Monday, October 31, 2011


Monday evening, October 10th, after work I headed down to Liberty Plaza for 2 hours to be part of the “Occupy Wall Street” protesters, plus take pix. The movement is gaining momentum, not only here but around the country, and the energy felt was intense.

Tuesday, October 11th, I attended the second meeting for the BFP A&C committee in Brooklyn. Three new people [ie: Joel, Sandra & Emily] came onboard and the majority of the meeting was to flesh out the committee’s “mission statement”. Veronica is chair of the committee and I am co-chair.

Friday, October 14th, I had an appt with my lung specialist regarding this friggin lung infection that has been ongoing for 2 weeks. I've been put on strong antibiotics to combat it, and one of the pills has steriods in it.

Sunday, October 16th, I headed up to Goshen, CT to visit with my good friend Katherine and see the new house/barn she and Maurice purchased some time ago. Took the 2+ hour ride on MetroNorth up to Wassaic, NY were Katherine met me at the station. Weather was cool, windy and occasional sunshine. We had a nice, tasty lunch at a Chinese buffet near her Goshen home, plus a tour of house/barn, and then a hike along the “Fox Brook Preserve”, which is next door to their home. I really enjoyed the hike and terrain, plus took lots of pix. Back at the house we enjoyed hot tea and toast in front of the fireplace, which Maurice stoked up for us. Then the ride back to Wassaic for the long train ride back to NYC.

Tuesday, October 18th, I participated in the monthly Peace Alliance conference call.

Wednesday, October 19th, I attended the monthly BFP PF committee meeting in Cobble Hill [Brooklyn]. Very productive meeting and we got alot accomplished. At each of our BFP PF committee meetings we get to enjoy Mukti's wonderful vegetarian and vegan Indian cuisine.

Thursday evening, October 20th, I attended the monthly “Friends of Tolkien” meetup in Manhattan. Always enjoyable and we talked on assorted topics from Tolkien to Game of Thrones.

Saturday, October 22nd, I hosted a soiree at my humble abode called “Putting the Zen back into Citizen”. Been planning this soiree for about two months. Those who attended my soiree were Dawn, Bill, Kai, Charlotte, Kim, Robert, Howard, Eileen, Ed G, Stephanie, Rebecca, Kirby and Veronica. Main buffet food was catered by Mukti Banerjee and it was delicious. Also, during the soiree, I hosted a raffle of several goodies, and little Kai picked the names out of a hat. Everyone had a terrific time, lots of diverse conversations, networking, and the party ended around 9:30pm. [Pix of Dawn with her son Kai.]

Monday, October 24th, I hosted the BFP A&C committee [i.e.: VN, SI, JC, ES & FM] meeting at my humble abode in the evening. For refreshment, I provided the leftover goodies from my soiree on Saturday. Productive meeting with the finalization of the "mission statement" and planning for the upcoming Brooklyn College event set for December 6th.

Tuesday, October 25th, I had a follow up appt with my lung specialist regarding this ongoing lung infection from end of September. He says my infection is almost gone and put me on a different set of antibiotics.

Thursday evening, October 27th, I attended the “Occupy Brooklyn General Assembly” meeting, which was being held not far from Pratt Institute.

On Saturday, October 29th, a Nor'easter blew through the NYC area leaving 3 inches of wet snow that eventually turned to slush.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

OCCUPY by Congressman Kucinich [D-Ohio]
An Iraq War veteran who survived two tours of duty gets his skull fractured in ... Oakland! 53 activists arrested in Atlanta. SWAT teams deployed to boot out peaceful protesters.

Recent actions against Occupy protesters are irresponsible and tragic. They're an assault on our democracy. These protesters are bravely exercising their right to freedom of expression, to bring attention to a political and economic system that's rigged against most Americans. I stand with them; and, all Americans -- left and right -- should join me in protecting their freedom to non-violently create change.

This isn't a Democratic or Republican movement. It's not about one party or one policy. It's about standing up to a financial system that's completely backwards. Wall Street banks get billions in bailouts and emerge with massive profits. Most Americans see a program of austerity in a painful economic climate -- benefit cuts, high unemployment, declining wages, and crumbling infrastructure. Congress moved swiftly to "save" banks (something I strongly opposed), and now Congress is paralyzed, unable to create jobs and to save our middle class.

