Sunday, November 30, 2008

What Does God Look Like?

There was a discussion on something similar to this over at Daily Kos, and I thought it might be a nice thing for today, the first Sunday of Advent.

We all "see" God differently. I see it through my work with animals.

I believe we are each called to something and given talents and gifts to be able to be effective. I believe God works through my head, heart and hands.

Here are a few ways I picture God:

From this:

To this:

Or this:

To this:
So, how do you see God?

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Returning From The Holiday Void + Other Nifty Stuff

I decided to take a few days off to do some visiting with friends, some cooking, and some sleeping. The older I get, the more I appreciate sleeping. A fine art.

Spent the day with my 94yo mom (she'll be 95 in January), then came home and went to a neighbors where most (not me!) did as much drinking as eating. Then home and watched a movie (The Illusionist) which put me right to sleep... took three tries and not because the movie was a sleeper, either. Actually, the movie was quite good. One of those with a lot of twists and turns that needs to be watched in one sitting... and carefully. Nice day.

Friday, ran errands, got two new senior cats in (both thin, both black, and both 15yo--how sad is that to be in a shelter at 15?) and went to a neighbors for a TGiving reprise. Yum.

So here we are at Saturday, and I have guys working on the house (redoing some stucco and it's pound, pound, pound... and weird noises... repeat). They are putting on new paper and wire, then to the scratch coat, then final matching coat. Be glad when that is done. Been waiting about 5 years to do this. Then the electrical finish, then new windows... then paint... then start the inside and redo the landscaping (meaning... think about how to do that with 10 dogs...). Argh. I hope it is done before I die.

Oh, and Christmas is in there somewhere.

We got our first glorious rains, and I hope it will be enough to keep the fire monsters away even when we get more wind. Everything looks clean and fresh, now. I could almost hear the wild land sighing, and now it is time for many species to go to sleep while the hawks will return to fill the skies with their mating cries. Hawks mate for life, so let us hope their mates all survived another year, and likewise the owls. I lay in bed at night and listen to the owls. Other than their cries, it is dead silent with the sometimes exception of the coyotes, especially in summer. It's just a wonderful sound.

*****


The good news: I may have a home for my two young lilac Siamese sisters, Scratch and Sniff (I didn't name them, but it is cute!). Keep your fingers crossed. Sniff nearly died she was so sick, but she is all well now and looks terrific. both are now eating like little horses.

As you can see, they are very close. They are just fabulous cats, very loving and only a year old.

The other good news is that Chuck and Spencer (the orange tiger brothers) are doing better. Not great, but better. Hard road for them, but Spenser is eating a little on his own now (still being forcefed), but Chuck is still on forcefeeding only.

Chuck is looking better than Spencer, but just does not want to eat yet. But... they are better. These two boys were abandoned when someone left a mobile home park. They were nearly starved to death when they came, and both had hepatic lipidosis (fatty liver disease) as a result.

They are on appetite stimulants, but those often don't work in cats. Sometimes, if they do, they take a while to work. Both were 1/3 of their weight on incoming, poor guys. They still remain skin and bones. BUT... they are on the uphill trend, so I am really happy about that. Sometimes it does not go this well.

*****
I just got a note that one of my rescue adoptees just got best in obedience! Here she is, and is she cute or what? Meet Sandy! Sandy was abandoned in a Fullerton Park. Some nice folks took her in, but after months of looking for her home, finally were on the verge of taking her to the shelter. So... we took her, and what a great dog. She lives with a wonderful man and his wife and is sister to a gorgeous and REALLY nice golden retriever. Hehehe, not much brushing for her... sort of a blow-and-go kinda gal. Super neat dog.

Well, since there is no bad news that I am interested in reporting, I will leave it on that positive note for now.

Hope you all had a wonderful holiday and had plenty to be thankful for!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Rethinking Gift Giving: Don't We Have Enough?

If any one of you doesn't have enough stuff, please let us know here at the blog. I would be more than happy to send some of mine and I bet there are dozens of people that read this blog who are more than willing to do likewise.

So, this holiday season, what are you giving?

Would that be poverty, violation of human rights, usury and other horrendous crimes through the gift of a blood diamond?

Are you giving something battery powered without giving rechargeable batteries and the charger?

Are you giving a petroleum powered gift--the gift that keeps on taking from not only the living generation, but those beyond?

I have a suggestion. STOP IT!

There are tens of thousands of groups working on every imaginable issue someplace in the world that could use those funds to feed people, save a mountain, river, forest, a wolf, whale, polar bear, gorilla or domestic animal, help an abused child or protect human and/or civil rights.

Many that read this blog are Christians, and many not. As Christians, we are called to pay attention to the needy in this world. That includes ALL of God's creation. Those of us not Christian are called by their social and moral consciences.

Already this year, the wolf hunt in Alaska has begun. 19 wolves have already been mutilated and slaughtered through aerial hunting. It begins with the first snow fall when wolves have a harder time racing to safety and are more easily spotted. And it HAS to stop. Groups fighting this need funds to continue their legislative work on the issue. There is also the issue of the wolves in Yellowstone, etc. Defenders of Wildlife who put out the fabulous information during the last election are, along with Alaskan groups, are on the forefront of this issue.

Species all over the world are being fought for by one group or another. Google your favorite.

There is no lack of needed funding by US domestic animal rescue groups. Local and national groups need help constantly both for legislative purposes and to pay for veterinary costs. I know how hard it is, I do it.

Pick a country. There are starving people there, including in the United States. Google "fight hunger". Or if homelessness is your issue, google the word.

On topical environmental issues, from nuclear weapons to forests, google the word. You will find them easily.

On social justice and civil rights issues, google the topic.

This year, really give. Give sincerely and give deeply. Give the gift of life. Support the good work of a non-profit group. You can fashion the gift (some will send to the receiver a note saying what you did, in other cases, you have to do it yourself) as one of true love.

Don't consume in giving, give in giving. It's easy, it's appropriate and it's sorely needed.

And please, buy a living tree... even if a little one. You can pot it and reuse or often local tree groups will accept it for urban planting. We need all the CO2 absorption we can get!


Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Obama's Speech on Appointments (Economic)

Watch it here.

We're in a real mess that is going to get much worse. Let us hope and pray for these appointees and Obama.

Reviewing Energy and Obama's Plan: "Clean" Coal

Back in July, I posted on Obama's energy plan and why I couldn't vote for him because of it. Many of you (wisely) talked me down promising to get out there and support a GOOD energy plan.

We have 55 days or so before Obama finally (and none too soon for me!) takes office and I want to begin doing some posts on various kinds of energies. The first will be coal and so-called "clean" coal.

Approximately 52% of US energy comes from coal, of one type or another. In various places in the world, the level is much, much higher. In 2001, 900 million (900,000,000) tons were combusted in the US alone at approximately 35% efficiency. 1,026,454,000 (over a billion) tons were burned in 2006, same efficiency.

*****
Coal and Global Warming

Global warming is directly related to the combustion (burning) of fossil fuels (gas, oil and coal) and the discharge of carbon into the atmosphere locked as CO, carbon monoxide, and CO2, carbon dioxide. CO2 is the more problematic culprit.

CO2 is the major greenhouse gas which traps heat in the lower atmosphere ultimately warming the planet, changing tides, melting polar ice sheets (and others), effecting rain/drought patterns, and, among other things, increasing storm intensity and frequency. Many believe that areas with cooling trends defy proof of global warming. Not so. Global warming causes overall warming, but some areas will become colder as weather patterns change. You can learn more about the carbon cycle here.

