"An ideal is one thing; living up to it is quite another.... We may be said to have an ideal only when we put forth an effort to realize it."

~~Mahatma Gandi



"In the places I have gone and the people I have met, I have been struck again and again by the fundamental decency and generosity of men and women who work hard without complaint, to meet their responsibilities every day."

~~Barack Obama, November 2008



"Our ability to reach unity in diversity will be the beauty and the test of our civiliztion."

~~Mahatma Gandhi



"We know the difference we can make when we work together to open the doors of opportunity wide enough for everyone to walk through."

~~Barack Obama, August 2008



By Gail Collins, Op-Ed Columnist for The New York Times:

"Our question for today is, who has the most awful political culture, Illinois or New York?
"Already, I have offended many, many readers who believe their state is being unfairly overlooked. I see you waving your hands, New Jersey.

"Excuse me. I was just distracted by the new 66-page federal indictment of Larry Seabrook, a New York City councilman who, along with multitudinous other charges, is accused of altering a receipt from a deli so he could get a $177 reimbursement for a bagel and diet soda.

"One point for New York.

"I was thinking about the dreadful similarities between the two states while listening to the New York State Senate conduct its business this week. First, there was a resolution demanding that the 9/11 terrorist trial not be held in New York.
“We can’t regurgitate that,” said one senator. Another claimed that America’s greatness was demonstrated by the fact that no other country had ever sent rescue missions to Haiti.
Except Costa Rica and Canada and Cuba and ... Stop. When you start having a mental debate with a state senator from Long Island, it’s time to move on.

So, who’s worse? Both states lost their governors to scandal. But Eliot Spitzer is not about to make his debut on “Celebrity Apprentice.” Point Illinois.

"After his sudden elevation, Gov. Pat Quinn of Illinois attempted to save money by giving early release to 1,700 nonviolent state prisoners, some of whom unfortunately turned out to be violent after all. He also gave a State of the State speech in which he boasted about having been named “Mr. Soybean” by the Illinois Soybean Association.

"Meanwhile, Gov. David Paterson of New York, who is mired in a controversy over a racetrack casino contract, demanded that The New York Times produce a list of all the things that are not going to be in a Paterson profile being prepared by the paper so people in Albany will stop speculating that there will be sex in it.

"I am going to call this one a draw.

"In their recent primary, Illinois Democrats — who should know the importance of a lieutenant governor — voted to give their nomination for the No. 2 job to Scott Lee Cohen, an excitable pawnbroker.
Cohen spent millions on campaign ads. Which apparently interfered with his ability to make regular child support payments. Also, he seems to have underestimated the chances that a run for statewide office would draw attention to the fact that he was once charged with holding a knife to his girlfriend’s throat.
So he withdrew from the race in a tearful press conference. At the Hop Haus Tavern. During the halftime of the Super Bowl.

"Illinois inches ahead.

"New York had an incident related to domestic violence this week, too, when the State Senate voted to expel Hiram Monserrate, who had been convicted of assaulting his girlfriend. A special bipartisan committee went to great lengths to produce a complete report. It said that the 29-year-old woman in question, who wound up at a hospital with deep lacerations on her face, was quoted by the medical staff as saying that Monserrate had sliced her with a piece of broken glass.
"Hours later she signed a statement supporting the senator’s convoluted explanation that she got her injuries when he tripped while bringing her a glass of water. The deposition was in English, which she barely speaks. It was written by a Monserrate staff member and notarized by another. She was escorted to the trial by a third. In her testimony, she stood by her senator and insisted that they were in love.
"As the legislators argued about the case, some wanted to know why Monserrate’s crime was any worse than that of another state senator who has been charged with assaulting a photographer.
"O.K., ideally we would not be having our elected officials do either.
"But it was apparent that although these people had passed trillions of bills, resolutions and budget appropriations on the subject of domestic violence, many of them had no clue about what made it a peculiarly corrosive crime.
“A huge number of my male colleagues still don’t have any idea what domestic violence is about — the use of intimacy to manipulate, the power and control,” said Senator Eric Schneiderman, who led the committee.
"During a five-hour, closed-door meeting, Monserrate’s fellow Democrats yelled, threatened and occasionally appeared ready to throttle each other. “It was everyone hashing it out, making every possible argument, the living, breathing essence of democracy,” said Schneiderman.

"Well, actually it would have been slightly more democratic if they had done it on the floor of the Senate.

"Instead, after Monserrate read a statement pointing out that lots of other people in the Legislature get convicted of things, the chamber silently voted 53 to 8 for expulsion.

"It was not exactly the founding fathers at Philadelphia. But, for now, Illinois wins. "



"That is the beauty of all literature.
You discover that your longings are universal longings, that you're not lonely and isolated from anyone.
You belong."

~~F. Scott Fitzgerald



"The only limit to our realization of tomorrow will be our doubts of today.
Let us move forward with strong and active faith."

~~Franklin D. Roosevelt, President of the United States

Women's and Men's Heart Attack Symptoms: What's the Difference?

February is Heart Month!
From WebMD:
Women's and Men's Heart Attack Symptoms: What's the Difference?



