Monday, February 8, 2016

THE JUNK DRAWER.

Everyone admits to having a junk drawer. A place to store something of a temporary nature, or something you don't want to toss, but what good is it to keep? It ends up in the junk drawer. I have too many junk drawers.
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My daughter-in-law came for the weekend since "the guys" meaning my sons, and old high school friends have this big mega bash every year over super bowl weekend. They play poker, drink a lot of beer, golf on Sunday morning...well you get the picture. So Laurie and I poked around my junk drawers for stuff for a project she is working on. The picture was taken after we reduced the quantity of junk in the drawers by half.
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It was really nice because I cleaned out a large bag of crochet yarn that I'll never use.  I took out most of my button collection;  It filled three large cigar boxes. Ribbons and badges from Community Club events will hopefully find a home in the local museum. Much of it represented past volunteer activities and some travel items like the museum patches above. Whoever heard of such obscure museums as the National Skating Museum?  The Cartoon Art Museum. I've been to an Eye Glass museum, a Bait Museum, a Knife Museum, a Funeral Museum, Bead Museums...   On the road with Jim, I (we)  visited every museum that came to our attention, no matter the subject or size. I wonder sometimes,  how many I've visited?
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Among the buttons were whirley-gigs  I made when two young nieces and a nephew came to visit for a week one summer. I also taught them to play Hide The Button.
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My mother visited Pope John Paul II when he visited San Francisco so many years ago. I have her holy cards, relics and a purported piece of the crucifixion cross; a metal from every California Mission she visited and more. My intention was to make a collage with her things. I'm  inspired anew.
I couldn't hold in two hands the number of metal pins I saved with messages such as:  Our Owner's Gay, from Chatom Vineyards. Elect Jeffrey's for Sheriff; Warning: I go from 0 to Bitch in 3.5 seonds; USA Olympics, 2002; Chocolate Makes the World Go Round. TV4UBYU and so on. Useless.  Junk. For the Junk drawer.
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LaurIE and I enjoyed the process. I got my fix of "fur" for a couple of days. Koko sat on my lap for a bit while we watched three episodes of Home Fires on DVD. We cooked and ate well, too. Idiotically, I didn't take a picture of Laurie, just Koko and Bix.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

MANZANITA ARTS EMPORIUM

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Step into my parlor said the spider to the fly...I can't help it. It's what happens to me when I get my art fix.  I want to be part poet and part artist wannabe, all mixed up.  No flies here. Inside Manzanita Arts Emporium the bold work of Cate Culver greets you. Deep glorious colors. A small entrance draws you in to her powerful work.
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Then the next long room; great wall space filled to capacity. Here I view wood cuts done by John Trinkle.
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He made this table that retains the shape of the tree trunk, polished to enhance the natural grain.  Don't miss the bottom shelf. Gorgeous.

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I mentioned bold. This gallery is like something you'd see in San Francisco. Some hotelier will find Gary Rose's pieces perfect for a lobby. This installation takes up about 10 feet in length.
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Gary does smaller pieces suitable for the average home, too.  Again, the word powerful comes to mind.
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In the next room is Monika Rose, busily editing a 500 page book...
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...with her partner Joy Roberts. They are working on different chapters.
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The Arts Emporium is a co-op owned gallery and office. Another partner, Connie Strawbridge is researching something on the computer. This is Calaveras County? Local talent? I'm impressed. I kept moving from room to room.
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Giles Parrish does abstracts of women. Again, they are bold, engaging paintings.
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I have to admit a bias for his work since I own a couple of his pieces.
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Dimensional metal sculptures, catch the eye. Sizable pieces as well are from Wanda Macioszek and her husband Robert Santiford.
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I detect the difference in style, but who does pine cones and who does quail, I do not know. They are all good.
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Patty Payne horses are unique.
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If you love a paint pony, this rendition is quite literal.
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Another Cate Culver painting, but look at the copy cat quilt made by Linda Bass. A different kind of partnership, in art.
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Kevin Brady is also a well known area artist. This small rendition is the Frogs Last Supper.
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You will find beautiful art cards. Also local writer's books for sale.
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Ceramics by James Aaron and others.
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Another room in the building, is owned by a person I did not meet. There I spotted a Judy Caine Papais painting, an old friend whose work I know and admire. She has a rammed earth studio in the high country. Her work is well-known in the area, as is Monika Rose for her teaching writing, and publishing the work of local writers in prose, memoirs, and poetry. It has been her passion for, I'm guessing, 30 years. She is an amazing force for literary talent in this county. Connie Strawbridge came out of the Calaveras Arts Council Gallery and is now flying with a place on the street in Angels Camp,  Manzanita Arts Emporium.  She is an agent for Giles Parrish's work.
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I like that there is much to choose from.
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Under this display is an antique table for sale. We know that art and antiques are a splendid mix.
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I'm blown away by what this small group is offering and by the quality of local talent. Manzanita Emporium offers a series of lectures and speakers, one coming about Navy aircraft carriers with Bob Rogers and Judy Laws. Another on social media by Brett Bunge. And in honor of Valentines Day, Romantic Poetry by Suzanne Murphy. 

