Saturday, October 30, 2010
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
This year, they are at it again.
Other recent attractions: lynx kittens! look at their giant paws!
A new dolphin calf has made its debut; they often don't survive, so this one was kept secluded for the first three months.
So you want to get a PhD in the Humanities?
But don't despair! the "practical" professions have their own versions.
So you want to be a lawyer?
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
Saturday, October 23, 2010
Thursday, October 21, 2010
But when I got home I the crank returned: I couldn't find my cell phone, I spilled a drink all over everything, I just wanted to throw a temper tantrum. I managed to channel some of my negative energy into cleaning out my closets, and my daughter and I filled four bags with stuff to donate. Tomorrow, Savers! Now, I'm calm, but baffled. From whence the crank? Hormones? static cling? who the hell knows. But I found this video via someone else's cranky post, so I thought it would be appropriate to share.
Saturday, October 16, 2010
My girl turns 16 in just a few days! Not enough candles on the cake, I know, but it is still our yummy chocolate cake.
I will not freak out about how fast she got to this milestone by freaking out about the fact that is is already mid-way through October. The weeks are flying by, but with this late fall spell of warm weather it doesn't feel as if we are almost to Halloween.
To Do list for fall:
close storm windows,
back up all computers,
break out the decorative gourds!
take down compost,
rake pine needles in back yard and put in the compost bin,
bag up and take down the months of recycling back-logged on the back porch for next pick-up day,
get rid of extra chairs in the living room to make room for the new comfy purple armchair!
Repair leak in porch roof, get rid of water stain in living room ceiling.
purge summer wardrobes and take a load to Savers, rotate in winter clothes, find out if winter boots and coats still fit growing kid.
Decide if keeping all those shoes with high heels that I never wear anymore is really worth it.
Take the A/C out of the window and find the storm window that goes there, not like last year....
Clean out fridge and cook up veggies to freeze,
Return overdue library book.
Get out of grading jail.
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
Rachel and Kurt performed a perfecto homage to this famous Barbra Streisand and Judy Garland duet:
Santana and Mercedes did a great job with this song, but here's the incomparable Tina Turner in a soulful live version of "River Deep, Mountain High" (not the Phil Spector version we heard on the radio)
Hello, I am Joanna and I have Major Depressive Disorder. I live a happy healthy life with a mental illness that has, in the past, been a lot tougher to manage. At one time I did not believe I would survive. But I got help. I will never forget, and I will always be grateful to the people who helped me believe that "it gets better" because in the worst moments of depression it is precisely the overwhelming feeling that it will never get better that leads to crippling despair.
The topic of suicide is a tough one because there are so many fears and stigmas, so many judgments attached to it. I know from my own experience with chronic depression that suicidal ideation can be a symptom of an underlying physiological disorder as much as it is a response to situational pain. In my case, treating the physiological disorder with medications along with intense work to face and understand my responses to situations has helped keep me safe, and has made this disease one I have survived.
A message that helped me enormously came from a book by David Conroy, Out of the Nightmare: Recovery from Depression and Suicidal Pain.
He states: "Suicide is not chosen; it happens when pain exceeds resources for coping with pain." This is not an easy message to understand on its face, so if you want to know more, check out the book. In my case, I was fortunate to get the help I needed in decreasing the pain and increasing the coping resources.
Sometimes, the resources for coping with pain include hearing messages of hope and acceptance. They may not be enough to overcome the pain for all, but they may be a start for overcoming the pain for many. Watching the "It Gets Better" project unfold, I reflect on my own struggles and I'm grateful that people are bringing these messages out into the light.
A platform that allows people to create dialogue can be a powerful thing. Dan Savage and his partner Terry posted their "It Gets Better" video on YouTube, and kicked off something that has become bigger than their one message. They started a YouTube channel and when the responses reached the limit (650), they encouraged people to start their own YouTube Channels or to post to their facebook page. Now there is a stand-alone website. And the messages to the facebook page and the YouTube show no signs of letting up. From ordinary folks and famous folks, a wide variety of people are speaking out and putting faces and stories to their expressions of love and support. Never underestimate the power of stories or peer support.
This is not to say that this project is enough, and to be fair to Dan Savage, he never claimed it was. He understands perfectly well that much more needs to be done than "send a message." Some of the thoughtful (and less thoughtful) posts people have put up in response (a few here at The Atlantic) point out that we also need to listen, to acknowledge that racism may mean that gay teens don't find support in some parts of the gay community, or that we should be thinking about ACTION for change. Yes, indeed! But these simple messages are still important. Hearing these messages may be a first step for someone, one that enables them to take the next step, to reach out and connect, to get help. I know that I needed this message before I could do anything else to heal.
