Friday, November 28, 2008

You're a Turkey

I am in Hilton Head, South Carolina, for Thanksgiving. Twelve years ago Bob joined me for Thanksgiving in Hilton Head with the in-laws. That was when we developed the "game" "You're a turkey." In honor of that monumental occasion I have composed a brief recreation.
Sarah: You're a turkey.
Bob: You're a turkey.
David: ...
Sarah: You're a turkey.
Bob: You're a turkey.
David: ...
Sarah: You're a turkey.
Bob: You're a turkey.
David: [furrows brow]
Sarah: You're a turkey.
Bob: You're a turkey.
David: [continued brow furrowing]
Sarah: You're a turkey.
Bob: You're a turkey.
David: [add "huh?" mouth to brow furrowing]
Sarah: You're a turkey.
Bob: You're a turkey.
David: [attempts to ignore Bob & Sarah in the hope they will stop or go away]
Sarah: You're a turkey.
Bob: You're a turkey.
David: [returns to reading book]
Sarah: You're a turkey.
Bob: You're a turkey.
David: [concentrates on book and ignoring Bob & Sarah]
Sarah: You're a turkey.
Bob: You're a turkey.
David: [scowls at book]
Sarah: You're a turkey.
Bob: You're a turkey.
David: [looks up from book scowling]
Sarah: You're a turkey.
Bob: You're a turkey.
David: >sigh<
Sarah: You're a turkey.
Bob: You're a turkey.
David: >mumble< >sigh<
Sarah: You're a turkey.
Bob: You're a turkey.
David: [stares at Bob & Sarah in disbelief]
Sarah: You're a turkey.
Bob: You're a turkey.
David: STOP IT!

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Happy Thanksgiving Furrday

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Sign of the Times

Who was I talking to about the "O" logo for the Barack Obama campaign? He or she didn't like it at all. I completely disagreed, finding it more pleasing than any campaign logo I'd ever seen. Apparently Matthew Yglesias agrees with me. And he has a link to an interview with the designer of the "O".

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


As I've stated before, I am not a knitter. I'm also not a crocheter. But I am entranced by Supernaturale's use of a display case as a primer for crochet methods via WhipUp. I'm pretty much a sucker for anything in that sort of display case. But the start white of the crocheted bits against the dark wood is striking. The museum-like display and the labels remind me of Dario Robleto's collections of macabre ephemera in the Human/Nature: Artists Respond to a Changing Planet show at the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego that I reviewed in October.

I'm similarly charmed by the design boards Lobster & Swan makes to record the things that inspire her each day, which I also found via Design*Sponge. Really, I'm a sucker for anything date-stamped. These collages remind me of On Kawara's Today Series, which you can go see as part of The Panza Collection exhibit at The Hirshhorn Museum.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Quilt News

The Philadelphia Museum of Art is showing Gee's Bend: The Architecture of the Quilt through December 14, 2008. In conjunction with that exhibit the PMA is showing Quilt Stories: The Ella King Torrey Collection of African American Quilts and Other Recent Quilt Acquisitions. The PMA is a great museum. I saw this particular Gee's Bend show at The Walters Museum in Baltimore. It's a definite must-see.

Also in quilt related news, Dear Ada shared some pieces from Sherri Lynn Wood's collection of Passage Quilts. These quilts commemorate and honor personal relationships, milestones, and rites of passage. You can read more about these quilts in the November/December 2008 issue of FiberArts.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Recipe Round Up

Serious Eats is doing a series of recipes adapted from Martha Stewart's latest cookbook, Martha Stewart's Cooking School. I have a couple of her cookbooks, and I never use them. The recipes are usually overly complicated or involve obscure ingredients or equipment (of course, I haven't really perused them since I started my cooking kick in Indiana, so maybe I wouldn't find them so esoteric or challenging now). But the recipes Serious Eats cooked so far seem pretty doable.

A few that I've been contemplating:

Recipes not from the Martha Stewart book that I'm contemplating making:
  • Mushroom and Chicken Risotto from food writers Joy Manning and Tara Mataraza, who are writing a cookbook focusing on minimizing the use of meat, which was one of the suggestions in Michael Pollan's In Defense of Food. Via Serious Eats.
  • We think our baking powder biscuit recipe is pretty darned awesome. But I'm tempted to try Amanda Clarke's biscuit recipe from Serious Eats.
  • We think our pancake recipe from The Grit Cookbook is pretty darned awesome, too. But I'm tempted to try Mark Bittman's Rich Ricotta Pancakes. Via Serious Eats.
  • David's Mom used to make meringues pretty regularly to serve with fresh fruit for dessert. I've never attempted it. But I'm tempted to try ditte isager's recipe from Design*Sponge. It's worth looking at the recipe for the pictures alone, even if you'll never make a meringue.

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Saturday, November 22, 2008

Round Up

In this round up: embroidery patterns meet technology, bag making tutorials, underbritches, french seams and hand-rolled hems, collages, decoupaged ceilings, stenciled cement, space-aged chicken coop, sheep, recycle Brita filters, recycle CDs, wash fruit & veg, persimmons, Obama and food politics, Obama and criminal justice, and a funny post title.

SharonB, formerly of In A Minute Ago, currently of Pin Tangle, shared an online resource for vintage embroidery patterns, J. F. Ingalls, which is cool. But what's even cooler is she links to two tutorials from the same resource about how to use GIMP to turn illustrations from the catalog into usable designs AND to enlarge a design without getting the fuzzies, i.e. it shows you how to turn images into a vector images.

I have this very specific drawstring bag project in the sourcing materials phase that might be helped out by one or more of the bag tutorials collected by KathRed over at WhipUp.

I'm not the only one interested in Angry Chicken's underthings. WhipUp mentioned her unmentionables and collected a few more panty production links.

I'm not remotely interested in making a french scarf, but I am interested in learning how to sew a french seam and how to sew a hand-rolled hem both of which Colette explains clearly with beautiful pictures. Via WhipUp.

I'm in love with impactist's photos of cut paper collages over at Design*Sponge.

When I was in my extreme fish-themed bathroom phase I would have been all about decoupaging my bathroom ceiling with printouts of fish after seeing this awesome DIY decoupaged ceiling project over at Design*Sponge. I'm over fish in bathrooms, but I wonder what else I could do.

Design*Sponge has a Before & After showing some pretty impressive stenciling on a cement patio. This has totally set my mind racing about ways to spruce up our back patio with paint.

Yanko Design featured a very modern looking chicken coop via Re-Nest. I can't actually find any information about whether it is in production. C'est la vie. It might look more sleek in the backyard than the Eglu, I found in June also at Re-Nest, which appears to be for sale in the U.K.

Of course we all know chickens are the gateway-livestock to sheep. Serious Eats posted about people becoming sheep farmers and artisanal cheese makers . . . a dream I know at least a few of us share.

According to Re-Nest, the Take Back the Filter campaign, which I mentioned back in May, has succeeded! So start setting aside your used Brita filters because starting in January you can drop off filters at Whole Foods Markets or mail them in.

Did you know you can recycle CDs and DVDs? It's true, according to Re-Nest.

Re-Nest suggests a novel & eco-friendly method to really clean produce.

To supplement my persimmon post, Re-Nest has more information about persimmon buying and consuming.

On the food politics front, Gristmill has been closely watching the Obama transition team for signs about the future of the Department of Agriculture and other key food-policy posts.

