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Water,

water everywhere

would be enough, you’d think.

We watch it flow,

throw it away

while some can’t get a drink.

 

Water, water

sates our life

and drenches us to death.

We play on water,

while others work

until it takes their breath.

 

 

 

Wasted water,

sculpted decor,

drained down the sink,

tarred in oil,

feathered trash,

while many need a drink.

 

 

 

{This post is just one of thousands dedicated today to Blog Action Day:Water}

 

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The #amazonfail tweet-a-thon is still going strong. Amazon is calling the whole thing a glitch and there are several conspiracy theories floating around. I think they are trying to cover their assets because they really did not expect to get such a backlash. The thing is several authors have been reporting these issues going on for months and there are reports that Amazon employees stated that certain books deemed too adult would be kept from the searchable rankings. But now it is a glitch. Right…I am no techie, but the glitch theory is bunk [“why it’s not a glitch” is explained quite technically HERE]
The only theory I am partial to is that a puritan hacker/Amazon employee created the term-specific-glitch, which still makes it censorship (even if it is not authorized). But that’s still pretty weak because it does not explain why people were being told in February that their books would not be listed in the sales rankings. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer has been covering the story well and  DailyKos has a good round-up of info and posts. Meanwhile, this hilarious chart from the National Coalition Against Censorship illustrates the recent buzz:

This is not over, even if they think they can whitewash it and move on. A boycott of Amazon has begun and several petitions are available upon request. I personally don’t use Amazon, and recommend independent stores and sites like BetterWorldBooks [link on sidebar!]. One of the things that turned me off of Amazon in the first place was that they seemed to be taking so much biz from the stores. I had to create an account at some point when I received a gift certificate [which I still haven’t used!] but now I can’t figure out how to delete it…Let’s hope we see a surge in bookstore sales now.  BTW: Powell’s Books, a very established indy store also has a discount going on…on tweets its being called the #amazonfail discount, but the folks at Powell’s are a bit kinder than that. Here’s how they put it:

#powellswin deal!

At Powell’s, all books are created equal. We hold this truth to be self-evident. Whether any given title is deserving of a wide readership, we leave that decision to you, our customers. In the spirit of such freedoms that perhaps we too often take for granted, today we’re offering friends a special, winning deal.

    Just enter the code “#powellswin” by 11:59 pm (Pacific) on Thursday, April 16, 2009, and you’ll save 20% on your order of $20 or more.

Coupon valid online only, not in our stores. This discount cannot be combined with other offers. Offer not valid on eGift Cards. Limit one coupon per customer.

So, go buy a book! Anywhere but Amazon…

I am still writing from a public computer and had planned to use today’s “leisurely” writing time to make an entry for the Lit Flicks Challenge, but now I am focusing on another challenge. I have been sucking up a whole lot of Inauguration coverage on the tube lately [since i can’t do it online ;( ] and have been going back and forth between moping and celebrating. I had planned to attend the revo…um, celebration myself, but my call to serve is generally dominated by my motherly duties. I am not about to drag them up there in the forecasted snow and millions of revelers, so I will probably be glued to CSpan Tuesday too. It really is exciting watching the nation prepare for a new era, and though some of it seems extravagant while there are wars raging and economies failing, I can’t blame anyone for the desire to party on…it has been a long time coming. [I’m talking generations, not just administrations].

So, I was flipping through the news channels and stopped on a call-in interview with Dr. Maya Angelou on MSNBC. She was talking about writing a piece in honor of the day {as well as how hard it is to “create on demand” as we well know}… She mentioned how powerful poetry and creative writing in general is on the culture and on the population. To summarize, she pointed out that what may not be understood when read as a law or in a textbook becomes more accessible and impressionable when expressed as poetry or lyrics. People remember and relate to poetry, and those words last, often longer than the laws or the texts.  I have been thinking about writing a piece too, and after hearing her speak I feel even more motivated. If she had not been interrupted by the perky television hostess, she may have made a similar call.

