A face for blogging

Some of you often wonder what it is I do all day. In fact, many people at first think I make my living blogging. Which is so not the case for Mean Rachel -- she is merely an insane diversion that I'm starting to grow out of. But, in a way, I do make a living blogging (among other things). Just not on this one -- on this one.

Below is my recent appearance as The Girl in a Bright Blue Shirt #1 on KXAN News.

Moving? Don't forget the pets

AUSTIN (KXAN) - Evonna Patanella and her daughter have a big move ahead of them.

"We're moving to Singapore," said Patanella. "It's not like moving in the U.S. where you can load up a truck and drive and get there."

Besides moving the furniture, there are two things that can't be left behind- Abby and Tessa, the family dogs.

Yet, getting the pets to Singapore is a complicated process. From health documents to having them quarantined, it can be confusing.

Luckily, an Austin company is helping them out.

"We do door-to-door logistics, pick up at the residence, deliver to airport, all the flight bookings and then pack up and deliver on the receiving end," said Rachel Farris, with Pet Relocation.

And since Pet Relocation started the service, it has moved some interesting animals.

"We've moved frogs from Switzerland, 14 horses to Honduras," said Farris.

Even a Siamese fighting fish was moved to Amsterdam.

"We had an employee that worked for Starbucks and she had a fish named Franchesco," said Farris. "She always called him her significant other. It was her dearly beloved fish."

The fish was so loved that she paid $2,500 to move it.

To get overseas, Pet Relocation recommends using Continental or KLM.

"We only use airlines that have staff set up to watch the pets to make sure they are staying healthy, staying hydrated and they are going to arrive safe," said Farris.

While it's hard to make beloved pets travel thousands of miles, it is nice to know someone is making sure they get there safely. Pet relocation services start around $1,000.


Texas Progressive Alliance Weekly Round Up

It's Fourth of July week, and so it's time for an extra-patriotic rendition of the Texas Progressive Alliance blog roundup. Ed Note: I was a slacker and didn't get a chance to submit anything to the roundup.

Off the Kuff takes a look at the latest Lyceum poll on the Governor and Senate races in Texas. (Ed. Note: Had a very nice conversation with Kuffner over drinks at the Belmont last week! Thanks for meeting up with us!)

Neil at Texas Liberal suggests that instead of blowing of your fingers lighting fireworks--during a drought in Harris County no less---that maybe you would be better off reading a book instead.

With 2010 spinning up, it's funny to watch all the different players already on the field line up to take their first hits. McBlogger, of course, thinks they're all deeply in need of a little advice which he graciously provides (with surprisingly sparse use of profanity)!

WCNews & Dembones at Eye On Williamson post on the latest controversy involving the Williamson County Commissioners Court, Budget officer not just a good idea, it's the law.

John at Bay Area Houston says Turn out the lights, the family values party is over.

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme thinks online Texas Republican commentary on Mark Sanford is interesting.

The similarities between Mark Sanford and Ray Bolger (as the Scarecrow in "The Wizard of Oz") are just too weird, notes PDidde at Brains and Eggs.

The wise men are willing to pay a tax on their favorite junk food to pay for health care reform.

WhosPlayin.com Video bring you EXTREME Congressional Town Hall - Special "Losing our freedoms" edition, sponsored by Prozac.

Over at TexasKaos, Libby Shaw calls our attention to Confessions of a Former Health Insurance Exec: "We Dump the Sick". Who knew? All the posturing , hypocritical , offers of self-reform and insurance relief are just so much bogus cover up for an industry too greedy to ever be trusted to regulate themselves!

The Texas Cloverleaf discusses gay pride, bar raids, and millions of gays marching in DFW this past weekend during the 40th anniversary of Stonewall.

Burnt Orange Report covers TX-10 Congressional candidate Jack McDonald's campaign expansion in the Austin area.

Weak Democratic Primary Round Up

It's sadly typical of Democrats that, in an election that could be won by highlighting the failures of the Republican leadership, we can't seem to dredge up a leader of our own.