In other political news, Prof. Berman shared his thoughts on what presumptive Attorney General Eric Holder might do in terms of criminal justice and sentencing. He also shared his criminal justice wish list for the incoming Obama administration. He zooms in on the criminal justice section of the a new publication from the Center for American Progress Action Fund, entitled "Change for America: A Progressive Blueprint for the 44th President."

Lastly, The Most Hilarious Blog Post Title if You Think Like a 12 Year Old Boy: Dingell Waxed

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Friday, November 21, 2008

Vacation Furrday

The boys relaxing in their first hour of Thanksgiving vacation.

Sphinxy says, "Riddle me this, who's the cutest?"

David and Izzy confer, "We are the cutest, no?"
Izzy sticks his tongue out in triumph.
Zoom in for cuteness!

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Birthday Prezzie

In finally unpacking my suitcase from my East Coast Tour in order to pack it for my Thanksgiving in Hilton Head, I found the AWESOME gift Bob and Rebecca gave me for my birthday while I was in Richmond: a set of sassy post-its! I totally need this as I have finally worked my way through my extensive post-it collection that I may have borrowed from my last job before law school.
How many times have I needed a tiny post-it tab that says "Moo"? So very many times. And yes, the sassy words are on every single post-it, not just the top one. I believe B&R got these from Mongrel, the super cute shop in Carytown. If you can't get to Carytown, you can buy them online from the source: Knock Knock.
I am also entirely fond of the pirate post-its. Maybe I could write in some parentheses and use them for my Art History Reading Group, (aka A(rg)H). Thank you, Bob & Rebecca!

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Thursday, November 20, 2008

Birthday Prezzie

Yesterday I received a belated birthday prezzie from my friend Julia. Along with homemade peanut butter chocolate chip cookies and Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, she sent me a beautiful handmade scarf.

She knit it out of variegated blue ribbon. I've been wearing the two scarves she knit me for my birthday in 2005 in the cold weather climates of Washington, D.C., and Bloomington, Indiana. This ribbon scarf is perfect for the warmer climes of southern California. Thank you, Julia!

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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Do I Have 4 Cents?

Do you want to give your two cents to President-Elect Barack Obama? I've already posted a few opportunities to pool your two cents with like-minded organizations. Here are a couple more: Amnesty International and Families Against Mandatory Minimums.
Amnesty International has an app that helps you write a letter to President-elect Obama (requires registration) asking him to demonstrate his commitment to justice by:

  • Announcing the timeline to close Guantánamo
  • Issuing an executive order to ban torture and other ill-treatment as defined under international law
  • Ensuring that an independent inquiry into the USA’s detention and interrogation practices in its “war on terror” is set up

Fascinating that both NOW and Amnesty International emphasize the individual letter writing format rather than the petition format. I wonder if these time-tested NGOs have found letters demonstrably more effective than petitions.

Families Against Mandatory Minimums has a partially editable letter to President-elect Obama stating:
Congratulations on your victory. As you now prepare to take office, I am sure you are assembling a policy agenda for the beginning of your term. I urge you to include federal sentencing reform as a high priority for your administration.

As a concerned citizen and member of Families Against Mandatory Minimums (FAMM), I believe that the one-size-fits all nature of mandatory minimum sentences undermines a basic principle of American justice - that the punishment should fit the crime and the individual. As you develop your criminal justice agenda, please keep in mind these key facts about mandatory minimum sentences:

- Mandatory minimum sentences prevent the courts from considering the facts of each case or the individual's role. For example, only the weight and type of drug, or the presence of a firearm during a felony offense, determine the length of a mandatory minimum sentence. Judges cannot lower a mandatory minimum sentence because of the circumstances of the case or a person's role, motivation, or likelihood of repeating the crime.

- Mandatory minimum laws often punish low-level defendants more harshly than those who are more culpable. Those with higher levels of involvement in an offense that carries a mandatory minimum often have information to give prosecutors in exchange for a sentence reduction. However, people at the periphery of these cases - for instance, drug couriers, addicts or relatives of drug dealers - often have no information to give to prosecutors and end up with a longer sentence.

- Public support for mandatory minimum sentences has waned. According to a recent poll commissioned by FAMM, 59 percent of Americans oppose mandatory minimum sentences for nonviolent offenders. And fully 78 percent of Americans agree that courts - not Congress - should determine an individual's prison sentence.

- Mandatory minimum sentences are the least effective means of reducing drug use and sales. At a time of financial crisis, our sentencing policies should be cost effective, not just costly. Treatment of substance abusers is eight to nine times more cost effective than long mandatory sentences, according to the RAND Corporation.

I believe the time has come for a new approach on federal sentencing issues, one that upholds the traditions of individualized justice that Americans hold dear. I sincerely hope that you will give mandatory minimum sentencing reform the attention it deserves.

Thank you for your attention to this issue. I wish you the best of luck during your transition and beyond.

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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Crisis Breeds Neologism

David coined a new term to describe our fun, non-mandatory evacuation from the fires last weekend: evacucation. We had a dog-friendly hotel all picked out and everything.

Monday, November 17, 2008


This is a picture of ash on our deck left over from the fires in Brea and Yorba Linda this weekend. Our place is about three miles from the southwestern corner of the voluntary evacuation area for the Brea fire Saturday evening. So we're just fine. Smells like the bonfire at summer camp . . . any suggestions for getting that out of the carpets? And the dogs?

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Fire Furrday

For our fun, non-mandatory evacuation from the fires, we took the dogs to the Huntington Beach dog park.

The smoke from the fires made the sunset extra gorgeous.

This was Augie's first time at the Pacific Ocean and Izzy's first time at any ocean.

Unfortunately we didn't get close enough to the water's edge to see if Izzy would hop in.

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This picture was taken shortly before 2:00 p.m. today from our front door in Fullerton, California. I thought there had been an eclipse. But as soon as I opened the door the smell of smoke was overwhelming. Ash is falling from the sky like snowflakes - just light flurries right now.

There is a fire in the eastern portion of Yorba Linda near Corona. There is also a fire a fire in Brea near Carbon Canyon. That's like two exits north.

We're packing up and taking the dogs to the beach. A sort of fun, non-mandatory evacuation.

I Love Barney Frank

The New York Times has a great analysis piece today by Joe Nocera, Facing Crisis, Congress Makes Sense, highlighting two recent Congressional hearings that might restore your faith in legislative governance. It quotes Barney Frank, who I love, responding to a lobbyist for the securitization industry,

I would like to believe what you are saying. But as Chico said to Groucho, "Who are you going to believe, me or your own eyes?"
Representative Frank was a guest on Wait Wait . . . Don't Tell Me the other week and I laughed so hard I cried.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Got Plans This Saturday?

How about joining a peaceful demonstration in support of equal rights for all? Join the Impact has coordinated an international protest this Saturday, November 15th (just in time for your birthday, Mom!) in response to the November 4th passage in Florida, Arizona, Arkansas, and California of propositions undermining the equality of, well, all of us really. There are events planned for Richmond, Virginia, New York City, and, well, all over California.

If you're not up for a protest, at least head over to Human Rights Campaign and recommit to fight for marriage equality.

NOW Helps Craft Your Two Cents

The National Organization for Women has a great app that helps you develop your personal message to the Obama/Biden administration by selecting from a pretty wide range of statements like:

Juggling work and family responsibilities is a significant challenge for women. I ask you to expand family leave to cover all workers and put the issue of paid leave back on the national agenda, in addition to a minimum number of paid sick days for all workers.
Advocate for a guarantee of gender equality in the U.S. Constitution. Push forward on the ratification of CEDAW, the United Nations treaty to end sex discrimination.
to name a few.

