Cumberland Island

Steven and i are packing right now for travels... and some of our travels include taking the ferry to Cumberland Island, on the Atlantic Coast on the Georgia / Florida border, and backpacking across the island for several days. It is beautiful this time of the year, balmy during the day, and cool at night. The island is undeveloped and a former playground of some robber barons (the Carnegies? can't remember); one finds ruins of a huge mansion called Dungeoness there. The floor of sawgrass palmetto seems to go on to infinity in many areas, topped with a towering canopy of twisted, beautiful oak. First to Atlanta to visit friends and family!

The packs feel light without any water in them yet! Keep your fingers crossed we have dry, sunny, warm weather on the coast of Georgia. So far, i can see the weather channel's forecast 10 days out, which will be our first day there, and it is slated to be mostly sunny, 70 / 49 at night. Perfect.


North Star?

As usual, not much decorating going on here for the Horrordays. We did, however, both get into a bit of a zen moment (yes, even Steven) transforming the Sputnik in the Living Room into an even more kitsch display of holiday sentiment. It happened quickly, instinctively, in a way that made me feel a kinship to bloghunk Drew and his "special" uncanny ability.


Just Another Wednesday...

but a few things to report. First, as this is JingXia's last week here, she is apparently feeling compelled to cook enough to last us through the winter. Here is a little Chinese Sandwich *sweet rice cake* i'm eating for a light supper. She's made 3,747 more of these and putting them in the freezer. For us. Because, you know, we both hate to cook and all. We're thinking of buying a factory for her next year.

In other news, my manscaping project is coming along, dunno how nicely though. I've decided for this winter, i will keep my head SHAVED, while letting my beard grow into a big Grizzly Adams Bear Affair. Just for a change of pace. It is itchy.

Steven gets to go to Taliesin West on Friday, after he wraps up his week in Phoenix. I hope he takes lots of very, very detailed pictures.

I am deep into watery eyes, drippy throat, coughing, mouth-breathing right now. Taking nyquil for night #2 now. I hope it ends tomorrow; keep your fingers crossed for me!

What else? OH! We had 4" of snow today! Happy happy, joy joy.


Finger Likkin Good

We just supped on a wonderful combination of things from our farmer's market. If we stay here long enough it's going to save our lives. We had some wonderful lamb ribs--locally raised on grass, healthy and good for us--that i braised in a bunch of aromatic herbs and seeds (cumin seeds, onion, garlic, coriander, pepper, shzechuan pepper, anise, cloves, cinnamon, and who knows what else) and then roasted in the oven with some honey, wine, mustard, and a little more of the aromatics and garlic, toasted and crushed in the mortar & pestle. Also had some red potatoes with butter and parsley and some brussels sprouts from a local farm. A reduction of the braising liquid was a tasty foundation to everything, along with a mash of the 3 or 4 whole onions from the braise.


Now, the Chinese are in there roasting some fresh chestnuts. And Steven is watering all his plants and saying goodbyes to them. How xmasey you say?

Steven is going to Phoenix tomorrow for a weeklong work seminar. On his return, JingXia will depart for Haikou with all her booty recently amassed for the grandson now studying in Beijing.

In other news, Jay, my sister Karen's husband is recovering nicely we hear from his recent aneurism and surgery. It was a close call this week, but we hope he will make a full and complete recovery.


Weekend of Thanks

Mostly, i'm thankful to have an entire 4 day stretch off and away from the office. It has been a while. Nice to have nothing to do...read...watch tv (I have a new supply of Doris Day Show::Season 5ive, the final season)...go to the gym...walk into town.

More details, for you inquiring minds:
1. Time for a facial. I loooove this black rub-on and peel-off mask.
2. Steven has busily been repotting orchids today.
3. our loooong crazy plant we call *Cher Hair* repotted and renovated today to more closely fade into the stair newel. Isn't she darling?
4. JingXia prepares to make a *huge* mess in the dining room, repotting plants. Yes, in the dining room. Didn't we just make a greenhouse to make a mess in??
5. some repotted orchids in a fancy pants pot
6. a beautiful antherium in bloom (help me with spelling, somebody)
7. the new (to me anyway) sixties kitsch coffee set for two. It's made by the Swedish company called Rorstrand, and the pattern is "Curtis." I love it. Came all the way from some lady in Great Britain. A little hot coffee, some choclate, honey, cream, maybe some Bailey's or whiskey, yum yum.
8. a cleanfaced me, post-mask.


