Day 2: art in Amsterdam

We did a whole lot today: Climate March + MOCO Museum for Banksy/Dali exhibits + Climate March again + FOAM Museum for William Eggleston’s LOS ALAMOS exhibit plus additional photography exhibits, and then dinner out at SNCKBR. (And yeah, I’m totally cognizant of the fact that there are a whole lotta acronyms in the preceding sentence.)

It’s been a good day here in Amsterdam. So good, in fact, that I’m having trouble picking just one image to represent the experience. (To add more pics would result in a marathon blog post, and I don’t have the bandwidth for that right now.) So I’m going to leave it at this quote that was painted on the wall at the Banksy exhibit:
Actually, this is THE perfect sentiment for the day. You know why? The “art” wasn’t just in those museums. It was also on display in Museumplein where all those people gathered to voice their concern/outrage/hopes/etc regarding the climate change affecting the planet.

We’re a creative species, and it’s gonna take a whole lotta outrage + art + action to get us out of this mess. It’s a daunting endeavor. But today, between the civic action outside the museums and the creativity exhibited inside, I truly believe that is possible.

Art is essential to our survival.

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On the 14th anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, G.W. Bush is still a war criminal

In March of 2003, my family took the train from Denver to San Francisco during our sons’ spring break. Wildebeest was 9-years-old and Zebu was 7. As had millions of people around the world, we’d marched and demonstrated and written letters and called our representatives to say NO TO WAR ON IRAQ.

Didn’t matter. Bush said he wouldn’t shape his policy according to public opinion, even when it was the whole freaking planet screaming NO.

We were in a hotel when it was announced that the U.S. had begun dropping bombs. We were outraged and heartbroken. So were many, many people in San Francisco. The police were out in full riot gear, looking very nervous.

Over the next days, people chained themselves to manhole covers and blocked streets.

Protesters were everywhere. So were the cops.

That Bush-Cheney invasion, powered by lies and fear-mongering, made the oil companies and mercenaries much richer, while destroying the lives of millions of Iraqis.

Now it’s March of 2017, and people are saying they miss George W. Bush. Unbelievable. George W. Bush is a war criminal, plain and simple, and the repercussions of his crimes continue fourteen years after he wrongly invaded another country.

 

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Vermiculture or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Worms

These days there isn’t even the option of pretending not to see the bad things being done to the planet and its inhabitants. Agent Orange and the Billionaires’ Club are taking what was formerly done on the down-low, cranking it up a couple hundred notches, and shoving it in our faces. Anger, anxiety, and despair (just to mention a few) are running high. I’ve made tons of phone calls and sent emails, and while those are important tasks, I’m not feeling overly swell about my influence on Washington, D.C.

Enter the worms.

Back in mid-December, I blogged about nabbing some free wooden drawers off Craigslist. I wanted them for worm bins. And now, after lots of reading and research, I’m pleased to say Zippy and I have converted some of those drawers into worm bins.

bins-with-lids

Zippy did all the construction. He drilled holes in the bottoms of the bins and ventilation holes on both sides. Then he lined the bins with shade cloth.

ventilation-holes  bin-interior

I prepared the bedding using newspaper, phone book, egg cartons, toilet paper rolls, and an ancient newsprint drawing pad that I must’ve brought with me from North Hollywood (via Santa Rosa, Bakersfield, and Anchorage). Yes, I sometimes lean “hoarder.” But hey, isn’t it cool that the worms are benefitting from my issues?!

bedding-supplies

Bedding supplies

bedding-preparation

Shred, shred, shred some more!

On Saturday, we went to pick up our two pounds of worms from a worm farmer in the Denver area. Unfortunately, I don’t have photographic documentation of our worms’ homecoming because I was focused on getting them out of the cloth sack and into their prepared bins. But here’s a fair representation of what those worms looked like when I released them from the sack:

compostwoms

And here’s a quick and slightly blurry overview of the bin in use (didn’t want to dawdle since worms are light-sensitive):

bin-in-use

The worms are working away in the damp shredded paper, etc., beneath a damp “blanket” of newspaper. They’re eating our kitchen scraps and their bedding. They’re helping me feel less horrified about my footprint on this planet.

Today the Senate voted to confirm a wealthy, unqualified, anti-public school fundamentalist to head the Department of Education. I had no influence over that vote. I do, however, have control over my worms’ well-being and my household contribution to landfills.

