Fishing to the Most Beautiful Place in America'>Gone Fishing to the Most Beautiful Place in America

Mr. EW and McCaffrey the MilleniaLab and I are off for the weekend–apparently, with a horde of others who take their travel tips from Good Morning America, which voted Sleeping Bear Dunes the most beautiful place in the US.

Between you and me, I’m also a big fan of Sedona and Grand Teton, which were also in the running. We had our wedding celebration in the former.

And there’s a part of Sleeping Bear that reminds me a lot of Point Reyes, where I used to hike all the time when I lived in San Francisco. No oysters at Sleeping Bear Dunes, though.

But hey, if GMA wants to send a bunch of people to spend money as tourists in MI, we’ll welcome them gladly.

I’ve pre-posted something for Sunday. And bmaz assures me he’ll share the likker cabinet this time, and get Trash Talk up before Sunday morning. So you should be in excellent care for the weekend.

Still Fishing

If you haven’t already figured this out, after Netroots Nation I dragged bmaz up to northern Minnesota to count lakes, counting backwards from 10,000. We only got down to 9,976, but I understand there are actually far more than 10,000 lakes in MN.

The picture–photo credit: the NSA–is me and McCaffrey walking across the headwaters of the Mississippi at Lake Itasca. The shiny yellow figure in the background is commenter John Forde, who hosted us. (Thanks John!)

Today I’m sending bmaz back to the desert and me and Mr. EW and McCaffrey the MilleniaLab are going to continue our yearly NFC North tour. Meaning, we’re headed through WI to the Upper Peninsula of MI (Mr. EW already drove through Chicago).

For those of you who haven’t been through the area, it’s remote. As in, far west levels of remoteness. Which means I’ll be lucky if I find Toobz reliably.

Which means you may not hear from me before Saturday. That either means someone is going to resign (as generally happens when I go off-grid) or Judy Miller is going to release a tell all. If bmaz gets home safely–he’s flying Delta, so you never know–he’ll enlighten you all in the meantime.

Have fun!

Mountain Pure “Purified” Drinking Water Recalled for Mold

As Mark Bittman said when he tweeted this press releasem, “If bottled water is getting recalled we’re all in a lot of trouble.”

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – May 4, 2011 – Officials at the Arkansas Department of Health (ADH) announced today that test results on a sample taken from certain lots of Mountain Pure bottled drinking water show the presence of biological contamination.

The company has announced a voluntary recall of lots marked with a four-digit time code. The time code is written in military time, and the affected time period is from 2200 through 0400. This is etched into the plastic bottle. Also included is an expiration date code that says either Best By 2-27-2013 MPWA or Best By 2-28-2013 MPWA. These are bottles of purified drinking water in the 16.9 fl. oz. (506 ml.) size. ADH is recommending that anyone who might have purchased or received any of this bottled water dispose of it or return it to the point of purchase.

More testing is needed to identify the specific type of mold and its origin, and that is expected to take several more days. ADH has recommended to the company that they recall the entire lot where this sample originated, and the recall process is underway.

According to William L. Mason, MD, MPH, branch chief for the Preparedness and Emergency Response branch at ADH, it is unlikely that a healthy person would become ill from drinking this water. “People with a weakened immune system might be at higher risk,” Mason said. “Anyone who thinks they may have become ill after drinking this water should consult a physician.”

The affected water was found in a shipment of bottled water ordered by the city of Clinton for use during disaster response efforts that are on-going there. In some communities, including Clinton, public drinking water systems are under precautionary boil orders to help reduce the possibility of diarrheal illness. Residents are urged to boil drinking water for one minute prior to consuming it or to drink bottled water.

“We want to stress that the bottled water recall applies only to the specific lots of Mountain Pure water that are on the recall,” Mason said. “We are still saying that bottled water and water that you have purified by boiling is the safest way to provide drinking water in those communities with disrupted water supplies.”

