Tuesday, April 30, 2013


In the tumult of the tragic events that have befallen my family of late, I wondered what have we done to deserve this. 

I know, intellectually, that tragedy can find anyone and that there is no reason to be understood.

I know that many people are grieving sudden and expected losses ... that there are many with heavy hearts.

I know.

But, the pain is so excruciating.  I almost don't know how to feel.

When my brother died, I experienced heartache like I never had.  I felt bereft and empty and alone.

I thought: there can't be anything worse than this.

Perhaps the universe heard my thoughts?

This, this is far worse.

This time, my heart was pulled directly out of my body and crushed.

I don't even know what to feel.  What is worse than bereft, empty and alone?

In the midst of this shock, grief and despair, my friends have been filling the void.

At a time when I thought grace was impossible, here it is.

I have no words for the grief, and I have no words adequate to express the gratitude for the love and support of my friends.

Without you, I truly would be alone.

Monday, April 29, 2013

NRU, lemons and lemonade

We are needing some lightening up of the NRU around here...
[little did I know when I started collecting these pieces just how badly I would need the silver linings]

Here is one piece that almost got included in the education round up -- but I wasn't feeling despairing or snarky about it.  It tells about a restorative justice program in schools in Oakland (mostly), but it's in the NY Times ...go figure.  In any case, it demonstrates that children, no matter how much they upset you, should not be "throw aways" because we can reach them, if we try.

I am including this piece in this lemonade from lemons roundup, even though it might seem more lemony than we usually like lemonade to be ... it demonstrates the hard work it takes, the stakes at play and the reality of helping these first generation college students towards their goals.  Here is a taste of why it is, indeed, lemonade:
"The model reverses ideas about how to best serve students whose parents haven’t gone to college. Gone is knee-jerk vocational tracking. Gone is the thinking that students must master all the basics before taking on more challenging work."
 In some ways, it is the perfect counterpoint to the piece on community colleges (in the last ed nru) that demonstrates the danger of lack of progression when the program focuses on putting students into remedial classes "to catch them up."  Ok, in fact, that piece elided all of that information -- but if you go through the scorecard, you can start to get the picture, despite the attempts to obfuscate with graphics.

There are those that are complaining (still) about Obamacare -- particularly about the shortage of primary care physicians that will be needed to meet the needs of providing care for all.  Let's set aside that these are the same folks who have been complaining about people using emergency rooms as primary care.  Here are some folks that are doing something instead of complaining -- now, that is making some lemonade from lemons.

You probably need to squint at this piece (or whatever is the equivalent of squinting in listening) to understand the lemon/lemonade connection, but it was just too interesting a piece to pass up. This graduate student talks about what you see in Chinatown (Los Angeles) in the windows, on the signs, etc., that demonstrate the *code switching* in terms of culture in this neighborhood.  Full disclosure: I love almost anything that deals with downtown LA -- which I recommend to anyone visiting LA ... walk around it, take it all in... it really is the heart of LA.  Much more representative of the Southland than Beverly Hills or even Hollywood.

I don't know how I missed this story about the Newtown families deciding where to send the gifts they received as part of the outpouring by people around the country.  There is nothing more lemonade from lemons than this kind of generosity and connection.

 I love that this was not just student initiated but also mostly student-run Relay for Life.  I believe we don't give young people enough space to do what they would like to do for others.  However, would it have hurt the writer to include the barest minimum of detail on the teacher the students were honoring with this event?

This is the way things will change ... the young people taking it upon themselves to act.  All those protestors should take a page from this book.

Poverty doesn't have to mean low academic achievement, this family is a testament to that fact.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Devastation and Loss, part 732

There are no words to express the devastation I feel right now.
Sisters, 2009
I would give you no advice but this:
To go into yourself and to explore
the depth where your life
wells forth.
-Ranier Marie Rilke
Sisters, circa 1973
Digging deep but unable to fill the hole.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

deja vu in a nightmarish way

Twenty some years ago, I made each one of my siblings a photo album of their lives. 

I gathered all the best from my mother's shoe boxes full of pictures. 

I organized them, picked quotes, wrote them out in my most careful calligraphy, and put it all together.

