Monday, July 27, 2015

NRU California Sights

Still in my terse phase:

A long and rambling piece on Ojai but the picture are nice!

Article with an interview about the project Blaxicans of LA.

East and west (coasts) meet, sort of, over bagels...

On "sanctuary" and making cities into immigration officials...

South LA speaking directly to the Pope?!

A Ralph's becomes a Ranch 99, and the white people feel attacked ... I would be excited! I love me some Ranch 99!! 

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Poetry Thursday

At the centre of the lake is fire. 
Radical change.
In the same way, 

the noble one calculates 
the heavenly signs and 
clarifies the seasons.

- I Ching

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

NRU mish mash

My mind is swiss cheese and thoughts and words fall through the little holes at will.  That is my current excuse for being so behind in any and all blog posts --even the News Round Up.

There are a million tabs open in my browser with articles to post, but ...

So, here they are with very little commentary because it has taken all my concentration to get this much out ...

I want to read this book.  I wonder, though, who gets the residual ... should I try to buy it used?

So much of the recent crazy news stories have got to be so sad that there is no longer BUMP BUMP, ripped from the headlines -- now we will have to wait for the movie.  Though in the L&O episode, the lawyer was going to have be a Princeton grad because someone over there in that production company sure had a thing about Ptn crazies.

To continue with the crazy pants ... I give you Texas.

If you want the updates on Donald Trump and his shenanigans, you will have to tune in to Jon Stewart -- yes, he is finally back from vacation!

And some almost real news, an interesting story about a woman working on Hilary's campaign...

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Poetry Thursday

The Red Wheelbarrow
-William Carlos Williams

so much depends
upon

a red wheel
barrow

glazed with rain
water

beside the white
chickens.

I found this article - amused by its title, I decided to read it.  I had never read this poem though I have heard of its author.  I loved the piece, especially following the detective work of the professor and town historian.  

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

wow...

If it is not too late where you live, get out there and see this movie:

I cannot say enough good things about this movie, but I don't want to give anything away.

For anyone who was ever an awkward teenager, or experienced loss, or had cause to regret, you will find something in Me Earl and the Dying Girl.

The actors are so natural, I swear they were not acting.  The writing is priceless.  It is hilarious and moving and fun and tragic and deep and real and hilarious!

Monday, July 13, 2015

NRU

Lovely piece about this author's meeting with Harper Lee.

The world is atwitter in anticipation of Lee's novel, to be released this week.  I read an early review, but it felt more like a comparison of Lee's two novels rather than a review of this latest one.  I wondered many times if the reviewer had actually read the novel, or if he/she (didn't look to see who wrote it) had promised not to reveal too much --- most of the quotes seemed to be from To Kill a Mockingbird not Go Set a Watchman.

This piece on the "racism" of the older Atticus Finch was somewhat more interesting on the nuances possible if you could get over your nostalgia for the Mockingbird Atticus.  Of course, the racist constructs we live within are undeniable -- and left unquestioned bloom in our souls even though we may not want to admit it.  As a nation, we carry racism in our social DNA, whether we like it or not.  Through privilege, again whether we acknowledge its existence or not, we are complicit in that societal racism.  We have created so many explanations for our attitudes that promote discrimination that we have a hard time even admitting to the existence of racism -- until it explodes in our faces.  What it made me think more about what it means to age than what it means to be racist. 

Also, that article brought home much of what I have been living with my parents, especially my dad, in their 80s.  The narrowing, the hardening, the anger and grief caused by the trials of aging -- these realities affect, or maybe even change, the ones we love, have known and respected all of our lives, into scared beings who exhibit these challenges through narrow-minded and often prejudiced viewpoints.  These opinions, in my case, are ones I never heard growing up ... and I look at this man, my father, and wonder how he got here -- I have to remind myself that it is mostly fear and helplessness and fear of helplessness that drive his brain right now.  It seems, then, completely appropriate to me that the older daughter's view of her father would be radically different from that of the young daughter in Go Set a Watchman.  Both father and daughter were different people.  And, as a metaphor for race relations in the South both also work -- the closer we get to true integration the more fear rears its ugly head.  Fear, real or perceived, drives our interactions much more than we are willing to admit to ourselves or others.  I haven't decided if I will read the book -- I am sure, though, that it will not change my opinion of To Kill a Mockingbird or its author.