So, what to do? The Make It Better Project takes up the challenge. Check it out! Yes, you can take action now! Be inspired by Lucinda Naylor's DVD to ART project, or the Return the DVD project.
Any teenager with any questions about sex or gender (and not just fears or experiences of bullying)can go to Scarlateen.com for excellent, accurate, non-judgmental resources. Heather Corinna and Dan Savage talk about the need for kids to be safe, and how it is not always possible to be out and safe at a very young age or in certain circumstances, which is one reason why this message to teens is so important: you may not be able to control everything in your life now, but you can choose to accept yourself now, and choose life now.
From young people who work to help their peers:
From folks in San Francisco:
From members of the SF Gay Men's Chorus, very thoughtful and detailed messages about how and why it gets better! and a song.
And from sweetkellygirl who has the courage to call herself a "recovering homophobe" and who says It Gets Better for homophobes as well (and that includes all of us at some point).
Sunday, October 10, 2010
I only know him from his story and these pictures. Behind the apartment in Zaragoza is a school whose grounds shelter a number of feral cats. Staff and neighbors feed them so they survive, although they are very scruffy, and not all of them make it. It's distressing, but at least they get some attention.
Apparently, some people have taken to dumping or abandoning cats there because they know there will be a minimum of care for them. One day, Loren was looking out the window, and saw a young man with a backpack approach the fence, take out a cat, hug it, and then leave. He was clearly unhappy to be doing it, but he had left his cat there to fend for itself. This made us very sad!
Loren told our neighbor Marta, a lovely and tender-hearted soul who rescues animals, what he'd seen and she and others who keep an eye on the animals there saw that this cat was not adapting to its new life. It was a house cat that was not going to make it because it couldn't compete with the feral cats for food. It became skinny, matted and was clearly struggling to survive.
Our neighbor managed to get the cat to come with her (it seemed happy to be rescued) and put an announcement up. A family adopted it, had a vet look at it, and shaved off its matted fur. They named him Loren after the person who helped start the rescue, but although he's a kitty that loves people, he didn't get along with their other animals, and they had to put him up for adoption again. Luckily, now that his hair had grown back, you can see how these pictures helped find him a new home.
We're happy the story turned out well, but we wish there were some way we could let his original owner know that he is OK. I wonder if his new family has given him a new name?
Wednesday, October 06, 2010
Sunday, October 03, 2010
One feature of Wikipedia I want to explore is the Wikimedia Commons, where I can find media files that are made available for free and without copyright issues.
There are many stories about how Wikipedia came to be. I like the image associated with this one. Hah! I did not know this: "Wiki isn't an acronym. It comes from the Hawaiian word for "quick," and derives from the name of the first wiki, "The Wiki Wiki Web."
Note to self:Cool tools to explore: PMWiki and the Google Suite GoogleSites which is, according to Jude, "spiritually a wiki."
Ladia Yates is AMAZING! watch her!
Dr Rico is ASTOUNDING!
Charles Riley (Lil Buck) soloing to "Tightrope." BEAST!
Here is Ladia teaching us the moves.
Today, Fresca is accompanying Lucinda Naylor this morning at the Basilica in a manifestation of the power of love over hate. As Lucinda says in this letter to the Star Tribune* her art project of turning the Catholic Bishop's (funded by the Knights of Columbus and an anonymous donor) DVD messages of hate into a work of art that manifests the spirit of love does not come from hate, but from love. She the solidarity and support of many people of faith as well as those of us whose families are targeted by the the Bishop and all the others who try to tell us we are bad or wrong or unworthy.
So, Bishop, listen up!
We need to help our children survive the messages of hate. Too many are succumbing to despair and ending their lives because of hateful acts against them.
This morning, my daughter and I watched this video that Dan and Terry made to kick off their "It Gets Better" project, in response to all the stories of young people taking their own lives, many of them because of the relentless bullying to which they were subjected by their peers. Art can make a difference. Let's spread these messages of strength, love and solidarity, even as we mourn the stunted spirits of those consumed by hatred.
UPDATED TO ADD: here's a handy round-up of some of the more famous folks who've contributed to the "It Gets Better" project, not because their stories are more important, but simply because their fame helps attract attention to the project itself, and is especially likely to appeal to teens who are looking for role models.