This water was distributed because the water treatment plant in Clinton, AR, failed after heavy rains. According to the “Pure Mountain” people, the mold was introduced into the bottles as dust fell into the bottles during “purification.”

He said dust particles got into some water bottles during the capping of filled water bottles as part of the final process known as ozonation, where ozone is used to remove iron, manganese, taste, odors and sulfur without adding chemicals.

The particles may not show up for several days, depending on the temperature at which the bottled water is stored, according to Stacks.

It’s bad enough that we can’t produce eggs or peanut butter without contamination. But it seems somehow symbolic that we can’t manage to bottle water without introducing some kind of contamination.

Happy Easter

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Hi folks, Happy Easter! It has been a pretty frustrating week on a lot of the fronts we follow here. There are far too many such weeks. Even the one piece of positive news, the reinstating of the charges against the Blackwater Nisour Square shooters, was based on a somewhat suspect decision by the DC Circuit Court and still very well may lead to another dismissal of the charges in the District Court because, quite frankly, it is probably appropriate that they be dismissed due to the monkeywrenching by the State Department and their demand for Garrity statements from the individuals involved in the shooting.

But that was the week that was, now it is Easter Sunday and it is time to relax, eat and have some fun, whether it is a religious holiday for you or just a good chance to chill. Marcy and Mr. Wheel have been enjoying the last few days by moving. You know how much fun moving is! As for myself, after an extremely busy week, the bmaz family went driveabout in Southern Arizona. Thought, just for grins, I would share a little of our trip. One of the places we went to was San Xavier del Bac Mission, which is just due south of Tucson.

A National Historic Landmark, San Xavier Mission was founded as a Catholic mission by Father Eusebio Kino in 1692. Construction of the current church began in 1783 and was completed in 1797.

The oldest intact European structure in Arizona, the church’s interior is filled with marvelous original statuary and mural paintings. It is a place where visitors can truly step back in time and enter an authentic 18th Century space.

The church retains its original purpose of ministering to the religious needs of its parishioners.

The current church dates from the late 1700’s, when Southern Arizona was part of New Spain. In 1783, Franciscan missionary Fr. Juan Bautista Velderrain was able to begin contruction on the present structure usin money borrowed from a Sonoran rancher. He hired an architect, Ignacio Gaona, and a large workforce of O’odham to create the present church.

Following Mexican independence in 1821, San Xavier became part of Mexico. The last resident Franciscan of the 19th Century departed in 1837. With the Gadsden Purchase of 1854, the Mission joined the United States. In 1859 San Xavier became part of the Diocese of Santa Fe. In 1866 Tucson became an incipient diocese and regular services were held at the Mission once again. Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet opened a school at the Mission in 1872. Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity now teach at the school and reside in the convent.

Clicking on any of the images will give a full size view. The upper is obviously the outside of the mission, the middle one a view of the inside of the church portion and the final view more of a closeup of the altar area, which is simply ornate beyond description and beautiful. It is guarded by two huge golden lions on each side, although they are a bit hard to see well in the picture. San Xavier is pretty cool and just about the only place like it still standing this completely in what what was referred to in the 1600s and 1700s as New Spain.

The other completely awesome place we went was Kartchner Caverns. Kartchner Caverns State Park is about 50 miles southeast of Tucson, is only about ten miles off of Interstate 10 and is easily accessible. It is one of the most beautiful state park facilities you can imagine. Here is a wonderful history of how the cave came to be a jewel in the state park system in Arizona. One of the key players you will read about is Ken Travous, who was along with us on the tour the bmaz family took Saturday; it was really a special occasion.

In November 1974 two young cavers, Gary Tenen and Randy Tufts, were exploring the limestone hills at the base of the Whetstone Mountains. In the bottom of a sinkhole they found a narrow crack leading into the hillside. Warm, moist air flowed out, signaling the existence of a cave. After several hours of crawling, they entered a pristine cavern.

The formations that decorate caves are called “speleothems.” Usually formations are composed of layers of calcite called travertine deposited by water. The form a speleothem takes is determined by whether the water drips, flows, seeps, condenses, or pools.