Give President-elect Obama Your Two Cents

You can go straight to the source and tell the President-elect what would be best for the country by filling out the Share Your Vision form over at Or you can pool your voice with other folks who share the same goals, like True Majority, People for the American Way,, the Organic Consumers Association, Code Pink, and/or Greenpeace.

Frustratingly, I can't find a petition asking President-elect Obama to work towards non-profit, single-payer health care. I checked Healthcare-Now, The Campaign for America's Future, Health Care for All-California, and Nine-Nine-Oh-Nine. Any suggestions?

True Majority has a little app where you vote for your top priorities for the Obama administration and then it generates a (kinda lame) little email for you to send to Obama listing your priorities.

People for the American Way has a petition asking President-elect Obama to restore the constitution. More specifically it states:

I urge you to uphold your commitments to restore constitutional rights and the rule of law. The Bush administration has run roughshod over Americans' civil liberties and its intelligence policies must be reversed, not continued.

The change you were elected to bring must include adherence to our core constitutional values: NO MORE torture... NO MORE domestic spying that violates Americans' rights... NO MORE excessive government secrecy... NO MORE gross violations of due process and habeas corpus. isn't doing a petition. But you can sign their "super-sized card." Because what, mommies don't do petitions? Mine did. Anyway, their big card says:
We were delighted to hear you raise issues of concern to women and families during the campaign. We share your view that it is critically important to address issues like expanding early learning/childcare opportunities, passing fair pay legislation, securing paid sick days for all workers, and providing healthcare coverage for all children. We look forward to working with you and the Congress to enact these family-friendly policies.

In the coming months, as you and the Congress address our nation's economic future, we urge you to keep these issues at the top of your priority list. We will continue to educate leaders about the way these issues impact real families and real moms, us.

We are behind you all of the way as you work for family economic security.

As you know, a majority of the bankruptcies filed due to the mortgage crisis involve families with children. A full three-quarters of mothers are now in the labor force and many are struggling to cover the rising costs of childcare, healthcare, groceries, and other necessities. Policies such as fair pay, paid sick days, healthcare coverage, and childcare/early education will support our families and help our economy get back on track.

Thank you for speaking powerfully about valuing women and families. We look forward to working with you to bring greater economic security to all.

The Organic Consumers Association has a petition to ask President-elect Obama to

1. Plant a working “Organic Victory Garden” on the South Lawn of the White House, to symbolize your commitment to locally-based, solar-based organic agriculture, with surplus food going to local food shelves.

2. Hire a well-known organic chef, such as Nora Pouillon or Alice Waters, to prepare healthy organic meals for the White House and staff, including vegetables and herbs from the White House Organic Victory Garden.

3. Increase food stamp benefits so low-income Americans can afford high quality organic foods. One way to do this would be to double the value of food stamp debit cards for fresh food purchased from farmers markets.

4. Restore consumers’ right to know by publicly supporting mandatory labeling of Genetically Engineered foods, with regulations similar to those now in place in Europe, Japan, and other nations.

5. Expand incentives for small and mid-sized organic farms and for farmers and ranchers who wish to make the transition to organic. The organic sector currently represents at least three percent of our current food purchases, therefore it deserves at least three percent of USDA program funds and incentives.

6. Appoint Michael Pollan, or another well-known advocate for organic agriculture and the relocalization of our food and farming system, as the new Secretary of Agriculture.

7. Provide funds and incentives for urban food access programs that connect organic farms with urban retail stores, providing fresh produce and vegetables for America’s inner-cities.

8. Redirect the existing multi-billion dollar crop subsidy system away from commodities and biofuels and instead towards energy-efficient, greenhouse gas sequestering organic crops, especially fruits and vegetables.

9. Strictly regulate factory farms, Confined Animal Feeding Operations (CAFO), to sharply reduce or eliminate their damage to the environment and public health.

10. Fast-track the Employee Free Choice Act to assure that farm labor and other workers are guaranteed the right to form a union at their place of employment.

Code Pink has a slightly out of date petition (it still refers to Obama as Senator instead of President-elect) stating:
We, the undersigned, are deeply concerned about possibility that the Bush administration might be considering a military strike on Iran, that it might give a green light to such an attack by Israel, or that it might engage in other acts of war, such as imposing a blockade against Iran.

We welcomed your stand against the war on Iraq in 2002. And we were encouraged by your early campaign statements emphasizing diplomacy over military action against Iran. Today, you have an opportunity to forestall a repeat of the tragic Iraq war. We hope you will use that opportunity.

We agree with the conclusion of Muhammed ElBaradei, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, that "A military strike ... would be worse than anything possible. It would turn the region into a fireball..." A military attack, he said, "will mean that Iran, if it is not already making nuclear weapons, will launch a crash course to build nuclear weapons with the blessing of all Iranians, even those in the West." (Reuters, June 20, 2008.)

We don't know, of course, whether an attack on Iran is in fact being considered, or if there are serious plans to initiate other acts of war, such as a blockade of the country. But we call on you to issue a public statement warning of the grave dangers that any of these actions would entail, and pointing out how inappropriate and undemocratic it would be for the Bush administration to undertake them, or encourage Israel to do so, in its closing months in office.

An attack on Iran would violate the UN Charter's prohibition against the use or threat of force and the Congress's authority to declare war. Moreover, the public right to decide should not be foreclosed by last-minute actions of the Bush administration, which will set U.S. policy in stone now.

We were heartened by your earlier comments suggesting that an Obama administration would act on the understanding that genuine security requires a willingness to talk without preconditions (something Iran has offered several times to no avail), and that threats and military action are counterproductive. We hope you will follow through on these commitments once in office, but also that you will speak out now against any acts of war by the Bush administration.

Greenpeace is asking for something much more immediate and specific in its petition to President-elect Obama.
Congratulations, President-elect Obama, on your election to the White House. You’ve run an inspired campaign and gotten millions of Americans involved in their government again.

Along the way, you’ve committed to being a leader in the fight to stop global warming. Thank you. Your plan to build a new American economy based on renewable energy and to put a limit on global warming pollution could not come at a more important time. You have my support and the support of millions of Americans who understand the threat that global warming poses.

Over the last 8 years, the US has lost much of its respect in the world—not only as a result of the disastrous war in Iraq, but also because of our refusal to take action on global warming. Today more than ever, the world needs a leader in the fight to save the climate. And you can signal a new day of American leadership by personally attending the UN climate talks in Poland this December. Let the world know that the US is committed to doing what science says: cut global warming 25-40% below 1990 levels by 2020 and 80% by 2050.

With your election, Greenpeace and the American people are looking forward to a new era. We must end the days when fossil fuel companies are allowed to buy and sell our government, and begin an age when serious threats like global warming are acted on quickly and responsibly.

Sign a few petitions. Be the change that you seek in the world.

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Wednesday, November 12, 2008

There is no white culture

This is just a random thought that's been rattling around, but was called to the front because it's peripherally related to this post by Ta-Nehisi Coates. It comes down to this: white is not the opposite of black. There, feel free to ignore the rest of this post.

"Black" connotes a whole culture, and John McWhorter (whose articles are the subject of TNC's post) points out that different people embrace or personify that culture to different extents (he goes on to equate this with black identity, so some people are more black than others. I'm not black enough to offer insight about _that_.)