Newsclipping of the Day :: Schumer, the Ennabler

"...the job will not be finished until we get a strong and independent attorney general. I believe Judge Mukasey is that type of person. Should we reject him, it is almost certain that an acting, caretaker attorney general will take office without the advice and consent of the Senate. Inevitably, that would enable those in this administration, who do not believe in the rule of law, and have done things that caused even former Attorney General Ashcroft to threaten resignation, to have the complete upper hand."

What kind of (IR)rationalization is this? Have all Democrats lost their freakin minds? Why are our "Statesmen" like Schumer and Feinstein all capitulating?

Because they are ALL bought and paid for by our ONE party, the war party of corporate fascism.

*two branches: democrat and republican*

Earth to Chuck Schumer:

reject Mukasey

reject ANY nominee that can dissemble before the United States Congress about torture.

repeat this process, because the justice department will NOT be fixed, not until there is a new president.

this is our chief law enforcement officer for crissakes.


Sleeping in the Sun

Somebody had to work ALL NIGHT LONG--until well after sunup--and will now sleep the day away. Some Friday nights Steven has code that goes live, and he has to be around to talk on the phone with people trying to make the systems go, while he clicks around all night. What a paiiiin.

On the plus side, makes Gormie Girl very happy to have a sleeping companion.


Wow, Someone Cares What We Think

Citizens! HERE is a notice from Wired with a link to the Election Assistance Commission's public comment website. For 120 days (better than nothing now), they want to know what you think of E-voting machines.

HERE is the direct link to the overview from the Commish Guidelines, with links at chapters and sub-chapters where one may leave a comment.

Aux Armes! Please take the time to check this out, and leave comments. And pass along to anyone you know who is interested in this issue.


they finally posted my comment:

E-voting machines in Ohio in 2004 were full of critical failures: 1200% turnout in certain districts, Bush winning by thousands of votes in precincts where only hundreds were registered, vote tallying servers mysteriously going offline for hours, the list goes on and on. How will the official record on all of the failures of 2004 become a part of this package and set the scope for what needs to be overcome? Why is it not important to investigate, understand, process, and litigate those failures so that a process such as this can be meaningful?


Mom, Would You Please Stop Wearing Lipstick?

Are you reading THIS mom? Good grief, why do we even pretend to have an FDA anymore?

And, check THIS little news item for more bad news for the health and safety of Americans. Neither Democrats nor Republicans care about the health and safety of us all... they are both the parties of big business. And they both are prepared to continue flooding our country with useless, dangerous crap from sketchy sources. Kudos to the Congressman from Arkansas for trying, but i'm sure he doesn't stand a chance.

The project of complete deregulation is nearly complete! Everyone into their plastic bubbles! You too John Travolta! Yay!


Oh Maureen, How I've Missed You

Thank goodness the Times has lost that silly Times Select thing. I used to read Maureen Dowd's every piece, faithfully, until the NYTimes decided i needed to pay for that priveledge. I buy her books, and i refused to buy Times Select just to read her few entertaining paragraphs weekly.

NOW we can all read Maureen whenever we like. Though this man was certainly not necessary to you Maureen, i'm glad to once again find you necessary.

It's that newspaper you work for that is not really necessary for any of us.


A Month of Octobers

A Day of Birth
A Wunderbar Dinner of Danish Meatballs
A Sea of Leaves
A New Kitchen Aid mixer
A New Nigella Lawson breadbox
Our tomatoes are still prolific
And my new kitchen.
And, a man who will cook recipes from Elle Decor.
How lucky can one man be?
Shall I cast my fate to the wind?
Thanks Mister.


Who's Your Candidate?

Try this handy dandy test to see who your candidate should be!

I'm for Kucinich in a landslide (66%). Fred Thompson rounds out the bottom of my list.

In the masthead at the top, shouldn't the donkey be on the LEFT and the elephant on the RIGHT? Hmmmm.

Leave a comment and let me know who your candidate is.

Newsclipping of the Day :: FUNDRACE is back!

And, apparently--as an added bonus--Arianna Huffington is in charge of it this time. Check it.

