Search This Blog

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Thankfuls Nov. 6-10

So, on the day of the big election, I was stricken with a gnarly virus, which kicked my butt. So, I rather dropped the intention of daily blogging. And daily thankfuls.

I can't make up the missed days of blogging (well, maybe I can if I really try, and if I do manage to catch up with the other aspects of my life I've had to ignore for the past week, I might try), but I did make an effort tonight to catch up with the thankfuls:

6th+7th+8th+9th+10th=40 Thankfuls
1.  I’m thankful for the obvious: that the better candidate won the presidential election.
2.  I’m thankful that now, maybe, as a lame duck, he’ll be able to instigate some serious change.
3.  I’m thankful for all the voters who were brave enough to stand up against the dominant, white paradigm and vote for Obama.
4.  I’m thankful that the face of the American voter is changing.
5.  I’m thankful that all of the hard working campaign volunteers, my sons included, brought Ohio for Obama.  
6.  I’m thankful for young people who made the hoodie vote work, who cared more for the future than for the now, who showed care and compassion through their vote.
7.  I’m thankful for all the women, latinos, African Americans and others--many of whom belong to the busiest of the busy and the most socially oppressed groups in society--the ones especially who were forced to stand in long lines, take time off work (frequently without pay), and who are charged with the care of young children (theirs and those of others), got out and voted.
8.  I’m thankful for a job. Even though it isn’t ideal at times, I do enjoy much of what I do. I wish working conditions where I am employed were better. I wish I were in a respected position. I wish I didn’t feel like my bargaining unit were about to throw me under the bus. But for now, I enjoy what I do.
9.  I’m thankful for google aps.  Google docs makes my job a lot easier. Students can’t lose work if they work in Google docs. I like that the aps are free and available for all. I appreciate the ability to network and share so easily. I like that I no longer have to encourage people to give money to Micro$oft. I appreciate that I no longer have to give money to Micro$oft.
10.  I’m thankful for the opportunity to work with Service Learning Program at BGSU. Although my course design had to change rather drastically from what I had originally planned--due to circumstances beyond my control--it has still worked out. My students are a bit fuzzy on the theme, still, yet that has more to do with their ability to pay attention (it’s not like it hasn’t been mentioned in the syllabus, assignment sheets, in class--LOL), but they do seem to be achieving most of my Service Learning Outcomes.
11.  I’m thankful for social networking. I’m not an idiot. I understand there are dangers in social networking, yet there are many more advantages. I’ve “met” people online--as far back as the early to mid 1990s--who have become some of my closest friends. I’ve been fortunate that networks, such as facebook, have helped me come to know many local people better. All in all, social networking has been a boon.
12.  I’m thankful that The Eldest has had the opportunity to study abroad this year. Although he’s not claiming it to be the “life altering experience” everyone promised it could be, he also had the opportunity to go on Geojourney prior to going abroad for a year, which he does claim to be a life altering experience.
13.  I’m thankful that The Eldest is brave enough to plan to spend his winter break in Egypt this year. In my experience researching the safety of sending a young American man to Egypt at this time, I’ve discovered most people of USAmerican descent are pretty timid regarding travel and risk. Most people his age won’t do something that is not organized and controlled. He’s heading to Egypt to visit a friend of mine--a friendship solidified mostly via facebook (see #11) even though she is a local and teaches at the same institution I do--without any firm plans except that he has a place to stay and she will help arrange some unique experiences for him. Social networking for the win. Now, if he can just get that ticket booked--his transaction is not going through for some reason. If he can't get to Egypt, we'll have to fire up the social networking connection and figure out something else.
14. I’m thankful that at least one of my children got to take advantage of Geojourney before it was killed. I’m hopeful that it will be revived so that the other children have the same opportunity. There are not many programs in the nation as strong as Geojourney, regardless of institution. It aligns very well with how my older two were educated when they were young. And, regardless of how important and advantageous study abroad is, I believe it is even more important for people to understand the country of their nationality, which is what Geojourney allows for.
15.  I’m thankful that The Middle has been able to shape his high school education to his best advantage because of the wonderful flexibility of BGHS and its principal who gets that traditional schooling is not appropriate for all students.  
16.  I’m thankful for a principal who has tried to protect my son’s dignity when things have gotten hairy at school with power trips and personality conflicts.
