Benny's World

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Memories..and perhaps a couple of Xmas Traditions

When one is older, one can start looking back at a timeline of Xmas or holiday memories. Here's a very selected one of memories that were poignant for me.

Thirty-something years ago: watching my niece being excited about Christmas around the tree with all of us around..and with Walt Disney record and book, "A Visit for St. Nicholas".

Twenty years ago: being with my former college sweetheart, celebrating and ending our last love story chapter, listening to Willie Nelson's "You Were Always on my Mind" on the car radio.

Seventeen years ago: celebrating Xmas in Stockbridge, MA with my first spouse after both of us being laid off and with some diligent searching, we found jobs in the northeast. We didn't have enough money or vacation to see our families, but we had a nice time in Stockbridge. I discovered lobster pie for the first time--yum, yum.

Ten years ago: being separated from my first spouse, but celebrating Xmas with a friend who was recently divorced. We went to see the movie "Waiting to Exhale," followed by going to a party of his friends, some of which have gone to the Universe since then, perhaps as angels. They were compassionate and smart ones. I remember feeling like I wasn't that smart since the lowest IQ among them was about 150. (My IQ is not that high anyway--but it was a topic discussed.) But I also knew I could hold my own since my experience was pretty different and I had a good job that required a lot of discovery work, just as those in the room did; they were mainly lawyers.

Six years ago, some housemates and I had a holiday party in which we celebrated a house-mate's birthday and wore Star Trek stuff. I introduced Lorena McKennitt to the crowd with her wonderful holiday music, "To Drive a Cold Winter Away". It was also heartbreaking because someone I loved very much had fallen in love with someone else, and it was revealed two days later through discussion. I had a difficult transition with the relationship, and I have some regrets how I handled it, but the next paragraph portends something.

Five years ago: buying a Xmas tree that didn't fit in the house with my new partner. Challenging times since we weren't satisfied with our jobs or with ourselves either. Awaiting change.

Tonight a year ago, I was listening to Shawn Colvin's Lullabyes, and in particular, "All Through the Night". Memories of my Xmas with my niece came back. She is with child this year, expecting next June. Her spouse is a good man.

But I also thought of Little Jack and Emma Claire Edwards. I still think of them, and how Elizabeth is beating back her cancer very well. JRE has travelled almost as much as he did during his senate years, but with a very clear mission, two-fold: to support Dem candidates who want to bring our country back closer to the middle, and most of all, to promote the awareness of poverty, and as Iddybud put it this way, making "bridges out of poverty" (sort of taken from the bookcast with Jim Wallis recently, but perhaps JRE borrowed that expression from her.)

I wonder about the Wallis's and Edwards' Xmas traditions. As for me, I don't have many as you can tell from this post. The commonality may be the music of both secular and traditional Christmas (with a capital C) that I love so much. At this moment as I type, I'm listening to XMRadio 25, which has become for tonight and tomorrow, "Holiday Traditions", and Perry Como is on singing "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer" and I've heard some other old artists that I heard listened to on tv Xmas shows: Arthur Fiedler "Dance with the Sugar Plum Fairy" and "Sleighride; Andy Williams doing "A Song for the Xmas Tree"; and Brenda Lee, "Rockin' Around the Xmas Tree", which I sang with other carolers in the halls of Evans Junior High the one year I was in choir.

The readers will note that I've not mentioned my childhood memories. I have them, but confess many of them were a major disappointment or very downtrodden. But I do remember one thing that I loved: a toy piano, whereby I thought myself how to play "Silent Night" and did so. I've heard that same piano sound at the conclusion of "Snow" by Lorena McKennitt, and Mannheim Steamroller's version of "Silent Night."

So there is a brief timeline. Despite having obtained a substantial knee injury late this summer, I think how I am better off than when I was a child or those who are survivors of Katrina. I think about those who have lost far more than I in terms of human life, whether those deaths are due to supernatural causes or cancer.

