Scott Chisholm Lamont, RN.

* Nurse * Activist * Tree-hugger * Bon-vivant * Poet * Priest * Pain in the hind end *

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Blogs I Follow:

Alas! A blog
Swerve Left

Rod 2.0: beta
The Wildhunt Blog
Sadly, No!
Canadian Cynic
Pinko Feminist Hellcat
Where We're Bound
Left is Right
Beware of the dogma
Rebecca Hartong
Kate’s Ramblings
Crooks and Liars
Stupid Evil Bastard

Nursing Blogs:

Head Nurse
Zanta HCl
Misadventurous Melissa
Nurse Sean

Friend's Blogs:

Marianne's Stand Up Comedy Appearances
Dave Hoover
Lotus Walk
The Jester's Melancholy
Kali's Cabana
Ripple Effect

Favourite Links:

The Witchvox List of Blogs
American Nurs Assoc
Canadian Nurs Assoc
Witches Voice
Covenant of the Goddess
Silver Moon Health Services
Our Lady of the Woods


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colour portrait photo of Scott
Guess what skyline is in the background.

A brief bio:

Scott Chisholm Lamont, BSN, RN, CCRN, CFRN, ENC(C) is a pediatric critical care nurse and flight nurse with over 23 years of health care experience, including 16 years as an RN.  A graduate of the Mount Royal College Nursing Program, he has completed formal education in trauma and cardiovascular critical care, and holds both adult and pediatric critical care certification.  He is currently on leave from the University of California, San Francisco School of Nursing, where he is a doctoral student in the Department of Community Health Systems under the advisement of Dr. Jean Ann Seago. During his break he is busily trying to get papers written for his qualifying exams in hopes of advancing to candidacy. His research interest is system of care effects on patient safety, particularly the relationship between nurses' cognitive workload and threats to patient safety.

Prior to beginning his graduate studies, he practiced in Albuquerque, NM at the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center as a Specialty Nurse III at the Children's Hospital.  After working for several years in the PICU, he headed up the Pediatric Pain Team and worked at the Children’s Hospital Heart Center.  He also held a joint appointment at the College of Nursing as an Adjunct Clinical Lecturer. He is curently back at UNM Hospitals, serving as the Emergency/Trauma Clinical Educator and as a pediatric clinical instructor for the College of Nursing, teaching senior students on their complex client rotation.

While attending UCSF full time, Scott lived on an island in the Bay and served as an adjunct lecturer and clinical instructor at Dominican University of California Department of Nursing. He maintained a clinical practice as a per diem pediatric palliative care nurse for a home hospice program called Comfort for Kids, based in Pleasant Hill, Contra Costa County, CA.

Scott Lamont is a published poet and author, including works in anthologies, nursing text books, and spoken word on radio. He holds credentials as clergy through the Covenant of the Goddess, is the High Priest of Circle of the Winter Moon, and teaches leadership topics such as conflict resolution and consensus facilitation for Ardantane. He lives in the high desert with his wife and daughter, and the two cats that run their lives.

A bit more about me:

Scott and Doug at peace march

In case there are any doubts about my political and philosophical inclinations, here I am with my good friend Doug Haigh at one of the first major peace marches in San Francisco in the period leading up to the most recent invasion of Iraq by the Bush dynasty. You can find my signature on both the original and more recent Not In Our Name "STATEMENT OF CONSCIENCE AGAINST WAR AND REPRESSION". I'm proud to say that I'm not the only Lamont on there, and the Lambs and Lamberts are septs of and therefore also members of Clan Lamont. I have also supported efforts to have him tried for crimes against humanity, and to protest his administration's manipulation of science (strikingly similar to the manipulation of inteligence before the war, don't you think?). So yeah, I'm a pacifist. A tree-hugging, touchy-feely, bleeding-heart queer-boy pacifist at that. I would like people to follow the examples offered by the likes of Ghandi, King, and even Lester B. Pearson, who amongst other things created the concept of the peacekeeping force and while Prime Minister implemented the world's first race-free, points-based immigration system.

Oh, yes - I am Canadian.

I try, within the constraints of time available to me, to keep politically and socially active. I am a member of the Canadian Green Party, support organizations like the Sierra Club and the Bioneers, participate in interfaith diologue as a member of the Covenant of the Goddess, advocate for queer rights, and volunteer for many worthwhile causes in the Albuquerque area. Probably one of the most important things, in my opinion, is to try and protect the environment we live in and depend on. To that end, my wife Shara and I are interested in sustainability and restoration through practices like permaculture, intentional community in the form of ecovillages, alternative energy sources, decreasing the impact of automobiles in our lives and upon our landscape, and alternative building methods that use natural or reclaimed materials and merge old and new technologies, such as Earthships, cob, and strawbale.

However, my big thing is nursing, which sort of spills over into everything else - you know, things like healthy homes, healthy food, healthy societies, healthy conflict resolution. I guess I find it hard to believe that any good can come of shooting others full of bullet holes (including children who wind up as "collateral damage") when I've treated people, including children, who have been shot. I've seen the damage it does, and how far the pain spreads.

Perhaps being enthusiastic about starting wars is a family trait? I wonder if Jeb will want a crack at Iraq too? Or perhaps the twins? Maybe the Bushes should spend some time in the ER.

Yeah, like that's going to happen....


Latest Pages Added:

September 12, 2006: I was honoured to be asked by the UNM Mariposa Team to deliver the address (a homily, really) for the annual UNM Children's Hospital Memorial. I have posted the text of my speech in the Spiritual section of my site.

March 10, 2006: Based on a request for an inservice at UNM Children's Hospital on Pagan faiths and their spiritual needs, I've posted a teaching handout on the basics of modern Paganism. It is focused on the needs of the dying and their families, as it was originally presented to the pediatric hospice program, but I may modify it to reflect Pagan beliefs about other life transitions.

March 2, 2006: Due in part to a conflict that has erupted in the Albuquerque area Pagan community, I have posted some new pages in my spiritual section of this site, in hopes that they might be a resource not only to folks in my community, but in communities anywhere that experience conflicts. First, I've started a page with some thoughts, tidbits, and essays on community and how to support peaceful and inclusive spiritual communities. Second, I have posted a model of communication styles based on the five sacred elements of creation that I developed with my friend Tehom for a course last year.

September 16, 2005: I've posted some presentations I've given on various nursing topics. You can find the links here under "Latest Pages Added" for the nursing section.

May 26, 2005: The vastly delayed first edition of my nursing podcast is up and available. The server the audio files are stored on is a little twitchy at the moment (but free, so within my budget), so if you can't get the .mp3 to load right away, try again in a few minutes. (I've updated this link to reflect that it now has it's own website)

May 5, 2005: I have posted an essay on the concept of professional autonomy. This was a concept analysis I wrote for one of my doctoral courses on nursing theory. It needs re-writing, but I thought that it was still worth sharing even though it is a work in progress.

Apr 28, 2005: I have posted an advice sheet I created for my students on how to effectively study for and write exams. I hope anyone who is faced with writing exams finds it useful (and it is certainly the time of year that many are faced with exams!). I am also working on developing a page about nursing documentation and standardized nursing classification language.

Apr 18, 2005: I have posted the graduation speech I made on behalf of the RN to BSN grads at the UNM College of Nursing December 2001 ceremony. I think it has some points worth thinking about regarding the challenges facing nursing and nurses over the next decade. I have also started work on the page that will be hosting the very first nursing podcast available on the web: The Nursing Station. I will post here when the first edition is ready to download.

Jan 28, 2005: More poetry posted, the first of my short stories, and an Imbolc ritual and some sample quarter calls, some initial environmental links posted, and an article on nurses and unions. Not too shabby, but there is plenty more that I want to get posted.

Dec 21, 2004: Some of my published nursing poetry is up along with a couple of related links in my poetry section. I've also started to work on my spirituality page, mainly getting some links up and my clergy profile from the Witches Voice.

Dec 9, 2004: I've finally gotten some of my older poetry up in my writing section. They are posted as .PDF files, so you will need Adobe Reader to view them.

Dec 1, 2004: I've posted a beginning page on consensus process and my interest and involvement in it. More to come.

Coming Soon:

Dec 7, 2004: I will be posting some information on nurse-patient ratios that I found in my meta-analysis class last quarter - look here for a note when it is up.


Wingnut Site of the Week:

Just because there are so many strange and tortured websites out there, offered by people who seem to be able to merge hysteria, misinformation, and mean-spiritedness into incoherent, steaming piles of HTML, it seemed only reasonable (and amusing) to offer you a link to whatever site has caught my eye each week.

