31 December 2008

Infomercials -- I need to get in on these

Is it really that hard when you are cold to put on more clothes? Is it really that hard to sit under a blanket without getting your hands tangled when you need to answer the phone or grab the remote control to rewind the dvd you are watching?

Maybe it is. I guess that is why there is the Snuggie.

I understand not wanting to raise your heating bill -- my house is cold because I am not trying to pay more money on that crap. But I can put on more layers or cuddle up on the couch and be cool -- I mean warm.

I don't need a crazy looking robe to be warm when I have a my old school Mizzou hoodie and a nice blanket.

I really need to look into inventing some sort of unnecessary product and sell it on late night tv. Then I can yell throughout the commercials like ol' dude.

Get at me if you have some ideas for inventions.

30 December 2008

The little things

Sometimes things that seem really minuscule really make a big effect on me. There are times when this is good, there are times when this is really bad. But all in all, it is really interesting to me how some little events, actions, things people say can really make a difference in people's feelings. Here are a few from the past couple of weeks:
  • The whole funeral - Really emotional. It was really hard to get through, but at the same time I learned more about my uncle and his close friends. I learned about the ones that were really close to him and how some had known him since before he even arrived in this country. I learned about how much he really touched all of those guys. I saw my father get emotional. I have never in all my years seen him cry or even look really sad. That hurt, and at the same time it was a sort of relief to see him doing this. It had been more than a hard 5 weeks for him to see his brother in the hospital dying. Since he is a doctor, I can't imagine what it must have been like to understand all the machines and all the words the doctors were saying. At the same time, I know that it was hard for him to see his brother going through this after all that the two of the had been through in all their years. He is the man in the local community that everyone else comes to for advice, for support, for knowledge. It was really touching to see his friends comforting him, to see them provide support for him. And seeing the vast numbers of people out there was fabulous. I have never seen such a long processional of cars.
  • The outpouring of support from friends, family, blogging friends, and even some strangers through this site has been really uplifting. Like many have said, the memories will live on, and the events that I have since experienced have drawn me closer to those still alive around me. Thanks to everyone.
  • Who goes to a movie theatre and shoots someone? I have been to several theatres where people have been a bit loud and have wanted to ask them to quiet their commentary -- sometimes I have asked. But it has never gotten to the point where I would actually inflict bodily harm on them.
  • And I always thought that a woman had the right to say no to a man's advances -- even if that man is her husband. Going on to force yourself on a woman (or man) when they do not want to is called rape. But I guess Dennis Prager (and a lot of other men) feel that once a woman has said "I do" the husband can force her to have sex whenever. After all, how else would the man know that the woman loved her?
  • Another irksome thing is going to dinner with a large group of people. When this happens, there inevitably is one person who is a cheapo. The other night one chick had the nerve to only supply just the amount she owed for dinner without even taking into consideration that there were 10 of us, thus there was gratuity (and tax) included in the bill. She argued hard that she should not have to pay the alloted amount for gratuity and tax since her portion of the bill was not that large. Please. What was really crazy is that her friends were willing to let her do this and pull the slack for her. I did not know the woman prior to that night, so I didn't feel it was my place to step in and start asking questions. Fortunately she gave a little bit more, and was the first to leave. The others proceeded to explain that this is a regular occurrence with her -- which does not excuse her behavior, but it did explain it a bit more.
  • Despite the bill hoopla, the place was fabulous. The Chocolate Bar is pretty close to my house, but I had never been. But I will definitely hit it up again. I am not a big cheese person since I am severely lactose intolerant, but that cheese was awesome. Perhaps the French, Norwegian, and Swiss know how to do things with their cheese that helped it to not leave me cramping in pain. I don't know, but that stuff was great, as were the drinks.
  • Keeping it positive, although the winter solstice was just a few days ago, I am already noticing a significant improvement on the amount of light later into the evening. And I am loving it. Last night there was still a small hint of light after 5.
  • The day before Christmas I was finishing up some shopping for the family. I hate shopping malls and completely despise them when it is holiday time due to the super-crowding and the unruly people who act as though they have never been shopping before. I try to go just before close. This time it was actually a pleasant experience -- I was able to find things fast, the lines were not too long and I had two pleasant conversations.
    • The first was with a former student from my last school and her mother. She was saying how much she and others missed me and how the Replacement is just not cutting it. Even the mother said that my presence is missed. It was touching seeing the girl and hearing her mention people that missed me. They inquired about the new school. I told them that the admin is infinitely better suited for me but that I truly missed the camaraderie of the faculty and the more personable nature of the student body.
    • The second conversation was with the man who was ringing me out. He looked super tired. They had already announced that the store would be closing in five minutes and I was trying to make his time easier. I small talked. Told him what I do, told him I would not need any of the extra stuff many people ask for in their packaging, I was smiling and telling him how I wished him a good holiday. And when he handed me the bag he said a few little words that really touched me, "You have really made me feel good. Really. You have made me not upset with the day." The look on his face was truly genuine. And it wasn't some kind of perv thing. He just truly seemed to appreciate a nice, non-shopping-crazy person. That really touched me.
These are just a few of the little things in the past week and a half. There are more, there are always more, there will always be more.

It's always the little things that really mean a lot to people. This coming year, I want to be a person that provides those little moments to people -- in a positive way, of course. With laughter, a hug, a new thought, new knowledge, a shoulder, even just a smile -- whatever I can give that people I come across need.

17 December 2008

Me, I'd like to daze away

When I was a small girl I remember an occasion when my uncle's cop friend came over and checked on us while he was away at school and my parents were at work. I thought that was the coolest thing. Especially since the motorcycle cop was notorious in the neighborhood (and the rest of St. Louis) for pulling people over on Manchester Road if they went even 31 in the 30 MPH area. I went to school the next day and told all my friends. All the guys were so jealous of my dad's brother. I also told them how he let me touch his helmet and sit on his motorcycle.

I remember clearly the night he was in a car accident and was hit by a bus. I woke up and couldn't go back to sleep for fear, seeing the accident in my head as the street lights lit up the ceiling over my top bunk. My heart still races when I imagine that night and see the bandages on his head.

I remember thinking how cool my uncle was. He was fairly young when he lived with us. He was the ultimate cool. He was in college with these massive books full of math problems I couldn't even begin to wrap my elementary school head around, he lived in the basement suite, he had some super cool friends, he always seemed happy, and he had the greatest laugh I had ever heard.