Check out their website at: http://manzapress.com/

Thursday, February 4, 2016

A CHANGE OF PLANS.

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Spending time at Sonora Community Hospital happens more often it seems to me. I went for a mammogram, and to pick up my MRI results for the Spine Institute. While there, I zipped in to visit Paul Moeller. He is determined to get out of rehab, he misses his cat and figures he can be driven to his rehab appointments. I kind of chuckle at the old clunky phone in his room. It may  be easier to use than "smarter" phones.
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I zapped into the hospital cafeteria, one of the best places to have lunch in town. The food is that good. At one time only vegetarian dishes were served. The veggie meat balls and meat dishes were practically indistinguishable from the real thing. Now they serve both.
DSC07680 (Copy)Where else might you have music with your cafeteria lunch? June Wilson, a senior volunteer, enjoys playing the piano/organ for diners during lunch time several days a week.
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Volunteers find their niche in mysterious ways.
When I returned home, the Spine Institute canceled my appointment for today, and moved it forward to Feb. 17th. I get impatient and want things to be done and over. I won't miss the long drive, 122 miles one way for me.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

GOOD NEWS AND BEER.

I'm headed once more to the Northern California Spine Institute and will be off-blog for awhile. But, before I go, I've always known that good news is invigorating and puts one in a happier frame of mind. So, double good news I read, is that beer is good for me. It actually strengthens bones. The barley and hops are a good source of the mineral silicon. (Never heard of it.) The type of silicon in beer is orthosilicic acid, which is an easy way for bones to absorb it. Yay!  Drink more beer. Well, not too much. For a woman, anyway, maybe one a day if I could actually get that much down. Maybe I'll turn into a fatty.

I saw this funny bit of doggerel on-line and couldn't resist putting out for laughs.
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The Dr. Seuss mimic is humorous, but I find his gold plated seat belts in his private plane pretty off-putting. Surely there are better uses for wealth than that.

In FDR's day, the president was limited to transportation that cost no more than $750. I wonder how a new president would deal with a limit on his transportation funds?
Ciao.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

COMING TO GRIPS WITH GRIEF.

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We all lose loved ones and we know it is hard to bear.  My friend Sharon lost her husband, mother and sister in a period of six weeks. She meets with a grieving group. She has many friends in her church and several nearby family members. Those connections play a huge part in healing. Some people have more difficulty than others and have fits of despair. I try to keep her laughing.

We went to what she heard was a good movie, thinking funny and full of laughter. It was a good movie, full of dysfunctional family, struggle for achievements and in the end a success story. The name of the movie was Joy, about a woman inventor. Empowering in its way, but funny  it was not. Still, stepping out, enjoying a burrito bowl afterwards at Firewood in Murphys, certainly entertained both of us enough to decide we should do it more often. I've promised myself.  Ciao

Saturday, January 30, 2016

STUDIO NEGOTIATIONS

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My friend, Paul Moeller is in a physical therapy unit in Sonora after a fall that broke his femur at the hip. He is 88 years old. I met him in 1980 when he was putting together a calendar of local activities and events to promote interest in the county. He did this as a volunteer and he came to visit my writer's workshop. I had a batch of kittens at the time, and he took one of them home for his wife.

