Friday, February 28, 2014

NRU - more mish mash

As I sit and read books based on qualitative/historical studies, I reflect on how easy it is to note how data is presented through the filter of the author's interpretation.  Then I read this article on older dads and biological/behavioral disorders in their offspring.  Ostensibly this is a quantitative/scientific study claiming that older sperm, like older eggs, has the potential (and according to this article, substantial potential) to create progeny that have autism, ADHD and bipolar disorder.  I was struck by the final piece:
"Although the authors of the study acknowledge their findings do not establish a causal link between a father's age and a child's emotional and academic vulnerability, they conclude that their findings are consistent with the hypothesis that more frequent mutations in the sperm of older men is "causally related" to their childrens' higher risk of poor outcomes."
Turns out quantitative/scientific studies are interpretations as well.

Seems as though Arizona's governor may have learned her lesson when it comes to setting her state up to lose a lot of revenue.  She vetoed the gay hate/religious freedom bill.  So no law in AZ that says you can decide what to do with your business based on your hate.  As Jon Stewart said, I am glad she vetoed it, but it would be better if they could figure out that there is more at stake than revenue.

I truly enjoyed this piece on folks chasing a higher minimum wage across state lines.  I think it does an excellent job of exposing the fallacies being discussed by talking heads that haven't earned anything close to minimum wage since they were teenagers.  There is much to be said for getting closer to the actual issue before making pronouncements about it.

When academia seems to be the pit of snakes I tried to avoid for so many years, I wonder if I could get a job like this.  It sounds like fun!

I am not sure what peace in gentrification looks like but I wonder if this might be the start of detente.  Or there are some folks who might feel like it is just Novocaine.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Quote Thursday ... late edition

He that conceals 
his grief 
finds no remedy for it.
 ~ Turkish Proverb

View from my sister's resting place.

Courtesy of Daily Affirmations

In a not-so-subtle hint, the grief counselor gave me a *handout* on feelings on Tuesday.  I am to try to figure out how to put into words my feelings of grief... not my observations of my grief or others' feelings... my feelings.  

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

NRU mish mash

There just might be something for everyone in this news round up.

These are tagged for idealism:
I am not sure I understand how these folks are going to work it out financially -- but I admire the motivation they describe for *giving away* their restaurant.  In a world where many children are not going into the family business if it is in the farming or service sector, I guess this is as good a solution for solidifying your legacy as any other.  I don't have time to read all the press on this -- maybe these other articles explain how the Snyder's think this work out for them financially.

Also, I was interested in the fact that no one mentioned one of my favorite movies *ever*: The Spitfire Grill.  It is all about passing a restaurant down ... with a contest.  So, though I applaud the sentiment and motivation, it is not as novel as the article might make it out to be.  Perhaps the author of the article is 12.  It happens.

I love this story about a philanthropist in Washington DC... the best part is the "mother standard" - you have to read to the end to get it.  I wish all people would feel the need to give something ... even a little. And thank you, sir, for the pandas at the Zoo! I love that place.

Much has been said about the progressive perspective of the new pope, and I have *demurely* disagreed.  Laugh now because you know I have never demurely done anything.  Actually, I have just said that I think we need to see what comes with the pretty phrases.  Something, by the way, I said we should do with Obama as well. 

The power is always in the action... and if the action is aimed at power, then we can start to talk about progressiveness, change, etc.  And, today's we have news about the new cardinals and the decision-making policies he wants to bring back to the Vatican
"He does not want to make changes by himself, like a monarch," Polti said. "He wants to create an atmosphere like in Vatican Council Two where the bishops discuss and then together in a common way they take their decision."
That, my friends, is change I can believe in.  I was especially taken with his admonition to the new cardinals that this was not a gift or award being bestowed, but a commitment, a larger responsibility to his flock.  Now I will be praying that 1) haters like this stay to the margins and 2) those whose power is being threatened do not conspire to get rid of Francis.

These are tagged for perspective:
This story gets more and more complicated (some might argue nuanced) as the "facts" of the case trickle out.  That is to say, as the legal machine marches forward, and these stories replace the emotional pieces on the loss of the deceased, it becomes less straight-forward.  Thus, perspective gives shape and adds layers.  It is no less a devastating and senseless loss of a vibrant young woman ... but in the rush to outrage, the lives of two other potentially just as vibrant young women were dangled for retribution.  As I follow this story, I am interested in how the prosecutor adds in charges ... less than murder.  It seems like it is one way, we don't often see or understand, that the scales try to balance justice with vengeance.

