fledge capable of flying, from Middle English flegge, from Old English -flycge; akin to Old High German flucki capable of flying,
Old English flEogan to fly -- more at FLY
intransitive verb, of a young bird : to acquire the feathers necessary for flight or independent activity

Friday, January 30, 2009

HR 4040/CPSIA One Year Stay

12 months reprieve. Is this delaying the inevitable?

If you read down to the bottom, the CPSC will hold off enforcing the law for 12 months and asks the States' Attorney Generals to do the same. So CPSC says they will stand down, but the States' Attorney Generals may or may not. A law is a law, no matter how...how...(fill in your choice of adjective here ________).

This stay did not come from nowhere. It is the result of thousands of calls, letters and emails. "Things" do not get resolved on their own. No passive tense here. No, it's all active tense: We influence change. Kinda cool, eh?

Thank you, Jen, for the word!

Here's the press release (bold added by me):


U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission

Office of Information and Public Affairs Washington, DC 20207
January 30, 2009
Release #09-115 
CPSC Recall Hotline: (800) 638-2772
CPSC Media Contact: (301) 504-7908

CPSC Grants One Year Stay of Testing and Certification Requirements for Certain Products

WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission voted unanimously (2-0) to issue a one year stay of enforcement for certain testing and certification requirements for manufacturers and importers of regulated products, including products intended for children 12 years old and younger. These requirements are part of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA), which added certification and testing requirements for all products subject to CPSC standards or bans.

Significant to makers of children’s products, the vote by the Commission provides limited relief from the testing and certification requirements which go into effect on February 10, 2009 for new total lead content limits (600 ppm), phthalates limits for certain products (1000 ppm), and mandatory toy standards, among other things. Manufacturers and importers – large and small – of children’s products will not need to test or certify to these new requirements, but will need to meet the lead and phthalates limits, mandatory toy standards and other requirements.

The decision by the Commission gives the staff more time to finalize four proposed rules which could relieve certain materials and products from lead testing and to issue more guidance on when testing is required and how it is to be conducted.

The stay will remain in effect until February 10, 2010, at which time a Commission vote will be taken to terminate the stay.

The stay does not apply to:

Four requirements for third-party testing and certification of certain children’s products subject to:
The ban on lead in paint and other surface coatings effective for products made after December 21, 2008;
The standards for full-size and non full-size cribs and pacifiers effective for products made after January 20, 2009;
The ban on small parts effective for products made after February 15, 2009; and
The limits on lead content of metal components of children’s jewelry effective for products made after March 23, 2009.
Certification requirements applicable to ATV’s manufactured after April 13, 2009.
Pre-CPSIA testing and certification requirements, including for: automatic residential garage door openers, bike helmets, candles with metal core wicks, lawnmowers, lighters, mattresses, and swimming pool slides; and
Pool drain cover requirements of the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool & Spa Safety Act.
The stay of enforcement provides some temporary, limited relief to the crafters, children’s garment manufacturers and toy makers who had been subject to the testing and certification required under the CPSIA. These businesses will not need to issue certificates based on testing of their products until additional decisions are issued by the Commission. However, all businesses, including, but not limited to, handmade toy and apparel makers, crafters and home-based small businesses, must still be sure that their products conform to all safety standards and similar requirements, including the lead and phthalates provisions of the CPSIA.

Handmade garment makers are cautioned to know whether the zippers, buttons and other fasteners they are using contain lead. Likewise, handmade toy manufacturers need to know whether their products, if using plastic or soft flexible vinyl, contain phthalates.

The stay of enforcement on testing and certification does not address thrift and second hand stores and small retailers because they are not required to test and certify products under the CPSIA. The products they sell, including those in inventory on February 10, 2009, must not contain more than 600 ppm lead in any accessible part. The Commission is aware that it is difficult to know whether a product meets the lead standard without testing and has issued guidance for these companies that can be found on our web site.

