Sunday, December 31, 2006


A poem by me, published in a former life....


you samba so well
that your sensuality infuses all
who come close.
The whole room moves to
the sway of your hips,
beats to the pulse of your dance,
and blazes from the radiance of your body.

Oh, come to me
Take my hands and
guide them with your rhythm
so that I, too,
can learn how to shake an entire room.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

My Christmas

So, it's official. John Edwards has announced his candidacy for presidency in 2008. It was only a matter of time. And, I support him. He's not my ideal candidate, but that's the point, an ideal candidate doesn't exist. But I think he's good. I've been receiving email from his website since the last presidential run and I respect the guy. I believe that he is not afraid of expressing his opinion. I agree with him on many issues, from bringing respect back to our country from nations around the world to the necessity of ridding ourselves, as best we can, of the division of America into two Americas: the wealthy and the poor.

Of course, my truly ideal ticket would be Gore for President and Edwards for Vice-President, but again, that's the ideal....

Anyway, this announcement is a wonderful Christmas present! Thank you John Edwards.

Speaking of Christmas, mine was wonderful! A winter wonderland enveloped us in our warm home, filled with the sounds and smells of Christmas. Well, stretch that out by a day or two and we were enveloped by football games, the two, new terrorist kittens, wrapping paper, the spindly Christmas tree taken from our yard, and whatever culinary fancy struck me.

Locally, one of the two grocery stores has Christmas trees for sale at the beginning of December and they're usually gone in a week. For reasons unknown, some years entrepreneurs show up with Christmas trees and some years they don't. This year they didn't so we trudged off into the snow, seeking out the best looking fir on our land in the country. Since we're surrounded by Ponderosa pine, not many young fir trees can be found that are suitable for putting into the living room, by we managed to find one that seemed to work. Unfortunately, it was bare enough that it made climbing an enviable source of great sport for the two kittens. Luckily, the water squirt bottle deterred them from completely making a shambles of ornaments collected over many years.

Under our tree were the presents we most like to receive: books, books, and more books. I was delighted to find that my presents consisted of books about food and books about books. From Nicholas Basbanes' Every Books Its Reader to Michael Ruhlman and Bryan Polcyn's Charcuterie, I was delighted with the thoughtful gifts and happy and thankful to be with my warm and loving family. The day was crowned with a wonderful dinner, that wasn't the usual reindeer, but still tasted exquisite.

Yes, it's true, reindeer has become our traditional Christmas dinner, well, except for my vegetarian son. Unfortunately, the place where we buy the reindeer, Seattle's Finest Exotic Meats, was not open the weekend we were there because of a power outage from the windstorm. So, we settled on a venison roast that we had in the freezer. I followed a recipe for venison goulash from Mario Batali's book, Molto Italian: 327 Simple Italian Recipes to Cook at Home. Instead of cutting up the roast, I left it whole and cooked it in the oven for about 1 1/2 hrs. The interesting part about the recipe is that it wasn't like any goulash I had ever tasted, i.e., it didn't include tomatoes, paprika or peppers. However, it did include cinnamon and cloves for an interesting flavor. I served it with pasta in the braising sauce and homemade canned green beans sauteed with onion in walnut oil. It was heavenly.

So, all in all, my favorite holiday as been kind to me and John Edwards' candidacy was just icing on the cake.....

Friday, December 15, 2006

Had Enough?

Too much has been happening.

I cannot believe, well, yes I can believe, that Lawrence Denney, the REPUBLICAN Speaker of the House (ID Legislature), not only has no respect for math, but blatantly disregarded additional Democratic caucus numbers and disregarded any respect for Idaho State Legislature tradition by appointing only two Democrats to JFAC (the joint budget committee). The full story can be found here at New West Boise where Jill Kuraitis pursues more answers from a Speaker so arrogant that he obviously takes his cue from Resident Bush.

I'm very sorry to report that racism and hate crimes still exist in north Idaho. In Bonners Ferry, a young man at a party overheard a teenage girl tell her friend that although her father is Catholic, her mother is a practicing Muslim. The young man decided that combination meant she was a Jew and let her know that Jews are burned here (sic) and dropped her into the bonfire. She suffered second degree burns. The case went to trial and the prosecuting attorney brokered a deal with the judge who decided that this was a case of misdemeanor battery rather than a hate crime. The Bonners Ferry Herald has a statement about the case from the Prosecuting Attorney here, but the latest paper edition of the Herald has an excellent letter from Grace Siler, a friend, and long time member of the Bonners Ferry Human Rights Task Force, who makes very good points about why this should have been considered a hate crime.