Monday has also been declared a Day of Service in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. which isn’t a bad thing to implement [hopefully that continues beyond this year]. What I am thinking about is a little different though. As writers, we have the gift of being able to contribute to the culture, and to history, our words. If we can not give any other service this week, or even if we can, we should, I believe, at least offer this service. Use some downtime tomorrow or Tuesday [or really anytime] to reflect on these moments, to record your feelings and thoughts, or even to gripe about the hoopla [which also has its place in the history books]. We can share our creations, on our blogs, sites, here or in our communities. Or even just tuck it away for the grandkids to find someday… whether you like poetry, essays or any other form of art,this is the kind of occasion that inspires creativity and expression. And this is our gift which we have to offer.

I have turned to poetry many times in my life when I want to express my opinion and feelings, remember a moment or honor figures important in my life. I think this event covers all those factors. Besides, even if poetry is kept personal, never shared with another reader, it is also a personal record, of one’s own history. For this really is an occasion being shared and experienced by all of us, beyond politics, beyond age, race or gender. Our nation, and our culture is going through a fundamental shift and we are never going to be quite the same again. That concept alone has to inspire the poet in all of us.

ipeace05

I was very happy to find the iPeace site this week, especially because I was in time to participate in their first “iPeace Day”. There are some physical gatherings occuring around the world and a lot of virtual events happening too. I could say a lot about the idea of peace, though I believe that most people already get it, or refuse to try to get it. I have been contemplating what to write the past couple of days. I can say little about living in war, because I have lived the privileged life of the suburban American- privileged in that war is seldom in our backyard. I do have friends and family who have been closer to the physical tragedies and I was raised as an Army BRAT. The area I live in is a military region and I think often of everyone affected, on all sides. The truth is that war and violence does affect us all, no matter how much or little we see in our lives. The truth is that we are all living in a constant state of war. iPeace has many activists, artists and writers working and sharing the same goal and hope. There are many blogs and resources available there, and all over the net which I encourage you all to explore. I can say little to add to the conversation, but I am happy to add my voice to the crowd praying today, tomorrow and every day.

It is hard to watch images of the Gaza Strip, Iraq or any war-torn area, but it is harder to ignore them, at least for me. I have always considered myself a pacifist and most people who know me irl would agree. I also have  a tendency to take the pain to heart and worry, stress, despair. It is not healthy and I am “resolving” to get back to my youthful activist ways. Though I have become a bit of a keyboard activist in the last couple of years, it does not feel like enough. I do want to dedicate my writing to positive change, including peaceful activism.

The thing I am dancing around is that I was struck by something else yesterday. I do want to work for peace in this world, but I must also work on my own Inner Peace. I learned yesterday of an old friend’s death and it is hurting my heart. He took his own life, after years of inner turmoil, loneliness and possibly alcoholism. He tended to keep to himself, living alone and, the saddest part of all, he was not found for a long time after his suicide. That part breaks my heart. We were friends in Florida, but now I am in VA and he ended up in HI. Obviously these things happen in life, as our paths meander and cross and diverge. I believe he is at peace now and I am remembering several others lost this year, as we tend to do on The Last Day of the Year.

My point is, as much as I want world peace, and want to work for peace, it really does begin with me. We all have to make peace with ourselves, with our friends and families, with our Inner Critics, demons, etc. Most of the people dying in the wars, massacres and daily violence do not choose to die as my friend did. Most of us would choose to live rather than the alternative. How we choose to live is solely up to us.  If we could all truly find make peace with ourselves, perhaps we could achieve that goal of world peace too.

As somber as this post seems, I do refuse to give up hope and I do want to send out lots of blessings to everyone for 2009. New Year’s always seems like a chance to start again even though most of our struggles and strains keep going regardless of the calendar page. So have fun tonight, count your blessings and keep shining, for tomorrow is another day. Love and peace to all, all ways ❤ j

I spent a lot of time socializing online yesterday and ended up signing up on both GoodReads and Twitter. I would love to mingle with other bloggers, writers and readers if you are hanging around on those networks too. I was not quite sure what twitter was all about, but I checked it out when Inkygirl started a blogging writers group and found out its a network of just my favorite part of myspace and facebook…the status updates :)…so this is also a fun way to keep track of some great blogs and the writers themselves!

