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Time:07:03 pm
The problems I found myself born into
are
so large, so unrelenting,
that I would despair
if
I hadn't easy things to do
and call them good,
like get a shirt ironed,
(or ten)
or plunge my arms to the elbow
in warm
sudsy
water
to wash a proper, family-sized batch of
supper
dishes.

[in response to a muse-moving post by [info]technoshaman here.]
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Subject:Ever see a really great person?
Time:04:19 pm
 One of the hugely fortunate things about my life has been that I have known truly great people, people who have done huge and wonderful things, made the world into a better, more efficient, more joyous place through their thoughts and actions.

One of the greatest, though, is not one of the most famous, except locally. 

Dr. Tony Rogstad, who died this week in Chimacum, may have been the only true saint I've ever met. He was a vet - by which I mean doctor-of-animals - and knew his stuff, which I expect of any doctor. He ran a wildlife rescue center, which he financed via his small-animal clinic. That was a great & good thing, and uncommon in its generosity to wildlife. And every animal I've ever seen trusted him completely (myself included) - including all three feral cats that live(d) with us.

Dr. Tony called us every evening while Mikey was hospitalized with him. He spent the nights in his clinic, with "the sick kids," as he called him. "Mikey is in the best shape of all of them," he told me. "He's a good kid."

Mikey was. And Dr. Tony, who not only could see Mikey for his full person(?)ality, will be forever remembered and admired, as long as I am here to say his name. As long as I have the ability to speak, I will tell of Dr. Tony and the good that he has done for the unspeaking but so very worthy animals of the Olympic Peninsula. 
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Subject:Silence, and some second-hand clothes
Time:07:20 am
Yesterday's optimism was met by this morning's sadness: Mikey has gone on to whatever cats do next.

He died in the space between the kitchen and my office (also known as "the cat feeding place"), and seems to have had a last few licks of brewer's yeast and maybe a bit of food before lying down and giving up on the whole, unreasonable effort of breathing.

I found him, and we held an informal (and rather shortened) wake. His fur was soft over the hardness of the rigor mortis, but the cat had definitely, clearly gone away. A striking line from Rozenkrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead: "No one gets up after death-there is no applause-there is only silence and some second-hand clothes, and that's death."

His cat-suit is left behind, beautiful-soft and reminding us of a very well-loved cat.

Rest in peace, Mikey.
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Subject:BlueGal clinches it (with some help from her friends)
Time:07:13 pm
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Subject:Election day, 2008
Time:09:34 am
Cause out on the edge of darkness,
there rides a peace train
Oh peace train take this country,
come take me home again"


I am afraid to believe it could be.
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Subject:Vision, division, revision: lying with a camera
Time:01:56 pm

Visual media are often invoked as the gold standard of effective communication: “don’t tell us – show us” say editors, writing teachers, and exasperated readers. Photography is the ultimate in attempting to show us something, but what do they show?

What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us. Ralph Waldo Emerson  


The story of each pictures starts with its boundaries – the frame, delineating the part that is shown from the part that is not. The photographer’s eye is a powerful framer, and it is further enhanced by cropping the raw photograph in the long post-production process. A whole world of possibility lies in the question of “what was left out” – a bulldozer, coming to uproot the trees, engulfing the land in urban development? A dirigible, gliding past the light house? A cougar, preying on the heron? Framing engages the viewer into a collaboration with the picture.

 

Perspective and composition are chosen primarily during the photoshoot. This story being photographed, this moment in time sliced by the shutter and frozen into many megabytes of digital information, grabs hold of the photographer’s eye and directs him to direct the individual elements, placing them at or beyond the focus of view. Thus dividing the space, the artist has redirected our attention from the mundane view of an unfolding story to the plot conceived in his own mind and channeled into each finished picture.

 

Now that the picture has been framed and cropped, is it done? Or has it only just started? Post-production is that phase of photography most embroiled in controversy. Some people feel that it is a form of lie. Other agree, but call that lie “art”. Are these really the colors that the photographer saw, or has he retinted, retouched, and reframed? Does the click of the shutter signify a capture of one moment as it truly was, saving it from the annihilation of having changed from present to past? Or is it merely a story about what that moment was, as divorced from the reality as any myth?

 

Lying in wait with the camera, photographers tend to verbal terseness and visual opulence.

 

“Story is a force of Nature,” says editor Teresa Nielsen Hayden. Daniel Shunra’s photographs turn this on its head, harnessing Nature itself into a force of Story.