There's been some fall-out this week from Sen. Leticia Van de Putte deciding not to run for Governor. After the initial support she garnered on many sites (including my own), her decision to hand the baton over to someone else has taken the air out of some Democrats hoping for options beyond Schieffer and Kinky. Most bloggers are still wary of Tom Schieffer, while either completely ignoring or being frustrated by Kinky Friedman and Mark Thompson.

Everyone's favorite kid blogger on a bike, Karl Thomas Musselman, had some strong words on the state of the Governor's Race on BOR.
It's unsettling when the only emotions I feel of any kind in the Governor's race are negative, and directed towards Kinky Friedman.
Phillip Martin, who appears to be headed back to Texas to get in on the 2010 fun, also seemed disappointed on BOR, writing Some Quick Notes on Tom Schieffer:
It seems that Democrats can take Schieffer as a candidate or shove it.
Marc Campos, of Campos Communications, wants to know who will excite the base:
Senator Van de Putte says that Schieffer isn’t exciting the Dem base. Can Sen. Watson excite the base?

As long as the frontline of Lone Star statewide Dems candidates is made up of Anglo fellas, I don’t see a scenario where the Dem base gets revved up – sorry – no se puede.
McBlogger describes his frustrations with the Democratic primary runners as only he can (and as the mainstream media cannot):
Texas Democrats deserve a whole lot better and so do the down ballot candidates. It's time for those who choose to run (don't act like you're doing us a goddamn favor) to straighten the fuck up and run like real people who are serious about doing a good job for their fellow Texans.
Judith Ford, of Castle Hills Democrats, attended a Denton County fish fry that Schieffer spoke at and got the crowd's feedback on him:
[T]he Dems in the crowd are wary of Tom Schieffer, who gives off a George W. Bush smell. That may be one "friendship" that served Tom well in the 90's and 2000's, but comes back to haunt him in a big, not-so-good way.
Greg Wythe, of Greg's Opinion, referred to Schieffer as "Captain Gloomy."
...[O]ne should really refrain from references to "road to disaster" before launching a statewide roadshow announcing your campaign for public office.
In perhaps a more nuanced way, Charles Kuffner also thinks Schieffer should accentuate the positive:
My advice, for what it's worth, is that it would probably be best for Schieffer to focus more on the things we can and will achieve with him than on the things we can't.
South Texas Chisme seemed more than a little agitated by Schieffer's friendship with George W. Bush:
Tom Schieffer explains his vote for George Bush. Oh, wait. NOTHING can adequately explain votes for George Bush. Seriously. If he had a single brain cell, he would have known better than to vote for him.
It's worth noting that Eye On Williamson took a more moderate approach to Schieffer announcing his run for Governor:
Democrats should be willing to give Schieffer a chance and as he said, “There’s a long time between now and March."
But even the mainstream media seemed skeptical this week, further emphasizing the problems that occur when a Democratic base rejects its available options (Kerry '04, anyone?).

Paul Burka asks "Can Kirk Watson win?" while touching on a much broader recurring theme and important question -- can any Democrat?

Q. Is the party infrastructure capable of sustaining a major statewide campaign?

A. The potential exists, but there are too many fiefdoms: the Lone Star Project, the state House and Senate Democratic caucuses, Austin trial lawyers, Houston trial lawyers, labor, and the party itself. “You can’t send out a press release without six people wanting to rewrite it,” a senior Democratic strategist told me. The party should provide the message.
Even the Statesman's Gardner Selby pointed out five ways Schieffer could epically fail (only five?):
To solidify standing as the front-runner for his party’s nomination, however, he needs to make inroads with activists who jumped into passing leaflets and nudging neighbors during last year’s not-going-to-happen-ever-again Democratic presidential primary; it’s those troops (thousands of them) who are both eager and wizened enough to want to get involved afresh—for the right candidate. But I suspect it’ll take a cutting-edge crew of them to get others signed on with Schieffer.
There is, indeed, a long time between now and March.


