I completed another t-shirt commission this month. This one was for the brother of the person I did it for last time. I think I like this one better! The backing is the same red fabric as the background.
I know who I’m going to vote for in the upcoming election.
In fact, unless something radically changes, I know that I’m going to vote for Democrats
in the next election, and the one after that, and the one after that.
This doesn’t have anything to do with debates, political
ads, blogs, or any information that’s been put forth by the candidates or the
parties. In fact, I’ve been avoiding the news for the last few years because
watching it was simply too stressful. I couldn’t sleep because I would worry
about things that were, quite frankly, out of my control. If something major
happens, I find out from other people and I seek the information out.
Uninformed? Maybe about the daily goings-on. But I’m also not misinformed,
which is what ends up happening to people who only watch one news channel or
get their information from one source.
No, me being a Democrat goes deeper than sound bites. It’s
an ideology. I was actually brought up by a white, conservative, upper middle
class, Catholic family. My sisters are all Republicans, as was my dad, and my
high school was 99% white. Literally. I think there were four African-American
students in my graduating class. Four.
So why do I feel so strongly and so differently from my
family? I’ll try to explain in this essay. Please understand that much of what
I’m writing has to do with the way I feel in my core, and therefore don’t need
to be argued with. Arguing with me about whether I should have a certain
opinion is like telling me I’m wrong because purple is my favorite color.
Also, just because I say I am Democrat does not mean I do
not listen and try to understand candidates regarding various topics. Certainly
I do not agree 100% with every Democrat on every single issue. But the
Democratic way of thinking fits in with my core values.
I need to clarify that in this writing I may make some
generalizations. If I say, “Democrats think” or “Republicans think” something,
I do not mean that 100% of them think that. It’s a generalization. There are
exceptions to every rule, and I know that. Which brings me to my first point:
There are bad apples in every group of people. It doesn’t
matter what group. If it’s big enough to have other people forming opinions
about it, there will be at least one loudmouth who ruins the image for the rest
of the people.
I’m a Humanist. That means that I don’t believe in a higher
power – which makes me an Atheist -- but I do think that people have a moral
and ethical obligation to be good to each other and treat other people with
respect and kindness. But there are enough Atheists that belittle and ridicule
religious people that they have given Atheism a bad name. In fact, being an Atheist
puts me in the most hated
group in America, besides rapists (yay… for us?). Of course, the loud Atheists
have every right to say what they need to. It’s just not helping the image of
my group. But most Atheists, like most religious people, are respectful of
others’ beliefs and don’t make a big deal out of it.
African-Americans have an even rougher time. Not only are
there bad apples in their group, just like any other, but they have the
disadvantage of their minority status being instantly recognizable from several
feet away. This means that people who are prone to negatively stereotype them
will have done so before they’ve even had a chance to shake hands or say a word.
At least I can keep my Atheism hidden if I choose to do so. I’ve often thought
about wearing a pin that says “I’m an Atheist” every day for a year and
document what happens to me, but frankly, while I’m the mother of a child young
enough to not be able to defend herself, I won’t do it. I actually worry enough
about her safety to take that chance. I can hardly imagine what it was like in
the South in the 60s for African-Americans.
Yes, there are also bad apples in Christianity (Westboro Baptist Church, anyone?). Of
course I realize that most Christians think the WBC is disgusting. In fact,
some Christians may find it surprising that I, as a Humanist, agree with most
of the messages in the New Testament.
So when it comes to groups that you don’t agree with, please
do not use one member of that group as a representation of the whole. If
they’ve made the 24 hour news channel, chances are good that they’re a
sensationalist version of that group’s opinion.
The sad thing about the bad apple concept is that the
Republican bad apples tend to be those in power, be it political or business.
Democrat bad apples are poor, relatively powerless individuals.
Nothing is perfect
It drives me crazy when people attack a good idea because
it’s not perfect. When dealing with issues as complex as the environment,
health care, education, and everything else the nation has to deal with, no
solution is going to be perfect. It’s as simple as that. Is Obama’s health care
act perfect? No. It’s impossible for any act to be perfect for every citizen.
I was reading about wind power a few years ago and there was
an environmental group that was against windmills being put up because some
birds would get injured from flying into them. This makes me crazy. Yes, some
individual birds may be killed. That’s sad, no doubt. But wind is one of the
most obvious resources we have and to shoot down the idea because it’s not
perfect is simply counterproductive. No, the windmill isn’t perfect, but it’s
better than fossil fuels and it’s the best thing we can do right now.
(Generalizing again; we have solar and geothermal and other things, but that’s
not the point here.)