Now I am doing it again, but this time it is for a memorial slide show.

The first time was heartbreaking, but it was also lovely to sort through the photos, reliving mostly highs and some lows.

This time, I want to pull my skin off, I want to be like an armadillo and be safe inside some armor.

My heart beats like it doesn't mean it.

I am always at the doorstep of weeping.

I want to fight with doctors and hospitals and hire lawyers and scream.

But, I am looking through photos, heartbroken, with very few lovely feelings.

I hope this is the last time I have to relive this nightmare.

Monday, April 22, 2013

NRU...Earth Day Edition

Ever wonder what to do with the wood from that tree you chopped down?  The folks at Wood from the Hood have some ideas.  Though this piece was interesting ... it didn't seem to address some of the other side of this issue, like, why were folks cutting down these perfectly good trees?

This is the kind of proactive work I love to see from young people ... when you don't like something, use the system to make your statement.

So, who knew that the first weather felon (read: global warming felon) would be the groundhog?  Well, talk about denial... poor groundhog did his job ... but global warming means crazy UNNATURAL weather.  How's a groundhog supposed to know and figure that in to his predictions?  ...I am not going to post the "follow up" stories whose headlines were as close as I got to them. 

Drinking this milk doesn't cause any harm to the environment.  wow... if they can do, why can't others?

The groundhogs are getting off easy in this global warming thing, if all they get is indicted for not properly predicting when spring would come.  These poor animals are getting the short end of the stick, and they are just the first of many what we will have to watch wither away. I guess the only ones who have it worse are those that are already gone, and we didn't even notice.

I sure hope global warming deny-ers like wine because it may be the only thing that will convince them to change their ways.

Something tells me that when the EPA confirmation hearing doesn't revolve around Environmental issues (hence the E in EPA) then we are not headed in the right direction.

Unfortunately the stories about what works in relatively clean (nothing is purely or truly clean) energy don't always make page 1, interesting and important as they may be.

I love bugs, don't get me wrong, but they are better when they are naturally occurring not over producing due to funky weather conditions -- read: moth invasion last spring.  It is, in my opinion, like a curse from god for misbehaving.

Friday, April 19, 2013

NRU, education -- snarky edition

So, this study proves that teachers are doing just fine?

"States Redefining Public Schooling" is the internet headline for this story; the actual headline is "With Vouchers, States Shift Aid for Schools to Families."  If you have a puzzled look on your face, join me.  I almost couldn't bring myself to read this story.

This is what happens when you put the priority on a test score rather than on the learningThis story just gets more sad and frustrating. What exactly is going to come from jailing these folks? The situation that bred their crime has not changed, who will be next?  Be fired or cheat, but get those meaningless scores up.

 I was torn about what kind of news round up should include this story.  Since the story itself named the education system, I thought I would go ahead and include it here.  Just in case there was any doubt that life circumstances affect student achievement, here is some *proof*.  But, really, educational attainment and achievement is far more complex than poor health or poor dental health.

This story is almost enough to make one laugh out loud.  What does it mean if states with the new teacher evaluations don't find droves of inefficient teachers, according to their evaluations?  Why is it that the article has the percentages of teachers "passing" but without any word to the "passing" rates of the students.  Hmmm.... curious.

When I read the headline on this piece "School Reformer Sends Child to Private School,"  I just hoped it was someone like Michelle Rhee who claims to *love* public schools and especially teachers, that's why she is squeezing them to death, Elmira style.  And then it was her! Hooray for hypocrites!  The best part of the story is how Amy Graff unravels the half-truths to demonstrate the level of hypocrisy.  She tells people, "I am a public school parent" even though one of her daughters attends a fancy private high school.  She could blame it on her ex-husband, but he is also a former TFA-er and currently commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Education.  As the article rightly points out, they are sending their daughter to the kind of school that does not fit into the category of schools they advocate for others: "'a corporate-based school-reform agenda that uses standardized test scores as the major accountability measure for students, schools and teachers.'"  It is probably best that I never meet Michelle, I will just have nothing nice to say, Thumper notwithstanding.