When we moved to the new house, he did not move with us. But he still came around a lot. I remember him coming with new cars, various new business ventures that always netted us some cool new gifts or free food. I remember at one point he was helping a friend of his get her music group up and running. They even opened up for Lauryn Hill and Busta Rhymes when they were in town. I remember going over to his apartments and seeing how cool it must be to live on your own.

As I have grown up, I have seen that he is not the perfect person. I have seen him suffer. I have seen him cause my parents pain.

But I have all these memories of him. Some are more current. Him using his new camera phone to take pictures of his first grand-nephew. Seeing him at my local grocery store laughing with the people behind the counter. Always that laugh.

November 8th my uncle went into the hospital. He had pneumonia and kidney failure. The first week he was there he started swelling. Although I really like learning the science behind the body, it was hard to look at him. At one point for a few days his normally skinny face was so swollen that it was actually larger than the photos I have seen of Emmitt Till lying in his coffin. There were tubes and bags all over him. They had to use a screen-type of thing on his eyes to protect them because he was so swollen that his eyes were bulging and could not close all the way. His kidneys failed and they put him on dialysis. His lungs collapsed and they had to put him on the new-fangled breathing machine that shook his entire body as it tried to move more oxygen through his lungs. He would get better and then he would get worse and then he would get better. There were days when we prepared for the worse and days where there seemed to be some semblance of hope.

Monday, December 15, he passed away. The doctors had tried everything and they said that he was way worse than when he entered the hospital. It took four minutes.

When I was younger there was a year when we went back to Nigeria for winter break. I was young. Our first dog, who was absolutely awesome despite her penchant for locking herself in the bathroom during storms, was dying at the time. She had cancer, or something similar. They took her to the doctor. We left for Nigeria and she was put to sleep on December 19th of that year -- my birthday.

This year on the 19th of December I will attend a funeral. It is strange and difficult because we have never had a funeral in this country. We had to find a funeral home and figure out what this will be like. At the same time, we are going to do some things similar to what we would do at home. My parents have a good, super large circle of friends who are going to help us a bit, but it still mind blowing.

I've cried, I've laughed at the memories, I have cried some more, I have tried to be strong. I am now to the point where when I think of him I constantly am hearing his laugh in the background of each memory. I am trying to not focus on the images of the past five weeks that I have of him. It is hard. But his laugh seems to be winning out so far.

Hopefully that and other happy memories will reign on the 19th so I can at least have a little bit of a nice memory of this coming birthday.

Until then, I'll keep singing some Blind Melon in my head:
Hey I'd like to daze away to a
Place like no one has known
In a state of mind I could call mine
That only I could own

Where I could hum a tune anytime
I choose, and then there is no such thing as time
Where I can feel no pain just calm and sane
What a place for one to find
"I Wonder"
Blind Melon

14 December 2008

Political press conference turns violent and comical

Ummm... I guess this is to be expected to happen when you have a really low national approval rating (14% say they strongly approve of his job as president, only 35% somewhat approve) and people all over the world basically counting down the days until 01.20.09.

Click here to see video of a journalist in Iraq throwing not one, but two shoes at Mr. Bush's head.

07 December 2008

I can breathe again

I don't have to have back surgery. That is the thought that keeps going through my head, even as the pain continues. I had truly prepped my self so much for the prospect that it is really a relief that it will not have to happen. I had started to figure out what I would do with the substitute teacher who would take my class, I had figured out who would take care of me, how I would rearrange my finances to pay for whatever the insurance would not cover, etc.

The MRI was an experience. No one, even the nurses, warned me of what it would be like. I was impressed that I would get to listen to music from satellite while in the machine. But then I asked them how long I would be in there since I was being offered music. They said it would be between 30-50 minutes.

I got on the machine and was lifted into the contraption. It was weird, but I don't get claustrophobic, so no biggie. The lady came on and asked if the music was loud enough. I said it was fine. She said we were ready to start.

The percussive sound was crazy-loud. And seemed incessant. I could barely hear the radio in my ear. I lasted for a total of 35 minutes in any where from 2-6.5 minute intervals of loud craziness.

The doctor who looks at the stuff was not there that evening so I had to wait to get the results. No big deal since I already figured that surgery would be the only option. I slept better that night.

I went to the chiropractor again. (A really good one. If you need a guy, I will definitely recommend this one. He taught Pete, who I think is the most knowledgeable in the field of the body movement. And he was recommended by Pete since Pete is moving and didn't want to start treatment on me if he is not going to be able to see it all the way through.) This guy was able to explain the results.

Mild to moderate degenerative facet joint changes with ligamentous hypertrophy throughout the lumbar spine. (not so good news) The lumbar disc are unremarkable. (good news)

Basically I have arthritis in my back. (Yes I am still not yet 30 and have bad arthritis in my back.)

But hearing that the disc are unremarkable meant that there would need to be no surgery.

I basically have the stuff that cushions my spine bones deteriorating. That means that the bones are not able to move as well as they should and that they aren't cushioned as well as they should be. Added to this is the fact that although I look like I workout a lot, I have not done more than 20 days of exercising in the past 4-5+ years. This means that my body has not been very mobile and my spine has been made to be stuck in its position. Due to my job, I also have added stress that tightens my muscles in my upper back and neck, which add to the pain.

I decided three weeks ago that since my birthday was coming up, I would start to workout. I ran, I lifted, I did ab stuff, I did back stuff. All this felt good at the time, but the doctor said that it could have led to what turned out to be the worst pain of my life.

The sudden movement of a basically almost immobile spine was not good. It produced the feelings of someone stabbing me through my insides, the inability to bend to even spit toothpaste adequately into the sink, the inability to sit in a chair, the inability to lay on my side, etc.

To make it better, I will need to start exercising, I will need to make sure that I stretch my back to loosen the spine bones, I will need to get adjusted every so often to make sure the gaps are right in my spine, I will need to not get fat.

So far, the adjusting is working a bit. I can move easier. I have also started doing the exercises the doctor recommended. They help a bit. But my back is so tight that I can't even bring my leg to my chest when laying down without pain. I can't do the cobra stretch on the ground higher than about 10". But I am getting better.

And I don't have to have surgery.