Is my Prius the best car for gas mileage? Well, no, because
there are electric cars coming out. But it was the best when I bought it and
it’s got twice the mileage of my old car. If everyone traded in their cars for
hybrids it would cut down on gas consumption significantly. Would it be
perfect? No. Does the production of the battery in my Prius have its own
environmental considerations? Yes, it does. However, it was the best I could do
at the time to cut down on my own personal carbon footprint. The point is, I
did what I could. I needed a new vehicle so I chose the most energy efficient
one that would suit my needs. I know someone who doesn’t recycle because she doesn’t
use that many cans. Why does that make a difference? Someone else doesn’t
recycle because she lives way far out in the country and they don’t offer
recycling. In her case, taking a special trip to the recycling center may very
well offset the benefits of the actual recycling. I don’t know in her case. But
the one with the curbside recycling service? That’s just lazy. And yes, I know
that in many cases not everything is recycled and it ends up in the landfill
anyway. But that is improving, and this is just one example of the entire
point. Remember, this concept applies as well to health care, education, and a
host of other big, complicated issues.
Love and sex
Gay people are born gay. I realize that not everyone
believes that. But hear me out.
Being gay is very similar to being left-handed. If you’re
born left-handed, you can’t help it. Now, if you were born left-handed early in
the 20th century or before, you were probably taught, not kindly, to
be right-handed. For some, it worked. For others, it didn’t, or it caused years
Being gay is the same way. If someone is born gay, they can
be influenced heavily by environmental factors and their family to be straight.
And some gay people live a life of misery trying to fit into the mold that
their family and society wanted them to fit into. They could be married and
have kids. Just like someone who was left handed may have been forced to learn
to write with their right hand.
People who think that being gay is a choice haven’t
successfully put themselves in the gay person’s shoes. Why would any person
choose to live a life of ridicule and bullying? Most people who are gay say they
realized it around puberty. This is the same time that straight people start to
notice others in a sexual and affectionate way.
If I had been born gay and was raised in a gay-friendly
home, I would be more likely to come out earlier. Being in the gay-friendly
home wouldn’t have been what made me gay; being in a supportive environment
would make me come out earlier.
So let’s discuss the marriage thing.
A friend once disparagingly commented that she thought gay
people were “weird.” Well, fine. I think that people who find pleasure in
killing animals (i.e., hunters) are weird, too. I’m not saying I wouldn’t kill
an animal for food if my family depended on it, but I wouldn’t enjoy it. Do I
think that hunters shouldn’t be able to marry each other? Of course not.
But wait, that had nothing to do with sex, so it’s
irrelevant, you say. Okay, fine. Here’s another example: furries. You know, the
people who have a fetish where they dress up like animals and have sex. I think
that’s kind of weird. But that doesn’t mean I have the right to say they can’t
marry each other. I really couldn’t care
less whether they get married. But be certain that if someone were to propose a
bill saying that furries shouldn’t be able to marry each other, I’d be as
against it as I am against bills that say gay people can’t marry.
You don’t have to like the idea of two men having sex, but
to say they don’t have the right to marry each other is as ill-conceived as me
saying that two straight people whoare
into water sports shouldn’t be able to marry each other. And news flash: gay
people don’t do anything different than straight people do!
The gay rights issue is really a human rights issue. 100
years from now, people will look back and the laws being passed that say that a
marriage should only be between a man and a woman are as archaic as those
saying that people of different races shouldn’t be able to marry, or women
shouldn’t be able to vote.
Climate change is a fact. If you find a scientist that says
it’s not, either they’re being paid off by some big corporation or they’re
looking at numbers that the rest of the scientific community have refuted.
But here’s the thing that never seems to be said: Democrats
wish climate change wasn’t a problem too.
Republicans seem to think that the Democrats want climate change to be a problem.
They seem to think that liberals are all somehow profiting from the sale of
wind generators and solar panels and electric cars. It’s not true! Liberals
don’t want to have to do all this work to come up with clean energy resources.
It’s a lot of work! I wish I could drive any car I wanted and buy anything
without it having an impact on the planet. We aren’t benefitting from this at
all. It’s a long, hard, scary road ahead of us. It’s just that Democrats have realized
that we as humans have a huge problem that will be less of a problem the sooner
we get to solving it.
It is our job to do what we can to turn around the
environment issue as quickly as possible. After seeing An Inconvenient Truth, I couldn’t sleep for a week. I wanted to
write a letter to my daughter apologizing for bringing her into a world which I
was fairly convinced was going to be a wreck by the time she’s an adult. That
still may be true, but I know that I’m doing everything that I can to make the
environment a little better. One thing I can do to save resources is to drive a
fuel-efficient car. Another is to elect politicians who view the environment as
a big issue. Yes, there are parties who are even more environmentally conscious
than Democrats, but given the likelihood of them actually getting into office,
I don’t want to waste my vote.
The health care bill isn’t perfect, I know. But at least
it’s something closer to care for everyone. I have a friend who hurt her back.
