Tag Archives: politics! politics! politics!

A breather between stories

It seems like I’ve been flying around dealing with stuff since Netwalking Space got finished, not all of it about the writing. Among other things, I had the day jobbe online work to keep me busy for three days this week, and then I participated in a book giveaway which ended up giving me a rather nice addition to my email list. Good stuff to do, but time-consuming.

And then there was the day lost to stomach objections. This happens once in a while, and it laid me flat for a whole day. Ugh. But the weather has turned, and I’m thinking a lot about writing stuff and art stuff as we’re getting close to bazaar season. IOW, STUFF.

On the other side of things, the Portland house is now mostly painted except for touch-up work. It’s pretty, but not as nice as the Enterprise house (IMO).

One of the things that happened last weekend was a second go-round at the Wallowa Valley Farmers Market in Joseph. I sold a couple of books and discovered in conversation that I am most likely THE science fiction and fantasy writer in Wallowa County. So, hmm. That makes for a nice piece of publicity–Wallowa County’s Science Fiction and Fantasy Writer.

And then there’s the election. Please, dear God, can it just go away? I have this dreadful feeling that 2016 is going to be too damn much like 1980 and 2000 for my liking, including the almost-20-year bit. Either that or 2016 is going to be a nasty set-up for major ugliness in 2020. Neither really works for me. Yes, I know it’s probably extinction burst of some attitudes, and we do seem to be making progress, but really. I’m fed up with the Purity Brigade on the left that whines and fusses about their presidential election choices, but doesn’t do squat in between those presidential years to organize and put together some real grass roots forces for significant change from the bottom up. I’ve spent too damn much time on Facebook griping at people who clearly haven’t spent time in the political trenches, can’t be bothered to do political organizing, but don’t like their choices.

If you don’t like your party’s choices? Then DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT. Get involved.

But for God’s sake, with the Supreme Court at stake, don’t mouth sanctimonious platitudes about how your vote really isn’t going to get Trump elected if you decide that Jill’s your girl because HRC ain’t pure enough. For the record–you’re wrong. And don’t whine at me that you don’t like any of your choices if you haven’t spent time working for candidates at the local level and put in time organizing. Look, damn it. I worked for Jerry Brown in 1992. I tried to collaborate with people in the 90s to bring about some significant organizing change. The same people moaning about the Clintons being centrists and dragging the Democrats to the right had NO INTEREST in doing the grunt work to change things from the bottom up. The strategy of voting third party to bring about change is worthless, and only gives power to the 1%. Period.

Ah well, hopefully all will be well in November. But I’m worried. And I’m tuning out a lot of politics because I know how I’m voting, I’m not changing my vote, and there are too many people I know who seem to have lost all common sense when it comes to Trump. ARRGH.

And with that, I’m done with the political rants. Oh well, it’s helped me figure out who I don’t want to deal with on Facebook. Sigh.

We do have the prospect of a pretty hunting season ahead. I’m hoping it will be cooler and feature fewer yellow jackets, as I’d just as soon be able to sit down and eat without having to resort to the pickup cab. Or do reading or writing work in camp without having to hide in the pickup cab. Or manage deer/grouse carcasses without having to fight the yellow jackets. One sting this year is plenty.

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[Rantage] These things keep happening, and I want to scream

2016. Two things keep happening that I never thought would become so damn commonplace and continue to be a problem when I was a younger and more idealistic woman.

1.) Mass shootings and

2.) Murder by cop of black men.

Granted, #2 has been going on since way before my birth, and it’s only now that it has become news. But for the love of all that’s divine, why is it still going on? Why didn’t we learn from earlier incidents? Why is this behavior still justified? Why should black men who are doing nothing different from their redneck working class white male counterparts (wait a minute, the black man is probably being more careful and polite) be living in fear? After all, dear Lord, our President is a black man. Why should his counterparts be living in fear?

In case you’re wondering, every. damn. one. of those questions is rhetorical. I know the answers and I don’t like them. Racism exists. It benefits the Powers That Be. Do we need to say more?

And then there’s the mass shooting piece. Why do they keep happening like this?

I have no answers, save that perhaps we need to be thinking about a new and better world where we figure out how to get along with each other instead of fighting. That seems to be so obvious…and yet so many remain so clueless.

Meanwhile, Ammon Bundy whines about poor treatment when it’s been clear that he and his compatriots have been handled with kid gloves and catered to. Does anyone think at all that Bundy would have been handled the same way if his skin was anything but white? ARRRGH.