In 1982, he asked for volunteers to videotape events in the county and I answered the call. I later joked, that once he got his grip on you, there was no escape. Hardworking, indomitable, always a positive thinker, results oriented...it is to his vision and credit, a small rural county has a Public Access Studio while large cities like Stockton and Modesto do not.
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The Paul Moeller Studio was built by all we volunteers on an undeveloped lot owned by the Calaveras County Water District.  The CCWD Board granted permission for the studio out of respect for Moeller's  dedication and hard work. He taped the North Fork dam, a federal project with CCWD as one of the integral water interests involved. The video taping continued for over a year during that project.

The County Board of Supervisors named the Studio after Moeller years later as a thankful honorarium. He has so many visitors, people at the rehabilitation center, ask,"Is he famous?"  We laugh and say, "yes."
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Yesterday, I met with Ed Lark, the studio manager and Robert Creamer, an engineer from CCWD. Our volunteer group is negotiating to buy the land under the studio which involves separating the "back lot" from the rest of CCWD property. They want to sell their old office buildings. They've moved to new quarters but our interests are tied together.
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It involves, relocating water lines, surveying and conveying a new lot, access to the property that doesn't go through the front part of their lot and so on.  Negotiations have been ongoing  since 2005. There are three volunteers left. None of us do programming anymore. Government works slowly. I rarely visit the studio for any length of time, but yesterday, I wanted to tromp the property and see for myself what the engineer had in mind.
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The engineer is very knowledgeable and accommodating and I got an education in planning. While interesting to me, probably boring to anyone else. But, the way the studio was built is an  unconventional story.

We had no funds so we charged $60 to put a program on channel. That money came from local businesses. There was no advertising, but the sponsors got credit for supporting each program. We operated that way for about ten years.

Moeller and a  supportive business man, Mearl Lucken, talked the bank into giving us a loan to build our studio.  The plan was for the Bret Harte High School woodshop class to build the studio labor free, for their education. When the foundation was done, school was over, the kids disappeared and Moeller decided we had to have a new plan.

The economy was in a slump. Enter local contractor Gary Hensley from Valley Springs. He had very little work. He quizzed Moeller about how much money he made from CCTV. When he learned that Moeller and all 230 volunteers, received nary a penny, he agreed to build the studio. His crew of five came early each morning, and worked for half a day. Volunteers handed up boards as the studio rose.
They made the workers lunch. It was a jolly time.
The inside, sheet rock, plumbing and air conditioning and so on, was done by contractors who worked for reduced prices to support our non-profit. The complicated electrical was done by Moeller himself.   The rest, as they say, is history. An amazing community effort.   What keeps me involved is respect for Moeller, and knowing that he accomplished all the above by dint of his personality and at the same time, he did other volunteer work in the county as well. Indefatigable.

Friday, January 29, 2016

QUALITY FAST FOOD.

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Restaurants really have to be good to make it. Sidewinders, in Angels Camp, just got new owners. I had to make a bunch of copies and I had errands ahead of me in town and hunger drove me to a quick lunch.
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I ordered the grilled chicken sandwich, believing it would be served on a cheap hamburger bun from the waitresses description. To my surprise, a quality roll, a tender, tangy grilled chicken breast with crisp condiments. A condiment bar allows you to add whatever. Very tasty. Sides are by choice, I could have chosen coleslaw, beans, or other items rather than cottage cheese and fruit.
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A rarity for fast food, fresh flowers on every table.
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Angels Camp has a couple of these old buildings with stone walls.
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The stone is not only beautiful, but cool in hot summers. Sidewinders has a basement and plenty of room and charm. Though you order from the counter, they bring your food to you and the owner, Stacy Piersons was attentive and service oriented, checking to see if all was good. Really nice. It was fast, good and comfortable. Just what I needed.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

WHAT CONSTITUTES FRAUD?

Many of you, me too, get emails about scams.  Is a scammer committing fraud? I'm learning a hard lesson because I've been duped. There is surprisingly little help for my situation, though fraud is definitely at work here. To me, most scammers are so obvious, I'd never fall victim to their tricks.

