Sunday, January 31, 2010

On Sunday afternoon, January 3rd, I attended the annual NETS “Tolkien Toast” event, which was held at “Terrazza Toscana” restaurant on 9th Avenue around 50th Street. Really good food, prices were standard for midtown and the service is great. It was great seeing and chatting with many members of NETS, some I hadn’t seen since early October at RCMH. [Attendance was ... Anthony, Jessica, Dennis, Timdalf, Carole, Mary, Andi, Vicki, Adam, Leanna and I.] Main topic of discussion was the next “phase” of the dramatic reading for “The Council of Elrond” on “Tolkien Reading Day”. After the late lunch I hung out with Dennis for two hours, and he very kindly assisted me with better understanding my new digital camera. We went back to “Terrazza Toscana” restaurant to meet up with Kathy and have a light dinner, plus interesting conversation.

Tuesday, January 5th, found me back at foot doctor for therapy on my left foot.

Thursday evening, January 7th, I attended TGTSNBN first meetup of the year at the Sony Atrium in midtown Manhattan. Really good meeting, nicely attended, great seeing everyone, and Jonathan mentioned lots of cool ideas/events for 2010. One of the ideas would be organizing and compiling of a TGTSNBN yearbook. That idea really excited me the most, plus more Quidditch matches throughout the year. I arrived home in time to jump on the “World Can’t Wait” conference call at 10pm. Discussion was mostly on Afghanistan, similarities between Bush/Obama Regimes, John Yoo on book tour, and the attempt on Xmas Day by the bomber.

Friday evening, January 8th, I joined other ladies for the “Friday Nite Knits” in Brooklyn.

Sunday afternoon into early evening, January 10th, I visited my friend Anni in Bay Ridge [Brooklyn] to enjoy a Vegan Indian lunch and meet her 2-month old baby girl [Rebecca]. The meal was very good and so tasty. Her new daughter is so adorable and napped most of the time. We also watched the film “UP” by Pixar, and were entertained by Annie’s 6 year old daughter Rachel. I had a nice, relaxing afternoon and catching up with Annie on news/gossip, plus seeing her new apartment, which isn’t far from the NYC harbor. I’ll come back for another visit when the weather is “warmer”, so that we can enjoy a stroll at the local park and pier.

Wednesday, January 13th, I attended the NYDoP CCR committee “in person” meeting at Kevin’s office. It was a productive meeting and the whole committee was on hand. We took away several “City Council” action items to work on in pushing for a DoP Resolution.

The following evening, January 14th, I joined in on the World Can’t Wait conference call at 10pm. Talk was mostly about protesting John Yoo at Berkeley and his appearance on Jon Stewart’s “Daily Show”. There was further discussion also on Andy Worthington’s documentary on Gitmo, situation in Yemen, and the fact that Obama is still putting forth Bush/Cheney regime policies. The latter doesn’t surprise any of us leftwing Progressives and Socialists. As we are wont to say ... “same suit different man”.

Friday after work, January 15th, I had an emergency chiropractor appointment to deal with my lower back. The strain of a hectic, stressful work week, I’m sure, did not help the situation. Wednesday through Friday we EA’s at EY were nervous and stressed due to “layoffs” at the office. These “layoffs” were not just at the NYC office, but throughout EY offices in the US. So far I’ve retained my job [amen!], but was very upset to learn that Aisha, Dee and Barbara were “let go”. This type of upheaval makes any attempts at sleeping at night abit of an issue. Sigh!

Saturday afternoon into evening, January 16th, I joined members of TGTSNBN for the monthly Quidditch game at Riverside Park. The weather was sunny and around 45 degrees. I’ve been keeping score at TGTSNBN Quidditch matches since the beginning June 2008, and on this occasion I was also a referee. The teams played several energetic games and each team [ie: Centaurs, Dementors & Marauders] won a game. I passed on having lunch with the gang, as I had to race home to do laundry and change into fresh, clean clothes. I’d been invited by P&N [along with a few of their friends] for a dinner engagement at “Caravan of Dreams” in the East Village. The vegan food is so good at this establishment and I highly recommend it. Before arriving at the restaurant, I stopped by Commonalities Health Food store for some supplies. I had an enjoyable evening with P&N, whom I hadn’t seen since late September, and their friends are very hip. Excellent food and conversations mostly centered on Veganism, as well as politics.