Coal is a notorious source of CO2 and many other air pollutants. In terms of carbon discharge, coal burning is the number one cause of air pollution in the United States. Coal is also the most available source of carbon for heating and energy, thus the dilemma.

Coal Burning and Human Health

There are literally volumes of material on the effects of coal burning and human health from combustion components from sulphur and arsenic to uranium, thorium and mercury (the major pathway of mercury is through fish consumption. Great, huh?). In some areas, outdoor air pollution is so high that it becomes a concern for "indoor" air pollution, especially in the eastern United States.

Interestingly, many of these reports contradict one another with the exception of the effects of mercury and particulate related respiratory problems.

The United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) issued the following statement in December of 2007 in regard to coal and mercury pollution (it is important to note that there is NO safe level of mercury):

Experts are becoming increasingly concerned that increased burning of coal-naturally contaminated with mercury-is leading to releases to the air in some parts of the world from where it can spread around the globe. [emphasis mine]

In the human body, mercury damages the central nervous system, thyroid, kidneys, lungs, immune system, eyes, gums, and skin

- Neurological damage done by mercury that has reached the brain cannot be reversed. There is no known safe exposure level for elemental mercury in humans, and effects can be seen even at very low levels.

Types of Coal and Its Uses

There are four major types of coal, each used for particular reasons in the creation of heat/energy. Here is another chart.

"Clean" Coal

There are many, many reasons coal can never be considered "clean" even if none was ever burned.

The photo above shows the process of mining coal via mountaintop removal. The process is simple. Blow the holy crap off the mountain, piece by piece using dynamite to expose the coal.

With it go wildlife (yes, blown up), forests (yep), the whole ball of wax.

But wait! There's more!

All the stuff not coal? Dumped into local streams, crushing and suffocating everything below it, and downstream, flooding entire communities. This is a must watch.



The number of mountains now destroyed is up from 450 to 470. And it will rise, as mountains fall. This is cultural, societal and environmental genocide, plain and simple.

THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS CLEAN COAL. NEVER WAS, AND NEVER WILL BE.

Actions you can take today:

1. Contact the Obama transition office.
Go here.
  • Let them know that coal must not be part of their energy agenda.
  • Tell them that they must immediately stop mountaintop removal.
  • Let them know that you know there is no such thing as "clean" coal. Go here.
  • Support green energy and the 10 year plan to get off oil, gas and coal.
2. Help the folks in West Virginia with a simple phone call. BE an activist. Do it.
  • Read the problem here.
  • Then call West Virginia Governor Manchin (no matter WHERE you live, you are involved by the mere fact YOUR utility buys energy from a coal plant!). Tell him you oppose mountaintop removal and want him to do everything in his power to stop the permit for Coal River Mountain. Do it NOW: 1-888-438-2731. Please let us know what his office says.

Boycott Petland Stores: Stop Puppymills

ALL dogs in pet stores are puppy mill dogs. ALL. Many pet stores, like Petland, deny this, and will often tell you (as they have me) that they buy from "brokers" if they are even "that" honest.

Well, true enough. The dogs the brokers sell are from puppy mills.

So, why lie? Because the public doesn't like puppy mills, and the more they know about them, the less they like them. This picture tells the story.

Companion dogs are NOT a commodity, though that is how they are regulated through the US Department of Agriculture (USDA). And as you might guess, USDA licensing regs, inspections and regulatory actions are a sorry mess. This is one of the best sites on the web on the topic of puppy mills. Best Friends in Utah, probably the foremost rescue in the United States, also has a wonderful section on mills. The photo is, in fact, from the Best Friends site.

Please watch this video. It is not overly graphic, but it is very sad. It was produced by Humane Society of the U.S.


*****
There are many dog lovers on this blog and blogs that I visit every day. There are also some some breeders and showers. They will be the FIRST to tell you they would NEVER sell a dog to a pet store. Why? Because quality breeders never have to. Many highly desired dogs are bought before they are even born; those from champion lines and those who are trialed in field and obedience.

Every dog sold in a pet store has a broker number (a B license number) etc. and EVERY dog is traceable. Don't fall for the AKC bit, either. Being registered in the AKC means exactly zero.

Puppy mill dogs are also sold as family "bred" dogs--backyard breeders. Most know zero about breeding, do not do proper health testing prior to breeding, etc. They view it as a "under the tax radar" profit-making biz. Sure, any two dogs can be bred. But should they? Are they good representatives in breed conformance? Have they had genetic testing for congenital disease typical for that dog breed? Are they behaviorally stable?

We all know what Disney's 101 Dalmatians did to that breed. I owned a dal for almost 18 years. Gorgeous dog. Well conformed. And deaf (which runs in this breed though many breeders bend the truth to breaking in telling potential buyers they have never had a deaf puppy, which is statistically an outright lie). The Taco Bell commercial is responsible for the interest in chihuahuas. Chis and chi mixes are one of the most frequently found dogs at the shelters, and one of the most frequently euthanized. Jack Russel (Parson's) terriers became popular through television's "Frasier". I have a good history with this breed and will be the first to tell you they are NOT a suitable dog for the average family. Just because "Eddy" (a highly trained dog) is adorable on Frasier doesn't make this breed suitable for a family unaware of the needs of this very active breed.

The popularity of Irish Setters in the 70's almost ruined that breed. Everyone wanted one, so they were bred badly by anyone interested in making a buck.

Please let your friends know, if they are looking for a dog, whether purebred or mixed, that there are breed rescues all over the US, and to learn the difference between a well bred dog and a "for profit" badly bred dog. One of the BEST places to learn to understand breeds is by going to a dog show and learning and meeting showers and breeders, or going to field and obedience trials if that is your breed interest.

Puppy mills are sorry places for dogs and they should be closed.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Time to Pony Up Folks!

Read the whole story here from one of these two cats' dads and rec it up, please.


If you have never lost everything in a fire, it is hard to imagine. If you have, you know.

But losing living things--those so very dear to your heart--just sucks the living daylights from you. Those of you who are animal lovers know this.

*****
This photo is the sum total of two young mens' life. Everything--gone.

The fast moving Anaheim fire moved through their apartment complex while they were out of town.

Their cats, Abe and Adam (both gorgeous black cats) were in the apartment. Abe was found, after 30 hours, trapped beneath a burnt coffee table. He was rushed to the vet.

Adam was found after the fire and taken to animal control where the owners eventually found and reclaimed him. He is also at the vet.

Their vet bills are sky-high.

As a rescuer, I KNOW what that term means. And I KNOW what commitment is. And I KNOW these two men need your help. They are determined to give these lovely animals--their family-- the care they need and see them through. They are living in a hotel having no place else to go.

Jim texted me asking how quickly I can get over to the hospital. I, of course, thought the worst about Abe. After I inquired as to what was going on, he clarified it was nothing like that. So I proceeded to the hospital to meet him. When I got there, he said to me that someone wants to say hi to me. I just assumed it was one of my parents or an out-of-state friend or something. He shoved this box at me and said that it was Adam. In utter disbelief, I tried to refute it, and then Adam meowed from inside the box. My heart just melted. I think my body basically died for a moment. I carried the box containing my previously thought-to-be-dead cat inside the pet hospital. I opened it up inside and Adam popped out, I grabbed him, and tears just started streaming down my face.

