So here's what's going on this week around here:

  • Busy at work, but not as crazed as last week.
  • Thinking about sick friends and considering how best to help
  • Keeping only half an eye on the news
  • Fooling around with iPod more (David got me a dock!)
  • Putting off on uploading more photos to Flickr
  • Getting ready to travel again Real Soon (just a weekender)
  • Realizing that there's not a lot of time left
  • Playing catch-up in nearly every area of my life

Now that the Weekend of Crazed Running Around is over, I can finally say something about what was going on. Saturday, we had a bat mitzvah to go to for a cousin of my husband David's. I'd also committed us to volunteer at St Columba's rummage sale. Wow, how ecumenical of us! I should explain that the side of the family with all the cousins (they are only 1/3 way through all the bar/bat mitzvah celebrations, with at least 5 more in years to come). Then we'd also committed (or should have been committed for committing ourselves) to going back to the North Shore and working on a service project that was the "party" part of the bat mitzvah celebration. There was no guarantee that this was actually going to work, but now the timetable can be laid out with reasonable accuracy.


9:30am: Drive 1 hour to bat mitzvah in Highland Park (on time) 1:30pm: Drive 1 hour back home, change, go to St Columba (ran late) 3:30pm: Drive 1 hour, this time to Waukegan to volunteer party (on time) 8:00pm: Drive 1 hour back home again, home again, jiggity jog The discerning, non-spamming reader (that will be Mitch. Hi, Mitch!) will note that we spent 4 hours on the road. And we wondered why we were so tired and wiped out at 9 o'clock at night. Then I had to do some important quaffling and wittering and stressing and worrying about the next day's events. The bat mitzvah service was interesting because it was in a different synagogue from the one most of that side of the family attend, and they use a new, gender-neutral prayer book that made for enjoyable browsing while we were either waiting for something to happen or for a song to finish. Some of the incidental prayers toward the back were very beautiful and poetic. The work party, incidentally, was AWESOME though daunting. Basically, the parents put on a volunteer event at an alternative education center in an economically depressed part of Waukegan. Because of who they are and their huge social circle, there were about 400-500 adults and teens there, all put to work on carefully designed, easily completed painting projects. David and our niece Melissa and I worked on a wall mural with some young girls that were friends of our cousin's from camp. We managed, but I'm afraid that we had some problems with the detail work. In the end, we went for a kind of "WAY outsider art" look that worked. I just wish I'd been keeping more of an eye on helping Melissa rather than fussing over the crappy brush I was trying to use for lettering. The middle of the mural had a kind of unique mood, but by the end I'd figured out how to see the art that Melissa was able to produce and not worry about boring old color-within-the-lines conventionalities. And then we cleaned up the boo-boos and sharpened up the edges of the lines and letters and it really did look pretty good when we were done. Then we all cleaned up, scrubbed paint off the floor (even Melissa's dad, who was just there to pick her up, pitched in) and trooped into the gym for a ginormous pizza party. They brought in at least 40 boxes of Lou Malnati's pizza, plus big aluminum tubs of salad and mostaccioli. All very well, and everyone was in their painty duds and no one was all putting-on-the-dog dressed up as is the normal practice at these events. I was really enjoying the people-watching (and the pizza) until the DJ started up. About then, David got a headache (no coincidence there), and it was time to go.


8:30am-9:25am Drink coffee, worry, pack "concert MC" clothes
9:30am Rush off, late, to choir practice
10:30am Church stuff (sit stand sit kneel stand sing pray etc.)
12:00pm-12:10pm 10 minutes to just PLAY like a little kid with Noah.
12:10pm-1:30pm Clean cobwebs while others clean floors
1:30pm Greet artists with great affection and warmth (love the boys)
1:40pm Run downstairs and upstairs a few times on errands, panic, etc.
1:50pm Assist other church ladies in arranging dessert tables
2:00pm Run around outside with Fr. Ted putting up banner and posters
2:20pm Run to da Jool for some needed items and lunch
3:00pm send Fr. Ted to da Jool for some other needed items, eat lunch, change
3:20pm Arrange flowers in bud vases for dessert tables in sanctuary
3:30pm Sell tickets at the door (sadly, none to "unknowns")
4:10pm Introduce "the boys" and enjoy concert
5:10pm Intermission. Church ladies run downstairs to fetch dessert
5:40pm Curtain call. Standing ovation. Dessert and coffee at hand.
5:41pm-6:39pm 6:40pm Uncomfortable realization that "fundraiser" was close, but no cigar
7:00pmish Mostly done with clearing up. Wave goodbye to artists. Bye, boys!
7:30pm Home. Collapse on couch. Vow never to run another "fundraiser." 🙄

Honestly, the concert itself was a smash. It was great visiting with everyone and laughing at their patter during the concert. Apparently, when they do school concerts there's more joking around than for their "serious" concerts, and they felt relaxed enough with us to kid around a little more than last time. Jon, the French horn player, demonstrated why he often puts his hand in the bell of the instrument for some pieces. Rather than changing the sound or anything technical like that, it's where he keeps…his…squirt gun! And squirt us he did. Kind of risky for a concert in a church, but it got a big laugh (it was still quite a warm day).