I am reading a crazy book about "forced sacrifice" and I wonder how it applies to the legal system -- frenzy turns people who did stupid things into murderers or murderers into justified homicidal crazies.  Ah ... the need for perspective and balance is so quickly displaced by righteous outrage on all sides.  I am no less guilty of thinking about these cases from only one side -- but it is not often we are provided enough information to calculate balance into our own reasoning.

So, this one should probably be in the education round up, but I was more interested in how they explained the way people approach "sliding scale" (here called indexed tuition) -- that is how it opened the field to so many more than "financial aid" did.  I guess pride, powerful motivator to do better/well, can also be what holds people back.  Glad these schools have figured out strategies for leveling the field a little.

This is also lemon/lemonade material:
I was tickled to see that folks at LAX realized they could solve their invasive plant species problem by helping the folks at LA Zoo feed some giraffes.  Sometimes, people do think outside of the box -- and work together!!

This one is tagged for outrage:
I heard the story on NPR first thing (but I can't find the audio, so here's the AP piece via NYTimes) and then got around to this article.  I am still in awe of the fact that someone has to explain why legislating hate might not be the right thing -- or constitutional.  Although as the piece accurately points out, it wouldn't be the first time folks in our country used laws to institutionalize hate/marginalization/discrimination. 

I guess these legislators (and those in the other states who also want this kind of law) just enjoy being the butt of Jon Stewart jokes.  If you can claim you are defending one group's right to discriminate against another group, it is not clear what you think is *right* or what you learned in church.

I am also left wondering if any other bible proscriptions matter to the legislators... you know like, will they not serve adulterers, murderers or those who do not honor their fathers -- or who take the Lord's name in vain?  Imagine if all the people who said OMG or Jesus Christ! out of turn couldn't buy any cookies at the bakery.  What if you accidentally sold a cake to a couple of homosexuals and then found out about it later... would you go to hell? Could you sue those folks for defrauding you?! Yeah ... it is that ridiculous. Ridiculous. I suggest those supposedly god-loving/fearing/obeying folks take their indignant rage down to a homeless shelter and give out some baked goods.

Just one more thing (remember I did tag this one OUTRAGE), what gives haters the right to call their hate in the name of the Lord?  What if the rest of us Christians (and Muslims, Buddhists, etc...) called our legislators and told them to stop calling out GOD when they were hating?  Wouldn't the law need to support my freedom of religion, too? Remember that one other rule Jesus handed out before he gave his life for your sins: do unto others... yeah, just like that.

Monday, February 24, 2014

oops -- quote Thursday -- a little late

The glory of friendship is not the outstretched hand, nor the kindly smile nor the joy of companionship; it is the spiritual inspiration that comes to one when he discovers that someone else believes in him and is willing to trust him.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

[Photos courtesy of my mom -- through the window... of course.  Completely unrelated except that I am trying to appreciate all the bright spots about being home -- and this gorgeousness is definitely a BRIGHT spot.]

Friday, February 21, 2014

on breaking the internet and setting boundaries

I took the weekend off from parent minding and went with a friend to visit my sister in Las Vegas.  On our extraordinarily long drive, thank you SoCal traffic!, we traded war wounds.  We are both adult children living with our parents.  He does not have as his purpose trying to maneuver his mom into a different lifestyle as I do.  But, apparently, that does not give one immunity to crazy shenanigans.

After I told him about being given the night off from making dinner -- though not invited out with my parents -- he said to me, "Well at least you didn't break the internet!"

We both can do much of our work from home - a concept that is foreign to our parents.  This seems to be the cause of much angst -- on his side, his mother worries that he is taxing the internet by using it too much.  Good thing she doesn't know how much I stream through my lil computer.

Recently, his mom had been dusting and inadvertently knocked the cord connecting the modem either to the cable/dsl or the power cord.  Consequently, she figured that it was my friend's use of the internet that had caused it to stop working.  She went to him and said, "You broke the internet!"

He investigated and found the cord unplugged.

She was unconvinced that she had been at fault.

In my case, I would have gotten a phone call about the internet being broken -- usually when I am over 1000 miles from home.  So, finding the unplugged cord would have taken more work than just looking at the modem.

In fact, almost every evening, I have to convince my mom that she can open her fb account to see the photos my brother has posted.  We walk through the steps; she insists that she did just these steps; and then it works! Voila! All I have to do is stand next to her and the internet works!