Scream bloody murder

If you didn't watch Christiane Amanpour's CNN special "Scream Bloody Murder" yesterday, you have another chance tonight.

This excellent journalist goes in-depth as she covers the genocides that occurred in Cambodia, Iraq, Darfur, and Bosnia. She finds that "instead of using a U.N. treaty outlawing genocide as a springboard to action, political leaders have invoked reason after reason to make intervention seem unnecessary, pointless and even counter-productive." She interviews individuals who tried to get the various U.S. and international government leaders to act to stop the genocide in each nation even before the last straw that grabbed international attention in each case, to no avail.

Click these two links to see CNN's information on the show and a little bit more in-depth information on the events that occurred in each of the nations covered by Amanpour.

Watch the two-hour documentary tonight at 7 pm Central time 8 pm Eastern time.

06 December 2008

There are still some really good people left in the world

Despite the fact that a lot of people are becoming more and more selfish and concerned mostly about themselves and how to get themselves ahead, there are still those that care about the needs of others.

Here in St. Louis on Friday, a Secret Santa went around and just gave people in need 100-dollar bills. The only stipulation was that the recipient do something nice for someone else.

One person who received money had just borrowed the same amount of money from her mother a few days prior to buy food. The Secret Santa went all around town including the Goodwill, a health clinic, and a thrift store.

All together $20,000 in $100-bills was given out in St. Louis -- and for those of you who are wondering, the money was not given out as a way to get a tax deduction - it will not be claimed for that purpose.

It is just people being nice.

You can read more about it here -- read how the tradition started almost 30 years ago by a man named Larry Stewart and how his friends are continuing his legacy in more cities as they try to spread it to more and more cities.

04 December 2008

Fear and anxiousness

So apparently I am meant to live in fear of my health.

The aching back -- may not just sore from doing back extensions. It has been really bad for three weeks. I have a really high tolerance for pain, and have been dealing with it daily. Sunday I had the sharpest pain I have ever endured. So bad that I sat down afterward and was literally teary-eyed. Couldn't move well at all. Sucked since I had a lot of work in the house I was planning on doing and needed to go in and get some ink for the printer.

I went to a better doctor this past Monday and he recommended I get an MRI since it may be something wrong with the discs. I go in today.

The doctor said that some girls when they are younger have slight fractures in their spines from doing activities like gymnastics or other exercises where they do a lot of bending and flexing and put pressure on their backs. Didn't do gymnastics, but I did wrestle freshman and sophomore years of high school -- yes I was that kind of girl. And yes I did beat some guys -- made one guy from Clayton cry after defeating him. I wasn't that good, though, definitely did not have a winning record, but I was all right. Also did high jump which is also all about back bending and falling all on the spine.

I couldn't sleep last night with fear of what this could all mean. There is a teacher in my department at work who had back surgery three years ago for a disc out of place. When my back was first hurting he was asking about numbness or tingling in the legs, which is what he felt and what made him go to the neurosurgeon to figure out what was going on with him. I didn't think much of it at the time since I thought my problem was muscular. But nothing has helped that usually helps muscle problems -- heat, massage, Biofreeze, etc. I can't lay down without pressure on my spine, and when I sit in the wrong position it is truly hell on my lower back. Sharp pains. A feeling as though my tail bone is trying to push against everything that should be in my pelvic region.

Now more waiting. But this time, I feel that the results will not be as good as the last time I had to wait for some results.

02 December 2008

Knock, knock on wood

I am really enjoying the new job. I know I've said this before. I know that a lot of my friends are probably tired of hearing me compare it to the old job when we talk and they ask me how work is going, but I can't help it.

One of the biggest changes is that I don't rush when the last bell rings to end the school day to my car. I don't need to have a drink at the end of the week. Now I may just imbibe because I want to have one.

I have kids that can pay attention and do their work without super prodding them -- don't get me wrong, there are still some that are difficult, but not as many. And not with the baggage that they had at the other place.

Though, I do at times miss that extra baggage. It is what helped me build some of the awesome relationships I had with the old kiddos.

I went to the doctor yesterday for my back (which might actually be a messed up disk in my spine -- MRI Thursday to find out) at the sports doctor close to the old school and saw two of my former students. One of which was my track athlete for three years. It was touching to see them. It really made me remember how much I love those relationships. How much I really miss all the girls who would come and try to get advice on their drama, how some of the guys would come to me for girl advice, how the guys would come and try to figure out if I really could out race them or do more push ups than them. How I had such cool adult people to chat and gossip with between classes or at lunch. Just the little things.

But... I am happy to be out of there. I am happy that I can leave in the winter after school and it is not yet dark outside.

I am glad to have competent higher-ups who respect me, acknowledge what I am doing, and remember little things about my life outside of school that I merely mentioned in passing during our last conversations.

Work is good.

01 December 2008

A quick shout out to my fam!

I haven't been able to do the really deep, thought provoking posts that I do in the summer time or when I have more free time.

So I invite you to read my cousin's blog. He is over in England, so he has a bit of a different perspective on stuff than those over here on this vast space that is North America. Without further hesitation, I bring you -- Denizen.

He is truly one of the best writers I know who is not yet published. And I'm not just saying that because we are related.


Read, educate, enjoy.

He also has another one: Popcorn and White Maltesers

30 November 2008

Bloggers Unite for World AIDS Day 2008

1 December is the 21st World AIDS Day. I am joining a ton of other bloggers again to unite for a common, awesome cause. Bloggers Unite for World AIDS Day 2008. After you read my post, check out the other bloggers writing on this cause to inform people.

Yet, this diseases is still spreading, still killing, still being ignored by so many who don't want to simply get tested.

And contrary to some opinions, the crisis is not overblown. There are still people contracting this disease that could be prevented. That simple fact makes it still a crisis. There are other humanitarian issues as well, but HIV/AIDS is a worldwide one that still needs to be addressed along with the flu and malaria and the various causes of diarrhea.

Worldwide there are 33 million people living with HIV. Here are some more statistics from NAT:
  • 30.8 million adults
  • 15.5 million women
  • 2.0 million children under the age of 15
And there are steadily more and more new cases of this disease being found (these are stats from 2007:
  • 2.7 million total new cases
  • 2.3 million adults
  • 370,000 children under the age of 15
Because of so many great treatments and even a new ray of hope just last month of a man who appears to have been cured of AIDS.

