countdown revisited

Mkk, who may be Canada-bound herself, set her alarm, set up a tripod, and took this great photo. She was going for the zero second count, but we both agree this is better: it has the element of suspense.


Thanks, Marcie!


Did anyone catch Redsock on TV? Just wondering. Several of our friends and family saw it, so we'll get a tape.

the drive north, photo edition

This post now has photos.

to nn

Thank you for the champagne! We drank it last night, toasting to our arrival. It had that extra we-move-to-canada flair.

first impressions

Blogger's photo thing isn't working. I'll try to post those picture tomorrow. Meanwhile, some first impressions.

The house is great. It's both bigger and nicer than I remembered. But what turns great to amazingly brilliant is this neighborhood.

Last night, after we walked through the house and looked at the yard, we leashed up the dogs and walked down to the Lake. That is, we walked a few steps down our road to the Lake. Our street literally ends at Lake Ontario. We walked along the waterfront bike trail, and we were just knocked out. There is pristine landscaping, and fat geese waddling by, and waves crashing, and an expanse of water and sky, and it is just too beautiful to be steps away from where I live. I can't get over it. I feel so fortunate.

After unpacking the van, we walked in the other direction, to Port Credit's main drag, and were again just bowled over. The town is exactly as I remembered it: a town. A real town. We're in easy walking distance of lots of shops, including both a big wine store and a health food store. All needs catered to.

Here's an amazing coincidence. On our very first trip to Toronto - when we came in to look at apartments, see a couple of ball games and talk to people about work - we were driving in on the QEW when we realized we were hungry, and didn't want to wait til we found our hotel to eat. I saw a highway sign that said Port Credit and we pulled in.

We had lunch in an Irish pub, and looked at this adorable little town, and I got the (mistaken) impression that the near suburbs of Toronto were all adorable little towns. Only later, after driving around the Mississauga sprawl, did we understand how unusual Port Credit is. Ever since then, I've wanted to live there. Here.

That pub where we had lunch is around the corner from where we now live - literally around the corner. Do you love that or what?

I am very, very happy.

I'm also overwhelmed with how much there is to do, which is typically for me. I'm trying to bite off manageable bits, and stay focused on the present, which is how I've approached this journey from the day it began, some eighteen months ago.

* * * *

There was one minor disappointment that has caused us some inconvenience. We thought our landlord had the house painted, but he did not. A few rooms, where some walls were repaired, were painted, but in several rooms the walls are really dingy. After some discussion, we realized we should paint before the rest of our things arrive.

The movers are due on Friday morning, and tomorrow morning, Allan has to go somewhere to clear the rest of our stuff through customs. That doesn't leave us much time.

Today, after a morning lakefront walk (heaven!), we unpacked what we have with us while we waited for the Rogers to arrive. The cable guy was on time, and competent. Hey, even a stopped clock is right twice a day. TV, internet and phone: all systems are go.

Next we did the grocery shopping, and guess what, it's like being in another country. Things are different. That was cool.

Then we went off in search of paint supplies. Our lives are a little more complicated because Buster can't be left alone for more than a couple of hours - because of Prednisone side effects, he has to pee so frequently. (That includes all night. We take turns.) On Monday in New York, we were driving around in the minivan doing errands, and every two hours we'd have to drive back home, run Buster outside, then continue to the next errand. That's part of what made the day so long. We'll be reducing his Pred dosage soon, so the side effects should ease up, but right now, it's a complication to negotiate. So doing the grocery shopping and buying paint took a while.

We also had to extend the minivan rental: buying a car and getting auto insurance is taking a back seat to painting. This is an unexpected expense, but that's exactly why we saved a lot more money than we technically needed. I expect unexpected expenses galore.

As soon as I post this, we'll put the Red Sox game on high volume and start taping the baseboards. Not what I expected to be doing tonight, but we'll be glad we bothered.

Listen you guys, thanks for reading, thanks for thinking of us, thanks for caring. Community is a wonderful thing.

the drive north

Thank you all so much for your welcomes and congratulations. It was really exciting to download my mail and see them all. I'll backtrack a bit, probably make this a few separate posts.

Our final day in New York was busy and exhausting. The last-minute errands mushroomed, but we managed to get everything accomplished, and even worked in an afternoon tea break with the wonderful Alan With One L, and a visit with my mom. Saying goodbye to her, I was suddenly 10-years-old again. It was visiting day in summer camp. I felt homesick. But that's fine. My mother and I have already picked out a date for her first visit.

After a late night of preparations, we were up at 5:00 a.m., naively thinking we'd be on the road by 6. Ha! It took Allan - The Master Packer - nearly two hours to pack the van. I certainly never could have done it. There was just about enough room for the dogs, Buster between our seats in the front, and Cody in a cave of boxes in the back.

We drove The World's Fullest Minivan down Bennett Avenue at 7:45 a.m. Yes, I cried. And we shouted and hooted and stared at each other in disbelief.

The trip itself was really very easy. We stopped frequently to let the dogs stretch their legs and relieve themselves, listened to REM and the Stones and a little Katrina news, and watched beautiful New York State roll by. Some friends and family called to wish us well and see how we were doing. The dogs mostly slept.

As we approached the border, Allan and I both got excited and nervous. Not surprisingly, Buster started to whine and bark anxiously. It's amazing how sensitive he is. My heart beats faster and he starts to whine.

At the border, to the usual question, "What is the purpose of your visit to Canada?" we stumbled over the answer. "To live... we are moving here... we live here..."

The man in the booth said, "You mean you're landing today?" Oh yeah, that's what I was supposed to say! He directed us to pull over, I got out, and an immigration official came over.

"Can I help you?"

"I'm landing today." (Got it!)

He said we all had to go inside. When I asked him if we could go in separately, because we had dogs in the car, he said I could ask the agent inside, but he didn't think they'd allow it.

The agent inside said, sure, no problem. Which one of you is the primary? (That's me.)

He asked me some questions, and I was able to rattle off my new address - including postal code! - and phone number.

"Do you have employment arranged in Canada?"

"Um, no." What am I supposed to say, what am I supposed to say...?

"So you have proof of funds?"

Oh yeah, proof of funds, baby, I got that! I proudly showed him my bank balances.

He asked some more questions, and explained how we get our Permanent Resident cards, and how to apply for our Social Insurance Numbers before the card arrives.

I initialed and signed some forms, and then he stamped my documents. I was wearing an ear-to-ear grin and my eyes were welling with tears. I walked outside and raised my arms in victory, holding my passport and visa.

In the van, we hugged and kissed, and I cried. Allan went in, and came out two minutes later wearing that same ear to ear grin.

Then I went back into the building to clear customs. That was a breeze. (Americans who are emigrating, ask me about this when the time comes. I have some pointers.)

After customs, we hugged and shouted some more, then drove down the QEW to our new home.

Exactly 10 hours and 516 miles after leaving New York, we pulled into our driveway.

A bit of the day in pictures.

drive_north 001
My boy stares up adoringly.
That's a "gentle leader" he's wearing - control without pain.

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Cody in her cave. Is she mad at us?

drive_north 006
Buster checks on Cody.

drive_north 008
Asleep between the alphas.

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I think she is mad at us.

drive_north 010

drive_north 011

drive_north 014
A nondescript building can change your life.

drive_north 018

drive_north 019

drive_north 022

drive_north 023
Two pooch, too pooped.

we moved to canada

We are here!!

We are here. We are happy. And, as you can see, we are online.

Thank you all for your good wishes. It was really cool to log in and find them. I'll write more soon, including some photos.


and we're starting a new life

When I hear that robin sing
Well I know it's coming on spring
Ooo-we and we're starting a new life

I've been shovelling the snow away
Working hard for my pay
All I gotta say is we're starting a new life
Van Morrison, Starting A New Life.
Not much of a song to read, but very nice to hear.
I've spent my life following things I cannot see
And just when I catch up to them, they slip away from me
I've been down a thousand trails I've never walked before
I found out that without fail, they lead me to your door

And the world keeps turning round and round
It leaves me hanging in the air
My heart keeps turning upside down
And you're still standin' there
Steve Earle, You're Still Standing There.
For my partner. I love you.

this is it

In a few minutes, I will disconnect the cable modem. Allan and I will go pick up our rental mini-van. We'll drive around the city doing last-minute errands, like dropping off a gift for our dogwalker, buying food for tomorrow's drive, and bringing my plants to (and saying goodbye to!) my mom. We'll spend one more night in our bare apartment.

Tomorrow morning we'll pack up the van, and two insanely happy dogs will pounce into the back seat. They'll think they're going on vacation upstate.

