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Checking In

I just wanted to say thanks for all the sweet things you guys said when I posted my last diary and tell you I’m doing ok. I’m still in the hospital and I got my head shaved yesterday (it looks good, or so I’m told), but I’m in good spirits and feel stronger than I did before. I do have a litany of symptoms from the ulcerative colitis, but nothing too serious from the chemo, though the two are exacerbating each other and it’s very frustrating. I’m currently in my second of what (in theory) will be six rounds of chemo. But the bottom line is it seems to be working (so far) and I’m much more confident than I was.


There’s no good way to start this essay so I’m just gonna hit the ground running…

Last week I was diagnosed with cancer. It’s an intense feeling to be 23 and knowing you might not see 24 and that the outcome isn’t so much in your hands as it is you’re just gonna have to wing it. Everybody tells me to think positive and I’m trying, but there are going to be good days and bad days. I cried a few times the first day but it was a relief, too; at least I finally knew what I was dealing with. I’d been in the hospital for a couple weeks with tons of symptoms but no diagnosis, so having hard facts and a course of action was a welcome development, even if it was the C-word.

I got the news on Wednesday. I started chemo Friday and finished the first round on Sunday. I was tired on Monday and Tuesday. But today I walked around outside for awhile and it was great. The weather is all grey and dreary but fresh air of any kind is a beautiful thing when you’re stuck inside virtually 24/7. Later my little brothers visited and I saw my mom and dad in the same room for the first time in years. It’s been quite an emotional rollercoaster. I’ve learned a lot in a short time, about myself, other people and life in general.  

Breaking: 30 laws, for the border fence

I see Magnifico caught this story in Four at Four, but tossing this post out there for depth’s sake.

We have to break the law in order to save it.

WASHINGTON – The Bush administration will use its authority to bypass more than 30 laws and regulations in an effort to finish building 670 miles of fence along the southwest U.S. border by the end of this year, federal officials said Tuesday.

Invoking the two legal waivers – which Congress authorized – will cut through bureaucratic red tape and sidestep environmental laws that currently stand in the way of the Homeland Security Department building 267 miles of fencing in California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas, according to officials familiar with the plan. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to comment publicly about it.

More below the fold…

Global Warming odds and ends


Living in California, I’m always seeing bumper stickers that say, “Keep Tahoe Blue”.. and well……. looks like they’re losing.

RENO, Nev. – A new study predicts water circulation in Lake Tahoe is being dramatically altered by global warming, threatening the lake’s delicate ecosystem and famed clear waters.

The University of California, Davis study said one likely consequence is warmer lake temperatures that will mean fewer cold-water native fish and more invasive species – like carp, largemouth bass and bluegill.

“What we expect is that deep mixing of Lake Tahoe’s water layers will become less frequent, even nonexistent, depleting the bottom waters of oxygen,” said Geoffrey Schladow, director of the Tahoe Environmental Research Center at U.C. Davis.


The changes, the study concluded, could turn Tahoe’s famed cobalt-blue waters to a murky green in about a decade.

A decade. Sad. I hope they’re wrong but we’ll find out soon enough, right? I’ve never really liked going in the water because it’s always crowded (herds of tourists…bleh), but the views from the mountains up above are absolutely beautiful. It’ll probably still be nice, but the fact that we’re damaging one of the landmarks that defines the Sierras is just devastating.

Masters of War

I’ve been singing the song “Masters of War” a lot lately. Every time I practice, I play it. I’d guess I’ve worked through it, either listening or playing, at least 500 times since September. The verses are burned into my consciousness. Every word is still relevant; the military industrial complex is every bit as powerful now as it was when Dylan wrote about it in 1963 at the ripe old age of 22. 22! And he created what’s gone down as one of the most succinct, eloquent protest songs of all time, certainly one of the landmark antiwar pieces.

But for all its brilliance, what futility he must have felt. A guitar and a voice vs. the military-industrial complex. These people didn’t hear a word he said. They were tucked away, safe and sheltered. That their trade was a curse on the whole world was not their problem, and mere criticism could not and did not move them. If Bob Dylan was president, maybe they’d mind, but he wasn’t even a speck. But he did have two things: the moral high ground, and the First Amendment. That’s all anybody has, really. If right is on your side, you can be vocal about it and hopefully others will hear and join. Accusation, for all its pitfalls, is a necessary step toward justice.

Gallup: 80% disillusioned

According to a new Gallup poll, a whopping 80% of the American people are dissatisfied with the way things are going in the U.S. at this time. Only 19% answered the opposite, the lowest rating registered since January of 1992 (the start of the final year of George Bush Sr.’s term in office). The only time the poll has ever found a lower number was in 1979 (tail end of the Carter years, during the Iranian Hostage Crisis, soaring gas prices), when a 14% rating occurred.

You might be thinking, “hey, why’s the number gotten so low now…. I’ve been dissatisfied with the direction of the country for awhile“. But see, all that means is you’ve been paying attention for the last five years… The extreme number of 19% has only been reached because Republicans have finally turned. Yeah, that’s right, even the GOP is uncomfortable now! Gallup sayeth:

Since January 2007, U.S. satisfaction has dropped by nearly half, from 35% to 19%. However, it has dropped much more among Republicans (from 60% to 33%) than among Democrats (from 16% to 7%).