Here is what happened to me.
While on my email, a side bar had an ad for a wrinkle cream, recommended by Dr. Oz, a famous television personality. I don't watch his show, but I know of him. His picture was on the video ad showing the testimonials and visible changes from users that showed quite credible results. Trial order, free, just pay shipping and handling of $8.99. I decide to try it knowing that shipping and handling cover the cost of the cream. Legitimate companies do this because they believe in their product and figure if you like it you will buy it again.

I fill out the order form and enter my credit card info and instantly a new screen pops up and reads people who buy our skin cream also like our eye cream. Do you want to try it? I check the NO button and I'm not even sure it registered before the screen disappears and I'm left with nothing. No tracking number, no confirmation that I bought anything. Nor the name of the company. Gone. I go back to look for the ad, and can't find it. I think, oh well, some glitch, I'll probably not get anything.
Both creams arrive and I decide to pay for the eye cream and not worry about it since I don't know the name of the company to send it back to. The creams are each under an ounce and are made by Aurora, not the company I ordered from.
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I've had eye cream, that came in a squat jar and, without reading the labels, I used the spray bottle, as face cream instead of eye cream.  It peeled the skin off my face, like any acid peel. My God, had I used it on my eyes....I'd be in a serious lawsuit. My skin product of choice is Thymes Lavendar skin lotion for my face.  It is a wonderful product. I can no longer get it locally which is why I decided to try this online cream.
Then, I get my Mastercard bill.
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Never in  my life would I pay $89.71 cents for less than an ounce of skin cream. Thymes is about $20 for 8.75 ounces. I use Aloe Vera Crystal Clear Gel at night, $13 for 20 ounces. It is a healing lotion and makes my skin feel like silk. I buy it in Oregon. At one time I could buy it at Longs Drug store. I'm sure I could find it in California if I looked hard enough.
I have prepaid Legal Shield. My attorney explains the company is guilty of fraud for using Dr. Oz's name. That is HIS issue, not mine. They will send a collection letter to them on my behalf.
Barclay Master Card resolution team says, once I agreed to the purchase and gave them my credit card number, it is my responsibility to pay, but they will try to get them to reverse the charges.  Not very promising.
I called the number from my bill and they refuse to give me the name of the company that is listed as THM and THA.  When I looked up THM and THA, I got the name of the company Excipial, but it is a dead end. The Customer Service rep did give me an address in Santa Ana. I spent over two hours on the phone while Sallie argued with me, offering me 15% off, then 35% off, then 50% off then 100% off. They said they'd send a confirmation number for the 100% money back. It didn't show up. They basically waited until I got tired.

The bank knows about this outfit and said, what you are required to do is click on their conditions and read that you've agreed to receive a product every month from them and you pay for it in advance unless you tell them not to. That is the $89.77.  And, they informed me that Dr. Oz repeatedly states he does not recommend any products. I had no chance to tell them anything or read their conditions online. I wish someone had warned me, so I'm warning you.
Even though I never had a chance to press that button, the burden of proof is on me. Fraud is difficult to prove without a witness or some paper proof.

I went on-line and found CFTC SmartCheck. It is a site worth checking when you don't know exactly who you are dealing with. I believe it is a free service.
http://smartcheck.cftc.gov/?gclid=CLKe6snczMoCFQdafgod7aEABw

And, I will report them to the California State Attorney General since they operate out of Santa Ana, California.  And, I'm going to look into Elder Financial Abuse, and see what they can do. After all, I'm  senior and I've been taken advantage of. You can bet I'm going to cancel my Mastercard from Barclay. I'm going to ask them why they don't print out known scams to their customers. They knew all about it and told me that Dr. Oz does not recommend products. Color me mad but wiser now.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

APOLITICAL APHORISMS

As requests for money increase in fury, and the political scene explodes before our eyes, I thought these Apolitical aphorisms would be a bit of fun. Especially fun for me since I discovered yesterday, I've been the victim of on-line fraud. More on that as I sort through several critical projects. The aphorisms were sent to me in an email and have been around for a longtime. Hope you enjoy them.

