Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Sigóowu Yées Táakw! - here's to 2009!

Gu.aal kwshé laxéitl yee kát wugoodéek yá táakw tóonáx!
May success come your way throughout the year!


As much roller-coaster-y-ness as 2008 brought, it was still a great, exciting year. I pray that 2009 is better still for all of you - thanks for helping to make this year so great!

If you live in Anchorage, I hope you'll also be heading to a Kaladi Brothers tomorrow (Jan. 1). Each year on New Year's Day all of their profits - including hours the baristas donate - go a special cause or charity. This year it is going to Beyond Borders, an organization I recommend highly. Though an Anchorage-based organization focused on worldwide efforts, some of their major efforts in recent years has been on Rural Alaska. So go get a big cup o' joe to get over the New Year's hangover, and see you in 2009!

#20 Top Bush Moments... and a bonus

Best 2008 Bush Moment

Ive shown this recently, and of course everyone has seen it, but this truly was the Best Bush Moment of 2008. It was pretty easy actually. You know what I'm talking about. The Shoe.

I like this video because it shows the incident with "fitting epic music." And I just like watching it over and over.




#20 Best (or Worst) Bush Moment

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

A little bit of history in these historic times

When I ran to the bookstore this weekend, my dad asked me to pick out a book for him using a gift certificate he'd received for Christmas. "Anything Tlingit." (You kinda get the general vibe of our home education?)

This, I thought, would actually be harder than it seemed. Though I think there should be row upon row of Tlingit books, apparently large bookstores are limited to what people have published. There are a lot of Tlingit books, but very few that we do not own between us, and those would more likely come directly from a corporation or nonprofit.

I was pleased and surprised to see a book by Richard and Nora Marks Dauenhauer, and Lydia Black. The Duaenhauers are THE publishing authority on Tlingit people (Nora, is herself, Tlingit), and are two of the people I've never met that I admire most for the work they've done. I THOUGHT, between my dad and I, we owned every one of their major works, but I was happy to see I was wrong. I didn't even have to look for another book.

It's called Anóoshi Lingít Aaní Ká: Russians in Tlingit America, The Battles of Sitka 1802 and 1804. Okay - they aren't all exciting titles (though some of them, I think, have simple, beautiful titles.) And just the following day, the Anchorage Daily News prints an article that the book has already won a prestigious award.

The education of the real history and contributions of Alaska Native people is very close to my heart, and this is one of those events (technically two) that I wish everyone knew about. I am looking forward to reading the "real" story myself. The battle of Sitka is something I have only ever heard from (non-Native) books and oral family history - including one transcription of an auntie about an ancestor who was orphaned at the battle. From the ADN article:

The Tlingit view of the war, extrapolated from oral histories and supporting written documentation, is understandably different, more complex and probably more credible. It's a story of invasion, resistance, betrayal, siege and a brilliantly executed strategic retreat followed by campaigns of attrition that led eventually to a long-lasting business arrangement that proved beneficial to both sides.


One of the big fallacies of Alaska Native history is that the majority of us were ever a conquered people. This differs strongly from what happened in the Lower 48. Although the Aleutian Islands were hit pretty hard, you would be hard-pressed to find villages in Alaska that are NOT on or near traditional grounds.

There is a strong argument (which I subscribe to) that the sale of Alaska from Russia to American was illegal, because even the Western laws of the time stated you must have control of the land you are selling. Russians had control of very little of Alaska, and the sale was akin to "Well, we say we own Antarctica and no one that matters to us is arguing about it, so it's for sale." Up until very close to the sale, Americans were actually saying the same thing. American businessman and even the government put up strong arguments that, since the Russians had no control over Tlingit people, and the Tlingit people maintained their traditional territory, Tlingits were a soveriegn people. Of course, this attitude changed once the sale was on the table.

I digress. But this is certainly an interesting piece of history I hope others will be interested in also. A few other pieces of Alaska Native history I hope to extrapolate on later in "Did you know?" form:

Did you know...

- that a Native woman was arrested in Nome for sitting in the white section of the theater, prompting forward Alaskan civil rights, years before Rosa Parks made her courageous stand a bit more south?

- the Native people of Barrow fought an unjust law with the infamous "Barrow Duck-in," successfully, and with exactly what it sounds like?

- that the Japanese were not the only American group of people forced into camps during World War II - that Aleut people were also forced out of their homes by the U.S. government, and many, many died for it?

- that the U.S. Navy bombed three Tlingit villages after it "bought" Alaska, one so unfairly it prompted the American people of the time (who were still in the "kill 'em or move 'em" phase) to question it and react with legislation?

- that the first man to reach the summit of Denali (known to many of you as Mt. McKinley) was an Alaska Native man?

There is a rich, surprising, interesting and endless history of Alaska Native people well worth delving into.

#23 - #21 Top Bush Moments

Three weeks to go! Just three weeks left with Dubya, and we can try and get him to stay on his ranch for the rest of his days.

These are all videos from Letterman's "Greatest Moments in Presidential Speeches" series. You do kinda get tired of the opening speeches though...

#21



#22



#23

Friday, December 26, 2008

A Very Obama Christmas

I hope your Christmas was great, that your family was there (and that you got along!) I also hope Santa treated you well, as he certainly spoiled me - including a brand new phone that will make it very easy to blog from anywhere...

I present to you something I found kind of funny as we opened presents. I've heard jokes (and even articles) about how Obama is a "stimulus package" in himself. That the amount of Obama related items on sale is so much that, where other retail is busting, some sites and people are booming. It seems the Writing Raven family did its best to boost the economy in this way!

I present... an Obama Christmas.

The iPod cover is like ultimate branding - very smart. Who wouldn't want to rock out to an Obama mix?




One of my favorites was this simple framing of an Obama caucus sign (they had to steal it from my bedroom.) I've been trying to gather together all the "stuff" from the campaign, as well as the Democratic National Convention Celtic Diva and I went to, and save it. Although it is in abundance now, I think it's one of those "show the grandkids" kind of moments in history.

In any case, this isn't even a sign I waved. The Anchorage caucus was... uh... overwhelmed seems like too small a word... Record-breaking, mass of Obama-ites is closer... But this is one my grandma brought me from Juneau, where she could actually get her hands on one.

My little sister was wearing this shirt as she opened presents...











My older sister's boyfriend wore this the night before (and they gave me one, too)...


















And then he wore this one to open presents on Christmas. So (the future) Mr. President was with us all through Christmas.

I think you can count on us all to be wearing some of these as we watch the inauguration. We made some tentative plans to watch it LIVE, day of. Although I would quickly and happily - if I had the money - trek to D.C. to be there in person, I think watching the festivities in Anchorage will be burned into my memory enough. He takes the oath at 8 a.m. Alaska time, so my viewing will begin much, much earlier than that - probably about 6.

Let me say that again - EIGHT IN THE MORNING AND UP BY SIX! I am by no stretch of the imagination a morning person, so waking up early in the morning on a personal leave day is something I will ONLY do for the Obamer. I had to put it in the perspective that, if I wasn't taking the day off to watch the inauguration, I would have to be at work then anyways. It only dawned on me about the early hour as we were talking about it, and though I want to watch it live, my DVR is wooing me with its power to record and playback at decent hours...


One of my favorite posters - and my older sister's - is the "Hope" poster - so popular everywhere. I actually would love the trilogy, the "Hope" with Obama, "Nope" with McCain, and "Dope" with Palin.
















I also love this framed poster, "This is our moment." It has the last words of Obama's Grant Park speech, and is nearly as moving on paper as it was to listen to.

