Author Archives: Stacy Alexander, Writer/Artist

About Stacy Alexander, Writer/Artist

Stacy Alexander - mixed media artist and founder of Arte Alterado and Stacy Alexander's Silverthorn Studios. Mother of one daughter. Grandmother to Maya, Ingrid and Harry.

Guilt Over Happiness

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Yesterday, I read a Facebook post by a friend, who was expressing how she doesn’t feel she has a right to feel happiness in the face of all this darkness that our country (and the world) is currently facing…from the hurricanes, to the forest fires, to the racist idiot in the White House, the violence, and now, this horrible DACA thing.

I try to think of something to say that is upbeat or positive….like how much I have to be grateful for….because I do….or “Ooo! Doesn’t this food look good!”…but I think about those people in Houston.  I think about the 800,000 innocents who will be adversely effected by what just went down with DACA.  I think about my friend in Canada, who has been evacuated from her home, and another one who is fighting for custody of her children in a terrible divorce, and someone else, who is under a barrage of criticism, violence and unhappiness…and on and on….and it is so hard to smile.

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The stress from all of this, leaves me longing for a break from it all…but hey. I can’t even go out for a walk, because the air is filled with smoke, and it’s not safe. (Yeah, I know. Poor me. Right?  Wrong. ) However, I am fundamentally happy, and have so much to be grateful for….yet, I feel guilty during these times, whenever I feel this happiness.  It’s like, there are so many people out there who have it worse off than I do. What gives me the right to smile?

Then, I have to ask myself, what good that guilt does.  How does it help, in any way?  The answer is:  It doesn’t.   In order to feed positive energy into the world, when we have the opportunity, we should dance and sing and revel in order to bring that positive energy home to be shared with others.

My friend pointed out that perhaps all this is happening because the universe is jolting us awake to learn love and compassion for mother earth and all her sentient beings.  With regard to the heaviness of empathy and grief, Ram Dass recommends the luggage method…..Just pick it up, then put it down, pick it up, then set it down….so that we can stay present without any denial or clinging.  In other words, one must discover how to be happy AND sad at the same time, in order to stay sane and well balanced.

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Each day, I try to do what I can to affect good.  I can’t move mountains, but I can do little things….important things….whether it is to comfort my best friend in his time of need, or to listen to my little grandchild tell me about her day, or to cook something healthful for my ailing husband to eat.    I give what I can, and try to be the best person that I can be….and in the end….it does matter.  My being in a good place does not diminish those who are not in a good place.  My heart goes out to them all.

The Rae Gordon Band

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We went to hear the Rae Gordon band last weekend.  Just as I was about to request one of my all-time favorite songs, the band played the opening notes of it, and I flipped out. What a great rendition of a classic song.  I have no negative associations with this song. In other words, the lyrics don’t apply to me, since no one has “left me behind,”….but the music itself really sings to my heart.

I hope you love this as much as I do!   (WordPress is being wonky today.  Can you please comment and let me know whether or not you can hear it?  Thakns.)

https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fstacy.alexander.391%2Fvideos%2F10155392749480795%2F&show_text=0&width=267

Happy Birthday to Ingrid Neko Kesswood!

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8 years ago today, we were blessed with the birth of our darling Ingrid.  I spoke to her on the phone earlier, and she is absolutely high on life. I have never met a happier child.

We will be celebrating this afternoon, and have lots of surprises ready for her.

I am so grateful for this child, for my awesome family, for my best friend, and for all of my friends in general .  My life is a simple and good one, that is filled with love.

Ingrid contributes to this mix in the most delightful way.  I learn something new from her every time I see her.   I fully understand how lucky I am.

Happy birthday, precious Ingrid.  I am so happy that you are a part of my life.

“Both sides” did NOT start the Charlottesville Riots!

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From someone who was there, as a medic. Don’t want to hear any more about it being two sided.
From a (verified) source who was on the ground at Charlottesville.  Please link to this and/or share it with everyone you know.  This is important information.

—–
I rarely post politics or anything else on Facebook …. But let me be clear. I was acting as a medic in Charlottesville. “Both sides”-ing about it is absolutely unacceptable. Content note: I’m going to get quite graphic here, because while I understand that there’s quite a range of political viewpoints among my Facebook friends, I want to *get this point through to everyone whatever your politics*.
In the run-up to that weekend, some local counterprotest organizers’ families were forced to flee their homes because of violent threats. Some of them had “bodyguards” – friends escorting them everywhere they went that week, even to the grocery store, work, all the mundane places that people go in their normal lives.
On Friday night, a torch-wielding mob chanting Nazi and other racist slogans (e.g. “blood and soil,” “Jews will not replace us”), some doing Nazi salutes, surrounded, screamed “White lives matter” and “anti-white” at, a small group of college student counterprotesters who had linked arms around a statue and had a banner. They then threw fuel at them, beat them with lit torches, pepper-sprayed them, and punched them (including pepper-spraying a girl in a wheelchair). The police mostly stood by until the nazis were gone. A medic who was wearing a kippah (a Jewish skullcap) was followed in the dark by one of the nazis, and took it off after that so as not to be targeted. A university librarian who joined the students to try to protect them has now had a stroke. At some point that evening, the torch-wielders also surrounded a black church while chanting racist slogans. All of this not only hurt people that night but set expectations for how the white nationalists would behave the next day.
On Saturday morning, a line of clergy, along with a gradually growing group of other protesters, showed up outside the nazi rally (given the iconography, including swastikas, the Black Sun, and fasces, and the chants, of involved groups, I don’t have a problem using that word, don’t let anyone fool you into thinking these were mainstream conservative groups that are being described hyperbolically), facing militia movement members who were carrying assault rifles. There was shouting back and forth, and a small early fistfight where a nazi punched a nearby counterprotester who spilled coffee on him. Nazis were screaming antisemitic things at rabbis in the clergy line, and chanting “blood and soil” in response to the clergy singing “This little light of mine.” At one point, some clergy did a peaceful blockade of one of the park entrances, which was forcibly broken by an incoming white nationalist group with skulls painted on their shields.
The heavy bidirectional fighting, though, mostly got going after a group of counterprotesters nonviolently blocked the way of an oncoming group of white nationalists, who broke through the blockade with clubs and heavy shields. Some people defended themselves as the white nationalists kept charging and swinging clubs. After that, there were fistfights and club-fights breaking out all around, nazis pepper-spraying and tear-gassing counterprotest crowds, plastic water bottles thrown in both directions. A nazi group that didn’t know where the entrance to the park was added to the street fights.
Some clergy ran to shield vulnerable people with their bodies, and those clergy were protected by antifa-associated counterprotesters – multiple clergy/theologians have said that they would have been “crushed” and maybe killed if antifa had not protected them. This went on for a long time. For most of this, the police stood around. Eventually, they cleared both sides out of the area.
The town’s synagogue is a short distance from the park. Throughout the day, nazis paraded by it doing the Nazi salute and shouting antisemitic slurs. The police had refused to provide a guard to the synagogue for some reason, so it had hired its own armed guard. There were threats of burning it down coming in. It had to cancel a havdalah service at a congregant’s house that evening out of fear of attack.
The march that was attacked with a car by James Fields was that afternoon. What street fighting had happened was long-since over by then. It was a happy march, it was not fighting anyone. The car attack came out of nowhere and the aftermath looked like a war zone. It hit the front of the march as the march was going around a corner, and many people weren’t sure what had happened at first, people were screaming about a bomb. In addition to the woman who died, many people had serious injuries. A medic who was hit had to have emergency surgery to not lose her leg. A 13 year-old girl and her mom were among the injured. The street was covered in blood. The firefighters and paramedics were great. The police, on the other hand, rolled in an armored vehicle and threatened the crowd of survivors with a tear gas launcher. Police officers ordered the medics who were performing CPR on the woman who died to leave her and clear the area. They refused, and bystanders negotiated with the police to leave them alone.
There were several other incidents throughout the afternoon where white nationalists/nazis/whatever were menacing small groups of wandering counterprotesters with their cars, swerving toward them on the sidewalk like they were going to hit them, that kind of thing, including after the car attack. At one point my medic buddy and I were about 50 feet ahead of such a group and heard screeching car sounds and screams, and ran back, thinking for a second that there had been another terrorist attack and that this time we were the only medics on site, but fortunately it was just a scare – the driver then “rolled coal” (intentionally emitting a dark cloud of exhaust) at the people on the sidewalk before driving away. There was also an incident at some point where a young black man was badly beaten by white nationalists in a parking garage.
There is no “both sides” here. I mean, first of all, there is no moral both sides because antifascists and nazis aren’t morally the same, period. Disrupting nazis isn’t the same as being one, period. But there was also no “both sides” even beyond that. Mutual street fighting primarily kicked off by an attack from the opposing side, doesn’t compare to mowing people down with a car, to threatening a synagogue and a black church, to stalking someone for being visibly Jewish, to being part of a Nazi-slogan-screaming mob that surrounds and attacks peaceful college kids and could have easily killed one of them if the fuel thrown on a couple of them had been lit by one of the many thrown or swung torches.
Don’t let anyone fool you into thinking the Saturday rally was starting out just a rally like others, but with racist assholes.
The people organizing counterprotests, whose families had to flee town, would probably take issue with that. The black church and the synagogue, the synagogue congregant who had to cancel a religious/cultural ceremony out of fear, and the ones who had to leave the building in groups out the back entrance to avoid attack, would probably take issue with that. The people who were physically attacked, on Friday night, by those in town for the Saturday rally, would probably take issue with that.
Don’t elide the difference in the questions of whether hate speech should be criminalized, and how communities and their supporters should protect themselves when people who are already threatening to kill them roll into town to rally and then physically attack community members before their rally while the police don’t stop it. Don’t invoke the Civil Rights Movement to elide it, or tsk-tsk people who were on the ground in Cville. The Civil Rights Movement had its Deacons for Defense and Justice, and similar groups. Just as importantly, many of the leading lights of the Civil Rights Movement were murdered. If you think the only valid kind of activism in response to racist hate is martyrdom, you need to at least think through the implications of that belief.
I did not have a good weekend and I have no interest in hearing comments about how, despite everything I saw and everything I said here, you think this is a “both sides” thing.