The Commission trusts that State Attorneys General will respect the Commission's judgment that it is necessary to stay certain testing and certification requirements and will focus their own enforcement efforts on other provisions of the law, e.g. the sale of recalled products.

Please visit the CPSC Web site at www.cpsc.gov/about/cpsia/cpsia.html for more information on all of the efforts being made to successfully implement the CPSIA.

Statements on this vote by
Acting Chairman Nancy Nord and Commissioner Thomas H. Moore are in portable document format (PDF).

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Felony picks!

Last time ever for this kind of funky set full of detail? Or this darling top and skirt? Or this pretty portrait dress? Or this set with divine machine embroidery? All hand made with loving hands for your loved one?

About two weeks ago, some provisions were made to possibly exclude natural fibers from HR 4040/CPSIA. Well, the Obama administration has put an executive order out to stop all changes, provisions and executive orders of all kinds everywhere all over Washington. And for good reason: This administration wants to have a good look at what exactly the past administration was up to. As you know, President Obama has been left with quite the full in-box and Saving Handmade just isn't likely to have worked its way to the top of the pile.

Besides, the President has no authority to overturn laws. That was the whole idea behind not having a king, remember? The only person with any authority to amend this thing somewhat in time is this guy, Representative Henry A. Waxman of California.

And he's tired of hearing from you. Really, I think the honorable representative from California's 30th District would just prefer never to see another hand-crocheted baby booty in his life.

But go ahead and bother the busy man. He signed up for the job. You're the boss of him. Democracy is messy. But I like it.

Honorable Henry A. Waxman
Committee on Energy and Commerce
2125 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington D.C. 20515

Now, Mr. Waxman has been working a little bit (I think the ALA got to him. We all know how hard it is to mess with librarians). He wrote a letter on January 16th to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, telling them to ease up on books and clothes and, uh, we gotta figure out something for thrift stores. The CPSC, we should note, is just an enforcement agency. The CPSC has no say over what they enforce. That belongs entirely to the legislative branch. Congress makes the laws. Regulatory agencies and law enforcement enforce the laws. Law-makers and law-enforcers: Two different things. When the letter reached Nancy Nord, Acting CPSC Chairman's desk, I imagine she just said "Um, okay." What else can she say? Especially since she is currently just "acting chairman". Could the CPSC say, "You passed a broad, sweeping law for which we simply do not have the resources to enforce?" No, in fact, I think they like the law. HR 4040 gives the CPSC more authority. Everybody in Washington digs "authority," dont' they? That authority could equate to resources. And everybody in Washington likes resources. Lots and lots of taxpayer resources. Still, I don't envy the CPSC or law enforcement on this one. On the one hand, we have the law categorizing untested, unlabeled children's products as "hazardous banned substances," right up there with asbestos and arsenic. On the other hand, it's twirl skirts made by a mom. I wonder if any of the field officers are shaking their heads and saying, "You're kidding me." More immediately, I'm wondering if any D.A.'s with an eye on a dashing political career (and which D.A. doesn't have an eye on a dashing political career?) are saying, "Here I come to save the children! I'll be saving children left and right from 'hazardous banned substances.' Thank you, Mr. Waxman."

At any rate, as it stands, Mr. Waxman's January 16th suggestion to have CPSC look a bit askance when it comes to regulating books and apparel, and to think long and hard on thrift stores was pre-Inauguration, pre-changing of the guard. Today, we are back to square one. We are back to square one and back to Mr. Waxman. Why Mr. Waxman? It's that little title of Chairman. He gets to decide the agenda and call the meetings that effect CPSIA. Two members of his committee already wrote a letter to Mr. Waxman. They'll make the time in their day planners to have the meeting. It should be noted that this committee is incomplete. So even if the meeting is held and good, sound decisions are made, who knows what happens when more committee appointees come on board. I'm beginning to really understand the connotations of "bureaucracy". Would a letter, therefore, be all for naught? I look up at those pretty outfits and simply hope not.

