Tuesday, August 31, 2010

My letter to Kentucky Farm Bureau

When I hear the words "Kentucky Farm Bureau", the image I've always had has been an organization working for farmers in Kentucky to improve the their quality of life and their interests. But that image was shattered when I learned today that you have a stated corporate belief that gay people are abhorrent and immoral, and that public institutions ought to discriminate against people based on sexual orientation and gender identity. I have read some of the Kentucky Farm Bureau's formal positions:

* "The institution of marriage should only be recognized as the legal union of a man and a woman."
* "We are opposed to any state-supported agency providing benefits to 'domestic' partners."
* "Alternative lifestyles should not be taught in public schools."
* "We are opposed to granting special privileges to anyone."

I am going to encourage all of my family and friends, many of whom are farmers and many of who are your customers, to NOT be a part of the Kentucky Farm Bureau, based on these discriminatory policies and grossly inappropriate statements. Thanks for contributing to the negative stereotype so many people all over the world have about Kentucky!

You can write Kentucky Farm Bureau as well here.

More about this ridiculous practice here.


Saturday, August 28, 2010

tribute to Sandy

As any one of you in or from Henderson, Kentucky know by now, per the instant messaging network that's existed there long before there was cell phones or the Internet, Henderson County Judge Executive Sandy Watkins died some time before the dawn today. He was attending a convention in San Diego, California. He died in his sleep. He was 58.

My family considers Sandy Lee family. My mother has been his assistant since the first year he took office. When Sandy ran, my Republican Dad put a large sign outside of his downtown shop supporting Democrat Sandy, and actively campaigned for him all over town. Sandy performed my oldest brother's wedding and co-performed my sister's wedding. He stood with me at my father's funeral and held me at a moment that I thought the world was collapsing. I loved calling the Judge's office on the rare occasion when he would answer the phone. I would say, "What in the heck are you doing answering the phone, Sandy Lee?" and he always had a funny answer, like "Well, really, that's all your mother let's me do here. You know she's the one really in charge, right? I'm just a front."

Ofcourse, we all remember last year's infamous Halloween. My Mom's on the far left (for the photo only; I'm the only far lefter in the family, politically speaking).

Each time Sandy ran for re-election, he would visit my grandparents and ask them for their vote. He never assumed it was a given. My sister sang "My Old Kentucky Home" to his supporters the night he was re-elected the first time. He first ran for judge-executive in 1989, but was beaten by just seven votes. My family is very politically active, and even though I was no longer living in Kentucky then, that loss hurt us so much. Sandy never contested those results, but he ran again and won in 1993 and, as the Gleaner put it, sailed through re-election campaigns in 1998, 2002 and 2006. He easily won the Democratic primary in May this year, and was ready to serve another four years. Sandy Lee is why I defend "career politicians": people will benefit from what Sandy did for Henderson even 50 years from now. The list of his accomplishments on behalf of Henderson County could take up the whole entire front and back pages of the Gleaner.

Love you, Sandy. I'm just not ready to miss you yet.

Friday, August 27, 2010

I hate ever-changing rules

It's readily available all over the Internet that a US citizen can get into Canada with a U.S. driver's license and a birth certificate.

What's not readily available is, to come back into the USA, even by train, you have to have your USA passport. You find this out only if you are lucky enough to find the information online (which I didn't, after hours of researching this) or you get ready to fly to Canada.

My passport is currently being renewed. It should have been here yesterday. Maybe it's sitting in my mailbox right now. But as I had to leave at 9 a.m. today to take two buses and two trains to PDX, I have no idea.

So now I'm trying to get any refunds I possibly can on hotels and flights. And it's not easy. But I must say that Expedia really did all that they could, and then some, even staying on the line with me as I rushed through the airport, back passed security, to cancel my check in (and at one point asking if I had had lunch yet and, when I said, no, saying, "You really need to be sure to eat something."

I don't mind rules, as long as I know what they are, and I'm happy to comply with rules, as long as I know what they are. As long as there's plenty of readily-available information about them. But I hate ever-changing rules. When it comes to airline travel, the ever-changing rules are usually at the security check point: "Oh, I see you have all your liquids in a plastic bag. However, your plastic bag is too big. Yes, I know you've had two flights today and used this same bag, but from the time you last flew two hours ago until now, the rule changed."

