29 June 2008

I want to be a smooth criminal

Big Bro used to have this red leather jacket with a ton of zippers, buckles, and sparkliness.

Yes -- the Michael Jackson "Beat It" jacket. We even had some white gloves we would don and try to practice some dance moves. For some reason, the cheap stores, like Venture, never had glittery gloves. And for whatever reason, I guess his seniority (and maybe because he felt more deserving since he had balls like Michael Jackson and the only balls I had were actually ovaries), my brother always got to wear the right glove and I was stuck being a left-handed Michael reject -- most of the time with an imaginary jacket since he usually got to wear it. I felt so deprived.

And yes, Mr. Jackson was as cute as could be. Look at him -- that smile, that weird t-shirt he is wearing with the mythological beasts, the blush, the superman-like curl coming down his forehead. When I describe him, it sounds really cheesy, which he was, but he was still too cute. The only thing I really couldn't get down with was the flooding pants. At first I thought that maybe he just didn't have enough money to buy pants that fit him. That he was wearing the hand-me-downs of his older brothers (and even sisters) and that his parents were waiting for the older ones to grow out of theirs so that Michael would finally get a pair of pants to wear that would finally fit his body. I also initially found it disturbing that he would wear white socks with his black pants and black shoes. Though, later I realized that it probably was his technique to make people focus on the amazing dance moves he was doing.

Which bring me to my main points:

1. This man is beyond amazing! His videos used to be premiered in prime-time, on regular network television stations. And they were stories -- like mini-movies.

2. Every one loves "Thriller". But people seem to sleep on "Smooth Criminal".

3. This video is full of not just lousy acting by little kids, but also almost decent acting by the grown ups, crisp movements by Michael, the amazing quarter toss into the jukebox, crime, passion, Michael's superhuman ability to crush a cue ball with his bare hands, many unintelligible words sung by Michael himself, and some absolutely AMAZING dancing. Dancing that to this day influences musicians from all sorts of genres.

I remember first seeing the part where he and his male comrades are dancing and suddenly lean to the front/side hellaz. You cannot imagine the rug burns and the wrist aches I incurred from trying to do that move. I soon discovered that the move was rigged and that they had some special contraptions that helped them be able to do the move. Contraptions that I would be unable to afford.

4. I started realizing that Michael Jackson had the gang thing down to a science. A science that would leave followers of his gangs unscathed. Seriously, in all his major videos there is some gang-type action, but no one ever gets hurt -- "Beat It," "I'm Bad," "Thriller," that one video I always forget the title to with the hot chick Michael never really let touch him and the car and the whole video is dark and shadow-like (this one isn't really gang related, but he does look hard, well, as hard as Michael Jackson can look). I just had to figure out a way to get a group of people who would follow me. People who looked like they could beat your ass but, more importantly, could break into dance at the drop of a dime -- coordinated, choreographed dance. And I would have to find a nemesis who was like-minded. A group of enemies that could get all angry, but instead of going for the Gat would pull out a head band to hold back their hair as we battled on cardboard break dancing.

5. Besides the dancing and the pseudo-gang activity, the song also influenced me and at least one of my sisters in another way.

We, at one point, wanted to name our daughters Annie. Whenever Annie fell or otherwise incurred an injury, we would be able to ask her "Annie are you ok? Are you ok, Annie? Say, Annie are you ok? Are you ok? Are you ok, Annie?"

6. Yes, we were, and still are super corny, super silly, and super loving some "Smooth Criminal". I'm not at the point of the girl in the (I think) Pepsi commercial who says "MichaelweLOVEyou!!!" and then proceeds to start crying and look like she is about to experience either a seizure, an orgasm, a heart attack, or sudden death because she came close to almost being close enough to almost feel the sweat of a person who might be able to catch a whiff of the gherri curl juice Michael whipped over to stage right as he turned to perform his signature Moonwalk.

7. I like him with out all the insanity.

If you forgot what it's all about, please, watch the video. It's about 10 minutes, but is totally worth it.

UPDATE: By the way... I just read one of my favorite hystarical blogs and he also was writing about videos. I guess great minds think alike. Though his is freaking hilarious. Check it out. He writes about the modern videos and their lack of creativity.

27 June 2008

More modern day slavery and racial hatred

I wrote an entry you can read here on modern day slavery for Bloggers Unite for Human Rights back in May. I also taught a mini-unit on it to my students first semester this year. They were incredibly shocked (as are most people in this country) that slavery still exists in the world, let alone in this nation.

Hopefully you will read this article from the New York Sun on Varsha Sabhnani, who was convicted with her husband in December on 12 counts including forced labor, conspiracy, and involuntary servitude.

Read the conditions and treatment they put their "housekeepers" through.

Then the next time someone says that slavery ended with Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation (which is bull shit anyway if that is what your history teacher taught you) you can let them know that it was technically ended with the 13th amendment to the US Constitution, but that it still goes on TO THIS DAY -- in the manner used by Sabhnani and in other manners that the government and business owners use to keep people of different races and socioeconomic classes down in this country.

Educate yourselves.

Oh, and in case you did not realize that there are still racist, white supremacist groups in this country as well, read up on this from Black America Web. Billy Roper, a 36-year-old who runs a group called White Revolution in Russellville, Arkansas, told The Washington Post. "Nothing has awakened normally complacent white Americans more than the prospect of America having an overtly non-white president."

The site also said that "The resurgence of hate groups comes as a new poll by The Washington Post-ABC News shows that nearly half of all Americans say race relations in the country are in bad shape and three in 10 acknowledge feelings of racial prejudice."

Where is the love? Why is there still, in 2008, so much ignorance about racial equality? Why do people still consider race to be such an issue? What is really going on in this nation?

