Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Mary Poppins to the Rescue

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Stampeding Turkeys Thwart Mail Delivery

To listen to story Click Here.

Morning Edition, January 28, 2009 · In one section of Rockport, Mass., mail delivery has stopped. About 10 turkey have been terrorizing the mailman for the last several months. The turkeys chase down the truck. The big birds won't leave because residents have been feeding them. Perhaps the mailman should arm himself with a November calendar — with one date in particular circled in red.

Click on Image to watch video.

Tulik said turkeys exercise dominance over their area and the only way to deal with them is to be more dominant. Tulik suggested arming the postal worker with an umbrella. When a turkey begins to charge, the carrier should open the umbrella toward the turkey, which in turn should trick the bird into thinking it's facing another dominant male flaring its tail feathers.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Graveyard Book

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'The Graveyard Book' Wins Newbery Medal

Morning Edition, January 27, 2009 · The American Library Association has given the prestigious Newbery Medal for children's literature to Neil Gaiman for his novel The Graveyard Book. It's the story of a boy raised by the ghostly inhabitants of a cemetery.

Euan Kerr reports for Minnesota Public Radio.

Oh, the horror: Neil Gaiman has received the top prize for children's literature: The John Newbery Medal.


"I am so wonderfully befuddled," the best-selling author said Monday after winning the 88th annual Newbery for "The Graveyard Book," a spooky, but (he says) family friendly story about a boy raised by a vampire, a werewolf and a witch.

"I never really thought of myself as a Newbery winner. It's such a very establishment kind of award, in the right kind of way, with the world of librarians pointing at the book saying, `This is worthy of the ages.' And I'm so very used to working in, and enjoying working in, essentially the gutter."


Neil Gaiman, author of "The Graveyard Book,

Gaiman, known for his "Sandman" comic-book series, had worked on the "Graveyard Book" off and on for more than 20 years, an understandable delay for the author of more than 20 books and the winner of prizes for science fiction, fantasy and horror.

Gaiman is a beloved writer for adults and children, but "The Graveyard Book" isn't the coziest read, at least at the beginning, with its image of a knife so sharp that "if it sliced you, you might not even know you had been cut, not immediately."

He says "The Graveyard Book" was inspired in part by "The Jungle Book," Rudyard Kipling's classic about a boy raised by animals. Gaiman's book opens with a baby boy escaping an assassin who kills his parents and older sister. The boy totters to a decrepit cemetery, where he's adopted by ghosts, christened Nobody Owens (Bod for short) and given the Freedom of the Graveyard.

On Gaiman's blog, he writes that "The Graveyard Book" is not a children's book. It's "a book for pretty much for all ages, although I'm not sure how far down that actually starts. I think I would have loved it when I was eight, but I don't think that all eight-year olds were like me."

On Monday, Gaiman said he has been following the debate about the Newbery, never imagining he would become part of it. Beloved by readers and book-sellers, he is certainly far more popular than the past few Newbery winners, and he doesn't think his novel, beyond a little death and darkness, is upsetting.

"Apart from the first few pages, it doesn't exist to frighten people or trouble people," he said. "I've written my share of disturbing stuff, but this book is really a way of trying to think about the process of growing up, and, of course, the fundamentally joyous tragedy of being a parent, that if you do your job properly, your kids will grow up and leave you."

Gaiman, 48, has three children. Two have grown and moved away.

Mosaics on Display in the Pearl

A number of mosaics by this NW artist are on display at Boyds Coffee in the Pearl at NW 11th and Flanders.

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Toms Royal Mosaic Art

Toms Royal is an artist and designer from the Pacific Northwest. Since opening his business in 1995 he has created a range of designs and works of art. These include mosaic tile art, furniture, sculpture, textile design and paintings. His mosaic art has been featured in Oprah At Home Magazine, Wallpaper Magazine, The Washington Post and The Oregonian.

The foundation for his art comes from three primary sources. The first is Nature and the interdependency of all living things. The second is his long term study of Tai Chi Chuan, the ancient Chinese martial art that uses movement stillness and balance to integrate the practitioner with the natural way. Finally Toms believes in the power of art as a catalyst for positive social change.