 

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Warm Cookies of the Revolution

This morning I joined my friend, Sarah, at an event put on by Warm Cookies of the Revolution. Warm Cookies bills itself as a Civic Health Club, and while Sarah has participated in numerous events, today was my first.

The topic: The Science of Effective Resistance by Erica Chenoweth

?????????????

This was the opening slide: Presentation prepared for Warm Cookies of the Revolution: The Science of Effective Resistance Erica Chenoweth Ph.D

When Sarah texted me the invite I went to the site to read up on the talk, and saw that it was about nonviolent conflict. My first thought was, “Screw that. We need to be in the streets with torches and pitchforks, and maybe burn a few cars while we’re at it.” (Yes, I am incredibly frustrated with the timid response from the “opposition” party.) But I value Sarah’s judgment and wanted to spend time with her today, so I thanked her for the invitation. And off we went.

Here’s my takeaway: Erica Chenoweth has done the numbers on violent vs nonviolent campaigns of resistance. And guess what? Nonviolent campaigns have a higher success rate. There are a variety of reasons for that but the one that went ping in my head was that acts of violence can (and probably will) turn off active allies and potential allies. Imagine that!

Her research shows that all successful nonviolent campaigns have three things in common:

  • mass participation
  • defections from the ruling regime
  • the use of flexible tactics

Hey, looky there! We’ve got two out of three going on right this very moment!

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Solidarity

Just stuck this sign in our front yard.muslim-solidarity

A small gesture on this dark day but an important one, I believe. There’s a Muslim family up the street and my stomach hurts thinking about how they’re feeling right now.

 

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Denver represents!

Marched this morning with a couple hundred thousand other people. The day started out cold and overcast (really appreciated the ride downtown on the packed-to-the-gills light rail because all that body heat warmed me up again) before turning sunny and warmer. It was a good morning, and I’m glad my neighbor friend, Kim, invited me to march with her. I brought my camera and captured some of the wit and wisdom of the very large gathering. (Click to enlarge)

carrie-fisher-sent-me    princess-leia    gaslighting

govt-housing

introverts    noriega

mothers-against

feminist-as-fuck

as-fuck

In case you missed it the first time.

Maybe someone can help me out here. My Spanish is rusty and the online translator came back with "They wanted to enter us but they did not know that we were seeds."

“They tried to bury us. They did not know that we were seeds.” (h/t and thanks to Jenn Hubbard for translation)

one-race

 

act-emote

Construction workers above the march.

Construction workers above the march.

children-of-the-witches

And here’s me with my sign:

tracy-in-denver-at-womens-march-1-21-17

Finally, here’s an overhead shot of Civic Center Park in Denver:

DENVER, CO - January 21: Tens of thousands in Civic Center Park for the Women's March on Denver January 21, 2017. (Photo by Andy Cross/The Denver Post)

DENVER, CO – January 21: Tens of thousands in Civic Center Park for the Women’s March on Denver January 21, 2017. (Photo by Andy Cross/The Denver Post)

Kim and I left the march before it reached the park so you won’t be able to find us in this crowd. Turning around was a good call, though, because as we “swam” downstream, we got a good look at THE MANY MANY PEOPLE. It was life-affirming to read the signs screaming with anger, hope, and humor.

We’re gonna need all three to make it out alive.

 

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Signs of the times

obama-administration-sign

I just removed this sign (h/t Bob Herbert) from the back window of my Prius. It’s faded from approximately six years of sun exposure. I put it in my car after attending the Democratic county assembly in March of 2010 that was nothing more than a lovefest for Obama. It wasn’t cool with me that the Democratic party was overlooking the horrible policies it’d (rightfully so) shrieked about during the Bush/Cheney years once it was a Democrat enacting those policies. I was disgusted by the lack of spine. I taped the sign in my car and revoked my membership in the Democratic party. I became an Unaffiliated voter.

Here it is, nearly six years later, and we’re facing a loathsome soon-to-be president whose election was largely enabled by that same spinelessness. The corporate Democratic establishment opened the door to this nightmare and, because Obama doubled down on many Bush/Cheney policies, shit’s about to get real in a way many people didn’t see coming.

Right now it feels as if I could cover my Prius windows with signs and it still wouldn’t be enough to address the realities of Agent Orange. But whatever signage I adopt, it can’t be all about him. That madman exploited the situation put in place by people who were/are supposed to be the opposition party, and right now I’m not seeing a whole lot of spine.

