Busybodies and know-it-alls! Those who know me will probably say, I'm one of them or that it takes one to know one. But nevetheless, I CAN"T STAND THEM! AAARGH!

Patients frequently ask me why I'm single, what am I looking for or what am I waiting for. I came up with this partial list:
decent, compassionate and has integrity
responsible and hard working...OK who am I kidding? wealthy so my lazy ass can stay home!
honest and faithful
attractive enough but not too much that people will whisper behind our backs how did I snag such a good looking guy
someone I can discuss and read books with
perhaps an only child so I won't have to deal with in-laws :)
someone who'll watch movies, plays and musicals with me
loves his family and mine
preferably someone who can sing or play a musical instrument, maybe even write music :)
loves to travel
an excellent cook
a British accent couldn't hurt :)
someone who'll clean the house, do laundry and other chores, be handy around the house
preferably know how to fix cars
go to museums with me
decorate the house
maybe take me away to Europe for good
choose/buy clothes for me

*gets a sinking feeling as I realize*

EGADS! I'm either looking for a personal assistant or a gay guy! I'm doomed!

Courtesy of Lynn, 5 years ago.

Thank you, President Bush
By Paulo Coelho

Thank you, great leader George W. Bush.

Thank you for showing everyone what a danger Saddam
Hussein represents.
Many of us might otherwise have forgotten that he used

chemical weapons
against his own people, against the Kurds and against
the Iranians. Hussein
is a bloodthirsty dictator and one of the clearest
expressions of evil in
today's world.

But this is not my only reason for thanking you.
During the first two
months of 2003, you have shown the world a great many
important things and, therefore, deserve my gratitude.

So, I want to say thank you.

Thank you for showing everyone that the Turkish people

and their parliament
are not for sale, not even for 26 billion dollars.
Thank you for revealing to the world the gulf that
exists between the
decisions made by those in power and the wishes of the


Thank you for making it clear that neither Jose Maria
Aznar nor Tony Blair
give the slightest weight to or show the slightest
respect for the votes
they received. Aznar is perfectly capable of ignoring
the fact that 90
percent of Spaniards are against the war, and Blair is

unmoved by the
largest public demonstration to take place in England
in the last 30 years.

Thank you for making it necessary for Blair to go to
the British parliament
with a fabricated dossier written by a student 10
years ago, and
present this as "damning evidence collected by the
British Secret Service."

Thank you for allowing Colin Powell to make a complete

fool of himself by
showing the UN Security Council photos which, one week

were publicly challenged by Hans Blix, the inspector
responsible for
disarming Iraq.

Thank you for adopting your current position and thus
ensuring that, at the
plenary session, French Foreign Minister Dominique de
Villepin's antiwar speech was greeted with applause -
something, as far as
I know, that has only happened once before in the
of the UN, after a speech by Nelson Mandela.

Thank you too, because, after all your efforts to
promote war, the normally
divided Arab nations, at ther meeting in Cairo during
last week in February, were, for the first time,
unanimous in their
condemnation of any invasion.

Thank you for your rhetoric stating that "the UN now
has a chance to
demonstrate its relevance," a statement which made
even the
most reluctant countries take up a position opposing
any attack on Iraq.

Thank you for your foreign policy which provoked
British Foreign Secretary
Jack Straw into declaring that in the 21st century, "a
war can have a moral justification," thus causing him
to lose all

Thank you for trying to divide a Europe that is
currently struggling for
unification; this was a warning that will not go
Thank you for having achieved something that very few
have so far managed
to do in this century: bringing together millions of
on all continents to fight for the same idea, even
though that idea is
opposed to yours.

Thank you for making us feel once more that though our

words may not be
heard, they are at least spoken - this will make us
stronger in
the future.

Thank you for ignoring us, for marginalizing all those

who oppose your
decision, because the future of the planet belongs to
excluded. Thank you, because, without you, we would
not have realized our
own ability to mobilize. It may serve no purpose this
but it will doubtless be useful later on.

Now that there seems no way of silencing the drums of
war, I would like to
say, as an ancient European king said to an invader:
your morning be a beautiful one, may the sun shine on
your soldiers' armor,
for in the afternoon, I will defeat you."

Thank you for allowing us - an army of anonymous
people filling the streets
in an attempt to stop a process that is already
underway - to know what it feels like to be powerless
and to learn to
grapple with that feeling and transform it.

So, enjoy your morning and whatever glory it may yet
bring you.

Thank you for not listening to us and not taking us
seriously, but know
that we are listening to you and that we will not
your words.

Thank you, great leader George W. Bush.

Thank you very much.

The author is a Brazilian writer. This article
was originally published in Portuguese on the
Open Democracy Web site, at


Conan the dog "praying" with his human, priest Joei Yoshikuni in southern Japan's Shuri Kannondo temple.

You have the heart of a traveler. There will be many journeys.

Was anybody else surprised by this?

My reaction when I found a gray eyebrow hair last night.

