No Ordinary Princess

...anything but ordinary...

Sunday, July 30, 2006

There May be Hope Yet

I was very heartened to read this article in today's New York Times. The evangelical Christian pastor of a megachurch in the St. Paul, Minnesota area has decided that the push for political action, particularly Republican political action with its calls for the denial of homosexuality and any rights for those who are of that ilk, increasing militarism and even increasing militantism in anti-abortion actions run contrary to the true teachings of Christ and should not be endorsed by his church.

As I don't know if/when this article will be archived by the NYT, I am posting the entire content here. I hope this doesn't violate any copyright laws and, if it does and I am made aware of that, I will remove the article. In the meantime, I hope this is read and possibly dispersed widely by those who, like me, do not equate living a life of which Christ would be proud with a crusade to wipe out all who are different or to convert the masses in the world to Christianity (or Democracy) by force of arms.

I have included all the original links in the article, including links to some of Mr. Boyd's related sermons. I have also added some of my own.

From the New York Time, Sunday, July 30, 2006:
MAPLEWOOD, Minn. - Like most pastors who lead thriving evangelical megachurches, the Rev. Gregory A. Boyd (my link) was asked frequently to give his blessing - and the church's -— to conservative political candidates and causes.

The Rev. Gregory A. Boyd leads a congregation outside St. Paul.

The requests came from church members and visitors alike: Would he please announce a rally against gay marriage during services? Would he introduce a politician from the pulpit? Could members set up a table in the lobby promoting their anti-abortion work? Would the church distribute "“voters'’ guides"” that all but endorsed Republican candidates? And with the country at war, please couldn'’t the church hang an American flag in the sanctuary?

After refusing each time, Mr. Boyd finally became fed up, he said. Before the last presidential election, he preached six sermons called "The Cross and the Sword"” in which he said the church should steer clear of politics, give up moralizing on sexual issues, stop claiming the United States as a "Christian nation"” and stop glorifying American military campaigns.

"When the church wins the culture wars, it inevitably loses,"” Mr. Boyd preached. "When it conquers the world, it becomes the world. When you put your trust in the sword, you lose the cross." (emphasis mine)

Mr. Boyd says he is no liberal. He is opposed to abortion and thinks homosexuality is not God’s ideal. The response from his congregation at Woodland Hills Church (my link) here in suburban St. Paul - packed mostly with politically and theologically conservative, middle-class evangelicals -— was passionate. Some members walked out of a sermon and never returned. By the time the dust had settled, Woodland Hills, which Mr. Boyd founded in 1992, had lost about 1,000 of its 5,000 members.

But there were also congregants who thanked Mr. Boyd, telling him they were moved to tears to hear him voice concerns they had been too afraid to share.

"Most of my friends are believers,"” said Shannon Staiger, a psychotherapist and church member, "“and they think if you'’re a believer, you'’ll vote for Bush. And it'’s scary to go against that."” (emphasis mine)

Sermons like Mr. Boyd's are hardly typical in today's evangelical churches. But the upheaval at Woodland Hills is an example of the internal debates now going on in some evangelical colleges, magazines and churches. A common concern is that the Christian message is being compromised by the tendency to tie evangelical Christianity to the Republican Party and American nationalism (my link), especially through the war in Iraq (my link).

At least six books on this theme have been published recently, some by Christian publishing houses. Randall Balmer (my link), a religion professor at Barnard College and an evangelical, has written "Thy Kingdom Come: How the Religious Right Distorts the Faith and Threatens America -— an Evangelical's Lament."”

And Mr. Boyd has a new book out, "The Myth of a Christian Nation: How the Quest for Political Power Is Destroying the Church," which is based on his sermons.

"“There is a lot of discontent brewing,"” said Brian D. McLaren (my link), the founding pastor at Cedar Ridge Community Church (my link) in Gaithersburg, Md., and a leader in the evangelical movement known as the "“emerging church," (my link) which is at the forefront of challenging the more politicized evangelical establishment.

"More and more people are saying this has gone too far -— the dominance of the evangelical identity by the religious right,"” Mr. McLaren said. "You cannot say the word "‘Jesus" in 2006 without having an awful lot of baggage going along with it. You can't say the word "‘Christian,"’ and you certainly can'’t say the word "evangelical'’ without it now raising connotations and a certain cringe factor in people."

"“Because people think, 'Oh no, what is going to come next is homosexual bashing, or pro-war rhetoric, or complaining about '‘activist judges.'’ "”

Mr. Boyd said he had cleared his sermons with the church's board, but his words left some in his congregation stunned. Some said that he was disrespecting President Bush and the military, that he was soft on abortion or telling them not to vote.

"When we joined years ago, Greg was a conservative speaker,"” said William Berggren, a lawyer who joined the church with his wife six years ago. "“But we totally disagreed with him on this. You can't be a Christian and ignore actions that you feel are wrong. A case in point is the abortion issue. If the church were awake when abortion was passed in the 70's, it wouldn'’t have happened. But the church was asleep."

Mr. Boyd, 49, who preaches in blue jeans and rumpled plaid shirts, leads a church that occupies a squat block-long building that was once a home improvement chain store.

The church grew from 40 members in 12 years, based in no small part on Mr. Boyd'’s draw as an electrifying preacher who stuck closely to Scripture. He has degrees from Yale Divinity School (my link) and Princeton Theological Seminary (my link), and he taught theology at Bethel College (my link) in St. Paul, where he created a controversy a few years ago by questioning whether God fully knew the future. Some pastors in his own denomination, the Baptist General Conference (my link), mounted an effort to evict Mr. Boyd from the denomination and his teaching post, but he won that battle.

He is known among evangelicals for a bestselling book, "“Letters From a Skeptic,"” (my link) based on correspondence with his father, a leftist union organizer and a lifelong agnostic -— an exchange that eventually persuaded his father to embrace Christianity.

Mr. Boyd said he never intended his sermons to be taken as merely a critique of the Republican Party or the religious right. He refuses to share his party affiliation, or whether he has one, for that reason. He said there were Christians on both the left and the right who had turned politics and patriotism into "“idolatry."”