Funny though - they left out the "puppy" line...

#24 Top Bush Moment

#24 Best (or Worst) Top Bush Moment

Bush vs. basketball.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Sigóowu Kíswas!


Or, in English, Merry Christmas!

I'll see you on the other side of Christmas, leaving you with this great Rick Allen image of just how Raven the Trickster gets Santa (Raven is usually pretty naughty) and a Tlingit Christmas carol.

Oh, no. I'm not going to sing (and you should thank me for that.) But I got this 12 Days of Christmas Tlingit-style last year, and am passing it on to you.

The last round:
On the twelfth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me...
12 drummers drumming
11 salmon swimming
10 hunters hunting
9 Tlingit dancers
8 warriors paddling
7 cedar baskets
6 eagles soaring
5 totem poles
4 Ravens calling
3 button robes
2 killer whales
...and a keidlidee in a pear tree!

(make sure you sing that "totem poles" line with the gusto usually reserved for the golden rings, now!)

Merry Christmas, Sigóowu Hánakaa (Happy Hannakah), Sigóowu Kwaansá (Happy Kwanzaa)!

AND


Gu.aal kayéil ka yóot kawkidgani yoo at kooteek yee káa kawda.ooxóok ka tsu yá táakw tóonáx!

(May your holiday be bright and prosperous!)

#27 - #25 Top Bush Moments

#25 Top Bush Moments

As a Christmas present to Bush (and pretty much to everyone else) I'm sending out the 25th Top moment early. Really, it's because I'll be playing with all my new toys.... er... important, useful things for a productive life and I won't feel like posting (probably.)

It is a present for one and all though, because Bush doesn't make an appearance in this one. It is just a little video someone did showing what happens when Santa tries to deliver copies of the constitution to the White House.

Merry Christmas!!



#26 Top Bush Moment

I saw this on a video, but can only find the sound byte (with a little bit freaky graphics) for more of Bush's articulation. In this case, I don't think we can expect Bush to speak intelligently about tide's turning. As he says here, he was born in a desert.



#27 Top Bush Moment

Merry Christmas Bush. Not that it would make any difference to him, but Bush should have someone saying things like this to his face every day.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Barrow's SUURIMMAANITCHUAT DANCERS performing at Obama Inaguration



Very cool. Just got this e-mail that a Barrow Inupiaq group will be performing in the inaugural parade!

They will be the only Alaska Native group doing so, and so they will not only be representing Inupiaq people, but Alaska Native people.

I'll be looking for them Jan. 20!



In other, very cool, Alaska Native news, I read in the Anchorage Daily News' Newsreader (originally in the Bristol Bay Times) that an Aleut Language Christmas CD is being released! Aleut, or Unungan, is one of the most endangered Alaska Native languages, and it's definitely a good Christmas present to hear this!

#28 Top 100 Bush Moments

The 28th one was actually kinda cute - Bush gives Muhammad Ali a medal, and Ali gives Bush the "crazy" sign. Very few could get away with it, but who's really going to take on Ali?


Monday, December 22, 2008

Finally, it's Christmas

Things have been pretty crazy this year, and I found it pretty hard to get into the Christmas spirit. Two coworkers died just before Thanksgiving, and since then, I feel like exclaiming that way overdone, but true phrase, "And the hits just keep on coming!" Also, "When it rains, it pours."

You would think that tomorrow's memorial would be a bit much, but even after a hectic weekend, I have found something of the Christmas season. See, I generally LOVE Christmas, the time of year, winter in general, but this year seemed like too much of an effort. For several weeks, I really, really, really could care less who needed what so "urgently," who thought what was important (even though I used to think it was important, too,) and who expected what for Christmas.

Would it seem strange to say that after so much putting off, struggling with getting a date and location and time, that some of the mood is that I know tomorrow - the sadness will still be there - but a person so many cared about is finally being remembered and acknowledged, and I'm looking forward to it? I am sure I will cry, I am sure there will be pain, but I am looking forward to a release of sorts as well.

Let me tell you what else has forced the Christmas spirit upon me (and for which I am strangely grateful):

- Our office looks little bit like Christmas vomited up in it. Everything is wrapped, tinseled, and absolutely nothing matches or was meant to go together. Blue metallic snowflakes and green and red stockings? You got it. Red Christmas trees and silver garland? Naturally. Nearly everyone who walks in the door says something of the same, "Wow... it looks very 'Christmas-y' in here..." with no small amount of awe.

- For good measure, we attacked the desk of a coworker who was absent for a day. He's been having a rough year, so we thought we'd cheer him up by, you know, wrapping up everything on his desk like Christmas presents, down to keyboard and mouse and stray pencils, and other random things around his desk. When he called in the next day, turquoise ornaments with fluffy "boa" like purple feathers that the craft store had discounted to pennies (and, strangely, a LOT of!) were hung above where he sits as well as purple streamers. When he called in for a third day, it was ON. He had to literally unwrap his way to his desk and is still facing cute pictures of Christmas kittens and Care Bears that he can't remove. We show our love in strange ways...

- I appeared to have suffered from temporary insanity when I volunteered to cook fry bread for a Native event. Now, if you have never eaten fry bread (or "Indian" fry bread) or seen Native people's anadultered enjoyment of it, let me set the scene. Imagine your absolute favorite food, the ones the reminds you of fun and family and a happy stomach. Now imagine you haven't eaten in three days and the smell of that is wafting through the air. Now imagine several hundred other people who also haven't eaten, and the food is coming out in 12-bread batches every 20 minutes. Is this the set-up for something bad to happen? I think so. Although hidden in the back, I literally had people smell their way to the cooking and come to hug me, and other people attack my brother each time he went in to deliver a batch. If my brother had the audacity to want to join the party without fry bread, he was attacked by people wanting to know why he was fry bread-less, and promptly sent him back. I cooked for five hours straight, and it still became a "who knows who" for people to be able to get them. The caterer for the party brought baskets for me to put them in, but not a single bread made it in. By the time my brother got to the door each time, he was attacked and emptied. It was exhausting, fun, satisfying to bring people a favorite, and entirely absurd. Over two days later, and I am still recovering.

- And finally, this weekend I had to go deal with "real life" and was not expecting much good to come of it. I had to go pay a bill, late, and was ready to pony up the $50 fine. The girl taking it wiped away the fee and turned me away with a "Merry Christmas!" The guy at the check-out in a store that does not offer walk-you-to-your-car service grabbed my bags and asked where my car was, no questions about it, and ignored my offers to help him with the awkward bundle. When I tried to tip him, he laughed and said, "But then it's not helping!" And when I got a coupon wrong - 50% off one item, and a big-ticket item - the lady behind me said there was no sense in wasting hers, and offered it up.

So, Christmas is saved from the Grinch again, and just in time, thanks to a whole lot of other people. I know, the cynics will talk about the costs and the money, the capitalistic greed and lost company time - but there's room for the warm and fuzzy too! My experience hasn't exactly been Tiny Tim warming Scrooge's heart, but it's nice to know that kind of stuff still happens.

#31 - #29 Top 100 Bush Moments

*sigh* Isn't he gone yet?

I confess that every time I see Bush in the news now, it's sort of this, "Wow - he's STILL there?" Ever since Obama got elected, I just can't see the purpose in dragging this out. Especially since the likelihood of me winning some inaugural lottery and being able to go to the ceremony is out, I'm all for Obama running down to some courthouse, paying some sort of fee, and getting sworn in today. Or flying to Vegas. Betcha they can get it done quick...

In any case, we're under 30 days at least!