Her husband had a good job but he couldn’t afford the family rate for health
insurance. My friend had a part time job which didn’t provide any health
insurance. My friend waited, in pain, for weeks before she finally had to go to
the emergency room. She lost time at work. She couldn’t do what she needed to
do at home. If she had had health insurance, she could have gone to see a
family practice doctor when the problem was small. Instead she was forced to
wait until her pain was unbearable. She is in a program where she doesn’t have
to pay more than a certain amount for an emergency room visit, so this
particular issue didn’t bankrupt her, but if she had a major problem, it easily
could have ruined her family’s life.
Most people have some sort of health insurance. If someone
doesn’t, and they have to have emergency care, they can get it. But if they
can’t afford the bill and the hospital has to pick it up, it means higher
hospital costs for everyone. Higher costs means higher premiums for people
paying for insurance.
Besides the cost factor, there’s the humanity factor. Call
me soft, but I can’t bear the thought of someone in pain or forgoing crucial
medical procedures because it might bankrupt their family. No one should die or
be disabled because they can’t afford insurance.
Although I’m an Atheist, I actually agree with many of the
messages in the bible. For example, in Matthew 25:31-46, Jesus tells a story
about God sorting out the good people from the bad. He says to one group, “when
I was sick, you healed me; when I was hungry, you gave me food.” They reply
that no, they hadn’t done those things. But then Jesus says, “When you did it
for anyone, no matter how poor or their lot in life, you did it for me.” What
he’s saying is that your morals are set by how you treat the lowest of the low.
That, in a nutshell, is Humanism. It also seems so basic to me. How are you
treating your fellow humans well if you feel it’s more important to save money
personally than it is to give health care to those who can’t afford it? It’s
inhuman, to me. Not to mention the reciprocal benefits. Healthy people are able
to work and pay taxes. Healthy people are able to learn more in schools.
Healthy people benefit society.
Yes, there may be a few bad apples that spoil it. There
always will be. But the pros outweigh the cons so far on this one.
Women’s health, abortion, etc.
I get the problem that people have with abortion. I really
do. The idea of destroying what is almost a baby, a potential child, is
terrible. But there are few things to keep in mind.
When the egg is first fertilized, it’s no more a baby than
an acorn is an oak tree. But the closer to birth you get, the less like a blob
and the more like a baby it is. No one wants to kill a baby, after all.
Which is why no sane woman is going to have an abortion in
the later months unless there is a dire need to. She’s just not going to do it.
And the idea that women use abortion as a form of birth control is
preposterous. Abortions are expensive, painful, and depressing. Condoms, the
pill, and diaphragms are much cheaper and easier.
And Planned Parenthood does way more than provide abortions.
I used them as my GYN when I was in my 20s. I didn’t have a primary care
provider, so PP was the only regular health care I received. Oh and the Madison
clinic didn’t perform abortions. That was a different place.
Women have many reasons for
having abortions. Most of them have to do with lack of money or single
parenthood. I would think that if the Republicans don’t want people to be able
to have abortions, they should be more willing to do things to keep people from
being poor, like raising the minimum wage or providing better education or,
dare I say it, health insurance. They can’t have it both ways.
I don’t claim to have total knowledge of the economic
situation we’re in. But I do know this: I think that America is better off when
the number of people living below the poverty line is kept to a minimum. Most people,
even those in the upper classes, benefit when the entire economy is healthy.
When I first got out of college, I had a job which involved,
among other things, selling ads for a magazine. Even then I knew that more
people working meant more small businesses which meant more ad sales for me,
and therefore more commission. Trickle down economics seems ridiculous, even to
me. It’s an excuse for the rich to get richer. Instead, the lower classes
getting more money means they spend more, and it means more profits for the
corporations and even the wealthier among us. Now that my household makes well
over the $16,000 a year I made then, I am happy to pay more taxes. If I’m
making more money, I can afford more taxes.
After the magazine job, I started working in tech support. I
made a bit more money. But after living in five different apartments I decided
I was done renting and wanted to buy a house. Because my income was low enough
and I was a first-time home buyer, I qualified for a WHEDA (Wisconsin Housing
and Economic Development Authority) loan.
I got a government handout. Anyone who knows me knows that I worked hard,
got a better job, enhanced my skills, got married and eventually bought a
better house. If I had not gotten that WHEDA loan, I might not have bought a
house in it that what we want for those who live below the poverty line?