I just wish it had been better attended (and more successful). That's a major disappointment, and I had been beating myself up for weeks over things done and left undone in the publicizing of it. But I think that turnout would have been light even if I had literally papered the town with flyers. It was just… not a good weekend to expect people to be in town for an afternoon, indoor concert. Damn. At least the people who were there really enjoyed it, and a lot of people lingered quite a while afterwards, chatting. They seemed to really enjoy themselves, which was one goal achieved, I guess. And as someone pointed out, it's asking a lot of people to attend any event in a church that's not a wedding or a funeral. Still, it's hard not to compare the family mega-event on Saturday to our mini-event on Sunday and feel… like a lamer. Ironically, even I realize that we are far better off than people who live in poverty. Somehow we have to figure out a way to help them, if we're to help ourselves out of this "we're too small to do anything" funk.

[tags]Synergy Brass Quintet[/tags] 

The U.S. Declines (in more ways than one)

Anglican Communion News Service>[ENS] In response to the United States’ proposed revisions to UN poverty-reduction strategies – as reported in today’s

More info: Accessing the NY Times archive through their RSS feeds.New York Times and Washington Post – the Most Rev. Frank T. Griswold, Presiding Bishop and Primate of the Episcopal Church, issued the following statement:

“I am deeply troubled by reports today that the United States has proposed revisions to UN global-poverty-reduction strategies that would undermine international commitments and partnerships already at work in the developing world. The Administration’s sudden opposition to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the international target for rich nations to contribute 0.7% of GNP toward poverty reduction places an unwelcome obstacle in the path toward a more stable and secure world.

Guess who? It’s our newly “appointed” ambassador to the U.N., John Bolton. He’s raising all the old righty-tighty objections, and more than a few hackles. The work of hundreds of middle- and higher- level functionaries from dozens and dozens of countries could totally “unravel”, because if we stomp into the sandbox with a laundry list of objections, other countries may bring their laundry lists back with them to an upcoming meeting:

Mr. Bolton, who was appointed by the White House three weeks ago while Congress was in recess after he failed to gain Senate approval, was championed by President Bush as the best man to bring about needed reform at the United Nations.

Among the changes under consideration are the substitution of the Human Rights Commission with a more powerful Human Rights Council that would no longer allow rights violators onto the panel; the creation of a Peacebuilding Commission to help countries emerging from conflict; the defining of terrorism to exclude its justification as a national resistance or liberation tool; and the empowerment of the international community to intervene in countries that fail to protect their people from genocide and ethnic cleansing.

The American objections center on parts of the document that approve measures and offices that the United States has opposed in other forums.

Among them are the International Criminal Court, which the United States says could hear frivolous actions against Americans abroad; the Kyoto Protocol on global warming; the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty; and a pledge to devote 0.7 percent of gross national product to development.

The United States also objects to the document’s stress on disarmament rather than nonproliferation and says it lacks clarity in assigning responsibility to a management oversight committee and fails to make clear the needs for developing nations to provide better governance so that aid can be properly directed to the needy.

Dammit. DAMMIT. We’re supposed to be the leaders of the free world. We’re supposed to be leaders. And we’re backpedaling furiously. How the hell can we MakePovertyHistory with an administration of cold-hearted bullies whose only “concern” is for big business and imposing their “my way or the highway” politics on the world?

These bastards are not leaders, unless it’s to lead the rest of the sheep bass-ackwards into the 19th century.

Teen Petitions Downing Street

Teenager Takes Petition To Downing Street

A British teen is taking 2,000 signed petition cards to Downing Street in London in an effort to keep attention focused on world poverty. It came out of an event sponsored by the Church of England, which has reasons of its own to keep the MakePovertyHistory movement going. What with all the terrorism news, it seems like MPH has gotten pushed off the international radar, but it’s still there, still pushing toward the goal.

God Did Not Make Us All Equal

BBC NEWS | Africa | Niger children starving to death

Hey, remember that country where Joseph Wilson didn’t find a plot to sell yellowcake uranium to the Iraqis? Children are still starving there in droves.

Drought and a plague of locusts are part of the cause, but one mother says, “As far as I’m concerned, God did not make us all equal – I mean, look at us all here. None of us has enough food.”

It seems to me that Doctors Without Borders/Medicins Sans Frontieres is one worth charity worth supporting, as they’re running feeding centres.

St Paul’s

So thanks then, terrorists. You’ve just succeeded in bringing the families of millions of Londoners that bit closer together, giving them an increased love of their city and an enhanced appreciation of their way of life. You might have destroyed the lives of several hundred people, but – and this is stating the bloody obvious you fuckwits – you’ve achieved nothing.

My train goes through Kings Cross and my office is less than half a mile from three of the bombs, and how did it affect me and thousands like me? I had a longer walk to the station on the way home; it was an otherwise beautiful evening and I needed the exercise anyway, so big deal. Oh, and I got a bit angry, a mood tempered by St Paul’s Cathedral, still a symbol of London’s resilience, gleaming proudly in the evening sun with a huge Make Poverty History banner wrapped around its dome.