trump’s Divide and Conquer Strategy

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From Social Good:

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donald trump is using a classic “divide and conquer” strategy to gain and maintain power. Here’s how it works.

The strategy of “divide and conquer,” is as old as conflict itself. Basically, it says that if you want to conquer a group of people, you don’t want to fight them head on.  Instead, you want to create division and distrust within that group.

The goal is to separate the enemy into factions that are not strong enough on their on.  For instance, if you don’t want the media and the public to unite against you, you can turn them against one another by calling the media “FAKE NEWS,” and an “ENEMY OF THE AMERICAN PEOPLE.”    Some people will agree. Others won’t.  But the point is that everyone will be forced to choose a side. ….and regardless of which side is chosen, the result is a fractured environment that only benefits one person.

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You can see this strategy at work in some of trump’s cabinet picks.  He picked a guy wo doesn’t believe humans are the main cause of climate control to lead the EPA.  Now the EPA is fractured and cannot unite against him.  He picked a woman with no background in education to head the Department of Education.  Now, that department is fractured and cannot unite against him.    Even in his own inner circle, trump surrounds himself with people who constantly fight with each other.

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trump has reportedly said that this is to prevent any single aide from gaining too much power.  As a bonus, this “divide and conquer” strategy gives his base an eternal enemy to fight against.  As long as trump keeps his base distracted with conflict, they won’t notice how badly he is screwing them over.

Remember.  The biggest threat to authoritarianism is unity.  Ultimately, we’re all in the same boat, so don’t let yourself get labeled and separated into a category. No group is 100% good or 100% bad.  We live in a country where Snoop Dogg and Martha Stewart can co-exist peacefully.  Surely we can bet along with one another.    Only one person benefits from a divide and conquer country, and that’s not you nor I.

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Peace.

Conspiracy Theorists. Aren’t They Just Delightful?

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The election of donald j. trump has brought the conspiracy theorists out of the woodwork like never before.  After all, the man LOVES the uneducated.  He said so himself, and conspiracy theories are those theories that are not based in fact.  They are not based on scientific evidence.  They are not even based on common sense.  They are cooked up stories based on literally nothing, and their proponents claim that they “resonate” with them or that they are “spiritually based” or other reasons, and they vehemently believe them.

Most roots of conspiracy theories stem from prejudice, whether it is racial discrimination, sexual discrimination or other redneck, uneducated beliefs.

I found this commentary on conspiracy theorists on Scientific American, and wanted to share it with you, because this seems to cover the subject very well.   However, first, I want to bring attention to an excellent book on the topic of people who believe conspiracy theories.  It is called Empire of Conspiracy by Tim Melley.

Melley seeks to explain why conspiracy theories and paranoia have become so pervasive in American culture in recent decades. He discusses some of the paranoia behind our obsessions with political assassinations, gender and race relations, stalkers, mind control, bureaucracies, and the power of corporations and governments.

Melley proposes that conspiracy thinking arises from a combination of two factors, when someone: 1) holds strong individualist values and 2) lacks a sense of control. The first attribute refers to people who care deeply about an individual’s right to make their own choices and direct their own lives without interference or obligations to a larger system (like the government). But combine this with a sense of powerlessness in one’s own life, and you get what Melley calls agency panic, “intense anxiety about an apparent loss of autonomy” to outside forces or regulators.

When fervent individualists feel that they cannot exercise their independence, they experience a crisis and assume that larger forces are to blame for usurping this freedom. “For one who refuses to relinquish the assumptions of liberal individualism, such newly revealed forms of regulation frequently seem so unacceptable or unbelievable that they can only be met with anxiety, melodrama, or panic.”

Research by psychologist Jean Twenge is consistent with his hypotheses. Twenge’s research examines how Americans’ personality traits have been changing over the past several decades. She reviews the results of hundreds of studies published from the 1960s through the end of the century, looking at the personality scores for each year. For example, she finds that trait anxiety (or neuroticism) has been rising dramatically in both children and adults over this period.

In another study, she shows that people have come to hold an increasingly stronger external “locus of control”; this refers to the feeling that external forces are determining what happens to you, as opposed to an internal locus of control, the feeling that you dictate your own outcomes. Twenge suggests that the stronger external locus of control reflects our ever-increasing exposure to uncontrollable events and a rise in the “victim mentality” of our culture. (Is this sounding familiar?)

Individualistic values have also been getting stronger in our culture, with greater importance attached to personal freedoms and self-reliance. The U.S. currently ranks highest in individualism compared to all other nations in the world.

The rise in anxiety, individualism, and external locus of control may therefore underlie the rise in conspiracy thinking. This is somewhat troubling because these personality trends show no sign of leveling off. In fact, given the current pace of globalization and the “Americanization” of other countries, it seems likely that these personality traits (and conspiracy thinking) will be increasing elsewhere too.

But what’s the actual appeal of believing in conspiracy theories? What purpose do they serve people?