#29 Best (or Worst) Top Bush moment

It is amazing how childish Bush can look so much of the time. And now we know what happens when you let an immature bully into the White House. But this does kind of make you chuckle - how the international community is treating him now that he's definitely on his way out. Like the outcast kid. I think they should still be nice - Bush certainly has the capacity to screw them over before he heads out!



#30

But ignoring Bush is not left to foreign diplomats alone. Here's Bush trying to wave and get the attention of his adoring public in North Carolina. Or... not so adoring.




#29

And if ignoring just isn't enough, what does it sound like when a whole stadium people - in Washington - show their appreciation for Bush? The booing is pretty obvious, but for full effect, listen to the tone of the crowd when the owner is announced vs. the president. The quickest pitch by a president ever.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Learning a few tips from the Tlingit this Christmas

Okay, so this article is about the Northwest Coast Native people, but that includes Tlingits!

It's been a hit or miss being able to open this article without signing up for the New York Times, but it's free, and hey, why not? I spotted it in the Anchorage Daily News Newsreader this morning, and well worth it!

It's about Northwest Coast "potlatches" - though we tend to call them just "celebrations" or "parties." Potlatch tends to have some connations attached. The traditions and social purpose these serve are discussed, with just a bit of humor. It's actually "advice" for people to follow using good, old fashioned Indian common sense! And party procedure...

I've heard lots of criticism of the potlatch, or Indian Party, but I think that's mostly from people who have never attended one. Yes, there is certainly a showmanship part to it, but that is just so little of the whole. There is a point in the article they do take this on, though I wish there was a lot more time to devote to the subject:


“Even though the elite chiefs controlled the fishing grounds and the trade networks,” Dr. Glass says, “the potlatch functioned to make sure everyone had enough fish and that the excess trading wealth was redistributed to the entire community.” In hard times that function is especially important, so remember the neediest this year.


I have heard of the "third world" conditions of these villages, but I gaurantee, no neighbors, no Elders, no poor people starve in the Alaskan villages. They just don't.

Really, if you ever get a chance to attend one of these, GO. All up and down the coast there are very different traditions and protocol surrounding them, but I can vouch that attending a Tlingit party is a good opportunity. They take years to plan sometimes, and are worth the wait. Modern goods are merged with ancient custom for a really great party, and some of them are still days long.

But I bet you big money you can't outlast the Elder ladies.

#32 Top 100 Bush Moment

Just 32 days left to go! And with that, I give you, BUSH is RIGHT! Really...


Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Keeping an eye on presidential Native developments

With the pick of Salazar as Secretary of Interior, so ends my brief advocating for former Gov. Tony Knowles, or another Native-friendly, or Native person, to fill the role. My reaction was kind of... Oh? Huh. Eh.

Not that Salazar will be bad (I know only what I've read in the last few days), certainly, but he has no real record to speak of with Native issues. Unfortunately for Native people, the Bureau of Indian Affairs is lumped in under the Department of the Interior, meaning the other issues the secretary deals with will almost certainly take precedence over Native issues, and therefore a Native person unlikely to be chosen. Okay, maybe "unlikely" is not the right word... more like, never happened in the history of the department. In this case, it is not so much that Native issues are not important, I think, than the environment is THE issue. At least that's what I hope. A former governor of a state that produces children with oil in their blood was probably pretty unlikely (but it was a nice thought while it lasted!) In any case, though Salazar has become the top guy (outside of Obama) for environmental, resources, etc., he has also become the top guy in regards to Native issues. My best wishes to him!

Oh well. Obama is making good progress on the promises of filling top roles, especially to do with Native issues, with Native people. A Rosebud Sioux, Wizipan Garriot, was named as his First Americans Public Liaison. The position itself is brand new, as promised to Native people during the campaign by the big O, so my hopes are high that he will keep to the others.

Most of the positions announced so far are the positions "just" in the transition team, so it will only be in the next few months that we'll really be hearing about exactly what the Native positions will be and who will fill them. Before the liaison announcement, they said that the precentage of Native people in the transition team was 1.2 percent. While this sounds shockingly low to a Native from Alaska, where our Native population hovers between 15 and 20% of the overall state population, depending on the report, it is actually keeping with general stats in the U.S. for what the population of Natives is - somewhere between 1.1 and 1.5 percent.

Now some of what we are looking at will be the other new Native-oriented positions, including Native White House advisor. I'd also like to see a Native person filling the top positions in the Bureau of Indian Affairs (most of which has been done in recent decades.) I'm not sure if it's the President that fills those, or the Secretary, but fingers are crossed.

And if he's having trouble, there's a Tlingit woman in Anchorage ready to head to D.C. at a moments notice!

Although not totally related to all of this, here's an interesting opinion piece on "the how and why of Obama's Native support" from Indian Country Today.

#34 - #33 Top 100 Bush Moments

For these top moments, it's Bush dodging more things... this time journalist's questions. Sometimes it's clear Bush just doesn't know what the heck the media are talking about. In both these cases, Bush just displays his shoe-dodgin' skills in the verbal arena as well.

In this case, he's not going to confirm what kind of techniques they use in torture.. err... interrogation so they don't alert the enemy. Umm... isn't that kind of confirming it in and of itself?



Again, Bush uses the classified card to not have to answer.

On second thought... maybe he's NOT so good at dodging. He just comes right out and says (like another highly public politician I know) "I'm not going to talk about that," and always seemed surprised when people keep bringing stuff up.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

#35 Top Bush Moments - Just happened today!

With 35 days left to go, the #35 Top Bush Moment just happened today (technically, yesterday.) I saw the pic on Kodiak Konfidential and had to check it out myself. Actually, this would be MUCH higher on my list if it weren't also news worthy.

For those that missed it, Bush is doing his "farewell" tour of Iraq (the happiest tour yet for all those in Iraq.) During a press conference, an Iraqi reporter hurled TWO shoes at President Bush. There are two videos below with different angles.

First, you gotta give it up for Dubya's reflexes. It's almost as if he's been anticipating things being hurled at him (especially in Iraq) for a long time and been in training.

Second, I'm wondering if the Secret Service are really all that concerned about keeping Bush alive at this point. Now, regardless of the fact that it was a shoe, aren't the Secret Service guys supposed to jump out in front and take the bullet... er... whatever? This guy gets TWO shoes off before he's tackled, and he doesn't have them ready. He actually has to reach down and take his shoe off the second time, and there's still nobody hurling their body in front of Bush. One guy sort of lopes up after the fact, and Bush kind of waves him off. Maybe I've seen too many movies, but what if there was something IN one of those shoes? Like, you know, something that goes "BOOM!"? I am kind of imagining that the Secret Service, long ago, were like, "Alright Bushie, we'll do all the prep and metal detector type stuff, but something comes flying at ya, you're on your own." Must be why he's worked on the "ducking."

Third, Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!!





P.S. All joking aside, I'm expecting WAY better service from the Secret Service for Obama. I mean, I can't stand Bush, but he is our PRESIDENT. Shouldn't we be making an attempt to at least bat the shoe away, like the guy standing at the podium with him?

#36 Top Bush Moment

#36

Another in which Bush tries to look interested... and as if he understands...


Saturday, December 13, 2008

If Writing Raven Were President...

