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Category Archives: current events


With several candidates recently announcing their run for President in the 2016 election, I think it is a good time to discuss this issue.

It’s no secret that our elections have problems here in U.S.A.  First, there is the huge amount of money which corrupts the process.  Then, there is the challenge of getting voters and potential voters to pay attention to the process, not to mention goading the disenchanted and indifferent into taking more of an interest.  Also, third parties and independents are often entirely left out of the process.  Then, there is the potential for voter fraud and low voter turnout.

But what can we do to fix this?

I suggest doing the elections as a “Survivor-style” competition, with free call-in voting.  No negative campaign ads, no campaign contributions, no boring debates, no leaving out third parties and independents.

We can dump all the candidates in the middle of nowhere, and televise it 24/7 for free, while they all fight it out with each other for a few weeks.

“The first one of you to find the WMD hidden in one of these huts can have immunity for the next challenge.”

Viewership would increase, and so would voter turnout.. plus, it would just be fun to watch.

Of course, we run the risk of “the naked guy” winning, but that’s a chance I am willing to take.

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Most of us have a tendency to stereotype certain professions.  Doctors, lawyers, police, bankers, artists, teachers, firefighters, plumbers.  For many of us, these words conjure mental images beyond the basic job description.  Some of those mental images might vary from person to person, depending on experience.  If your interactions with police have been minimal or you had positive experiences with them, you might have a mental image of a kind, helpful person who is boldly protecting and serving the public.  If you had bad experiences with the police, your mental image of them might not be so flattering.

Having known many types of people from many different walks of life, I try to avoid labeling individuals according to profession (or any other superficial characteristic, but this is about profession).  Sure, sometimes it turns out that the shoe fits, but often it doesn’t.

Society also seems to choose to label as “unskilled”– and then look down on– a handful of professions.  Many conservative communities (like the one in which I was raised) consider stripping to be an unskilled profession fraught with fallen/wicked/unclean/uneducated temptresses who made terrible life choices– without ever realizing how many of the dancers are just paying their way through college.  And, most of their clientele would probably argue that they aren’t “unskilled”.

The recent fast food strike has brought one of my own biases to the surface, so now I am going to nip it in the bud.

When the demand for a $15 per hour wage was announced, like a lot of people, my initial knee-jerk reaction was to wonder why they deserve so much when others who went to college and are working hard are still not making that amount.  But this reaction is based on some incorrect assumptions.

First, it assumes fast food workers are uneducated and/or unskilled, which is incorrect to assume.  Perhaps most do not have college degrees, but it absolutely takes some skill to deal with the public in a high volume setting, handle the cash and inventory accurately and honestly, and prepare food without making anyone ill.

The next assumption is more insidious.  It is the assumption that if someone is less educated or less skilled, their labor is somehow of even less value than what it takes to earn a living.  For many, the rationale goes something like… “Since even *I* am not making that much money even after working so hard and going to college, *their* work must be worth even less. And *I* have all those student loans to pay off, after all!”– which not only assumes *they* aren’t working as hard and have fewer financial obligations, it also assumes *I* am being paid fairly, when *I* am probably underpaid too!

Should you pay more to your accountant who went to a reputable university, or to the high school kid who is failing everything except gym?  I suppose it depends on which job you want done.  If you need help moving heavy stuff, the kid is probably your best bet.  But don’t hire him to do your bookkeeping unless he can save you enough money to hire a lawyer later.  Whose work is worth more?  It depends what you need to move, but probably the accountant’s work, usually… partly because there are so few great accountants and so many high school kids flunking everything except gym.  So, yes, there is– and should be– some difference in pay, according to demands/needs and one’s ability to meet those needs.

Don’t worry, rich people!  I still think you’re great.  And I’d say that even if you weren’t the only ones in the current economy who can still afford my original paintings.