Dementia -- or the aging of our brains -- can take different turns, too, and this article is a sort of* lighter look at that other turn.  (*sort of: I dislike how often we soften every thing we say with SORT OF, but in this case, I meant it not just out of habit).  The article reminds us that the best way to deal with this loss in its embodiment (that is the loved one who is losing his/her memory) is to actually interact with the person in front of us, and not our memory of the person who used to be there.  Of course, this author's experience of dealing with a softer personality is different from dealing with the fearful, narrowed, seemingly prejudiced or racist personality.  The example is still instructive.

I would like to say that I thoroughly enjoyed this article because the topic, twins switched at birth and raised as fraternal instead of identical twins meet up, but it was, again, too long, and I skipped over some parts to get to the story of the brothers... but I did read it to the end.

This is a heartbreaking story about an adopted person and his mother searching for, and finding, each other.  It is not too long and though it brings in the larger issues around this personal story, it does not meander or lose focus - and thus it does not bore the reader.  BRAVO!

Thursday, July 09, 2015

Poetry Thursday!

A callarse 
Pablo Neruda 
Ahora contaremos doce
y nos quedamos todos quietos.

Por una vez sobre la tierra
no hablemos en ningún idioma,
por un segundo detengámonos,
no movamos tanto los brazos.

Seria un minuto fragante,
sin prisa, sin locomotoras,
todos estaríamos juntos
en una inquietud instantánea.

Los pescadores del mar frío
no harían dañó a las ballenas
y el trabajador de la sal
miraría sus manos rotas.

Los que preparan guerras verdes,
guerras de gas, guerras de fuego,
victorias sin sobrevivientes,
se pondrían un traje puro
y andarían con sus hermanos
por la sombra, sin hacer nada.

No se confunda lo que quiero
con la inacción definitiva:
la vida es solo lo que se hace,
no quiero nada con la muerte.

Si no pudimos ser unánimes
moviendo tanto nuestras vidas,
tal vez no hacer nada una vez,
tal vez un gran silencio pueda
interrumpir esta tristeza,
este no entendernos jamás
y amenazarnos con la muerte,
tal vez la tierra nos enseñé
cuando todo parece muerto
y luego todo estaba vivo.

Ahora contare hasta doce
y tu te callas y me voy.

 en cancion

translation follows

Keeping Quiet / A callarse

-By Pablo Neruda
-English translation by Stephen Mitchell

Now we will all count to twelve
and we will all keep still.

This one time upon the earth,
let’s not speak any language,
let’s stop for one second,
and not move our arms so much.

It would be a delicious moment,
without hurry, without locomotives,
all of us would be together
in a sudden uneasiness.

The fisherman in the cold sea
would do no harm to the whales
and the peasant gathering salt
would look at his torn hands.

Those who prepare green wars,
wars of gas, wars of fire,
victories without survivors,
would put on clean clothing
and would walk alongside their brothers
in the shade, without doing a thing.

What I want shouldn’t be confused
with final inactivity:
life alone is what matters,
I want nothing to do with death.

If we weren’t unanimous
about keeping our lives so much in motion,
if we could perhaps do nothing for once,
perhaps a great silence would interrupt this sadness,
this never understanding ourselves
and threatening ourselves with death,
perhaps the earth is teaching us
when everything seems to be dead
and everything is alive.

Now I will count to twelve
and you keep quiet and I’ll go.

Monday, July 06, 2015

NRU-updated

I don't think I ever heard of this man before, and I am sorry to only know of him upon his death.  I hope his 106 years ended peacefully and that he was able to enjoy life knowing he had given that gift to so many. May he rest in peace.

Add this story to the pile of those waiting for situations to be made right.  I hope she gets some measure of justice however delayed.