This is not a post with answers. This is pure rantage out of frustration.


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Reflections on men and feminism (long and rambly)

The short version of this particular set of musings is: it’s complicated. My feminism is inflected and informed by a 60’s childhood raised in contradictory but powerful influences. I’m the product of at least two (and most likely more) generations of strong and opinionated frontier farm women (Grandma was a chicken farmer; Mom could grow one heckva garden, can, and raise a good flock of layers and fryers). I also got exposed to a particularly toxic form of fundamentalist Christian repression of women in my late teens through school Bible groups and the Christian college I attended–Basic Youth Conflicts, one of Bill Gothard’s groups (go here for the Wikipedia TL:DR version). However, I never quite fell within the lure of Basic Youth, especially after I went off to college and discovered Ms. Magazine. Various adventures with conservative religious boyfriends which usually ended up with me being handed things to mend also had an influence, plus growing up in Springtucky and getting hassled by men for being blond and big-busted.

My family followed rather traditional roles that I viewed with a jaundiced eye as I got older. It didn’t help that during my high school and early undergraduate career, any boyfriends I had soon got chased away when we decided it would be romantic to take classes together. Um. Yeah. The first time I got a better grade than boyfriend did, it was bye-bye. I had three boyfriends in my college years who took me seriously as an intellectual; I married one of them nearly thirty-three years ago.

But there was more to the man I married than just taking me seriously as a thinker. One of the light entertainments of politically oriented students at the University of Oregon during my era was engaging with the different right-wing preachers who ranted at U of O students as part of their ministry. Of course, what they didn’t know is that about half the students arguing were liberals from the neighboring Christian college who were honing their theological arguments…but I digress. The man I married took extreme exception to one of these preachers personally threatening me by getting into that preacher’s face. He also did things like cook for me when I was working as an organizer on the previous boyfriend’s campaign. He wasn’t and isn’t perfect, but he “got it” (in the terms of a recent internet discussion about men and feminism) at an early age, in part because, like me, he was the son of a working mother who carried quite a bit of weight in the family economy. The personal was political for him at a very early age. He had a personal stake in understanding feminism because he saw it on a daily basis.  Was and is his feminist awareness perfect? Nope. Neither is mine, and I don’t think anyone can make that claim about themselves.

Way back when my son was little, we attended an indoor park for toddlers. It was all female, until a single at-home father started attending with his daughter. Many of the women were feminist. Did all of them embrace his attendance? Um. No. But enough of us did that we banded together over the others’ attempts to exclude the father and got ourselves elected to the governing board. I remember being heartily annoyed by complaints about insensitive spouses, but then the rejecting shoulder to a father walking the talk.

As part of the upbringing my husband received, he’s a nurturing male who has no qualms about doing housework. Our housework divisions in past years have fallen either into skill areas (yours truly doesn’t have chainsaw skills and arthritic hands mean if I do, it will be with a light saw; I still end up doing the sewing) or allergy areas (water used to irritate my eczema and dust irritates his sinuses). He likes cooking, while I like baking and canning. Our son was raised to be nurturing and with the model that the men do the housework. He likes cooking, and when he’s had a partner, part of what he does is cook.

That’s one reason why I get grouchy with those who complain about men who apparently don’t Get It about feminism until injustice touches their wives, their daughters, their sisters. If you look back far enough, every man who Gets It had that little spark of feminist awareness fanned by some sort of personal stake, whether it was watching his mother struggle or his sisters struggle. Somehow, somewhere, personal connection fueled awareness. That’s how people learn and develop politically. That’s why consciousness raising is such a crucial task in developing and maintaining a movement, and sitting back to think that it’s all done is folly. That’s why, no matter what the issue is, dear God, we have to have basic Feminism/Racism/Ageism/Ableism/etc 101, because there will always be someone new who Doesn’t Get It, until the personal becomes political and awareness flares into being for that individual. It would be nice if people were born with their consciousness raised, alleluia, alleluia, but by golly, unless we all suddenly get raptured into some sort of progressive heaven, it ain’t happening (Let’s listen, for example, to how men talk about what they’ve lost by never being able to express their nurturing sides due to traditional male roles. We have to be honest and listen to that oppression as well).