17.  I’m thankful that The Middle has some pretty awesome friends.  They are always welcome in our home. And the ONE over the years that I have had to ban has been banned from other homes as well, so I’m feeling pretty good that I didn’t make a bad call there.
18.  I’m thankful that my 17 yr old was willing to give up (without a word, mind you) his Friday evening to attend and assist with the service learning acCrim school that my students worked on.
19.  I’m thankful that my 12 yr old attended and participated in the service opportunity at Crim school as well. He really had no choice, but the fact that he was there against his will was not apparent to anyone.
20.  I’m thankful that one of the kids who spent many hours and nights here while in high school was more than happy to come out and help at the Crim Fall Festival as well. He’s grown up to become a pretty cool young man.
21.  I’m thankful for couches comfortable enough to spend days on when one is ill, which is what I have been doing for 24 hours now.  A big (ugly) comfy couch is the best place to ensconce oneself when one has been instructed to take to one’s bed for a weekend.  Yes, a bed might appear more comfortable, but not in our house.  The bedroom is small. On the couch, I have room for tissues, chewable vitamin C, bottles of water, mugs of tea,  snacks, magazines, plus extra pillows. There are ample outlets to charge laptop(s) and phones. The plural of laptop is important since HULU and other sources of media can be viewed on one whilst the other is used for other activities, when necessary.  Plus, I can more easily keep track of the comings and goings of the spawn and their affiliates.
22. I’m thankful that I didn’t cancel cable prior to being stricken with this virus. Because of that, while I’m ill on the couch, I at least have access to On Demand Channels (sadly, no more dvr), and the HD tv.
23. I’m thankful for our new router. I’m certain that at one point we will figure out how to make it talk to the Wii and the Xbox so that we can access Netflix again through it.  
24.  I’m thankful for increased wifi security options, even though we are obviously a family not quite astute enough to manage them astutely (see #23).
25.  I know I’ve previously said I was thankful for fleece, and I’m not supposed to repeat, but this is a more focused thankful: I’m thankful for fleece cuddl duds while feverish. I was unable to get warm last night until I located the fleece cuddl duds. They rock.
26.  I’m thankful for New York Marathons, of the Law and Order variety.
27. I’m thankful for tv shows such as NCIS, Criminal Minds, Rizzoli and Isles, and Major Crimes.
28. I’m thankful that many American voters were able to see around the spiritual affiliations of some of the newest members of Senate and House of Representatives.
29. I’m thankful that four states passed marriage equality initiatives (Maine, Maryland, Minnesota and Washington) and I can’t wait until marriage equality is no longer an issue, anywhere.
30. I’m glad we have elected more openly gay men and women to Senate and House or Representatives than ever before. I hope some day, this is no longer something worth mentioning. I hope that in doing so, some of my friends, such as one who is a school teacher, will no longer have to live in fear of losing her job should people find out she is gay.
31. I’m thankful that Valentis Athletica Soccer Club was so readily willing to loan me equipment for the Crim Fall Festival last night. I asked to borrow some “portable” goals and they were willing to drop off full size portable goals. I meant the little Pugg goals that fold up and zip into a bag:)
32.  I’m thankful for chewable vitamin C.
33.  I’m very, very thankful that sports and medical personnel are taking traumatic brain injury in athletes (and all children) more seriously than before. Now we need to educate parents. When Tynan was out with his concussion, his coach was strict about following the CDC recommendations (and was the first to notice any problem, even before The Feral Third left the field), as was our family doctor. However, many other parents were less supportive, even to the point of ridiculing our keeping him sidelined for nearly a month and bragging about how soon they sent their own kids back to play after concussions, against doctors’ wishes sometimes, and encouraging their own children to lie about headaches and other symptoms.  
34.  I’m thankful for the new Urgent Care on the south side of town that is open during the daytime. Until I find a more accessible family doctor, I think I’m going to make that place my go-to.
35.  I’m thankful for Mucinex.
36.  I’m thankful for asthma inhalers.
37.  I’m thankful for Pisanello’s pineapple, green olive, and red onion pizza when nothing sounds good and I can’t taste anything anyway. I can at least eek out a little bit of taste from green olives and pineapple.
38.  I’m thankful for a husband who was more than willing to go out and get me movies to watch when he couldn’t figure out how to get Netflix to talk to the new super secure router.
39. I’m thankful for a teenage son who will spend his Saturday night watching movies with his sick mom.
40. Mostly, tonight, I’m thankful for the apparent health of my own children. Today, a young woman here in town died from a viral infection in to her brain (I believe). I can not imagine the anguish her family is experiencing. I am thankful that my own little illness is benign and that my children are healthy.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

GOTV in the heart of it all...