Jan 14, 2005: Last Stop

Here is a site that delights in telling you all the reasons you (yes, you!) will be going to HELL. I've got a long list of them, it seems. Queers are at the top of the list (of course), followed closely by Pagans. Strangely enough, no mention of those who eat shellfish or wear cotton/polyester blends. Does, however, include a long list of descriptions and visions of HELL. I'm not too worried, though, since I have a way out.

Jan 7, 2005: Family Values Party

What can I say? It starts off like this: "At the command of OUR BELOVED HEAVENLY FATHER, I, Tom Wells, loving and obedient child of GOD, am running for Florida's First Congressional seat in the United States House of Representatives", and elsewhere details who may NOT donate money to the party (hint: don't be a fag).

Dec 23, 2004: Canadian Heritage Alliance

Oh, yes, white supremacy by any other name smells thusly rank. If you're not convinced, check out their status as a signatory to the "New Orleans Protocol", authored by none other than David Duke. Say no more.

Dec 14, 2004: Blessed Cause

This site seems to be aimed at saving "our" children from sex education, the "radical homosexual agenda" (we also have a secret handshake, but I'm not allowed to show it to you), and Islam, not necessarily in that order. Of particular note, the author spends plenty of time detailing the various horrible things that the Koran says people should do, yet neglects to mention similar exhortations in other sacred texts (like the Bible). She also loves them gays, but despises everything about them, and doesn't want children imitating their behaviour - missing the obvious point that religion itself is a behaviour, open to the exact same kind of criticism. I certainly don't want my daughter imitating this author.


Today's Blog Entry:

Posted Monday, November 21, 2006 @ 2131 MST
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GetReligion debates Wiccan dogma.

Well, not exactly. It really started off as a critique of the lack of comprehensive coverage in an MSM article on Wicca, which is hardly surprising, since that is the focus of the website (their slogan is "the press just doesn't get religion"). Daniel Pulliam, the writer of the post is a journalist and Christian, and says in his profile that he wants to adhere to fair treatment of all subjects in his pieces. However, early on in the post he pulls a Bush and says of Wicca "if you can call it a religion", wondering what could possibly lead to the persecution some modern Pagans have experienced. The core of his piece is really asking what Wicca is, what the fuss is all about, why doesn't the article being critiqued have any real content about what it is that Pagans believe and how they practice their faith. Good questions, but not phrased in the most positive manner.

Jason Pitzl-Waters, Judy Harrow, and Chas Clifton all chime in under the comments section with some excellent points. They also recommend some really great books, including some that I have read or recently purchased. One of the more interesting threads in the comments is whether or not Wicca or Paganism have "dogma" - the answer I think boils down to some people who adhere to these faiths have adopted dogmatic stances on certain theological points, but the faiths themselves are decentralized, and in the broadest sense do not have a dogmatic theo/thealogy nor a vehicle by which to promulgate it.

Here is a little video of Wiccan images that was posted with the article - I'm not really sure why, unless it is because it really doesn't say that much about what Wicca is or how its adherents practice, which is kind of the theme of the post. Jason points out in a post on his blog that what Dan seems to be looking for is the controversy - the 'wacky' elements of Wicca - and perhaps the video is supposed to point towards that.

On a side note, GR also posts what I can only call an apologetic's approach to the Haggard thing. Sorry, but hypocrisy is the name for loudly and publicly condemning a group that you secretly belong too. Offer him compassion and try to understand how deeply conflicted he must be? Sure, but it is still hypocrisy.

BTW - if you would love to see some other charming Bush quotes, click here.

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The purpose of this blog is to post interesting, day to day tidbits that touch upon at least one of the eclectic topics of my pages, ranging from nursing to politics. I will try to avoid those traps of the blogosphere, where this becomes either part of an echo chamber or the posts are so self-involved that they aren't worth your time to read. Mainly, I am hoping to get people to think a little, maybe challenge some assumptions. I will also try to watch my spelling while I'm at it.

Comments? Thoughts? Rants about my rants? You can use the convenient comment tabs found at the top of each item, and I promise to read them and to leave them up for others to read (within reason, of course - plain old flames are boring, and I'm not going to waste server space on them). If you just want to say something to me, you can e-mail me.

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Recent Blog Entries:

Posted Monday, November 20, 2006 @ 2223 MST
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Sculpture painting at Spiral Scouts.

Tonight the girls and I were off to Spiral Scouts, which meets at the local UU church. Spiral Scouts is the alternative to traditional scouting for children belonging to minority religions, particularly Earth centered faiths. I was a Boy Scout when I lived in Montreal as a kid, believe it or not, and really enjoyed it, but of course now would be banned for being Pagan and queer.

They were working on painting the sculptures they made the week before as part of their work for their Art badge. I snapped a shot with my Treo while they were setting up to do their thing (Micaela is on the left, Rhiannon, my Goddess-daughter is on the right). Very cute, and they are getting quite creative with their use of colour.

If you are interested, check out SacredSpiralKids, a nice website with "free activities for Pagan and Earth Spiritual children, homeschoolers, organizers, and teachers".

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Posted Friday, November 17, 2006 @ 0850 MST
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Oh, another Bush mistake!

The NY Times headline reads "Studies Find Danger to Forests In Thinning Without Burning", and the story is basicaly that Bush's "Healthy Forests Initiative" thinning plan (which timber companies loved) leaves too much brush and deadfall on the ground, resulting in hotter, more destructive fires. This is according to two separate U.S. Forest Service studies. So, a policy leading to more threats to lives and property. Hmmmm, that sounds familiar.....

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Posted Tuesday, November 14, 2006 @ 0858 MST
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Follow-up on the "Great Debate" - audio and video posted.

So the video and audio of my debate with an evangelical pastor last month are now online. I actually found these links about a week ago, and just have not had the time to write what I wanted to write and get it posted. I am still working on a piece reflecting on my experience of the interaction and my impression of one of the major differences in spiritual approach between Pagans (as I have come to understand them) and evangelical Christians (as I am coming, in an admittedly limited way, to understand them), which will be entitled "Faith and Certainty" - this will be linked to the post as soon as I have it done and posted.

In relation to my earlier post on the debate, I now feel better about my performance, although it is still ironic to note how little of it was about Hallowe'en, which was the supposed topic. Scott Richards posted about the debate on his blog (the site does not use permalinks, nor does it have the capability for trackback and comments - if you have something to say to him on the subject, you'll have to e-mail him directly) - scroll through his October archives to find the entry for 10/27/06.

My only beef with the whole thing, really, is the over-the-top headline they used: War of the World Views. Why did they choose to cast this in the light of "civilizations in collision" and the world in flames? The Pagans certainly have no interest in creating or perpetuating any conflict with other belief systems, and I find the easy use of war as an analogy or framework very disturbing, particularly coming from a faith that follows the "Prince of Peace". When Scott posted about the audio file coming available, he linked to the news headlines of KNKT, one of at least 2 radio stations sponsored by Calvary of Albuquerque. I'm not sure how long it will be posted there, so I thought that I would post it here for posterity:

Opposing world views clashed - in a very civilized manner - on the UNM campus recently. Pastor Scott Richards from Tucson Arizona and Scott Lamont, High Priest of the Circle of the Winter Moon, presented the different views and philosophies behind Christianity and Paganism. It was an enlightening hour of debate; one that provided a lot of food for thought for everyone in the room. Who won the debate? Well, it wasn't so much about winning as it was about Truth. Listen for yourself.

Here is the MP3 link, and here is the the video link provided by M88 on their MySpace site (this is the other radio station I alluded to above), which is offered through Google Video, not YouTube. If for any reason their MySpace site doesn't work, here is the direct Google link. The sound quality on the video is much better, so if you have the bandwidth, I recommend that.

Part of the deal was going to be that the unanswered questions were going to be sent to myself and Scott, so that we could respond in writing, and then those were going to be posted somewhere online. That hasn't happened yet, and the person I asked about it hasn't gotten back to me with an answer. I'll post again if I hear more. Regarding the "winning vs. Truth" bit in their post about the debate, well, that is going to be part of what I tackle in my upcoming post, so stay tuned.

As always, I welcome your feedback.

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Posted Monday, November 13, 2006 @ 2321 MST
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Rude Pundit goes over the edge.

"Christ Weary of Election Prayers" reads the headline. What follows is a colourfully worded rant about the Family Research Council's "Super-Duper Prayer Team", which of course the Rude One belongs to "under a nom de rude". I like his closing suggesting that the religious Right is beseeching a "micromanaging God ". My favourite old (and probably mangled) quote is that "the Goddess does not take sides in political debates or interspecies warfare". She/He/It doesn't sweat the small stuff, and we probably shouldn't either.

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Posted Friday, November 10, 2006 @ 2358 MST
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It's official - I'm a Dixie Chick fan.