Until we reach the understanding that we are all people together, and that we should respect each other, we’re not going to get anywhere. Slamming folks for not immediately developing advanced awareness is foolish. Awareness is a learning process. We don’t expect kids to enter school reading at a twelfth grade level (at least not yet), nor do we expect to be immediately proficient in a new language. The same is true for all forms of awareness. So yes, there will always be a need for Basic Consciousness Raising, and excluding or condemning people because they are insufficiently advanced is just another form of exclusionary arrogance. It’s acceptable to be annoyed about it sometimes, as long as you take a deep breath and acknowledge that learning is hard for both student and teacher.

And with that, I’m not only tired and have probably bored everyone, but I wanna go play with my new sewing machine. Curtain-making awaits. I’m gonna go be creative in a new way.

Have fun, y’all, and remember to pay it forward. That means being patient when it’s time to trot out the 101 learning. Everyone had to start there sometime.

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Filed under blather, gonzo political ramblings

Netwalk Sequence and environmentalism

It’s not always that I run into articles that summarize the foundation of the environmental politics behind the Netwalk Sequence so neatly, but this nails it in a nutshell.

One of the original triggers behind the horror novel that was the foundation of the Netwalk Sequence were the very real-life experiences I observed on the periphery of the environmental movement in the Reagan years. Naomi Klein’s observations about the tensions between the elite and the leadership of conservation/environmental groups are spot on. I saw this stuff growing and developing when I was doing a lot of research with a dear friend who was also politically active. She lived way out in Northeastern Oregon and didn’t have the information accesses I did, back in the pre-Internet era when if you couldn’t physically handle the information, you didn’t have it. I spent a lot of time in the local library’s business section looking up business stats, and tracking down interlocking corporate ownerships.

But I also heard stuff from my grunt-level positions in the Democratic Party. And what I heard, and what I saw, caused me to start writing a twisted little story about an environmental activist whose ill-fated romance with a timber baron’s son ends up destroying everything she ever thought or believed about her life. Kind of a romantic turn on some of the real-life co-optation I was seeing. No one would believe the real stories.

Sarah does get her own back. She is genuinely concerned and worried about the environment, and riding through the early rocky days of the explosion of climate change plus her status as a Stephens heir leads to the conditions which transform Stephens Timber into Stephens Reclamation. So far, I haven’t felt the need to write that story as part of the Sequence.

Maybe I’ll do it after I write Netwalking Space. We’ll see.

Nonetheless, go and read that Naomi Klein article. Like I said, it reflects a lot of my own observations.

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Okay. Teachers and general school staff should NOT be carrying guns. Here’s why.

Note: I own guns.  I hunt.  I am familiar with guns and their safe handling and use.

Which is exactly why I argue that teachers and general school staff should NOT be carrying guns in school settings or expected to carry guns in school settings.

I’ve run across this particular meme often enough on Facebook already since the senseless tragedy at Sandy Hook, and it’s making me angry enough that I want to address it explicitly.  Because so far, not a single person promoting this argument has sufficient experience managing kids in a school setting to make a seriously valid argument.

First of all, a school setting is not a home defense setting.  It is a crowd situation.  Teachers and staff are the managers of the crowd situation.  They are known authority figures to the crowd.  They have some idea of who the reactors within the crowd are going to be.  They can manage and direct the group.


Keep in mind that in most settings you will have an adult-student ratio of 1-25 or more.  With older students, you might have certain highly-regarded, level-headed kids who can perform specific tasks to help secure the setting–i.e., close curtains, calm peers, overturn tables, etc…(yes, I have a multi-scenario, rather elaborate security plan should I need to implement it.  I’ve just spent time tweaking it).  Might.

You might also have a panic-stricken, hormone-crazed crowd that you can’t step away from, except to do the basic steps to secure the area.

For example, here are the steps I need to take to secure a classroom–

Get students to a safe location out of sight of window in door and outside window (impossible, therefore overturned tables).

Close blinds.

Lock door (requires I step outside the classroom).

In my regular classroom, I have to walk fifteen feet to secure an outside door that opens onto a covered play area.

Do I really have the time to prepare a weapon safely while doing all of the above?

What happens if I have younger children that I can’t leave unsupervised throughout any of this process and who may need me to soothe them and forestall dangerous panic behaviors?

What is the MOST IMPORTANT thing for me to be doing–managing the kids or managing a weapon safely around kids?  Keep in mind that I may be the sole adult in the room.  It may fall upon me to get the kids quickly to safety under direction.  I am the direct kid manager.  Do I have time to manage a gun?