Kartchner Caverns is home to:

one of the world’s longest soda straw stalactites: 21 feet 3 inches (Throne Room)

the tallest and most massive column in Arizona, Kubla Khan: 58 feet tall (Throne Room)

the world’s most extensive formation of brushite moonmilk (Big Room)

the first reported occurrence of “turnip” shields (Big Room)

the first cave occurrence of “birdsnest” needle quartz formations

many other unusual formations such as shields, totems, helictites, and rimstone dams.

The complex at Kartchner Caverns features a Discovery Center with museum exhibits, a large gift shop, regional displays, a gorgeous theater, and extensive educational information about the caverns and surrounding landscape. There are also campgrounds, hiking trails, lockers, shaded picnic areas, a deli, an amphitheater, and a hummingbird garden. It is simply an incredible experience, and I highly recommend it for anyone visiting the Southern Arizona area. Seriously cool.

So, the members of the bmaz family are back home now, the Wheels are semi-unpacked in their groovy new digs, and all are ready to eat and have happy hour. The best from all of us to all of you, the greatest readers and commenters in the blogosphere. Enjoy!

BIFFOs and Banksters

I almost got distracted from working my yearly post around this picture of Mr. EW and I in Moneygall, taken back in 2008 when Brian Cowen was about to become Ireland’s Taoiseach and Barack O’Bama was about to officially get enough delegates to win the Democratic nomination to be President.

But this very worthwhile Adam Serwer post reminded me:

I think we’ve finally discovered the origins of President Barack Obama‘s un-American worldview (via LGM):

President Obama has officially declared March 2011 Irish American Heritage Month. More importantly the White House also announced that the president would be brewing his own beer called White House Honey Ale for St.Patrick’ Day.

Obama, who said he will pay for the beer making equipment himself, has made presidential history by being the first U.S. president to brew beer at the White House.

It seems that Obama is certainly getting in touch with his Co. Offaly, roots although no one is sure if honey ale is brewed in the town of Moneygall (Obama’s great-great-great grandfather is said to have left Offaly for New York in 1850).

I would love to know more. What I know is troubling enough. And one thing that I do know is his having grown up raised by his Irish-American mother, his view of the Brits, for example, is very different than the average American. When he gave the bust back to the Brits–the bust of Winston Churchill–it was a great insult to the British. But then if you think about it, his perspective as growing up in Dublin with an Irish mother and grandfather, their view of the Irish Republican Army is very different than ours because he probably grew up hearing that the British were a bunch of imperialists who persecuted his grandfather.

Now, back in 2008 when we were wide-eyed idealists, I found it notable that both Cowen and Obama were making a big career move at the same time. Both of them, you see, are Offaly men (just like Mr. EW, I have to admit), what the Irish affectionately call “Big Ignorant Fuckers from Offaly.” So at that point, I imagined there was some special Luck of the BIFFO, which would put them both in good stead as they moved forward to lead their country.

But it turns out that’s not what these two rising national BIFFO leaders had in common. Unfortunately, it seems, it was a fondness for banksters.

Rather than make honey ale (!?), I’ve been corning beef for the last 10 days, which my own beloved BIFFO and I will enjoy with some Guinness. May your Guinness and corned beef bring you the luck of the Irish in the year ahead.

Another Day at the Beach

This was actually taken yesterday–our gorgeous beach weather has given way to nasty freezing rain (though the freezing rain makes a really cool sound).

But while I’m working on other things, I thought I’d share yesterday’s sunshine, dunes, and really cool ice formations.

A Lovely Day at the Beach

Every year, for the first few Sundays after the Super Bowl, McCaffrey the MilleniaLab starts sulking at about 3:00 because for some reason we won’t turn on our weekly football game. (Last year we actually resorted to watching basketball the first weekend after the season ended.)

So we decided to try to tire him out before the sulk hit with a nice walk on the beach (it was a very balmy 39 degrees out).