Here's the contact information. Mr. Waxman need never think about another Etsy baby booty or Goodwill winter jacket again. We just need to tell him how. Again. He knows the reasons. He wrote them himself in a letter on January 16th. But tell him again. Amend the CPSIA.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Very adorable hazardous banned substances

How about that twirl skirt? Or that baby bonnet? Or the patchwork jeans? Or the girly camo set? Well, hardly hazardous. But banned come February 10th nonetheless, because none of these items have been tested for lead by an accredited laboratory nor have a comprehesive tracking label.

Here is the PowerPoint presentation that Wal-Mart presented to the CPSC on textile testing. They tested a whole bunch of clothing items, and all the items passed in the finished state. News flash: Textiles contain virtually no lead. We know that. They know that. Now, if we can just get an itty-bitty common-sense amendment. The emails and letters are making a difference. I really have that feeling.

Search Boutique Felony for all the Ebay listings. Also on Etsy.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

One last hurrah! (maybe)

Read this.

Then join this! Everybody is welcome to join in this action. This is a completely open launch. If you have something to sell or are looking for something to buy for a child, consider participating the in the "Boutique Felony" launch, January 27th through February 3rd. All sales are to be finalized by February 10th, lest we all become felons! Use the search term "Boutique Felony" in your Ebay and Etsy searches.

Toni made the template. Thanks, Toni!

Girls' template. Boys' template.
And here's the place to chat about it all.

And check out these Etsy sales! I'm kind of liking that little Gock's Frocks skirt for just $15,000...Go Kristen! Kristen was even on the local WHAM news (WHAM, not WAHM, which would have been funny, eh?) on the subject of CPSIA. (Nice fabric stash, Kristen).

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

"We remain a young nation..."

"...but in the words of scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things. The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit; to choose our better history; to carry forward that precious gift, that noble idea, passed on from generation to generation: the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness."

"Let it be said by our children's children that when we were tested we refused to let this journey end, that we did not turn back nor did we falter; and with eyes fixed on the horizon and God's grace upon us, we carried forth that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generations."

-President Barak Obama, Inaugural Address, January 20, 2009

Monday, January 19, 2009

Miss Information and a smoking gun in the shape of a Tickle Me Elmo

You've already seen this, right? I may be guilty of a bit of unintentional misinformation, but never sophistry, Miss Information. (And, Ms. Vallese, I'd really, really think twice about giving a video interview sitting in front of seven-foot-tall cannabis plant. Just for future reference. And that bit about "mommy blogs," girl, today's mothers have creativity, attitude, education, friends everywhere and high speed Internet access. Again, for future reference, you just do not want to go there.). And, I, personally, am not part of any concerted effort. I am independent to a fault.

Nope, I haven't beat this dead horse quite enough. Today, of lead and phthalates.

I like numbers. I've learned (really learned, like there was a test and a grade and everything) how to view numbers and statistics critically. Plus, our family recreation is not camping nor board games nor model train building. Rather, it's developing quantifiable arguments to support your case (it's an occupational hazard being married to the Professor). Really, Jack now comes to the table armed with a cost/benefit analysis of the iPod Touch vs. Nano. No "Dear Santa" letters anymore.

So, I want numbers on lead poisoning and phthalate toxicity in children in America. And I'm left wondering if lead and phthalates from toys and clothes is presently about as much of a threat to America as were Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction. Just wondering. I want to take the emotion out of it.

I did some basic googling. U.S. Census Bureau, Centers for Disease Control, Department of Health and Human Services, and so on, because those guys have the money to get the good numbers on things like this. The following dart throwing would never meet the standards of quantification required by the Professor. But it paints a rough picture. So take this with a grain of phthlalate and read on.

Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act was passed into law to regulate the amount of lead and phthalates in children's products through exhaustive testing, certification and tracking. Let's talk about lead first, because there is a lot we know about the effects of lead on humans. Much less is known about phthalates. I'll get to that in a bit.

About 50 million children in the United States are ages 12 and under. Approximately 890,000 have elevated levels of lead in their blood. That is about 1.8% of all children in the United States. That is down from over 80% in the 1960s/1970s before the lead in paint laws were passed and lead was removed from gasoline.

