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Profile Information

Gender: Female
Hometown: NYC
Home country: USA
Current location: Durham, NC
Member since: Sat May 7, 2005, 11:13 PM
Number of posts: 29,603

Journal Archives

At the beach

Just a couple of shots from my beach walk with Snowy this morning.


First gay couple to wed in Wake County on front page of the Raleigh paper today!

It's a half page, above the fold photo in the print copy!
Hooray! It's about time!


MY LTTE is the lead letter in Raleigh paper today defending Clay Aiken's run for Congress

against the not popular Rep. Renee Ellmers in the gerrymandered NC District #2!

Background: In a debate last Monday, Ellmers repeatedly dismissed Aiken as just an "entertainer",
and her campaign/followers like to deride him as coming in second in a talent contest.

I sent a letter the next day to the paper--commenting that, gee, didn't the Republicans revere
and idolize a former entertainer--a Hollywood actor--oh, yes, that guy named Ronald Reagan?

They didn't publish that letter--but they did publish this one:

Regarding the Oct. 7 news article “ Aiken, Ellmers clash”: I don’t know whether Clay Aiken would be an effective politician. However, U.S. Rep. Renee Ellmers’ repeated comments in the recent debate that Aiken is merely an “entertainer” who doesn’t understand how Washington works were an interesting choice of words.

Perhaps Ellmers needs to explore the background of perhaps the most successful Republican politician of her lifetime. His last name is Reagan, and his movies can be seen on AMC from time to time.

Bruce Friend

Holly Springs

Read more here: http://www.newsobserver.com/2014/10/07/4214935/bruce-friend-recalling-reagan.html?sp=/99/108/165/#storylink=cpy

The NEXT day, there was this letter from a Reagan idolizer:

Regarding the Oct. 8 letter “ Recalling Reagan”: Comparing Clay Aiken to Ronald Reagan is a sophomoric and predictably shallow observation from the chronic lefty Reagan bashers.

The letter-writer forgot to mention that Reagan was a two-term governor of the country’s largest state, almost won the party nomination in 1976 from a sitting president and was also president of the Screen Actors Guild.

However, in our current pop culture-infused political environment, I suppose runners-up in a talent contest are prime candidates for office. I haven’t seen Aiken’s resume so please let me know if I have left anything out.

Charlie Futch


Read more here: http://www.newsobserver.com/2014/10/08/4217558/charlie-futch-reagan-had-experience.html?sp=/99/108/165/#storylink=cpy

Well, of course that burned me up. These Republicans are such hypocritical idiots. So I sent the following letter, which
was published today! I really enjoyed sticking it to Ellmers and her defender. The only editing the paper did was to leave
out Fred Dalton Thompson's middle name--which I had included.

Regarding the Oct. 9 letter, “ Reagan’s experience”: The writer misses the point, as does U.S. Rep. Renee Ellmers when she chooses to dismiss her Democratic challenger, Clay Aiken, as just an “entertainer.”

There have been a number of successful actors/singers/entertainers who have ended up in politics: Clint Eastwood, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jesse Ventura, Al Franken, Sonny Bono, Fred Thompson, Shirley Temple and George Murphy are among the better known to have made the leap from the stage to the political arena.

They all started with that first run for office, including Ronald Reagan, and that’s the point where Aiken is right now. The voters will decide whether he will join that list, and hopefully their decision-making process will be focused on how well he can best represent their needs, not on how he previously made his living.

Read more here: http://www.newsobserver.com/2014/10/10/4222897/betty-buller-whitehead-aikens.html?sp=/99/108/165/#storylink=cpy

Pumpkin eater busted--just caught the squirrel

who has been working over the pumpkin on our front steps since I brought it home from the market
at the end of September! I thought I'd already decided on my October texture photo--but I have another one of
this guy that is making me think twice about my previous decision!

Check out this damn squirrel:


Who's out looking at the moon tonight?