But how much is enough?  If the high school kid grows up to work in fast food instead of becoming a personal trainer, does he deserve to be kept in poverty by low wages, while the company executives are making record salaries?  If I buy a cheeseburger, how much of that money goes to the person who actually cooked it?  And, at that moment, which did I need more– someone who knows how to cook, or someone who does the bookkeeping?  Do I want the person handling my food to be happy and healthy because he is well-paid and can afford decent health care, or do I want him to be bitter and unhappy because he works a full week in a hot kitchen and still can’t afford even the basics?  Do low wages encourage people to try harder and achieve more, or do they prevent people from achieving dreams because low-income families are too caught up in the struggle for survival and by the seeming hopelessness of it?  Are all these high-paid executives necessary? Maybe the cook should just cut out the middle man and set up a grill in the back yard… Oh, those pesky regulations.  Ok, so we need some executives too, in order to manage all those mountains of paperwork, and navigate all those regulations.  And, of course they deserve to be reimbursed for educational expenses, plus some extra perks, just because they’re such nice people.  But, there seems to be a significant lack of fairness in the division of profits in some companies, and not just in fast food.

Home health workers are now being encouraged to join the fast food workers’ movement, too.  I do not personally know anyone who would argue that those men and women don’t deserve a raise for all they do.  I am eternally grateful for the compassionate and competent care given to my grandfather by his home care workers when he was ill.

Some fear that increased wages will mean higher prices, higher unemployment, and maybe a move to make it the minimum wage, which some fear would kill small businesses.  Historically, yes, there are some large companies which try to use pay increases as an excuse to raise prices.  Also, more people with more money to spend means higher demand, and higher demand means higher prices for some things.  And, stockholders’ demands for more and more money might cause some large corporations to consider layoffs in order to increase profits for those already at the top.  I’ve had some (minimal) concerns about all this too, and have seen it happen with some businesses after other wage increases.  But guess what?  Some large companies will do that anyway, regardless of wage increases.   The same arguments arise every time minimum wage is increased.  And, the dire predictions prove to be mostly wrong.

But, no, wage increases alone will not fix the oversized gap between the poorest and the wealthiest.

The working class and supporters must put a collective foot down.  Refuse to support companies which underpay employees while paying top executives annual salaries that are more than most people will see in a lifetime.  When companies do mass layoffs in order to better line the pockets of the highest paid, boycott them.  Instead, support the companies which share the fruits of labor with the labor, and support small businesses, too.

And, whatever you do, don’t ask why of the 3 professions in the title, strippers earn the highest income.  But, maybe it’s time to buy a thong and consider a career change.


Some readers have noticed it has been quite some time since my last post, and since the website was last updated.  While I’d like to say I was away on some exotic photo shoot or relaxing at an art retreat, the truth is I have been struggling with a severe bout of depression.

When my grandfather passed away a little over 2 years ago, I was able to repress the grief for some time, but then finally the realization came– he is gone.

As a small child, I sat on his lap during church services, drawing on the church bulletin.  He is one of the biggest reasons I eventually chose to study and create art, because those early memories are among the best I have.  Since his passing, most attempts to paint or draw have only reminded me of how much I miss him.  I was on the brink of throwing in the towel, tossing out the art supplies, burning whatever paintings remain, and closing the website, not because I do not want to continue this line of work, but simply because at times it just felt like too much to take on in the midst of depression.

However, my supporters, friends, and clients have been determined to drag me out of my mental muck, and for that I am thankful.  From the friend who reminded me that the portrait of his dog still means so much to him even after more than a decade, to the stranger who ordered some of my ornaments on Zazzle knowing her loved ones will have and cherish them even after she is gone (hopefully many, many years from now), to the customers who ordered lucky clovers to give a boost to their own friends– all of you have helped me to realize… it is not really about me.  It is about leaving the world in better condition than it was in when I arrived, and how my work makes others think and feel.  In other words…  It is about all of you!