Coates indicates (although this is much argued in the comments) that black nerds are (or were) harassed for being "too white". While I understand what this means, I don't actually think it's true. And not just in the sense that white people don't like nerdy stuff any more than black people, but rather that there isn't anything "white" to be. I mean, there are big chunks of white people that have an identifiable culture in common -- Southern whites, Scandinavian Midwesterners, cowboys (yes, I know, there are black cowboys), goths. But generic "white" is just "not black" -- or not much of anything. "White culture" is pap for easy consumption, sanitized of any cultural references at all. There's no one who identifies Applebee's as part of their culture, or the Jonas Brothers or bologna or Macy's Thanksgiving Day parades. They're just things and customs that some people might enjoy but that are useless for identifying "I'm in this group, not that group" or for taking vicarious pride in.

I realize that one can argue that "black culture" isn't monolithic, but rather that each cultural practice associated with black people are actually only representative of _some_ black people. And certainly there are cultural artifacts that represent subgroups of whites: heavy metal, bagpipes, sauerkraut, Star Trek. But I'm claiming that rather than belonging only to some subgroup, many or most elements of "white culture" don't have any cultural association.

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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Quilts from the Heartland

If you might be in the vicinity of Bloomington, Indiana, this weekend, head on over to the Bloomington Convention Center for the Bloomington Quilters Guild biennial quilt show. In addition to gawking at the creativity of this amazing group of over 200 quilters, you can buy local handmade fiber art goodness for all your holiday giving!

The show is November 14 & 15 at the Bloomington Convention Center located at 302 South College Ave, Bloomington, Indiana. It begins at 9:00 a.m. and ends at 7:00 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. Adult admission is $6, ages 7-12 $2, and under 6 get in for free. In addition to the display of over 200 amazing quilts there's lots of other stuff to do and see.

  • A quilt appraiser on Friday November 14th (walk ins welcome, contact Caryl at 317-293-2466 for an appointment)
  • Holiday Treasure Shop - offering all sorts of stuff but most importantly locally handmade goods
  • Merchant Mall including 10 vendors
  • Demonstrations
  • Klaiber's Heart Truth Quilt Challenge
  • LIVE AUCTION on Saturday, November 15th, at 3:00 p.m. of 41 quilts or quilted items made by members of the Bloomington Quilters Guild that will go home with the highest bidder.

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Birthday Prezzie

David clipped some roses from the bushes in front of our house for my birthday yesterday. Traditionally he gets me one rose from Kroger for birthdays, anniversaries, and Valentine's Day. Now he can clip them from the rose garden. That's saving us, what, like $6 a year? Totally worth the cost of buying a house.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Round Up

In this round up: green foodies suggestions for President-elect Obama, Al Gore's op ed, sustainable turkey, Obama's chili, following international human rights case, solar power en mass, Japanese quilts, unmentionables, knitting knick-knack holders (is there a synonym for "holder" that starts with an n sound?), recovering the deck chairs on the Titanic . . . if "on the Titanic" means "in my garage."

Grist's blog Gristmill has compiled a series of suggestions from green leaders for President-elect Obama. This week the green foodies have their say including Michael Pollan.

Gristmill also nicely highlights the salient features of Al Gore's op ed in the Sunday New York Times, including that clean coal is fictional and plug-in hybrids are awesome. P.S. Al Gore for Environmental Czar!

Also check out Gristmill's suggestions for sourcing a sustainable turkey for your holiday fete.

Speaking of celebrating, how about cooking up some of Barack Obama's favorite chili to celebrate his election to the presidency of the United States of America? Makes me smile every time I type it. Via Serious Eats.

Following Bowoto v. Chevron because there's nothing like the Alien Tort Claims Statute for going after multinational corporations for exploiting the downtrodden. Via Blue Marble.

Contemplating harassing my condo association to look into installing solar power. Via Utne's green blog.

Moving Hands has posted some gorgeous and inspiring pictures of Yokohama Quilt Week in Japan.

Still contemplating making my own skivvies. Apparently Amy over at Angry Chicken has actually taken action on such contemplation and she's still wrangling more panty patterns.

Contemplating making a set of knitting-related nick-nack holders out of old prescription bottles for my friend's birthday in December based on this how-to at Whip Up. Then again, I think the idea is it's for crafters with kids. Do the child-safety caps have any benefits other than preventing access to the non-dexterous?

I have a truly ugly set of deck chairs left by the previous owners in the garage. Maybe they would be less hideous if I replaced the fabric like this Before and After from Design*Sponge?

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It's Not Over Until It's Over

There are at least five Democratic candidates who still have a fighting chance and need your support: Jim Martin - GA Sen, Mark Begich - AK Sen, Al Franken - MN Sen, Charlie Brown - California's 4th Congressional District, and Mary Jo Kilroy - Ohio’s 15th Congressional District.

Below the fold: more information about the California elections that were too close to call on the day after Election Day. According to the California Secretary of State, "California's 58 county elections officials count all legally cast ballots and include them in the final election results that are published 35 days after each election." So we'll revisit these numbers again on Tuesday, December 9th. Meanwhile, as of November 7 at 4:43 p.m., the California Secretary of State reported that statewide 2,738,695 vote-by-mail and provisional ballots had yet to be counted.

Current Vote Count Regarding Close Propositions
Prop. 1A - Safe, Reliable High-Speed Train Bond Act: YES by 448,912 votes
Prop. 4 - Parent Notif. Before Terminating Minor's Pregnancy: NO by 446,176 votes
Prop. 8 - Eliminates Right of Same-Sex Couples to Marry: YES by 495,847 votes
Prop. 11 - Redistricting: YES by 128,876 votes

As the margins for all four of these ballot measures are well within the number of uncounted ballots, it's still too close to call any of them. In the words of the great Yogi Berra, "It's not over until it's over."

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Friday, November 07, 2008

Ask President Obama to Take Action on Climate Change

I just sent a message to President-elect Obama, telling him I will support him in taking bold action to combat climate change and Repower America once he takes office.

You can send your own message. Just click here.

Now's not the time for small steps or a narrow focus. It's time to go big. Our challenges are large and are deeply connected. As Al Gore has said, "We're borrowing money from China to buy oil from the Persian Gulf to burn it in ways that destroy the planet. Every bit of that's got to change." With a bold plan, we can make that change in 10 years. In fact, only a bold plan will cut through the special interest politics in Washington and inspire the nation.

Below the fold: the two cents I added to my email to President-Elect Obama . . . I just love typing that. Say it out loud once or twice with me. Doesn't that make everything better?

I've recently moved from Indiana to California and one of the biggest differences I've noticed is the proliferation of alternative energy. Back east green technology seems like The Jetsons - so futuristic it's ludicrous. But our drive across the country passed through wind farms in Texas and solar collection fields in Arizona. In California solar panels are as common as palm trees . . . and that's in Orange County!

Like Eisenhower built highway infrastructure, let your legacy be building this nation's green utility infrastructure. It can save the planet, create jobs, and provide lower cost utilities to everyone.

I know it will take a mighty cowboy to unhitch the fossil fuel lobby from the congressional feedbag. If you work towards that goal from the White House, I'll work towards that goal from my house. Together we can repower America.

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Furrday: Post-Election Patriotism

Izzy and Augie have been feeling very patriotic since America elected Barack Obama on Tuesday.

I think if they could run for office, these might make some nice campaign publicity stills.
Or maybe this is the start of their campaign to persuade Malia and Sasha to pick a mutt from the Humane Society for the First Puppy. All Things Considered had an in depth piece on the push for a presidential pound puppy and the associated webpage has a photo gallery of presidential pooches.
FYI, I've added a furrday label so you can more easily get your cute dog fix. Just click on the furrday label at the end of this post or on the left side under "View only posts about:" to, perhaps not surprisingly, view only furrday posts.

