Christmastime is here

I spent yesterday decorating. This is a complicated procedure, since first I have to bring in my many, many Christmas storage bins from my landlord’s garage, which is on the lot next door; then I have to carry them up to the second floor, where I live. This year, the tree (three trees, actually) is in a different place because I have a bookcase now where it used to go.

And I really do have three trees. I got them years ago, a trio of skinny fake trees of different heights that actually look not-unreal. I like to decorate them with crystal snowflakes and white lights. My creative vision is that these are snow-covered trees in a forest clearing! (Yeah, I’m a Christmas dork.)

And when I’m doing this stuff, it’s absolutely chaotic. Crap everywhere, things knocked to the floor… When I get distracted, I’m very klutzy; I drop things and knock them over — I’m a veritable Lucille Ball. So I leave the cleanup for last. (Still cleaning up.) I got so caught up in my decorative vision, I never even changed out of my flannel PJs yesterday.

But as soon as I have it all cleaned up, I’ll post pictures of my Christmas decorations for you all.

Wish Upon A Hero

I hope you’ll consider helping again at Wish Upon A Hero, where people ask for what they want or need and you get the chance to grant their wish. (This year, they have a section for granting Hurricane Sandy survivor wishes.)

Here’s an example from Ohio:

My name is Josh. My family and I have been struggling for awhile. We have a 4 year old son. We are looking for jobs. The economy is tough now. We are just asking if anyone can help us with some financial burdens. We are behind on rent quite a bit. We don’t have a vehicle and with no income coming in, its extremely hard taking the bus. We had to cancel several doctors appointments because we had no way to get there. Our son is missing out on pre K because its hard to get him there. We know times are hard for a lot of families. We are just wishing for gift cards, money donations, we do have a Paypal account. If more information is needed please feel free to email us at Thank you heroes. God bless.

And another from Florida:

My two little girls were blessed this year with christmas but we were unable to afford stockings for them. They are ages 4 and 8. They would love to get a stocking each this year filled with goodies.

Natalee is my 4 yr old little girl. She loves Spongebob, Dora and cats! She loves to dress up with her sister and enjoys coloring. She also loves monkeys.

Donna is my 8 yr old and more mature for her age. She loves Dora herself but also loves Princess, barbies and like her sister LOVES dress up! She also loves coloring.

They both would love to also get some arts and crafts too. They’ve asked for tons & tons & tons of buttons, various sizes, colors, shapes, etc. Mismatch socks – Stain free, hole free, clean a& from a smoke free home. & tons & tons of cotton fluff, skeins &/or balls of various colored yarn, threads of various colors, paints (Washable), finger paints (washable), construction paper, glitter, glue bottle, glue sticks (both nontoxic), color pencils, markers (nontoxic & scented, including the ones with the cute little shapes), crayons, pencils, pencil sharpener, various color pipe cleaners, stencils, pom-pom balls, cottons balls, tons & tons of beads (various shapes, sizes, colors, can be glass, plastic, etc.) glue sticks *Small sized* (Used for glue guns), papers, popsicle sticks, assorted gems, stickers, the little $0.25 machine toys and Donna has asked for her own sewing machine. Mine broke & I had to throw it out. I’ve been unable to located one since. I can’t afford a new one so one preferable with a manual so I can teach her to use it would be awesome!

I’ve told them both that Santa is very busy and not to get their hopes up on getting the crafting items. They would love to get what they asked for towards this. Santa’s Helpers were kind enough to give them some of the stuff on their list but the arts and crafts were asked for after Santa got their letter.

Please contact me for my info if you can help them 🙂

From Belleville, Illinois:

6 children in need for christmas

just one little thing would help each child. Someone please help me give them a smile on christmas. we dont have the money for even one dollar toys. keeping the utilites and rent paid has drained us. My son is 14 and he likes clothes, music, and cologne. Daughter is 13 and shes into makeup and hair stuff. Son that is 6 loves anything with Angry Birds on it. Twins are 3, boy twin-likes play dinosaurs, bugs,& bubbles…..girl twin- likes play makeup like sissy, dolls & color books. The baby is 1 year and he likes trucks that make noise. No matter how small the present is, it will be so appreciated. Thank you

The need is so great. No matter how small the amount you can afford, there’s someone on this list who would be grateful.

Good Will Hunting

My favorite movie speech ever — and Matt Damon (who co-wrote the script with Ben Affleck) was so right:

“Why shouldn’t I work for the N.S.A? That’s a tough one.

