Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Life on the edge

While having coffee at Anna Banana's last week I ran into Andrea, one of the creative women I canvassed with at Working America one spring. Working America is the community affiliate of the AFL-CIO, and they fight for important stuff, like better paying jobs and health care. With fearless doorbelling, they helped get Jeff Merkley elected and Measure 66 and 67 passed .

Before running into Andrea, I had just found out my landlord wanted his house back because he needs to live in it with his new girlfriend. It turned out most of Andrea's friends are in the same boat, and they are also looking for work. Andrea's contract with Working America ended after measure 66 and 67 passed, so she needs a job, too. We talked about starting a blog just to get everyone connected: housing, jobs, business opportunities. With all of this creative energy on the loose, a million things could get done with some good networking.

In the meantime, I found a cool basement apartment to rent with one of my friends. He used to live in his basement, so it has a great kitchen. I will also be able to grow vegetables there, and the rent is quite a bit cheaper than what I am paying now, so I'm excited. He's a really nice guy and so very much fun to talk to. He has a million stories to share, and he looks a bit like William Hurt.

I learned to make almond milk yesterday which will be very convenient. It's so easy to do. Simply soak 1 1/2 cups of almonds overnight in some water. The next morning rinse the almonds and blend them with 4 cups of water. Strain through muslin or a fine strainer. Wow is it delicious fresh! You can use almond milk in soups, coffee, anywhere that you use milk or cream. It would be terrific in a ganache.

I also sold a few journals and note cards on my etsy site so I sent those off today. Tonight I am working on my big critical paper for my MFA degree and also rewriting a few scenes from my novel.

Hopefully I can get everything cleared out of this apartment by March 1st and moving won't interfere too much with my studies. It will feel good to simplify my life and hand over some of my belongings to the Goodwill to be used by others who need them now.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

The War in Afghanistan

In the above response to columnist Tom Friedman, I so appreciated MOHAMMED SAWAF’s rational discussion of the horrifying statistics detailing numbers of lives from the Middle East ruthlessly ended by our bombs and warfare. At the same time, SAWAF also makes sure to state clearly that not all of these deaths were our fault. His rational tone gives his article the weight the horror in these numbers deserves.

I especially appreciated this paragraph: “Contrary to what Friedman thinks, our real problem isn’t a fictitious Muslim “narrative” about America’s role in the region; it is mostly the actual things we have been doing in recent years. To say that in no way justifies anti-American terrorism or absolves other societies of responsibility for their own mistakes or misdeeds. But the self-righteousness on display in Friedman’s op-ed isn’t just simplistic; it is actively harmful. Why? Because whitewashing our own misconduct makes it harder for Americans to figure out why their country is so unpopular and makes us less likely to consider different (and more effective) approaches. ”

Unfortunately President Obama invoked in his Tuesday night war call the same 9/11 fervor that Bush used to bring a football-game sort of adrenalin tone to what would become the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians. Because we have never experienced war on our soil in our lifetime, we so easily deny its realities, and allow our leaders to justify the murder of innocent people who mean to do us no harm. We accept our leaders’ rationalizations that this murder is being done in the name of our “security” when all evidence shows that we are less secure because we are killing so many innocent people, an obvious, common-sense truth.

I haven’t figured out the math, but how many innocent people will have to die for each one of those 3,000 Americans who were killed on 9/11? 30,000? If we kill 30,000 people from the Middle East for each one of the folks who died in 911, does that make any sense whatsoever? Such behavior seems much more “evil” than the actual act committed on 9/11.

In his speech President Obama reminded us that we were going to battle not only for the US but for other allies who experience terrorist attacks from the Taliban. Would that bring the numbers down to 10,000 innocent deaths for each person killed by a terrorist?Is this a moral act?

There is a sort of underlying belief that Presidential candidates have to lie about a few things in order to get elected, and I think most progressives truly thought President Obama was talking tough about Afghanistan to win debates, but that in his heart he knew that bombing countries never makes them stronger.

I think we believed that after he was elected he would settle in to his real intentions and end the war in Iraq and help Afghanistan with humanitarian aid not more war. Now we must realize he is in many ways another puppet, or has been turned into a puppet, for China’s interests because of our debt. It’s obvious that this war has very little to do with security, because our presence there is escalating the recruitment of those who wish to harm us.