Also FYI, The found object art depicting the American flag in the background of these pictures was created by Ab Ivens [WARNING: links to a site with streaming music - turn down those speakers at work!], a.k.a. Ab the Flagman.

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How I Ate a Persimmon

This week I bought four persimmons at Trader Joe's because (a) we don't eat enough fruit, (b) I'd never eaten a persimmon, (c) they're so pretty, and (d) I'm trying to increase the biodiversity of my diet.

Not being a complete culinary daredevil, I perused wikiHow's How to Eat a Persimmon. How to Eat a Persimmon described the type of persimmon I purchased, Fuyu Persimmons, as "short and firm," and "crisp and sweet." It claims, "the skin can be eaten or peeled."

I also consulted my gastronomical bellwether, Bob. Bob claimed to have eaten a persimmon in garnish form in Great Britain. He claims said persimmon was approximately grape-sized. Could this be a different variety of persimmon? Or a different odd orange-colored fruit altogether? Wikipedia says that depending on species, persimmons can vary from half an inch to 4 inches in diameter. So maybe he ate one of the half an inch diameter variety. Mine are between three and four inches in diameter.

I washed the skin thoroughly, then used a sharp paring knife to cut off the top where the leaves connect to the fruit, much like one might start a tomato. I then sliced it in half and sliced off a wedge from that to taste. While wikiHow says you can eat the skin, unless you're extremely fiber deprived, I wouldn't recommend it. The skin is much thicker than an apple. Not quite as thick as a mango, but closer to mango than apple skin. The skin didn't taste particularly fabulous either. I found the wedges I ate with the skin on weren't quite as yummy as the wedges I ate after I peeled the skin. I'd say the blandness of the skin dilutes the delicate flavor of the flesh and the tougher texture of the skin overpowers the smoothness of the flesh. Despite its orange color, my persimmon tasted nothing like an orange. It didn't have even the faintest hint of citrus. It reminded me of a melon. Part of that might have been the texture, which reminded me of the best cantaloupe. Part of that might have been the sort of ethereal nature of the flavor. Unlike a mango, which almost bowls you over with its intensity, the persimmon, like a melon, had a light flavor that seemed almost watered down. I mean that as a compliment. My persimmon had no core, you could eat the whole thing, well other than the leaves, and, if you follow my advice, the skin.

I also participated in a little persimmon-based weather prediction. According to old wives everywhere, if you cut a persimmon seed in half, it will reveal a shape that indicates what the weather will be the following winter. I think the old wives are referring to the part of the persimmon I have in close up here, though I'm not sure if the shapes they're referring to are the darker flesh or the area between the darker flesh. I think mine is knife-shaped, which means we're in for a colder than usual winter here in California. Sixty degrees . . . ooo, I'm so scared. So far persimmon seeds across the country have been supporting the Farmers Almanac's prediction of a cold winter this year.

Here's a list of persimmon recipes I might try to muck about with this weekend:

  • Persimmon Cupcakes with Sorrel Goat Cheese Icing from Just Eat Something. In his post on Serious Eats about this recipe he said, "I would probably use a different icing that I used for this particular recipe but the cakes were awesome." Hmm . . . guess I'll have to make a whole bunch of different icings and test each one. Diabetes Type II, your table is ready!
  • Sandra's Persimmon Pudding from
  • Persimmon Cookies II from Hubby's allergic to walnuts, but hubby is also going out of town for the weekend, so really, it's his loss on SO many levels.
  • Persimmon Pie from
  • Martha Stewart explains how to oven-dry persimmon slices. Everything else she wants to do involving persimmons requires a staff of 50 unpaid interns.
  • California Poached Persimmons recipe courtesy Sara Moulton over at the Food Network. Mmm . . . persimmons over ice cream.

OK, one of these recipes said to discard the seeds. Wha-huh? Maybe that's referring to a different kind of persimmon? Or is my persimmon a mutant?

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Free Obama Sticker

Want a free awesome Obama sticker to celebrate our victory? It's designed by Shepard Fairey, the artist who created the iconic HOPE poster. And MoveOn's giving them away totally free--even the shipping's free.

I just got mine. Click here to get your free Obama sticker.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Product Review: Bliss Travel 6-Pack

I promise this is my last post remotely related to my weekend in San Diego. One of the highlights of that trip were (was?) the W Hotel's toiletries. The W provides Bliss products in its baths. More specifically, the Bliss Travel 6-Pack consists of bliss fabulous foaming face wash, bliss lemon + sage soapy sap, bliss lemon + sage body butter, bliss lemon + sage supershine shampoo, bliss lemon + sage conditioning rinse, and bliss lemon + sage soap slab. Following I share my reviews of each of these six products.

FYI: All of these products are available in larger (like around 8 oz.) sizes on W Hotels' online shopping extravaganza or directly from Bliss.

The Environmental Working Group's Skin Deep Cosmetics Safety Database handily contains all of these Bliss products, which isn't terribly surprising given that Bliss's website includes product ingredients. How refreshingly forthright! To put Bliss's products' scores from The Environmental Working Group's Skin Deep Cosmetics Safety Database, which in the case of these six products range from 4 to 7, in perspective, please recall from the post in which I first explored Skin Deep that Fresh Repair and Restore Face Balm, scored a 7, while Seikisho Mask White and Method Hand Wash Refill Sweet Water both scored 5s. Clinique's repairwear intensive night cream received the best score of all the products I've reviewed, a 2, which is an even better score than my favorite night cream of all the night creams: Kiehl's Abyssine Cream +, which scored a 3. Conversely, the worst score of a reviewed product, an 8, which falls into the high hazard category, went to La Prairie's Cellular Night Repair Cream.

bliss fabulous foaming face wash
This is the only product in this review that is not scented with "lemon + sage," which I will discuss in more detail below. Its scent reminds me of bubblegum.

Skin Deep gives bliss fabulous foaming face wash a 5, which falls into the moderate hazard category. 60% of facial cleansers have lower concerns.

While in San Diego, I felt the bliss fabulous foaming face wash might have dried out my skin a little more than my usual Clinique Step 1 Facial Bar Soap for Oily skin. But the climate in San Diego was so different from home that I wasn't sure whether weather might be to blame. What better way to answer that question than take my Bliss Travel 6-Pack on a four-city east coast tour? Just for you, Gentle Reader. Just to provide you with a thorough review of the beauty products I squirreled away at a fancy hotel, I travel for ten days by plane, train, and perhaps even automobile. My sacrifice in the name of your product knowledge knows no bounds.

After nine days using the bliss fabulous foaming face wash in lieu of my usual Clinique Step 1 Facial Bar Soap for Oily Skin, my skin was not dried out at all. So I blame my first impression entirely on the climate of San Diego. I did have one minor blemish during the nine days, but I think it was in process prior to starting the bliss fabulous foaming face wash regime. Notably, the blemish had ebbed by the end of the nine days without any extraordinary measures, like blemish cream. Additionally, usually by the end of a long trip my face cries for exfoliation. But I felt fresh faced all the way to the end. Finally, of all the bliss travel products I used on the trip, the fabulous foaming face wash was the most efficient. I hardly used half of one travel-size bottle. So on all points, a big thumbs up for bliss fabulous foaming face wash.

bliss lemon + sage soapy sap
I LOVE the "lemon + sage" scent of the following five products. But my super-sensitive sniffer, a.k.a. the husband, HATES it. Thankfully, I didn't take him on my east coast tour, so I didn't have to hear him complain. But he did raise some concerns while we were in San Diego. Of course, the scent of the bath products was not nearly as disturbing as the scent clearly intentionally pumped into the lobby of the W Hotel, which closely resembles Nair. I get it, there's a beach theme, women use depilatory before they go to the beach, but the stench of the bathroom after de-hairing triggers memories of chemical burns, not summer lovin'.