We'll say goodbye to Bennett Avenue, and drive over the George Washington Bridge. I'll no doubt be in tears.

We'll briefly drive through New Jersey to Rockland County (where I grew up), head north through the Catskills to Albany, then west to Buffalo, on to the border, the QEW, and our new home.

How am I feeling, you ask? Like a bundle of nerves. Like a family of butterflies is building a city in my stomach. Like I'm ready to burst into tears at a moment's notice. And very, very happy.

This trip would be so much scarier, and far lonelier, without having this support network - you all - rooting for us. I know you'll be thinking of us as we make this physical and symbolic journey over the border. I won't get to see the counter hit zero, so don't forget to check in on Tuesday morning!

With any luck, Rogers Cable will arrive on Wednesday morning, we'll set up our computers and phone, and I'll be blogging by Wednesday afternoon.

See you on the other side!

P.S. I'm turning on word verification for comments for a couple of days, since I won't be around to delete spam. Enjoy.


view from former workplace

I thought you might like to see the view from where I no longer work. (Yay!)

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Empire State Building

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Lady Liberty in the distance

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St. Patrick's Cathedral from the 44th Floor

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Met Life (Pan Am) Building,
with the Chrysler Building peeking around the corner

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A piece of Central Park,
with the George Washington Bridge in the far distance.
We live right near that bridge.

Good night.

redsock on tv

I almost forgot! Well, actually, I did forget, but Allan reminded me.

If you get ESPN Classic, you can see Sir Redsock on TV tomorrow night (Monday, August 29), holding forth on a subject he knows more about than almost anyone else on the planet.

Our cable will already be turned off, so we're hoping someone will tape it or DVR it for us. But regardless of that, if you get the channel, tune in. Here's something about the show.

new friend of wmtc

More Americans going to Canada!

But not yet. They're just considering it.

Yeah, right.

the hits just keep on comin'

From prolific commenter Wrye, who is threatening to start blogging again, but for now has no link...
In the interest of regional balance, having heard from Edmonton, let us now hear from Montreal:

Radio Free Vestibule--I Don't Want to go to Toronto:

(I don't want to go to Toronto, I don't want to go...)
I don't want to go to Toronto,
I don't want to go
All of the blocks are square,
None of the streets are twisted;
None of the streets are paved with bricks;
There's too many elevators in Toronto--
Not enough stairs in Toronto
Not enough stairs!

(I don't want to go to Toronto, I don't want to go...)

All of the food in Toronto is made of edible oil products
They don't have bagels in Toronto
They have doughnuts,
Doughnuts made of edible oil!
I don't like doughnuts,
They don't have bagels!

(I don't want to go to Toronto, I don't want to go...)

I don't want to go to Toronto!
People don't have faces in Toronto
They have cigarette ads, instead
They listen to your phone calls
It's illegal to possess brightly coloured balloons in Toronto
Illegal to own brightly coloured balloons!

(I don't want to go to Toronto, I don't want to go...)

All of the children in Toronto must wear suits
Even the girls, three piece suits!
The buildings in Toronto have no windows
I don't want to go
Everyone lives in sub-terranean caverns
Filled with doughnuts made of edible oil
I don't want to go!

(I don't want to go to Toronto, I don't want to go...)

Nobody goes to the bathroom in Toronto
They have a special operation
They have it removed surgically
There's a tax on all wicker goods in Toronto
There's huge buildings with no windows
And streets with no curves
And inside you find little girls in suits
Running around with black balloons
And munching on edible oil products

(I don't want to go to Toronto, I don't want to go...)

The kids don't have names;
They have numbers which are assigned to them at birth
They're called "Three hundred and eighty seven point seven",
"Four hundred and twelve point nine"
And they all have cigarette ads instead of faces
I don't want to go to Toronto
I don't want to go
I have plenty of wicker goods
I don't want a tax on my wicker goods
I like going to the bathroom
I don't want to go the hospital
I don't want to go to Toronto
I don't want to go
Do I have to go to Toronto?
Do I?
Do I have to go?
I don't want to go
Do I have to go to Toronto?
I don't want to go...
Cool song. However, I must tell you that this:
Everyone lives in sub-terranean caverns
Filled with doughnuts made of edible oil
is why Allan wants to move in the first place. You thought it was for a more democratic society? Ha. Allan is planning on living in a subterranean cavern: we are setting up his office in our basement. In addition to his computer and a TV, there's a bathroom and a fridge down there, so I'll basically see him, well, never. Fill it with doughnuts, and we should say goodbye right now.


final weekend

Today and tomorrow are my last days on my day job. More importantly, they are my last days on any day job for a while. I anticipate writing full-time for - who knows - maybe six months, maybe a full year, maybe longer.

It will be the first time either Allan or I have been able to write full-time. Not because we were trying without success: it was never a goal. Neither of us ever pursued a staff job with a magazine or newspaper, and freelancing full-time wasn't realistic. We both have very specific and somewhat idiosyncratic writing goals. When those goals also pull in some income, all the better. When they don't, we write anyway.

Our ongoing goal - my goal, which I instilled in Allan - was to jockey our way into better and better day-jobs, decreasing the number of hours we had to spend working for money, and increasing the time we could spend writing or researching our own interests. We met this goal beautifully. For a long time our day jobs have been 24 hours per week, squeezed into two days. It's been brilliant, and I didn't think we'd get any better.

Suddenly (and it really was sudden) I find myself earning enough from writing that I can drop the day-job entirely. It's awesome. I am knocked out by the prospect. I know Allan is envious, and I actually feel a little guilty! (Sheesh. Ridiculous.)

It won't be forever. I get bored very easily. I need constant stimulation from my writing, and if it grows too easy, too routine, I'm off in search of another challenge. At some point I'll want to pursue some research or writing on my own, and I'll head to the temp agencies looking for work.

But for now, wow.


And getting more so all the time. In comments here, I told Lone Primate that the prospect of actually taking off - of leaving the country of my birth for another country - feels surreal. I imagine on Tuesday, as we drive north through my beloved New York State, one-way, it will feel even more so.

The very astute Lone Primate expressed it perfectly here.
You know, in a weird way, I bet you'd have a more concrete sense of it if you were moving to a country like Japan or India, instead of to what amounts to some Twilight Zone version of the US where the American Revolution never happened and the Queen is still on the money (dun-dun-DUHHHH!!!). Let's face it, you're making the least-profound international move possible for an American. :) There'll be some changes when you're actually here, but I speculate that the similarity of culture and daily life is going to drag out the process of it really setting in for a long time.
That's very true. Leaving New York City is strange. Exchanging my very urban life of apartment and public transportation for a suburban house and car is strange. Of course, there are cultural differences, as we talk about here all the time. But it's not that different, looking at cultures globally. We're not moving to Lagos or Sao Paolo or even Marseilles.

In casual conversation, I've taken to using this compressed version of Why I'm Leaving: I'd rather my taxes support health care for all than foreign wars. This is a huge difference. But is it a difference I'll feel when I get up in the morning, walk my dogs, make my coffee?

Mollie from the now-defunct Greener Pastures described a great relief after crossing the border, at not being part of this insanity any more. I am anticipating that relief - yet it will be an abstraction.

Meanwhile, life is surreal.

at last, the toronto song

A ways back, Wrye said he was going to introduce me to "The Toronto Song". I googled around for it, but the only thing I found was this from Groucho Marx. Wrye never mentioned it again, and so I promptly forgot all about it.

Wrye, apparently, did not. And he has at last ended the mystery, prompting some funny comments here. So, wmtc readers, I bring you... The Toronto Song.
Three Dead Trolls in a Baggie’s
The Toronto Song (1989 Version)

I hate the Skydome
And the CN tower too
I hate Nathan Phillips Square
and the Ontario Zoo
The rent's too high
The air's unclean
The beaches are dirty
And the people are mean,
And the women are big
And the men are dumb
And the children are loopy
'cause they live in a slum
The water is polluted and the mayor's a dork
They dress real bad and they think they're New York
In Toronto-

A: You know...I think I pretty much hate all of Ontario.
B: Oh yeah…Me too.

I hate Thunder Bay and Ottawa,
Kitchener, Windsor, and Oshawa,
London sucks,
and the Great Lakes suck,
And Sarnia sucks,
and Turkey Point sucks
I took a trip to Ontario,
To visit Brian Mulroney-
Moosoonee sucks and Beaverton sucks Southhampton sucks and Hull sucks, too
He beat me up
and he stole my pants
and he put me on a tree
Peterborough, Marlborough, Stockton suck, Elk Bay Islands And Uxbridge suck
I went to see the Maple Leafs,
and got hit in the head with a puck
Mississauga sucks and Sterling sucks Port Elgin Sucks and Brighton sucks
I don't even know how they did it, I mean,
I was playing the organ at the time
Ravenhurst sucks and Sudbury sucks and Thunder Bay sucks and
Alan Thicke sucks!


