Monthly Archives: September 2012

At the Lake

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Enjoying some quiet and tranquility at the lake.  Shhhhhhh!!!!!   I am generally more an ocean person than I am a lake person, but this particular occasion lends itself to some real relaxation, which I sorely need, and some outstanding, long-awaited pleasure.

Leaving for the SF Bay Area tomorrow.  My camera appears to be dying, so the photos and quality thereof, may be lacking somewhat.

Perfectionism is a disease. Here’s how to beat it. by Penelope Trunk Blog

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Perfectionism is a disease. Here’s how to beat it. | Penelope Trunk Blog.  <–CLICKY

The article above  is a well-written piece on perfectionism by Penelope Trunk.  If you read it, please leave a comment to let her know you enjoyed it, if you did.  I think she summed it all up quite succinctly!

First, please don’t brag about being a perfectionist!  It is not a good thing.   Mind you, I think Penelope might be stretching things a little bit to use the word “disease” to describe it.  When taken to the extreme, it can be a psychological disorder.

I used to be perfectionist back in my late 20’s, that is, until I realized that there was clearly something wrong with that scenario…..so I got help for it.  Perfectionism can be a very limiting, debilitating condition that  prevents one from enjoying oneself  and from living a good, healthy life.  The condition  is part of a fear-based existence that prevents one from taking action.  Perfectionists tend not to do things at all, if they can’t do them perfectly.

 In retrospect, I can see the impossibility of what I was trying to accomplish. At the time,   I believed  I was boasting an admirable  quality about myself, all the while,  not realizing that it was not only bad for my health overall, but that it also drove everyone around me crazy!    Now, I know better.   Now, when I hear someone utter those words, I think to myself, “Bummer.  I hope you get help for that.”

These days, I simply do the best that I can.  I work very hard and I attempt to be the best person that I can be, but I no longer  seek nor expect perfection.  I no longer place the kinds of limitations on myself that being a perfectionist placed.  I find that now, I have much more freedom and I do much better, in general.  In fact, because I gave up trying to be a perfectionist, my life is closer to being perfect than it has ever before been.  Go figure!

Life isn’t perfect.  It never will be.  My goal is to enjoy it, and to do the best that I can with what I have to work with.  I’m no slacker.  That’s for sure…..but I accept the fact that life has its limitations, and I’m ok with that.

NEXT!!!!

Thank you, George B. for nominating my blog for an award!

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http://euzicasa.wordpress.com/2012/09/22/one-lovely-blog-awards-another-award-this-time-from-alilcm/

Thank you George B. , for nominating me with this award.  I am honored.  And you’re the Best!

Here are the rules that come with accepting this nomination:

(a) Thank the person who nominated you and link back to them in your post (and put in the logo)
(b) Share 7 things about yourself
(c) Nominate 15 or so bloggers you admire
(d) Contact your chosen bloggers to let them know

b) 7 things about myself

1.  I do not suffer fools lightly

2.  I love music and hear music, whether music is playing or not.

3.  I can make art out of just about anything

4.  I adore my family

5.  I am an excellent cook and foodie who specializes in ethnic vegetarian cuisine

6.  I travel….a lot

7. I know when I’m being lied to….but sometimes, I pretend to believe the liar, just out of pity.

My nominations are:

1. George B. – http://euzicasa.wordpress.com/

2.  Genie Webster – Temenos Journal, II. – http://temenos2.wordpress.com/

3.  Barack Obama – http://www.barackobama.com/news

4.  Victor Travel Blog – http://victortravelblog.com/

5.  Listen to my Art Beat – http://stacyalexander.blogspot.com/

6.  Kim Larson Art – http://kimlarsonart.blogspot.com/

7.  Lovely Clusters – http://lovelyclusters.blogspot.com/

8.  Bruce Barone Photography – http://brucebarone.blogspot.com/

9.  Cannelle et Vanille – http://www.cannellevanille.com/

10.  Black Eiffel – http://blackeiffel.blogspot.com/2012/09/music-monday-xx-and-bbc-philharmonic.html

11. Virginia Plantation – http://virginiaplantation.wordpress.com/

12.  Guitar Licks and Tabs – http://guitarlicksandtabs.com/

13.  In Jennie’s Kitchen – http://www.injennieskitchen.com/

14.  Honey from the Bee – http://www.honeyfromthebee.com/

15.  Vermont Art Zine – http://vermontartzine.blogspot.com/

Andy McKee – American Picker

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One of my favorite guitarists, Andy McKee plays “Gates of Gnomeria,” his own creation, taking listeners on an ethereal, dreamlike journey.    I thought he should have named this piece, “Gates of Guernica” instead, since the guitar looks like it could have popped right out of Picasso’s most famous painting.

Andy’s  masterful picking is unlike that of any other guitarist I have ever heard…and the guitar itself? Just LOOK at that thing!  Don’t quote me on this, but I believe this is called a harp guitar.   I couldn’t find any info on what it is, exactly, but I suspect it might be a custom made Michael Greenfield, since that was a guitar manufacturer that was mentioned on his website. If anyone knows, (Richard?)  please speak up. I love the rich, full tones that soak their way into the brain gradually as this tune progresses.

Andy is from Winfield, Kansas, of all places, and has managed to forge a style that dictates originality. I spent some time in Winfield visiting relatives when I was a kid, so I can understand how this guy would have plenty of time to practice. There didn’t seem to be much going on there.

Andy is one of those guys who has not had to spend a lot of money to promote himself. He taught himself how to play, and entered the prestigious National Finger Style Guitar Championships in Winfield, Kansas. He was one of the top finalists. After that, his pure, raw talent was enough to cause his fans to spread the word about him on their own, and he gave them the free reign to do exactly that. At last count, his YouTube video plays had exceeded 120 million!