An Open Letter to Ambassador Schieffer

From SanAntonio Express-News:
“And also remind people that this is not going to be easy. It's going to be really hard. And if they want to do that, I get to be governor. And if they don't want ot [sic] do that, I can go make money, and I've done my civic duty of trying to lay it out.”

Dear Ambassador Schieffer,

You "get" to be a Lottery Winner. You "get" to be prom king. You might even "get" to be an Ambassador.
But no one, perhaps with the exception of Rick '39%' Perry, "gets" to be Governor of Texas.
No, that's something you've gotta earn.

Enjoy making money,

A Tired Oasis

I don't know if it's the oppressive heat or the fact that I spent all weekend driving around New England in search of a wedding, but I'm completely exhausted with all of the progressive political prospects these days. When Representative Naishtat is the most energetic officeholder in the crowd, you've got a star pitcher with an empty bullpen.

Word has it that less than $500 was spent on tonight's inauguration party for our recently elected Mayor Lee Leffingwell and newly anointed Mayor Pro Tem Mike Martinez at Threadgill's. While I've never been opposed to buying my own Dos Equis at these events, I typically expect a bit more interest -- not from the spectators but the elected officials themselves.

As Austinites looked on, soaking in sweaty optimism only found south of 183 and Mopac, Councilwoman Sheryl Cole proclaimed apologetically at the end of her speech that she was "tired." Mayor Pro Tem Martinez announced he was going on vacation tomorrow and that he'd respond to phone calls and emails upon his return. Mayor Leffingwell remarked that the heat was "what you get" for living in Austin.

It was hard to tell if that was supposed to be a positive thing.

Credit goes to the organizers of the party for adding in an edgy slam poetry act immediately after the deflating speeches. An Iranian-descendant who goes by "C'est La Vie" used words like "pistol whipped" and "raped" in her slam against an oppressive Iranian government -- not exactly family-friendly material, I noted, as the young girl next to me, coloring in a trademark Threadgill's armadillo on the paper in front of her, was quickly ushered out by her mother. An EMS siren wailed down Riverside a little too close in the background saying Somewhere in this city, someone hurts. C'est la vie.

Up next was snarky favorite Genevieve Van Cleve, who by daylight works for Annie's List and avoids Pflugerville, roaring in veiled cynicism against old versus new Austin, comparing old Austin to a comfy bed with fresh cotton sheets. Dirtied since, no doubt, by the same crimes -- Austin-style -- that C'est La Vie had just mentioned. We laughed.

Austinites are warming up a crop of progressive someday-maybes. We laugh and enjoy our well-groomed City Council, dreaming their dreams of higher office for them. But the laughing stops when we're reminded, by people like Van Cleve, that I-35 is more than just a highway, that segregation exists in this city, that crime continues around us. Fire and brimstone, found in our artists, poets, and even rogue candidates, doesn't fill potholes, they'll tell you. Our officeholders yawn and grow tired and hope we don't notice, as long as the streets are smooth and sidewalks are lit.

There's work to be done, on Riverside and beyond. We're all tired. Who's going to do it?

Weekly TPA Roundup

It's Monday, the day after the first day of summer, and it's time for another Texas Progressive Alliance blog roundup. I didn't manage to get a post in the round up this week, given the fact I was trekking through New England, so please enjoy some of the other TPA members' posts.

President Obama, Bill White, and John Sharp are all in the same sinking DOMA boat. The Texas Cloverleaf comes off of hiatus to tell you why.

strong>CouldBeTrue from South Texas Chisme cheers the impeachment of Judge Kent. 4 articles passed without a single nay. Lets hope the Senate is through with him by August.

BossKitty at TruthHugger finally signed up for Twitter to get updates on the Iran protests. What a day of drama and emotion it brought, Icons and Martyrs – All Day On Twitter Watching Iran. I was really meaning to highlight the regressive influences causing upheaval in personal lives, especially in Texas. Immigration Policies and Gay Rights – Contradictions

Unlike Nevada Republican Senator John Ensign, Neil at Texas Liberal makes a promise he'll keep - He'll never cheat on his wife! Also, Neil sings the Damned's Wait For The Blackout at the Houston Ship Channel.

