jason Craddock stated, "We don't want corporate America to continue in its belief that it's OK to discriminate against unpopular points of view." Wait a moment while I stop banging my head on my desk.... Okay, THEY, the AFTAH, do not want to be discriminated against because of their unpopular points of view regardless of the turmoil (anti-AFTAH picketing disrupting the wedding celebration scheduled for the same night and the bad publicity for the hotel) their fund-raising event would encourage. Yet, it is clear from their website that one of their goals is to "identify corporations that promote homosexuality through policies and donations to activist organizations." For what purpose? Harassment? Ridicule? Boycotts?

Listen up, Christianist Bigots, you can't have it both ways (no pun intended). You want corporate America to stop supporting non-discrimination (or else?) and you want them to support your hateful and evil discrimination. You would not complain if that very same hotel denied accommodations to folks they suspected of being gay. WTF?

Unfortunately, the so-called Americans for Truth have two major issues clouding any chance of rational thought. They are obsessed with the belief that Christianity is being persecuted by every person, religious organization, or corporation that adopts non-discrimination views. And, as Christianist they are adament that God has called them to take action against LGBT organizations and anyone that supports them. So, believing that they are acting in the name of God, they won't and can't compromise. They glory in martydom and purport to be fulfilling God's will on Earth. Martyrs and zealots. Folks like these cannot be reasoned with.......

Again, from James Craddock, "We simply want to send a message that it might be easier to discriminate against a small Christian group, but it's no less acceptable."

Oh, my aching head.

H/T to Joe.My.God.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Work to Come -- A Tribute to Senator Edward M. Kennedy

From the 2008 Democratic National Convention -- a film by Ken Burns


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We Grieve and Still Hold Hope

George Bernard Shaw wrote, "Some men see things as they are and ask why, I dream things that never were and ask why not." Senator Robert Kennedy often used this quote to inspire others to imagine a different world and to work to remake this one. On the morning that I learned of Bobby's death, I cried. Though just still a youngster I grieved for him, his family, and our nation. Another Kennedy tragedy touched our lives. I had listened to the words of Bobby Kennedy and had hoped his hopes and dreamed his dreams.

When I woke to find that "The Lion of the Senate", Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA), had succumbed to brain cancer I didn't quite know how to react. I am still in shock. I have held much hope for America. I can still hope that even without such a dynamic leader, American can move forward. We still need universal health care and an end to discrimination of every kind. Will the Democratic Party pull it together and work to fulfill these dreams?

And, why not?

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Lose Lose

The Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays, Incorporated (PFOX) just lost an appeal of a discrimination lawsuit that they had brought against the National Education Association (NEA). With that loss new case law may have been established that could very well upset PFOX's conservative overlords. PFOX had applied for exhibit space to present their propanganda at the Expo 2002 which was held as part of the NEA Representative Assembly activities. They were denied access to the assembly's delegates, families, and guests because of the potential disruption it would cause and because PFOX's views are considered to be in opposition to National Education Association's policies. The District of Columbia Supreme Court upheld the DC Office of Human Right's ruling that no discrimination took place.

The only legal question that arose and was "overturned" was the application of the District of Columbia Office of Human Rights's ruling that ex-gays were not eligible to be considered a protected group or category. The DC Supreme Court ruled that ex-gays may be considered a protected class as the Human Rights Act's purpose is “to secure an end in the District of Columbia to discrimination for any reason other than that of individual merit….” Herein lies the rub -- by declaring that ex-gays may be considered a protected group the very concept of protected groups is reinforced as a basis for anti-discrimination and hate crime legislation. The Religious Right and other social conservatives within the Republican Party have fought hard to exclude gay and transgendered folks from such legislation. As they, the Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays, celebrate their "win" LGBT individuals also win as case law in the District of Columbia is established and re-affirms that indeed the purpose of its Human Rights Act is to end discrimination for any reason other than that of individual merit. If ex-gays are a protect group, so are gay folk.

So, don't waste too much champagne in your celebration, PFOX. Your "victory" could very well piss off the bigots that have been bankrolling you and the equally repugnant ex-gay ministry, Exodus.

H/T to Towleroad (& Ex-Gay Watch)

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The Dream Shall Never Die

Thank you, Teddy.


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60's In Paradise





If you ever tire of Mexican food or of any of the other variety of world food choices such as Thai, Chinese, Italian, and German, there is the opportunity for good old fashioned American fare. The "60's in Paradise" offers American breakfasts all day and American hamburgers, hotdogs, and Philly Steak sandwiches. From authentic soda fountain drinks and milkshakes to tasty cheeseburgers with onion rings, this restaurant is a little taste of home for affordable prices. The 60's theme is charming and the hosts, who often visit with you at your table, are eager to transport you back to the 60's hamburger joint for a nostalgic taste of paradise.