He said he first became alarmed while visiting another megachurch's worship service on a Fourth of July years ago. The service finished with the chorus singing "“God Bless America"” and a video of fighter jets flying over a hill silhouetted with crosses.

"“I thought to myself, 'What just happened? Fighter jets mixed up with the cross?' "” he said in an interview. (emphasis mine)

Patriotic displays are still a mainstay in some evangelical churches. Across town from Mr. Boyd'’s church, the sanctuary of North Heights Lutheran Church was draped in bunting on the Sunday before the Fourth of July this year for a "“freedom celebration." Military veterans and flag twirlers paraded into the sanctuary, an enormous American flag rose slowly behind the stage, and a Marine major who had served in Afghanistan preached that the military was spending "“your hard-earned money" on good causes.

In his six sermons, Mr. Boyd laid out a broad argument that the role of Christians was not to seek "power over"” others -— by controlling governments, passing legislation or fighting wars. Christians should instead seek to have "“power under"” others -— "“winning people'’s hearts"” by sacrificing for those in need, as Jesus did, Mr. Boyd said.

"America wasn'’t founded as a theocracy,"” he said. "“America was founded by people trying to escape theocracies. Never in history have we had a Christian theocracy where it wasn'’t bloody and barbaric. That's why our Constitution wisely put in a separation of church and state."

"I am sorry to tell you," he continued, "“that America is not the light of the world and the hope of the world. The light of the world and the hope of the world is Jesus Christ."(emphasis mine)

Mr. Boyd lambasted the "“hypocrisy and pettiness"” of Christians who focus on "sexual issues"” like homosexuality, abortion or Janet Jackson'’s breast-revealing performance at the Super Bowl halftime show. He said Christians these days were constantly outraged about sex and perceived violations of their rights to display their faith in public.

"Those are the two buttons to push if you want to get Christians to act,"” he said. "And those are the two buttons Jesus never pushed."

Some Woodland Hills members said they applauded the sermons because they had resolved their conflicted feelings. David Churchill, a truck driver for U.P.S. and a Teamster for 26 years, said he had been "“raised in a religious-right home" but was torn between the Republican expectations of faith and family and the Democratic expectations of his union.

When Mr. Boyd preached his sermons, "it was liberating to me,"” Mr. Churchill said.

Mr. Boyd gave his sermons while his church was in the midst of a $7 million fund-raising campaign. But only $4 million came in, and 7 of the more than 50 staff members were laid off, he said.

Mary Van Sickle, the family pastor at Woodland Hills, said she lost 20 volunteers who had been the backbone of the church's Sunday school.

"They said, '‘You'’re not doing what the church is supposed to be doing, which is supporting the Republican way,' "” (emphasis mine) she said. "“It was some of my best volunteers."”

The Rev. Paul Eddy, a theology professor at Bethel College and the teaching pastor at Woodland Hills, said: "Greg is an anomaly in the megachurch world. He didn't give a whit about church leadership, never read a book about church growth. His biggest fear is that people will think that all church is a weekend carnival, with people liking the worship, the music, his speaking, and that'’s it."”

In the end, those who left tended to be white, middle-class suburbanites, church staff members said. In their place, the church has added more members who live in the surrounding community -— African-Americans, Hispanics and Hmong immigrants from Laos.

This suits Mr. Boyd. His vision for his church is an ethnically and economically diverse congregation that exemplifies Jesus' teachings by its members'’ actions. He, his wife and three other families from the church moved from the suburbs three years ago to a predominantly black neighborhood in St. Paul.

Mr. Boyd now says of the upheaval: "“I don'’t regret any aspect of it at all. It was a defining moment for us. We let go of something we were never called to be. We just didn'’t know the price we were going to pay for doing it."”

His congregation of about 4,000 is still digesting his message. Mr. Boyd arranged a forum on a recent Wednesday night to allow members to sound off on his new book. The reception was warm, but many of the 56 questions submitted in writing were pointed: Isn'’t abortion an evil that Christians should prevent? Are you saying Christians should not join the military? How can Christians possibly have "“power under" Osama bin Laden? Didn'’t the church play an enormously positive role in the civil rights movement?

One woman asked: "“So why NOT us? If we contain the wisdom and grace and love and creativity of Jesus, why shouldn'’t we be the ones involved in politics and setting laws?"

Mr. Boyd responded: "“I don'’t think there'’s a particular angle we have on society that others lack. All good, decent people want good and order and justice. Just don'’t slap the label '‘Christian' on it."”

Audio of Some of the Rev. Gregory Boyd's Sermons (mp3)

'Taking America Back for God?'
'The Difference Between the Two Kingdoms'
'Abortion: A Kingdom of God Approach'
'Is the Church the Guardian of Social Morality?'
'Be Thou My Vision'
'In But Not of the World'
More Sermons

It is refreshing to think someone in a megachurch is preaching love and kindness, caring for one's brothers and sisters, that violent protest and war are not Christian values, that Christ did not make us the arbiters of others social morality and that living a Christ-like life does not necessitate voting the straight Republican ticket in every election.

There is so much more to God and Christ than the world is seeing from much of the Religious Right. "Religious," even "Fundamentalist," does not always translate into Christ-like or Christian in America today.

If you're interested in learning more about moderate and progressive Christians, please visit Sojourner's, a decent organization advocating for love, peace and acceptance as Christian values.

Technorati tags: Christianity / life / religion / spirituality / US politics

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Embryonic Stem Cell Research

Reading Pat Kirby today brought back to mind some thoughts I had last week when our "illustrious leader" issued the first veto of his tenure by denying the embryonic stem cell research bill (H.R. 810) which had been passed by the US House of Representatives and Senate.