I just hope I’m not the only one calling them out on it.

 

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Stand tall, y’all

When I searched my photos to see what image spoke to me today, I decided to use this picture from two months ago:
praying-mantis-on-screen

And as I looked at that slightly freaky, somewhat off-putting creature, I pondered the connection for today. Clinging? Holding on for dear life? Prayer? None of those resonated with me so I did an online search for “praying mantis facts,” and found my answer:

Instead of running away from a threat it will stay put and try to look bigger. It will raise its wings and raptory arms and try to stand as tall as possible. Maybe even rocking from left to right to seem more intimidating. Does it work? Actually, it does! Animals that are not particularly interested in eating the mantis or have not yet experienced this are a bit suspicious of a prey that does not run away.

In light of the current political freak show and our soon-to-be bully-in-chief, aka the Circus Peanut, I think we should all take a page from the praying mantis.

No running away!
Stand as tall as possible!
No running away!

And, if necessary, rip the bastards’ heads off and devour them.

 

 

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Don’t fear resistance

I received texts from family and friends after the election, asking how I was coping with the world’s new Agent Orange reality. I replied, in part, that there was still hope for the future if, out of this debacle, the Democratic party reassessed and became a true party of resistance.

And while the establishment Dems who pushed so hard for a Clinton candidacy are still deeply in denial regarding last week’s beat-down, there are glimmers of hope. People on my Twitter feed who have never, to my knowledge, tweeted anything remotely political or activist, are now engaged in the democratic process. They’re calling their representatives. They’re adding those representatives’ phone numbers to their contact lists. They’re writing letters, signing petitions, and asking others to do the same.

They’re taking to the streets and pushing back.

We have Donald Trump’s ugly authoritarian character to thank for that, and while that might not feel like much right now, it’s a legitimate silver lining.

Image found on Morguefile.com without any identifying info so if you're fortunate enough to happen upon this sculpture, please let me know where it is.

Image found on Morguefile.com without any identifying info, so if you’re fortunate enough to happen upon this sculpture, please let me know where it is.

The strength and power of despotism consists wholly in the fear of resistance.  ~  Thomas Paine

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A white male millennial response

My 20-year-old son (known here as Zebu), is studying in Sweden this year. He’s been there since the middle of August and has found much to like and admire about that country and other places he’s visited in Europe.

Today we had a lengthy text exchange. My opening message was to ask if he’d already found a Swedish girl to marry so he could remain there rather than coming home to Agent Orange (aka Trump).

Here’s his reply:

Many people have asked if I’m just gonna stay in Europe, admittedly they ask jokingly, but I really thought about that. I feel like it’s almost a requirement that not only I come back but I spend a lot of time fighting back and doing real work. As a white male, my life changes very little. But a lot of people just had their agency put in danger. That’s bullshit for me to leave at this time and allow a steamroll of those who don’t have a soapbox.

I’m not surprised by his attitude. I am, however, very proud to be his mother.

zebu-playing-chess

The ever-thinking Zebu playing chess. June 2016

 

 

 

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Taking a knee

If freedom makes social progress possible,
so social progress strengthens and enlarges freedom.

~ Robert Kennedy

Colin Kaepernick and Arian Foster take a knee during national anthem. GRANT HALVERSON/GETTY IMAGES

Colin Kaepernick and Arian Foster take a knee during national anthem.                                                               GRANT HALVERSON/GETTY IMAGES

 

 

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Major Regret OR I Told Me So

Even though I saw it coming, Obama’s recent budget proposal to cut Social Security benefits via a Chained CPI makes me want to puke.

 

Cutting benefits for society’s most vulnerable is a callous act. It’s cruel and unnecessary, and I’m deeply ashamed I voted for Obama in November. I knew this was coming and yet I caved at the final hour and cast my vote for someone who is clearly not a Democrat because of my disgust for the Republicans’ voter suppression campaign.

I wish there was a time machine that would give me a redo so that I could cast my vote for someone who doesn’t help the rich get richer at the poor’s expense. Alas, no such device exists and I must live with my vote. And if I’m ever again tempted to vote for someone who clearly doesn’t care about the powerless, I need only remember this sick feeling in my gut. In the meanwhile, I’m making sure my “representatives” know where I stand on a Chained CPI.

#OccupyDenver

                

Yesterday I went to OccupyDenver.org to find out what supplies were needed
and after loading up a plastic bin with various items, I drove downtown and
joined OccupyDenver.

