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Thu Mar 17, 2011 at 11:02 AM PDT

To Panic or Not to Panic

by Circle

That is the question. I'm perched on the California coast in beautiful Mendocino county. It's been almost a week since I woke up to a tsunami alert and, in fact, Noyo Harbor (the main harbor in the area) suffered sufficient damage to be declared an emergency. So whatever is happening over there in Japan, I'm one of those West Coasters who has already felt the global connection and the sense that Pacific Ocean or no, Japan is not so far away that events there do not reach out and touch my life. My biggest question about all this, is how worried should I be about nuclear fallout?

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I teach Critical Thinking in community college. I live in California and Critical Thinking is required for a BA or BS. Point being, my students are young people who plan to transfer to a four-year college, supposedly the cream of the crop of my community college. They mostly belong to the Facebook generation: they text, use their cell phones to access the Internet, and send me late papers via email. But when I asked them to talk about what just happened in Egypt, the majority told me they didn’t know much about what was going on.

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Fri Sep 11, 2009 at 07:38 AM PDT

WHEE: More than a Baked Potato

by Circle

Welcome to a WHEE [Weight, Health, Eating and Exercise] Diary. I volunteered to write something about my 100 pound weight loss (over the last nine months) after being asked to do so by a WHEE reader earlier this week.

My title,"More than a Baked Potato," comes from a film about food, women, and eating disorders called Eating: A Very Serious Comedy About Women and Food. In it, a French journalist (note the book, French Women Don't Get Fat) travels to Los Angeles to interview American women. She attends a birthday party with women of all ages in attendance, everything from grandmothers to would-be movie starlets. When the cake is cut and pieces start being sent around the circle, no one will eat the cake. No One! As the women are interviewed, they all end up talking about food and their dysfunctional relationship to it. One woman, who is particularly pretty, says wistfully, "I'd just like to meet a man who interests me more than a baked potato."

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Sat Apr 18, 2009 at 09:50 PM PDT

Wish Me Well

by Circle

I'm just one of the many here who rarely writes a diary, comments only occasionally, but reads daily—and I'm checking in tonight because tomorrow I'm heading to San Francisco to attend the 28th Annual Northern California Book Awards Ceremony. I'm going because my debut novel, Requiem for the Author of Frankenstein has been nominated for the Fiction Award, recognized as one of the five best works of fiction by a Northern California author published over the past year. I'm so honored.

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I suppose this is a little like putting up a dairy on cats or hummingbirds. I hope it's not so far off topic that it annoys people, but... I found an article this morning, from the Daily Telegraph about a new book on Frankenstein. It’s written by a professor from the University of Deleware, Charles Robinson, one of the foremost experts on Mary Shelley in the US. It interests me, of course, because I have a book out—Requiem for the Author of Frankenstein—which I wrote about in June—it won an "Indie" Book award. Robinson's new book, The Original Frankenstein, makes the arguement that Percy Bysshe Shelley played such a significant role in the writing of Frankenstein that the authorship of the book should be listed as "Mary Shelley with Percy Bysshe Shelley." I don't agree—that's what this diary is about.

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"So it’s sort of like the end of democracy, in a way. We don’t know what the government is doing. People inside the government don’t know what the government is doing." —Seymour Hersh yesterday, June 30,2008, on Democracy Now! Talking about the current covert operations against Iran

Color me low on hope, but the diaries on the Bush administration's secret doings in Iran yesterday (here and here and here and here) cycled through with little comment, and no REC list or Rescue. It’s unlikely my missive will fair better, but it should: Hersh is talking some serious shit that could impact the election, including a possible October Surprise designed to throw the electorate in to chaos and patriotic hysteria.  

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So. I drove back through Anderson Valley, yesterday, through Boonville, and into Sonoma County, through Cloverdale south to Rohnert Park where I had an interview at KRCB, a Sonoma county NPR station. Otherwise, I wouldn't have made the drive. The smoke would have kept me in. Air pollution is two to three times the amount considered safe by federal standards.