This is what happens when one has confidence in his or her playing, and allows fans the freedom to promote what they love. Some musicians try to control each and every aspect of their music, including who can listen to their stuff and watch their videos and where. On today’s music market, doing this is a fatal mistake. The music world has changed so much through the years! Those indies who do not heed the call of modern promotion in this way, are never going to find the success that they’re looking for unless they have a major record deal. Andy is the perfect example of how it all works to let the indie flow pick up one’s music and deliver it to the listening ears of adoring fans.

Sarah

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Dearest Sarah,

Wishing you the happiest of birthdays today.

You are the best daughter a mother could ever hope to have.  I love and accept everything about you, and am so proud to be your mother.  Thank you for simply being yourself.  You are the greatest gift!

I love you with my whole heart.

Love,

Mom

Day # 22 – UP

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Photo a day – September

Day # 22 – UP

©Stacy Alexander

It is ironic that today’s photo challenge was the word, “up.”

I was up all night.

Up in the clouds.

Upset.

Should I shut up?

What’s up?

Listen up!

Perhaps I took up with the wrong person.

Should I call him up?  No.

I won’t put up with this.

I am fed up.

But life does have its ups and downs.

Should I summon up my magical powers,

turn up the volume?

…or back up, and try to figure out how all this happened?

Nah.  I should just buck up and move on.

I hate to bring up problems,

so I will simply ignore all this and continue to move up in the world.

Yeah, I think I’m just going to ease up and move forward

before I dry up and blow away.

Not meaning to sound uppity or anything.

I think I’ve simply had it up to here,

and even though I definitely still feel something up in here….I think I’m going….

Up. up and away……

Perhaps, one of the sexiest songs in the entire world.

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A song that certainly befits my mood at this odd hour….

Had a very emotional experience today.  Feeling strung out and lost….or maybe I’m feeling together and found.  I don’t know.   Moving forward, but with longing and sadness and this song really captures it.  Of course, Sting has always made me feel weak in the knees.  Classy.  Restrained showmanship.  I love the looks that he and Trudy exchange while he sings to her.  Beautiful.

Cannes

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In the past, when I would think of Cannes, I would think of the Midem Music Festival and business.   Midem is probably the most important business event in the global music business,  and has been going on since the last 1960’s.   Many professional musicians got their first real breaks at Midem….big record deals…wheeling…dealing…or, I would think of the film festival, of course.

However, today, when I think of Cannes, I think of its beauty.

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Pristine white, sandy beaches.  Warm sea breezes…. Charming architecture  Ahhhhhh……..

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And, of course….chem-trails….

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Link

Dude…Click HERE.

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With credit to the PTCT Blog:

If you’re one of those who thinks President Obama is a “disappointment,” my condolences for you not getting your unicorn. And it’s time to grow up, and get over it. We have a little over two months to go before an election that will feature more political ads than you have ever seen before. We don’t just have to beat Willard Romney; we also have to beat Citizens United. There will be TWO choices for president; it’s not a smorgasbord. You can either work for Obama and every other Democrat (yes, including Blue Dogs), or you can sit back and watch Willard Romney complete the job of taking apart the social fabric of the country that was first undertaken by Ronald Reagan 32 years ago.  That is your choice.

Obama2What makes the “disappointment” argument even more irritating is that it’s simply not true. He’s done nearly everything we elect a president to do, and he did it all with little support from the left, and massive obstruction from the right.

Is he perfect? No, he’s human. Does he deserve some criticism? Of course, but at this point, it really doesn’t matter.

What does matter is that this president has compiled a STELLAR record given the circumstances under which he took office. If you can look at this list of the president’s accomplishments and not be excited, you have a serious problem with perspective.

Pass this list around to everyone you know. And don’t be afraid; unlike many such lists, every item includes a link to a citation supporting it.

He Returned The Executive Branch To Fiscal Responsibility After the Bush Debacle

1. Within his first week, he signed an Executive Order ordering an audit of government contracts, and combating waste and abuse.   http://1.usa.gov/dUvbu5

2. Created the post of Chief Performance Officer, whose job it is to make operations more efficient to save the federal government money.   http://n.pr/hcgBn1

3. On his first full day, he froze White House salaries.  http://on.msnbc.com/ewJUIx

4. He appointed the first Federal Chief Information Officer to oversee federal IT spending.http://www.cio.gov

5. He committed to phasing out unnecessary and outdated weapons systems. To that end, he also signed the Democratic-sponsored Weapons Systems Acquisition Reform Act, which attempted to put a stop to waste, fraud and abuse in the defense procurement and contracting system.  http://bit.ly/hOw1t1     http://bit.ly/fz8GAd

6. Through an executive order, he created the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform.  http://bit.ly/hwKhKa

He Improved the Economy, Preventing a Bush Depression

7. Pushed through and signed the Democratic-sponsored American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, otherwise known as “the stimulus package.” The bill passed, even though only three Republicans voted for it. In a major departure from the previous administration, he launched recovery.gov, a website that allows taxpayers to track spending from the Act.   http://1.usa.gov/ibiFSs   http://1.usa.gov/e3BJMk

8. The Bush-led Great Recession was costing the economy nearly 800,000 jobs per month by the time President Obama took office. But by the end of his first year, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act created and sustained 2.1 million jobs and stimulated the economyby  3.5%.  http://reut.rs/i46CEE

9. Not only did he completed the massive TARP financial and banking rescue plan, he also leaned on the banks and others, and recovered virtually all of the bail-out money. http://1.usa.gov/eA5jVS   http://bit.ly/eCNrD6

