Monday, July 30, 2007

End Drive-Through Mastectomies

From a nurse:

I'll never forget the look in my patients eyes when I had to tell them they had to go home with the drains, new exercises and no breast. I remember begging the Doctors to keep these women in the hospital longer, only to hear that they would, but their hands were tied by the insurance companies.
So there I sat with my patients, giving them the instructions they needed to take care of themselves, knowing full well they didn't grasp half of what I was saying, because the glazed, hopeless, frightened look spoke louder than the quiet 'Thank You they muttered.
A mastectomy is when a woman's breast is removed in order to remove cancerous breast cells/tissue.
If you know anyone who has had a Mastectomy, you may know that there is a lot of discomfort and pain afterwards.
Insurance companies are trying to make mastectomies an outpatient procedure. Let's give women the chance to recover properly in the hospital
or 2 days after surgery. It takes 2 seconds to do this and is very important.

If there was ever a time when our voices and choices should be heard, this is one of those times.

There's a bill called the Breast Cancer Patient Protection Act, which will require Insurance Companies to cover a minimum 48-hour hospital stay for patients undergoing a mastectomy. It's about eliminating the 'drive-through mastectomy' where women are forced to go home just a few hours after surgery against the wishes of their doctor still groggy from anesthesia and sometimes with drainage tubes still attached.

Lifetime Television has put this bill on their Web page with a petition drive to show your support. Last year over half the House signed on.

PLEASE!! Sign the petition by clicking on the Web site below.
You need not give more than your name and zip code number.

This takes about 2 seconds. PLEASE PASS THIS ON to your friends and

family, and on behalf of all women, THANK YOU and GOD BLESS YOU!!

Dangerous Sonar

Friday, July 27, 2007

Always a Bridesmaid...

A few weeks ago, I was commissioned by my friend, Jacqueline, to make some jewelry for her bridesmaids for her upcoming wedding. Well, with short notice and being the perfectionist that I am, I have stressed myself out for the last week, thinking about nothing but the necklaces, earrings and bracelets that needed to be done for tomorrow's ceremony!

Of course, I really had nothing to worry about. It's only one of the most important days in my friend's life!
Jacqueline described the dresses as being a beautiful sage green, so immediately I thought that I would incorporate peridot into the design. With only a few weeks to make the jewelry, I wanted to get started as quickly as possible. (Jacqueline lives three hours south of Napa in Monterey, and would only be in Napa on the weekends. So, we only had a couple of times that we could get together.) Since she was busy planning the wedding, I didn't want to have to bother her with every little detail of the jewelry design. But after buying a whole handful of gemstones and pearls that I wanted to use, I still needed to see the dresses and make sure the greens didn't clash.
Fortunately, I am innately intuitive (or perhaps just lucky) and the beads that I picked matched spot on! Immediately, I began to piece the design together and was able to get all of the earrings done, and the necklaces half done. The design style that I intended required exact measurements for all of the bridesmaids (and the bride), so I needed to wait another week to get Jacqueline in town and measuring necklines (and wrists)!
Meanwhile, I prepped the beads for bracelets so that they were ready for assembly. I also needed to order a few last minute jumprings and clasps, and in order to save a bit of money, I wanted to order in bulk from my favorite online bead store (Fire Mountain Gems). Of course, this meant that I was now stressing that the items wouldn't get delivered on time, even though the estimated delivery date was Wednesday. (I gave myself a deadline of Thursday.)
Everything arrived on time, I worked all night Wednesday, and everything was finished by Thursday. So....

After work last night, I was able to gather the boxes and head up to Jacqueline's grandmother's house on the hill. I presented the boxes to her, and the anticipation grew as she ate the rest of her late dinner and talked about last minute preparations and showed me some of the gifts her mother has been showering on her. She did notice that there was one extra box fairly quickly.
She has four bridesmaids for the wedding, so she asked for four sets. But, I couldn't imagine seeing all of my bridesmaids with such beautiful jewelry and not having a set to match! So, I felt inclined to make a special set for her as well.

Yes, I'm very happy with the outcome. But, more importantly, Jacqueline is happy. And I know of at least one bridesmaid that approves as well. I can't wait to see the whole ensemble all together at the ceremony. Now, I can relax and think about what I'm going to wear. But, really, who's gonna notice what I'm wearing anyway, right?