A: Yup. Actually you know now that I really think about it, I think I pretty much hate every gosh darn province and territory in our country.
B: Well, except Alberta…
A: Oh yeah, I love Alberta!
B: It's very nice, lots of cows and trees and rocks and dirt
A+B: moo moo moo!

I hate Newfoundland cause they talk so weird
And Prince Edward Island is- too small!
Nova Scotia's dumb cause it's the name of a bank
New Brunswick doesn't have a good mall
Quebec is revolting and it makes me mad
Ontario sucks, Ontario sucks
B: And the average population density of Manitoba is 1.9 people per square kilometer…
A: Isn't that stupid?

Saskatchewan is boring and the people are old
And as for the territories: they're too cold!
And the only really good thing about the province of British Columbia is that it's right next to us;

Cause Alberta--
Doesn't suck;

but Calgary does.
This is downright hilarious. I love that Mississauga made the cut! Best line, hands down: "The water is polluted and the mayor’s a dork /
They dress real bad and they think they're New York". Priceless.

Wrye also notes:
OMFG, we have to introduce redsock and LG to The Worms, Frantics and The Vestibules (ne' Radio Free Vestibule) post haste!
To which I reply: Fuckin' A!

Funny thing is, back before I met any of you, when wtmc was a mere five days old, someone introduced me to The Arrogant Worms. When I sent out my leaving announcement to the Haven Coalition, the abortion-access activist group I used to help run, one of the volunteers passed my info on to her parents. She is the daughter of a Vietnam War draft resister (an American man) and a Canadian mom. Her dad sent me this. Check out the post. I was begging for people to leave comments. Hee hee.


just to clarify

The plan:

Today, Friday: movers take away 99% of our stuff.

Saturday and Sunday: we go to work as if we have normal lives.

Sunday night: we toast to unemployment.

Monday: we pick up our one-way rental vehicle, and do last-minute errands.

Tuesday: we move to Canada.

* * * *

Last blog post from US: Monday morning, before disconnecting cable modem.

First blog post from Canada: with luck, Wednesday afternoon.

my life in lyrics

Commentmeister, friend of wmtc, and - who knew? - lyricist Lone Primate made my morning with this:
Ha, you know, when I read the title of your posting, "life among the boxes", I was suddenly reminded of the Talking Heads song "Life During Wartime". If you look up the lyrics, they seem so appropriate to what you're about to do!

Of course, that doesn't stop us having a little fun with them... :)

Heard of a van that is loaded with boxes,
packed up and ready to go
Heard about Customs, out by the highway,
a place where nobody knows
The sound of yawning, off in the distance,
Guess I’ll get used to it now
Lived in New England, lived in the Boroughs,
I've lived all over this town...

Transmit the right forms to CIC now,
hope for an answer some day
They want our passports, to send us visas,
They sure as hell know my name
Here on the island, the trucks are loading,
everything's ready to roll
I blog in the daytime, I sleep in the nightime,
Next week I’ll have a new home...

Heard about Moncton? Heard about Windsor?
Heard about Surrey, B.C.?
You oughta know not to tell folks you’re going
somebody call you a creep
I got some groceries, some maple syrup,
to last a couple of days
But I ain't got no preachers, ain't got no Uzis,
ain't got no death row to slay

Why stay in New York? Why vote for Kerry?
Gonna be different this time...
In fact, I've thought of "Life During Wartime" several times in relation to our drive north this Tuesday. I have this image of us escaping to freedom. Hugely exaggerated, I know. We're not exactly smugglers on the Underground Railroad. But it's a neat thought, and these lyrics are amazing.

hooray for buster

Hooray hooray hooray, I am happy happy happy! I spoke to our vet specialist last night. She is very pleased with Buster's progress, and feels we are really on the right track.

Tonight we'll start transitioning him back to regular dog food, over the course of a week. If that goes well, we'll then lower the dose of Prednisone over two weeks, which will make our lives much easier.

Extra-good news is that Dr. S is going to manage Buster's case long-distance. While she does want me to find another internist in the Toronto area, to check his blood levels in about a month, I'll continue to check in with her for managing his medication. I thought she was turning us over to a new doctor entirely, but in fact, she is not at all. What a relief!

For specialty care, it looks like we'll be going to the University of Guelph Veterinary School. If any of you have experience with them, do let me know. They are supposed to be top-notch, as teaching hospitals are often up on all the latest care.

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stuff moving day

All our tangible possessions are in boxes and bubble wrap. The movers are due at 8:00 a.m. By the end of the day, we will be in an empty apartment, with an air mattress, two small suitcases, some dog food and our computers.

Packing went really well, at least I think so, because Allan did more than his fair share, while I made phone calls and organized stuff. And because we were able to focus on it almost full-time, rather than squeezing it around full-time jobs.

I'll be babysitting the dogs while the movers work, which means I'll be at the computer all day, if you're up for chatting in comments.

moving 005


life among the boxes

Yesterday began with me accidentally giving Cody one of Buster's pills, and ended with our phone service being cut off.

Fortunately everything in the middle was much less eventful.

The pill. Buster needs so many pills in the morning, so I give them to him with pieces of chicken. So of course I give Cody chicken, too - and I absent-mindedly fed her a chunk of chicken with a pill in it. As soon as it left my hand I realized what I had done. I haven't been sleeping too well, and it's showing.

I wasn't sure if one pill could hurt her, but I didn't want to worry about it all day. Dog-loving readers, if you ever need to induce vomiting in your pup, make them ingest some hydrogen peroxide, then wait. A remedy we learned when our little dog Clyde got into a bottle of Advil.

The phone. Vonage mistakenly de-activated our router and charged us $99 for the privilege. In customer-service-speak, "the issue is currently unresolved," meaning I still have no phone. I had made half a dozen important calls during the day, so I had to call everyone back and leave more voice mails, asking people to call my cell phone instead.

I love VOIP. I really do. Just not today.

The only other event, besides packing, is how frequently Buster has to go out, a side effect of the Prednisone. We take turns taking him out all day long and often in the middle of the night, too. I arranged double dog-walking for him this weekend - our dog-walker is glad to spend more time with the pups while she can. So our drive north on Tuesday will take a little longer. But who cares. I'm glad he's feeling better, and he won't be on the medication forever.

If I sound whiny, I'm really not. I'm taking it all in stride. Stuff happens. Things are progressing nicely. The only packing we have left is the kitchen.


big brother in the subway

Thanks to the London bombing, the MTA finally has an excuse to spend another $200 million of our own money to spy on us.
Officials unveiled the high-tech future of transit security in New York City yesterday: an ambitious plan to saturate the subways with 1,000 video cameras and 3,000 motion sensors and to enable cellphone service in 277 underground stations - but not in moving trains - for the first time.

Moving quickly after the subway and bus bombings in London last month, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority awarded a three-year, $212 million contract to a group of contractors led by the Lockheed Martin Corporation, which is best known for making military hardware like fighter planes, missiles and antitank systems.

The authority abandoned its earlier reservations about cellphone service, agreeing that the benefits of allowing 911 and other calls during emergencies outweighed the costs and the risk of a phone-detonated bomb. It invited carriers to submit proposals by Oct. 12. The winning bidder, which would receive a 10-year license, would have to pay for the installation of the wireless network and would be required to disable all calls at the authority's request. It is not clear how long installation, which will cover 277 of the 468 stations, will take.

The surveillance and cellphone strategies, together with a police campaign begun last month to check riders' bags and packages, are a step toward what some critics have long said cannot be done - putting the nation's largest transit system under constant watch, and fortifying it with enough obstacles to deter potential terrorists.

"We will try everything, and deploy all technologies possible, to prevent an attack from happening," said Katherine N. Lapp, the authority's executive director.

The new security measures will be in place in the subway, along with the authority's two commuter railroads and nine bridges and tunnels and busy transit hubs at Grand Central Terminal, Pennsylvania Station and Times Square. While transit agencies in Boston and Houston have experimented with so-called "intelligent video" software, and London has far more cameras, the New York plan is the first to try to marry several advanced security technologies at once, experts said.

At the center of the effort will be a dense network of cameras that can zoom, pivot and rotate, all while transmitting and recording images of vulnerable areas, from dark tunnels under the East River to bustling subway platforms in Midtown. Each camera will capture distances up to 300 feet and will cost about $1,200. A selected location could have 2 to 30 cameras. For now, there will be no cameras on trains and buses.
Lockheed Martin just got a little richer, New Yorkers just got a little less free, and nobody is getting any safer. New York Times story here.

last this, last that

I'm late this morning because I was - ta-da! - making my last trip to the laundromat! Whoo-hoo!!!