If God wanted us to vote, he would have given us candidates.
~Jay Leno~
 The problem with political jokes is they get elected.
~Henry Cate, VII~
 We hang the petty thieves and appoint the great ones to public office.
~Aesop~
 If we got one-tenth of what was promised to us in these Electionspeeches, there wouldn't be any inducement to go to heaven.
~Will Rogers~ 
 Politicians are the same all over. They promise to build a bridge even where there is no river.
~Nikita Khrushchev~
When I was a boy I was told that anybody could become Prime Minister or Premier; I'm beginning to believe it.
~Clarence Darrow~
Why pay money to have your family tree traced; go into politics and your opponents will do it for you.
~Author unknown~
Politicians are people who, when they see light at the end of the tunnel, go out and buy some more tunnel.
~John Quinton~
 Politics is the gentle art of getting votes from the poor and campaign funds from the rich, by promising to protect each from the other.
~Oscar Ameringer~
 I offer my opponents a bargain: if they will stop telling lies about us, I will stop telling the truth about them.
~Adlai Stevenson, campaign speech, 1952~
 A politician is a fellow who will lay down your life for his country.
~ Tex Guinan~
 I have come to the conclusion that politics is too serious a matter to be left to the politicians.
~Charles de Gaulle~
 Instead of giving a politician the keys to the city, it might be better to change the locks.
~Doug Larson~
 There ought to be one day -- just one -- when there is open season on senators.
~Will Rogers~

Monday, January 25, 2016

MEET AGITATOR JIM HIGHTOWER.

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Jim Hightower writes the Hightower Lowdown, a national newsletter that exposes injustice in America, only he calls it exposing bushwackers, bullshitters, gooberheads, plasticized morons, moon howling...well, the adjectives, some invented by him, are numerous and humorous. He says he is an agitator..."the center post of the washing machine that gets out all the dirt." And, right now, he doesn't like the hucksters running a Democracy where 4 people, all of them hedge fund managers, each earned 10 Billion dollars last year, where 108 Kindergarten teachers split 1 million. The hedge fund managers pay taxes at a rate of 15% and the teachers pay at a rate of 35%. Democracy works best from the bottom up and includes everybody. That's you and me folks. Its revolution time for people tired of being the fire hydrants for all of those top dogs. And, the chorus sang, Hallelujah.

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They did, but it wasn't quite in that order. First, the Mother Lode Martin Luther King Jr. Chapter, active in our area for 23 years, drew over 500 people to hear Hightower speak. Amazing because this is a very white, rural community.

The program began with Martin Luther King Jr.'s last speech on a movie screen. I had forgotten what a powerful and passionate speaker he was. It was an emotional moment to turn back the pages of time and remember, the women who died in a baptist church, Rosa Parks refusing to move to the back of the bus, little girls being escorted to all white schools by the National Guard in the fight for equal rights for black Americans;  a fight that is on going to this day, 48 years after his death.  Hightower reminded us that Katie Stanton, and the jailed and punished suffragettes didn't get the right to vote that they fought for either, but WE got it because of them.

And, that my friends is his point. Money now flows upward and the rich have so much money they can air condition hell while the poor and middle class struggles to make ends meet.

"We don't want charity, we want economic justice. And Congress, the House and the President is stealing from us with a fountain pen." He pointed to the current NAFTA agreement where 500 corporations and that included the Koch Brothers, met in secret, and hammered out an agreement and stuffed it down our throats without one member of a Union or anyone from the middle class and small business sitting at the table.

Hightower believes that people like Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, who don't accept money from the big super pacs can overcome the moneyed elites who have corrupted our politics and rigged our economy to squeeze the life out of the middle class.

Bernie's average donation is $23. Hightower says, you can't buy a presidency with $23. His campaign is about We The People. Hightower convinced me that, with Bernie, its time to rock the boat.

No one addresses him as Senator Sanders, he is just Bernie, and one of the poorest Senators in the pack. He hasn't parlayed his position to great wealth like most national office holders have.
He came from a low-income working class family in Brooklyn. He first worked as a carpenter, then film maker, writer and agitator. An agitator in college during the 60's, he moved to Vermont and began exposing Burlington money boys who ran the town for their own fun and profit. Then he stunned everyone by winning an election for Mayor in Burlington. Bernie has never abandoned his working class roots. I've changed my position to clearly stand with the candidate who says: "I can't do this, but WE can."
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The program ended with everyone singing the song:  We Shall Overcome. Hightower was available to talk to people at a reception after the program.
wecanpetition.moveon.org.