Friday, September 28, 2012

Not Smoked, especially younger kids

Dear Friends,
Here is RantWoman's take on cancelling / not cancelling the fall 2012 session of Pacific NW Quarterly Meeting. The blog entry below began life as an email to Friends in key roles about planning Quarterly Meeting. The venue where Quarterly Meeting occurs is in the middle of wildfire country. There are no actual fires for  miles and miles in any direction, but there is smoke. Conditions are very dry and at one point the weather forecast mentioned a chance of lightning.

Various elements of the ultimate decisionmaking process got anonymized because RantWoman's non-Quaker blog is read by some of her disaster preparedness groupies; other elements got added or expanded.

Then Wednesday, Friend Newly in Responsible Role texted RantWoman to see whether RantWoman wanted a ride to midweek Meeting for Worship. Friend Newly In... lives very near RantWoman and RantWoman has ridden several places with Friend Newly in Responsible Role. RantWoman deeply appreciates the ministry of car ride conversations.

Friend Newly in Responsible Role is a mom. She reported that she personally is even less in tune with news streams than RantWoman but that she had been concerned for a few days. RantWoman is aware of another mom whose suggestions about cancelling had not quite been heard over the week's emails before Quarterly Meeting. RantWoman said a few words of vague invitation and  Friend Newly  in Responsible Role immediately offered to share her thinking.
As a mom, she realized she was going to want either to leave son at home or to explain to him why they were travelling to a dangerous area. And besides a bunch of adults she loves including RantWoman and two other specific adult Friends with health problems should not go there either. At this point RantWoman bristled: RantWoman and the two other Friends named are adults able to make our own decisions, good or bad. We all chose to go and did not regret it. RantWoman did not say in the moment but thought about later RantMom's past as a farm girl. in some circumstances, the RantParents would have said, we KNOW it's dangerous so you WILL modify your behavior as follows. But RantMom is not the mom in charge here;
Friend Newly in Responsible role was clear that it was her responsibility to put her foot down. She also reported that afterward multiple parents thanked her for articulating what they were thinking but hesitating to speak about.


1. Is grateful to have gone to her scheduled meetings, including the shortest plenary Business Meeting she has ever seen.

2. Wonders whether recommendations to cancel could have come together 
by Wednesday instead of the middle of Friday afternoon.

3. Recognizes that apparently the smoke from all the distant fires was getting worse on Friday than previously.

4. Is holding our venue and the people connected with the planning in the Light as Friends think more about this.

5. Does not regret attending herself even though she came home with nostrils and hair and head full of smoke.
RantWoman requests that Friends hold us all in the Light, especially people who live full time in the zones most affected by wildfires.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Nicholas Kralev: America's Other Army

Dear Readers,

RantWoman recently attended the speech below. Ambassador Thwack was on duty and RantWoman was grateful to be offered and then guided to a seat in the front row, even more grateful when her neighbor turned out to be the honorary consul from Hungary and a founder of the local translation society.

RantWoman and the Honorary Consul shared some delightful but private "women of a certain age" chatter about the event. Here RantWoman is going to do the best she can to report the event as it transpired, without editorializing. Really!

This is a book about the US Foreign Service. Period.

RantWoman has put it on her Maybe Mean to Read / Would definitely pick it up if stranded somewhere with an ebook version list. RantWoman would definitely be interested in Quaker book digest conversations if anyone else gets it read.

RantWoman also promises a vignette from the intersection of Foreign Service history and a Dear Family Friend's guestrooms after comments about the following book and speech.

Nicholas Kralev: America's Other Army: the US Foreign Service and 21st Century diplomacy

UW Kane Hall on September 24

Nicholas Kralev, currently a journalist with the Washington Times, opened his address by requesting that those present observe a moment of silence for Chris Stevens, the other diplomat and two security contractors killed recently in Ben Gazi, Libya.