"All of Northern California is being impacted by severely degraded air quality," said Lake County health officer Karen Tait. "Residents should be prepared to stay indoors and avoid vigorous physical activity."

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Driving through Boonville, California, in Mendocino County this weekend, the smoke was overwhelming. There are 131 fires burning in my home county, the result of a freak lightening storm last weekend. The LA Times called it an

"unusual weather pattern" that "sent dry lightning flashing to the ground—again and again and again. More than 8,000 lightning strikes touched earth, according to the National Weather Service."

The result is something like (as of this morning) 800 fires across Northern California, which by Monday had burned 44,000 acres.

So, while McCain and the Republicans want Americans to focus on the dangers of terrorist attacks, Americans (and earthlings everywhere) are suffering unparalleled loss from the changing weather patterns. I don't mean any disrespect to the losses this country suffered on 9/11, but, frankly, IMHO the dangers from Global Warming, exceed the dangers of terrorism and it's about time we take the weather seriously.

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No kidding. I just won the 2008/09 Historical Fiction Award from the Independent Book Publishing Professional Group, part of their Next Generation Indie Book Awards.

I won the award for Requiem for the Author of Frankenstein, my historical novel about the life of Mary Shelley.

I'm so excited. I feel like I'm sharing good karma with Barack Obama.

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Remember the Trojan Horse? Achilles was dead and the ten-year Trojan War was at a stalemate when Odysseus sent the Greek ships into hiding so it appeared they’d given up. He presented a big wooden horse as a gift—a peace offering—leaving it in front of the city walls of Troy. Fascinated, believing they’d finally won, the Trojans dragged the startling creature into their city and celebrated. Inside the horse, however, were Greek soldiers who slipped out of it’s belly and destroyed Troy from within.

Fact or legend? Doesn’t matter: the symbolism should put us on our guard. We’ve been warned of late that McCain trolls out are out and about. They’re easy enough to spot, spouting their Republican talking points. What's more difficult, and more insidious are the infiltrators who lay low and try and fit in, doing their business in a quite a different way. I say this not to be awarded a tin hat or drummed out of the dialogue for my paranoia, but because I think it’s worth considering that DailyKos has undoubtedly been infiltrated by clever PsychOps types who aren’t going about things in an obvious way.

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I was eighteen when Bobby Kennedy was gunned down. I went to sleep before the news hit. My father woke me up the next morning. I stumbled upstairs thinking he couldn’t be saying what I thought I had heard him say, that there must be some mistake. I remember the huge and suffocating sense of "no!" that was building in my chest like an explosion of hatred for the injustice of it. I'd been thirteen when they shot John Kennedy, and it'd been barely two months since Martin Luther King had gone down. Both deaths had been traumatic, but Bobby's death felt personal—I'd seen him just two days before, been close enough to touch his hand.

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Fri May 23, 2008 at 11:18 PM PDT

Bobby's Words

by Circle

I listened to Ted Kennedy's eulogy tonight and felt a sudden hunger to hear the sound of Robert Kennedy's voice. I was eighteen years old when he was gunned down. I saw him speak maybe two days before his murder. He was at a synagogue in Portland, Oregon on his way to the California primary.

I remember the morning of June 6, forty years ago, waking up to my father's voice. My bedroom was in the basement and I had an intercom, high-tech communication for 1968.  My father's voice oddly tinny in that little box, calling me out of sleep. I remember sitting up, rubbing my eyes thinking what's he talking about? Thinking what a stupid, terrible thing to say, to tease about. I should have known better:  I was thirteen when they shot John Kennedy, seventeen when they took out Martin Luther King and, anyway, my father didn't make those kind of jokes. It shouldn't have been so shocking. It shouldn't have been so hard to make sense of his words, to wake up to the truth of the matter, but it was.

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