Pat led me to this post on The American Prospect's blog. Here is what I see as the bottom line from that TAP post:
I don't give a damn how tactically brilliant this may be. I look at this action and this is what I know -- that millions of Americans will die horrible deaths and the government of the United States doesn't give a good goddamn about them.
The only compassion this administration and many of its sheep allow is for the unborn. "Crisis pregnancy centers" offer "counseling" for pregnant women. Protesters (has anyone ever noticed how many of these protesters are male or Catholic nuns?) picket and more outside facilities that offer abortion, and other health care services, to women. But where is the concrete support women and their families need when their pregnancies are carried to term? Where is the subsidized child care for women who bear their children yet need to work to survive? Where is a genuine push for a living wage for all Americans?

When Congress does take up the issue of raising the embarrassingly low federal minimum wage (which hasn't been raised in, what, 30 years?), House Republicans feel the need to sneak in an amendment to eliminate the estate tax through the back door. You see, this government can only help the needy in America if they help the wealthy more at the same time. There is no compassion for the living in America, only for the pre-living.

The vast majority of the American public supports expansion of embryonic stem cell research, which holds promise for living people with a variety of ills from Parkinson's Disease to diabetes, spinal cord injuries to Alzhimer's Disease. Numbers that I have seen from various polls on the subject range from 60-72% of Americans claiming support for the research. And, as TAP and Pat Kirby pointed out:
Is there any doubt that, if this guy (Bush) got Parkinson's Disease, he'd eat those little buggers out of the petri dish with a spoon, probably dribbling some of them on Tony Blair in the process?
Call me a political cynic if you will but I knew there was no way Bush would relent and sign this important, socially and morally just legislation. He drew his line in the sand in August 2001 when he limited federal funding on embryonic stem cell research to the 60 lines already in existence at the time. Unfortunately, due to contamination, those 60 lines of stem cells have now been whittled down to, what, eight or nine lines? And the purity of even those remaining lines is in question.

Although the bill includes only those embryos in fertility clinics that are already slated for destruction, would require the consent of both donors, would allow for no compensation for the embryos in question and might ultimately benefit millions around the world, it doesn't matter. George W. The Mighty "Decider" Bush would not back down on this. Fine. Expected. I held out some slim hope the US Congress would connect with their souls enough to override the idjit's first veto. No such luck. (Oh, you've simply got to click the "Decider"'s a hilarious tidbit, courtesy of The Huffington Post.)

The more I considered it, the more I realized I should never have pinned any hopes on an override. This is, politically, a win-win situation all around. That is, unless you're one of the millions of Americans living with a debilitating illness which might benefit from the speedy expansion of research into treatments using embryonic stem cells. Or if you happen to love someone who is affected by one of those illnesses.

The current male resident of the White House gets to pander to the Religious Right, consolidate his "base" among the basest of "pro-life" voters and come off as having an actual backbone by reaffirming the stupid stance he took five years ago.

By passing this legislation but not overriding Bush's veto, both Democrats and Republicans, liberals and conservatives in Congress can reap political benefit in November. Republicans in the crudest of red states...oh, South Dakota comes to mind...can tout their absolute conviction to the unborn, even in their undifferentiated blastocyte stage. Democrats in more left-leaning areas can rant about their support and rage against Republican opponents who did not support the bill or its override.

Really, there are very few losers given that Congresspeople probably voted along the lines of the majority of their constituents in both votes. It will play great in November. And it will be a shouting point to take America's collective mind off real issues like, oh, war, the economy, income inequality, women's rights, the whittling away of the American middle class, civil rights, the destruction of the US Constitution. Was there really much incentive to override? Not that I can see.

I guess this means I'm now a real political cynic, huh?

Technorati tags: bitchy / US politics

Another Excellent Article

I was shocked and disheartened when I read recently that the percentage of Americans who believe Saddam Hussein actually possessed weapons of mass destruction at the time of our invasion of Iraq 3 years ago has gone up in recent months. What could possibly account for this shift? Surely, Bush has not performed so splendidly in recent months that his credibility has improved. The Iraq war gets worse, casualties mount and the light at the end of the tunnel is no longer in sight so he can't be credited with running a war or an occupation well. What makes his claims more believable now?

Media Matters has an excellent article on this topic.

Where is the mainstream media? For that matter, where is the US Senate? Where are the calls for an independent investigation? Why is the mainstream media pussyfooting around this administration?

September 11, 2001 was long ago. We do not need to live in constant fear yet that is precisely the state this administration endeavors to cultivate within us. George Bush has perpetuated a reign of terror on this nation unlike anything ever done to us by outsiders. He's been duplicitous. He's been deceitful. He has lied, consciously and with intent and purpose. I do not believe he gave any credence to the claims of a WMD threat in Iraq. As a result of
his actions, over 2,500 American men and women have been killed in Iraq.

Yet the media panders to this administration. Where is his accountability? Where are the calls from the media for a reckoning?
What is the media so afraid of? Thank God for the blogosphere. Without it, I wonder if I'd ever hear the truth again.

I would rather have the skin blown off my bones by an Iranian nuclear bomb than let this maniac of a president lead our country into another war.

Technorati tags: bitchy / media / US foreign policy / US politics

She Spews, She Gores

Do you think the right wing cringes as much every time Ann Coulter opens her mouth as Democrats do when Howard Dean plants a foot in his? This woman isn't a right wingnut. She's just plain, old nuts!

So, Coulter outright lies, distorts the truth or just makes grievous errors in the statements she presents as fact and Chris Matthews says nothing to correct any of the erroneous information she's spewing? And this is all perfectly acceptable to the minority of fools who still believe in George W. Bush and his policies. It's gospel. When is the American public going to rise up in protest against this bullshit? And whatever happened to journalistic integrity?

The only way this American would like to see the UN headquarters blown up is with Coulter and all her ilk trapped inside and them alone.

Check out Media Matters for more of the news that matters.

Technorati tags: bitchy / US politics

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Flower Child

Why have I never heard of ZeFrank before? Am I the last person with access to the internet to hear of him? Apparently, he posted a video a few years back on the proper way to dance and gained some fame and/or notoriety. I wonder if he's ever gotten a date for his efforts. He must be a graduate of either MIT or Carnegie Mellon.