What makes Toms unique is his creative process. He abstracts universal elements such as fire, water and wind into primary organic shapes. Circles, foils, and curves to name a few become the aesthetic building blocks of life and the vocabulary of his art. The shapes are then modulated, multiplied and arranged into dynamic patterns that express form and systems of movement. This process gives Toms Royal's art a sense of natural beauty expressed with modern simplicity.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Adam LaMotte

Violinist Adam LaMotte, a Portlander for a number of years, has created and launched his own website Check it out and listen to some of his music.

From the website:

Adam LaMotte is becoming well known to audiences throughout the country as a leader of both period and modern ensembles. He has appeared as soloist, concertmaster, and conductor of numerous orchestras, including the Northwest Sinfonietta in Seattle, String Orchestra of the Rockies, Astoria Festival Orchestra, Portland Baroque Orchestra, and the Maggini String Orchestra in Houston. Mr. LaMotte recently returned from studying under Maestro Dumitru Goia in Bucharest, Romania, and continues his study of conducting with Gregory Vajda, Resident Conductor of the Oregon Symphony.

As violinist and violist, Adam has been hailed by critics as an "especially compelling" and "superb violinist" with "exceptional talent," whose performances are "energetic and exquisite." This past season he performed as soloist in the Beethoven Violin Concerto, as well as both of Felix Mendelssohn's Violin Concerti. He has co-founded two critically-acclaimed ensembles, in Portland and in Houston, and continues to produce many chamber music and chamber orchestra performances. As Artistic Director of the Montana Baroque Festival, Adam brings fine period performance to rural Montana. Adam can be heard on the Cinnabar, Naxos, and Warner Classics labels. In collaboration with ensembles such as American Bach Soloists, Portland Baroque Orchestra, and Trinity Consort, Mr. LaMotte performs on period instruments, using a fine Italian instrument made in 1730 by Bernardo Calcagni, for which he is indebted to his generous patrons who made the purchase possible.


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Ohio, Kentucky Feuding Over Rock In A Hard Place

To listen to this story Click Here.

Morning Edition, January 26, 2009 · The states of Ohio and Kentucky are battling over a most unlikely object: a graffiti-covered rock.

From a distance, Indian Head Rock isn't much to look at, an unremarkable, brownish boulder about the size of a Volkswagen Beetle. But a closer look reveals what makes the rock — first written about in an archeological publication in 1847 — more than just an ordinary boulder.

The 8-ton sandstone boulder known as Indian Head Rock.

As the custody dispute rages, the 8-ton sandstone boulder known as Indian Head Rock sits in a municipal garage in Portsmouth, Ohio. AP

The surface is etched with names, some scratched and difficult to read and others chiseled more clearly. There's also a face that "some have said looks like Charlie Brown," according to Randy Nichols, a local history buff in Portsmouth, Ohio.

Chiseled onto the surface is a face  that 'looks like Charlie Brown,' a local historian says.

Chiseled onto the surface is a face that "looks like Charlie Brown," according to a local history buff. AP

"In early days, it was called the Portsmouth Indians' head rock. It's a life-sized depiction of a smiley face," Nichols says.

The trouble started last year when the 8-ton, sandstone boulder was hauled out of the Ohio River. On one side of the river is Portsmouth and on the other is South Shore, Ky. Indian Head Rock was submerged 60 feet from the Kentucky shore until it was fished out.

Click Image to enlarge.

Finding the rock wasn't easy. Once partially submerged, it hadn't been seen since the 1920s after navigational dams raised the river level and hid the boulder for decades.

Initials and names are carved on Indian Head Rock.

Initials and names are carved on Indian Head Rock, which had sat partially submerged in the Ohio River until the 1920s, when dam work left it hidden from view for decades. AP

But historian Steve Shaffer, the central character in this ongoing fight, had read stories about Indian Head Rock when he was a kid and vowed to find it. After many diving excursions, Shaffer and some buddies located the relic, pulled it out of the river and donated it to Portsmouth.