Tuesday evening, January 19th, I attended the NYDoP “working” meeting at William Troy’s office. Those of us that gathered worked on “Valentines for Peace” cards, which we’ll deliver and/or mail to NY City Council members. These valentine’s are to bring awareness, plus promote NYDoP and a DoP resolution.

The next morning, January 20th, I joined other EY BSC members for an important meeting following several EA layoffs of week before.

Thursday evening, January 21st, I listened in on the “World Can’t Wait” conference call at 10pm. The topic[s] were mostly on Roe vs Wade anniversary, Stupak and crisis in Haiti.

The following evening, January 22nd, I attended the “Friday Nite Knits” group in Kensington area of Brooklyn.

Saturday morning into late afternoon, January 23rd, I joined other TGTSNBN members at Bryant Park’s “The Pond” for a skating event from 11am to 2pm. The weather was such a nice, sunny winter day. Most of the members skated, while those of us less adventuresome decided to sit it out in the Celsius Lounge with a drink and lite snacks. The Celsius Lounge is right there at the edge of the skating rink, so we were able to watch our friends in warm comfort. Many “muggles” commented on TGTSNBN members Hogwarts house attire. As you can see from the group photo below, three of the four houses were nicely represented.

TGTSNBN Skating Party
[Duchess in the last row all the way to the right]

Yes, I know, even though I am a confirmed Hufflepuff, I was wearing Ravenclaw house colors of blue/silver. I just don’t like yellow and find I look better in the blue. So now I’m known as a Huffleclaw by other TGTSNBN members. Afterwards we headed over to a Chinese restaurant on Lexington Avenue for a late lunch and many diverse conversations. Overall it was an enjoyable Harry Potterish type day.

Thursday evening, January 28th, I attended the ISO panel discussion on the current situation in Haiti. Several speakers were on board with their thoughts and views on the crisis since the earthquake hit on January 12th. The evening speakers were David Wilson, Ashley Smith and Roger LeDuc. Their views had many parallels and were expressed in diverse manner. Brian Jones started the evening with a brief talk on the late, and very much missed, Howard Zinn. [I definitely want to see the documentary called “People Speak”.] I also ran into Jim McCabe [NY Metro Progressives] at the event and we chatted abit. [I recently became a member of NY Metro Progressives. Great group and many of them I worked with on the Kucinich campaigns, as well as PDA.] Later that evening, at 10pm, I jumped on the “World Can’t Wait” conference call, which touched on several topics.

Saturday afternoon into evening, January 30th, I was invited to Thom and Jenna’s place out on Staten Island for shopping, socializing, and the preparing/eating of Vegan goodies. Plus met and played with their three dogs [ie: Jack, Coco & Molly] and two cats [ie: Silver & Millie]. My fav of all the pets was Molly, and would have gladly adopted her if pets were allowed in my apartment building. Also joining us was Deanna and Deborah ... we are all members of TGTSNBN. We spent some time at A.C.Moore shopping for yarn and other treasures, and then went next door to the Asian Food Market. Loved both places and came away with many goodies [ie: Moshi!]. Thom, Deanna and I started prepping the Vegan meal around 6pm and we finally sat down to partake of it around 10pm. It was ALL so good, plus lots of diverse conversation, and interaction with the pets! Left around 11:50pm and got a lift home from dear Deborah in her car.
[With my new “Sharper Image” digital camera I received at Xmas]

Window at Xmas Time
[Looking at my living room window with holiday d├ęcor]

Xmas Toes
[Xmas Toes]

Moi at Work Jan 2010
[Duchess chillin at the office]

Soft Glow of Candlelight
[The soft glow of candlelight]

Prince Street Musician
[At the Prince Street subway stop a funky musician plays Clapton and Hendrix]

View of the Old NY Times Bldg
[View of the old NY Times building from my office building in Times Square]

(Duchess Note - More images to follow from my mini walking tour of my northern Brooklyn neighborhood. Stay tuned..............)

Thursday, January 28, 2010

"Howard Zinn, the Boston University historian and political activist who was an early opponent of US involvement in Vietnam and a leading faculty critic of BU president John Silber, died of a heart attack today in Santa Monica, Calif, where he was traveling, his family said. He was 87.

"'His writings have changed the consciousness of a generation, and helped open new paths to understanding and its crucial meaning for our lives,' Noam Chomsky, the left-wing activist and MIT professor, once wrote of Dr. Zinn. 'When action has been called for, one could always be confident that he would be on the front lines, an example and trustworthy guide.'"

