i had another weird dream. i don’t remember that much of it, but i remember that when i drew shapes in the air, the shapes turned into solid, heavy silver wire, which i was then able to catch. i started out just drawing lines, commenting to people that i could do it, and then progressed to more complicated shapes. the wire was soft enough that i could bend it fairly easily, and i remember winding some of it around my fingers.


La Banda Gozona is performing at the Bilingual Orientation Center, 411 Boston St, Queen Anne Hill at 11:30 am on friday, at El Centro de la Raza, 2524 16th Av S., Beacon Hill at 1:00 pm on saturday, and at a wedding in federal way from 8:00 pm until midnight on saturday the 12th.

which reminds me… playing with banda gozona is fun, especially playing sousaphone: all of the other “tuba” players (there are three of us, clayton, gilberto and myself) have tubas, and i’m the only one with an actual sousaphone, which, apparently, is cause for great jealousy among the other tuba players (even though my sousaphone is held together with zip ties and hope). also the music is pretty easy, for the most part, and kind of fun to play… especially “Norma de la Guadlajara” which is actually a tuba solo with band accompaniment.

but the rehearsals recently have been with a whole pile of dancers (a lot of the music we play is specifically to dance to, and there are complex dances with multiple different parts, so we have to play the music a very specific way), and most of the dancers – and a significant number of band members as well – either don’t speak english at all, or speak english “as a second language”, which means that, with varying degrees, they don’t understand what they’re saying when they’re speaking english… and it makes it very difficult to understand what they are saying when i don’t speak spanish, or oaxacan, or mayan or whatever it is that they speak. it’s even more confusing to me because a lot of the dancers are children, and, like most children, they make a lot of unnecessary noise all the time… particularly when we’re trying to figure out what to play next, or where to start. if the kids were making noise in english, it would be a lot easier for me to not pay attention to them, but because they’re making noise in another language, and half of the band is making noise in the same, other language, it’s practically impossible for me to understand what’s going on from one moment to the next. it’s so frustrating that there have been a few times recently where i have felt like walking out of the rehearsal because i don’t understand what’s going on and nobody will explain it to me… and then the band starts playing somewhere, in some piece of music that i don’t know.

i feel particularly sensitive to all of this noise when i’m trying to understand what’s going on, but it is not possible for me to get across the fact that i can’t understand what they’re saying when they can’t understand what i’m saying, even when i can say it. the fact that i can’t understand what they’re saying somehow makes my “difficulties with language” (aphasia) even worse, which makes me even more frustrated, and i feel like walking out, which wouldn’t be very polite, if nothing else.

also, sunday the 6th is no pants day, and friday the 11th is wesak. yippie…


Bush vetoes troop withdrawal bill
1 May, 2007

WASHINGTON – President Bush vetoed legislation to pull U.S. troops out of Iraq Tuesday night in a historic showdown with Congress over whether the unpopular and costly war should end or escalate.

It was a day of high political drama, falling on the fourth anniversary of Bush’s “Mission Accomplished” speech declaring that major combat operations had ended in Iraq.

In only the second veto of his presidency, Bush rejected legislation pushed by Democratic leaders that would require the first U.S. combat troops to be withdrawn by Oct. 1 with a goal of a complete pullout six months later.

“This is a prescription for chaos and confusion and we must not impose it on our troops,” Bush said in a nationally broadcast statement from the White House. He said the bill would “mandate a rigid and artificial deadline” for troop pullouts, and “it makes no sense to tell the enemy when you plan to start withdrawing.”

Democrats accused Bush of ignoring Americans’ desire to stop the war, which has claimed the lives of more than 3,350 members of the military.

“The president wants a blank check,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., moments after Bush’s appearance. “The Congress is not going to give it to him.” She said lawmakers would work with him to find common ground but added that there was “great distance” between them on Iraq.

The legislation amounted to a rare rebuke of a wartime president and an assertion by Democrats that Congress must play a major role in Iraq and the extent of U.S. involvement.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Bush has an obligation to explain his plan for responsibly ending the war.