Kralev spoke of how he first became enthralled with US diplomacy as a 15-year-old in Bulgaria in 1989 during the heady period of the changes then sweeping Eastern Europe. The introduction noted that Kralev previously worked for the Financial Times. He has traveled with four different Secretaries of State and spoke to the other two living former Secretaries of State and 600 other Foreign Service Officers from around the world for his book. Kralev also noted in passing that currently the Foreign Service accepts people of many ages and includes people drawn from many professions. The US Foreign service is currently about 80% white and 40% female.

Kralev spoke of his intention to "humanize" diplomats by talking about the impact of frequent transfers on their lives, the lives of their spouses and families. Two thirds of the 13,000 career Foreign Service Officers are generalists who might be bringing the NY Philharmonic to Pyongyang one week and participating in the next round of nuclear negotiations the next week. Kralev noted that there is virtually no way to predict when a particular expertise might be needed and for how long.

Kralev spoke of diplomats being called on to do everything from selling UN resolutions related to the Gulf War to member governments on the UN security council to visiting US citizens detained on criminal charges in Panama to helping bury an older woman whose in Panama where her husband still lived because her other family members in the US did not want to have her body shipped back to the US. Other diplomats helped reform the child adoption system in Guatemala, served as advisors for provincial water projects in Iraq and cleaned up after public relations nightmares such as a drone attack killing 24 Pakistani soldiers. Kralev highlighted capacity to improvise and commented diplomacy as practiced by the Foreign Service is not really something that can be taught.

Kralev's commentary was notably silent on the consequences of Foreign Service personnel practices for US diplomacy. For example, Kralev only hints at questions: what does it mean for relations with other countries if US diplomats typically stay about 3 years, may or may not know the local language, and then get transferred to countries with very different political, linguistic and cultural environments?

What does it mean for US interests when personnel practices reward people who get as many kinds of experience as possible rather than concentrating on a few skill sets or areas of in-depth expertise?

What does it mean for accumulation of expertise when "up or out" personnel practices move knowledgable people along rather than drawing their expertise into training others?

Maybe "the world has changed since 9/11" is second nature to everyone in active diplomatic service but the unlettered likes of RantWoman would find it interesting to hear Kralev outline a few focus points about the topic. What exactly has changed?

Kralev's address did not even touch questions such as whether or not US diplomats are the best people to be advising Iraqi provincial officials about infrastructure projects.

RantWoman would be interested to read more somewhere of the concept of trannsformational diplomacy, good governance and the world as we wish it would be as opposed to traditional diplomacy, dealing with the world as it is.

RantWoman would also be interested to see Kralev address the relationship between the world of the Foreign Service and recognition across a wide spectrum of thought that the US can only be stable, secure, and prosperous if as much of the rest of the world as possible is also stable, secure, and prosperous. What does he mean? By which methods does he envision getting there? RanWoman realizes this is probably supposed to be self-evident and perhaps RantWoman is just unusually obtuse, but…

From the Audience Q&A:

What about the Iraqi children who died as a result of prewar sanctions? Kralev noted that Iraq had been in several wars and that he did not think there had been a lot of infrastructure to begin with; he ducked any further comments about the specific effects of US sanctions.

What about language training for diplomats? Kralev replied that most US diplomatic posts come with some kind of language requirement. Diplomats may move to new posts after 1-2 years but they are supposed to have time to study the language of each new post before going there: for really hard languages like Chinese or Japanese 2 years, for merely difficult languages like Russian, 1 year, and for many European languaages a mere six months. In other words, the allotted study period is brief to begin with, and when bodies are needed to fill positions, language requirements are often waived.

What about the Peace Corps? Kralev commented that there is very little overlap between the Foreign Service and the Peace Corps. Peace Corps people tend to work close to the population and to think generalist diplomats lack detail.

For the essay portion of the Foreign Service exam, is it better to write a well-crafted essay or to fit into the prevailing political winds in Washington DC? Kralev reported that the essays are graded by high school teachers in IA. The graders are told to look for well-crafted essays.