“Say I’m working at N.S.A. and somebody puts a code on my desk, something no one else can break. Maybe I take a shot at it and maybe I break it. And I’m real happy with myself, ’cause I did my job well. But maybe that code was the location of some rebel army in North Africa or the Middle East, and once they have that location, they bomb the village where the rebels were hidin’- fifteen hundred people that I never met, never had no problem with get killed.

“Now the politicians are sayin’, oh, “Send in the marines to secure the area” ’cause they don’t give a shit. It won’t be their kid over there, gettin’ shot, just like it wasn’t them when their number got called, ’cause they were pullin’ a tour in the National Guard. It’ll be some kid from Southie over there, takin’ shrapnel in the ass; he comes back to find that the plant he used to work at got exported to the country he just got back from, and the guy who put the shrapnel in his ass got his old job, ’cause he’ll work for fifteen cents a day and no bathroom breaks.

“Meanwhile he realizes the only reason he was over there in the first place was so that we could install a government that would sell us oil at a good price, and of course the oil companies use the little skirmish over there to scare up domestic oil prices- a cute little ancillary benefit for them, but it ain’t helping my buddy at two-fifty a gallon. They’re takin’ their sweet time bringin’ the oil back, o’ course, maybe they even took the liberty of hiring an alcoholic skipper who likes to drink martinis an’ fuckin’ play slalom with the icebergs; it ain’t too long ’til he hits one, spills the oil and kills all the sea life in the North Atlantic.

“So now my buddy’s outta work, he can’t afford to drive, so he’s walkin’ to the fuckin’ job interviews, which sucks ’cause the shrapnel in his ass is givin’ him chronic hemorrhoids, and meanwhile he’s starvin’ ’cause every time he tries to get a bite to eat, the only blue plate special they’re servin’ is North Atlantic scrod with Quaker State.

“So what did I think? I’m holdin’ out for somethin’ better. I figure fuck it, while I’m at it, why not just shoot my buddy, take his job, give it to his sworn enemy, hike up gas prices, bomb a village, club a baby seal, hit the hash pipe and join the National Guard? I could be elected President.”

Rally and caroling

We just voted for jobs, not cuts! So why are the president and Congress now negotiating to cut Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, education, child care, and other social services?

Monday, December 10th at 12:30pm
Municipal Services Building Plaza, 1401 JFK BLVD

We are having a festive march to Sen. Toomey’s and Sen. Casey’s offices, just a few blocks away, to deliver letters demanding JOBS – NOT CUTS. We’ll also share some special holiday carols written just for them!

Love actually

This is another one of my Christmas favorites: The unabashedly sentimental, charming stew that is “Love Actually,” an ensemble piece that follows the intertwined threads of several different story lines at Christmas in London. Starring Hugh Grant as the prime minister! Liam Neeson as widowed dad! Emma Thompson as unsuspecting spouse! Great pop soundtrack, including this version of Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas” by the young Olivia Olson. In an interview I saw, she said she was told to rein in her voice for the part because it wasn’t “believable” for a girl her age:

Love in the air

Dan Savage and his partner Terry Miller were among the first couples in King County, Washington to get a marriage license.

I love weddings, and I can’t imagine a world where you weren’t allowed to marry the person you loved. Thanks to the states that set that straight this year:

Hundreds of King County residents made history early Thursday by getting some of the state’s first-ever marriage licenses for same-sex couples.

Lined around the county’s downtown Seattle administration building, snaked through a winding queue and, finally, crammed into a processing room, the couples cried, shared love stories and passed around flowers.

Just after midnight, they rejoiced.

“I am so glad this night has finally arrived,” County Executive Dow Constantine said of Washington’s official recognition of same-sex marriages. “This has been a long struggle nationally and in our state.”

Constantine, a longtime gay-marriage supporter, signed the first license at 12:01 a.m., when the voter-approved Referendum 74 formally took effect around the state. Recorder’s Office staffers planned to stay open throughout the night and until 6:30 p.m. Thursday to accommodate as many gay and lesbian couples as possible.

More than 200 couples were in line to get licenses at midnight.

The first to actually receive them was a group of community leaders, including the acknowledged matriarchs of the movement in the state, West Seattle residents Pete-e Petersen and Jane Abbott Lighty.

“It’s very humbling to be chosen first. We feel like we’re representing a lot of people in the state who have wanted this for a long time,” said Petersen, 85, who has been with Lighty for 35 years. “It’s hard to explain the thrill that we are really going to get married.”

