Orange Gearle

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Sunday, July 29, 2007

fast food nation

Tonight I watched Fast Food Nation, a fictional movie based on the meticulously researched Eric Schlosser book by the same name. If I weren't already a vegetarian, I would be now.

The movie itself is a bit slow at times. It's like a documentary, but yet, it's a character film...which is kind of a strange way to make a movie. As the movie progressed and I stepped back and looked at the picture as a whole, I realized how much better of a film it is than I initially thought. It looks at the fast food industry, as the title suggests, but it also tackles, illegal immigration, poverty, slaughter houses, sexual harassment, corporate corruption, as well as all that animal rights/environment stuff that I enjoy. The way it includes all of these topics, and more, is by showing lives that intersect to create this society that we are living in...and it doesn't paint a very positive picture. From the illegals working in the slaughterhouses that are just trying to have a better life to the guys sitting in the corporate offices marketing this unhealthy, and really just gross, meat. It shows a high school senior working at a fast food place...taking money home to help her single mother pay the bills. It shows college aged idealists trying to decide the best way to protest the fast food and corporate farm industries.

In May of last year I read an article by Nathanael Johnson in Harpers Magazine called Swine of the Times: The making of the modern pig. This movie reminded me very much of that article. The article is an inside look at the pork industry, specifically the genetic engineering that goes into it. This movie is a bit of an inside look at the beef industry, however a bit more focussed on the processing aspects of meat, rather than the raising of the animals.

I was practically a vegetarian before I read the article last year. I became an actual vegetarian after reading the article. And although I already knew that I didn't want to know about the beef industry...this movie confirmed and expanded upon my suspicions about corporate beef "farms".

If nothing else, it makes me think more about a vegan lifestyle, or at the very least, purchasing only certified organic products. But damn, that's expensive! (However, I am already purchasing mostly dunno)

If you watch the movie, make sure you check out the special features on the DVD. In case you don't watch it, here are a couple of creative cartoons about the subject that are included on the DVD.

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Saturday, July 28, 2007

kidney update

Friday brought a doctor's appointment for my dad. Although his kidney function didn't decline drasticly, it is apparent that his numbers are fluctuating. He is also either feeling worse (fatigue wise) or he is expressing his feelings to the doctor more effectively, because the doctor is saying we need to move forward with kidney transplant procedures, due, in part, to his feeling poorly. Another factor that the doctor is considering is that his fistula that he had put in several months ago seems to be failing. Now, they haven't even used this fistula, but, it's failing nonetheless. So, if he were to need dialysis, they would have to repeat the fistula procedure first - which is not something we want to deal with if we do not have to.

So, what this means...

Dad has to have a bit of blood drawn and sent to the lab. And I will be going to U of I hospitals to have my complete work over, including tissue typing. Shelley called me within a few hours of Dad's appointment, and we are looking at dates (probably in September) for my mega probing and prodding day. Then, it's a matter of looking into what would be the best time for me to miss work. There is never a good time to miss, especially considering the fact that I am starting a new job this year, but there are times that are better than others. And, in the big picture, work isn't nearly as important. The kids will do just fine with a quality sub.

I'll admit that when things were put on hold I went into some sort of a mild depression, not that it takes all that much for me to do that, I suppose. I think it's mainly because I could see him feeling worse, and I felt like we weren't doing all we could to change that. So, even though needing a transplant, isn't exactly good news, proceding IS good news, in my opinion. I guess I dealt with the issue of my dad needing a transplant a long time that's why I can look at this as good news. The transplant was inevitable, now it looks like we are actually going to do something to make him feel better.

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Sunday, July 22, 2007

plan 2

In my experiences, progressives/liberals/democrats are empathetic, they care about fairness and equality for all, they want every vote to be counted, every person to be represented even if it means losing elections. We are free thinkers. We are advocates for the underdog. We are just plain good people.

It is because of all this that I am stuck with a bit of a dilemma. Stick with me as I explain...

One thing that Republicans are very good at doing is sticking together, no matter what it takes. They support the party, verbally, monetarily and at the polls, no matter what. They don't "one issue vote" they vote for the party. Here is a perfect illustration of what I am getting at....this example is taken from Crashing the Gate (a book that everyone should read)...I added the links within the quote, of course....

"Back in 1994, Newt Gingrich was putting the finishing touches on his ten-point Contract with America, a document to be sprung in the closing weeks of the midterm elections that would present the nation with a tangible, governing blueprint for the conservative agenda.

