Dawn Pisturino's Blog

My Writing Journey

Steps Towards Direct Democracy

 

your-vote-your-voice

 

  • The first step is making people aware that the technology now exists to make Direct Democracy a reality.

  • The second step is helping people to overcome their fear of the technology and their fear of change itself.
  • The third step is confronting our “elected” officials and challenging their positions and votes on issues. Are they really representing the people?
  • The fourth step is demanding our constitutional right to change the voting process and to institute Direct Democracy. Just think of all the money we, as taxpayers, could save by eliminating elected officials! Just think of the progress we could make by eliminating the deadlock and corruption in Washington, D.C. and at the state and local levels!
  • REMEMBER: WE DO NOT NEED ELECTED OFFICIALS — THEY NEED US TO KEEP THEM IN POWER!

           Dawn Pisturino

          May 24, 1998

          Copyright 1998-2016 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

           Published on the Committee for Direct Democracy website and in the Committee  for Direct Democracy Information Packet 1998-2000.

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Reflections on My Visit to Cuba 2000

Havana Cuba

I did not know much about Cuba; in fact, I never really thought about it until I had an opportunity to go there as a U.S. Delegate in 2000. Prior to leaving, I did research into Fidel Castro, Che Guevara, and the Cuban Revolution — fascinating stuff!

I did not know, for example, that Che Guevara was a medical doctor who suffered from severe asthmatic attacks. Fidel Castro came from a land-owning family and studied to be a lawyer. Cuba had been marked by political upheaval for about 75 years prior to the Cuban Revolution. The final insult came with the Batista dictatorship, which was fully supported by the U.S. government and U.S. companies, who owned large amounts of land, industries, and other resources in Cuba.

Poverty was widespread among Cuban workers. The Batista government tortured and murdered huge numbers of Cuban citizens. A wide gap existed between rich and poor. Political elections were rigged to favor Batista and his cohorts.

Fidel Castro was a charismatic young man who became a major critic of the Batista government. He led a successful military campaign, along with Che Guevara and other guerilla fighters, which ultimately forced Batista and his supporters to flee the country.

With the Agrarian Reform Act, agricultural tracts were seized and divided up among the peasants who had worked the land and suffered great deprivations at the hands of large companies and land owners.

In retaliation, the U.S. government imposed an immediate economic blockade against Cuba. The blockade has been successfully kept in place for decades at the behest of Cuban-Americans living in the U.S., right-wing conservatives, and companies such as the Bacardi Rum Company.

Over 4,000 people attended the 5-day conference, representing more than 115 countries around the world.

The first two days were devoted to speeches by government officials who explained the blockade, how it was hurting the Cuban economy, and what steps were being taken to adapt to the continued sanctions.

The next two days involved participation in various committees and listening to speeches by delegates.

One afternoon, we were encouraged to visit various medical and educational facilities. I chose to tour the Latin American School of Medical Sciences. In the evening, we were treated to cultural events and a neighborhood block party.

On the last day, we participated in an outdoor rally attended by Fidel Castro. Speeches by delegates and performances by Cuban artists were featured. That evening, we attended a five-hour speech given in person by Fidel Castro.

He explained how loans by the IMF and the World Bank impose harsh conditions on Third World countries,which gives power over these countries to larger, prosperous countries like the United States. He adamantly reinforced that Cuba and the Cuban people would not bow down to these conditions. They would prefer to remain poor and continue to fight the blockade rather than give up their independence to a foreign power. Although the speech was long and tedious, quoting lots of statistics, the information he gave was very valuable.

We were told we could not leave Cuba the next day, so some of us participated in various tours. Some people drove out to the countryside to visit the Che Guevara Memorial and to investigate the agricultural industry. Others chose to visit a cigar factory. I went with some others to Old Havana to explore the Museum of the Revolution and the Floridito Bar, where Ernest Hemingway used to hang out. We also saw the beautiful old Bacardi Rum building, which is now used for other purposes.