The therapist and I are working on the boundaries -- but, let's be honest. I am really the one that has to do the work.  I know what to do, but often, I fail. 

I put all the other needs, which appear to be piling by the millions, in front of mine.  And at the end of the night, my work is not done and I feel like a failure.

And I wonder, for the millionth time, why did I move home? 

But then, I get reminded why it is also a blessing to be nearer.

I get to spend Tuesday afternoons with my nephew. 

Any time with the mijo is good time.

I can make dates with my niece to make cupcakes and brownies -- and watch movies - and be told, "I need some alone time."

And I could go with my uncle to his doctor's appointment -- and get the necessary information that might or not might not get communicated otherwise.  I get the peace of mind of knowing that I can have a little more time with him -- even when he is infuriating, he's my uncle, my godfather, and an important part of my life. 

It tinges the Mexican Archie Bunker moments with a little gold glitter -- we won't have him forever. 

I can't fix anything.

I have to keep reminding myself.

But, if it makes my aunt and uncle feel a little safer to know I am a phone call away -- then I guess it is worth incurring my parents' wrath when I try to throw some things out. 

Thank goodness for the reminders because sometimes I really do forget why this was a good (and necessary) idea.

Monday, February 17, 2014

NRU delayed valentine

Just read this piece about the kindness of a trash truck driver.  I am guessing that trash truck drivers don't generally have fan clubs -- but this kid was definitely Manuel's number one fan.  Turns out Manuel was noticing the kid, too. 

It goes to show you just how important it is to notice, even the small details.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Poetry Thursday -- valentine edition

Your task is not to seek for love, 
but only to seek and 
pull down all the barriers 
within yourself 
which you have built 
against it.

baby sister and new husband at their wedding

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

NRU passings & controversy

I woke Tuesday morning to the news of the passing of these two people:

Stuart Hall and Shirley Temple Black.

Stuart Hall is a theorist who I spent the greater part of the last two years getting to know through his writings.  This article about his passing left me with more questions than answers.  I am glad that someone thought to write about him ... even if the piece did not make the airwaves.

Shirley Temple Black was one of my favorites growing up ... in the endless hours of old movies I watched, those with Shirley were some of the best.  Heidi is still my favorite - though it may be the one with the least singing and dancing.  I heard an interview with her many years ago that renewed my interest and admiration for her.  She said that she never saw any of the movies she was in as a child.  Her mother wouldn't allow it.  It was part of her mother trying to keep her the same size as her britches.  Acting was a job ... and when it was over, she went on with her life in grand fashion.

NPR was full of news on Mrs. Black.  This one I particularly liked.  And I was glad of that, but it made me a little sad that she seemed to be the only one who passed of note.

In other news, all media outlets (and fb news feeds) have been full of news of the death of Marius (the giraffe).  This article started out interesting and then fizzled.  I heard the director interviewed on NPR -- he was steadfast in his rationale for the decision to put down the animal, offer zoo guests the chance to see the autopsy and use the meat as feed for the tigers.  One wonders, though, if all at the zoo felt as clinically as he did about the series of events.  And I rewatched Blackfish the other day, and it was as disturbing the second time around.  Is the outrage outsize or not?

In the same way that judging the right or wrong of Marius' death, this tidbit from the defense in the beating death of the young Asian woman in Santa Ana brings us the same complexity that fb news feeds and outrage deny us.  Is it murder if they were all fighting?  Does this turn of fact explain the strange silence from her friends more than the Vietnamese immigrant community's distrust of the police?

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

This and that and grief...

I love cemeteries. I run in them, visit them, pick them out to see while on vacation.

For years, every time I was in my hometown, I made a point of visiting the cemeteries where my loved ones are buried. 

Since I have been home, this time, I have not been to the cemetery.  Usually I am the one going and inviting others; this time, I have turned down several invitations.

I itched for their to be a marker for my brother's grave.  For weeks, I pressured my mother to make it happen.

The headstone was finally placed last week, and when my mom said she wanted to go, I couldn't it.

The grief is too real, but the pain of seeing it inscribed somewhere is somehow more than I can bear.

I don't know what will happen when I see it.  I don't know what it will feel like.  I don't know if it is fear that holds me back or intuition (we had a long talk about the difference at meditation last night -- not sure where I come down on it). 

But I am trying to honor the feeling ... the thing is, that headstone will now be there forever.  Just as my brother and sister will never come back.  And that hurts more than I can express.