The New York Times hosted a discussion about race with white folks.  Here is the transcript... there is a video, but I don't watch those because they make my computer blow up.  And, I like to read the news unless it's Jon Stewart.

It is like the news lately is begging for a movie -- girl on girl violence sells, but this story is a little more complicated than that -- it is, as someone in the article suggests, Lord of the Flies, but I would add, meets The Bling Ring meets I don't know what ... spoiled kids, kids sent away from home to school, too much money, too little supervision and too much social media ... they are lucky no one is dead.  

The NYTimes is getting in on the love column ... and this one made me smile.

I am planning to go see this movie tomorrow ... I have heard some interesting commentary about it, looking forward to seeing it for myself.

Too long, but keeps your attention, til about the middle when it starts to feel toooo loooong... story of a person who doesn't really drive, and lives in NY City, who decides to drive in Montana and Wyoming ... go figure.

late addition:  beautiful photo journal of a family --Strangers No More, just gorgeous! I braved non-reader NY Times blowing up my computer to see it.  Worth it.

Saturday, July 04, 2015

Long & Rambling Update


These are some lovely black skimmers I saw at the beach one day on my walk ... they have nothing to do with this blog post.  I just wanted to share them.

So, I had this big deadline this week ... technically, July 1, I was to turn in something, anything, to show that I am making progress in my PhD program. 

The truth is, I have had a hard time motivating to write these two out of four papers that I owe various people at the university.  Even though I have actually been working on the papers, off and on, I still didn't seem to be making progress.  I could write and write notes, but getting something to see coherent in the paper was elusive.

At nearly 2 am on July 2nd, I was still working on the paper.  I had pledged to myself that I would get this monkey off my back ... no matter what.  I decided to turn in whatever I had done by July 1... well, at 11pm on July 1st, I was rounding the corner, with only one section to complete and a conclusion to write.  I had a pile of notes on this section, but every time I read through the notes in an attempt to get something that sounded like it meant something, well, it made me want to run screaming through the house.

So, I winged it ... and some of it might have sounded ok, I couldn't actually bring myself to read the rest of the paper after having revised so closely all the rest of it, over and over.  All that to say, I FINISHED IT.  And the other paper? Well, I made an executive decision not to do it. 

In the midst of all this craziness, I felt like I needed to have control over some part of my life -- so I decided to get serious about the workout and diet routine. 

Black skimmer in flight!
If you are thinking to yourself, why would she add this to the pile of other things she has to get done, well, you might be on to something.  But, truthfully, it did help. 

Every day, regardless of how much I wrote, I would go for my three mile walk.  And in between sitting and working on the stupid paper, I would get up and do some stretching or some ab work.

It should demonstrate to you just how much I did not enjoy writing this paper that I found exercising a BREAK! It didn't get so bad that I started cleaning, but I will admit that I thought about it SERIOUSLY.

And, when I say diet, I have to admit I read an article (when I should have been writing) about fast-like diets -- diets of 1000 calories a day OR LESS.  I got the bright idea that I should try this, but I was understandably scared that it would be hard to do.  My compromise was to try to step down into the lower calories. I started at 1200 and worked my way down, by July 1st, I was eating 1000 or less and happily shedding pounds (why is LB the abbreviation for pounds?).
The egret that led me into the lagoon

Next week, I am going to go all the way and do the five days of fast-like, plant only diet to see if it will help me keeping from plateauing as I work my way to my weight goal (140). 

The good news is that I am not hungry... I am eating almost no processed food and getting most of my carbs from fruit and feeling fine.  I am 11.6 down, officially, as of this morning, though I am afraid to report that until it is maintained.  As I keep losing .4 lbs per day, it turns out I am not plateauing as of yet.

And, I accidentally went caffeine free yesterday. I just forgot to drink the coffee I intended to make. In the evening, I was feeling super tired, and that was when I realized ... I never made that coffee! I marveled that I didn't have a headache.  It was unintentional but fortuitous because next week, in my non plant phase, I didn't have a back up plan for the milk in my coffee. 