I don't know if it's a curse or a blessing to be in touch with one's inner universe. I know when I'm hormonal and I hate it. I can't help being snippy, but I feel so guilty after. Today I almost wanted to go into (small) rages at work. The slightest things irritated me.
Then Pinky wanted to know if I read her latest blog post. Instead of just saying yes and keeping the peace, I said I am all Murneyed out. She answered with a half-hearted LOL. Then texted back that she'll cease and desist from posting about Julia because other readers might share my feelings. So I felt guilty and told her to keep posting and I'll just get to them at some point.

Times like these, I never know how to quell the storms inside my head.

Call it my lack of maternal instinct, but sometimes I either shake my head or marvel at my friends and co-workers' parenting skills. From letting her daughter get away with not combing her hair so now she has a knot in the back of her hair, to a daughter speaking disrespectfully and the mother just taking it, to a son walking around with poop in his pants and dragging it around the bathroom floor, THEN the mom having to clean it all up, to talking ever so calmly to a boy throwing a tantrum, running around from one activity to another, or dealing with illnesses. I don't know how parents do it. The enormity of the responsibility you have towards properly raising this other person is mind-boggling to me.

Someone told me a story about her son today. She's been trying to exercise and lose weight, and her son offered her some of his Easter candy stash. She told him she's on a diet, and he asked what a diet was. She told him she's trying to eat healthy, eat right so she won't be fat (a word she told him never to use). And the little 6 year old gave her a big hug and told her that he will always love her, whether she was skinny or fat.

That's one way of knowing you've done right by your kid, and that there's a good chance he is, and will be, a decent human being.

This photo could sum up the aftermath of our Easter weekend. I spent Saturday cleaning the house, catching up on errands. Then I picked up Mum, Dad and Lynn from the airport. I'm happy to say they are all looking well. Cecile our gracious host provided sumptuous Filipino food, board and lodging. Thank God our eldest sister and her family also dropped by to welcome them back. We had a rockin' good time playing Rock Band, even though I ain't any good.

Easter Sunday was nice. Meals were long because of endlessly fun chitchat. Lynn and I watched Voltes V VCDs as the rest of the household slumbered. We ended up watching Sigaw again for Lynn's benefit, but I made sure I closed my eyes during creepy scenes because some scenes linger in your mind's eye. After dinner we watched Enchanted's special features. I ended up sleeping over again last night. I think my feelings for our quality family time would be best expressed by the 10,000 Maniacs song:

These are days you'll remember.
Never before and never since, I promise, will the whole world be warm as this.
And as you feel it, you'll know its true that you are blessed and lucky.
Its true that you are touched by something that will grow and bloom in you.

Holy Week here in the U. S. is just like any other week. Except my co-workers with children work themselves up to a frenzy trying to shop for Easter basket stuff, paint eggs, hide eggs, prepare for their Easter meals. Our Holy Weeks in the Philippines were spent quietly, more of a religious holiday which is what it should be. Sometimes we'd stay in Manila, where the streets are deserted as everyone else has gone away for a mini vacation. We'd go up to Baguio City other times, not eat meat the whole weekend, watch The 10 Commandments on TV, participate in the Stations of the Cross or Visita Iglesia, and try not to make too much noise. Our Mum would reprimand us if we ever gave the impression that we were having fun. "Patay ang Diyos." would be her chilling reminder. I was always afraid that on Good Friday evenings, without God's protection, we'd fall prey to all sorts of mischievous or even evil spirits running loose on earth. Especially in Baguio where I always suspected manananggals were abroad . Easter Sunday couldn't come fast enough.

Here is Sen. Barack Obama's brilliant speech:

"We the people, in order to form a more perfect union."

Two hundred and twenty one years ago, in a hall that still stands across the street, a group of men gathered and, with these simple words, launched America's improbable experiment in democracy. Farmers and scholars; statesmen and patriots who had traveled across an ocean to escape tyranny and persecution finally made real their declaration of independence at a Philadelphia convention that lasted through the spring of 1787.

The document they produced was eventually signed but ultimately unfinished. It was stained by this nation's original sin of slavery, a question that divided the colonies and brought the convention to a stalemate until the founders chose to allow the slave trade to continue for at least twenty more years, and to leave any final resolution to future generations.

Of course, the answer to the slavery question was already embedded within our Constitution - a Constitution that had at is very core the ideal of equal citizenship under the law; a Constitution that promised its people liberty, and justice, and a union that could be and should be perfected over time.

And yet words on a parchment would not be enough to deliver slaves from bondage, or provide men and women of every color and creed their full rights and obligations as citizens of the United States. What would be needed were Americans in successive generations who were willing to do their part - through protests and struggle, on the streets and in the courts, through a civil war and civil disobedience and always at great risk - to narrow that gap between the promise of our ideals and the reality of their time.

This was one of the tasks we set forth at the beginning of this campaign - to continue the long march of those who came before us, a march for a more just, more equal, more free, more caring and more prosperous America. I chose to run for the presidency at this moment in history because I believe deeply that we cannot solve the challenges of our time unless we solve them together - unless we perfect our union by understanding that we may have different stories, but we hold common hopes; that we may not look the same and we may not have come from the same place, but we all want to move in the same direction - towards a better future for of children and our grandchildren.

This belief comes from my unyielding faith in the decency and generosity of the American people. But it also comes from my own American story.