We are kicking butt on the packing, zooming right along. Check out that countdown. This time next week, I'll be making coffee in Port Credit.


found on my bulletin board

Doonesbury strip, August 25, 1980.

BD: I feel good today. Know why I feel good today?

Mike: I'll bet we're going to find out.

BD: I feel good because I woke up this morning and it suddenly hit me there's an excellent chance our next president is going to be Ronald Reagan!

It's the beginning of a new age, gentlemen, it's a whole new ball game, you better make plans.

Zonker: I already have. I've decided to shoot myself.

Mike: Good choice. Hand guns should be cheap and plentiful.


That's AWOL without the without.

As you can imagine, I have precious little spare time these days, and almost none to read your blogs. I've been catching up on weekends, where (for two more days) I am still paid to surf the net. After my weekend job ends (did I mention, two more days?!), I'll have to set aside some daily blog-reading time in order not to feel incredibly selfish.

In any case, if anyone here doesn't read The Curmudgeonly Crab on a regular basis, go right now and read Crabletta's most recent post about Cindy Sheehan. I was probably the last of the wmtc crowd to see it. I'm always behind the times.

let them paint

Local news: a small victory for common sense and free speech.
In a tartly worded ruling, a federal judge ordered the Bloomberg administration yesterday to reinstate a permit for a block party in Chelsea featuring the painting of graffiti on mock subway cars.

The judge, Jed S. Rakoff of Federal District Court in Manhattan, called the city's abrupt cancellation of the permit unconstitutional. He even poked fun at Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg's argument that the party would incite the defacement of real subway cars.

"By the same token, presumably, a street performance of 'Hamlet' would be tantamount to encouraging revenge murder," the judge wrote.

"As for a street performance of 'Oedipus Rex,' " he added, "don't even think about it."

The permit was issued to allow Ecko Unlimited, a company run by the designer Marc Ecko, to close West 22nd Street between 10th and 11th Avenues from 10 am. to 6 p.m. tomorrow. During the party, Mr. Ecko's company is planning to have 20 people paint graffiti on metal panels made to look like the sides of the subway cars of the 1970's and 80's, which were easy targets for vandals with paint.
And don't think there's no Canada connection here!
Now we can go paint," said Alan Ket, a 34-year-old artist from Brooklyn.

Mr. Ket said he began painting years ago on subway cars, as did Mr. Ecko. The artists he knows have long ago stopped painting on subways, he said, and now paint other things, like murals on public walls, usually with permission. His most recent painting was on a temporary wall at a music festival in Toronto, he said.
A few links to famous NYC graffiti:


Zephyr Graffiti

Insane Fame

Tats Cru

A huge list of graffiti websites from Art Crimes.

And two fascinating, joyous celebrations of a subculture, a time and an obsession: the movies Style Wars and Wild Style.

watch what you say

From The Progressive's "McCarthyism Watch": Santorum's People Toss Young Women out of Barnes & Noble, Trooper Threatens Them with Prison.

In the same issue, a profile of Tony Campolo, a Baptist minister, evangelist and radical activist.
Campolo's critique of U.S. policies and culture leads him to some stark positions. "To be a Christian in today's world is to be opposed to America," he says. "Why? America believes in capital punishment, and Jesus says, 'Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.' America says, 'Blessed are the rich.' Jesus said, 'Woe unto you who are rich, blessed are the poor.' America says, 'Blessed are the powerful.' Jesus said, 'Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.'"
Campolo doesn't just talk, he totally walks the walk. Jim Wallis of Sojourners says,
Tony Campolo is my favorite evangelist. He blends revival with social justice. In that way, he's like one of the nineteenth century evangelists who fought for the abolition of slavery and women's suffrage and social reform. His altar calls urge all of us to overcome poverty, end war, and stand up for human rights for everybody.
Campolo opposes abortion rights and gay marriage, so I'm not about to convert. But people like Wallis and Campolo are the reason that, although I am areligious myself, I can never be anti-religious. History books are stuffed with the ill effects of organized religion, but I also see its potential for good. No student of the American civil rights movement can avoid it.

Progressive change is all about organizing and reaching out, and a church community is already doing both, all the time. And they've got one of the greatest radical tracts ever written.

Profile of Tony Campolo here.

new blog, sort of

For those who can't get enough of Americans emigrating to Canada, Nick and Mason have a new address.

In the latest entry to Life Without Borders, the elusive Mason makes an appearance!


more things to do

Whoa. Thank goodness I decided to start researching auto insurance before we moved. I've learned that we'll need copies of our driving records from the New York State DMV. I had assumed (always a mistake!) that an Ontario insurance company could access that information themselves, but they cannot. Similar to credit ratings, there's an impenetrable international boundary.

So it looks like we have an unexpected errand this week! Further proof of why you cannot leave things to the last minute - because new stuff always comes up.

freecycle rocks

This is amazing. I'm happy to get rid of stuff, I'm happy that perfectly usable things can continue to be useful and won't end up as landfill, and of course, people are always happy to get Free Things.

Freecycle is even cool on an emotional or spiritual level. Generosity brings out the best in people. All the Freecyclers I've emailed with or spoken to so far have been so nice. Several of them just moved to New York, and maybe I've given them a good feeling about the city.

buster news

I gave Buster an injection!

The B12 shots are weekly. Last week the vet (actually the vet eye doctor, since we had an appointment) demonstrated how to do it. So this morning was my first go.

I was nervous, but it was a snap. Allan held Buster's head and talked to him, and B didn't seem to notice a thing. Not a yelp, not even a flinch. The doc thought the quantity of fluid - a full 10 cc's - might be an issue, but it wasn't at all. Now that I see it didn't hurt, I won't be afraid to do it next week.

Thank you so much, James, Dogsled_Stacie and others who helped me get the confidence to do this!

Back to the boxes.

holy shit the movers are coming on friday

My calendar for this week has one word written across the next four days: P - A - C - K. We got a lot done on Friday, and I'm confident we'll have a productive - sweaty, dusty, muscle-straining - week.

I spent most of yesterday emailing with Freecyclers who want to take some old furniture and air-conditioners off my hands. You guys all know about Freecycle, right? I thought it was just an expression - I didn't realize it was an actual organization.

I must be the last person to discover Freecycle, but then, I'm not big on acquiring other people's used goods. I am, however, very big on giving stuff away. Freecycle is like putting something on the curb for scavengers, but your whole town or city has a shot at it. Yet another fantastic use of the internet.

In other news, the Stones rock Fenway! What a great place to see them. We saw them a couple of times at Shea Stadium, approximately the same size and type of venue*, and it was great. (I think those shows were numbers 6 and 7 of the 10 times I've seen the Stones. That number is no longer growing: I'm done.) Here's a cool pic of the set.

* Although I would never compare glorious Fenway Park to that pit where the Mets play.


if you object to the flag icon

You can email Blogger to voice your opinion at bloggerbuzz@gmail.com.

land of the free

Pittsburgh Police Arrest Five Anti-War Protesters, Two Injured, in March

68-year-old woman bitten by police dog, other protestors pepper-sprayed and Tasered.

Utah TV Station Refuses to Air Anti-War Ad Days Before Bush Visit

TV Station owned by Mormon church refuses to show ad featuring Cindy Sheehan.

Both AP stories that I found on Common Dreams. I don't have the original links.

worse than a broken heart

"The feeling is so much worse than a broken heart. It is an evisceration."

Please read.

bats and clubs

Paul Krugman has written a companion piece to Mark Crispin Miller's important article in Harper's. Krugman writes:
By running for the U.S. Senate, Katherine Harris, Florida's former secretary of state, has stirred up some ugly memories. And that's a good thing, because those memories remain relevant. There was at least as much electoral malfeasance in 2004 as there was in 2000, even if it didn't change the outcome. And the next election may be worse.

In his recent book "Steal This Vote" - a very judicious work, despite its title - Andrew Gumbel, a U.S. correspondent for the British newspaper The Independent, provides the best overview I've seen of the 2000 Florida vote. And he documents the simple truth: "Al Gore won the 2000 presidential election."

Two different news media consortiums reviewed Florida's ballots; both found that a full manual recount would have given the election to Mr. Gore. This was true despite a host of efforts by state and local officials to suppress likely Gore votes, most notably Ms. Harris's "felon purge," which disenfranchised large numbers of valid voters.