This is where YOU come in.

Here's what you do:

1. Get your credit card.
2. Call this number, their vet: 714- 921-8700. Tell them you want to make a credit card donation to Abe.
3. Hang up and smile. You have just helped two men that really need your help.
4. Post the story on your blog or link to this one. Ask your friends for $20.00 and call in that donation.
5. Keep these men in your thoughts and prayers and Abe and Adam likewise.

Do it NOW. No excuses. It doesn't have to be a bazillion dollars. Just help. Make it fit what you can afford.

People from all over are donating, I know because I contacted them myself. Many are rescuers, many are animal loving friends.

Action doesn't just "happen". You are the kick. Get to work!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Couple of Pretty Cool Things

First, if you have not read the previous post, please do. There and two young men, and a cat that lived through a terrible fire, that need your help.

Second, if you love quizzes, here's one that's fun and helps to feed people as you play.

Third, take the American Civics test. Let us know how you do!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Astounding Story of a Cat That Survived

This was in a Diary over at Daily Kos.

Two cats, left in an apartment, were thought to have perished in a fire that quickly engulfed an apartment building in Anaheim Hills. My animal control friend down the street told me that many, many animals vanished and likely perished in this terrible, fast-moving fire.

When the owners checked, however, they found one of their cats, Abe, beneath a burnt out coffee table in the otherwise decimated ruins.

Abe is at the vet, and has been, VERY seriously ill and it is not known whether he will survive.

Read the story here.

You can see Abe's updates here.

Abe's medical bills (and remember, this family lost EVERYTHING) are going on $4K. If you can donate anything to help, please do. Donations go directly to their vet and you can find the information at Daily Kos (see first link, this page). They need help.

PLEASE donate, even a small amount, to help these folks and their cat. They have faced terrible personal tragedy. This is one story, but one we can all help with.

If we all donate, the cumulative effect is very significant. Please open your hearts and wallets to these folks. They are not giving up on their cat, one of two things they still have. Many here are giving people that believe sharing and the lifting up of our fellow human beings in the face of tragedy is inherent in our beliefs. I ask you to search your hearts. This is about caring and helping someone you don't know. This is the test of our own beliefs.

And if you are an animal lover, please post on your blog or crosspost this appeal.

*****
Now, for more remarkable news, their second cat, Adam, was found at the (OC?) Shelter. They had assumed he had perished, I suppose, but instead of giving up, checked and there he was!

Please put Abe, Adam and their owners on your prayer lists. With names like this, they can go right on the prayers read on Sundays!

Photo: from Daily Kos Diary

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Texans Looking To Teach ID in Science Class...Again

Will it never end?

This is a good location for quite a bit of coverage on the topic.

Interesting are these Gallup Poll figures, and note that those that believe man was created 10K years ago has stayed relatively steady for 26 years of the poll. Is it possible that this many people never took science courses or?

It took the Roman Catholic Church several hundred years to announce, through Pope John Paul II in 1992, that Copernicus and Galileo were correct and the earth was not standing still and was not the center of the universe. And, BTW, they just verified Copernicus' skeleton using some hair found in a book. Check this out! Would make him proud!
This Hubble photo, taken just this week, shows a planet circling a star in the constellation Pegasus.

The only reason I bring this up is that it points to the fact that religious dogma doesn't quietly slink away in the face of science or fact. And this is most certainly true for those who plain read the Bible. I am certain if the Bible said the sky was orange, there would be a special color chart for the literalists and the color blue would then take the name orange.

And, of course, our old friend Ahmanson is in on it. Ahmanson is a Board of Director of the (anti) Discovery Institute which wanders around the country trying to get people to teach ID (which is really fundi code for creation). ID isn't science and neither is creation 'science' a science. Words mean things.

So you Texans out there--those of you that believe in a good God and science at the same time--you have another task in front of you to fight off the knuckle draggers and keep science in science!

As someone trained in geology, I can only assume that those that view radioisotope dating scornfully believe that in dating formations, rocks and minerals, geologists stash some arbitrary wild dates in a bingo bin and pull them out. Of course, this is even more troubling because it also indicates they weren't paying attention to chemistry, either.

Oh, and just as a reminder (unpleasant as it may be) Sarah Palin thinks creationism should be taught along side science in science classes and claims she had, at some time, seen the Paluxy (hoax); a dinosaur track with a footprint aside or amid it. Sigh.

What's next, teaching ID in Phys Ed classes? It makes me crazy!

So When Mad Priest Admonishes, "Get to Church,"...

ladies, he is looking out for your health. Read this.

Khan: Great Guardian of the Refrigerator

As you can see, Khan is (eh hem) a big boy. In fact down two pounds now, Khan remains an enormous 19 pounds.

Given the digs he has chosen, it is hardly a surprise.

Of course for me, it also means I have a refrigerator pulled out from it's little nook. I don't have the heart to take away his favorite spot.

It must run in the family because it is Khan's brother, Kizo, that sleeps in the bathroom sink thus I am brushing my teeth in the kitchen these days.

You're thinking pushover right? Well hold on just a minute. Were I a pushover, I would...

Oh, never mind.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Women in Politics: View From the Far Religious Right

Yesterday, I visited the issue of the GOP and the new demographics and how the latter will effect the former.

Today I happened upon an article discussing, from a more plain reading point of view, how many on the hard religious right view women in politics. Some of this I knew, some not, but this is an interesting piece in either case.

I am always fascinated by the notion that plain reading of the Bible--an inerrant approach minus any modern Biblical scholarship--still survives. Given the first article on the GOP and the new demographics, the notion that it will continue indefinitely into the future, in any large way, seems undermined by current trends. Of course to me, that is a great relief indeed.

It does point to problems in the GOP, in some ways, for the religious right base. Thus the move of many to the indy category, or even to the dems.

This is what happens when one wears cement boots.

Breaking: CA Supremes Agree to Hear Prop 8 Case

Read about it here, and here.

GOD and the GOP

I came across this article today from Kathleen Parker, Washington Post, and found it fascinating.

Buried in the article is this research, which I suggest looking at first. It helps, I think, in understanding the premise of the article a bit better from the get go.

I have said for a long time that the religious right has caused the GOP's slow decay. What with the likes of Dobson, Schlafly and others who are each irredeemably counter intuitive in 2008, the GOP has driven more and more folks to register independent. One CAN be conservative without being a nutball, but the fact is that the GOP has gained its nutball status because of the religious right.

Ironically, all the more reason that many of us are mystified by the Prop 8 results.

What do you think?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Some Thoughts from Esquire on the GOP's Future... And More

I have read several dozen of these types of articles, but I think this one pretty much sums up my thinking in most ways though I deviate a bit on a couple of points.

I think you will enjoy it.

*****
I bumped into a retired firefighter friend of mine today and he reinforced what seemed obvious about the recent (and on-going) fires. It should be noted that while most were allowed to go home, this morning, they announced more evacuations in other fire areas. Sigh.

If there was one thing the 2007 Santiago Fire revealed, it is that we do NOT have nearly enough resources. This happens every single time the Santana Winds comes sweeping down upon us.

In the case of 2007, we were the last major fire to start, thus our cooperative agreements had the Orange County Fire Authority spread so thin (some were in San Diego, some were in Malibu, some were in other places) there was almost no one (of any state fire department) available to help. Our observation that there were no planes, no helicopters, few ground fire resources and a lack of needed ground equipment to cut fire lines was obvious. We SAW it. We lived it. The stats back that up.