What fun. Look 'em all up and collect 'em all. While supplies last.


Newsclipping of the Day :: Hypocrisy in Action

This local news segment from Texas shows the trouble with the USA. Every single goddamned politician in this country needs to be fired, and barred from "public service." I think the French have got it right. They are on the Fifth Republic, which means they've burned the government down, and started over from scratch, 4 times so far. We need to burn down government, from the Federal to the States level, and start over. We need a clean slate. What will it take to get rid of these people in "public service?"


Newsclipping of the Day :: More Bad News for FREE and FAIR Elections in the USA

Forget about the Holt Amendment, there's much bigger--and much more covert and insidious--doins with elections here in the land of the free and the home of the brave.

We're putting more foxes in charge of the henhouse folks. Our entire system is being destroyed from within. This guy Hans von Spakovsky seems like a real patriot, doesn't he? Why even bother with elections anymore?



M. at work just sent this to me. If only all animals were as kind and gentle. Amazing.


Hard Work Today

Today we painted a gaggle of beadboard to apply to nude garage/greenhouse walls, installed a sliding glass door, and found a poster for a local circus in the attic (we think maybe Curtis may know something about this circus?). And JingXia even helped. I can't remember the last time I was so completely dirty (even removing plaster in the kitchen wasn't as dirty as removing collar beams in the garage).

Next workday: install a gaggle of R11 batt insulation in said nude walls, and hold it in with the beadboard. I'll be moving a lovely old window that the sliding door replaced to the gable above the door (sorry JingXia, no more basketball), and our friend Aaron will be installing a wall-mounted gas heater for us. Then Steven's greenhouse dream will be done, just in time for all the various plants to winter. Yay!


Are We Becoming Hippies??

Who knows? I suppose it's really not possible. But we sure are trying. We went to the Annual Glasshouse Works Garden Party last weekend and had a GREAT time with HUNDREDS of hippies who are our new neighbors and friends. It was a blast, and Tom and Ken are the most fabulous hosts. It is always pretty darned elaborate, with a smorgasbord of dozens and dozens and dozens of items to eat, the gardens to tour, gallons and gallons of wine, the "desert house," and of course all the lovely gardens and nooks and crannies and outdoor rooms and worlds they contain. Last year was our first year, and to my surprize, I found 2 great pictures of me and Steven on the website! Well, if you ignore that GIANT zit on my forehead, they are great pictures:


Your Homework

Should you choose to read it. Wow. I can't wait to read this book:

Who makes trailers for a book???

There's a really nifty website too.


Another Wilde Beaste

wants breakfast. She's been dozing all over the Mister while we watch Real Time with Bill Maher. She loves to park it right on top of either of our chests, and ride the gentle wave while we breathe. "Bush read 87 books last year" inspires a little surge of laughter, making the gentle wave into a big squall. She digs in, hanging on, glares into his eyes. *Lick lick lick* Regains composure.


Intellectual Dishonesty

Advocating a position known to be false and wrong. Manipulating ideas to frame an argument or story to advance an agenda or to reinforce one's beliefs--however utterly wrong--in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

A nice way to tell someone they are lying to you: "You're being intellectually dishonest, i'm afraid."

Ad (Wo)Men LOVE intellectual dishonesty.

"Fill your home with the fresh scent of sweet melon and tropical fruit. Hold can upright and spray."

I'm sorry, that is a lie.

Politicos LOVE intellectual dishonesty.

"The White House told Congress Friday that Iraqi leaders gained little new ground on key military and political goals, a discouraging assessment a day after President Bush said progress justifies keeping a large U.S. military presence there."

I'm sorry, you are lying.

Complete Assholes LOVE intellectual dishonesty.

"We know where they are. They're in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad. We know exactly where they are."

Sorry, you are a complete liar.

Even Apple engages in it:

"Early adopters always pay a premium"

Can't Steve Jobs be honest and say "You nerdjobs who stand in line for 6 hours for a damn phone" instead of "early adopters?" Come on.

i'm a designer, and while intellectual dishonesty coursing through life's veins all over the place is a depressing sight to see, observing it in the design world really kills me. Just as i'm sure it pains healthcare providers seeing it all over their worlds, quite egregiously, I notice it most deeply where it affects my chosen vocation. Apparently, we Americans have a REAL problem keeping anything real anymore.