If the source of 80% of elevated lead in the bloodstream is from the dust of older buildings, that leaves approximately 178,000 children in the United States who are exposed to lead in other ways. That's approximately 0.4% of the population of children. With the exception of the youth in Minnesota, who swallowed a shoe charm, there are no current death statistics for children in the United States for lead poisoning that I could find. The few adult deaths in the United States attributed to lead poisoning in the past ten years came as a result of drinking moonshine. I could also not find the numbers on neurological, reproductive and kidney damage, although it is likely there are health and economic impacts there, which I do not want to cast aside without mention. At any rate, in what manner could these 178,000 children been exposed to lead? Here are some common proven modern sources of lead in the environment:
  • Lead from water pipes and the soldering between sections of pipe will leach into drinking water, especially where the water has a high acidity.
  • Lead can be found in rivers and lakes, some of it is naturally occurring, however, most of it is the result of human activity of the past 100 years or so.
  • Lead is found in the air and on surfaces in areas where lead is processed, for example, near lead mines, foundries and smelting plants.
  • While leaded gasoline has been phased out, lead remains a component in airplane fuel.
  • Improperly disposed batteries will corrode and leak lead into the environment.
  • Burning of coal, oil and household waste will release lead into the atmosphere.
  • And, if you are like me and skip straight to bullet points, I will mention again that household dust is the greatest source of lead, especially in buildings built before 1972. That could be your house. That could be your school. That could be your daycare center.
Lead is one of the most prevalent naturally occurring elements. However, the amount of lead in the environment today, a thousand-fold increase over 100 years ago, according to the Department of Health and Human Services, is because of human activity. It is interesting and frightening, that the lead from gasolines and paints and all manner of industry from 30 years ago (and the hundred years of industrialization before that) is hanging on very tightly still to the top layer of soil. Lead didn't just go away when we outlawed it. It's right there, just where we left it. Because of the chemical nature of lead, the way it easily combines with other elements, lead sticks around right there near the top.

I would like to point out, that while lead has been found in the paint of toys and some children's jewelry to an alarming amount, there is no research to support that toys and clothes are a source of lead exposure to children. I'm not saying that toys and clothes are not a "vector" for lead. Toys and clothes very well could be. Just no one has solid, quantifiable evidence.

So, is the CPSIA the best way to protect 178,000 children from lead toxicity?

The United State toy market is approximately $22 bn in 2007 or 30% of the world toy market.

For 2002, the U.S. Census Bureau has children's clothing retail being about a $7bn business. (This was a 2002 survey, which I'd argue is "pre-handmade phenomenon", which is primarily Internet-driven. So I don't think you guys are in there. I'll throw a dart and say that's another half-a-million).

Consumer spending on toys, believe it or not, remains pretty consistent, even in troubled economies. I just heard that on Marketplace recently.

Altogether, if these numbers are any good anymore, children's clothing and toys is a market segment of around $30 bn.

Let's say about half of that revenue "goes away" as a result of inability to comply with CPSIA. In the U.S. economy of $13 trillion, not even a blip on the radar (and, for the sake of argument, to keep it simple, I am not including any trickle down effects, like the economic hardships caused by this and the reduced spending power. In my argument, all those unemployed people will immediately find comparably paying new work and maintain their same spending habits. Makes sense in this economy. Sure, right.). However, per affected child, that is about $8.4K annually for, let's say 1o years until the market recoups. That is a cost per child to lower lead levels of $84,000 caused by lead contained in toys and clothes. Just from toys and clothes.

This loss to the economy is all money well spent, if, in fact, this eliminated lead from a child's environment. If. Remember, dad still comes home from the smelting plant in his work clothes and the kids still play down at the river bank and Junior still helps in the family garden and the children still live in houses built before 1972 and our little ones still go to school in buildings built before 1972 and these rascals still come in contact with all manner of household items that have undergone no testing whatsoever and some oil and coal-burning power plants are still not up to environmental snuff and I'll bet your landfill has quite a number of improperly disposed batteries and, darn it, if Farmer Brown still isn't burning all his trash. Just saying.