I am running out of snark, and I am mostly left with disappointment verging on despair:
There are less classes available, more students trying to take general education, and, in general, severe budget cuts.  And, less students are gaining traction either on transferring or attaining an AA. If you hadn't already guessed, I am writing about California community colleges.  They started under the a great goal to help people who didn't *need* college for advancement, rather those folks needed certificates, programs in specific training, etc.  Well, indeed, the community colleges are between a rock and a hard place -- they have been there for a while, and now they are going to be judged harshly without taking into account that spot.  I haven't had time to read the "report," and probably won't have time until July to think about it, but I will share the link to the "Student Success Scorecard" published by the outgoing chancellor.

I would like to buy Michelle Rhee a t-shirt, it will simply say: LIAR.  I post this here just so you can read the way she handles questions, or being questioned, and I will pull out the pertinent part so you don't even have to click the link:
"Ms. Rhee issued a statement saying that she did not recall receiving the memo. She added that both the city inspector general and the Education Department had already 'reviewed the memo and confirmed my belief that there was no widespread cheating.'”
Um, I didn't get no memo, and if I did then it was cleared... uh huh.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Quote Thursday, again...

We will discover the nature of our particular genius when we stop trying
to transform ourselves to other people's models,
learn to be ourselves and allow our natural channel to open.
-Shakti Gawain

California Dreaming, even June gloom ...

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Stand up to terror

I watched in horror and disbelief as I saw the aftermath of the bomb blasts in Boston.

I was waiting for a slice of pizza for lunch on a crazy day where I had all of 15 minutes for lunch.

There was no sound, just the same video over and over saying that bombs had exploded at the finish line.

I had no idea at what time, at what point in the marathon, or who had been hurt.

It was several hours before I could get home to a computer and read about it... and then watch news shows about it.

Not unlike Newtown, there were conflicting headlines.

But one thing was clear... when the bombs went off, a crowd of people ran towards those hurt ... not away for their own safety.

What ran through my mind at first had nothing to do with this being a possible terrorist attack -- actually, in what sense can a bomb not be terrorism?

What I thought about was the months of preparation -- physical, mental -- that goes into a marathon.  No one deserves to be targeted in this way -- but it seems an especially cruel joke to explode a bomb at the finish line -- before all those who were competing could fulfill their goal.

I know it may sound petty, but you may not have run that far in your life -- and many people run marathons in the way some people go to shrines as mandas.  It takes months to prepare for the abuse you will subject your body to in 26 miles.  I have only run 1/2 marathons to avoid that kind of abuse, but I have been a spectator to watch my sister pass the finish line after the full.

So, then my thoughts turned to those spectators.

It takes a fair amount of stamina to stand on the sidelines for hours as well.  Some of those people move to different points on the route in order to cheer on their loved ones.  Those who understand the tremendous will power it takes to keep putting one foot in front of the other, cheer on everyone.

It makes for a really special community --unlike many others-- where you support the anonymous runners as they pass you perhaps not always understanding the deep way you touch all those passing by.

To place those spectators and those runners in harm's way is unconscionable -- of course, it is not okay to harm anyone for any reason.

My heart broke for those who were most impacted by this -- the ones bringing up the rear, over four hours into the race, those approaching the finish line were those people I described above -- they were not running just because they could, they most likely had a reason for this run.

One last note, for many people, the Boston Marathon is the meta-goal -- the marathon that will mark their personal best just for qualifying.  I hope that they understand that in our hearts, they are all finishers -- whether they passed the line before the blast or not.

My heart goes out to all the runners, their loving supporters and all the people of Boston.  And I hail the way you all came together to help each other proving the strength of our union.

May you all be at ease.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

RIP Sal Castro

Monday felt like three days in one, and I had to take a nap.  I woke to terrible news: Sal Castro died.

I am sensitive to loss right now, perhaps too sensitive to be reliable in terms of news.  But I have to say that my heart sunk, and the sense that there is a hole in our world with his loss overwhelmed me.  Tears stream down my face as I write this.

One summer over twenty years ago, I sat in a library devouring every piece of information I could get about the Chicano movement.

One of the people I read about was Sal Castro: a teacher who supported his students who wanted access to an education that would prepare them for college.  He went to jail, lost his job, and kept fighting.