These are from our back deck in Chapel Hill



Most amazing video of saving the life of a humpback whale

Narrated in English.

Architects of the political regression in NC called out in opinion piece

This opinion piece, by a Chancellor Emeritus of the University of North Carolina at Wilmington ran in today's edition
of the Raleigh News & Observer. It's an excellent summary of the political history of the state.

For Tar Heel time, set your clock back 100 years

For many years, North Carolina was known as the Rip Van Winkle state because it was so backward. Stingy public officials and business tycoons wanted low wages and low taxes so there was little investment in civic needs. Roads and other public facilities were ignored while education of the state’s youth was minimal.


In the 1960s North Carolina experienced a transformation, melding with the modern world.

Governors Kerr Scott, Luther Hodges and Terry Sanford moved to join the mainstream. While Scott, Hodges and Sanford initiated the modernization momentum, it was in 1977 when Jim Hunt became governor that the state began the steady climb in education, civic improvements and broader prosperity. Critical to Hunt’s success was recruiting the business community and selling it on his agenda of public education, government services and modest environmental protection as critical to industrial and economic advancement.

The Research Triangle Park blossomed into a high-tech, high-wage and high-skilled business recruiting dynamo. Charlotte emerged as one of the nation’s leading financial centers while other areas of the state saw schools, community colleges and universities provide a trained labor force. The state’s national ranking rose under Democrat Jim Hunt and Republican Jim Martin (28th capita income in 2000). It seemed this new course had been irreversibly set.


Ironically, it might have been the election of 2008 that sparked the GOP sweep of 2010. The Red State Project headed by Ed Gillespie and Karl Rove determined that to control a state and ultimately the federal government, they needed to take a sufficient number of state legislatures in a census year – thus controlling legislative redistricting. With that prize in view, Pope and Americans for Prosperity poured in millions. Republicans swept to victory in both the state House and Senate in 2010. They then imposed a redistricting plan that maximized the GOP strength and will likely keep them in place for at least the next decade.


Now comes the 2014 election. In this off-year contest, incumbent Democrat Kay Hagan is locked in a tough race against Republican House Speaker Thom Tillis. When Tillis won the GOP primary, it was curiously hailed as a victory for the mainstream despite the fact that Tillis leads tea party forces in the legislature. Over $20 million of out-of-state money has poured in to defeat Hagan – control of the U.S. Senate hangs in the balance. Will the election be determined on the effectiveness of voter suppression efforts or will voter discontent for what is going on in Raleigh outweigh discontent with Washington government and the U.S. Congress?

Read more here: http://www.newsobserver.com/2014/08/29/4106160/for-tar-heel-time-set-your-clock.html?sp=/99/108/374/#storylink=cpy

Another 18th Century marvelous automaton

is the The Peacock Clock that was a gift to Catherine the Great of Russia.

We saw it--not working--in The Hermitage when we were in St. Petersburg last May.

Here's a brief video explaining its origin and showing some of it working. There are lots more videos of it on youtube.

If you want to see statistics regarding suicide, this is a good resource


Belief in the hope that things could be better.

My husband and I have acted on that belief three times in the 29 years we've been married.

The first time was 1988 and we had a two year old child. We were living in Santa Monica--
second marriage for us both (no kids prior marriages) and decided we didn't want to raise
kids in Los Angeles. I had been in L.A. since 1969 when coming to UCLA as an undergraduate
(and continuing as a grad student until '75), then working in hospital administration. My husband
had been in L.A. since 1964 when coming to UCLA for Med School--gone for 2 years in USAF to Sacramento
when he was Berry planned during Vietnam--and returned to finish his residency in psychiatry
and stayed on to practice in L.A. area. So we both had a lot of roots in L.A. and many, many friends.