I am the son of a black man from Kenya and a white woman from Kansas. I was raised with the help of a white grandfather who survived a Depression to serve in Patton's Army during World War II and a white grandmother who worked on a bomber assembly line at Fort Leavenworth while he was overseas. I've gone to some of the best schools in America and lived in one of the world's poorest nations. I am married to a black American who carries within her the blood of slaves and slaveowners - an inheritance we pass on to our two precious daughters. I have brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, uncles and cousins, of every race and every hue, scattered across three continents, and for as long as I live, I will never forget that in no other country on Earth is my story even possible.

It's a story that hasn't made me the most conventional candidate. But it is a story that has seared into my genetic makeup the idea that this nation is more than the sum of its parts - that out of many, we are truly one.

Throughout the first year of this campaign, against all predictions to the contrary, we saw how hungry the American people were for this message of unity. Despite the temptation to view my candidacy through a purely racial lens, we won commanding victories in states with some of the whitest populations in the country. In South Carolina, where the Confederate Flag still flies, we built a powerful coalition of African Americans and white Americans.

This is not to say that race has not been an issue in the campaign. At various stages in the campaign, some commentators have deemed me either "too black" or "not black enough." We saw racial tensions bubble to the surface during the week before the South Carolina primary. The press has scoured every exit poll for the latest evidence of racial polarization, not just in terms of white and black, but black and brown as well.

And yet, it has only been in the last couple of weeks that the discussion of race in this campaign has taken a particularly divisive turn.

On one end of the spectrum, we've heard the implication that my candidacy is somehow an exercise in affirmative action; that it's based solely on the desire of wide-eyed liberals to purchase racial reconciliation on the cheap. On the other end, we've heard my former pastor, Reverend Jeremiah Wright, use incendiary language to express views that have the potential not only to widen the racial divide, but views that denigrate both the greatness and the goodness of our nation; that rightly offend white and black alike.

I have already condemned, in unequivocal terms, the statements of Reverend Wright that have caused such controversy. For some, nagging questions remain. Did I know him to be an occasionally fierce critic of American domestic and foreign policy? Of course. Did I ever hear him make remarks that could be considered controversial while I sat in church? Yes. Did I strongly disagree with many of his political views? Absolutely - just as I'm sure many of you have heard remarks from your pastors, priests, or rabbis with which you strongly disagreed.

But the remarks that have caused this recent firestorm weren't simply controversial. They weren't simply a religious leader's effort to speak out against perceived injustice. Instead, they expressed a profoundly distorted view of this country - a view that sees white racism as endemic, and that elevates what is wrong with America above all that we know is right with America; a view that sees the conflicts in the Middle East as rooted primarily in the actions of stalwart allies like Israel, instead of emanating from the perverse and hateful ideologies of radical Islam.

As such, Reverend Wright's comments were not only wrong but divisive, divisive at a time when we need unity; racially charged at a time when we need to come together to solve a set of monumental problems - two wars, a terrorist threat, a falling economy, a chronic health care crisis and potentially devastating climate change; problems that are neither black or white or Latino or Asian, but rather problems that confront us all.

Given my background, my politics, and my professed values and ideals, there will no doubt be those for whom my statements of condemnation are not enough. Why associate myself with Reverend Wright in the first place, they may ask? Why not join another church? And I confess that if all that I knew of Reverend Wright were the snippets of those sermons that have run in an endless loop on the television and You Tube, or if Trinity United Church of Christ conformed to the caricatures being peddled by some commentators, there is no doubt that I would react in much the same way

But the truth is, that isn't all that I know of the man. The man I met more than twenty years ago is a man who helped introduce me to my Christian faith, a man who spoke to me about our obligations to love one another; to care for the sick and lift up the poor. He is a man who served his country as a U.S. Marine; who has studied and lectured at some of the finest universities and seminaries in the country, and who for over thirty years led a church that serves the community by doing God's work here on Earth - by housing the homeless, ministering to the needy, providing day care services and scholarships and prison ministries, and reaching out to those suffering from HIV/AIDS.

In my first book, Dreams From My Father, I described the experience of my first service at Trinity:

"People began to shout, to rise from their seats and clap and cry out, a forceful wind carrying the reverend's voice up into the rafters....And in that single note - hope! - I heard something else; at the foot of that cross, inside the thousands of churches across the city, I imagined the stories of ordinary black people merging with the stories of David and Goliath, Moses and Pharaoh, the Christians in the lion's den, Ezekiel's field of dry bones. Those stories - of survival, and freedom, and hope - became our story, my story; the blood that had spilled was our blood, the tears our tears; until this black church, on this bright day, seemed once more a vessel carrying the story of a people into future generations and into a larger world. Our trials and triumphs became at once unique and universal, black and more than black; in chronicling our journey, the stories and songs gave us a means to reclaim memories that we didn't need to feel shame about...memories that all people might study and cherish - and with which we could start to rebuild."

That has been my experience at Trinity. Like other predominantly black churches across the country, Trinity embodies the black community in its entirety - the doctor and the welfare mom, the model student and the former gang-banger. Like other black churches, Trinity's services are full of raucous laughter and sometimes bawdy humor. They are full of dancing, clapping, screaming and shouting that may seem jarring to the untrained ear. The church contains in full the kindness and cruelty, the fierce intelligence and the shocking ignorance, the struggles and successes, the love and yes, the bitterness and bias that make up the black experience in America.