25 June 2008

Possibly the worst invention ever

I have always despised public restrooms. I didn't go to the bathroom outside my house (unless it was a friend I knew well or unless it was a dire emergency) until college. Then I decided that I would be unable to hold it for a semester until I could go home and use my parents' toilet. I am regular and like to stay hydrated - plus I didn't think that would have been humanly possible or healthy. I guess if I was really serious about it I could have invested in some industrial diapers like Lisa Nowak.

After I started using public restrooms, I insisted on using them as quickly as possible as well as on touching as little as possible.

I like when the facilities are kept up and when they are set up conveniently. Unfortunately that is not always the case. Especially on long road trips or in some public schools or in public parks and some museums.

One thing that is not convenient when I am squatting over a toilet seat is a toilet roll that is not functional. Some are set up to where only one half of one half of a square of toilet tissue is dispensed at a time. I guess this is good for keeping up my athletic build since I get a decent quad work out as I try and gather enough 2"x2" niblets of one-ply to make up a wipe worthy pile.

This is not the worst, though.

The worst bathroom invention; the thing that I cannot even begin to understand the purpose of; the thing that really just annoys the hell out of me and anyone I have heard in the stall next to me also trying to manipulate this devise as they try to move with the quickness to get out of the public stalls...

The toilet tissue dispenser that does not roll in a complete circle. You know what I am talking about? That piece of shit that does a half rotation and then stops so that you have to constantly be collecting the tissue in one hand and slide it through the gap in the back (careful not to let it touch the filthy wall/dispenser container) so that you can do another half rotation to gather some more tissue.

How incredibly annoying.

It takes about 5 minutes, then you decide that 6 sheets will just have to do, and you then begin to pray that they have some soap in the dispensers by the sink -- and not that watery shit. Real soap so that you will be germ free. And paper towel so that you won't have to touch the door handle after all the shit-birds who don't wash their hands or who decided the toilet paper was too much of a hassle and either didn't wipe or who used their hands to semi-wipe. Gross, I know. But it could happen.

So, while you are at that happy hour drinking your fancy (hopefully eco-friendly) vodka-filled drink and eating those peanuts/chips in the community bowl on the table -- think about where those hands have been. Or while you are at that political meet and greet supporting our local candidate for Missouri state rep., Don Calloway, check the bathrooms' toilet and soap dispensers before you start shaking hands, think about the restroom situation. Or while you are at that pick up game slapping fives or giving "terrorist" daps to your teammates, then using the same hand to wipe your brow, think.

Just stay clean people.

Visit DirtyButton.com for funny, interesting, and crazy pictures, videos, jokes and more.

And if you own an establishment -- please invest in usable toilet tissue dispensers.

The Amero, a North American government, and the VChip

I'm not trying to make everyone paranoid, but this is some real shit that is happening that I'm sure many do not know about. I'd heard of some of these things before, and Sean gave me the link to the video. I just started really re-thinking about a lot of this stuff again.

If you are not interested in hearing about the following, please skip to another of my entries. I just really feel like letting this serious stuff all out right now.
  • North American Union
  • The Amero currency system
  • VChips embedded in people
  • A World Government
Check out the video.

The whole idea of the North American nations forming an entity similar to the European Union is not a joke or a conspiracy theory. The White House formed a group in 2005 called the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America, SPP. One goal of this group is "to increase security and enhance prosperity among the United States, Canada and Mexico through greater cooperation and information sharing." This organization falls under the power of the US State department and the Department of Commerce -- without the consent or oversight of the US Congress.

Some have said that the plan for a more directly united North America Union (similar to the EU) is something that the US has been pushing without letting the Canadians and Mexicans really even fully know about the concept. Many Canadians who do know about it are against the idea as well as the current NAFTA setup.

Judi McLeod of the Canadian Free Press said that "One of the signs that the NAU is on its way is the collapse of the American greenback dollar paving the way for the debut of the 'amero'... In the US, experts are now predicting that the collapse of the dollar is imminent. "People in the U.S. are going to be hit hard," says Bob Chapman publisher of The International Forecaster newsletter. "In the severe recession we are entering now, Bush will argue that we have to form a North American Union to compete with the Euro. Creating the amero," Chapman explained, "will be presented to the American public as the administration's solution for dollar recovery. In the process of creating the amero, the Bush administration just abandons the dollar.""

Part of increasing prosperity is to increase trade. The Bush Administration has already started working on a North American super highway. Read up on what this could mean for the economy and on how the United States will be able to gain easier access to Eastern goods.

Another thing we can already see evidence of is the VChip. The VChip has already begun being implanted into some babies as tests, as well as some adults. They have also been a staple in pets for years to help veterinarians identify the pets easily and retrieve information on them in the paper form or to identify them when they are lost and then found by someone besides the owner.

Some of these ideas could work out well. The uniting of the nations could benefit us the same way it has benefited the EU nations. Or it could hurt the economy. But the economy isn't exactly doing too well right now, anyway. Immigration might increase, but with the idea of the super highway the government must not be too concerned about that. Kind of strange since there are so many places in this nation that are trying to limit immigrants through many means (punishing landlords for renting to them, punishing business owners for hiring them, making English the official language of different cities, building walls on the nation's borders, putting vigilantes on the boarders to shoot and kill people trying to come in, sending boat loads of people back to their nations even when they are being persecuted or are not living well in their nation).

The idea of a united North America could possibly mean that I could move to Canada easier since that is where I would love to live. (But perhaps if we are all united, Canada will become more like this nation and may no longer be as attractive.)

But the idea of technological chips implanted in the people of the country is scary. It's like Big Brother watching everything. As if the new possibility of the airport x-rays that can see through your clothes are not enough. Now I might have the government following everywhere I go and knowing exactly what I purchase.

Lots of links in here. Check them out. I have really been thinking about this stuff, especially with a new administration about to come into office. Who knows what they will do, and who knows what G-Dubb will try to rush into being before he finally leaves (01.20.09)

Sorry for babbling on.