Take a trip there. Make a flower or an entire garden, doodle, make a face collage, scribble, build your own kaleidoscope, draw, blow your mind in the matrix. It's like all the best things from your childhood all wrapped up in one website. You can also learn some life lessons, though I'm afraid to consider what life lesson one should learn about a vacuum.

Go there. Have fun. Just don't blame me if you oversleep tomorrow!

Technorati tags: humor / life

Monday, July 24, 2006

I Need a Musical Interlude

I've been a little bummed out recently. Just life stuff, you know. I've decided to seek employment elsewhere and today sent my application and resume to the hospital two blocks from home. I need less stress in my life and my job. It was difficult making this decision but I knew when I returned from Barbados last month that I would have to do this. I don't make changes well, simply out of anticipatory fear of the change, not because the changes turn out badly. I tend to luck out despite the enormous amount of worrying I put into a decision about life change.

I've been lax about al sorts of things, cleaning my apartment (not since I returned home after Dad died in late March), paying bills (I'd rether not specify though I have Discover callin a few times a day now), getting out of my shell and meeting people...that's a whole 'nother can of worms. I've been pretty well holed up this summer, haven't even made it to the Jersey shore this year. I was going to go today and tomorrow but could not change my therapy appointment so I canceled the shore. I'm sure I can work out a trade with a weekend nurse to enable me to get three days off during the week to go get my needed dose of beach. I miss it terribly.

I haven't even been reading my favorite blogs recently, though I have stopped by at Bitch | Lab for the continuing saga of how segments of the feminist universe can't seem to get along and Figleaf's Real Adult Sex, because he's an intelligent and sexy guy. Not a whole lot happening out there in the blogosphere I know of and I'll be damned if I feel like writing.

I love American Folk Culture, particularly of the 20's through 50's in poorer areas of the south, Apalachia, Pennsylvania. I found some resources I thought I'd share with others who, like me, enjoy American Roots music...Mississippi Delta blues, Old Timey Apalachian, old Jazz, the kind of stuff Alan Lomax and his father, then Alan alone, recorded throughout America (and much of the Western Hemisphere) in the 30's through 60's.

You can read about Alan Lomax and his travels and recordings here at The American Folkways Center, a part of the Library of Congress. The LOC is kind enough to offer a page with a list of places one might be able to find recordings of these genres. The LOC Shop also has many titles for sale. There is a section of field recordings from the LOC's archives which has been released on cd by Rounder Records. This is the list I lust after:

Oh, there are simply too many to mention. Go there, if it interests you, and check it out for yourself.

Another great site I found was The Smithsonian Institution's Folkways Recordings. This is a very easily navigable site and full of other great American folk and traditional music I crave. Check out this list of genres. In African American music you'll find The Anthology of American Folk Music. While not strictly limited to African American roots music with entries like The Carter Family, it also includes artists like Blind Lemon Jefferson and Mississippi John Hurt. Classic African American Ballads will introduce you to artists such as Memphis Slim, Brownie McGhee and Lead Belly.

Also check out the Endangered Music Project, collections of music from the world over in danger of being forever lost with growth in developing countries and abandonment of some folk trditions, including language and music. This project was brought about by the good folks at Rykodisc.

Hope you find something you like. I'm holding out for the entire Alan Lomax collection. Maybe someday I'll be able to find and afford it.

Technorati tags: American Folk Culture / life / music

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Photo Blogging 23 July 2006

Just a few interesting photos I've taken recently. Remember, I am about the composition, not the techniques, at least in my "photography."

ack and White. My Sadie (right) and the downstairs neighbor, Tino, about 5 or 6 weeks ago. Tino is now a little bigger than Sadie (who's 65 pounds).

This is an unusual woman who lives in my apartment complex. I haven't gotten
her permission to photograph her and blog about it so I've chosen to shoot from a distance. She goes out every day. I often see her on the bench in the center of 'town' chatting with a friend. She carries binoculars and a folding chair around and watches the planes take off from the airport. She seems to know the schedules. Unusual.

This is one of the reasons I love it so much here. There are massive trees on the property and in the surrounding woods. I loved the formation of the clouds as well, though the picture does them no real justice.

My Sadie, looking morose. I must be heading out the door for brunch or something.

A picture I took the other night of an interesting double cherry. Since the cherry twins didn't get highlighted, I decided to play around a bit with Picasa's effects. I haven't experimented with them much. I like the swirl of cigarette smoke on the right. Looks like these are two cherries who've been around the block a bit.

Sadie's Money Shot:

Sadie putting on her most absolutely irresistable face trying to lure Mom away from the damned laptop. Softened up a bit with more subtle Picasa effects. Is it any wonder I call her Hyena Dog?

Thanks for peeking.

Technorati tag: life

The Downfall of Western Civilization and Automatic-Flush Toilets

The downfall of western civilization in general and American democracy in particular is not going to be the gay and lesbian agenda, as is so often espoused and spouted by the Religious Right. No, it's going to be something much more insidious.

I came across this article on AOL News today about a Baptist college in Kentucky which has severed ties with its state's Southern Baptist Convention. Seems the Southern Baptist Church has become a much more conservative body over the last twenty years. (No!) Colleges, as the breeding ground for so many young upstarts who dare think for themselves [(aka liberals and progressives)<-- strike that...I've decided it's not fair], feel this change is having a negative impact on academic freedom. How can they wail about that? They should be happy to seek out and hire professors willing to teach that Adam and Eve were the first humans and that creation of the earth and heavens and everything in them took 6 literal days.
The Georgia Baptist Convention's severing of ties with Mercer University [Macon] followed an unsuccessful effort by the state convention, which did not have the authority to appoint the university's trustees, to gain that power. **Many Baptist leaders were also troubled by a forum at Mercer on issues affecting gay men and lesbians, Dr. Godsey, the university's former president, said**
This was the paragraph that struck me. God forbid we should help the young gay men and lesbians attending colleges in the south. God forbid we halp at all as they struggle with some of the most basic quesions about their existence. It is sinful to in any way support or condone such a horror and abomination. Really. God forbids it. I asked.