Approximately 70 tents were set up on the grass in front of the capitol building
on land that is designated state park property.

There were canopied structures along the sidewalk for check-in, donation drop-off, and
Thunderdome, the kitchen that served hundreds of meals per day for the past several weeks.

While I was there, supporters dropped off cases of bottled water, cash, and small US flags.
People came by, made their own signs using available cardboard and a crate full of markers,
and protested along Broadway for a while.

I didn't make a sign because I had so many thoughts and issues and emotions in my head,
I couldn't focus enough to be coherent. Instead, I selected an enormous sign from the pile:

WHERE'S THE OUTRAGE?

For a couple hours I held that sign next to a woman who'd been inspired to her first political action
by the courage of those speaking out via occupations around the country. 
She has a young son and we talked about the various ways things are royally messed up for our children.
She said, "No wonder there's no one message out of all this. So many things are wrong, how do you
pick just one?"

True, that.

Here's one of the many intelligent young people leading the way:

Here's one of the many senior citizens in attendance holding his I'M PROUD TO BE A MOBSTER sign:

While it felt good to connect with the 99% community, I felt down much of the time
because about a half-hour after arriving, I learned the CO governor, Denver mayor, and
CO attorney general had held a press conference saying they were evicting the protesters
that night. For their safety and well-being, don't you know.

Early this morning, police in riot gear descended upon #OccupyDenver and broke up
their camp. Twenty-three people were arrested and belongings were thrown in the trash.

Please check out this slideshow from Denver Post photographers. 

This protest is far from over.
#OccupyWallStreet is still going strong and there are over 100 occupations taking
place around the country (and in several cities around the world).

Thank you to all the people who honked and waved in support yesterday.
And to the angry man who flipped us off as he drove by, I wish you'd consider this:

             
               

Virtual March on Wall Street

              

Ever since July when I first heard about the planned occupation of Wall Street,
I've wanted to pack my bag and join the brave people speaking truth to power.
Occupation and bodies in the streets seemed like the best way to shed some
light on the criminal behavior of Wall Street and its political enablers.

And it's working.

I'm still here in Colorado but I just joined the Virtual March on Wall Street.
Here's my message:

I urge you to check out the link and read messages from people all around the country.
It's powerful stuff.
Folks are hurting in a big way.

But there's power in numbers and there are lots more of us than them.
We are the 99%.

(Watch livestream here.)      

                   

Speaking Out

                  

For the past months we’re been treated to non-stop messaging on how the middle-class 

must "make sacrifices" (which translates to massive cuts in services with threats to Medicare
and Social Security while the wealthy get tax breaks), because deficit spending is out of control,

and now our president, without any discussion with We-the-People or members of Congress,
is spending millions of dollars to bomb Libyan people who have the grave misfortune of 
living above a huge amount of oil the greedy plutocracy wants.
 
Just in case you’re angered / baffled / incensed by this turn of events,
 
And just in case, like me, you’re at wit’s end with the non-stop horrible news,
here is a laugh from our good friend and philosopher, Agnes:
 
AGNES by Tony Cochran
              
            

Call to Action: Afghanistan funding

               

Following up on yesterday’s post regarding WikiLeaks and Afghanistan,
this week the House will vote on an additional $33 BILLION supplemental
for the occupation of Afghanistan.

I just called my representative’s office and urged him to vote NO
(and said I would withhold my vote in November if he voted for further funding).

You can call your representative toll free at 1-888-493-5443.

Think of all the good that could come of $33 BILLION dollars.
Thank you.
                      

Waste-Not Wednesday: Non-toxic Laptop Protection

          

I love my laptop.
I’m sure you love yours, too.

I wanted to protect my laptop
so went on Ebay and found a dandy cover
for just $9.99 and Free Shipping!
Sold!

That cover arrived and I tore open the plastic bag.
Whoa.
Massive chemical outgassing.
Gag-inducing neoprene nastiness
(I’ve since learned that neoprene won the Allergen of the Year Award in 2009).

Even after I aired out that sleeve in the sunshine for more than a week,
I still could not tolerate the chemical stench.

Fortunately, I found GreenSmart.

Among other cool products, GreenSmart offers a neogreene sleeve
and a laptop sleeve made from 100% recycled soda bottles.

No fuss, no muss, and even better, no stink.
Today’s tip:  do yourself, your laptop, and the planet a favor by supporting GreenSmart.