Ralph Reed, then president of the Christian Coalition, demanded that Gingrich turn over one of the ten points to him, allowing the Contract to also address those "moral values" voters the Christian Coalition was motivating and turning out for Republican candidates nationwide. Gingrich refused, saying, in so many words, "Look Ralph, don't worry about it. You sell this to your flock and when we take over Congress, we'll take care of your issues." The rest, of course, is history. Gingrich helped sweep out the long-entrenched Democratic majority in the House.

Reed didn't just give Gingrich tacit approval. The Christian Coalition spent over $1 million promoting the Contract, and added untold hours of volunteer work for Republican candidates."


"Gingrich eventually repaid Reed's favor by publicly backing the Christian Coalition's Contract with the American Family, which included the usual antiabortion, antigay, anti-arts, and antiscience laundry list. Plus tax cuts."

They take care of each other.

On Tuesday, there is a special election in Linn County. This special election will determine how we will elect future County Supervisors. The gist of each plan can be found here (along with a recent Gazette Poll)...a quote from link below...

"Voters will have to pick one from the three choices below:
• Plan One: At Large; all board members would be elected by the entire county. They may live anywhere in Linn County. This is the system the county has now.
• Plan Two: At large by District; all board members would be elected by the entire county, but the board member must live within the district they represent.
• Plan Three: District by District; board members must live in the district they represent and only those voters within the district may vote for those board members."

Plan 1 is just dumb, so I won't even discuss it.

The dilemma lies between Plan Two and Plan Three.

Looking at this, you would think that any good Democrat would vote for Plan Three. After all, it is the most "fair" -- each district in the county represented by a member of the district and elected by their "peers" -- their neighbors, the ones that know them best. But, Republicans are backing Plan Three, not democrats. Why? Because the small, rural communities of this county notoriously vote Republican....even if the county as a whole leans left. If Plan Three is selected, it is almost guaranteed that more Republican board members will be elected.

Plan Two is better for the Democratic Party and here is why.....Each district will still be represented on the board by a local resident, but because it's "At Large (by District)" I get to help pick each representative, regardless of where I reside within the county (me and the other more Democrat-rich parts of the county). In theory then, Dems will have an better opportunity to maintain the majority on the board. So, I am going to learn a bit from the Republican Machine and forget about the "fairness" factor, and vote for the Dems...really it's just thinking big picture. In the end, more Dems elected is better for the county (in my opinion, of course).

I will be helping take care of the Democrats by voting for Plan 2 in the upcoming special election...and I encourage all Linn County Democrats to do the same. (Republicans can too, I don't mind).

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Thursday, July 19, 2007

weather...wet, windy and political

Last night our area of the nation was invaded by thunder, lightening, rain, tornadoes, and in my parent's case, straight line winds.

I love thunderstorms. When I was a kid I remember sitting in front of our picture window in the living room watching the lightening and counting how many seconds until the thunder arrived. Looking back I think it was something that my mother suggested so I wouldn't be afraid of storms.

Last night Scott and I sat in his dark, electricity deficient house looking a videos like this and this and this on my laptop (we borrowed a bit of internet access from the neighbors across the street that seemed to have the electricity required to power a router). Ghandi, the dog, was at our feet, concerned only about the fact that this was only his second day in the new house, not giving a hoot about the weather (Emmie would've been under the bed, of course).

My mom, dad, and sister were also in the dark....with a very large tree branch on their house.

As I woke up this morning, I heard Bill Clinton talking. I wasn't having a dream. I had left the TV on when I fell asleep last night, and Bill was on Good Morning America. The interview is here. I almost cried. Not because he said anything all that profound, or worth tears. I almost cried because I had forgotten what it was like to have a Leader that spoke intelligently. Bill Clinton, complete with southern drawl, used words other than uhhh.....ummmm....and hard work. Not only did he pronounce the words correctly, he also used them in their proper context, without whining or acting defensive. His tone of voice was that of a confident, intelligent, caring, man. He didn't talk down to anyone.....and he certainly didn't sound like he was power hungry. How sad that I had forgotten what it was like to have a Commander in Chief to be proud of (well, except for that little sex thing -- but at least he knew how to lead, well, and SPEAK).

