We had a super time in Raleigh this past weekend! Tammy had a big party to celebrate a biiig birthday (her 40th), and some of us from Atlanta and elsewhere converged for the weekend. JP roasted oysters, made frogmore stew and boiled crabs, rolled up the carpets, and doled out the boas, tiaras and fab glasses. We had such a great time with old friends, and made a few new too. We miss you guys so much!

I wore that thing round my neck to work today, it can be loosely construed as a scarf doncha think?


Tea, Anyone?

Steven got me this gorgeous little hand-painted tea table and 4 stools, with birds and cherry blossom branches. The table top is a quite thick tree section, minimally milled, and the legs of all the pieces are stout with fat stretchers and bridle joints i think, each with a little hardwood peg or stay where the tenon passes completely through the tenon (wish i really knew the lingo for what those kinds of joints are... can anybody help me with that?). Each is a beautiful work of art:

Just like our current Dining Room table, which we bought 5 or 6 years ago to use outside, we are both worried about this thing decaying on the front porch and are already talking about where to put it inside. We don't really need it inside, the front porch is the perfect place for it. It has a thick layer of something or other (Steven told me the Chinese word, but we don't know the English word). Looks something like a thick gauche topped with lacquer, then the hand-painted details, and then layers of clear lacquer. A lot of it is cracked and peeling, through all the layers, and all of the legs are peeling at their bottoms. That's all part of the charm, but we want to stabilize the charm where it is now. Does anybody know what to do for a piece like this? We are loathe to use one of those super-duper self-levelling polyeurethane sealers... as we have no idea how it would react with the lacquer or the painted detail.

We also had a great time with our new friend Jamey who went with us to Yellow Springs, and then to Springfield to pick this up. It was quite a production getting it; thanks for helping Jamey!

Cheers thanks alot!

*We've whiled away quite a bit of time doing our Dawn French, Jennifer Saunders, and Joanna Lumley impersonations... while watching a Jamey's stellar array of EVERYTHING they've ever made*


Health Insurance Fatcats Must Be Stopped.

Did anyone see part I of Ken Burn's documentary on the founding of our National Parks? It was done by a fit of imminent domain... the lands were set aside, and declared worthless. To shut the fatcats of the day to hell up.



Everyone Help out in MAINE!

Thanks MEL for letting us know what to do. Go HERE to make a donation, or do more if you live nearby. Mel is generously doing a raffle for all kinds of excellent stuff!

It's important folks. Donate as much as you can. I'm doing so now.


Newsclipping of the Day :: Reckoning for Democrats

Robert Borosage has written one of the most succinct and compelling analyses of what the Democrats are faced with this summer and fall that i've read lately. Posting a link HERE, but the contents are below for ease and posterity. I hope we'll look back at this time with appreciation that some of our Democratic statesmen and women led the rest of the party out of the ditch and back toward the people's business. Now is the time for all of us to write our letters and speak up!


"President Obama traveled to Wall Street on the anniversary of the collapse of Lehman Brothers that triggered the worst financial debacle since the Great Depression. His purpose was to challenge Wall Street's barons, telling them:

"We will not go back to the days of reckless behavior and unchecked excess..where too many were motivated only by the appetite for quick kills and bloated bonuses"

Those days are over, the president said. It's time for comprehensive legislation. Taxpayers won't cover your bets or your bonuses. And we know once more the threat that financial holdings can pose to the nation.

The president invoked country and the common good. "Instead of learning the lessons...of the crisis, [some in the financial industry] are choosing to ignore them. They do so not just at their own peril, but our nation's." Obama called on Wall Street to act on its own, to overhaul pay systems, to level with consumers, to join with him in defining reform, but his tone was almost wistful. As he knows all too well, for much of Wall Street, patriotism is for suckers. And in Washington, private interests are rolling over the common good.

In the wake of the worst economic downturn since the 1930s, the president has called for fundamental reforms vital to the country's future. Put aside whether he's been too bold or too timid, whether he has pushed hard enough or too hard; there isn't any question he is calling the nation to its senses.

Our health care system is broken and unsustainable. Comprehensive reform is unavoidable. We can't continue to rely on fossil fuels; sustainable energy is a security imperative, not a choice. We need to shackle Wall Street, to shrink the size and excess profits of finance, and force it away from its addiction to gambling and back to the essential business of investing in the real economy. We have to reduce the crony capitalist subsidies that get squandered on agribusiness and Cold War weapons systems and top-end tax cuts, and use that money to invest in education, in a modern infrastructure, in research and development vital to a vibrant, high-road economy.

