25 October 2008

I joined the Village People...for a day


The audition process was long and competitive but I wholeheartedly but myself into it. The crowd energized me and I summoned those memories of discos from days of yore and then the hardhat fell off. In fact back in high school I won a disco dancing contest. This was long before Napoleon Dynamite pulled that stunt. I forget what I won but I suspect it was an LP of some kind.
I was not sure I'd make the cut. I tried to put it out of mind. But then I started to imagine doing "Macho Man" and having scores.....then it I heard it- my name. I ran to the stage, accepted, and joined the others in a rousing rendition of "In the Navy" followed by the barn burner "YMCA." It was out of this world. Disco is stayin' alive!

24 October 2008

Pod Reunion


On October 1st the Captain and I hosted a little Pod Reunion BBQ at lunch. The whole pod plus the adjunct and new pod members were able to attend. James unfortunately was not there for the pictures. With the fall weather co-operating, we devoured brats and hot dogs and even some Andouille Sausage (thanks to Matt) at the plaza behind my workplace.
I had been wanting to do this for a while but finally had the time to plan it. I think the Pod had great time and it felt great to bless some people. Unfortunately I forgot the NKTOB cups for the root beer.
The Pod in the picture is as follows (L 2 R) Tasha, Matt, Beth, and The Captain.

22 October 2008

Back from holiday


I had intended this Autumn holiday at Breezy Point to be one where I could do plenty of writing. The only problem- no particular place to write in the unit. The best place to write would have been the kitchen but the loud television made that absolutely impossible. I tried to make a nightstand into a desk in the bedroom. No go. It fit the laptop but was just a bit cramped. I did research instead- reading Christmas stories from the Guidepost book I referred to a few entries before. In the past I have written quite a bit at Breezy Point. But blockage kept me from the task. I wonder if Sinclair Lewis experienced any writing blockage the summer he spent at Breezy Point? Apparently we was able to write Elmer Gantry during his stay:
Sinclair Lewis during the early Breezy era, rented a cabin on Pelican one summer and wrote his novel Elmer Gantry. His book would become a movie and take its place among the finest of American literary achievements. One family member close to the Lewis-era in the lakes country says that the famous author would party at Breezy and on occasion bring the party home to his rented cabin. When Lewis had enough of the action he reportedly shot off a pistol letting the party animals know it was time to pack it in. It would seem not only was Lewis a prolific writer but an efficient party host as well! (from the Breezy Pointer, June 2006)
I only came up with a few notes, no parties, and no smoking pistols. I did try to play golf. That's a story in itself. I came to realize that when I play golf, it's not about strokes, its about not losing the balls. I lost 5.
Also on the downside, I returned home ill. Yep. Must of been the weather or that bike ride my father and I took. Its pretty bad. Seems like a flu or something.

16 October 2008

Get to know Ralph Nader

I suspect many of you may know or have heard of Ralph Nader. He's been a part of every Presidential election of this century and is an outspoken critic of corporations but a advocate for consumers. I wrote a few days ago that Ralph was coming to my town. I was unable to see him due to that lost keys fiasco (they are still missing.) A friend of mine did attend the rally and said Ralph was top notch.
I just read an interview with him done by Amy Goodman back in June. Amy pretty much does a good job of getting Ralph to discuss lots of his positions. [ed. note Amy Goodman would generally be characterized as far left liberal or perhaps a more pleasant term, progressive according to her wiki bio. Let's just say she has some baggage that some would be uncomfortable. She shares many of Ralph Nader's positions. From this interview you can see that she is rather friendly towards Ralph and doesn't challenge him on any points. Amy has enough material for another blog article but I'd rather not.] One of Nader's positions I was intrigued by was his plan for alleviating the global food crisis. Neither Obama or McCain have delved too deeply into that issue.
The interview is here.
In other third party news, a debate between the third party candidates is planned for this Sunday at Columbia University in New York, but nobody is going to show up. Well, one person will be there. The interviewer above mentioned above, Amy Goodman, will be the moderator. Perhaps this will be an easy payday if no one shows.

Poverty in Ireland

Well, it's a day late but since I usually write about Ireland I'll post the link to from the Combat Poverty Agency giving the usual rundown of poverty definitions and causes. It also has a list of effects of poverty and on the list was social exclusion. That would be interesting to study exclusion. Also interesting to study would be the increases in relative poverty as the Republic of Ireland's economy flourished during the 1990s into the 2000s. The organization has an unique curriculum to teach about poverty called Counted Out. Aimed at students, I've never seen anything like it.