Tip of the hat to Atrios over at Eschaton for this video of the Chicks playing "Ain't Ready to Make Nice". There's also some good stuff on them over at Crooks & Liars. Check out their MySpace page on the documentary coming out called "Shut Up and Sing". Sounds like NBC doesn't want to run the ad for it, but I'm sure as hell going to see it. And I've decided to buy every CD they've ever made.

Of course this has led me to search YouTube for another video to enjoy and share, so here is "The Long Way Around":

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Posted Thursday, November 9, 2006 @ 0907 MST
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In case you are living under a rock.

The Dems took the US Senate too. Maybe some sanity will be re-injected into the foreign policy of the world's one remaining super power.

Even better, maybe we won't have to listen to any more crap about a permanent Republican majority.

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Posted Monday, November 6, 2006 @ 0715 MST
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Blech - JCAHO visit this week.

You know that it is Monday when you are woken before 0700 by your boss and informed that the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JACHO) is in the house, and you get to do a home visit with a surveyor. Sigh.

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Posted Sunday, November 5, 2006 @ 2211 MST
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Dancing and drinking.

I have to admit that I stayed out way too late dancing at our annual SWEFA Witches’ Ball last night. Then some of us came back to our place and hot tubbed until well after 2am. Add my sleep deprivation from the night before (our coven Samhain, which went until well into the night, followed by Micaela getting up at something horrible like 7am), and I am wiped. Today was our nephew Cameron’s birthday party, and we did fondue and a beer tasting. Some of the beer was really good too – a new one by Unibroue from Quebec (Don de Dieu) that I have seen but not tried before, some good beers by Rogue including their tasty IPA, and an excellent Trapist style called Trappistes Rochefort.

* updated Nov 14 - external link added *

Rhythm Fish, the band that played Witches' Ball this year, has posted photos on their site, check them out here. BTW - their lead singer has a great voice (listen to this clip), kind of a cross between Melissa Etheridge and Janis Joplin.

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Posted Tuesday, October 31, 2006 @ 1401 MST
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Samhain blessings.

The joy of working for a modern and open environment like UNM Hospitals is that you get to take the day off for religious observances without a hassle - Shara and I are both home getting ready for our personal Samhain ritual, which will take place this evening after the girl is off to bed. We don't hold our coven Samhain until the end of the week (not everyone gets to take the actual date off work, so we must bow to the mundane when picking dates for celebration - technically, if you go by the Celtic Lunar calendar, Samhain isn't until the eve of the full moon anyway, which is Nov 5th).

M. Macha Nightmare sent me another great link, this time to a San Francisco Chronicle story on the famous Spiral Dance sponsored by Reclaiming that takes place in the city by the Bay every year. To quote Macha: "This has some photos of Lauren Raine’s glorious goddess masks". Thanks Macha, and a tip of the pointy hat to you.

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Posted Monday, October 30, 2006 @ 1245 MST
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Pay now or pay later.

That’s really what it comes down to when faced with the problems of environmental degradation.A WaPo article today stated that “Unchecked global warming will devastate the world economy on the scale of the world wars and the Great Depression, a major British report said Monday”. The report, which was commissioned by British Prime Minister Tony Blair, appears to be his "latest effort to enlist President Bush" to the cause of addressing human activity influenced climate change. “The author of the British report, Sir Nicholas Stern, a senior government economist, said that acting now to cut greenhouse gas emissions would cost about 1 percent of global GDP each year.”

Yet, Bush’s cronies continue to ignore the science behind environmental protection, and don’t even bother to be nice about it: Another WaPo article reports that “A senior Bush political appointee at the Interior Department has rejected staff scientists' recommendations to protect imperiled animals and plants under the Endangered Species Act at least six times in the past three years, documents show. In addition, staff complaints that their scientific findings were frequently overruled or disparaged at the behest of landowners or industry have led the agency's inspector general to look into the role of Julie MacDonald, who has been deputy assistant secretary of the interior for fish and wildlife and parks since 2004, in decisions on protecting endangered species.” Documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act revealed that MacDonald “mocked rank-and-file employees' recommendations” and the documents were “spiced by her mocking comments on their work and their frequently expressed resentment”. How charming - must be a Cheney protege.

What is the cost to the economy, and the environment upon which it depends, when we wipe out a species? We may not find out until it is too late. What is clear is that the choices we make in the forms of political and regulatory decisions will have a lasting impact on the world our children with live in.

Our own choices in things as simple as how we travel will also have an impact on the state of the world. The NY Times reports that some companies are trying to cash in on consumer awareness of how their personal choices impact climate change: “Eurostar, which runs the high-speed train service linking London to Paris and Brussels via the Channel Tunnel, has started running ads in travel trade publications asserting that a journey produces only one-tenth the carbon dioxide emissions of a comparable flight.” Once again, which politicians we support will influence how likely it is that people perceive a reasonable personal choice to exist, as all forms of travel have some level of subsidy to them. Airports, sea ports, roads, all infrastructure involving travel are subsidized in many different ways, yet rail is often the most targeted for reduction. I remember when VIA cut its Calgary to Vancouver service. It used to be almost as cheap as the bus to get from Banff to Calgary, and they had food service. It was often not convenient in terms of timing, but the train station was more conveniently located in downtown Calgary. As the government cut subsidies, choices became more limited.

"Humans are ‘bankrupting' the environment" cries a Globe and Mail headline. "The world's natural ecosystems are being degraded at a rate unprecedented in human history, and it's the first-world behemoths doing most of the damage. An international report compiled by the World Wildlife Fund has studied the impact of each nation on the environment as well as changes in the world's biodiversity. Both parts of the report deliver bad news. Despite having enough natural resources to be an “ecological debtor,” Canada came fourth on the list of nations putting the heaviest burden on the environment. The only countries with a worse ecological footprint — the per capita measurement of a nation's ecological impact — were the United Arab Emirates, thanks almost entirely to its carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels, the United States and Finland."

How to fix this problem when “research into energy technologies by both government and industry has not been rising, but rather falling”? Judging by the comments to this article on the potential dangers of extreme weather, no one in Calgary thinks it’s a problem at all.

* updated Oct 31 - external link added *

The NDP tables a bill to cap greenhouse gas emissions. “The Prime Minister's Clean Air Act is dead in the water,” Mr. Layton said at a press conference in Ottawa Tuesday. “With it, pollution will go up, not down.”

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Posted Sunday, October 29, 2006 @ 2242 MST
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Daylight savings and preschoolers.

So here's the deal with preschoolers and the time change: They don’t care about the clock. The girl was up early, and I mean early even with the 'fall back' taken into account. We had forgotten completely about it, at least until I turned on Shara's machine to scan the news. At least we had plenty of time to get ready for the Silver Moon Health Services Annual General Meeting, which we hosted here and Shara facilitated. She is a very good Formal Consensus facilitator. Now the girl is off with her 'Unca' Tristan so that we have the night off. We spent the day cleaning the house, dealing with files, and buying paint for the walls - can you tell we are married with small child? At least we got to watch an episode of 'Battlestar Galactica' tonight (we are enjoying it hugely) before posting a quick note on the way to bed.

M. Macha Nightmare sent me this link to "some good Halloween press coverage", regarding the number of books Pagans like to read and own. I counted our bookshelves:

Our bedroom - 3, with one a double, then the mini one beside Shara's side of the bed.
Living room - 3, one being a built in wall unit and the other some huge IKEA monstrosity.
Dining room & Kitchen - we used to have a big one, now the books are scattered on various shelves and the top of one wine rack.
Micaela's room - one, already hideously overcrowded.
Temple room - one, underfillled.
My office - 3 plus a half wall hanging set, completely stuffed.
Storage unit - 3 destroyed in the move, with boxes full of books longing for a home.

Yeah, that article pretty much nailed it. We are at about 15 shelves full, almost but not quite as bad as the person interviewed who had 19.

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Posted Monday, October 23, 2006 @ 2121 MDT
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Site maintenance.

So, with much effort I have finally gotten my RSS feed fixed. It has taken a long time because when I screwed it up (remember, I'm coding this stuff all by hand, no fancy software to help me out), I just didn't have the time to go redo it. So I would post, and that would take my free time, and so the feed would get further and further behind, until it became an unreasonably big job to deal with. Well, I finally dealt with it.

I'm also trying to get listed on more directories. Today I listed myself on Directory 2.0 with the following tags: Politics, Religion, Queer, Opinion, Healthcare, Nursing, Environmentalism, Wicca, Pagan, & Poetry. It has to be reviewed by a human before showing in their listing. Sigh. It takes too bloody long to find all these listing sites and then get added.

While I'm in whining mode, this has been a clunky from the get-go, so my 10 am post got up at about 8 pm. I really have to invest in some software to help this process along. Either that, or hire someone to code for me (yeah, and win the lotto while I'm at it...).

