Kucinich taking a shot at Cheney

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As you probably already know, Representative Dennis Kucinich entered articles of impeachment against VP Dick Cheney yesterday. A lot of people have unkind things to say about this. A lot of liberal people. What I've heard so far has centered on any one of the following three things, or any combo thereof:
1. This is a waste of the Congress' time; they should be doing something more worthwhile.
2. Kucinich is a kook who should work with his party, and Speaker Pelosi already said impeachment was off the table.
3. He's just doing this for attention because he's running for president.

I reject all three of these premises, and I'll tell you why:

First, I have a big issue with the idea that working to impeach Cheney isn't worth Congress' time. Dick Cheney has committed multiple impeachable offenses, not the least of which are the pre-war actions for which Kucinich is taking him to task. It is way past time for someone representing the American people to stand up in the most public possible forum and make it clear that we do not accept these actions from our government. It's not OK to lie in order to get your war on. If you do it, there should be consequences.

Which isn't to say that I think Cheney will actually be impeached--obviously there isn't political will among the Democrats for that (which I think is too bad, frankly). But whether or not he's actually impeachable isn't, to my mind, the point. The point is that I support someone standing up and voicing their dissent, both on behalf of themselves and behalf of the people they represent. Kucinich is hardly the first person who had said that someone in the current administration should be impeached. Resolutions supporting impeachment have been put forth by city councils nationwide, as well as by members of state legislatures in Vermont, Illinois, California, Minnesota, New Mexico, and Washington. There are also grassroots impeachment organizations such as Impeach For Peace and Impeach Bush. A March 2006 poll by the American Research Group showed 42% in favor of a Bush impeachment. Just because Nancy Pelosi doesn't want to do it doesn't make impeachment a radical or ridiculous idea.

The notion that this is some sort of kooky power play by presidential candidate Kucinich, however, is ridiculous. As a candidate for the 2008 Democratic nomination, Kucinich polls at somewhere around 2%. He's not doing this because he thinks it is going to pull him in front of Clinton, Obama, and Edwards. He has no history of that type of behavior, and no realistic reason for it. Kucinich has been pissed off about Cheney's lies and war on false premises for years. He didn't just hit upon the idea. Besides, with so-called liberals taking him to task for wasting everybody's time with this silly impeachment thing, he's probably not making any friends anyway.

So, basically, I completely support and applaud this effort by Kucinich, and I'll be writing a nice letter to my Representative, Michael McCaul, telling him I'd like him to support Kucinich. He won't, of course, but as he's the one who is supposed to be speaking for me in Washington, I'm going to ask him to anyway. Because folks, that's how our government is supposed to work. We are not powerless to sit back and watch these shits we elected commit atrocities in our names. We have not only a right, but also a responsibility to speak up against them, loudly and clearly. To my mind, that's exactly what Kucinich is doing.

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Update on Lush replacements

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I've been meaning to write about this all-important subject in some sort of coherent way, and my brain isn't up to talking about anything more substantial today, so here goes. A few thoughts on the Lush-replacements I have sampled so far:

bubbles%20bath%20bombs.jpgBubbles
My order: 12 bath bombs, 5 bubble bars, one packet Oatmeal, Milk, and Honey bubbling milk bath

Total: $85.58 plus $12.95 shipping

Freebies received: one bath bomb (one free with every 12 you buy), one free bubble bar (leftover holiday bar thrown in free with order)

Recommended products: Home Sweet Home bath bomb, Queen Bee bubble bar

Not recommended: Oatmeal, Milk, and Honey bubbling milk bath

What I'll try next time: Charlotte's Web bath bomb, Sex on the Beach bath bomb, Mint Julep bath bomb...I'll probably just order bath bombs next time, there are SO many to try

Overall: The products were uniformly high quality, with the bath bombs being more satisfactory in general than the bubble bars (they're also cheaper, at $3.99 v. $4.95). Some of the scents were a bit off to me (the Wild Honey in particular), but some were very very nice (particularly the spicy and lovely Home Sweet Home). And the selection at Bubbles is HUGE, so I could easily try all new scents next time I order. The only real disappointment was the milk bath, which was way overpriced at $12.95 when it was really only enough for two baths (the small black bathtub it came in was really excellent, though).

Bonus: Bubbles offers a "Bath Bomb of the Month" club! For $22.95 per month, you/the lucky person to whom you gift a membership to this club get 4 six-ounce bombs delivered. While this is a fantastic idea, it doesn't work out when you do the math--at a cost of $3.99 each, four bath bombs are only worth $15.96, which means you are paying $6.99 for shipping on each order, which is pretty steep. Makes more sense to buy the bombs in bulk (buy 12 get 1 free!) and send them every month yourself.

fantasybath.jpg
Fantasy Bath

My order: 11 bath bombs

Total: $44.40, free shipping with all orders over $40

Freebies received: None

Recommended products: Cherry Blossom bath bomb, Enchantment bath bomb

Not recommended: Little Things bath bomb

What I'll try next time: Cider Besider bath bomb, It's My Birthday Bath bomb, Boom Boom bath bomb

Overall: Fantasy Bath offers a truly different product than anyone else, at least as far as I know. Their bath bombs are a fizzy-bubbly-bath oil hybrid, and they are HUGE, good for at least two baths, which makes them very reasonably priced at $3.95-$4.25. Though I found their scents a little bit hit-or-miss (I really didn't like Little Things, or Currently Unavailable), the good ones were very good, and with reasonable prices and free shipping, I don't have to love everything.