15 October 2008

The prez race and poverty and AIDS/HIV


As expected, the debate started on the topic of the economy. Both Obama and McCain reiterated the superiority of their plan. I checked out to do a little research on each candidate's stance on poverty. They both agreed combating HIV/AIDS worldwide should receive more government attention. Obama specifically wants to double annual funding of such projects. McCain supports the President's Plan for AIDS Relief program.
So what's the connection of HIV/AIDS to poverty? To answer I will take a quote from an United Nations document.
Globally, the highest HIV prevalence rates are found in poor countries, but within regions such as Africa, it is not necessarily the poorest countries that have the highest prevalence rates. Nevertheless, poverty increases vulnerability to HIV/AIDS and exacerbates the devastation of the epidemic. Poverty
deprives individuals of the means to cope with HIV/AIDS. The poor often lack the knowledge and awareness that would enable them to protect themselves from the virus, and, once infected, they are less able to gain access to care and life-prolonging treatment.
[Population,Development and HIV/AIDS with Particular Emphasis on Poverty,The Concise Report. 2005. http://www.un.org/esa/population/publications/concise2005/PopdevHIVAIDS.pdf ]
The key words here to note are lack and access and in this case lack of knowledge and no access to care and medical treatment. That's probably a bit too simplistic as I am far from having a vast understanding the correlation. I guess poverty can act like a wall in these circumstances.
No doubt it is especially difficult for those children who are orphaned because of death of parents from AIDS. They are the most vulnerable to the deprivations of family, food, and protection.

The Bible exhorts Christians to be concerned about orphans and widows (James 1:27.) Some friends of mine decided to put that charge into action by organizing Reach Out to the Children of Kenya after visiting Kenya on a missions trip in 2004. Initially it helped about 20 AIDS orphans by removing them from an orphanage placing them with families in their communities. Sponsorships for each child helped these families offset the costs of taking in the orphan.

Each year a team returns to interview the orphans and audit the effectiveness of the program. So far it has been successful. In the past year the program has expanded to help widows keep their children and also has helped place orphans displaced by Kenya's election unrest. As of today 76 orphans/children are being sponsored.

Though this program is not necessarily one of the "front line" strategies, I see it as preventative. By giving a child access to education and food and most of all a family, I think they have a better chance of avoiding the AIDS/HIV pitfall. Most of all, by showing someone cares they are giving these children hope.

Alleviating poverty by giving access to clean water

A really well designed website, www.buyameter.org, concerned about getting access to clean water to some residents in Hale County, Alabama. The people who did some of the design of the site spent some time down in the area. The photographs are stark, yet stunning.
I appreciate clean water and I'm sure there are some there who would be very glad to have it. You would think this would be a problem in the States, but it still is. I suspect this kind of relates back to last year's topic, the environment, because pollution and heavy chemical have made some water sources unfavorable for human use.

Happy Blog Action Day!!

Today is Blog Action Day. I hope to get a few posts up about this year's issue: poverty.
The wiki entry states that about 1/2 of the world lives in that condition. The symptoms include malnutrion, lack of shelter...or in other words a laundry list of basic necessities. I think access to education also fits in there, too, as education may allow more informed decisions to be made.
Looking at the "backside" if the wiki poverty article (a.k.a. the talk page), I get the general sense that poverty is not a simple condition to alleviate by just restributing resources or managing resources better. Numerous POVs were being debated while trying to create a neutralish article.
While complex, I don't think that it is too complex a problem to do something.
So who is doing something? I'm going to give props to an organization called Rosa Loves. They have been around for only 2 years (they marked 2 years yesterday) and don't intend to be famous or rich but like what they are doing- designing and selling t-shirts and using proceeds to do good. Many of those good things are written about in the story section of their website- from an orphanage in Tanzania to a family in Bangladesh to another family in the United States whose house burnt.
What I like about them is that most of there works are based on or come about from a relationship. These micro-ventures suggest that a few people working together can make a difference- locally or internationally.
Finally I'll end this post with a quote from a Relevant Magazine interview with co-founder of Rosa Loves, Mike Fretto. Mike relates the message of Rosa Loves but it can also be a strategy to relieve poverty- "Be aware of the people in your own community who may be in need, and know your gifts and your resources so you may be able to bless them."

13 October 2008

Slander and more slander in the election

It's rare when a candidate is making a stump for themselves and they never compare or mention his or her opponent. Every soundbite I hear has some comments about the other candidate. I cringe when I hear them. Or even better, bash the President. The Democrats seemed to fare well with that strategy in the mid-term elections. Not to say the Republicans haven't used the same rhetoric before, but Bill Clinton came out pretty unscathed.
If you can create certain perceptions about a candidate close enough to an election you may lead the public to uncritically assume these are reality. Most of the time its a half truth painted nicely.
Right now a prevalent strategy is portraying someone guilty by association. Dems do it by associating Republicans as being in bed with George Bush. Enough people perceived this to be true last election and swept in lots of Democrats into office. It probably was a bit uncritical because there were no doubt some Dems who voted or agreed with Bush policy, the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as the economy and certainly Republicans do differ with the President. Now the Republicans are firing back with allegations of Obama's associations with some questionable people.
Quite a civilized campaign, huh?

Paddington Bear's 50th Anniversary


The marmalade eating bear from Darkest Peru celebrates his 50th birthday today. Google thought it worthy to deck out their portal with a Paddington theme.