The fact that Ajijic and Chapala have more food offerings than the standard Mexican cuisine is also what attracts the Americans, Canadians, and Europeans to live or visit the Lake Chapala region. We really do have more to enjoy than just tacos or bacon-wrapped hotdogs served on the Plaza.

I took the photographs above yesterday when Memo and I had a late breakfast/early lunch. Our Cokes, cheeseburgers with all the fixings, and humongous homemade onion rings came to 90 pesos each (about $6.87 USD). That seems to be a steep price but the quality of the meal, the venue, and the little trivia game we played with the owner as our meals were prepared made the entire experience worth it.
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Photo of the Day



Yesterday, as Memo and I made our way to Ajijic's central plaza we passed near one of our local blacksmith shops. This is a typical scene in our little village. Horses remain a part of the lives of many Mexicans in this corner of paradise.
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Rest in Peace











Edward M. Kennedy
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Monday, August 24, 2009

Christianist Hypocrite John Ashcroft

Former Attorney General John Ashcroft had an expensive drape placed over the statue, Spirit of Justice, because it offended his Christianist sensibilities. We all laughed about that back in 2002. Now, it has been revealed through the torture report released today, AG John Ashcroft had no qualms about water-boarding one terrorism suspect over 100 times in a one month period. He knew and approved of torture.

Asshole and hypocrite.

Hypocrite -- a person who pretends to have virtues, moral or religious beliefs, principles, etc., that he or she does not actually possess, esp. a person whose actions belie stated beliefs.
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U.S. Representative Trent Franks (R-AZ)

It's called pandering.

2. a person who caters to or profits from the weaknesses or vices of others.

What part of truth and honesty do you not understand, Congressman Franks?  Does the 2nd Congressional District of Arizona really deserve your lies -- pandering -- obfuscations?

The dear elected tells the public that our President Obama is a citizen of the United States, then when confronted by crazy people, Franks openly questions the validity of our president's birth and rejoins the crazy wing of the Republican Party.  But, really, is there a crazy wing?  The whole damn GOP has succumbed to birthers, deathers, Veteran death bookers, and those that now question whether Obama retains his foreskin.  No kidding.  That's a controversy that is just at its head.

The Grand Old Party deserves to disappear into obscurity.  The Party of NO deserves to be mocked.  Let us remember they led us into a war of choice, they contributed to the policies that lost millions of American jobs, and they deregulated Wall Street and led us into the disaster of an economy we now endure.  They approved of torture and took our country from atop a hill with its shining beacon to a spark from a cattle prod hidden in a black hole called Guantanamo.




Birthers on the Hill



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Music Video Monday



I love you, Billy. Happy Birthday!
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Sunday, August 23, 2009

Crass and Critical

So sue me.

At times, I must admit, I have criticized others and been a bit indelicate about how I attempted to make my opinion about somethings known. For example, I once used some pretty heady words when arguing in support of the federal school breakfast program that was eventually adopted in one of the schools where I taught. The teachers, yes -- teachers, opposed to the program had lame excuses for their lack of charity ranging from "I don't want crumbs on my carpet" to "Why can't 'those people' get up in the morning and feed their own kids". The problem is, and remains, that we indeed have poor folks among us. If I remember correctly, over 2/3 of the school population that we served in that particular building were families that qualified for free or reduced lunches. A breakfast program was a logical extension of the public school's mission to serve the needs of the poor. It helped the families economically and, of course, all those studies about school readiness and eating breakfast informed us of the vital importance of such a program.

"We're supposed to be in this profession to serve these kids" was an argument lost even on some of the Christianists with whom I worked. I literally wanted to bang a few heads together or ask for a doctor's note to certify that the complainers actually had hearts. Unfortunately, when the program was finally underway in our building the mechanics of it, I believe, did not exactly encourage participation. The breakfast kids were segregated from the rest of the classroom as they had to eat the federally approved meal in the school cafeteria rather than in the classroom as we had in another school where I taught. Having breakfast in the classroom would have had the advantage of encouraging other kids to buy breakfast or bring a breakfast snack to school to eat with Mr. Harris and the kids having the free or reduced price meal. That's what we did in my other school. The crumb-a-phobes won out. And, some teachers just didn't want any hint of inconvenience.