For one thing, conspiracy theories help us cope with distressing events and make sense out of them. Conspiracies assure us that bad things don’t just happen randomly. Conspiracies tell us that someone out there is accountable, however unwittingly or secretly or incomprehensibly, so it’s possible to stop these people and punish them and in due course let everyone else re-establish control over their own lives. Conspiracies also remind us that we shouldn’t blame ourselves for our predicaments; it’s not our fault, it’s them! In these ways, believing in conspiracies serves many of the same self-protective functions as scapegoating.

In addition to the changes in personality, conspiracy theories are also growing more popular because of the mass media, which circulates these ideas to a wider audience and indoctrinates more believers. Plus, the sheer amount of information in today’s media increases the odds that someone will detect “coincidences” or “patterns” that serve to fuel these beliefs. These trends in the media won’t be reversing themselves anytime soon either.

Does all this mean we should expect even more conspiracy theorizing and paranoia to come? Will conspiracy theories ever become a dominant ideology in our culture the way scapegoating sometimes is in other cultures?

It’s not clear whether we’ve reached any sort of tipping point yet. But if polls are any indication, the events of 9/11 may have transformed conspiracy theories from “implausible visions of a lunatic fringe” to a mainstream response to the most disturbing of events.

Here is the Scientific American article that I referred to earlier:

By Caitlin Shure on September 1, 2013

Scientific American

Credit: Flickr/Upside of Inertia

Conspiracy theories and scientific theories attempt to explain the world around us. Both apply a filter of logic to the complexity of the universe, thereby transforming randomness into reason. Yet these two theoretical breeds differ in important ways. Scientific theories, by definition, must be falsifiable. That is, they must make reliable predictions about the world; and if those predictions turn out to be incorrect, the theory can be declared false. Conspiracy theories, on the other hand, are tough to disprove. Their proponents can make the theories increasingly elaborate to accommodate new observations; and, ultimately, any information contradicting a conspiracy theory can be answered with, “Well sure, that’s what they want you to think.”

Despite their unfalsifiable nature, conspiracy theories attract significant followings. Not all theorists, it seems, hold their “truths” to the standards of conventional science. And scientists are beginning to understand the types of personalities that buy into more extreme and unlikely theories. Research reveals that conspiracy theorists tend to share a core set of traits, regardless of their conspiracy of choice. Low self-esteem, for example, may characterize both those who believe that Paul McCartney died in 1966 and those who think that Britain’s royal family consists of reptilian aliens.

For a more in-depth account, see “What a Hoax” by Sander van der Linden in the September/October issue of Scientific American MIND.

DA VINCI’S DISCIPLES


Credit: Courtesy of Jez Elliot

The theory:
Some or all of the claims made in Dan Brown’s 2003 novel, The Da Vinci Code, are true.

Studies say:
Even theories billed as fiction can attract a following. A survey conducted in 2005 revealed that 64 percent of respondents who read The Da Vinci Code believed to some extent that Jesus Christ and Mary Magdalene had spawned a secret bloodline. Willingness to believe in this conspiracy may be related to what researchers call “terror management theory,” which holds that subscribing to such grand dogma can assuage fears related to mortality. Indeed, a 2011 study found an association between belief in Da Vinci-esque conspiracies and anxiety about death.

AMELIA EARHART


Credit: Courtesy of Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, Harris & Ewing Collection Collection

The theory:
The disappearance of aviators Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan has bred an array of conspiracy theories ranging from the optimistic (Earhart survived and lived in New Jersey until 1982) to the extraterrestrial (the duo was abducted by aliens).

Studies say:
In a study of 914 adults in London, University of Westminster’s Viren Swami andAdrian Furnham of University College London found that 4.5 percent of respondents espoused an alien abduction theory, 5.5 percent believed the two were spies taken down by the Japanese, and only 32 percent endorsed a relatively undramatic account that the plane crashed into the Pacific after running out of gas. Further, researchers found that respondents who believed in Earhart conspiracy theories had lower self-esteem, were more likely to be cynical toward politics, were less agreeable and gave themselves lower ratings of intelligence.

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SPAWNING A “TRUTH MOVEMENT”


Credit: Courtesy of diking

The theory:
Numerous outlandish narratives exist surrounding the events of September 11, 2001. In many of these stories, the U.S. government knew about the attacks ahead of time; in some, they even helped orchestrate the tragedy.

Studies say:
A second study by Viren Swami and colleagues found that belief in a 9/11 conspiracy was associated with political cynicism and a general tendency toward believing in conspiracies. This latter finding supports what psychologists call a “monological belief system,” in which any and all events can be explained by a web of interconnected conspiracies.

INFECTIOUS IDEAS


Credit: Courtesy of Michael Irving

The theory:
HIV was created by government-funded scientists as a bioweapon to extinguish certain minority populations.

Studies say:
Conspiracy theories can sometimes arise as a means of making sense of an otherwise senseless tragedy. In this way, theories about the HIV epidemic may help people cope with fear of the virus or the passing of loved ones afflicted by disease-related illness. Though assigning blame may be therapeutic to some people, such attribution has been linked with risky sexual behavior, negative attitudes about medication and lower treatment adherence among those infected with the disease.

DIANA and OSAMA (and 2Pac and ELVIS)


Credit: Courtesy of Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, Exit Art’s “Reactions” Exhibition Collection

The theory:
Osama bin Laden was dead prior to the U.S. raid on his compound. Also, he is still alive.

Studies say:
A study in 2012 by Michael J. Wood and his colleagues at the University of Kent found that those who believed Bin Laden was dead prior to American intervention are more likely to believe he’s currently alive. Similarly, authors found that those who think Princess Diana faked her death are more likely to believe she was murdered. So, which is it? Dead or alive? Research suggests that such contradictory narratives are linked by an underlying distrust of authority. Among conspiracy theorists, it seems, this suspicion is strong enough to overpower traditional life-death logic.

FAKE SCIENCE


Credit: Courtesy of Kathryn Hansen/NASA

The theory:
Scientists are not to be trusted. The 1969 moon landing was produced on a Hollywood movie set. And global warming is a conspiracy between the government and scientists to achieve world domination.

Studies say:
Polls estimate that anywhere from 6 to 25 percent of the general population believes the moon landing was faked, and 37 percent of Americans suspect global warming is a hoax. Although theories of earth and moon seem worlds apart, they are linked by a general rejection of science wherein distrust of one scientific claim predicts distrust of others.  Researchers have found, for example, that people who reject climate science are also more likely to reject evidence that smoking causes cancer. But that’s just, y’know, according to science, and who believes that stuff, anyway?

Charlie Zero – A Poet for Our Times

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There is nothing typical about 31 year old contemporary poet, Charlie Zero. From L.A,  the young artist has been composing stream of conscientiousness poetry for 17 years.   I have a special relationship with Charlie.  He calls me “MoM” and I call him “Sonny boy” or “son.”  We are as alike as we are different.

Charlie’s work resonated with me early on, and for a good reason. He is influenced by some of the historical  literary and music figures that I admire most….William Boroughs, William Gibson, Allen Ginsberg, Fredereck Nitche, Captain Beefheart, to name a few….. He also cites Stanley Kubric,  and French film and theatre director, screenwriter, playwright, actor, author, poet, producer, composer, musician, comics writer, and spiritual guru, Alejandro Jodorowsky as influences, and also specific musical influences, such as jazz as being influential.

He attributes three primary factors to shaping his current work:

  1.    Dream sequences
  2.    The current state of the world
  3.    A sense of heightened paranoia

In addressing his poetry, Charlie uses what he refers to as the “cut up technique,” or, as it is known in French, the découpé literary method in which a stream of thought or literary work is cut up and rearranged to create an entirely new piece of work. I use a similar technique in my painting, at times, when I cut up the work of a famous artist, and reclaim it as my own composition.