The 33% of Republicans satisfied with the country today is the lowest Gallup has found for members of President Bush’s party since he took office in 2001.

“Greeted as Liberators”

Five years ago today, Dick Cheney appeared on Meet the Press. He made a quote that will go down as one of the great whoppers of the Bush era.

Now, I think things have gotten so bad inside Iraq, from the standpoint of the Iraqi people, my belief is we will, in fact, be greeted as liberators. And the president’s made it very clear that our purpose there is, if we are forced to do this, will in fact be to stand up a government that’s representative of the Iraqi people, hopefully democratic due respect for human rights, and it, obviously, involves a major commitment by the United States, but we think it’s a commitment worth making. And we don’t have the option anymore of simply laying back and hoping that events in Iraq will not constitute a threat to the U.S. Clearly, 12 years after the Gulf War, we’re back in a situation where he does constitute a threat.

As we all know, the threat he was referring to has since been proven false and nearly 4,000 American troops are dead. Tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians are dead. The Iraqi people have created segregation, but not functional government. By the most conservative estimates, the American people have spent at least 500 billion dollars, and may spend as much as three trillion. There’s still no end in sight and one of the two ’08 presidential nominees has said he’s committed to staying for “100 years”.

Five years to the Sunday, it’s safe to say that “greeted as liberators” will go down as one of the most terrible, tragic predictions in American history.

Tibet Crisis Continues + ACTION ITEMS

In case you haven’t heard, there’ve been protests in Tibet the last few days marking the 49th anniversary of the Tibetan National Uprising. These are some of the biggest demonstrations the country’s seen since the 1980s. The Chinese government has clamped down hard and violence has broken out.

Violent protests erupted Friday in a busy market area of Lhasa, the Tibetan capital, as Buddhist monks and other ethnic Tibetans clashed with Chinese security forces. Witnesses say the protesters burned shops, cars, military vehicles and at least one tourist bus.

The chaotic scene marked the most violent demonstrations since protests by Buddhist monks began in Lhasa on Monday, which was the anniversary of a failed Tibetan uprising against Chinese rule in 1959. The ongoing protests have been the largest in Tibet since the late 1980s, when Chinese security forces repeatedly used lethal force to restore order in the region.

The developments prompted the Dalai Lama, the exiled spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhism, to issue a statement, saying that he was concerned about the situation and appealing to the Chinese leadership to “stop using force and address the long-simmering resentment of the Tibetan people.”

This particular media report skipped the last part of his statement: “I also urge my fellow Tibetans not to resort to violence.”

Bang-Bang, Bling-Bling

I’m not cynical enough to think that the United States invaded Iraq so we could gain a customer for our weapons, but…

In a move that could be the most enduring imprint of U.S. influence in the Arab world, American military officials in Baghdad have begun a crash program to outfit the entire Iraqi army with M-16 rifles.

The initiative marks a sharp break for a culture steeped in the traditions of the Soviet-era AK-47 Kalashnikov assault rifle, a symbol of revolutionary zeal and third-world simplicity that is ubiquitous among the militaries of the Middle East.

So far, the U.S. military has helped the Iraqi army purchase 43,000 rifles – a mix of full-stock M-16A2s and compact M-4 carbines. Another 50,000 rifles are currently on order, and the objective is to outfit the entire Iraqi army with 165,000 American rifles in a one-for-one replacement of the AK-47.

Bush Appreciation Day

1.19.09, you’re invited. I know a lot of people are already celebrating on Inauguration Day (1.20) but that’s only a half day of Bush in office (weak!). His last full day is 1.19, so really, if we want to show our appreciation for the man and his genius, we owe him the justice of doing it the day before. And then that way when it’s Inauguration Day, we’re already in celebration mode. But hey, since the 19th is a Monday, we should really just make it a whole weekend. That’s what I’m going to do, at least – a Friday-Tuesday thing. That should be enough time to pay tribute to his legacy.

antiwar music

About five minutes ago I was on Big Orange writing a comment in another candidate diary and suddenly I was like, fuck it. I need to stop reading these. This is terrible. But I like hanging around because there’s so much interesting commentary and excellent points being made on all sides. I seriously can’t turn away, it’s so entertaining. Call it navel-gazing, blood sport or what, but damn. This is world class entertainment.

Forgive the shorthand and oversimplification, but it’s like Rambo, seeing the Hillbots go in against the ABH diaries, and vice versa, and pissed off Edwards people all over the place, some rampant ageism, and then people calling for calm, some just trying to ride it out, some really obnoxious trolls, lots of posters just going SNAP and leaving, and then some people offering the most brilliant political commentary I’ve ever read.

But since reading them or commenting in them isn’t doing me or the world any damn good, I decided that every time I wade into one, I’m going to immediately leave. If I want to be on a blog, I’ll start writing a diary on Docudharma or Lose the Label about something decidedly NOT related to the election. Better yet, I’ll just run away from my computer.

Anyway, for my first exile from Candidasia, here are some lyrics videos for songs I wrote. Except the first one, which is a cover. Feel free to pick at it, or snag free downloads here.

The Constitution is a Lie

So I walked into the kitchen last night to make dinner and I could hear my mom helping my little brother with his history homework in the other room. He’s in 8th grade, learning about American government. She was teaching him how the presidency and Congress work, what the amendments are, etc. She told him how the president has to take an oath before he takes office.

“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

But it’s all bullshit.