I’ve also been reading a rather useful book about force decisions by Rory Miller and Lawrence A. Kane, Scaling Force: dynamic decision-making under threat of violence.  I’m currently in the Level Six–Deadly Force–section.  After reading Miller and Kane, I am very comfortable in stating that teachers can’t do it all.

See, that’s the other piece about putting it on teachers and staff to carry guns in school.  This isn’t a home defense setting with limited people.  This is a crowd setting.  In order to safely and effectively shoot an intruder without causing harm to innocent bystanders (for whom you may be charged if you do injure or kill them), you have to practice that scenario and train in assorted crowd scenarios.

Many teachers already don’t have enough time in their lives to do the daily tasks required of them as a teacher.  Where’s this training time going to come from?  Who’s going to pay for it?  What further academics get cut from tight budgets to fund this sort of aggressive security scenario?  I can pretty much guarantee you that it’s likely to be PE/Health followed by Social Studies that’ll go bye-bye (the arts are already gone in many schools).

There’s also the issue of safe secure carry within a classroom around kids who might decide to try to get that weapon from you.  The potential emotional impact on struggling students of a teacher carrying a weapon (and please, don’t get me started about finding a place to secure a weapon in my room.  That just adds to the reaction time if it comes down and it’s another temptation for kids).

Now does this mean I’m unarmed in my classroom?

Let’s see.  We have staplers.  We have scissors.  We have chairs.  We have books and other things to throw.  We have tables to stack and form as door and window barricades.  White board cleaning spray.  Trust me, if it comes down, I’m going to roll with the situation but there are many lovely tools in a school setting that can be used as self-defense, given the time and secure setting to prepare them.

It’s just getting to that secure setting.  To that end, more effective school entry security is a must.  The ability to secure settings such as libraries, cafeterias, and outdoor playgrounds quickly is a must.  The ability for staff to communicate quickly and privately is a must.

None of these require the use of guns.

If society deems that we need armed staff in the school, then put one or two deputized, sworn, trained police officers in each building.  Their job will be to keep the building secure.  Many high schools already do this, some getting the staff from the local police department.

Better that than teachers carrying.  Period.

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Kip Kinkel and Clackamas Town Center–rantage

Thurston was the first time that one of the American mass shootings really struck home for me.  Not only am I a graduate of Thurston High School in Springfield, Oregon, but I took a French class one year from Bill Kinkel, Kip Kinkel’s dad.  Because I hadn’t lived in the area for a while, and because the initial reports were hazy, it wasn’t until I actually saw a picture of Kip Kinkel and his family that I realized my connection to this shooting went far beyond the memories of the places where people were hurt and killed.

The realization slugged me hard in the gut.  Not just because of the connection but because we had our own kid with issues.  I was so tuned out and freaked out by the whole thing that I only got a partial photo record of the trip we took right after the shootings–I pulled my film canister out of my Minolta SLR and didn’t replace it, just kept on shooting.  I have no record of the exquisite beauty of Stanley Park.  Or anything else from that trip.  It wasn’t until something clicked that I’d been taking photos for a lot longer than the film roll I had loaded that I checked and realized I’d been shooting with an empty camera.  Sigh.

Over the years, I compared notes with fellow graduates.  We’d all been stunned by it.  The most horrific part, though, was that the shooter was the son of a teacher who’d been a gentle man, someone who’d made a difference in the lives of many struggling and troubled kids at Thurston.  But he couldn’t help his own kid–and that added to the tragedy of Thurston.  For years I could almost hear Bill Kinkel’s voice as I read what people wrote about how he sought help for Kip.

As we struggled through school years with the kid, progressing toward a diagnosis and management skills, one idiot (upon hearing we took him out hunting) asked “aren’t you afraid you’ll create another Kip Kinkel?”

I–um–pinned that person’s ears back hard.  For one thing, a friend of ours who was a gun collector and instructor had been asked to teach Kip proper gun etiquette, but it had never worked out.  Could it have made a difference?  Hard to say.  I do know that my kid, when faced with a gun that looked like the one he’d target shot just the weekend before, only his friends were squirreling around with it, did exactly what he’d been taught to do.  While his buddies swaggered around the neighborhood waving it around and pretending to be big twelve-year-old white-boy gangstas (one even had a Starter coat, the big gangsta thing at the time), our kid immediately left them and came home to tell me.  He wasn’t sure what it was but he wasn’t messing around.  I called the parent, who was shocked–and I was shocked in turn that said parent thought it was totally acceptable for his kid to carry a pellet gun around the neighborhood in a paper bag, and go shooting in a city wildlife refuge, near a popular skating rink and amusement park.