I'll make a prediction: If we can just get these celebrities to remove the $130 lead-encrusted pacifiers from the mouths of their oddly-monikered progeny, that after a year of certified testing and compliance with CPSIA, I predict that the percentage of kids with elevated amounts of lead in their blood will remain about the same. Here: I'm putting a dollar in an envelop and you can collect it in August 2010 if I am incorrect. I hope I lose this bet.

Since we are on topic, let's talk about this new vocabulary word, phthalate. Scrabble score of 17. Phthalates are miraculous chemical compounds that "plasticize," make plastics and many other things flexible. Phthalates are a category of acids that are used in just about everything plastic, as well as all manner of cosmetics, lotions, perfumes, food packaging, furniture, paint (paint, there's paint again), floor coverings, nail polish (ever treat your princess to a mini-mani/pedi?), socks, hosiery, carpets, even some foods ... (see where this is going?). If it bends and shines, there is a very good chance there are phthalates in there. There is also a very good chance that phthalates are in you. That's right: vous. The CDC did a toxicity level report across the U.S. population for phthalates. Conclusion? People have a lot of these chemicals floating around in their bodies. A lot. Depending on the particular phthalate, some 97% of the U.S. population has this stuff in their bodies. Creepy, huh? (My guess is that Elastigirl has a lot of phthalates in her bloodstream. Be flexible, laugh a little).

The American Academy of Pediatrics goes so far as to say, "Human exposure is universal" (I'd encourage you to read the entire AAP report on phthalates. I've cut and pasted the conclusions below). Unfortunately, few studies have been made on the effects of phthalate toxicity in children and/or adults. I found one study, ten years old, which links phthalate toxicity and abnormalities of the male reproductive system in male fetuses as extrapolated from animal data on a Web site called "Our Stolen Future" (think there might be a bias there? Just a little bit?). The research appeared in Toxicology and Industrial Health, which is peer reviewed, however, it doesn't look like a top medical journal (I'm looking through the abstracts for a bunch of the articles and the researchers are working at second-tier schools, the EPA, many corporate researchers, an Egyptian univeristy...not a Harvard or John Hopkins or Stanford researcher in the bunch. In other words, there's research and then there's Research. The way I see it, in ten years, somebody else, surely, would have done some supporting research somewhere, because this is the kind of research on which tenure is built. Even the Holy Grail, an article in Science. Maybe even, dare we say lest we jinx, Stockholm? Think of it: Plastics being bad for children? A serious carcinogen? Causing male infertility (sexy stuff like that ends up on 60 Minutes)? Floating around in 97% of the population? Really, that kind of hypothesis should have medical school department chairs whipping a whole herds of PhD candidates into a data gathering frenzy. If you are a medical school department chair, consider this your memo.). I'd like to see a top journal show me some phthalate research. Please post a link or a reference to a link. I'll stand happily corrected. We may have to wait another ten years (or more or less) for the initial research subjects to tell us how well they're doing in the fertility department, if they have managed better than the lab animals to which they were compared. Frankly, these particular research institutes do not do very many twenty-year-plus studies. Just not in the budget, like at Harvard or John Hopkins.

Here are the conclusions of the AAP here (bold added by me):

