Category Archives: Words to Live By


“Once a little boy sent me a charming card with a little drawing on it. I loved it. I answer all my children’s letters — sometimes very hastily — but this one I lingered over. I sent him a card and I drew a picture of a Wild Thing on it. I wrote, “Dear Jim: I loved your card.” Then I got a letter back from his mother and she said, “Jim loved your card so much he ate it.” That to me was one of the highest compliments I’ve ever received. He didn’t care that it was an original Maurice Sendak drawing or anything. He saw it, he loved it, he ate it.”

– Maurice Sendak

(Thanks to Kallyn for sharing!)

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“Losing our faith in art is, in a secular culture, what losing our faith in God was to a religious one; God only knows what losing our faith in desserts must be.”
— Adam Gopnik, in last week’s New Yorker

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Hello December!

Wow. I’m not going to lie, National Blog Posting Month was way harder this year than ever before.

As I’ve mentioned before, it’s hardest to maintain a blog when there’s something big going on in your life that you can’t write about for one reason or another. It’s tough, because my blog is basically just a collection of my thoughts and ideas, so when my thoughts are totally consumed with something I can’t discuss, writing is nearly impossible. Normally I just take a temporary hiatus until something bloggable comes along, but I felt driven to complete the post-every-day challenge this month, even though my mind was elsewhere. I can honestly say I’m not proud of the quality of some of my posts, but hell, I did it.

I should have some fun stuff to write about in the near future, so I’ll try my best not to disappear in December like I have in past years. (Although, I will need to take a bit of a break to study for finals).

Until then, I thought I’d leave you with a few quotes from the past couple days that I liked:

“I trust in Portlanders’ sense of fairness; that bad actions by one member of any group does not and should not be generalized or applied more widely to other members of that same group. Otherwise, as part of the biggest racial group in Portland, European-Americans, producing many crimes daily, would be in deep trouble.”

– Portland Mayor Sam Adams, in response to a question about Portland’s Somali community in the wake of the bomb attempt here last weekend.

“We need to learn not to profile one race of people. Because actually, most of the world hates us.”

– Kyle from South Park


Filed under Bleeding-Heart Liberal, Keeping Portland Weird, Words to Live By

Liberty Scanners

“They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”
– Benjamin Franklin

I don’t believe I have all the information about the new TSA body scanners, although I have read quite a few articles on the subject in the last few days.  I’m not usually the type of person to worry about things like BPA-free water bottles, high-tension power lines or anything else that might somehow make me sick without my knowledge…  I guess I just figure there are so many things to worry about in this world that we can’t all worry about everything.  (And apparently, I have chosen to worry about spiders and logging trucks).  However, of all government agencies, I think the TSA would be the least likely to be concerned with my personal well-being, especially when sacrificing it could in some way make them feel “safer” or look tougher.

Of the handful of articles and posts I’ve read, this one was the most interesting to me because, although the author notes that he does not specialize in radiation, he is a Ph.D. student who is clearly used to thinking scientifically and doing research the rest of us might not think to do (or even know how to do).  He itemizes every juncture at which the TSA has failed to conduct thorough safety trials or utilize critical thinking.  I highly recommend reading it, even though it’s long.

What this post showed me, assuming it’s all factual, is that there are enough unanswered questions to make me want to opt out of these scanners the next time I fly (if I’m even subjected to them).  Although having a TSA employee pat me down is not an exciting option either, I think there is less potential risk.

It is worth noting, however, that other people who may have been traumatized in some sexual way (which I have not) might find both of these options (the scanner and the pat down) horrifying for different reasons.  I can’t even imagine how difficult that experience would be for them.

In some ways, I also feel bad for the people employed by the TSA who have to perform these scans and searches.  Although I’m sure some of them are just grown-up hall monitors on a power trip, I’m sure lots of them are people who just desperately need a paycheck and wish they weren’t the face of the organization that’s implementing these rules.  These shirts and underwear are kind of funny, but they’re sending the message to the wrong people.  I bet lots of the TSA personnel are even less excited about these new regulations than the people buying those shirts.

The other thing is that you can’t out-think terrorists.  No matter what you do, they will work harder and try crazier things to bypass your systems, if they really want to.  People who want to endanger others MORE than they value their own life and safety are absolutely terrifying for that reason.  I’m not saying that there will be another successful terrorist attack or that there won’t… I’m just saying that this constant search for the terrorist-proof system is fruitless and only stirs up more anger and fear, which is exactly what we don’t need.

As you can see, I haven’t exactly organized my thoughts on the matter, nor am I ever sure I’m getting accurate information, but it’s frustrating to feel this new system has been implemented before proper testing and without concern for the peaceful, innocent individuals it affects.

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“The gross national product … does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education, or the joy of their play. It does not include the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages; the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public officials. It measures neither our wit nor our courage; neither our wisdom nor our learning; neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country; it measures everything, in short, except that which makes life worthwhile.”
Robert F. Kennedy

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An Irish Woman

One of my mom’s most adorable habits is the saving and mailing of clippings. Anytime she finds an article, a comic, a quote or a photo that makes her think of someone, she cuts it out and sends it to them. Usually she’ll write a little note on the clipping, like “Isn’t this great? Love you!” or “FYenjoyment.” Sometimes when she sends serious or heavy material, she seems to worry that she’s overstepping her bounds, so her notes will say “Take what you like and leave the rest.” or “A little hokey, but I liked the part about personal responsibility.” Sometimes these clippings make it onto my fridge or into a box of keepsakes under my bed, but even if they go into the recycling bin, they still make my day.

When I was cleaning today, I found a magazine my mom sent me months ago. I flipped through it and a couple clippings fell out. They must be at least 8 months old, because one of them was this obituary, cut out of the Missoula newspaper. My mom’s scribbled message at the top says, “This is the best obit I ever read! Too bad I didn’t know her.”

In case you don’t feel like reading the whole thing, here are some of my favorite parts:

“In an obituary, you generally give the timeline of a person’s life through a list of dates and geographic locations where they spent time. Grandma Fran represents the end of an era. She represents the end of a long cultural and family journey which begins in Ireland and ends in America and this type of ending must be marked with a large sound so that the descendants have the great comfort to remember who they are and where they came from and the ties that bind them. This type of death cannot be summed up in linear dates; it must be understood in the abstract chaos of the Irish.”

“She loved humor, blood relatives, canned food, the Democratic Party, and the sense that you’d better enjoy the moment due to the inevitability of bad luck showing its face. She detested the royal family, corporate greed and Republican dogma.”

“Grandma Fran had in her long life moments of great strength. She gathered the strength to leave her husband to protect her children during a period of time when women could not leave or support themselves.”

“Grandma Fran had in her long life moments of great blessing… Of all the blessings that she experienced in her long life, none were as important to her as her family.”

What an incredible woman.  I agree, mom – too bad we didn’t know her.

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“It is by studying little things that we attain the great art of having as little misery, and as much happiness as possible.”
– Samuel Johnson

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