This morning I woke up with the splitting caffeine withdrawal headache.  OUCH! I remembered that Monday I planned to have NO COFFEE, so I decided that I should not make this headache go away with coffee.  Instead, I took tylenol, and am sipping tea, hoping I can step down by Monday ... all else fails, I can do green tea with no milk ... that's my update-ish.

I have other things to say about what I might be doing with my life next, but I decided not to make plans more than a week in advance for a while.  That's my plan for next week except I also plan to go to the movies, maybe three times! And I am going to read books (already started one) that are not for papers. 

But, I am also going to keep working on one of those other papers... because I am dutiful, often to my own detriment.

Happy fourth!

Thursday, July 02, 2015

Poetry Thursday, delayed...


The loving acceptance

You so deeply hunger for...

Can never reach you

Until you've learned

To give that gift

To your self.

Practice holding

Your self

As dear as you

Would hold anyone

Else whom you

Truly cherished!

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

NRU lite

The News Round Up is light because I am on the deadline, end of the line deadline, no more extensions, monkey off my back, deadline.

These are the stories from the last week or so that I couldn't help but read and pass along...

There are few times when I truly wish I had a lot of disposable cash, but when I read this piece, I was yearning for that winning super lotto ticket.  I would love to be a homeowner in Italy ... anywhere in Italy.

It turns out we can use our consumer muscle -- The Donald is feeling the weight of the population of people he denigrated in his presidential announcement. 

Not sure how this story will end, but I see a movie in its future.  Since I wrote this, the story did end ... dramatically, and I await the movie.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Moving Tribute and Call to Action

...from our president...my president... I am so glad he has found his voice, and hope he will continue to use it and his pen, whenever possible, to help us get where we need to be.

And for all the haters.I hope that you will listen to this yourself instead of letting the haters tell you what our president said today.

If you prefer to read it, here is the text.

Congratulations, SCOTUS...

you got it right!

But mostly, Congratulations!, to all those folks whose marriages are now legally accepted in all states ... and to all those who were holding out until today to get married!

Some days, our colors inspire pride, and today is one of them!

Unfortunately, we continue to mourn and grapple with lingering, deep-seated racism.  This is also happening today...

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Poetry Thursday (actually book quote)

“Neighbors bring food with 
death and flowers with sickness 
and little things in between. 
Boo was our neighbor. 
He gave us two soap dolls, 
a broken watch and chain, 
a pair of good luck pennies, 
and our lives.” 

—Harper Lee,
To Kill a Mockingbird

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

NRU - on stoicism and forgiveness

I bristled over and over while reading this piece on President Obama's showing of late his emotions in public.  I understand that many people pretend to live their lives through social media where private emotions are often exposed.  Though I often wonder how many of those comments are made for the sake of attention. If they were merely spoken, would they be taken as a real display of emotion?  Whatever the case, I would like to know why it is that we imagine that just because someone does not show emotion means that he or she has no emotions.  The word STOIC has long been a part of our vocabulary, so this is not a new concept.  And this piece, though it gets around to acknowledging that all people have feelings, it never addresses the fact that as a Black president, Obama doesn't have the luxury of showing all his feelings.  Regardless I have to say that I support his not having ever to show his feelings unless he wants to.  I don't force you to cry in public, neither will I shame you for it.  Why do you judge me for not crying in front of you?  Why don't you ask me how I feel instead of making assumptions?

Much has been made of the forgiveness bestowed upon the Charleston killer by his victims friends and family.  I, too, am impressed with their grace and resilience, and their ability to understand that anger and hate only cause more injury.  I think it is always in our best interest to forgive, which does not mean that we forget or that we do not pursue justice or that we do not work to resolve the issues, in this case deep-seated racism, that contributed to the problem.  My issue with the media coverage is that it has not been analyzed in terms of how unwilling we are to forgive others who have perpetrated atrocities in the name of hate or rage or mental illness.  We should have compassion for all beings.  For all beings.  Not just those that we find cute and cuddly or pitiful or forgivable because they are white. For all beings. [In fact, if you feel drawn to forgive the Charleston shooter or the Aurora shooter or the Tuscon shooter (etc.), but not the Boston bombers or the Twin Tower bombers, I ask you to call yourself on this.]