10. He created the Making Home Affordable home refinancing plan. http://1.usa.gov/goy6zl

11. Oversaw the creation of more jobs in 2010 alone than Bush did in eight years. http://bit.ly/hrrnjY

12. Along with Democrats, and almost no Republicans, implemented an auto industry rescue plan, and saved as many as 1 million jobs.  http://bit.ly/ibhpxr   Many are of the opinion that he saved the entire auto industry, and even the economy of the entire Midwest.  http://bit.ly/gj7mt5 This resulted in GM returning to its place as the top car company in the world.  http://lat.ms/zIJuQx Willard Romney, on the other hand, advocated for the entire industry to go belly-up. http://nyti.ms/k0zp

13. Doubled funding for the Manufacturing Extension Partnership, which is designed to improve manufacturing efficiency.  http://bit.ly/eYD4nf

14. Signed the Democratic-sponsored Fraud Enforcement and Recovery Act giving the federal government more tools to investigate and prosecute fraud in every corner of the financial system, and create a bipartisan Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission to investigate the financial fraud that led to the economic meltdown.  http://abcn.ws/g18Fe7

15. Signed the Democratic-sponsored Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility and Disclosure (CARD) Act, which was designed to to protect consumers from unfair and deceptive credit card practices.  http://1.usa.gov/gIaNcS

16. Increased infrastructure spending after years of neglect. http://bit.ly/f77aOw

17. Signed the Democratic-sponsored and passed Helping Families Save Their Homes Act, expanding on the Making Home Affordable Program to help millions of Americans avoid preventable foreclosures. The bill also provided $2.2 billion to help combat homelessness, and to stabilize the housing market.  http://bit.ly/eEpLFn

18. Through the Worker, Homeownership, and Business Assistance Act of 2009, he and Congressional Democrats provided tax credits to first-time home buyers, which helped the U.S. housing market recovery.   http://bit.ly/dZgXXw   http://bit.ly/gORYfL

19. Initiated a $15 billion plan designed to encourage increased lending to small businesses.
http://1.usa.gov/eu0u0b

20. Created business.gov, which allows for online collaboration between small businesses and experts re managing a business. (The program has since merged with SBA.gov.)   http://www.business.gov

21. Played a lead role in getting the G-20 Summit to commit to a $1.1 trillion deal to combat the global financial crisis.   http://nyti.ms/gHlgp5

22. Took steps to improve minority access to capital. http://bit.ly/f9xVE7

23. Signed an Executive Order instructing federal agencies to review all federal regulations and remove any unnecessary and/or burdensome regulations from the books.  http://1.usa.gov/Lpo5bd

24. Through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, saved at least 300,000 education jobs, such as teachers, principals, librarians, and counselors that would have otherwise been lost.   http://1.usa.gov/ez30Dc

25. Dismantled the Minerals Management Service, thereby cutting ties between energy companies and the government. http://nyti.ms/bw1MLu

26. Along with Congressional Democrats, provided funding to states and the Department of Homeland Security to save thousands of police and firefighter jobs from being cut during the recession.  http://bit.ly/g0IKWR

27. Used recovered TARP money to fund programs at local housing finance agencies in California, Florida, Nevada, Arizona and Michigan.   http://on.msnbc.com/i1i8eV

28. Crafted an Executive order establishing the President’s Advisory Council on Financial Capability to assist in financial education for all Americans. http://bit.ly/eyqsNE

He Fostered Greater Transparency and Better Government, After the Excesses of the Bush Years

29. Signed an order banning gifts from lobbyists to anyone in the Executive Branch.  http://bit.ly/fsBACN

30. Signed an order banning anyone from working in an agency they had lobbied in previous years, and put strict limits on lobbyists’ access to the White House.   http://nyti.ms/gOrznV

31. Held the first-ever first online town hall from the White House, and took questions from the public.  http://bit.ly/gVNSgX

32. Became the first to stream every White House event, live.  http://1.usa.gov/kAgOP5

33. Established a central portal for Americans to find service opportunities.   http://www.serve.gov

34. Provided the first voluntary disclosure of the White House Visitors Log in history.  http://1.usa.gov/hQ7ttV

35. Issued an Executive Order on Presidential Records, which restored the 30-day time frame for former presidents to review records, and eliminated the right for the vice president or family members of former presidents to do the reviews. Provides the public with greater access to historic  White House documents, and severely curtails the ability to use executive privilege to shield them.  http://1.usa.gov/gUetLb

36. Improved aspects of the Freedom of Information Act, and issued new guidelines to make FOIA more open and transparent when processing FOIA requests.  http://1.usa.gov/gjrnp2

Wall Street Reforms and Consumer Protection

37. Ordered 65 executives who took bailout money to cut their own pay until they paid back all bailout money.  http://huff.to/eAi9Qq

38. Along with Congressional Democrats, pushed through and got passed Dodd-Frank, one of the largest and most comprehensive Wall Street reforms since the Great Depression.  http://bit.ly/hWCPg0   http://bit.ly/geHpcD

39. Through Dodd-Frank legislation, created the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau  http://1.usa.gov/j5onG

40. Through Dodd-Frank, the Executive Branch fashioned rules that reduce the influence of speculators in the oil market.  http://bit.ly/MDnA1t

41. Fashioned rules so that banks can no longer use YOUR money to invest in high-risk financial instruments that work against their own customers’ interests.  http://bit.ly/fnTayj

42. Supported the concept of allowing stockholders to vote on executive compensation.  http://bit.ly/fnTayj

43. Endorsed and supported the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act of 2009 that would close offshore tax avoidance loopholes.   http://bit.ly/esOdfB   http://bit.ly/eG4DPM

44. Negotiated a deal with Swiss banks that now permits the US government to gain access to the records of criminals and  tax evaders.  http://bit.ly/htfDgw

