Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Uninspired inspiration

While I was in California, I didn't get to go to Southern California.

I had been looking forward to driving through the desert and on through Los Angeles, maybe even see that big rock... as well as the ocean.

I kept reading the Los Angeles Times (online -- on the little guy) and was rewarded with this gem.

I hope you enjoy it.
[Photo credits: me, fancy camera, on the train leaving SoCal]

Friday, July 27, 2012

USA: uninsured (and underinsured) states of america?

As I've read about the recovery of several of those shot in Aurora, I noted that they lacked insurance.  Not surprisingly, their friends and families were worried about how they would pay for the life saving care they are currently receiving as well as the long term care some may need.

None of this has addressed the long term mental health care that all of those who were in the theater at the time of the attack are likely to require.

I was wondering when some journalist would pick up on the circumstance -- and take the opportunity to talk about our health care problems.

Instead, some of the hospitals themselves noted that over $2 million raised by donation for the patients' care would be insufficient to cover the bills (particularly the long term care).

While I certainly applaud the generosity of all involved, we are missing an important opportunity to have frank conversations about health care -- and how the current plan (which the House has repealed no less than three times) would address these issues -- either fully or in part.

We really need to get real about just how many people don't have insurance ... sure, they don't think they need it because they are young and healthy -- but that does not account for accidents and tragedies such as these.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Poetry Thursday - an old favorite

Out beyond ideas of wrong-doing and right-doing,
There is a field. I'll meet you there.
When the soul lies down in that grass,
the world is too full to talk about.
Ideas, language, even the phrase each other
doesn't make any sense.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

June OmGems

June turned out to be more on the road than I had expected ... or just off the blog, I guess.

And July is in full swing ... that is to say, more than half over -- how does that even happen??

As I ease my way back into writing -- anywhere -- I am trying to put some time back into the blog ... working up, I hope to sharing some of what I have been going through for the past six months.
June was a good month for the DailyOm ... and I share with you some of the ones that I felt I couldn't live without (not making too much progress with my grasping issues yet).  That is to say, the ones I saved in my OmGems folder.

I have picked out a quote I enjoyed for each, but there is a link to the printable version for each as well.

June 1 - Recognizing Happiness
"We can examine how joy feels in our bodies and what thoughts run through our minds in times of bliss. ... Once we know what it feels like and can identify some of the triggers and are aware of our actions, we can recreate that happiness when we are feeling low."
June 4 - Prayer and Meditation
"When we meditate, we cease movement and allow the activity of our minds and hearts to go on without us in a sense. Eventually, we fall into a deep silence, a place that underlies all the noise and fray of daily human existence. In this place, it becomes possible for us to hear the universe as it speaks for itself, responds to our questions, or sits with us in its silent way."
June 7 - Life Packaging
"It is as if our different lives are in essence the same gift, wrapped in an infinite variety of containers, wrapping paper, ribbons, and bows. Everybody experiences loss, grief, happiness, excitement, anger, and fear. ... Even as it appears that some people have it easy while others are in a continual state of struggle, the truth is that we are all learning, and it is very difficult to tell, when looking only at the exterior of a person, what’s going on inside. 
This is one of the many things that can be so valuable about cultivating relationships with people from all walks of life."
June 8 - Sitting with our Sadness
"The last thing most of us want to hear or think about when we are dealing with profound feelings of sadness is that deep learning can be found in this place. In the midst of our pain, we often feel picked on by life, or overwhelmed by the enormity of some loss, or simply too exhausted to try and examine the situation. We may feel far too disappointed and angry to look for anything resembling a bright side to our suffering. Still, somewhere in our hearts, we know that we will eventually emerge from the depths into the light of greater awareness. Remembering this truth, no matter how elusive it seems, can help."
June 15 - Giving Away Power
"To some degree, giving our energy to other people is simply part of the social contract, and we feel that we have to do it in order to survive. It is possible to exchange energy in a way that preserves our inner integrity and stability. This begins in a small way: by listening to the voice that continues to let us know what we want, no matter how many times we override its messages."
June  19 - Beyond Reacting
"...there is much to be said for teaching ourselves to remember to pause and take a deep breath before we respond to the shocks and insults that can come our way in life. ... Some situations require a fairly immediate response, but even just a moment of grounding ourselves before we do so can help enormously."
June 22 - Saying Yes to the Universe
"The hardest thing about saying yes to the universe is that it means accepting everything life puts in front of us. ... We may be afraid that if we say yes to the things we don’t like, we will be stuck with them forever, but really, it is only through acknowledging the existence of what’s not working for us that we can begin the process of change. So saying yes doesn’t mean indiscriminately accepting things that don’t work for us. It means conversing with the universe, and starting the conversation with a very powerful word—yes."
June 26 - Let it Roll of Our Back
"One of the most difficult challenges in life is learning not to take things to heart and hold on to it. Especially when we’re younger, or if we’re very sensitive, we take so much of what comes our way to heart. This can be overwhelming and unproductive if it throws us off balance on a regular basis. When we are feeling criticized or attacked from all directions, it becomes very difficult for us to recover ourselves so that we can continue to speak and act our truth. This is when we would do well to remember the old saying about letting certain things roll off us, like water off a duck’s back."
On this topic, I also read this book with a precocious 2 1/2 year old ... and was bowled over.  There was one "short" specifically on the subject of not carrying around more grief and unhappiness than we need.  Between Stillwell the Panda and my pops, this seems to be a pretty universal theme.  In any case, I think all small (and not so small) children should read it.  I might have to add it to my collection ... I am rebuilding it after all. [Here's something about the author.]