It's no surprise Americans are standing up. Our country's economic policies have consolidated and accelerated wealth to the top. One percent of Americans now control 42% of our wealth. It's not radical to think this is out of balance or to demand a government that is of the people and for the people. I've been to these protests, and I can tell you they're filled with honest, hard working Americans who are concerned with the direction of our country and our economic future.

I am deeply concerned. I'm concerned about an economic system which tethers job creation to China and big banks. We shouldn't have to borrow money from China -- or Japan or South Korea -- to get out of this ditch. We should stop the Fed from giving billions to the big banks. We have to take back the power to manage our own economy, to regain control over our monetary system, consistent with the U.S. Constitution. That's why, one month ago, I introduced the National Emergency Employment Defense (NEED) Act. The legislation would put the Federal Reserve under the Department of the Treasury, and it would help us recapture control of our financial system. As part of the NEED Act, Congress would use its constitutional power to invest in America, creating millions of jobs by putting billions of dollars directly into circulation. And since this money is adding real, tangible value to our national wealth, it will not generate inflation.

We need a financial system that is of the people and for the people. We need to take it back from the big banks. We need economic and social justice. I will continue to support the Occupy movement. I will continue to fight for legislation, including the NEED Act, that sets America on a path of jobs for all, health care for all, education for all, retirement security for all, and peace.

Let's keep this movement alive. Let's keep fighting for economic and social justice. Keep occupying Wall Street. And, with your help, I'll keep occupying Congress.

Friday, October 28, 2011



Pearl Jam’s 20th Anniversary – Two Decades of Activism, Strong Spirits and Inspiration
Julianne Escobedo Shepherd, AlterNet

3 Ways Ben & Jerry’s and Other Companies are Supporting Occupy Wall Street
Lauren Kelley, AlterNet

Worst Food Additive Ever? It’s in Half of all Foods We Eat and Its Production Destroys Rainforests and enslaves Children
Jill Richardson, AlterNet

Occupy Wall Street Goes Global – 900 Protests Around the World, Thousands in Times Square
Justin Elliott, Salon

Corporate Greed Alert – Wal-Mart Cutting Healthcare Benefits for its Workers

How Much do Americans Really Know About Democracy? Turns Out We Could Learn a Few Things From Nature
Ellen Laconte, AlterNet

Occupy Wall Street Update – Verizon Workers to March with OWS Today, Bank Transfer Day is November 5th

Maher on How the GOP Misunderstands Occupy Wall Street – Not the Counterculture, It’s the Culture

It’s Not Just Unemployment – New Data Shows Working Americans’ Pay Is “AWFUL”

OWS Protesters Aren’t Jealous, They Just Want Bankers to Stop Cheating
Matt Taibbi, AlterNet

As Peaceful Occupy Atlanta is Also Evicted, Pondering the Connection Between Racist Criminal Justice and Unfair Economics

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

FOX BROOK PRESERVE - Went on a delightful hike with my good friend Katherine while visiting her in the northwest part of CT on Sunday, October 16th.


#Occupy Together – The Best Among Us
Chris Hedges,

Naomi Klein: Occupy Wall Street: The Most Important Thing in the World Now

Nobel Peace Prize Honors African, Arab Women

Voices from Occupy Wall Street: 'We're Fighting for Society Where Everybody is Important'

Unions Unify Occupy Wall Street

Millionaire’s March – Protesters Hit the Streets in NY and Visit the 1 Percent at their Homes
Lynn Parramore, AlterNet

Wall Street Executives Whine about Getting Average Compensation of “Only” $1 Million this Year

[Duchess Note – More to follow regarding OWS and other events happening around the US and the globe. Stay tuned………………]

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

OCCUPY WALL STREET - Sitting in solidarity with the movement on Sept 26th and Oct 10th down at Zuccotti Park, also dubbed Liberty Plaza.

Vacation in Cape May, NJ

[NOTE: A mini milestone has been reached here at “Hanging out with the Duchess”. As you can see, I’ve reached the 200th posting in regards to “personal news”. Another milestone was reached in August, which marked the Duchess blog 9th anniversary. My sincere thanks to all my regulars; whether you are new or been reading my blog for some time. I greatly appreciate your patronage!]