HIV-related deaths in 2007:
  • 2.0 million total deaths
According to Avert.org there have been 25 million people who have died of AIDS since 1981. There are 11.6 million AIDS orphans in Africa.

But this disease is mostly preventable. Be safe. Get tested.

One in 250 in the USA are carrying HIV, according to the CDC.

Young people under 25 account for 1/2 of all new HIV infections worldwide. That is insane. I know that there are a lot of other STDs going around in the young people I teach, but I'm not sure that they understand that this disease CAN affect them. I'm not sure that YOU know that it could affect you. I'm sure the students at St. Louis' Normandy High School thought they were immune to this disease, but they received a rude awakening earlier this fall.

President Bush has never gotten props from me, but he can get a slight tip of the mini-afro for his work on PEPFAR (President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief - reauthorized just this past July). According to their site, this legislation is working in an effort
combat global HIV/AIDS [At $48 billion, it is] the largest commitment by any nation to combat a single disease in human history. The new legislation will dramatically increase the financial commitment to this fight -- authorizing up to $48 billion to combat global HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria... [It] will support treatment for at least 3 million people; prevention of 12 million new infections; and care for 12 million people, including 5 million orphans nad vulnerable children.
In developing and transitional countries, 9.7 million people are in immediate need of life-saving AIDS drugs; of these, only 2.99 million (31%) are receiving the drugs.

Give money and support organizations working to find a cure as well as organizations working to help those who are living with this HIV/AIDS.

It's as though we all hear this information so much, that it seems irrelevant to us.

Get tested. Care about those who are infected. Give money to those that are working toward a cure.

It's that simple, yet that complicated.

28 November 2008

Savage shoppers

Yet another reason why I hate shopping at this time of year. And another sign that people are absolutely crazy and are so anxious to get that deal that they will literally kill for it.

There was a man trampled to death at Wal-Mart today. And a woman was also trampled and possibly lost her unborn baby in the stampede.

Why I'm thankful - a day late

I am really thankful for so many things this year. Here's a short list of some of those things.
  • Facebook - Without Facebook and other internet sites and gadgets and games, I would not be reconnected with people I hadn't talked to in years. And would not be able to talk with my family and friends overseas as often. I also would have less distractions keeping me from procrastinating from doing work I actually need to do.
  • My new job - Not only is the job so much better for my stress level, I also have a much longer commute which allows me more time to listen to NPR Morning Edition, and allows me to spend way more money on gas than even makes sense. This extra spending means less spending on the little things I used to blow my money on.
  • Political Conservatives - I cannot even explain how grateful I am for this group of people this year. Without them I would never have had some of the readers on this blog that I have had this past year. Most importantly, without the vast number of conservatives out in this country I would not have been able to have the great feelings of accomplishment, of vindication, of success, of CHANGE that I felt the night of 4 November 2008.
  • Back problems - Without this incredible back pain, I may never have really known how many movements the body can do that involve the lower portion of my back. I never would have known that how much the act of laughing works your lower back. I may never have experienced sharp pains going through my body that caused me to flinch and almost scream curse words in the classroom. I may never have felt the great sleep that comes with muscle relaxants.
  • Black Friday - I am also happy that I am not going shopping on this Black Friday. I am happy (and you should be, too) that I am not out there today because, despite the bad back the people in the stores would, no doubt, drive me to the point where I would be imagining all sorts of thoughts/actions that would not be conducive to me staying out of jail. I can't stand crowded shops because the people there seem as though they have never been in a store and that they don't understand that they should not block the aisle with their shopping carts full of needless things/their children/their bodies as they look at something on the other side of the aisle. They make me so angry. And then the check out lines take forever because not only are the people running them new, seasonal hires, the customers inevitably put way more in their cart than they can afford. Then they must go through each item that is at the bottom of the cart after being pinged through the cashiers machine or at the bottom of the bags and decide what they can take out. This leads to their kiddos screaming and crying and begging and to me being even more angry, though happy that I don't have children, yet. I will try to avoid the shops as much as possible until after the middle of January. I will celebrate Buy Nothing Day.
But for real. I am very blessed to have a lot of things -- family, a great man, friends, and most importantly, life. I am alive. I am witnessing the possibility of great things to happen in this nation. I have a roof over my head that is not leaking. And I am less stressed than I have been in 4 years due to the job change. That, above many of the other things, makes my life so much better because I can enjoy all the other great things in my life that much more.

22 November 2008

Protect marriage, protect children, prohibit divorce

Kind of humorous response to Prop 8 in Cali... but not really. It is true what the people in this video are saying. (Thanks Michelle for the link.)

If marriage is so sacred, why are people still allowed to get divorces?

See more funny videos at Funny or Die

20 November 2008

Age is a pain in my back

So, my next birthday is a month from yesterday. In case I wasn't already starting to feel age creeping up on me, I now have this incredible back problem.

I cannot even fully describe it. I got back from a fabulous dinner with Christine Monday evening, sat on the couch to talk with my man, and had this slight pain in my lower back. Then in the middle of the night I suddenly could not lay in any manner without crazy, pain in my back. Tried putting a pillow under my side, stomach, back, legs -- nothing eased the pain. I woke up and couldn't bend to even spit the toothpaste adequately into the sink. Throughout the day I had a heat pack which helped a bit, but I still had limited mobility.

Yesterday it seemed to be a bit better. Went to a chiropractor in the afternoon. He realigned my legs and back a bit and gave me some BioFreeze. (Excellent stuff. I had had my athletes use this stuff and they all love it, but had never tried it on myself since prior to this, I never really got sick or had injuries like this.) The BioFreeze wore off and I put some more. Could barely sit on the couch without pain. Went to sleep and the only way I could lay was on my back with my legs bent up and my feet flat on the bed. Not super comfy. Throughout the night I would awaken and in my sleepiness would try and turn to my side or my stomach and would regret it intensely.

Today I have to sit a perfectly with perfect posture in order to not feel the wrath of my back. I am going to take my dad up on some muscle relaxant. But I really am fearing that I have some sort of pinched nerve in there. This is crazy pain. I have a pretty high tolerance, and I am not to the point where I would cry from the pain, but pretty soon, I will cry from the annoyance of this pain. And the annoyance of not being able to move well or sleep well.

19 November 2008

Will Farrell on Wordless Wednesday

The Landlord: A video with Will Farrell.