Our cultural denial runs so deep we think we can just rename anything and everything's ok. In the design world, former building materials are now building products and polymers and a bunch of fake crap. Plastic stone, Hardiplank, and ductwork that resembles my sister's 1960's hairdryer hood and hose now replace once slightly more authentic materials. National defense is now hit men in service of private American corporations, which by the way, mostly move overseas to avoid paying for anything anymore. We once fought madmen who threatened to destroy the world; now we are madmen picking fights and threatening to destroy the world.

We just went to Shenandoah National Park very briefly and had a great time, but there were some nagging design dishonesties going on. Most of the park was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 30s, and is wonderfully authentic in terms of it's rustic design, the countless quantities of hard work and love that went into the construction, and it's utter appropriateness to it's setting and context.

Oh my, though, what a difference 70 years can make. The place has been "updated" so many times that it is a train wreck expression of clashing ways of viewing the world, authenticity, and honesty. I am a design professional, so I would consider myself a bit picky about these things. But I must say it is a bit incongruous, that the beautifully constructed lodge and outbuildings are now filled with furniture and items one would find in a Motel 6. It's too bad really. As a place on the National Register of Historic Places, it seems warranted to have sensitive interior designers who could help with this. I found myself daydreaming about what my rooms must have been like originally, while looking at the intrusive dorm refrigerator (which we did not use in a 3 day stay i might add) next to the spectacular stone fireplace. Same for the bath: I found myself thinking, why oh why would someone have not updated these bathrooms in a way that is sensitive to the historic nature of the environment? Slipcovers--once a chintz daydream one wrapped on one's threadbare sofa--are to be found all over the bathtubs. Everytime i stepped in, i was painfully aware that the thin layer of polymer in the guise of a bathtub was not adhered properly, and moved around with each of my movements. In the lodge itself, a giant, spectacular living room with sweeping views, but uncomfortably and inappropriately outfitted with herculon lowest-common-denominator furniture.

But enough whining about the design world.

The thing that bugs me the most is how Bush and the Republicans have capitalized on this nasty cultural trend. They've taken lying from bad to acceptable to cool. They reinvent lying everyday.

I wish i were in Washington today protesting them and their intellectually dishonest war.


Steven v. the Wilde Beastes

Steven: 1
Wilde Beastes: 0

He really should pick on someone his own size. My cave man slaughtered a squirrel today. He's been chowing down on Sunflower fruit JingXia has been trying to dry out--for weeks now--and generally creating all manner of mayhem in the garden. Lately, he'd taken to chewing through the screen to get on our screened porch, where Ma had safeguarded the Sunflower pods from the little bastard. Just this morning, Steven observed him molesting Mike and Jane's new bird feeder next door, and found that he'd attacked the Aloe plant again. Well, later Steven heard a crash, went to check, and le terrorsite had knocked a vase over and smashed it while practically foraging in our fridge (only a few more feet away). Now, Steven has known that the time for diplomacy and negotiation has passed. Carrots failing, it was now time for a stick. Taking advantage of the fact that the terrorist was at a dead end, trapped in a relatively confined space (our screened porch, not Tora Bora), Steven grabbed a handy stick (leftover 80 year old lath pieces in the corner from our recent plaster demolition careers), and proceeded to beat the living shit of the squirrel. He's in a Heavy-Duty Contractor Black bag now, awaiting his Thursday trip to final destination at the Athens-Hocking landfill. Let's hope the Reign of Terror is over (regardless of what Petraeus has to say about it).


Love is a Losing Game

Really love this lady. First heard her on Crossing Boundaries months ago. And dig that hair would you. And the Cleopatra eyes.


Newsclipping of the Day :: More Backstory on Katrina

My favorite new political-culture-oriented blogger Digby has a great new post about what was really behind the shocking response of our current Republican Executive to the Katrina disaster. He speculates that what Rove was really after was making Louisiana over as a red state, by seizing the opportunity to force the city's African-American residents into a wide, permanent diaspora; thus eliminating pesky Democratic-leaning votes in all future elections. Those Black folks who once lived in New Orleans have known now for years that Republicans have absolutely no respect for their very lives. Many others simply can't comprehend, even when they read of the possibility with their own eyes. You can see the original post from The Big Con here (complete with live links), but i copy the text here below, so it will be preserved for posterity here:

Katrina: Slow As Molasses

By Digby on August 25, 2007 - 1:04pm.

