Tuesday, May 27, 2008

3 weeks old

I spent the long weekend in Houston meeting my new nephew for the first time!

There were many jokes about me not breaking my little brother's kid, nor taking him away, as was the fate of so many childhood toys. Awfully hard to resist keeping him!

He's beginning to focus on faces and toys and other things in his line of sight, and so he's making fabulous faces!

He's also discovered his hands, but can't quite control them yet!
He managed to suck his thumb for the first time over the weekend while I was holding him (just one of many bad habits I hope to share with him!)

Who can resist a baby yawn?

Unfortunately, Jewel the Beagle, has been relegated to second place. She is fascinated with Nathan, though, and stays close. She comes running when he cries and likes to stick her nose over the edge of the crib to check things out. They're destined to be best friends.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Gay Marriage Legal in California

The California Supreme Court has said it is unconstitutional to ban same-sex marriage.

Gay marriage legal in California, court declares
By Crystal Carreon and Bill Lindelof - ccarreon@sacbee.com
Last Updated 10:10 am PDT Thursday, May 15, 2008

SAN FRANCISCO - A deeply divided California Supreme Court legalized gay marriage in an opinion issued Thursday morning.

Wild cheers echoed throughout City Hall and other spots where proponents had gathered Thursday morning awaiting the opinion, which came on a 4-3 vote.

The case stems from challenges to state law by gay couples who were married in ceremonies at San Francisco City Hall in 2004, when Mayor Gavin Newsom began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Legal challenges to those marriages eventually led to the high court invalidating them six months later. California voters already had approved by a wide margin a measure in 2000 that declared marriage to be only between a man and a woman.

But San Francisco officials and about 20 of the couples granted licenses four years ago

challenged the court decisions that invalidated their marriages, and in March the seven justices heard three hours of arguments over whether the state's ban on gay marriage denies gays and lesbians their constitutional rights.

Thursday's opinion has been eagerly anticipated by both sides in the argument, with many saying a decision in California would be felt nationwide. Only Massachusetts allows gay marriage.

Opponents of same-sex marriage already have readied a new ballot measure that would amend the state constitution to ban such unions.

By midmorning Thursday, same-sex couples hoping for a favorable ruling began to line up outside the San Francisco city clerk's office.

Standing at the head of the line, San Francisco couple Bruce Ivie and David Bowers said they were waiting for history.

"I just feel it," said Ivie, 51 wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with a pink triangle and "Proud Forever" on it. "California has always been a trendsetter. It's now about time."

Ivie and Bowers, together for 28 years, were among the thousands of gay couples who rushed to City Hall to be married in 2004.

They said they were horrified and heartbroken when their marriage was later voided, and spent the next four years following the gay marriage case as it made its way through the courts.

"We'll have each other forever, but we deserve the same rights as everybody else," Bowers said. "How can it hurt anyone else?"

A line slowly began to snake around the vinyl ropes outside the clerk's office.

Outside the court building Thursday, gay and lesbian proponents gathered, with many saying they were extremely anxious as they awaited the opinion.

Among the group were two Davis women, Shelly Bailes and Ellen Pontac, who said they have been together for 34 years and were the 45th couple married at City Hall in 2004.

Pontac carried a sign that said "Life feels different when you are married."

"We are full of hope," Bailes said. "This is extremely important. We have been fighting this fight for a really long time."

The women, who will speak tonight at a Sacramento gathering in midtown, drove to San Francisco to be at the courthouse for the decision.

"Shelly said this morning that she wouldn't be this nervous when we get married," Pontac said. "We've been together for 34 years. It has been a long-enough engagement."

This is a huge step in the direction of justice and love. There is so much rhetoric about family values and supporting the family, and yet we have laws forbidding some to form healthy, happy, supportive families. Gay Marriage is a family value, and I'm glad the California Supreme Court thinks so, too.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Nathan Roger McNiel

This is my nephew. He was born Thursday evening and is 7 lbs. 2 oz. and 21 inches long. He and his mother are doing great. And his dad, my brother seems to be fine, too! I haven't gotten to meet him in person yet. My dad, Roger, sent the pictures this morning. He is the first grandchild on both sides of his family, so he is certain to be loved within an inch of his life. My mother says he's perfect and my dad says he's a keeper. I have to wait three weeks to see him, but I'm already hooked!

Thursday, May 1, 2008


Last night I watched the movie Garbage with the Social Justice Community on campus. The film explores the environmental impact of all our various kinds of trash, while a family of five saves and weighs all its garbage for three months! You can learn more about the movie and the movement here.

There are a lot of memorable stories told in the movie. I didn't know that trash from Ontario was trucked to Michigan to landfills that are destroying what was once a beautiful, quiet community. I didn't know how devastating the run off from our roads and highways is - the equivalent of two Exxon-Valdez disasters. But more than anything, the stories about coal have stuck with me.

I've driven through West Virginia and I've seen the hilltops that have been eliminated from coal mining. I've voted against the building of new coal plants (the measure passed anyway.) And I've tried to reduce my own energy consumption with compact flourescent lightbulbs and by unplugging stuff when I'm not using it. What I didn't know was that coal dust covers entire towns near mines. And that children go to schools yards away from coal refineries and go home with headaches every single day. And what I still don't know is how to stop being complicit in this devastation. We have a lot of wind farms in California, but we also have a lot of coal plants. I use as much coal energy as anyone. My Dad's family is from Sweetwater, Tx where wind is becoming a more important industry than ranching. I never thought I'd want to live in Sweetwater, but now I kind of do, so that I could have a wind farm in my backyard. I can't really move to Sweetwater, though, and so I'm looking for other alternatives. We have to get off coal. It's destroying people's lives just so I can turn on the lights.