Category: URGENT


After 21 months on the campaign trail (longest in history), Barack Obama still inspires.  Please listen to Sen. Obama’s closing arguments (full speech).

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What exactly does it cover?  I have a great vision plan (thanks), but no coverage for any of the scans I should be getting quarterly and today, while at an office visit with my sick child, I learned I have no coverage PERIOD at our local hospital – the main hospital for all of Northern Michigan and the upper peninsula.  I paid nearly $300 just for our Urgent Care visit ($98 for my child + $98 for me (these charges included the discount for payment up front) + $65 in prescriptions. 

So, the next time someone asks me how anyone in this country is uninsured or why anyone would have medical debt with “full” coverage with a major insurer, I’ll scream first and then tell them.  It’s enough to make you sick.

The Happening

The girls and I have been sick all week so tonight, Erick rented some movies for us to enjoy.   We watched Monster House with the girls and then after they went to bed, we enjoyed the latest M. Night Shyamalan’s film, The Happening.  Well, it wasn’t exactly “enjoyment” we were experiencing through some truly gruesome death scenes, but I was again thrilled with Shyamalan’s ability to look past the obvious and reach into our deepest sub-conscience for another winning story-line.  

Though a bit rough around the edges, this film makes a firm statement about the state of our planet and offers up the last resort tactic of some truly unexpected antagonists.  Yeah, the neurotoxins were a bit refined on their first attempt, but they accomplish the end-result of so many chemicals we spray without consideration on our lawns, countertops, trees, pets, and in our water each day.  And it’s equally ugly and no less terrifying.  

[And in case you’re wondering, plants really do communicate with other species in a similar way described in the film.]

I prefer this film to Lady in the Water for story-line, but I felt like Zoey’s character really lacked depth in this film, so in terms of acting, Lady wins out.  The Village remains my favorite M. Night film.

Recently at a McCain rally, a woman said she didn’t trust Obama because “He’s an Arab.”

McCain was quick to address the crowd, telling them amid boos that Obama was a “decent family man and not an Arab.”  

Firstly, I’ve been to two Obama rallies and whenever McCain is brought up, it’s usually in regards to a policy and the crowd listens and maybe cheers Obama and more importantly whenever Obama states boldy that we need to come together as a nation – Democrats AND Republicans – he is cheered loudly.  Nobody yells, “Kill him” or “terrorist” or “traitor” or “off with his head.”  I can’t even believe McCain tried to suggest this was normal.  I’m also irritated that McCain, through his disjoined logic, apparently believes you can’t be both Arab and a good family man. 

We need a president who can UNITE the parties, not further divide them.  And this is one more reason I support Sen. Barack Obama.

What sways me as a liberal is my love of this country’s diversity and at the root, the voice and will of the people.  This is the first election in my life-history, where I’ve felt good about voting for my candidate. Barack Obama is a good man.  I’ve followed his career now since I was in college and am as inspired today by his good works and actions as I was the day I first heard Obama deliver a speech.  I’ll never forget that moment- I told everyone around me, “This guy is going to be our president someday.”  He lit up the room with his charisma.  

And yes, it does take more than charisma to run a country, so I looked into Barack’s record at the time and was impressed by his work as a community leader.  I knew it was a long chance he’d ever make it this far, but through strength, integrity and determination, Barack Obama is now running for president of the United States.  And for the first time, I’m more than a little proud to voice my support for him.  

Now for the whys:  Obama believes in the spirit of community.  He believes in fostering an environment where young people find a voice and through volunteer opportunities take a stake in their own community and country.   In exchange for their time and efforts, Obama is proposing we offer grants to help offset the cost of tuition, so these same young people have an opportunity to continue with their education.  

Building a strong community is at the heart of all efforts.  Imagine a Hurricane Katrina event after such a program has been implemented.  We might see thousands of people willing and capable of rescue, building shelter, organizing food and medical care and just providing a sense of hope for those devastated by the hurricane.  

Obama isn’t playing the same party-politics.  He’s not your ordinary politician, he’s always first a fellow citizen.  He won’t play those games – he’s a better person than that.  Instead, he’ll breathe new life into his message and continue through November stronger than ever knowing he has been through harder times than this before and with Barack Obama, we know he’ll only work harder at finding solutions; he’ll struggle with us until this economy is once again balanced; he’ll continue to bring hope to all people that in times of need “There are no red states or blue states:  There is the United States of America.”

Plastic bags are very difficult to recycle and very few make it to the recycling phase.  Most end up in landfills, or scattered across the country-side and in our waterways where they are ingested by smaller and smaller creatures until there’s a level of petroleum detectable all the way up the food-chain.  SO, the next time asks you whether you prefer paper or plastic, bring them cloth or tell them paper because it’s easily recycled.  Donate bags, if your store will accept them, or encourage a friend to bring his/her own bags when shopping.  It all makes a difference.  

