Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Now Tina's here

Thanks to Thai Thai, Gail, Megan, and some kittens....Tina is in the blog.

It's us

Neither of us can believe we've been married 10 years longer than the newly married Matt and Rhian.

Scarlett is a Flower Girl

Rhian and Matt married on Friday and Scarlett walked the aisle as the flower girl.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Olympics and genocide

Sports Illustrated recently published a column about the upcoming Olympics in China and the crisis in Darfur. Let me first write that if you are not familiar with the crisis in Darfur, please research now. Darfur is a region of Sudan on the African continent. The Sudanese government has allowed Arab militia groups to slaughter and estimated 400,000 non-Arab Africans and made refugees out of an estimated 2 million. These are families. These are children.

Links to educate:
Save Darfur

Sudan Research by Eric Reeves

Here's where China plays a part. China buys about two thirds of Sudan's oil. The Sudanese government uses those profits to buy weapons and aircraft, most of which are made by China. The weapons are handed to the militia, the Janjaweed. These model criminals then burn, rape, dismember, and kill Darfur's villagers and destroy their lands.

So here we are planning a major world celebration, the Olympics 2008, while the host country contributes to the genocide being carried out in a country the US chooses to ignore. It is painful to imagine the athletes and onlookers that will travel to Beijing enjoying a country and community that contributes to the slaughter in Sudan.

The US Holocaust Museum has a dedicated page to the genocide in Darfur. Note that the images are horrific and not for the timid. If there are images you never want to have in your mind, don't view the page.

In Darfur, My Camera Was Not Nearly Enough
By Brian Steidle — Washington Post, Sunday, March 20, 2005; Page B02

Our helicopter touched down in a cloudlol of camel-brown sand, dust and plastic debris. As the cloud gradually settled into new layers on the bone-dry desert landscape, we could make out the faces of terrified villagers. "Welcome to Sudan," I murmured to myself, grabbing my pen and waterproof notebook.

A former Marine, I had arrived in Sudan's Darfur region in September 2004 as one of three U.S. military observers for the African Union, armed only with a pen, pad and camera. The mandate for the A.U. force allowed merely for the reporting of violations of a cease-fire that had been declared last April and the protection of observers. The observers sometimes joked morbidly that our mission was to search endlessly for the cease-fire we constantly failed to find. I soon realized that this was no joke.

The conflict had begun nearly 1 1/2 years earlier and had escalated into a full-scale government-sponsored military operation that, with the support of Arab militias known as the Janjaweed, was aimed at annihilating the African tribes in the region. And while the cease-fire was supposed to have put a stop to that, on an almost daily basis we would be called to investigate reports of attacks on civilians. We would find men, women and children tortured and killed, and villages burned to the ground.

Brian Steidle
Note: Brian Steidle, a former U.S. Marine, was a member of the African Union team monitoring the conflict in Darfur, where he took hundreds of photographs documenting atrocities.
The first photograph I took in Darfur was of a tiny child, Mihad Hamid. She was only a year old when I found her. Her mother had attempted to escape an onslaught from helicopter gunships and Janjaweed marauders that had descended upon her village of Alliet in October 2004. Carrying her daughter in a cloth wrapped around her waist, as is common in Sudan, Mihad's terrified mother had run from her attackers. But a bullet had rung out through the dry air, slicing through Mihad's flesh and puncturing her lungs. When I discovered the child, she was nestled in her mother's lap, wheezing in a valiant effort to breathe. With watery eyes, her mother lifted Mihad for me to examine.

Most Sudanese villagers assume that a khawadja -- a foreigner -- must be a doctor. And my frantic efforts to signal to her to lay her struggling daughter back down only convinced her that I had medical advice to dispense. It broke my heart to be able to offer her only a prayer and a glance of compassion, as I captured this casualty with my camera and notepad. I pledged, with the linguistic help of our team's Chadian mediator, that we would alert the aid organizations poised to respond.

"This is what they do," the mediator -- a neutral party to the conflict -- screamed at me.
"This is what happens here! Now you know! Now you see!" I was unaware at that time that when the aid workers arrived the next day, amid continued fighting, they would never be able to locate Mihad.

Mihad now represents to me the countless victims of this vicious war, a war that we documented but given our restricted mandate were unable to stop. Every day we surveyed evidence of killings: men castrated and left to bleed to death, huts set on fire with people locked inside, children with their faces smashed in, men with their ears cut off and eyes plucked out, and the corpses of people who had been executed with gunshots to the head. We spoke with thousands of witnesses -- women who had been gang-raped and families that had lost fathers, people who plainly and soberly gave us their accounts of the slaughter.

Often we were the witnesses. Just two days after I had taken Mihad's photo, we returned to Alliet. While talking to a government commander on the outskirts of the town, we heard a buzz that sounded like a high-voltage power line. Upon entering the village, we saw that the noise was coming from flies swarming over dead animals and people. We counted about 20 dead, many burned, and then flew back to our camp to write our report.
But the smell of charred flesh was hard to wash away.

The conflict in Darfur is not a battle between uniformed combatants, and it knows no rules of war. Women and children bear the greatest burden. The Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps are filled with families that have lost their fathers. Every day, women are sent outside the IDP camps to seek firewood and water, despite the constant risk of rape at the hands of the Janjaweed. Should men be available to venture out of the camps, they risk castration and murder. So families decide that rape is the lesser evil. It is a crime that families even have to make such a choice. Often women are sexually assaulted within the supposed safety of the IDP camps. Nowhere is really safe. If and when the refugees are finally able to return home and rebuild, many women may have to support themselves alone; rape victims are frequently ostracized, and others face unwanted pregnancies and an even greater burden of care.