Thursday, Sept 1st, I attended the monthly TGTSNBN meetup, which was held at Belvedere Castle in Central Park.

Sept 2nd to 5th, I visited the family in upstate NY for a nice, relaxing Labor Day holiday weekend. Felt good to get away from the NYC for a few days.

Tuesday, Sept 6th, I really enjoyed the monthly Peace Alliance conference call this evening, especially the guest speaker [Stephen Dinan from The Shift Network]. He talked about the unifying vision for a planetary "Summer of Peace" in 2012. A summer of education, reconciliation and celebration focused on transitioning to a culture of peace. This is exciting news and I am totally jazzed by it.

Thursday, Sept 8th, I attended the monthly BFP board members meeting held at The Commons.

Saturday, Sept 10th, I did some cleaning and organizing of my apt. Really felt good to clear out several items that I haven’t utilized in years, and was just taking up space.

Sunday afternoon, Sept 11th, I volunteered with other members from WCW to participate in a virtual memorial of works of art in memoriam to the victims of the US war on terror and a gathering at City Hall Park. Our grief is not a cry for war!

Afterwards, several of us headed up to Revolution Books for “The Juggernaut of Empire and the Need for a Whole New World”. The event started off with a brief talk by Jacob George, who served 3 tours of duty in Afghanistan from 2001 to 2004. His story was about "A Ride Till the End" (ARTTE) a collective of veterans, artists, and activists who have been riding bicycles around the U.S. as a protest of the occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan since May 1, 2010.
Then we were presented with a talk and slide presentation of outstanding art created in response to 9-11 from "Redact This! Artists against Torture" by David Schwittek. And then lastly, a talk by Andy Zee, spokesperson for Revolution Books NYC, regarding George W. Bush said that America was attacked because "they hate our freedom," and then he unleashed a decade of war, torture and repression that continues unabated. Why did 9/11 happen, what has changed, and what is to be done.

Wednesday, Sept 14th, I attended and participated in the productive monthly BFP PF committee meeting.

Thursday, Sept 15th, after work I hoofed it down to the Union Square B&N to purchase the new “Pearl Jam Twenty” book, which marks their 20th anniversary on the music scene.

Saturday, Sept 17th, I spent the afternoon in Manhattan with my friend Judith. We had a delicious lunch at Nanoosh, went to see “Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows 2”, shopping and then dessert at Europan. After Judith headed back home on her bus, I did more shopping down on 6th Avenue and then wrapped it all up with a nice manicure.

On Sunday afternoon, Sept 18th, I volunteered with other BFP members at the annual Flatbush Frolic that takes place on Cortelyou Road. BFP had a booth along the “frolic” route. We engaged folk in the “penny poll”, asked them to fill out postcards to NY senators Gillabrand and Schumer about ending the war, plus selling t-shirts and buttons. It was a terrific afternoon, plus I did a wee bit of shopping at the Flatbush Food Coop.

On Wednesday evening, Sept 21st, I participated in the first meeting of the newly formed BFP A&C committee. Veronica is the chair of the committee and I am co-chair. We met at Wild Ginger in Cobble Hill for our meeting, and ate some really good vegan food while fleshing out “mission statement” and other particulars. It was a very productive meeting.

Thursday evening, Sept 22nd, I participated with other members of BFP at the “Peace Party and Mixer”, which was held at the Brooklyn College student center.

Saturday, Sept 24th, started out with Dana cleaning my apartment, and telling me all about her vacation in Poland. Then I headed into Manhattan, and while switching trains at Times Square got to ride on a vintage subway. These vintage subway trains were built in 1917 and retired in 1969. It was a blast riding it from Times Square to West 96th Street, and I took several photos. TGTSNBN was playing quidditch in Riverside Park near 108th Street and I was score keeper. Afterwards a group of us had a late lunch at Mel’s Diner, and then I strolled through a street fair with Irvin. Then down to Union Square to volunteer with others for City Harvest at the farmers market.