So for now, I am putting away my self-pity to make room for more new art & photography, more new additions to the Zazzle store, more auction listings, more 4 leaf clovers, and eventually more “Nonprofit of the Month” posts.  And, the main website should be updated soon, so be sure to check out http://soulbearing.com for the latest art & photography releases and lucky clovers, and for links to order prints of my work from Zazzle.

And, because all of you allow and encourage me to keep doing what I do, you have my eternal gratitude.

Thank You.


The recent debate over a law requiring equal pay for women has touched a personal sore spot.

I recall years ago, when I began working as an administrative assistant for a large insurance company, I was paid about 10% less than the male I was replacing– and I had more administrative experience than he did!  But, at the time, I was young and naive, and it never occurred to me to ask for higher pay.

I was also charged about 20% more for my health coverage, purely because I am a woman, in spite of the fact that I had (and still have) no intention of having children. I actually argued with the inurance rep over this point.  The health insurance rep (also a woman) explained that it made no difference, because there was a chance that I might change my mind. When I asked hypothetically if they still charge more for women who were menopausal, she answered yes. I told her I hoped that someday she would realize how sexist the practice was. Then I paid the extra 20%, because what else could I do?

Women are not charged 20% less for everything for being women, so why should we be paid on average 20% less?

This should be important to men, too. These women are your wives, mothers, sisters, and daughters. If they are making equal pay, it is a benefit to the men in their lives too.  When women are making the same pay as men, imagine how much easier it will be to save for your children’s educations, pay your mortgages, or take longer vacations.

Moreover, women make up about half the world’s population, so equality for women is equality for every ethnicity and culture.

And, ladies.. it is time to be bold. If you do not ask, you do not receive. Employers trying to save a few bucks will pay any employee a little less if they can. Don’t be afraid to ask for more; you might be surprised how often you get it!!


After the t-shirts being allowed for over 2 months, zazzle.com has recently determined that the t-shirts bearing a photo of a sunflower along with the phrase “Who’s afraid of Ai Weiwei?” are a violation of his “right of publicity”.  The site now refuses to print the shirts and has removed the shirts from their marketplace.

It is puzzling and, no doubt, disappointing to those still wishing to order the shirts, since the design is dedicated to the protest of Ai’s detention.  Being a bit of a protestor himself, it is doubtful Ai would object very strongly to the image or message of the design.

So, is the “better safe than sorry” approach to censorship acceptable?  I don’t really have an answer.  Zazzle.com has been a good company so far and I’ve never had a similar experience.   What do you guys think?

At any rate, there is good news.  Soon, I will be obtaining a copy of the banned image and it will be posted for free download so Ai’s supporters can print their own tees (or posters!).

For those who think the situation will be resolved more quickly if we all just close our eyes and do nothing, Ai said himself that if we ignore the threat it grows stronger– so while I can’t know for certain, I think even he would disagree.

If you wish to try your luck and order other designs protesting Ai’s detention, they can be found at http://zazzle.com/free_ai_weiwei  Will the orders be fulfilled?  No idea.  Hopefully, the remaining designs will be recognized as a human rights issue, and not a publicity issue.  

If they refuse to print your order, don’t worry– they issue prompt refunds for orders that can’t or won’t be printed.  And, those designs will be offered elsewhere.


Tshirts, buttons, bumper stickers, and hats featuring the phrases “Free Ai Weiwei”, “Where is Ai Weiwei?”, “Love the Future”, and “Who’s afraid of Ai Weiwei” are available in the Free_Ai_Weiwei store on zazzle.com

10% of total sales will be donated to charity.

My personal fave is the design with the sunflower– partly because it reminds me of Ai’s sunflower seeds exhibit, and partly because the one prominent petal makes it almost look like the sunflower is giving the bird (something Ai is known to do).   Or maybe that last bit is just in my head.  Does anyone else see it??

The resemblance the petals bear to a flame is nice, too.

If it was possible, this stuff would all be free.  Unfortunately, I currently lack the funds to buy and distribute these by the truckload.

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