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Posted Monday, October 23, 2006 @ 1041 MDT
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How and why do you pick a label for yourself?

Callie, the Red State Exile, is guest blogging over at Pam's House Blend, and she posted this thought provoking question: What do you call yourself? Gay, lesbian, homosexual, queer, bisexual, nothing (one of those don't believe in labels people)?

The comments are really interesting, go check them out. Here is my reply:

I use queer a lot because as Callie says in the post: "queer connotates challenging or questioning the status quo. In that sense, anyone can be 'queer.'" I have many friends in the Radical Faery community, and would say I am at the fringe of that group (amusingly enough, I'm way too straight to be fae, where I once thought that I was, as on poster above put it, from Pluto), and that is a group that delights in being queer. It includes many under a big umbrella, so in my posts I will often refer to 'queer rights' or 'queer folk'.

If precision is needed, then I say I'm bi and polyamourous, which interestingly enough buys me more conflict from within the queer community than without. I've gotten the whole 'fence-sitter', 'you-just-haven't-found-the-right-man', 'that's-wussy' load of flak from folks who ironically are seeking tolerance for themselves and their friends, and the idea that you can have a committed relationship to more than one person just seems to send some of the 'family' right off the deep end. I suspect it is because so many have bought so deeply into the straight world's dream of 'committed monogamous relationships for everyone' that anyone who doesn't play along becomes a threat to their aspirations of normalcy. Like, who the fuck really wants to be normal? Have you noticed how not nice, not to mention not fun the "normal" people are?

Needless to say, someone almost immediately took umbrage to my suggestion that some queer folk might have bought too deeply into the straight world's purported norms. I'll fire something back. Like I said it is an interesting discussion - why not toss in your $0.02?

BTW - did you know this was the symbol for polyamory?

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Posted Sunday, October 22, 2006 @ 2300 MDT
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The Great Debate (or polite discussion).

I have posted nothing this week, despite the many things that I would like to write about, because I have been so busy between work, home, and preparing for a debate. We (that being the local Pagan community) were invited to participate in a debate regarding Hallowe'en on the UNM campus, hosted by The City on a Hill (which is in the old Lobo Theatre on Central) and the local Calvary Church, to be broadcast on an evangelical Christian radio station (M88), as part of a series they were doing called "War of the World Views:Civilizations in Collision". Let's just say that the title didn't inspire confidence on the part of my fellows.

I came to be involved in this debate in a roundabout kind of way. When I sent a note to Dave Bruskas, who is the pastor at City on a Hill, I said that "I am intrigued by the offer for interfaith dialogue regarding one of my faith's most important spiritual celebrations (namely Samhain), and its secular cultural counterpart (namely Hallowe'en)." In the end, I was chosen by both my fellow Pagans and the organizers to be the person representing Paganism in the discussion, which the organizers stated was intended to be a respectful debate that explores the conflicts in our society between different faiths. They were not really asking for a debate, per se, but do want to compare where there is common ground, and where there are irreconcilable differences. They were very up front about most of their community being unfamiliar with Paganism in all its forms, so my plan was to touch upon the basics, including the wide diversity of paths and traditions in our community. In the end, it turned out that although the timing was structured like a debate, the tone was very much a discussion, but I found myself ill-prepared for the timing aspect. I didn't have a short, meaningful, pithy intro to Paganism which would help those with no prior exposure make sense of our world view, and therefore make sense of our celebrations and why honouring the dead is important to us. My opening was not very clean and crisp.

I did prepare as well as I could, reading the blog and listening to the podcast of Scott Richards, the Tucson based pastor who presented the Christian view of Hallowe'en (you can find his site here). I would describe him as very Evangelical, with advice given to his readers and listeners based on Biblical passages interpreted as the inerrant word of ol' YWH, but delivered with compassion. I re-read everything in the house on Samhain traditions and how they relate to Hallowe'en. I read Christian apologetics sites. I asked for advice and support and made sure that I grounded and centered before the event. In the end, I am not a preacher (in our faith, we do not preach, we do spiritual work together, which is not the same and certainly not as verbal), and he is. I think that he worked with the audience more effectively, and not just because it was really his audience.

A handful of my community members (including my lovely wife and Priestess Shara) showed up as support folks, who sat scattered amongst the rather large group (I would say about 100). My request of the Gods had been that I channel the wisdom of Athena, rather than the sharp edge of Aries' wit that occasionally rolls off my tongue. The majority of the talk was an interplay between Richards and myself, with some written questions from the audience at the end. We didn't have time to deal with all the questions, so the organizers offered to e-mail them to both Richards and myself, then post our responses along with an MP3 of the discussion (I will post links when they become available). Overall, I thought it went well, and it was certainly very civil, with the opportunity to speak with members of the audience one-on-one afterwards.

There was a second program that evening, from 7-9pm, also open to the public at the old Lobo Theatre. The same pastor spoke, but in a lecture format. We (that being the Pagans) were still welcome to attend, and so I showed. Despite being Richards offering a couple of opportunities to address what he was saying or what questions the audience asked, I demurred, in part because it felt intrusive to me to insert myself into their event, in part because I wasn't sure how to do it effectively. Once again, I did get to chat with folks afterwards, and have respectful dialogue with them while and modeling religious tolerance. They were very polite and welcoming.

I think that it was a worthwhile effort and experience, if only because it shows that our growing and maturing Pagan community needs a coordinated speaker's bureau and we (the Pagan clergy) all need to attend some courses on media relations and interfaith communication. Perhaps some courses could be developed that we could offer through Ardantane - I'm sure my wife would be good at it (her background is in communications) if only we could find some free time.

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Posted Monday, October 16, 2006 @ 2047 MDT
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Goddess Bless Crooks and Liars!

By Athena and Hecate, what a great and useful site! There are some folks out there in the political realm who deserve a metaphorical spear run through them, and this is the site willing to oblige. Worthwhile links, funny videos, and my personal source of all of Keith Olbermann's latest smackdowns of Bush and his cabal. For example, check out this post: "Olbermann: 'Why does habeas corpus hate America'? ".

Bill of Rights? We don't need no stinkin' Bill of Rights....

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Posted Thursday, October 12, 2006 @ 2206 MDT
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I may now pronounce you legally dead.

Having spent the afternoon taking a class on the ins and outs of pronouncing someone dead in their home, I have been officially deputized as a Deputy Medical Investigator Designate by the New Mexico Office of the Medical Investigator (OMI). It is for registered nurses who take care of people under home care or hospice (the employing agency actually has to have a contract with OMI to be able to get their staff RNs deputized). When I moved back from California I did not know that I would have to meet this requirement as part of working for our local pediatric home hospice program (UNMH's Mariposa program). When I worked for Comfort for Kids, we were just authorized to go to the house (or if we were already there when they died) and pronounce them dead. The only variations were regarding how the county wanted it reported to the coroner (California is a coroner state, so is Texas - that is a whole other topic). Here, nurses can legally pronounce death in the hospital or nursing home in which they work within their employer's protocol, because those facilities have a different reporting relationship with OMI, whereas the home is in the community, so deaths get called to 911. Needless to say, the field investigators have plenty to do without responding to all expected as well as unexpected deaths. Hence, the training program. I even get a photo ID in case the cops challenge me in the home if they show up and find a corpse.

I actually was not clear before on the difference between the time of clinical death, determining clinical death, and pronouncing a person legally dead. The time of death on your death certificate may not match the time you 'actually' died, something that some of the nurses present said really bothered some families, to the point that they teach families that in advance so they aren't surprised by it. You are not legally dead until a duly authorized officer of the state (such as myself, now) examines you and declares you as such. It doesn't matter if perfectly competent people correctly recognize you as clinically dead, under the law, you ain't quite dead yet. Physicians can declare someone in their care dead. Investigators can. It is interesting that in the hospital, the residents fill out the death packet, and always ask the nurse what the time of death was and document that - it turns out that can really be the legal time of death, rather than when the physician examined the body. I'm going to have to go and re-read the hospital policy on the whole thing. It is very interesting though, that I have limited jurisdiction. If I see you run over by a bus in the street, I can determine that you are DRT (dead right there), but it is not a legal declaration until the investigator stops by. Who knew?

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Posted Thursday, October 12, 2006 @ 0743 MDT
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Lists, lists, lists.

Very funny list from Rhea at Discourse from a Demiurgic:

20 Signs That, Sadly, You've Grown Up
1. Your house plants are alive, and you can't smoke any of them.
2. Having sex in a twin bed is out of the question.
3. You keep more food than beer in the fridge.
4. 6:00 AM is when you get up, not when you go to bed.
5. You hear your favorite song on an elevator.

