Tuesday, September 30, 2008

People along the way



Antigua, Guatemala. Pepe the Rooster woke us this morning as usual followed a bit later by thousands of firecrackers and pipe bombs. At least the big blasts sound like I imagine pipe bombs sound, not as overwhelming as canons or rockets but much louder, sharper and threatening than firecrackers. And both were accompanied, as usual, by the crazy ringing of bells. The Catholics again. They have been relatively quiet since the weekend, probably because of the rain. I doubt even god knows why they do it and suspect they couldn´t give a reasonable explanation, if pressed. It´s just nuts and really annoying.

Otherwise Antigua is something of a show piece for Guatemala. I recommend it for the short list. Very tourist friendly and otherwise tranquil... as long as you stay away from the outskirts and avoid taking forest hikes unescorted as the place has a thriving sub-culture of muggers and pickpockets. One of the people staying at our hotel was mugged a couple of nights ago but then he was wandering around the public market at 2 am, drunk. He has no memory of the event. He didn´t even know it happened until he looked in the mirror the next morning and saw his bloody, bruised face. Then he discovered that his bag and money were gone. Apparently they left him with a little cash, probably because he´s so damn likable. He was pretty nonchalant about it all. Said he´d been thinking he wanted a new bag anyway so no big deal. Very flamboyant. Very rich. Reminds me of Mick Jagger, in true tatters. He is a member of the Mashantucket Pequots which is a very small tribe in Connecticut (less than 1000 members). However, in 1986 the Pequot started getting it together and today they own the largest casino in the world (4,700,000 sq ft), Foxwoods Resort Casino, along with a little miscellanea like a pharmaceutical company, a shipbuilding company, and several inns and hotels. Sadly, he´s been alone and adrift in Latin America for several years. Getting mugged is nothing new. I get the very uncomfortable feeling that if he doesn´t get clean up, he´ll die of an overdose or maybe get murdered. If I could, I´d say just the right thing and he´d be, insto presto magico, addiction free but it just doesn´t work that way. Enough people certainly tried with me. But who can really say, in the long run, how we all hold together and effect one another? One thing I do know for sure, things happen in their own time, not mine. And keeping a good thought for someone never hurts. So... good luck, Sky. You know what to do.

We have been in school now for almost two weeks and my brain is throughly mashed. I have learned a bit but by the end of each day I´m tongue tied and lost in a miasma of accents, rhythms and phrasing. Even my English sounds like a second language. And my dreams are in shipwreck Spanglish.


Saturday, September 27, 2008

Los Viajeros


After a week of immersion language class here in Guatemala, vocabulary words are flying around in my head like bats at twilight. They swoop through my dreams. I find myself muttering them as I scurry through the rain but, for the most part, they escape meaning. So, I wrote a poem with some of the peskier ones. I broke one of my cardinal rules against using words that have been drained and destroyed by overuse (moon) plus my Spanish lacks rhythm, but what the hell? This is an emergency situation.

Los Viajeros

La ruta es larga.
El dia es corto.
La noche es
ruidosa y calor.
Estoy afuera
con la luna.
La ruta es angosta.
El cielo es ancho.

asha


Translation:

The Travelers

The road is long.
The day is short.
The night is
noisy and hot.
I am outside
with the moon.
The road is narrow.
The sky is wide.

Also posted on my poetry blog.


Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Cat school


Antigua, Guatemala. This morning before dawn, through the rain, we were greatly relieved to hear little Pepe crowing. We missed hearing him for a couple of days and feared that he might have ended up as Sunday dinner. We have bonded with him over the roof tops even though it is a bit of a drag that sometimes he crows at midnight. But, he´s not an ambitious rooster. One round or two at the most, and he´s done.

Otherwise, we started school yesterday and my brain is already looking for an escape. Immersion is just that... tossed in the deep end. Sink or swim. I have pages of notes. This morning I practiced counting to twenty. Also, I am supposed to study lists of opposites, hot/cold etc. We are doing the afternoon session and school starts in one hour. I´m console myself that we are signed up for one week only.

It is good to be away from the incessant election news. I haven´t read a Huffpo headline for over a day. It is all very far away which is an immense relief. I am thinking about it now but mostly I have been focusing on the endless rain, on how incredibly terrible our shower is and where to get another cup of coffee. I bought my first cup on my own this morning and managed to communicate with the barrister without embarrassing myself too much. Cranking up my brain to study is another thing altogether. M. Lee, of course, can simply sit down and study... silently. A+ student, doncha know. I, on the other hand, have to walk and repeat things out loud and constantly call my mind back to the point. It is, at best, like herding the proverbial herd of cats, but in my case they are very bad, very tough street cats.

