Saturday, May 31, 2008

Primary Season Just About Over

It was interesting to watch the DNC rules committee decide on how to apportion the delegates from Michigan and Florida today. It was a compromise that did not and will never satisfy everyone of course but it was refreshing to see the party leaders stick to the idea that there are rules that have to be followed to avoid chaos.

I never would have guessed that Barack Obama may reach the magic 2118 delegates he needs to be the Democratic nominee for President in the last primary in the last best place - the Great State of Montana. (I'm a little biased on Montana).

Exactly when Barack Obama becomes the official nominee depends on when the Super Delegates announce their support for him. He needs about 50 delegates after Puerto Rico, but Montana and South Dakota only have 31 delegates assuming he gets half the delegates from Montana and South Dakota, he needs 35 of the 178 uncommitted super D's to throw him their support. Hillary Clinton would need over 90% of the remaining super delegates to back her in order to win...which ain't gonna happen.

So if 35 super D's announce their support for Barack before Tuesday he could announce that he is the winner based on the results of the Montana primary. He'll be in St Paul, the site of the Republican National Convention that night - in effect saying to the party of power and wealth, "bring it on."

Another historical date is, and will be, in August when the Democratic National Convention is held in Denver (Aug 25-28th). Dr. Martin Luther King gave his famous "I Have a Dream" speech to 250,000 people in Washington D.C. on August 28, 1963. Forty five years to the day later - Barack Obama will gives his acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention on his way to becoming the next President of the U.S.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Who You Callin an Elitist?

It's ironic that some people were calling Barack Obama an elitist. I don't think he chose his words well in saying some people cling to guns or religion, but I don't think the poor son of a single mother who brought himself to where he is today is what we consider a member of the elite (at least in the pejorative sense of that word). He's a member of an elite group if we are talking about being a hard worker, intelligent, articulate and compassionate.

I think it would be fair to say John McCain is a member of an elite group by accident of birth and subsequently by marriage. John McCain's great grandfather was a Mississippi plantation owner, his grandfather was a Navy Admiral, his father was a Navy Admiral and commander of the Pacific Fleet.

I tend to identify with people who worked their way to where they are. I have no idea what it would be like to be a kid on a Navy base, or a Navy officer, who's dad and grandpa are Admirals, but I do know what it's like to be raised by a single mom, and I know a little about what it's like to be in the Navy as an enlisted person. The military is a very different place depending on your place - officer or enlisted.

How you view the military (and what you want from the military) also depends on whether you make the military a career, or if you are in for a hitch or two. A career military person doesn't have a need for the GI bill to help them go to school or buy a house, or V.A. hospitals to go to when they need medical care - at least while they are in the military.

No one would argue that John McCain made a tremendous sacrifice for his country, but one thing (among many) that troubles me about John McCain's politics is his record on supporting Veterans

Matthew Yglesias (May 25, 2008) - McCain and Veterans (Foreign Policy)

Obsidian Wings: McCain On Veterans' Benefits

Could it be that if your grandfather is John S. McCain, Sr. Navy Admiral and son of a Mississippi Plantation owner, and father is John S. McCain, Jr. Navy Admiral and Commander of the Pacific Fleet, and your wife's income in 2006 was $6,066,063 (six mil in 2006)...that you lose touch with what our country owes the people who serve in the military today and come from homes where the average income is $35,000?

Hope not...

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Psalm 90 - Teach Us to Count Our Days

The 90th Psalm verse 12 is one of my favorites -

"So teach us to count our days that we may gain a wise heart."

Life is short, make sure you don't let yours slip by while you are doing something else.

When we find ourselves preoccupied with what happened in the past or what is going to happen in the future it's a good practice to slow down, breathe deeply, become aware of the present and consider all the things we have to be thankful for - right now.

Today we can practice being thankful for family and friends, fresh air and clean water, food and shelter, the flowers of spring, sunshine and air - all the small and not so small things that we sometimes neglect because we are so busy thinking about, and sometimes worrying what happened or what's going to happen.

One of the best and hardest things we can work on is to choose how we will respond to events in the present moment.

Being able to choose how we respond, rather than just reacting, requires we slow down and pause between a stimulus and our response - maybe just long enough to take a slow deep breath to help us put things in perspective, develop a sense of equanimity when stressed, and gratitude and joy when we notice the good things.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Mystery Mushrooms

I have a fig tree in a fairly large pot near where I work on my computer. A couple of days ago I added some potting soil and watered it well. Yesterday there were several large mushrooms growing in the soil.

For some reason they seemed pretty scary to me. They just seemed...alien.

B thought I was playing a joke and had stuck something in the pot. It's amazing how fast they grew and weird that they were growing in this sunny room (or anywhere inside the house for that matter). My guess is that the spores drifted into the soil when I had the pot outside last summer, and then when I added the fresh potting soil they had the dark moist environment they needed to grow.

My irrational fear of these mushrooms reminds me of the time our Bichon Baily was afraid of a big pile of dirt that was beside a neighbors house when we would walk by it. It was just out of place to him I guess.