So tell me, when is it not a hate crime, based on racism, to call someone a Jew and then drop them into a bonfire? Like what more did the judge want? Did the girl have to be tied to a stake and thrown into the fire? Did she need pictures? Did more teenagers have to corroborate the story to make her consider it a hate crime? Why do kids who go through the Boundary County school system still believe that black athletes have an "extra muscle" in their legs, or that it's okay to call an Arab a "towel-head," or that nothing more than "misdemeanor battery" is the only charge you'll get for telling someone that "we burn Jews" and then dropping her into a bonfire? I guess it's because racism exists here in some of its more hideous forms. This is not to say that all the people in Boundary County are racists, many are not, some actively fight this kind of racism, and the Boundary County Human Rights Task Force is terrific. But the actions and remarks of this one young man and the actions and remarks of the court reveal a telling picture of racism and hatred that simmers beneath the surface of some citizens in north Idaho. Having lived in New York, New Jersey, and California as well as traveling throughout the U.S., I believe that this kind of racism is pervasive throughout the country and is one of those topics about which we dare not speak.

Finally, in my "had enough" week, I read this excellent investigative report by Mountain Goat on the $63,800 that EnergySolutions spent on Butch Otter's recent election campaign. Mountain Goat's research allows for the obvious conclusion that not just nuclear energy, but possibly the reprocessing of nuclear waste in our great state is behind this corporate purchase of our next Idaho governor. Never hear of EnergySolutions? Well, if you're a fan of the Utah Jazz, then you'll have noticed that they no longer play at Delta Center, they play in the EnergySolutions arena. Catalyst Magazine also has a long article on EnergySolutions' owner, Steve Creamer, who happens to own a site for nuclear waste just outside of Salt Lake City. Everyone wants to get rid of their nuclear waste, privately-owned EnergySolutions has one place for all that disposal, so the profits should be phenomenal.... Hmm, what is that large contribution to Otter's campaign going to buy? A place for re-processing or perhaps another disposal site. Any other ideas?

As I said, too much has been all non-nuke, non-racist democrats, please move here in droves.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Nuclear Energy and Zero Waste

I've decided to stay out of the long discussion about nuclear energy going on over at Red State Rebels because to me nuclear is not an option. My main objection is the waste. I'm also concerned about the health, environmental, and economic effects of a nuclear energy plant, but we're such a garbage, or waste, society, that I think we have to begin thinking about how to reduce waste.

Waste does not occur naturally in the sense that all waste is recycled in the environment. Humans, however, seem to be much more in the market of creating waste. From the packaging of goods, to the turnover rate for fashion, tech-gadgets, etc., we have multiple industries that create waste without thinking about how to get rid of waste. So we must also have huge industries devoted solely to waste disposal. And most of these disposal methods are not only bad for human health, they're bad for the environment as well.

But what if we adopted goals for zero waste? For a sustainable way of living? Recycling is one objective, and in places like Europe we find much recycling going on, from egg cartons to glass. In this sense, waste has become a kind of resource. This idea of waste as a resource requires a different way of thinking about what we produce and what our resources are. Just think if all manufacturers of goods actually had to figure out what has to happen to those goods when they're no longer useful. If they could come up with a way to make that wasted product a resource of some sort, we would greatly reduce the pile-up of waste, thus promoting sustainability, efficiency, and pollution prevention.

This is not a crazy idea. Communities around the world are adopting zero waste goals and have achieved many successes. Over 50% of the cities in New Zealand have adopted zero waste goals. Just north of Idaho, in the Kootenay Region of southeast British Columbia, including the town of Nelson, zero waste principles and goals have been put in place. Halifax, Nova Scotia has been implementing zero waste ideas and objectives for some time. In the U.S., many communities have also put zero waste objectives into place including Boulder County, CO, Seattle, WA, and many communities in California, especially in the San Francisco area. Even some corporations have adopted zero waste practices including Xerox in Rochester, NY, Hewlet Packard in Roseland, CA, Epson Portland Inc. in Hillsboro, OR, as well as several others.
For information about these communities and businesses, one only need google the term "zero waste."