On a completely unrelated note... I accidentally flipped to BET for a moment. What the hell is this Baldwin Hills show? The black people's OC/The Hills? No wonder I feel so strongly about BET and no wonder there are so many messed up views of brown folks - among themselves and from other races. Seriously. Reconsider your self-images.

24 June 2008

I am not going to make it

Super tired. Working at new school. Supposed to be writing curriculum and working on lessons.

I am too tired to focus. The storm that has developed outside is not helping. Rain makes me tired. Storms make me just about collapse into a stupor. It is super dark outside.

All I keep thinking about is what I would rather be doing.
  1. I want to get some good food. Something "ethnic".
  2. I need to make an appointment with the electric company to fix some things in the house.
  3. I would rather look at the silly toilets on this site. But if I look at them I might start to laugh in my groggy state and then these new people will know (too soon) that I am goofy. I have to keep up the uber-professionalism for a bit longer.
  4. Which means that I can't spend too much time on this sites' images either.
  5. I would really like to watch some more clips of George Carlin, but that would be really inappropriate. This one is his take on religion that I found on the Religious Freaks website. This was already on my computer, other sites to see him are probably blocked by the school server.
  6. I can try out this survey and see if by answering questions a little bit differently I could take on more five year olds.
  7. Or I could read more about McCain on Aunt Jemima's Revenge site. But reading about his anger issues and how people still want to vote for him will only make me really angry. Which is not a state I want to be in right now.
I guess I should get back to writing lessons on the major religions and the Renaissance and Reformation until I have to meet with the other group I'm supposed to meet with today to discuss some slightly more interesting categories I will finally get to teach dealing with American history -- modern day issues such as the fight for equality and the fight for control of the economy.

But I don't want to right now. So instead I will check my email (for the 50th time) and continue to find random sites that aren't blocked on the school's server.

And I will occasionally have to make sure to stand up, or drink water, or at least use my two first fingers to lean against my upper eyelid to make sure that my eyes do not close more than the level they already are. I'm sure the people in the room must think I'm either super high or that I am giving them some kind of bedroom eyes.

23 June 2008

George Carlin

Always hilarious. Always edgy. Always provocative. Always keeping your stomach and cheeks hurting from laughing so hard. Always award winning.

RIP George Carlin. He was even doing shows the week before he died. And he just got an award last week. He was seriously THE shit. And he was 71 years old.
What was really cool about him was that he was more than comedy -- check this out from the New York Independent Media Center site: is it stand up comedy or political oratory?

I just got one of his older movies on Netflix a couple days ago reminiscing on how funny he was. Now watching it will be more of a tribute of sorts.

21 June 2008

Joining the nut-jobs

I am not a super tidy person, but I am not messy. And when I am eating, I like for it to be somewhat clean. Especially when I am out eating -- I don't want to see other people's junk, I don't even really like to watch other people eat.

So, imagine my disgust/confusion/total lack of understanding for the conditions of the Colton's Steak House here in Poplar Bluff, MO where I am attending a track meet.

What was bothering me?

Deez nuts!!!

Sorry, I had to throw that in. But, really, it was nuts that were bugging me at the steak house.

There were nut shells all over the floor -- ALL over the floor -- from the entry way, to the restrooms and everywhere in between. So many nutshells that when I walked to meet our crew, I almost slipped five times; when I sat at the table, the chair legs constantly were slipping.

At first it was really disgusting to me. Basically just sitting in people's used, discarded, possibly spit-filled shells. I began wondering when the last time they swept the floor must have been. I figured it is probably a once monthly chore.

Then the extreme hunger started to confuse my mind even more. I wanted to join in. I took some empty nut shells from the container at the center of the table, held them in my hand for a moment, and then eagerly, gingerly threw them onto the floor behind me. Kind of refreshing. It was like everything I am against. It is like everything my mother told me not to do.

The fine, warm bread rolls came, and I was transformed to my happy place -- good bread tends to do that for me.

Once the fullness from five rolls set in, my inner Merry Maid also set in. I looked behind me onto the floor and was again disgusted and confused by it all.

This feeling remains with me still. I just can't understand how/why they would want their establishment to look that way.

Despite my disgust with it all, I ate more than I could comfortably fit in my stomach, I left a good tip, and made sure that on the way out I dropped a few more peanut shells on the floor for good measure and waddled very carefully out to the door.

20 June 2008

Alternative ideas to the status quo

Wednesday Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) conducted an interview with third party candidate for president, Ralph Nader. He talked about his platform and also about Obama and his beliefs.

Read the whole interview here.

Check some excerpts here:

On some of the ideas he is pushing:
We have a security speculation tax. $500 trillion in security derivatives are going to be traded this year. A tiny tax on those transactions would relieve the federal income tax up $100,000 on American workers. We have solar energy, instead of nuclear power. We have single-payer health insurance, which replaces the health insurance moguls and their enormous administrative and bureaucratic waste and their denial of doctor discretion and their “pay or die” policies in America, unlike all Western democracies.

So, you can see in many ways that we favor workers, and we favor consumers, and we favor small taxpayers, we favor the environment to the expense of corporate power. I mean, the issue here is centralized corporate power. And that’s why day after day, whether through demonstrations in front of toady government agencies and trade associations in Washington to campaigning with people and their controversies for justice all over the country, we have made our website, votenader.org, a very vivid, vivacious website for people who want to volunteer, who want to get engaged, who want to contribute money to our campaign. We take no commercial money or PACs, so we rely on individuals.
On Senator Obama's statements on Israel:

AMY GOODMAN: Ralph Nader, on his first day as the Democrats’ presumptive nominee, Barack Obama traveled to Washington to address AIPAC, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. This is some of what he had to say.