What about political appointees, both patronage ambassadorships and the upper level management in Washington DC who change with each new administration? Kralev did not comment about appointees in Washington DC. Kralev noted that the US is unique in the world in that about 1/3 of US ambassadors are political appointees. In most countries the figure is 1-2%. Kralev also commented that in some cases the political appointees turn out to be better qualified than people from the career Foreign Service.

I would think it would be frustrating to have to cope with all the things US diplomats cope with. How do they handle the frustration. Kralev reports that many diplomats come home with serious medical conditions. Kralev also particularly commented on the value of spouses as someone to talk to and pointed readers to closing comments RantWoman does not remember from a Foreign Service Office who is single.


Now the promised vignette from Foreign Service history: At some point in the 1980's or early 1990's the State Department got sued and the Foreign Service exam as it then existed got thrown out on gender discrimination grounds. This meant no new Foreign Service Offficers in the pipeline until a new test could be developed. Nevertheless the Foreign Service needed bodies so they...(drum roll please)...decided to start accepting gay applicants.

RantWoman learned of this quite by accident during one of her spells in a guest room at the home of Dear Family Friend, a favorite destination while visiting the nation's capital. RantWoman thinks this may have been the year she joined some grad school colleagues for a road trip to an academic conference. In RantWoman's more youthful days RantWoman tended to stay on church floors with the demonstration contingents she travelled with, but by graduate school, RantWoman gave herself permission to appreciate hot showers and real beds to sleep in. Plus RantWoman is named after Dear Family Friend's mother and our families go WAY back.

Dear Family Friend and his partner (they were of a generation when it was not obvious to use the word "husband) had a wonderful brownstone with several guest rooms; the brownstone was near a Metro station. At one visit, another guest room was occupied by a lovely young man from South Dakota, one of the very first gay officers accepted during this period.

Dear Family Friend reported that the young man's first opportunity to improvise had been being given an hour to tell his mother he was gay before investigators began the usual process of contacting her as part of the security clearance process. RantWoman remembers little of conversations with the new Foreign Service Officer himself; RantWoman has the impression that we both were busy during the day and happy enough for other conversations in the evening to take a break from our daytime activities.

RantWoman though is interested to read on the website mentioned above of one openly gay Foreign Service Officer interviewed for Kralev's book. The number of gay members of the Foreign Service is still small and RantWoman is in no position to comment further.

The lives of people who represent us probably matter a great deal sometimes. Again, the book is on RantWoman's Maybe Mean To Read list and RantWoman would be interested in talking more with people who actually get it read.


Now for something completely different, something perhaps to keep everyone who reads this guessing, something about counterpower:

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Evolution, Draftily

1. RantWoman presents the current version of our bulletin announcement offenders:


• For many years we have been openly holding, at once, the community and worship needs of survivors of sexual abuse and past sexual offenders. While we are a safer place for both children and adults because of the awareness and education that this ministry has produced we recognize that this ministry requires an ongoing dialog and engagement. If you have questions or concerns we encourage you to talk to a member of the Oversight Committee. For more information see yellow informational flyer on the information table outside of the office.

2. The yellow information flyer mentioned above is currently being revised.

Here is what came to RantWoman when she was invited to opine on a proposed draft: RantWoman quite liked some elements of the proposed draft but nevertheless the RantWoman inner blowtorch offered substantial suggested revision [and notes some passages she still wonders about]. Note: this is Light as it has arrived so far to RantWoman and RantWoman makes NO representation about what may emerge from further shared discernment.




For many years we have been openly holding, at once safety within our community and the community and worship needs of both survivors of sexual abuse and past sexual offenders.

The suffering caused by sexual abuse affects us all; we are all called to respond. We are committed to the protection of children and other vulnerable people, the spiritual nurture of survivors and their loved ones, and worship and other parts of community life including two known offenders.