I read a fun opinion piece from the Tundra Drums today by Harley Sundown. He was imagining a Yup'ik like himself being president, and what would his cabinet look like. Many not from Alaska, or not involved in Alaska Native culture and/or politics won't recognize many of the names he uses, but trust me - he's actually done a pretty good job! Including:

Walt Monegan as Secretary of Homeland Security
Many of you will recognize him for his more recent claim to fame - the former Alaska top cop fired by Palin, the spark that lit the "Troopergate" findings. But his inclusion here indicates something Alaskans and Alaska Native people knew long before - he's a great guy and great at his job. Although he is included in this as a Yup'ik, we Tlingits get to claim credit for him too!

Byron Mallot for Chairman of the Federal Reserve
I'm behind just about anything Byron Mallott does, he's smart, active, and done just about every job known to man. Everything he does turns golden because he's a great guy to have in charge - shall we give him a go at AIG and the Big Three?

Anyone from the Demmert family in Southeast as Secretary of Education
He he... won't tell you why this is totally true, or so funny to me.

Dr. Walter Soboleff as Spiritual Advsior
A really great person, Alaskan, and Alaska Native - someone who's done a lot in his long life - he just turned 100 and was honored at the Alaska Federation of Native Convention this year. And did I mention a great TLINGIT?

I know, I know, my highlights are heavy on the Tlingit people - but these are people I've heard about or known my whole life, and it was great to hear them mentioned for a presidential cabinet - albeit a fictitious and highly unlikely cabinet.

A few others in this fun, all Alaskan cabinet I would add:

Rosita Worl as Chairman for the National Endowment for the Arts
As head of the Sealaska Heritage Institute, she'd led the way to a lot of extraordinary arts initiatives aimed at promoting Tlingit (and Southeast Alaska Native) culture through arts. She's been involved in a lot of things, not the least of them encouraging Native languages, but I think she would really shine with this. She sees art as not just pretty stuff to look at, but a link to our culture and a powerful way to stay connected.

Marlene Johnson as Chief of Staff
She'd get that place in shape! Yet another with a long list of accomplishments, I know for a fact she'd get some serious issues worked on, and accomplished, and beware those that stand in the way!

Fran Ulmer as Vice President
She's not Native, but as former Lt. Governor for Alaska, she has a unique view of energy and what that means. She is currently chancellor for the University of Alaska, former mayor of Juneau, former state house minority leader, AND she totally knows what the Bush Doctrine is. If that's not enough to get her elected, I don't know what is!

Okay, my fun is over - but I'd like to know some of YOUR cabinet picks!

#37 Top 100 Bush Moments

#37 Best (or Worst) Bush Moments

Bush is proud of the military... but the what and brightest?


Thursday, December 11, 2008

A few ideas for Christmas giving

One of my favorite Christmas charity occasions was a year I was a nanny for five children, ranging in age (at the time) from four to 12. We had learned of a program that organized donations of shoeboxes full of little presents for orphaned children in Russia. I took all the kids shopping at WalMart, and gave them a budget for their shoebox, and told them to pick out what they thought a child just their age, their sex, over in Russia would want for Christmas, and think of a few school supplies too.

So the 12 year old boy picked out things for a 12 year old boy, the 10 year old girl for a 10 year old girl, and so on. I kind of expected them to go hog wild and just get a bunch of stuff they wanted, maybe even beg for a toy themselves. Of course, as they so often did, they totally surprised me. They were extremely thoughtful about their choices, and we took twice as long as I thought. The littlest girl really began to imagine the whole life of her "friend" over in Russia, and figured that since the girl had no parents, she must really need hugs, and picked out a teddy bear. The older ones almost got stressed out about it - concerned that their pre-teen counterparts might not know who Mary Kate and Ashley were, or maybe they were into art? One of the middle boys was absolutely certain his counterpart was into football - something he himself was not into at all.

One of the more interesting parts about it all was how much they asked, and learned about during the whole event. They asked details about what life must be like for the orphans, were concerned and wanted to know if they had certain things like toothpaste and medicine. What's more, not a single time did they ask for a toy or treat, and were more excited to get home and put together their shoeboxes than they'd ever been in opening their own toys. These were not wealthy children - I was paid through a state program - but they were extremely proud to carry the shoeboxes into the church that was collecting them.

Although it's been years since I've been a nanny, I still kidnap those children every so often. Without a doubt, when Christmas time creeps up, someone brings up that Christmas giving time, and they wonder how their Russian friends are doing?

Over the years I was with them, I took some big lessons, this one about being able to give wholeheartedly, and with great cheer when you get nothing in return not a small lesson in itself. Their imagination made these children in Russia quite real and alive in a way I struggle with myself when giving. I have never underestimated the generosity, or thoughtfulness, of children again.

If you're in the mind for some Christmas giving, I got an e-mail from the Native American Music Awards today, and they have resources on here to donate toys to the Rosebud Sioux Tribe's 7,500 children, as well as monetary donations to the Pine Ridge Reservation (which I mentioned a few posts back.) The information is below.

DEAR NAMA FRIENDS & FAMILY,


The Native American Music Association has been graciously invited by the President of Sicangu Oyate (Rosebud Sioux Tribe) to join his wife and he in a Christmas Toy Drive for the 7500 children ages 1 thru 18 on their reservation.

Help Santa find Rosebud so that these children may know and share in the true spirit of the holidays. Join NAMA President Ellen Bello, Tribal President Rodney M. Bordeaux & his wife Jody Waln in this direct and gracious effort.

NO GIFT TOO SMALL FOR THE CHILDREN.

Please keep the children in your hearts and minds this Christmas. We wish you a very healthy and happy Holiday Season.

Send Toys To:
Rosebud Sioux Tribe
PO Box 430 (For UPS: 11 Legion Drive)
Rosebud, SD 57570


Let us know about your local efforts so we may document them and include them in our next Awards Show broadcast
OR PLEASE SEND FINANCIAL DONATIONS TO:

Native American Music Association
511 Avenue of the Americas
#371
New York NY 10011

212.228.8300 tel
646.688.6883 fax

www.nativeamericanmusicawards.com



All Contributions Welcome


PLEASE PASS THIS ON TO YOUR FRIENDS & FAMILY


NAMA's Emergency Winter Relief Efforts remain underway for the Elders & Disabled on the Pine Ridge Reservation. Financial donations are still needed for emergency heat/propane purchases.


To Send Winter Clothing Items or Toys to the Pine Ridge Reservation please ship to:

OST District Coordinator Office
Post Office Box 1796
( For UPS - East Highway 18)
Tero Building Basement
Pine Ridge SD 57770


We Are Making A Difference!

It has been great to see the outpouring of help that has come to this community.
Thanks for your help!
Reporter from Rapid City Journal
Rapid City, South Dakota

I just wanted to thank you for your assistance, and to let you
know that your labors have already begun to show fruit.
Blessings,
--Russell Masartis
Tree of Life Ministry, Mission, SD

#38 Top 100 Bush Moments

#38 with 38 days to go.

A frightful look into Bush's memory, Bush can't quite remember that guy over in North Korea... you know, ol' what's his name. But really, it's not like it's been an important country in the past few years. Not like that guy over in Russia, or that other guy over in Iraq.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

First Nations people were "Savages"?

I became aware of this older story only because it was on today's National Native News radio piece.

Basically, an group promoting aboriginal culture in Canada filed a complaint against a member of the International Olympic Committee, Richard Pound. He made a remark, in French, that could be interpreted as calling First Nation's ancestor's "savages." The people filing the complaint are saying that it's actually the whole context of his sentence/point.

Pound's words translated in English, as reported in no2010:

“We must not forget that 400 years ago, Canada was a land of savages, with scarcely 10,000 inhabitants of European descent, while in China, we're talking about a 5,000-year-old civilization,” he said. In interviews with The Globe and Mail, Mr. Pound insisted the term sauvages carries a different meaning in French and English, and that he was using language of the era he was describing.