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Lord WaldeMart Returns

Love this crazy video put out by Walmart Watch.
From the website:
We in WaldeMart Watch believe that the Dark Magic practiced by Lord WaldeMart and his company WalMart is inconsistent with the values in Harry Potter (see below for examples).

Together as fans of the Harry Potter books and movies we have the power to go beyond Lord WaldeMart's "gifts for spreading discord and enmity... by showing an eqully strong bond of friendship and trust" (Goblet of Fire 723) to all who have suffered at his hands.

We can show WaldeMart that the time has come to restore the soul that Wal-Mart's founder Sam Walton had dreamed for his company, and to become a company that gives it workers health care, treats neighborhoods with respect, does not discriminate against minorities, and is good to the environment.

The website goes on to point out parallels between the Potter books and WalMart such as:
  • Using its power to buy in bulk to undercut prices at local stores, like the independent stores in Diagon Alley (like it will be doing with the new Harry Potter book by selling it at 50% of suggested retail price).
  • Hermione's work with the liberation of house elves is compared to WalMart's health care plan, which covers fewer than half of its employees, as well as the abuses endured by workers in factories that supply WalMart. (See my earlier post on "Made in China." WalMart is not alone in this charge.)
  • WalMart prevents its employees from organizing in unions, going so far as to spy on employees by reading their private emails and listening in on their phone calls. WaldeMart Watch compares this to Dolores Umbridge's Decree Number Twenty-Four that disbanded all student organizations.
  • Discriminatory practices (against "Mudbloods") abound according to statistics...women make up 92% of cashiers, but only 14% of managers; 15% of American truckers are African-American, but only 2-3% of WalMart's fleet are African-American.
  • WalMart has a history of and continues to pollute our "Forbidden Forest;" by contaminating water throughout the U.S., building on wetlands, and apparently even paving over Mayan grounds.
  • Chambers of Commerce are compared to the Ministry that turns a blind eye when warned of the return of Voldemort. According to the site, Chambers of Commerce that approve a WalMart are giving it "loads of taxpayer-funded government subsidies so that it will build in their town." These subsidies take away from school funding most of time.
These are a few of the reasons that I never shop at WalMart. I also dislike shopping at Target, but at least their track record with their employees is much better.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Gary Jules - a follow up...

Here am I with my new friend, Gary Jules:)

He played at Cafe du Nord in San Francisco last night and I had been patiently waiting for the 17th of July to arrive. I made dinner reservations, and since it was a standing only show, Todd and I were part of a handful of folks that actually had seats! The food left something to be desired, but the entertainment was wonderfully fabulous.

I was turned on to Gary Jules in January when my dad stumbled upon his rendition of "Mad World" on MySpace. His voice has a Cat Stevens quality to it that I adore! I immediately added Gary as a friend to be updated on upcoming tour events. Am I so glad that I did! I'm thinking that I need to add more bands to my MySpace friends. It's such a great way to keep informed of upcoming shows.

Anyway, Gary is a great storyteller and entertainer, not to mention a great singer/songwriter. I thoroughly enjoyed listening to his beautiful voice and also hearing about the tour so far with Jim Bianco, the tales of the coffee shop woman in North Carolina (where he now resides), and the gay bar in Oklahoma. Gary and Jim make a great pair, and if you happen to be in the area, I highly recommend getting some tix!

Monday, July 16, 2007

I finally did it!!

I just made a loan to someone in the developing world using a revolutionary new website called Kiva.

You can go to Kiva's website and lend to someone in the developing world who needs a loan for their business - like raising goats, selling vegetables at market or making bricks. Each loan has a picture of the entrepreneur, a description of their business and how they plan to use the loan so you know exactly how your money is being spent - and you get updates letting you know how the business is going. The best part is, when the entrepreneur pays back their loan you get your money back - and Kiva's loans are managed by microfinance institutions on the ground who have a lot of experience doing this, so you can trust that your money is being handled responsibly.

I just made a loan to an entrepreneur named Pakiza Aliyeva in Azerbaijan. She still needs another $825.00 to complete her loan request of $950.00 (you can loan as little as $25.00!). Help me get this business off the ground by clicking on the link below to make a loan to Pakiza Aliyeva too:

Or you can browse or search their pages to find a business that you can identify with.