Charlie is attracted to the odd and unusual, and with his work, seeks a sense of hope and safety. He is currently working on his second book of poetry.  His first book is entitled, “The Robot Dream; Inside a Plastic Soul.”

Without further adieu, here is some of Charlie’s awesome work.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I do, because to me, this is an exceptional young man who has something profound to express.

Gandalf’s Lesbian Fettuccine

 

Two hobbits one cup
let it play in –
like 5 nuns licking
a punching bag.
And Mona Lisa
shreds her version
of vagina fettuccine.

Westboro Baptist Church
your comical inventions
puts Kirk Cameron
on family feud.
You guys make holiness
feel gonorrhea & Coca cola.

Bob hope would pee
in his speedos –
if he’d found out
Frodo Baggins
was a lesbian pudding
filing for chapter 13 in bankruptcy.

Brad Pitt, you we’re right.
Antiperspirant leads to prostitution.
Take some advice
from Gandalf.
He shook hands with Bill Cosby
the king of Oscar Mayer Wieners.
Doesn’t that mean Whoopi Goldberg to you?
No, it doesn’t…
but if you sell me athlete’s foot
for $5 bucks, will call it ‘lee van cleef’, deal.

All Rights Reserved – 2017

Charlie Zero the Poet

Absurd Stories from the Talking Diarrhea

 

President Diarrhea speaks:

My fellow ohhhmericans…

We the pimple
face the greatest threat of all –
enchiladas & victoria secret
If you want to cook lingerie
I suggest seasoning it
with sex appeal & anemic,
the darker we cook it,
the more succulent discoveries
of the big bang nostrils taste.

Health care coverage –
sponsors eat less
& gluten later.
Gucci & Calvin Klein
rodomontade.
They demand sexy
to be the next casket.

Pimple of planet girth
your Eiffel Tower shafts
grow veiny & hard
try “Joe Pesci’s”, prophylactic
the best #1 doctor recommended.

Protects against:
Soy yogurt, Tofu,
Seitan, Chickpeas,
Cashews, Brown rice,
Quinoa, Multigrain pasta,
Dry broth, Sun-dried tomatoes,
Flax seeds, & Nutritional yeast…

Be patient hombre’s
hold on to your mac & cheez
Al Qaeda’s got the beans burning.

Purging disorder,
look around you
replicas compete
with one another.

Oregano
vs.
Michael Kors
eat me,
buy me.

The sucked face assholes
of ohhhmerica –
should Botox their nut sacks
and illegalize Panda express.

Don’t even get me started on the bible.
The worst science fiction
since Neil Armstrong
took Viagra mistaking it for penicillin.
You see the problem folks: Listerine power to your prejudice.

[Note: This poem is NOT about ‘Trump’. In fact – its my own world of  ‘ohhhmerica’, and how I’d like to see it one day –
society speaking in weird manner towards one another
and its consumerism of absurdity.]

Vervain Earthlings

 

Apotheosis tyro,
you see its abscissa;
forming into a sapient.
Vervain jeers at dots
with guile and immure.

Earthlings…
frailty intuit,
despair of organisms.
Forebode…
varmint hod,
rumple sinew debunks somehow.

Extraterrestrials piss
out a gooey homunculus
featherlike albatross mutant.
Its glass hollow teeth
a crystal ball of futureless seems.

Galactagogue!
Permanent measles…
Sorry, hot blind stitch.
Unwind, you circle-mill hue –
crack the smoother invite the few.

Copyright © 2017 Charlie Zero the Poet

All rights Reserved.

 

Eaten by Eros Whispering Remains

 

Time chewer
whispers untying,
eaten by eros
love maids’ seduce turbulence.

Dolphin’s breath
edits the pine gods.
Unbeknown
ebony celiac,
the horrific ones
pleased unperceived.

Crocodiles & vipers
inhale the mushroom.
Its profound colloquial –
remains a loud staid
endangered glimmer.

Gruesome cream
and coda cork.
Cumulonimbus carcass,
devils brothel
mosque in revelry,
escort biohazard –
you now, manufacture spirit.

Thespian whirlwind
shadows blue pig dire.
A smite emit fling;
this antifreeze can’t think.

 

Copyright © 2017 Charlie Zero the Poet

All rights Reserved.

 

For more examples of Charlie Zero’s poetry, please visit his website.    CLICK HERE

My Husband’s Play

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“Castle Happy” Recreates Hollywood Party, at Altarena Playhouse, Alameda

My husband’s play, “Castle Happy,” which he wrote with composer, Jeff Dunn, opened in the Bay Area last week and has been sold out for every show!  Two days ago, the first reviews came out which I am posting below for you to get a feel for what the play is like:

“Castle Happy” Recreates Hollywood Party, at Altarena Playhouse, Alameda

Dunn & Freed Score Scandalous Musical Intrigue

by Robert M. Gardner

“Castle Happy” provides us with many happy moments as we meet William Randolph Hearst (skilled Leland Morine) whose excellent baritone brings power and gravitas to Hearst’s character. He is paired with the wonderful Cindy Head, who plays Hearst’s mistress, the vivacious Marion Davies.

Cindy Head as Marion Davies. ACT OUT Photography by Jim Norrena.

The beautiful 1930s costumes showcase the exquisite sense of style of  Director Clay David, who is also the Costume Designer. The set is bare, with only a black box for seating, standing, and singing—in front of a small stage with a grand piano. The simplicity makes us focus on the actors and their singing, as we are swept up in the machinations of an elite weekend at Hearst Castle at San Simeon.

Hearst and Davies are joined by their famous guests, glamorous Bette Davis (outstanding Kim Schroeder Long) and her romantic interest Errol Flynn (debonair Nathaniel Rothrock). Flynn is openly flirtatious with everyone who enters, without reference to age or gender.

Cindy Head as Marion Davies. Photos by ACT OUT/Jim Norrena.

The long-suffering Bette Davis expresses her dissatisfaction with Flynn in my favorite song of the night, “Something’s Strange Here / I’ll Never Show the Pain,” sung with Hearst and Davies. Schroeder Long just completed a very successful run as Rosemary Clooney in “Tenderly, The Rosemary Clooney Musical.” She is delighted to recreate another Hollywood luminary with her depiction of Bette Davis.

Cindy Head (Marion Davies) & Leland Morine (W.R. Hearst)

The opening piano piece played by the talented Kim Rankin gives the audience a wonderful introduction into the mind of composer Jeff Dunn. I was transfixed by the piece and believe it deserves a broader treatment in another setting. It is an intricate, sophisticated composition that transports the listener and surprises and delights at several junctures.

The show opens with Arthur Lake (the dynamic Stephen Kanaski), an aspiring movie actor, arriving by train. He wonders what he is doing there, as he sings “Lost in the Fog.” Kanaski sparkles like an early Jimmy Cagney, clicking his heels and doing a little dance. Lake finds a romantic interest in the captivating teenager Patricia Van Cleve (up and coming Autumn Allee). Their duets are sweet and endearing.

Steven Kanaski (Arthur Lake) & Autumn Allee (Patricia Van Cleve)

We laugh and chuckle at the antics and machinations of these fabled Hollywood legends. The musical suffers from a bit too much story, which often leaves some songs indistinct and the action a bit disjointed. In his opening remarks, lyricist Jeff Dunn explained that playwright John Freed and he were still making changes.