My sister's ashes are probably scattered to the four winds a million times over at this point -- though there is a place I could go ... but I don't want to go there either. 

I found the piece of the rock that I kept for myself the other day -- it is sitting next to my bed.  I look at it remember, she is gone.  Sometimes it is the only way I can manage to believe it.  Though I have been flashing on her head, limp to the side, in the hospital bed.  I struggled so much to understand - was she still with us or already gone?

My brother-in-law is dating.  My sister-in-law is still distraught.  Every day is a struggle.

We all reach for whatever we think will make us feel better -- but I am actually trying to just feel whatever it feels like every day.

It is not exactly a space of productivity.

Monday, February 10, 2014

NRU - mish mash, 114th edition

One of the boxes my stuff ended up in was labeled:

It was a label left over from the friend who had given me the boxes.  In fact, this box contained only shoes.  But, the label is perfect for this news round up.


I truly enjoyed this opinion piece by an Asian American researcher on the myth of the model minority and those who would perpetuate it.

It is a rare and beautiful treat to find an earnestly researched memorial about a homeless man.  The lovingly recalled remarks are the best part.  Here is an example:
"I kind of irritated him and he irritated me. But he was interesting," Baumann said. "Although he was dirty and homeless, he was not stupid. ... He wasn't somebody you feel sorry for; he was an active part of that community."
In nearly every place I have lived, I have had relationships with the people without homes in my neighborhood, but never as close as this community held with this man.  In a time when we are absolving policemen from taking their aggression out on mentally ill people on the street, it is good to recognize that there are those of us who see people on the street as human beings.  It brings us all a little more humanity.

If I won the lottery, I would give a big chunk of it, if not all of it, to Father Greg Boyle.  I am sure he could put it to good use with Homeboy Industries.  If only they had a celebrity supporter who could open his/her pockets and invite some others to do the same.  It is bad enough that Homeboy Industries has to do the job of the city, county, state, schools and social services ... someone should be pitching in.

Turns out collecting stuff can turn into a treasure that can be sold and bring something to the world that it might not have ... feeling like I might need to make a trip to the Huntington.  It also makes me wish I were an archivist ... I wouldn't mind being the person who cataloged this collection.

What will your papers/journals/letters say about you? Would you ask that they be burned?  What would happen if someone published them instead?  All this and more (or not) in these two articles... Robert Frost's letters and Pope John Paul's diaries.  Of course, if you want to read JP's innermost thoughts, you will have to know or learn Polish. 

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

NRU education edition

For so many years I have been hoping someone would say this about science and teaching ... and maybe millions have said it - but I hope someone was listening this time, too.  The headline is really misleading -- in essence what this report was saying is that science is critical thinking and being a scientist can open new worlds for students -- not just in science.  And, it's fun, by the way.

Perhaps all we had to do was give the MOOCs a long enough rope and they would hang themselves... but, it seems to me that it would be much better to do a postmortem on what did not work -- in that way this could be a learning experience.  However, perhaps the inability to take this as learning experience is at the heart of the problem.

As I read this story, my mind turned to my brother who would have loved this program -- and how it is changing the lives of the students involved.  When folks say that education can be powerful, this is what they mean. Love it!

On class size and math and teaching ... turns out, according to this article, that maybe teachers are more than robots who should read from a screen ... hmm...

This story on missions schools in Africa (and their legacies) intrigued me due to my research on Saint Katharine Drexel's schools (and their legacies).

I appreciate that some colleges (particularly the smaller ones) are figuring out that they are better off not trying to compete with other-ly configured colleges/universities on the same terms -- changing the fee structure is one way to demonstrate that you are offering something different than a big school or a big name.  There are other ways, too, and I hope that they will think about exercising some of those.

Finally, a piece on the CSU Chancellor's plan for increasing graduation rates.

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

sick as a dog...

The wedding was lovely, but the head cold I now have is not.

Here are some pics -- I am afraid coherent thoughts are not truly possible at this time.

An example -- last night on the way home from the airport, I dropped off one aunt with the wrong suitcase ... oops.

On the other hand, we made it home safely despite my congested head.

The wedding spot various stages before the wedding took place.

 The guests hanging out at the pool before the wedding...
 The seagulls taking a dip in the "infinity" pool
 My sister and brother making an appearance on the charms surrounding the bouquet:
 The lovely couple...

 Mariachi -- a surprise for my mom's 80th birthday also on the day of the wedding.
A lovely, if expensive, setting for the wedding weekend.

If only I had not been sick...