The Janjaweed militias do not act alone. I have seen clear evidence that the atrocities committed in Darfur are the direct result of the Sudanese government's military collaboration with the militias. Attacks are well coordinated by Sudanese government officials and Arab militias, who attack villages together. Before these attacks occur, the cell phone systems are shut down by the government so that villagers cannot warn each other. Whenever we lost our phone service, we would scramble to identify the impending threat.
We knew that somewhere, another reign of terror was about to begin.

Helicopter gunships belonging to the government routinely support the Arab militias on the ground. The gunships fire anti-personnel rockets that contain flashettes, or small nails, each with stabilizing fins on the back so the point hits the target first. Each gunship contains four rocket pods, each rocket pod contains about 20 rockets and each rocket contains about 500 of these flashettes. Flashette wounds look like shotgun wounds. I saw one small child's back that looked as if it had been shredded by a cheese grater. We got him to a hospital, but we did not expect him to live.

On many of the occasions we tried to investigate these attacks, we would find that fuel for our helicopters was mysteriously unavailable. We would receive unconvincing explanations from the Sudanese government's fuel company -- from "we are out of fuel" to "our fuel pumps are broken." At the same time, government helicopters continued to strafe villages unimpeded.

Those villagers who were able to escape flocked to existing IDP camps, where they would scrounge for sticks and plastic bags to construct shelter from the sun and wind. In even these desperate situations, however, the Sudanese government would not give up its murderous mission. First it would announce the need to relocate an IDP camp and assess the population of displaced people, often grossly underestimating the numbers. Then after international aid organizations had built a new, smaller camp, the government would forcibly relocate the population, leaving hundreds to thousands without shelter. It would bulldoze or drive over the old camps with trucks, often in the middle of the night in order to escape notice. It would then gather up and burn the remaining debris.

The worst thing I saw came last December, when Labado, a village of 20,000 people, was burned to the ground. We rushed there after a rebel group contacted us, and we arrived while the attack was still in progress. At the edge of the village, I found a Sudanese general who explained why he was doing nothing to stop the looting and burning. He said his job was to protect civilians and keep the road open to commercial traffic and denied that his men were participating in the attack. Then a group of uniformed men drove by in a Toyota Land Cruiser. The general said they were just going to get water, but they stopped about 75 yards away, jumped out, looted a hut and burned it. The attacks continued for a week. We have no idea how many people died there but tribal leaders later said close to 100 were missing.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

I wore a $7280 dress

for about 10 minutes, but it was nice.

Christian Dior, size 4, just in case you wanted to know.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Gwen Stefani

For my mother's day present I was treated to a Gwen Stefani concert. It was great fun! We had great seats and Gwen actually came out into our row...awesome. It was my teenage girl guilty pleasure. A group of high school girls sitting in front of us got backstage passes during the concert. They were so excited.

There was lots of love for the mommas in audience and that was super cool.

Dalton for Mother's Day

This past weekend we drove over the mountains to visit my family in Dalton, GA. There were kittens, a Cindy, food, Elizabeth Hashimoto, and the Jan. Perhaps the most lasting memory will come from Scarlett's first experience with being car sick. Lemme explain...

We drove over to Asheville and from there, took a scenic drive down to Dalton. Scarlett was a little fussy, but never said anything about feeling sick. We made it to Dalton and Will made one sharp turn and suddenly...gurgle, Gurgle, KABOOM. Vomit. Nonstop vomit. Nonstop projectile vomit. SO NASTY! I jumped into the backseat and pulled the spewing munchkin from her car seat. We stripped her down in between hurls and tried to calm her down. Scarlett had never vomitted before...what a first experience. We had pulled over into the Pizza Hut parking lot and attempting to calm this naked vomit soaked child. A police cruiser pulls in...I'm thinking this is definitely going to be an episode of cops...we we're in North Georgia. He asked if we needed help, but after seeing the vomit rocket in action opted to keep driving.

I'm traumatized, covered in vomit, and carrying a naked child. She calms down and asks for something to eat. Oh the resiliency of childhood.

South Carolina

This is my attempt to play blog catch up. We took a trip down to Will's grandmother's farm recently. It was great fun. Scarlett was able to play with her cousins, Nathan, Reese, Eric and Will. They had fun exploring the fields and looking for animals. I think Scarlett had the most fun driving the golf cart. She's been asking about the boys ever since. Guess we'll have to make another trip soon.

Friday, May 11, 2007

How about a small countryside villa in Italy?

If you're looking for a vacational rental anywhere in the world check out Vacation Rentals by Owner.

There are some awesome homes for rent. The most amazing are the homes for 30+.

Thursday, May 3, 2007


So Will and I hosted an end of the semester BBQ last weekend. We were lucky enough to have over 35 friends roaming through the house. I had no idea a BBQ could be so exhausting. Scarlett had a great time playing with her friends and mine. Ryan brought over the cornhole game and fun ensued. Thanks to everyone for making it memorable.

Helpful environmental website

Just checked my favorite blog and learned about a helpful "green" website from my nephew Nathan. You can enter your zip code and it gives you environmental tips for your local area. Check out Earth 911.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

New use for the baby sling

Here's my friend Berkeley using Scarlett's sling to holster her puppy Patches. If you've got a dog you want to put in a sling you can purchase a hotsling here.