So, I draw your attention to the words of the Boston bomber at his sentencing:
"I am sorry for the lives I have taken, for the suffering I caused, for the damage I have done – the irreparable damage,” he said.


In a slight voice and apparently racked by nerves ahead of his formal sentencing, Tsarnaev thanked his defense team and praised the survivors and relatives who spoke in the courtroom earlier “with strength, with patience, with dignity.”
“They told how horrendous this was,” he acknowledged.
It is not that it is remarkable in any way ... it is the least he can do to acknowledge his culpability not only in the crime but in its lingering, long-term damage that no amount of restitution can correct.  It is that he spoke, and in his speaking, those who have been long speculating as to what he was thinking while he did not speak had to acknowledge that he has feelings.   
Wednesday’s remarks were a departure from Tsarnaev’s behavior during his trial and even earlier in the day, when he showed no emotion during heart-wrenching testimony from victims and the exhibition of the photographs and videos from the bombing. He did not testify.
This follows the previous rant about judging people's thoughts -- we cannot, we are not able to judge a thought that has not been uttered or acted upon.  We cannot know what lies inside of someone's heart or mind -- unless we inquire, observe an action or become mind readers.

Unfortunately not "seeing" someone's remorse becomes our excuse for not extending compassion or forgiveness.  Once again, the survivors of the Charleston angels gifted us with an example to follow.  They did not *wait* or expect for the hateful young man to describe his remorse, or to find it.  They did not look at the screen and speculate as to what might be in his heart or his head.  They merely forgave -- and they did it for their own hearts and for the peaceful resolution to a horrendous turn of events.  They forgave even though forgiveness, for them and perhaps for us, comes at a cost.  As a country, we have much to learn from these folks.  Whether it is their faith or years of having to live with hate, the fact that they protect themselves with peace is a beautiful lesson. 

Monday, June 22, 2015

NRU potential for ranting

From the Science section of the LATimes.com -- this is not a perception or liberal media issue, this is the truth: Mass shootings are more common.  The study shows, for one thing, that between 2011 and 2013 (you know studies are always behind about ten years while they gather data and analyze it), there were mass shootings an average of every 64 days. For all the deniers (yes FOX NEWS devotees, I am talking to you), the article is a must read... it provides a ton of STATISTICAL (as opposed to mound of shit *information*) data on gun violence and the perpetrators.

Sometimes you just stumble upon a crazy, interesting article, this was one of them.  I don't think we learn anything from it; we are only marginally satiated with the amount of information given; yet, I endured to the end, and am sharing it...thus, crazy, yet interesting.  And it is the NY Times, so at least 1/3 too long.

So, I think that quitting might be the right move for this guy -- he was gonna get in trouble for not "following training" -- though, I have to say, in such cases as this, where no one was killed, that there was potential for retraining.  Circumstances beyond his control were certainly involved ... and, if we had not botched the cases of those killer cops, people would not be out for blood all the time with rogue cops.  If anything, the dispatchers and supervisors are at fault for not recognizing that maybe this guy needed a little mental health break after dealing with two suicide calls.  It speaks to the need for more comprehensive training in deescalation practices and in better mental health support for peace officers in general.  There are obviously two problems here -- or more -- one: that we need that better training and attention to mental health, and two: better policies for dealing with grievances, on all sides.  Protesting for the sake of "justice," in a world where the definition of justice is so murky, is not specific enough in terms of remedy.  There is clearly a need for raising consciousness about police violence and the way that racism plays into that violence.  But when we protest, we also need to think about what is an achievable outcome.  Oh ... IAF why are you not jumping into this foray and training some folks?

I don't even know what to say about this... if it wasn't in the LA Times, I would have believed it was the ONION or FOX NEWS with the mounds of shit...  honestly, I have no words.  Though, I guess I should since I have been deeply engrossed in reading about racial fault lines, the constructed-ness of the notions of race and the consequences of those assumptions.  What I can say is that changing perspectives to serve one's needs is not new, in any sense, particularly when it comes to race. And, once again, the only remedy to media scrutiny is to resign.

