life between the pages

“I spent my life folded between the pages of books.
In the absence of human relationships I formed bonds with paper characters. I lived love and loss through stories threaded in history; I experienced adolescence by association. My world is one interwoven web of words, stringing limb to limb, bone to sinew, thoughts and images all together. I am a being comprised of letters, a character created by sentences, a figment of imagination formed through fiction.”
Tahereh Mafi, Shatter Me

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Review: Natural Remodeling for the Not-So-Green House: Bringing Your Home into Harmony with Nature

Natural Remodeling for the Not-So-Green House: Bringing Your Home into Harmony with Nature
Natural Remodeling for the Not-So-Green House: Bringing Your Home into Harmony with Nature by Carol Venolia

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Great book with some excellent ideas that are transportable across house styles and geographic areas, but I wish it had more real life examples from places other than California, with homes other than midwest-modern styles. There were only two homes out of dozens that I could directly relate to, and only one was a pre-20th century home. Still, the general information is well-written, concise, and applicable to many types of homes. Excellent information about microclimates and making your home more in tune with its location and the surrounding ecosystems. I would recommend it to anyone interested in making changes that will lower your energy footprint while preserving the personality of your home, and improving the livability of your own personal space.

View all my reviews

Monday, September 03, 2012

The Mists of Ideological Time

The League of Ordinary Gentlemen is the sort of blog where thinking folks go to discuss the issues. Sometimes the debate over there reminds me of my father's den, where his students, friends, and folks from our church would come to debate the issues of the day, which in that time were civil rights, politics, and the lessons of history. I was a small child then, too young to take part, but I often listened from the other room. Looking back, it is fascinating to realize how important it was that my family was free to invite people who wanted to discuss the things they felt were important to continuing the right of self-determination, and to understanding the things they may or may not have experienced in their own lives, and so to apply current events to their own search for truth and justice. It was, in short, good preparation for the decade of the 1980s, just to be sure we were aware of the potential of our species to destroy itself. Rational folk won't generally self-destruct, and yet individuals and civilizations do it all the time. How does that happen?

Recently, there was a post at the League that asked a question that brought quite a bit of discussion. (See The Incredible Shrinking Candidate, by Tod Kelly) It was posited that the Republican party behaves as if the "real Mitt" isn't there. By refusing to answer direct questions that are pertinent to his experience and belief, the writer posited that Mitt Romney is hiding his true self. And he wrote that he thinks it's the fault of the far-right wing ideologues of his party and their largely successful efforts to get him to fall into lockstep with their true-believers path, which (he writes) history clearly demonstrates is not the path that Mr. Romney has followed - and that the Tea Partiers should back off. Mitt should be allowed to be Mitt. Essentially the author asked, if the "true Mitt Romney" were allowed by his party ideologues to be truthful about what he really might offer - both his experience as a businessperson, his family values, and his political savvy - wouldn't we like that person? Might we vote for him?

To that I have to say - hogwash. We're seeing the real Mitt. Tod Kelly is missing the forest because he's looking for trees that aren't there, he's looking for substance where there really is only mist. What happens when the mist lifts? The light of day, folks, which shines on the garbage can in the backyard, the front walk that needs sweeping and the grass that needs mowing, just as it all did yesterday. The mist isn't really obscuring anything at all, but we like to pretend that it does, because it's soft and poetical and all and covers up what we'd really rather not deal with at the moment.

Here are the facts: It's clear that Mitt Romney has followed the course of action throughout his entire life that he's following now: that of choosing whatever option he thinks will get him what he wants. All narcissists can appear to be gentle, benevolent gods when they choose - it's part of their charm.

Mitt Romney would be the same paper president he was at Bain Capital, the same leader of the Salt Lake Olympic squadron, the same governor of Massachusetts - taking the road that at the time paved the way toward looking good on paper and in rare public appearances, but disappearing at the first puff of the wind of substance.

Meaning that, voting for Romney as POTUS would mean that his cronies would be the ones calling the shots, directing his paper-doll stance, pulling the strings of his puppet arms. Mitt is the perfect non-candidate. Don't think for a moment that he's actually responsible for anything except carrying out the wishes of the entities filling his pocketbook. He's meaningless and hard to pin down because that's the person he is.