As we continue to watch the health care "debate", I can't help but think about the lack of charity and compassion there seems to be for the poor. There really hasn't been any debate. One side has tried to educate the public about the need for reform and the various and separate pieces of legislation needed for true health care reform. The other side just says "No, no, no". The moral imperative of providing for the care of the uninsured and the under-insured is being overlooked.

According to an editorial in the New York Times today, the Institute of Medicine estimated that in 2004 that perhaps 18,000 deaths a year among adults could be attributed to lack of insurance. That's 3 World Trade Centers coming down each year..... And, how about our children, the most vulnerable among us? I want to know those sad numbers, too. Really, Folks, where are the ministers and churches right now? Why isn't Rick Warren or the CBN or anyone with any pull among the faithful screaming for our country to do their "Christian Duty"?

I am beginning to believe that the Christianists in America are really closet Darwinists. They seem to support the evolutionary theory of the survival of the richest and fittest. Or is there some belief that all the poor have chosen to be uninsured. You know, some sort of perverted life-style choice. Maybe, prayer and attendance at some Ex-Poor ministry will cure them.

It all really boils down to this -- we the people are the government. It says so in the Constitution. We the people need to decide if we want a we the people program to assist in the health and welfare of we the people who are not as well off as the rich tyrants that say "NO, NO, NO" and "Keep the damn crumbs off my carpet!" I am praying that common sense and compassion win out.



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Losing My Religion?

Let it not be said that I have experienced a crisis of faith. On the contrary, my faith in God has been strengthened by my sojourn in Mexico. Every day that I travel around this little village, every time I have traveled outside of Ajijic, and every moment I interact with the people of Mexico and those from the United States, Canada, and Europe my life is enriched with the blessings of God. The beauty and grandeur of Lake Chapala and the mountains that surround it is beyond mere words. You must experience the sights for yourself to truly appreciate what God has created here. My breath is taken away and my heart is stopped each and every time I look up into the mountain and see the beauty and the subtle changes in that beauty as the months pass and the seasons change. Right now the rain clouds hang low over the peaks of those mountains sometimes obscuring them from view. The rains bring much needed water that fuels the explosion of vegetation now and throughout the year. The colors and variety of plant life are incredible.

I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the LORD, which made heaven and earth. Psalms 121, Verses 1 & 2 (KJV)

Beyond Ajijic lies the remnants of an ancient civilizations that once occupied this region of Mexico. Rare round pyramids overlook a valley and the once active Tequila volcano that is surrounded by huge agave plantations. There, the ancients constructed a center of worship that clearly allowed supplicants to acknowledge the glory of creation. To get there from here you may travel past massive fields of raspberries and through the great Primavera Forest which when in bloom is a another natural wonder in itself. Just over the mountains lies the city of Guadalajara where the modern meets the historic. You could spend days and weeks exploring museums, churches, and the many plazas where the lives of the people are centered. And, also not so very far away, are the forests where the Monarch Butterfly spends its winters before returning to summer homes in Michigan and other parts north.

The diversity of people and cultures makes this patch of paradise a prime example of how mankind was meant to get along with one another. The Mexican people are kind and gracious. Most of the foreigners that choose this place to dwell are themselves tolerant and generous. We expatriates all seem to get along with the local people and one another fairly well. Many of us give back to the community through commerce and charity. It seems that everyone we know has a charitable project that they support. Ranging from school supplies and tuition for our poorer hosts to the rescue of the least of God's creatures, the opportunities to serve are numerous.

I hear God's call to continue to serve, to continue to be an example, and to continue to strive towards a more perfect relationship with Him. I may be far from the fellowship of the Community of Christ and somewhat inactive in performing the duties assigned to me as a minister, but I am living in a community where God's Hand is evident, His Blessings are numerous, and His Creation shouts out His praises.

Ajijic, the place were the waters run, is my home, now. The people here are my people. I live in paradise and I thank the Lord for each new day.


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Saturday, August 22, 2009

The Real Death Panels in America

H/T to Daily Kos --


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What He Said --

from damp's blog:

"People who show up packing heat to town hall events are not defending their homes from invasion, resisting a government attempt to seize their arms, deterring crime in a hazardous environment, providing personal security when traveling to the bad part of town, or otherwise assuring the security of a free state. They are doing something much more primitive: trying to intimidate their political opponents through the threat of violence."


H/T Susie at Suburban Guerrilla
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Hearth and Home


I can still picture in my mind nearly every detail of the home where I spent most of my growing years. We lived there from the time I was about 3 years old until the year I began high school. The two-story frame house had 3 bedrooms and a bath on the top floor; a living room, kitchen, laundry room, and a 1/2 bath on the main floor; and a full basement. Our basement included a room called the "fruit cellar" and a room called the "coal bin". The center of our basement was filled with a massive coal furnace from which several asbestos taped ducts emerged.