45. Signed the American Jobs and Closing Tax Loopholes Act, which closed many of the loopholes that allowed companies to send jobs overseas, and avoid paying US taxes by moving money offshore.  http://1.usa.gov/bd1RTq

46. Established a Consumer Protection Financial Bureau designed to protect consumers from financial sector excesses.  http://bit.ly/fnTayj

47. Oversaw and then signed a Democratic bill constituting the most sweeping food safety legislation since the Great Depression.  http://thedc.com/gxkCtP 

48. Through the Fraud Enforcement and Recovery Act, extended the False Claims Act to combat fraud by companies and individuals usingmoney from the TARP and Stimulus programs.  http://bit.ly/SLTcSa

He Ushered Through Many Changes That Enhanced Civil Rights and Anti-Discrimination

49. Along with Congressional Democrats, advocated for and signed the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which made it a federal crime to assault anyone based on his or her sexual orientation or gender identity. http://bit.ly/gsMSJ7

50. Pushed through, signed and demanded the Pentagon enact a repeal of the discriminatory “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy that forced soldiers to lie in order to be eligible to fight for their country, and put our troops at risk by disqualifying many qualified soldiers from helping.  http://bit.ly/fdahuH  http://bit.ly/mZV4Pz

51. Extended benefits to same-sex partners of federal employees.  http://1.usa.gov/g2RLCj

52. Appointed more openly gay officials than anyone in history.  http://bit.ly/g1lA7D

53. Appointed first openly transgender Cabinet Official in History.  http://bit.ly/58zUp7  

54. Changed HUD rules to prohibit gender and sexual orientation-based discrimination in housing   bit.ly/9RxEnP  

55. Changed his mind and publicly expressed support for the right to enter into a same-sex marriage.  http://bit.ly/JsiFKp

56. Issued a Presidential Memorandum reaffirming the rights of gay couples to make medical decisions for each other. http://1.usa.gov/aUueGT

57. Wrote and signed an Executive Order establishing a White House Council on Women and Girls to ensure that all Cabinet and Cabinet-level agencies evaluate the effect of their policies and programs on women and families.     http://bit.ly/e1puTk   http://1.usa.gov/rFfqMM

58. Signed the Democratic-sponsored Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which restored basic protections against pay discrimination for women and other workers. This was after the GOP blocked the bill in 2007. Only 5 Republican Senators voted for the bill.   http://bit.ly/fT3Cxg

59. Expanded funding for the Violence Against Women Act. http://1.usa.gov/dSbI0x

60. Under his guidance, National Labor Relations Board issued final rules that require all employers to prominently post employees’ rights where all employees or prospective employees can see it, including websites and intranets, beginning November 2011.  http://1.usa.gov/qu2EhQ

61. Advocated that United Nations adopt a policy supporting gay rights worldwide.  http://lat.ms/pQe1RS

62. Issued an order requiring hospitals to allow visitation by same-sex couples.  reut.rs/llNJek 

63. Appointed Kareem Dale as the first ever Special Assistant to the President for Disability Policy.  http://1.usa.gov/fi5IY0

64. Helped Democrats in Congress pass and signed the Civil Rights History Act. http://bit.ly/th0JC8

He Made Major Improvements in Foreign Relations and American Status Around the World

65. Visited more countries and met with more world leaders than any previous president during his first six months in office.   http://bit.ly/hZycda

66. As he promised, he gave a speech at a major Islamic forum in Cairo early in his administration. http://nyti.ms/dKvY4g 

67. Helped to restore America’s reputation around the world as a global leader that does the “right thing” in world affairs, at least according to the rest of the world.   http://bit.ly/h743y7  http://bit.ly/ho4TCr

68. Re-established and reinforced our partnership with NATO and other allies on strategic international issues.  http://1.usa.gov/e7QuDj

69. Closed a number of secret detention facilities. http://nyti.ms/rpUc9l

70. Improved relations with Middle East countries by appointing special envoys.  http://1.usa.gov/tiGAGe

71. Pushed for military to emphasize devlopment of foreign language skills. http://bit.ly/AxUCLV

72. Offered $400 million to the people living in Gaza, called on both Israel and the Palestinians to stop inciting violence.  http://bit.ly/9axfWh

73. Refused to give Israel the green light to attack Iran over their possible nuclear program, and thus avoid another war that Republicans wanted.  http://bit.ly/xVmSZK

74. Worked with Democratic Congress to make donations to Haiti tax deductible in 2009.  http://huff.to/6YkAVY

75. Established a new U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue.   http://1.usa.gov/eX28DP

76. Issued Executive Order blocking interference and helping to stabilize Somalia.  http://1.usa.gov/hxdf8U

77. Established new, more reasonable policies in our relations with Cuba, such as allowing Cuban-Americans to visit their families and send money to support them.  http://n.pr/hY3Kwa   http://nyti.ms/emQBde

78. Ordered the closure of the prison at Guantanamo Bay. It was Republicans (and, unfortunately, progressive Democrats) who prevented follow through.  http://bit.ly/eW6CVF

79. Ordered a review of our detention and interrogation policy, and prohibited the use of torture, or what Bush called “enhanced interrogation.” He ordered interrogators to limit their actions to the Army Field manual.  http://bit.ly/g6MTuC

80. Ordered all secret detention facilities in Eastern Europe and elsewhere to be closed. http://bbc.in/h6N9ax

81. Released the Bush torture memos.  http://bit.ly/hWJ5z0

82. On his second day in office, he signed a detailed Executive Order that banned torture, reversed all  Bush torture policies, and put the United States in compliance with the Geneva Convention.  http://1.usa.gov/dL6Zve    http://nyti.ms/hzWWys