Mitt Romney is the worst kind of person in the world: a classic narcissist who thinks he has a god-given mission to lead the United States (please research his religion, specifically the white horse prophesy if you doubt it), who will always act in his own best interests, and the world be damned. He has delusions of grandeur and believes that he is destined for greatness not only during his time here on earth, but in the afterlife. The shifting sands of his character are ingrained, and have served him well as far as prosperity goes. The thought of him at the helm of the biggest ship in the world means that if he believes hitting that iceberg will land him in heaven's realm, and in the meantime array his family and his own self in gilded heaven-on-earth glory, well then - it's all a part of his god's plan.

Put another way, imagine Mitt Romney at the controls of a 747 headed for the World Trade Center. He'd never hit that building, right? Look again. There's a guy who looks like Mr. Romney sitting in first class holding Ann's hand. They look around and smile, chat up their neighbors, full of charm and class. Then Mitt looks at his watch, and they bow their heads and start to pray. Paul Ryan's in the pilot seat, and he believes that building is full of liberal Democrats, lesbians, and abortion providers. Mitt is smiling and dreaming of the afterlife. No wait - that's actually not Mitt at all. The real Mitt is far away on an island in the Caymans.

Now what would happen? Yeah, I'm joking. Look closer.

Then there is the Tea Party. Fortunately there are other folks who've gone the extra mile to put the naked truth about them before the American public, so I'll share this clip from Aaron Sorkin's amazing new show, The Newsroom, where the truth is told as "fiction."

We can stop this insane bunch of crass, self-serving idiots. We must vote. Take the day off to do so if you must, but do not leave the polls until you have cast your rightful, individual VOTE. I understand that there are some places where it may be difficult to do so. How many have been disenfranchised in the past in this country, through trickery? More than one is too many - but there have been many, many people who were unable to vote because they stood by while this opportunity was literally stolen.

I have seen instances in my lifetime, in the past decade, where voting machines were moved - while voting was actually taking place - from high-minority, low-income, inner-city districts to predominantly white, wealthy, suburban ones so that there was a dearth of machines in the minority low-income districts and an unnecessary plethora of them in the wealthy, white districts; many of those machines were absolutely empty and unused during the remainder of the election. This forced many to have to leave to go back to work before they'd had a chance to cast their votes. I have stood in line to vote while poll workers went down the rows handing out cards and demonstrated how to vote a straight Republican ticket - and yes, there were unenlightened people who honestly thought they were simply being shown "how to vote." I have been there while people who were legally registered were turned away because they didn't have - or refused to show - a "proper ID."

This is America. No one has the right to do this to us. Stay, vote, and don't back down. Don't leave. Cast a provisional vote if you have no other choice. But Do. Not. Leave. Your future, your children's future, depends on your exercising the right to VOTE. Do not let them turn this country into the third world nation they can control, because that is what they want. That is what they believe God wants. They think we are stupid, and they do not respect us or the democracy they were born into. They are misguided, they are armed, and they are dangerous.

Fifty years ago a similarly high-minded group of politically-charged individuals led by a single charismatic mouthpiece spewing venomous hate went after innocent folk in the name of protecting our American shores from "communism." The McCarthy era was responsible for ruining hundreds, perhaps thousands of lives, and amounted to publicly-sanctioned ethnocentrism and racism. This time it's worse: there are dozens of charismatic mouthpieces spewing racism, misogyny, lies, and hate. They assert that our GOD is on their side, and because of that they ask us to doubt our conscience and look the other way while people who shout fear and hate take over our government. They are asking us to abdicate our democracy, and for those of us who refuse, they are doing their damnedest to take away our right to self-determination.

We should know better. Hate is hate, patriarchal control is control outright, and it preys on our fears of that which we do not understand and don't want to admit to our lack of understanding - and we should never allow it to cloud our vision. We must not give in to the claim that it doesn't matter who wins. It matters. We must not abdicate our rights as an informed electorate. To do so will result in the loss of everything our democracy stands for, and will effectively negate our Constitution and our way of life.

Don't let them take over our government again. We probably won't get it back if they do. But don't let this scare you. Let it strengthen your resolve. There is really absolutely nothing to fear except fear itself.

This election season, do not be confused by the vapor surrounding the truth, obscuring the things they really don't want you to see. Step through the mist, pick your way carefully over the rocky shoals hidden underneath the gloom of doubt and suspicion. VOTE.

Further ruminations on the heresy of Mormonism at the New York Times.