Fast forward about ten years, and I met someone who knew Sal ... she shared an office with him at LAUSD.  It was a little office the district conceded to a man who though retired still worked tirelessly for Chicano students.

When I entered his office, he called me mija like he had known me my whole life and was so proud of me and my accomplishments.  He told me about his work, the leadership camp he still ran out of Camp Hess Kramer, the camp at the bottom of the hill from where my mother grew up.

It was as if we were connected in some way, and, of course, we were.

We sat in his office and laughed at Villaraigosa trying to insert himself into the blowouts history and trying to use Sal for political advantage.  We laughed and shook our heads like we were old friends, not strangers who had just met.

Sal was larger than life with the biggest heart -- an ex-football player who could give you a bear hug and make you feel like an integral part of his life even though you've just met.  What touched me the most, sitting in front of this living legend, was his humility.  At one point, he pulled out a binder to show me the collection of pictures and stories he kept in his desk: Chicanos who made him proud.

He invited me to the next leadership camp, and I attended as an HSF rep at the college fair, but I also drove out to attend some of the sessions for the students.  I witnessed Sal on stage, preaching his love of our culture; I saw him mentoring not just the high school students there as campers, but also the college students who were the counselors.  There in front of me was textbook of how to make sure a movement has a legacy.

The Blowouts were an important part of the Chicano movement, in my opinion, because they originated with the students.  Sal's role in the movement was not limited to his mentorship and being a role model to those students. 

What Sal saw in those students was their desire to learn, and in the situation, a district more willing to fire him than provide access to a college prep education.  He knew that the end of the story was not getting his job back or putting away the criminal case against him.  He knew that students would continue to need to be bolstered and supported towards their dreams.

Last spring, Mario Garcia was at UNM promoting a book he just completed with Sal.  Sadly, Sal was not with him.

But in the discussion following the presentation, someone asked what the legacy of Sal Castro was, and I stood up.

I am one of the many pieces of his legacy.

My teachers in middle school were the generation who went to college in California because Sal's first students stood up, walked out and then went to college.  Those teachers were the ones who helped to understand what it means to be Chicana.  It was as a student at one of the many satellite leadership camps that resulted from Sal's work that I became Chicana.

Sal didn't solve the problem and issue of unequal education in the LAUSD, but he never gave up fighting for the students' right to a better shot.  And many of his students continue the struggle just as they began it.  Sal's greatest legacy, perhaps, is the sense of responsibility he instilled in his students -- and the circle of giving back that his students have taken up.

I have never met a man so proud to be Chicano. I might not have agreed with, or been able to pull off, Chicano history as motivation as Sal did, but I believe that he was, indeed, proud of the way I was carrying his legacy forward, helping students find their way to and their place at college.

Over the years, the number of lives and hearts that Sal touched is surely innumerable.   I can only hope that those of us who carry his torch will continue to remember and call forth that memory for those who are yet to come.

To Sal's family -- a heart felt thank you for sharing him with all of us for all these years.  I am sure he could have *really* retired and just spent time with his family, instead he continued to nourish his community, infusing pride in all he met.  My heart is with you.

Sal, may you rest in peace -- though, I am sure that if there is a heaven, you are already holding court.  I hope that you and my brother are hanging out -- I so wanted him to meet you.

It was an honor to know you.  La lucha sigue.

After I wrote this piece, I read an article about a woman, Maudelle Shirek, who was on the city council in Berkeley for 20 years -- after she turned 70!  RIP Mrs. Shirek, and thank you for never giving up your principles or the fight

Monday, April 15, 2013

Rollercoaster Days

For several months, I have been trying to get myself back on an exercise schedule. Most days, I turn over and go back to sleep, but some MWFs, I pull myself out of the bed and head to the gym with my workout buddy.

Last Wednesday, I did just that ... when I first looked out the door to see if my buddy had arrived, I saw that it was raining.  Actually *rain* was optimistic.  When I got in the car, my friend assured me it was snow. 

I had a pretty good workout -- between the treadmill and the elliptical, I got in over 3 miles -- but I didn't feel so well when I finished my workout.  I had some chest pain that didn't last, but then I was coughing and coughing.  By the time, I got home, I realized it was an asthma attack as I wheezed and tried to catch my breath.