When I was physically able, filling the furnace's automatic coal hopper became one of my chores. That green monster demanded regular feeding during the heating season. Our dad would clear the furnace of the spent fuel, called clinker, and we boys would take turns filling the hopper so it could convey coal to the furnace. No special skills were required. A coal shovel, bucket, and a strong back was all that was needed. Hanging near the door of the coal bin were the gloves and jackets we wore as we worked. The labor wasn't hard, just tedious. Fill the bucket, dump the bucket, fill the bucket, dump the bucket , fill the bucket, dump the bucket...... We didn't wear protective eye gear or masks. And, I am certain that there weren't any child labor laws or safety standards in those days to protect the health and welfare of a nine year old tasked with the responsibility of keeping the home fires burning. I was a bit jealous of the kids whose homes were heated by oil and gas. Luckily, I had 3 older brothers to share in the labor.

When we moved to the green stucco house across the street, I was relieved to learn that the house had a modern gas furnace. Unfortunately, when we traded up to that house my mother had always coveted, we had twice the lawn to mow, far too much landscaping to maintain, and a long driveway and double length of sidewalk to shovel when the Michigan winter snows arrived. Lest I forget, the thrill of autumn leaf raking was doubled, as well.

I'm not complaining mind you. I'm just feeling a bit nostalgic about the childhood that I literally had to work through. But, that was what it was like in those days living in your own home in small town Michigan. We all contributed to the work that had to be done. Of course, we also put away the dried dishes, dusted and polished, vacuumed, and, in the all inclusive words of a labor contract, completed other tasks as required.

I can't imagine growing up in any other setting. Had we lived in an apartment in the big city we would never have experienced the joy of house and garden maintenance. And, fortunately, we didn't live in the country, either. Now there, we would have had to deal with some very serious shit. Horse, cow, chicken....... Have you ever stepped in goose goo? Yuck.

Childhood memories are to be treasured and shared. And, most of mine are "keepers".
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Cash for Clunkers to End Next Week

Hey. When the Congress returns in September could they please keep the Castle folks in the business of making their Castle Clunker Bomb? The Cash for Clunkers program was so successful that it is worth considering repeating. And, why not? Vehicles with better gas milleage will be on the road -- less pollution -- and the stimulus to the automobile economies of Michigan and other car producing states will continue. It is all about jobs, Folks!! The environment benefits, too.

Friday, August 21, 2009

LMAO


White House Reveals Obama Is Bipolar, Has Entered Depressive Phase
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Why?

Tell me why I should die inside for you
Tell me why I should live a life untrue

I am not evil nor should I be damned in this life
I am not evil but you would burden me with strife

He calls me to open the door and let Him in
You believe I've closed myself off with lust and sin

His invitation is loving and kind
Your accusations are hurtful and blind

I am a boy, a yearning child of God
Your hateful words upon my life have trod

Be still and listen to my fervent plea
All of God's children must be set free

God gives me life and love and salvation as my choice
You hate and judge and brutally silence my voice

No more
No more

J. Lee Harris, August 21, 2009




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Your Moment of Zen

In Your Face Fridays

Lily Allen's "Fuck You Very Much" has been used as an anti-hate pro-gay anthem. I've posted the first web collaboration here and now we have a version from Hungary. Enjoy.

Oh, if you don't like gay folk --- Fuck You!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Truth or Consequences

Over at The Daily Dish, one of Andrew Sullivan's cohorts has penned a worthwhile post about what conservatives believe will happen as more states embrace marriage equality a.k.a. gay marriage. I recommend that you read "The Horrible Things that Gay Marriage Will Do".

My take? The woman that proposed the 5 items has a mote in her own eye and is too caught up in the Christians as martyrs mentality. Boo Hoo Hoo. Can we please get beyond that lions and arena thing and live in this century?

Yes, in the near future she might not be able to openly and rabidly discriminate against gay and transgendered folks as it occurs now.

And, really, just why is it that Christianists, given their historical difficulties, seek to block hate crime legislation? What? Have we not had enough pain and death in this country? Or in Iraq, Iran, and Saudi Arabia?