“But it’s only a pellet gun!”  he told me.

“It’s a gun,” was my response.  “And that’s unsafe behavior and handling.  What the hell are you teaching your kid?”

Needless to say, that friendship kinda faded out.  And this incident happened before that smarmy idiot compared what we were doing to what happened with Kip Kinkel.  They hadn’t known about my connection to Thurston before…well, they sure did afterward.   I don’t take those comparisons lightly, either then or now.

Fast forward to now.  So far, I don’t know of any of my extended Portland and Mountain community who was at Clackamas Town Center or anywhere near it at the time it happened.  I’m seeing accounts of folks who’d been there the day before, or who had left earlier.

Nonetheless, Clackamas is very close to where I live.  It’s a ten minute or less drive, within a couple of miles.  I shop in that Macy’s store.  The pictures from where the ambulances and cops were staged?  That’s right next to the escalator next to the REI that I shop at.  Yeah, I know that place.  My son was born at the Kaiser Sunnyside hospital that’s within a half mile of the mall.  If I hadn’t had a meeting that ran late at work, I probably would have tried to run errands at the Kaiser complex and the mall…and run right into the post-shooting chaos.  A couple of weeks later, I might have been there, though that’s usually a time of day when I try to avoid the mall.

The usual hue and cry over gun regulation is already exploding, with concealed carry advocates arguing that if they were allowed to carry at the mall, someone could have taken this guy out, and advocates of gun control arguing for greater regulation.  To the concealed carry advocates, I cry out phooey.  Unless you are training on a regular basis, and practice crisis situations, how the hell do you know you wouldn’t do more harm than good?  I’m currently reading an excellent book on force decisions and dude, I seriously doubt you’re thinking with your brains.  Civilians just don’t have the cultivated training and instincts.  Most of us don’t have the time and money to train that way.

I mean, I could have a concealed carry permit myself.  I took the training years ago.  I chose not to follow through with the permit.  I just couldn’t see it being useful to me (we initially went through the training so that we could buy handguns if we wanted, then it fell by the wayside), and I most definitely don’t see it now, working in a school as I do (and I am most definitely NOT an advocate of concealed carry in schools).  For me, concealed carry means a commitment to regular practice and maintenance of a weapon, and I just don’t have the time and access to do that.  Nor do I think it’s crucial in my life.  If I feel the need for a home defense weapon, my hunting shotgun works right fine (nice little pump action), and is less likely to take out a neighbor because the damn bullet went through a wall.  Some of my father’s tales about long distance shooting training for WWII stuck pretty hard with me, and when I learned my own gun discipline, learning what the possible range of a shot bullet could be was the biggest lesson taught.  So yeah, if I feel the need for home defense, I’m gonna get a short barrel shotgun with a pistol grip.  And a pump, because nothing sends chills down the spine quite like the tell-tale “click-click” of a pump action.  Go ahead and play with your big frame handguns.  I want my shotgun if I feel worried enough that I resort to weaponry.  Then I don’t have to worry about my aim.

To the gun control advocates–you think this is really going to solve the problem now?  REALLY?  Then just how the hell are you going to take all the weapons currently in circulation out of the system without causing a major ruckus and alienating a significant portion of the populace…including law-abiding folks living in rural areas who need weaponry to protect their livestock against predators and themselves against home invasions.  Think that’s a minor thing?  Not when you’re a good hour away from an overworked sheriff’s deputy who hasn’t a snowball’s chance in hell of getting to you in any sort of timely manner.

I grew up with that.  And my former neighbors in that area have concealed carry and a locked gate, because home invasions, nasty home invasions, are happening on a regular basis where they live.  Hey, they’re seniors, he’s ex-military, and they practice.  They also have a big, protective and noisy dog.  The gun is the last-ditch resort, which is as it should be.

The biggest problem is not the amount or the existence of the weaponry.  It’s the brains and mentality which idolizes gun culture.  It’s the lack of adequate mental health management and treatment for those with serious mental disorders.  It’s the lousy economy which creates desperate situations and lousy funding for mental health, education and other societal management measures which would plug up a lot of these damned problems.  It’s the crappy education system that so-called education reform is making even worse when it comes to managing the emotionally fragile, the poor, and the struggling.