When I went to the health center to make sure I was doing the right thing with the inhaler, the dr. on duty didn't want to take any chances, so they hooked me up to an EKG machine.  Satisfied that my heart was okay, she suggested I try the attachment to the inhaler to make sure the medicine really gets in my lungs.  As a non-regular user, I am not very skilled at the inhaler.

My days have been going like this ... run, run, run, run out of steam and crash or keep going until I can't anymore because my to do list is still too long.

In between these seemingly low points, punctuated with little breakdowns that began the waterfall of tears, I have also had higher and high points.

Here is one ... one night about two weeks ago, I was watching the local news and they were talking about missingmoney.com (where you can search for unclaimed funds in several states).  Despite the fact I thought the server might be inundated, I checked it out.  Well, there was my name and an old address in NJ.  I filled out the form, but then it asked for my ssn and I was worried it was an elaborate plan to steal identities.

After some quickly googling, it turned out to be legit.  I submitted the form not knowing the amount or where it came from or anything.  I figured I might not even hear back from them, so what the heck.  They sent an email back to me with a link to check for updates.  A few days later, I checked back and it said they had verified I was the person I said I am and were processing a check.  About a week ago, I got a letter from the State of NJ saying they had found some unclaimed pension funds and they were sending them to me with interest accrued.  Then a check arrived for over $700... score.  It will replace the two months this year I did not get to transfer funds into my Italy savings account!

Then I did my taxes and for the first time in four years, I don't have to pay!  Score, again.  More funds for my Italy fund. Another high point amid the regular craziness of life.

Blessings come when they are least expected -- and they are greatly appreciated.

Friday, April 12, 2013

time and space and tears

As I tried to compose myself enough to read the six pages of my presentation, I wondered: when will talking about my family not make me cry?

It was probably an unfair question because I was at the oral history conference where one person after another shared stories about loved ones they had lost either physically or mentally ... perhaps I was just drawn to those stories surely all of them couldn't have been about the same theme.

I was there talking about my quest to find out something about my grandmother's life before she came to California and met my grandfather ... etc.

I had written about the frustration and the hope and the holes that still plagued my story.

It seemed like an upbeat rendering with promise for the future. 

But looking out at the crowd that included my sister and cousin, all I could think about was my brother and the stories he wouldn't tell.

All we have left are what we know and our speculations. 

I don't know why, but that hurts.

So, when will it stop hurting?

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Poetry Thursday

The closer you come to your core,
the greater is your joy.
-Torkom Saraydarian

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

more mish mash

Sometimes you read a story and you just don't know what the point of it was.  Or, at the very least, your head cocks to the side at the end, and you utter, huh?  It is especially true when it seems at the beginning that it a straight forward story.  That's what I did when I read this story.  If you can figure out what the point is, please, let me know.

I really don't think there is any way to discuss this other than as hypocrisy, or perhaps just wanton dishonesty.  Seriously, everyone knew that there was no way that they were going to take this man alive.  So, does that mean that the money was offered under false pretenses? Or are you not telling us an important part of this story, such as the person who stands to collect isn't a police officer?

I was walking across campus the other day when I spotted a sign for the suicide and crisis hotline advertising their latest outreach: online support.  I was struck by the thought that it would be super difficult to reach people, emotionally, through online means.  There is no way to *hear* in the tone, inflection, etc. if you are getting through.  It seemed like such an inadequate and possibly dangerous move.  Then I read this article about moving from phone line to texting.  Yeah, I can't figure out which one is worse either.  Perhaps teens are so far removed from human interaction for this to make a difference in terms of reaching them in times of crisis.  Or, perhaps this removal from human interaction is part of the crisis?

Ok... technically not news in the same way newspaper pieces are, but I just have to share. A classmate from Princeton has gone home to support his nephew in a new venture.  I couldn't be more proud!

I met a woman some years back in Oakland who introduced me to the Garifuna culture and language... still waiting for her to write her memoir.  So, my ears perked up when I heard this story.  I think the title is a little mismatched... what I loved about the story was people doing for themselves when the rest of the world turns away.  It doesn't surprise me from the Garifuna.  They have kept up their culture and language in the face of some of the best culture busters.   Wishing and hoping for the best for them.