Bonus: Fantasy Bath's immediate bonus is the free shipping, but they also sell their bath bombs by the 3 lb. bag of powder, rather than just the individual bomb, at a discount, which is great if there is a particular scent you can't get enough of.

bluewool.jpgBlue Wool Organics
My order: 1 jumbo bath bomb, 2 regular sized bath bombs, 12 pack "bath fizzies"

Total cost: $14.48 plus $11.25 shipping

Freebies: I got two giant sized bath bombs instead of the two regular sized ones I ordered, with a note from the proprietress saying she was out of the smaller ones so she'd included the large ones instead

Recommended products: cherry lemonade bath bombs

Not recommended: bath fizzies

What I'll try next time: I probably won't order again, but if I did, I'd try the body butter

Overall: The products from Blue Wool Organics are different than the other companies--they are organic and all-natural, so they aren't dyed and the scents aren't as strong. This is nice, but the wrapping is also minimal (wax paper), so several of the bombs arrived smashed, which was a bummer. Also, the shipping was extraordinarily expensive for what I got. Blue Wool Organics definitely strikes me as more of a hobby business than a real business, and the stock is always changing, so you can't guarantee you can get something you like again (for example, there are no Big Calm bath bombs available now). For those reasons, I probably won't order again.

Rainforest Soap Shack
I discussed this establishment in my last post. It's fantastic, my favorite so far, and I've already placed a second order.

bubble%20tart.jpg
Downtown Bath and Soap

My order: 2 bath ballistics, 2 bubble tarts

Total cost: $11.70 plus $6 shipping

Freebies received: several extra bubble tarts--there was a big shipping problem with this order (a postal service problem, not a problem with the company), and it was kindly
"made up to me" by including a bunch of free products

Recommended products: The "Detoxify" ballstic was nice, but left a lot of salt in the water

Not recommended: Nothing so far

What I'll try next time: If I make another order, I'll probably sample the bath melts and cupcake fizzy melts

Overall: Though it took forever for the shipping to work out and these products to actually arrive, they were quite nice when they did, and I was pleased to get so many freebies included. The bath tarts aren't quite as bubble producing as I'd like--it definitely take a whole one and not a half to have a good bath--but they're otherwise nice, and the bombs are as well (but again, use a whole one). Shipping was a little bit steep but not terrible. I think the biggest issue with my order from this shop was actually the things I picked to try, so I may order some different stuff (again, the stock is not constant) and try again.

Bonus: Downtown Bath and Soap sells something called a "Soap Kebab Sampler" for $5.50. It includes small pieces of six varieties of their soap (you don't get to specify which ones) so you can try them. I think that's very cute and a good idea.

Ranking of places tried so far:
1. Rainforest Soap Shack
2. Fantasy Bath
3. Bubbles
4. Downtown Bath and Soap
5. Blue Wool Organics

Coming up:
Reviews of Bella Bomb and Bauble Bath!

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Rainforest Soap Shack

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body%20whip.gifI guess I kind of fell down on the job with the bath product reviews. I have been using them at a frantic rate, sometimes two baths a day, but I haven't been telling you all about it. But this should tell you all you need to know:

The other day, I made a second order from one of the Lush-alternative sources for bath indulgence I tried. Before even sampling all the stores on my list, I made another order from one. That, my friends, is burgeoning addiction.

The lucky and fabulous store? The Rainforest Soap Shack (can also be found on Etsy). My first order from the RSS was their great six bath blasters for $13.00 deal. I picked six different scents, liked all of them, and ordered six different ones from their extensive list this time. The real seller, though, was the amazing body whip that was sent to me as a freebie with my last order--I ordered a full-size one this time, as well as a sugar scrub.

One of the really great things about the Rainforest Soap Shack is the ability to customize. You can pick the color and scent of your products, and the 1/2 dozen bath blasters deal is mix and match, so you can get six different scents. For my order this time, I chose to have the body whip in my favorite bath blaster scent from my last order (Grandma's Kitchen, a spicy, vanilla-y scent that smells just like something tasty baking).

For 1/2 dozen 4 oz. bath blasters (each the perfect size for one bath), a 4 oz. jar of body whip, and a 6 oz. sugar scrub, with shipping, my total was a very reasonable $37.30. As a bonus, the shop's fantastic proprietess emailed me today to let me know my order was appreciated and my stuff was on its way! Great products AND fantastic service! I'll try to get out of the tub for long enough to let you know how the products are when they arrive, but no promises!

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Easter

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Frog wrote something on her blog yesterday that really, really resonated with me. "Easter is about hope and renewal. It’s about believing in what you cannot see or touch but know in your heart to be true." You should go read it. I know I'll be reading it over and over for the next few days. As I've said before, I've never been very good at religiosity, and if it's about anything, Easter is about spring for me. I like that Frog can see both.