The mayor of Portsmouth, recognizing that the Ohio River is actually in Kentucky, offered it to the town of South Shore, Ky. Officials there weren't interested, so the plan was to display the boulder in Portsmouth.

That's when Kentucky state officials got involved; they say the rock belongs to them. Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway wrote a letter demanding its return.

"This was a registered antiquity in Kentucky and it was taken, and that's theft of an antiquity under the statute," Conway says.

But Ohio officials said the Indian Head Rock belonged to them. To further complicate the matter, the Army Corps of Engineers claims it has jurisdiction over the boulder.

Shaffer isn't talking to the media because taking the boulder from the Ohio River bottom put him in legal jeopardy. He and one of his helpers were indicted this summer on felony charges.

It's not clear what will happen to Indian Head Rock. For now, this piece of American history sits a most inauspicious place — in a corner of a municipal garage in Portsmouth.

Fred Kight reports for member station WOUB.

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Sunday, January 25, 2009



by Kate Scott

Sam was a galunky kind of guy,
my cousin says. He walked like this.
He takes on a bow-legged swagger
that makes us laugh. And boy,
could he drink beer.
He lifts his hand,
tipping imaginary cans in quick succession.
He talked real fast too. Back then we laughed,
asked what was the rush? Never slowed him any.
Girls loved him. He was such a big guy,
think they figured he must have a big heart.

My cousin slows a little in his walk,
tugs on his ear to remember more.

We hung out a lot and unless he was excited,
talking fast, he was real quiet, would just sit,
stare out to space like he was someplace else.
Maybe he was thinking about the girl he loved
who died one winter, fell through the ice
as she was skating towards him.
She was only twenty feet away, her arms out wide.

They say he was there all night,
smashed the ice in a hundred places to find her.
They pulled her out in the Spring.
I think when he talked so fast
he was trying to forget,
like the words would fill up the space she left.

My cousin stops in the road,
brushes imaginary hair from his eyes.

I lost touch for some time, years went by.
I didn't hear from Sam, neither of us
were much use at letter writing.
Then one summer I came home to visit,
bumped right into him in a store downtown.
He talked real slow, like he was a clock
that had wound down. He said he'd taken up fishing.
He said he didn't much care for fish
but when he flung the line out hard,
heard the whir as it spun out over the water,
saw the river winking and glinting at him,
he felt he could catch anything.

"Fishing" by Kate Scott, from Stitches. © Peterloo Poets, 2003.

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Saturday, January 24, 2009

Windows is Shutting Down

Windows is Shutting Down

by Clive James

Windows is shutting down, and grammar are
On their last leg. So what am we to do?
A letter of complaint go just so far,
Proving the only one in step are you.

Better, perhaps, to simply let it goes.
A sentence have to be screwed pretty bad
Before they gets to where you doesnt knows
The meaning what it must be meant to had.

The meteor have hit. Extinction spread,
But evolution do not stop for that.
A mutant languages rise from the dead
And all them rules is suddenly old hat.

Too bad for we, us what has had so long
The best seat from the only game in town.
But there it am, and whom can say its wrong?
Those are the break. Windows is shutting down.

"Windows Is Shutting Down"
by Clive James from Opal Sunset: Selected poems, 1958–2008. ©
W.W. Norton & Company, 2008.

From Writer's


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Scam Alert

Work-at-Home Hoaxes

With a tough economy and almost daily forecasts of additional layoffs, more Americans are looking for new ways to bring home the bacon—often, by working from home.

But it's scammers who usually get fat off their work-seeking victims.

"With the economy heading south and more people losing their jobs, we see an increase in people looking for work-at-home opportunities," says Alison Preszler-Southwick, spokesperson for the national Council of Better Business Bureaus. "As a result, scammers step in and take advantage of them."

The Internet has proved a great recruiting tool for work-at-home prospects, allowing scammers to hide their identities and post phony "testimonials" of now-rich employees. But even when newspaper ads or telephone calls are used to enlist would-be workers, most work-at-home scams involve the same ploys:

"Bait-and-switch" schemes requiring upfront payment for materials. Victims may pay an initial cost and then not receive the promised supplies, instructions or "client" leads, or they may receive some goods but then must shell out more for the "complete package." In either case, the money paid out far exceeds the true value of the promised materials, and "leads" may simply be names or companies taken from the phone directory. Classic examples of these scams include stuffing envelopes, assembling crafts, entering data and billing medical costs.