Our community is working to provide a welcoming spiritual home for survivors of abuse as well as these offenders. We are a safer community for all because of the awareness and education which are part of this ministry, This ministry also calls us to ongoing dialog and engagement.


Protocols (i.e. guidelines to prevent harm and procedures for responding to harm) are in place. All adult volunteers and employees are screened before being permitted to participate in children’s programs and two adults are with the children at all times. We have had a number of presentations for both children and adults on safety issues, about talking openly about sexuality, and other topics. The Meeting aims to institutionalize on-going educational programs about prevention of sexual abuse. We also recognize that safety, a community of trust depends on all of us.


Many survivors of sexual abuse and people whose loved ones are survivors of sexual abuse find spiritual community worshipping among us. One important part of our ministry is shared language and ongoing practice talking in a spirit of love and truth about difficult topics. We listen as people express a variety of needs and perspectives. Listening to understand can be healing in itself for both the speaker and the hearer. We have also learned that only after listening is it respectful to explore ways we can walk alongside and minister with those who are suffering.

Survivors of sexual abuse working to support each other spiritually [does anyone besides RantWoman wonder about the expectations inherent in this categorization?] may meet in the Quaker House living room on 2nd and 4th Sundays following the rise of 11:00 meeting. To confirm the schedule, call [Friend willing to have her phone number listed for this purpose.]. She, and possibly others, can meet to hear concerns, share experience, or help discern what meeting actions or resources might address survivors' needs.

Examples of practices, in addition to worship and other parts of Meeting life, which we have found useful include worship sharing on specific themes, individual listening sessions, resource lists, and small behind the scenes changes in different Meeting practices; we invite people to ask if something would be particularly meaningful.


Our community is a spiritual home to two known offenders. Both have completed extensive psychological evaluations and treatment programs under the supervision of the Washington Department of Corrections. Both are highly motivated not to re-offend. Both have accountability and support committees which maintain a connection to the Oversight committee. They both came to us with long connections to Friends and they participate actively in our community.

If you have any questions or concerns about these ministries, we encourage you to contact any member of Oversight committee.


[suggested on reverse]

University Friends Meeting is committed to all the ministries outlined on the other side of this page. Part of that commitment is to recognize times when help from outside our community may be essential. If you or someone you know are in crisis and need immediate independent, trained, confidential, timely assistance you may also want to consider the following resources

The Crisis Clinic,  , 206-461-3222

The King County Sexual Assault Resource Center, , 1-888-99-VOICE

Washington Coalition Against Domestic Violence,  , 1-800-562-6025


Monday, September 24, 2012


Trigger alert: more consequences of warfare.

Verily the Lord or at least the US Army doth work in mysterious ways.

Recently RantWoman received word, via one of her blindness lists that one of America's wounded heroes, who has returned home after being blinded in some kind of warfare related explosion, has become the first blind person on active duty in the US Army. He has been placed as a recruiter on a college campus.

RantWoman congratulates the warrior on his new position. RantWoman thinks if the Army handle the concept of blind person on active duty, fully employed, an awful lot more civilian employers should be able to make it work too.

And RantWoman is quite unclear how to uphold this particular wounded warrior's career path. RantWoman is called to note: blindness is the disability most people fear the most. RantWoman is trying to imagine what other blandishments are going to need to be offered to overcome the average skeptic. "Oh wow! If I sign up I can come back like that???"

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Women, Women, Women

One of RantWoman's criteria for good choices in blog roll is a steady but manageable flow of articles RantWoman not only wants to read but also wants to store and refer back to.

To wit, an interview with Cynthia Enloe:

RantWoman appreciates this article for brilliantly capturing a particular form of male presumptiveness. RantWoman thinks she is SUPPOSED to feel grateful to have the behaviors discussed here less burdensome in her life than, for instance, feeling speechless when her English to Quakeres filter shuts down in the presence of persistent Male Monologue syndrome of the form " person in front of me is female. Therefore it is female person's duty to listen to me talk." Read the article for a broader view!