This really shouldn't be controversial. Yes, disagreements about how to get this done are to be expected, but the status quo is simply indefensible. Despite all the fantasies of the rabid right, Obama is moderate by temperament, creative at compromise. He is, as one of his White House staff members described him, a "raging minimalist." He really does believe you put everyone around a table, have a "civil conversation," find areas of agreement and move forward. He does believe that everyone—from billionaire hedge-fund operators to insurance company CEOS to conservative legislators—will in a crisis put the country first.

But he and his reform program are getting mugged. He's taken on the most powerful private interests in America—Big Oil, Wall Street, the insurance and drug lobbies—and they are winning. Republicans, despite the shattering of their conservative shibboleths, have chosen, with lockstep unity, obstruction over compromise. And too many Democrats have shown themselves more beholden to the private interests that pay for their campaigns than the public interest the president of their own party invokes.

We are witnessing a harrowing test of our democracy. America is a big, bustling and entrepreneurial country. We pursue our own passions and pursuits, are jealous of our freedoms, and begrudge governmental intrusions. But in a crisis—faced with depression or war, our history tells us many become one. We join together for the common good.

Well, it is hard to imagine a greater crisis than the one this country has faced over the last years. A middle class that has suffered a lost decade. Two wars. The Great Recession. Gilded Age inequality. Catastrophic climate change accelerating faster than most predictions.

Yet, we haven't come together. Wall Street lobbies against reform. Derivative traders will ante up hundreds of millions to block regulation of credit default swaps. Goldman Sachs is back to computerized gambling and billions in bonuses. The insurance companies are spending over a million-and-a-half dollars a day against comprehensive health-care reform.

The president's preemptive compromises only feed their appetites. He offers polluters a good portion of the revenue generated by "cap and trade." They lobby to weaken the cap.

He bails out banks rather than taking them over and reorganizing them. They lobby against his financial reforms. He doesn't try to push for Medicare for All, accepting the role of employment-based private insurance, and he's accused of a government takeover of health care.

The teabaggers were in Washington this past weekend. Despite their racial furies and right-wing fantasies, they shouldn't be dismissed. Many are working people, losing ground in an economy that isn't working for them. They are angry at a government that seems to take their taxes to bail out billionaire bankers, while they are left to swim or sink. They have every good reason to believe Washington caters to the wealthy and the connected, and not to them. And it is all too easy to deflect that anger to "them" —illegal immigrants, poor minorities, foreign aid recipients.

This is the test for Democrats. With the White House and majorities in both houses of Congress, Democrats have to produce. If they are too cautious or too compromised, they will feed what could be an ugly populist backlash.

Take health care reform. Sen. Max Baucus has produced a draft for the Finance Committee, making concessions as far anyone can see not for Republican votes, but for insurance lobby approval. He's produced that lobby's dream bill, mandating coverage for everyone without subsidies to make it affordable. His bill would drive people to take the high-deductible, low-coverage plans that are the industry's cash cows. It is hard to imagine a greater disservice to the country or to the party. Take young Americans who vote Democratic in large numbers, force them to buy health insurance that they don't want and can't afford, make them pay for policies that don't cover their health-care costs—and reap the whirlwind that you deserve.

These next months are the reckoning. The president and the Congress will step up to the reforms the country needs—or they will fail the nation in a time of peril. For citizens, now is the time to get engaged. The only way legislators in both parties will rise above partisan politics and private interests is if their constituents allow them no choice.

Middle-income Americans lost income over the last decade, for the first time since we began keeping records. Financial speculation drove the economy off the cliff. Catastrophic climate change is already melting the ice caps. We cannot afford another lost decade. If reason cannot prevail, angry people will increasingly look for a strong man to get something done. And that could make the teabaggers look like a tea party."


Here's one of my letters. I need to work on the ranting a bit:


We would all be aghast if our system of education happened to be profit-based. Yes, there are many public and private Universities that take in much more capital than they need to meet operating expenses. And yes, private enterprise and the world of business benefit greatly from our system of education. It relies upon it for successes and profits. But the excess direct capital goes into endowments, to improve scholarship, facilities, and programs, and ensure the growth and endurance of the educational institutions. It doesn't go into exorbitant ransoms for a few elite at the top of the system, controlling the levers. We decided long ago that equal access to basic education was a right that belonged to every citizen, and we committed to that.