I am having a hard time finding all the facts out about this - I'm hoping a generous and knowledgable Canadian can point me in the right direction.

Pound's defense of this was the more frustrating part to me:

“I thought that in doing a 400-year-old picture, you use 400-year-old words,” he said. “If that hurts somebody today, I had no intention of doing that.”
“I used the term that was regularly used there by the Jesuits, in the Relations and all the other published material, ‘ les sauvages,' ” he said. “There was no intention of making any racist comments. But you know, as well as I know, what was going on here 400 years ago.”


This, to me, makes me lean toward thinking this guy is extremely ignorant. I mean, n -- r was regularly used to describe people of African descent in America 400 years ago as well as not that long ago. But I gaurantee you that if I use it to describe even the first black Americans ashore, few would view it as acceptable.

Yet I still am unsure what to think about this. I hate claims of racism when there is none - it makes fighting actual prejudice that much harder. But is this the kind of knowledge we want to be passing around? I don't think I'd be as undecided on this if it were an American making a comment in English. Cultural and linguistic differences out of the picture - this is a comment of ignorance. With them added, I just don't know enough about the differences in French/English and Canadian/American.

What do you think?

_

#39 Top Bush Moments

#39 Best (or Worst) Bush Moments

George Bush creating a new calendar.

Begich and the Native vote

Now, I'm an eye-roller when it comes to arguing about which group "really won it" for that candidate or another. But this article in the Alaska Report in November made me puff out my chest just a bit. A "look what we did..." kind of a moment.

The Begich Treaty - the Villages signed on with their votes

It's basically about how the Native vote in Alaska "gave him his narrow victory."

I disagree with the premise of it - I mean, would Begich have won without a pretty large section of the 84% of Alaskan voters who are not Native? Not to mention the incredible effort by the Obama campaign, working with the Begich campaign, to make this happen.

But it is still a proud moment for me, looking at the Native people who, in the end, came through for Begich. Native people have long backed "Uncle Ted" because, in the much-too-long-now past, he was a great supporter of Native issues (and I might add, not just a supporter of Native corporations.) He hasn't been that Ted in awhile, and I'm hopeful for the outcome of our new Sen. Begich, working with Sen. Murkowski who has been (surprisingly) pro-active on rural issues, with a president who had a general plan for Alaska Native involvement months and months ago, and a plan for Native American involvement well over a year ago.

Alaska Natives throughout Alaska listened to Begich, trusted him and gave him their votes. Despite Senator Ted Stevens' past record of accomplishment for rural Alaska , a record described in detail by Senator Lisa Murkowski, as she and other Senators bade Stevens a final farewell, every rural election precinct came through for Begich.


(Emphasis by yours truly.) And he pulled in the urban Native vote as well. I love that the article also shows just why Begich could be so important for the Native people of Alaska. As a mayor, he did as much as a mayor could for Native people - mostly regarding racism and the "in-migration" from the villages (resources, transition.) But as a senator he will have much greater opportunity to fight for us in Washington.

In short, there are some pretty good reasons for Native people to be both proud of their vote, and optimistic about the political future.

#40 Top 100 Bush Moments

#40 Best (or Worst) Bush Moments

I mentioned this before, but this is a series Letterman's been doing - "Great Moments in Presidential Speeches." Always contrasting a few great speeches with... well, Bush.

I'm not great with math, but I think I could have managed this one.

Hmm... wierd. It seems I did not post this last night when I wrote it.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Why yes, that is a moose butt.


The most unfortunate part about this is my coworker had just been freaking me out a bit by outrageously detailed descriptions of getting chased by zombies. This was fresh in my mind, at midnight, as I finished up my last blog post.

I hear the slow "clomp... clomp... clomp..." on the snow outside. It is EXACTLY midnight. My room is ground level. Yes. Tonight is the night I get attacked by zombies. Yes, I'm being a bit funny. And yes, a little bit of that thought actually did go through my head.


But then I (bravely) looked out the window and saw THIS.

Okay, I actually got to see the much better version. I saw a big ol' moose face chomping on the garden leftovers in the still un-snowed-over edge of the house.

But by the time I ran upstairs and got my camera, all that was in my window was a big hairy moose butt. Maybe quite fortunately, the flash didn't work so well against the window.



I would like to entitle this picture BAD EXAMPLE.


I see tourists making this mistake all the time, and wonder on how idiotic they are. Don't they know cute little (big) moosies have trampled people to death? Don't they know that moose run the show here in Anchorage?

Sure, you can honk, flick lights, make loud noises from a big distance, but that moose knows you're not going to do nothin'. From experience, I know little yappy dogs seem to have no effect. Big dogs do, but then you just get a squished dog.

So what I do I do with this goldmine of born-and-raised Alaska girl information? As you can see, I have literally thrown out the welcome matt for moosey here. Although technically inside the doorway, that moose would have no problems throwing a hoof or some spittle my way.

I do this for you, my lucky readers.


Well, that and the possibility that I'll get to show my grandchildren just how close I got to a moose one time. Actually, it's TWO times, but THEN I didn't have digital proof! Hence, the irrational behavior.


I was trying to show, in photograph, just how big these guys are. They really are impressive, and though most Anchorage-ites will not stop for long to view a moose anymore, most will still turn a head. Here I am raised up on the porch step, so it doesn't give quite the perspective, but really. I may be irrational, but not suicidal. At least one foot must be in the door. Grade school "hot lava" rules still apply.





























Seriously, I started to wonder about this moose. He stood like this forever - just showing me his butt. Revenge for all the camera flashes he must endure at midnight while he's trying to snack? Something more wierd or sinister? Sir Mix A Lot fan?

If you look carefully, you can see my sister patiently waiting in the street for the moose to move on. She's in a Jeep, but like I said, moose rule around here.

Moose vs. Geo Metro goes to the Moose.
Moose vs. Semi goes to the semi.
Moose vs. Jeep? No point taking chances.




















Though dark, at least you get a little perspective. That's a Doge Caravan, and that's a moose being much bigger than a Doge Caravan. And this is not very big moose.

Sister is still waiting.



Victory!

Sis gets in the door, and if you have Wonder Woman eyesight (okay, I don't even know if super-sight was a gift of hers) you can see the moose on the other side of the van. My suggestion to sis would have been to back in, and lessen the distance between herself and the door, but I was too busy creating flashes in her eyesight.

You see what she will put up with just to come do laundry? Brave trampling and rude sisters?

In the sixth grade, we had a "portable" classroom - the kind that is just it's own room outside. A freaked out kid trying to go to the bathroom came running back inside to tell us that a mama moose and baby moose were eating on either side of the doorway.

For those not trained in moose- or dangerous animal- awareness, this equals bad news. Mamas have tempers when you get in between her and her baby. So we waited for hours and HOURS.

Okay... I don't remember how long, but we had to miss recess. Recess people. Why not lock us up in a cage and throw away the key? In retrospect, I think my teacher must have been more affected than us. I mean, thirty or so pre-pubescents locked in a classroom with no bathroom and no recess?

Some brave teacher finally drove her car over and honked (annoyed) them away, because the buses couldn't leave without the trapped children.

I've also learned that drunken moose are much less dangerous than mama moose. Anchorage had the treat of its very own alcoholic moose for a few winters. No really. The moose, the Daily News named him Buzzwinkle, kept eating the fermented crap apples and staggering around downtown, with Christmas lights all tangled up in his antlers.