Noam Chomsky on Howard Zinn, 1922-2010
"His writings have changed the consciousness of a generation, and helped open new paths to understanding and its crucial meaning for our lives. When action has been called for, one could always be confident that he would be on the front lines, an example and trustworthy guide."

Howard Zinn Dead, Author of ‘People’s History of the United States’ Died at 87
Hillel Italie, Huffington Post

How the Great Howard Zinn Made All Our Lives Better
Harvey Wasserman, The Free Press

Message from Cindy Sheehan’s Soapbox
Today, the world lost a leading progressive voice – Howard Zinn. Howard was the author of many books, but his “People’s History of the United States” was perhaps his best-known and most influential. His public life was exemplary, but he was also a dear, dear man and he will be sorely missed. At the Soapbox, our hearts are broken and our love and support go out to his children and grandchildren. In Howard’s name we must always strive for peace, justice and truth.

[Duchess Note: Howard Zinn, he will be greatly missed by the Progressive community. His voice spoke with such truth, intelligence and clarity on many important issues. My sincere condolences and sympathies go out to his family at this time.]

Monday, January 25, 2010


The Obama Brand: Feel Good While Overlords Loot the Treasury and Launch Imperial Wars
Chris Hedges, Nation Books

A Constitutional Amendment to Wrench Control Away from the Corporations
Jan Frel, AlterNet

Americans Need Debt Relief – Is Obama Brave Enough to Make it Happen?
Danny Schechter, AlterNet

What Has Changed Under the Obama Regime? Not Much Really……………….
We STILL have two phony wars going on
We STILL have "rendition"
We STILL have the fictitious "patriot" act
We STILL have corporate personhood
We STILL have hopeless corruption at the highest levels
We STILL have no single-payer universal health care
We STILL have no effective EPA
We STILL have no programs to rebuild our infrastructure or a jobs program

Haiti 2010: An Unwelcome Katrina Redux
Cynthia McKinney, BAR

Why the US Owes Haiti Billions: The Briefest History
Bill Quigley, BAR

[Duchess Note: Many thanks to Judith and Carol in sharing the above articles.]

Sunday, January 24, 2010


In part because of restrictions imposed by the U.S. military, aid is still not getting through quickly enough to people in Haiti who desperately need it. In particular, fresh water is not getting through to people who need it.

Established aid groups who have a long history of working in Haiti have suddenly found themselves unable to deliver urgently needed medical, water, and food supplies because the U.S. military will not grant them access to ports and airports. Doctors Without Borders reports that a “plane carrying 12 tons of medical equipment, including drugs, surgical supplies and two dialysis machines, was turned away three times from Port-au-Prince airport since Sunday night." Groups ready to deliver aid to Jacmel – the fourth-largest city in Haiti – were told they would receive no clearance to land there from the U.S. military, even though they already had both aid supplies and the means for distributing them. This aid is only just now beginning to be delivered – thanks to assistance from the Dominican Republic, NOT the U.S.

In Port-au-Prince, huge stockpiles of aid sit in warehouses while people wait for supplies that mean the difference between life and death.

The US has finally begun airdrops of water and food, but the program needs to be expanded.
Please write your Representative and Senators and ask them to press the Obama Administration to lift military restrictions preventing aid groups from bringing aid into Haiti and to expand airdrops of water, water purification tablets, and food.

Check out

Thursday, January 21, 2010


US Corporations, Private Mercenaries and the IMF Rush in to Profit from Haiti’s Crisis
Benjamin Dangl, Toward Freedom
In the midst of a colossal human disaster, Washingon is promoting unpopular economic policies and extending military and economic control over the Haitian people.

How Bush/Cheney Policy Screwed Haiti
James Ridgeway, Mother Jones

How Corporate Branding Took Over the White House
Naomi Klein, Fourth Estate

Avatar Half-Tells a Story We Would All Prefer to Forget
George Monbiot,
The real story of what happened to Native Americans is a story NO one wants to hear, because of the challenge it presents to the way we choose to see ourselves.

Robert Naiman: Blocking Doctors? Let the Aid to Haiti Go Through

Jane Hamsher: Dear President Obama: Time to Stop Letting Corporations Write the Health Care Bill

William Astore: A Very American Coup: Coming Soon to a Hometown Near You

Your administration and your party are in trouble. That is clear from the elections in Massachusetts and Virginia, from the drop in your approval rating, from the rise of conservative opposition groups.

