Posted in Around Town, Issues, Not Your Momma's NW Pasadena, Pasadena

Fussing and Fighting, My Friend

This is the post you’ve been waiting for.


I have bad news. We are all racists.

I know, I know. You don’t want to be a racist (I don’t either). You think it is despicable to demean the humanity of another person, or to think of an entire group of people as inferior. Or perhaps you are a member of a group that has been victimized by another group, and you carry hate inside you, even though you don’t want to. Continue reading “Fussing and Fighting, My Friend”

Posted in Issues

You Do Not Have…

…because you do not ask.

Well, I’m here to ask. I’m asking you to make a small any size financial donation to help my friend A.

I will accept a yes or a no.

Here’s why you might want to say yes: You will be directly assisting a strong, hard-working woman with her goal of keeping her children occupied this summer. She’s got them signed up to go to El Centro de Accion Social’s Summer School in the Park program.

It costs $100 per kid, and she’s got 3 kids who are the right age for the program (the youngest is too young, and believe me, that bugs her).  So the goal is to raise $300 by July 4. Continue reading “You Do Not Have…”

Posted in Issues

The Doctor is Out

My friend A is in the hospital. She had major surgery (hysterectomy) last September, and since then she has faithfully obeyed her physician’s instructions and kept all her follow-up appointments.

But something wasn’t right, and A knew it. She told the doc she was having pain. She was sent to another office for tests but when she got there she was told, “We don’t do that kind of test here.” (I’m leaving out some stuff here because I’m not clear on the complete sequence of events.) Finally A’s physician recommended that she go to the ED (emergency department—the current parlance is that the ER is now called ED). Continue reading “The Doctor is Out”

Posted in Current Events, Issues

Secret Fear

I have been an environmentalist for a long time. I say that most advisedly, since I own an internal combustion automobile, and I live in the US of A, and at least twice this year I have left the grocery store with the kind of bag that is generally banned in places like Europe and San Francisco.

My secret fear is that the current problem with the economy is that the the jig is up. By that I mean that we have tapped out the environment, and the economy will never fully recover.


1. There is a direct, if intricate, relationship between the environment and the ability of businesses to make money.

2. The environment has its own regenerative capacity, but aggressive human activity has pushed it over the line (earth = pair of old knees).

3. Scientists predict environmental changes, but cannot agree on them. Freeman Dyson not withstanding, it is clear that the climate is changing more rapidly than it has in the past. I’ve recommended that you go to Montana before (before it’s too late, that is)—in one of the earliest posts on this blather. Some photos by The Scout here.

Change is constant. Dealing with change is difficult. Some things change for the better, some for the worse. Sometimes we think something is changing for the worse, but it actually changing for the better.

If the current economic slowdown catastrophe results in our treating the environment like our pas-de-deux partner rather than our ho, that’s a change for the better.

The economy, the environment – such gigantic problems. No wonder infotainment is a growth industry. If you are going to face the news of the day, wouldn’t you rather have Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert’s writers have a go at it first and drag it through their humor mill?

I want to do the things I can do to be a responsible consumer, to be at least a fair-to-middling environmentalist. Is it really going to make a difference if I take the bus once or twice a week? Give up my car completely? Is it going to make any difference whether I recycle the church bulletins or not?

I want and need to believe that even small things will make a difference. I don’t want to be holier-than-thou about them. I need encouragement to do those things that seem infinitesimal in the broader context, because if I continue to do them consistently and repeatedly, it will make a (teeny-tiny) difference. And if you do some of the three R’s too, our cumulative effort will make a (slightly less small) difference. We need more emphasis on reduce and reuse. Perhaps all these things will work together to give the earth longevity (3 R’s for earth = knee reconstruction surgery?).

How can we use the current economic crisis to build the future economy on a model that sustains the earth’s resources? Do humans even have the capacity to do this?

In the meantime, I’ll be the one who carries a glass container for her restaurant leftovers. Something is better than nothing. The acknowledged illusion of control appeals to me more than the despair that comes from resigning myself to being a pawn of forces beyond my control. Call it my one last middle class luxury.

Posted in Issues

We Can’t Sit Back and Blog

After my class at Pasadena Community Network last week, I watched some of Our Town with Marie Stein on KPAS 56. Marie’s guest was Jane Roberts of Just like me, Jane was appalled when Pres. Bush II stood in the way of the Congressional appropriation for UNFPA. So Jane decided to raise some money to help fill the gap, and she had done just that.

The main point is that providing family planning to women is essentially providing health care to women. The problem is that some people don’t want women to have access to family planning or even prevent diseases that are preventable (yes, both of those links go to the same article—repetition for emphasis, dear).

