Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Hiding from Reality

Have you seen the headlines this morning? There is so much hate, corruption, and killing going on I felt toxic just reading the headlines. After that I was in desperate need of a laugh. I went to YouTube and here's what I came up with.

The first is so dumb it's funny.



You know you can't take some things seriously. I'm glad these guys didn't.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Blame the Gays

Here are the facts:

1. "Twenty-five nations allow gays and lesbians to serve openly (in the military). None has reported any overall detriment to cohesion, morale, recruiting or retention" of their militaries. Palm Center Report

2. Studies have been done since 1957 to the present, some studies done by the military's own experts and they report no problem with gay people serving in the military and no need for segregated changing or bathing facilities. Palm Center Report

3. In July 1995, more than 8,000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys were murdered by the Army of Republika Srpska (VRS)(15,000 Serbians) under the command of General Ratko Mladić during the Bosnian War. In 1993 the United Nations had declared Srebrenica a "safe area" under UN protection but its Protection Force (UNPROFOR), represented on the ground by a 350-400-strong contingent of armed Dutch peacekeepers, failed to prevent the massacre.

4. In 1996, the Dutch government commissioned a report to figure out what happened. The report concluded that "the Dutchbat mission was not well considered and well-nigh impossible." Jan van Benthem, executive producer of "2 Vandaag," a current affairs TV program in Holland, has continuously followed investigations on the role of the Dutch peacekeepers. He said, "It is clear that our lightly-armed soldiers were unable to guarantee the Muslims' safety in Srebrenica. Their mandate was only to observe. They were peacekeeping troops, not peace-enforcing troops and simply didn't have the arms to protect the Muslims of Srebrenica," he says, adding, "However, after their requests for military support were refused by the UN, our soldiers should have left, just to avoid further responsibility and involvement in the massacre."

So by all accounts, we have between 350-400 lightly armed Dutch UN Peace Keeping troops facing the well fortified Serbian Army of 15,000 troops. They were vastly outnumbered and outgunned. They called for military help from the U.N. and were denied any assistance. This is why they were overrun and captured and the Serbians were able to kill the Bosnian Muslims. This is basically the conclusion everyone has held until now.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Handsome Men's Club

Here's a little bit of Jimmy Kimmel humor to brighten up the rainy day we're having here. Watch it to the end, that's when it gets good.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Betty on Larry King Live

Shocking

We know women around the world are abused, treated like property, but I was still shocked when I saw this video.



I can't seem to wrap my brain around how a country can keep half its population down, uneducated, subjugated, victimized and still expect to succeed in this world economically, socially, or politically. The barbarian in me thinks an eye for an eye, any man that does this should have the same thing done to him.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Magic of Words

I love words. I love poetry. I love stories. I love books, and if I weren't so tired at the end of the day, I might be able to read more than one paragraph before falling asleep. There were close to 20 years in my life when words poured out of me. Yes, quite a bit of it was during my manic phase, but still, I lived and breathed words and ideas. I haven't lived that way now for nearly another 20 years.

I miss that fire in my brain, the way it would connect and pull out old, archaic words and phrasing and be exactly right for the emotion or experience I was trying to convey. Of course, when you're manic, things you write at 3 in the morning are absolutely brilliant! Looking back at them now, some of it is still very good, while a great deal more of it appears to be trial and error. My poor friend L had to read through them all and copy them down. She should receive Sainthood for that alone. She never once laughed at me or told me I was crazy.

So where did this love of words come from? I wouldn't say I grew up in an illiterate household, but I don't remember any books around the house other than school books and the occasional Reader's Digest collected works books that my mother sometimes got in the mail and would shove under the china cabinet and forget.

I remember watching Sesame Street and the Electric Company and just loving the rhyming segments and the sing-songy musical numbers they did. But that wasn't what did it. I still remember the day I tuned in to poetry. I was 7 years old and in Miss Flood's second grade class. I remember that I was half paying attention as she was reading poetry to the class. She read the following bit from Emily Dickinson:

I Never Saw A Moor

I never saw a moor
I never saw the sea
Yet I know how the heather looks
and what a wave must be

That jarred my ears and I immediately raised my hand and said, "that's not right." Miss Flood questioned why I thought it wasn't right and I told her, "it should say, I never saw a moor, I never saw a sea, yet know I how the heather looks and what a billow be." I was so convinced she read it wrong that she had to show me the book she was reading from. Still, something stuck in my gut that this wasn't right. Later I would go to the public library (yes as a 7 year old, I would get in trouble for this more than once) and found a collection of poems with the librarian's help. She also brought me a number of Emily Dickinson books. Most of them had the version that the teacher read, while I remember finding one version of the poem as I knew it. "I knew I was right." Who knows where I must have heard it before (PBS possibly), but it stuck.

Well, that impulse satisfied, I began reading other poets in the collection book and came across Christina Rosetti, the Brownings, Yeats and other classic Romantics. I was hooked! I could not get enough of the death, dying, eternal love and life themes. I know this is not the usual fare for a 7 year old, but I was already questioning where I came from, trying to make sense of strange memories in my head, wondering about dying and what happened then, so these poets spoke to me in a way Sesame Street never could. They gave me comfort that I wasn't alone, reassurance that some things survived and even transcended time.