Reading Atlas Shrugged
is on my list, but I know enough about the book to say this: there are a lot
more people who think they are John Galt than really are John Galt. I know I’m
not. And tea partiers need to realize that the original tea party happened
because of lack of representation. That’s simply not the case in today’s
There are lots of issues I haven’t touched upon: education,
foreign policy, military spending, gun rights, etc. This essay is not meant to
be an all-encompassing defense of the Democrats; rather, it’s intended to
explain my feelings on certain topics. Although education is important, and the
state of public education is bad enough that I have elected to put my daughter
into a $12,000-per-year private school, I don’t know enough about the topic to
pose good arguments. The same with foreign policy and military spending (though
you can probably guess that I opt for the non-violent approach first). The
other topics I outlined simply are more important to me at this point in my
There are some things which I have a hard time reconciling
when it comes to Republicans. One is that they tout local business, yet they
want to spend the least amount of money so they shop at Walmart. They want government
to stay out of their personal lives when it comes to guns, but they sure don’t
mind it getting into people’s business regarding women’s rights, gay rights, or
illegal drugs. They laud the Greatest Generation yet they refuse to make
sacrifices for the good of the country. They cry, “What about the children?”
yet they don’t care to work to better the environment for future generations.
So there you have it
I know this essay has not touched upon the specific actions
that each candidate has taken in the past (or intends to, based on his election
promises). For that, please see my friend Dan’s very thoroughly investigated essay
on his blog.
No, my intention was to explain my outlook as it applies to
politics in general: treat other human beings well and with respect, and have
faith in their level of intelligence. Let those who don’t deserve the respect
or have the intelligence fall to the wayside; don’t neglect those in need just
because of those who aren’t deserving. To sum it up, human dignity will always trump money. It’s the basis of Humanism,
and it’s my outlook on life.
Lots of new things have been happening around here. Some of them good, some of them not good.
Not good? My dad. He's been having major health issues. So much that we know we're going to Michigan (for this third time this year) next week. And we may be going a lot more in the next several months. We couldn't see the logic in spending so much on hotels, etc. Plus, as you may know, we love to camp. Oh, and since RT passed his exam, he got a bonus. So all of this lead to us trading his old car, which was this:
The smallest car GM made that year.
for a new (to us) car, which is this:
Don't think they parked it there accidentally. Clever CarMax!
All so that we can tow this:
It's a popup trailer.
We tow it closed, of course.
Oh, and we're fostering this guy:
His name is Ollie. He is super sweet. He is 100% blind. In fact, he has no eyes, but he gets around just fine. If you know of anyone who might want to adopt him, let me know! He is next to no work. Unlike sighted dogs, he doesn't need lots of exercise or attention. But he loves people! We are still considering keeping him. We'll see how the Michigan trip goes!
I also tried out my gathering foot. Awesome! Who needs a ruffler? Not me!
And last, but certainly not least, I have tried a new pattern. It's Meg's Garden from Don't Look Now. It's part of a bee through the Richmond Modern Quilt Guild. I am close to being ready to fuse it. I have tweaked it here and there since this photo was taken, but you get the idea.
Now, I've been told that I am a show-off. That I am a "big spender" and that I parade it around in front of people just to make them feel bad. I would hope that's not the case. RT has worked his ass off to get his Fellowship and he got rewarded for it. That went to the camper. The new (to us) car was a trade-in, and we didn't put extra money down, and now have a sizable payment to make. Rest assured, we are not drowning in money. We are FAR from rich. Our income is probably in the lowest 5% of RMS families. Anyway, I lost a friend over this, but I don't feel that I've done anything wrong. If you think I have, please let me know. I try very hard to not be a braggart.
Yes, it's been too long. I admit: I suck at updating this blog. Oh, who am I kidding? I suck at updating the RMQG blog, too. I guess I was not cut out to be a blogger. Oh well. But photos!
First is my new cutting table from IKEA. It's supposed to be for the kitchen, but it works great as a cutting table because it's counter-height. And look at all the drawers!
Here's an in-progress photo of a small quilt I made for a high school friend that I reconnected with on Facebook. It makes me happy.
Over the holidays, I realized I needed another gift for my father-in-law. So I took a photograph that he had taken and printed it out on fabric. Then I quilted it. Here, the binding is taking up too much of the photo (this is from before I had done the hand-stitching), but you get the idea. I think it came out pretty fantastic! I may try this with other photos in the future.
I finally have something to show! I have been working on a class sample for my "level two" class. The pattern is called Stems and it's by Fig Tree Quilts. This one is quilted fully, but the class doesn't actually cover that part of it. We'll be covering 45 degree angles (i.e., triangles), sashing, and borders. If we have time at the end of class we'll also go over basic stitch in the ditch quilting.
Photos! I used a Kaffe Fassett strip roll for the leaves. I used King Tut for the quilting. I seem to not be able to quilt loosely. In fact, you may be able to see where I started if you zoom in and look closely at the full quilt photo -- it's the loosest part! I used two whole spools of King Tut (500 m each!) and actually had to quilt the last little corner in plain red Mettler. You can't really see it, though.