It's finally easy to actually do something about poverty - using Kiva I know exactly who my money is loaned to and what they're using it for. And most of all, I know that I'm helping them build a sustainable business that will provide income to feed, clothe, house and educate their family long after my loan is paid back.

Join me in changing the world - one loan at a time.


What others are saying about

'Revolutionising how donors and lenders in the US are connecting with small entrepreneurs in developing countries.'
-- BBC

'If you've got 25 bucks, a PC and a PayPal account, you've now got the wherewithal to be an international financier.'
-- CNN Money

'Smaller investors can make loans of as little as $25 to specific individual entrepreneurs through a service launched last fall by'
-- The Wall Street Journal

'An inexpensive feel-good investment opportunity...All loaned funds go directly to the applicants, and most loans are repaid in full.'
-- Entrepreneur Magazine

For Jacqueline and Christopher...

My friend, Jacqueline, is getting married in a few weeks and her cousins just threw her a wedding shower this last weekend. So, I checked her registry and got creative. This olive oil and serving tray set are the offshoot of a couple of items from her registry, but with a personal touch. I love the mold for this plate, and I am very happy with how the set turned out. But, better yet, gauging by her reaction, I think that she loves it as well.
And that makes me feel even better about it:)

Friday, July 13, 2007

Moo Cards

Note to self: Check these out!

What is a Moo card? That's what I asked, minus an expletive, when I read about it. Apparently, it's not only an alternative to business cards, for use as a calling card, but it's a little personalized piece of art.
Apparently, there's a whole flickr group for moo cards from
And the website has several links for "what to do with your moo cards."
Jewelry, art, magnets (er..., moognets), keychains, wedding invitations, etc...
And, of course, there's even a moo blog. And folks are starting to trade moo cards,...hmm.
Chew on this for awhile, and I know the ideas will start churning!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Using Silver Art Paste...

Just checked my email and found this wonderful Instructable using PMC Paste (Precious Metal Clay) to create a Silver Popcorn Pendant. If you've ever wondered how to use the silver pastes, but have been wary of trying it, you should definitely check out this instructable. It shows several pictures and walks you through step by step. Enjoy!

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Danger! Made in China...

I saw this link on recently. Yet another reason to buy locally, buy handmade, buy American... I know a lot of companies and corporations are outsourcing to China because it's cheaper, but perhaps as a consumer you'll think twice before buying that "Made in China" item, especially toys! Check out all the items that are lead contaminated.

On a side note, there are more reasons to think twice before buying "Made in China." I've been reading a book by Isabel Losada lately, "A Beginners Guide to Changing the World." It's about one woman's actions to get involved in changing the world for the better. She highlights her actions in trying to help with and understand the issue of Tibet and China. In the middle of the book, she quotes an excerpt from a book she's been given by Kate Saunders of the Tibet Action Network. It's called "Eighteen Layers of Hell," and it's all about the forced labor camps in China. I want to highlight this, because it's another very good reason to think twice before buying "Made in China."

Suspension by the hands and feet is also common in the labour camps. The "hanging aeroplane" involves suspending prisoners by the arms with their hands tied together behind their back so that the arms are contorted when the prisoners are suspended, causing extreme pain. Suspension can severely damage the muscles and nerves and if prolonged causes dislocation of the arms from the shoulder sockets. On other occasions the guards would grab the prisoners from behind, force their wrists together at the back and yank their arms back and up towards the head, so that the prisoners fall on their knees, as the arms nearly break loose from their sockets. For variation, the wrists could be forced together in front, the arms jerked up over the head and then back in the torture known as the "chicken claws."

"You could be forgiven for thinking that I have scanned the book for the most graphic passage. But I have merely opened it at random. This is what we don't want to know," Ms. Losada explains between passages...

Electric batons are some of the most frequently used torture instruments in Chinese prisons, and they are purchased from trade fairs - sometimes made by European or American companies....At a touch, a shock is released through two prongs at the nozzle of the baton, often emitting a crackling blue light. The batons are shaped in such a way that they can be inserted inside the body, and there is evidence that they have been applied to the soles of the feet, inside the mouth, on the genitals, or inside the vagina or ears of the victims.
I was deeply disturbed by just these two passages, yet there is an entire book full of the torture that occurs in Chinese force labor camps. "Made in China?" Yeah, I'm not interested. Thanks.