Remember Me

When I Am Dead

When You Are Old

After reading these poems, I remember writing down all my favorites in a notebook that I could carry around with me and read whenever I needed reassurance. I progressed on to other poets eventually, but I did go through a few years with the Romantics, and then later many years with Dickinson.

Another poem that haunted me was "Nancy Hanks," a poem about Abraham Lincoln's mother. Here's a lady in a hospital reciting it. I can see this being me when I'm old and out of it, still reciting poetry.


I had hoped to pass my love of words onto my children. My daughter seemed to attach to it quite young and always asked for me to read a number of her favorite poems before bedtime. She still keeps her childhood poetry books. My son veered more toward music and old folk songs, but hey, there was poetry in the lyrics, so that was fine.

I ran a daycare when my daughter was little so I could afford to stay at home with her. I used to read to the children everyday. Some days I would perform Jaberwocky for the kids, usually when it was dark and stormy out. I believe fear in young children can be healthy when controlled. At least none of the parents complained their kids were having nightmares.

My daughter was enthralled as a toddler when I would act out and recite Jaberwocky to her and the other children in my daycare. Even once she was grown she remembered. She told a boyfriend about it and when she brought him home she wanted me to do Jaberwocky for him. Of course performing for 2 year olds and 20 year olds is quite different and since I hadn't done it in nearly 20 years, I wasn't sure I could remember all the lines anymore. So here's a young Kate Burton (daughter of Richard Burton) reciting the lines. Now just imagine a crazy mom/daycare provider crawling around the floor with 2 year olds acting out each scary bit. :-)


Was poetry ever fun for you?

Happy St. Patrick's Day!!

In honor of St. Patrick's Day I'm listening to Celtic music in my office today. Okay, so I listen to Celtic music a lot of days in my office, not just today, but still...

So right now I'm listening to the album: Celtic Women in Music & Song: Her Infinite Variety. My favorite song on this double album is Sileas - Puirt a Beul. I found a video clip of two sisters singing it on YouTube:


Here's what it actually sounds like on the album.



I just remembered while listening to "Joe Ryan's Barn Dance" that my kids used to called my Irish music, the "Diddley diddley music" when they were little. Apropos.

M has the corned beef cooking in the crockpot for dinner tonight. Yum! I'm wearing a festive green blazer today and M is hoping for a bit of the Irish luck today as she plays on the green, her first golf game since last Fall. It's been a cold, wet winter. Hope you all have a great day!

Humor

I needed a little warped humor today. Enjoy.




Tuesday, March 9, 2010

It's official!! May 8th

UPDATE: Betty will host SNL on May 8th. Woo-hoo!! Go Betty!!

CNN story
Betty White will host an episode of Saturday Night Live!

MORE NEWS: Betty to star in new sitcom. CNN Story

Thursday, March 4, 2010

In case of disaster...

So you would have to be living under a rock to have missed all the coverage of the Chilean Earthquake. This quake happened around 3:30 in the morning when most people were in bed.

M and I were discussing what we would do in the face of disaster, how would we survive if our community was destroyed and our usual reliances were gone. The problem with natural disasters such as earthquakes is you never know when they're coming or where they will be. What if you prepare and stock pile food, water and medicine, and then your house takes a direct hit, splits in two and is swallowed up by the earth as it rips itself apart? So much for planning, huh?

The same thing goes for fires. You can plan a meeting spot for family if the fire occurs while you are home, but what if it occurs while you are gone? My friend, L, had a fire/gas explosion in her home right after everyone left for work and school. Good thing you might think, the family was saved. Sad thing, there was still family at home, the animals.

Recently we had bizarre snow storms and power outages here. We were reminded how vulnerable we are, especially as we get older. Rooftops needed to be cleared of snow. Luckily we're still fit enough to do that, but our time for that is limited. We also had the funds to pay someone to plow our end of the street. What if we had no money? The power was out for about 36 hours. How do you stay warm, prepare meals, etc.? How do you get out if you're not lucky and have 4-wheel drive like we did?

There are so many variables to natural disasters, accidents, etc. Can we ever _really_ prepare for them? Maybe thinking about them ahead of time, thinking about the what-ifs, can prepare you a little bit. I think it's about being flexible, resourceful, and knowing who is around you who can be relied upon to help you. Our neighbors have been wonderful in all sorts of minor emergency situations, good thing too, since we have no extended family around here to help us out.

Things to think about as we get older and more vulnerable.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Temple Grandin


I recently watched a movie about an autistic college professor called Temple Grandin starring Claire Danes as Temple, and also starring Julia Ormond (mother), Catherine O'Hara (aunt), and David Strathairn (teacher). Temple was born with autism and through the efforts of her mother and others, managed to learn to talk and go to school in spite of the setbacks autism caused. Temple was/is a very intelligent person and found ways and created inventions to help her deal with the issues surrounding her autism, such as her "squeeze machine" when she got over stimulated and needed to calm down. She also discovered that she thought and learned in pictures, much like animals do and came up with ground breaking research and inventions that led to the improvement of the handling of cattle at stockyards. I found the movie to be really interesting. If you get HBO, you might want to watch it the next time it's on, otherwise, Netflix it. It's a really good story.

'Tis the season

My grading stress is currently somewhere between these two places.