Yesterday, Saturday November 3, 2012, marked the start of Get Out the Vote all across the USA. GOTV is when volunteers hit the streets, knocking on doors, encouraging voters--usually very carefully chosen registered voters--to get out and vote.  Seeing that I live in Ohio, supposedly the  battle ground state, GOTV has been huge. Seeing as this is a college town (where 6,000 new voters have been registered since August), GOTV relies very heavily on the young people.

Voting is very important to me. When I was naturalized as an American citizen when I was three, one of three memories I have of that day is the judge taking all of us foreign adoptees--and now new young citizens--into his chambers and explaining to us that as citizens we had the right to vote, but more importantly, we had the duty to vote and he expected us to do so every time we were able, as soon as we were old enough to vote.

I remember going behind the curtains and pulling levers as my mother voted in my elementary school gym.

I've voted in ever election since I turned 18.

As soon as we had children, my husband and I began taking them to the polls with us, even if that meant that we had to get them out of their classroom to do so. Even now, the 17 year old Middle One, went with his father to vote. I took the 12 year old with me when I voted early. The Eldest is on his own and voted by absentee from Spain. He and I did go together when he cast his first ballot, though, shortly after he turned 18.

At 13 and 16, my older boys worked hours and hours, days and days on the grassroots campaigning in 2008. They and my husband made phone calls, knocked doors, entered data, knocked more doors, rang more phones (I provide comfort instead, by feeding the volunteers and doing general grunt work and making it possible for my kids and husband to do what they do).

Since 2008, my boys have been active in more than just presidential campaigns. They've worked on local ordinance campaigns, senatorial campaigns, gubernatorial campaigns, as well as others. The Middle has protested bad proposed legislation (SB 5) and worked to get it over turned. He's completed two fellowships with OFA. And currently has a job working for a campaign.

So it was sort of a no-brainer that we'd all be busy this weekend with GOTV. The Middle was off with his campaign, knocking doors all over the county for nearly 8 hours on Saturday and for 3 hours today. The Feral Third went out knocking doors yesterday and today, doing the legitimate work that adults were also doing with him but not for him.  I made food for the workers, drove workers and voters where they needed to be, organized food donations, checked out packets, did general "Girl Friday" type stuff.  All day. Both days.

Friends provided food--pizza ordered from out of state, chicken noodle soup, spaghetti and meatballs, jambalaya, chili, cookies, salads, more.

A group of young men from a college in Connecticut showed up late last night and are staying through Tuesday morning before driving back.

For two days, we had a steady stream of people coming in to help. Retirees, university students, locals, out of towners, families, grandparents and grandchildren, all races, all ages.

By 1:00 today, they had knocked on every single door in the city of anyone who had indicated they were voting Democrat and, as of Thursday, had not voted. But wait! It gets better!

By 1:00 today, they had knocked on every single door twice!  We sent people to other locations to help out. We were able to send people out to student areas a THIRD time to touch base with those who were still asleep earlier in the day.

Oh, everyone acknowledges that door knocking and calling is annoying. Yes, indeedy. No denying.
But these techniques work. And the workers frequently get thanked for their work.

So to all those of you out there working on GOTV in other places, keep up the good work! Two more days!

To all of you who are being harassed by GOTV, it ends in 48 hours.

To all of you who want to help with GOTV, there are ample opportunities yet. Just ask. There's plenty of work, especially Tuesday.

Tuesday, OFA staging locations will need food, especially lunch. They never turn down food.

If it's cold where you are, hand warmers are helpful.  Canvassers usually have to remove gloves to write and their hands get cold quickly and frequently.  If it's hot, water and other beverages.

And when you get those calls and knocks, remember, this is democracy in action. People make change happen.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Thankfuls: Nov. 3, 2012

In all fairness, this month of daily blog entries just may be the undoing of me. I blog best when I'm ranty. Today, I'm not ranty.

I am, however, doing the "thankful" meme on Facebook this month. This meme takes several forms: 5 a day, one a day, the same number as the date.  I'm toying with the same number as the date, but as the month goes on and school gets more and more busy as the semester winds up, I'm not sure how achievable that undertaking is.

See how boring this month is going to be unless I get my rant on?