And this helps explain, perhaps, my relationship with Reverend Wright. As imperfect as he may be, he has been like family to me. He strengthened my faith, officiated my wedding, and baptized my children. Not once in my conversations with him have I heard him talk about any ethnic group in derogatory terms, or treat whites with whom he interacted with anything but courtesy and respect. He contains within him the contradictions - the good and the bad - of the community that he has served diligently for so many years.

I can no more disown him than I can disown the black community. I can no more disown him than I can my white grandmother - a woman who helped raise me, a woman who sacrificed again and again for me, a woman who loves me as much as she loves anything in this world, but a woman who once confessed her fear of black men who passed by her on the street, and who on more than one occasion has uttered racial or ethnic stereotypes that made me cringe.

These people are a part of me. And they are a part of America, this country that I love.

Some will see this as an attempt to justify or excuse comments that are simply inexcusable. I can assure you it is not. I suppose the politically safe thing would be to move on from this episode and just hope that it fades into the woodwork. We can dismiss Reverend Wright as a crank or a demagogue, just as some have dismissed Geraldine Ferraro, in the aftermath of her recent statements, as harboring some deep-seated racial bias.

But race is an issue that I believe this nation cannot afford to ignore right now. We would be making the same mistake that Reverend Wright made in his offending sermons about America - to simplify and stereotype and amplify the negative to the point that it distorts reality.

The fact is that the comments that have been made and the issues that have surfaced over the last few weeks reflect the complexities of race in this country that we've never really worked through - a part of our union that we have yet to perfect. And if we walk away now, if we simply retreat into our respective corners, we will never be able to come together and solve challenges like health care, or education, or the need to find good jobs for every American.

Understanding this reality requires a reminder of how we arrived at this point. As William Faulkner once wrote, "The past isn't dead and buried. In fact, it isn't even past." We do not need to recite here the history of racial injustice in this country. But we do need to remind ourselves that so many of the disparities that exist in the African-American community today can be directly traced to inequalities passed on from an earlier generation that suffered under the brutal legacy of slavery and Jim Crow.

Segregated schools were, and are, inferior schools; we still haven't fixed them, fifty years after Brown v. Board of Education, and the inferior education they provided, then and now, helps explain the pervasive achievement gap between today's black and white students.

Legalized discrimination - where blacks were prevented, often through violence, from owning property, or loans were not granted to African-American business owners, or black homeowners could not access FHA mortgages, or blacks were excluded from unions, or the police force, or fire departments - meant that black families could not amass any meaningful wealth to bequeath to future generations. That history helps explain the wealth and income gap between black and white, and the concentrated pockets of poverty that persists in so many of today's urban and rural communities.

A lack of economic opportunity among black men, and the shame and frustration that came from not being able to provide for one's family, contributed to the erosion of black families - a problem that welfare policies for many years may have worsened. And the lack of basic services in so many urban black neighborhoods - parks for kids to play in, police walking the beat, regular garbage pick-up and building code enforcement - all helped create a cycle of violence, blight and neglect that continue to haunt us.

This is the reality in which Reverend Wright and other African-Americans of his generation grew up. They came of age in the late fifties and early sixties, a time when segregation was still the law of the land and opportunity was systematically constricted. What's remarkable is not how many failed in the face of discrimination, but rather how many men and women overcame the odds; how many were able to make a way out of no way for those like me who would come after them.

But for all those who scratched and clawed their way to get a piece of the American Dream, there were many who didn't make it - those who were ultimately defeated, in one way or another, by discrimination. That legacy of defeat was passed on to future generations - those young men and increasingly young women who we see standing on street corners or languishing in our prisons, without hope or prospects for the future. Even for those blacks who did make it, questions of race, and racism, continue to define their worldview in fundamental ways. For the men and women of Reverend Wright's generation, the memories of humiliation and doubt and fear have not gone away; nor has the anger and the bitterness of those years. That anger may not get expressed in public, in front of white co-workers or white friends. But it does find voice in the barbershop or around the kitchen table. At times, that anger is exploited by politicians, to gin up votes along racial lines, or to make up for a politician's own failings.

And occasionally it finds voice in the church on Sunday morning, in the pulpit and in the pews. The fact that so many people are surprised to hear that anger in some of Reverend Wright's sermons simply reminds us of the old truism that the most segregated hour in American life occurs on Sunday morning. That anger is not always productive; indeed, all too often it distracts attention from solving real problems; it keeps us from squarely facing our own complicity in our condition, and prevents the African-American community from forging the alliances it needs to bring about real change. But the anger is real; it is powerful; and to simply wish it away, to condemn it without understanding its roots, only serves to widen the chasm of misunderstanding that exists between the races.

