Friday, December 26, 2008


Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Happy Holidays! Heading to the mountains for some much needed relaxation: reading, eating, warm woodstove goodness, and SNOW.

Best wishes to y'all for a lovely holiday!


Tuesday, December 16, 2008

This has got to be a joke. Or an ironic Dadaist art project for some super-jaded art students. Right?

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Monday, December 15, 2008


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Sunday, December 14, 2008

Oh man, is the holiday crazy totally on or what?

You know, every Christmas, Trevor and I try to get educational toys, books, and comic books for our gaggle of rambunctious nephews, and every year we feel sort of lame because while they are all great kids who always appreciate a gift from their Auntie and Uncle, what they really really want is plastic crap from China. So this year we decided just this once we'd give in and whore ourselves out to the People's Republic of Melamine, Lead Paint, and Horrific Labor Violations.

And as anyone exposed to children who are exposed to advertising knows, getting holiday lists from 2-7 year olds is a pointy, flashing, two-AA-battery laden plastic sea of Transformers, Bionicles, Ben-10, and random superhero toys. Most locally owned shops don't carry this stuff, so trying to mitigate possibly ethically-challenged gifts by at least shopping locally is also quite difficult.

So yes, I'll admit, I went whole hog: I went to Target.

Like other guilty American pleasures including but not limited to Jack in the Box and firearms, I do love myself some Target, but I only ever go once a year or so because 1) I want to support local business, and 2) going to the mall is like walking into hell. And ugh, I know, Target is really just the more pleasant -- albeit also union-busting and slave-wage paying -- cousin of that nasty, global community-raping behemoth, Wal-Mart. But unlike the Wal, they do offer domestic partnership benefits to their LGBT employees, more products made in the United States, and many green products, including organic foods and clothes.

Look at me rationalize! Such bad juju to shop at these types of stores -- especially when we're in a recession and we should be supporting our local economies instead.

So I'm here to ask you to help me with my bad juju: since I was only able to appease my moral conscience with my gifts for friends and non-children this year, help a sister out and give some love to my 2008 list of great places to shop for socially conscious, recession-busting holiday gifts.

1) Buy local whenever you can.

We all shop at chains, and that's not the end of the world. But doing it all the time can suck the lifeblood out of a vibrant and diverse community. One could go as far to say that democracy thrives in a culture of independent business. And just like our civil liberties can be slowly chipped away without our notice, by the time we realize the variety and spice we've lost in our communities by supporting big-box stores, one can feel like it's a lost cause that is too difficult to remedy. Not so!

I saw a great flyer the other day that recommended simply taking at least 4 days out of the month to support local business. Whether that's buying a book at your local bookstore one day or spending just a few dollars more for that birthday gift at your neighbor's shop the next week, buying local need not be bank-breaking, inconvenient, or difficult. It's an investment in your community -- and it's probably the safest investment one can make right now!

2) If you've got to buy non-US made or non-locally, why not buy fair trade?

Goods from China and many developing countries are cheap because gross labor violations and intimidation/exploitation of the poor and desperate drives down labor costs. But socially conscious alternatives need not cost you an arm and a leg. The Global Exchange offers over 100 fair trade gifts under $30.

3) Get your nature on: check out the rocks and fossils, beautifully polished and set as jewelry, from lapidopterix. Or spend your dollars at any number of other handcrafted artisan shops on Etsy.

Full disclosure: lapidopterix is a friend of mine who just started his wonderful little Etsy site. He travels all over the Western US on rock digs. When we visited him last, he took us out to a remote area of Northern Oregon to go augite hunting. We spent the afternoon in a beautiful rainforest setting, being rained on (naturally), digging our heels and our tiny hammers into the side of a muddy hill looking for little black faceted nuggets of goodness. What a blast!

He's been a rockhound as long as I've known him, and he really knows his stuff. Check out his gorgeous pieces, and if there's something specific you're looking for, hit him up on Etsy. Chances are he has it!