Well, gotta go.



Sunday, September 21, 2008

Camera woes


Antigua, Guatemala. No photos today. I still haven´t figured out how to upload them to the web. My old reliable camera died two days before we left for this trip and I haven´t figured out how to upload photos off of the new one from the road. Plus cafe computers here suck. SUCK. Anyway, gotta go. I spent all my internet time this afternoon getting nowhere once again. I hope your day is going better.


Saturday, September 20, 2008

Puppies to market, jiggity jog


Antigua, Guatemala. Today we moved to a new place and paid for the next week, then got a load of clothes to the laundry and enrolled in a language school for the coming week as well, so guess we´re set for now.

We also got to the market this morning. I managed to take a lot of stealth photos, some which looked like they may have turned out pretty good, but we shall see. The romance and glamor of it all was very short lived however. We came upon two very sad young puppies tied together and to a post via some twine. Just as we walked by, a very picturesque Mayan woman bent down, yanked them up off the ground and held them dangling by their necks as they twisted and cried in the air while a customer examined them. Then she dropped them in a black plastic bag. It seemed to me they were being sold for slaughter although M. Lee disagrees. Harsh world out here.



Friday, September 19, 2008

Rainy day in Antigua


Antigua, Guatemala. A little rooster woke us up this morning. I call him Pepé. I think he starts about 4 am. It's raining in Antigua but then it is the rainy season. Oddly, we ran into someone from Eugene at the lunch place. She's been here 8 months working on adopting a adorable little Mayan boy. She and M. Lee had mutual friends. We borrowed one of her umbrella's to run home and get ours. So, we're looking for a language school this afternoon. Gotta go. School starts on Monday.



Sunday, September 14, 2008

Tonapah good-bye


We just got back from another lovely weekend convention in Tonopah. I didn't visit the man disappearing from the photo stuck in the wall of the stone miner's shack.




I didn't poke around the Mizpah this time or check to see if the lights are still on at Bobbie's abandoned Buckaroo Bar out on Hwy. 6


"Back Funa and Two Babies"


but here are a few photos from my favorite graveyard down by the Clown. I took them last spring. Don't worry. Nothing has changed. Looks like this will by my last trip to Tonopah for a while.




I'll miss the place, the people, its ghosts but all good things must pass. Luckily, all bad things pass too. Even naked Sarah Palin will eventually blow away.




Anyway, it's late. We're leaving for Guatemala on Wednesday and I'm not ready but then I won't be ready until a week after I walked out the door.



Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Lipstick on a pit bull


"The only difference between a pit bull and a soccer mom is lipstick."
~ Sarah Palin

By Republican logic then, Sarah Palin must think that soccer moms are dogs.




Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Email from a housewife

I found this on CrooksandLiars and am reposting it here as much for my own reference as yours. It's making the rounds but, if you haven't read it yet, I hope you do.

This forward ran in the Anchorage Daily News:
Posted by Alaska_Politics
Posted: September 4, 2008 - 12:11 pm
From David Hulen in Anchorage –
The e-mail below has been bouncing around the Internet since Sunday. It was written by Anne Kilkenny of Wasilla - stay-at-home mom, letter-to-the-editor writer and longtime watcher of Valley politics. She’s a registered Democrat. She was one of the delegates to the Conference of Alaskans in Fairbanks back in 2004. Her bio from the conference is here. She has has known Sarah Palin since 1992. She e-mailed this letter over the weekend to family and friends Outside, and (despite her request not to post it) it went viral on the Internet very quickly, showing up on blogs and Web sites all over. Since then, Kilkenny has been inundated with phone calls and e-mails. She said she stayed up until 3 a.m. last night answering e-mails, and found nearly 400 new ones waiting when she logged on this morning. It’s posted here with her permission.

And now the internet letter written by Anne Kilkenny from Wasilla, Alaska:

Dear friends,
So many people have asked me about what I know about Sarah Palin in the last 2 days that I decided to write something up . . .

Basically, Sarah Palin and Hillary Clinton have only 2 things in common: their gender and their good looks. :)

You have my permission to forward this to your friends/email contacts with my name and email address attached, but please do not post it on any websites, as there are too many kooks out there . . .
Thanks,
Anne

ABOUT SARAH PALIN

I am a resident of Wasilla, Alaska. I have known Sarah since 1992. Everyone here knows Sarah, so it is nothing special to say we are on a first-name basis. Our children have attended the same schools. Her father was my child’s favorite substitute teacher. I also am on a first name basis with her parents and mother-in-law. I attended more City Council meetings during her administration than about 99% of the residents of the city.