But few Americans have heard these facts. Perhaps journalists have felt that it would be divisive to cast doubt on the Bush administration's legitimacy. If so, their tender concern for the nation's feelings has gone for naught: Cindy Sheehan's supporters are camped in Crawford, and America is more bitterly divided than ever.

Meanwhile, the whitewash of what happened in Florida in 2000 showed that election-tampering carries no penalty, and political operatives have acted accordingly. For example, in 2002 the Republican Party in New Hampshire hired a company to jam Democratic and union phone banks on Election Day.
A friend of mine, a staunch Democrat not known for incendiary ideas, recently emailed this:
But as Woody Allen said in "Manhattan," op-eds are fine but sometimes you need bats and clubs (in reference to Nazis marching in New Jersey). A great line and, as with most great lines, there is an element of truth to it.
Krugman's column here.

southern exposure

In a discussion in comments, I was directed to Atheist Exposed, a blog by S. Setterbo, a woman in Texas who was "coming out" as an atheist to her coworkers and others in her life. Setterbo lives in a highly Christian environment and felt it was a Big Thing to reveal this part of herself. Her stated goal: "to give these Christians the knowledge, that they know an Atheist, and she's not a bad person."

Setterbo's fears were used as evidence of a lack of religious freedom in the US - and I find myself in the odd position of actually defending the US. Go figure.

Try as I might, I can't see this woman as a victim of religious intolerance. There's no freedom from discomfort at being a minority, no guarantee of personal acceptance by those around you, nor should there be.

I must clarify that Setterbo doesn't present herself as a persecuted victim at all. This is in response to others' comments about her, not her own words. I read elsewhere that she was afraid of losing her job, but I didn't see anything about that (although I might have missed it). In reality she lost neither her job nor her friends.

Setterbo is obviously intelligent, compassionate and kind. I can sympathize with her for feeling out of place. Many of her conservative Christian co-workers would feel dreadfully out of place in New York City. But they wouldn't be denied religious freedom, and neither is she.

I think Setterbo's central issue is the closet. Whenever we keep our true selves hidden, we feel discomfort. The longer we stay in a closet - of any kind - the harder it becomes to reveal our true self. Setterbo describes herself as a "30 year closet atheist". If you're in the closet for 30 years, it's going to be a big deal when you finally come out. The reality may be better than you imagined, which is what she found.

In many of her posts, I read Setterbo's desire for acceptance and understanding by her co-workers. This may also be the source of her discomfort. If we feel it's necessary for our co-workers to understand us, and we don't work in an environment of like-minded people, it's going to chafe. I know I was more comfortable and more "out" about my own life when I worked in a non-profit alternative school for teenagers, than when I was a secretary in a corporate law firm. As a secretary, I often felt alienated and out of place. I could decide, the benefits of working here are too good, I will put up with the alienation. Or I could feel, I need to work in a more nurturing environment, and look for other employment. Either way, I wasn't being denied my rights.

Separation of church and state is an important part of a free society, and the US is moving farther and farther away from it every day. The creeping theocracy is one of the reasons I'm leaving. But that's not the same as freedom of religion. Of course I realize that under an actual theocracy there would be no religious freedom, but as bad as it is, we're not there yet.

Thanks to Atheist Exposed for (unknowingly) allowing me to use her blog to make a point. Her blog is well written and illuminating, and worth a visit.



What do you guys think of this, now appearing on the title bars of all Blogger-based blogs?

At first I thought it seems reasonable, as Blogger is not pulling blogs with "questionable content," and not taking any action based on one person's or even a handful of people's responses. However, why do we need that at all? Why does Blogger need to monitor and screen content?

Please opine.

help wanted

It looks like we'll be buying a car shortly after arriving in Canada. We weren't sure if we were going to lease, or how long we'd wait to buy, or what, but now we've decided. We're buying a new (as opposed to used) car very soon. Exciting!

Not owning a car in New York City has served us well. Bringing a car from the US to Canada is an amazing pain in the butt, requiring an enormous amount of paperwork and rigmarole. We've got quite enough of that in our lives as it is, with more to come. If we did own a car, I think we'd have sold it and bought another one anyway. It seems much easier to buy a car in Canada than to "import" (the official term) one from the US.

So, do any Ontario residents have any tips about auto insurance? How to get better rates, what to avoid, obscure laws we must know? I've checked out some basics here and here, but if you have any advice or pointers, I'd love to hear them.

I know many of you aren't blogging on the weekend, so I'll patiently await your replies.


The first issue of Kids On Wheels is out, and it looks great!

This is the new magazine that I'm involved in, an offshoot of the KOW resource guide. I blogged about this most recently here and here. My assignments morphed while I was working on them - downhill racing got bumped, swimming with dolphins got promoted, and the fiction is being held out for the second issue, after I can write a new ending.

Subscribers to KOW get two magazines bundled together. One is the kids' edition, which speaks directly to 8- to 12-year-olds. We quote kids as much as we can, and try to be a conduit for peer-to-peer sharing and discussion.

The other edition is for parents of children who use wheelchairs, so it functions as an information guide and support network. If you know someone who could benefit from this, here's the link, spread the word.



The movers come one week from today! So, today we start packing. We're working all weekend, then we'll resume on Monday and throughout next week.

Amazingly, I'm not dreading packing. It's a finite project with a clear deadline. By this time next week, it will all be done.

Have a good Friday, everyone! I'll check in on breaks, so hopefully you won't see much of me today.

a congressman discovers reality

Thanks to David Cho, I've learned that the marketing genius behind the international embarrassment called "Freedom Fries" is sponsoring a resolution demanding W announce an Iraq exit strategy by the end of the year.

North Carolina Republican Congressman Walter Jones says he has about 50 co-sponsors to the resolution.
Jones said the reason for going to war — Saddam Hussein's alleged possession of weapons of mass destruction — has been proven false.

"If I had known then what I know now, I wouldn't have supported the resolution," said Jones, who had coined the term "freedom fries" as a show of support for the war in Iraq.

He said that if numbers are accurate that between 75,000 and 100,000 Iraqis have been trained as soldiers and police, then it's approaching time for the country to start defending itself.

Jones said he has sent letters to families of fallen troops. He's also met with family members of troops killed in Iraq, including with Cindy Sheehan, the California woman who was sitting outside President Bush's ranch in Texas to protest the war.
Before dissecting the resolution or speculating on how the White House will ignore it, I ask you to pause. Remember that the anti-war movement, like every thing worth fighting for, will succeed cumulatively. Every voice of opposition is a Good Thing. Every member of Congress who opposes Fearless Leader is doing the right thing. The chorus demanding an end to the war gets louder, others gain courage to add their own voice, and one day, one bright day in the future, we will have grown too large to ignore.

support our magnets

Ted Rall is so cool. I love his unapologetic bluntness, his unfiltered rage. I have little patience for watering down a message in order to placate the opposition. We're supposed to declare our revulsion for abortion while supporting reproductive rights, and we're supposed to "support our troops" while opposing the war - because god forbid we should piss off the all-important "center". I think Ted Rall has the right idea.
If America is truly on a war footing," Thom Shanker asks in the New York Times, "why is so little sacrifice asked of the nation at large?" Military recruiters are coming up short of volunteers, yet neither party is pushing for a draft. No one is proposing a tax increase to cover the $60 billion annual cost of the Iraq and Afghan wars. There are no World War II-style war bond drives, no victory gardens, not even gas rationing. Back here in the fatherland, only "support our troops" car ribbons indicate that we're at war--and they aren't even bumper stickers, they're magnetic. Apparently Americans aren't even willing to sacrifice the finish on their automobiles to promote the cause.

"Nobody in America is asked to sacrifice, except us," the paper quotes an officer who just returned from a year in rose-petal-paved Iraq. "[Symbolic signs of support are] just not enough," grumbles a brigadier general. "There has to be more," he demands. "The absence of a call for broader national sacrifice in a time of war has become a near constant topic of discussion among officers and enlisted personnel," the general claims.

Northwestern University professor Charles Moskos says: "The political leaders are afraid to ask the public for any real sacrifice, which doesn't speak too highly of the citizenry."

To which I say: Screw that. It's not my duty to suffer for this pointless war. I've been against it all along, and you can stick your victory garden where the desert sun can't penetrate.
Rall closes with this advice:
If you voted for Bush, here's your chance to plant your butt where your ridiculous car magnet is, smack dab in the middle of the Sunni Triangle. Good luck.
Read his column here, or if it's no longer current, here on Common Dreams.


some canadian news

The Canadian Medical Association supported a resolution saying that patients should be able to use private health insurance if they can't get necessary medical care quickly enough. This sounded like very big news; however, when I read the whole article, it seems a little less so.
President-elect Dr. Ruth Collins-Nakai disputed that the medical association is endorsing private health care, as critics have charged.