There was an interesting little factoid in Joshua Green's great article on Karl Rove in this months Atlantic, that has everyone scratching their heads:

Hurricane Katrina clearly changed the public perception of Bush’s presidency. Less examined is the role Rove played in the defining moment of the administration’s response: when Air Force One flew over Louisiana and Bush gazed down from on high at the wreckage without ordering his plane down. Bush advisers Matthew Dowd and Dan Bartlett wanted the president on the ground immediately, one Bush official told me, but were overruled by Rove for reasons that are still unclear: “Karl did not want the plane to land in Louisiana.” Rove’s political acumen seemed to be deserting him altogether.

That picture of Bush looking down on the city from on high in his favorite little air force one costume was a terrible image. But there can be no doubt that what Rove was thinking about in those moments was not whether it would be good for the country or the people of New Orleans for the president to get on the ground immediately. He was thinking about how to turn the situation into a political advantage.

In the early days of Katrina, Bush was very strangely disengaged, even when he got back to Washington and saw the full scope of the damage. Again, it's impossible to know exactly what was going through their minds, but it was an odd performance even by Bush standards. It's hard to see how anyone could calculate that it was a good idea for the president to appear not to care about one of America's oldest and most beloved cities being destroyed while its stranded residents begged for food and water. And yet they seemed to be moving like thick, sticky molasses.

Within days it was reported in the NY Times that Karl Rove was in charge of the reconstruction effort in the gulf. Dan Froomkin in the Washington Post observed:

Rove's leadership role suggests quite strikingly that any and all White House decisions and pronouncements regarding the recovery from the storm are being made with their political consequences as the primary consideration. More specifically: With an eye toward increasing the likelihood of Republican political victories in the future, pursuing long-cherished conservative goals, and bolstering Bush's image.

The first reconstruction plans to emerge bore out that assumption. Rove was reported to be working with a Heritage Foundation task force headed by former Reagan Attorney General Ed Meese. Much like their earlier failed attempt at reconstruction in Iraq, this was seen as a perfect chance to create a free market Disneyland.

Heritage came up with a plan by September 12th, just two weeks after the hurricane came ashore, called "From Tragedy to Triumph: Principled Solutions for Rebuilding Lives and Communities." Their report confidently stated, "the key to successfully rebuilding the Gulf Coast is to 'encourage creative and rapid private investment through incentives and reduced regulation.'"

Paul Krugman described just what that meant in the NY Times:

"The Heritage Foundation, which has surely been helping Karl Rove develop the administration's recovery plan, has already published a manifesto on post-Katrina policy. It calls for waivers on environmental rules, the elimination of capital gains taxes and the private ownership of public school buildings in the disaster areas. And if any of the people killed by Katrina, most of them poor, had a net worth of more than $1.5 million, Heritage wants to exempt their heirs from the estate tax,"

The Republican congress got in on the act as well. The WSJ reported:

Congressional Republicans, backed by the White House, say they are using relief measures for the hurricane-ravaged Gulf coast to achieve a broad range of conservative economic and social policies, both in the storm zone and beyond.


"The desire to bring conservative, free-market ideas to the Gulf Coast is white hot," says Rep. Mike Pence, the Indiana Republican who leads the Republican Study Group, an influential caucus of conservative House members. "We want to turn the Gulf Coast into a magnet for free enterprise. The last thing we want is a federal city where New Orleans once was."

Many of the ideas under consideration have been pushed by the 40-member study group, which is circulating a list of "free-market solutions," including proposals to eliminate regulatory barriers to awarding federal funds to religious groups housing hurricane victims, waiving the estate tax for deaths in the storm-affected states; and making the entire region a "flat-tax free-enterprise zone."

They were all working together:

Members of the group met in a closed session Tuesday night at the conservative Heritage Foundation headquarters here to map strategy. Edwin Meese, the former Reagan administration attorney general, has been actively involved.