Through Goodreads I also found out about BetterWorldBooks which is self-described as “an online bookstore with a soul”. I have to admit to having a hard time when it comes to reviewing or linking to books on here. The standard link is usually amazon, which I dont really have problem with, but I do not really want to push them on everyone. I usually try to link to an author’s personal site. Then they can provide the amazon link [:)], but from what i have seen so far I think Better Books may be my store of choice from now on. They are a company determined to promote literacy and save books as well as provide a product. New and used books are for sale online and, somehow, US domestic shipping is free. Watch on for more info:

Finally, if anyone else is as interested in the ongoing saga between Rosamond and Emily as I am [it’s an artistic soap!],  here is another post with some interesting background and views.  The comment board on the original post at YouThoughtWeWouldntNotice is stuffed and not always so nice. The controversy is all over the blogosphere now, though I have not heard any more beyond the illustrator of Nate the Great and Rosamond, Marc Simont’s statement that he has referred the issue to the publisher’s legal department.

Experiencing a bit of post NaNo blues after staying up to celebrate on the forums and then could not sleep well. I am proud of and happy for everyone who made it through November. I can hardly wait to set up my winner icon! i cannot decide between cool viking ship or chalice of java [though it looks good enough to drink].

Now, today, to me begins the real Xmas season, though I did open some decor over the weekend AFTER Santa ended the parade. NOW we can begin the season of giving, after we have given thanks for what we do have. I have some major issues with the shopping frenzy that accompanies this time of year, especially when there is so much economic and political turmoil these days. I think it is a good time to think about what we really want to share with our families, friends and the world around us.

Today is World AIDS Day and coincidentally, it is also the launching date for Mocha.org. I wrote about this new campaign/site last week, but they have officially opened. The link I had before may not have worked. They asked some bloggers to respond to the statement “I need Africa more than Africa needs me” and they have answered with their own response which I will share with you now.

I NEED AFRICA MORE THAN AFRICA NEEDS ME

When I think of Africa, the following images immediately come to mind: Starvation.  AIDS.  Child soldiers.  Genocide.  Sex slaves.  Orphans.  From there, my thoughts naturally turn to how I can help, how I can make a difference. “I am needed here,” I think. “They have so little, and I have so much.” It’s true, there are great tragedies playing out in Africa everyday.  There is often a level of suffering here that is unimaginable until you have seen it, and even then it is difficult to believe.  But what is even harder is reconciling the challenges that many Africans face with the joy I see in the people. It’s a joy that comes from somewhere I cannot fathom, not within the framework that has been my life to this day. [read more]



I am sipping a [homemade] mocha right now and counting my December 1st blessings. Happy Twelfth Month!!

I was asked to consider this statement and what it means to me. It did not take me long to come to the very simple conclusion that Africa represents the beginning of human history and therefore, our very existence is connected to Africa. That is my deep answer. I am sure that there are some folks out there who may dispute that fact [you betcha 😉 ] but science, anthropology, history and yes, theology generally lead back to the same area. I also concluded that if the birth of mankind began in the African continent then it is not too hard of a stretch to believe that our world-wide rebirth can also be centered there. In contributing to the renewal and growth of African nations and people, we can ensure the growth of our international community and culture. As Africa goes, so, too, do we. It’s the basic Ripple effect.

It is easy, for some, to pretend that the other half of the world is somehow behind us or backwards. Those folks tend to walk through life with blinders on, but those of us with open eyes and open minds are already noticing that it really is a small world, after all [sorry, still my fave Disney song 🙂 ]…not to sound facetious, because seriously, the world is shrinking as far as communications, commerce, politics and science go. If we have learned nothing else from our war, we should realize by now that what happens on the other side of the world does effect us, too.

For many of us westerners, our perception of Africa, [which is a continent, btw, consisting of 53 separate nations] is based on the pictures we see of refugees and famine. It is hard not to associate the entire continent with such images, but that is equivalent to associating all of the USA with the 90210  zip code. It is time that we learn more about this large part of our world culture. The organizers of Mocha.org are organizing a networking action site which will link our own education with an opportunity to help and contribute to African, and therefore, world culture. The basic idea is centered around my favorite bevarage, the mocha. If we java junkies can live without 2 extra mochas [or lattes or red bulls, what’s your poison?] a month and we send that $7 towards a project we choose to support, then we can contribute more to world growth [and maybe sleep a bit better]. They go a step further and offer groups, organizations and even celebs personal pages so we can network and watch the progression together.