So, per the concerned Expedia representative, I'm going to have some lunch now, then head back home. Albi will be thrilled.

Would really like this day to get better...

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

My first motorcycle trip on my own bike

I did it! I took my first trip riding my own motorcycle! More than 1000 miles on a trip!

Here are all the details of our California trip, including links to photos. I decided not to put the travelogue text on this blog, because I think I'm going to create a section on my women travelers web site that is focused on motorcycle travel for women. I know there are tons of sites already -- a woman traveling by motorcycle is not unique. But I think I have a perspective that's not represented entirely by what's already out there. Plus, it would be a way to link to all the excellent existing resources for women motorcycle travelers.

Albi is fine - the dog sitter was great, as I can see from how calm and happy she was when we arrived and what great shape the garden is in.

I need a nap...

Monday, August 23, 2010

Sorry - no cell service, no blogs! In canyonville on way home. Great time! More soon!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

327 miles yestrdy on my own moto. I5 (yuck) & hwy 155 (yum). Hwy 1o1 2day.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Motorcycle Mania

Within one week, I've attended two events by motorcycle manufacturers here in the greater Portland metropolitan area. And I'm gearing up for my first overnight motorcycle trip on my own bike! Am I a biker babe yet?

One event, in Gladstone, Oregon, was a women's-only event by Harley Davidson, called a Garage Party. These events are held at Harley dealerships all over the USA. It could not be more female friendly: it's staffed entirely by women (all male staff leave), because new women riders tend to be very self-conscious and self-depreciating, and there's nothing like watching a woman smaller than you pick up an 800 pound bike (362.87 kilos) and then tell you, "YOU can do this." And, yes, I did, indeed, pick up a 800 pound motorcycle! There's great food, short demonstration stations, gift bags, and free t-shirts with I am not a back rest on the back.

The other event was by Triumph in Canby, Oregon. They had about 20 motorcycles you could sign up to ride, on group rides, every 30 minutes, on one of the many nice roads around here. The Triumph truck travels all over the USA to bring these events to cities all over. I had no idea Triumph made such a huge variety of motorcycles. The reps even hinted at some new models coming out later. I found my current dream motorcycle, a Triumph Scrambler. And I wore my I am not a back rest t-shirt and not only did the Triumph local dealer representative ask to take a photo of it, several men told me, "I have to get my wife one of those!" Stefan rode a cruiser for the first time ever at the event (I know, I know, he is SO hot).

Both events inspired me to write about them over on my professional blog, per all their great ideas that nonprofits most certainly could learn from.

* * *
We're gearing up for our first motorcycle overnight trip with me on my own bike. Yes, I am beyond nervous. We're going to Petrolia, California, the "Lost Coast", for the 19-22 August Horizons Unlimited Motorcycle Travellers Meeting. We will be meeting lots and lots of other people that orient their lives around traveling -- specifically by motorcycle.

Then, around September 7, we will head out for about two weeks into Canada for my second motorcycle trip-on-my-own-bike. Stefan's birthday is September 8, and he likes to spend it on a trip of some kind. After that trip, I'll be able to say, at last, "Why, yes, I am an ADV Rider!" Although, honestly, I think riding on the back of the bike all these years earns me at least a few ADV Rider stripes already.

While we're gone, dear Albi the Dog will be taken care of by our new dog sitter, who has family one block away and two blocks away, and our neighbors will look after her as well.

I continue to be amazed at how many people there are out there, to know that Stefan and I are far from alone in making travel a priority in our lives. I'm not talking "Eat, Drink, Pray, Shop, Sell-the-Movie-Rights"; I'm talking about people who go to foreign places, and that doesn't necessarily mean leaving their own countries, and immerse themselves in experiences starkly different from their home lives -- not just shop. Love, love those people, and I feel oh-so-honored to be part of their tribe.