We were never restricted from going anywhere or talking to anyone. The only limitation was language, since most Havanans do not speak English, and most delegates did not speak Spanish.

It was fascinating to be part of such a multi-cultural experience. There were many people from Latin America and Africa. Many delegates came from India and Bangladesh. Six hundred Americans participated in the event. My group donated a large supply of antibiotics, antifungals, and medical journals. Quite a large number of Canadians were present, as well as a few people from Australia and Great Britain. One delegate from Israel spoke about the atrocities being committed by his country against Palestine. About ten Palestinian refugees living in Lebanon represented Palestine and received great rounds of applause. Other delegates came from Italy, Germany, Spain, Norway, Russia, China, Korea, Japan, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Iran.

Delegates represented all adult ages and socioeconomic groups. There were laborers, students, ministers, teachers, doctors, nurses, and retired folks. Disabled people included a 91-year old gentleman, a blind man who brought his seeing-eye dog, a man bound to a wheelchair, and a young man who could only communicate through sign language.

We were all required to wear special badges and could not attend events without showing them. These badges also identified us to the general population as participants in the conference. People would stop us on the streets and thank us. Children would cheer us and clap their hands. We were always treated like VIPs.

Delegates visited the homes of local Cubans and were hosted for dinner and lodging. One American girl lived with a family for three days.

During the conference, delegates were provided with transistor radios and earphones which could be set to receive the English translation.

Transportation and lodging were provided by the Cuban government, but delegates were free to walk around Havana at any time of the day or night. Although there were scores of police, most of them only carried a night stick. They did not hassle delegates. Their main function was to provide security and control the flow of traffic.

 My delegation stayed at the beautifully-restored Copacabana Hotel, which was a famous luxury hotel and yacht club prior to the Cuban Revolution. It was also one of the hotels controlled by the Sicilian Mafia, which was kicked out of Cuba by Fidel Castro after the Revolution.

Local Cubans were very open about their poverty and devotion to Fidel Castro. In their minds, the Cuban Revolution is on-going. They are very proud of what they have accomplished under difficult conditions. They reiterated over and over again that they would defend Cuba to the death.

There was a great deal of hatred expressed among delegates and by Cubans themselves toward the U.S. government, and the presidential election of 2000 became a hot topic when the possibility of election fraud came up. We watched the news coverage daily on CNN.

The Cubans have created a very stable society based on solidarity and mutual cooperation. The basic unit is the family. Families are assigned to neighborhoods. Neighborhoods are assigned to a district. Each district boasts a health clinic, schools, senior center, and police force. A committee elected by the people oversees the district. Committee members ensure that children are vaccinated, seniors are cared for, and families receive adequate housing and food.

Food is rationed, with pregnant and nursing women, children, and senior citizens required to receive an adequate amount of calories everyday. There is a ratio of one doctor to 170 residents. In the schools, classroom size is limited to 10-20 students.

Education and healthcare are free. 85% of Cubans own their own home, and there is no property tax. Rents are kept very low. The prices on basic commodities are kept at 1960s prices. The average wages are ten to thirty American dollars per month, and there is no income tax.

Travel is limited by a shortage of oil and gasoline. Tourists from Canada and Germany are commonplace.

November 20, 2000

Dawn Pisturino, RN

Copyright 2000-2015 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

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FDR’s Four Freedoms

The Four Freedoms

(click to enlarge)

January 6, 1941

President Franklin Delano Roosevelt delivers a speech which is now remembered as The Four Freedoms Speech. His goal? To involve the United States in World War II.

The Four Freedoms

1. Freedom of speech, which is protected by the First Amendment in the U.S. Constitution, has been a fundamental right of all American citizens since the thirteen colonies broke away from British domination and established a new country: the United States of America.

2. Freedom of worship, which is also protected by the First Amendment, found its precedent in our Puritan forefathers, who left Europe for the New World in search of religious tolerance and liberty of conscience.