We all know the downfall of this society is not going to be the GLBT agenda. It's going to result from the death of personal responsibility in America. And it all started with automatic-flush toilets. (Doesn't so much of it, in the, ahem, end, come down to potty training mistakes?) [Actually, it all started with the pop-up toaster but this makes a much better post title.]

We no longer have to worry about flushing the toilet, turning on the water, pushing down on the soap dispenser, turning off the water and pulling some towels from the dispenser. It's all done for us. If anybody thinks this is a good idea, please show me how. It starts with flush toilets. Next thing you know it's about doing whatever it takes in whatever manner to supply enough oil to feed our gluttony, relinquishing our right to figure out for ourselves how we want our children to be taught in public schools, it's about election machines and someone else being in a better position to determine what is best for the American nation, someone other than the voting populace.

We have only ourselves to blame...our sloth and gluttony, our apathy, our laziness.

I'm glad many colleges in the south have decided they no longer wanted to walk beside the church's governing bodies or follow its edicts. There is fertile enough ground in the United States for bigotry and fear to flourish. What we need is a little more breathing room for the flowers to bloom. I hope more individuals and institutions find the courage to rage against the smothering of critical thought.

God help us all.

Technorati tags: bitchy / academia / life / US politics / world politics

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Infant / Toddler Choking Care and AED's

My friend, Jess (she thinks SHE'S the peachiest but we all know Jersey peaches are better), had a scary moment with her infant the other day. I hope I don't get in any trouble here and don't any of you goofs out there even think about suing me! I'm doing this as a public service and am covered by the Good Samaritan laws.

Children, especially infants and toddlers will choke on things. If you raised a child that never choked on a hot dog or penny well, I don't know how you did it! My friend, Jess, had a recent scare when her infant managed to pop a bottle cap into his mouth and choke on it, probably all within the span of 15 seconds. Yes, children do choke on things they put in their mouths.

If your child has choked on something, please don't berate yourself as a bad parent. These things happen, unless we raise our children in a plastic bubble.
The important thing is to be prepared and know how to deal with it.

Here is some basic information about how to respond to choking in a child from the American Heart Association, the organization that provides community CPR training.

Here is information from eHow (God, I love that site) for how to help a choking infant. I can't tell you how many times in his first two years of life I had my son splayed along my forearm trying to force out something he'd gotten lodged in his throat. While having knowledge is helpful, it still doesn't make you panic any less when it's your child that's not breathing. Your heart races and time drag on forever. It's much more reassuring to have a plan of attack, particularly when the adrenaline gets going.

Here is information from The Heimlich Institute on choking in adult, infants and children. Although this is valuable information, for all the years I've been taking CPR for Healthcare Providers, I've always been taught to try the "throw the baby over your forearm with its head down" maneuver as the first move and that's what saved Mike so many times as an infant and toddler.

Here is information on CPR from The University of Washington's School of Medicine, complete with videos! What I think they've left out of the choking infant video is to check the mouth for an object and only sweep the infant/child's mouth if something is clearly visible. If you can't see it, you probably can't get it and might just lodge it even further down the throat. When you sweep the mouth, insert your finger in at one corner, slide it down that side of the cheek to the back of the throat, move it laterally across the back of the throat then out by sweeping across the opposite cheek. NEVER do this unless you can see the object.

There are numerous organizations in the US that provide training in basic first aid and CPR. This is partiicularly important for new parents. You never know when you might need it. Imagine how you'll feel if your child is choking and you watch, helplessly, because you don't know how to respond. Please consider contacting a local organization or hospital to learn basic CPR and first aid. Your baby's life may depend on it someday.
  • The American Heart Association
  • The American Red Cross
  • The University of Washington School of Medicine was kind enough to provide the phone number for CPR training by the American Heart Association...1-800-AHAUSA1. For the "phone-numbers-as-letters impaired" or irritated (like me) that's 1-800-242-8721. (Just gimme the damned number, not some catchy 7-letter phrase!)
  • Here is the AHA's site to find a CPR class near you.
While you're at it, consider learning how to feel comfortable with the use of an AED, or Automated External Defibrillator. The most common of lethal cardiac arrhythmias are Ventricular Tachycardia and Ventricular Fibrillation. This machine, which is becoming more common in public settings for use by lay persons (yes, that means you), really is a no-brainer that could save a life. With a delay in defibrillation, the mortality rate for people who've suffered a lethal cardiac arrhythmia is enormous. Even in hospital settings, the survival rate is greatly improved by the early use of defibrillation.

A defibrillator delivers a set dose of electricity to the heart through the chest wall, often shocking the heart back into a rhythm which is capable of circulating blood (and, thus, oxygen). Yes, people's bodies do jump when they receive the shocks. With an AED, sticky pads are applied to designated spots on the victim's chest wall and connect to the defibrillator. You do not have to touch anything while delivering a shock. As a matter of fact, it's important that you and everyone else is completely out of contact with the victim as the shock is delivered.

The AED's provide spoken instructions for use which are very simple and easy to understand. It guides a non-trained user through every step needed to perform successful defibrillation on a pulseless cardiac arrest victim.

Anyone can do it. I wish everyone could feel comfortable with the device so its use would become even more widespread. Please consider taking a basic CPR or first aid class so you, too, can feel you can help save a life with an AED.

Technorati tags: health and science / life / medicine / nursing / parenthood

Friday, July 21, 2006

Gobbler's Rock-in-Tree Downed

I heard today on All Things Considered (on can listen here once the clip is available) that the forty-foot tall tree with a rock wedged in it in Southern Indiana and first reported (to my knowledge) by a citizen contributor on Roadside in 2000 has been felled by unknown forces.

"felons" maybe? (Sorry.)

The tree has been more widely publicized since 2003, when the story was reported in the local paper, the Brown County Democrat, and gradually spread across the internet. I remember hearing about it on NPR a year or two ago.

The cause of the mighty tree's tumble are no more clear that the origins of the rock it supported. Dropped by God? Planted by extraterrestrials (the rock, that is)? Slung by giants?

Does anybody know the recent whereabouts of Paul Bunyan and his blue ox, Babe? Anybody dust the tree for prints, hmmm?