My favorite travel-the-world-by-motorcycle folks are "Dusty Old Bags," Sheonagh Ravensdale and Pat Thomson, from the United Kingdom, who just finished touring Central America and are now somewhere in Europe. This is, in fact, their second world trip by motorcycle (they did another in 2006). It's Sheonagh’s way of marking her 60th birthday. Their earlier travels inspired them set up and run a charity for girls in Mumbai who are at risk from or who have been rescued from child prostitution. Here's a short newspaper article from their hometown paper about their travel plans. I haven't read all their blog entries, but so far, my favorite is for Guatemala, when they attending a local blessing-of-the-bikes event and all the local Guatemalan bike guys wanted their pictures taken with them (scroll down a bit on the page to see those). And they have an excellent way of handling attempts at bribes!

I just wish they had made it easy to find their contact info, because I would love to send them an email to tell them how awesome they are!

Could I be so lucky to be spending my 60th birthday touring Central America by motorcycle? Could I?!?!?

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

I support the Islamic community center in NYC

I'm an atheist. I do not believe in God. People who are religious often make me uncomfortable, because of their divisive, even hateful, language. Fundamentalists in particular frighten me. They can be fundamentalist Christians, fundamentalist Muslims, fundamentalists Hindus, whatever -- they frighten me with their absolute thinking, their discouragement for toleration and understanding among different people, their denial of science and reason, and their stated desire to deny people like me of civil rights.

But not all religious people make me uncomfortable. The ones who don't want to take science out of schools, the ones who don't want to force children to pray in school, the ones who believe that secular government is the best protection for both religious and non-religious people, the ones who treat people who have different beliefs with respect -- these I like. Many of these kinds of religious people are close friends.

With all of that in mind, I am disgusted by the reaction of so many Americans to efforts to create a multi-service Islamic community center in Manhattan a few blocks from where the World Trade Center towers were. The venomous reaction is exactly why so many religious people make me so uncomfortable.

Let's be clear:
  1. That area of NYC is not "sacred." My dictionary says that something sacred is connected with God (or the gods) or dedicated to a religious purpose and so deserving veneration. It's a historic site deserving of respect and remembrance for what happened there, but it is NOT sacred.

  2. The person in charge of this multi-service Islamic community center, Oz Sultan, has two patterns in mind for this site: YMCAs and Jewish community centers. In fact, this Islamic community center is the kind of Islamic effort fundamentalist Muslims hate -- presenting Islam in a reasonable, loving, welcoming-to-all way. Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf and his wife Daisy Khan, are actually the kind of Muslim leaders so many of the people in the USA have been saying they want to hear from: modernists and moderates. Rauf is a Sufi Muslim, which I think of as the Universal Unitarian or the United Church of Christ versions of Islam. Sufi writings and followers draw wisdom not just from the Koran, but from a variety of modern Islamic writers, as well as Christians (including the Bible), Gnostics, and Zoroastrians. The men who flew planes into the WTC buildings, and all of their supporters, don't even consider Sufis as Muslim, because of their refusal to follow dogma -- the terrorists of September 11 considered Sufis heretics, infidels, or worse.

  3. Time magazine notes: "Ironically, Islam's roots in New York City are in the area around the site of the World Trade Center, and they predate the Twin Towers: in the late 19th century, a portion of lower Manhattan was known as Little Syria and was inhabited by Arab immigrants — Muslims and Christians — from the Ottoman Empire."

Islam is just as varied as Christianity in how it is practiced and how its adherents behave. Pat Robertson has much more in common with the terrorists on September 11 than the Muslims behind this Islamic community center do.

And people wonder why my handle on Yahoo is READ MORE BOOKS...

Wednesday, August 4, 2010


A great day for civil rights, human rights, and the Constitution of the United States of America: a federal judge has overturned California's gay-marriage ban today! Proposition 8 -- Proposition HATE -- will be talked about in 20 years with the same shame and astonishment that laws that prevented "mixed race marriages" are talked about now.

The best part of the day: seeing status update after status update on Facebook from all my friends, gay, straight, old and young, celebrating this ruling today. I've felt my faith in humanity get a much needed injection of hope as a result.

This is a victory not just for Americans who are gay, but also for Americans who are atheists or who do not want or cannot have children, because the way the Prop 8 proponents -- the Haters -- defined marriage, atheists and people who do not want or cannot have children would also be excluded from the rights of marriage. Would we have been the next target of their quest to curb the 14th Amendment? Most definitely.

Onward to the US Supreme Court!