Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Racist Trolls

I missed the original article over the weekend with my 72+ hours internet downtime this weekend, but there was a good article in the Oregonian about a family in my neighborhood and the lack of grocery options/transportation options for low income families, despite being a lower income neighborhood.

What I saw today though was the note talking about the comments, nearly 100, a majority of which were racists remarks because the family in the story is Hispanic and it said they used food stamps. Remarks that the mom or the daughter needed to get jobs. Remarks about them being lazy because they didn't walk to the store or dumb because they went to one farther from their home. Just ridiculous. The whole point of the article was that they had to travel farther because while they have stores closer, they're stores that are more expensive.

The Albertsons most of the comment trolls mentioned is the closest grocery store to us and we don't shop there on a regular basis because it's overpriced and we're not low income. The Safeway they mention is our regular store, but we definitely pay more than WinCo for the nicer store. The point is these people are in a tough situation and it's a problem for many low income neighborhoods that needs to be addressed. And all they can focus on is that she speaks Spanish.

Most of the time idiots on the internet don't bug me, but this time, they just really pissed me off.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

I don't have words

My friend Cindy is... well... I don't have words. I've been in tears all day. She is on life-support and her family is with her. Please, prayers for she and her family.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Advent Conspiracy

This is something that friends from my church have brought to my attention - but whether or not you you have any religious leanings or not, it's still a good cause and a good perspective.

The first year that Noland and I were married we spent Christmas in New Zealand as part of our honeymoon. It was funny, sitting in a cafe in Wellington a few days before Christmas hearing the locals talk about how ridiculously commercial the city had become. When the night before as we walked the streets of this city of just under a half million people, that we commented how little it 'looked like Christmas' compared to back home.

No matter how much we love Christmas, we know that it has in many ways become ridiculous. The amount of money spent. The stress. The pressure. And if you do believe in the Christmas story - it's supposed to be a day of simple celebration.

So that's what the Advent Conspiracy is - take back Christmas - regardless of your spiritual views - to be a day of simple celebration with your family. Make it a day where you demonstrate your love not with piles of expensive gifts, but with something heartfelt. Then do something to help others.

For example - Americans spend more than $450B on Christmas gifts, decorations, etc. each year. It would take about $10B to solve... not temporarily help but SOLVE... the world's water crises.

What we could do if we tried.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Tell Me What to Do... Please!

So I know I don't have a ton of people out there reading this blog, but I know there are some. I am calling you readers to action. Come out of the lurky shadows and help a girl out.

When I have down time I spend way to much of it in front of the TV or the computer. I should spend more of that time reading. Especially now as the wet winter sets in. I love to read, I read pretty fast and once I start a book I tend to plunge in and can't put it down. My biggest problem is finding books to read. I walk through libraries and bookstores and can't decide. It ALL looks good.

So I want you to tell me. What should I read?

I know... most of you will say, but we don't know what you like... whaa whaa whaa... Well really, I'd love any suggestions, but to give you an ideas:

  • I loved reading all the classics in high school and college English classes, but there are some I'm sure I've missed, or others I should revisit.
  • I love historical fiction - great human stories just add life to real situations
  • I love fantasy, strange monsters, werewolves, fairies, vampires. magical spells and the like
  • I love a good mystery - I was weaned on Nancy Drew and Trixie Beldon as a child
  • I love a good biography - a fascinating person or glimpse of a lifestyle

Those are the things that come to mind first, but then again - that's where I go when I'm looking, I'd love to branch out and explore more.

So please - add a comment - give me your favorite books or authors. Light reading or heavy. Fiction or Non-fiction. Expand my horizons!

Saturday, November 08, 2008

aw crap!

Only Day 7 and I miss a day. Well - I will say that I was under the influence of NyQuil and that I remembered, but I was already to far into the sleep coma to do anything about it. But in my dream I had Noland guest post for me!

Oh well, I'm gonna keep going anyhow and try again next time.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Admitting defeat...

I was sick yesterday and stayed home from work. I easily cold have stayed home today as well, but honestly I don't think I've ever taken two sick days in a row in my life. I had perfect attendance most years in school. My mom didn't let us stay home unless we were throwing up. I've typically not used more than two sick days a year since beginning to work some 20 years ago. I hate being sick - but even more I hate missing work for being sick.

I know that if I'm sick, it's better not to go i and infect my co-workers. And I'm organized enough, that I can typically tell - like I did yesterday - that I didn't have anything super urgent on my plate and with just a few emails cold convey the info my co-workers needed to follow-up on the couple of time sensitive issues. But I just feel guilty calling in and saying I won't be there.

I think part of it stems from my childhood. As I said, we didn't stay home sick unless we were REALLY sick. I don't ever remember going to the doctor because I was sick. I went when I cracked my skull open and needed stitches. I went when I had chicken pox. But I didn't go because I ad a cold or the flu. We didn't get antibiotics or codeine. I remember hearing my parents speak negatively about parents who took their kids to the doctors, saying they were coddling them. I guess I learned that to be sick, is to be weak. And if there is one thing I am not - or at least don't like to admit - is weak.

I know now that's silly. But a part of it is still there. I don't want to be weak. I don't want to be sick. So enough already!

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

A family Thanksgiving

Halloween is over.
Barack Obama is the 44th President.
What now?

Well - I need to start making lists and plans for Thanksgiving festivities at our house. Right now we're looking at 8-10 people for dinner with another half dozen or more coming after family dinners for dessert and cocktails. And that number could easily go up before the day occurs.

Thanksgiving has never been an exciting holiday for me. My mom wasn't ever a big cook, so dinners were traditional with yummy turkey and stuffing, canned cranberries and green beans, Just usual fare. And since we didn't have any relatives nearby, we never had big family celebrations. Mostly it was just a day off of work or school. After my brothers got married and then started having kids, it was a little more interesting, because it was a chance to see them.