“If the president thinks by vetoing this bill, he’ll stop us from working to change the direction of the war in Iraq, he is mistaken,” Reid said.

Lacking the votes to override the president, Democrats have already signaled they intend to approve a replacement bill stripped of the troop withdrawal timetable. Determined to challenge Bush’s policy, they are turning their attention to setting goals for the Iraqi government to meet as it struggles to establish a more secure, democratic society.

The White House and congressional Republicans have also called for so-called benchmarks, but only if they don’t mandate a troop withdrawal or some other major change in war policy.

Bush will meet with congressional leaders — Democrats and Republicans alike — on Wednesday to discuss new legislation.

He said Democrats had made a political statement by passing anti-war legislation. “They’ve sent their message, and now it’s time to put politics behind us and support our troops with the funds,” the president said.

He said the need to act was urgent because without a war-funding bill, the armed forces will have to consider cutting back on buying or repairing equipment.

“Our troops and their families deserve better, and their elected leaders can do better,” Bush said.

“Whatever our differences, surely we can agree that our troops are worthy of this funding and that we have a responsibility to get it to them without further delay,” the president said.

Bush signed the veto with a pen given to him by Robert Derga, the father of Marine Corps Reserve Cpl. Dustin Derga, who was killed in Iraq on May 8, 2005. The elder Derga spoke with Bush two weeks ago at a meeting the president had with military families at the White House.

Derga asked Bush to promise to use the pen in his veto. On Tuesday, Derga contacted the White House to remind Bush to use the pen, and so he did. The 24-year-old Dustin Derga served with Lima Company, 3rd Battalion 25th Marines from Columbus, Ohio. The five-year Marine reservist and fire team leader was killed by an armor-piercing round in Anbar province.

Minutes after Bush vetoed the bill, an anti-war demonstrator stood outside the White House with a bullhorn: “How many more must die? How many more must die?”

Earlier at the Capitol, Democrats held an unusual signing ceremony of the $124.2 billion bill before sending it to the White House.

“The president has put our troops in the middle of a civil war,” said Reid. “Reality on the ground proves what we all know: A change of course is needed.”

For his part, Bush flew to Florida to meet with military commanders and said the Democratic proposal would turn Iraq into a “cauldron of chaos.” With sleeves rolled up, Bush shook hands with troops at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, the headquarters of U.S. Central Command, which oversees military operations in the Middle East, including Iraq. Then Bush returned to the White House to announce his veto just before network news shows.

Democratic leaders refused to discuss their approach to Wednesday’s meeting with Bush. Past meetings have not led to any compromises, although members said this time they hoped Bush would signal a willingness to negotiate.

“I don’t want to get into a negotiation with myself,” Reid said when asked about conversations with Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.

McConnell and other Republicans have said they would agree to provisions that lay out standards for the Iraqi government to meet in creating a more stable and democratic society.

“A number of Republicans think that some kind of benchmarks properly crafted would be helpful,” McConnell said. Bush and GOP allies have said they will oppose legislation that ties progress on such standards to a withdrawal of U.S. combat forces.

“House Republicans will oppose any bill that includes provisions that undermine our troops and their mission, whether it’s benchmarks for failure, arbitrary readiness standards or a timetable for American surrender,” said Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio.

Some Republicans say they would support tying goals for Iraqi self-defense and democracy to the more than $5 billion provided to Iraq in foreign aid. But such an idea hasn’t piqued the interest of Democrats.

When Bush announced a U.S. troop increase in January, he said Iraq’s government must crack down on both Shiites and Sunnis, equitably distribute oil wealth, refine its constitution and expand democratic participation. He attached no consequences if these benchmarks were not met.

Tuesday’s developments came exactly four years after Bush’s speech on the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln decorated with a huge “Mission Accomplished” banner. At the time, Bush’s approval rating was 63 percent, with the public’s disapproval at 34 percent.

Four years later, only 35 percent of the public approves of the job the president is doing, while 62 percent disapprove, according to an April 2-4 poll from AP-Ipsos.

Bush has used his veto power only once before, when he rejected a measure last summer to lift restrictions on federal money for embryonic stem cell research.