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Tuesday, July 29, 2008

[#] [2]
this makes me so angry & horrified i haven't been able to write about it for almost two weeks: the department of health & human services wants to allow employees at federally-funded sites to refuse to participate in "abortions" -- which i put in quotes because it defines "abortion" to include contraception based on "commonly held views on the question of when a pregnancy begins." my jaw and my stomach dropped through the floor when i read that. i think it's completely absurd for the USDHHS to use "commonly held views" to conveniently redefine medical terms. they say "...both definitions of pregnancy are reasonable and used within the scientific and medical community." NO. THEY ARE NOT.

ultimately this proposal would mean that anyone who wanted to opt-out of providing, participating, assisting or referring things like birth control pills, plan b, IUDs, norplant, rape kits, or even condoms would be able to do so without fear of reprisal for NOT DOING THEIR JOBS. it's called a moral decision, but i don't see anything moral about joining the medical profession and then refusing to treat patients. plus, i'll bet no other "moral" objections would be approved for this or any other profession: can you imagine if a doctor refused to treat jews due to her moral beliefs, or a pharmacist decided vaccinations were against his moral beliefs, or if a programmer working for a defense project refused to write code for weapons due to his beliefs? why is this particular belief receiving special protection?

this proposal is entirely beyond the pale: it protects "institutions" but not patients, and could eviscerate states who have done the right thing by passing laws to protect patients. this is the letter i wrote:

Don't allow medical professionals to deny healthcare to women!

The HHS proposal that deliberately confuses the definitions of contraception and abortion is deceitful, distasteful and discriminatory. If the device, drug or procedure is legal, it should be dispensed to women -- regardless of the personal beliefs of staff members.

Patient rights should be paramount in the medical system. I encourage the HHS to support patients, not propaganda. Anyone associated with the medical profession should put their personal beliefs aside in order to serve patients. All patients deserve being treated with dignity, respect and equality rather than shame, scorn and denial of legal services.

Redefining abortion to include contraceptives is a radical leap with neither scientific or medical grounding. Tying it to federal funding is completely unreasonable. At best, the HHS proposal is unnecessary: federal law already allows doctors and even health-care corporations (hospitals, HMOs, and health plans) to refuse to provide services or make referrals for abortion. I don't think that's fair to women, either, but it makes this new proposal to limit birth control (which reduces the rate of abortions) even more alarming and incomprehensible.

First, do no harm. Please do everything you can to try and convince the HHS to abandon this proposed regulation.
you may send your own letter objecting to the proposal to:

HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt
Office Phone: 202-690-7000


Fax: 202-690-7203

Correspondence Secretary: 202-690-6392
(Anyone outside of the DC/metro area can call 877-696-6775 toll-free and ask to be transferred to the Secretary's office.)

also, i would encourage you to sign the petitions at planned parenthood & naral. (ann has already done so. thank you, ann!)

and in other depressing fanatical news, doctors in south dakota must tell women seeking abortions that the procedure "ends a human life" and may cause them psychological harm. of course, a fetus is not yet a human life, and carrying around and giving birth to an unwanted child also causes psychological harm, both to the mother and the child. to be fair, perhaps every doctor in south dakota should be required to warn pregnant women about the psychological harm of post-partum depression, the statistics on infanticide, and the medical risks of childbirth. and then have a mandatory waiting period of 2-4 months before returning to see the doctor again.

Monday, July 28, 2008

[#] [2]
* michaelmas, mph, sven & i went to see the dark knight, which i liked till rachel got killed. and though i liked gordon's character a lot, i was irked that his son was the most important person (why didn't we even see barbara gordon's face? it's not like she's going to be important someday or anything). one of the best things was that this was the quietest theatre i think i've been to in years. i think people were enjoying themselves, but nobody felt compelled to comment about it every 2.5 seconds.

* but sven & i saw beowulf later in the week and it was TERRIBLE! i don't have anything against the original literature, but this movie made me wince the whole time. i didn't realize that it was essentially an animated movie, and it felt like i was watching 2 hours of animated interstitials in a computer role-playing game. the most enjoyment was trying to figure out later which part neil gaiman had any hand in: it seems like he could have said interesting things about the old gods leaving and the new gods arriving, or about what it means to live most of your life as a lie. but that certainly wasn't how the movie played out.

* i visited melanie, who lives not far from here, but it meant i got to bike to her place! it was a lovely visit, since i got to meet her son, her cats and her new puppy anna freud. i really enjoys days where i just get to sit and talk with friends, though i still don't have really good answers about what i want to do in the studio come fall. i'll start thinking about that in more earnestness after my birthday next week (eek!).