But back to the bath products. Bliss lemon + sage soapy sap is shower gel. Whichever marketing wahoo thought "soapy sap" was a hip alternative to "shower gel" should suffer a lifetime ban from product naming.

Skin Deep gives bliss lemon + sage soapy sap a whopping 7, which falls into the high hazard category. This is the only product of the Bliss six to pose a high hazard. 94% of body wash/cleansers have lower concerns.

Over my nine-day test drive I found bliss lemon + sage soapy sap lathered nicely in three different water conditions (i.e. in the showers at the three different places I mooched a place to sleep). It did not dry out my skin and left me feeling clean without being so fragranced that anyone noticed. Also, at home I use one of those net ball scrubby things every day, so usually by the end of a long trip I feel like I need to exfoliate my entire body. But bliss lemon + sage soapy sap kept me feeling just as well exfoliated on day nine as day one. Quite impressive, though I wonder if I was basically giving myself a full-body chemical peel considering the Skin Deep high hazard rating. Finally, the soapy sap was second only to the fabulous foaming face wash in terms of efficiency. I didn't quite finish a whole sample sized bottle in nine days. So if you don't care about the things Skin Deep cares about and you don't mind encouraging bad product naming, bliss lemon + sage soapy sap might be right for you.

bliss lemon + sage body butter
Skin Deep gives bliss lemon + sage body butter a 6, which falls into the moderate hazard category. 75% of moisturizers have lower concerns.

Unlike other products labeled butters (you know who you are, Body Shop Mango Body Butter), bliss lemon + sage body butter applied smoothly and soaked into my skin, leaving it smooth and soft rather than oily. I was slightly concerned that the smell would overpower my hosts, but the scent doesn't actually have much staying power. I mean that as a compliment. It was certainly more effective than most moisturizers in maintaining my silky smoothness, but I don't think I'll be switching from my usual Lubriderm in my daily routine. That stuff works magic on my elbows. bliss lemon + sage body butter didn't undo any of that magic, but its comparative lack of spreadability caused me to go through a number of sample sized tubes on my nine-day trip. I think I get more bang for my buck from Lubriderm Daily Moisture Lotion for Normal to Dry Skin. Both of them rate 6 over at Skin Deep. So I wouldn't kick bliss lemon + sage body butter out of my travel kit, but I wouldn't go out of my way to integrate it into my daily beauty regimen.

bliss lemon + sage supershine shampoo
Skin Deep gives bliss lemon + sage supershine shampoo a 5, which falls into the moderate hazard category. While a 5 doesn't usually have me singing from the hilltops, compared to other shampoos, it's actually a fairly low score. 31% of shampoos have lower concerns.

My hair is really picky about shampoo, but it loved bliss lemon + sage supershine shampoo. Like the bliss lemon + sage soapy sap, the bliss lemon + sage supershine shampoo lathered nicely in three different water conditions. My hair is about 18 inches long at the moment (my desperate need for a haircut could be the subject of a whole different post . . . or perhaps an epic poem at this point) and crazy thick, but the bliss lemon + sage supershine shampoo was undaunted. Usually when I travel I go through multiple sample sized bottles of shampoo. I just finished one bottle on this nine day trip. That says something about the awesome lather bliss lemon + sage supershine shampoo generates. Also, usually after I shampoo, my hair is on the verge of dreadlocks, but not so after bliss lemon + sage supershine shampoo. And this trip I forgot my brush AND my comb. Without combing or brushing my hair would normally dread up underneath at the nape. But not this time. And here's a little SAT analogy for you:

bliss lemon + sage soapy sap:my skin::bliss fabulous foaming face wash:my face::bliss lemon + sage supershine shampoo:my scalp.

What does that mean? My scalp felt as clean and without buildup on day nine as it did on day one. I'm pretty content with my Kiehl's All-Sport Everyday Shampoo, but after nine days with bliss lemon + sage supershine shampoo, I'm considering a switch.

bliss lemon + sage conditioning rinse
Skin Deep gives bliss lemon + sage conditioning rinse a 5, which falls into the moderate hazard category. 52% of conditioners have lower concerns.

My hair is fickle when it comes to conditioner, too. But it loved bliss lemon + sage conditioning rinse. After shampooing, I applied a relatively small amount, combed it through, and let it sit for about five minutes. It rinsed out well in three different water conditions. My hair felt soft and smooth without feeling coated. It didn't tangle or dread at the nape. As I mentioned above in reviewing bliss lemon + sage supershine shampoo, I experienced no scalp buildup over nine days. Also like the bliss lemon + sage supershine shampoo, I usually use a ton of conditioner when I travel, but I used only one bottle of bliss lemon + sage conditioning rinse on this nine day adventure. I am pretty happy with Kiehl's Hair Conditioner and Grooming Aid Formula 133, but after nine days with bliss lemon + sage conditioning rinse, I'm considering a switch.

bliss lemon + sage soap slab
Skin Deep gives bliss lemon + sage soap slab a 4, which falls into the moderate hazard category. While this rating is the lowest of these six products, relative to other bar soaps, it's actually a fairly high score. 70% of bar soaps have lower concerns.

This is the only product I didn't take on my east coast tour. Partly, it's redundant to the bliss lemon + sage soapy sap. Partly, I don't have a soap box. But, most review-relevantly, in our room at the W Hotel in San Diego, a moss green trail of slime developed from the soap dish, across the counter, and into the sink. Not to mention the white soap dish came to look like a swamp. OK, once you recognize the bar of soap itself is moss green the slime trail and soap dish swamp were explained, but still off-putting. Of course both trail and swamp were easily removed with a washcloth. That turned the white hotel washcloth moss green, which was certainly convenient in terms of determining which wash cloths had been used and which were fresh. But as far as home use, much less as a guest in someone else's home, this lovely smelling, moss green bar of soap does not pass muster.

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In honor of our new Professor-in-Chief I thought I'd share some recent articles about recent books about recent studies showing professors have little influence over their students' political beliefs.

Professors’ Liberalism Contagious? Maybe Not by Patricia Cohen of the New York Times

Professors' Politics Don't Dominate the Classroom by Robin Wilson of the Chronicle of Higher Education

So feel free to express your enthusiasm about the election results to your students.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Kaffe Fassett Biopic

Caveat: This might be the result of catching up on all of my GoFugYourself backlog in one sitting.

I hate to steal another blogger's picture, so open up True Up's Quilt Market Fall 2008: Kaffe Fassett post in another tab and come back.

Thanks for coming back!

Now, based on that photograph, don't you agree that someone should develop a Kaffe Fassett biopic starring Bill Murray as Kaffe and Kathy Bates as Liza Prior Lucy? Or maybe just use those two actors playing those characters in the next, say, Wes Anderson film?

Three Things to Make You Cry

Two happy. One so very, very sad.

Daring to Dream of a Black President: Some of America's leading black voices, including Maya Angelou, Toni Morrison, Spike Lee and Tiger Woods share what it means to them on via Jack & Jill Politics

Dancing in the Streets at Daily Kos

California voters approve Proposition 8 ban on same-sex marriages in the L.A. Times

Fullerton Election Results

I have completely bonded with the Orange County Registrar of Voters website over the past 24 hours. Warning: Orange County is notoriously conservative, so before you proceed to the results, do not have a kitten when you see President and Vice President: John McCain/Sarah Palin. Following the election results from Orange County, I've got some statewide election results so you can compare how Orange County differs from the rest of the state.