Ah, The American Midwest.

Technorati tags: humor / life

Thursday, July 20, 2006


I wandered over to "My Girls'" site tonight. Thank God for Tennessee Guerilla Women! What a fabulous group of people. Please consider reading and/or supporting them.

Anywho, I loved TGW's post about our frat boy president. One of the things I loved most was a comment from one King Spriula:
I never believed for a minute W was serious about anything. This is just a cool job for him to have. His handlers used/needed him for his G.O.B. appeal which people like Cheney do not have. That is why nothing interferes with his naps or vacations, and he runs around like he's BMOC at all these meetings with international leaders. He doesn't care about terrorism, healthcare, Katrina victims or the poor. It's all just a fraternity gig where he rewards his "brothers" with tax cuts and appointments. He just wants to be known as a war president cause he thinks it's cool. That is why having to take responsibility, blame or hard questions pisses him off and leads to "it would be easier to be a dictator", "i'm the decider" etc.. He is arrogant, self-centered, and ignorant, a lethal combination of personality traits for a person in his position. You can't appeal to conscience with this man, he doesn't have one.
Wow! That is everything I would like to say about the asshole-in-chief but could never articulate so clearly, succintly or precisely. Very well said, King!

TGW's post leads to a link for the full text of Dowd's fabulous article at Donkey o.d.. I stated to leave a comment there but it got rather long and looked like it wanted to be a post. Since I seem to have navigated away from or closed that comment page, I'm going to have to wing it from here:

I've long thought GW Bush was a cagey and intelligent man surrounded by cagey and intelligent handlers and supporters and that the buffoon show was nothing more than an act and diversionary tactic. I once believed GWB was a wily politician. I'm not so sure anymore.

His antics seem to be increasing in frequency, in direct proprtion to the escalating mess (the only non-expletive I could come up with but far too mild a term) he's gotten us into. This suggests to me either a man who realizes he is totally into shit way too big and intricate for him to handle so he zones out and reverts to default persona or the mischief of a toddler who's had to be "quiet" and "good" for far too long and can no longer contain himself. Childish frivolity and Dennis the Menace antics, from the supposed leader of the free world.

Now I'm beginning to wonder if it's nothing more than George slipping through or defying the constraints that have heretofore kept him in better check. Is this the real GWB we're finally seeing, having felt his oats enough to climb out of the playpen and wriggle out of the restraining harness? The more I think about, the more perfect the sense of it becomes.

GHWB was a transplanted Texas Yankee Oil Man. George I made his money in...Oil. George I made friends with...Oil Men. George I was propelled into public office by the money of the...Oil Men. George I has two sons. George II is the elder and better known of the two. I can almost see George I conferencing with his cronies and handlers over whiskey and Cuban cigars at the old country club back in those heady days:

[in thick southern drawl] "Well,'re we gonna get this thing done? You've got them two boys, you know. Damn smart of you and Barb, I've got to say. What do you think the prospects are there?"

[insert Kennebunkport nasal twang here] "I don't know. The obvious choice would be George, but he's something of a live wire. Jeb is much more sober and stable but Georgie is the oldest and who knows what kind of hissy-fit he'll throw if we push Jeb ahead of him."

"Yeah, you and Barb really could have tried a little harder on that one, George."

::sigh:: "Yes, don't we know it now. But it's a little too late. We all have our crosses to bear and Georgie is ours."

"Anyway, our friend, Karl Rove..."

"Not a Nazi or Jew, is he?"

"No, no! Karl's a good born-again Christian boy like us."

"What kind of Christian."

"Never mind. It's not important. He's a good Republican boy, nephew of a friend of Mildred's. You'll like him. Straightforward and ambitious. Hard worker. Anyway, I think we should hook Georgie up with Karl. They have a lot in common and I think Karl could be a very good influence for George. Direct him and help him grow up a little. It couldn't hurt, George. Think about it, will ya?"

"Okay, we'll give Karl Road a try. I'm not promising anything from Georgie. He's so raw and reckless. I don't know how he's going to take to a refining process."

"Well, he knows which 'refineries' butter the bread he eats each night. He'd better keep that in mind and listen to Karl. And it's "Rove," like in "Land ROVEr."

"Oh, sorry. Gotcha. So Karl's gonna take Georgie in hand and make a president out of him?"

"If it's the last thing he ever does, George. He's loyal to The Cau$e."

Well, God bless him if he can knock any sense into him. Lord know, Barbs and I tried. So, it's heads so it's Georgie, I suppose. Let's get Karl down to meet Georgie and see what he thinks."


Obviously, I have a fertile imagination. It's very possible no such conversation ever took place. But it does seem very convenient that George I is an oil man with wealthy oil man friends and family. And what do oil men love most of all? Money. Profits. Especially windfall profits with no windfall profits tax.

The way to make money was to take over the country. Although George I did not apparently have his son's taste for ideology, he did have a taste for the green. So, Karl goes to Texas and works his seeming miracle, George I coducts a half-hearted coup in Iraq, leaving the door wide open for future intervention, Republican minds everywhere go into deep planning sessions about the overthrow.

Newt is elected and becomes Speaker of the House and The Contract on America is born. Long range planning is beginning to bear fruit. The ideologues can push their agenda (no, it isn't just us gay folks who have an agenda) of pared-down constitutional rights, insipid intrusion of religion (read: fundamentalist Christianity) into every corner of government and every issue affecting our lives and dividends in the form of money, money, money (yes, cold, hard cash) for the "investors."

In the meantime, Georgie is supposedly being taught to toe the party line and behave himself. Failure as a businessman, failure as a governor. He's the perfect man to assume the Presidency of the United States of America. But, of course.

And what has been happening since then? If you're reading this, I probably don't have to drag out the whole list for you. First and foremost, though, is always the almighty dollar lining the pockets of all the principals in the administration and their "supporters," The Oil Men.