Clay David’s solid, sparking directing adds “Castle Happy” to his long line of hits. The fast pace, the enthusiastic acting, the spiffy period costumes, and the brilliant comic timing clearly emanate from Clay David’s sure hand. “Castle Happy” chronicles an extravagant time that has many parallels to the present. I recommend that you catch the train for the next performance of “Castle Happy.”

 

“Castle Happy” by John Freed and Jeff Dunn, directed by Clay David, at Altarena Playhouse, Alameda, California, through Sunday, July 30, 2017. Info: altarena.org

Cast: Kim Rankin, Stephen Kanaski, Ben Brady, Kim Schroeder Long, Nathaniel Rothrock, Maria Caycedo, Rebecca Euchler, Autumn Allee, Cindy Head, and Leland Morine.

Reno, Tahoe… One More Time

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Me, with my partner in crime at The Braiserie in Reno.  Photo credit:  Kat Wilson

We have just returned from one of the best trips we’ve ever made to Reno and Tahoe.  The video is our friend, Kat Wilson, who invited us to Truckee for dinner with her and our other friends, and then to listen to her band, Arizona Jones, which provided an outstanding evening of entertainment.   We danced until we closed the place down.  Then everyone came over to our Tahoe place for a great evening of fellowship, food and laughter.

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My made up sista wife, Kat,  with the non-made up me, enjoying a happy evening with the gang.

But I’m getting ahead of myself…..Let me back up and start with Reno….

We ate at some new (for us) restaurants, joined by various friends, and we joined Kat and her boyfriend, Len, for a second dinner that was also spectacular.

One of the places we tried was the Napa Bistro, upstairs, at the Atlantis Casino.

The food at this restaurant was outstanding, and the service was even better.  We had a great visit with a guy who is attending helicopter school here in Portland, and made plans to hook up with him later.

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I had an excellent marinaded portobello mushroom with polenta.  John had the flatbread pizza.  My husband went over the top and bought us a bottle of  Krug, Clos du Mesnil (2000), which we shared.  We rarely splurge to that extent, but we were on holiday after working very hard through the winter so why not?  We thoroughly enjoyed it, and had such a nice, romantic lunch together.

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We had little shot glass desserts…pies….and then the waiter brought cotton candy on a plate.  Stop!  Too much sugar!!! But fun, nonetheless.

 

One night, I cooked a nice Mexican dinner for my friend, Patti Hazeltine and her boyfriend, Mark.  After we ate, we all went downstairs and played pool.  Patti beat us all.  She’s good!

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Upon a friend’s recommendation, we went to a tiny nearby bar called, “The Point” where we ended up hanging out with the band, consisting of Joe, Doug and Paul, AKA “The Kindred Souls.”  Went back to hear them a second time on our way out of town.  Really had a nice time.

We also went to the Nevada Art Museum, where we saw a Burningman retrospective, and an exhibit by Ugo Rondinone, a collection of Maynard Dixon’s work and a Mexican collection of modern and contemporary work.  After shooting dozens of photos, I discovered that I had left the memory card out of my camera, so no evidence of the visit.  🙂 Both of us love that museum, though.  It is small and intimate, and excellently curated.  We go there every time we visit Reno.

After a couple of days in Reno, we headed up to the Tahoe house.

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This is a gorgeous house situated up in the hills at Carnelian Bay.  The deck sits at treetop level, and it is a perfect place just to bask in nature and relax.  I spent a good deal of time cooking, taking walks, visiting with friends, spending time with John , and doing other things that I love.

My friend CalLing came down from California, as did my Santa Cruz friend, Linda, and her son, Brandon.  Sutton, Kat, Len, Debbie…..the whole gang came out off and on, and we had some laughs, passed the time together, and generally had a great time.

Tahoe water levels were abnormally high, and the water was a spectacular blue.

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We explored restaurants at the lake that we had not been to before. We went on hikes, meditated.   It was all grand, and the time passed too quickly.  I always leave part of my heart there when we leave….as I did this time as well.

 

More to come….

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Hi Folks,

I’ve been in Reno and at Lake Tahoe, having an awesome time with our friends there, and haven’t had the opportunity to update.  Coming soon, is a photo essay of the time we spent there, and also an article about contemporary US poet, Charlie Zero, who I interviewed before we left.

Just hang tight.  Will return soon with all that and more.

 

Stacy

What are the Best Supplements for Fibromyalgia?

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The following article come from NutritionFacts.org, Dr. Michael Greger.  Sign up on the website to receive the latest in nutritional news and research updates delivered directly to your inbox.

Fibromyalgia is one of the most common joint and muscle diseases, affecting millions of Americans, characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain, and often accompanied by other symptoms, such as fatigue. The medical profession used to think it was all in people’s heads, “but today there is irrefutable evidence” that it is, indeed, a disorder of the body and not just the mind.

Back in 2003, an influential paper was published out of the Mayo Clinic, in which a shocking 93% of fibromyalgia-type patients were found to be vitamin D deficient; and so, they concluded that all such patients are at high risk of severe vitamin D deficiency. But wait a second, said the skeptics, there was no control group. Where’s the Mayo Clinic located? Minnesota. Maybe 90% of everyone in Minnesota is D deficient.

When controlled studies were done, some did, indeed, find that those suffering from these kinds of pain syndromes were significantly more likely to be D deficient, but other studies did not. Even if all the studies did, though, that doesn’t mean that low vitamin D levels cause fibromyalgia. Maybe, chronic widespread pain disorders, like fibromyalgia, cause low vitamin D. It’s the sunshine vitamin, after all, and fibromyalgia patients may not be running around outside as much as healthy controls. To know if vitamin D is contributing to the disease, you have to put it to the test.

Studies like this found that the majority of those with pain syndromes and low D levels appeared to benefit from vitamin D supplementation. Clinical improvement in up to 90% of patients. (You can imagine how rife vitamin D deficiency is among Arab women in the Middle East.) But these studies weren’t controlled either. Maybe they would have gotten better on their own without the supplements, or maybe it was the placebo effect? There are many examples in the medical literature of treatments that looked great in uncontrolled trials, like hyperbaric oxygen therapy for multiple sclerosis, but when put to the test in randomized controlled trials, they failed miserably.

And, that’s what seemed to happen in the first randomized controlled trial of vitamin D for a fibromyalgia-type syndrome in 2008. No significant difference in pain scores, though the study only lasted three months, and in that time, the treatment was only able to get the vitamin D blood levels up to about 30. Unfortunately, no controlled study had ever been done pushing levels any higher, until 2014. Fibromyalgia patients were given up to 2400 units of D a day for 20 weeks; and their D levels rose up to about 50 and then, once they stopped the vitamin D, levels came back down to match the placebo. That was reflected in their pain scores, a significant drop in pain severity while they were on the D and then, back to baseline when they came off of it. The researchers concluded “that this economical—[in fact, over-the-counter]—therapy with a low side effect profile may well be considered in patients with [fibromyalgia syndrome.]”

 

Sources Cited:

Speaking of Great PDX Thai Food….Thai Pod!

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Manat Saefung and Natcho Ebay

This is Natcho Ebay with her husband, Manat Saefung.  I recently reviewed Natcho’s grandmother’s Thai restaurant, Thai Touch.   THIS review, however, is about Manat’s restaurant Thai Pod, a completely different variety of Thai food, located at 2015 NE Broadway Street, here in Portland, Oregon.

Thai cuisine in Portland  doesn’t generally get the type of praise it deserves. People order it as a hangover cure from the confines of their couch, or lazily pick up take-out on their way back from the gym. But I urge you to take a little time to understand the intricacies of this particular cuisine.  Eat at Thai Pod, and you’ll quickly realize that your cold Pad Thai from some other restaurant just isn’t cutting it when so many other options abound.