June 27 - Going through a Phase
"We are all almost always in the process of learning something new, developing an underused ability or talent, or toning down an overused one. ... Understanding what’s happening is a useful tool that helps us to be patient with the process. In the end, the pendulum settles comfortably in the center, restoring balance inside and out."
[Photo credits:  Me, fancy camera, April 2012 (I think); outskirts of Gallup, towards Church Rock]

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Rating NCLB?

[Beware parenthetical asides...]

I have been puzzling (along with some of the local newspaper reporters) on how to understand New Mexico's new "grading" system for K-12 schools.  Besides being one of the tenets of the governor and her education adviser (she was never confirmed by the legislature -- so, even though I am sure she is drawing a tidy sum, she is really only an adviser), this new system is also part of the waiver for NCLB accountability.

I am wondering, beyond trying to understand how AYP and grades A-F (no E) are equivalent or not, how so many waivers can equal success for NCLB.  And now there are 7 more waivers (to add to the already approved 26).  So, there are, so far, 33 out of 50 states that have renegotiated their accountability contracts with the feds.  How many do we need to prove that NCLB is a failure -- at least in terms of accountability?  We were already at half the states, and now we are nearly to 75% (officially at 66% -- as in 2/3). 

There are many parts of NCLB that have engendered changes in our K-12 system that I cannot think are improvements.

I had only held on to the hope that somehow there would be some truth to the fact that accountability would help to close the achievement gap.

As we give up accountability -- move again to hide and otherwise obfuscate how the subgroups are fairing compared to their peers -- I wonder what good has come from NCLB?  When will we give up this policy/law and begin to rebuild?

Monday, July 23, 2012


One of the things that I have been noting lately (perhaps, again) is how we lavish babies and small children with kisses.

If you watch a toddler being kissed and hugged and wrestled, you will see those kids play at pulling away, but really they are soaking up love, affection, acceptance, connection...

This is beautiful. So why do we stop doing this?

I know you might say it seems inappropriate at some point, or that kids eventually will put their feet down - but I disagree.

Kisses (love, acceptance, intrinsic value) are always appropriate, in my opinion. The older kids get the more they need to know we love then

When I look at the pain that sends people out in the world to hate, hurt and maim, I know that we give up on love -- on lavishing it on those we care about as well as strangers -- too soon.

May all those hurt by pain find strength and courage and health.

Sunday, July 22, 2012


I shop at vitacost.com because they offer the best prices on the shampoo/deep conditioner I use (Giovanni) and on the topical pain reliever I need whenever I spend too much time on the computer: topricin. [You can check the price differential ... I haven't found a better deal.]  I keep a jar on my nightstand and one in my travel bag. 

If you think that you might like to shop at vitacost.com, please use this link as I will receive credit for you linking through this one.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

UPDATED: Where Our Attention Should Rest

I woke Friday morning early so that I would be ready for my 6:30am shift ... and in my lazy waking moments, I heard about a shooting.

The news continued all day -- the worst day for me, because I am glued to media as I work.  I was thankful that I don't have cable so that I wouldn't be tempted to see the "news" channels talking incessantly -- not unlike the day they watched the boats and hoped for a flyover for the queen's jubilee.

I was particularly saddened to hear "experts" speak convincingly about how the motivation for this kind of senseless violence was certainly the attention -- the notoriety -- exactly what he was getting.  Seemingly this is the kind of attention he has never received in his life ... well, he is certainly in the limelight.  Then there were the thoughts that perhaps others would copy his actions also for attention -- but that didn't stop them from the speculation they were calling "reporting."

Meanwhile, I feel the best way to demonstrate that this kind of attention is not the best way to get noticed would be to spend more time talking about the pain caused -- perhaps highlight that thelives lost were of value rather than spend time talking about the value of the heinous acts.