So, when speaking today with my retired firefighter friend, I was hardly shocked to hear what he had to say:
  1. There were few if any firefighters on the ground there (Yorba Linda) early on because our cooperation agreement sent bodies and trucks elsewhere. We were watching the fire on TV at the local library, and we were continually commenting on this very point five to six hours into the fire.
  2. The embers were, in many cases, softball sized and horrid to deal with. The winds were vicious. It's the embers, stupid!
  3. He defended his mother's house, alone, and saved it. Every single palm tree on her property (six or seven) caught fire. Six houses directly below her burned down, and six or seven on the street below that. The ONLY REASON his mother's house is standing is because he was there to defend it. Others (on television) said the same thing, and some trying hard to defend their properties were shocked to find no firefighters anywhere in sight.
When firefighters came around late summer to do inspections here, I had a long and very tense verbal discussion with them. I told them up-front I don't blame them, they are just the messenger, but Orange County Fire Authority (OCFA) needs to get their act together in a big way. They didn't ask me to do anything unreasonable (though when they tell me to trim anything off my oaks, I bristle), but, as I said to them, since it was perfectly clear they would never defend my home, leave me in peace to live in it. I live here knowing the risk. It is the wildness and beauty that brought me here 34 years ago. I'm NOT leaving. Get the leaves off my roof. Check. Trim dead wood out of trees. Check. Anything else--take a hike. Not going to happen.

My little home is a wee one and old. It is about 800 or so square feet, built as a cabin around WWII. I live under three live oaks (one grows through my deck), beautiful native trees that are generally fire adapted. One is at least 1,000 years old (per my Ph.D.'d arborist friend).

My street is one-car wide, steep and hard to navigate with only one ingress/egress. Almost all the streets here, except the main road, is like this. My home is 2 inch-thick stucco, hand wrought top coat. I have boxed eaves. When we re-did the roof (cut the whole top of the house off to the header, and re-pitched it), the county made me put in three attic vents. THE COUNTY DOES NOT REQUIRE SCREENING OF VENTS IN THEIR CODE so embers (especially those on the upwind side of a home) just fly in there... and you're history. I am going to go back, now, and do that myself. This is one of the number one ways houses catch on fire. My downwind vents I will also do, but the upwind one is first on the list. I have been told now, three times by firefighters (including one Battalion Chief), exactly what to do and I am doing it. Screw the county.

I have a large redwood deck (less fire-prone than some materials, and certainly less toxic that recycled plastics if there is a fire which is why I have not used plastics, though they last much longer) and a terribly fire-prone pine carport/flat deck off set below that. I am going to have to do something about that lower situation. Don't know what, yet. I have NO brush on my property at all, and there hasn't been for almost 23 years. I keep all leaves and debris at bay, composting them, instead. I am number 3 of 9 houses on the water line and my pressure is good. I am VERY near the local reservoir tank, but that tank is fed by an electric pump, no doubt. We need to think about THAT. I need to think about where to place permanent sprinklers and add more feed lines. I am going to buy enough foam to be able to foam my home twice (it only lasts 24-36 hours). I am going to talk to my neighbors about doing likewise. It might cost us a couple thousand, but that is cheaper than fighting with the county (and we would all need attorneys) to rebuild. I am buying high pressure hoses that hook up to my regular spigots. Pricey, but useful.

The bottom line is this: I will not leave next time. 7 of the 10 people on my street are not leaving either. Yes, we will send children and animals out. But we adults, both men and women, are staying. We'll have to figure out a good place to park cars so we can get to them easily.

The fire department freaks when they hear this as though they are surprised. What? We KNOW what happened here in 2007. We saw it. The recent Yorba Linda fire underlines what we already knew: You leave, you can almost guarantee your house won't be safe. You stay, you have a much higher chance. If I lived on a ridge line, I would NOT stay. I don't live on a ridge line. Those that DID stay in non-ridge line homes told me that they fought small fires in their neighborhoods and saved most of the houses between several of them working together. Indeed, we know, in one case, that one person saved their family's home. Yep--as in all things, it takes a village. Some put out fires on more than one house several times.

By law, even during a mandatory evacuation, they cannot make you leave your property. If you step one foot off your own property, they can then arrest you. Good luck with that up here.:) People here learned a hard lesson in 2007 and those in other areas, now, learned it too.

To add to this, the volunteers in our local station (they are called paid call firefighters but are trained by the local agency and provided with equipment) went to the Yorba Linda Fire. They said there was, literally, no one there. When I was driving home from the store on Saturday (after deciding not to leave to go to the Prop 8 protest in Irvine given the increasingly ominous smoke I was seeing), I passed our volunteer truck going down-canyon on the road. I knew where they were going. I later saw a resident who is a Battalion Chief fly out of here in his red SUV. If not for this particular BatChief, in 2007 they would have lit backfires here that would have taken hundreds of homes out. Thank God for him. He has lived here ALL of his life.

What Needs To Be Done (My short List)

First, we need to get our own National Guard back in the country and trained to fight wildfires and respond to other local emergencies. We know from the recent past, and from experts in global warming, that fires, floods and radical weather events will be increasing in the near future. We need to deal with that NOW. Either that, or (as in my case) we need to increase our firefighters by a factor of at least 10-20. That isn't going to happen.

Second, adjustments need to be made to the cooperative agreements. Those of us in high fire areas know, from experience, that when we get one fire, we get several. Statistics bare this out. So sending units that significantly draw down local resources in fire-prone areas needs to stop. Trucks should be IN these areas BEFORE fires start, not 300 miles or more away and arriving two days later as happened in 2007.

Third, we must rethink building codes and planned community development along the wilderness/urban interface areas. In 2007, OCFA largely blamed the fire problem on older homes not up to current code and without newer three-tiered landscape buffering (the one closest is treeless and wet, the second is wet, treed with minimal ground cover and the third is dry but certain species only). AND they blamed residents for not clearing, which is a crock. They cannot say this about the recent fires where newer homes were lost and NOT interfaced, necessarily, on wild lands and WERE up to current codes including zoned fire buffer areas and new building codes. It's the embers, stupid. My county won't allow, for instance, straw bale homes but they do allow all wood homes or stucco homes with wood eaves. Go firgure. the former is FAR more fire resistant than the latter. But the decisions are made by guys and gals living in the past. They need to get an education.

Fourth, we need to convince the US Forest Service that during red flag alerts, they CLOSE federal lands and restrict access to residents only (we have fought with them for 20 years on this point). This should also be done in all state/county/city wilderness areas. This would mean only closing them for several days at a time (wind events are usually 3-4 day events and they are KNOWN prior). The last several fires we have had were ALL arson (including one set in the forest by the son of a county sheriff).

Fifth, we need to re-review approved landscape pallets on ALL new homes. Dump all the palm species--ALL OF THEM--and other high-oil trees (olive trees, for instance). Many of the native trees are highly fire resistant, and those should be encouraged and they have a second benefit of being useful to native wildlife and generally low water after taking hold. We are, in fact, in a Mediterranean area (read desert) and we need to think this way for both water use and fire prevention purposes.

