Tuesday, December 24, 2013

NRU the light and the dark -- heavy on silver linings

I couldn't really bring myself to post something for the anniversary of Newtown.  I was heartened to hear that the news media was abiding by the city's wish to be left alone.  But then there were these stories ... some that moms and dads self published and some that were offered via NPR.  This story was particularly lovely -- I have been trying to take her message to heart as my eyes leak and my heart continues to break.  I particularly loved what she had to say about language -- and I am so glad she lit all 28 candles.  This family reminds me that there are those of us with the compassion necessary to turn tragedy to hope.  If only we could all harness these sentiments -- to harness our pain into hope that engenders innovating for peace.

And one more Newtown entry:  a rabbi giving a cure for hatred -- loving kindness.

StoryCorps hit a homerun again with this one -- siblings talking about how a baby saved a family from darkness.  There is hope ... we can change.  We have the ability to aspire to better and to make it real.

In a special Christmas miracle, same sex marriages go forward in Utah -- may be all be very happy!

Before we turn to the dark, my favorite Christmas story is this one about a family reaching out to those with less.  It demonstrates several key ideas: 1) those with the least are often the most generous, 2) working together as a family can be very powerful, and 3) for every story about delinquent immigrants, there are probably five like this.  Thank goodness for people who help others. 

I struggled with where to put this story -- it is heartbreaking and soul affirming at the same time.  The strength and love these parents find in their faith is truly inspiring.  But having so recently lost people dear to me, my heart also breaks for the man's wife and son.  I hope that those who killed this man and wounded his wife are brought to justice, but I also hope that his parents will be there to forgive the killers as well.  The Mennonite pastor asked those at the funeral for prayers for the killers "in hopes they'll come to understand the wrong they have done and experience a transformation in their thinking and their lives."  We have a lot to learn about life from forgiveness.

And then the dark ... this story broke my heart over and over -- how sloppiness and disregard did not just ruin one life - but allowed one person to ruin the lives of two other families.  The chances to stop this tragedy abounded -- and were disregarded.  When will we wake up?

The elected officials of this country continue to demonstrate the darkness in their hearts -- lowering the payments to those in need for food.  Clearly, they do not understand how the funds are used -- and what they can be used for.  NPR has been doing some reporting on what it's like to be poor in the US, I guess, just in time for Christmas.   This one was particularly poignant as it juxtaposes a part-time janitor's struggle to support his family with the splendor of his employer, Google.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

I HEART Freecyclers/Freecycling

If you don't know what I am talking about ... you clearly haven't met me.

I learned about freecycling when I was preparing for my move to Albuquerque -- from a woman at the LDS Family Center, of all places.

I had been doing some family tree research and was stumped. I knew I needed to go to the LDS Center because they have the resources ... but it was at the time when the fight over same sex marriage was in full swing.  I felt like a traitor going to the home of the H8ters... but I needed the resources.

A lovely older woman was there helping ... she must have asked me five times if I was Mormon -- no, just here to look up the family tree stuff.  That is another story for another post -- I probably already wrote about it.

But, for some reason our talk turned to her foster child who aged out while in her care -- the woman's birth children hooked up the young woman with all the things she needed for her first apartment through freecycle.


What a find... I signed up immediately for the Albuquerque freecycle because I was taking very little with me ... and would need things when I arrived.  But I was cautioned not to sign up til I got here so that I wouldn't get so much email of things I couldn't claim.

The Albuquerque Freecycle is vastly different than the Bay Area Freecycle -- but it is a community I adore ... we are all not-so-secret hoarders ... with things that we keep because we might need them someday -- and can't bear to put them in the trash (Thanks, Dad, for that genetic trait).

There are three kinds of posts OFFER (what you want to get rid of), WANTED (the tag says it all), and TAKEN (what you say when it is off your hands and into someone else's).

But given the right impetus -- someone else *needs* it -- we are happy to part with all the junk that is clogging up our lives.

On the one side of my heart is the hoarder -- but on the other is the pain of remembering what I couldn't bring with me when I left NJ.

As a result, I give things away with abandon ... anything that I haven't touched in a while, I feel like I should offer -- I don't always, but the thought crosses my mind.

And, the truth is, I ***LOVE*** giving things away.  When a million people want the same stupid thing I posted, I wish I had forty seven, so I could give them all away.

Sometimes, I find myself rummaging through my things to see if there is something I can post.

It is some other kind of madness, I am sure -- the other side of the coin of the hoarder?

In any case, there have been very few times when I posted an *ask* that wasn't fulfilled -- and I have scored many other things that I didn't *need* but couldn't help myself.  I find myself throwing some of those things back into the pool now as I pack.

Hooray for freecyclers... may we all have what we want ...

Wednesday, December 18, 2013


So, if you can begin to pack things *you don't need* weeks before the move ... doesn't that mean that you don't actually need those things? ever?  Like, do you have to move them?

As I packed said things, I really wondered why I was keeping anything that I either didn't remember, hadn't ever used, and/or had found actually useless in the past.