* i bought a new-to-me art table via craigslist. it's like the ones in art departments: the large table top is easily adjustable from flat to almost 90 degrees, it has two storage drawers and electrical plug-ins from the side.

* i'm taking a hooping class in kenilworth park on saturdays. now i get the trick i've been trying to do for a year: i can bring the hoop from my waist to over my head and back down again! not consistently, but i understand the mechanics now (understanding hand placement & timing is pretty important). i need a place to practice where i'm not going to destroy something, though.

* after the hoop class i went to the division street fair and bought shiny things from local artisans. in fact, i'm wearing some right now!

* i biked to the lents farmer's market after i woke up and couldn't make myself go on an organized bike ride i had planned on. i came home feeling better and with blueberries, honey, lettuce, basil, cilantro, flowers, a ring and earrings. then i stopped at trillium since it's open on sundays while the farmer's market is happening (yay!).

* on my way home from the farmer's market i passed a house in the neighborhood that has a cherry tree that was a little overripe, so i knocked and asked if i could pick some. i rode home, grabbed a ladder, and picked whatever i could reach that didn't have worms. as i walked home i knocked on dinique's door and shared the cherries w/ her family. the cherries were a bit bitter, so when i got home, i made a cherry sorbet that was intensely flavored and delicious.

* i finally got my inbox to zero! i only had to take 2 months off to do it. :)

* i saw an interesting bumper sticker: "militant agnostic: i don't know and you don't know, either." it caught my eye because chet raymo writes a lot about being able to say "i don't know," both in science & religion.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

[#] [0]
some lovely astronomical tidbits to share:

carl sent a link to brilliant noise, a film that focuses on solar videos. instead of cleaning them up, they keep the noise and graininess inherent in the original recordings, using the evidence of their interactions with the recording equipment as part of the art itself.

then susan sent a link to the moon transiting the earth. it's pretty awesome. she says, "it actually brings tears to my eyes to watch, it's that beautiful."

in fact, when i read this in chet raymo's the soul of the night, i almost got tears in -my- eyes -- i LOVED how it made me reimagine the universe filled with tiny shadowthorns: "Every object near a star wears a cone of night. Near every star there is a ring of cone-shaped shadows that points into space like a crown of thorns. The sun's family of nights includes the shadows of nine planets, several dozen moons, and an army of asteroids. Every particle of dust in the space of the solar system casts its own tiny pyramid of darkness. The sun bristles with nights like a sea urchin prickly with shadowy spines."

speaking of chet, i've been slowly going through his blog and found this wonderful hypothesis about how cloudier societies may have developed more slowly than those that could watch the stars more regularly. interesting.

plus, sven & i are watching "cosmos," which i didn't see when i was a kid. carl sagan is a trip!

also, i just finally figured out stellarium's zoom feature, too. watching jupiter & its moons move in realtime is amazing. i want to start learning the names of stars (or at least the ones that have common names), and discovered stellarium's handy settings for constellation boundaries and hiding everything but the selected constellation. this will make for some nice screenshots someday.

Monday, July 21, 2008

[#] [0]
* jalex & mari are now married! (or at least as married as they can be since oregon voted against gay marriage.) a lovely ceremony at the overlook house and a test of our new domestic partnership laws. hooray!

* i taught another gocco class at the iprc.

* i enjoyed watching dr. horrible this week. i didn't enjoy hellboy 2 as much, though the company was good (hi, michaelmas, sven & mph!).

* sven & i attended a performance by a fellow creative at the super project lab. the next night we attended "promenade" at the sw waterfront.

* i was planning on attending my ninja stitching class and worked on my apron, but the instructor decided to cancel the class at the last minute because there were only two of us. what? how can you stop a class partway through? i just bought some sewing books at powell's, too. meh.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

[#] [1]
first, shout outs to dang & markalope, who are having a hard time of it at the moment. in comparison, my week was really boring, but it still bears documenting:

* michaelmas, sven, alex & i had dinner at the siam society & then went to see the wrong trousers at the know. i wrote about how i loved their version of "video killed the radio star" and i bought their first album when it came out on cd baby. thanks for noticing they were in town, alex! alas, we were just 4 in an audience of 5 and it was difficult to hear the lead singer between songs. they must have been disappointed at the turnout, but they were total sweethearts. too bad the venue was terrible. i'm looking forward to the no-smoking ordinance to take affect in january! here's their writeup of the oregon tour.

[alex w/ the wrong trousers]

[alex, sven, me, michaelmas and the fifth audience member]

* sven & i watched persepolis. i'd already read the graphic novels, so it wasn't a surprise, but still good. i don't think the scene in the airport works very well, though.

* sven & i attended jalex's aufruf, a special blessing before jalex & mari's wedding. it was neat to see; i haven't been to a jewish service since high school.