3. Freedom from want, which is the most controversial component of his speech, proposes that economic opportunity, employment, social security, and adequate healthcare are fundamental human rights. Although these conditions are not guaranteed by the Bill of Rights, the battle over what constitutes a basic human right rages on, seventy-three years later. Roosevelt proposed these concepts as an incentive to fight against Hitler’s aggression in Europe, arguing that all people across the world are entitled to these basic human needs. President Obama and members of the Democratic Party use these arguments as an excuse to give amnesty to millions of illegal aliens while ignoring the fundamental rights of American-born citizens. Republicans traditionally view the social safety net set up by FDR as government overreach and a burden on taxpayers. Right or wrong depends on personal opinion.

4. Freedom from fear, which is also not guaranteed by the Bill of Rights, embraces the idea that all people are entitled to live in peace, free from the threat of outside aggression. Expanding this concept further, people would be entitled to live in peace without the threat of violence from internal sources, such as criminals, drug lords, terrorists, police, the military, family members, employers, and psychotic individuals.

How well has the United States fulfilled Roosevelt’s dream? Is it even practical? Can we really, as one nation, bring peace, prosperity, and equality to the whole world? Or is this obligation dragging us down as a nation?

Where do you stand in the public debate?

Dawn Pisturino

November 14, 2014

Copyright 2014 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

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Using Photoshop to Create an Original Halloween Card

I decided to design my own Halloween card this year, get it printed up, and mail it out.

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I started out with this black and white photo of my daughter. I was intrigued by the highlights in her hair and thought I could do some sort of Bride of Frankenstein thing. I was having trouble with the hair, so I decided to try something else.

Green Ariel

I removed scars and blemishes and colorized the face and hair.

Then I merged the result with my own black background. And, voila!

WICKED ARIEL

A Wicked Halloween!

(click photos to enlarge)

The inside of the card reads: Have a Wicked Halloween! Steve & Dawn

I got the cards printed up on Snapfish. The price included printed envelopes.

HAVE A WICKED HALLOWEEN!

Copyright 2014 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

 

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Respect Your Freedom. Protect Your Rights.

betsy-ross-flag

Many Americans seem to forget that our forefathers, the great men who founded this country, were once Englishmen living under a despotic ruler.

These men knew what they were doing when they wrote the Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution. They had learned from personal experience how a greedy and self-serving government can rob citizens of their money and their rights.

The U.S. Constitution was written to protect American citizens from their own government. And yet, year after year, I see American citizens throwing away their freedom and their rights and allowing the federal government to control their lives.

Every time a hard-working American citizen accepts a federal income tax increase without protest, he is throwing away his right to adequately support himself and his family.

Every time an able-bodied American citizen accepts welfare unnecessarily from the federal government, he is throwing away the opportunity to improve his own life through gainful employment and education.

Every time an American citizen refuses to speak up, he is denying his own freedom of speech. Every time an American citizen refuses to vote, he is denying himself the power to choose.

Every time a law-abiding citizen turns in a gun, he is throwing away his legal right to protect himself and his family.

We need to remind ourselves of our own American heritage. There is nothing shameful in honoring our flag, honoring our history, and honoring our heritage of protest and freedom.

This is why our country was founded.

This is also why, after 200 years, we are still free. Our biggest enemy is not found in other countries. It is the ignorance and complacency of our own citizens.

Respect your freedom and protect your rights!

Dawn Pisturino

Published in The Kingman Daily Miner, February 13, 1994.

Copyright 1994-2014 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

 

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Mayflower Descendants

John HowlandThose of us descended from Leonard Spencer and Grace Hambleton are “Mayflower Descendants” through Grace’s mother, Alma Jane Stiles. Alma was a direct descendant of John Howland, a Mayflower passenger and the thirteenth signer of the Mayflower Compact.

During the voyage from England, John narrowly escaped death when he fell overboard during a terrible storm. He grabbed onto a rope that was floating in the water and was pulled to safety.

Just think — if John Howland had drowned, none of his descendants would be here today!