Many vegetarians and vegans will skip ordering from Thai restaurants, because they have discovered that unavoidably, fish sauce usually finds it way into their curry.  This is where Thai Pod comes in.  Just mention any dietary restrictions to the wait staff, and their guidelines will be carefully followed. This is a place where carnivores, vegans and vegetarians can all agree on one thing.  The food is fantastic, and upon request, it can be completely animal free!   When requested to omit meat and sauces that contain meat, Manat  uses a special ingredient in place of soy sauce called, “Coconut Secret.”  It is organic, gluten free, has no MSG, and is vegan…..yet even meat eaters love it, because it tastes great!

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Coconut Secret

Thai Pod is the watering hole for both hipsters and families alike.  Its warm, friendly atmosphere invites hours of leisurely, comfortable dining, where every bite is a separate taste treat that brings plenty of oooo’s and ahhhh’s.  Again, the food is fantastic.

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Thai Vegetable Soup

Other soups served at Thai Pod include, Tom yum, a hot and sour soup of galangal root, lemongrass and lime juice with mushrooms, tomatoes and online, and Tom kha, a spicy soup of coconut milk and galangal root, with lemongrass, mushrooms and lime just, and the famous Po Tak soup, which is a combination of seafood in a hot and sour soup of galangal root, lemongrass and lime juice with mushrooms, basil and online.

The restaurant has been open for 7 years, but Manat took over 2 years ago.  The cuisine is listed on Uber Eats, Eat 24 and Postmate, so you can order it to be delivered, but I recommend going into the restaurant itself for fresh-from-the-kitchen goodness.

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Thai Pod

Manat uses fresh local produce, much of which is grown by his sister in her own garden. It is his goal to support local farmers whenever possible, and he uses as much organic produce as is praticle.  (Some foods, such as mango, are difficult to find organically grown.)

Manat uses only the finest meats and creates meat dishes that are in high demand. For instance, it is rare to find the type of BBQ pork street food that Manat creates in his kitchen.  He uses a special secret sauce made with fresh herbs and marinates the pork in it prior to cooking.  The dish is served with fried rice.  His Salmon and shrimp dishes are also special, and are served with delicious fresh vegetable accompaniments.

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Salmon Teriyaki on a Broccoli Bed

Thai Pod serves a wide variety of both vegetarian and meat appetizer options.

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Thai Egg Rolls

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Fried Tofu with Peanut Sauce

Other appetizer options include Salad Rolls with fresh vegetables in soft rice paper, Crab puffs, which are savory combinations of crab and cream cheese, Pot Stickers, which are deep fried dumplings, and may other choices.

One of the restaurant’s most popular dishes, is Thai Kung Pao with shrimp.  This dish contains bamboo shoots, bell peppers, onions, carrots, peanuts and chili sauce.

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Manat Saefung in the Kitchen at Thai Pod

Manat puts a lot of thought into his menu and into his cooking, often combining foods from other cultures into  Thai fusion creations.

 

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The Thai Kung Pao is a Thai/Chinese Fusion Example

 

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This mixed vegetable dish with mango was an exciting addition to our meal.  Each flavor was separate and distinct from all others. Thai Pod serves all kinds of noodle dishes, stir fries, salads, a wide selection of curries, and a large number of fried rice dishes, including the diner’s choice of chicken, pork, tofu or vegetables mixed in.

Last, but not least, are the dessert selections.  Everything this restaurant delivers is delicious!

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Fresh Sliced Mango with Sticky Rice

Thai Pod is open Monday through Friday from 11-3/ 4:30 – 9.  On Fridays, they stay open an additional hour, and close at 10 PM.  Saturday, the restaurant is open from 12-noon until 10 pm, and on Sundays, it is open from 4:30 until 9 PM.  They have a nice selection of Thai and American beer selections, as well as plenty of wine offerings from which to choose.

Street parking is available in front of the restaurant, but scarce.  However, ample street parking exists just around the corner.

Thai Pod will offer full-serving catering in the future, but for now, the restaurant offers it on a pick up basis only.  Be sure to give them several hours notice to prepare large orders  prior to pickup time.

Remember, Thai Pod is a family owned and operated business.  Not many people know about it yet, but soon, we anticipate seeing the place packed with satisfied diners.   You don’t want to miss out on this great food, folks!

 

 

 

I Listened

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I listened as they called my President a Muslim. I listened as they called him and his family a pack of monkeys. 

I listened as they said he wasn’t born here. 

I watched as they blocked every single path to progress that they could. 

I saw the pictures of him as Hitler.

I watched them shut down the government and hurt the entire nation twice.

I watched them turn their backs on every opportunity to open worthwhile dialog.

I watched them say that they would not even listen to any choice for Supreme Court no matter who the nominee was. 

I listened as they openly said that they will oppose him at every turn. 

I watched as they did just that.

I listened. 

I watched.

I paid attention.

Now, I’m being called on to be tolerant. 

To move forward. 

To denounce protesters. 

To “Get over it.” 

To accept this…

I will not.

I will do my part to make sure this great American mistake becomes the embarrassing footnote of our history that it deserves to be.

I will do this as quickly as possible every chance I get.

I will do my part to limit the damage that this man can do to my country. 

I will watch his every move and point out every single mistake and misdeed in a loud and proud voice.

I will let you know in a loud voice every time this man backs away from a promise he made to them.

Them. The people who voted for him.

The ones who sold their souls and prayed for him to win.

I will do this so that they never forget. 

And they will hear me.

They will see it in my eyes when I look at them.

They will hear it in my voice when I talk to them.

They will know that I know who they are.

They will know that I know what they are.

Do not call for my tolerance. I’ve tolerated all I can. 

Now it’s their turn to tolerate ridicule. 

Be aware, make no mistake about it, every single thing that goes wrong in our country from this day 

forward is now Trump’s fault just as much as they thought it was Obama’s.

I find it unreasonable for them to expect from me what they were entirely unwilling to give.” 

Author unknown.

Thai Touch – A Touch of Yum

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It is always a pleasure to discover great new places to eat.  Our latest is Thai Touch,.  Situated at 1334 SE Hawthorne Boulevard, just two doors down from the Portland School of Rock, Thai Touch is a modest, unassuming Thai restaurant that is the brainchild of owner, Pimpron Sricsoontorn, who is a passionate, expert Thai cook.  Pim’s cooking genius is the driving force that makes Thai Touch so special.  Each ingredient is carefully considered and is of highest quality.

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Pimpron Srisoontorn, former Thailand high school teacher

Thai Touch is a family owned and operated business where Pim’s grandchildren pitch in to help. This is Natcho Ebay, who works as a waitress at the restaurant.

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Natcho Ebay

This particular location is the fourth incarnation of Thai Touch, and just may be the best.  The atmosphere is cozy and nicely appointed, while still maintaining a casual, comfortable ambience.

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Daily specials are prominently featured on a chalkboard that stands a few feet from the front entrance.

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Nathalie Srisoonstorn

John and I are vegetarians, and we don’t have a problem finding good things to eat at this restaurant, which also accommodates vegans and carnivores.

One of the appetizers that we like are the salad rolls. They consist of lettuce, mint leaves, carrots, cilantro and noodles wrapped in rice paper and served with peanut sauce.  They come with your choice of shrimp or tofu inside.

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Salad Rolls

We are also crazy about the Baby Rolls.  These delicious rolls are comprised of deep fried cabbage, carrots, taro root and glass noodles wrapped in rice paper and served with sweet and sour sauce. They have a nice crunch and are light and delicious.