Yesterday, when I asked the Home Economist about going to paper, I learned that this is the first week they are plastic-free!  I spoke with them about bag donation (since I think slowing the purchasing of paper bags (which come from beautiful CO2-absorbing trees) is a good next step).

Watch/listen to the speech by Barack Obama in Berlin, Germany…  

…regardless of which side of the “fence” you are on.

I made the mistake of reading the news yesterday.  The article on the genocide in Bosnia did not sit well with me as it should not with anyone.  I emailed some aide organizations to see what they were doing to help families in the former Yugoslavia, but have not heard back.  So, I emailed my cousin – a man who has travelled the broken country, speaks the languages and knows our history.  I asked him how it affects him to hear of the violence that occurred in the early 90s and of the tensions still present today.  He wrote that his teaching position was cancelled when the war broke out and he watched on CNN as the Yugoslav army rolled into Dubrovnik and began shelling – He described this moment as “one of the most painful and sorrowful” days of his life.  

I’ve never been to the region (I’ve never even been overseas) and yet, I feel ties to the country.  I hear in their voices my own grandfather’s accent.  The same man who sat beside me once and ate an entire apple; core and all.  When I asked him why he ate the whole apple, he just smiled and in his smile I recognized, even as a child, something older; a feeling more primitive than anything I had experienced in my young life.  His smile was a veil protecting me from ever knowing hunger.  “I hope you will never understand,” he said.  

Though I knew him only briefly, when my grandfather spoke, I clung to the rich sounds of every word.  He called me “Samantrah.”  I felt like a princess the way he said my name.  

So my dear cousin who, after hearing the above, refers to me now as Lady Sam, reminded me this last email, that the pain suffered in our homeland is very real.  That the crimes are severe and atrocious and appear at once unforgivable.  But he also reminded me that for the most part, “people are good and kind, if ignorant and unpolished.”  He also used the word “plemenit,” the Croatian word meaning generous, noble, gentle, refined.   It’s a word that means chivalry – a good-natured kind of word encompassing those solid traits to which we may all aspire.  

We may feel helpless thousands of miles away from a land where our ancestors learned the meaning of this word, but we do not need to abandon hope.  For the lesson my cousin learned in all of this was that we are not helpless.  We can continue to draw from our lineage – from those lessons carried on through generations of tolerance, patience, forgiveness, and peaceful resolutions.  We can make a more peaceful homeland right here wherever we are just as our ancestors would have done.

Today and everyday please battle the unconscionable acts of this world with acts of kindness and tolerance to others.

We had an offer in on the Poe House, but it was countered and we decided not to counter again.  This was sort of a last ditch effort to find a house in Charlotte.  It’s now time for a break while we collect our thoughts, spend some time back home in Michigan and determine our course.  I wish things were easier right now, but nothing is easy in this economy, so why bother feeling down about it?  I’m going to have to buy another copy of the Grapes of Wrath, since my own copy is buried in some warehouse back home.  We (us, our country) are nowhere near the edge of turmoil experienced by those who survived the Depression or are we?  Is it simply that our poor are better hidden in the shadows cast off corporate buildings?  

I’m researching an ancestor of mine (or piggybacking off the research of my step-father), McDonald Clarke- known by many as “The Mad Poet” and revered for his eccentricities and his innocence.  He often found himself poor and alone, but many, including the best poets of his day, marveled at his uncanny ability to smile in the face of cruelty, to find decency in anyone and to seek out the stars through a large hole in his attic-room roof, rather than suffer the misery of defeat of being poor.  In his poem, Humility, Clarke writes,

“Do you call me poor, you slugger? // Won’t Posterity let me hug her, // And won’t she hug me back again? // Isn’t my pen // The Sceptre of Eternity, to wave //  Over Earth’s grave?”

And we are by no means poor, but we feel the pinch and empathetically are suffering with the worst off for we know these are families not unlike our own.  And because we have had to worry at times in our own lives about from where our next meal might come.  

The beauty in these times is that they are less superficial.  Sincerity seems to flow in all art, music, from the pen.  These are times when we build strong foundations – not of brick and mortar, but of friendships that will lead us through the hard times.  

“By calling me poor, you slugger,

Psho!  Psho!

I’m sure I don’t feel so –

So I should think

From this hurricane of ink.”  -MC

 

In today’s news:

WASHINGTON (CNN) — Americans drove 1.4 billion fewer highway miles in April than they did in April 2007, the Department of Transportation said Wednesday.

I met a woman who quit her job with a 22-mile commute each way because on days when she only worked a few hours, it was costing her more to drive to work than the $7/hr she was earning.  It was the first time I had heard someone in the middle class tell me they cannot afford to drive to work.  

On the plus side, fewer miles means less CO2 in our atmosphere and more focus and energy being spent on solving our energy crisis than ever before.