As part of fighting the proposal for building a Waste-to-Energy plant in Boundary County, the citizens group invited a speaker, Paul Connett, to talk about the problems with incineration. As part of the presentation, he ended with the goal of zero waste. To me this had seemed like an ideal that really couldn't become reality. But Dr. Connett (a professor of Chemistry at St. Lawrence University) demonstrated how this ideal was actually being implemented around the world. He has given this lecture all around the world and the U.S. for over twenty-five years. He has visited zero waste communities and spent time with businesses and corporations who have adopted zero waste practices.

For me, nuclear energy, and its resultant waste, is just not an option. And think about the fact that nuclear waste is stored in containers and buried in the ground for a longer time period than the containers' existence. To me, that's not only bad planning, but crazy as well! The proposal to build a nuclear energy plant near Bruneau, ID, is something I would always oppose because I think that Idaho's goals should be towards promoting zero waste communities. Furthermore, I don't see why Idaho should be building a nuclear energy plant when the energy isn't even targeted for Idaho!

Idaho is a very beautiful state, from Idaho Falls to Fruitland to Bonners Ferry. And like every beautiful and wondrous place, Idaho needs to think about its future not just twenty or fifty years from now, but for seven more generations and beyond. So I say cut the nuclear and think about sustainability.

Wednesday, December 6, 2006

The 2008 Presidency

I've been reading about the potential presidential candidates for the Democratic ticket in 2008. For the most part, I am not impressed. I think that Hillary would be a disaster, not for any personal reasons, but because I don't think the U.S. is ready for a woman president yet. Maybe living in rural north Idaho has disconnected me from eastern big city life, but my New Jersey relatives also wouldn't vote for her, so I don't know.

I know that Obama has been a real crowd pleaser lately, but I think that's his problem: he tries to please everyone. I've heard more than one person say this about Obama and, I'm not entirely up on everything he does and says, so I could be wrong. Unfortunately, and I hesitate saying this, but I think that Idaho, at least many of the people in the north, would not vote for a black President. Many of us in the north have been fighting racism and the white Aryan image we have, but let's face it, we're mostly white up here. And I know that there is an undercurrent of racism throughout north Idaho, if not the country, that causes people to say, "They're (Black, Asian, American Indian, Jew, Arab, etc.) okay, but I wouldn't want my child to marry one." I say this from personal experience.

So who else is there? I seriously think that Al Gore could win again. Yeah, people in north Idaho think he single-handedly destroyed the timber industry (how disconnected is that?), but he won once, and if he can keep the DLC monkey off his back, then I think he can win again. After all, he is the most qualified candidate. And with a good VP selection, like John Edwards, the vote may be so overwhelming that not even the Vote Stealers could rob him again. I suggest Edwards as the VP because I think that his charisma, southern charm, and intellectual brilliance would offset all that the press loves to hate about Gore. Also, Edwards does admit his senate voting mistakes about the Iraq war and Patriot Act. I don't think he'll make those mistakes again because I think the timbre of the Democratic National Party is changing, and the influence of Howard Dean is beginning to shine through. Finally, through my son, a UW student, who attended a John Edwards book signing recently, I know that many young people are supportive of Edwards. And it's about time that we drew in that younger vote in way that hasn't been seen since the sixties.

Of course, all above opinions could be moot, given how people in north Idaho vote. I just read in the Idaho Statesman that people in Coeur d'Alene, and indeed, all of north Idaho and the west in general, are being priced out of their homes because their wages don't meet the required amount for buying an average-priced home. And yet these same residents of north Idaho voted for Idaho Legislative candidates who oppose raising the minimum wage and who are satisfied with the Idaho Right-to-Work program, as it is. Again, how disconnected is that? I think the blame does not reside entirely on the voters either. I think that the media, as well as the partisan controlled, Republican legislature, should bear their full share of the responsibility.

So, I am left wondering who the next president of this wonderful country will be. But I have no time to wonder about the color of Idaho because I am determined to see it once again become a state of the people and turn blue!