Phthalates are important components of PVC and other consumer products and are widely distributed environmental contaminants. DEHP and DINP are phthalates of particular concern because of their known toxicities and the potential for significant exposure in sensitive populations.
  • Human exposure to phthalates is universal. Levels of exposure in the general population are estimated to be on the order of tens of µg per kg per day. Food is considered to be the major source of exposure to DEHP and DINP, excluding occupational exposure, nondietary ingestions, and for DEHP only, medical exposures.
  • Human data on exposure to phthalates are very limited. In particular, data on the magnitude and distribution of exposures in sensitive subpopulations, such as women of childbearing age, neonates, infants, and toddlers in the general population and medically exposed fetuses, premature infants, neonates, young children, and adolescents, are lacking. New biomarker data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cast doubt on the accuracy of previous estimates of human exposure, which have been used for risk assessment to date.
  • DEHP and DINP are animal carcinogens, but most recent information suggests that the mechanisms of carcinogenesis may not be relevant to human systems. DEHP is a reproductive toxicant, and DEHP and DINP are developmental toxicants in animals. The most sensitive system is the immature male reproductive tract. The mechanisms of reproductive toxicity are distinct from the mechanism of carcinogenesis.
  • No studies have been performed to evaluate human toxicity from exposure to these compounds.
  • As with many environmental toxicants, children may be at higher risk of adverse effects of phthalates because of anticipated higher exposures during a time of developmental and physiologic immaturity. In response to this theoretical concern, measures to decrease possible exposure through nondietary ingestion are underway. In the United States and Canada, all phthalates have been removed from infant bottle nipples, teethers, and toys intended for mouthing. Manufacturers have voluntarily begun to substitute the less toxic DINP for DEHP in other toys.
  • Pediatric medical exposures to DEHP are of concern. DEHP has been documented to be toxic to the male reproductive tract in laboratory animals at doses near those resulting from intensive medical procedures in humans.2 Although some of the species and route differences suggest a lower risk to human infants of testicular damage from DEHP exposure, some medical exposures involve concomitant exposure to MEHP, the toxic metabolite. Sertoli cells continue to increase in number through puberty; therefore, medical exposures beyond the newborn period may also be of concern.71 There are no studies that have evaluated the effect of medical exposures to DEHP and MEHP on testicular function in humans.67
  • In light of recent toxicology and exposure evidence and the concern of the CERHR expert panel for the medically exposed infant, medical institutions, including neonatal and pediatric intensive care units and dialysis units, may find it necessary to look at the risk-benefit relationship between DEHP-containing medical devices and their alternatives. Interventions designed to minimize DEHP exposure in the medical setting could be designed. DEHP has important characteristics that improve the function of medical devices. Any substitutes must be shown to be toxicologically safer and functionally equivalent. Publication of a comprehensive comparison of developmental and reproductive toxicities between DEHP and proposed alternatives would be useful. In addition, studies designed to evaluate total DEHP and MEHP exposure from multiple concurrent medical procedures could be very valuable in resolving this controversy.
  • Improved data on pediatric exposures to phthalate esters, including transplacental, breast milk, medical, and nondietary ingestion, would significantly facilitate accurate risk assessments.
  • Improved understanding of the toxicokinetics of phthalates, including creation, distribution, and excretion of the toxic metabolites in subhuman primates or exposed humans, would enable more accurate evaluation of acceptable exposure levels. Determination of the toxicokinetics of phthalates in sensitive subpopulations, including pregnant and lactating women, premature infants, full-term infants, and small children, is also needed.
On the other hand: Research-shmesearch. Common sense tells me it's not good to have a bunch of man-made chemicals floating around in our bodies. So, sure, I'd like to make them disappear. But if human exposure to these chemicals is universal, if phthalates are in food, lotions and socks, for Pete's sake, how, I mean, how, really, how do we keep them out of the bodies of children? I'm open for suggestions. How? Will CPSIA do the trick? Ya think?

I like what the AAP wrote here:

"The 1990s began a period of increased attention to the special vulnerabilities of children to environmental hazards. The conflicting conclusions on the safety of phthalates under current exposure conditions provide important illustrations of the subtlety and complexity of the science and policy components required to protect children from environmental hazards. Pediatricians are well positioned to provide leadership in advocating for child-protective standards and policy on phthalates and all areas of children’s environmental health. Conclusions about health risks specific to DEHP and DINP can be generalized to many environmental toxicants and aide the development of research priorities and policy decisions that will promote and protect children’s environmental health."