And they didn't hide their intentions:

Conservative commentators see the measures as an opportunity to reverse federal entitlement programmes dating back to Franklin Roosevelt's that they argue ingrain poverty by encouraging dependency on the government. "The objection to these Bush proposals isn't fiscal, but philosophical," Rich Lowry, an editor on the National Review magazine, wrote. "They serve to undermine the principle of government dependency that underpins the contemporary welfare state, and to which liberals are utterly devoted."

Naturally, all this principled high-mindedness ended up making Republican contributors a whole lot of money, from the very first moments until just recently.

But none of that is what Karl Rove was likely to have really been interested in. He was happy to promote free market ideology and ensure that important contributors were cut in on the action, but his holy grail was creating an enduring Republican majority. (And we know he did not have a lot of scruples when it came to doing it.)

Louisiana has been a swing state for some time, in which Democrats were dependent on the black majority in the state's largest city to win. It was not lost on Rove that all of those poor New Orleans African Americans --- and their children --- being dispersed throughout the nation could only be good for Republicans. As of now, only about 66% have returned, not enough to keep the state swinging (in more ways than one.) It looks very likely that the state will have a Republican Governor and two Republican Senators in 2008. Experts in the area estimate that the congressional delegation advantage for Republicans will be five to one by 2012. There is little doubt that the Katrina diaspora finally turned the state blood red.

Kanye West famously blurted out "Bush doesn't care about black people" at a Katrina fundraiser and shocked everyone with his blunt assessment. But we could all see why he would think that. Bush had failed to even acknowledge the hurricane for days and refused to cut short his vacation. He told his disastrously incompetent FEMA head he was doing a "heckuva job" and seemed cavalier about the fact that people were expiring on the sidewalk in New Orleans. His strongest statements seemed to be against looting. Indeed, it appeared that he was quite content to let the catastrophe unfold in slow motion on the world's TV screens.

You can't blame West for thinking he didn't care. But it was likely far more cynical than that. Rove was busy counting votes that day he and the president flew over the city and he undoubtedly knew that an opportunity presented itself if New Orleans were destroyed. And he knew something else too: that if certain people heard tales of African Americans lawlessly marauding through the streets and saw hours of footage of poor black women with children it would successfully tweak the southern racist lizard brain to solidify those gains.

Tom Schaller explains:

Louisiana is, at last, about to look a lot more like its Deep South neighbors politically. There has been something of an inverse relationship in recent presidential elections between the share of black voters and Republican performance. That is, the blacker the state, the bigger the Republican margins. Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina are all states with black populations close to or above a third, the highest percentage in the nation -- and not a Democratic senator, governor or, since 1992, Democratic electoral vote among them.

Along with Florida, Louisiana had been different, a state where multiracial coalitions propelled Clinton, Landrieu and Blanco to victories. In Louisiana, a black population of 32.5 percent made victory for Democrats possible. The post-Katrina question is whether the black population will remain large enough for Democrats to continue building such coalitions, especially if there is a backlash among white voters in the noncoastal portions of the state toward Blanco, controversial New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin and state Democrats in general. Recent polls, however, are not promising, and they also show how resolutely racial party identification has become in the Deep South. The blacker the state, the more Republican the whites are.

Despite the "heckuva job" performance of the Bush administration during Katrina, the president's approval rating among whites in Louisiana -- 57 percent -- is tied for second best in the nation with Georgia and Idaho, trailing only Mississippi's 61 percent. The link between whiteness and Republicanism in the South is now so strong that it can even withstand a Category 5 hurricane. Now, without the tipping-point power of the Orleans Parish black electorate, Louisiana may well become the new Mississippi, which has two Republican senators and a Republican governor and hasn't given its electoral votes to a Democrat since Jimmy Carter.

Rove may have failed to create and enduring national majority, but he did a heckuva job in Louisiana, cementing another bloc into the solid Republican south.


Join Us for Dinner?

We're having tomato salad with scallions, basil, olives, oil and vinegar, french potato salad, and poached fish. On Steven's porcelaine du target. And Ice Cream later.



See how great Jonathan Adler's stuff is? I've been drooling on this sofa for months now... we have to get rid of the 2 long defunct radiators in our living room before we could fit another sofa in there. The extra foot of room width they needlessly eat up now is critical. And, we might have to lose the giant five-and-a-half-foot circular coffee table. *sign*
Fight the H8 in Your State