Bill Kinkel knew he had a problem in Kip.  But the system, even then, didn’t give him any significant amount of help.  I’ve not heard what the shooter’s story is yet.

But I am predicting that he’s another system failure.  Mental health, PTSD, something like that.  Another person who ran off the rails.

And no amount of concealed carry or gun control is going to take care of that.  NO AMOUNT.


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Horse updates and other stuff….Norwescon!

Spring has sprung and that means the horsey brain is scattered.  Especially an entire horse’s brain (stallion or mare, means you’ve got hormones to cope with.  And even geldings get a bit goofier in spring).  Mocha’s going through her first big seasonal cycle of the year and it’s made her a bit more opinionated than usual.  Nothing big, for me at least at this point in her training and my riding skill.  Monday night she was flinging her head and feet around like a Saddlebred.  I swear she studied the moves of those Saddlebreds at the last show, because boy there was a certain bit of higher step to her motion in the week after…and now again this week.  She’s moving like G’s old Park Arab schoolies used to (seriously, both Arab schoolies had shown and placed well showing in Park classes in the 1980s, both were Raffon grandget and man did both of them have this HUGE Park trot.  Which is actually quite fun to sit in a Western saddle).  Not that Mocha can step as high as Teso or Moriah, but she does a decent Quarter Horse imitation.

Anyway.  Monday her head was high and her feet were high, plus she was a wee bit stiff.  I finally got tired of trying to get her to settle into softening and took the reiner’s cheat out–we schooled lope.  Collected lope, hand gallop.  Ask for a collected sitting trot for a couple of circuits first, work on three circuits of collected lope, then push on for three circuits of hand gallop.  Rein back to collected lope for three circuits, push on for three more hand gallop circuits.  Change direction, two circuits of collected sitting trot, then the lope circuits.  Change direction, lather, rinse, repeat.  Change direction again, etc, etc, etc.  By the fourth set both of us were hollering uncle.    To pull off the lope transitions I really, really needed to work my abs, sink my heels hard, and sit up.  Which has challenges of its own.  Nonetheless I got good transitions.

Plus Mocha is really liking the KK Ultra bridoon in the Western snaffle strap gear.  She’s not so thrilled about the dropped noseband but at least she doesn’t get too intense about trying to shake the damned thing off until the very end of her session.  We’ve made that compromise, but I tell you, once the Professional’s Choice boots come off, she’s working on shaking off that dropped noseband and doesn’t wait for me.  Even so, she likes it better than having a double noseband and, y’know?  I’ll take a pass on showing in English tack if the movement she gives as a result is what I’ll get.

Monday she wouldn’t soften to the bit but today she would and was very light.  The other thing is that I am really, really liking the feel of latigo leather reins on that KK bit.  Just a bit more stiffness and weight without the godawful feel of the English leather reins.  Web reins are just too damned light for schooling and with the way my hands are these days, the leather support is nicer.  I feel things better.  Mocha responds with a lighter touch, and damn!  I am getting some strong, hard, killer stops with this setup.  Better than with the same saddle in the curb, better than the same bit with English tack.  I just breathe the word “whoa” and she rounds up, drops her head, and stops.  I’m frequently in the position featured in many Monte Foreman clinic shots when she does it in this snaffle setup.

I’ve also talked to G about trying out his sweet iron mullen mouth curb.  He calls it a Weymouth, I don’t think that’s exactly what it is but it’s close.  Very nice mullen mouth on the thinner side, slot at the top for a snaffle rein so you could do a Pelham with it.  It looks a lot like a Monte Foreman curb; if Mocha likes it that’s probably what I’ll look for.  Rather than just run out for a replacement for what I have now, I think I want to check out some other curb options.  We’re doing well in the Western snaffle and I’m happy with that for the moment but I want curb options, not just for show but for when it warms up and she’s limbered up a bit more.  I’ve fallen in love all over again with Western snaffle and I think this spring I’m going to indulge that love.  I’m not going to get real intense about bit shopping until after her float next week.

And on other fronts….Norwescon this weekend.  No panelage, I’m not a big enough name/don’t have the inside connections.  NBD.  That would have put too much pressure on me for this upcoming weekend and with writing and work stuff, I just really didn’t need that pressure.