A real life treasure hunt, what could be better??  I am not planning on telling my dad because I don't want to spend his whole time here looking for treasure, though it would be fun.

More proof that we have a jacked up *justice* system.  I am hoping some good karma for helping people escape from the fire will be catching up with this man soon.

Well, I guess in an attempt to even out this man's luck, he is getting his chance at the NFL.  While I don't recommend it as a career move because of the health concerns, I realize that it is something that he has always wanted.  Therefore, I applaud the universe for this opportunity! And wish him health and luck!

Resilience personified.

You know I am not a huge sports fan, but I enjoyed this piece on two sisters playing on the Louisville team.  Wishing them well at the final four ... even though, maybe because, they are playing Berkeley.

I would like to know what difference, if any, grass-fed beef makes in this study.  TMAO go away.

Heartbreaking...when I read the piece about the little girl who hiked in the pitch dark to find help for her dad, it was sad enough.  But, I thought, what strength!   Then I came across this piece about her dad, turns out she got that strength from him and I hope it will live on in her despite what challenges are to come.  Holding her close in my heart, wish there were more I could do.

The making of the karaoke ice cream truck, yes, you read that right.  So many fun things going on in this piece.  

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

jewel from daily om

Smoothing Transitions
10 Steps to Making Change Easier
by Madisyn Taylor

Change can be hard for anyone, following these ideas below can make it a little less stressful.

1. Begin by making small changes or break up large-scale changes into more manageable increments. This can make you feel better about handling the changes you are about to make while making you more comfortable with change in general.

2. Mentally link changes to established daily rituals. This can make changes like taking on a new habit, starting a new job, or adapting to a new home happen much more smoothly. For example, if you want to begin meditating at home, try weaving it into your morning routine.

3. Going with the flow can help you accept change instead of resisting it. If you stay flexible, you will be able to ride out change without too much turbulence.

4. When a change feels most stressful, relief can often be found in finding the good that it brings. An illness, a financial loss, or a broken relationship can seem like the end of the world, yet they also can be blessings in disguise.

5. Remember that all change involves a degree of learning. If you find change particularly stressful, try to keep in mind that after this period of transformation has passed, you will be a wiser person for it.

6. Remember that upheaval and confusion are often natural parts of change. While we can anticipate certain elements that a change might bring, it is impossible to know everything that will happen in advance. Be prepared for unexpected surprises, and the winds of change won’t easily knock you over.

7. Don’t feel like you have to cope with changing circumstances or the stress of making a change on your own. Talk about what’s going on for you with a friend or write about it in a journal. Sharing your feelings can give you a sense of relief while helping you find the strength to carry on.

8. Give yourself time to accept any changes that you face. And as change happens, recognize that you may need time to adjust to your new situation. Allow yourself a period of time to reconcile your feelings. This can make big changes feel less extreme.

9. No matter how large or difficult a change is, you will eventually adapt to these new circumstances. Remember that regardless of how great the change, all the new that it brings will eventually weave itself into the right places in your life.

10. If you’re trying to change a pattern of behavior or navigate your way through a life change, don’t assume that it has to be easy. Wanting to cry or being moody during a period of change is natural. Then again, don’t assume that making a change needs to be hard. Sometimes, changes are meant to be that easy.

Monday, April 08, 2013

What lessons have we learned?

Three months after 27 people were massacred in Sandy Hook, we have very little to show for our so-called earnest efforts to change gun violence in our country.

In two days, we had stories about three mass murderers, amid the reports that gun control legislation was going down in flames all around the country, except Colorado (good for them for standing up to the NRA).  Interestingly, each of those articles points to the warning signs that went unheeded.  At the end of one piece (another version from the AP), it states coldly, XX was never taken for a mental health diagnosis, but mom wanted him drug tested.  The missed opportunities to deal with these three men and their obvious mental health issues is not just a reflection of the denial of these parents, it led directly to the death and maiming of others.

We keep forgetting about the wounded.  Ask the survivors of Columbine what life has been like for them?  It is not only the deaths that we need to worry about.