Sixth, we need to train civilians on how to stay and defend since that is what is needed (and, in fact, going to occur in the future). People need to be aware of what TO wear and NOT to wear, and what kinds of devices and so on they need to be effective and protect themselves and their bodies and lungs. They also need to learn how to determine WHEN TO LEAVE and why.

Seventh, water districts need to be SURE they can support pressure needed to fight fires in communities and they will NOT do this without legal mandate, be sure of that. Two occurrences of near-zero water pressure (one in Sylmar and one in Yorba Linda) occurred in this last round of fires. One water district which serves Yorba Linda said they did not plan on such a fire event, thus they did not have enough water pressure and no one could fight the fire in that area (note: this may have been the case because of a pump failure). True, the fire departments have water tenders and water trucks, but they don't have enough of either. My water district has $1billion in reserves. Yes, you read that right. $1 billion. It is time they used that money to provide citizens with optimal water pressure, backup pumps, etc. minimum. They might even be able to start a program to GIVE (tax deduction for them) high pressure hoses to families, or at least subsidize them in the same way Southern California Edison underwrites cheap energy efficient light bulbs and some water districts underwrite low-flush toilets (my water district, which was taken over by the current $1 billion dollar district, did the low-flush toilet exchange years ago. This also could include low flow shower nozzles and a bunch of other things).

Eighth, the government needs to hold PUBLIC hearings to air concerns after a fire prior to writing their event reports. The Orange County Fire Authority didn't in 2007 and their report blames everyone but themselves for what happened. That is neither useful nor truthful. People need to be a PART of the solution, not treated like second class citizens. Furthermore, what they said happened in some areas is directly and multiply contradicted by those that stayed behind. The report was authored, in part, by a retired Battalion Chief who is friends with the county Fire Chief. Not good.

Ninth, we need to set up funding bases to buy private land in high fire areas either through mitigation moneys for lost ecosystems related to new development, or set asides from new home prices. It's got to be done. Right now, groups like the Nature Conservancy and others work with landowners to help sell their properties which often involve complex funding mechanisms AND tax deductions. It is cheaper, in the long run. These lands could be buffers (e.g. community gardens or modified else wise) to reduce fire proximity to future urban areas.

Tenth, the local municipalities need to USE knowledgeable people to help them. I rescue animals. There is absolutely NO reason that I should not be riding along with an animal control officer (as a partner) when they are called into an area. I am perfectly willing to go through training to increase my knowledge. Two people on one animal control truck is better than one and will make this agency, which has done such a bang up job here, even better. We can also be used to feed in place (county provides the stuff--we go and do it) when evacuated. Those that are bondable and with a proper background check should be able to do this (in pairs). It would have saved a huge amount of time for Orange County animal control in the 2007 fire. There are a ton of other examples of other areas this same thinking could apply to, including home x home inspection to be sure people are gone (or not) which the sheriff's department and fire does. In 2007, local folks EXTREMELY familiar with back country roads and trails were incredibly helpful to the fire departments unfamiliar with the area and even in cases where there were people from THIS very area. These are avid hikers and mountain bike riders that know the area like the back of their hands (I don't hike anymore (too busy) but there was a time I could do this, too. The people I know that ARE avid enthusiasts are remarkable).

We HAVE to think outside of the box. We know the box doesn't work.


Sunday, November 16, 2008

Barack and Michelle Obama on 60 Minutes

I think you will really enjoy this, both the first interview of Barack alone, and both he and Michelle in the second half.

You will need to copy paste this into your browser. I cannot get it to embed or link directly right now.

http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=4608198n

Saturday, November 15, 2008

It Was Fire Day Again Today

Update: I finally got a note back from my rescue friend. She and her sister (sis is in Yorba Linda and she is in Anaheim Hills) are okay for now. Sis is sleeping at the grooming shop as clients are boarding their dogs there given they had no place else to go.



Unreal Day.

I get up early to go to work. I am done by 9:15, and in the car with my waterproof felt markers to head to the market to buy a foam board for the Irvine 'No on 8, Stop The H8" protest. I worked on some dandy sign sayings and was charged and ready to go! Yes!

I no sooner park the car (yes, in the same evacuation parking lot so notable in the previous post) and look north to see a small plume of smoke. I studied where it was (I know the topography here pretty well) and stood for a few minutes sizing up the wind direction and all those immeasurable things that our brain does when assessing a situation in the finites of a millisecond. It was blowing furiously. That part was bad. The wind was unstable as well. That part was bad.

I was simultaneously mulling through all the potentials for smoke and this wind given where I thought the fire was and how long it would take me to get home if things went wrong. This along with pondering how in the world I would hold my protest sign (basically an air foil!) against the wind if it was anywhere near as strong in Irvine as here.

I didn't firm any conclusions about the fire, but no matter about the sign. Get the board, make the sign, worry about that later. It was going to be a great day. I was totally charged!

I had loaded my digital camera and a few other things like water. I actually wore some lace-up shoes (tennis shoes) which just NEVER happens. I was in the mood to rock!

I bumped into several people in the store and we had a few fun chats. About 20 minutes later when I left, the exit doors of the store facing the smoke plume, I was absolutely aghast. The plume was probably twenty times the size and black. None of this was good.

I stood for a few minutes to see which way the smoke was blowing and how this would develop.

I figured the fire was about 4.5 miles away, on the other side of the Cleveland. I ran through the scenarios in my mind remembering the last fire which moved 3 miles in one hour.

In the meantime, another friend pulled in alongside me. As it turns out, she was headed there as well. We checked out the sky, talked about it, and both cancelled our plans. She lives about 1/2 mile (as the hawk flies) upcanyon from me. She got on her cell to call others, I returned home.

I again repack the car.

I have now surmised that the damn car will stay packed until the first heavy rains, if we ever get them.

While we are under flood watch during the rainy season for the next five years because of the fires (last year, friends that survived the fires lost their homes to floods; about 70% of the slopes here remain barren and are 70% slopes... the math is just awful, and so is the circumstance), floods cannot harm my home. They may trap me in my home, but I can manage that easily... I hope. If we work it right we have two possible exits and we all hope one of the two bridges will hold. I think one will.

Bottom line, it is the Corona-Yorba Linda fire which jumped the 91 about two hours or so ago. Because I don't have a TV, folks are sending me e-mails. So far so good.

I am so disappointed that I could not go to the protest. BUT, another friend did go and told me that there were at least 1,000 people there (this is the middle of Irvine which is hot red area for the most part) and that it was amazing. She is going to send pics. She had a lot to say about those that are straight and supporting the issue (she is a lesbian), and remains so proud that our particular community voted NO on 8. Yes we did. A little bit of blue in deep red.

So I hope to be posting her pics later as they come in.

I didn't cry today, by the way. And as someone commented on yesterday's long post, I probably do have PTSD. Incredibly, I never even thought of that. And I really don't know what I should be doing about that, either.

Pics coming when they arrive!

In the meantime, trying to reach my groomer and a shelter puller (her sister) both are threatened and I suspect my groomer has lost her home.

Please send prayers for all these folks. They surely will need it. This is a tragedy.

photos: OC Register

Friday, November 14, 2008

BAD Fire in Santa Barbara/Montecito, CA

The fire there is very bad. VERY bad. Early estimates are, as of now, that at least 100 homes lost.

Please say prayers.

This just makes me cry having been evacuated for 13 long days last year (Oct 22-Nov3) in the Santiago Fire. I think until you have gone through it, it is impossible to fully understand.