"Check-forwarding" scams in which victims receive a check for promised or completed work—only to be asked to wire a portion of it back to the scammer. The received check inevitably proves to be counterfeit, and banks hold victims responsible; victims may also face check fraud charges. Scammers usually operate from online job sites, where they advertise for U.S. agents for phony overseas companies. A variation is the "reshipping" scam, in which victims receive merchandise at their homes to be reshipped overseas. But the goods are often purchased with stolen credit cards, leaving the reshipper subject to criminal charges for receiving and transporting stolen goods.

New ploys that have recently emerged include:

Mentoring programs. "[Scammers] place advertisements in local newspapers to 'Start Your Own Business,' offering a $69 startup kit in any of about a dozen different opportunities," notes Kevin Farrell of the Lee County Sheriff's Office in southwest Florida. "But once that money is sent, the kit says you need to pay $650 more to have a mentor give you personal instructions over the telephone." Farrell notes that in his area, with its large retiree population, such work-at-home scams seem to target older people.

Rebate processing. In this ruse, says Preszler-Southwick, victims answer job ads, thinking they will process rebate forms for leading companies. "In reality, these jobs instead involve placing advertisements on the Internet and selling products. Victims pay upfront fees and are promised their money back if not satisfied. What we're seeing is they don't get their money back."

The bottom line: Be suspicious of any job opportunity that requires any upfront fees or pays you with checks that require a Western Union or other wire transfer. According to an October 2007 report by the Federal Trade Commission, about 2.5 million Americans—nearly 1 percent of the entire population—fall for work-at-home scams each year, and many are repeat victims. With today's bad economy, there's no indication that's about to change.

If you've already fallen victim, contact your state attorney general's office and your local consumer protection office. Also, alert the newspaper or online job site where you saw the job advertised.

For more information on preventing these scams, click here.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

More on

clipped from That Matters

For Release Sunday, January 25, 2009
© 2009 Washington Post Writers Group

Neal Peirce

By Neal Peirce

Big Breaking News on the cyber-politics front: The Obama transition web site -- -– has been renamed and started operations. With a heartening message from the Macon Phillips, the Director of New Media for the White House:

"President Obama started his career as a community organizer on the South Side of Chicago, where he saw firsthand what people can do when they come together for a common cause. Citizen participation will be a priority for the Administration, and the internet will play an important role in that."

And Congress has an open invitation to join the act. YouTube, which began airing Barack Obama's weekly messages right after his election, is now creating two special congressional web pages, one for senators, another for representatives.

The federal lawmakers will be invited to post videos with their remarks on topics of their choosing, inviting constituents to respond with questions and comments.

And now there's even competition on the move to Internet-era governance. The social action web site has seized on an early Obama idea: grassroots Americans should be able to generate fresh ideas, that officialdom needs to hear.

Four days before the inauguration, (which actually preceded Obama's site by two years) released results of its own Internet survey. More than 658,000 votes were cast to select 10 favorite ideas (out of 7,800 submitted) that participants believed the new administration should consider.

Conducted jointly with the web site MySpace, the 10 top ideas have a distinctly leftward tilt–repeal of the USA Patriot Act, legalizing same-sex marriage, free universal health care, labeling all food containing genetically engineered ingredients, and higher education for all students.

But one recommendation favored small business, classically defended by conservatives: to exempt small American toy-makers from the expensive, extended testing of their products for children that Congress required last year in response to lead-tainted playthings imported from China.

And like early polling on Obama's own site, major reform of drug laws–including a halt to arrests for medical or recreational use of marijuana–garnered some of the highest votes. Obama's transition team responding by saying he opposes legalization of marijuana. But this is one issue where the public's jumping ahead of our new leader.

Which is precisely the opportunity that web democracy brings: it lets the public both pose and vote on controversial issues that political leaders would just as soon ignore.