In fact, a similar anger exists within segments of the white community. Most working- and middle-class white Americans don't feel that they have been particularly privileged by their race. Their experience is the immigrant experience - as far as they're concerned, no one's handed them anything, they've built it from scratch. They've worked hard all their lives, many times only to see their jobs shipped overseas or their pension dumped after a lifetime of labor. They are anxious about their futures, and feel their dreams slipping away; in an era of stagnant wages and global competition, opportunity comes to be seen as a zero sum game, in which your dreams come at my expense. So when they are told to bus their children to a school across town; when they hear that an African American is getting an advantage in landing a good job or a spot in a good college because of an injustice that they themselves never committed; when they're told that their fears about crime in urban neighborhoods are somehow prejudiced, resentment builds over time.

Like the anger within the black community, these resentments aren't always expressed in polite company. But they have helped shape the political landscape for at least a generation. Anger over welfare and affirmative action helped forge the Reagan Coalition. Politicians routinely exploited fears of crime for their own electoral ends. Talk show hosts and conservative commentators built entire careers unmasking bogus claims of racism while dismissing legitimate discussions of racial injustice and inequality as mere political correctness or reverse racism.

Just as black anger often proved counterproductive, so have these white resentments distracted attention from the real culprits of the middle class squeeze - a corporate culture rife with inside dealing, questionable accounting practices, and short-term greed; a Washington dominated by lobbyists and special interests; economic policies that favor the few over the many. And yet, to wish away the resentments of white Americans, to label them as misguided or even racist, without recognizing they are grounded in legitimate concerns - this too widens the racial divide, and blocks the path to understanding.

This is where we are right now. It's a racial stalemate we've been stuck in for years. Contrary to the claims of some of my critics, black and white, I have never been so naïve as to believe that we can get beyond our racial divisions in a single election cycle, or with a single candidacy - particularly a candidacy as imperfect as my own.

But I have asserted a firm conviction - a conviction rooted in my faith in God and my faith in the American people - that working together we can move beyond some of our old racial wounds, and that in fact we have no choice is we are to continue on the path of a more perfect union.

For the African-American community, that path means embracing the burdens of our past without becoming victims of our past. It means continuing to insist on a full measure of justice in every aspect of American life. But it also means binding our particular grievances - for better health care, and better schools, and better jobs - to the larger aspirations of all Americans -- the white woman struggling to break the glass ceiling, the white man whose been laid off, the immigrant trying to feed his family. And it means taking full responsibility for own lives - by demanding more from our fathers, and spending more time with our children, and reading to them, and teaching them that while they may face challenges and discrimination in their own lives, they must never succumb to despair or cynicism; they must always believe that they can write their own destiny.

Ironically, this quintessentially American - and yes, conservative - notion of self-help found frequent expression in Reverend Wright's sermons. But what my former pastor too often failed to understand is that embarking on a program of self-help also requires a belief that society can change.

The profound mistake of Reverend Wright's sermons is not that he spoke about racism in our society. It's that he spoke as if our society was static; as if no progress has been made; as if this country - a country that has made it possible for one of his own members to run for the highest office in the land and build a coalition of white and black; Latino and Asian, rich and poor, young and old -- is still irrevocably bound to a tragic past. But what we know -- what we have seen - is that America can change. That is true genius of this nation. What we have already achieved gives us hope - the audacity to hope - for what we can and must achieve tomorrow.

In the white community, the path to a more perfect union means acknowledging that what ails the African-American community does not just exist in the minds of black people; that the legacy of discrimination - and current incidents of discrimination, while less overt than in the past - are real and must be addressed. Not just with words, but with deeds - by investing in our schools and our communities; by enforcing our civil rights laws and ensuring fairness in our criminal justice system; by providing this generation with ladders of opportunity that were unavailable for previous generations. It requires all Americans to realize that your dreams do not have to come at the expense of my dreams; that investing in the health, welfare, and education of black and brown and white children will ultimately help all of America prosper.

In the end, then, what is called for is nothing more, and nothing less, than what all the world's great religions demand - that we do unto others as we would have them do unto us. Let us be our brother's keeper, Scripture tells us. Let us be our sister's keeper. Let us find that common stake we all have in one another, and let our politics reflect that spirit as well.

For we have a choice in this country. We can accept a politics that breeds division, and conflict, and cynicism. We can tackle race only as spectacle - as we did in the OJ trial - or in the wake of tragedy, as we did in the aftermath of Katrina - or as fodder for the nightly news. We can play Reverend Wright's sermons on every channel, every day and talk about them from now until the election, and make the only question in this campaign whether or not the American people think that I somehow believe or sympathize with his most offensive words. We can pounce on some gaffe by a Hillary supporter as evidence that she's playing the race card, or we can speculate on whether white men will all flock to John McCain in the general election regardless of his policies.

We can do that.

But if we do, I can tell you that in the next election, we'll be talking about some other distraction. And then another one. And then another one. And nothing will change.

That is one option. Or, at this moment, in this election, we can come together and say, "Not this time." This time we want to talk about the crumbling schools that are stealing the future of black children and white children and Asian children and Hispanic children and Native American children. This time we want to reject the cynicism that tells us that these kids can't learn; that those kids who don't look like us are somebody else's problem. The children of America are not those kids, they are our kids, and we will not let them fall behind in a 21st century economy. Not this time.

This time we want to talk about how the lines in the Emergency Room are filled with whites and blacks and Hispanics who do not have health care; who don't have the power on their own to overcome the special interests in Washington, but who can take them on if we do it together.