After participating in the Blog Action Day project and really enjoying being part of such a powerful movement, I was pleased to be approached for a similar project. First of all, the power of the Internet and bloggers in particular, to contribute to the world dialogue and activist culture is in a trite word, awesome. {The word itself is not trite if you consider the original meaning, but of course has since been trivialized by over- and mis-use. I’m taking it back.} Secondly, and the organizers are smart on this one, they were apparently reaching out to bloggers participating in National Blog Posting Month, many of whom, by now may be scratching their heads or other parts trying to think of what to blog about. Of course, I always have that other thing happening this month, but those posts are getting somewhat repetitive and redundant. So if you are a BloPoer or PoMoer, or just have your own thoughts on this statement or the action, here is a topic for today’s post…or heck, any day is good. Please feel free to share your thoughts on what that statement means to you, here, too.

Of course, I did my research before agreeing to share with my readers and suggest you do the same. They plan to open the official site December 1st, and I will have more information then but you can already get information there and start to sign up for a project which utilizes personal activism, international organization and social networking. Groups and individuals can use their own soc net pages and bloggers can use their sites too. So anyone who is looking for a project to contribute to or participate in may be interested.

Personally, I know I want to use my writing to contribute to the greater good and improve the world [if not just my own karma points] As I proceed in my blogging experience, I hope to find more ways to use my blog for good. I still consider this blog primarily a “writer’s blog” but do not want to continually indulge my tendency to block myself and go into anxiety overload.

And yes, I can link this whole thing to NaNo because, I kid you not, I quoted this song in my story and it actually contributes to a character. I will end with this Utube selection because I invite you to check out the lyrics and because Simba is so darn cute.

I know that I must do what’s right
Sure as Kilimanjaro rises like Olympus above the Serengeti
I seek to cure whats deep inside, frightened of this thing that Ive become

Last year I participated in this action [theme:GoGreen] and I still think it is the best thing I have done as a blogger. If I am going to write a blog, it may as well contribute some positive energy to the universe. So I am very happy to be here again [especially considering my self-imposed hiatus this year]. Anyone else interested in participating today or next year check it out here.

UN poverty stats

 

This topic is, as far as I am concerned, THE biggest problem the world has and is related to any other cause in which you may be involved or care about. Most of us do not understand what true poverty is, especially if we are fortunate enough to live in one of the industrialized western world nations. The difference between being poor in the United States is far different than being poor in, say, Somalia. The large discrepancies between the wealthy class and the poverty class, however, exist everywhere and I do not mean to imply that being poor in the USA is OK. In fact, I think it is a national shame. We have no excuses for allowing children in our country to go hungry or for having any homeless person die on our streets. We brag about being the richest nation in the world, capable of policing other nations, yet poverty still exists and it is getting worse, not better!

If you have been awake in the last month or so, you may have heard about the “economic crisis” occurring here which is reverberating around the world. I heard one economist or expert-type compare it this way: If we ‘sneeze’ economically, the rest of the world gets the flu. Well, our nose is running and we need to wipe up our mess. There is no reason why any executive should earn a millions-of-dollars severance package while his investors are losing their shirts. Or their homes. Likewise, I do not believe there is any excuse for actors and athletes to make millions per game or movie or show while their fans rely on food stamps and prayer. Yes, many of these individuals contribute to their communities or charity-of-the-month, but the problem is not going away.

Beyond our own doorsteps, and I firmly believe that we are an international community now, we must look at the facts around the world. UNICEF figures estimate that between 26,500-30,000 children under age 5 die every day due to poverty. Think about that again: Today, October 15, 2008, nearly THIRTY THOUSAND children will die just because they live in poor circumstances which could be changed. Not because of war, natural disasters or abuse, but because they do not have food, or clean water or warm clothes. That stat does not even factor in the older children and adults who are dying beside them. Most of these children are in remote villages which have few resources, being ignored by their governments and most of the world, but a few are also in our own communities. No one has been able to explain to me why we freely spend billions of dollars on wars, oil and liposuction while children are allowed to die.