Sunday, Sept 25th, I was supposed to meet up with Pat C at the Broadway Flea Market, but somehow we never connected. Mostly my fault as I was late to our rendezvous due to transit issues and trying to find meeting spot. I checked out the Broadway Flea Market, as well as continue to look for Pat C for another hour. It was another warm, humid day and it wasn’t agreeing with me at all. Jumped on the cool, a/c subway and went down to Canal Street to pick up art supplies for upcoming workshop. Then back on subway down to Brooklyn Heights for lunch at Vegetarian Ginger on Montague Street. Afterwards strolled around promenade, took pix of some lovely architecture, and did some shopping along Montague Street. Spent rest of the day in my air conditioned apartment relaxing.

Monday, Sept 26th, I headed into the city around 1pm and checked out a few protests. The one over by the UN wasn’t that intriguing, so after a quick stop to check out winter coats at Dress Barn, I took the subway down to lower Manhattan. Got off at City Hall and walked down to Liberty Park were “Occupy Wall Street” protest had been going on for about 10 days. I hung out with “Granny Peace Brigade” and Julie from WCW. [Stay tuned for pix of OWS.]

Wed – Mon, Sept 28th – Oct 3rd … Despite being abit unwell [lung & stomach issues], I decided to go ahead with my Cape May [NJ] portion of vacation and attend the watercolor workshop. The bus ride down to Cape May from NYC was pretty much uneventful and arrived at my beloved seaside resort around 1pm. Took taxi service to Macomber hotel and lodged myself in my fav room with a view of the beach. Some nice changes have occurred at the Macomber since last year with a digital upgrade to the A/C, new flat screen TVs and small refrigerators in every room. Sweet! Put that last item to full advantage with a visit to the Acme grocery store. After a productive “photo shoot” walk around part of Cape May, plus picking up dinner at Cape Orient, I ran into Regina from Twin Gables B&B and we chatted for abit. She was out walking her two dogs [ie: Brandy and Rascal] when we met up. Regarding the cable TV in hotel room; I enjoyed catching up on some TV shows and movies. Films I watched during the evenings, while visiting Cape May were … Disney’s Aladdin, Ghostbusters1, Mad Max Thunderdome and Pirates of the Carribean1.

On Thursday morning I walked to the CVS to speak with the pharmacist on duty about some meds for my health. Heading to and from CVS I was able to check out some of the shops and boutiques. Visited Regina at Twin Gables that afternoon for an hour and we caught up on news. I also started work on a needlepoint project I had purchased day before at Washington Street Mall. Took a nap and then freshened up before heading out at 6pm with Franklin [workshop acquaintance] to check out the sunset at the cove, then off to a delicious dinner at the Blue Pig.

On Friday I rented a bike for the day, as the weather turned out nice and sunny. Amen! Up until then it was overcast and humid. Ugh! Pedaled off to the Laundromat on Texas Avenue to do some laundry, write checks and write in my journal. I dropped off my clean, dry clothes at hotel room. Then some tea and toast at Zoe’s before pedaling over to Emlen Physick estate for a tour of the latest exhibit and gift shop. Love checking out this place every year. Stopped by the post office to mail my checks and then on to Congress Hall “bike rentals” for a lengthy visit with my buddy Joe. We caught up on news, laughs and now “friends” on FB. He had some good news for me … Joe and his fiancée are getting hitched in November. Hurray! Later that afternoon I learned from Franklin that the workshop “intro” at Chalfonte was cancelled that evening, due to Barbara Cox having a car accident. Nothing serious, but meant she wouldn’t be at the Chalfonte that evening, and will still be teaching the workshop over the weekend. Whew! Change of plans and Franklin invited me to Stone Harbor for dinner at Erik and Susan’s home on a charming cove. Erik is another workshop acquaintance and avid painter. I had quite an enjoyable evening at Erik’s home, tour of house, 40ft boat, delicious dinner and then back to Macomber for quiet night.