Miscon, on the other hand…oh boy, am I looking forward to Miscon!

But yeah.  I am just now realizing how Radcon filled an East Side travel void that didn’t happen this year and won’t happen until Miscon.  Of course this has turned out to be the Rainy Cold Winter From Hell.  Must plan better for next winter, unless it turns out to be a sunny El Nino.

Meanwhile, work is work.  I’m still processing inputs from the Allan Schore study group last week.  Seriously one of those three hour groups that flew by in moments and I’m still just stunned by the details.  However, I’m beginning to see how Interpersonal Neurobiology can apply to special ed, at least how I apply it.  Instinct came first, then the logic.

And I need to develop further posts.

I told Steve Barnes I have some thoughts about meditation and exercise.  I need to write that post.

I have some thoughts about aging and worklife.  At some time that needs to get written.

I need to digest Allan Schore.  OMG, Allan in person is extremely intense.

Lots of stuff happening.  But it’s all early stage “in-progress” stuff, nothing which will bear fruit very soon.

And I haven’t begun to express how I feel about politics right now.

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A little bit of political action

Yesterday, on President’s Day, I engaged in a little political action down at the State Legislature.  The Oregon Education Association had the mike for the big labor rally and, as vice president of my local, I had a part to play in the whole shindig…namely, show up.

So show up I did:

It was a wet and cool day, but as we said to each other on the bus down, “Hey, we’re Oregonians and we’re from the Mountain.  It’s wet but it’s just a mist, not a downpour.”

The steady rain didn’t set in until later in the rally.  And oh yeah, we chartered a bus and rode down together–at least twenty-four of us did, complete with kiddos for some parents.

As far as rallies go, it was a relatively mellow one.  About 1500 or so folks showed up, not all OEA but some SEIU, AFSCME, AFL-CIO, Letter Carriers, and IBEW as well.  After listening to some school bands perform, a collection of speeches, and the presentation of legislators–interesting, that was, more on that later–we paraded around the Capitol, then processed into the Rotunda inside for more speeches and a couple of chants.  I was pleased to see that the Rotunda filled up–doesn’t happen that often but as I remember from my interning and citizen lobbying days, boy do the observers ever note the size of turnout.

Here’s a couple of pix:

Now.  About that turnout.

I commented that the Lege is well aware of turnout at events like this.  Generally, lobbyists and staffers alike cluster inside the Rotunda, watching out the windows to see if this sort of rally turns out to be significant.  If it’s big enough, then staffers start telling their bosses to hustle their buns out there and make an appearance.  It’s part of the script.  Of course, various Democratic party hopefuls for higher office appeared.  But then more of the House and Senate started showing up (everyone’s in Salem for the short session).  And it wasn’t just Democrats and friends of education who showed up to get introduced to the crowd “to be there.”  A few Republicans stuck their heads out as well as yellow-dog Dems who don’t necessarily side with education.  Significant?  Oh hell yes.  I talked with folks who’d gone to last year’s rally when the Lege is in regular session and there were many fewer legislators appearing.

Of course, this is an election year.  I expect to see some of these folks popping up at the OEA-PIE convention in a few weeks to ask for money.  But still….maybe there’s a tide turning.

Or maybe they’re just taking notes on who to purge.  Hard to say.

But it was a good group, and, despite the rain, a good rally.  We had parents and kids present, no major incidents happened, and it was awfully dang nice to not have to drive I-5 on a major holiday weekend to be there.  Whether this ends up counting for something or not…well, we’ll see.

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Super Bowl reax

I’m not a football fan, but like many Americans with connections to football lovers, I end up seeing some portion of teh Big Game on Superbowl Sunday.  I remember watching the famous original Mac ad and feeling goosebumps; also remember a lot of forgettable halftime shows before the halftime show turned into A Major Vegas Production.

And oh yeah, I do always catch a few plays.  For me, watching the game itself is usually more about “did they do something I can marvel over athletically” rather than who’s actually scoring the points (I reserve caring about the points for Oregon Duck games, primarily the Big Bowl Games.  Even then I tend not to watch just because I’m superstitious about jinxing The Game).

Gotta say, this year I didn’t get disappointed.  I was amongst those eager to see what Madonna would turn out for the Super Bowl halftime show.  I’m an unapologetic Madge fan, have liked her for years not just because of her clear love for music and dance but because she’s one of those sassy tough females who has been in charge of her own life for a long time.  Sometimes her choices are–well–not the choices I’d make but still?  All good in the long run.