I cannot say that I was pleased, however, to hear Colorado's governor say of the suspect, that he was one of those "people that are aberrations of nature..."  Perhaps, but this kind of speculation is likewise unnecessary and unproductive.  There were grieving families, and people waiting to hear about the fate of their children, brothers, sisters, friends, fathers, mothers...

Finally, we have some news on those whose lives were senselessly ended Friday morning (these are not in any particular order):

Jessica Ghawi "Redfield" -- whose story became the surrogate for all victims because of the ease with which the news people could find info on social networks about this young woman.

Jesse Childress -- an airman originally from the Los Angeles area did not survive the attack.

Matthew McQuinn -- died protecting his girlfriend.  The authorities are waiting to confirm his death until fingerprints arrive.

Micayla Medek -- 23-year-old died in the the theater though her friends escaped. May she live in their hearts.

Alexander "AJ" Boik -- an 18-year-old movie goer that just graduated from high school and was planning to attend Art School also did not survive the attack.  He aspired to be an art teacher.  We could have used his enthusiasm in the classroom.

Alex Sullivan -- unfortunately we watched as his father agonizingly searched for news about his son who was celebrating his 27th birthday at this movie.  Tomorrow would have been his first wedding anniversary. 

John Larimer -- another serviceman whose family will have to claim his body from a non-combat war zone. 

Alex Teves -- this 24-year-old recently received his master's degree in counseling ... we could have used his expertise today.  May he rest in peace.

Veronica Moser -- there are really no words to encapsulate the pain and agony caused by the loss of this six-year-old.  I am sending my most healing thoughts to her mother -- it would be exceedingly cruel for both of them to lose their lives in this mess.

Rebecca Wingo -- I don't envy her father who has to explain to his two grand daughters that their mother was murdered at the movies. 

Gordon Cowden -- the only information I found about him was that he was 51, making him the oldest victim.

Jon Blunk -- also died while trying to shield his companion.  There are no other details right now about his life, but I hope that we will learn more about him so that we can celebrate his living instead of just mourning his death.

May they all rest in peace. May their families and friends find strength and solace in their loving memories.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Quote Thursday -- More O'Keefe

All the earth colors of the painters' palette are out there in the many miles of bad lands.  The light Naples yellow through the ochres -- orange and red and purple earth -- even the soft earth greens.  You have no association with those hills -- our waste land -- I think our most beautiful country -- you may not have seen it, so you want me always to paint flowers.
Georgia O'Keefe, 1945

Friday, July 13, 2012

Silver Lining Round Up

You want to read these:
super sweet story about how a grown man became the super hero he dreamed of as a child; or how bikes changed his life; or ... it's all that and more

another awesome story about a family coming together after a tragedy -- and it includes HEALTHY CHOICES!!

Love endures through the classifieds.  Yeah... better than craigslist by a lot.

I am not sure that the author of this piece considered it a silver lining, but I saw stars...

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Poetry Thursday - friendship

An old favorite, still as true today as the first time I found it, and no doubt, when C. S. Lewis wrote it:

Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art... It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things that give value to survival.

Monday, July 09, 2012

Favorite Characters, Part 2

I admit that watching The Mentalist is a guilty pleasure ... and one that I have to plan for as I cannot watch it online (though I recently discovered there are a few full episodes on TNT online).  And there is no denying that it was Simon Baker that brought me to the show.  His character, Patrick Jane, is entertaining enough -- and moderately sympathetic, particularly when they show him sleeping on the mattress beneath the Red John signature where presumably Jane found his dead wife and child.

But, I find the story lines tedious and rather unbelievable ... and that's not to say that most of the police shows are believable -- they are all patently unbelievable, given that for the most part they can sew up any investigation in about 40 minutes -- with time for glib remarks, love lives, families, and other drama.  This show, however, verges on the low budget side when it comes to believability.

As I have watched more episodes, I realize that it is not Baker (Jane) that I come back for but Kimball Cho, played by Tim Kang.  He is a truly delightful character, particularly because you get so little about and from him in any given episode.  He is so reserved, you could hardly name what he wears except for that you can actually see it.

But in the rare moments of spontaneity, you see glimpses of Cho's soul, and it can bring you back each time, hoping for more.

His character is certainly what brings me back -- and takes me online looking for episodes.

Here's a clip ... not necessarily the most representative, but you might get the idea (both of his character and the not so awesome features of the show - detailed above):

Thursday, July 05, 2012

Poetry Thursday - our country and dreams

This is a long one ... I thought about just putting in a few of the lines, but they are all worth it. So I am honoring Langston Hughes by posting his poem, Let America Be America Again.

Happy 4th of July... and may we someday live up to the dream.