I took a fork (because I didn't want to touch them) and a plastic bag and got rid of the mushrooms this morning. It was pretty scary.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Mending a Broken Heart

This is a great story in pictures of a little boy from China named Zhang Zhenqiang who was brought to the U.S. for heart surgery thanks to the generous Mend a Broken Heart and Chinese Agape Foundation.

His hands are blue and swollen because of the problems with his heart - in the end he is well and enjoying Christmas with a kind American family.

張振強在大山中的家, 和爺爺奶奶 (Zhang Zhenqiang in mountain family, with grandfather paternal grandmother)

Here's a link to the page translated from Chinese to English.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

What Conservative Republicans Have to Offer

George Packer has an interesting look at the Republican party in his New Yorker article The Fall of Conservatism - "Have Republicans Run Out of Ideas?"

He traces the ascendency of the Republican party from the days of Richard Nixon and Pat Buchanan scheming to divide the country in the turbulent days of the 1960's, into "two Americas: the quiet, ordinary, patriotic, religious, law-abiding Many, and the noisy, élitist, amoral, disorderly, condescending Few."

I don't think the Republican party ran out of ideas so much as they rode the conservative philosophy that less government is good, to it's end - without ever stopping to think where that end was.

Now we know.

Deconstructing government and polarizing the electorate along false divisions, can be a winning political formula, but it plays hell with the citizens who expect government to do things like ensure health care is available for all people, create a sensible forward looking energy policy, foster education, protect individual rights, build and maintain infrastructure, provide national security - all the things that government is for that can't be delegated to individuals, private groups or corporations.

The growing divide between what citizens wanted from government and what it provided was less visible as long as the economy was growing, energy was cheap, the haves were getting more and the have-nots were getting by or at least out of sight. It helped to have a made up story that there are two America's and somehow the government was for (but not doing anything to help) the hard working, patriotic, working class Americans and against the elitist liberal media supported group.

The elitist group, according to the story - wanted to take away God and guns, did not believe in the sanctity of life, or feel it was appropriate that the government make laws that marriage is only for those of the opposite sex. These made up, or at least incomplete, stories make for good fake arguments on cable news and on the internet that allow people to quit thinking about the real issues and get into an "us" vs. "them" frame of mind.

Now we are where we are - not exactly asking, "Why are we in this handbasket and how did we get here?".....but pretty close. We have the worst of both worlds; high taxes for middle income wage earners, an expanding national debt, no plans for energy, education or health care - spending tax money that as far as we can tell are not giving us much of anything for our hard earned money.

It's time to require that government provide the things we pay taxes for and the accountability we expect in a free society.

I'm not all that keen on what the Democrats have been doing either, and have to say, "Don't treat us like idiots" - we don't buy the staged show in Congress where the oil executives are brought in for a public talking to about why gasoline prices are so high - we know why oil prices are so high for God's sake - it's because our government didn't take the steps it (and only it) could have taken 30 years ago.

On the Republican side don't think we are going to get all riled up about the three G's - Gays, Guns and God. Not this time. We don't care what gay people do and we believe in freedom for all, we know that there is no scenario where the government is going to take our guns and we will choose to worship as we desire in a free society. We don't need your help on the three G's - we need you to provide a viable plan for health care, energy, education, real national security, and protection of individual rights.

Forget about the divisions and polarization that worked for political gain - there is no "them" it's all about "us" and what can "we" do together and what can government do to help.

I'm going to be optimistic that in this election we will have an informed electorate that thinks about what government should be for, what it has failed to provide in the last several decades, and vote accordingly.

I support Barack Obama because he knows things have to change and I believe with a leader like him in the White House there is a possibility that our government can get back on track and we will once again live up to the potential of this nation - providing for those who can't provide for themselves, protecting freedom for all, providing all people a chance at the American Dream, and making this as it always has been - the greatest nation in the World.

Wishing you a happy Memorial Day with trust for better days to come.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Religion and Sprituality

From the Interlude Meditation of the Week Making Peace With God -
"When one rejects spirituality, one loses contact with a critical component of the human experience. To reject one’s family religion is like rejecting a brand of shoes. To reject religion in general is like rejecting shoes in general. To reject spirituality is like rejecting your feet."

"Spirituality and religion are sometimes confused for each other. Spirituality need not include a concept of a god or a belief in miracles. It is an openness to awareness of connection and of things greater than oneself."

The essay is about those times when terrible inexplicable things happen that shake our faith. Even great spiritual role models like Mother Teresa question their faith, and like them our challenge is to develop our own faith, fall down and get up again, so we can join in the dance.

Soren Kierkegaard wrote in Fear and Trembling

"Most people live dejectedly in worldly sorrow and joy; they are the ones who sit along the wall and do not join in the dance. The knights of infinity are dancers and possess elevation. They make the movements upward, and fall down again; and this too is no mean pastime, nor ungraceful to behold."

The option to taking a leap of faith and believing in the unknowable is to believe (since there is no proof either way) that all there is the here and now - that which can be seen and proven to exist. In this world view there is no place for poets, dreamers or mystics. No magic, no miracles and ultimately a very diminished sense of hope since we are living in a temporal plane - just a blip in eternity - scratching out a living, dying and then gone.