Thursday, September 13, 2012


RantWoman had one of her dragged to her feet, called to ministry, message miraculously trimmed into coherence moments one recent First Day.
The cauldron of themes seething over RantWoman's inner blowtorch precipitated a message that was coherent, hopefully shorn of excess detail. After the message RantWoman resumed her seat. Silence held for several minutes eventhough the children had already entered and RantWoman had a spell of feeling warm, on the threshold of something. The message was well-received enough to draw multiple comments besides a request from Call Me Up and I Will Figure It Out For You Friend to try to reconstruct.
Here, first, is the reconstruction:

Thank you so much for speaking up about the hearing issue. I will keep trying to do the best I can in Meeting for Worship. I usually also have to pray that only the most essential elements come out but that all the elements I need are there. I feel blessed about the latter in this case but I also feel blessed to be able to reconstruct and tweak here.

Here is a little more or less is the message that came to me Sunday.

Please feel free to share it with other people as led. It is part of a whole long chain of thinking about which I expect more may flow. What is here is a little more in places than I got said in Meeting for Worship, but enough landed that I heard from multiple people that something spoke to them related to different thresholds in their life.

[Previous message, Ojibway legend, wolves called love and fear who fight incessantly and love always triumphing over fear. Messages in this vein sometimes severely annoy RantWoman because they seem to imply there is never anything to be afraid of. ]

I think a lot of things can be explained with love and respect for physics. For example I am very glad Jana is with us today. Three years ago this week, Jana was badly injured when a car hit her while she was crossing a street near her home. The physics of car vs mere human are not favorable to the person but Jana had amazing medical care, a huge network of people who love and support her, and phenomenal resilience.
I am very glad Jana is with us today and doing so well. But I thank her also for sharing with me lingering effects of her accident like being twitchy about crossing streets. Because of my vision and other things I also am twitchy about crossing streets. There is a big piece about just respecting physics and being as careful as one can, but there are also hard things one just has to live with. If one has to have something difficult like that in one's life, it's good to have someone to share it with, and I am very grateful to Jana for talking about all the parts of her reality about crossing streets.

I am thinking about crossing streets today for another reason. It's the first week of school, and I think lots of people, not only schoolkids are crossing new thresholds this time of year.
When I started kindergarten, one of the things I had to do was to learn how to cross a busy street. It's about respecting physics, being careful, a good stoplight. Let us all offer a special blessing to people crossing new thresholds, maybe facing hard things for love and care and dealing with hard things.

Query: what thresholds full of fear and trepidation do I have to overcome every day? How do I know when I have made it where I need to be?

But wait! That was the message in Meeting for worship.Lately, RantWoman's inner blowtorch has also wandered toward complaints from some quarters, some people find it exhausting to be around RantWoman. Perhaps RantWoman is getting repetitive but Count your Blessings. Be glad you only have to visit. Be glad you have only your own problems.

Or, if you are feeling hardy enough for another ride at the RantWoman relativistic spiritual amusement park, consider blindness tourism with someone I know named G.

TRIGGER WARNING: frank discussion of blindness minutia; mention of facts of warfare!

G was a new blind customer at the Friendly Neighborhood Center for extreme Computing. RantWoman is not sure whether he came the first time on paratransit or whether RantWoman got him directions from the bus. Most other regulars at the Friendly Neighborhood Center cannot give directions over the phone that work for someone who is totally blind. RantWoman has been around enough such that it comes easily.
RantWoman talked with G for a good while and he asked for directions to the men's room. When he came back he asked RantWoman to help him explore the lobby at the Friendly Neighborhood Center. RantWoman could see from how G organized his instructions that he has excellent mobility skills, that is he travels easily with a white cane. He soon asked to go outside and RantWoman showed him routes between two bus stops and the Friendly Neighborhood Center and talked him toward a third more distant.
Here RantWoman had to stop. One stop would require G to cross a street at an intersection with 5 different streams of traffic on 4 traffic signals. Fully sighted people get headaches. Half the employees at the nearby Lighthouse for the Blind won't cross there except when a sighted staffperson meets a clump of crossers at the beginning or end of their various shifts. RantWoman STRONGLY implored G to get help from a professional. Translation: RantWoman does not feel she has either the background or the nerve to try to teach G herself and does not want to be responsible for him getting himself killed.