This is a time when progressive forces in this country need to mobilize to prevent a backlash that will take this country further to the right. But progressives are disappointed and demoralized. Look at me.

In 2008, I was one of millions united for hope and change. As 2010 dawns, change looks to me like more of the same. Instead of peace, we got more war. Instead of healthcare reform, we have an industry win that requires Americans to buy health insurance without any real cost controls. On the environment, one of your top priorities, you came back from Copenhagen with yet another non-binding resolution and more clean coal, to boot. Instead of helping struggling homeowners and small businesses during the financial crisis, bank executives were rewarded and we have yet to see reform. Wall Street firms ended 2009 with record bonus and profits while unemployment remains in double digits.

Obama, I am losing hope. This is not the change I believe in. The change I believe in puts people and our planet before industry, it promotes peace, international law and human rights instead of militarism. As you are asking Congress to approve the largest Pentagon budget in history, plus another $33 billion to pay for your Afghan surge, the prophetic works of Dr. Martin Luther King sound a clarion call: A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.

Obama, we need renewed leadership, we need you to show us--not in words but in deeds--that you can stand up to corporate interests that are blocking us from real healthcare, environmental and financial reform. We need you to show us-not in words but in deeds-that you will stand up for the Constitution, for due process, for the rule of law. We need you to show us-not in words but in deeds-that you lead this country out of endless war to a nation that lives in peace with its neighbors.

In the meantime, I pledge to keep pushing your administration and Congress, and mobilizing others-not for partisan politics but for policies of social and environmental uplift.

May 2010 be a year of renewed commitment and movement toward the change we so desperately need.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


Matt Taibbi and RFK Jr on Obama’s Sellout to Wall Street
Go Left TV

[Duchess Note: Obama sold his soul to the “center/right” long before he took up residence in the WH a year ago. Dig deep into research on his background, and you will see he never ever was a “true” progressive. You want true progressives, look to the likes of Kucinich and McKinney. They have always been there for “we the people”. Obama’s slick, majorly overpriced commercialized campaign told some truths, but there were also many “white lies” coated in sugar to make it palatable to the masses. Many of the masses “drank the Kool-aid” and went along with it. After 8 years of the Bush/Cheney regime, many were starved for “change”, and many desperately grasped onto Obama's slick campaign. Those of us who saw beneath the “slick campaign” and his “smooth, double speak speeches” were not deceived, and we voted our conscious (plus values) in November 2008. Were you deceived?]

Unemployment: The 2010 Time Bomb
John Nichols, The Nation
New figures show jobs were lost in December at ten times the expected rate.

Can They Do That? How You Get Screwed at Work
Liliana Segura, AlterNet

[Duchess Note: Going forward, the “Personal News” segment will be posted once a month. Since receiving a digital camera for Christmas, a “Pix Gallery” will also be posted once a month displaying the "experimentation". Please stay tuned………..]

2010 Census to Begin – Basic Advice
Be Cautious About Giving Info to Census Workers

by Susan Johnson

With the U.S. Census process beginning, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) advises people to be cooperative, but cautious, so as not to become a victim of fraud or identity theft. The first phase of the 2010 U.S. Census is under way as workers have begun verifying the addresses of households across the country. Eventually, more than 140,000 U.S. Census workers will count every person in the United States and will gather information about every person living at each address including name, age, gender, race, and other relevant data.

The big question is - how do you tell the difference between a U.S. Census worker and a con artist? BBB offers the following advice:

If a U.S. Census worker knocks on your door; they will have a badge, a handheld device, a Census Bureau canvas bag, and a confidentiality notice. Ask to see their identification and their badge before answering their questions. However, you should never invite anyone you don't know into your home.

Census workers are currently only knocking on doors to verify address information. Do not give your Social Security number, credit card or banking information to anyone, even if they claim they need it for the U.S. Census.


While the Census Bureau might ask for basic financial information, such as a salary range, YOU DON'T HAVE TO ANSWER ANYTHING AT ALL ABOUT YOUR FINANCIAL SITUATION. The Census Bureau will not ask for Social Security, bank account, or credit card numbers, nor will employees solicit donations. Any one asking for that information is NOT with the Census Bureau.