In 1988 he was offered a position with a hospital system in St. Joseph, MO to direct the building
of a new psych facility. Small town, 80+ thousand people, an hour outside Kansas City. What a
time warp! Yes, there were some progressives in town, but not many! Things turned sour within
a year, and the hospital system withdrew from its plan to build the psych facility and terminated
his contract. We had bought and renovated a big house; he had built his own small office building
in an office park. By then we also had another son. We decided to stick it out--with him in 100%
private practice for the first time in his
professional career (he had always had some portion of his clinical work either at a teaching hospital, the VA,
or public clinic). That went fine until about 4 years later the hospital system that had hired him (largest employer
in town) cut him off from their preferred provider list--meaning no hospital employee could see him for treatment
and have their insurance cover the visits--because he had gotten together with some of the other docs in town
to try to create an HMO independent of the system. Hospital employees constituted about 2/3 of his practice.
We were screwed. Really screwed. So, determined to move, we decided to take a look at some other options.
We went to New Zealand and checked that out. We considered Chapel Hill. We ended up moving to Lincoln, NE in 1994
where he was hired by the VA and able to support making a move and gradually reduce his VA time and build a private

For me, it was frying pan into the fire time. I hated Lincoln. Yes, it was bigger (about 250,000), but populated
by some really right wing Catholics who basically run the town. When we arrived, Mike Johanns was just about to
be re-elected Mayor. He went on to be Governor, Bushie boy's Sec'y of Agriculture, and now senior Senator from Nebraska.
Not many people know Johanns started his political career as a Democrat and became a Republican before running for Mayor.
His shift matches the swing to the right of the State of Nebraska.

Eventually, hubby retired from the VA in Lincoln and became full time private practice. In 2000, after the private, non-Catholic
hospital (where hubby had his office in a medical building next door) acquired the county hospital, the medical staff made it
a requirement that in order to have an office in the next door medical office building, you had to agree to take call at the
newly acquired county hospital. Well, that was too much for hubby. He was then almost 60 and not willing to take 24 hour call to cover a public ER on a weekend for psych cases. So, we made plans to construct a small stand alone office on the property
of our residence. The city gave us a permit, we hired a contractor, and knocked down a playhouse that had been built by the
previous owners to make room for his one person office (no employees). Total uproar! The next door neighbors (old family) got together with the neighbors on the other side(old family), and the neighbors next to them, and hired the attorney neighbor--also old family (ironically enough, his wife was from New Zealand) on the other side of the long driveway access that ran behind our lots, to file a law suit to prevent us from doing what the city had told us we could do. Long story short, they prevailed (frontier justice) in spite of having no legal basis to stop us. I had convinced my husband that if we lost, we would move to Chapel Hill (which is where I wanted to come when we moved to Lincoln), so within a week after the court decision came down we had the house listed. We made a fast look see trip to Chapel Hill, and I returned a month later for a house buying trip, and by the end of the summer we had moved. When we drove out of Nebraska I flipped the You're leaving Nebraska sign the bird and swore I would never return.

It just goes to show you that you can make what you think is an informed decision about change and turn out to be very, very wrong. And then you can make another informed decision and be very, very happy with the result.

I have LOVED Chapel Hill and said so many times on DU. However, with the takeover of the NC State government by Republicans
in 2012/2104 elections, I am very worried that even the liberal oasis of Chapel Hill is going to be negatively affected by their policies. We're already seeing it in the number of vacant teaching positions in the Chapel Hill/Carrboro City School District. When we moved here in 2000, the CHCCS District had been named as one of the top 10 public school systems in the country! Now, they are struggling, along with all the other school districts, to fill teaching jobs because of the lousy support for public schools from the Republicans. There is no doubt in my mind they are out to destroy public schools in North Carolina. Don't even get me started on all the other stuff they've done. (See Moral Monday actions for a complete list of what we're fighting.)

So, even when you DO finally find a place that feels like home, the dynamics can change to the point that you wonder just where
you can go--and whether it's worth it--to move again, especially at age 72 and 63.

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