The funny part was he kept doing it. A news quote from the article - one you just can't buy - "You can't do much for a drunk moose except wait for him to sober up, Sinnott said."

Though no longer with us, many people still have a fondness for our little troubled moose.

What lessons did I learn from this? Apparently, not much. I am still willing to get the shot, readers. And next time, I'm going to try and not get the butt.




Monday, December 8, 2008

Some news about that forgotten bit of America

Father Oleksa urges us not to repeat the mistakes of our past

There are few people I have ever known that I think "everyone" should meet. Father Oleksa is one of them. He is a great speaker - storyteller really - able to make you laugh at your prejudices and silliness, and at the same time want to change them. He has a great passion and love for Alaska Native cultures and people.

I was happy to see his commentary in the Anchorage Daily News, and hope that many others heed his warning. It is not a baseless warning - we have gone down the route of Native removal before, and it is simply astounding it is still considered a valid approach. I understand the troubles, the money, the "inconvenience" of Rural schools, but the solution is not to go back to a time when We Know Better Now.

I cannot word it better than he does:

Now we hear that removal is being considered again as a "solution." That, I would submit, is a step backward, toward the Cherokee Trail of Tears. Uproot a Native village and you destroy it. All the social and spiritual bonds that have provided meaning, the very fabric of that community, will be disrupted and destroyed. It is time to learn from our mistakes. It is time to reform our schools. It is time we stopped killing our kids.


We are lucky in Alaska to be able to run into him now and then, but if you are on the other side of Canada, check out this book he wrote, Another Culture/Another World. It is a short but brilliant book that may open a few eyes to some cross-cultural issues we all have (it certainly did mine.)



Village life has been in the news quite a bit lately, a few of the items because of the money going into the VPSO programs, and the focus the new "top cop" Palin appointed has. I'm happy to hear he plans on honing in on the problems Monegan was attempting when Palin fired him... you know. To go in a "new direction."



I wonder if maybe people in the Lower 48 are tired of hearing things like, "It's different in Alaska" or if urban Alaskans are tired of hearing "Things are different out in the Bush." I KNOW, things are tough everywhere, but if you can, check out the "Arctic Trooper" episode from the series "Tougher in Alaska." It's on iTunes. You want to see some truly unique policing conditions? Check out the Alaska State Troopers! When one guy has a patrol area he doesn't drive around - he has to fly around to - it makes these VPSOs - Village Public Safety Officers - very valuable.

Legislature awards monies to VPSO program.

VPSOs, who report to troopers and receive much of the same training, serve as the highest level of front-line law enforcement in the villages. They carry tasers instead of guns, and they can stabilize dangerous situations until troopers arrive by plane from a post in hub communities such as Kotzebue or Bethel.



New Public Safety Commissioner "gets" the village.

I can't overstate how pleased I am about the new Alaska "top cop." He is someone who really sees the importance of and who will go after the issues facing Rural Alaska. This article recounts a pretty harrowing experience for Joe Masters right out of high school.

They left him with no illusions about the rigors of being a village public
safety officer, a job some people might mistake as easy because villages are
usually quiet.




And of course, the oh so controversial Chavez oil. I don't know how big of a nationwide story this is, but Citgo has a program that gets oil to high risk communities - including many in Alaska. My view is certainly that if the state government (thanks Palin) and the federal government (thanks Bush) can't help out, are we really going to judge people for taking oil in a time such as this?

The interesting thing about this article is it points out that last year, villages were not participating out of principle. This year, the (even worse) economy and lack of solutions have changed things.

Chavez offers up oil to Alaska villages.

"Last time I checked, (Citgo is) paying corporate taxes to the U.S.
Treasury," she said. "And we figure until such time that the U.S. government is
so offended by Venezuela and Citgo that they're not accepting any more funding,
then we're not being unpatriotic by accepting the same."

Although I am not as familiar with the situation, down in the Lower 48, Pine Ridge isn't faring so well this winter - and it's a bit early in the winter.

suzyishere blogged on it awhile ago, and there have been ongoing efforts to relieve some of the strain poverty and the weather have pulled on Pine Ridge. A snowstorm in November seems to be the straw that broke the camels back, and they are having a hard time recovering. From the HeraldNet:

Those who live there are hardy people. American Indians on reservations there no doubt have stories about long winters, and traditional ways of coping with the cold. This year, it was different. A severe snowstorm in November dumped 45 inches in areas of the state. The worst of it fell on the Pine Ridge and Rosebud Sioux reservations, where tribal members, left without heat and power for days, resorted to burning their furniture to keep warm.

#46 - 41 Top 100 Bush Moments

Hang on people, just a little over a month to go!

This is a series Letterman (used?) to do. He's been doing the "Great Speeches in American History" or presidency or something that just makes you want to groan - they generally show two presidential speech clips... and then go to one of Bush. Yeah. I'm sure you can imagine. These ones don't have quite the groan factor, more the chuckle type... if you're into classifying your Bush humor, that is...


#41 Best (or Worst) Bush Moment



#42 Best (Or Worst) Bush Moment



#43 Best (or Worst) Bush Moment



#44 Best (or Worst) Bush Moment



#45 Best (or Worst) Bush Moment

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Some guidance for Obama on Native issues

Not really guidance from me. Or - the guidance is, "Do what this document says."

The document is the Indian Nations 2009 Presidential Transition from the National Congress of American Indians.

Why yes that IS a fascinating name for a document! :) Okay, it's a bit boring-sounding, but it was pretty exciting to read. Grassroots Science sent me the report, and it read like a wish-list of things that should happen. Some highlights:

Presidential appointments
Major, top level positions for Native people was a promise from Obama during the campaign, so that is expected. But this document has some pretty specific requests (and many of them) for positions, including the creation of several positions. Which includes...

Secretary of the Interior
I mentioned this a few times in the blog before, but while most people would see this position as a "second tier" appointment, with little impact on their lives, there is a difference in the Native perspective. They state the importance pretty well, I think:

The Secretary of Interior is the primary federal official entrusted with
protecting tribal sovereignty, treaty rights, and a broad range of
responsibilities to assist Indian Nations. Our primary objective is a Secretary
of Interior who is knowledgeable and supportive of Indian Nations. It is high
time that a Native leader is appointed Secretary of Interior.

Umm... no kidding!? Now, I'm willing to be okay with a Native-friendly appointment because the Sec. of the Interior does not ONLY look after Native issues - and there are other top positions which will be entirely Native focused. Although I'd prefer a Native person appointed to this position, I'd be VERY happy with someone like former Alaska Governor Tony Knowles, knowledgeable of Native issues, and one smart cookie.

There were loads of recommendations for administration appointments, most of which I agree with. The "issues" recommendations seemed pretty thorough, including:

Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
This is something I think everyone should Google, and THEN read the factoid this document pushes out -

The United Nations adopted the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous
Peoples on September 13, 2007 with 143 nations voting in favor and only 4
nations opposed – one of them the United States.

Education
This is pointed toward the specific Native aspects, including language (of which I think they're undershooting for.) Their is an interesting comment included in this section -

Despite the Republican Administration’s expressed support for Indian education, it proposed eliminating four Indian specific programs in the Department of Education...

Renewable Energy and Conversation Programs
A similar jab at Bush in this -

President Bush requested a substantial decrease for Tribal Energy Activities
for FY 2009, which would be funded at $1 million instead of $5.9 million enacted
in the FY 2008 budget... NCAI urges Congress to fund renewable energy and
conservation programs and activities at $8.5 million.

Just what we need at a time like this... reduction in energy funding for low-income Americans...