The primary concern of physicians of Canada is that patients have timely access to quality care based on need, not ability to pay, said Collins-Nakai, a pediatric cardiologist in Edmonton.

Every resolution passed reflected the frustration of physicians not being able to provide that timely access to care that they so want for their patients, she said.

"Delegates have said clearly that they believe the best solution is to provide that type of access is through a public health-care system," she added.

Doctors have also adopted a list of "benchmark wait times," she noted. The list puts limited on how long patients should have to wait for key medical services such as cardiac care, cancer treatment or MRIs.

Nakai-Collins noted the motion on private health insurance that passed today merely reflects a recent Supreme Court decision, which upheld the right of Quebecers to turn to private health insurance if the public system fails them.

But she added: "Our feeling is that if the public system fails to provide timely care, then patients need to have alternatives.

"And one of those alternatives may be the private sector," she said, stressing the word 'may'.

In a story from ALPF (thanks, buddy!), I learned how David Wilkins, the new US Ambassador to Canada, got his job. The answer won't shock you. Indeed, it's the American way. Globe and Mail story here.

cindy sheehan vigils

While I was wining and dining with my siblings, thousands of Americans were standing together in support of Cindy Sheehan. Perhaps some of you were among them.

I'm very sorry I wasn't able to participate in a vigil, and I'll be looking for news about the effort. Here are some other ways we can support Sheehan's efforts to end the war:

Sign the Stand With Cindy petition.

Get some Support Cindy Sheehan buttons and stickers. Visibility is important. If people feel less alone, they are more likely to speak out against the war.

With United For Peace and Justice, you can help organize the September 24 March on Washington.

If you are in school or have a child of school age, you can support counter-recruitment efforts. Here are some resources:

Student Peace Action Network

Youth and The Military

Code Pink's counter-recruitment efforts

And here is an article from the War Resisters League about the counter-recruitment movement.

sibling dinner

I used to organize an annual event called the Sibling Dinner, where my sister and brother and their respective spouses would come over our place for dinner. When Allan and I started working on weekends, this got a bit unwieldy, although we managed to keep it up for a year or two more. After a while, because of all our differing schedules, the Sibling Dinner became too complicated, and I stopped trying to bring the six of us together. (Although we all see each other in various combinations, whenever possible.)

Last night was the last of the New York Sibling Dinners. My brother and sister-in-law (who needs no in-law qualification, we have known each other since I was 13), my sister and her husband (who is also a very old friend of mine), and Allan and I, had dinner at this lovely restaurant in Ft. Tryon Park, which is our backyard. (Thank you, Bette Midler!) We sat in the patio garden, drank much wine, and thoroughly enjoyed each other's company.

It was a tough goodbye. My sister especially was very emotional, and I found myself doing something I hate when people do to me: saying, "Don't be sad". Of course she said, "I am sad." Which made me realize what I was doing, so I replied, "Well then be sad." She and I are very close, and of course we always will be, no matter where we live. But hey, this is big for us, and it was an occasion to shed a tear.

My sister-in-law (who reads wtmc!) and my brother may one day follow our path and live in Vancouver. We shall see. Meanwhile I'll expect to see everyone in Port Credit, and in New York or New Jersey when we visit.

I feel very fortunate to have family that I both like and love. I certainly couldn't say that about all my family all my life. Like many people, I've had my share of familial difficulties. But the six of us who had dinner tonight love each other and enjoy each other's company as friends, which is really special.

Now it's 3:00 a.m. After sleeping a few hours, I'm wide awake, which happens to me when I drink a lot of wine. Buster wandered in, looking for me, and is now sleeping beside my desk.

Buster's doing really well, by the way. He's already gained a bit of weight back, and he seems to have stabilized, thanks to an array of medications. The vet makes sure I understand that we are not out of the woods in the long-term. But the short-term looks good, and I'm grateful for that.


goodbye to brooklyn

We had a lovely day in Brooklyn yesterday, courtesy of cooler weather. I wouldn't have attempted these plans in last week's 98-degree heat and high humidity.

Our first stop was the Green-Wood Cemetery, a historic cemetery in the Sunset Park section of Brooklyn, and a must for Brooklyn fans and New York history enthusiasts. It's a huge, rambling, serene park, where many famous people are buried, and with monuments, statues and tombs designed by famous artists and architects. One part of Green-Wood is the highest land point in Brooklyn, from which you can see New York Harbor and Manhattan skyline. As you walk around, you can often glimpse the Statue of Liberty in the distance.

I ordered some self-guided walking tour books for the occasion. If you ever visit, I highly recommend picking up at least one of these books. The cemetery is vast, there are more than 50,000 monuments, and you would never find the interesting bits on your own.

In fact, if you check out that link with the books, the cover of the first one shows the brownstone entrance gates, built in 1861. The second cover is a statue of Minerva. If you stand beside Minerva and follow the angle of her salute, you will see that she is hailing Lady Liberty across the Harbor.

Because the cemetery dates back to the mid-19th Century, the honor roll of burials is full of Industrial Era magnates and robber barons. Some of them are: F.A.O. Schwarz, the German immigrant who founded what became the world-famous toy store; Louis Tiffany; Elias Howe, inventor of the sewing machine; Thomas Underwood of typewriter fame; Eberhard Faber of pencil fame (the first man to put an eraser at the end of the pencil); Horace Greeley, the progressive newspaper magnate; James Bennett, his opposite, the Rupert Murdoch of his day; De Witt Clinton, who did just about everything in New York State, including having the Erie Canal built; Nathaniel Currier and James Ives; William Marcy "Boss" Tweed; and Al Capone's boss. This is a very small and partial list.

Our favorite grave was definitely that of Henry Chadwick, "the father of baseball". As the inventor of the scoring system and the box score, Chadwick is clearly Allan's spiritual godfather. Fans of baseball history (and cool trivia) can read Allan's excellent post about Chadwick. For the rest of you, here are some pictures of Chadwick's monument, placed at Green-Wood by Charles Ebbets, long-time owner of the Brooklyn Dodgers, who is buried nearby.

brooklyn day 001
Note the baseball diamond and bases in front of the monument.

brooklyn day 003

brooklyn day 002

brooklyn day 004

Here's another cool monument from Green-Wood: to Fannie the Dog. I hope you can read the inscription.

brooklyn day 011

brooklyn day 010

This was a terrific historical walking tour. We both like cemeteries, I'm into Victorian-era history, and it's a beautiful park with great views.

After our long walk, we headed to DiFara, which I blogged about here. I can't say enough about Dominick DeMarco. I have such respect for this man, crafting pizza by hand in his tiny shop on Avenue J. The pizza is incredible, but we don't travel more than an hour by subway just for the pizza. To eat at DiFara is to experience simple, authentic greatness. Plus this is how I bribed Allan to do the walking tour with me. He enjoyed the walk, but with the lure of DiFara, I could have gotten just about anything.

brooklyn day 015
A Brooklyn pizza joint, circa 1964.

brooklyn day 024
Basil, rosemary and oregano growing in the windows. He grows his own.

brooklyn day 017

brooklyn day 019
Grating chunks of Romano by hand. That's a huge piece of Romano cheese to the right of the grater. Check out that ancient cash register.

brooklyn day 018

brooklyn day 022
The man himself, Mr. Dominick DeMarco.

brooklyn day 023
A photo on the wall of Dom when he first opened DiFara.
The walls are adorned with framed rave reviews, including a terrific picture of Dom on the cover of the Village Voice, for their Best Italian Restaurant story.

After pizza, we headed to Park Slope, where we used to live. In my backpack were little ziplock bags with handfuls of ashes: some of the remains of Gypsy and Clyde. Allan wanted to scatter them in Prospect Park. So I am not the only romantic around here.

After that, a walk down our old street (which looks a lot like this and this), a couple of beers, and back home.


one last tourism day

I'm taking another exploring day, the last one, I think, while I'm still living here.

Allan and I are spending the day in Brooklyn, where I first lived when I moved to the city on my own, and where we first lived together when Allan moved down from Vermont. There's something I always wanted to do there, and never got around to...

Allan also wants to visit Prospect Park, where our first dogs used to romp. Gypsy would drag me up the hill to the Park, choking herself (this was before we discovered the Halti). As soon as we stepped foot in the Park, I'd let her off the leash and she'd streak away, up and over the hills, a disappearing speck, until she was completely out of sight. Some minutes later she'd come circling back, still racing at top speed. Later, after we found Clyde, Gypsy would prevent her from running too far away or getting lost. Our girls. They were the best.

the girls

is jesus in your mailbox?