She is enormously popular; in every way she’s like the most popular girl in middle school. Even men who think she is a poor choice and won’t vote for her can’t quit smiling when talking about her because she is a “babe”.

It is astonishing and almost scary how well she can keep a secret. She kept her most recent pregnancy a secret from her children and parents for seven months.

She is “pro-life”. She recently gave birth to a Down’s syndrome baby. There is no cover-up involved, here; Trig is her baby.

She is energetic and hardworking. She regularly worked out at the gym.

She is savvy. She doesn’t take positions; she just “puts things out there” and if they prove to be popular, then she takes credit.

Her husband works a union job on the North Slope for BP and is a champion snowmobile racer. Todd Palin’s kind of job is highly sought-after because of the schedule and high pay. He arranges his work schedule so he can fish for salmon in Bristol Bay for a month or so in summer, but by no stretch of the imagination is fishing their major source of income. Nor has her life-style ever been anything like that of native Alaskans.

Sarah and her whole family are avid hunters.

She’s smart.

Her experience is as mayor of a city with a population of about 5,000 (at the time), and less than 2 years as governor of a state with about 670,000 residents.
During her mayoral administration most of the actual work of running this small city was turned over to an administrator. She had been pushed to hire this administrator by party power-brokers after she had gotten herself into some trouble over precipitous firings which had given rise to a recall campaign.

Sarah campaigned in Wasilla as a “fiscal conservative”. During her 6 years as Mayor, she increased general government expenditures by over 33%. During those same 6 years the amount of taxes collected by the City increased by 38%. This was during a period of low inflation (1996-2002). She reduced progressive property taxes and increased a regressive sales tax which taxed even food. The tax cuts that she promoted benefited large corporate property owners way more than they benefited residents.

The huge increases in tax revenues during her mayoral administration weren’t enough to fund everything on her wish list though, borrowed money was needed, too. She inherited a city with zero debt, but left it with indebtedness of over $22 million. What did Mayor Palin encourage the voters to borrow money for? Was it the infrastructure that she said she supported? The sewage treatment plant that the city lacked? or a new library? No. $1m for a park. $15m-plus for construction of a multi-use sports complex which she rushed through to build on a piece of property that the City didn’t even have clear title to, that was still in litigation 7 yrs later–to the delight of the lawyers involved! The sports complex itself is a nice addition to the community but a huge money pit, not the profit-generator she claimed it would be. She also supported bonds for $5.5m for road projects that could have been done in 5-7 yrs without any borrowing.

While Mayor, City Hall was extensively remodeled and her office redecorated more than once.

These are small numbers, but Wasilla is a very small city.

As an oil producer, the high price of oil has created a budget surplus in Alaska. Rather than invest this surplus in technology that will make us energy independent and increase efficiency, as Governor she proposed distribution of this surplus to every individual in the state.

In this time of record state revenues and budget surpluses, she recommended that the state borrow/bond for road projects, even while she proposed distribution of surplus state revenues: spend today’s surplus, borrow for needs.

She’s not very tolerant of divergent opinions or open to outside ideas or compromise. As Mayor, she fought ideas that weren’t generated by her or her staff. Ideas weren’t evaluated on their merits, but on the basis of who proposed them.

While Sarah was Mayor of Wasilla she tried to fire our highly respected City Librarian because the Librarian refused to consider removing from the library some books that Sarah wanted removed. City residents rallied to the defense of the City Librarian and against Palin’s attempt at out-and-out censorship, so Palin backed down and withdrew her termination letter. People who fought her attempt to oust the Librarian are on her enemies list to this day.

Sarah complained about the “old boy’s club” when she first ran for Mayor, so what did she bring Wasilla? A new set of “old boys”. Palin fired most of the experienced staff she inherited. At the City and as Governor she hired or elevated new, inexperienced, obscure people, creating a staff totally dependent on her for their jobs and eternally grateful and fiercely loyal–loyal to the point of abusing their power to further her personal agenda, as she has acknowledged happened in the case of pressuring the State’s top cop (see below).

As Mayor, Sarah fired Wasilla’s Police Chief because he “intimidated” her, she told the press. As Governor, her recent firing of Alaska’s top cop has the ring of familiarity about it. He served at her pleasure and she had every legal right to fire him, but it’s pretty clear that an important factor in her decision to fire him was because he wouldn’t fire her sister’s ex-husband, a State Trooper. Under investigation for abuse of power, she has had to admit that more than 2 dozen contacts were made between her staff and family to the person that she later fired, pressuring him to fire her ex-brother-in-law. She tried to replace the man she fired with a man who she knew had been reprimanded for sexual harassment; when this caused a public furor, she withdrew her support.