    SEN. BARACK OBAMA: Let me be clear. Israel’s security is sacrosanct. It is non-negotiable. The Palestinians need a state—the Palestinians need a state that is contiguous and cohesive and that allows them to prosper, but any agreement with the Palestinian people must preserve Israel’s identity as a Jewish state, with secure, recognized, defensible borders. And Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel, and it must remain undivided.
AMY GOODMAN: Obama later appeared to backtrack on his comments about the future status of Jerusalem as capital in a follow-up interview on CNN. He said it would be up to the Israelis and Palestinians to negotiate. Ralph Nader?

RALPH NADER: Well, I think Barack Obama is in training to become panderer-in-chief. That was really a disgraceful speech. It didn’t further the peace process, the two-state solution favored by a majority of Jewish Americans, Arab Americans, a majority of Israeli and Palestinian people. He basically sided with the militaristic approach to occupying, repressing, colonizing, destroying the Palestinian people in the West Bank and Gaza. He hasn’t even spoken out against the international crime of the blockade of Gaza, one-and-a-half million people, from medicine or drinking water, fuel, electricity, food—lots of silent fatalities in Gaza because of that.

Barack Obama really now has to be examined very carefully. He has worn out the word “change.” We now want to know what change is involved. And it’s quite clear that he is a corporate candidate from A to Z.
On Iran:
Iran has not invaded anybody in 250 years. Yet it’s obviously frightened. It’s surrounded by the US military west, south, east. It’s been labeled “Axis of Evil” by Bush, who invaded Iraq after he labeled them “Axis of Evil.” We have Special Forces, according to Sy Hersh, that go in and out of Iran. What are they going to do? They talk very belligerently nationally, but they’re really scared. I mean, we supported Saddam Hussein, logistically and with materiel, in invading Iran, which took a half a million Iranian lives. They remember the shooting down of their civilian airliner years ago...

...The point is that we are exaggerating that threat instead of using diplomacy, number one. Number two, Iran does not have nuclear weapons; they’re nowhere near nuclear weapons, according to intelligence estimates. Number three, Israel has 250 nuclear weapons. Does Iran really want to commit suicide? And number four, two major national security experts in Israel have been reported as saying Iran is not a problem. So why are we beating the drums, and why is Obama falling for this kind of trap?
On Iraq and his plans for withdrawal:
Six-month corporate and military withdrawal from Iraq, during which we negotiate with the Kurds, Shiites and Sunnis for modest autonomy, which they worked out in the 1950s before the dictators took over. Under a unified Iraq, continue humanitarian aid, some peacekeepers from nearby Islamic countries, and UN-sponsored elections. That’s the way you knock the bottom out of the insurgency. That’s the way you get the authority figures, the tribal leaders and the religious leaders and others, who still have authority over millions of Iraqis, to get together, because the alternative is constant bloodshed and civil strife. So you give them a stake by using the only chip we have, which is to give back Iraq to the Iraqis, including their oil. Now that—otherwise, it’s constant, constant strife.

You saw that huge explosion in Iraq, in Baghdad, yesterday. The Pentagon doesn’t count Iraqi civilian tolls. They don’t even count officially US injuries unless they occur right in the middle of combat. So US injuries are triple what their official figure is. And all the press, including the liberal press and the indie press, still uses that figure of some 32,000 injured soldiers, when it’s triple that. I don’t understand why they follow that kind of Pentagon line. So that’s the way to deal with it.
Wow. And Nader and McKinney are steadily ignored by the media, and the populace in general, as viable presidential candidates.

19 June 2008

What the hell?!!!

What is wrong with these girls?!!!

They made a pact to all get pregnant and raise their babies together. No, this was not some grown-up decision of a group of women who are adults but grew up together. The issue is that they are no older than 16 years old. At least 17 girls. Many of the girls in the school who went asking for pregnancy tests were disappointed upon finding out that they were not pregnant. Others gave each other high fives and started planning baby showers when they found out they were pregnant.

One chick went as far as enlisting a homeless man to impregnate her.

The school is in a largely Catholic area where they stop teaching sex ed freshman year, and where young people seem to admire the unconditional love a baby might provide. From the Time Magazine article:
By May, after nurse practitioner Kim Daly had administered some 150 pregnancy tests at Gloucester High's student clinic, she and the clinic's medical director, Dr. Brian Orr, a local pediatrician, began to advocate prescribing contraceptives regardless of parental consent, a practice at about 15 public high schools in Massachusetts. Currently Gloucester teens must travel about 20 miles (30 km) to reach the nearest women's health clinic; younger girls have to get a ride or take the train and walk. But the notion of a school handing out birth control pills has met with hostility. Says Mayor Carolyn Kirk: "Dr. Orr and Ms. Daly have no right to decide this for our children." The pair resigned in protest on May 30.
Maybe the kids' parents are ok with becoming grandparents so early. After all, that is better (to them) than teaching them about safe sex or giving them some type of birth control methods or taking care of their sexual health.

This is the future of our society!!!!

Hmmm... Chinese = Black?

Yesterday on NPR I heard a story that was really interesting. It was about South Africa and how the Chinese there are going to be reclassified as Black. This will help them get a leg up. The ruling is "aimed at ending white domination in the private sector."

Interesting how governments work. Interesting how even over 14 years after apartheid there is still not full equality.

The laws of attentiveness

There are always going to be meetings or classes that you attend that are just not as interesting as they may lead you to believe. As Murphy's teaching laws says "A meeting's length will be directly proportional to the boredom the speaker produces." And by the end of a meeting you realize that it could have been consolidated into a simple five minutes of straight up information giving rather than the waiting for late arrivals, the touchy-feely activities, the meaningless banter rather than getting straight to the point, and the redundant question asking by those who can't multi task and missed information because they were busy being off task without simultaneously listening just a little bit.