Which raises a new possibility: Could a deliberative national process involve more people–not just registering their votes on issues, but helping to frame issues and solutions? That's the plan of three organizations–AmericaSpeaks, Demos, and Everyday Democracy–in a recent report on strengthening U.S. democracy.

The idea is to have our new president "call for regular national discussions of one million Americans or more on the issues of highest public concern, like foreign policy, energy, taxes, health care, and jobs." There'd be a White House Office of Citizen Engagement to organize the process, together with a non-partisan working group of citizens appointed by the majority and minority leadership of Congress.

Americans could participate several ways–by conversations in homes, workplaces or community centers, by participating in national town meetings linked by satellite, or in small groups "meeting" online in "virtual" discussion space before registering their priorities.

The idea is to create a truly serious nation-wide discussion process. There would be skilled facilitators and participants would receive "balanced, accessible educational materials to ensure that everyone begins with adequate context to come to informed judgments."

Wow! Not just opinions, but judgments based on clear, objective information? What a radical idea!

And the recommendations couldn't disappear into some black hole–Congress would be required to hold follow-up hearings to address them, and the president to issue a written response. The idea's that the media would then treat the dialogue-and-report process as major news.

Imagine if there'd been such a process shortly after the 9/11 attacks. Or now on the future fiscal issues in Medicare and Social Security. Or on truly tough-to-settle issues, like correcting America's world-leading prison population levels. The power of special-interest lobbies to dominate hearings, or distort public debate with misleading advertising, would likely be dealt a major blow.

The idea sounds like an Obama natural. But why couldn't forward-looking members of Congress, kicking the traces of lobbyist influence, take a lead in advocating it?

As this inventive citizen consultative process gained momentum at the national level, it could also be tried out too on the state, regional or city level–again addressing critical issues and favoring the citizenry over monied lobbies in an unprecedented way.

The change we've been waiting for? I think so.

Neal Peirce's e-mail is

For reprints of Neal Peirce's column, please contact Washington Post Permissions, c/o PARS International Corp.,, fax 212-221-9195. For newspaper syndication sales, Washington Post Writers Group, 202-334-5375,


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New Sculpture Installation Continues on Mall

The sculpture collection on the Portland Mall continues to grow with the addition of Cairns, a series of six stacked-stone sculptures by Portland artist Christine Bourdette.

The largest sculpture in the

Cairns is located on NW 5th and 6th avenues between NW Glisan Street and Union Station. Bourdette designed the series for the future MAX Green Line Union Station area to celebrate points of arrival and departure. The artist was inspired by the man-made stacks of stones, or cairns, that have traditionally marked trails as landmarks for navigation and memorials.

Five pieces from the series are completed, with the last one scheduled to be finished in January 2009. The pieces vary in size from 11' tall by 6' in diameter to 3' tall by 3' in diameter.

Bourdette is one of the most accomplished sculptors in the Northwest. Her works are included in many private and public collections, including those of the Portland Art Museum, Tacoma Art Museum, Boise Art Museum and Reed College.

The Mall art program is a collaboration with project partners, the Regional Arts and Culture Council and the downtown community

What the youngsters go for

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On Tuesday night, their first at the White House, the Obama girls had a party of their own.

Malia, 10, and Sasha, 7, had a sleepover party with classmates from Sidwell Friends School. They watched two movies — "High School Musical 3" and "Bolt" — and romped around the house in a scavenger hunt arranged by the White House staff.

Perhaps the highlight? At the end of the hunt, the girls opened a door to find their favorite musical act: the Jonas Brothers. Kevin, Joe and Nick Jonas were waiting inside. Surprise!

Instant Gratification

Instant gratification takes too long.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Need a good laugh? Try Biloxi Blues

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Theater review: 'Biloxi Blues': Profile does Neil Simon proud

by Richard Wattenberg, Special to The Oregonian

Sunday January 18, 2009, 4:11 PM

Exploring topics such as anti-Semitism and homophobia and setting the action against a background of war (even a relatively distant war) sounds like a formula for a pretty gritty in-your-face play. Yet, a playwright can take on such baggage and still sidestep controversy as Neil Simon demonstrates in the 1985 successful "Biloxi Blues."

