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.