See more Will Ferrell videos at Funny or Die

Yet kind of disturbing that people are making this child say such things.

16 November 2008

Super Obama World video game

For those of you that like old-school games; for those of you that love and can't get enough Obama; for those of you that need another activity to help you procrastinate work you are really supposed to be doing...

Super Obama World
Yes, a video game inspired by the president-elect.

Enjoy. See how many points you can get.

I might play a few more times before I get back to grading and planning.

15 November 2008

Prop H8 protest - a brief reflection

The rally today was really inspiring. It was great to see so many people willing to stand out for two hours in 30-degree weather to show their disdain for newly passed laws and their support for rights for all humans. Locally we had over 1400 people in attendance, according to the po-pos. (black, white, Latino, Asian, gay, bi-sexual, straight, young, old, pets) Nationwide they said that there were over 1 million people in over 300 cities. All trying to show protests for the legislation and to try to make sure that people don't give up the fight. Locally, they are also trying to put legislation up (again) to make it illegal to discriminate against people in the workplace based on their sexual orientation. Right now in Missouri it is legal to do just that in every area except St. Louis City, Columbia, Kansas City, and University City.

(sorry some of these pictures are kind of crappy - they are from my cellular phone since I forgot to bring the real camera) The mayor of the city spoke, along with some alder-people, several religious figures, some community activists, a bank CEO, some students, and Chad Allen -- the introduction of him by the MC brought me some serious giggles. He is from "Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman". And the MC seemed to realize that not too many people watched that show, but said after Chad spoke that he would go off and buy all the back ordered issues of the old DVDs for the show.

It was great seeing a lot of young people out there. There were college-aged students, and even some high school students and younger there. Some students from my school's GSA and my old school's GSA were there - which was really great to see. Hearing the different comments, seeing people able to be free and in love with their partners in public in front of the courthouse, seeing people's documents from when they had gotten married in California (pre-ban), hearing the hope -- it was all heartwarming. I actually, a few times, forgot how cold it was out there when rushes of warmth would go through my body.

What was really awesome was seeing a good number of straight people there. (Thanks Dando for going with me.) This is what will really make the difference. When all of us straight people who support rights for all can get other straight people to understand that giving rights to others is not going to change a straight person's relationship, is not going to lessen the number of kids born (in fact it might help those that are born become adopted or fostered by gay couples -- listen up Arkansas), is not going to lessen the concept of marriage (Why is it a big deal to do that anyway with so many married straight people getting divorced? And why is it right to vote on marriage rights for one group when others have not voted for you to have the right to marry? (unless you are black or married interracially)).The majority needs to change its views in order for laws to change.

Links with information and pictures:
Human rights are just that -- for all humans.

"With liberty and justice for all." -- Pledge of Allegiance to America

Protest Proph8

I got better just in time for this massive protest on Prop 8 that passed in California.
I will layer. I will support that community. I will support rights for all people regardless of race, color, religion, and sexual orientation. Here's the blog for the Saint Louis area -- Show Me No Hate.

12 November 2008

Congested (non) Wordless Wednesday

This is me (well it's not actually me, but how I feel and a contraption that I need):
I have progressed from a sore throat, to a fever, to a clogged nose, to a nose that will not stop running and a head that is congested more than ever.

I blame it on the students at this school who come to school sick, and never cover their mouths and cough directly in my face. By the way, teaching is among the Germiest Jobs - number one if the list is in order of most germy to least germy.

I have Thera-flu'd, chicken noodle souped, Nyquiled, orange juiced, echinacead, etc. But it does not seem to want to leave. I really hate taking medicine, but am drugged up so that I can mask my symptoms and breath out of my nose and occasionally hear people clearly.

And I have already taken two "sick" days, and really hate making sub plans -- they are more pain that actually being in school.

11 November 2008

Olbermann, rights for all, keeping it trill

Over on MSNBC Keith Olbermann gave a poignant speech on Proposition 8 which passed last week in California. The fact that people are so interested in legislating what goes on with other people that have nothing to do with them is really astounding to me.

Here is an excerpt, but you should really read the whole thing:
And yet to me this vote is horrible. Horrible. Because this isn't about yelling, and this isn't about politics. This is about the human heart, and if that sounds corny, so be it.
If you voted for this Proposition or support those who did or the sentiment they expressed, I have some questions, because, truly, I do not understand. Why does this matter to you? What is it to you? In a time of impermanence and fly-by-night relationships, these people over here want the same chance at permanence and happiness that is your option. They don't want to deny you yours. They don't want to take anything away from you. They want what you want—a chance to be a little less alone in the world.
Also KIT wrote a great blog post about this on recently as well. Read the post here.

The American Widow Project

I heard this story about the American Widow Project on NPR this morning and it almost made me cry while driving to work. (It's best to listen to the story so you can hear their voices.)

When I was younger, I always thought of soldiers as being old. As I got into high school and started seeing the recruiters in the commons at lunch and now am seeing my students going off into the service, it really hits home just how young the soldiers are.

Now we have an inordinate amount of soldiers dying and almost that many young women who are widows. Some of them still teenagers.

I hadn't planned on writing something that tied to Veteran's Day, but here I am. Anti-war, but totally for the people who have to go over and fight and possibly die. Many of them doing so because of false promises of what they will gain or the ease of getting college money. (I have had a couple students contact me to let me know that they are not going to get money for college as easily as the recruiters promised and that they do not have a choice in where they can go or what they can study or when they can attend.)

The American Widow Project.

10 November 2008

Bloggers Unite for Refugees 10 Nov 08: A bit on Iraq displacement

Today is another of those occasions when Bloggers Unite for a cause -- this time about refugees.

Since the United States has been in Iraq for a long time and seems as though the occupation will never cease, I decided to touch on a bit of the refugee problems in that nation.

According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, 4.7 million Iraqis have had to leave their homes. They go either to other nations or to other cities that are not threatened by war violence. According to Refugees International a lot of the people fleeing their homes are moving into neighborhoods that are more homogeneous making relations more divided based on the sects. Many of them move into homes of the opposite group who fled to another region or another nation.

Many of these families have been separated -- children from parents, spouses from their lovers. It's sad. It's horrifying. I can't imagine this happening to me or any one I know. Yet, it is happening to so many throughout the world.