Currently receiving a very polished production from Profile Theatre, this boot-camp play may prompt viewers to think about the questionable "don't ask, don't tell" policy regarding gays in the military, the troubling tension between military discipline and brutality, or the unfortunate persistence of religious, ethnic, and racial prejudices, but it primarily tells an up-beat coming-of-age story set during the World War II era. Good spirited humor and gentle nostalgia wash over the disturbing issues.

The second part--following "Brighton Beach Memoirs" and preceding "Broadway Bound" -- of Simon's semi-autobiographical Eugene trilogy, "Biloxi Blues" can comfortably stand alone. The play's action is framed by opening and closing scenes set in railroad coaches: the first takes place on a train carrying Eugene, would-be writer and a kind of stand-in for Simon, and four other raw recruits to Biloxi, Miss., where they will undergo a grueling 10-week basic training, and the second, on the train carrying the now more savvy soldiers from Biloxi to the ships that will convey them to the European front.

Between these bookend scenes, the body of the play traces the relations of the soldiers to their old-style, tough Biloxi drill sergeant but also includes off-the-base sequences in which Eugene loses his virginity and then falls in love.

Director Pat Patton has a good feel for the play -- nicely balancing comedy and earnestness. Patton keeps the loosely structured piece moving at a brisk clip and draws strong, sharply defined performances from all in the ensemble.

Alec Wilson grows into the role of Eugene, who is both a participant in and a narrator of the action; Wilson smoothly makes the transitions between well-meaning innocence and wry commentary.

Among the actors playing Eugene's fellow recruits, Matthew Sa especially stands out. He adeptly captures the fragile nature and uncompromising self-confidence of the sensitive, intellectual, but willful individualist, Epstein.

Todd Hermanson gives dimension to the over-bearing drill sergeant, Merwin J. Toomey. He does well with the bullying, loud aspects of this character, but he also movingly conveys Toomey's gentler side and inner contradictions at play's end.

Set designer Tal Sanders finds various clever solutions to the play's cinematic loose structure, and Rose Etta Menger's lighting as well as Rodolpho Ortega's sound design go a long way toward establishing the multiple locations required by the play.

All told, this is Simon at his best. The play might not be politically or socially contentious, but it is fun, and Patton and company have done it justice.

"Biloxi Blues"

When: 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday, through Feb. 15

Where: Theater! Theatre!, 3430 S.E. Belmont St.

Tickets: $12-$28, 503-242-0080 or online

Web site:

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President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama

President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama attend the Southern Inaugural Ball early Wednesday, Jan. 21, 2009 at the DC Armory in Washington. (AP Photo/Lauren Victoria Burke). Click on photo to enlarge.

Obama's People

From the New York Times Magazine. Photographs by Nadav Kander.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The New Administration

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The tradition of the Cabinet dates back to the beginnings of the Presidency itself. Established in Article II, Section 2, of the Constitution, the Cabinet's role is to advise the President on any subject he may require relating to the duties of each member's respective office.

The Cabinet includes the Vice President and the heads of 15 executive departments — the Secretaries of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Education, Energy, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, Interior, Labor, State, Transportation, Treasury, and Veterans Affairs, as well as the Attorney General.

In order of succession to the Presidency:

Department of State
Secretary-designate: Hillary R. Clinton

Department of the Treasury
Secretary-designate: Timothy F. Geithner

Department of Defense
Secretary: Robert M. Gates

Department of Justice
Attorney General-designate: Eric H. Holder

Department of the Interior
Secretary-designate: Ken L. Salazar

Department of Agriculture
Secretary-designate: Tom J. Vilsack

Department of Commerce

Department of Labor
Secretary-designate: Hilda L. Solis

Department of Health and Human Services
Secretary-designate: Tom A. Daschle

Department of Housing and Urban Development
Secretary-designate: Shaun Donovan

Department of Transportation
Secretary-designate: Ray H. LaHood

Department of Energy
Secretary-designate: Steven Chu

Department of Education
Secretary-designate: Arne Duncan

Department of Veterans Affairs
Secretary-designate: Eric K. Shinseki

Department of Homeland Security
Secretary-designate: Janet Napolitano

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Chief of Staff
Rahm Emanuel

Deputy Chiefs of Staff
Jim Messina
Mona Sutphen

Senior Advisors
David Axelrod
Valerie Jarrett
Pete Rouse

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Every day, the President of the United States is faced with scores of decisions, each with important consequences for America's future. To provide the President with the support the he or she needs to govern effectively, the Executive Office of the President (EOP) was created in 1939 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. The EOP has responsibility for tasks ranging from communicating the President's message to the American people to promoting our trade interests abroad.

Overseen by the White House Chief of Staff, the EOP has traditionally been home to many of the President's closest advisors.

The following entities exist within the Executive Office of the President:

Inauguration Poem: Praise song for the day

Praise song for the day.

Each day we go about our business, walking past each other, catching each others' eyes or not, about to speak or speaking. All about us is noise. All about us is noise and bramble, thorn and din, each one of our ancestors on our tongues. Someone is stitching up a hem, darning a hole in a uniform, patching a tire, repairing the things in need of repair.

Someone is trying to make music somewhere with a pair of wooden spoons on an oil drum with cello, boom box, harmonica, voice.

A woman and her son wait for the bus.

A farmer considers the changing sky; A teacher says, "Take out your pencils. Begin."

We encounter each other in words, words spiny or smooth, whispered or declaimed; words to consider, reconsider.

We cross dirt roads and highways that mark the will of someone and then others who said, "I need to see what's on the other side; I know there's something better down the road."

We need to find a place where we are safe; We walk into that which we cannot yet see.

Say it plain, that many have died for this day. Sing the names of the dead who brought us here, who laid the train tracks, raised the bridges, picked the cotton and the lettuce, built brick by brick the glittering edifices they would then keep clean and work inside of.

Praise song for struggle; praise song for the day. Praise song for every hand-lettered sign; The figuring it out at kitchen tables.

Some live by "Love thy neighbor as thy self."

Others by first do no harm, or take no more than you need.

What if the mightiest word is love, love beyond marital, filial, national. Love that casts a widening pool of light. Love with no need to preempt grievance.

In today's sharp sparkle, this winter air, anything can be made, any sentence begun.

On the brink, on the brim, on the cusp -- praise song for walking forward in that light.

-- Elizabeth Alexander

For the Archives: President Barack Obama 2009 Inauguration and Address Website as of 12:00 PM EST 1/20/09

Monday, January 19, 2009

National Day of Service

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Obama, Invoking King, Makes Call For Service

Morning Edition, January 19, 2009 ·
In 1994, Congress expanded the mission of the holiday devoted to the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. It now includes a national day of service. And this year, encouraged by President-elect Obama, more volunteers are emerging.

The Obama and Biden families were part of a community renovation project in honor of King on the federal holiday established in his memory. Transition aides declined to name the locations or details of the projects.

Obama is asking the nation to honor King's legacy by making a renewed commitment to service. That has long been the goal of the King holiday, even if many see it as a day off.

The Presidential Inaugural Committee has launched a Web site,, to help people find volunteer opportunities close to their homes.

"I am asking you to make a lasting commitment to make better the lives of your fellow Americans — a commitment that must endure beyond one day, or even one presidency," Obama said in a YouTube appeal last week. "At this moment of great challenge and great change, I am asking you to play your part; to roll up your sleeves and join in the work of remaking this nation."

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Sunday, January 18, 2009

Two More Nights to Hear This Double Bass Virtuoso

Edgar Meyer gave his first of three concerts with the Oregon Symphony last evening in the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall. He played: Bottesini: Bass Concerto No. 2 and Meyer: Bass Concerto No. 1.

From the OR Symphony Website, "America’s best-known master of the double bass, the charismatic Edgar Meyer, joins the orchestra in a pair of concertos never before performed by the Oregon Symphony: one by the great 19th-century master of the instrument – and one of his very own. "

If you have heard him before you will want to hear this. If you haven't heard him you are in for a treat.