This time we want to talk about the shuttered mills that once provided a decent life for men and women of every race, and the homes for sale that once belonged to Americans from every religion, every region, every walk of life. This time we want to talk about the fact that the real problem is not that someone who doesn't look like you might take your job; it's that the corporation you work for will ship it overseas for nothing more than a profit.

This time we want to talk about the men and women of every color and creed who serve together, and fight together, and bleed together under the same proud flag. We want to talk about how to bring them home from a war that never should've been authorized and never should've been waged, and we want to talk about how we'll show our patriotism by caring for them, and their families, and giving them the benefits they have earned.

I would not be running for President if I didn't believe with all my heart that this is what the vast majority of Americans want for this country. This union may never be perfect, but generation after generation has shown that it can always be perfected. And today, whenever I find myself feeling doubtful or cynical about this possibility, what gives me the most hope is the next generation - the young people whose attitudes and beliefs and openness to change have already made history in this election.

There is one story in particularly that I'd like to leave you with today - a story I told when I had the great honor of speaking on Dr. King's birthday at his home church, Ebenezer Baptist, in Atlanta.

There is a young, twenty-three year old white woman named Ashley Baia who organized for our campaign in Florence, South Carolina. She had been working to organize a mostly African-American community since the beginning of this campaign, and one day she was at a roundtable discussion where everyone went around telling their story and why they were there.

And Ashley said that when she was nine years old, her mother got cancer. And because she had to miss days of work, she was let go and lost her health care. They had to file for bankruptcy, and that's when Ashley decided that she had to do something to help her mom.

She knew that food was one of their most expensive costs, and so Ashley convinced her mother that what she really liked and really wanted to eat more than anything else was mustard and relish sandwiches. Because that was the cheapest way to eat.

She did this for a year until her mom got better, and she told everyone at the roundtable that the reason she joined our campaign was so that she could help the millions of other children in the country who want and need to help their parents too.

Now Ashley might have made a different choice. Perhaps somebody told her along the way that the source of her mother's problems were blacks who were on welfare and too lazy to work, or Hispanics who were coming into the country illegally. But she didn't. She sought out allies in her fight against injustice.

Anyway, Ashley finishes her story and then goes around the room and asks everyone else why they're supporting the campaign. They all have different stories and reasons. Many bring up a specific issue. And finally they come to this elderly black man who's been sitting there quietly the entire time. And Ashley asks him why he's there. And he does not bring up a specific issue. He does not say health care or the economy. He does not say education or the war. He does not say that he was there because of Barack Obama. He simply says to everyone in the room, "I am here because of Ashley."

"I'm here because of Ashley." By itself, that single moment of recognition between that young white girl and that old black man is not enough. It is not enough to give health care to the sick, or jobs to the jobless, or education to our children.

But it is where we start. It is where our union grows stronger. And as so many generations have come to realize over the course of the two-hundred and twenty one years since a band of patriots signed that document in Philadelphia, that is where the perfection begins.

Robin Cook's Why I Had to Leave the Cabinet speech given on Tuesday, 18 March 2003

This will be a war without support at home or agreement abroad

I have resigned from the cabinet because I believe that a fundamental principle of Labour's foreign policy has been violated. If we believe in an international community based on binding rules and institutions, we cannot simply set them aside when they produce results that are inconvenient to us.

I cannot defend a war with neither international agreement nor domestic support. I applaud the determined efforts of the prime minister and foreign secretary to secure a second resolution. Now that those attempts have ended in failure, we cannot pretend that getting a second resolution was of no importance.

In recent days France has been at the receiving end of the most vitriolic criticism. However, it is not France alone that wants more time for inspections. Germany is opposed to us. Russia is opposed to us. Indeed at no time have we signed up even the minimum majority to carry a second resolution. We delude ourselves about the degree of international hostility to military action if we imagine that it is all the fault of President Chirac.

The harsh reality is that Britain is being asked to embark on a war without agreement in any of the international bodies of which we are a leading member. Not Nato. Not the EU. And now not the security council. To end up in such diplomatic isolation is a serious reverse. Only a year ago we and the US were part of a coalition against terrorism which was wider and more diverse than I would previously have thought possible. History will be astonished at the diplomatic miscalculations that led so quickly to the disintegration of that powerful coalition.

Britain is not a superpower. Our interests are best protected, not by unilateral action, but by multilateral agreement and a world order governed by rules. Yet tonight the international partnerships most important to us are weakened. The European Union is divided. The security council is in stalemate. Those are heavy casualties of war without a single shot yet being fired.

The threshold for war should always be high. None of us can predict the death toll of civilians in the forthcoming bombardment of Iraq. But the US warning of a bombing campaign that will "shock and awe" makes it likely that casualties will be numbered at the very least in the thousands. Iraq's military strength is now less than half its size at the time of the last Gulf war. Ironically, it is only because Iraq's military forces are so weak that we can even contemplate invasion. And some claim his forces are so weak, so demoralised and so badly equipped that the war will be over in days.