A little note about voter turn out before digging into the meat and potatoes. The big news in neighboring L.A. County is the historically massive voter turnout. The opposite is true in Orange County. In 2000 970,905 votes were counted in Orange County. 541,299 of those were for George W. Bush, 56%. 391,819 were for Al Gore, 40%. 37,787 were for a non-major party candidate, 4%. In 2004 1,075,396 ballots were counted in Orange County. 641,832 of those were for George W. Bush, 60%. 419,239 were for John Kerry, 39%. 14,325 were for a non-major party candidate, 1%. This year 858,174 votes were counted in Orange County, only 53.4% of the total number of registered voters. 430,360 of those were for John McCain, 50.8%. 401,605 were for Barack Obama, 47.4%. 15,745 were for one of the four non-major party candidates on the ballot in California, 1.8%. Fewer people voted in Orange County in 2008 than in 2004 or 2000 and most of those non-voters would have helped a Republican candidate.

Orange County election results for races at issue in Fullerton, California:
President and Vice President: John McCain/Sarah Palin
United States Representative, 40th District: Ed Royce (Republican)
State Senator, 33rd District: Mimi Walters (Republican)
Member of the State Assembly, 72nd District: Michael D. "Mike" Duvall (Republican)
Judge of the Superior Court, Office No. 12: Debra Carrillo . . . Yay!
North Orange County Community College District, Governing Board Member, Trustee Area 4: Molly McClanahan . . . Yay!
City of Fullerton, Member, City Council: Sharon Quirk . . . Yay!, Shawn Nelson, and F. Richard "Dick" Jones. I believe the top three vote-getters make the cut, but I could be wrong. If it's the top four, then Karen Haluza makes it too, which would be awesome. I am particularly disappointed that F. Richard "Dick" Jones made the cut given his use of misleading direct mail.
Prop. 1A: NO
Prop. 2: YES . . . Yay!
Prop. 3: NO
Prop. 4: YES
Prop. 5: NO
Prop. 6: NO . . . yay.
Prop. 7: NO . . . yay.
Prop. 8: YES
Prop. 9: YES
Prop. 10: NO . . . yay.
Prop. 11: YES . . . yay.
Prop. 12: YES . . . yay.
Orange County Measure J: YES

Statewide Election Results with 95.8% of Precincts Reporting:
President and Vice President: Barack Obama/Joe Biden . . . Yay!
United States Representative, 40th District: Ed Royce (Republican)
State Senator, 33rd District: Mimi Walters (Republican)
Member of the State Assembly, 72nd District: Michael D. "Mike" Duvall (Republican)
Prop. 1A - Safe, Reliable High-Speed Train Bond Act: YES by 423,424 votes - Too Close to Call
Prop. 2 - Standards for Confining Farm Animals: YES . . . yay!
Prop. 3 - Children's Hospital Bond Act. Grant Program: YES . . . yay!
Prop. 4 - Parent Notif. Before Terminating Minor's Pregnancy: NO by 447,561 votes - Too Close to Call
Prop. 5 - Nonviolent Drug Offense. Sentencing, Parole, Rehab: NO
Prop. 6 - Police, Law Enforcement Funding. Criminal Laws: NO . . . yay!
Prop. 7 - Renewable Energy Generation: NO . . . yay!
Prop. 8 - Eliminates Right of Same-Sex Couples to Marry: YES by 415,839 votes - Too Close to Call
Prop. 9 - Criminal Justice System. Victims' Rights. Parole: YES
Prop. 10 - Altern. Fuel Vehicles and Renewable Energy Bonds: NO . . . yay!
Prop. 11 - Redistricting: YES by 90,878 votes - Too Close to Call
Prop. 12 - Veterans' Bond: YES . . . yay!

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U.S. Elects Barack Hussein Obama President

This morning's must see: Newseum's collection of today's front pages from newspapers around the world. We are witnessing history.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Yes We Carved

On the first leg of my fabulous East Coast Tour I spent a lovely afternoon carving pumpkins with my bro, mom, and sis-in-law. It was AWESOME!

Bob and Rebecca have been carving intricate jack-o'-lanterns for many years. Every year they buy a set of Pumpkin Masters tools and patterns. I had seen these in the grocery store and thought they were just the cheap commercialization of an activity that can be just as easily undertaken with a kitchen knife and spoon. I was SO wrong. The scoop with the super short handle was awesome for cleaning out my little pumpkin. To conserve carving space, Mom had cut the smallest hole in the top. A regular spoon could not possibly have fit in that tiny hole. The little rolling pattern marker made quick work of transferring the patterns from paper to pumpkin.

I chose a simple Barack-O'-Lantern Logo Stencil designed by Josh Horton from Yes We Carve. Mom chose a surprised face from the back issues of the Pumpkin Masters pattern books because she thought it would be relatively easy, as this was her first time carving pumpkins with these tools. Rebecca chose a super intricate Creepy with curlicue bats because she's like a pumpkin carving superstar. Bob chose a ghost coming through a gothic window holding a candlestick, the latter being INCREDIBLY tiny because we had to shrink all of our patterns to fit on our smaller pumpkins.

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Monday, November 03, 2008

Fullerton Voting Guide

Edited 10/27/2010 to add: For my 2010 Fullerton Voting Guide, click here.

I know, this is probably too late for all of you awesome people who vote by mail or voted early. If you have, please leave a comment describing why you voted differently from what follows so others might be more fully informed. Maybe this will help the few folks who have held out until Election Day to cast their votes.

For a PDF of the Official California Democratic Party Voter Guide for all the races in Orange County, click here. After the jump, please find the Democratic Party's official recommendations on the statewide offices and propositions with links to candidates' websites, the Orange County Democratic Party's endorsements for almost everything on the ballot in Fullerton with links to candidates' websites, my personal recommendations in the few places they differ from the Dems (i.e., why you should vote NO on Prop. 10 and YES on Prop. 11), and a rant on Orange County Measure J (in sum: vote NO on O.C. Measure J).

If you're voting anywhere in California, here are the California Democratic Party's official recommendations on the propositions (which you can verify here):

Prop 1A: vote YES - Safe, Reliable High-Speed Passenger Train Bond Act for the 21st Century.
Prop 2: vote YES - Will stop cruel, inhumane treatment of farm animals and improve our food saftey.
Prop 3: vote YES - Funding for children’s hospitals.
Prop 4: vote NO - Don’t put our teens at risk. Reject this threat to a woman’s right to choose in California.
Prop 5: vote YES - Rehab for nonviolent drug crimes.
Prop 6: vote NO - Expensive prison expansion.
Prop 7: vote NO - Hurts small renewable energy providers.
Prop 8: vote NO - Will eliminate the fundamental right to same-sex marriage in California.
Prop 9: vote NO - Costly, misguided prison reform.
Prop 10: Neutral $5 billion in energy bonds. [See why you should vote NO below)
Prop 11: vote NO - Redistricting. Constitutional Amendment and Statute (See why you should vote YES below)
Prop 12: vote YES Helps veterans buy farms & homes.

Here is the California Democratic Party's endorsements for all California districts in the United States House of Representatives.

Here is the California Democratic Party's endorsements for all districts in the State Senate.

Here is the California Democratic Party's endorsements for all districts in the State Assembly.