I’ll let you know whether this effectively pre-empted the first post-football sulk of the season or not.

Egyptian Trash Talk

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Hi there denizens of this strange blog. I am a spooky hacker (No como se Adrian Lamo) and have determined there is far too much negativity in the common daily activities here. I protest. Like an Egyptian. Time to accentuate the positive and eliminate the negative. So here is a little music with which to celebrate what can be accomplished by the youth of a country when they are engaged, mad as hell and not going to take it any more.

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For years, we have been trying to figure out what it will take to wake up the American government, Congress, powers that be and get them to return to the ethos of what this country – the United States – is supposed to stand for and exemplify. Instead of watching Obamaco Organizing For America and Move On lamely and pathetically try to suck up and pray the youth will come out and vote for centrist, status quo, Bush-Lite bullshit in 2012, maybe we should be telling and encouraging the youth to figure out where the American version of Tahrir Square is and helping them get there. It is the least we can do. Seriously.

Our generation has borne the climate change deniers, Tea Party, evolution deniers, Andrew Breitbart and Fox News horse manure and propounded freaking Barak Obama as the hopey-changey salvation. In short, we are totally fucked. Turn the gig over to our kids and get out of the way. If Egypt has proven anything which can be taken home here, it is that we need to be talkin bout a new generation. We are done and have screwed the pooch big time; it is up to them, but we can help them and “prepare the battlefield”.

Okay. Here is the legal disclaimer. There is no way in hell I was going to post the fucking Bangles, even though I kind of like Walk Like An Egyptian. Not gonna do it. So, Live at Pompeii may not quite be Egyptian, but close enough for rock and roll. By the way, I think Suleiman is Pink.

Sister Sara, RIP

As bmaz noted, we have learned that long time commenter and my blogmate at Next Hurrah, “Sister Sara,” passed away last year. If you’re familiar with her comments and posts, you’ll remember that she was incredibly knowledgeable with long experience in progressive politics (including in Wellstone’s early career). It was a tremendous gift to have spent so much time online with her (and meet her in person last year).

There is perhaps no better testament to who she was–and the kind of impact she had on people’s lives–than this post she wrote in 2006 about her kitchen cabinets and loyalty.

The Saga of my new Stove

By Sara

Much is being made these days about the dirty old hippies.  I have a loyalty saga to tell.

About 29 years ago I remodeled my kitchen.  I bought what was then a very expensive stove, (micro on top, real oven below, and 30 inches wide cooking space. )  I’ve since done some cooking — I helped found an AIDS home delivered meals project, and to that objective I calculate I cooked at least part of 90 thousand meals.  I remember the Thanksgiving when I did up 7 donated Turkeys, and much else that would be processed into servings to be delivered.

Alas, last year my oven and broiler failed, the microwave ceased to deliver power you could count on, and two stove burners ceased to function.  Simply put, time for a new stove. The whole stove was pre digital, and 29 years later, no parts.

I went to some appliance stores, and very discouraging.  Tap my 29  year old Tappen, and it was heavy steel.  Tap the new ones, much like a can of pop.  Finally I went to the place where they discount everything and bought a 5 Star — a Commercial Stove, twice what I paid for the Tappen, but at least it could take a missed pan.  But because the micro was incorporated into the old stove, I had to buy a new micro.  (I think I have one that if I miss a step in programing will launch a rocket)

Aah but the problem of moving the 29 year old stove out, and moving the new one in.  To understand it all you have to appreciate how I got a kitchen with cabinets copied from Frank Lloyd Wright designs.

Back in the dark days when the Feds were looking for draft evaders, and worse, moms who harbored draft evaders  put posters of J Edgar Hoover as Evil Man Number One, on their front door saying he was an enemy of the people, the guy who became my master cabinet maker (dresser, stereo cabinets, book cases, file cabinets, and yes, the kitchen)  refused the Draft.  It was difficult, he almost went to the Federal Pen, but I got him the right lawyer and in the end, the lawyer got him off.  I wish I could reconstruct the several hours I spent with his dad who was a submariner during World War II, and who was detailed to film Hirshoma.  Which he did.  What I had to do was take this dad to look at the Federal Pen in our area, Sandstone, and get him to comprehend his first born inside because he would not accept the draft for vietnam.   (You want a dad to stand up for CO Status for Son — well let them look at the walls of a Fed Pen.)