* i finally washed trixie and her magnets. let a new poetry season begin!

* my dad visited: it's the first time he's ever visited me. he's here on business for two weeks and thought he could fit in a lunch. fortunately, portland is easy to fall in love with, especially when the weather is as beautiful as it is. we took him to edgefield and walked around the grounds.

[can you see the resemblance?]

* also, it turns out that putting silver on aluminum foil and pouring hot water & baking soda over it really does remove tarnish.

Monday, July 07, 2008

[#] [1]
week one:
* i was just well enough to go on the big girls ride, so we met at the esplanade and headed up the springwater corridor trail to the sellwood bridge. i've never been on this side of the springwater so it was a neat & easy exploration. we even heard bagpipes practicing as we passed oaks park!

these are pix from our first stop. i love that big stone/glass combo!

* i finished reading the secret history of moscow: urban fantasy set in russia? that's like pix macaroons dusted with edible glitter.

* sven & i attended avenue q. a lot of people walked out on it. i don't mind shock value but i don't like mean humour, and if you're going to do shock, then you shouldn't have such a freaking mundane storyline (boy gets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl again). the best part of the night was afterwards, watching drunk teens get naked in keller fountain. "have a nice night!," one of them called out to us when they finally left. then we stopped by voodoo too for the first time. i would have never found it if sven hadn't been with me.

* one day i found strawberries at my door! melanie left them for me. thanks, melanie!

* i got to go on my belated solstice walk on powell butte: i like to go up there on solstices & equinoxes to see how it changes seasonally. the grass is so tall! i went to my favorite place, which has the perfect climbing tree. but i was also disappointed with how much trash is there and how the plaques on the compass rose are being destroyed.

* on the day that was so hot i survived mostly by driving to different events in trixie's air conditioning: visited romaine at fat straw, went to the fat fancy sale, and ended up at the multnomah county bike fair, which is presumably more interesting if you know someone there.

* new neighbors moved in across the street. they speak english, so now i don't know if i'll take russian in the fall, like i had been planning. everyone else across the street is or has been russian.

* we celebrated todd's birthday by taking him out to brunch at the matchbox lounge (tasty & easy to get a table out, but did you know pokpok is closed on sundays?), then to baskin robbins (since he turned 31) and then for a long talk at creston park.

* yay, a lightning storm!

week two:
* despite my neglect, the first raspberries showed up this week. perfect timing, too, as it meant i could make raspberry ice cream for 4th of july.

* michaelmas & i celebrated my 5th (!) portlandiversary, where we saw kristen & todd at the hawthorne burgerville. also i got to watch the hawthorne bridge rise for the first time.

* i went for a 10-mile bike ride and watched another lightning storm from the sheep bench on the springwater corridor trail. when headed for home i had lightning flashing behind me and fireworks exploding before me.

* at midnight jul03/04, earth was at aphelion, its furthest distance from the sun. (94,513,144 miles, or 3.4% farther from the sun than at perihelion in january)

* on the 4th of july, michaelmas, kristen & todd came over to watch 1776, which is a tradition for michaelmas. then we ate delicious veggie riblets, fantastic corn, sausages w/ sauteed veggies, that raspberry ice cream and sven's infamous popovers. when we went to the waterfront to watch the fireworks, ash & firework detritus rained from the skies, leaving char & paper (and likely heavy metals) in hair, skin, eyes & clothes. i'd rather have been on the bridge, but the fire marshal closed it this year for some reason, but i don't think it could have been as bad as it was on the water.

[toby & gregory celebrate independence day]

* when we painted the house they took the weatherstripping out, so i lettered parts of margie piercy's poem "housekeeping" on the inside of the frame so it will be hidden when we replace the weatherstripping. it was a poem dayna sent when we bought the house.

["It is the burrow of a sandworm..."]

* i had to trim the rosemary bush so the thyme would have some room, so i left free rosemary out in the yard in a glass vase. i wasn't sure it wold go because we don't really have a pedestrain neighborhood and only one other person in the neighborhood ever leaves stuff out for free. but i was delighted when i came back & it was gone! i was less happy when they also littered the free signs on our lawn and took the glass vase (which i had asked them not to do). this certainly isn't a considerate neighborhood. next time i'll have to leave it in a big can or something i was going to recycle, anyway.

* today i biked to the lents farmer's market. they still don't have many vendors, but i came away with sugar snap peas, tamales, rainier cherries, flowers, cilantro & garlic scapes. i also bought a chili cheese dog & a drink at the coffee cart and talked with the people at the shady table! thought the morning seemed like it might rain, by the time i left it was a beautiful bike ride there and back. i love biking with a huge bouquet in one of my baskets!