Quote of the day


“To divide fairly among the people the obligation to pay for these benefits has been a major part of our struggle to maintain Democracy in America. Ever since 1776, that struggle has been between two forces; on the one hand there has been a vast majority of citizens who believe the benefits of democracy should be extended and who are willing to pay their fair share to extend them. And on the other hand, there has been a small but powerful group which has fought the extension of these benefits because they did not want to pay a fair share of their cost. That was the lineup in seventeen hundred and seventy-six and it’s the lineup today. And I am confident that once more, in nineteen thirty-six democracy in taxation will win. Here is my principle, and I think it’s yours too; taxes shall be levied according to ability to pay. That is the only American principle.”

They’d better not even try

First of all, we’re pretending that the economy is doing better because we have fewer people on unemployment, but that’s for a number of factors, most of them not good. The austerians cut the number of weeks for available benefits. Plus, we’ve had a MASSIVE economic pivot that pushed people from full-time positions to contract work, which means they’re not even eligible for unemployment. Unemployment is one of the few economic stimulus programs we still have, so you’re damned right that any austerity deal better include federal unemployment extensions:

WASHINGTON — Democrats in Congress demanded on Thursday that any upcoming “fiscal cliff” deal include a continuation of federal unemployment insurance, which is set to expire at the end of the year.

“We have 2 million families that are in a very difficult situation if we do not extend unemployment insurance benefits,” Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.) said during a press conference at the Capitol. “This is the real cliff.”

Unless Congress acts to reauthorize federal benefits for the long-term unemployed, 2 million laid off workers will abruptly stop receiving benefits after Dec. 29, according to the National Employment Law Project, a worker advocacy and research group.

The unemployment lapse is one of the less-noticed elements of the so-called fiscal cliff, the moment at which a combination of spending cuts and tax hikes is scheduled to take effect. The biggest disagreement is over expiring Bush-era tax cuts; top Republicans want to keep all the cuts, while Democrats only want to renew them for annual household incomes below $250,000.

“The dire consequences of failing to help jobless Americans are not debatable,” Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) said. “If there is an agreement on the fiscal cliff, unemployment insurance must be included. If there is not an agreement reached, we must extend unemployment separately.”

What Big Pharma thinks of you

Between these guys and the spineless FDA, we’ve become nothing but feed to these people. I’m glad I’m so suspicious, it’s saved me from many a drug that turned out to be bad:

As early as 2004, Merck knew its blockbuster osteoporosis drug Fosamax was causing osteonecrosis of the jaw (ONJ) after in-office dental procedures and ridiculed afflicted patients. The condition, also called jawbone death, occurs when traumatized tissue doesn’t heal but becomes “necrotic” and dies. “Ma toot hurts so bad” mimicked Merck bone scientist Don Kimmel in a 2004 email to Merck health science consultant Sharon Scurato about the type of patient who was developing ONJ. Such a patient “could be an oral hog,” wrote Kimmel, then a bone scientist in Merck’s department of Molecular Endocrinology/Bone Biology and trained as a dentist–someone with pre-existing infections and periodontal disease who omits preventative care.

Newly available emails and internal Merck documents reveal the company was far from concerned or surprised when ONJ-links to Fosamax surfaced in the early 2000’s and launched elaborate spin campaigns to keep the $3 billion a year pill afloat. In fact, animal studies revealed ONJ in rats given bisphosphonates (the class of drugs Fosamax belongs to) as early as 1977, Kimmel admitted under oath in 2008.

Thousands of lawsuits have been filed on behalf of patients who say they developed ONJ after dental procedures like tooth extraction because they took Fosamax. Treating ONJ is almost impossible, said dentists and oral surgeons quoted the Review-Journal in 2005, because “further surgery in an effort to correct the problem only exacerbates it, leaving the patient with even more exposed bone and even more disfigured,” Jaw removal, bone grafts, and even tracheostomies were reported by the News-Press in 2006. “Even short-term oral use of alendronate [Fosamax] led to ONJ in a subset of patients after certain dental procedures were performed,” read a study in the Journal of the American Dental Association in 2009.

Besides attributing ONJ to patients’ bad oral hygiene and, tautologically, their advanced years, Merck withheld crucial safety data from the American Society for Bone and Mineral Research (ASBMR) when the group sought to develop a position paper on bisphosphonate-related ONJ. Of 428 suspected ONJ cases related to Fosamax, 378 of which were highly likely to be ONJ, only 50 cases were shared with ASBMR, according to court documents.

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