When I first moved to Portland and could no longer go back to Kansas easily for the holidays it became an even more boring holiday. When I had a part time job at the video store, which was open on holidays, I'd always volunteer to work so that people with family celebrations didn't have to. (And then I never had to work New Years Eve!) But for the first several years it was just another day.

After Noland and I got married that has all changed. We began 4 years ago, opening our home up to any of our friends who wanted a place to go. We cook a turkey and a bunch of other goodies and all our friend bring a dish. We have lots of drinks and food.. oh, and I guess there's football on for those that are into that sort of thing... and it's something that I've had others tell me they really look forward to.

Most of our other gatherings aren't "dinners" so to speak, so it's kinda fun to sit down at the table and eat together. It gives me a chance to break out my fancy china that I hauled around the country with me in boxes for almost a decade before ever using. Now I LOVE Thanksgiving.

My family is of course my family, and I love them. But days like this are what reinforce that my friends are my family. And I love them.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

What else can we say...

Tonight... a historical night in so many ways. I wasn't feeling well... we had some rough news on a personal front and decided to ditch on on my plans for a big election night party... but my fabulous friend Julie came over and took me out, we met up with another friend at a local pub to watch election results... and we did it. We all did it.

I have always been, and will always be, proud to be an American citizen - but tonight - it made me cry.

Thank you.

Monday, November 03, 2008

I don't want to be a pessimist

It's the last day of campaigning, TV ads, phone calls and junk mail for the elections. As Cesar said, I'm cautiously optimistic.

I was two months to young to vote in 1988 - so helping to elect Bill Clinton in 1992 was my first foray into politics. I was a senior in college and not very educated in most things political. I knew enough to know that I leaned pretty left, but mostly it was surface issues. I voted for him again in 1996 and despite his stupidity with the whole Monica Lewinsky thing, I would have voted for him a third time if given the option. I liked Al Gore in 2000 mostly because of that fact. He would keep a good thing going. Even though he didn't get to take office - I was three for three in picking winning Presidential candidates. But I hadn't been super-invested or involved in any of the elections.

After the first 4 years of Bush - I began to see how important it was to elect the right candidate. I spent time researching candidates, leaning about policies, learning about processes. I wanted to know who I liked enough to really make my vote count in the primaries. Living in Oregon now instead of Iowa, my primary vote doesn't really count however, and my candidate of choice - Howard Dean - was really already out of the race by the time we voted. When Kerry was nominated I got behind him. I didn't have any issues with him - but he didn't strike me as someone who would really turn around the downhill slide we were on. He would be better than Bush for sure - but he wasn't my first choice.

This year however - I - like many Americans - am really excited about the idea of President Obama. I think he has the energy, the education, the poise, the grace, and the leadership skills to really make a difference. I don't think he's perfect or that he'll actually be able to accomplish close to everything he promises... but I do see him as hope at the end of a very dark tunnel. The idea of him not winning, scares the crap out of me. I am the optimist of the family. When someone is being an ass, Noland is the one who calls them an ass - I'm the one who says maybe they're just having a bad day. I'm the one who wants to see the good in people. But if the American people would elect McCain over Obama, I don't know that I could have that optimism anymore. I don't know that I could believe that people are inherently good anymore.

I don't want to be a pessimist. Let's do this thing America.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

An Oral History

I read yesterday that Studs Terkel died. He was 96-years-old, and honestly I didn't know he was still alive. But reading the article got me thinking back - I first heard about him in Mrs. Wilson's Honors Junior English class. (The one we were always late to because we didn't get off the field from marching band practice in enough time.) We read some of Terkel's work, and I believe listened to some interviews that had been recorded for it and published as well, then had to complete an oral history project on our own. Most people in the class talked to members of their family - grandparents or great aunts or the like. All of my relatives lived pretty far away, so I interviewed a couple older members of the church that m family went to.

Although I don't now remember his name, I remember specifically talking to one man who was close to my grandfathers age. He talked to me about living through the depression, about what families sacrificed to make ends meet. He was a young man at that time, really a boy, at an age where he should have been in school, but talked about going off to do day labor instead. Dropping out of school to work doing anything he could to make a few dollars to help his family eat and survive. He talked to me about the war that followed and how he ended up joining the army and going off into WWII. And that his story wasn't dissimilar to many of the young men his age.

Looking at that story from where we are today, it lends an interesting new perspective. And makes me wonder, will we in 40 years, tell similar stories? Will we come together as one country and get through this? Or will we will continue to divide ourselves economically, politically, socially... so that some tell stories or poverty and pain, while others tell stories of great wealth and the bounties of capitalism?

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Stranger Danger!!!

We drive to Seattle last night right after work to catch The Sonics and Girl Trouble at the Paramount Theatre. (For a review of the show, check out Noland's blog.) We stopped about halfway up to gas up and grab a quick bite at a fast food joint. I'm not sure what town we were in - but we were right next to the crazy libertarian sign guy.

So I'm walking to the restroom before we go and pass a table with three kids in Halloween costumes and their redneck parents. The littlest one - probably about 5-years-old - holds out a Happy Meal toy towards me and tries to get my attention saying "hey hey hey" as I walk by. I look and smile and keep walking. As I do I hear the following between the three kids...

7-year-old boy: "That's a STRANGER!"
5-year-old boy: "No it's NOT!"
10-year-old girl: "Yes it is!"

When I walk back by to leave all three of them just stare at me in silence.

I'm not which amused me most. That the youngest one totally thought he knew me (or doesn't know what a stranger is), that the others were so freaked out that he talked to a stranger... or that they all called me "it."

Silly kids.