In the midst of collecting these rant-able pieces of the news, a terrorist killed nine people in their place of worship while they were studying the Bible.  It brought up for me, once again, the power of words and the stage upon which those words are uttered.  Not everyone has the access to view his/her opinions as those who appear on television.  Given the opportunity to use that platform, many have used it to spew hate or fear for power or laughs or money.  Jon Stewart, perhaps as he states below, is not beholden to anyone in that way at present, so he is speaking his truth and his heart to the millions who watch him ... and maybe some of those who spurn him as well, as they do their opposition research.  Here is what he had to say, in case you missed it:


Friday, June 19, 2015

NRU CA Sights

Are you in SoCal and want to find vintage stuff -- here is your guide.

Really want to see this exhibit!

Good to see foster youth getting covered in the news ... though I wish it were better news overall, but at least these kids are getting a chance with these supports.

Q&A about the P's (aka SoCal mountain lions) with the guys who are doing the study that named the cats.

This story could not be more heartbreaking ... but I hope that this step will help his family to truly grieve.  I know what striving does to the grieving process -- and it is not helpful.

The latest National Poet Laureate is from California (also formerly the CA poet laureate)... and he's Chicano...imagine that.

Now you know that we are really in a serious water crisis.  Why did it take this long to get here?

There is a lesson here -- and that is to not give up on people, especially the youth and children.  Of course, all of our actions have consequences.  For some, those consequences lead to lives of hardship, either caused to others, themselves or both.  For for others, those consequences lead to a productive life.  You just can't know which it will be when you are looking at a child, really, no matter what age.  I wish we could remember this story the next time we want to charge a teenager, or younger, as an adult.

Um... this would be an awesome story, but it is just scratching the surface ... it really belongs in my rantable NRU, but it's California, so it makes it into the California sights... a neighborhood disagreeing about the filming of a movie ... is it about the principle or money? You decide...

Obviously there are other ways to counsel first generation students about the college process, like having more "trained" school counselors.  However, this program really sounds like a winner to me -- mostly because my experience of high school counselors was that they were not always super helpful.  At least these students are close to the process -- and hopefully getting some kind of training and information to help them with their counseling ...

burning the candle

...at both ends for the families of those who were taken in South Carolina and for all of us in this country ... may we somehow learn what we can control (guns) and what we can only hope to impact (hate) with understanding, love and compassion.  And may we begin to recognize the weight of our words and take responsibility for not spewing hate.  We can know what we say, we cannot know how others will internalize it.



I don't care for Skip, but this was a powerful piece of remembrance and history.  May they all rest in peace.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Poetry Thursday


Poema 5 
 
Para que tú me oigas
mis palabras
se adelgazan a veces
como las huellas de las gaviotas en las playas.
Collar, cascabel ebrio
para tus manos suaves como las uvas.
Y las miro lejanas mis palabras.
Más que mías son tuyas.
Van trepando en mi viejo dolor como las yedras.
Ellas trepan así por las paredes húmedas.
Eres tú la culpable de este juego sangriento.
Ellas están huyendo de mi guarida oscura.
Todo lo llenas tú, todo lo llenas.
Antes que tú poblaron la soledad que ocupas,
y están acostumbradas más que tú a mi tristeza.
Ahora quiero que digan lo que quiero decirte
para que tú las oigas como quiero que me oigas.
El viento de la angustia aún las suele arrastrar.
Huracanes de sueños aún a veces las tumban
Escuchas otras voces en mi voz dolorida.
Llanto de viejas bocas, sangre de viejas súplicas.
Ámame, compañera. No me abandones. Sígueme.
Sígueme, compañera, en esa ola de angustia.
Pero se van tiñendo con tu amor mis palabras.
Todo lo ocupas tú, todo lo ocupas.
Voy haciendo de todas un collar infinito
para tus blancas manos, suaves como las uvas.

~Pablo Neruda
Veinte poemas de amor y una  cancion desesperada

Wednesday, June 17, 2015