Why on earth is it acceptable to us that our system of healthcare should be profit based, now identical to the stock market? Who believes it is moral to buy and trade life and death futures? Who believes the masses should have every resource wrung out of them like coal stripped from the earth, while the few suck up all the resources and benefits? Why are huge profits allowable, giving all the resources to those at the very top, controlling the levers of the system, while those in need are allowed to die or are denied care for cost? Or, maybe worse, why are some given care and then forced into bankruptcy?

This is a government of the masses, and we must commit to single-payer healthcare. We are not slaves waiting to have our pockets emptied by a corrupt and bloated healthcare system. I demand that we craft reform legislation that makes access to healthcare equal and equitable for all. No one should ever die because they did not have access to healthcare. No one should ever go bankrupt or lose their house or nest egg because they became ill. The right to healthcare is as basic to our creed of "pursuit of happiness" as the right to education, free speech, or to assemble. You had better support the "public option" like your life depends on. Because all our lives do.


A Great Time in Vegas

In case there was any doubt, there is still lots of bling for sale in Las Vega$. David took this picture at some shop in The Wynn. The bling hasn't really come down in price either. Depression nothwithstanding. Do you recognize that person reflected in the Beyond-the-Sea's-Mirages Mirror? Yes, that's right, it's Jack Lemmon.

Quiche for breakfast. David and Kevin have a fabu new kitchen, which we happily invaded.

Steven is not nearly as good at bowling as he is at volleyball. But it sure makes him happy! The Red Rock Casino Lanes were extremely deluxe.

Thanks for the pictures David! Steven will post ours soon..


I Want One of These!

This is priceless! Or should i say Fisher-Priceless!

Ah, but enough with the laughs. I am pissed.

Right wingnuts are all in a tizzy about Obama's speech to America's children... about education. Mind you it hasn't even HAPPENED yet, but they are already condemning this--the speech that hasn't happened yet--because, of course, they know he's an evil recruiter of Hitler youth. It's all over Facebook, the stupid-ass polls.

And they are all freaked about 80% of America believing that no one should die because they can't afford healthcare, nor go bankrupt because they can't pay what the Insurance-Industrial-Complex has determined as a ransom for life. We are all sheep for speaking in one voice about this. Thanks, Tricia. I know you didn't mean to personally attack me, but i do take it personally. And for people like you and I not to be able to find common ground, and respect for one another, well, it pains my heart.

To all of you:
It really depresses me that at the ripe old age of 40, my baby sister is starting her life over, because her husband (who was gainfully employed and had health insurance through the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers) had a catastrophic illness. She nearly lost him, and then, ultimately, did lose him when she couldn't fight--Shiavo family-style--with his family any longer about what was best for him. And she lost her house. And she lost her credit. And she lost her marriage. And a great deal of it has to do with the corrupt, backward, inequitable and broken system of "healthcare" and health insurance we have in this country. She is fine now, and she is stronger for it, but it still absolutely kills me the pain, suffering, and just utter bullshit she has been through in the past couple of years over the whole thing.

To all of you:
My cousin actually travels abroad to find his healthcare, rather than risk the statistics here, or become a part of the broken system. He has chosen not to engage our system.

To all of you:
My friend David lost his mother this year, who was barely 60, because she fell into the cracks of our Insurance-Industrial-Complex. The system said Fuck You to her, and now she is dead.

To all of you: if you don't already, you WILL have a close family member who will be adversely affected at the least--or dead at the ultimate worst--because our system of caring for one another's health and well-being is so completely ass-backward, profit-driven, and set up to work best for those who have the most. For those with the least, you are on your own. I can't believe what passes for morality in your heads and hearts.

And you right wingnut jobs act like we are all just mindlessly following slogans about healthcare reform, just because you don't want to hear it, or even debate it. Well, you will lose, and you will be defeated. Because you are wrong, and you are on the wrong side of history. The history of this country is built and defined by the defeat of many such awful moments in our collective past, in which we've resteered our course to actually commit to giving a damn about each other. Click away and update your status on Facebook, attack people who've been through the worst in life, that you don't even know... but how about you show some compassion conservatives? Is there any in there?


The Math is Pretty Simple, Really.

Not to mention the simple moral dividends.

Fight the H8 in Your State