By Paul Krugman, Op-Ed Columnist for The New York Times:

"We’ve always known that America’s reign as the world’s greatest nation would eventually end. But most of us imagined that our downfall, when it came, would be something grand and tragic.
"What we’re getting instead is less a tragedy than a deadly farce. Instead of fraying under the strain of imperial overstretch, we’re paralyzed by procedure. Instead of re-enacting the decline and fall of Rome, we’re re-enacting the dissolution of 18th-century Poland.

"A brief history lesson: In the 17th and 18th centuries, the Polish legislature, the Sejm, operated on the unanimity principle: any member could nullify legislation by shouting 'I do not allow!' This made the nation largely ungovernable, and neighboring regimes began hacking off pieces of its territory. By 1795 Poland had disappeared, not to re-emerge for more than a century.
"Today, the U.S. Senate seems determined to make the Sejm look good by comparison.
"Last week, after nine months, the Senate finally approved Martha Johnson to head the General Services Administration, which runs government buildings and purchases supplies. It’s an essentially nonpolitical position, and nobody questioned Ms. Johnson’s qualifications: she was approved by a vote of 94 to 2. But Senator Christopher Bond, Republican of Missouri, had put a 'hold' on her appointment to pressure the government into approving a building project in Kansas City.
"This dubious achievement may have inspired Senator Richard Shelby, Republican of Alabama. In any case, Mr. Shelby has now placed a hold on all outstanding Obama administration nominations — about 70 high-level government positions — until his state gets a tanker contract and a counterterrorism center.
"What gives individual senators this kind of power? Much of the Senate’s business relies on unanimous consent: it’s difficult to get anything done unless everyone agrees on procedure. And a tradition has grown up under which senators, in return for not gumming up everything, get the right to block nominees they don’t like.
"In the past, holds were used sparingly. That’s because, as a Congressional Research Service report on the practice says, the Senate used to be ruled by 'traditions of comity, courtesy, reciprocity, and accommodation.' But that was then. Rules that used to be workable have become crippling now that one of the nation’s major political parties has descended into nihilism, seeing no harm — in fact, political dividends — in making the nation ungovernable.
"How bad is it? It’s so bad that I miss Newt Gingrich.
"Readers may recall that in 1995 Mr. Gingrich, then speaker of the House, cut off the federal government’s funding and forced a temporary government shutdown. It was ugly and extreme, but at least Mr. Gingrich had specific demands: he wanted Bill Clinton to agree to sharp cuts in Medicare.
"Today, by contrast, the Republican leaders refuse to offer any specific proposals. They inveigh against the deficit — and last month their senators voted in lockstep against any increase in the federal debt limit, a move that would have precipitated another government shutdown if Democrats hadn’t had 60 votes. But they also denounce anything that might actually reduce the deficit, including, ironically, any effort to spend Medicare funds more wisely.
"And with the national G.O.P. having abdicated any responsibility for making things work, it’s only natural that individual senators should feel free to take the nation hostage until they get their pet projects funded.
"The truth is that given the state of American politics, the way the Senate works is no longer consistent with a functioning government. Senators themselves should recognize this fact and push through changes in those rules, including eliminating or at least limiting the filibuster. This is something they could and should do, by majority vote, on the first day of the next Senate session.
"Don’t hold your breath. As it is, Democrats don’t even seem able to score political points by highlighting their opponents’ obstructionism.
"It should be a simple message (and it should have been the central message in Massachusetts): a vote for a Republican, no matter what you think of him as a person, is a vote for paralysis. But by now, we know how the Obama administration deals with those who would destroy it: it goes straight for the capillaries. Sure enough, Robert Gibbs, the White House press secretary, accused Mr. Shelby of 'silliness.' Yep, that will really resonate with voters.
"After the dissolution of Poland, a Polish officer serving under Napoleon penned a song that eventually — after the country’s post-World War I resurrection — became the country’s national anthem. It begins, 'Poland is not yet lost.'
"Well, America is not yet lost. But the Senate is working on it."





"Our Founding Fathers, faced with perils we can scarely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man, a charter expanded by the blood of generations. Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience's sake."
~~Barack Obama, Inaugural Address



From Mothering Magazine, January 2005:

"Get a leg up on recycling by going directly to the source, and freecycling. Based on the maxim that
'one persons trash is another persons treasure,' www.freecycle.org utilizes the enormous networking
capacity of the internet to link givers and takers. Completely and adamantly outside of the cash
economy, the non-profi t site is a clearinghouse forYahoo! Groups across the globe, that function locally
to connect nearby residents to exchange free items. Following detailed instructions provided by the site, volunteer moderators oversee and monitor
the postings in each area group.
"Created in May, 2003, to divert items from the Tucson, Arizona waste stream, the grassroots organization has grown to serve over 1,700 communities, with over half a million freecyclers.
"Logon and join an existing group, or start one, in your community. Help your family and your neighbors
to live more simply by de-cluttering and sharing your abundance, and also by seeing what free options are  out there before you open your wallet and buy more stuff."

Zztopdog notes: Want to know more or to find a Freecycle group in your area? Check out http://www.freecycle.org/.



"Making your mark on the world is hard. If it were easy, everyone would do it. But it's not. It takes patience, it takes commitment, and it comes with plenty of failure along the way. The real test is not whether you avoid this failure, because you won't. It's whether you let it harden or shame you into inaction, or whether you learn from it; whether you choose to persevere."

~~Barack Obama, Southern New Hampshire University Commencement