All this said, it is a must that you learn how to fake your way through paying attention. High school students are not really very good at this, but as an adult, it is really a key strategy to get through life.

These jurors did not learn this strategy. Their lack of looking like they were paying attention really cost them and the government.

And it gives Sudoku lovers a bad name.

Verterra: the better disposable dinnerware

Cool alternative for disposable flatware. Verterra makes plates that are completely made of old leaves and water and are made without any chemicals. They are also completely biodegradable in two months.

Verterra home page.

Check out the site. Check out the products. And (at least try) to stop using plastics which use up a lot of petroleum and are not very biodegradable.

Also read the 25 Reasons to Go Reusable and stop using so many plastic bags.

And think outside the bottle and stop throwing away plastic bottles when you can just drink tap water (which is what you are actually drinking with most of those bottles, anyway).

Enough preaching.

I'm going to try and go to sleep. I've got a long day ahead of me.

18 June 2008

Another military mistake

I thought that with all the government spending on military equipment and technology that a soldier should be able to have enough sight enhancing tools to be able to tell a camera and a microphone from a rocket propelled grenade.

Apparently this is not so seeing as a journalist was killed because he was "mistaken" to be the enemy. Here is an excerpt from the article:
According to the report, U.S. soldiers responding to an ambush on Iraqi police, saw the car with the Reuters journalists inside, and mistook Kadhem's handheld camcorder and microphone for a weapon. The soldiers fired warning shots at the car.
Following Reuters' safety procedures, the crew put the car in reverse and began to back away — an action the military is trained to interpret as an insurgent's combat tactics.
The soldiers fired shots to disable the car, killing and wounding the journalists. A contributing factor, the inspector general said, was the Reuters policy that allows journalists to work without wearing protective equipment, and in unmarked cars.
Help me understand.

Camera:Rocket Propelled Grenade:

Maybe with all the dust, or the heavy helmets, they were not able to tell the difference.

The Pentagon calls the shooting, killing, and wounding of these journalists justified. Justified. It is ok. No one will be reprimanded.

The military is trained to kill people. I understand that. And most acts are seen as threatening to them. I understand that, too. But come on now. How do you get trained to kill someone who is trying to get away from you? I guess I need to -- no, must -- remember to never back away from a soldier with a weapon. Nor will I do so when I fear that a soldier is around.

I like living.

Lady bugs, closet hideaways, castle doctrine, and lactose

When I have unexpected/unwanted guests in my abode, they are usually of the arachnid type. Or possibly of another six-legged type. Nothing that can't be alleviated with a can of the blue Raid. Or is it the purple one? The one that leaves a (probably toxic to people) residue for months that keeps working to kill the little buggers.

In the last apartment I stayed in Columbia, I had this really awesome balcony with a really awesome view of the woods and some open grassy areas. Beautiful view. Though I guess not beautiful enough for the man who lived below and to the right of me since the view he consistently wanted to see when I saw him on the balcony was me. Me reading. Me sitting. Me sunbathing. Me on the phone. Me having a drink. Me trying to pretend he wasn't looking at me and making me feel a bit dirty. Me glaring at him and asking him why he liked to stare so much. I don't think he realized that there were other naturally beautiful things to be seen in the almost lovely Ashland Manor scenery.

But I digress. Every couple years in Columbia there is an incredible lady bug infestation. I mean, it is like nothing I had previously, or have since seen in my life. They were everywhere. Seriously. I am not one of the many who feel that lady bugs are cute little beings. I see the benefits of them on farms with crops and too many insects, but I did not live on a farm. At that point, I did not have a single living (or fake) plant in my place -- I did not require the service of the 500 lady bugs that gathered at the sliding glass door of my apartment to try and hibernate for the winter. I had to do something about them. I didn't want to kill all of these critters. Just the ones that kept trying to get into my house. Just the ones that kept ending up appearing as though they were walking/flying toward my bedroom, bathroom, reading room, living room, and kitchen. That's all. So I used that awesome spray can and was able to keep them out of the place throughout the rest of the infestation. (If it happened again, I would surely use something more eco/human lung friendly to get rid of the invaders.)

This being said, I cannot imagine coming across this type of uninvited/unwelcome guest. I know that housing in Tokyo is expensive, and that perhaps they do not have homeless living spaces (we hardly have any here in this country -- if you're in St. Louis, you can still go down to the park areas close to Union Station and see them, or by the public library, or you can drive down Delmar and see the same couple of men panhandling, though not as much recently due to the new laws against this last strive for sustenance and a life), but this is a bit much.

This is disturbing, yet ingenious. Think how much money she saved by not having to buy food, pay rent, or pay for the utilities she was using for an entire year. Quite clever. But so incredibly disturbing.

Perhaps someone needs to invent some type of trespasser-repellent. Though we already have something that is, I guess, supposed to be the repellent -- it's called the castle doctrine law. The gist is simply that it allows you to kill any person unlawfully entering a private premise or committing a forcible felony, such as kidnapping, armed robbery, burglary, arson, assault, rape, or sodomy.

Missouri adopted this law earlier this year. So I can now kill anyone that steps on my property without permission. Fortunately, I don't own a gun. Unfortunately, there are many people who do. Many people who also practice their right to conceal and carry.

Perhaps if I choose to shack with someone unbeknownst to them, I should first invest in all sorts of bulletproof products. I'll need to scout a good place, too. If the closet does not have sufficient room for me to get up and stretch every so often, I'm up. If the homeowner has stank feet, I'm up. I will need to check the pantry and refrigerator to find out if they eat the types of foods I like. If there's no cereal, I'm up. And if they don't have lactose-free milk, my cover will seriously be blown.