As the time draws closer, and the packing unit smaller, I may just have to decide what really stays and what really goes.

It gives meaning to the piles of things randomly left on the side of the road or dumped in the dumpster ... they didn't fit and no one could justify them anyway.

And where will I put all the books?  That is really the question ... between my own academic books acquired over the time here and the library books I need to take with me, ugh, it could be a whole trailer full of books in the end.

Umm... and I feel like I am putting things into a time capsule - with cassettes, vhs and dvds, I feel like a dinosaur waking up in the land of new technology.

Packing ... it's a life experience.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

in the well

I have spent the better part of the last two weeks inside of a deep, dark hole.

It would appear that in order to grieve, I need to stop, be very still and let emotions come.

If I go out of the house, I immediately pull on the "I'm ok" face - which is actually code for "I feel supremely vulnerable" -- and then the steel door comes down between me and my emotions.

I am afraid that this is not a good long-term solution ... and I am not sure what will work in its place.  However, it is where I have needed to be -- for as long as I could.

Today, tomorrow and on and on until I finish, I will be packing and preparing for my departure.

There may be time for a little more wallowing ... or not ... but the backlog of grief is not something I want to face again.  So, I hope that I can learn to give myself space for this pain.

Holding it in is not an option ... and pretending to be "OKAY" isn't either.

But for now, I am trying to rain down compassion on myself -- whatever I need right now is all I can do.

Monday, December 16, 2013

NRU education edition

At some point we need to have a serious discussion about the charter school *experiment* and what it means that we keep charging down this path despite a lack of evidence that charters are really making a difference.  I think it is too easy, like the council person in this story, to say, no more charters.  Rather, we need to use this as the opening to discuss what we want from public education -- and learn from those charters that are providing what we want -- including how much it costs to do so.

This is a fascinating piece about what teachers (and schools) can do to better handle student outbursts by understanding how children deal with trauma.  Truly fascinating.  Once again, however, it demonstrates the complex set of situations teachers deal with -- and are expected to be expert at handling.

Here is a trio of pieces on the common core ... hope that the links last ... I believe the ap news reporters were trying to be objective by including one piece that present opposition. However most of the common core reporting has been biased to the intervention -- with opposition presented as belly-achers or paranoid teachers... what do you think?

For many years, researchers have been advocating that adolescents not get up early for school because they have erratic sleep patterns due to their physical changes.  Here's another round of that discussion -- sadly, no one says what we all know -- high schools start when they do in order to allow for sports programs ... blame the teachers if you like, but I am sure you could find enough teachers who want to sleep in, too, to work at schools that took adolescent sleep patterns into account.

Here's another interesting story asking whether or not the STEM crisis really exists -- and what would that mean to the many interventions set up to deal with that crisis?

Oh... and the band played on -- MOOCs failure to save the world and "low-cost" online education coming to those who we don't think are Ivy Leaguers -- low cost in quotes because the venture is for profit and led by someone that has capitalized (or tried to) on NCLB among other questionable educational endeavors.   Once again, all I can say is Harvard and U Penn were good enough for you, but not for those coming behind you... and just cause you're brown don't make it ok.

NRU more mish mash

Sometimes I wish I lived in New York

This article is super long ... and I would like to say, "worth it," but I was a little confused as to what I learned by the end.  Youth today feel how about online slurs?

I am not sure where this all will lead, but I can't say that I am unimpressed by this new pope -- seems like we finally traded in the Nazi Youth pope for someone with some integrity and good thoughts. 

Turns out that not all people whose health insurance policies were cancelled are outraged.  The right's ability to find people willing to say -- I want to keep my crappy health insurance that would have gotten changed and price increased anyway... boo hoo hoo -- does not mean that all people actually feel that way.  Call the waa-mbulance! 

God help me, I want to see the movie about making Mary Poppins into a movie -- even with Tom Hanks as Disney.

I think Amy Adams is one of my new favorite actresses ... I put her up there with Jessica Lange for acting ability -- especially her versatility.  She was awesome in Junebug!  I hope she is as good in American Hustle.

So happy that these six people were found safe after two days in the sub-zero weather -- these cold fronts moving all the way across the country have been brutal -- I am looking forward to 40 degree weather -- that's how cold it's been here.  I hope that those homeless folks will find their way to shelters ... six of them have already succumbed to the cold.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

NRU wow, just wow edition

There are times when you read an article and you just cannot believe what is being reported there.  Often, I am staring at my computer and shaking my head. I am thinking, "Wow, just wow."

There are no other words. 

Here are some of these stories.

The Young Conservatives of UT Austin were at it again ... but decided to shut it down.  I am so confused as to how they imagine having this game would have promoted dialogue.  And further flummoxed by the leader's reaction to the dialogue he did receive.  Did he think he would get love letters?!

Rampant racism is not confined to Texas, my heart breaks for the young man these three have been terrorizing. The article does not make it clear, but it seems like he had to live with this behavior for quite a while before someone decided to call the police. I wonder how the university dealt with it initially...

Will someone please tell me why this guy is still on the streets?  He has issues and should be locked up -- on principle, but the number of infractions is getting ridiculous.  Perhaps these charges will stick.