Paddington and I go way back. We met somewhere when I was in elementary school. My mom was working in the thriving 1980's St. Paul downtown. That year Dayton's adopted a Paddington Bear theme in their children's department. Dayton's didn't do movie tie-ins. They almost always did themes based on books or public television shows or in this case a British children's book. My mother bought me a medium sized Paddington Bear and the abridged book. Paddington still resides with me. He sits uponn my book case along with Airman Bear. I'll need to post pictures.

Why is Paddington so enduring? Well, I guess he's a smart bear that attracts young and old alike. I perhaps a while ago some Paddinton books and they were no easy readers. These were chapter book of about a hundred pages each.

So why is he still with me after all these years? Well, the tag around his neck says "Please look after this bear." And I guess I have.

Paddington colouring pages here.

12 October 2008

What sucks: losing keys

I haven't done one of these in a while but I really think I should write about this one.
The other day I was getting ready to go someplace. I remember placing the keys to my auto in my pocket. I vividly remember it. Well, some time passes and I finally make it out to the car, I have no key in my pocket.
Strange, I knew I put them there but how on earth did they fall out?
I don't remember removing the keys nor do I remember exactly which pocket I placed the keys.
I scoured the car (it was open) and then the garage and then the apartment and then do it all over again. It takes nearly 2 hours and anxiety is creeping up my back.
I give up and use the spare set.
The keys are still missing. That sucks!

On my way to Blog Action Day


My 2nd foray into Blog Action Day is coming up. My entry for last year was tripe. Not very compelling commentary on the environment. But what can you do when you don't do the research? I guess you just make up things or as journalists might label it- spin it.
Well my apologies to those who read it. Of course, Phil won't care. He's not that type of guy as I found out earlier today.
But really, my contributions to help us become more sustainable are probably worthy to recount.
So far I've been biking to work and almost everywhere in town. It cut down on the carbon as well as saves me money. Another factor in there could be that it keeps me healthier and doesn't tax the health care system. I enjoy biking too. Does been greener have to suck?
Over the last year I have been cutting down on my plastic bag use by using a re-usable bag or recycling those darn plastic bags at the market. I wish they could extract oil from them bags to make some type of fuel.
Finally, I re-use paper. I have tons of paper from drafts of teleplays I have written and have used them extensively when I need to print something. My work allows us to bring paper from home to be recycled.
This year's Blog Action topic is poverty and I've done some reading about it. Relevant Magazine does a spotlight from time to time on people working to combat poverty. They did a short blurb about some ladies who make cards in order to support the microfiance work KIVA does. Perhaps Segue will blog about Bono's work to get lots of debt forgiven in developing regions.
Well that's about it. I do have one book recommendation and I hope it won't rain on keeping your holidays unmixed. I've been writing for an upcoming Christmas show and need more inspiration to I bought a few books at the Salvation Army thrift store (or family store as they call it.)
One that I have been impressed with is The Guideposts Christmas Treasury. It includes poems and stories concerning themes of the season like remembering and giving. I've read quite a few of the stories. Not sure if any will be incorporated in the show but it was 75 cents well spent.

08 October 2008

Nader coming to town


Looks like presidential candidate and consumer advocate Ralph Nader is set to appear in my town this weekend. I might want to take a peak at what he has to say. He espouses a few things which I agree although is bit more progressive than I. I admire his drive to keep campaigning for President. I think this is like the 5th or 6th time he is running. I think 2000 may have been his best showing. I doubt I'll get any interviews but maybe a snapshot.
It would be cool if him and Ron Paul had debates.

When the bottom fell out

Well, I'm a bit late on this breaking story but I will put my 2 cents worth in.
Was it expected? Well, maybe.
A friend of mine told me a number of months ago that according to economic forecasters, we were probably due for a major re-adjustment a.k.a. depression soon. I guess nobody was listening or had the gall to offer a response. I guess he was probably basing it on patterns in flooding in the RRV. Every hundred years there typically is a massive flood and the levels are tracked and used to determine how to better deal with the next big one. In the RRV they built higher dikes and built more flood control ditches.
Let's hope the lessons learned during the Great Depression gave our leaders better ideas as how to deal. Just reading some of the Wiki article on it is like deja vu. Are we in for a big one?
My concern is whether McCain or Obama are ready for this test of balance as domestic issues are flaming while on the international front embers are still burning. Neither man really strikes me as having "The Answer."
McCain seems to be flayling at a popular figuire while Obama keeps giving pep talk after pep talk. Maybe I'm not pessimistic but their response to the economic crisis at hand seems rather blah. Then again what we've heard since mid-May has been smoke, mirrors, and chess like campaign with a large dose of slander. Let the records speak for these men (McCain & Obama) because I doubt we'll hear much lucid remarks in the next month.
Well, cheer up! I believe John D. Rockefeller said a bit after the 1929 market crash -"These are days when many are discouraged. In the 93 years of my life, depressions have come and gone. Prosperity has always returned and will again"