Pam Spaulding over at Pam’s House Blend has been a very busy blogger, check out her list of posts on the Foley fiasco (and read her blog, there are plenty of other fiascos she touches upon).

And of course I recommend the latest edition of Shift Change over at Emergiblog.

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Posted Wednesday, October 11, 2006 @ 2201 MDT
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Happy Coming Out Day!

The Human Rights Campaign helps celebrate the day by releasing a “first-of-its-kind Straight Guide to GLBT Americans”.

I remember my struggles with coming out all too well. Many, if not most of the queer folk I know faced challenges, and it is my fervent hope that future generations will not face the pain and social challenges that so many of us did. I managed to get through my process at a respectably young age (fumbling through my early twenties, and finally telling my parents at 29 – lousy year, 29, Saturn return and all that, 30 was much better), which meant that I could loosen up and enjoy life and love. Tully posted a very long recollection of his coming out process which I read with great interest. It was painfully familiar to read about the schoolyard taunts and bullying, right down to the differences between how the boys and the girls went about their cruelty (boys will beat you up, even physically humiliate you to show how much stronger than you they are, but girls will fillet your soul).

I’ve been so busy that I haven’t had a chance to send my little fax of congratulations to Paul Weyrich for earning my nomination as “National Asshole of the Week”. So in celebration of this most auspicious day, I sent it. Here is the text:

My fax to Weyrich:

Paul M. Weyrich
Chairman and CEO
Free Congress Foundation

Re: Your NPR interview regarding the Foley scandal

Just a quick note to let you know that I am one of those people to whom reporter Michele Norris referred to when she said: “Now, before we go on, I think I can say, Mr. Weyrich, that there quite a few people who would take exception to the statement that homosexuals are preoccupied with sex”.

While I got the part that you don’t care who takes exception because in your opinion your rather nasty statement is true, you are not going to be able to back your slander up in any reasonable scientific way, which means that you are denigrating a wide swath of the public in a very public way, supported by nothing more than your own bigotry. In response: “I am freely exercising what is left of my rights under the First Amendment and proclaiming that in my constitutionally protected opinion Paul M. Weyrich should be nominated as National @$$#01& of the Week for intimating that gays are sex obsessed fiends who should not be trusted with children, even at a policy level”.

That’s a quote from my posting on the subject on my blog, you can read the entire post if you like at: blog/archive/2006/10042006b.htm

If we don’t currently have such a national honor to bestow upon you, I hope someone comes up with it soon so that you may enjoy being the first recipient.

In the meantime, I hope that you are having a lovely National Coming Out Day.

Scott Chisholm Lamont

If you’re wondering why the ‘Asshole’ is changed to symbols, if I remember correctly you are not supposed to use profanity in a fax because it is carried over the phone line and is therefore subject to FCC rules. I don’t think they enforce them anymore, but it would be in character for this jerk to try pushing for charges because I cussed at him.

If you are interested in his version of why he called for Hasert’s resignation, then changed his mind, he released a statement detailing the whole thing yesterday. Note the part where he almost got the Speaker into a wreck as he was driving his car while talking to Weyrich on the phone.

On an international note, here is a great quote provided by Dan Froomkin, writing a piece called Bush's Plea for Attention in the Washington Post.

Who Cares What Bush Says?

Alice Miles writes in an op-ed for the Times of London that "the 43rd President of the United States of America has squandered the political authority of a great country. Never mind whether world leaders still feel the need to check in with the US; ordinary people no longer expect from Washington international leadership of any use. So spent is the authority of the United States that even a foreign affairs ingénue such as myself recognises that there is little constructive it can do any more. So it doesn't really matter what the President thinks."

I hope at some point Americans wake up and realize they have to live with the whole world, and it matters what the world thinks of them. That includes what the world thinks of the politicians Americans pick to represent them.

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Posted Tuesday, October 10, 2006 @ 1151 MDT
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More Queer stuff.

I’ve been meaning to post on this for a few days, and once again there is just not enough time to get everything done. Back home in Canada, the Tories seem determined (in a sort of non-unified kind of way) to reverse history and close the door on same-sex marriage in Canada. Needless to say, Canadians for Equal Marriage had asked them to drop their plan to reopen the debate, which looks like it isn’t going to happen, but the Tories have delayed introduction of the bill again possibly in light of the fact that they can’t seem to muster the votes to pass the bill, or because Canadian’s opposition to same sex marriage is falling fast, with a clear majority considering the matter settled

My issue with the whole thing has less to do with Harper following through on a promise made in the last election (we expect promises kept, don’t we?) than with the proposed bill expanding “religious freedom” to discriminate against GLBTIQ folks, including on housing, employment, and the ability of marriage commissioners or Justices of the Peace to refuse to perform civil wedding ceremonies for same-sex couples based on personal beliefs. I’m sorry, but if you work as a public official, you have to provide that public service to all of the public who seek it. If that is intolerable, you need to find another line of work.

"We will make you successful, as long as you don't mind me grabbing your [deleted] once in a while."
-- Congressman Mark Foley, IM-ing a Congressional page.
Posted on Slate – Doonesbury’s “Say What?” item

Yeah, back to the Foley thing. It isn’t quite dead yet.

Who’s lying about what they knew when? It’s almost impossible to tell, not just because most of the lips moving belong to pols and their operatives. People's lives and careers are at stake as this becomes more overblown, and our society tends to teach people to value self-protection over telling the truth (it's a fear thing). In fact, as Rebecca Hartong points out, people will even spout galling untruths in hopes that accountability will not fall to them or that which supports them (read: I'm Republican, so I will protect the party to get re-elected, same goes for the other parties, unfortunately). Rebecca also posted a nice response to Weyrich's charge that gays are "obsessed with sex", including useful links. Kate Wood over at Kate’s Ramblings points out what should be the obvious: this is not a case of pedophilia. You might expect people commenting on news sites and blogs to misuse the term, but it seems pretty pathetic that so many MSM outlets do so too.

Thankfully, some sensible heads in the media are able to make this distinction between pedophilia and “virtual pederasty”. In the TNR Online, Kevin Arnovitz laments the “conflation act” of The Wall Street Journal editorial page, amongst others, where the purported warning signs of Foley’s indiscretions were not his reported behaviour with male pages, but the very possibility that he was gay, “as if Foley's presumed orientation were somehow evidence that he would hit on 16-year-old employees.” Just as I’ve said here before, Arnovitz states: “Never mind that both academics and gay organizations have to constantly reiterate the stats, that 90.9 percent of all sexual assault victims under the age of 17 are female”, citing a 2000 Department of Justice report. That puts a big wooden stake into the heart of Tony Perkins’s bald-faced lie that the number of boys sexually abused in the general population is proportionately larger than the estimated number of gay and bisexual men in the population (thanks to Rod McCullom for the link), especially when one takes into account that true pedophiles likely don’t differentiate between male and female victims – what attracts them is pre-pubescence, not gender. Arnovitz then laments the reactionary possibilities: “Anti-gay Internet legislation will surface on the floor of the Capitol before investigators have a chance to sponge off Foley's keyboard. Access to gay chat sites will be so guarded that they'll cease to offer any allure for users” which he finds concerning as “gay chat is an important resource that was crucial in opening up the closet--in allowing kids and young gay men who wouldn't otherwise be comfortable coming out to hear themselves think with a sympathetic audience and to put themselves in conversations that otherwise would be unavailable to them”.

Andrew Sullivan discusses how unclear the discussion has been, and has made this interesting conclusion:

"There is something deeply sick about a Republican elite that is comfortable around gay people, dependent on gay people, staffed by gay people--and yet also rests on brutal exploitation of homophobia to win elections at the base. These public homophobes, just like the ones in the Vatican, may even tolerate gay misbehavior more readily than adjusted gay people do. If you treat gay sex in any form as a shameful secret to keep concealed, the line between adult, consensual contact and the sexual exploitation of the young may not seem so stark. That's how someone like Speaker Dennis Hastert could have chosen not to know: He was already choosing not to know Foley was gay. In this way, Hastert is a milquetoast, secular version of Cardinal Bernard Law."

Sullivan is certainly kinder to the Log Cabin in his article than I was.

Tully echoes Sullivan regarding the inability of conservative queer men to operate in conservative organizations they support openly, rather one finds them “hiding in the closets of their parent organizations, lest they be exposed, ridiculed, and shunned

This should be about one public figure who would not behave appropriately, and the political and bureaucratic structure that might have protected him and the expense of those who deserved protection. Somehow, though, it the whole sordid affair can be blamed on gays, as Rod points out in his initial post on the matter, and his follow-up. Some of that unwarranted blame is the fallout of religious institutions that consistently demonize queer folk, who have been part of human society for as long as humans have existed yet still make convenient targets when a conspiratorial scapegoat is required. Paul Krugman has an interesting perspective on where exactly this conspiracy thinking comes from, and why we should all be concerned (subscription required, but you can access via many library systems).