Off the Kuff takes a look, then a second look, at the bills Governor Perry vetoed.

WCNews at Eye On Williamson knows in order to solve big problems it takes leadership, Who is willing to lead, who has enough LBJ in them?.

Castle Hills Democrats heard candidates Tom Schieffer, John Sharp, Bill White, and Neil Durrance speak at the Dual County Fish Fry in north Texas. The blogger reviews their messages--and reports on feedback from the Dems in the audience.

WhosPlayin investigated the claim by a former mayoral candidate that the city is hiring illegal aliens for its road projects because one of its contractors doesn't yet use the E-Verify program.

Teddy at Left of College Station writes about escorting at Planned Parenthood and how what happens in Kansas doesn’t stay in Kansas. Today on Left of College Station: a report from the T. Don Hutto Residential Detention Facility and the protest on Saturday (including exclusive photographs).

Big Gas wants you to believe that regulating hydraulic fracturing is a state's rights issue. The truth: Only one state in the US regulates hydraulic fracturing. TXsharon busts the Big Gas bubble again on Bluedaze: DRILLING REFORM FOR TEXAS.

Citizen groups opposed to new coal plants being built in Robertson County and near Victoria were given a chance to intervene last week when two of the 12 newly proposed coal plants in Texas had preliminary hearings for their waste water permits. Check out the video over at Public Citizen's Texas Vox.

Over at TexasKaos, Libby Shaw tells us that Dumb, Self-serving Politicians Make Dumb, Self-serving Decisions. What a surprise that Governor Goodhair takes the starring role in this little drama. Check out the details.

Do you love the Real Housewives on Bravo? Were you a little less than impressed by the NJ version? So was Barfly over at McBlogger.

Married Away

I leave today for my sister's wedding, one that will span four cities (bachelorette party in Boston, MA; guests staying in Providence, RI; wedding & reception in Narrangansett, RI and rehearsal dinner in Jamestown, RI) and several driving direction catastrophes.

Some wedding trivia:

As my sister notes on her website, she and her husband, Arthur, will be the second Arthur & Grace pair in our family (my dad's parents were named Arthur and Grace).

My sister will wear a dress that will have been worn by three generations of our family -- my mom's mom, my mom's sister and now Grace. I will wear a dress from J.Crew that was nearly impossible to get until I threatened to write bad things about them.

My grandmother, Betty. We'll skip the veiled tiara, thanks.
My mom's sister, Janny.

The first time I met my sister's husband-to-be, in October 2005, we got trapped in an elevator in New York Skritty. FDNY had to pull all of us out of the top of the elevator.

My sister & me in the elevator, with the FDNY boots behind us.

My sister and I have a 'sister song,' stolen from the movie White Christmas called "Sisters, Sisters."
Those who've seen us
Know that not a thing could come between us
Many men have tried to split us up, but no one can
Lord help the mister who comes between me and my sister
And lord help the sister, who comes between me and my man!

Congratulations to Grace & Arthur 2.0. Upon my return, I'll try to, you know, write a blog or three.

Quiet Music Capital of the World?

Twitter Update: Councilman Mike Martinez (@place2mike) tweeted Monday that (he?) "was able to get one last agenda item on for this week to suspend the code for 6 months so the Grove will be back up! http://bit.ly/19LHDM" Also, FOX 7's Crystal Cotti (@CrystalCotti) tweeted that "'Unplugged at the Grove' could be back by Thursday. Check out the story here. http://tinyurl.com/l8tsza."

When Austinites went to the polls for Laura Morrison in 2008, Democrats were hoping to elect a "consensus-builder who's generally strong on progressive issues," as the Austin Chronicle stated in their endorsement of her at the time. Opponents argued that Morrison was nothing more than an Austin Neighborhood Council groupie, only interested in protecting homeowners who could afford $500,000 West Austin homes -- an increasing majority in a city that seems to welcome more Californians every day.