There was another story on GMA this morning that I found quite disturbing. This story was about a woman suffering from cancer. Her insurance company refusing to pay for treatment. Video here. Story here. Mary Casey was diagnosed with a very rare sinus cancer, "so rare there are no drugs approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat it." The article goes on...

"Despite surgery and months of radiation, the aggressive cancer spread to Casey's lungs. But doctors said her cancer was slow growing, and that there was hope in a popular cancer drug called Tarceva.

But when Casey went to fill her Tarceva prescription at the pharmacy, her insurer, Coventry Health Care of Kansas, denied her coverage for the drug, saying it considered Tarceva experimental in her case, even though Tarceva is FDA approved for other lung and pancreatic cancers."

The thing is, a different insurance company did cover it for another woman...with the same cancer....and of course her cancer has stabilized. You might think that I found this story disturbing because of the insurance company's refusal to save this woman's life. And well, yes, that is part of it. I became infuriated, however, when Mary Casey said she would just pay for it...and was told it would cost over $4000 per month. No wonder the insurance company refused.

Don't even get me started on pharmaceutical companies.

I called my mom. She had power by six AM, and was ready to clean up the mess.

Most of their little town was effected by straight line winds. When we drove into town this morning to help out, many of the roads were blocked off by tree limbs and even whole trees that littered the streets. Like many small towns after a storm, there were people driving and walking all around checking out the damage, and helping clean up where ever they could. The city trucks were out picking up the debris and the electric company was fixing the downed lines and poles all around town. There was a constant buzz of chain saws in the air.

My sister drove to the store to get some lunch. When she came back she was concerned because my first grade teacher, Mrs. Tooms, had a large tree down and there was no one helping her. We were lucky to have my brother's in-laws help us with the tree......with no chain saw of our own (an no business using one) we couldn't really help Mrs. Tooms.

We continued to work on picking up the many sticks and leaves littering the yard. Everyone was outside...all the neighbors were working....stopping only for a short recap of where they were when the big storm hit.

It was great to see everyone out and helping each other. With a president like ours, pharmaceutical companies and insurance companies being like they are, sometimes I forget that people can be really, really good.

As we left town, we drove by Mrs. Toom's house. There were a half dozen people in her yard....working....while she and a few wee ones watched from the porch. I called my sister to tell her.

Sometimes I am very glad to live in Iowa.

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Tuesday, July 03, 2007


No, I didn't get an iPhone. :-) I'll wait till the bugs are out and the price is down.

As many of you know, my 20G iPod died last October (R.I.P.). Since then I have been trying to figure out a way to purchase a new one and not feel completely guilty about spending my money on something that I don't actually NEED (although just before I bought that iPod, I was told that everyone needs an iPod). I mean, I am sending a child off to college in a couple of months!

Speaking of college.....

Hollyanne had orientation June 19-20. Yes, there were tears (from me). Yes there was a bit of panic (from me - when I attended all the financial aide informational meetings). Yes there was excitement (from both of us).

Coming out of orientation, we realized, Hollyanne really should have a computer to take with her to college. It's not that they don't have any....but her own would be best. So......

I bought a new MacBook for her (she contributed $500 graduation money). With any Apple computer purchase right now, comes a free iPod Nano or $199 toward any new iPod. So being wicked smart I decided to bite the bullet and purchase an 80G iPod (with video, of course).

(free engraving when you purchase online)

So far, I have only purchased one game to play...Ms. Pac-Man of course. And I am going to purchase No Direction Home to watch. I need to clear some space on my iMac first, though. I'm not gonna lie to ya....Ms. Pac-Man is fun, addictive, and very 1980.

After much contemplation, I decided that it would be much better for me to refrain from jogging with the new iPod (since that's how I broke the first one). So.....that meant I had to go to Target (instant gratification required) and purchase this little number...

only 1.07 inch tall, 0.98 inch wide, and 0.33 inch deep

It's pretty cool. I've jogged with it a few times now. Maybe it will help me get back into the swing of jogging???? It only holds about 240 songs (well, really, it's a little less than that, I think)...but that's enough for jogging I suppose. These little iPod shuffles come with their own little dock. It's hilariously cute. New toys are fun. So fun that they are also catching. Helen went out and bought a green one the day after I bought my Lil' Orange Gearle.

Side note - unrelated to iPods - it's kinda fun to type a word in the search window of iTunes and see what comes up. For example, I have 14 songs with the word "waiting" in them.

Here's one of them.

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