John came to the New World as an indentured servant to John Carver, the first governor of the Plymouth Colony. When Governor Carver died, John Howland became a freeman. He acquired lands, married, and served the colony as selectman, assistant and deputy governor, surveyor of highways, and as a member of the fur committee.  He is still remembered as a founder of Plymouth Colony.

Famous descendants of John Howland include Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt, George H.W. Bush, and George W. Bush; actors Alec Baldwin, Humphrey Bogart, and Christopher Lloyd; Governor Sarah Palin; writer Ralph Waldo Emerson; Mormon founder Joseph Smith; and Dr. Benjamin Spock — all our distant cousins.

HAVE A BLESSED AND PROSPEROUS THANKSGIVING!

Steve, Dawn, and Ariel Pisturino

Copyright 2013 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

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WRITERS: MIND YOUR MANNERS!

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A MESSAGE FROM JON BARD, MANAGING EDITOR OF CHILDREN’S BOOK INSIDER:

“If you spend a fair amount of time online, perhaps you’ve noticed it:

People are becoming ruder. And angrier. And more entitled.

Really, I’m simply amazed at some of what appears in my e-mail inbox. Folks with whom I’ve never corresponded are sending me demanding messages such as “SEND ME THE EBOOK!!!!” and “I WANT TO GET PUBLISHED. TELL ME WHAT TO DO!”

People (non-customers) send us long, detailed questions out of the blue and expect immediate responses. If they don’t get one, we often receive an abusive message as a follow up.

And then there’s the magic words that many people seem to be using as a justification for curt, nicety-free missives:
“Sent via my iPhone.”

Look, I’ve been doing this a long time, and I’ve got a pretty thick skin. So I raise this not to prevent my feelings from being hurt, but rather as a cautionary message about how *not* to sabotage your writing career.

As a 21st century author, your ability to communicate is paramount to your success. Editors, agents, bloggers, book reviewers, distributors, promotional partners and readers are just some of the people who are important to your career. For goodness sake, treat them with more respect than “Here’s my new book. Write a review!”.

Here then, are my tips to help you be seen as a courteous author worthy of consideration:

• “Dear”, “Thank you”, “Please” and “Sincerely/All the Best/Yours Truly” aren’t archaic leftovers from the distant past. They’re still as important as ever. Use them. Please.

• Composing a message from your phone or tablet is not an excuse for overly-direct curtness. If you have a business message to send, wait until you have the time to write it properly.

• If you’re contacting someone for the first time, make the effort to introduce yourself, and clearly state the purpose of your message.

• If someone doesn’t get right back to you, don’t fire off an angry e-mail accusing them of ignoring you. Perhaps the message got lost. Maybe they’re on vacation. Perhaps they’re ill. Calmly send another friendly message restating your request or comment.

• Remember that you’re dealing with human beings. In our case, every piece of e-mail is read either by me or by Laura. We don’t have a building full of underlings to take care of that for us. When you send us kind words (and many of you do — thank you!), it feels great. When you’re rude or angry, it stings. Treat me with respect — I think I’ve earned at least that.

The vast majority of you are nothing but gracious in your communications with us. That bodes well for your future success. Keep at it, and gently work to correct those who aren’t minding your manners.
For the few of you who may have let your etiquette slip, please take heed of the points I’ve laid out, and make a resolution to make the online world just a little bit more courteous.

That’s it — venting over! Onward….”

THANKS, JON!

Dawn Pisturino

 

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A great man who has inspired countless numbers of people around the world to work towards justice and humanity for all.

Author Thelma Cunningham

Martin Luther King’s Birthday

Americans honor the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. with a national holiday celebrated on the third Monday of each January.

The holiday was established to serve as a time for Americans to reflect on the principles of racial equality and nonviolent social change advocated by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

As a political organizer and advocate of nonviolent protest, King was pivotal in persuading his fellow Americans to end the legal segregation that prevailed throughout the South, and in gaining support for the civil rights legislation that established the legal framework for racial equality in the United States. Dr. King created a powerful and enduring legacy for all Americans by calling upon our Nation to ensure equal justice under law and uphold our founding ideals of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for all people.