Check this kid out!

Next Ronaldo - Funny bloopers are a click away

This kid is, like, 10 years old!!! Seriously! Perhaps, someday, my moves will be this good. I mean, I'm close, but I think he's got me on the footwork:)

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Storytime, Anyone?

I just wandered upon a lovely blog site, The Synchronity of Indeterminacy, explained by the author as, "Found Photo Stories: Life and Art Linked by Photographs
A study in creativity, this site features one-minute short stories inspired by found photos, an idea based on the Indeterminacy recordings by John Cage, pairing one-minute short stories with random sounds."
What wonderful reads, he provides. Seriously, I could get lost here all day!

Etching Glass - A Walk Through

So, the other day I finally got started on the bottle etching project I have been meaning to start. For the student sale that's fast approaching (25-26 August, 2007), I am putting together some bottles with base plates similar to the one I did earlier this year for my friends' wedding gift. A few of them, I envision being olive oil bottles with a dipping plate. But, I also have visions of some super fabulous body oil or massage oil residing in one or two of them as well. I'm still working on the details of the oil part, but I have the glass done...

I worked with Armour Etch cream and both the Rub 'n' Etch and Peel 'n' Etch stencils.
First, I'll show you the idea behind the Rub 'n' Etch variety:
After securing your stencil in place with a little tape, you burnish the design onto the glass. After the stencil transfers from the plastic to the glass, you remove the plastic backing and tape off the area surrounding the stencil. It IS necessary to mask off this area, as the fumes from the reaction will frost the glass, in a very undesirable way!

At this point, you are ready to apply the cream. But before I get to that, I'll show you the Peel 'n' Etch stencil as well, because once you have the stencil in place, the steps are the same.

To the right of the bottle, you can see the baggy that has the stencil in it. The Peel 'n' Etch variety comes with a printed version of what the stencil will look like. You don't use this portion, it is for reference only. Also, I think you may be able to use this stencil more than once. But, I haven't tried to reuse it yet. I did keep it, and it seemed sticky enough to use again. Another bonus, if you wish, you can use the negative of the stencil as well.

After peeling the papery side away from the stencil and placing the stencil on the bottle, you peel away a second gauze-like layer off of the opposite side. This leaves you with a contact paper-esque stencil, which you should mask off. (I haven't in this one, and I did get the frosted outline of the square stencil.)

Apply the Armour Etch cream thickly. With the Rub 'n' Etch stencil (the butterfly above), you let the cream sit for one minute, and then rinse. (Mind the cream resting in the ceramic sink, as it may etch it!) If you let it sit longer, the stencil gets eaten away.
For the Peel 'n' Etch variety of stencil, you can let the cream sit longer. I think I found something that said 5 minutes? You definitely can get more contrast by letting the cream sit longer.

Now all that's left for me to do is to find a source for bottle toppers, and make the plates, of course.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Mmm..., Strawberry Soup

from a recipe by Shuna Fish Lydon, pastry chef, featured in "edible San Francisco"

Serves 6

1 (750-mL) bottle chardonnay, rose, or ice wine
2 generous cups cold water
4 cups sugar
Juice of 1 lemon
6 pints organic strawberries

In a large, stainless steel pot, bring wine to boil over high heat.
Add water and sugar.

Lower heat to medium-high and bring to boil again.
Remove from heat and stir in lemon juice.
Set aside and let cool to room temperature.

If strawberries are overly dirty, wash with a brief blast of cold water. Set aside 16 to 20 of the best looking berries for garnish.
Stem the remaining berries by hand.

Using a blender, puree the strawberries in small batches with 1/2 cup of the wine sauce and 1/4 cup filtered water.
Add more or less sauce or water according to taste.
Strain puree in a fine-meshed sieve. Stir in more wine sauce or more water, 1/2 cup at a time, until a thick, sauce-like consistency is reached.

Cover and chill the soup for one hour in refrigerator before serving.
Garnish with reserved strawberries.

Strawberry soup will keep for one week refrigerated in a nonreactive, tightly covered container.


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