I hope everyone got out safely and hope they all got their animals and horses out as well.

Prayers, prayers, prayers.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The GOP Facing an Identity Crisis

If anything can be said about the last election, it is that the American public, with all its warts and bigotry, trusted a democrat over a republican for president and by and large for both house and senate seats.

The brains of the GOP, though, are splitting into several camps most notably the even-less-regulation neo con prayer warrior anti-environmental war hawks and those that suggest that the party needs to broaden their platform and base without, necessarily, disagreeing or agreeing with the former.

Sarah Palin, who has miraculously held more press conferences in the 8 days since defeated at the polls than she did in the 12 or so weeks running up to the election, now just won't shut up. Except when it comes to her future intentions.

Remarkably, Palin hasn't figured out she is not on the campaign trail anymore and continues the William Ayers line (while also near simultaneously commenting she would be "honored" to work with Obama), still talks about 'Joe the (tax avoiding, unlicensed) plumber" and "Tito the builder" and clearly refuses to say that she will fill out her next two years as governor (Larry King interview) adding to the continuing speculation about her interest in felon Ted Steven's senate seat and possibly the 2012 presidential election.

Palin believed that God's will would be shown in the fate of the election. She said that she now puts her political future in God's hands, as well; a point of view I find particularly scary in any politician.

But for now--and almost despite herself--Palin is no more than a dot on a dice as the GOP is forced to take a long, hard look at itself and its platform.

If anything, Palin represents the past and the hard right neo con and religious wing of the party; the one that is tacitly responsible for the wildly unpopular and extremely expensive Iraq occupation (yes, the one that we had no business beginning). The one that is clearly and unarguably not only anti-environmental, but anti-science. The one that preferred tax breaks (ala Reagan) that redistributed middle class moneys to the already extremely wealthy (much like we are doing, literally in fact, today). The one that believes the earth is 5,000 years old and supports the teaching of creation in school science classes under the rubric of "intelligent design". The one that does not believe women should take birth control pills as they are abortifacients. The one that believes that global warming is not attributable to human beings. The one that believes that military occupations are somehow mysteriously "winnable", preferring the incorrect language of "war". The one that believes that social security should be privatized. The one that believes spying on regular citizens without specific cause is justified. The one that supports torture but does not support (and didn't support) veterans or safety for soldiers on foreign shores. The one that believes the vice president is not part of the executive branch of government and trounces upon not only the US Constitution but ignores congressional subpoenas. The one that obfuscates truth and openness by using private, untraceable means of communication ala Rove (the Blackberry and private yahoo accounts). The one that hides scientific study and lies to promote faux science in regard to endangered species, clean air, clean water and clean food and handcuffs science by imposing religious morals on everything from abortion to stem cell research. The one that brands those who are lgbt as "treatable", thus abnormal, refusing to assert that equality either is or isn't equal after all. The one that believes that everyone in America already has health insurance because they can receive initial treatment at emergency hospitals. The one that verbally berates socialism but practices it on a daily basis through distribution of taxes and funding to support everything from infrastructure and bridges to nowhere to using public dollars to bail out banks while letting taxpayers lose their homes. The one that supports populism on its face but clearly opposes it in its structures and commitments. The one that eschews intellectual elites while being cultural elites. The ones screaming about exclusion while excluding. The one that calls itself middle class while having a net worth of $1.2 million. The one that pretends to value education while making college degrees, and especially Masters, Ph.D.s and DVMs and J.D.s, near economically impossible for the average person. The ones willing to continue subsidies to the oil industry (and others) while they are showing their highest profits in history. The ones that supported "trickle down" and "supply side" economics. These were all either platforms of McCain, Palin or issues which McCain (who many believe was too liberal a Republican) voted for.

And this is the short list.

As oft observed of the GOP Convention, it was largely a white "blue-hairs" bunch. Contrast that to the Dem convention: young to old, and all possible colors. The majority of those voting for McCain were seniors and white. That demographic is never going to get bigger.

Those like Newt Gingrich, which some believe have a hashed past, have not disappeared. Gingrich, inspiration for the Contract for America (or Contract on America as many of us came to understand it) recently told Hannity (Fox News) that he will make a decision in 2011 as to whether he will run for president. In the meantime, he wants to continue to push his "Drill here, drill now, pay less" mantra. Given we have not increased drilling, and prices have gone down much to the chagrin of OPEC and Market Street, apparently Newt may have missed the fact that oil prices rose (much like the Enron debacle) through market manipulation. No drilling was necessary. And drilling isn't the solution, anyway. So good luck with that, Newt.

Wednesday, Sarah Palin and other rising GOP governors began the first of their three-day Republican Governors Association conference. That must be exciting after November 4. Palin gave the keynote speech. Also. Too.

Of course, this is just the beginning of the jockeying for 2012 and several governors, as of now, are seen as potentials for the presidential bid. Personally, I am hoping Palin will run. She is so incredibly fun to write about and I believe so incredibly easy to defeat. And who knows whose ugly head will rear up next to her beloved Alaska by then or fly through her airspace. And maybe she can wipe out a whole bunch more species by then.

The republicans also need a new party chairman. It appears they are looking for someone with a pulse this time. I suggest "Joe the (unlicensed, tax evading) Plumber" given their sudden interest in populist winks and hoodwinks. He's looking for work. Actually, I think Joe worked for a septic pumping company which would be perfect? You betcha.

I am not really too sure what the GOP is trying to reinvent itself into. Would that be something that looks like an elephant but with a really long (and appropriate) Pinocchio nose with deep pockets like Goofy? Would that be the "kinder, gentler" George Bush Sr. type (who hired Hill and Knowlton to PR his Mideast disaster) or his son the gotta-kill-everything-that-moves "fool me once...", God-told-me-to-do-it George/Palin type?

Right now, nothing is really known but it is definitely time to stock up on popcorn. It could turn out to be another dramatic comedy.

Wow... This Is Really Interesting! Animals are Amazing!

This is Squeaky the pig. Amazing. Don't know about the pizza and Dr. Pepper but...

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Neat Video on Legislating Against Divorce

Of course you must see this to understand it.

Visit PseudoPiskie's site, here. You're in for a head-nodding chuckle.

Why I Brush My Teeth In The Kitchen

Meet Kizo.

He and his brother, Khan, are staying with me for another 6+ months while their mom goes through a drug/alcohol program.

He picked his spot, and I just didn't have the heart to move him.

Glad it wasn't in the shower...

The Scramble of the Day

I just couldn't help myself.

I laughed so hard when I read this, going back a number of times to ferret out the possible meaning. Just TRY to diagram this recent quote from Palin:

"I think it also showed, though, that certainly as a Washington outsider and not one to just I guess play even the campaigning media game that is played, in just repeating, perhaps, memorized lines in a, in a interview, that's not me."

Oh Lordy.

Now, imagine her talking to Putin or through an interpreter to another world leader not fluent in English. Good God... the possibilities. And THAT is part of the problem!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Cats On and Cats Off Your Prayer List

Whaler the cat, an enormous Siamese rescue cat, is quite a guy even though he really doesn't like flash cameras (front of photo, Kiki is behind).

Several months ago I asked for prayers for him as he was terribly ill. Well, you can STOP those now! He is eating everything in sight these days.

Whaler's Story

Whaler came in from the Upland, CA shelter extremely obese (25 lbs) and quite ill. While his blood work did not show hepatic lipidosis as a certainty, his ALT values were just at the top edge of normal.