Since his assassination in 1968, memorial services have marked his…

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TOO MANY BOOKS, TOO MUCH COMPETITION

stack-of-books

 

In an interview with the blog SIX QUESTIONS, John Raab, Publisher/CEO/Editor-in-Chief of Suspense Magazine, answered the following question:

“What can you truly expect to get out of your writing?”

“I feel that many authors have false expectations and think they are writing the next NY Times Bestseller. Here is the problem with that. Just because your book is not high on a list or selling that great, doesn’t mean you can’t write. Authors have to remember that anybody can now publish an EBook on Amazon or Barnes and Noble. What does that mean? That means that readers now have to navigate through thousands of more books to find one they like and readers only have a certain amount of money to spend. If you don’t have thousands of marketing dollars behind your work, then you have to spend triple the amount of time marketing to fans than it took you to write the book. Writing the book is the easy part, getting paid from it is the difficult part. Authors should expect to not retire off their work, but instead write for the love of it, because it is your passion. Writing and music are the same thing, you see a great band in a bar and say ‘They are better than anything I hear on the radio, why aren’t they signed?’ Writing is the same way.”

Is it true? Are there too many books on the market? Writers don’t just write for the love of writing, they write to make a living. But if thousands of self-proclaimed authors are flooding the market with books, how can someone achieve that goal?

For myself, I stopped buying books because I was tired of wasting my money on mediocre crap that was marketed as best-seller material. A slick cover and a wide audience do not a-book-worth-reading make. Extensive marketing will not salvage a poorly crafted commodity. Readers might buy from you once, but they won’t come back again.

The book market is, in fact, overwhelming. Every time I go into Barnes & Noble, the stacks of unread (and unbought) books makes me want to swoon.  Scanning through Amazon and Goodreads makes me feel the same way.

The books shout in my head: READ ME! READ ME!

It’s the same on Facebook. Thousands of self-proclaimed authors scream at me: BUY MY BOOK! BUY MY BOOK!

Millions of blogs and online publications float around in Internet outer space, vying for attention.

TV, movies, and video games also provide tough competition. And to top it off, a recent poll suggested that only 75% of the population ever reads a book (print or digital.)

So, what’s a writer (and reader) to do in an age of information overload?

1. Write the best damned book you can, using original ideas.

2. Don’t write derivative material because thousands of others are doing the same thing. We don’t need anymore books about vampires and wizards unless the slant is so original, and the characters so unforgettable, that the world just can’t live without them.

3. Define your goals realistically. If you are only writing out of love for the craft, then be content to do so. But if you dream of making a living as a writer, then treat it as a business.

Personally, I think the publishing industry bubble is going to burst, just like the dot.com bubble and the housing bubble. Too many books means too many choices and a flattened market. After all, people don’t have the time or the money to spend on reading all the books out there. And traditional publishing houses depend on blockbuster best-sellers to keep themselves afloat.

I will continue to write because I love to write. But don’t be fooled: I want to make a living off of my writing as much as any other writer. The question is: can I beat the competition?

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Writing short fiction has definitely improved my writing. I wholeheartedly agree with this advice.

The Author Chronicles

Now that I have more time to write (Toddler started preschool), I have been trying my hand at short stories. This is a new format for me, but I am enjoying learning the new skills for this format. Even as a novelist, I am finding many benefits to exploring short fiction:

1. Experimentation.

I can play around with things I would not be able to with a novel-length work. For example, if I want to dabble in a genre I usually don’t write, I can test it out quickly. If I have a new or existing character I want to explore more in-depth, I can concentrate on just them.

2. Practicing one particular writing technique at a time.

When dealing with a novel, it is often hard to go back and look at things such as dialogue, to make sure each character sounds different. Even when doing a dialogue pass…

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