Not only does this cause problems for the nation, so does the number of professionals leaving the nation or leaving the regions where they once lived. An older Time Magazine article wrote that "Iraq's doctors, once considered the best in the Arab world, no longer have access to advances in medical science because they have no books, no Internet connections and barely any money to attend international conferences." Now they all flee for better, safer jobs in other regions of the nation or other regions of the world. This leaves the hospitals searching for ways to lure doctors back to the region with higher salaries and better protection.

But who are they kidding? Why would you go back there when there are constantly bombings, whether by suicide bombers, U.S. military, or the hired help? Some people have returned to their homes in Iraq - this is used by the U.S. to show the success of its "surge" - but there have been no strategies developed to really alleviate the problems under the surface in this nation. Iraq needs help figuring out how to create and maintain peace, how to convince the displaced that it is safe to return, and how to settle economic and property disputes that will inevitably surface upon the return of the masses if they choose to go back home.

If Sweden can admit 80,000+ Iraqi refugees, then, surely, the United States can do more.

This is international. But there are refugees in every state of this United States, and all over the world. And they are not all Iraqi. There are problems occurring throughout the world in nations that are not publicized in the mainstream media that need assistance.

You can easily look up what people in your local area are doing to help the people who have come for safe-keeping in your city or state or nation.

Here are a few sites with more information:
In St. Louis:

06 November 2008

Sarah plain and not so tall

This is why I taught African Studies:


NAFTA, Africa -- wow!! And people really thought she was capable.

She couldn't name all the countries in North America.

She asked if South Africa was just part of the country of Africa.

Granted, we don't know for sure that these are completely true, but I don't doubt it.

All the students in my African Studies classes could at some point name all the countries in Africa (50+ of them) and describe some characteristics of various regions.

All students in all of my classes can name the three nations that make up North America. How could she not do this? She lives in Alaska which is right next to one of them.

I guess all my students need to do now is keep looking good, have some kids, join the PTA and move to a small region of Missouri to become mayor, and they, too, may be vetted for a campaign for a high national office.

05 November 2008

Worldwide impact

I just got off the phone with my mother who said that immediately after the election results were announced, people calling her from Nigeria. They were calling all through the wee hours of the night. That is the middle of the night for them, yet they were awake waiting to hear the results.

It amazes me that so many people worldwide are so into this - but it is also inspiring. I saw a headline today that said something along the line of it might soon be cool again to be an American.

President-elect - hope and anticipation

I am still baffled that this is reality. I am by no means assured that there will be immediate solutions to all our nations ills. I am still not convinced that this is going to bring out equality for blacks (help them get jobs, equal education, equal treatment in the housing realm, not get followed in stores, then we will have true equality).

But I am hopeful.

Last night was great.

Today at school I was super tired, but when I felt like I was going to pass out I remembered his words, his campaign, the chills I got last night seeing him on tv with his family and seeing the love between him and his family, the images of people worldwide who are motivated by this man, the masses that have come out and voted and supported this man -- then I was juvinated (not re- since I had never really been juvinated before about politics (thanks Pooty Tang for the lingo)).

The conservatives in my hallway were silenced. Though there were several students who I heard in the hallways making crazy comments. Some of them spit in the face of the newspaper cover a teacher had posted in the hallway. Some complained that it was only due to the black people voting that this man won. He got more white votes than any one in a really long time. And if it is because a lot of black people came out, that should be a testament to this man's character and beliefs. Why should people get upset that a man is able to motivate people to get off their asses, pull up their sagging pants and vote? Why is it wrong for people of color to vote for a bi-racial man when so many white people vote for a white man just because he is in the brown skin?

But it will not bring me down.

McCain gave a decent concession speech. If you missed PRESIDENT-ELECT Obama's speech, check it. I can keep listening to this speech and his other speeches over and over and over again.

Remember this moment. Remember these days.

You were a part of this. You will be witness to change. You have witnessed what could be the start of some really great things with regard to voter participation, a decreasing of political apathy, and the start of unyielding hope.

And keep him in your thoughts as he is about to get all the secret information that has been hidden from the rest of the world. Help him to not become cynical. Help him to strive for his goals. Help those around him to protect him from all the haters that are seriously out to attack and bring this man down - physically and mentally.

Remember. Remember. Rejoice.
"We as a people will get there... I hear your voices, I need your help, and I will be your president, too... The new dawn of American leadership is at hand... This is our moment - this is our time... Out of many we are one. That while we breathe, we hope... Yes, we can."
President Obama
4 November 2008

Also remember Will.i.am being on CNN as a hologram. The future is here.

I am still pinching myself

It is 12:24.

I am still in shock!! Just got home from the Chase and a rally and celebration there.

I am still trying to make sure this is all real.

The whole time tonight I have been wondering if this could happen.

I am so amazed at the turn out, at the strength of people, at the achievement of hope, at the strive for change.

Hopefully I can write more later when my senses are full and when I have accepted this as the truth.

For now I must try and sleep since I must be up at 5:30 ready to teach the children all day.

Yes we did!!!

04 November 2008

Here's to the system... hopefully

I voted.

I got there at 5:50 and there was already a massive line. (Fortunately the parents were there and when I called them they told me they were right close to the door, so I asked the people around me if they would be offended if I moved up. They said no, so I moved and got to be the 21st one to vote.) As I pulled in a song came on the radio -- Man in the Mirror by Michael Jackson. I don't know if it was the song, the tiredness, the cold (since I forgot the coat and for some reason was thinking it was already going to be close to 70 degrees), the relief that I don't have to see political ads any more, the sheer joy of seeing so many people coming out to vote, or the fear that all the people (considering where they live) might all be voting for McCain, but a tear came to my eye.

This whole process has been powerful.

So many people are buying into the process, and it is great.

Hopefully the outcome will be good.

If not... I'm going to be getting a tv, a PS3, a toaster oven, some laundry detergent, and a dehumidifier when the riots start.

03 November 2008

Cypress Hill on my mind - somethings I can't understand

The past few days I have had that old Cypress Hill song, "How I Could Just Kill A Man", stuck in my head. Not that I am trying to kill anyone, but there are several things that, like they say, I can't understand.