16 June 2008

A few reasons for impeachment, by Dennis Kucinich and Scott Bateman

Cool cartoon showing some of the MANY reasons Dennis Kucinich recommends the current US president be impeached. Also see the DemocracyNow! interview Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez conducted with Kucinich last week.

15 June 2008

Tanned tattoos?

I have started to accept compliments easier than when I was younger. Sometimes, though, things people say can be a bit disturbing and I really just don't know what to say.

This past weekend while I was on the way back from the Chi (from Kid Sis #1's doctoral graduation), Kid Sis #2 and I were in the restroom getting ready for the long drive ahead. I had on a spaghetti strap-type dress. I still have a really bad looking tan from the incredibly painful burn I had the pleasure of experiencing for the first time at the state meet a month ago.

As I get ready to wash my hands this older lady walked into the restroom -- said she needed to fix her hair from all the wind. Kid Sis #2 walks behind me and notices that my tan is horrific. Looks like I am wearing a wifebeater underneath my black dress. Seriously. It is that bad. She tries to make me feel better by telling me that at least it is not bad from the front side, that I should be relieved that I sat in the stands and only my back received most of the sun.

I guess that was supposed to make me feel more confident -- at least only one part of my body got burned. And at least the front of my body is still the color of the pale backside that rested underneath the shirt I had on that day. At least the brown of my shoulders is not uniform throughout my body. I don't think it had the effect she was looking for.

The older lady was still standing a bit behind us looking in the mirror and doing some things to her very windblown, extremely processed-looking, bleached blonde, old lady hair. I looked at her and smiled saying that I had experienced my first sunburn and now was faced with a bad tan line until I could get to a pool or to somewhere where I would be able to where a differently styled shirt without dying of heat or risking another sunburn.

She then gave what (I believe) was a compliment (at least to her).
Well, it is actually cute. A lot better than those tattoos, that some other people get.
What?! Cute? Was she serious. Perhaps the greasy food was getting to her. Or perhaps the fact that she had some fried hair and some crazy patterned shirt on was a sign that I should disregard anything that came from her peachy-pink blushed face. Or perhaps the sister and I suffered from some type of simultaneous hallucination that caused us to temporarily loose our minds and hear strange information coming from the first person who would come in contact with us.

And since when does a tan equate a body decoration like a tattoo?

Or as a white person, does she know something I don't about bad tans? Is this actually going to stay on my skin indefinitely? Am I going to have a perpetual marking of a razorback tank on my back until the day I leave this earth?

I am off to day 2 of an all day summer track meet. Hopefully I can fix some of this tan today.

12 June 2008

Fears overcome

I am afraid of few things in my life. Yesterday I tackled one of those few. Ever since I was a little kid I have not wanted to go back into the St. Louis Arch monument. There was something about the rickety-ness of the little container that takes you up the sides, the size of the little thing that takes you up, and the little chairs in the container that made me at the age of about 8 not want to go back in there. Hearing about malfunctions in it last year just reemphasized my lack of desire to go in the contraption, get stuck, have no cell phone service, and be in there in the dark indefinitely until someone figured out how to work the 1960s technology and get me out of there.

But, I went yesterday. Seeing the monument up close is really amazing. People always talk about being a tourist in your own town, but I have not seen a lot of the big name things in this city in the longest time.

It was cool standing next to it, seeing it in all of it's 192m of glory (that's about 630' for you non-track/non Euro measuring people). In my heyday, I could have ran from the ground to it's peak in about 23-24 seconds.

The ride up was not nearly as bad as I remember it being when I was young. It was actually really cool watching the walls, and the bolts, and the stairs go by as I timed how long it took to go up and down the shoot (I believe it was around 4 minutes both ways). Being at the top was really quite mesmerizing. The views, the tiny people, the thought of someone leaning too hard on the window, breaking it and falling out -- all were entertaining. You can see a picture I took here -- you can see part of the road that was flooded. They blocked off much of the landing area due to flooding waters. The guy me and Kid Sis #2 took to see it was amazed by the flooding since he had just been on the road four days prior. We had to try and describe how much worse the Flood of '93 was with regard to water levels.

Less entertaining was the ride down where we shared the container with three people who reeked of booze. The first thing the woman said to me was, "You don't mind if I throw up, do you?" Um... yea I do. I ended up sitting across from her and was not looking forward to the projectile vomit I was imagining coming out of her mouth. I was also not amused by her constant chatter about the lack of oxygen in the container and her fear of the thing falling down and skeetering to the bottom. But we made it back to the bottom in one piece. And I never have to hear/smell that woman again.

One fear down.

Back in February, I felt a lump in my breast. Strange, yes, but I had always felt something in there that when shown to the doctor was told was muscle tissue. Seeing as this one felt different than those other ones, and I don't have as much muscle mass as I used to, I was a bit worried about this mass. When I went for my annual gyn visit in March, I showed the doctor. At first he did not feel it. But finally he did and suddenly his demeanor changed. He said he does not hesitate with breasts.

I was scheduled for an ultrasound two weeks later. I have always loved watching surgeries on tv and reading the latest in doctoring in magazines and online. So, it was strange how it was a bit exciting, and yet totally frightening to see the mass on the ultrasound tv screen right next to my head. It all made this thing so real. Immediately after the excitement of seeing it and figuring out how big it was faded, the thoughts of breast cancer shot into my head. Followed by the thoughts of possible death -- not being there for my family and loved ones. Following these thoughts, I moved to the people I have known with breast cancer and how they have all survived with different treatments.

Then the real kicker. It was still April, then, so I wasn't completely sure that I was going to quit my job, but I was considering it.

The next fear that came into my head was the first truly adult fear that I have had in my life -- insurance. If I quit my job without a back up, I would have no insurance coverage to take care of whatever problem I may have. No insurance meant that I would have to really get into Eastern medicine and figure out what to do to help myself without doctors.