4) Honor your friends and family with a gift of supporting women's economic security, health, education, and leadership by making a donation to the Global Fund for Women.

Cutting back in a recession can be hard. But it is important to remember that compared to most other parts of the world, in the West during our recessions we are still very very rich.

Worldwide, women perform two-thirds of all labor and produce more than half of the world's food. Yet, women own only about one percent of the world's assets, and represent 70 percent of those living in absolute poverty. Supporting the Global Fund supports women's ability to contribute to and benefit from economic growth and development.

From the Global Fund for Women:

The Global Fund for Women provides grants to organizations that promote women’s economic empowerment through a variety of strategies, including skills training, access to microloans and organizing migrants and other women workers. Our grants promote women's leadership in environmental and natural resource management and efforts to educate policymakers on how macroeconomic policy and trade negotiations affect women’s economic well-being.

Happy shopping!

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Thursday, December 11, 2008


Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Okay, am so over it. Thanks for the patience.

That poor kid.

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Monday, December 08, 2008

Oh holy jeebus, sometimes I'm gloriously reminded why I really want a teevee again.

And John Malkovich was the host. When SNL is on, they are on. Crowding around the laptop just won't do it justice.


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Saturday, December 06, 2008

Was just reading about a new "clicks for revenue" project to benefit charities called Everywun.

The concept works this way: Interested users go to the Everywun web site, click on a charity badge - as broad as poverty or as specific as a homeless program - and then embed the badge in a blog or social-networking site. Each subsequent click on the badge by friends and visitors generates income from a corporate sponsor that has contracted with Everywun in an effort to support that charity.

I was impressed to see some of my favorite charities -- as well as a top-notch organization I used to work for -- listed among the charities that are being supported by this project.

Still in its infancy, Everywun is marrying two great concepts for which I have a great passion: the redistribution of corporate wealth to those in need, and making philanthropy accessible to people who may not be familiar with it or be able to afford it otherwise.

[Everywun creator Dan Jacobs] also was thinking about shifting some online advertising revenue, which totaled more than $21 billion in 2007, to charities.

"You are talking about the potential redistribution of tens of millions of dollars to philanthropy," Jacobs said. "And we are providing wonderful value to businesses who know that consumers will switch from one brand to another if the brand is associated with a good cause."

It is really so simple and genius, and I give kudos to Jacobs for tapping into the increasingly immense potential of online advertising as a revenue source for nonprofits. But I do have a concern about who might possibly be sponsoring my badge, and I'm sure some organizations might have the same concerns.

I remember when I worked for a certain nonprofit, we turned down millions of dollars from a corporate sponsor looking to clean up their offensive international business policies and image. We realized it was unethical for us to take money from the company and then turn around and possibly have to use that same money to fight that company's policies. Donors to another nonprofit I worked with were incensed that the organization accepted money (that made up a large portion of their budget) from a corporate sponsor whose policies were in direct opposition to our mission.

So I'm not really comfortable being left in the dark over who is sponsoring my badge, and then placing that badge on my website for sponsor advertising to my visitors. Then again, I don't want to piss on this parade because in the end the point is that a worthy nonprofit gets much needed funds. So what if a possibly offensive corporation gets some friendly advertising? I suppose it could also bring attention to that corporation's policies by default and help change them by pointing out the indiscrepancy -- much like the ongoing back and forth between Greenpeace and Apple.

Like carbon offsets, owning a Mac and an iPhone but then being ridiculously rabid about not driving my car, and ethical vegetarians who wear leather, there's always a give and take. It's just figuring whether or not the pros outweigh the cons.

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Wednesday, December 03, 2008

First there was the glorious Tenacious D. Then, unfortunately, King Kong. But redemption was achieved through Tropic Thunder. However, I'm still traumatized by The Holiday, captive on a plane and lacking the bravery to gouge my own eyes out.

So, as is custom, my on-again, off-again relationship with Jack Black is officially back on. And Neil Patrick Harris? Love.

Proposition 8: The Musical:

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