At least there is some good news in all of this: It looks like the GOP might auger in the November, based on the most recent polls. Unless, of course, they abandon the “S.S. Hasert”.

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Posted Saturday, October 7, 2006 @ 1414 MDT
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Tie-dye and spiritual health.

Didn't have a chance to post anything yesterday, as Shara and I attended a seminar on spirituality and health sponsored by Presbyterian Health Services Department of Chaplaincy Services. Entitled "Suffering with Life-Limiting Illnesses: The Compassionate Response", it featured Dr. April Volk and Beth Corbin-Hsi, RN, the latter of whom is co-author of a book called "Closing the Chart: A Dying Physician Examines Family, Faith, and Medicine". I spoke to Dr. Volk about a small text file I put together to carry on my PDA as a guide to performing a spiritual assessment, and will post a link to that on my spirituality page. Well done seminar, overall, but Shara and I agreed along with a colleague of mine that it didn't achieve the depth that we were hoping for. After that I had to blast back to the office, get a few things done, then up to Placitas for our coven's full moon celebration. I think I fell into bed at midnight.

Today our friends Dee and Ezra and their daughter (our Goddess-daughter) Rhiannon are over for a visit. The girls are playing (and sometimes fighting) while Shara and Dee do some tie-dye. A nice, creative outlet, certainly good for the spirit. They ordered a whole kit of stuff from Dharma Trading a while back, and have done several projects since.

On the subject of entertainment (not the creative type), our TV is hooked to nothing but the DVD player. We only watch shows that we can get through Netflix (and not bloody often, anymore - remember that I have a preschooler). Shara has just put Battlestar Galactica on our list now that we have gone through all the episodes of Queer as Folk (site used to be here, but I guess Showtime doesn't have a sense of preserving the past...). I'm grumpy that the series is done, I was enjoying it. However, one must move on. Yahoo! Buzz Log certainly thinks that it is both cool and hot - their statement about how popular the show is in searches is borne out by Technorati showing it in the top five tags. I used to enjoy the old series, with Lorne Greene, so I am looking forward to this. I hope it is as engaging and fresh as Firefly was (at least the SciFi channel has a sense of history).

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Posted Thursday, October 5, 2006 @ 2054 MDT
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It's all the media's fault. And the Democrats.

Well, here I was yesterday, saying how I had decided to fly against my better judgment and post something (indirectly) on the Foley scandal. It was prompted by the outrageous slander heaped on the gay population at large by Paul M. Weyrich. Now that I’ve put myself on that slippery slope, I am going to risk sliding feet first into the abyss. This morning, on NPR (can you tell what I listen to at the beginning and end of the workday?), I did a double take when I heard the real news imitate the fake. Last night I posted the link that Stupid Evil Bastard provided to Jon Stewart’s opening salvo on this sordid subject, where faux-Washington-reporter John Oliver intoned that “the Democrats were going to be held accountable”. This morning, it was announced that Dennis Hasert was blaming the media and the Democrats for the unfolding crisis. Presumably, now that his conduct is under scrutiny, the preferred course of action is to deflect attention and point the finger. (Couldn’t find the audio newsclip that announced this, but thankfully George Will caught it and commented).

So bad behaviour is followed by bad behaviour: Sexual harassment of underage subordinates leads to blame shifting and ducking accountability. I think that the public is disappointed, but unfortunately they are used to being disappointed by politicians. As the NY Times editorial states, no one is surprised by the scandals elected officials are caught in, and are not likely to make anywhere near as big a deal about them, even when they involve highly unacceptable actions. It’s the media and the other politicians who make a fuss. The media ought to – that is their job, to inform the public (preferably with dispassion and intelligence). I wish they did a better job, mainly through more vigorous investigation and keeping focused for more than 72 hours so things don’t disappear into the memory hole that should not be forgotten. The politicians predictably do – they are generally more interested in maneuvering for advantage and therefore power than they are in actually dealing with the issues at hand. My disappointment with the public is that they don’t get scandalized about the failure of accountability, which both this Congress and this administration seem to be displaying to the maximum possible degree.

BTW – Pat Robertson has of course chimed in to gay bash, asking: "Is it a coincidence that 90 percent of the victims of the priests and the other folks who abuse those altar boys and others, 90 percent of the victims were boys, 90 percent of the perpetrators were men?" (he is quoted in the NY Times piece linked above). Earth to Pat: most sexual harassment and assault is committed by men, period. Mostly by straight men, not too surprising as most men are straight. As for the priests diddling altar boys, do you suppose it might have something to do with having only males involved at that level in the church that created a primarily homosexual opportunity for impropriety?

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Posted Wednesday, October 4, 2006 @ 2237 MDT
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People will say the damndest things . . .

Quote of the day:
NY Times columnist Thomas Friedman, writing on the failure of the Bush admin, their Iraq policy, and the much impoverished state of current federal American politics: You know how they say that after a while people start to look like their pets? Well, we're starting to look like Iraq -- a bunch of warring political tribes incapable of acting in common for the greater good.

Thanks to Shara for sending me the link.

That was going to be all I wrote for the day until I heard this quote on NPR while driving home:

"Weyrich: It has been known for many years that Congressman Foley was a homosexual. Homosexuals tend to be preoccupied with sex - the idea that he should be continued, or should have been continued as chairman on the Committee for Missing and Exploited Children, given their knowledge of that is just outrageous.

Norris: Now, before we go on, I think I can say, Mr. Weyrich, that there quite a few people who would take exception to the statement that homosexuals are preoccupied with sex.

Weyrich: Well, I don't care whether they take exception to it - it happens to be true.

Norris: That is your opinion.

Weyrich: Well, it's not my opinion, it's the opinion of many psychologists and psychiatrists who have to deal with them."

(NPR summary and audio link)

Thanks to those busy beavers over at Wikipedia who had transcribed and posted by the time I got to the computer after supper.

Well, what else can I say but 'wow'? All that the Washington Post managed to catch was him sounding outraged about the possibility that Foley maintained the chairmanship of his committee on exploited children if people knew he was being inappropriate with pages -- they missed the real why. Now that he's aired his dirty laundry on national radio, we can all nod sagely, remembering how rampantly homophobic the religious right (which controls the Republican Party) really is. Jon Stewart nailed it (again), and thanks to Stupid Evil Bastard for this link. Watch it, laugh like hell (I did), but catch the part where good ol' Newt equates an adult in a position of power sending suggestive messages to an underage subordinate with normal gay behaviour. They actually wonder why queers in this country think they are bigots!

As for Weyrich: Gays obsessed about sex? Like, compared to whom? To Clinton? To the straight, married guy who apparently was planning a mass rape of schoolgirls before his murder spree? How about this - he is obsessed about sex because he is a repressed queer who was molested as a teen and is now living surround by the enemy - Republican members of Congress and their staff, most of whom probably hate fags on principle. Plus, the Republican leaders have not exactly been modeling accountability, clear thinking, and competence lately, have they? Not to drag out the tired old Colonel Sanders thing, but what the hell is Foley doing in the Republican Party in the first place? Is this finally going to lead to the Log Cabin Republicans disbanding? Not likely - they are "outraged", but it looks they are going to stick with the party that is "securing a future of peace" by attacking a country that was no direct threat to the nation but is now a hotbed of terrorism in training. Guess irony is lost on conservative queers.

Anyhow, this led me to a change of plans. Unlike Bush and his bully-boys, I am willing to change plans when the situation calls for it. I wasn't going to post on Foley at all. My plan as a queer person was to avoid it like the plague, it was so distasteful - we all knew that it would provide more fuel for those who despise our existence to burn us at the stake (listen to Marc Acito's opinion on the matter - I completely agree with him). That said, I am on to Plan B: I am freely exercising what is left of my rights under the First Amendment and proclaiming that in my constitutionally protected opinion Paul M. Weyrich should be nominated as National Asshole of the Week for intimating that gays are sex obsessed fiends who should not be trusted with children, even at a policy level. I am going to fax a copy of this nomination to the Free Congress Research and Education Foundation, of which he is president and CEO, so they are aware that at least one person in this country finds there leader's public spouting of bigoted opinion stated as fact reprehensible. If you'd like to read more about He-Who-Can-Be-Likened-To-A-Smelly-Sphincter, click here. If you would like to support this nomination, leave a comment.

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Posted Wednesday, October 4, 2006 @ 1304 MDT
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An unstable economy? D'ya think?