Where's the decency?
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Mollete

The food choices in central Mexico are extensive beyond belief. The menus in restaurants and from vendors on the street offer hungry travelers and resident expats a wide variety of familiar foods and some never imagined. I have often remarked that one of the attractions of living in Mexico is the cuisine. For example, I tell anyone that will listen and whom have yet to experience it for themselves that once they try real tacos, as they are prepared here in the State of Jalisco, they may never want to return to a ticky-tacky Taco Bell or other Americanized fast food joint claiming to sell authentic Mexican foods. Ours are just simply better. Tacos here are basic -- no cheese -- no tomatoes -- no lettuce -- just meat, onion, cilantro, and tons and tons of flavor. The salsa for the tacos, called chile, is spicy (red) or not (green) and is always optional. Radishes are often offered as a garnishment, as well.

One of the more surprising foods that I have developed a passion for is mole. Mole is a sauce served over chicken. Mole does vary by region and thus far I am wed to the idea of tasting the chicken mole in as many restaurants as I am able to visit. The mole or sauce may contain literally dozens of ingredients including nuts and chocolate. I have yet to attempt to cook my own mole. For now, I am content to use a popular local brand purchased at the store or homemade mole sold at the weekly street market.

After recently surviving another inconvenient illness where I had absolutely no appetite, I craved a mollete. So, Memo was dispatched to El Torito to purchase bolillo, a type of fresh bread; re-fried beans; and a mild white cheese. The basic recipe calls for the bread to be cut and toasted, then, with a light coat of butter, a generous layer of beans, and a spattering of cheese the mollete may be broiled until the cheese is melted. Chiles or chile sauce may be added for a more robust flavor. A local coffee shop adds bits of bacon or ham to make a great open-face breakfast sandwich.

Yes, indeed, I live in Paradise. And, the food is to live for......
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Together


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Passage

"You should have seen the grin on his face as you walked across that stage!"  Doris was herself smiling broadly as she told me this news.  He had flown to Iowa to watch the ceremony.  That same ritual was being repeated all over the country at that time.  I was only one of thousands that marched, meditated, and majestically moved from one chapter of life into another.  That sunny afternoon across Iowa, across the Midwest, across the entire Republic young men and women, and even a few old folks, donned gowns and tasseled mortar boards and took from deans or presidents diplomas signifying a completion of studies.  A rite of passage....  And, Dad was there for me.

Mrs. McD probably never knew how much that information meant to me.  Combined with remarks made to me by my father's good friend and family mechanic, I knew for a certainty that my father was proud of my achievement.  Dad never graduated from high school and to see his youngest son, then another of his sons a few years later, complete the rigors of a degree program, perhaps gave him the satisfaction of knowing that all the years of hard work, including an extraordinary amount of overtime, was worth the effort.

I find it interesting that volumes have been written about the relationships that exist between fathers and sons.  From Freud's nonsense about sexual rivals to the old chestnut that a boy never becomes a man until his father dies, much has been said about our relationships.  All that I can confirm is that for most of my life I interpreted what I felt as a lack of a loving relationship to some failing of mine or his.  I never understood him.  I am certain that he never understood me.  Yet, as too often is the case, it was only in the remaining years of my father's life that I realized how wrong I had always been.  Forget the psychobabble.  Especially forget that crap about "absent" fathers and domineering mothers as a cause of male homosexuality.  Dad loved me.  He nurtured me as best he could.  He prepared me for the world of work by his example.  He taught me generosity of time and resources by his example.  He taught me to reject prejudice by his example.

I can only hope that during my 25 years in the classroom I inspired just one boy or girl to believe that he or she could attain their dreams through hard work and determination.  Yes, a bit of luck and money would go a long way to assist them, as well, in these difficult days.  Having loving parents that support their dreams is crucial.  Not once did my father discourage my dream of going to college.  Not once was I criticized for reaching for more of the American Dream than what poor folk could expect to obtain.  Dad never pushed me.  He plowed the road ahead of me.

I am grateful that God gifted me my Dad.  I am the man that I am today because my father and mother loved me.  And, I miss them both...



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She Was Anti-Abortion Before She Was Pro-Choice

United States Representative Michele "Let's Investigate the Anti-American Congress" Bachmann (R-MN) is insane. Really. She is so far out in space that she doesn't know what is coming out of her own mouth. In an interview with a Fox Noise commentator she exclaims,

"That's why people need to continue to go to the town halls, continue to melt the phone lines of their liberal members of Congress, and let them know, under no certain circumstances will I give the government control over my body and my health care decisions."

Go figure. She is all anti-government about the control of her health care descisions. That is exactly what many women and enlightened men have been yelling since before Roe V. Wade became settled constitutional law.