"...and aide the development of research priorities and policy decisions that will promote and protect children's environmental health..." Got that? That means to me, let's look at the problem before we come to a solution. And not a shot-from-the-hip solution as CPSIA seems to be.

Boy, do I dislike agreeing with industry. I'd prefer to be able to side with those hip PIRG people. Really. If I had to choose with whom I'd want to have lunch? The Toy Industry Association or PIRG? Those good-hearted PIRG people, of course, not those yahoos that market Bratz or the Singing Barney Plush. Not those guys at all. Do I want environmental toxins removed? That would be awesome. Do I think CPSIA will do it? I'm having a lot of doubts.

About 300 children die annually from HIV/AIDS. 5,000 die from automobile accidents. 1000 die of homicide and "legal intervention", meaning neglect and abuse. 500 die of pneumonia. And so forth and so on. Those are deaths, recorded verified deaths, we can tackle head on. We know the solutions to those. And we needn't take down an entire industry to do so.

Love to you

"Hatred paralyzes life; love releases it. Hatred confuses life; love harmonizes it. Hatred darkens life; love illuminates it."


"Human salvation lies in the hands of the creatively maladjusted."
- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Here's to being creatively maladjusted! Happy MLK Day!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

De of Sportsmanship

Anna had a great year in Soccer. Anna's team, in addition to the privledge of playing on the Galaxy Field, was awarded the Sportsmanship Award. This trophy is about twice as big as any other trophy in the region, because, well, it is twice as important, isn't it?

As the trophies were being handed out at our coach's house, our team's coach surprised the girls with a another BIG surprise. Two-Time Olympic Gold Medalist Forward Lindsey Tarpley was there to do the honors. Just for us. Just for our girls. How cool is that? I mean, there were our girls with their three-foot-high plastic and mystery-metal trophies next to a real Olympic gold medal. One side of the medal was solid gold, the other had a ring of white jade, a very precious jade with special meaning in China. Jade is a symbol of many De (virtues). Confucius said something like this:

'The wise have likened jade to virtue. For them, its polish and brilliancy represent the whole of purity; its perfect compactness and extreme hardness represent the sureness of intelligence; its angles, which do not cut, although they seem sharp, represent justice; the pure and prolonged sound, which it gives forth when one strikes it, represents music. Its color represents loyalty; its interior flaws, always showing themselves through the transparency, call to mind sincerity; its iridescent brightness represents heaven; its admirable substance, born of mountain and of water, represents the earth. Used alone without ornamentation it represents chastity. The price that the entire world attaches to it represents the truth. To support these comparisons, the Book of Verse says: "When I think of a wise man, his merits appear to be like jade."'

If Confucius had thought about sportsmanship, I think he might have added that to the list of jade's De.

I like to take my kids to unpopular professional sports, like women's soccer. There, the kids really get to see the best of sport. Maybe not any of Kobe's three pointers, but they do get to see a lot of people completely dedicated to their teams and to the goals of the team. They certainly aren't in it for the money. Lindsey Tarpley is dedicated, humble, committed and a gracious example of what I would hope for my daughter. Maybe not in soccer (the first signs of Anna's soccer ability are somewhat doubtful), but in whatever Anna would strive to achieve. Thank you, Lindsey.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

La Luna

Look! Look! The moon will not be this big and bright again for a long time!

The cost of nothingness

Haircuts for monks: $16 for no hair.

Stuff I see.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Saturday, January 3, 2009

As long as it's covered in coconut

The Tournament of Roses Parade has to be the grandaddy of all parades. For my American friends, this New Year's tradition needs no further introduction; for my friends in other places, a quick explanation:

Giant (huge!) parade floats of every imaginable iconography to celebrate the Rose Bowl football tournament game are designed and constructed, sometimes by professional firms, who do nothing else, and sometimes completely by volunteers. Most of the decorating of the floats is done by hundreds (thousands?) of volunteers. Now, the decorating part is important, because every visible surface of the float is to be covered with flora, anything that is a plant or part of a plant. So there are lots of flowers, obviously, but also every variety of seed and hairy grass and vegetable husk is used to create color and texture.