83. In response to the emerging “Arab Spring,” he created a Rapid Response fund, to assist emerging democracies with foreign aid, debt relief, technical assistance and investment packages in order to show that the United States stands with them. http://bit.ly/zfmGv9

84. Passed the Iran Sanctions Act, to prevent war, and to encourage Iran to give up their nuclear program. http://1.usa.gov/wLtNjb

85. Ended the Iraq War. http://tgr.ph/ru0tyS

86. Authorized and oversaw a secret mission by SEAL Team Six to rescue two hostages held by Somali pirates. http://bit.ly/y8c9Fz

He Took a More Realistic Approach to “Defense”

87. Created a comprehensive new strategy for dealing with the international nuclear threat.  http://1.usa.gov/gDX1nE

88. Authorized a $1.4 billion reduction in Star Wars program in 2010.http://1.usa.gov/gLFZl2

89. Restarted nuclear nonproliferation talks and built up the nuclear inspection infrastructure/protocols to where they had been before Bush.   http://lat.ms/gkcl3i

90. Signed and pushed through ratification a new SALT Treaty.  http://bit.ly/f3JVtw

91. Negotiated and signed a new START Treaty that will lst until at least 2021.  http://1.usa.gov/cI1bC4

92. Through the Defense Authorization Act, reversed the Bush Administration and committed to no permanent military bases in Iraq.   http://bit.ly/hk73OJ

93. Developed first comprehensive strategy with regard to Afghanistan and Pakistan designed to facilitate the defeat of al Qaeda and the withdrawal of most troops, as well as the rebuilding of Afghanistan.  http://wapo.st/ee4Xcs

94. Returned our focus to Afghanistan, stabilized the country, and began the process of withdrawing our troops from the country. http://bit.ly/lNXUna

95. Negotiated a deal with Afghan govenment, to withdraw troops and military support, while assisting in rebuilding and modernizing of the country.  http://bit.ly/K362an

96. Took steps to severely weaken al Qaeda and limited their ability to terrorize the world.  http://yhoo.it/n5lXs6

97. Negotiated and signed a nuclear nonproliferation treaty with India.  http://1.usa.gov/aHp0Cn

98. Took decisive action to use NATO to limit the slaughter of innocents in Libya, so that the Libyan people could topple a despotic government and determine their own fate.  http://aje.me/qAh4Sj

His Administration Treated Soldiers and Veterans with Respect That Was Missing Previously

99. Along with Congressional Democrats, not only reauthorized families of fallen soldiers to be able to visit when the body arrives at Dover AFB, but also provided funding for it.  Ended the media blackout on coverage of the return of fallen soldiers.  http://nyti.ms/glqN66   http://bbc.in/gWSSkA

100. Funded Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) with an extra $1.4 billion to improve veterans’ services.  http://1.usa.gov/huhqfo

101. Provided active combat troops with better body armor.  http://bit.ly/hzSv2h

102. Created Joint Virtual Lifetime Electronic Record program for military personnel, in order  to improve the quality of their medical care.  http://1.usa.gov/f4yaxW

103. Put an end to the Bush-era stop-loss policy that kept soldiers in Iraq/Afghanistan beyond their enlistment date. (personal note: my son will be in harm’s way for six fewer months with Obama as president, so you know I love this one.) http://nyti.ms/e2YQ7Q

104. Along with Congressional Democrats, supported and signed Veterans Health Care Budget Reform and Transparency Act, which made more money available to enable better medical care for veterans.  http://1.usa.gov/fN4ur1

105. Along with Congressional Democrats, ushered through largest spending increase in 30 years for Department of Veterans Affairs, with money to go to improved medical facilities, and to assist states in acquiring or constructing state nursing homes and extended care facilities.    http://1.usa.gov/gY8O3x

106. Created the Green Vet Initiative, which provided special funding to the Labor Department to provide veterans with training in green jobs.  http://bit.ly/epwUQY

107.  Initiated and signed a recruitment and employment plan to get more veterans into government jobs.  http://bit.ly/b48coi

108. Oversaw a $4.6 billion expansion of the Veterans Administration budget to pay for more mental health professionals.  http://bit.ly/gjzTxX

109. Signed the Military Spouses Residency Relief Act, which ensures that spouses of military personnel who are forced to move because their spouse is posted for military duty will be able to avoid state taxes in their temporary residence.  http://bit.ly/1Gh0NX

He Refocused the Federal Government on Education

110. Repeatedly increased funding for student financial aid, and at the same time cut the banks completely out of the process.   http://bit.ly/gYWd30   http://bit.ly/e9c7Dr  http://bit.ly/eEzTNq

111. Reformed student loan program, to make it possible for students to refinance at a lower rate.   http://nyti.ms/dMvHOt

112. Through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act , invested heavily in elementary, secondary and post-secondary education.   http://1.usa.gov/gGRIAr

113.  Created the Race to the Top program, which encouraged states to come up with effective school reforms and rewards the best of them.   http://bit.ly/NHtZ7L

114. Oversaw major expansion of broadband availability in K-12 schools nationwide  http://bit.ly/fNDcj3 ,

115. Oversaw major expansion in school construction.  http://bit.ly/fYwNrV

116. Also through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, he put $5 billion into early education, including Head Start. http://1.usa.gov/tzT2Rr

117. Signed the Democratic-sponsored Post-9/11 GI Bill, also known as GI Bill 2.0  http://bit.ly/hPhG7J 

118. Oversaw expansion of the Pell Grants program, to expand opportunity for low income students to go to college.  http://bit.ly/hI6tXz

119. Along with Democratic Congress, passed and signed Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, which provided an extra $12.2 billion in funds.  http://1.usa.gov/dQvtUe 