Now, Michele, about all the other shit you have been saying, STFU.
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Quick Question

I just gotta know --

When the oil companies bussed in all those folks to that "protest" against global warning legislation or when all those other astroturfers sent their crazy folks in -- do they get to go shopping afterward?  It seems that it would be a waste of a day unless you at least got to go for ice cream.



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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

United Airlines Breaks Guitars Song 2

This is a follow-up to the first song about the guitar massacre.


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My Hero: Barney Frank


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Medical Studies

Between my junior and senior years at university I stayed in Lamoni, Iowa and worked for Graceland University's physical plant. I painted dorm rooms, repaired the roof and tower of the Old Administration building, and performed other tasks as required. I lived off campus in a trailer park and thoroughly enjoyed the last real summer job I would ever have before embarking on my teaching career. The work was easy, the crew I worked with amiable, and the Iowa summer was hot with scattered thunderstorms and tornadoes popping up regularly.

That summer I wrecked my car, met my first dickie waiver as I hitchhiked from a State Hospital psychiatiric review appointment to the nearest bus station to catch my ride back to Lamoni, and I met the qualifications for student aid from the State of Iowa's Rehabilitaion Services. The embarrassment of striking the car of a Graceland coach while I rubbernecked a turn into a road work detour was much worse than that of being with the naked pervert driving a pickup. I needed the ride. I also desperately needed the money for room, board, and books even more. Years later I got over the shame of having qualified for rehab support because of my severe depression -- Fuck, mental illness.

I remember one day that summer when working on a dormitory roof listening to a report on a radio newscast. The radio DJ reported about a very expensive study conducted by the federal government about teenage premarital sex. The study was quite involved and, as I said, expensive. My buddy and I nearly rolled off the roof when the results of the study were announced. "Some do, and some don't."

Today, on the Reuters news website, it's being reported that U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration has studied drug use in the Baby Boomer generation.

"Baby boomers, now well into middle age, are still turning on to illegal drugs, doubling the rates of illicit drug use for the older generation, according to U.S. government statistics released on Wednesday. The rates of people aged 50 to 59 who admit to using illicit drugs in the past year nearly doubled from 5.1 percent in 2002 to 9.4 percent in 2007 while rates among all other age groups are the same or decreasing"

Yep. Back when, some did and most didn't.

Now? Some still do.......



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Monday, August 17, 2009

I've Lived My Life in Snippets

At age 13, I don't know what pissed me off more, my grandmother telling me that if I didn't join her church I would go to hell or the other missionary bent on making me believe that God knows everything in advance. According to this fellow, everything was pretty much settled long long ago. And, where I got this idea that I had choices in life and that God let me make them -- always -- I do not know (or, thanks, Mom). I recall that the prospect of an alleged loving God having already determined how my life would unfold made me suicidal. What was the use of playing along with that game for any period of time? Stop the world and let me off.

When I did come into the fold of the RLDS Church, my grandmother had already changed her story and was swearing that she never told me such a thing. Well, Granny, it was on that only day Mom had ever staged a garage sale using the basement of the house and it was shortly after my secret baptism and confirmation into the Presbyterian Church. You cornered me there in the basement and asked me about my having been going to that congregation on Church Street, then launched into that arrogant old timers religious dogma. Somehow, I got past all of grandma's fire and brimestone and found a way to reconcile an "all knowing" God with a loving God that pretty much could see that if I made this or that choice along life's path I would be here or there and on and on. He would always be there. He would always hope that each of my choices would bring me nearer to Him.

The choices were mine. Agency. Free will. If there was no other way, then why all the fuss with an Only Begotten Son and all the ministry, miracles, and murder? Sure, God knows all the possibilities with every choice like an endless computer operation. If this, then that. If this, then that. Gifting me the right and responsibility to choose all, including whether or not to follow God's Way, was a part of the character of a deity that I could worship.

Lately, I have been obsessed with the idea that in at least one instance in my life I made a critical choice that helped insure that I was here and now and not there and then. Funny. It really does seem that I have discovered one of the few positives about having to live with bipolar depression. The choice I made that one seemingly insignificant evening contributed to the end of what I now recognize as a period of hypomania and the beginning of a period of depression. I recall some very important encounters at that time and nothing afterward. I just sort of moved on and never put myself in that "neighborhood" again. A bipolar depression trigger may have saved my life.

I only remember bits and pieces of the hypomanic period. What I do remember is that I gave away my virginity. What I do remember is that I never returned to her, her parent's outbuilding, and the neighborhood where it all happened. Choices. Or, maybe, just another freaking event that triggered a depression or more simply -- shiny object! -- or God's knows what....