Let's only obey the laws we want to. Let's redraw Congressional districts to give us the most powerful, ideological Congress in history. Let's push this social agenda Karl and his friends seem so fond of, born-again Christianity, it's called. Prayer back in schools, school vouchers so our children can be taught the way we want them to be. Tax cuts for the richest. Drive down the poor with program cuts and pretend our "faith-based" partners will pick up the slack, though really they'll be lining their pockets along with the rest of us. Remove that pesky middle-class. You've got to be either very rich or very poor to have any place in our world.

And the capper? Grab all the oil you can. Because (and this is the absolute truth) he who controls the oil controls the world. And that's simply got to be us.

But what could be better than just making a quick grab for the brass ring? Do your damndest to make sure oil prices wise, profits rise, oil's power rises. How better to do that than to foster unrest and turmoil in the lands where the oil id depositied. (It should all have been left in the USA in the first place!) Drive oil to over $100 a barrel. Never seen that yet? Do you really think we won't? I think I will in my lifetime. Let us rake it in then, generate needless fear in the minds of the populace, create political situations abroad that also maximize the fear of the American public and demand response. The right kind of response. The response that can only be spelled W-A-R. Then we sit back and not only rake in the profits but secure our place at the top of the oil well, turning black all over from the lucrative slime.

No, I think GWB was planted. I now believe he is nothing more than the stooge he has shown himself to be in recent months and that he's puppeted very well at the hands of masters. The Buffoon President. The boorish oaf. Just what the doctor ordered...for The Oil Men.

I'm not quite sure if I'm done with my little rant here. I should probably break it into two posts and might revise it or split it in the morning. But it's nearly 3:30 now and I have to work tomorrow. If anyone reads this overnight, come back later on Thursday or friday morning in case it's morphed.

Not. Even. Spellchecking.


Technorati tags: bitchy / US politics / world politics

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

The Feminist Blogosphere

I've spent the better part of the (hellaciously hot) afternoon and early evening reading a single blog entry from Blint at My Private Casbah on Privilege, Arrogance, Insecurity and Resentment and traipsing down nearly all the offered avanues and alleys. I highly recommend the trip.

I've also spent the better part of the last several days becoming acquainted with the amazing universe that is the feminist blogosphere, as evidenced by the growing list of feminist links in my sidebar. If you don't want to read all of them, pick out the ones with the most interesting names. I recommend anything with the word "Bitch" in it, a word of which I am particularly fond.

But if you don't have the time, energy or motivation to read the whole blogroll, just read Blint. I'm newly arrived at this place of wonderful women populating the blogosphere, newly exposed to some ideas, in the process of formulating some of my own and in no position to comment with any authority on many of the issues I've read about recently.

But if there's anyone with a feminist lean out there who think it's at all acceptable that intelligent, talented, passionate women like Nubian at Blac (k) ademic were to disappear from feminist discourse because of a lack of acceptance from a predominantly white, middle-class feminist culture, well you ain't gonna make my blogroll. There's something inherently wrong about this.

I didn't get a chance to really read her, in the present tense. I didn't get a chance to add her to my Google side bar list of web clips. I want her back, already.

Technorati tags: bitchy / blogging / feminism / isms / women

Monday, July 17, 2006

We've All Heard it by Now

Thanks to Tennessee Guerilla Women for pointing me in the direction of The Raw Story's coverage of the " 'shit' heard 'round the world." (Click this link for the CNN video from The Raw Story.)

Just a few curious observations about this non-story, because it really doesn't matter:
  • Couldn't George I and Barbara have done a better job of teaching Georgie to chew with his mouth closed? For God's sake, he's representing out nation at the meeting of the eight most powerful, industrialized nations of the world!
  • Who dresses Tony Blair? Is he going for The Sopranos or "your friendly, neighborhood accountant look? Either way, he failed. Fire the dresser, Tony!
  • Is there anyone out there who did not yet believe this man was a hypocrite or that he never curses? Puh-leaze! Well, I'll take anything which further erodes his credibility with his 'base.'
  • How thrilled do you think Ed Henry, the CNN correspondent in St. Petersburg, was to be able to utter a word on the FCC no-say list, in quotes, as uttered by the President of the United States? I know I would have been tickled pink, flipping the FCC the bird outside of camera view as I enunciated that four-letter number as clearly as I could, wouldn't you?
I loved this but I hope nobody's taking it too seriously. You want serious? Start praying right now that Justice John Paul Stevens remains very healthy for the next 2+ years. That's serious.

Firedoglake has some good, slightly more mature commentary on the episode.

Technorati tags: bitchy / humor / US politics / world politics

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Democracy in America

If we reason from what passes in the world, we should almost say that the European is to the other races of mankind what man himself is to the lower animals: he makes them subservient to his use, and when he cannot subdue he destroys them. Alexis de Tocqueville
Doesn't sound like much has changed in over 150 years, huh? Except that we've branched out. Now America is not just about subduing or destroying indigenous people of the North American continent and the West Indies.

Did you know the entire text of Alexis de Tocqueville's
Democracy in America is available online?

Technorati tags: isms / US politics / world politics

Friday, July 14, 2006

Dads and Daughters

I happened upon this link via Anglophile, who I haven't gotten around to reading in a bit. It feels good to be catching up on some of my favorite blogs. I don't know what's kept me so occupied recently but it seems ages since I've gone through my blogroll.

What a wonderful concept. What wonderful men would belong to an organization like this. What wonderful, confident, creative women would they raise. How I wish my dad had been able to get past all the bullshit the world threw at him about what his son and daughter were "supposed" to be like. How pivotal was my relationship with my father, are all women's relationships with their dads.

Damn shame, Dad.

If you're a man raising a daughter, I hope you'll take a look at Dads and Daughters. Your attitudes are among the most crucial factors shaping the woman your daughter will become. Make a difference.

Technorati tags: life / middle-age / self-awareness / women

Thanks, Pam!

Well, if Nurse Pam's in trouble for absconding with Les Beans Coffe's trademark bean, then I'm guilty also. Just trying to do you a good turn, Desiree and Patti.