Lo and Behold: the next time G came to the Friendly Neighborhood Center....he had...crossed at that very street and done fine. SILLY RantWoman. G lost his sight in a mine explosion in Somalia. A wimpy little urban traffic tangle is NOTHING.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Invisible Illness Awareness Week

Just in time for Invisible Illness Awareness Week Sept.10-16, 2012

A note to normals from someone about Chronic illness. The Advices apply in many other situations:

Also see

Sunday, September 9, 2012

FCNL Foreign Policy Lobbyist Visits NW

FCNL Lobbyist and Iraq war veteran

to speak in Seattle and Lakewood

Hear what a peace activist, who is also a Washington, DC lobbyist for the Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL) and an Iraqi war veteran, has to say about real defense cuts and about ways to protect the health and well-being of veterans once they return home.

FCNL Foreign-Policy Lobbyist and Iraqi war veteran Matt Southworth will be in Seattle and Lakewood the week ofSeptember 10 to talk about opportunities for policy change in Congress this year and how to develop an effective lobbying strategy to influence your members of Congress. .

Tuesday, September 11, 7:00 pm- 9:00pm

University Temple United Methodist Church

1416 NE 43rd St. Seattle, WA 98105.

• Pizza and light refreshment available starting at 5:30 pm

• Parking available across the street at the University of Washington Bookstore. Parking vouchers will be available.

• Free & open to the public. For more info, contact Matt Southworth,

Thursday, September 13, 3:00 pm-5:00 pm
Coffee Strong
15109 Union Avenue Southwest
Lakewood, WA 98498.

Matt will lead a Lobbying Workshop and Strategy Session: Protecting Veterans and Cutting the Pentagon's Bloated Budget in the (not so) Lame Duck Session.

Both events are free and open to the public !

If you cannot attend either of these events, but would like to network with others in Washington on issues raised, please contact FCWPP at . The Friends Committee on Washington (State) Public Policy will be considering how its Economic Justice or Peace working groups might contribute to these ongoing efforts.

Please let us know if you are interested in participating in these actions by leaving a note at

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Crockery, Undercaffeinated

In the realm of Hospitality Committee equals Pastoral Care Plus Knives and Hot Liquids, RantWoman turns her Inner Blowtorch to the next iteration of signups to make coffee. RantWoman humbly does NOT apologize for tending to the fabric of her community through her particularly peculiar form of humble service.

Eye Roller Friend: "Here is an OPPORTUNITY to do the right thing and increase your self-esteem."

RantWoman: "If my self-esteem were any larger I would have trouble getting it out the door." Right now RantWoman is also pleading lame excuses like an arm in a cast. Sigh!

Alack. The need to solicit signups persists and RantWoman, aka big and Scary Legally Blind Lady is thinking of having a go at it:

RantWoman: "Eye Roller Friend here has tried positive motivation. If that does not work, I am here to scare you!"

--Big and Scary Legally Blind Lady approaching with the coffee signups clipboard: Kinda scary.

--Big, Scary Legally Blind -and Undercaffeinated--Lady playing cheerleader. "You can do it! Really You can!: Scarier. --What should really scare you is Big Scary Legally Blind Lady plowing around room behind coffee cart full of crockery and scalding liquids. So Hear the call of community! PLEASE sign up to make coffee and help keep Big Scary Legally Blind Lady away from too much crockery!

It could work. Really it could.