I am not an economist, or investor type, and have bad flashbacks of my college Microeconomics course, but I do understand the simple concept of Supply and Demand. The problem as I see it is we have the wrong supplies for the growing demands.  Basic human needs [food, shelter, clothing] are not being distributed fairly, while luxuries and random useless Stuff are taking over the planet. I cannot tell you how upset I get when I see new, high-dollar planned communities being built, while empty homes rot into the earth. Or how disturbing it is to see dumpsters full of food when people are starving down the street. Of course, doing something about it may take some radical overhauling of our own lifestyles and the corporate world which controls that supply. Or it may not.

Simplicity works. We can all change one small thing in our life which can have a huge impact in the grander scheme of things. Eat leftovers [yum, my favorite lunch!]; Donate clothes, food, money, time-whatever you have to share; STOP THROWING THINGS AWAY! Last year’s sweater can still keep someone warm! [including yourself] If you do invest, find companies who are contributing to a solution not the problem; Educate yourself and others: READ, write and STAND UP! Use your voice if you have nothing else to give and speak out. There are a myriad of opportunities on the web and in your community. Yes, I have worked at soup kitchens [and eaten at them, too], shared food with strangers and given what I can to spangers. A one-time donation is good for your karma; even Free Rice.com is an action which we can complete while surfing instead of looking up the latest celebrity gossip or techno gadgets.

The United Nations has identified eradicating world poverty as its #1 Millenium Goal. By the year 2015, poverty should not exist on such global levels. There is a lot more info available at that link as well as opportunities to help. This weekend, Stand Up Against Poverty is occurring around the world, including here in cyberspace. Please take a few minutes to check out their vid. Consider it your action of the day. And, once again, I will promote Change.org, which is one of my favorite sites on the web and offers everyone a chance to do something about poverty or any other cause you choose.

OK yes, sorry, I have been neglectful and not kept a regular schedule and I am guilty of surfing endlessly as well as getting a bit lost in outer myspace…[btw- that last post sounds so pathetic, so sorry again!] Maybe I am kidding myself that anyone noticed or cared, but strangely enough, I did…do, uh, I have to confess I actually missed blogging. Which feels weird since I never really thought I would like it much.

So, anyway, yes, I did get a bit overwhelmed with setting up a space, decorating and whatnot. I didn’t move in right away, though; it took me awhile to give in. First I had to berate my friends in person, then surprise them with embarassing pix the first day I signed in…hahaha…. and before any creepos try anything creepy, don’t even bother b/c if I don’t know you in real world space then you are not my friend.

I guess I am starting a new social network obsession b/c I ended up joining another one too…completely ridiculous right? Well, this one is called change.org and it’s way more my style. I was feeling a little smarmy browsing through some of the myspace pages, as well as old, but I have to admit it might not be that bad. There, I said it. There is a lot to be said for being able to spread your words around and keep in touch quickly and easily. I am having fun finding some public spaces for activist groups and authors I like. Myspace has also added Impact which may do some good considering how many people are on there!

Which leads me back to Change.org which rocks…easy to use and connect with info/causes/non-profits… plus it keeps track so I can feel all good about myself…hahaha… really I just appreciate that there are a lot of positive actions being taken on this wide wide world. I am not exactly collecting friends on that space, which for some reason are called recruits, but I’m more open to new connections there. Apparently they just started up publicly this year, but there are already a million groups involved. I also learned about goodsearch.com through them which is now my search engine of choice b/c it donates $ to my chosen cause. Works for me, so now I can stop worrying that I don’t do enough good in the world b/c I waste all my time reading, writing and chasing kids. Whatever gets me through the night, eh?

I am not completely forgetting print media and am putting in a new resolution to actually cover it a bit more as well as complete some actual reviews, of books, I mean. In fact, I have to go finish reading something before I fall asleep….

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