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Baby Rolls

 

If meat is preferred, Thai Touch offers appetizers, such as their special pot stickers, consisting of deep fried pork dumplings served with pot sticker sauce, or Heaven, which is deep fried, ground chicken wrapped in a tortilla skin and served with sweet and sour sauce.  I’ve heard that the Chicken S’Tay is quite delicious, too.  This one is marinated chicken on skewers served with peanut sauce and cucumber sauce.

The restaurant has a wide array of salads, including the Cucumber salad with cucumber, carrots, red onions, green oinions, ground peanuts and chicken, or the Beef salad, that includes beef, red and green onion, tomatoes, cucumber and carrots, cooked in a spicy lime sauce.  Tiger Cry is another beef salad with red and green onions, but this one also has dry chili peppers and rice flakes served in a spicy lime sauce.

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Pineapple Curry

Oh!  And the curries!  My personal favorite is the pineapple curry, made with big chunks of pineapple, tofu, bell peppers, bamboo shoots, carrots and fresh basil in a red curry sauce, but they also have green and yellow curries, and a delicious Mus-Sa Mun curry with coconut milk, ginger, potatoes, carrots, pineapple, online and peanuts.  Yum!  Thai Touch offers curries containing the diner’s choice of chicken, pork, tofu, beef, shrimp or other seafood.

Another favorite dish containing pineapple is the delicious pineapple fried rice.  This delightful dish comes with your choice o chicken, shrrimp or tofu, and has olions, big chunks of fresh pineapple, bell peppers, carrots, peas, raisins, curry powder and egg, if desired.   They also offer a spicy fried rice, vegetable fried rice, green curry fried rice and more.

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Pineapple Fried Rice

Their noodle dishes are also delicious.  I love the spicy noodles made wiht rice noodles that are topped with red curry sauce and mixed veggies.  The Kee Maow also comes with favorable reviews.  This one features wide rice noodles, basil leaves, jalapeno peppers, bell peppers, onions, cabbage, broccoli, carrots and chili peppers.

The Thai Touch Paht Thai also comes with high customer reviews.  This one has rice noodles, chicken, shrimp, tofu, eggs, bean sprouts, green onion, carrots and ground peanuts.

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Thai Touch Paht Thai

Listed in “Portland Cheap Eats” as one of the best bargains in the city, Thai Touch goes the extra mile to provide a comfortable, casual atmosphere, affordable prices and food that looks as delicious as it tastes.

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We hope you will spread the word about this fine Thai eatery.  Pay them a visit Monday through Saturday from 11 AM – 2:30 PM, and 4:30 – 9:00 PM for dinner, and from 4-9PM on Sundays.  You’ll be glad that you did!

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The food really is that good!

(Tell them Stacy sent you!)

 

 

 

 

June is going Swimmingly

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I meant “swimmingly” sarcastically, as we are still having winter rains, which are finally supposed to end tomorrow, with sunny skies forecast for the conceivable future.

Things have been going very well for me.

My aunt Gaylon visited last weekend, and we did a whirlwind tour of Portland, going to Multnomah Falls, attending Ingrid’s School of Rock concert, taking a bus/Max tour of Portland, and spending quality time together.   She is standing on the bridge with my daughter and Ingrid in this picture.

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Ingrid’s concert was fantastic.  She had a fearful meltdown before the show, but one would never have known it by the time she stepped onto the stage with confidence.  Really.  She did so well.  We were all quite proud of her.  Auntie Gaylon had has all decked out in some awesome finery. She looked like a doll.

Ingrid at School of Rock

John and I are making plans for an undisclosed vacation next month.  Really looking forward to that!

I am happy.

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Finding the Best Flea Collar for Your Dog

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1beebs

One of my readers asked if I would publish a blog about choosing the best flea collar for dogs.  While we don’t use a flea collar for Beatrix,.  I use essential oils, which work very well, and Revolution for heart worms, which also has a flea and tick repellent.

The Best Flea Collar For Dogs

Fleas and ticks can cause a number of serious illnesses in dogs. Mild diseases can make the dog nauseous or slow it down considerably. However, more severe cases can place the animal in excruciating pain or even cause its death. Therefore, flea and tick prevention is one of the most important elements to assure optimum health for your pet. Flea collars are an excellent solution for this problem. However, selecting the best flea collars for dogs can be a daunting task.

Therefore, we have written this guide to help you make the right decision for your pet.

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What are flea collars?

Flea collars are chemically-treated dog collars that are designed to repel and kill fleas and ticks on your pet. They are worn in conjunction with the dog’s regular collar, and provide safe, comfortable pest control. They come in a wide variety of colors, sizes and styles.

What do they do?

The best flea collars for dogs work to both repel and kill fleas. Some collars do both, and others are designed to do one job only, depending on what is needed for the individual pet.

How do they work?

Flea collars work by killing fleas and ticks, and by breaking their reproductive cycles. Three basic types of collars work in three different ways. The absorption based collar contains a type of insecticide that is absorbed into the dog’s skin. Fleas that then feed on the dog are poisoned and killed. The high frequency flea collar works by emitting ultra-sonic sound waves that repel the fleas. Gas based collars create a toxin that repels ticks and fleas from the dog, and kills the bugs when they come into direct contact with the collar.

How effective are Flea Collars?

Flea collars can be quite effective for combatting fleas and ticks. Their effectiveness varies from brand-to-brand, and should be clearly stated on the collar’s packaging. Some types can last as many as 8 months. Spot on flea treatments only last for up to 30 days.

When shouldn’t you use a flea collar?

It is a good idea to check with one’s vet prior to using a flea collar. Some types of flea collars are not compatible with older dogs. It is also unadvisable to use a flea collar in conjunction with other types of flea treatments and remedies. Use of a flea collar should be discontinued if the pet develops inflamed, red and itchy skin around the neck where the collar rests.

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Fleas

Fleas are tiny insects that form the Siphonaptera order. Their mouths are adapted for piercing skin and sucking blood. Their hind legs are adapted for jumping. Fleas are external parasites of birds and mammals. They survive by the consumption of blood of their hosts. Adult fleas are up to about 3 mm long and usually brown.

Known as holometabolous insects, fleas go through four different stages of their life cycle. Their eggs produce larva, which require a varied diet, and feed on any organic substances that are available, including feces, vegetable matter and dead insects. They are blind and keep to dark, humid places, such as soil, under carpets and in bedding. Once they pupate, they weave cocoons and molt, where they undergo metamorphosis into their adult forms. This usually takes about four days, but can take longer under adverse weather conditions. Mature fleas can live for up to 3 months without food, if they do not emerge from their puparia.

Once fleas achieve adulthood, they begin to seek blood, feed and reproduce. Females can lay as many as 5000 or more eggs over their 2-3 month life cycle. If no blood bearing host is found, their lifespan can be shortened to a few days. When ideal conditions of humidity, temperature and food supply exist, adult fleas have the life capacity of up to 1.5 years.

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Ticks

Ticks are classified as small arachnids rather than insects and belong to two major families, the hard variety, or Ixodidae, and the soft type, or Argasidae. Adult ticks are noted for their ovoid bodies, which become engorged with blood and expand when they feed. They have firm shields on their dorsal surfaces. The Ixodidae variety have a beak-like structure at the from of the mouth. The Argasidae have mouths on their undersides. There approximately 850 specific tick species, and are known for transmitting such diseases as Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Lyme disease and Ehrlichia. They are also implicated in a number of serious infections that are caused by protozoa, viruses and bacteria.

Both varieties locate a blood host by odor or from certain changes in the environment. Both types progress through four distinct life cycle stages, including the egg, larva, nymph and finally, the adult ticks. Different species of ticks go through various numbers of developmental stages. For instance, the soft variety ticks may go through up to seven different nymphal stages.