We cannot base our military strategy on the basis that Saddam is weak and at the same time justify pre-emptive action on the claim that he is a seri ous threat. Iraq probably has no weapons of mass destruction in the commonly understood sense of that term - namely, a credible device capable of being delivered against strategic city targets. It probably does still have biological toxins and battlefield chemical munitions. But it has had them since the 1980s when the US sold Saddam the anthrax agents and the then British government built his chemical and munitions factories.

Why is it now so urgent that we should take military action to disarm a military capacity that has been there for 20 years and which we helped to create? And why is it necessary to resort to war this week while Saddam's ambition to complete his weapons programme is frustrated by the presence of UN inspectors?

I have heard it said that Iraq has had not months but 12 years in which to disarm, and our patience is exhausted. Yet it is over 30 years since resolution 242 called on Israel to withdraw from the occupied territories.

We do not express the same impatience with the persis tent refusal of Israel to comply. What has come to trouble me most over past weeks is the suspicion that if the hanging chads in Florida had gone the other way and Al Gore had been elected, we would not now be about to commit British troops to action in Iraq.

I believe the prevailing mood of the British public is sound. They do not doubt that Saddam Hussein is a brutal dictator. But they are not persuaded he is a clear and present danger to Britain. They want the inspections to be given a chance. And they are suspicious that they are being pushed hurriedly into conflict by a US administration with an agenda of its own. Above all, they are uneasy at Britain taking part in a military adventure without a broader international coalition and against the hostility of many of our traditional allies. It has been a favourite theme of commentators that the House of Commons has lost its central role in British politics. Nothing could better demonstrate that they are wrong than for parliament to stop the commitment of British troops to a war that has neither international authority nor domestic support.

Robin Cook was, until yesterday, leader of the House of Commons

Maybe I have the crazy gene in the family, not Lynn as she claims. Abe Lincoln reportedly struggled with depression, or "melancholy" as other people have called it. Perhaps I suffer from melancholy.

When we were away last week, I got this text message from Jon, asking for measurements so he could make me something. He sews pajamas for his nieces, nephews and kids of our classmates. I texted him some of the measurements yesterday and tonight he IM'd me.

Jon: mayroon na ako tela and embelishment
Me: anong klase tela and embelishment?
Jon: not too girly
Me: good
Jon: brown
Jon: creme
Jon: ang design will be the surprise
Jon: print rather
Jon: print of the tela
Jon: ano kaya ang theme?
Jon: i wanted to get u something for your birthday, so i thought something done might be better
Jon: original kung baga

That short conversation cheered me up, more than the Hershey's chocolate bar did.

Joy comes from unexpected places or persons.

Am so friggin' depressed. Always happens when I come back from vacation. Would like to be anywhere but here. My friend Pinky keeps calling me and I have no desire to return her call whatsoever.

Day 3 March 14: Monterey Bay. After driving along Highway 1, Cecile, her husband, his sister, Zack and I drove around quaint Pacific Grove. We went to see the monarch butterflies. PG is Butterfly Town after all, but I guess most of them are gone. Except for one or two (maybe one; it might have been the same one we saw later), perhaps left behind to satisfy tourists. Walked around Cannery Row and Fisherman's Wharf. We saw a few seals lolling about. They're apparently hooligan seals that destroy boats in the marina. Of course, they're protected by law and know they can't get into trouble. Headed back to Pacific Grove for a Chinese buffet dinner with my sister's in-laws. We hung out at their house until bedtime. The baby kept wanting to touch Zack. Watched Zack and their dog interact. Nice to spend time with my brother-in-law's family. So sad to leave the next day. Good times never last. At least the memories and pictures do. Long as I have my wits about me.
Day 2 March 13 : Yosemite National Park--the Captain of Yosemite Valley. I finally made it here. Had a rowdy group of Australians as tour companions. It was like a field trip. I love Aussies. They're funny as heck. The first hour and a half of the van ride was most uncomfortable though; I shouldn't have had that tall cup of hot chocolate before leaving.
Day 1 March 12: Well-travelled Zack inside our Prius hybrid rental car. (I dubbed the car Max for being kick-ass and getting so many miles out of a gallon.) Doggy was so good in the plane, so quiet and well-behaved. I have to admit, I was worried about him getting motion sickness or just antsy during the plane ride. He seemed to have slept most of the time.
After lunch at Goldilocks, we went to the Golden Gate Bridge then crossed it on the way to Napa Valley.
Cecile and Eugene tasted wines at the V. Sattui winery while I walked around taking pictures. The first time I went to Napa, we were winery-hopping so I didn't get a chance to linger. This was probably my favorite one even then, so beautiful and Old World-like. I half-expected to see Angela Channing walking around (although her winery was larger).
Half barrels for sale. Cecile and I slept over at a hotel in Fisherman's Wharf that night in preparation for our Yosemite tour the next day.
Yosemite Falls, tallest in North America.
A view of Yosemite Falls from the base during our walkabout after lunch. We bought sandwiches from Safeway.
The not visible Half Dome. Although I didn't have my camera out at the time, I did see it when our vehicle passed it on the way out. Another fleeting moment.
Dinner that night at Jollibee; Cecile's incredulous sis-in-law asked if I was serious, when I said I was taking a photo of my Palabok Fiesta. Oh she of little faith! My shamelessness with photograph-taking is boundless, in my quest to document the trip.
Still the winery. Headed to Max's for a humongous belated birthday dinner afterwards. The House the Fried Chicken built. That must have been arduous, seeing as they don't have hands.
Day 3 March 14: Drove along Route 1. Stopped by Big Sur General Store; got big and tasty burritos. Lovely creek in the back with chairs in the water. Had lunch at Pfeiffer Beach after failing to get to Pfeiffer Falls because dogs weren't allowed. I can't think of a better way to spend the day. Sleepover at a Monterey hotel so as not to impose on the family.
The rugged and beautiful California coastline
Big Sur indeed!
Bixby Bridge.