The ultrasound doctor did not seem very urgent about my situation, but when my doctor saw the ultrasound, he wanted to send me to the St. Louis Cancer and Breast Institute for another opinion.

More fear.

That appointment did not come until last week. Waiting, wondering. All while trying not to touch the mass in my breast since the nurse at the ultrasound place said that manipulating it could possibly do more harm than good.

The doctor quickly took a feel of my breast and then told me that she did not think that it was a tumor, that instead she thought it was a fibroadenoma. She said that there were three options:
  • I could just wait and see if it goes away or gets bigger on its own. If it gets bigger, then we could decide what to do.
  • I could have the whole thing removed.
  • I could have a biopsy done on it to determine whether it is cancerous or not.
I went with the third option.

Had the biopsy on Tuesday morning. A really neat procedure. All the obscure surgeries I have seen on television, but I had never seen a biopsy done. I just wish I could have had a better view of my chest as it was being cut open. The incision was small and because of the location of it, I could not see it very well. When they excised two samples of the tissue, they implanted next to the mass a super tiny stainless steel breast cancer symbol so future doctors will know that the mass has been examined by a doctor. It seemed to be about the size of the top of a hair brush bristle.

It was kind of strange how the Oprah show replayed the episode about death on Tuesday after I had the biopsy done, but before I had the results. Randy Pausch was on there giving his last lecture he had given at Carnegie Mellon. He is a man who has pancreatic cancer and does not know how much longer he has to live. His speech was really touching and focused on living rather than on dying. Very motivational even for those who are not facing death.

Yesterday I found out I am officially hired by my new school. Immediately after that call, I got a call from the Cancer Institute. The lump was benign. I am ok. I have to go back in December for another ultrasound to check on its status.

I did not think I could overcome the fear of death, but when I thought the conditions were there, I was ready to face it and do what I had to do to either deal with it or challenge it.

I am not afraid to die. I have over come that fear.

I am afraid that I won't live enough. But that fear can be appeased by choosing to live every day. A simple step.

09 June 2008

A novel idea

Here is a pretty good blog about Cynthia McKinney -- a great candidate for the next president of the United States:

Here's a Novel Idea: Support an African-American Woman for President - on AfroSpear. Read some of the other commentary on this blog also, seriously -- good stuff.

Here's a website for Cynthia McKinney.

Think outside the box if you are really searching for Change We Can Believe In. Find candidates that support your beliefs, who don't contradict themselves, who don't follow the status quo.

08 June 2008

Yes, there is another leakage, and yes, I will go off

I moved down two floors in this apartment complex after the top floor place I was in started leaking from the ceiling/windows. This new place is nice -- a bit bigger in the living area, brighter, more windows, a nice entry-way hallway. On Sunday last week I started to hear a dripping sound in the entry hallway next to the kitchen and there was a small water mark in the ceiling in the hallway.

The dripping was coming from in the ceiling. I figured someone up on the floor above me must have left the sink on, or that the toilet was leaking. I called maintenance on Monday. Tuesday it was still dripping, incessantly. Fortunately the bedroom in this layout is far from the kitchen area, so I could still sleep. Wednesday I called the office again to let them know it was still going on. The puddle in the ceiling was growing bigger -- nothing dripping on to my floor, just a growing water mark. Thursday morning I saw some maintenance people going up to that floor and figured they must be finally fixing the leak.

No such luck.

Friday I noticed that the puddle in my ceiling was getting even larger and starting to go down the side of the wall. I went to talk with the people in person in the office that day. When I told home-girl the issue, she said, "Isn't that what made you move before?" Yes, my child. And, therefore, I am really not trying to deal with this issue again. Also told them that I would not be renewing my lease.

Yesterday I noticed that there was not only some mold/mildew developing on the ceiling, but also a small circle area where the ceiling was puckering in such a way that it seemed as if it might burst and start to drip onto my floor. Office was already closed since it was Saturday. Last night the dripping sound became louder. Still no drip.

Around 4:15 this morning I was awakened by even louder dripping. This time onto the carpet.

Had to get up and put a pot on the ground to catch the water. Of course, then, I could not really go back to sleep -- dripping too loud, me too angry to calm down enough to sleep.

Today, the office opens at noon. I will, again, go down there. This time, it won't be pretty. They will face the wrath of a woman who has not slept well, of a woman who is dealing with an issue that should have been resolved on Monday when I first called you and if not then, then on Thursday when those mo-fos came in to do some work on the floor above me.

I will bring one of those heifers back to the apartment to see the actual damage. I will let them view the five-foot water mark in the ceiling, the three-foot water mark on the wall, the three six-inch water marks close to the floor board, the now three-inch puckering which is incessantly dripping into my pot (another one that I will not want to use again -- there goes that whole set since I already used the other two upstairs to catch water there).

Fortunately, the lease is up in two months. Unfortunately for them, I will not pay the rest of the money since they have now twice inconvenienced me, my living area, and my sleep.

You can't mess with my sleep. You can't mess with my living area. I will get angry, bitter, and will come at you like nobody's business.

They are lucky that I don't have a lot of money, because if I did, I would surely rent a plane and let all the maintenance crew, the complex managers, and the owners do one of these moves.

Since I am not rich, the gas face will have to suffice.

06 June 2008

I just don't understand how it works

I am all about optical illusions. I love watching magic shows and trying to figure out how the stuff they are doing is accomplished. I have not quite figured out how David Blaine does some of his tricks, but that makes him even more intriguing.

This is something that I am not sure I understand. It works every time. It seems to somehow read my mind. And everyone's that I have had try this out.

The Junk Genie.

It can guess which number and which object you are thinking of.

Try it and let me know if you can trick it.