A selection of the pictures from Daniel Shunra's exhibition is available on Flickr.
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Subject:Smoothie magic
Time:09:06 am
Daniel suggested that I place a whole lemon into the blender (along with the frozen berries, apple eighths, soy yogurt and soy milk, and spices).

I resisted.

Next time he made a smoothie, he put a whole lemon in.

OMG. He was *so* right!

Resolved: that lemons, including the peel, make smoothies exceedingly awesome.
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Subject:Austin pro-Palestinian activist found gagged & bound in a lake. Death declared "suicide".
Time:11:53 pm
A friend of mine, Austin pro-Palestinian activist Riad (also spelled Riadh) Hamad, was found gagged & bound in a lake. His death was declared  by the local police to be a "suicide".

Here's are a couple of reports about this:
http://www.590klbj.com/News/Story.aspx?ID=89252
http://www.statesman.com/news/content/news/stories/local/04/18/0418body.html

The story reeks of being either a hate crime or worse, an assassination by an interested party.

Riad is no longer alive. Help keep this story alive, though. At the very least we need a fair police investigation. Simply stepping up to people and killing them is not acceptable.
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Subject:Story in the Independent about Israel's occupation
Time:07:43 pm
As far as I can see, it is consistent with what I heard from people there - both Israeli soldiers and Palestinian civilians.

Read it here. Not for the faint of heart.
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Subject:Long Live Urukagina!
Time:06:50 pm
This weekend's reading: The Sumerians, Their History, Culture, and Character, which is a 1963 University of Chicago Press layman's introduction to Sumeria, a subject about which I knew almost nothing.

It's a fun book, full of fascinating details and a perspective on the bible that I find helpful, due to over-indoctrination in grade school. For example, the idea of not binding the mouth of the kine who tread the grain is Sumerian and precedes the biblical injunction. Whew! I've always appreciated that one, but for many years entirely secular Jewish Israelis would tell me that THAT was an example of the reason that Judaism was so far superior to all other religions - it had invented compassion. Well, not so much - and that is a relief, because it is hard to go against the inventors of compassion UNLESS they aren't really.

Anyhow, on pages 79-80 there was a description of Urukagina, whose ascent to power occurred in a period described thusly:

"It was in the course of these cruel wars and their tragic aftermaths that the citizens of Lagash found themselves deprived of their political and economic freedom; for in order to raise armies and supply them with arms and equipment, the rulers found it necessary to infringe on the personal rights of the individual citizen, to tax his wealth and property to the limit, and to appropriate, as well, property belonging to the temple. Under the impact of war, they met with little opposition. And once introduced, the palace coterie showed itself most unwilling to relinquish the domestic controls, even in times of peace, for they had proved highly profitable. Indeed, our ancient bureaucrats had devised a variety of sources of revenue and income, taxes and imposts, which in some ways might well be the envy of their modern counterparts. Citizens were thrown in jail on the slightest pretext: for debt, non-payment of taxes, or trumped-up charges of theft and murder."

We're talking 2500 B.C.

Urukagina "banned such practices as the seizure of donkeys, sheep, and fisheries belonging to the citizens, and the exaction of payment to the palace in one way or another for measuring their rations and shearing their sheep." Confiscatory service fees were removed, and "'From one end of the land to the other,' our contemporary historian observes, 'there were no tax collectors'".

And then the Urukagina reform is described further: "But removing the ubiquitous bailiffs, tax collectors, and other parasitic officials was not Urukagin'as only achievement. He also put a stop to the injustice and exploitation suffered by the poor at the hands of the rich and the mighty. Permanent rations of food and drink were allotted to the [formerly starving] craftsmen guilds, certain blind laborers and other workers, and also various _gala_-priests (probably temple singers). Artisans and apprentices no longer had to beg for their food. To prevent the supervisors and 'big men" from taking advantage of less fortunate citizens, such as the _shublugal_s, he promulgated two ordinances forbidding them to force their more lowly brethren to sell their donkeys or their houses against their will. He amnestied and set free the citizens of [his city] Lagash who had been imprisoned for debt of failure to pay taxes or on trumped-up (presumably) charges of theft or murder. As for the orphan and the widow, ready and helpless victims of the rich and the powerful, "Urukagina made a covenant with the god Ningirsu that a man of power must not commit an injustice against them."

"Finally, in one of the versions of the Urukagina document [...] we find a series of regulations which, if correctly translated and interpreted, should be of no little significance for the history of law; they indicate that great stress was laid by the Sumerian courts on the need of making manifest to all, by means of the written word, the guilt for which the accused was punished."

So, there you have it. We need an Urukagina for our own time. 
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