My readers can empathize with their own losses, whatever they may be. But the gains: the Universe keeps moving us, pushing the envelope for the better where we can, and hopefully we learn from the losses. The holiday music is just a beautiful metaphor of a good man who came into our lives for 33 years. Not once did he feel superior about his situation as he had no home, no money, etc; but cared about the poor and put himself as a healer, however, he knew his time would be short.

Happy Christmas and peace on earth to my friends, my fellow bloggers, and especially to the Edwards family. Through their tribulations, as well as great efforts to push the envelope on many good issues, they remind me there is so much work to do in the tradition of our values; we believe that those at a disadvantage and do not wish to be though can be lifted up and they can lift themselves up perspiration and faith. They just need a little bit of a start.

I may complain about my heartaches, but I still "choose to be inspired".

Blessed be.

Power We Didn't Grant

I am reposting this as the other one inadvertently got deleted. I am also posting one blogger's comment following this so it doesn't get lost again.

Tom Daschle wrote a good editorial piece about what the Senate approved with the Patriot act...and more important, what Bush and his ilk believed was granted, but in reality, exploited the act beyond what was intended.

In the face of mounting questions about news stories saying that President Bush approved a program to wiretap American citizens without getting warrants, the White House argues that Congress granted it authority for such surveillance in the 2001 legislation authorizing the use of force against al Qaeda. On Tuesday, Vice President Cheney said the president "was granted authority by the Congress to use all means necessary to take on the terrorists, and that's what we've done."

As Senate majority leader at the time, I helped negotiate that law with the White House counsel's office over two harried days. I can state categorically that the subject of warrantless wiretaps of American citizens never came up. I did not and never would have supported giving authority to the president for such wiretaps. I am also confident that the 98 senators who voted in favor of authorization of force against al Qaeda did not believe that they were also voting for warrantless domestic surveillance.

Read the rest here.

WaPo further reports:

"The Justice Department acknowledged yesterday, in a letter to Congress, that the president's October 2001 eavesdropping order did not comply with "the 'procedures' of" the law that has regulated domestic espionage since 1978. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA, established a secret intelligence court and made it a criminal offense to conduct electronic surveillance without a warrant from that court, "except as authorized by statute."


At 2:46 PM, Chancelucky said...
My biggest fear with all this is that we're not even going to find out a tenth of what was really going on.

I do notice that in defending themselves, they haven't been able to point to one real instance of thwarting an actual Al Qaeda plot with all their illegal surveillance, wiretapping, e-mail farming.

New Version of a Holiday Tune

From my friends at JREG and the tune of "Santa Claus to Comin' to Town"


Oh! You better watch out,
You better not cry,
You better be cleared
By the FBI

Bush and friends are checking you out !

He's making a list,
He's checking it twice,
He's gonna find out
With a listening device

Bush and friends are checking you out !

He sees you when you're sleeping,
He knows when you're awake.
He knows if you have read a book
And your phone calls are on tape

So...You better watch out,
You better not cry
You better be cleared
By the FBI

Bush and friends are checking you out !

Sorry about the delete of the last post about Tom Daschle's op-ed in the Washington Post. I hit the wrong key...and now it's in cyberspace...floatin' somewhere.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Livestrong..on a Kiteboard

The picture you see is Lance Armstrong kiteboarding in Southwest Baja California. Looks like he's having a dandy time.

My spouse and I are Lance Armstrong fans. Lance has his own website and of course, a newsletter,
The Paceline. One does have to sign up for a subscription, but it is free. Lance will be on the Travel Channel tomorrow night at 5 or 6 pm. Check your local listings for a show entitled "Chasing Lance."

Update: I was not aware of so many kiteboarding fans were out there. One guy in Oregon has linked this post to his site, thus Benny's World has received many visitors in the past 15 hours. Hope you come back and visit again.

Holiday Card from the Edwards