What fuels my obsession with the events surrounding that period in my life is the real possibility that had I returned to that neighborhood I may have eventually found myself ejected from my home and family. The fear that haunted me then is one that many gay youth have had and still have today. The prospect of being kicked out onto the street was frightening. Paralyzing. I remember being "sex crazed" and the fact that I had sex with a girl takes nothing away from my then desire to have sex with the school buddies that were also having sex with that girl. I came close to outing myself then and I honestly believe that had I done so my life would have been over. That sounds melodramatic but considering I had siblings that would have beat me senseless had they discovered my secret life and considering the prevailing attitudes in late 60's small town America, I had reason to fear.

Did I mention obsession? I am convinced that had I made certain choices then I would have been out on the street and running towards another life or surrendering to death. The point I am trying to get to is that my mental illness -- Fuck, there I said it -- contributed to my quitting the Presbyterian Church and quitting (temporarily) the very activities that more than likely would have exposed my secret life. Instead, my high school years became a series of hypersexual activities followed by remorse combined with drug use, depression, and more dangerous sexual activities, repeat, wash, rinse, and repeat it all again... By the time I was 17, I could no longer count on two hands and two feet the number of boys my age and older men that I had sex with.

Shocking. Not really to me now that I know a bit more about childhood trauma and child rape. The mental health professionals don't fully agree yet about the concept of sexual addiction, but I sure know something about it. I have through the years "rehearsed" my traumas over and over again with anonymous men. Sexual reenactments. That's insanity. Did I always expect some other outcome? It is no wonder that I am such a sexual invalid. TMI? Tough cheese. My blog. My life. My therapy....... Perhaps, all I have needed these past few months was to finally put in writing some of the previously unknown history of my life. Maybe, now I may be able to move on.

Time to find something else to obsess about.

Crap! There are so many choices..... but they are mine to make.



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Music Video Monday

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Feed the Poor

Photographs of dairy farmers dumping raw milk into ditches along the road confused me as a kid. As an adult, I am still perplexed as to why any food products would be literally thrown away just because the crop is larger than expected and farmers desire a greater profit. Paying farmers to NOT plant crops is equally disturbing. What ever happened to free market capitalism?

It does not matter to me what economic justifications the farmer or food processing businesses use, wasting food is just wrong. My parents grew up during the great depression and I have often credited that fact with their strong conviction that we do not waste food. Ask my brothers and they will all retell a story or two about sitting at the dinner table until everything on our plates was eaten. To this day I cannot dine on beets without remembering the night that Dan and I sat crying at the dinner table because we hadn't yet finished the very small portion of beets that my parents insisted we eat. We were told that we must at least try them.

The parental commandment to finish everything on our dinner plates may be a contributing factor to our all being a bit overweight at some point in our lives. Parental commandments are, after all, difficult to ignore, but that's another story or two..... We were never harangued about "starving children in India", we did as we were told. We also learned to be gracious when eating meals with friends and families and to not completely refuse any of the entrees and side dishes offered to us.

Over the years, I have seen far too many permissive parents that would rather please their children than teach them valuable life lessons. Special separate meals for the kiddies just never make sense. (Unless its liver!) Accepting that food will be wasted with a meal has been and will remain difficult for me to accept. And leftovers.....I don't know when Memo started refusing to eat leftovers, but I really ought to have a talk with his mother....... I digress.

I came across an article today about the dumping of up to 25% of the tart cherry crop in Michigan. A bumper crop should mean cheaper frozen cherries and pie filling in the purist economic sense, but in our "government regulated" farm industry it means that tons of cherries will become landfill or large compost heaps. That is unacceptable.

What is also unacceptable is the casual use of food in arts and crafts projects at school, Sunday school, or church camp. I shudder to think about the number of poor families that could have been fed by every bean or rice mosaic created over the years at the camps my church sponsored. I sure hope that more teachers come to their senses and choose other materials to make those crazy roosters and other such works of fine art.

The price of milk or tart cherries and every other commodity in this world is dependent upon the economic rule of supply and demand. To throw food away to increase one's profit AFTER a crop has been harvested is just wrong -- in my opinion. There has got to be a better way.......
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WTF?