If we want to help women and children in Afghanistan, and help prevent more people from joining terrorist organizations, we need to build for them schools, libraries, hospitals and roads and help create jobs. Bombing and maiming hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians in order to capture one hundred Al Quaida leaders is unconscionable, and I hope that we can muster enough outrage to protest loud enough so that our President will hear us and keep himself from committing another unforgivable act in our name.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Via web conference, Obama inspires activists to keep fighting.

by Loretta Long

At today’s web wide forum on healthcare reform Presdent Barack Obama, in his usual relaxed, self-confident manner, gave hard-working social activists key points to offer fellow neighbors, friends, and business associates when they hit the streets to fight for fairly-priced health coverage for all Americans. With a room full of his loyal staff, well-known supporters of healthcare reform, and 280,000 web viewers, President Obama offered praise for all that has been accomplished, and inspiration for the fight ahead.

“This has never been easy,” President Obama said. “When FDR proposed social security, he was accused of being a socialist. When JFK proposed Medicare, everyone suggested this will be a government take over . The same arguments have been made over and over when we made changes that ultimately improved everyone’s quality of life.”

With wry humor and irony, Obama pointed out the malicious lies and rumors being spread by corporations who stand to lose billions of dollars in profits if healthcare reform legislation is passed. He also explained how these lies were propagated in a media culture that so often values “objective reporting” over the truth. “A reporter will call the White House,” President Obama said, ”and say such and such accused Obama of creating death panels.” The reporter will then write that the White House responded by saying this isn’t true, but will never make a clear point that in fact it isn’t true.

"It’s fine to have a debate," President Obama added, "but when something isn’t even remotely true, than you should say it isn’t true.”

President Obama said that those without insurance are already in favor of insurance reform, but in order to convince the majority of Americans who do have insurance that health care reform is essential, activists must explain that the status quo-- the insurance benefits enjoyed today--will soon become much more expensive. And if reform bills aren't passed, many insurance benefits enjoyed by Americans today will disappear. He reminded web viewers and members of the on-site audience that unless insurance companies are better regulated, millions more Americans will join the ranks of the un-insured within a few years.

President Obama reminded listeners that the most worried population are senior citizens who have been confronted with death panel propaganda and lies saying they will lose their coverage. But he also said that unless changes are made, the Medicare program will run out of money within eight years. But by simply eliminating subsidies, Obama explained, subsidies given to insurance companies through “Medicare Advantage”, and by also making insurance companies compete to provide extra care, the Medicare program will save a trillion dollars over the next decade.

“We don’t want government in all our business,” President Obama said, “but there are certain consumer protections we can pass so that insurance companies can’t play the dirty tricks they have been playing. We don’t want to eliminate insurance companies; we simply want to create rules and regulations to keep insurance companies from profiting in ridiculously unfair ways.”

President Obama said healthcare reform will strengthen Medicare by extending the life of the trust fund. He advised activists hitting the streets to fight for reform by reminding seniors that “nobody is messing with your benefits , and you’ve got kids and grandkids, and we’ve got to make sure they have benefits too,” adding, “Medicare is already a government program. We need to strengthen the program so it will be better over the long haul.”

President Obama said that the recent controversy over his seeming to no longer back a “public option” was a contrived controversy. He said that he has been working hard with diligent Republicans fighting for a bipartisan plan but, “but his obligation to the American people is to get this done one way or the other.”

Although many opponents have criticized President Obama for not clearly stating his plan to pay for healthcare reform, President Obama offered key ways healthcare changes will be funded:

Two thirds of the cost will be paid for with taxpayer money that is currently going to waste through insurance subsidies and other wasteful practices. “We don’t incentivize hospitals to get patients well the first time out,” Obama said, “because if they are re-admitted, we just pay them the same rate. If you fix your car and it isn’t right the first time, you would want the mechanic to give you a discount the second time in.”

President Obama said much savings will come from the preventative and wellness plans written into the healthcare reform bills, “but no one gives us credit because it isn’t provable,” he said.

Another way the plan will be funded is by making Americans with incomes over $250,000 per year pay their fair share of taxes. “If we just went back to deductions that existed under Ronald Reagan, we could pay for health care,” he added.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Senator Ron Wyden is getting in the way of health care reform.