AND REMEMBER, THE CENSUS BUREAU HAS DECIDED NOT TO WORK WITH ACORN ON GATHERING THIS INFORMATION. No Acorn worker should approach you saying he/she is with the Census Bureau.

Eventually, Census workers may contact you by telephone, mail, or in person at home. However, the Census Bureau will not contact you by Email, so be on the lookout for Email scams impersonating the Census.

Never click on a link or open any attachments in an Email that are supposedly from the U.S. Census Bureau.

For more advice on avoiding identity theft and fraud, visit the Better Business Bureau at

Sunday, January 10, 2010


Universal Healthcare? We Keep the Candy, but You Can Have the Wrapper. No, Wait, Give Us The Wrapper Too.
Bruce Dixon, BlackAgendaReport

Jesus Hated War – Why Do Christians Love it So Much?
Gary Kohls, Consortium News
In his memoir, It Doesn’t Take A Hero, Schwartzkopf claimed that he kept a Bible at his bedside throughout the war. I cringed knowing that, according to the biblical Jesus, God is never on the side of the victors. The God of love that Jesus revealed was on the side of the victims, the oppressed, the starving, the sick, the naked, the meek who were victimized by unjust power.

The Global War on Stealth Underwear
Robert Scheer, TruthDig

Welcome to Orwell’s World 2010
John Pilger’s ZSpace Page

Robert Freeman The Real Top Ten Stories of the Past Decade

Marwan Bishara Neither Wars Nor Drones

John Nichols Good Riddance to Decade That Began With Theft of the Presidency

Sarah van Gelder Nine Ways Our World Changed During the '00s

The Fast Food Industries 7 Most Heinous Concoctions
Brad Reed, AlterNet

Senates Proposed Healthcare Tax Isn’t Aimed at the Rich, It’s Aimed at YOU
Bob Herbert, NYTimes

Chris Hedges The Pictures of War You Aren't Supposed to See

Michael Pollan Food Rules: A Completely Different Way To Fix The Health Care Crisis

Jen Dalton Means and Ways to Build a Sustainable Food System

Why Are We so Blind to the True Horrors of War?
Chris Hedges, TruthDig

Calling Greedy Wall Street Bankers Fat Cats is an Insult to Cats
Sarah Anderson, MinuteMen Media

Geithner and the AIG Emails: Scandal is Only Tip of the Iceberg
Eliot Spitzer, William Black and Frank Partnoy, New Deal 2.0

Why Does the World’s Most Popular TV Show Feature a Misanthrope Who Gets Away with Everything?
Vanessa Richmond, AlterNet

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Reflections on Midlife
[Part One]

As we step into a New Year and decade, as well as make resolutions, I did some serious reflection on being a woman in midlife. I took some time to analyze my current status from several perspectives; as well as weigh the pros and cons. I find it helpful, important and beneficial to my wellbeing in doing this every so often.

Since 2003 I’ve been continually striving to be a better, more compassionate, pro-active and peaceful person. Not always an easy task, as I find this to be a 24/7 learning curve, and one that I undertake willingly.

You may be wondering what could have brought this on. That’s a good question, as I even wondered about that myself. When I am doing the laundry, or just riding the subway on my evening commute, I reflected on a variety of things. Back in December several interesting “thoughts” ran through my head, and instead of ignoring them, I decided it would be wise to go with the flow.

The first was a message from Marianne Williamson’s book “The Age of Miracles – Embracing the New Midlife”, which I highly recommend to all who are “50 something” like me. Marianne’s main message was that “midlife is not the end, but the beginning of a wonderful journey and many new experiences”. This was followed by a comment I’d read in past two years, “Marianne is right about midlife, if you let it, middle age can be the beginning of a rich and meaning filled experiences”. I reflected on several key phrases within those comments:

1] Beginning of a wonderful journey
2] Many new experiences
3] If you let it
4] Rich and meaning filled

Over the years I’ve been learning more and more to “listen to my inner voice”, because there are times when “society” and our own “egos” can do us more harm than good. Excuses and denial only hurt us in the end, plus we can [at times] be our own worst enemy. If you let it, i.e. the ego to dictate, well then, you won’t get very far. If you let it, i.e. allowing life’s experiences to blossom, then you will go far and become enriched, as well as empowered. With gentle, but firm resolve listen to, as well as act upon, your true inner voice. Listen to it with an open mind and a loving heart.

Eleanor Roosevelt once saidNo one can make you feel inferior without your consent