120. Took major new steps to protec students from ineffective for-profit colleges through “gainful employment” measures, whereby schools have to demonstrate that its students actually find work to get federal aid.  http://1.usa.gov/jkzQe2

121. With First Lady Michelle Obama, passed the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act, which will improve nutrition in schools and make children healthier.   http://1.usa.gov/GAXkSk

He Pushed Through Improvements in National Safety and Security

122. Restored federal agencies such as FEMA to the point that they have been able to manage a huge number of natural  disasters successfully.   http://bit.ly/h8Xj7z

123. Authorized Navy SEALS to successfully secure the release of a US captain held by Somali pirates and increased patrols off the Somali coast. http://nyti.ms/efBO7B

124. Has repeatedly beefed up border security http://bit.ly/mMYB4i

125. Ordered and oversaw the Navy SEALS operation that killed Osama bin Laden.  http://bit.ly/jChpgw

Reoriented Government to an Adult View on Science, Technology and Health Care

126. Created a Presidential Memorandum to restore scientific integrity in government decision-making.  http://1.usa.gov/g2SDuw

127. Opened up process for fast-tracking patent approval for green energy projects.  http://bit.ly/j0KV2U

128. Eliminated Bush-era restrictions on embryonic stem cell research, and provided increased federal support for biomedical and stem cell research.   http://bit.ly/h36SSO   http://ti.me/edezge

129. Through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, committed more federal funding, about $18 billion, to support non-defense science and research labs. http://nyti.ms/fTs9t7

130. Signed Democratic-sponsored Christopher and Dana Reeve Paralysis Act, the first comprehensive attempt to improve the lives of Americans living with paralysis. http://bit.ly/fOi2rb

131. Expanded the Nurse-Family Partnership program, which provides home visits by trained registered nurses to low-income expectant mothers and their families, to cover more first-time mothers. http://bit.ly/jRRRJc

132. Obama EPA reveresed research ethics standards which allowed humands to be used as “guinea pigs” in tests of the effects of chemicals, to comply with numerous codes of medical ethics.  http://bit.ly/bKgqdS

133. Conducted a cyberspace policy review.   http://1.usa.gov/gmbdvC

134. Provided financial support for private sector space programs. http://bit.ly/fn8ucr

135. Oversaw enhanced earth mapping, to provide valuable data for agricultural, educational, scientific, and government use.   http://bit.ly/dNTRyP

136. Along with Democrats in Congress, ushered through and signed a bill authorizing FDA to regulate tobacco.  http://on.msnbc.com/fiKViB As a result,  the FDA has Ordered Tobacco Companies to Disclose Cigarette Ingredients and banned sale of cigarettes falsely labeled as “light.”

137. Through American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, provided $500 million for Health Professions Training Programs.  http://bit.ly/ecQSgA

138. Increased funding for community-based prevention programs. http://bit.ly/frMPG3

139. Oversaw a 50% decrease in cost of prescription drugs for seniors. http://bit.ly/e5b1iq    http://1.usa.gov/fVNkt9

140. Eliminated the Bush-era practice of forbidding Medicare from negotiating with drug companies on price. http://bit.ly/fOkG5b

141. Two weeks after taking office, signed Democratic-sponsored Children’s Health Insurance Reauthorization Act, which increased the number of children covered by health insurance by 4 million.   http://bit.ly/fDEzGv

142. Urged Congress to investigate Anthem Blue Cross for raising premiums 39% without explanation. Democratic Rep. Waxman responded by launching a probe, and Anthem Blue Cross put increase on hold for two months.    http://yhoo.it/e8Tj9C

143. Ushered through and signed Affordable Care Act, which expanded health insurance coverage to at least 30 million more people, ended many common insurance company practices that are often detrimental  to those with coverage.  He also established healthcare.gov, so that taxpayers could keep up with developments.  http://www.healthcare.gov/

144. Through ACA, allowed children to be covered under their parents’ policy until they turned 26.   http://nyti.ms/fNB26V

145. Through the ACA, provided tax breaks to allow 3.5 million small business to provide health insurance to their employees, and 29 million people will receive tax breaks to help them afford health insurance.  http://nyti.ms/fNB26V

146. Through the ACA, expanded Medicaid to those making up to 133% of the federal poverty level.  http://nyti.ms/ekMWpo

147. Through the ACA, health insurance companies now have to disclose how much of your premium actually goes to pay for patient care.  http://nyti.ms/fNB26V

148. Provisions in theACA have already resulted in Medicare costs actually declining slightly this fiscal year, for the first time in many years, according to the Congressional Budget Office. The increase in 2011 was 4%, which is very low compared to the average 12% annual inflation rate during previous 40 years. http://1.usa.gov/oMxpTh

149. Through the ACA, expanded space exploration and discovery options to more players   http://bit.ly/PNTS7e

150.  Through the Connect America Fund, pushed through and received FCC approval for a move of $8 billion in subsidies away from telephone landlines to assist lower-income rural families in accessing broadband.   http://lat.ms/vhRUEs

He Took Steps to Strengthen the Middle Class and Families, and to Fight Poverty

151. Worked to provide affordable, high-quality child care to working families.  http://bit.ly/fNfidS

152. Cracked down on companies that were previously denying sick pay, vacation and health insurance, and Social Security and Medicare tax payments through abuse of the employee classification of independent contractor.   http://nyti.ms/fOGLcj

153. Through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act , cut taxes for 95% of America’s working families.   http://bit.ly/eSEI4F