This parade is held every New Year's Day in Pasedena, which is only a few miles north of downtown Los Angeles. As much as I would like to watch the parade in person, camping out overnight to secure a spot along the parade route is lower down on my bucket list. Much lower down. Nope, farther down than that.

As an alternative, we opt to see the floats post-parade. The floats are available for viewing for a couple of days before they completely wilt and wither. I took mostly snapshots of the details, thinking there would be lots of photos of the whole floats all over the official sites. No such luck.

Think what you like, but if you cannot get excited about a two-story robot covered in coconut, you are beyond jaded. Really. Or a delicate little king crab covered in lentils? C'mon. This is good stuff! Anna's favorite: The pixies and faeries. Jack's? Tillman, The Skateboarding Dog. Living in Los Angeles, my kids have seen a celebrity or two out and about, but none received the kind of awed admiration as did Tillman. If you cannot get excited about a skateboarding bulldog, then, also, there's really no help for you at all.

Die Tournament of Roses Parade ist wohl das A und O für Prunk. Für meine amerikanischen Freunde, eine weitere Erklärung ist nicht notwenidig. Für meine Freunde in anderen Ecken der Welt eine kurze Erläuterung ist vielleicht angesagt:

Gigantische (riesig!) Umzugswagen jeder möglichen dargestellten Ikonographie werden machmal von professionellen Firmen, die nichts anderes tun, aber auch machmal ganz von Freiwilligen entworfen und gebaut, um das Rose Bowl Football-Endspiel zu zelebrieren. Das Dekorieren wird ausschließlich von hunderten (thousanden?) Freiwilligen unternommen. Nun, das Dekorieren ist in diesem Zusammenhang wichtig, denn jede sichtbare Fläche muß mit Flora bedeckt werden. Blumen kommen natürlich sehr oft vor, aber auch jedes Saatgut, haarige Gräser, bzw. Gemüseschale werden verwendet um Farbe und Textur zu erzeugen.

Der Umzug findet jedes Neujahr in Pasedena, lediglich ein paar Milen von Downtown Los Angeles statt. So sehr ich den Umzug gerne selbst in Person zuschauen möchten würde, umso weniger möchte ich auf der Strasse übernachten, um einen Platz am Strassenrand abzusichern.

Ergo, schauen wir uns die Umzugswagen wärend des sog. Post-Parades an. Die Umzugswagen sind für zwei Tage, bevor sie komplett abschwelken, ausgestellt. Ich habe meistens Schapschüsse der Details aufgenommen, in der Hoffnung, das das WWW voller Bilder der gesamten Umzugswagen gäbe. Kein solches Glück.

Denkt was Ihr mocht, aber ein zwei-geschossiger Roboter komplett mit Kokonuß überarbeitet ist doch toll, oder? Jacks Liebling war Tillman, der Skateboarding Hund. Annas, die gigantischen Blumenfeen.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Oh Nein!

For the English/German speakers in the bunch, this new year will--per the homophony--seem to radiate quite a bit of negativity.

Oh well.

So far, Oh-Nein has started out just terrific for my family.

My son was invited to spend New Year's Eve at a sleepover party. Well, the younger sister was a just bit jealous and told Jack that this was how our New Year's Eve went:

"Well, first we had sushi. And then we met the Jonas Brothers. And they took us in their private jet to Hawaii. And Barak Obama was the pilot. And then we swam with dolphins."

Not a bad way to party like it's oh-oh-nein. Well, maybe she embellished. Just a little. In reality, we did go out for lots of sushi. And the sushi place had a projector playing a concert of somebody who might look like a Jonas Brother in about twenty years. But I don't remember anything resembling Hawaii, dolphins or Barak Obama. Maybe it was a premonition. We can hope. We did pull plenty of poppers and we did dance in the living room like nobody was watching. So, all in all a great way to start Oh Nein.

I don't have much for eye candy, except the day's mouth candy.

Happy New Year! Love to you all!


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