Now that she's a City Councilwoman, we've had a chance to see and hear what she's really about. And, if last Thursday's debacle at Shady Grove & KGSR's "Unplugged at the Grove" oudoor concert is any indicator, they're not liking what they're hearing. After a complaint from a resident living near the Barton Springs hotspot, police showed up with a decibel meter and determined that the opening act, Sahara Smith, strumming cooly on the guitar, was over the noise ordinance -- the same ordinance Councilwoman Morrison was quick to push through once in office. The show was canceled for the night, and the crowd was left to sip on their Shiner Bocks and simmer.

Aside from being a PR disaster for Morrison's ANC-based policies -- that might serve to unseat her in her next run for reelection -- progressives are left with a music lesson learned. The negative noise being made by those who had watched Morrison in action long before her run for office might have been able to prevent this, instead of falling on deaf ears.

Sit down, stay awhile. (Or don't!)

Yep, after two and a half years with the old template (kudos if you've been reading that long!), I decided to break up with my old layout. That's what a back injury, lying down for 36 hours straight and large amounts of pain medicine will do to a gal! I'm not 100% set on the header re-design but it's all I can stand to tinker with for now.

I'm also hoping this new 'do will inspire me to blog more often because -- goodness knows -- I can't let the grass grow and fall behind my significant other and his virile blog.

Political Snowbirds: The Case for Sen. Leticia Van de Putte for Texas Governor

Cross-posted at Huffpo & Burnt Orange:

Are the property taxes in Florida on the upswing? If so, it might begin to explain why Texas Democrats are currently staring down the barrel of two primary candidates (three if you count glory campaigner Mark Thompson) who most accurately could be described as political snowbirds. Wikipedia defines snowbirds as Northerners who seek winter warmth somewhere south of the Mason-Dixon line. In the case of Former Ambassador Tom Scheiffer (really, Texas?) and The Artist Formerly Known as an Independent, Kinky Friedman (Purple Drought - one of his classic little-known hits), the two are hoping to bask in the warmth of the new Texas Democrat. Oh, and to become Governor of Texas. Do we know how to pick 'em or what?

On second thought, don't answer that.

One or both of these men have spent a little too much time in the humidor. The Texas Democrats that picked up Texas House seats, flipped a Texas Senate seat, and voted for Barack Obama are not looking to elect someone who's running for Governor as a retirement plan (try my self-employed dad's approach - bank on the heart-attack). And, as much as the establishment fantasizes about one or both of our milquetoast big spenders luring the disenchanted Republican vote, we can't lose sight of what happens after they become Governor. We've learned that one the hard way.

One potential candidate who has yet to decide whether or not to run has the opportunity to benefit Texan's future if elected Governor. But - and this is where it gets different - it's not her future. It's not even ours. It's our children's. And, incidentally, it's also her grandson's.

State Senator Leticia Van de Putte has been on the fringe of running since before local activists started lining up to work and volunteer for her. The San Antonio Current profiled her back in February talking about "Julian's Agenda," Van de Putte's future-planning proposals to make the world a better place for her grandson Julian. She spoke of marketing "education and green-energy programs to Republicans as economic, return-on-investment ideas rather than as moral or environmental imperatives," strategies that cross partisan lines in a different way than Scheiffer's of being buddies with the former President - those are strategies of a leader.

It's this very leadership with a conscience that Texans deserve - her mindset is not that of a divisive partisan focus or of a political high-risk investor, ready to gamble his millions on a run for the roses. Her leadership was developed through experience - leading a minority in the Senate, serving as co-chair at the 2008 Democratic National Convention - but a conscience requires a diverse, outward-looking perspective. Van de Putte's desire to benefit generations beyond her own reflects a life that wasn't lived promoting oneself in front of bright lights or in a board room. A mother of six grown children, a working woman for 28 years as a pharmacist before running for office after the encouragement of her husband, and the representative of roughly 800,000 Texans as State Senator, her constituency - the people and the life that she represents - defines her conscience.

Political snowbirds go Democratic when the weather gets good. But we need someone who's not looking to run because the sun's finally shining on Texas Democrats. Texas needs a Governor who will see her constituents through the storms.