Saturday & Sunday [watercolor workshop] … Lung issues are not improving, but I amble on like a trouper, as I did not want to miss this workshop. Upon arriving at the Chalfonte and the workshop room, I saw that Leslie is back and said it was all due to my email of early August. Its great seeing her again, though bummed to hear she’s been out of work since April. But on a positive note, she’s been dating a really nice chap since January, whom she met while hiking and he joined her during this weekend. There were a total of seven workshop participants … Leslie, Mary, Tonia, Joyce, Erik, Franklin and myself. Overall it was a terrific two-day watercolor workshop. Barbara Cox, our instructor who replaced Marge, was brimming with lots of tips, plus gave us many instructive demos. Part of Saturday, while the weather was still nice, we took the workshop outdoors to sketch The Abbey. I’ve tried to paint this “subject” in the past with no luck, but this time around I came away with a decent sketch. After several informative demos by Barbara, we worked on painting our sketches for 2.5 hours. Then the Chalfonte set up a table of wine, crackers, fruit, cheese and olives for the belated “intro” segment and “happy hour”. I finally met Michael, who is Leslie’s beau, and much socializing with everyone. Sunday dawned with overcast skies and much cool temps. Layering up on clothes was the order of the day. At the workshop room we decided to “stay in” and the Chalfonte turned on the heat for us. Amen! Barbara spent a good portion of the day providing us with demos and discussion. One of the demos, Aspen Birches, was our painting subject for the afternoon. Also, that afternoon, Barbara did a critique of everyone’s work and a raffle of some of her work. Plus she handed out free goodies from “Cheap Joe’s” art supplies. Afterwards Erik, Franklin, Leslie, Michael and I met at the King Edward lounge for a “happy hour”, though I stuck with lemon water. Then we parted company and I had quick dinner with Leslie and Michael before they drove back to PA. Next day it was back on the bus to NYC.

2011 Watercolour Workshop at the Chalfonte hotel in Cape May - Oct 1st & 2nd

Wednesday, October 12, 2011


The Long, Murderous Arm of the Law has Killed Troy Davis
Kai Wright & Jamilah King / ColorLines

Why 2000 People Needed to Occupy Wall Street – Banks are Raking in Profits While Taxpayers are Getting Screwed
Amy Goodman / Comment is Free

Why do Republicans hate Social Security?
By Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders

Republicans hate Social Security because it has been an extraordinary success and has done exactly what it was designed to do. It is the most successful government program in our nation's history and is enormously popular.

When Social Security was developed, 50 percent of seniors lived in poverty. Today, that number is 10 percent -- still too high, but a testament to the success of Social Security.

Republicans have spent years demonizing Social Security and spreading lies about its sustainability. They want to scare Americans and build support for making drastic cuts to the program or privatizing it entirely. Their long-term goal is to end Social Security as we know it, and convert it into a private account system which will enable Wall Street to make hundreds of billions in profits.

The truth is that, today, according to the Social Security Administration, Social Security has a $2.7 trillion surplus and can pay out every benefit owed to every eligible American for the next 25 years.Further, because it is funded by the payroll tax and not the U.S. Treasury, Social Security has not contributed one nickel to our deficit.

Now -- in a prolonged recession that has decimated the poor and middle class and pushed more Americans into poverty than at any point in modern history -- we need to strengthen Social Security. That's why I, along with nine co-sponsors, have introduced the "Keeping Our Social Security Promises Act." This legislation would lift the Social Security Payroll tax cap on all income over $250,000 a year, would require millionaires and billionaires to pay their fair share into the Social Security Trust Fund, and would extend the program for the next 75 years.

For 76 years, through good times and bad, Social Security has paid out every benefit owed to every eligible American. The most effective way to strengthen Social Security for the next 76 years is to scrap the payroll tax cap for those earning $250,000 a year or more.

Right now, someone who earns $106,800 pays the same amount of money into Social Security as billionaires like Bill Gates and Steve Jobs. That is because today, all income above $106,800 is exempt from the Social Security tax. As a result, 94% of Americans pay Social Security tax on all of their income, but the wealthiest 6% do not.That makes no sense.

The "Keeping Our Social Security Promises Act" will ensure the long-term solvency of Social Security without cutting benefits, raising the retirement age or raising taxes on the middle class.Social Security is keeping tens of millions of seniors out of poverty today. I can think of no more important issue facing our country today than making sure that Social Security remains strong for generations to come.

Make the Rich Pay More Taxes! How Obama’s Pledge to Fight for a Fairer Tax Policy Sets off the Real Battle of 2012
Robert Reich / R.Reich’s Blog

[Duchess Note: More news to come, plus “personal news” and photos of events, vacation and 365 Project. Stay tuned!]