I've written about this before, but here I go again: I'm pretty concerned that the US (and therefore world) economy is going to take a big hit soon. This op-ed piece by Professor Joseph Stiglitz about the trade imbalance between the US and China, and the uselessness of the International Monetary Fund in dealing with it because the US has veto power (surprise, right?) is enough to make anyone sweat. Add the housing market 'correction' which has fueled the US economy lately, and may get much worse (not that the Fed will say that), and the looming potential for peak oil, and I smell a trifecta.

* updated Oct 10 - external link added *

See this editorial in the NY Times, which states the US is pretty much guaranteed to get poorer, as "for the first time in at least 90 years, the United States is now paying noticeably more to foreign creditors than it receives from its investments abroad".

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Posted Tuesday, October 3, 2006 @ 2049 MDT
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Pinhead politicians.

So a good friend at work sent me this funny regarding Advance Directives:

I, __________________________, being of sound mind and body, do not wish to be kept alive indefinitely by artificial means. Under no circumstances should my fate be put in the hands of pinhead politicians who couldn't pass ninth-grade biology if their lives depended on it, or lawyers / doctors interested in simply running up the bills. If a reasonable amount of time passes and I fail to ask for at least one of the following:
______ Glass of wine
______ Margarita
______ Martini
______ Cold Beer
______ Chicken fried steak and cream gravy
______ Mexican food
______ French fries
______ Pizza
______ Bowl of ice cream
______ Cup of tea
______ Chocolate
______ All of the above,

it should be presumed that I won't ever get better.

When such a determination is reached, I hereby instruct my appointed person and attending physicians to pull the plug, reel in the tubes and call it a day.

Don’t laugh, but when I filled out my but I really did put the politician bit down in my advance directive. Seriously.

When I was admitted to UCSF for meningitis, it was right around the time of the Shiavo thing, so I made sure that I printed and filled out the damn form, including a specific clause that no politicians or reporters were to have access to me or interfere with my care in any way. Didn't think of calling them pinheads though. I should have.

If you like irony, check out this site discussing Republican (of course) sponsored legislature that is purported to be a "habeas corpus bill that will protect the rights of diabled [sic] individuals, such as Terri Schiavo". So you can have a request for a habeas corpus writ AGAINST your will in order to keep you alive against your wishes (assuming that what Terri was said to have communicated to her husband is correct), however you you cannot request said writ if you are held in a secret government gulag in an unnamed country and are facing state sanctioned torture. Passed by the same conservative yahoos. Yeah, that's moral. You go, value voters!

And on a completely different note: I finally realized this morning that if you have a beard, you have doubled your chances of a bad hair day (unless you are bald with a beard).

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Posted Monday, October 2, 2006 @ 2251 MDT
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It's a sick, sick, sick world (or at least a sick species).

I don’t know which is sicker – rounding up and shooting Amish schoolgirls or dumping toxic waste on a village of innocents in poverty stricken Africa (with death and blistered infants resulting) because you don’t want to pony up the cash to dispose of it properly. I’m going to go with the latter, as it was done by a group of comfortable, well-paid business people from the so-called developed world acting on behalf of a multinational firm, as opposed to someone angry and unhinged enough that other people’s lives cease to mean anything to him. But it’s a tough call. However, just so that you know what is really important to some people, it is neither of these things – it is the possibility that a grade 5 student may have seen a nude representation in an art museum while on a previously approved school field trip. An abstract figure at that. Yes, this is shit-storm worthy, and they are firing the 28-year veteran teacher for it! That’ll show her, exposing children to art museums where naked bodies might be lurking around any corner. At least we know that they have their priorities straight in Texas (come on, you knew it HAD to be in Texas).

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Posted Monday, October 2, 2006 @ 1140 MDT
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Still more Pride.

Very cool, Calgary held their Pagan Pride Day at the MacEwan Student Centre at UofC. Here’s a shout-out to our friend Mimi of the Witchery, who got her picture in the Gauntlet. It was halfway decent press, but did prompt me to add to my note about dealing with the MSM.

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Posted Monday, September 18, 2006 @ 1941 MDT
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Back from Mabon.

Just back from our local Mabon celebration, the annual Magickal Mountain Mabon hosted by Chamisa Local Council of the Covenant of the Goddess. What a great time! It is usually a lot of work for me, in part because not only do I help set up and run the Healer’s Tent (a service provided by Silver Moon Health Services), but just the work of packing up the camping stuff, organizing meals, hauling it all up to the hills with the kid, then doing it all in reverse. This time, Shara and Micaela day-tripped, and I stayed on a cot in the Healer’s Tent. It sure made breaking things down easier.

I miss being in the mountains more, and just having calmer days where it doesn’t feel like you have a million things to do and no time to breath.

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Posted Thursday, September 14, 2006 @ 1005 MDT
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My little scooter seems so inadequate.

Just in case you have been living under a rock, the world is going to run out of oil at some point. Before that point, the world is going to want to consume oil faster than it can be produced, leading to conflict and price increases - this has been called Peak Oil. When is still an open question. The pessimists say this year, if it didn't already happen last year, the optimists (which include the US Government) say around 2036, or 2061, or some such later year. Some argue it depends on how quickly more difficult to extract sources of oil come on-line, like tar sands and shale. But the end result is going to be we will all drive our cars a lot less, even if we do cool retrofits to our cars (which we should, and which I am considering for my beloved Toyota truck Epona). No matter how you slice it, we will have to make huge adaptations in our lives.

Now, I don't think that is a bad thing. Cars have taken over our lives - the landscape is dominated by them. Once upon a time, the garage was set back from the street, or even off an alley, now it is not just at the front of the house - it IS the front of the house. I think it is ugly as hell. Freeways kill untold numbers of animals, cyclists and pedestrians, who are keeping the air clean and our health care costs down by staying active, take their lives in their hands when they interface with traffic. A more human centered community would keep cars at the periphery. I once suggested that Calgary solve the downtown traffic problems by having extensive parking in a ring around the city core, and make everyone except delivery vehicles get out and walk, bike, or take transit. When I ran for Mayor of Banff I suggested marketing a vehicle free downtown, complete with a pedestrian mall on the main streets downtown and shuttles bringing people in from the edge, like some European towns have done. Nobody took my advice, needless to say. Business owners are convinced that people have to be able to get everywhere in their cars or the economy will collapse. I pointed out that people IN cars don't spend money, people on foot spend money. Deaf ears - cars are just too entrenched in our North American culture and landscape.

So this is why I found this NY Times article on biking thing in the Netherlands so interesting. They have made really huge strides in turning the streets over to bikes, have an amazing selection of bikes (including trikes and recumbents, both of which I think I would find way more comfortable, and probably don't have the impotence issue associated with a traditional saddle). Here in the US, I've seen cargo carriers that extend your bike by a couple of feet, and other workhorse additions. For tooling around here at home, now that my own two bikes are in such awful shape (they need rebuilds), I have a tiny used electric scooter. It only goes about 8 miles an hour tops, and about 11 or 12 miles range (13 kph with max range 19km), and struggles on hills. They have really improved the technology of these scooters in the past couple of years, and I am interested in getting a faster one. I am also interested in what it would take to design a custom recumbent seating scooter like some of the more innovative bikes now out there, with some kind of generating mechanism built in, either energy return like the hybrid cars have, or maybe pedals to a generator that tops up the battery, so you can ride it like an exercise bike while it tools along on power. It certainly looks like the options are opening up.

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Posted Tuesday, September 12, 2006 @ 0811 MDT
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Cooking the world with gas.

There has been a lot of stuff on global warming in the papers lately (or as Lovelock calls it, “global heating”), including an unfortunate piece by Margaret Wente in the Globe and Mail about the need for adaptation, rather than change. I say unfortunate because there is a strong element of truth to what she says. She's not the only one saying it, have a look at this piece in the Economist. Pragmatics aside, it is still morally reprehensible for us to do nothing with the glib excuse that it would do not good anyway, so why change or sacrifice? We might adapt as a species, even if the worst case suggested by Lovelock comes to pass and we all wind up living in the extreme north or south of the planet, but most species will not have that option, and will therefore pay the price for our stupidity and greed.

* updated Oct 2 - external link added *

The Lovelock interview in the NY Times (A CONVERSATION WITH JAMES E. LOVELOCK; Updating Prescriptions for Avoiding Worldwide Catastrophe) is now only available through their Times Select option (see abstract here) unless you have access through a library database. Is it just me, or do they roll these things over to paid mode a little quickly?

Interestingly, Helen Caldicott has chimed in on this piece, questioning his support for nuclear energy. It is in the letters section, scroll down to "The Cost of Nuclear Energy"

And if your interested in Lovelock's book "The Revenge of Gaia", you can order it here.

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Posted Monday, September 11, 2006 @ 1944 MDT
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9/11 - 5 years later.