Democrat Senator Ron Wyden is trying to stop the health care reform bill from passing. He has signed a letter, along with five other Democrat Senators, requesting that President Obama slow down health care reform. Ron Wyden is backed by big money from insurance companies so he has lost his ability to see clearly the changes needed to make sure all Americans can see a Doctor for preventative and sickness care. Please call Senator Ron Wyden today at either his DC office or his Oregon office and let him know that you support passage of the healthcare reform bill and want him to vote to stop a Republican filibuster at the very least. Tell him that you support passage of health care reform now, not later.

Here's where to call:

Senator Ron Wyden
Phone: 202-224-5244

Portland Office

Friday, July 3, 2009

Forget Palin/Please give these insurance-whipped Dem Senators a piece of your mind.

We all need health care! Write to these lollygaggers to tell them we want a public option or single-payer health care. The information was gathered from

Here are the culprits who are holding up our root canals and mammograms:-)

It only takes a few minutes, and you will FEEL SO MUCH BETTER AFTERWARD! Sarah Palin is trying to distract us from getting healthcare! Click their names to be directed to web communication with each Senator.

Senator Blanche Lincoln (D-AR)

Senator Tom Carper (D-DE)

Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA)

Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR)

Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL)

Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA)

Senator Kent Conrad (D-ND)

Senator Max Baucus (D-MT)

Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA)

These names are reported by The Hill

thank you!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Skateboarders are good for the planet

Triangle Park in Portland, Oregon is a homemade skateboard park built by skateboarders who brought in cement and forms and built it up themselves. The graffiti artwork on all of the old machine shop buildings was painted many years earlier. The underground site, on the banks of the beautiful Columbia River, sits in between railroad tracks near tugboats and a majestic train bridge. It draws skateboarders-- lucky enough to find out about it-- from all over the country.

Unfortunately, a local university has purchased the property and a few weeks ago they fenced it off and they are in the beginning stages of destroying the old buildings to create a sports arena and student housing. A piece of history will soon be gone.

I wish there could be some way to preserve the old buildings and art. If, over the years, houses can be moved across town or from one city to the next why couldn't the University of Portland come up with a way to move the skatepark to a place where the boarders could still enjoy the cool graffiti and their hand-built forms? Boarders are used to building things up and having them destroyed by progress, but I wish that for once, wealthy corporatists would care about the liberal little guy who is saving the planet simply by spending lots of time doing things that don't destroy it.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Honey-wine, Injera, and Lentils

Vegetarians and meat-eaters alike can enjoy a fine meal together at the best Ethiopian restaurant in town. The Blue Nile in the Irvington District offers a cozy atmosphere with pictures of the Nile River and beautiful craft work lining the walls.

Owner Gebi Yemane said that every family has their own special way of preparing Ethiopian food, and she learned from her mother to cook simply, with high-quality ingredients. She makes everything from scratch, including Injera, a large pancake-shaped flat bread made from freshly ground Teff mixed with water and allowed like sourdough to ferment for two or three days before it's cooked. The increasing number of people who find themselves stuck with a wheat allergy will be happy to learn that Teff is an ancient grain with tons of nutrition and very-little gluten.

The beef and chicken tibs are flavored to perfection. If you like to try a bit of everything, the beautiful combination plate for two is only $18. It includes, greens, and lentils spiced with garlic, onions, turmeric, cayenne, and olive oil and an incredibly tasty potato and spinach dish. Instead of using a fork you break off a piece of Injera, dip it in the lentils, and enjoy bite after bite of heavenly flavors blissing out your taste buds.

Vegetarians will also enjoy the atikilt alitcha (sautéed green beans, carrots, cabbage, and potatoes).

Gebi Yemane, 42, is studying at OHSU to become a nurse. She hopes to finish up in about two or three years. Her sister, brother and other family members help out when they can, but Gebi says she insists on doing the cooking herself. Her husband, who works for Oregon's DSHS, spends time working in the Blue Nile on his days off.

Blue Nile Cafe
2225 NE Broadway St
Portland, OR 97232

Getting There: Is easy. It's on the #9 TriMet line, or take MAX to Lloyd Center and bike or walk North on 15th to Broadway and up Broadway to 22nd. (15 minute walk)