This coffee is fair trade and organic (I care about the first, not about the second). It gets better. They support Cafe Femenino, a cooperative effort to improve the lives of women growers in coffee-producing regions. You can find out more about Cafe Femenino here.

Looks like I'll be trying a new coffee soon. I hope you'll consider supporting women by checking them out as well.

Again, thanks, Pam!

Technorati tags: blogging /lesbian / life / women

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Note to Readers

I have a tendency on this blog to edit posts after they are first posted. The template is not conducive to gaining a clear picture of how the post will look from the post edit or preview pages so I tweak it a bit after the fact. I also tend to read through and make some minor changes in the text during this process. As a rule, the last thing I do is write and link the Technorati tags at the bottom of each post. If there are no tags, it's probably not a finished project. Just thought you might want to know.

Technorati tags: blogging / bull dinky

Site Hit Fun

Today, somebody from Indiana visited No Ordinary Princess (Am I now referring to myself in the third person and is that a bad thing?) through a Google search for Nebrasks shoe fences. It brought back fond memories of my three-week solo road trip through the American heartland last summer. Roadside America is the place where I found the shoe fence I visited in western Nebraska between Northport and Ogallala.

Just in case you search again and come back, here are a few of my pics of the shoe fence along Route 26 and of Nebraska from my trip. I hope you find it and enjoy it!

Thanks for stopping by.

Technorati tags: blogging / life

Apparently, It Translates into French and Italian, Too

"Yo Mama" is an insult not limited to the African-American community.

On my way to see my therapist this morning (at the unGODly hour of "before 10 AM"), I heard a news clip on NPR's Morning Edition that French football star, Zinedine Zidane (here is a link to a great online translator if, like me, you don't happen to be fluent in French.) claimed Italian defender Marco Materazzi insulted Zidane's mother and sister, prompting the Zidane head butt that red-carded him, removing him from Sunday's World Cup final game. Apparently, Zidane is retiring, so this horrific incident marks his departure from the sport, not just the game and the tourney. Damn shame.

(Aside: Zidane happens to be one very fine-looking young wonder they love him in La France!)

I don't follow world football much but developed a taste for the World Cup while vacationing in Barbados last month. The whole island was caught up in World Cup fever. For those of you who know little about sports and nothing about "world" football (as opposed to the typically more brutal American football), the world cup is the "Olympics" of football in the rest of the world. Soccer players (sorry, but "soccer" is more convenient for the American audience, which comprises a majority of the folks who visit here) play for professional teams during the regular seasons...teams like AC Milan, Arsenal, FC Barcelona and Manchester United, the British team that seems to be the local Bajan favorite in Payne's Bay, St James. As in the Olympics, every four years players return to their home countries to play in the tournament for their national teams.

I found the World Cup wildly exciting, the interest of the locals and tourists (except the few Americans) on the island was infectious. I became an "Argentina fan" because that's the team most of the locals rooted for. The bulk of the tourists, mostly British (or "English," as the Barbadians refer to them), were rooting for England, of course. By the time the teams were whittled down to the semi-finals, I'd already made a wish for my ideal final: Germany/France. I didn't get my wish. Germany was ousted by Italy, the ultimate winners. (S'alright...Germany performed well and has a very young team so they will be a force in 2010.)

I know enough about soccer from having been a Soccer Mom (see the Urban Dictionary for alternate definitions, most of which did not apply to me), I know enough about the game to be upset that so many important games in the tournament, including the final, were decided by penalty kicks. It seems such an un-American way to end a game. It seems to this Yank they ought to just keep slugging it out. I understand, though, that soccer is a very physically demanding game and they simply can't keep doing all that running after ninety minutes. If any stars in American sports (American football, basketball, is in its own little universe) had to play for the bulk of a ninety minute game, then beyond, they'd never make it.

The real shame of the final game, though, was not that Italy won or that the game was decided in penalty kicks but the unfortunate incident of Zidane's departure from the sport. One would have to wonder what the catalyst could have been. Surely these guys talk trash on a regular basis. Surely they are steeled to ignore these taunts. Soccer is much more demanding of sportsmanship from its players than any major sport in the bloodthirsty's the fans who have the bloody brawls in world football.

Today I heard that Materazzi hurled insults of Zidane's mother and sister during the extra time of the final game, prompting Zidane's violent response. (As an ER nurse, I cringed. That kind of blow to the chest really could do a great deal of harm, including inducing a lethal disruption of heart rhythm.) Materazzi is now being investigated by football's governing body, FIFA. Zidane is already under investigation, of course.

Zidane claims Materazzi insulted the women in his family. One account from a Chicago Tribune columnist reports the Italian allegedly called "French women named Zidane 'terrorist whores.'"
I suppose that would include the mother and sister. In my opinion, Mme. Zidane's response is just a tad excessive. (If you didn't click the last link, she reportedly called for the '"blagos" of her son's 'Italian tormenter be delivered to her "on a platter."' I'm making an assumption as to just what "blagos" are. You jump tp your own conclusions.)

Materazzi claims he's not intelligent enough to "
even know what an Islamic terrorist is." Okay. I'm guessing that might be considered a good thing in Italy?...

Whatever. Doesn't matter. The Italians, rightfully and in accordance with the rules of the game, have the World Cup.


From the
United States Department of State, the latest advisories for Americans traveling abroad caution citizens to use care when uttering the following phrases:

In Madrid, Buenos Aires or Mexico City, "su madre."
In Stuttgart, "Ihre Mutter."
In Stockholm, "
ditt fostra."
On the isle of Sappho, "η μητέρα σας."
In Lisbon or Sao Paolo, "sua mãe."
In Amsterdam, "Uw moeder," though the residents might be too stoned to care.
Anywhere on the European continent for the forseeable future, "votre mère."
However, you could probably shout "la vostra madre" with impunity while stealing coins from the Trevi Fountain til the cows come home (or at least for the next four years) and only get in trouble for the theft. (Also see "Amsterdam," above).

Because Italy has the World Cup.

Technorati tags, mine: bitchy / humor / life / US politics / women / word politics
others: football / soccer / sports / sportsmanship / World Cup