Another really difficult thing for me to understand is why out of all the places to have the summer Olympics in 2016, Chicago is on the list. I am not saying that it is not a cool place (literally) to hang sometimes, but with the other cities in the top four -- Tokyo, Rio de Janeiro, and Madrid -- how is Chicago in the running against them? Think of the beauty and intrigue of the other three options, then think of the windy city of Chicago. I would prefer to go to Chicago. And I'm hoping to have some athletes of my own there at those Games, so I would prefer to travel with them to a more fabulous region of the world.

04 June 2008

Johnny 5 is alive

There is a new movie from Disney/Pixar called Wall-E (pictured to the right).

Does anyone else see the striking resemblance to Johnny 5 from the 1986 movie Short Circuit (pictured to the left)? Isn't there some type of copy right infringement case that should be going on with these two movies?

And why would anyone, with the technology of today to create different kinds of characters, make such a simple being as Wall-E? A being that is similar to the not very hi-tech creature that was Johnny 5.

Wall-E is Johnny 5's very long lost love child with Ally Sheedy.

I'm sure the new flick does not have lines as good as the insults thrown in Short Circuit: "Your mamma was a snow blower!"

Obama's speech

In case you don't want to read the transcript I posted before, here is the video. Even better.

Parts of it honestly send chills through me. Other parts are a bit contradictory. It makes me really slightly proud to see all the people behind him in that huge stadium. A much bigger support group than the 600 that showed up to hear McCain yesterday.

03 June 2008

It's about time

Wow!! The Democratic race is finally over -- at least to everyone accept Senator Clinton who has not conceded yet.

If you didn't hear the speech Obama gave, you really missed out. But you can read here the transcript. Not as powerful as hearing him give it, but still a touching speech, still a speech that should convince everyone that change is necessary in this nation.

It is really amazing what a good speaker Senator Obama is. Seriously. Amazing. Mesmerizing. Enlightening. Really brings people to want to take part in the democratic process that so many in this nation (me included) have been deluded by for so long. He made me want to vote again. He made me think that change really is possible, not only through his words, but also by seeing other people actually give a shit again.

As he said at the end of his speech:
This was the moment — this was the time — when we came together to remake this great nation so that it may always reflect our very best selves and our highest ideals. Thank you, God bless you, and may God bless the United States of America.
I am almost proud to say I am from here.

Then I read some of his contradictions and remember how the Green Party is really more "for the people" than he is. Hopefully others will see that, too. Hopefully he will understand that that party has more strategies and ideas that are good for the people and he will adopt those ideas.

01 June 2008

The replacement and being re-made whole

Not even a week after and I am way more at peace with all the BS. Leo and others have been trying to get me to understand how little those people cared about me for a really long time. As Michelle once told me, working there is like being in an abusive relationship. You don't realize how bad it is, that it's not supposed to be that way, that it can be better, etc. But now that I'm out and more removed, I have seen a little more of the bad than I had been seeing before.

Explain to me how I can resign on Wednesday and they can have a replacement hired the same day. How I can go to ask if I can continue working with the track team I have developed over the past five years and they have a replacement -- not one of my assistant coaches, the position wasn't even offered to any of them. That should come as a blow to them and let them know how much they are cared for.

The replacement.

I guess there were rumors of me leaving. But nothing was certain. As of Monday this week, I was still coming back in the fall. As of Tuesday morning, the same thing. What really irks me is that if they thought I was leaving, they did nothing to inquire about it to me, they did nothing to ask why I might be making such a decision, they did nothing to find out what they could do to ensure that I would not leave. I guess they just did not care. Or they wanted me out. Now they have a (fairly) newbie in my place. I wish him well. I hope they don't treat him like shit. I hope that he does not get burned out like most of the other faculty, because if he doesn't, I feel like he could make an impact.

Unfortunately, my views on the track team are mixed. I love those kids to death and want them to do well. But a small part of me wants that not to happen without me. Wants this new guy to falter a bit. Is it possible for the kids to do well but for him to fail? I'm not sure.

What's done is done. I am moving on. I think I already have a job secured. I will find out on Tuesday or Wednesday. I am going to get the rest of my shit out of that school and then be up.

On another note, well some what tied to that school, I got a new computer. Have to turn in the school's tomorrow. I got an awesome deal from the guy. He really hooked me up even beyond the educator's discount. Then a friend from grad school who works as a teacher during the year also hooked me up at the store by transferring all my shit (ALL my shit) from the school computer over to my new one. Sweet. Seriously. I suppose my second to last hit at the school. Last one will be when they don't see my curriculum still there. I wrote that shit. I take that shit with me. Sorry new guy, no offense to you, just what I have to do. I had to do it, now you do, too. Plus I will have to teach it all again at some point, so why should I start fresh then when I have already made it all.

I really feel great -- free, happy. The potential district is one that everyone seems to love working at. And it starts sooner in the morning and gets out earlier. I will basically be able to have a life. And be able to do shit after the last bell rings, because that will only be 2:16. So many more hours added to my day. And the athletic facilities are nice. Since I cannot coach at my old digs, I will coach there. I will rebuild the program just as I did before.

With that all out, I hope to never have to speak with anger of the bullshit that was my life in that place. I hope that I can speak of it calmly and as though it was another part of my life. It already seems distant, like it was some type of nightmare that I am finally awakening from. I hope to be cared for by my future employers, I hope that if not, I will recognize it sooner and not be afraid to leave if the circumstances for me or my fellow colleagues start to turn to shit.

I consider it all a huge learning experience. One that I hope all my former colleagues are learning. And I hope that the ones still in that abusive relationship survive in tact. And that they can get out of it before it ruins their spirits more than it already has.

I am thankful for all the people there who kept me sane, I am thankful for all the people close to me who helped me make good choices while there and while trying to not be there, I am thankful to all the people who have listened to me vent, blabber, and make choices about it all for the past year and especially this past week.

I have been re-made whole.