So when the first strains of “Vogue” broke out and I spotted the gladiators, I broke out laughing with joy.  Because it was clearly a lovely little Madonna twist on some of the biggest Super Bowl tropes out there.  Roman numerals?  Check.  Football players as gladiators?  OH HELL YEAH.  Love letter to the cheerleaders?  Yep.  Tongue planted firmly in cheek the whole time, a nicely ironic combination of the Midwestern girl paying homage to one of her daddy’s favorite traditions while lovingly putting a snarky twist on it.  Madonna singing (some lip synch, clearly a couple of moments though where the mic was cutting out.  Stuff happening) and dancing and, y’know?  Not too bad for a 53-year-old with a hamstring issue.

Was she chewing on the scenery?  Girl, you betcha.  Come on, that’s part of the whole performance!  When I see a Madonna performance I expect an over-the-top spectacle which integrates scenery, costuming, images, song and dance.  Sometimes it flops, and sometimes it works.  Madonna always plays with her sexuality and sometimes the choices are rather like a not-so-good date.  But you know, that’s what happens when you choose the role of the sexual trickster firmly in control of your own sexuality.  Sexuality is not always predictable and sometimes things just don’t work.

That didn’t happen on Sunday.  The songs came out pretty well (didn’t hurt that her old favorites were some of my old favorites), she had great guest performers, the dancers….happy sigh…and it was quite lovingly and ironically over the top.  No, it wasn’t all red white and blue I-luv-Amerika-mindlessly-let’s-play-Nuremburg-visuals game that some folks really wanted to see.  I’m not a fan of such spectacles just because that kind of mindless patriotic froth sends me wanting to run the other way.  It reminds me too damned much of the Third Reich, and that’s not the country I want to be a part of.

My form of patriotism showed up in the Clint Eastwood commercial.  Quiet.  Proud.  Acknowledging the hardships and talking about pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps, working together, and moving on.  As a team.  No fireworks, no huge spectacle, no waving flags.  Just calm, let’s-get-the-job-done, no heroics, no flash.

And anyone who has a problem with that has a problem with working America.  Spectacles are all well and good in their proper place, but they don’t get the job done.  The Eastwood commercial to me reflected a lot of what is good about the US and why it’s good.  We were built on a foundation of independent thinkers and hard-working folks from many different ethnic, cultural and religious traditions who came together cooperatively to build something bigger than we could on our own.  Maybe it’s time we reached back to that community cooperative tradition in our civic lives, instead of embracing the I-Got-Mine Go-Galt libertarian worship of the Independent Man who treads on the lesser folk around him.

In many ways, the Madonna-Eastwood coupling was oh-so-reflective of what’s best about the American tradition.  I’m still unpacking this thought, so enough for now…but let’s just say that I liked them both.

What do you think?

(fyi, on the home blog I’m controlling comments pretty tightly of late.  Spam swarms and all that.  If you’re reading this on Facebook, please comment on LiveJournal or back at Peak Amygdala.)

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So Gingrich won South Carolina….

Does anyone else feel the stirrings of old ghosts?

Damn, I think the peacocks have to be screeching in Woody Creek as the unquiet shadow of Hunter S. Thompson stirs from his scattered ashes.  Likewise, the grinning specter of Ken Kesey is rising in the fogs of Elmira (or was he a Veneta boy?  Us Eugene/Springfield natives get confused by that there section of South Springfield–wink to all my local friendz and readers….).  And Ed Abbey’s bad self decides that maybe it’s time to bid farewell to his fellow buzzards deep in the desert Southwest……

Abbey, Kesey and Thompson.  Damn, that could be an interesting set of commentaries on the Gingrich win in SC….or, for that matter, this entire circus of the 2012 Republican primary.  Add in a backing band of Jerry Garcia, Jim Morrison and John Lennon, with Janis Joplin as lead singer…well, could be quite interesting.

But I digress.

Nonetheless, the uncanny feeling that those three Pranksters (in spirit if not formal title, save for Kesey, of course) are stirring and itching to comment on this year’s political scene isn’t going away.  More in-depth commentary, including a disturbing conclusion about the Palin-Gingrich axis, later.

I’ve a date with the slopes this morning.

Who knows what uneasy shadows I’ll see walking the cold mists of morning there?

More later.

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