Strengthen the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act
This is one that so many would go... uh, huh? But repatriation is something I have been seeing as more and more important these last few years. Basically, it's trying to get a lot of the stuff back that was stolen for so many years. Well, it wasn't ALL stolen - just... no, they were mostly stolen.

And by "stuff," I mean sacred objects, cultural wares, and human remains. Bodies. I have often wondered if the reaction would be different about digging up burial grounds if I were to walk down to the downtown Anchorage cemetary and start digging up people, dragging their bodies to a lab, all in the name of science.

A few years ago, we watched a video in class from the 1940's. These tourists were coming through Alaska, and the video was of them at a Tlingit shaman's grave. They were laughing and taking out some of the sacred objects from inside. Artifacts, interesting objects to them.

About the same time, my grandma shared with me an experience she had as a group of Elders from the village traveled to view a collection at a university they believed to be mostly stolen from that village. As they viewed the "art" and "artifacts," one of the woman burst into tears. She had spotted a rattle - a tool used in ceremony in Tlingit culture. She was the grandaughter of the last shaman of the village, and the last time she saw the rattle was in her grandmother's hands. To her it was not an interesting object to study - it was her connection to her grandmother, to her childhood, not to mention her culture.

Okay, off soapbox - back to business.

Military and Veteran's Policy
These are actually basic things that should be done for all veteran's - just taking it to specific points - but has gotten recent attention in Alaska lately because of Palin and the National Gaurd. The travel to and from health care benefits (very important for all these veteran's in villages without road access) was a highlight.


This barely skims the report - it's over 60 pages long - so take a look if you're interested. Even take a look if you're not! You might find some things you didn't know were important to a bug chunk of your fellow Americans.

#46 Top 100 Bush Moments

#46 Best (or Worst) Bush Moment

This one is a bit more subtle, but I still have to chuckle. Especially in the recent contrast of incoming Sec. of Commerce Bill Richardson's "acceptance" speech, done in both Spanish and English. Though Bush does seem to be speakinganother language half the time...

Tlingit dancers represent!

Saw this in the ADN Newsreader today, originally from the Capital City Weekly:

Dancing to the White House
Yaaw Tei Yi Native dancers to perform during Obama's inauguration festivities

A Tlingit group from Juneau will be traveling down to take part of the inauguration celebrations, including the American Indian Inaugural ball. There even seems to be a representative from my house crest, though I have to do some investigation to find out who.

Go Tlingits!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Favorite Blog Updates

Being so long (yes, a week and a half is actually pretty long!) out of the blogosphere and news in general, I find most of my time has been spent catching up on what's been going on. And there's LOTS. So instead of trying to comment on way old news, I'm going to show you some of my favorite blogs and sites (mostly Alaskan) and what they're writing about:

Celtic Diva's Blue Oasis

Celtic Diva's seems to be keeping the coals hot under Palin's feet, and I think one of the more under-reported (lately) is the continued story of Palin's clothes. It is the most easily dismissed - Palin herself dashes those attacks aside like they are frivolous to talk about her clothes in times of such trouble. But we're talking about $250,000 here! Which is just the amount they went after (and convicted) Ted Stevens for. I won't argue about who maybe wore a single jacket, or even who gave who a designer handbag. Still corrupt, but whatever. But $250,000!? It's not the only issue Diva's talking about, but she definitely updated me on some possible big repercussions.


Progressive Alaska

Latest post: Walt Monegan refuses to rule out run for governor

One word: YEAA!!!


Mudflats

Mudflats gives some of the most thorough reporting of Ted and Palin news, and caught my attention to something I've kind of forgotten about. I haven't made up my mind yet, but I remember, when hearing about it, that I thought Palin was one of two things after the birth of her baby:

1) Totally lying. Really? You were "leaking" in Texas, still gave a speech, boarded a plane, flew for eight hours, drove past three hospitals (and the fact that she could have gone to ANMC is a sore point I will cover soon!) to go to the Valley and have her baby?

2) Incredibly irresponsible. You already know your baby is likely to have some troubles right off the bat, but you do all of the above anyways? If I have children, I'd like to have them be born in Alaska too, but I'm not willing to put he or she at risk - not to mention putting everyone on board the plane to some pretty serious inconvenienve - just so that can happen.


Meet Sarah!

One of the sites created to make sure everyone really gets to know our dear governor, this site is both funny and unfortunately true. One of the more important posts (I think) lately is the coverage of the Alaskans for Truth. Many Alaskan blogs are taking part (I've been lately negligent on my own) but this is a great post for an overview and "What can I do?" answered.


Own the Sidewalk

Maia bemoans her seeming role as "Gossip Girl," but it's an important role! How else would I learn about these things and begin to have hope!? This rumor is about the potential for two democratic gubernatorial candidates - Hollis French and Les Gara. That would be too tough a primary for me, so they would have to work it out beforehand. Really. Though there's a possibility, if Palin were to take on Murkowski, it would be VERY beneficial to vote on the Republican ballot in the primaries. Ugh. I already have a headache two years in advance.


Kodiak Konfidential

A bit serious of late, Ishmael can usually make me laugh, no matter what horrors have been in the news. He gives them a true, and humorous, spin. But I really liked his Thanksgiving post - again both true and humorous, and (dare I say it?) touching.

Change.gov

I know, I know. You all know about the official Office of the President Elect's site. RIGHT? But it is taking shape more and more, and I'm hopeful as to what is going to develop here for a real citizen involvement in the government.


Presidential Pup

All right, don't take this one too seriously. Especially because the AKC is taking this VERY seriously. The funny part about this site is that it's not being funny at all. They have some very serious considerations for Obama on his PUREBRED choice. I hope they are able to get a rescued mutt, but cute puppies are fun to look at! And as Ms. Palin reminded us, we all need a little bit of levity...


Not a site, but WOOHOO!! Bill Richardson as Commerce Secretary! So far, it's going to be a GREAT cabinet. Now just one more push for former Alaska Gov. Tony Knowles as Interior Secretary....

And by the way, I really want to thank everyone who has commented, called and e-mailed recently. I don't really know how to respond "correctly," but believe me, it is appreciated, and felt. It was a bit of a sad day - the first of the memorials at work - but I really was lifted up when I got home and actually started reading what has been left.

Thank you.

_

#47 Top 100 Bush Moments

47 days to go... I think we might make it...

In another fine example of Bush's international leadership, he drives home the point that Mandela is dead. And apparently Saddam Hussein killed him. Now, if I knew that, I might have supported the war! Imagine Saddam traveling all the way down the continent of Africa to go kill Mandela. In fact, Saddam killed ALL of the Mandelas. Wow. I need to keep up on the news.

Though ten bucks says Bush doesn't know who Nelson Mandela is.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

#48 Top 100 Bush Moment

With 48 days to go, I think we have come to the most ironic moment in the Iraq/Bush relationship.

You remember that big statue of Saddam that was pulled down in 2003? Everybody celebrating? Iraqi people stomping on it?

Well, the Iraqi people replaced the statue about a week ago - an effigy of Bush. They they pelted THAT one down too.

Yikes. You know you're popular when people are symbolically burning you into their nation's memory as equivalent to Saddam Hussein.

Stranger than fiction

Imagine this -

For a truly historic election, a new candidate goes up against the "obvious" choice for the democratic primay. Young, a minority, too "idealistic," maybe naive, he's considered a long-shot. His major campaign problems are his family problems, his race, and even his religion. But he surprises people by taking over, inch by inch. The Republican candidate is decided pretty early on - an old, white Senator - so old many think this is his last shot at the Presidency.