For god's sake let him out!
. . . "Jesus" has come to be viewed by many evangelical Christians as a singularly modern tool for spreading the Gospel. It speaks, though without special effects or quick editing, to a populace fluent in Hollywood. It comes in multiple languages on one disc. It concludes with a "salvation prayer" the viewer can recite with the narrator. Its local distributors consider it so effective that millions of dollars have already been spent toward the goal of delivering a copy to every household in the United States, as if it were free trial software from America Online. [Emphasis mine.]

The ministry overseeing this operation, the Jesus Video Project America, calls the mass mailings "saturation evangelism." Since 1992, 20 million copies have been sent out on DVD and videotape, blanketing Alabama, Hawaii and South Carolina and large swaths of Ohio and Texas, with smatterings in the rest of the states. County-by-county distribution in North Carolina is well under way. If the current rate continues, it might take until 2040 or beyond to reach every home.
If I found a copy of this video in my mailbox, I would go ballistic. Fucking ballistic. I detest proselytizing. And in this case, I wouldn't even have the chance to make a snarky comment and shut the door in someone's face!

I recently ordered some supplements from the Vitamin Shoppe. When my order arrived, it included a free "gift": a religious diet book. Double whammy!! Why do you assume I am dieting, and get your god the fuck outta my house. I wrote to the company to voice my displeasure and to note how stupid they were to send anything with religious overtones. It's sure to offend many customers, and best kept out of any business, I would think. Naturally I told them I'm no longer shopping with them. Along with their apology and explanation, they sent a $25 gift certificate - which I promptly used, making that my last Vitamin Shoppe order. Call me a hypocrite, but I'm not throwing $25 worth of vitamins away.

Back to Jesus In Your Mailbox.
A turning point came when a doctor in Birmingham, Ala., Robert Cosby, bought 1.7 million copies and mailed them in 1998 to every household in Alabama, although he "wasn't very impressed" when he saw the film.

"I mean, it was a nice film," Mr. Cosby recalled the other day, speaking by telephone from his home. "I would say it was moderately good."

The mailing included Mr. Cosby's home address and telephone number. One day, he said, he found a copy of the video in his front yard with a note that said, "Jesus has returned."

That has not been the only rejection. Over the years, the effort, which began using direct mail after Alabama, has been criticized by people who objected to Jesus' being played by a white actor, or who said the money could be better spent on the poor, or who felt that the mailings were unwelcome proselytizing. Perhaps the most vigorous objections came in 2000, when a mailing was done in Palm Beach County, Fla. Thousands of videos in heavily Jewish West Palm Beach were returned, some taped to bricks in hopes that the sender would have to pay the postage, according to news reports.

Of course the organizers of this stupid project say the video is "simply a gift that the recipients can choose to view or not" - just as evangelicals say they're not trying to convince you, they're just "talking about their faith".

To that I say, what do you take me for? If you were not trying to convince anyone of anything, you'd go about your worship without ever talking about it. But you are talking about it, because you believe your faith is better than mine. That is, you believe you are better than me, and I should become more like you! Can you even for one minute imagine how galling that is?

The arrogance of evangelism astounds me. I cannot imagine trying to convince anyone that their religious beliefs are wrong. What right do I have? What business is it of mine? But these people believe it is their right (their duty?) to do the same to me.


Oh yeah, New York Times story here.


There's a new website that pulls together hundreds of thousands of progressive blogs from the US, and indexes them by state. I'm a bit skeptical about these types of sites - there seem to be so many of them, and they're so easily lost in the vastness of the blogosphere. But hey, what I do know. Many people might find them very helpful. This one is certainly well designed and easy to use.

Interested parties are directed to LeftyBlogs. The site even has a blog about itself. How meta can you get. Enjoy!


the future

Guess what this is?!

this week in buster

Man, am I getting antsy.

I have a few plans this week, and since the massive heat wave broke, I'll actually be able to enjoy them. Mostly, we're taking care of a zillion niggling details and running down the clock.

Everyone is asking if we've started packing. The answer is no. I didn't want to drag it out for weeks. We're going to make an all-out push and do it all next week. Our bookshelves are completely bricked in with empty boxes, and our bubble wrap, tape, and other equipment are all lined up and ready to go.

Today we take Buster for his every-other-month eye checkup, pick up more meds for his brutalized intestines, and learn how to give injections. We start him on Prednisone today, and if you've ever been on it, you know we're in for a rough week. Cortisone is a miracle drug, but it comes with plenty of side effects. B will be voraciously hungry, voraciously thirsty, and will want to pee constantly. Should be fun. But believe me, I am not complaining. The ulcer medication seems to be helping, and the Prednisone might bring everything under control. I'm grateful and relieved.

Have a good day, everyone. I'll check in with comments later.

plain english

Paul Krugman, the standard-bearer for truth at the New York Times, reportedly has been waging an ongoing battle with his editors to run his column without sugar coating. Word has it that the big sticking point is the word "lie". Apparently it's not seemly for a columnist at that grand old bastion of newsprint to write that the President of the United States lies.

Krugman snuck it in today's column, with a tweak to his editors:
Many pundits and editorial boards still give Mr. Bush credit for trying to "reform" Social Security. In fact, Mr. Bush came to bury Social Security, not to save it. Over time, the Bush plan would have transformed Social Security from a social insurance program into a mutual fund, with nothing except a name in common with the system F.D.R. created.

In addition to misrepresenting his goals, Mr. Bush repeatedly lied about the current system. Oh, I'm sorry - was that a rude thing to say? Still, the fact is that Mr. Bush repeatedly said things that were demonstrably false and that his staff must have known were false. The falsehoods ranged from his claim that Social Security is unfair to African-Americans to his claim that "waiting just one year adds $600 billion to the cost of fixing Social Security."
I thought Mr Krugman might like some help for his next column, so I looked up "lie" in Webster's New World Roget's A-Z Thesaurus. The word lie has four general categories: to utter an untruth, to be situated, to be prostrate, to assume a prostrate position. Although President Moron probably spends far too much time in a prostrate position, I'd rather not think about that. For "to utter an untruth", Roget's lists these synonyms:
falsify, prevaricate, fib, tell a lie, equivocate, fabricate, [here come some goodies] deceive, mislead, misinform, misrepresent, exaggerate, distort, misstate, misspeak, concoct, tell a falsehood, be untruthful, forswear, be a liar, dupe, pervert [oo, use this one!], slant, twist, overstate, embellish, embroider, overdraw, bear false witness [I understand god gets you for that one], say one thing and mean another, dissimulate, dissemble, perjure oneself, delude, malign, invent, manufacture, make up, trump up [alternate meaning: to have a bad hair day], palter [a new word for me - cool!], beguile [Mr Krugman, please don't use this one], tell a white lie [not to be confused with white men telling lies], stretch the truth, spin a long yarn, bull, make out of whole cloth [can they make WMDs out of cloth?].
While you're thinking of others, read Krugman's excellent column here.


memo to w: it's over

In today's New York Times, Frank Rich writes: "Someone Tell The President the War is Over".
Like the Japanese soldier marooned on an island for years after V-J Day, President Bush may be the last person in the country to learn that for Americans, if not Iraqis, the war in Iraq is over. "We will stay the course," he insistently tells us from his Texas ranch. What do you mean we, white man?

A president can't stay the course when his own citizens (let alone his own allies) won't stay with him. The approval rate for Mr. Bush's handling of Iraq plunged to 34 percent in last weekend's Newsweek poll - a match for the 32 percent that approved L.B.J.'s handling of Vietnam in early March 1968. (The two presidents' overall approval ratings have also converged: 41 percent for Johnson then, 42 percent for Bush now.) On March 31, 1968, as L.B.J.'s ratings plummeted further, he announced he wouldn't seek re-election, commencing our long extrication from that quagmire.

But our current Texas president has even outdone his predecessor; Mr. Bush has lost not only the country but also his army. Neither bonuses nor fudged standards nor the faking of high school diplomas has solved the recruitment shortfall. Now Jake Tapper of ABC News reports that the armed forces are so eager for bodies they will flout "don't ask, don't tell" and hang on to gay soldiers who tell, even if they tell the press.
Read the rest here.

cindy sheehan in her own words

We Have the Power
By Cindy Sheehan

My day started way too early today. After 3 hours of sleep, I was being shaken awake by someone at 6:30 a.m. telling me that the Today show wanted me to be on. I had come into town to sleep in a trailer because my tent had been infested with fire ants.

We had a very interesting day. We had Bush drive by really, really fast twice. I caught a glimpse of Laura. I was hoping after she saw me that she would come down to Camp Casey with some brownies and lemonade. I waited for her, but she never came.