If you're voting in Fullerton, California, here are the California Democratic Party's endorsements with links to the candidates' websites:

United States Representative for the 40th District: Christina Avalos

State Senator for the 33rd District: Gary Pritchard

Member of the State Assembly for the 72nd District: John MacMurray

If you're voting in Fullerton, California, here are the Orange County Democratic Party's endorsements (which can be verified here) with links to the candidates' websites:

Judge of the Superior Court, Office No. 12: Debra Carrillo

North Orange County Community College District, Governing Board Member, Trustee Area 4: Molly McClanahan

City of Fullerton, Member, City Council: Karen Haluza and Sharon Quirk

Where I Differ from the Dems

Proposition 10: Dems - Neutral vs. Sarah - No

I can't find anything on Prop. 10 on The California Democratic Party's website other than the unsupported statement that they're neutral. Some blogger named Jim has a nice collection of resources on Prop. 10. He and I came to the same conclusion: This appears to be T. Boone Pickens' personal ballot initiative. In reading the Official Arguments & Rebuttals I found it odd that a proposition about alternative fuel vehicles wouldn't be endorsed by an environmental group. Then I checked out the opposition's website, which I understand is usually a bit melodramatic, but it did lead me to some more reliable sources. For example, the California League of Conservation Voters opposes Prop. 10 and gives a very persuasive explanation:

A fossil fuel corporation owned by Texas oil tycoon T. Boone Pickens spent $3 million dollars to put Proposition 10 on the ballot. That same corporation will almost certainly reap the rewards if Prop 10 passes. California taxpayers will be stuck subsidizing big trucking companies at a cost of $335 million per year; they’ll shell out a total of $2.5 billion in subsidies to trucking companies to purchase “clean” vehicles. Prop 10 does not require any reduction in global warming emissions for trucking companies that get “clean” vehicle handouts of up to $50,000 per truck – and Prop 10 excludes hybrids from its definition of a “clean” vehicle.

The bottom line: California already faces a $15 billion budget deficit crisis, and Prop 10’s raid on the state’s coffers will mean cuts to our schools, our public safety and our health programs. Prop 10 is biased towards investments in natural gas technology— over cleaner alternatives such as wind and solar technology—while draining California’s already over-committed general fund. Although perhaps rooted in a commendable goal of environmental progress, Prop 10 is bad policy for California’s taxpayers and California’s environment.
The Sierra Club of California also opposes Prop. 10, as does the Natural Resources Defense Council, and the Union of Concerned Scientists. These are my usual go-to resources for green issues, so I take their collective opposition to Prop. 10 seriously.

While I watched Who Killed the Electric Car? thus discovering the group Plug In America after I mailed in my ballot, I find their opposition to Prop. 10 to be highly persuasive. While the broad spectrum environmental groups might not have alternative fuel vehicles as their number one priority, Plug In America does.
Plug In America opposes California Proposition 10, the so-called "California Renewable Energy and Clean Alternative Fuel Act." Don't be suckered -- Prop. 10 is a sham that would commit $10 billion in public money primarily to enrich investors in natural gas, especially T. Boone Pickens, without doing much for consumers or the environment. Under Prop. 10, a "clean alternative fuel vehicle" doesn't have to be any cleaner than current gasoline or diesel vehicles! It would divert precious resources away from better alternatives like plug-in vehicles. And that's just the start of the problems with Prop. 10.
After reviewing all the statements from respectable resources in opposition to Prop. 10, I'm really disappointed in the California Democratic Party for not opposing it. I'm going to have to write my state party chair.(back to list of California Democratic Party proposition endorsements)

Proposition 11: Dems - No vs. Sarah - Yes
I mailed in my ballot a relatively long time ago and when I discovered that the California Democratic Party opposes Prop. 11, I was unsure whether I did the right thing on this one. Then again, that same blogger named Jim has a lovely collection of resources regarding Prop. 11 and he and I agree. Finally, I went to the Yes on Prop. 11 website and was reminded of all the very good reasons I had for voting yes on Prop. 11 and how, unsurprisingly, the California Democratic Party is on the wrong side of this fight.

Currently, state representatives draw their own voting district lines. These elected officials have incentive to draw those lines in such a way as to assure their re-election. In California that has lead to a 99% re-election rate in state legislative races. Essentially, this system has turned the office of state representative into a lifetime appointment. Without the check of reelection these representatives are not responsive to the needs of their constituency and are not held accountable as there is no threat that they will not be re-elected. Systems like the one currently in place in California undermine democracy. Why vote when the system is rigged?

Proposition 11 will create a 14-member independent citizens commission to redraw state legislative district lines based on strict non-partisan rules. Unlike the current process, Proposition 11 will ensure that the redistricting process is open and transparent and will respect existing city and county boundaries and communities. It will exclude individuals with obvious conflicts of interest, including elected officials and their staff, from serving on the Commission.

The League of Women Voters of California sponsored Prop. 11. California Common Cause, a non-profit working "to strengthen public participation and to ensure that the political process serve the public interest, rather than the special interests," supports Prop. 11, as does the ACLU of Southern California. Like the League of Conservation Voters, the Sierra Club, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and the Union of Concerned Scientists are my go-to resources for green issues, The League of Women Voters, Common Cause, and the ACLU are my go-to resources for voting rights issues. I take their collective support for Prop. 11 seriously. (back to list of California Democratic Party proposition endorsements)

Orange County Measure J
I couldn't find the OC Dems' or the Cali Dems' position on Orange County pension benefits, Measure J, which asks, "Shall the ordinance amending the County Charter to require voter approval for certain increases in retirement benefits for County employees and officials be adopted?" I voted no for a multitude of reasons.

First, what the heck do we elect county officials for if not to deal with the mundane issues of governance like retirement benefits for County employees and officials? Voting yes on Measure J sets us on a slippery slope which ends in deciding which pot holes to fill by ballot measure.

Second, for the most part these benefits are negotiated as part of collective bargaining between the county and the county employees' union. A vote for measure J is a vote against organized labor, . . which is probably not the argument to raise in pro-business Orange County.

Third, every time retirement benefits might be raised, Orange County would have to put one of these measures on the ballot, which would cost the taxpayers between $100,000-$160,000 EVERY TIME, according to the official fiscal impact statement. What a waste of money. If you don't like the way the county handles retirement benefits, don't vote for Measure J. Instead vote for someone else next time a county official is up for election. Running a county by ballot measure is a waste of time and money.

According to the L.A. Times, I'm in the minority: Orange County's Measure J foes not even bothering. Nonetheless, the L.A. Times editorial page opposes J: No to Measure J in Orange County. The conservative local paper, The O.C. Register, supports Measure J: Do you want to OK county pensions?

Copy and paste the following into the word processor of your choice, print it, and take it to the polls:

President and Vice President: Barack Obama/Joe Biden
United States Representative, 40th District: Christina Avalos
State Senator, 33rd District: Gary Pritchard
Member of the State Assembly, 72nd District: John MacMurray
Judge of the Superior Court, Office No. 12: Debra Carrillo
North Orange County Community College District, Governing Board Member, Trustee Area 4: Molly McClanahan
City of Fullerton, Member, City Council: Karen Haluza, Sharon Quirk
Prop. 1A: YES
Prop. 2: YES
Prop. 3: YES
Prop. 4: NO
Prop. 5: YES
Prop. 6: NO
Prop. 7: NO
Prop. 8: NO
Prop. 9: NO
Prop. 10: NO
Prop. 11: YES
Prop. 12: YES
Orange County Measure J: NO

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