He was obviously not well, but we were not able to pinpoint the exact problem, and the stress of being lost/abandoned and then put in a shelter, then moved twice certainly didn't help. Cats stress very easily.

After about a week, having had his blood work done and having also visited my vet, he was still not eating well and I was beginning to really worry. A 25 lb. cat needs a LOT of calories to maintain health and proper organ function and it was clear to me he wasn't eating enough to do that. Losing too much weight quickly in a cat--especially from calorie loss--sends red flags through cat rescuers. It is usually the beginning of hepatic lipidosis and it can often also mean pancreatitis. Both are quite serious, the former much easier to diagnose and treat than the latter.

So... we started force feeding to calories needed to weight. At first, Whaler would throw up, so we backed up until we found an amount he could digest (which was tiny for him) and gave him this amount about every 1/2 hour for the first 48 hours, then increased that amount as he could tolerate it reducing feeding frequency. This was NOT easy given his enormous size, but this is not the time to even think about weight loss strategy.

After 11 weeks, and multiple daily offerings of food, he finally chose to eat fried chicken (skin removed) but would not eat ANY type of cat food... believe me, we tried, and tried, and tried.

So, chicken it was along with felovite to assure he was getting proper vitamins and minerals. He would eat the equivalent of about a chicken thigh daily (I turned to baking them, no salt or spice at all).

The other cats, meanwhile, were eating wet food, largely Wellness chicken formula which is a superior food, and for the cats not used to wet yet, Wellness dry and cooked chicken (first we give them cooked, then we cook it less and less to the point where they are getting in near raw... then they either gravitate to raw or to canned. This also requires vitamins during the transition).

Two cats were eating a low calorie formula (different brand) and one eats entirely raw which was the fix for this particular cat's IBD problem. Dry food was left out, but few were eating it.

Then one day, out of the blue, Whaler began eating Wellness canned food. Yeah! We kept up (and still give him) chicken.

Soon after that, I caught him munching on some dry food... not good.

Now, about one month or so later, Whaler will eat anything, anywhere, any time.... and has turned into a little food thief! We cannot leave ANY food out (or the oinker eats it) regardless of type. Whaler now weighs 15 lbs. 2 oz. and still needs to slowly loose about 3-4 more pounds. He still has trouble grooming parts of his body due to weight, but has become more active, which is great. Whaler has been with us now almost six months and while he likes to chase one of the smaller rescue doggies and tries to bat him, he is a wonderful cat.

We would release Whaler to a good, experienced furrever home but the problem is there are so few homes these days for these kinds of cats given the economic environment and the absolute wave of all domestics going into shelters and packed rescues. We have been at our permit limit (15 cats, 10 dogs) for almost a year now and get about 20 requests/day to take in animals, in some cases, the entire household of animals from cats to rats to birds, turtles and bunnies. It is a tragedy.

Whaler may be with us for a long time, sadly. I only say sadly because he really could use a quiet and stable home of his own. Rescues were not designed to be permanent homes, and I actually have animals of my own, as well (behavioral rescue rejects, or animals that have so many health problems they are better off here and are treated as family).

If you have neighbors who are losing their homes, PLEASE talk to them about finding a place for the animal right away. It can take a very long time. They must NOT wait to the last minute or, I can tell you from experience, the animals are often abandoned at the home (so check the home, please, after they leave), dropped off in some remote location (we get a lot of that here), or end up at shelters which are overcrowded where, by law, they only have 72 hours to find a new home.

There are rescues for just about everything: Reptiles and turtles, all kinds of amphibians, pocket pets (rats, mice, hamsters etc.), all kinds of avians, dogs, cats, exotics and others. But it takes time.

These little animals cannot help themselves, they need your help, too!

Chuck and Spencer

Here is a picture of Spencer (the long haired orange) and his brother, Chuck. Both have hepatic lipidosis, are on appetite stimulants (which may or may not work), and are being force fed and given vitamins. Spencer will eat a small amount on his own now. Chuck will eat nothing on his own. Sigh.

They were abandoned in a mobile home park when the family left. They just tossed them outside and took off. A kind neighbor took them in, but got caught with more than one cat (her allowable there). She works at the local feed store so asked me to take them.

Bottom line: You can take Whaler off your prayer list, but please put both Chuck and Spenser on it. I can do all the medical parts of this, but need your additional help in the prayer department!

Because they have human names, you can even put them on your church's prayer lists and increase the prayers!

Interesting Medical News on HIV: Cure or Fluke?

This November 7 article in the Wall Street Journal is very worth reading from any context.

Perhaps IT will have some thoughts on this.

The startling case of an AIDS patient who underwent a bone marrow transplant to treat leukemia is stirring new hope that gene-therapy strategies on the far edges of AIDS research might someday cure the disease.

The patient, a 42-year-old American living in Berlin, is still recovering from his leukemia therapy, but he appears to have won his battle with AIDS. Doctors have not been able to detect the virus in his blood for more than 600 days, despite his having ceased all conventional AIDS medication. Normally when a patient stops taking AIDS drugs, the virus stampedes through the body within weeks, or days.--Wall Street Journal online, November 7, 2008

As one that loves science, I hope that the new president will immediately begin to dismantle the anti-science (and faux science) of the last 8 years in favor of proper scientific assessment and review in all areas.


Monday, November 10, 2008

New Pew Exit Poll On Religion's Role In Election

(This was updated from Nov 5 to show differences from 2000 and 2004 elections).

Thank you, God, for the Roman Catholics, the Muslims, and the unaffiliated! These are, in fact, the folks that carried Obama!

Now I know we TEC/Anglican types are a diverse bunch, and are lumped in with the Protestant types in this poll, so I am just going to outright thank TEC types as well! I am just going to assume we voted for The O.

Check this poll out. Very interesting!

This site has a view on the matter and some of the comments are downright hostile not only to Obama but to their fellow pew sitters.

Of course the lake of fire made it's appearance, as always. Sigh.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Major Fresh Air From Obama: Change!

Obama is set to undo some of Bush's last minute handiwork, especially on environmental issues.

This is SUCH a positive read!

Go here!

A New Dog in the White House

From BBC, here.

Gonna be a rescue (YEAH!). Barack, referring to the future First Dog, referred to himself as a mutt, too.

The LDS Church, Romney and Prop 8

I have been pondering how to view the LDS church involvement with Prop 8. It is not normal for me to just shred an entire group of people, and with that in mind, I have been trying desperately to find a way to avoid that though I admit to having great difficulty post Prop 8.

Every time I build a case for a position, I knock it over.

My neighbors of some 20 years are LDS. I love them dearly. I taught their son piano, they have adopted both cats and dogs for me, and have watched out for me for years. Now, I look at them differently. I almost wish I were gay so I could approach them in a personal way. I know they love me too and would never want to see me hurt. That said, is it the case that this family knows absolutely no one who is gay? Is that even possible (I keep asking myself)?