Back to the saga of my stove.  The utility men pulled the old one out, and immediately the kitchen cabinets around it began to cave in.  And they caved and caved and caved.  Ten feet of cabinets up to the 10 food ceiling caved in.  You know what supermarket bags are made for — pulling out everything in cabinets that are in total collapse.

Of course I immediately asked if the stove pullers intended to repair, but then I realized they were going to call insurance and all that, and so I put in a call to my cabinet maker who had mounted the cupboards 29 years earlier, when he was actually still on the run from the FBI.  Voice mail.  But within a few hours he called me back.  Yea, he would remount, moreover he wants to do the other side of the kitchen too.  (Not many of us who have Frank Lloyd Wright copied Kitchens — well at least mostly a copy),  Anyhow within two days I got the cabinets remounted and my grand new stove and micro installed.

Now I told the installers and all why It was I could call a cabinet maker I had employed 29 years earlier, and he would come quickly and fix.  It was because of Vietnam, and how those of us who opposed, supported each other then when and how we could.  It was deeper than that.  Read more

Why Not Monopolize the Term “for Prevention”?

Eight years ago I went to a conference for young breast cancer survivors. It was pretty useful to be around a bunch of other women who, like me, had been diagnosed with breast cancer in their twenties and thirties. It was also useful to hear doctors who had actually thought about things like long term survival and fertility.

But the most memorable–and creepy–part of the conference was the way they referred to us, the survivors, as “customers.” They explained they did it to emphasize the active role we had in deciding our own treatment. But since the conference was sponsored, in part, by a bunch of drug companies selling a bunch of obscenely expensive drugs, I found the term really disturbing.

In addition to the drug companies, Susan G. Komen Foundation sponsored the conference.

And so it is with great interest that I read HuffPo’s report on Susan G. Komen foundation beating up smaller non-profits–at a price tag of almost a $1 million a year–for using the phrase “for the cure.”

In addition to raising millions of dollars a year for breast cancer research, fundraising giant Susan G. Komen for the Cure has a lesser-known mission that eats up donor funds: patrolling the waters for other charities and events around the country that use any variation of “for the cure” in their names.

So far, Komen has identified and filed legal trademark oppositions against more than a hundred of these Mom and Pop charities, including Kites for a Cure, Par for The Cure, Surfing for a Cure and Cupcakes for a Cure–and many of the organizations are too small and underfunded to hold their ground.

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“It’s never our goal to shut down a nonprofit,” [Komen General Counsel Jonathan Blum] said, “and we try very hard to be reasonable, but it’s still our obligation to make sure that our trademarks are used appropriately so there’s no confusion in the marketplace over where people’s money is going.”

Blum told HuffPost that legal fees comprise a “very small part” of Komen’s budget, but according to Komen’s financial statements, such costs add up to almost a million dollars a year in donor funds.

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Michael Mercanti, an intellectual property lawyer, said he is surprised by the large number of oppositions Komen has filed against other charities–a number he would expect from a company like Toys”R”Us or McDonalds, but not a charitable fundraising organization. [my emphasis]

It’s perverse enough that Komen is wasting donor money on protecting its brand from other people trying to combat cancer.

Think about the even more perverse aspect of this: if you wanted a really superb brand, wouldn’t it be better to own “preventing” cancer rather than “curing” it? Wouldn’t the really noble goal be preventing women, people generally, from having to undergo the life-threatening “cures,” along with all the other unpleasantness, in the first place?

But I guess that wouldn’t leave open all the lucrative partnerships with drug companies. I guess that wouldn’t be compatible with selling women on the idea that to survive cancer they must be savvy customers.

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