On the show, Jane showed pictures of her recent trip to Africa. One caller called in to make comments about the “feral” behavior of humans, breeding without thought about the consequences. I’d never heard ‘feral’ applied to humans before though I’m sure most of us have exhibited ‘feral-like tendencies’ at one time or another. I’m a mammal—how ’bout you?

I loved Jane and as I watched, I thought, “I’m going to blog this!” In her final call to action, Jane said, “We can’t just sit back and blog.” No, Jane, we can’t just sit back and blog, but we can sit up and blog.  Bloggers and blogs are your (feral) friends too.

Posted in Issues


Proof that the world of information and the business of news has permanently changed…

…as if you needed more examples…

…the LA Times City Desk is now following me on Twitter.

Sigh.  We’ve gone from having a San Gabriel Valley edition of the LAT to this.  One tries to embrace change, but some things are more *ahem* trying than others.

Posted in Issues

Sidestepping the Electoral College

Oh yeah. Oh yeah, yeah, yeah. The Los Angeles Times has made my Monday morning with the following editorial:

Sidestepping the electoral college

California should join the National Popular Vote movement, which seeks to reform the presidential election system.
August 18, 2008
Thanks to the electoral college, the United States holds elections in which the candidate who wins the most votes doesn’t always win the presidency. Voters in some states matter much more than others, so candidates are encouraged to ignore the concerns of the less important ones and focus on those who really make a difference. That, in turn, tends to lower turnout because many voters believe their input doesn’t matter. Is this any way to run a democracy? Continue reading “Sidestepping the Electoral College”
Posted in Issues

Pasadena Police Department 911 Response 2

An update on my wacky phone line making 911 calls to the Pasadena Police Department (original post here). The problem with the line was out on the pole. Over time the wires got smushed together and the line in question was ‘grounding out.’

While I understand the necessity for protocol to be followed when responding to a 911 call, I find it disturbing that officers don’t believe you when you say you didn’t make a 911 call. More precisely, saying that you didn’t make a 911 call is apparently code for “this may be a domestic violence situation.”

I’m trying to wrap my head around the idea that the police are just doing their job. If I really didn’t make a 911 call, it is difficult to accept that they think I did and therefore protocol is going to happen whether I like it or not. What’s more, that’s is reason enough for them to enter the house and check things out. In the numbers game, 911 trumps the 4th amendment.

File this under the ‘live and learn’ category.

Posted in Issues


Adela is making tamales again this weekend (Saturday and Sunday). Call her at 323-691-0073 if you’d like to order some. She delivers in the Highland Park, Eagle Rock and Pasadena areas.

Adela is making tamales because she needs the money. The SV Moms Group is currently whooping it up on Summer Road Trip ’08. They have decided to raise money, and they are looking for a good cause to support.

I just left them a rather long-winded passionate plea to help Adela. The idea is that if she had help with covering her basic expenses for a few months, she could get her GED and then get a better job (hopefully with benefits).

Please add your “Amen” to my idea by going here and commenting. I’ll buy you a tamale! (By the way, those cute kids on this post are Adela’s.)

UPDATE: 14 July 2008 – They picked Flashes of Hope.  Thanks to everyone for their support anyway!

Here’s what I said:

I have an unorthodox idea. How about helping out a needy family, with the goal being to help them transition out of poverty? I know a single mother with four kids. Her name is Adela, and she works the graveyard shift as a security guard. Her hours were recently reduced from 40 to 32. She is a smart person and would like to get a better job, but she doesn’t have her high school diploma.

My church helps her out from time to time with things like bunk beds and paying for summer day camp for the kids. To really lift this family out of poverty, Adela needs a good job with benefits. But she’s overwhelmed with making ends meet, so she hasn’t been able to get her GED or find a better working situation.

If she had a few months during which she didn’t have to worry about rent and groceries, she could get the GED and avail herself of the services of Women at Work, a nonprofit based here in Pasadena, CA that specializes in career services.

A little background: I have known Adela for 15 years. I met her because her little sister was in the same 3rd grade class as my younger son. Little sister Blanca said to me one day, “Ms. Russell do you have those three? You know, breakfast, lunch and dinner?” I got to know the whole family, watched as they lost their Section 8 housing (landlord pulled out of the program), preached birth control (not too successful there), and tried to be an advocate for them whereever I could.

I’ve worked in the nonprofit world for 20 years, and there are plenty of really good people doing great work. But this is an opportunity to have a direct impact on the life of a hard-working mother who is trying her best to provide for her kids (she takes care of her ailing mother also).

My church would be happy to administer the funds, taking out nothing for overhead. Of course a line item budget would be available for all to see. It would be awesome to see Adela make progress over the next few months and share that with everyone.