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New foster dog: Jake!

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jake.jpgMeet our newest foster pup, Jake! Jake is a four to five year old black & tan coonhound mix (maybe mixed with Doberman, or at least that's the best guess we've heard so far). As you can see, he's very very skinny. He has had a hard life, and spent the last several months (maybe more than a year) roaming without a home. He got into some kind of a scrap with a critter of some variety (the guess is raccoon) and got a bad bite on his back leg, which got really really infected. Then some good person picked him up and took him to the vet, who fixed up the leg and got in touch with us, and now he's walking fine, infection free, and at our house.

It will be a bit before Jake is ready to be adopted--he needs to finish his course of antibiotics, and he needs to gain some weight. Right now, he has worms, which is impeding his weight gain, but that will be cleared up pretty quickly. He's either had some sort of throat surgery or been debarked, as he has a large scar on his neck and no real bark (a howl/whine instead). And he's totally sweet--he is very affectionate, playful with the other dogs, and just wants to be loved and taken care of. We're working on his manners (he's a jumper), but otherwise is no trouble at all, so we aren't going to mind taking care of him until we find him a perfect home.

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Yet another treatise on thrifting

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I've never been a very good environmentalist. It's not that I don't care about the environment, or that I don't think there's real danger, but I grew up in a culture in which environmental protection was, or at least seemed to be, at odds with my family's livelihood, and there really wasn't room to be wishy washy on the subject, as we were just getting by as it was. As I got older, environmental concerns just seemed really far away. I can understand, intellectually, that we are running out of clean air and clean water and natural resources, but I can't see it in my day to day life. Which makes it hard to justify making sacrifices. Sure, I recycle and try to curb my use of nasty chemicals, but I still waste and waste like a typical American.

Well, it's come home lately.

Since I've started frequenting the bins, I've been told that the stock at the stores turns over at least once a day, and that what doesn't sell gets thrown away. I didn't really believe that, though--I mean, how can it really be true that hundreds (thousands?) of pounds of stuff are being thrown out every day, much of it in good condition and almost all of it in usable condition? So I decided to try to find out for myself, and proceeded to visit one of the bins stores four days in a row.

They're weren't lying. The stock has completely turned over every day.

And I get it now.

We're killing ourselves with our own consumption. Creating these mountains and mountains of trash that isn't trash at all, until we're all buried under it, and all the time buying more and more new stuff. I'm as guilty of this as anyone, and guiltier than many. And, in part, I've justified my consumption by donating my old stuff to the Goodwill, with the idea that someone else will use it, and it supports a good cause, so it's OK. But it's become clear now that someone else doesn't always use it, and when I buy something to "replace" something that doesn't need replacing, I'm not really helping anybody.

So reduce, that's step one. Just buy. less. shit. It seems so simple, and yet it is the single most difficult thing I've ever attempted. Why is that? I can't see this resolving itself, but I'm hoping that the picture I now have burned into my brain of forklifts loading trucks to take usable stuff to the dump will help. I can literally imagine being buried under it all. It's a chilling image.

And secondly, reuse. And what that means to me, in part, is that thrifting has moved from a hobby to a business to a responsibility. I simply cannot, in good conscience, buy stuff new that I know I can get used. Now that I know, and have seen with my own eyes, just how much stuff is getting thrown away just in my little corner of the world, how can I rationalize adding to it? Sure, there are certain things I "need" to buy new (shoes are a good example, due to my size issues) or just can't quite stomach not buying new (underclothing, etc.), but for 95% of what I wear and use most days, there is no good reason to buy new. Yes, buying new is easier, but so is not recycling, so is driving instead of walking, so are a million and one other things that I and people like me all over the world are doing that corrode the planet. Easier just isn't a good enough reason anymore.

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Update on commerce

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Well, I'm a week in, and my first bunch of auctions have ended. Results thus far have been semi-disappointing. It's doable, I can make money at it, but it's a lot of effort for a little bit of cash so far. However, I know at least ten times as much about what will sell and how to sell it than I did at this time last week, so I'm guessing my next bunch of auctions will do better. And even if the profit margin is smaller than I'd like, it seems pretty clear that I can consistently make SOME money at it. And in the credit card pay off race, every little bit helps.

Which brings me to my other update.

On February 22, I posted the following:

Total credit card debt: $8,093.16
Total student loan debt: $33,674.75
Total savings: $163.77
Checking account balance: $11.69

Right now, I'm here:

Total credit card debt: $6,130.13 (though $600 is Mark's and will be paid from him ASAP)
Total student loan debt: $33,517.92
Total savings: $100.00
Checking account balance: $200.24

The other change is that my raise went through, so my monthly take home has moved from about $2,868.97 to $2,969.04. So...progress, albeit not quite as much as I'd hoped.

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April Giving

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safeplacewalk.gifDue to my being a bit of a scheduling numbskull and double-booking myself for April 14, I am not going to be able to take part in this year's SafePlace Walk. However, I am still a huge admirer of SafePlace itself and of the walk, so that's where my April donation dollars are going.

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