Dangers of Fleas and Ticks

  • Anemia

    Signs of anemia in dogs, characterized by a low white blood cell count, includes lethargy, exercise intolerance, decrease in appetite, and pale gums. Dogs with mild cases of anemia may not have any signs at all.

  • Lyme Disease

    The most frequently noted symptoms of Lyme Disease in dogs consist of a fever of between 103 and 105°, swollen joints, lameness, swollen lymph nodes, tiredness, and loss of appetite.

  • Rockettsiae Infection

    Symptoms of Rockettsiae Infection in dogs includes difficulty breathing, general weakness, loss of appetite, lethargy and enlarged lymph nodes.

  • Meningoencephalitis

    Two illnesses merge to create Meningoencephaltis in dogs, encephalitis, which is the inflammation of the brain, and Meningitis, the inflammation of the meninges, or spinal cord and outer layer of the brain. It has a mortality rate of between 60-100%.

  • Dermatitis

    Dermatitis in dogs is an inflammatory, chronic skin disease associated with allergies, and can be associated with fleas and ticks. It effects their ears, muzzle, underarms, groin, the areas around the eyes and between their foot pads.

  • Tapeworms

    One of the more commonly known intestinal parasites, tapeworms are segmented, and can be found in most mammals. While usually not fatal, tapeworms can cause extreme weight loss, fatigue and discomfort.

  • Plague

    A parasitic genus, Yersinia pestis causes the bacterial disease known as Plague. Dogs infected with the disease will experience inflammation, high fever and excessive pain.

  • Haemobartonellosis

    Haembartonellosis is transmitted by ticks, and is characterized in dogs by an infection of the red blood cells by a parasite. Symptoms include weight loss, loss of appetite, fatigue, weakness, white to purple gums, and high fever.

  • Erlichiosis

    The severity of the symptoms of Erlichiosism a type of bacteria, depends on the species involved and the individual immune response of the kanine. Symptoms include weight loss, loss of appetite, fever, lethargy, abnormal bleeding, enlarged lymph nodes, coughing, enlarged spleen, discharge from the nose and or eyes, pain and stiffness, diarrhea, vomiting and certain neurological symptoms.

Considerations before buying the best flea collar for dogs

Read product reviews in reputable pet magazines and other publications

Weigh the options between insecticidal, biological or ultrasonic collars

When choosing ultrasonic collars, consider battery life

Consider environmentally friendly collars

Choose collars from among well known manufacturers.

Read product labels to determine manufacturer’s age recommendations for dogs

Find out the concentration of the collar’s active ingredient

Determine which collars work best for specific sizes, breeds and ages

Read all precautions and warnings regarding health and safety hazards for pets and humans

Take note of how long the product is effective,

Find out the specific pests the collar kills.

Ensure the collar is the right size and made of a material the dog can tolerate

Consider collars with reflective strips that glow in the dark

Compare materials such as rubber, fabric, plastic, jute, et al

Decide on color

Consider ease of use for each type of collar under consideration

Find out if collar works alone or with additional products

Consider the magnitude of any existing flea or tick infestations

Inspect fastener

And there you have it!  I hope this has answered your questions about flea collars.  If you have any further inquiries, please let me know.

Do Not Hesitate to Meditate!

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I have a lot on my plate.  In finding balance between work, family, art making, marketing, recreation and personal development endeavors, I am often asked how I can possibly have enough energy to do all the things that I do. One of the key tools that I use, apart from exercise a great diet and plenty of rest, is meditation.

One might wonder how using the best way to focus and calm the mind, meditation, can be such a highly effective solution for increased energy, but alas. It works!

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Two things that set us, as humans, apart from prehistoric humans are changes in the brain’s Amygdala and the Prefrontal Cortex. The former (Amygdala) can be thought of as one’s “fear center,” while the Prefrontal Cortex area of the brain is the orchestrator of thoughts. People who still allow themselves to be dominated by their Amygdala are not as resilient during stressful times, ad people who enable their Prefrontal Cortex of reasoning to take control. Amygdala-ruled brains result in people with fewer stores of energy.

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Simply put, meditation upgrades the Prefrontal Cortex while deactivating the Amygdala.

Multiple studies suggest that people who meditate regularly have large, strong Prefrontal Cortexes, with calm Amygdalae. This is because people who meditate live with fewer worries, less anxiety and less stress than people who do not meditate on a regular basis. It also boosts two critical chemicals, GH (growth hormone) and DHEA.

DHEA is best known for providing an increased sense of well being. However, DHEA supplements can have unpleasant side effects. Furthermore, it doesn’t work for everyone, and those who do take it sometimes notice a decrease in energy.

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Growth Hormone is an important chemical for reducing fatigue and for putting a spark in one’s motivation. This is the chemical that makes one taller and stronger during puberty. As we age, however, the body produces less GH and DHEA. However, this is not a problem for people who meditate regularly.

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Meditation also helps one sleep better. It works by boosting melatonin production about almost 98%! Melatonin is a naturally occurring sleep compound. Extra production of this compound enables people who meditate to sleep more soundly and to wake up feeling refreshed and revitalized, and to have more energy.

Meditators also produce less cortisol. This is a chemical that zaps energy and keeps stressed out people in a state of stress. It also leads to excess stomach fat. An interesting study conducted by Rutgers University found that meditation reduced cortisol in the body by as much as 50%!

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Earlier, I mentioned temporary energy boosters, such as stimulants, which also have negative side effects. Coffee, energy drinks and so forth, only provide temporary solutions to fatigue. They always have an energy crash afterward, leaving consumers feeling exhausted.

While physical exercise is definitely a way to up your energy levels, meditation works on the brain and body in very similar and (many would argue) even better ways.

For instance, long distance runners’ are addicted to their sport for good reason, because running causes the brain to produce endorphins. These chemicals provide a powerful energy boost as well as a wonderful kind of mental euphoria that has appropriately been named “runner’s high”. However, meditation does the same thing…only better. The highs provided by meditation simply can’t be duplicated. Meditation lays the foundation for a calm, focused, higher level of mind that stimulants simply cannot touch. Toss out your energy drink. Pickup meditation. You’ll be glad you did.

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Thank you, Mr. Best…and All the Rest

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Portland train stabbing.

Two men were killed in a stabbing on a MAX train last Friday when they tried to intervene as another man yelled racial slurs at two young women who appeared to be Muslim, including one wearing a hijab.  A third passenger who tried to help was also stabbed, but is expected to survive.

Rick Best Taliesin Namkai-Meche

This is the climate of hatred that was bred when donald j. trump took the oath of office last November.  Hate crimes are now soaring and discrimination against Muslims has never been higher.

Stabbing on Max Train, Portland, Oregon.  Portland train stabbing

Police identify victims of stabbing on Portland MAX train

Officers arrested the suspect as he ran from the Hollywood transit station into the neighborhood near Providence Portland Medical Center in Northeast Portland, Simpson said. The suspect was ranting about many things, using “hate speech or biased language,” and at one point focused on the young women.

Two men who died in the attack were identified as:

Best died at the scene of the attack, and Namkai-Meche died at a hospital.

Police said the victim injured in the attack was 21-year-old Micah David-Cole Fletcher of Southeast Portland. He remains in a Portland hospital, but his injuries are not believed to be life-threatening.

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Today, I visited the spot where Rick Best and the  two other men were attacked, their throats slit, and left to die. The outpouring of love there today was very powerful, and I cried and cried as I walked around and snapped pictures of the offerings from mourners.

Here is a slideshow of some of the shots that I took.

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