I don't know why our Governor Eliot Spitzer hasn't resigned or even been arrested for his indiscretions. Last I heard, prostitution is still illegal. His poor wife, how could they ever have convinced her to stand next to the man who has disgraced her and her daughters? She looked like she had been crying.

  1. You start squinting to read some things.
  2. You wake up with aching joints.
  3. You can't squat, get up or pick something up without sound effects.
  4. You're up before the alarm clock rings.
  5. When driving at night, you hog the white line on the side of the road. Just to be sure.
  6. When driving at night, you slow down when an oncoming car approaches. Again, just to be sure.
  7. You think lining up for two hours to get on a roller coaster is a complete waste of time. Two hours of your short life you can never get back and you probably could have done something more productive.
  8. You can convince yourself that sitting around IS productive.
  9. You believe a roller coaster ride could cause your untimely demise.
  10. A grocery trip takes forever because you're reading how much fat/fiber/calories/sodium/cholesterol/trans fat is in all your items.
  11. You wish 'those darn kids' could stop making such a ruckus.
  12. You've stopped giving Rap the benefit of the doubt that it qualifies as music.
  13. You see youngsters jumping around to music and know that THAT is not dancing.
  14. Every newfangled contraption is devilry.
  15. Doctors' phone numbers are on speed dial.
  16. Discovery Channel is waayy cooler than MTV.
  17. You only drive 5-10 miles over the speed limit.
  18. You yell at people asking them where their jackets or umbrellas are on cold or rainy days.
  19. You think everyone else is driving too fast and why don't they get off your tail well they can kiss my *** go ahead and pass I hope to God there's a cop waiting for them a few miles down the roadHAH!!!
  20. You start getting sleepy around 9 PM.
  21. 11:00 PM is late.
  22. You look at high school girls and wonder how their mothers ever let them out of the house wearing THAT.
  23. You complain about those immature 25 year olds.
  24. You plan your activities according to what The Weather Channel says.
  25. You start wondering if you need long term care insurance.
  26. Your idea of a good weekend is vegetating in front of the TV with snacks.
  27. You start saying "Wait till you get to MY age!"
  28. You start saying "I remember when I was your age."
  29. You and your co-workers/relatives compare and contrast health complaints.
  30. You DIAGNOSE each other's illnesses.
  31. You know when to be kind, and when to be fair.
  32. You know that niceness doesn't always cut it. You catch more bees with honey, but sometimes you just really want to scream at people and bop them on the heads.
  33. You know you can't please everybody...and most times, you don't care anymore.
  34. You know how to let people who crave attention, get the attention.
  35. You know how to rise above negativity, and when to wallow in it. And enjoy it.
  36. You've pretty much figured out when to shut up and back off.
  37. You don't just think people are ridiculous...you KNOW they are.
  38. You know you are ENOUGH. (And if people can't see that, then that's their damn problem.)

I saw this a few months ago, a touching reunion of a lion and his rescuer. She found the sick cub in the jungle and took him in, caring for him until he got too big. He is now in an animal sanctuary in Colombia. The King of the beasts not so beastly after all.

I sent a text message out requesting that people make a donation to Darfur or their favorite charity instead of getting me a birthday present. Here's a nice reply from Dawn:

in honor of you and ur birthday, i'll honor ur request. That is mighty generous and very admirable of u, tita lani. Thank you for that :)

'Tis amazing what some fresh air, sunshine, and a leisurely drive can do to one's spirits. It was a lovely spring-like day yesterday. On Sunday, the sun was shining although it was on the cool side. One of the happiest moments of the day was driving to Cecile's place, iPod blaring and me singing along, window open, wind in my face and hair. Moments when one feels the most alive.

How come no matter how I try to keep even the biscuit sticks/chocolate frosting ratio in Yan Yan, I always end up with more chocolate cream in the end?

Scientists found that the Broca's area in chimp brains is activated when they vocalize or make gestures. This area in human brains is responsible for speech comprehension, producing speech, and processing language. Another similarity between chimpanzees and man.

Now if only it were socially acceptable to take a cue from them and swat at someone who annoys you.

(This is Washoe, a female chimp believed to be the first non-human to acquire human language.)

I was weeping, weeping I tell you towards the end of this week's Lost episode! It was a great emotional pay-off after getting so lost in my head during the entire episode.

Who/what is YOUR Constant?

A-ha! A University of Virginia study showed that humans may be predisposed to fear snakes. The reptiles would have posed a significant threat to our ancestors and this has been hardwired into our brains.

Of course the fact that they're creepy and slimy has a lot to do with it.


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