Needless to say, the news has been drenched with “Eau d’ 9/11”. I could do without the yammering of the politicians, most of whom I have less and less use for (keep to mind this is coming from someone who has been a politician), but have been very moved by the remembrances of those who lost someone in the attacks. I remember exactly where I was when I heard – at home in the South Valley, getting ready for work. Shara called me, as she had gone into work early, and said that there was something horrible on the radio about a plane crashing into the World Trade Center. On my way to the hospital I was listening to The Peak, which we typically did back then (we only listened to NPR when the alarm went off, then to music on the drive – I’ve long since given up on commercial radio and just listen to NPR or the local classics station), and they were playing no music, just a running discussion about what was unfolding on their TV in the studio. I was just pulling onto Isleta to head for the freeway when they said something along the line of “Oh my God, the South Tower just collapsed”. As a flight nurse, I tend to be attuned to air traffic, and instantly noticed the two lines of aircraft as far at the eye could see, off to the west and south-west, heading for both of the Sunport’s main runways. I recall how eerie it was once all those ships had returned safely to ground, to see no contrails in the sky, and hear no engines drone overhead, for days. It didn’t take the hospital long to go on full alert, we were told we may not be going home at all, and that we were preparing for up to a quarter-million casualties. They projected that if it was that bad, the trauma system would be overwhelmed east of the Mississippi and all the major trauma centers in the west would have to accept patients. We couldn’t get enough news, in part because in the peds areas we tried to keep the news off the TVs in favour of the usual cartoons. We waited all day for the C-9 Nightingales to come winging our way with their cargos of injured, but they never came. Eventually, it became obvious they would not be coming, and we were all allowed to come home as the hospital stood down. It is tough to express how anxiously we awaited to help, and how relieved we were that the awful projections did not come to pass, yet how helpless and useless that there was going to be nothing we could do to help. I’ve struggled to write a poem on this, and had to set it aside a while ago. Perhaps I’ll take it up again, now that some time has passed.

Blessings to you and yours, wherever you may be, and may any pain you have carried as a result of that terrible day be eased.


Posted Sunday, September 10, 2006 @ 2228 MDT
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Pride and remembrance.

Today was a busy day for me in my priest hat. We held our annual Pagan Pride Day (part of an international movement) here in Albuquerque, an all-day event in Bataan Park on Lomas. Very ably organized by Michelle Cassena and sponsored by Coyote Willow CUUPS, it was easily the largest we’ve ever had, with many games, displays, vendors, and workshops. I had to get Silver Moon Health Services gear to the park first thing in the am, set up our first aid station, then perform the opening ritual with Shara, Tristan & Billy (our community’s May couple this year) and the rest of my coven. After that I had to practice my speech for the UNM Children’s Hospital memorial and dash off to the Newman Center on campus. Mariposa coordinated the organization of the memorial, which is to remember the approximately 188 children who have died over the past 2 years while in our care, and they invited me to speak, which I was quite honoured to do (and a little nervous about, too). If you would like to see a copy of the text of my homily, it is posted here. It was a lovely service, led by Rev. Marie Stockton, our chaplain, and culminated with a release of doves in the courtyard of the Center as “Amazing Grace” was piped and sung. Then after a bite at the reception to ground, it was back to the park to perform the closing ritual, which included blessing the huge pile of non-perishable food we collected for the Unitarian Church Food Bank. And the predicted rain did not come. All in all, a beautiful, full day.

* updated Sept 11 - external link added *

We got some nice press from the Albuquerque Journal and the UNM Daily Lobo .

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Posted Tuesday, June 6, 2006 @ 2315 MDT
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Wow - we're on Witchcraft Radio!

While visiting my folks in Calgary, we spent today bopping around town on public transit checking our the local metaphysical stores. We happened into one called The Witchery, and found out that a friend of the owner runs a webstreaming podcast called "Witchcraft Radio". When we mentioned where we were from, and our work with organizations like Covenant of the Goddess, Silver Moon Health Services, and Ardantane, the next thing we knew were were invited to be interviewed as soon as the store closed for the night. You can listen to this episode of the program here.

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Posted Monday, May 22, 2006 @ 2113 MDT
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Interview with a Sophian Gnostic bishop.

If you have been following the "DaVinci Code" thing, or gone to see the movie, you might be interested in this facinating interview with a real Gnostic Christian. I found it facinating, and it reminds me of a book I read a while ago called "Jesus and the Lost Goddess".

Here are two of my favourite quotes: "Our view is of the cosmic Christ -- we very much accept all wisdom traditions", and "Gnostics believe that the real problem isn't sin -- it's ignorance . . . [W]e also believe that everyone has the potential for gnosis. Everyone has a spark of the true light or the divine in them. The whole point for Gnosticism is to help reveal that spark so that a person recognizes it inside of himself or herself."

How refreshing! Not to mention congruent with Pagan teachings.

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Posted Thursday, April 20, 2006 @ 2038 MDT
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Creeping to the end of the death penalty?

We can at least hope so. Amnesty International announced that the number of state sanctioned executions fell by more than a third in 2005 compared to 2004, according to a Globe and Mail report. It is a very positive trend, IMHO, although of course there are those who would vehemently disagree and say that A.I. and myself were trampling on the victims of crime to coddle criminals. Horsecrap. The death penalty is not a deterrent to violent crime, it sets an appalling example of how little a human life is considered to be worth (in a policy context, no less), and results in 'civilized' governments participating in exactly the kind of violence the people they represent ostensibly abhor.

Unfortunately, some of the Globe readers took the opportunity to play "holier than thou" with our US neighbours. The very first commenter stated: "So...who leads the world in executions of it's own citizens? China, Saudi Arabia, Iran, and the United States. So somebody explain the difference to me between the values of Americans and the values of the people from these countries because it's not apparent to me." I felt that was ignorant hyperbole, and so replied: "I would say that the difference is that in the US, you generally have to kill someone to get the death penalty. In Saudi Arabia, you get your head chopped off (literally, if you would like video, rent Moore's "Fahrenheit 9/11") for being gay, amongst other things."

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Posted Monday, March 6, 2006 @ 1607 MST
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Paying the true cost.

So, here is a great article in the Globe and Mail about horse logging and how it limits the damage done to the forest, including by reducing the need for road building. They are being hampered by an overly warm winter (gee, I wonder where that came from?), and by having to pay the same stumpage fees as mechanized logging. As the Greens have said for many years, if we are going to subsidize things, it should be the practices that are the most sustainable, not the least. Mechanized logging ought to pay the full price their methods cost the environment, including not only replanting, but also protection and repair of streams, and road removal.

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Posted Friday, March 3, 2006 @ 1518 MST
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Back in the saddle.

So, it looks like the hiatus is over. I won't have the time to keep up with my blog like I did when I was in school full time and so had a very flexible schedule, but I am going to try to put something up once a week or so. I am going to focus more on improving and expanding the pages on this site - as I mentioned yesterday, I have tons of stuff I would like to post, it's just a matter of finding the time to format it, set the links, an hit 'upload'. I also want to get back to my nursing podcast, which has been just as neglected. We'll see how it goes.

However, I can guarantee that nothing is going up this w/e, as I am up in the Jemez Mountains at the Ardantane campus, teaching a class on mindful communication. I'm hoping for a good turnout, in light of the recent spate of unhappy e-mails on a couple of the local e-lists, but we'll see.

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Posted Thursday, March 2, 2006 @ 2055 MDT
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Tough time in the ol' sandbox.

Well, I've been out of circulation for a long time. When I took my LOA from UCSF and moved back to Albuquerque, I had thought that I would at least keep up with my blog, and perhaps post the odd thing on my other pages (it's not like I haven't been writing stuff to post, I have a list a mile long), but there is just never any time, it seems, to actually sit down, put it on a page, and upload it.

Tonight the fire is under my butt, as it were. We are having a little meltdown in our little New Mexico pagan community, and it has myself and my lovely wife/priestess distressed. Bad vibes, negative communication, sniping, gnashing of teeth and beating of chests, people backing out (or running, in some cases). Ironically, I'm teaching some communication courses for Ardantane, including one this coming w/e called "Mindful, Magickal Communication". Talk about timing. So I had Shara post on one involved group's list site that I would put a bunch of communication info on my website tonight, under the spiritual section. Mainly stuff from the classes I've been developing, and a model for Pagan communication styles based on the five sacred elements, that my friend Tehom (of Our Lady of the Woods) and I put together for CoG's last Merry Meet. If you are interested, feel free to have a look.

Meantime, I will try to keep up with this, and get some of the other things posted that I have wanted to, like more stuff on concept analysis (BIG source of web search referrals).

Peace and blessings to you all.

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