Get it into your thick skulls that this kind of shit just doesn’t work. Never did and never will. Right now, my thoughts go out to those who’ve been more directly affected by this morning.

Damn straight. I’ve been reading clagnut for about 18 months now via Bloglines
yet I’d only had a vague idea that Richard was somewhere near Brighton, not that he might work in London and commute.

The controlled fury of the Londoners whose stories I’ve read fills me with admiration. They won’t lose sight of the really important stuff or be dissuaded by the actions of a few misguided extremist wackjobs.

They’ll just get on with it. As should all the rest of us.



The bracelets arrived yesterday – I ordered 5 from MakePovertyHistory early last week, and even with the high demand and last minute nature of the order, the Royal Mail still got them to me just as things are starting to get interesting in Edinburgh. One recent pitched battle between protesters, who sound like an unruly but well-coiffed lot, was described by The Guardian as “The Battle of the Gerania.”

The paper’s Backbencher adds some amusing and/or alarming details of conditions in “Auld Reekie,” when the shops were full of people taking advantage of sales while waiting for scruffy activists and anarchists to move on. She reports a conversation with the diplomatic editor, who took a pretty gloomy view of Things In General and also of Live 8 In Particular:

“Though we like to think that the Live 8 concert has an impact on the summit, I doubt it very much. I doubt that what Bob Geldof has said has affected Bush’s thinking. The officials who basically drew up the dossier met last Friday morning, and although the concert was still going on, they had finished their work by then. A lot of these decisions are hard-headed. Each country is acting in its own interests – economic, social and, obviously, political. It’s not influenced by a concert.

Well, that’s kind of depressing. I hope he’s wrong.

I’m sure there are many well-meaning people who are honestly hoping that marching and attending concerts will make a difference, but at the same time there are probably plenty of other people who just want a chance to put the boot in. It’s already happening in Edinburgh, where the local football fans (known as “casuals” in local police parlance) jumped in to some of the protests just to raise a little hell.

I watched HBO’s “The Girl In The Cafe” the other night – you could call it the first geopolitical romantic comedy – and enjoyed it. It’s a strange beast – it was written and produced very quickly, so that it could be released the weekend before G8. It’s the story of two awkward, isolated people trying to reach out to each other, who just happen to feel strongly about world poverty, and one of whom is a minor functionary in the British delegation to the G8 meeting. For the movie, the location is Reykjavik, but at the end there’s a silent notice that the real meeting takes place this week in Gleneagles, Scotland. For a personal film with an agenda, it’s not bad; Bill Nighy as the incredibly repressed minor bureaucrat is amazing. The ending is left ambiguous, so that you don’t know what the final declaration was.

I only just now realized he also played Slartibartfast; quite a range. And apparently he’s better known for playing rakes, roues, and scalliwags, but not usually as a leading man. Well done.

Anyway, the bracelet stays on until further notice. I don’t know what I’ll do with the remaining 4.


Original upload: GinnyRED57.

UK Religious Leaders in G8 Plea

Leaders from the Christian, Jewish and Muslim faiths have urged Tony Blair to play “the fullest part” in helping the world’s poorest countries.
The prime minister must use the UK’s G8 presidency to help “halve extreme poverty”, they say in a letter.

The G8 leaders must cancel the debt of the poorest nations, they add.

The letter is from by the Archbishops of Canterbury and Westminster, the Chief Rabbi, the Council of Mosques and Imams chair and the Free Churches head.

Now that’s what I call ecumenicalism in action. There’s actually hope they’ll succeed, too.

What Is Make Poverty History?

It has been to Downing Street, caught the imagination of Nelson Mandela and attracted a plethora of celebrities – so just what is Making Poverty History?

In just six months the campaign has grabbed numerous headlines and can count on the support of pop stars, clergy and statesmen alike.

So what are the coalition’s AIMS? How is it FUNDED? How are the CHURCHES involved? What has it got to do with the POLITICIANS? Why does it attract the CELEBRITIES?

And just what are those WRISTBANDS?

I’ve ordered some of the British wristbands. The American version is available here.

Live 8 is July 2, and I’ll probably watch at least part of it online.

It’s all to convince the G8 leaders meeting later in July that they should heed the call to make poverty history in our lifetime. I hope it succeeds. It seems like it might be pie-in-the-sky and Pollyannaish, but the only way to get some government officials to listen sometimes is to make an almighty big noise, and this is one way to do it.

1 Billion A Year


Yesterday was the Day of the African Child, and international aid officials that met to mark the day noted that it would cost approximately 1 billion dollars per year to adequately care for the millions of children in Africa orphaned by AIDS or war or famine. The money is needed to pay for school fees or health care.

A small investment in Africa’s children now means more stable societies in the future, because the people are educated and productive. This seems like another good reason to make poverty history.

BBC NEWS | Africa | Appeal to help Africa’s orphans