154. Tax rates for average working families are the lowest since 1950. http://bit.ly/f74pD8

155. Extended and fully funded the patch for the Alternative Minimum Tax for 10 years.  http://bit.ly/eFeSdP

156. Extended discounted COBRA health coverage for the unemployed from 9 months to 15 months, and he’s extended unemployment benefits several times. http://aol.it/evtVxD   http://nyti.ms/emrqKJ    http://bit.ly/hOtIpg   http://bit.ly/fTT7kz

157. Provided  a $20 billion increase for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (Food Stamps).  http://nyti.ms/gfLqyM

158. Signed an Executive Order that established the White House Office of Urban Affairs.  http://wapo.st/eWECA8

He Took Concrete Steps to Improve Our Environment and Address Our Energy Needs

159. Fast-tracked regulations to allow states to enact fuel efficiency standards that exceeded federal standards.    http://nyti.ms/e8e94x

160. Fast-tracked increased fuel economy standards for vehicles beginning with the 2011 model year. It was the first time such standards had been increased in a decade.   http://politi.co/hiaPKM

161. Oversaw establishment of an Energy Partnership for the Americas, to create more markets for American-made biofuels and green energy technologies. http://bit.ly/lZp73y

162. Obama EPA reversed a Bush-era decision to allow the largest mountaintop removal project in US history.  http://bit.ly/lP3yEL

163. Ordered the Department of Energy to implement more aggressive efficiency standards for common household appliances.    http://1.usa.gov/g3MTbu

164. Ordered energy plants to prepare to produce at least 15% of all energy through renewable resources like wind and solar, by 2021. http://reut.rs/fV155p  (As you can see, Republicans are trying hard to kill it.)

165. Oversaw the creation of an initiative that converts old factories and manufacturing centers into new clean technology centers. http://bit.ly/mjnq2R

166. Bypassed Republican opposition in Congress and ordered EPA to begin regulating and measuring carbon emissions.   http://bit.ly/froaP5

167. Obama EPA ruled that CO2 is a pollutant. http://bit.ly/iQTSNN

168. Oversaw doubling federal spending on clean energy research. http://bit.ly/iN0sCE

169. Pushed through a tax credit to help people buy plug-in hybrid cars.   http://bit.ly/j8UP5Y

170. Created a program to develop renewable energy projects on the waters of our Outer Continental Shelf that will produce electricity from wind, wave, and ocean currents.   http://1.usa.gov/fgfRWq

171. Reengaged in the climate change and greenhouse gas emissions agreements talks, and proposed one himself. He also addressed the U.N. Climate Change Conference, officially reversing the Bush era stance that climate change was a “hoax.” http://bit.ly/dX6Vj3  http://bit.ly/fE2PxK  http://nyti.ms/hfeqvv

172. Fully supported the initial phase of the creation of a legally-binding treaty to reduce mercury emissions worldwide.  http://bit.ly/eJ6QOO

173. Required states to provide incentives to utilities to reduce their energy consumption. http://bit.ly/lBhk7P

174. Following the neglect of Bush’s eight year reign, he reengaged in a number of treaties and agreements designed to protect the Antarctic.  http://bit.ly/fzQUFO

175. Created tax write-offs for purchases of hybrid automobiles, and later he and Democrats morphed that program into one that includes electric cars.   http://bit.ly/glCukV

176. Mandated that federal government fleet purchases be for fuel-efficient American vehicles, and encouraged that federal agencies support experimental, fuel-efficient vehicles.   http://bit.ly/h5KZqy   http://1.usa.gov/fLWq5c   http://1.usa.gov/hmUSbk

177. Oversaw and pushed through amendment to the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 authorizing advances from Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.  http://1.usa.gov/yTRYVo

178. Actively tried to amend the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 to eliminate the liability limits for those companies responsible for large oil spills. http://nyti.ms/bxjDi3

179. Initiated Criminal and Civil inquiries into the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.  http://nyti.ms/bVuB7a

180. Through his EPA, he asserted federal legal supremacy, and barred Texas from authorizing new refinery permits on its own.  http://bit.ly/ww8eMd

181. Strengthened the Endangered Species Act.  http://bit.ly/hscjsH

182. Obama EPA improved boiler safety standards to improve air quality, and save 6500 lives per year.  http://bit.ly/jYH7nt

183. Through the EPA, attemped to take steps to severely limit the use of antibiotics in livestock feed, to increase their efficacy in humans. http://bit.ly/fBuWd2

184. Through new EPA regulations, he created a pretext for closing the dirtiest power plants in the country, by limiting emissions of mercury and other toxic gasses.  http://bit.ly/rQCIgA

185. Increased funding for National Parks and Forests by 10%  http://bit.ly/fbJPjY

186. Announced greatly improved commercial fuel efficiency standards.  http://1.usa.gov/oQiC1K

187. Announced a huge increase in average fuel economy standards from 27.5mpg in 2010 to 35.5mpg starting in 2016 and 54.5 starting in 2025   http://1.usa.gov/qtghsW

But That’s Not All…

188. Expanded trade agreements to include stricter labor and environmental agreements such as NAFTA.  http://bit.ly/etznpY

189. Oversaw funding of  the design of a new Smithsonian National Museum of African American History, which is scheduled to open on the National Mall in 2015.  He protected the funding during the recent budget negotiations.   http://on.fb.me/fD0EVO   http://bit.ly/ff5Luv

190. Oversaw and passed increased funding for the National Endowment for the Arts. http://bit.ly/dFb8qF

191. Nominated Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court. Sotomayor is the first Hispanic Justice in the court’s history, and the women represent only the third and fourth women to serve on the court, out of a total of 112 justices.   http://huff.to/eOChg6  http://bit.ly/i02wgP

192. Appointed the most diverse Cabinet in history, including more women than any other incoming president.   http://bit.ly/dX6vNB