Andrew Sullivan had this to say about his feelings:

Tolerant and inclusive Mormons should not be forgotten; the Mormon tradition of church-state separation should not be ignored either. But toleration goes both ways. Gay people have every right to regard the Mormon church hierarchy as a mortal enemy. If they knock on my door any time soon, they will get an earful. --The Atlantic, 11-07-08

I don't disagree with him at all. The shredding of civil rights is the most egregious "civil" action I can think of. In doing a lot of reading on this--to, at least, inform my personal thinking on this topic--I came across this November 2, 2008 article in the Salt Lake Tribune. It's not too long, says a great deal about my own thinking, but that still doesn't cut it. There is one interesting notion put forward in the article though which sort of lends itself to looking forward at legal and perhaps initiative reversal of Prop 8 should they conger the notion of trying this again:

Affirmation assistant executive director David Melson says the church has done damage to its own members and its reputation. "Win or lose, the actions of the church over the past 90 days will result in damage to the LDS Church in California and beyond from which it may take a generation or longer to recover," he says.--Salt Lake Tribune, November 2, 2008

What the one line quote gives us, perhaps, is the limit of the LDS in future actions. Do they really want to be thought of as "the" anti-gay church for the foreseeable future? That would surely happen if they launched another high-stakes (pardon the pun) strike on gay marriage. But then, in perspective, isn't that also true with the Evangelical churches? It is. But the difference is the historical persecution of LDS and their wildly different beliefs and and self-view. The LDS church has always been an outsider and some would describe the church as a cult.

That the issue of gay marriage has brought the LDS church into proximity with the Catholic Bishops and Lutherans and evangelical churches let alone the zealous leaders of the religious right media is striking.

And as the article points out, right or wrong, the issue of polygamy has a shining future if the LDS church should choose to involve themselves again. That just isn't a happy PR thought for the LDS church.

As this 24 October 2008 Salt Lake Tribune article posted on Beliefnet points out, the LDS Church has a lot to lose and so does the anti-gay marriage religious movement should the LDS church not involve themselves further--read money. Over $20 million, in fact.

Of course the ever-wacky Ahmansons will throw money at anything that looks or smells like theocracy. But the article does some notable crystal balling worth filing away in the mind's library.

"Because [Mormon candidate] Mitt Romney's religion was used effectively against him, if I were opposing Prop 8, one of the tactics I would use would be to divide those united for it along religious lines," Schroeder wrote. "By singling out Mormons for these attacks, I would emphasize their distinctiveness from orthodox forms of Christianity, and drive the wedge a little deeper."--Salt Lake Tribune, October 24, 2008 [emphasis mine]

I know that will not settle well with many in TEC, let alone many religious liberals of other stripes. But is it wrong? Is it right?

Lawsuits may or may not solve the problem created with Prop 8. It would be nifty if they did. And, ultimately, cheaper. But the question I would be asking myself, were I developing a campaign to reinstate gay marriage in California, would be this: If we hope to get something on the 2010 ballot (assuming the legal issues were known in terms of getting another initiative on the ballot such as strong date lines for procedural matters, fund raising, and an assessment of what turnout in an off-presidential election year means on this issue, etc.) how do we proceed politically, and can we, as a coalition of people, gay and not, religious and not, play good guy, bad guy?

For those of us that have religion as a centerpiece in our lives, is it okay to attack another religion or do we let the secular part of the movement do it and we simply step out of that fray? Is that honest?

I know that Kos has committed to reversing the current mess. I don't know what he has in mind, but, stated simply, Kos is VERY bright and extremely politically astute.

This post is really me unplugging my mental plumbing jam on this as of now. But isn't this what many of us are, in fact, doing? We simply cannot lose this over time, and we know that.

What are your thoughts? How do we move forward?

Friday, November 7, 2008

TEC, Prop 2 and Prop 8: This is How We Walk With Integrity?

Anyone that knows me knows I love animals, am a devout Episcopalian and am a huge supporter of the lgbt community in their quest (Episcopalian or not) for equal rights and recently under California law (prop 8).

That said, I read something tonight that just lit me up in a big way, and this is church and its personal, and I am really pissed off.

One doesn't have to believe in one thing to the loss of another. I can believe and support humane treatment of animals AND support equal rights for all lgbt people. One does not effect the other, and they should not be used against one another, or compared, especially in The Episcopal Church (TEC) nor should the term "rights" be so broadly used to include chickens and lgbt people. It is an insult to both.

Nor should one TEC Ministry be dissed by another, and that is exactly what has happened.

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In the grief over the passage of Prop 8, we find some in TEC, including priests, attacking Proposition 2's passage (humane farm animal treatment) in the context of rights. You don't attack others in the church. You sure don't attack other ministries in the church. And WHAT is your flipping problem with animals being treated humanely and WHY in the world would you EVER equate chickens to lgbt people. Have you no damn sense at all?

SHAME on you. All of you and you know who you are.

I can understand it when a Fox News reporter does something this stupid and uncaring. I cannot understand it when an Episcopal Priest does it, let alone three Episcopal priests to date.

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The Episcopal Church has many ministries, and ENAW (Episcopal Network for Animal Welfare... and please note it does not say RIGHTS) is one. Not that I don't personally believe animals should have rights, I do.

When an abused animal comes into my rescue--one beaten, torn, sometimes used as bait, neglected to the point of near death--it makes me understand, from a Biblical perspective, that creation--ALL creation (unless of course you don't believe that) is sacred and of God. The Bible doesn't describe your fluffy companion animal v. a chicken as some exemption. And you know that. So stop it.

As a priest apparently now understands the term companion animal--a term not found in the Bible--it suggests, apparently, that companion animals are to be treated differently than farm animals. Oh really?

When the mid east folks wanted to test biochemical weapons on animals, which animals did they use? Dogs. Not chickens. It is a horrible experiment, and those of you familiar with the tapes know that and those of you that don't, I am happy to send them to you so you can throw up and dream bad things for months on end. Dogs are useless there. They are considered filthy. Chickens you can eat. Yummy.

Do we, as a church (despite the odd machinations (as always) of those in the So. Cone on this issue) want to make these kind of statements that, coming from priests, seem to represent us?

You don't represent me. In fact, you have seriously pissed me off. Your comments are unthougtful and disrespectful. They make fun of life, further the disparity of respect of animal life (which, BTW, extends to wildlife and all animal life... just like Sarah Palin, in fact), and disrespects your peers.

And those of you wearing collars (without tags), I have a question for you: Do you really bless those animals, do you even care, or is this just boring rote bull that takes up your time on one Sunday every year?

Finally, WHAT is your problem? Do you believe that animals should not be treated humanely? You actually HAVE a problem with that? If so, why are you even wearing a collar. God's creation means nothing to you? You are so human centric that you see nothing beyond that or are you just so No on 8-centric that you can't and need to stab something in the heart?

Whichever, you need to take some serious time to think about your statements and conclusions.

You are NOT going to make advances in civil rights by attacking humane treatment of animals and you owe me, personally, and the humane rights groups an apology. Many of us support your issues. You don't make advances by insulting your coalition friends.

HERE is the relevant statement of Fr. Bacon from All Saints Church which was, BTW, posted on Susan Russell's site and was released by Walking With Integrity... wow. Integrity? Really?

While we have a renewed sense of hope and resolve, we at All Saints are also deeply disturbed, angered, saddened and embarrassed by the passing of Proposition 8, an attempt to revise our State’s Constitution to be a document of discrimination against an entire class of citizens. How immoral to use the State Constitution to deprive some citizens of their human rights instead of guaranteeing human rights for all! The proponents of Proposition 8 seem to be callously unaware of the abusive impact on lesbian and gay citizens and their allies when California votes to give rights to poultry and take them away from human beings.

There is NO excuse for this. None.

Feel free to post your personal apology here.