The Bushes were going to a barbeque/fundraiser down the road from us. I was very surprised that they let us stay so close to Bush. The families of the fallen loved ones held their son's crosses from Arlington West while Bush drove by. I bet it didn't even give him indigestion to see so many people protesting his murderous policies.

I am a continued thorn in the side of right-wing bloggers and right wing-nut "journalists." One man, Phil Hendry, called me an "ignorant cow." But you know what, the people who have come out from all over the country to give me a hug and support the cause of peace, overwhelms me so much, I don't have time to worry about the negativity and the hatred. The people who are slamming me have no idea about what it feels like to unjustly have a child killed in an insane war. Plus, they have no truth to fight truth with, so they fight truth with more lies and hate.

Three active duty soldiers from Ft. Hood came to visit me and tell me that they really appreciated what I was doing and that if they were killed in the war, their moms would be doing the same thing. That made me feel so good after all of the negativity I had been hearing from the righties. I also got to hold a couple of toddlers on my lap while their mom or dad took pictures of us. I am honored that people have resonated with the action that I took to make our mission of ending the war a reality.

We are here at the Crawford Peace House now. I came here so angry and I have been so encouraged and overwhelmed by the support from all over. I was thinking that there is no reason for us progressive liberals to be angry anymore. We have the power. One mom has shown that ordinary citizens can make a difference. We the people have to hold George Bush accountable. We have to make sure he answers to us. If he doesn't have to answer to Congress, or the media, we will force him to answer to us.
From HuffingtonPost via Common Dreams.


a rabbi and a priest walk into a bar

That's what I get for being too busy to visit your blogs. I almost missed this great joke, brought to us by Crabletta.

Go! Read! Laugh!

standing with cindy sheehan

I haven't blogged about Cindy Sheehan in a long time. I can't add much to what's already being said about her in the blogosphere. I'm just overwhelmed with admiration for Sheehan's courage and tenacity. She is the broken, beating heart of a movement. As my friend NN wrote to me recently, we need 10,000 more like her. Which means we all have to join her.

Our own AndyM did a really nice post about Sheehan and her cause, as did Crabletta.

Here's some other good coverage:

From Salon, "Smearing Cindy Sheehan", from Ariana Huffington, "It Takes a Village to Smear Cindy Sheehan", and from Normon Solomon in ZNet, "Sheehan Bush and Dean".

And in case you missed it, here is Sheehan's own story, which (along with many of you) I posted in April. Her organization can be found here.

what i'm reading

Nothing! I can't read. I can't concentrate. The most I can manage is a magazine or newspaper story. I try to read a book and end up staring at the page, getting up to do something, sitting down, reading one sentence, getting up, flipping the pages... My fibromyalgia causes low concentration, but I'm not having a flare-up. I'm having brain overload. Anticipation overload. Head buzzing with so many things to do overload. Reading is out of the question. "Dallas" is more my speed right now.

Today I'm submitting to reality and returning all library books.

I'd also like to issue a blanket apology, retroactively and in advance, to anyone I may snap at in comments. I'm trying really hard to be even-tempered, but sometimes finding my foibles, um, foibling to the surface more than I would like. Mostly if I'm irritated I can just avoid the situation, but sometimes, well, you know.

One more thing. Remember the essay I am trying to get published? James asked if I had looked into Canadian publications. Yay James - I had not! (Why not, you ask? Good question.) Looking around online, I discovered that Macleans has a personal essay column called "Over To You", and sent it in.

Drumroll please... The editor loved the essay. But. The but is they had already committed to a 9/11-themed piece. She said "Frankly, I wish we had waited." Drat! If only I had discovered their column sooner. However, next year is the fifth anniversary of 9/11. Rather than try to rework the piece with another peg or theme, I'm going to keep it as-is and resubmit it everywhere next year. Thank you all for your help with this.

liberation and occupation

Alan With One L sent me this great piece by Howard Zinn from yesterday's Guardian. (Thank you! And thanks to your sister for sending it to you...) This morning I notice it's up on Common Dreams.

Mr Zinn writes:
My country is in the grip of a president surrounded by thugs in suits

It has quickly become clear that Iraq is not a liberated country, but an occupied country. We became familiar with that term during the second world war. We talked of German-occupied France, German-occupied Europe. And after the war we spoke of Soviet-occupied Hungary, Czechoslovakia, eastern Europe. It was the Nazis, the Soviets, who occupied countries. The United States liberated them from occupation.

Now we are the occupiers. True, we liberated Iraq from Saddam Hussein, but not from us. Just as in 1898 we liberated Cuba from Spain, but not from us. Spanish tyranny was overthrown, but the US established a military base in Cuba, as we are doing in Iraq. US corporations moved into Cuba, just as Bechtel and Halliburton and the oil corporations are moving into Iraq. The US framed and imposed, with support from local accomplices, the constitution that would govern Cuba, just as it has drawn up, with help from local political groups, a constitution for Iraq. Not a liberation. An occupation.

And it is an ugly occupation. . . .

But more ominous, perhaps, than the occupation of Iraq is the occupation of the US. I wake up in the morning, read the newspaper, and feel that we are an occupied country, that some alien group has taken over. I wake up thinking: the US is in the grip of a president surrounded by thugs in suits who care nothing about human life abroad or here, who care nothing about freedom abroad or here, who care nothing about what happens to the earth, the water or the air, or what kind of world will be inherited by our children and grandchildren.

. . .

Our faith is that human beings only support violence and terror when they have been lied to. And when they learn the truth, as happened in the course of the Vietnam war, they will turn against the government. We have the support of the rest of the world. The US cannot indefinitely ignore the 10 million people who protested around the world on February 15 2003.

There is no act too small, no act too bold. The history of social change is the history of millions of actions, small and large, coming together at points in history and creating a power that governments cannot suppress.
It's an excellent piece. You can read it here.


buster news

The biopsies came back. No lymphoma cells. Hooray hooray!

Medical details for those who are interested.

It's definitely inflammatory bowel disease, which is causing a malabsorption syndrome, meaning Buster's system has not been absorbing nutrients properly. Even though he's eating, he's malnourished. His Vitamin B levels and pancreatic function are extremely low. Normal B12 levels for a dog are 600-700. Buster's are 150. Normal pancreatic enzyme levels: 20-30. Buster: 5.

In addition to a full course of Prednisone for the inflamed intestines, we'll be giving him Vitamin B12 injections. That is, I'll be giving Buster injections while Allan holds his head. Only one of us is brave about those kinds of things. The vet is going to teach me how to do this, but Dogsled_Stacie, if you have any tips or tricks, I'd be happy to know them.

The doc is hoping that if the intestines get healthier, the pancreas will come along for the ride. We'll have his pancreatic functions checked in a month, and if they've improved, we'll continue the same course. If they haven't, we'll start giving him pancreatic enzymes, too. I don't know what the pancreas does, but it seems one cannot live without it.

The doc is also researching veterinary internists in the T.O. area.

Here's the best news of the day. Of the week. Of the year. With the proper treatment, Buster can live a normal life span.

I'm all teary-eyed again, but this time with relief.

i have my first rogers cable experience

This is hilarious. But only because it ended well.

A month ago, I set up an appointment with Rogers for the day after we arrive. Since internet, VOIP phone and baseball all depend on cable, we wanted to get it going as soon as possible.

The Rogers representative was amazingly helpful and efficient, especially as compared with the dolts at Time Warner of New York City. She was also Canadian, and I find that it's very helpful to deal with local people when trying to Get Things Done. Everything went very smoothly and I was happy.

Recently we've been hashing through various decisions on what to bring with us, what to buy there, what to buy here and ship up there with the movers, etc. Boring but necessary details and decisions. Because of some of these, we decided to change the time of our cable appointment, to make it earlier in the day.

I called Rogers this morning.

There was no record of our August 31 appointment.

After some research, the representative - also extremely friendly and helpful - located the problem. The appointment was never scheduled for August 31. It was scheduled for August 8.

We are moving to xxx Street South. On August 7, Rogers disconnected cable service at xxx Street North, then showed up to connect "our" service on August 8. Except we weren't living there, and never will be. The good folks at xxx Street North lost their cable service and had to start all over!

Rogers supposedly "attempted to contact us," but we have voice mail and never got a call from them.

If I hadn't called to change the time of the appointment, come August 31 - the day after our 12-hour drive - we would have waited for cable to show up, only they never would have.

I'm finding this very amusing, but also very ominous. Toronto is not very different from New York in this respect. Here's I'm hoping they really do show up at our house on August 31.