She has bitten the hand of every person who extended theirs to her in help. The City Council person who personally escorted her around town introducing her to voters when she first ran for Wasilla City Council became one of her first targets when she was later elected Mayor. She abruptly fired her loyal City Administrator; even people who didn’t like the guy were stunned by this ruthlessness.

Fear of retribution has kept all of these people from saying anything publicly about her.

When then-Governor Murkowski was handing out political plums, Sarah got the best, Chair of the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission: one of the few jobs not in Juneau and one of the best paid. She had no background in oil & gas issues. Within months of scoring this great job which paid $122,400/yr, she was complaining in the press about the high salary. I was told that she hated that job: the commute, the structured hours, the work. Sarah became aware that a member of this Commission (who was also the State Chair of the Republican Party) engaged in unethical behavior on the job. In a gutsy move which some undoubtedly cautioned her could be political suicide, Sarah solved all her problems in one fell swoop: got out of the job she hated and garnered gobs of media attention as the patron saint of ethics and as a gutsy fighter against the “old boys’ club” when she dramatically quit, exposing this man’s ethics violations (for which he was fined).

As Mayor, she had her hand stuck out as far as anyone for pork from Senator Ted Stevens. Lately, she has castigated his pork-barrel politics and publicly humiliated him. She only opposed the “bridge to nowhere” after it became clear that it would be unwise not to.

As Governor, she gave the Legislature no direction and budget guidelines, then made a big grandstand display of line-item vetoing projects, calling them pork. Public outcry and further legislative action restored most of these projects–which had been vetoed simply because she was not aware of their importance–but with the unobservant she had gained a reputation as “anti-pork”.

She is solidly Republican: no political maverick. The State party leaders hate her because she has bit them in the back and humiliated them. Other members of the party object to her self-description as a fiscal conservative.

Around Wasilla there are people who went to high school with Sarah. They call her “Sarah Barracuda” because of her unbridled ambition and predatory ruthlessness. Before she became so powerful, very ugly stories circulated around town about shenanigans she pulled to be made point guard on the high school basketball team. When Sarah’s mother-in-law, a highly respected member of the community and experienced manager, ran for Mayor, Sarah refused to endorse her.

As Governor, she stepped outside of the box and put together of package of legislation known as “AGIA” that forced the oil companies to march to the beat of her drum.

Like most Alaskans, she favors drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. She has questioned if the loss of sea ice is linked to global warming. She campaigned “as a private citizen” against a state initiaitive that would have either a) protected salmon streams from pollution from mines, or b) tied up in the courts all mining in the state (depending on who you listen to). She has pushed the State’s lawsuit against the Dept. of the Interior’s decision to list polar bears as threatened species.
McCain is the oldest person to ever run for President; Sarah will be a heartbeat away from being President.

There has to be literally millions of Americans who are more knowledgeable and experienced than she.

However, there’s a lot of people who have underestimated her and are regretting it.

CLAIM VS FACT

*”Hockey mom”: true for a few years.
*”PTA mom”: true years ago when her first-born was in elementary school, not since.
*”NRA supporter”: absolutely true
*social conservative: mixed. Opposes gay marriage, BUT vetoed a bill that would have denied benefits to employees in same-sex relationships (said she did this because it was unconsitutional).
*pro-creationism: mixed. Supports it, BUT did nothing as Governor to promote it.
*”Pro-life”: mixed. Knowingly gave birth to a Down’s syndrome baby BUT declined to call a special legislative session on some pro-life legislation
*”Experienced”: Some high schools have more students than Wasilla has residents. Many cities have more residents than the state of Alaska. No legislative experience other than City Council. Little hands-on supervisory or managerial experience; needed help of a city administrator to run town of about 5,000.
*political maverick: not at all
*gutsy: absolutely!
*open & transparent: ??? Good at keeping secrets. Not good at explaining actions.
*has a developed philosophy of public policy: no
*”a Greenie”: no. Turned Wasilla into a wasteland of big box stores and disconnected parking lots. Is pro-drilling off-shore and in ANWR.
*fiscal conservative: not by my definition!
*pro-infrastructure: No. Promoted a sports complex and park in a city without a sewage treatment plant or storm drainage system. Built streets to early 20th century standards.
*pro-tax relief: Lowered taxes for businesses, increased tax burden on residents
*pro-small government: No. Oversaw greatest expansion of city government in Wasilla’s history.
*pro-labor/pro-union. No. Just because her husband works union doesn’t make her pro-labor. I have seen nothing to support any claim that she is pro-labor/pro-union.