Here are somethings perhaps you can help me understand:
  • What kind of a person goes off and just shoots through his door at kids coming to trick or treat? What the hell is wrong with him? And not just shoot, but let out 29 shots at the kids and kill the 12 year old.
  • And why does the man have an assault rifle? An AK-47? I guess it's because people are so apt to fight for their 2nd amendment that they forget that they are protecting the crazies from not being able to have a gun as well. Some of them don't want any type of restrictions on who can own a gun.
  • What kind of telephone screeners does Palin have that they let through a call by some Canadians who said they were French president Nicolas Sarkozy? And how could she not realize that it was a fake call with the person asking questions/comments about the Larry Flint porno with a Palin look a like? People really want her to be second in command?
  • And finally, over the past 3 1/2 weeks, I have watched all four seasons of the ABC show, Lost. I had seen a couple of episodes from the fourth season this spring, and got hooked. I thought by watching the previous seasons I would understand more. I was terribly wrong. I am still in the dark. Honestly, if I hadn't watched the first seasons, I would still know as much about what is going on as I did after having previously seen 4 episodes of the fourth season. That show is wild, confusing... and yet so addictive.
Don't forget to vote tomorrow - if you haven't already.

01 November 2008

You can vote however you like

Ron Clark Academy kids made this rap.

Awesome example of how you can get kids to learn with out it being boring.

31 October 2008

Trick lo-ove the kids

For some reason this morning I woke up really excited about this election. I still screamed at the bs being spewed on the radio by the conservatives in North Carolina and Joe (the plumber).

But, the call I got from my brother yesterday was kind of nice regarding some hope.

He works for a company that runs a program called College Summit. The program works with a lot of schools around the country to help get high school kids into college. One of the schools here in St. Louis, Wellston, which had 100% of its seniors accepted to college last spring. It has worked with other area high schools, as well. You can watch a video about them as they were featured on PBS, here. The video describes a bit of what they do.

Anyway. I am really proud that he is working for this type of company.

But the reason I got excited about it is because in Obama's infomercial the other day, he mentioned a success story of one of the schools his people work with. Basically giving accolades to them for their successes in getting more students accepted to college. Big ups to my bro and his people!!

The group is looking to spread to more areas and to get some legislation through Congress that would help track student enrollment in colleges from high schools.

There is hope for students. They will get help with learning how to get into college, and they will (if things go well Tuesday) have more ability to get into those colleges, too.

30 October 2008

How I have started my day

Woke up late. Had meeting pre-observation meeting with principal (which I had been ready for before I found out that the week-long essay I had planned for one of my preps had already been done by a few of the students last year - hurray for teachers who went to the same training I did; boo for messing up a week of my plans). Had to quickly change plans for teaching and then get them to the principal. Tried to put up some books on the wooden bookshelf , cut my knuckle all the way to the white meat on one of the racks. Went downstairs to the nurses' office to get some Neosporin and a not-quite-my-flesh-color band-aid. Crowded halls made me slip on a step and roll my ankle. Got to nurses. Met the two of them. Nice. They put the band-aid on, but it was not in a way that was conducive to my ease of movement. Got back to the room and was putting on another band-aid when the superintendent and the assistant super came into the room. Couldn't shake hand, but he likes me and she might like me now that she knows that I watch Lost. Chatted a bit since I was on my prep and they couldn't observe my teaching. I'm hungry and it's only 9:13. Still two hours till lunch. Have to improvise a bit on this next class since I am not going to be doing the essay. But I can make it work.

On a bright note, I received an awesome compliment this morning from a coach in the area. I was explaining in an email that I am at this new school and told him who at the old one he could send my stuff to. He congratulated me on the move, but said "I think". I replied about the apprehension I have about people here respecting me as a coach. He replied that "everyone who's anyone already knows what you did at [your old school] - and if [the new coach] doesn't continue your efforts it will really show!"

The little things can sometimes touch so deeply.

As can a stupid wooden bookshelf.

29 October 2008

Speechless Wednesday

I break from my usual Wordless Wednesday program to tell you of something that left me wordless this morning in the hallway.

I understand that many people do not know what type of bras they are supposed to wear. If they did, Tyra, Oprah, and What Not to Wear, and even Finola would not be in business. Many women wear bras that are too small, or they wear lace bras under thin shirts and you can see all their stuff. Or they wear super padded bras or bras with straps that are not thick enough so their shoulders are dug into by their straps.

But today... I saw the worst bra crime.

As students continue to have horrible diets, they continue to get larger and develop earlier and earlier (just say no to hormone-filled cow milk).

This chick was massive. Had to be a triple K bra. But she had on what was likely a cup that would fit me (a B). Needless to say, there was not much support. But that is not unusual for women. Most women don't wear bras that provide enough support for their girls.

This chick not only had a lack of support, but also a lack of coverage. The bra covered the underside of her fun bags, but left her nipples completely exposed. What?! Yes. It was like she was braless. I don't know how this could have been comfortable for her. I don't know who the chick was and only saw this momentarily, but I hope some of her friends have spoken with her. If I see her again, I will be forced to intervene. For the sake of humanity.

Happy Hump Day.

24 October 2008

Give money, listen, think

If you haven't given to KWMU for their fund drive -- hurry. I am so tired of them interrupting stuff I am listening to to beg people for money.

If you missed Morning Edition this morning on NPR, they did another part of the story on race and the election. It is really nice to hear someone else who recognizes that "Joe Six-Pack" is just a synonym / nice way of saying that you are talking about white, hardworking men (and women). And that it kind of implies that people of color are not ordinary nor do they work hard enough to fit into the society that some of the candidates believe is the right society for this nation.

Read. Listen. Pay attention to the words people say and what they really are trying to get across.

22 October 2008

Human Rights Art

Some things leave you speechless. The crazy human rights violations throughout the world (a lot of which are performed by the United States) are among those things that leave you questioning a lot of things.

Here are some of the Co-winners in the Human Rights Violations Brief :

Saeed Behdad, Iran - Human RightsJing Zhou, USA - We cannot fight terrorism using state terrorAngela Morelli, Italy - War will never be the seed of peaceMilan Kopasz, Hungary - I am not a terrorist
Cinzia Ferrara & Alexandra Dossi, Italy - Never ReadThomas Di Paolo, Germany - Victims of TerrorismMarlena Buczek-Smith, USA - Abolish TortureSongwei Chen, USA - Is this what we need?Alice Beniero, Italy - Dirty marksMarcin Dubiniec & Maksym Matuszewski, Poland - GunVesa Kuula, Finland - Gavel of terrorHeidi Gabrielsson, Finland - More (D)angerAlexandra Vydmanova, Russia - Stop

21 October 2008

Poverty, insurance, and fixing education and a washer

Not too much been going on with me. Hanging out with my man while he is in town has been taking up most of my time - definitely a good thing. As has school and reading about what is going on in our nation.