*Because it is so beautiful, I'm including Lucinda's letter to the paper:
Lucinda Naylor on her DVD to ART project
The Star Tribune's Sept. 28 article about my DVD to ART project, "Job on the line over DVD protest," missed the point. I aim to create a hope- and spirit-filled artwork that expresses inclusion out of the archbishop's disheartening, divisive DVDs. The project is not an anger-fueled protest. Instead, it is energized by all the wonderful, loving Catholic people who know the sky won't fall if Minnesota legalizes civil marriage for same-sex couples. It will be a positive expression of this spirit of love and transformation.
This is a personal project. I never capitalized on my title of artist-in-residence at the Basilica to promote this project. I accept my suspension from that role as the unfortunate by-product of taking art down off the wall and into the hubbub of the community.
Many Catholic congregations support this project. DVD to ART has accepted the support of Protestant churches to host collection boxes because their congregations have the freedom to support the project without backlash from the archdiocese. Obviously, Catholic churches do not.
DVD for ART is partnering with ReturnTheDVD.org, which has pledged a financial donation to St. Stephen's Human Services, an outreach program for the homeless, for each DVD that is sent to them.
ReturnTheDVD's website states: "We are a group of Catholics who are concerned about the priorities of the leaders in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis." Their action, distributing 400,000 DVDs on the single subject of same-sex marriage shortly before the upcoming election, reflects misguided priorities and strays from the essential teachings of Christ.
The money and effort expended would be put to better use by focusing on Catholicism's "preferential option for the poor" and the commandment to love thy neighbor.LUCINDA NAYLOR, MINNEAPOLIS
Saturday, October 02, 2010
Here are the guidelines:
+Post a picture or make/take/create your own that captures what YOU are most passionate for students to learn about.
+Give your picture a short title.
+Title your blog post “Meme: Passion Quilt.”
+Link back to this blog entry.
CHANGE YOUR PERSPECTIVE on your relationships to others.
As it says on this page of maps in which south is up,
"It needn't be a Eurocentric world."
Friday, October 01, 2010
I don't know if we had a TV when we were very little kids in Texas, before I was 5. I do remember watching Romper Room at least once, and I have a memory of Mr. Greenjeans, so there must have been a TV around, but my mother was very big on DIY toys and going out to play.
When we moved to Japan we had a TV, but of course most of what we watched was in Japanese. The only TV in English was the Danny Kaye show, and then the "Moonriver" guy. The rest was samurai movies, incredible animated cartoons (I still remember the theme song from Obake no Q), and Japanese variety shows. This didn't stop us from watching, but we had to invent our own dialogues for the movies.
Once back in the US, in 1968, the three of us kids gorged ourselves on color TV in English, fairly indiscriminately. If it was on, we watched it.
When I moved away to go to college, there was a TV in the dorm lounge, and in various apartments I shared, but watching TV was not something I did much of. For the years of graduate school, my parade of roommates brought TVs into the house, but nothing fancy. Sometimes there was no TV. I spent more time watching movies at the cheap arthouse cinemas than watching TV, although we did go through a heavy McNeil-Lehrer period, and I did get hooked on a Venezuelan telenovela. I remember this Black Flag song "TV Party" from those years.
When I moved to Minnesota, I got my first credit card and bought my first TV. It still works and we still watch it. No cable, no DVR, no satellite, just regular broadcast TV with crappy reception. No remote, so we change channels or volume with the little buttons. We do have a VCR and a DVD player hooked up to it, but now the laptop is my preferred way of watching DVDs (did I say we have no remote? can't watch the special features without one) because the quality of the image is so much better.
So this summer I think I will take old faithful to the electronics recycling center. The question I have now is, what now? I think I could live without TV again, but I'd like a better monitor for watching DVDs, etc.
One solution is to bet an HDTV to use as a monitor and hook it up to a Mac mini, thereby having a TV-computer set up that allows one to browse, show photos, etc as well as watch TV. Or I could buy and iMac and get Apple TV. I want to leave room for future developments in receiving and broadcasting multimedia content.
The geeks who game and have been doing all this stuff for years with their tinkering and hacking have all kinds of scorn for either solution, but I am that Mac customer who wants to take it out of the box, plug it in, and use it. I don't want to have to spend hours and hours doing research, buy features I'll never use, or pay twice as much as I need to.