This is a good report. Spot on. The discussion with Bill Maher after this report is even more enlightening. You may find it here. (H/T Crooks and Liars)

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Thanks, John


John Amato from Crooks and Liars posted about the LIES being uttered by Republicans, Health Care hacks, and the astroturf (fake grassroots activists) gasbags pretending to really care about health care reform. Mr. Amato quotes from this article. Money quote:
"The recent attacks by Republican leaders and their ideological fellow-travelers on the effort to reform the health-care system have been so misleading, so disingenuous, that they could only spring from a cynical effort to gain partisan political advantage. By poisoning the political well, they've given up any pretense of being the loyal opposition. They've become political terrorists, willing to say or do anything to prevent the country from reaching a consensus on one of its most serious domestic problems..."
Rachel Maddow has been expressing the same view.
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Sunday Drive



I am from Michigan where the "car culture" was born. Everyone must own a car or truck and everyone must live a reasonable driving distance from where they work. We grew up dependent upon cars and trucks. We grew up expecting to be able buy a car by the age of 16. Somehow, once a license to drive was earned we forgot how enjoyable it is to walk or ride a bicycle. Only now, with this economy and future environmental actions needed will that culture ever change in Michigan.

The "Sunday drive" was also part of our car culture. Families would pack up the kids with snacks and venture into the "country". Once the Sunday shopping blue laws were eliminated, the Harris Family's drives were to shopping centers close to Detroit. I still remember the thrill of those drives to the city or to the rural areas north and west of Port Huron.

We traveled to Chapala today to look at replacements for a broken iPod docking station. We drove along the Libramento (highway bypass) to Chapala and meant to return the same way but failed to take the proper turn off. We ended up on the other side of the mountains heading toward Guadalajara. The photographs above were taken as we drove back home to Ajijic. These are photographs of the other side of our mountains.

Photos of the Day


We had lunch this afternoon at the Nueva Posada with our favorite "tapatio". After lunch we walked down to the beach and I took some photographs of the thunderstorm across the lake. We could hear thunder rolling across the lake and saw the storm was heading toward Chapala. I tried to take a picture of Christian, our amigo tapatio, but he was uncooperative.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Banned From CNN?

Banned From CNN? That's not surprising. We can't trust Fox, Dobbs has cracked, and even MSNBC has a questionable bent....

H/T to Crooks and Liars


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Mock the Republican Party

Democracy in Action? Nope.

The organizers (the health care corporations & the Republican Party) are disgusting! The participants are clueless that they are being used by those with money and power. The participants are hooligans. What is wrong with the GOP? Are they really so desperate?


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Monday, August 3, 2009

Off on a Tangent

"Bird-walking" was a term used by an education expert du jour........ anyway, enjoy:



LMAO.
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Will Work for

I've been speculating that I could chart my major mood changes by studying the number of posts that I make in a given period of time. For example, the month of July saw an increase in blog posts over the previous month where I know I was depressed. Jadzia's health plus all the usual suspects had me greatly impaired and then, as if a switch was turned on, my little head went all hypomanic. July seemed to have a few days of rapid cycling to depression and back, but the tracks of this bipolar coaster ride sped mostly elevated until....

Whenever.

I'm not serious enough about making any charts at the moment. That obsession hasn't grabbed me. Yet. I do have to note that this past week or so may have seen a steady number of postings but the postings lacked in "quality". I haven't been writing much. Let's see... The news about health care and all the racist birther, deather, and creepy batshit conspiracies has me a bit twisted inside and it is hard to put all of that into words. And, I did have another flu, or it could have been the stupid "amibas + lombrices". On occasion everybody down here may have a problem with intestinal parasites. I was laid low for a few days and ventured out of bed briefly. The cure for the flu was to ride it out. The amoebas and other nasty critters require a dose pack of two medium sized tablets containing a quinine drug and some other medication to be taken once. That's it. A second dose after 30 days is seldom required according to the Vermox Plus product information. So, we each took a prophylactic dose of the cure and are considering a monthly or bi-monthly regime of preventive care.

Today was an unusual day. I got up late, as usual (my sleep schedule is screwed up due to the two days I was sleeping off the flu/bug infestation....), and we went out to meet some friends for a "working" lunch. Memo and I were asked to help a friend learn how to work her new digital camera. She knew that we had helped another tech-challenged friend with her new camera right before an Alaskan cruise. So, for the price of lunch, we spent some quality time teaching J about the features of her camera and how to use it. Lunch was great, but the surprise gift that J and X gave us is literally out of this world. OMG OMG

Yep. Hold the BLT sandwich and the papas fritas, I'll work for mo


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The Most Trusted Name in News?

Nope.


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Music Video Monday

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Talking Truth to Stupid

New Rules -- Birthers -- "Never underestimate the ability of a tiny fringe group of losers to ruin everything."


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Divorce American Style

The marriage video went viral and the wedding party performed for the Today Show. Now, we have the parody.

Enjoy.


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