The democratic primary is rough and long - neither candidate will give up, and the delegates are more of a deciding factor than ever. But this minority candidate comes out on top - and many consider that his great speeches are the deciding factor. So the dem candidate is thrown against the old guy Republican candidate many think will be impossible to beat.

The two choose VP's - for the democratic candidate, another old, white guy, longtime politician. For the Republican, a younger, up-and-coming leader in the GOP. The Republican senator pretty much had to pick someone like him - the old guy is considered a bit too moderate, and needs someone much more right wing that will get him in with the ultra-conservatives.

It seems the republican strategy is working. The polls put him just too far out, with little time left. But a catastrophic national event, seen by many as - if not caused, then certainly not helped - by the republican senator - vault the underdog democratic candidate into the lead. Despite some unusual debate surprises - forced by the repub candidate - it's just not going to happen. More and more in the waning of his run, the repub seems to go against his true, more moderate leaning nature, and into strong right-wing statements, at the advice of his campaign. None of it works. Even the big lead up to the VP debate, in which the low expectations of a certain VP candidate are used to their advantage, does little for either campaign.

Just hours from election day, a death close to the democratic candidate makes election day not quite as happy as it should be, but the dem takes the White House, and big adjustments to his life, and the life of his young wife and two young children, are the news of the day. Well, that and the potential pardons of the outgoing president.

One of the more unusual appointments, the incoming president appoints his former candidacy rival as his Secretary of State.

Welcome to the election during the last season of "West Wing."

As an unabashed fan of the West Wing, this past year has been part entertaining, part conspiracy theory. I mean, have you ever seen "Wag the Dog"? Did Aaron Sorkin write this election?

The funny part is, the "you can't make this stuff up" things about this election. Because people actually did make this stuff up. Political shows, interest in the election, all were beating away any previous elections for the amount of news made in any given week regarding the craziness of the campaign. Does anyone wonder why? We were living in an NBC drama show!

Okay, okay. It's all said with a bit of humor. Obama was even supposed to be the inspiration for Matt Santos (West Wing candidate), so maybe not totally surprising (though really, that show aired last in spring of 2006). In fact, some of the writers couldn't imagine some of the stuff that happened this election just for the unusualness of it.

In one episode, the democratic candidate is facing finance problems, and his wife comments that don't they have a strong Internet campaign? His chief of staff comments that yeah, but it's only small donations, not enough to make a difference. I'm guessing that line would be rewritten today.

Speaking of chief of staff, one of the eerier bits to come out of this - the inspiration for Josh Lyman, one of the key characters, is Rahm Emanuel. Both Josh and Rahm, after stints as key advisor to the last dem president - become chief of staff.

Yeah. There's a big possiblity we are all living in some wierd bubble, "Truman Show" style.

Back again.

I've been out of the blogger loop for awhile, and hopefully my post from Nov. 21 (two posts down) will explain why. But between all the funerals, memorials services, bad news and more bad news, there's been time for laughs as well.

I've been staying out of most of the news for awhile (the last thing I needed was extensive coverage on more bombings and people getting killed during shopping) but have picked up a few nuggets.

The most slow "bombshell" of which has been Clinton being named to Obama's cabinet. I mean, the "official" announcement yesterday was... well, it lacked the "surprise" that a bombshell generally gets. If there was one person who didn't know about it yet, that would have been the bombshell.

I also got my first Christmas decoration of the year today - a bright red tree. Oh yes. If I could, I would drape the walls in deep red and call it good, but for now, a gaudy, half-foil red Christmas tree is the best I can manage. The "Christmas spirit" hasn't quite caught on, as it has in the past (I think some Obama-celebration hangover is mostly to blame,) but promises of peppermint ice cream and secret Santa's will probably take care of that soon enough.

So, the memorial/remembrance services aren't over yet - neither of them are, actually - but it seems many of us have rediscovered one of life's truths. That it does, in fact, go on.

#61 - #49 Top 100 Bush Moments

Only 49 days to go!

Obviously, I've been gone awhile, but hopefully my last post will explain why.

Since I've been gone so long, the countdown has really piled up! Fortunately, one of the funnier compilations out there of short 'n' funny Bush moments is the one below. Two of the standouts:

Another of Bush's surprised/dumbstruck looks. He's got a lot of them, but when the crowd starts cheering when he actually speaks the truth about something (in this case, black people and the Republican party), it's a priceless look.

The other, his "ec-ul-ec-tic" reading habits. I love it when they give him big words to use.

Friday, November 21, 2008

They will rest in peace... but we have work to do

Yesterday, I lost a coworker and a friend. She was young, not yet thirty, a person of snappy humor and great ideas. She could be both strong and strongly empathetic. And the hospital corridors filled to bursting with people who will miss her so much.

People were still calling and finding phone numbers to tell them about this incredibly untimely death when we were given another blow.

On the same day, almost exactly twelve hours apart, another sudden death of a coworker. This man, a man who mastered both respect and experience, was one of the few people you could say that everyone who met him liked him. He was an advocate, and a man who sacrificed a lot for a cause he believed in.

As we wrestle with these shocks, as we fight to keep our breath under the weight of the double blow we received on one day, I am engaged in my own battle between sorrow and anger. These two people did not have a lot in common, except in their death.

Both deaths were directly due to alcohol.

It was not their fault, and so it is not an anger that we direct at them. Maybe an anger later, at arraignments, at denials - but for now, everyone I speak to is moving between feeling so deeply, deeply sad, and so angry. The anger is directed at everyone and no one - most do not understand their anger, and many have moved beyond the anger into an uneasy numbness.

I am starting to understand my own rage tonight. It is the anger of being robbed, the anger of an injustice that no matter what, will never be made "okay." It is the anger of two lives taken from us, with no purpose, no reason. It was not fair, it made no sense, and there is nothing we can do about it. It will not be made right.

I was treated recently to a presentation on the high rates of alcohol in Alaska. People talked so neatly, succintly about The Problem. But I wonder, would more help come if our leaders could see the face of it?

Would drunk driving stop if all those future offenders could come and hold the hand of a mother who must decide what color her daughter will wear to the grave?

Would treatment be made more available, and easy to get to, if the funders were in the same room with coworkers literally throwing up in their grief?

Would we all be less judgemental, and more empathetic to an alcoholic crying out for help, if we witnessed friends desperately trying to get to their friend's side to say a last goodbye before the doctor turns off the life support?

Would we go out of our way to help them if we knew how many friends couldn't make it in time?

When I first saw my friend in the hospital, she was clearly suffering, and I felt so much sadness for her, a helplessness to help. I didn't want to see her after she died. I didn't want my last memory of her to be the look of suffering I saw. But when I did see her, truly at peace, her hair in braids and her mother by her side, I no longer felt sorrow for her. She was truly "resting in peace."

There has been, and will be, anger at what could have been, what should have been, but the heaviness I felt was for the dozens of people surrounding her. The people who miss her so acutely, who will cry for the loss of her again tonight, and many nights to come.

I don't have the answers today on how this must stop - I only know that this must stop. Yesterday these two wonderful, funny, caring, passionate people were with us. Today they are not. And it was entirely preventable.

The regret of the much, much longer lives they could have lived will be with me, and so many others, for the rest of my life. Today I can only pray this drives me forward, doesn't hold me back. That the people will never just be statistics, that those needing help will never find my arms unwilling.

Though reality and wishes don't often match, I never want to experience another day like yesterday. And I don't want to wake up on another morning like this morning, realizing that no, it was not all a nightmare.