Bloomberg has pledged to use his own money to combat the NRA.  And I applaud him, I really do.  But I think that one of the issues is that we don't feel personally involved in this struggle.  [Besides, Bloomberg's got some *gun violence* of his own to take care of.] Gun owners open their wallets all over the country, for nominal fees. I recognize that the real power in their money arsenal comes from the gun makers.

However, if around the country Americans were writing checks for $50 or something to pledge to stand up for gun control, perhaps the senators and congresspeople could not hide behind a silent constituency.  We could make cute bumper stickers, but more importantly, we can provide the templates for the calls, texts, emails and letters to the elected officials.
We need to follow the lead of the CT lawmakers and stand tough against those who would try to weaken these provisions.

Or we can declare our crazy and follow the NRA's lead, arming our schools to the teeth because that *will* solve all our gun violence problems, not to mention sell a lot of guns.

Thursday, April 04, 2013

Not Strictly a Poem Thursday

On this day -- remembering the taking of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s life, I offer you the words Robert F. Kennedy delivered in Indianapolis.
[Transcription follows video]

Ladies and Gentlemen,
I'm only going to talk to you just for a minute or so this evening, because I have some -- some very sad news for all of you -- Could you lower those signs, please? -- I have some very sad news for all of you, and, I think, sad news for all of our fellow citizens, and people who love peace all over the world; and that is that Martin Luther King was shot and was killed tonight in Memphis, Tennessee.
Martin Luther King dedicated his life to love and to justice between fellow human beings. He died in the cause of that effort. In this difficult day, in this difficult time for the United States, it's perhaps well to ask what kind of a nation we are and what direction we want to move in. For those of you who are black -- considering the evidence evidently is that there were white people who were responsible -- you can be filled with bitterness, and with hatred, and a desire for revenge.
We can move in that direction as a country, in greater polarization -- black people amongst blacks, and white amongst whites, filled with hatred toward one another. Or we can make an effort, as Martin Luther King did, to understand, and to comprehend, and replace that violence, that stain of bloodshed that has spread across our land, with an effort to understand, compassion, and love.
For those of you who are black and are tempted to fill with -- be filled with hatred and mistrust of the injustice of such an act, against all white people, I would only say that I can also feel in my own heart the same kind of feeling. I had a member of my family killed, but he was killed by a white man.
But we have to make an effort in the United States. We have to make an effort to understand, to get beyond, or go beyond these rather difficult times.
My favorite poem, my -- my favorite poet was Aeschylus. And he once wrote:
Even in our sleep, pain which cannot forget
falls drop by drop upon the heart,
until, in our own despair,
against our will,
comes wisdom
through the awful grace of God.
What we need in the United States is not division; what we need in the United States is not hatred; what we need in the United States is not violence and lawlessness, but is love, and wisdom, and compassion toward one another, and a feeling of justice toward those who still suffer within our country, whether they be white or whether they be black.
So I ask you tonight to return home, to say a prayer for the family of Martin Luther King -- yeah, it's true -- but more importantly to say a prayer for our own country, which all of us love -- a prayer for understanding and that compassion of which I spoke.
We can do well in this country. We will have difficult times. We've had difficult times in the past, but we -- and we will have difficult times in the future. It is not the end of violence; it is not the end of lawlessness; and it's not the end of disorder.
But the vast majority of white people and the vast majority of black people in this country want to live together, want to improve the quality of our life, and want justice for all human beings that abide in our land.
And let's dedicate ourselves to what the Greeks wrote so many years ago: to tame the savageness of man and make gentle the life of this world. Let us dedicate ourselves to that, and say a prayer for our country and for our people.
Thank you very much.

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

ear plugs, wine and exercise

This is the Rx I have given myself ...

I decided that earplugs were safer than calling the police night after night.  Bought the green (why do they have to be neon colored?) earplugs at the grocery store.  I wandered up and down the "personal care" aisles and finally gave up.  They were next to the eye drops. Go figure.

Wine is a staple, but I am taking it more seriously since I don't have to try to read 101 books before April 7th after all.  With 11 more weeks to torture myself, I can afford to drink more wine.

And the exercise, well, not my ideal, but I think it will help with the stress and the pain in my neck.

If the stars are aligned, as this is posting, I am heading out the door to the gym.  Last Friday, check, this Monday, uh, not check... Wednesday ... anything can happen.