So...this story just keeps getting weirder.  First we find out the women have been held for thirty years, then the suspects are released on bail, and now it turns out that the women were involved in a cult.  And though this piece starts with the death of another woman, it seems like we never really get the full story on her fall.

Monday, December 09, 2013

Snow update...

I hid from the snow all day Thursday -- and when I had to be at my meeting on Friday morning at 10am, I realized I needed to start figuring out how to dig out.

At 6am, the street and sidewalk looked coated with ice or frost ... but as the morning wore on, other cars pulled out without slipping.  But there was at least three inches of snow piled on my car.

I started to scrape off the snow -- with the squigee my dad gave me many years ago -- and it came apart in my hands.  For some reason, I have no less than four left hand leather gloves, but no right hands.  So, I wracked my brain to remember where the fleece gloves were -- oh, yeah, in the trunk, under three inches of snow.

So, after my right hand nearly froze off - I ran it under hot water - then I turned the car on again, moved it so that it was under more sunlight -- and tried again.  This happened several times over forty-five minutes.  Then my car windshields were clear.

It never got over 36 degrees all day -- so, what little snow was able to thaw from the roof of my car then turned into ice in artful lines down the windshield.


Sunday morning, I woke to even more snow on the ground and flurries.

I rolled over and went back to sleep ... I hate driving in the snow, so I might just as well stay in -- turn on the oven and bake something to warm the house.  It's my own personal ghetto fireplace.


We expect the snow again today -- it's supposed to start at 7am and keep on through noon.

If only I didn't have anything to do outside the house -- life would be just fine.

Friday, December 06, 2013

Poetry Thursday, John Donne Style - one day late... oops

No man is an island,
Entire of itself,
Every man is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thy friend's
Or of thine own were:
Any man's death diminishes me,
Because I am involved in mankind,
And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls;
It tolls for thee. 

From Meditation XVII from Devotions upon Emergent Occasions

Remembering my cousin -- happy 44th, Michelle... miss you.

Thursday, December 05, 2013


As promised, it started snowing and then it didn't stop ... not sticking on the pavement or the asphalt, for now. 

Monday, December 02, 2013

NRU mish mash

Yikes ... so, if you happen to have an STD, but you cannot manage to get the courage up to tell your exes -- even though you may have infected said exes or been infected by said exes -- someone will help you.  Personal responsibility, where are you??

So, there are possibilities for careers outside of academia for me and others ... this is a little light we need to hold on to.

A nice piece on the Emery-go-round that was on National NPR.  I have never actually taken this free bus, but I have contemplated taking it several times.

I am glad that the powers that be have seen their way clear to at least exploring the organ donations this young man would like to make to his family members. Since I don't believe in the death penalty, it doesn't even bother me if it is a stalling tactic.  May he be allowed to share life.

Taking the award for crazy news is this piece on Andy Kaufman's brother believing that Andy was still alive and just hiding out being a SAHD for the past 30 years.  First of all, was this brother estranged from Andy during the illness? Did he not go to the funeral?  Is he in need of attention? Medical or psychiatric treatment?  In a follow up, though, he admitted that it was a hoax, just not that he was behind it.  Hmmm... this really should have come out closer to April 1 or December 28.

Words do have power, and I am so glad that these students are standing up for what they believe in -- and doing a good job writing about it, too!

I read Doris Lessing's The Golden Notebook back in the early 1980s when I was a sad but curious pre-teen and teen... it was on a list of things a teacher once told me I should read.  As a dutiful student, concerned I would be outed as a philistine from south Oxnard, I diligently made my way through the list.  Much of what I found on the list did open my eyes to the world, and it often appealed to my darker brooding emotions at that age.  Since the main character's name was also Anna, I felt a strange affinity to it.  As I reflect on all I read at this time, I often come back to Lessing's book -- and wonder just how much of it went right over my head.  I think my earliest conception of communism came from that book.  As a result of reading it, I found notebooks of various colors and tried to keep them according to Lessing's character's code.  It was a treasure to read that book -- to escape into that adult world.  Thank Doris Lessing and may you rest in peace.

Despite the comments attached at the bottom of this story, it is so refreshing to see how youth deal with issues their generation faces.  They demonstrate much more grace, complexity and capacity for compassion than their adult counterparts.  It is awful that someone's clothing was lit afire -- with, of course, devastating results. However, to decide that this is about money or hate without hearing the whole story betrays the preconceptions of those willing to get it wrong regardless of what it might to do both actors and their families.  It seems to me that the youth quoted in this piece understand the weight of the incident while still being able to see that escalating the situation by calling it a hate-crime is less than useful in solving any problem.  I remember when the SF Chronicle first reported this story, they called the victim a transient ... so, it seems that jumping to conclusions is a common problem.  My hat is off to this reporter who actually tried to look under, around and inside this story for more depth.

For the hypocrite file, I bet Liz was sure at her sister's wedding and I bet she gives birthday and Christmas gifts to her sister's children ... but she needs those tea party votes.