WHY AM I WRITING THIS?


First, I have long believed in the importance of being an informed voter. I am a voter registrar. For 10 years I put on student voting programs in the schools. If you google my name (Anne Kilkenny + Alaska), you will find references to my participation in local government, education, and PTA/parent organizations.

Secondly, I’ve always operated in the belief that “Bad things happen when good people stay silent”. Few people know as much as I do because few have gone to as many City Council meetings.

Third, I am just a housewife. I don’t have a job she can bump me out of. I don’t belong to any organization that she can hurt. But, I am no fool; she is immensely popular here, and it is likely that this will cost me somehow in the future: that’s life.
Fourth, she has hated me since back in 1996, when I was one of the 100 or so people who rallied to support the City Librarian against Sarah’s attempt at censorship.
Fifth, I looked around and realized that everybody else was afraid to say anything because they were somehow vulnerable.

CAVEATS


I am not a statistician. I developed the numbers for the increase in spending & taxation 2 years ago (when Palin was running for Governor) from information supplied to me by the Finance Director of the City of Wasilla, and I can’t recall exactly what I adjusted for: did I adjust for inflation? for population increases? Right now, it is impossible for a private person to get any info out of City Hall–they are swamped. So I can’t verify my numbers.

You may have noticed that there are various numbers circulating for the population of Wasilla, ranging from my “about 5,000″, up to 9,000. The day Palin’s selection was announced a city official told me that the current population is about 7,000. The official 2000 census count was 5,460. I have used about 5,000 because Palin was Mayor from 1996 to 2002, and the city was growing rapidly in the mid-90’s.

Anne Kilkenny
August 31, 2008



Sunday, September 7, 2008

Blackberry pie

It was delicious.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Ptown afternoon




I'm in Portland this weekend visiting my daughter and her husband. And Owen, the golden boy and Willie Nelson the cat. They are snoozing nearby. Lovely sunny day here in stump town. Truly, September is the sweetest month. This all by way of seeing family before M. Lee and I leave for Central America. Countdown a week and a half. I wish I'd been coming up here more often. This is only my fourth visit in two years. When I'm in my daily life routine, my blood gets thick and everything appears so far away and uphill both ways. Seems I need terrifying possibilities looming on the horizon to rise to life. Backpacking through Central America is just enough to bring me to the table. So here I am and it's lovely. Asia just got back from a run so, after she showers, we are going to meet up with JudyBlueSky and eat hand picked wild sweet homemade Oregon blackberry pie. Mmmmmmm... pie.

Just for the record, baby Owen is older than he is in this fetching photo and his chewies have grown accordingly. I was, in fact, shocked at the size of the bone he is currently devouring. He could literally eat a cow, horn, hoof and tail.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Hilarious. Jon Stewart exposing Republican hypocrisy


During their reign of terror, Republicans shameless took hypocrisy, corruption and folly to dizzying new levels. Now they are tripping over their dicks whining that Palin is the victim of a double standard. John Stewart has some hilarious clips of them whining and contradicting themselves now that the high heel is on the other foot. Pathetic.


Hypocrisy Republican style




Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Loose cannon McCain



John McCain's explosive, hair-trigger temper is well documented. Dr. Phillip Butler, a former POW incarcerated with McCain, says McCain's anger problem makes him unfit to be President. I could not agree more. We can't afford to have some old loose cannon "maverick" prone to rage and impulse decisions answering a 3 am call on the Red Phone. And Mrs. "Iraq is a Task from God Palin" a heart attack away? Nightmare.

McCain's short circuit


4:10





Monday, September 1, 2008

All the lovely creatures...

Polar bears drowning
due to global warming


Now too the fireflies are disappearing from the earth. Like polar bears. Sarah Palin sued the US government this spring when polar bears were put on the endangered species list. What an idiot. I don't have the heart to make a list tonight but species are endangered and vanishing right and left, due to human pollution. We have got to do better. Even selfishly this is a disaster. Fireflies and polar bears are indicators of how pollution is turning our environment hostile to life as we know it. Humans are not immune however, in our hubris, we imagine ourselves above the laws of nature.

The wild, beautiful, fragile, exotic, wonderful, impossible creatures of earth...




"When the little glow bug
lights his lamp,
the air around
is surely damp."




vanishing .......