Out of town at a conference for the next three or four days, check you when I get back.

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

NRU -- the mish mash part 642

Wine, wine, we all love wine in the US ... from sea to shining sea apparently.

Hmm...first of all, I don't know what Hansel and Gretel lights are; secondly, this seems awfully intrusive and potentially dangerous depending on where you are commanding people to not have lights; and third, only in Ojai (and maybe Marin where the scent police would have to side with these folks)?

This seems like an appropriate kind of pressure for parishioners and diocesans to apply -- you could leave the church or you can let them know what you won't stand for... I wonder how the bishops take these messages.  I have to say I am impressed by the woman saying that she cannot stay quiet.

I am intrigued by this *long* story about a boeing worker befriending the barefoot bandit.  Several questions come to mind ... the first being, who decided this was worthy of a story? Not that it isn't but surely there are plenty of people around the country mentoring prisoners... what prompted this reporter to care about this story? [the first version I read was from my mobile AP feed, it seemed much longer than this version in the sfgate, but I don't have time to chase down a link to other one].

Every year when I read these stories about folks providing proms dresses and accoutrements, I get teary eyed -- and I didn't enjoy the prom.  This is a simple way to bring happiness to others, so glad they are doing it. The snide comment about the girls needing to find their own dates, however, was super extra.

The headline I saw read: Texas Hires Full Time BBQ Editor.  The *real* headline reads:  A Tireless Connoisseur of Texas Barbecue Gets Ready for the Main Course.  I really included it because, the NYTimes writing about BBQ, and a BBQ editor at that, well, who can resist?  I did wonder, though, as I read through it, how long someone could *survive* (literally) eating BBQ 10+ times per week.  The NYTimes, one eye probably peeled on Bloomberg, assured us at the end of the article that Vaughn has the workout thing covered, but no details...

Ellen and coming out and American getting comfy with gay people,  according to NPR.

There should probably be a whole NRU about the pope and what he is, might be and isn't.  What struck me as I listened to the coverage in the first days was how it was so similar to when Barry was elected.  He was everything to everyone -- and that was a recipe for disaster.  I am afraid with Francis/Francesco/Francisco that there will be some crushed souls when they figure out he is just a guy with some fancy priestly duds rather than every special interest groups' savior.  Pray for him, indeed...

Hmmm... pay what you want nonprofit cafes and select menu items at other cafes -- do you know who it is, I didn't.

Monday, April 01, 2013

The Neighbors

I like my apartment -- it's not perfect by a long shot, but it's near the university, reasonably priced, and a good size.  Of course, I am still somewhat confused in understanding price/size ratio since I lived in Oakland.

The only real issue up to this point is neighbors.  On the one hand, since it is a month to month lease, many neighbors don't last long enough to get to know them or be annoyed by them.  They are mostly young ... read: undergraduates.  They drink too much, have too many parties -- that spill outside onto our tiny yard.  But they don't usually do that three times a week.

However, the new neighbors test the limits of their stamina.  Drinking, yelling at the top of their lungs, and playing some sort of reindeer game in the middle of the street at 3am.

I am sure I have complained here before ... but these neighbors are truly the worst.  Any hope I have for getting back on the get up at 5am schedule is pretty much shot as I can never know when they will decide at midnight or later to begin the reindeer games.

I call them reindeer games because it doesn't sound as bad as it really is.  Why do I do this? Well, they are kids ... I feel I should cut them some slack.  But the first time I heard the game almost had me calling the cops ... it sounded like someone was getting murdered... but then the giggles convinced me it was only a new kind of reindeer game.

Someone called the cops on them one early morning ... but the chastened restraint only lasted for a few days.  Then after several nights of dark of night skate boarding, the other neighbors decided to have a birthday party.  One can hardy hold it against them, but then, they get all drunk and start talking loudly ... at 2am.

I didn't think it was fair to call the cops on them since I haven't called the cops on the other knuckleheads.  I bought earplugs.

If those don't work, I am thinking I need to get the police on speed dial -- oh, yeah, I already have them on speed dial, I guess I need to use it. Or else get up and go to the library every time they start acting like fools at 2am.