193. Eliminated federal funding for abstinence-only education, and rescinded the global gag rule.  http://bit.ly/eCFAI1  http://bit.ly/f92drF

194. Loosened the rules and allowed the 14 states that legalized medical marijuana to regulate themselves without federal interference.   http://huff.to/eQfa7j

195. Signed national service legislation, increasing funding for national service groups, including triple the size of the Americorps program.   http://bit.ly/idgQH5

196. Signed an Executive Order that will speed up deployment of a more comprehensive broadband infrastructure.  http://1.usa.gov/M7rVpe

197. Signed an Executive Order creating jobs immediately by instructing them to reduce the time needed for review and permitting of infrastructure projects. http://1.usa.gov/GHxaYt

198. Signed a bill that provided $4.3 billion in additional assistance to 9/11 first reponders.   http://bit.ly/o7cWYS

199. Signed an Executive Order pledging support for efforts to end the global problem of violence against women and girls.  http://1.usa.gov/MHTRVU

And Did You Know?

200. Despite the characterizations of some, Obama’s success rate in winning congressional votes on issues was an unprecedented 96.7% for his first year in office.  Though he is often cited as superior to Obama, President Lyndon Johnson’s success rate in 1965 was only 93%.   http://n.pr/i3d7cY

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Conway…..

Video

http://youtu.be/d7FspsAHqfQ

When I was five years old, my friend, Vesta Lou and I drank red Koolaid from Tupperware glasses while standing in Conway Twitty’s big, air conditioned kitchen in Oklahoma City, OK. It was a searing July day, and Vesta Lou lived a couple of doors down from him, so all the parents were friends. He had on a thin, pale blue v-neck sweater….because the inside of his house was so cold…and was also wearing a gold necklace.  He had black leather furniture and large pictures of himself all over the walls, and I recall not having a clue about who he was, but thinking how silly he looked with his football helmet hair.  He had maple cabinets, which, at the time, I did not realize were maple…and some kind of brown kitchen floor….and I THINK he had brown shag carpeting, but that could be my imagination.   His house was a large, ranch-style and very modern.

I remember having a bit of a crush on him after he reached out and mussed my hair when I said something silly…..even though I hated his music until I was an adult and could really grasp and appreciate those now-beloved country roots. This ain’t no, “Hello Darlin”…but the song does go out to a sweet, funny friend , who makes me smile….and who, in fact, is about as direct as this song.   Talked about Conway last week, and I’ve been singing his songs ever since.

Day # 20 – Manmade

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Photo a day – September

Day # 19 – Manmade

©Stacy Alexander – 2012

(By the way, I am making this post from my iPhone app….far away from Portland, but from my actual computer in Portland.  What will they think of next?!   I can also turn my lights off and on remotely.  Isn’t technology wunnerful??!!)  The app is called Jaadu and like a magic wand, it allows you to access your home computer from anywhere in the world. An easy setup lets you control your mouse on your Mac, Windows, or Linux home system, and modifier menus let you control up/down/left/right arrows for easy navigation.  I am amazed!!

It’s Your Turn: The Traditional Game Festival in Verona

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In Verona,  sports are treated a little differently from the same ‘ol – same ‘ol American football, basketball and baseball games. International Festival of Street GameTocatì  is a truly unique festival, both in Italy and throughout other places in Europe.  Its objective is to instill a rich sense of history and tradition by reviving  the old traditional street games that were around before Atari made the scene.    The event is a grand and happy festival that affords occasion for comparison and action.   It doesn’t simply represent games, but teaches people to understand them, meet the players, interview the older players who have been around for awhile and to keep an oral  alive, and to learn the game rules and construction techniques.  There is food and art and music and a happy, lively crowd!

For many reasons, this festival in Italy reminds me of a book that philosopher David Abram wrote, called, “The Spell of the Sensuous: Perception and Language in a More-than-Human World,”  in which he addresses the issue of oral tradition.  Abram talks about how, in America, for example, many Native American skills that had been passed down from generation to generation, were lost when the printing press was invented.  People started reading rather than passing their traditions along to the next generation, so in a sense, these games in Verona have a very important sociological significance in that respect.

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For the festival, the entire historic district  of Verona is turned into a gigantic playground that includes the river, Verona square and the adjoining alleyways.  Signs with a pointing boy bedecked in a folded paper hat, can be seen throughout the festival.  The brightly colored signs are used to point spectators to the next game.

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More than 50 of them are installed about the grounds.  This festival is a family affair where the young  (or young at heart, such as myself) can  learn how to use a sling,  throw a spinning top or compete in the tip cat tournaments.  I’m a pretty good top spinner, actually, having made a wooden top one of my favorite childhood toys after a visit from a man from the Whamo! toy manufacturing company visited my school.  Tops and yoyos were very big back then.  I now appreciate their simplicity and attribute them to my not letting my own kids go overboard with the video games when they were younger.  That is a decision that I do not regret, because they are all thinkers and conversationalists who know how to use their hands and their minds and who communicate well.

One of the main games in Verona is Tip Cat.  There are many different variations of this game,  but it is basically a pastime that  consists of tapping a short billet of wood with a large bat-type stick.  There are as many rules as there are versions of this game, but it is old fashioned, charming and non-electronic!   Here is an old Italian etching of a Tip Cat game in progress that I found:

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And here is a youngster playing the game today.  Not much difference at all, actually.

There is something about the spirit of Verona and the charm of going back in time to carry on the traditions of these types of games.  I like that.  Oh….and speaking of charm, I am off to meet a handsome silver-haired stranger who promises me some traditional storytelling that I can take back home with me, David Abram style!  (or art style….which I shall upload when my proposed project has been completed…)

Have a great day, everyone!

Protected: Day # 19 – Underneath

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