[Here is another Hughes gem that would also be appropriate; and another.]
[And in the spirit of hope, see this movie... and dream of a better country.]

Let America Be America Again

by Langston Hughes
Let America be America again.
Let it be the dream it used to be.
Let it be the pioneer on the plain
Seeking a home where he himself is free.

(America never was America to me.)

Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed--
Let it be that great strong land of love
Where never kings connive nor tyrants scheme
That any man be crushed by one above.

(It never was America to me.)

O, let my land be a land where Liberty
Is crowned with no false patriotic wreath,
But opportunity is real, and life is free,
Equality is in the air we breathe.

(There's never been equality for me,
Nor freedom in this "homeland of the free.")

Say, who are you that mumbles in the dark? 
And who are you that draws your veil across the stars?

I am the poor white, fooled and pushed apart,
I am the Negro bearing slavery's scars.
I am the red man driven from the land,
I am the immigrant clutching the hope I seek--
And finding only the same old stupid plan
Of dog eat dog, of mighty crush the weak.

I am the young man, full of strength and hope,
Tangled in that ancient endless chain
Of profit, power, gain, of grab the land!
Of grab the gold! Of grab the ways of satisfying need!
Of work the men! Of take the pay!
Of owning everything for one's own greed!

I am the farmer, bondsman to the soil.
I am the worker sold to the machine.
I am the Negro, servant to you all.
I am the people, humble, hungry, mean--
Hungry yet today despite the dream.
Beaten yet today--O, Pioneers!
I am the man who never got ahead,
The poorest worker bartered through the years.

Yet I'm the one who dreamt our basic dream
In the Old World while still a serf of kings,
Who dreamt a dream so strong, so brave, so true,
That even yet its mighty daring sings
In every brick and stone, in every furrow turned
That's made America the land it has become.
O, I'm the man who sailed those early seas
In search of what I meant to be my home--
For I'm the one who left dark Ireland's shore,
And Poland's plain, and England's grassy lea,
And torn from Black Africa's strand I came
To build a "homeland of the free."

The free?

Who said the free?  Not me?
Surely not me?  The millions on relief today?
The millions shot down when we strike?
The millions who have nothing for our pay?
For all the dreams we've dreamed
And all the songs we've sung
And all the hopes we've held
And all the flags we've hung,
The millions who have nothing for our pay--
Except the dream that's almost dead today.

O, let America be America again--
The land that never has been yet--
And yet must be--the land where every man is free.
The land that's mine--the poor man's, Indian's, Negro's, ME--
Who made America,
Whose sweat and blood, whose faith and pain,
Whose hand at the foundry, whose plow in the rain,
Must bring back our mighty dream again.

Sure, call me any ugly name you choose--
The steel of freedom does not stain.
From those who live like leeches on the people's lives,
We must take back our land again,

O, yes,
I say it plain,
America never was America to me,
And yet I swear this oath--
America will be!

Out of the rack and ruin of our gangster death,
The rape and rot of graft, and stealth, and lies,
We, the people, must redeem
The land, the mines, the plants, the rivers.
The mountains and the endless plain--
All, all the stretch of these great green states--
And make America again!

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Favorite Characters, Part 1

I have enjoyed several new series this season, but there was one that I had imagined starting to watch ... and then I just didn't have time. But I made some time this summer (when I should have been reading, that is true) ... in any case, the show is Grimm.

And, it's a weird and interesting show, but there is one character that I love. He is not necessarily the central character, but I find myself waiting impatiently for him to show up.  I am sure I am not the only one with a soft spot for Munroe.

I wait anxiously for the moment when Munroe is needed ... that is, when his expertise or personality becomes an essential part of any solution to the problem.  I love when he starts to talk about any topic even though the Nick character is getting irritated that Munroe can't just stick to the facts.  When he gets going on some arcane topic that makes his eyes light up, I am right there with him.

If my description of the character doesn't sell you, check out this article.

Let's be clear, though, I am sure the Grimm appeals to people on several different levels.  When the action scenes start, I look away ... not like I am afraid, just non-plussed, so it's the perfect time to check the recipe or email or whatever (yes, I only watch online).

So, if you haven't seen Grimm -- and you are sure it's not for you -- then, think again, and give it a try ... Munroe is a really cool character you might just learn to love.

Here is the actor talking about his character and the show:
In case the video is not showing up below, click here.

Monday, July 02, 2012

New Book You Should Read!

Tomorrow is my friend's new book release date!

If you are heading to the beach or want to pretend you are, then you need this perfect vacation read...

It is the 4th in the series ... so you can get all four!  And then the wait for book 5 won't seem quite so long.

They are also all available for your kindle.

Check out Juliet's site for more information.