Kierkegaard wrote about that world view in "Fear and Trembling" -
"If there were no eternal consciousness in a man, if at the foundation of all there lay only a wildly seething power - which writhing with obscure passions produced everything that is great and everything that is insignificant, if a bottomless void never satiated, lay hidden beneath all–what then would life be but despair? If such were the case, if there were no sacred bond which united mankind, if one generation arose after another like the leafage in the forest, if the one generation replaced the other like the song of birds in the forest, if the human race passed through the world as the ship goes through the sea, like the wind through the desert, a thoughtless and fruitless activity, if an eternal oblivion were always lurking hungrily for its prey and there was no power strong enough to wrest it from its maw–how empty then and comfortless life would be!"

Ultimately I'm a pragmatist, and I believe that by working on my faith...maybe even clinging to my faith - I have a better chance to do things, withstand things, show up at times when it's difficult and generally cultivate a sense of hope, calmness and joyfulness. Not every day and not in every circumstance but ultimately I believe that faith works because it expands the space we live in providing for infinite possibilities, reduces our fears, and allows us to get outside ourselves once in awhile so we can connect with, and maybe sometimes help, others.

I have hope....

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Changing The Channel

"A human being is like a television set with millions of channels. If we turn on sorrow, we are sorrow. If we turn on a smile, we are the smile. We cannot let one channel dominate us. We have the seed of everything in us and we have to seize the situation at hand, to recover our power. We need to change the channel once in a while!

Thich Nhat Hanh"

Inspirational Quotes, Poems and Passages

Monday, May 19, 2008


Courage doesn't always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, "I will try again tomorrow." ~Mary Anne Radmacher-Hershey

Inspirational Quotes, Poems and Passages

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Nice Weekend

B and I enjoyed the nice weekend weather by planting flowers, working in the yard, eating outside and painting. I painted the trim on the front of the garage and the wood part of the deck - and spilled some paint on an old bench.

Originally uploaded by Jack Crossen

Originally uploaded by Jack Crossen

Becca cooled off in the snow at Mount Rainier

Saturday, May 17, 2008

First Hot Day of The Year

Originally uploaded by Jack Crossen
Drinking a toast to the sun.

It got to 88 degrees today...yeaaa!

Friday, May 16, 2008

Home Heart Rainbows

Home Lamp's Lit
Originally uploaded by Jack Crossen

Home Heart
Originally uploaded by Jack Crossen

A couple of random
photos Becca took while playing
with my camera.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Sorticulture - June 20, 21, 22

Sorticulture, Everett’s Garden Arts Festival is June 20, 21 and 22 this year. It's held in Legion Park located in North Everett at 145 Alverson Blvd and West Marine View Drive.

Hours are:

Friday - Noon to 8 pm
Saturday and Sunday - 10 am to 6 pm

It's a unique opportunity to see, learn about and purchase - plants, flowers, outdoor art, and furniture from Northwest gardeners, artisans, and artists.

These are some pictures I took at Sorticulture a few years ago that give you some idea of what's available.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Seattle's Folklife Festival - May 23-26

Seattle's Folklife Festival is coming up Memorial Day Weekend Friday-Monday, May 23-26 from 11 am to 11 pm.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Online Photo Storage Options

Originally uploaded by Jack Crossen
You might think this photo looks like it was taken in a warm place but looks can be deceiving. It's been a cold spring in Everett. The weathermen and women are predicting temperatures in the 80's this Friday and Saturday - yea!

I've used a variety of methods to store pictures online; my web server, Picasa, Blogger, Flickr....etc.

Having pictures in so many places is getting a little hard to handle so I'm settling on a Flickr Pro account for now. It's 25 bucks a year and you can store as many photos as you want. The free Flickr accounts are a good deal too, but it gets to be a hassle if you want to create more than 3 sets, view more than 200 of your most recent photos or upload more than 100 Mb a month.

Here's the info from Flickr on Pro vs. free accounts:

With a Pro Account you get:

* Unlimited photo uploads (20MB per photo)
* Unlimited video uploads (90 seconds max)
* Unlimited storage
* Unlimited bandwidth
* Unlimited photosets
* Archiving of high-resolution original images
* The ability to replace a photo
* Post any of your photos or videos in up to 60 group pools
* Ad-free browsing and sharing
* View count and referrer statistics

Compare that to what you get with a Free Account:

* 100 MB monthly upload limit (10MB per photo)
* 3 sets
* Photostream views limited to the 200 most recent images
* Post any of your photos in up to 10 group pools
* Only smaller (resized) images accessible (though the originals are saved in case you upgrade later)

Plus you get a little logo by your name

Thursday, May 08, 2008


Filled with promise, hopes and dreams

On the way home

Going fishing

Home now

Family and friends left to carry on


Remembering Jocelyn Maureen Denham

PLU Senior’s Love for her Friends and Dreams of Teaching

A Biography of Brady Freeman

Brady Freeman In Memoriam

Remembering Jocelyn Denham

Job at Boys & Girls Club turned PLU'S Jocelyn Denham to teaching

PLU students’ memorial service set for May 11


My heart goes out to the family and friends of Jocelyn and Brady.