I also spent my time Saturday celebrating that I was not taking part in my old school's Renaissance Fair. Apparently the turn out was not as good as they thought it would be. They say that it was due to the Obama rally in downtown Saint Louis. I guess if that rally hadn't gone on, there would have been 100,000 people at the fair instead of supporting that candidate.

I have really not been as shocked as other people seem to be that there are so many people in society that do not know much about the politics of their nation, or about who is in office representing them. People don't care about that stuff. People only care about Madonna's divorce and when the sequel to Sex and the City will be out.

It all really goes to explain why so many people are willing to vote for people without actual facts.

Sarahlynn, wrote a good blog post about the insurance proposals of the candidates. Interesting read. Good information about who will be helped and hurt with the plan of my friend McCain. (Why does he insist on calling me that? I do not like him. He is not my friend. Him saying that does not lead me to like him more.)

John Dolan wrote an excellent article about the economic struggles he went through and gives some advice to the rest of us who are ever closer to such status as he faced. I don't think people realize just how close they are to poverty. Most people are two pay checks away. I am about there, so I can't imagine the people that are on two salaries being that close. Well... I guess I can since they are all looking to live like the Jones and the Bumquishas that are around them. Have to buy more than the neighbors. Have to drive a new car. Have to buy a ton of new clothes for the new season. Have to buy a ton of stocks that are now suffering.

Been avoiding NPR a bit lately. They messed up and started their seasonal fund drive the day after the debates last week. Sucked because I was really trying to hear what they had to say about it. Really does not make my commutes run well when they are coming on every five minutes to tell me to give money. I gave. Hopefully they stop and get back to the regularly scheduled programming.

Today I had to take a personal day to address the washer that has still not been fixed after 5 trips from the Sears people. Got to listen to Diane Rehm's show. Today just happened to be on education and the candidates plans to address that little issue. Some of the things that McCain is planning really just don't make sense. Let's continue to underfund the early childhood education programs. Let's get more unqualified teachers into the classrooms with his troops to teachers plan (among others). Let's allow vouchers instead of improving the schools that people may want to leave. Let's not address the discrepancies in property taxes that exist in the areas that have poor schools. Instead let's make it easier for people to move out of those areas and build houses far from those problems instead of fixing the schools, funding them, providing more programs and motivation for the students to perform better.

I really didn't want to watch the last debate. I actually watched the Project Runway season finale instead. But once that show was over, I flipped to the debate in time to hear the bull shit about education from the candidates. I'm not saying that Obama's plans are perfect. But they make more sense about how to fix the system so that we are not lower than so many other nations when it comes to education.

I'm off to research this washer and find out if more people are having the same troubles that I am. Then I can get to planning more for upcoming classes, and catching up on Lost. I was rushing to watch all the past seasons until I found out that the new season does not start until early 2009. What?! At least I have time to catch up since I just started watching it in the middle of last season.

I leave you with this from Kansas City. A man was given back a receipt with the racial slur "Dumb Nigger" on it to identify who the customer was. What?! Yes. Read up.

15 October 2008

Amir Sulaiman "She Said I Prefer A Broken Neck"

Some one else's words on this Wordless Wednesday.

Amir Sulaiman on Def Poetry reciting his poem "She Said I Prefer A Broken Neck".

11 October 2008

Section 60 and some unanswerable questions

Right now the body count of US service men and women from the war in Iraq is 4,180+; in Afghanistan it is 610+. There have been 32,000+ wounded in the two regions.

A new documentary will show on HBO called Section 60: Arlington National Cemetery. That is the section of the military cemetery set aside for military deaths of soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan. The directors were on Democracy Now Friday.

It is really ridiculous that we are still fighting over there.

Big questions that I have, and some of which a student of mine asked the other day are: How does it end? How do we know when a war like this is over? How can there be an end to a war that is being fought over an idea? And how can we win wars over people who are not going to stop what they are doing (Taliban)? How can we say that it is getting better when so many of the local population (and our men women) are being wounded, killed, or displaced?

Check this song

08 October 2008

Words on Wordless Wednesday

Today no pictures. Just a couple thoughts that left me wordless.

A woman on a show on NPR said that she is afraid of Obama and what he would do for the nation. Afraid of him. Afraid of him? As opposed to the man who talks about war like it is going to dinner. As opposed to the man who is part of a party that eagerly helped lead to the deregulation that has us in the situation we are in now.

Another woman on NPR said that she fears that Obama would focus on African-Americans at the expense of poor white people like herself. "It's just the fact that I think that he will represent them, and what they want, and what they need. ... They're his people, his race."

Since when has he even mentioned the brown folks? And what could he possibly do that would ONLY help black people? What would that look like? He tells Congress to lower taxes for people only if they can check the box that says they are of African decent? Get out of here. She must be one of these people that the media is finally admitting exist. (Though I know, and you should know, that they are everywhere.)

28 September 2008

Good friends + Procrastination + Samwell = Pure comedy

There are times in my life when I sit doing work and am distracted by my thoughts/my friends/the sounds outside/my hunger, etc. Today the distraction came in the way of my thoughts and friends. I was preparing my lessons for my world history classes (yes, plural -- I am actually planning for the whole week right now) when I received a call from my man friend. Of course, I took the call. Of course, we get on some random tangents about some stuff he has seen in NYC and some people I have come across today and in the past.

Some how we started talking about people with large rear ends -- not necessarily wide, but the kinds that protrude to the back a lot, the kind that make you say da-amnnn and wonder about basic functions and daily activities that must be difficult for that person.

Then the convo went to where it inevitable goes when the two of us talk about butts -- no nothing graffic or x-rated.

I bring you Samwell.

Please... you must watch the video. The intro is a bit long, but then he gets started in on the lyrics. Some of you may be turned off by the content, but you must stick around to see the special effects throughout the video. And his eye gestures and facial expressions are fabulous.

I want to say that Michelle introduced me to Samwell a few years ago. And I have been entertained and tickled by him ever since.