Here are the thankfuls I posted on Facebook just now:
1. that there is now a video store in town, even though it is a shadow of a store and is missing more selections than it owns. We do enjoy browsing.
2. earphones. I'm not listening to the silly sounds on my 12 yr old's video game because he has ear phones. We can share a blanket and a quiet evening on the couch, thanks to ear phones. I no longer get so worked up that I want to take the the laptop and snap it in two, all thanks to headphones.
3. sleep. I love sleeping. I feel so much better when I get adequate sleep and when I sleep well and deeply. I don't know if others look forward to sleep like I do, but I do look forward to going to bed every night. 
I do believe yesterday that I posted that I'm thankful for my Droid Razr Maxx. Yes, I am, truly in love with it. It works fairly seamlessly (and probably would work better if it had a better operator).

In general, this is a wasted post to count for day three. For that I apologize. I'll do better tomorrow. Or not.
In the meantime, I'm hearing my bed calling me.

Friday, November 2, 2012

NaNoWriMo 2012

Yes, it's NaNoWriMo.

I'm not participating.

However, I am going to attempt to post at least one blog entry per day for the month of November. Or several posts on certain days to total 30 in the Month of November.

This post brings me up to date, since today is 11/2.

It's been a long time and weighing heavily on my mind...

Oh my...I haven't written a post since July. And that was a long time in coming. I've been busy, teaching 19 credits, tutoring for athletic services, the normal stuff. That's really no excuse. Blame in on the love of my life, my Droid Razr Maxx...enough computer to stay in touch but not quite user friendly enough to do much real writing.  Facebook and Twitter, yes. Paragraphs? Punctuation? No.

So, what is weighing heavily on my mind these days? Politics for sure. Ohio is Ground Zero for the election and my family is heavily involved in making sure that federal, state, and local elections move the country forward and not backward.  Yet it's more than that.

----I apologize in advance for the disjointed nature of this post and any odd spellings, etc. I'm working in between having meetings with students and also have a "corneal abrasion" and corresponding scratch on the underside of my eyelid so am sight impaired due to not being able to wear my contacts (and therefore my reading glasses). I can read my phone because I can situate it at precisely the correct distance for close vision...but without a lot of unattractive and uncomfortable shoulder hunching and squinting, seeing the computer screen is a challenge. Plus, I must remove my glasses (and I admit to being too cheap to have paid for bifocals when I got them as "back up" to my contacts, since I so infrequently wear fact, until this week, I last wore them in MARCH) to see anything close up, which means I sit here, in the student union, hunched over and squinting at my laptop and surrounded by multicolored blurs that I know are people...I'm just smiling vaguely and nodding when these blurs make motions which I think are directed toward me.  And of course, if I can't see, I can't's been a long week).----

Frequently on Facebook, people can be seen making updates along the lines of "I said I wouldn't post anything political..." or "I normally avoid the political..." and most recently, no fewer than five people have posted pridefully that their children voted in their first presidential election (that's a good thing) but then followed that up with a regretful statement along the lines of "I think I've been too outspoken of my own political beliefs and influenced him/her too much."

Obviously this is not how I feel.

I do, though, think that it is a uniquely "American" feeling, much to our detriment. As one who spends MOST of her waking hours in the company of young adults, I am frequently dismayed to hear such people say, "I vote/believe/support X because my family does" but then those same individuals are unable to articulate why their family does or why they should or do vote the same way.

It's the same sort of head-in-the-sand approach to strong emotions and unhappy experiences that many USAmericans try to avoid within families.  Women (especially) in this country are exhausted and burned out trying to keep everyone happy.  One of our most common axioms is to not discuss "politics, money, or religion."

Why? Because doing so can stir up some heave sh*t for sure, but so what? Can we not remain family if we disagree? Can we not be friends if we disagree? Do we have to avoid the hard stuff?

By not examining our beliefs in the company of others, how can we find flaws? The plethora of "your picture/rant/whatever changed my mind said no one ever" memes which abound on Facebook is just one symptom of our (collective, national, cultural) myopic approach to disagreement. Why don't we garner insight from these things? Maybe our overall position might not change, but are we incapable of altering or solidifying our own position?

Have you ever sat through a lunch or dinner with people who talk about nothing? We call that small talk. No substance. No chance to offend. Sports, pop culture, and food.  Ugh. That can only sustain a person for so long. If we didn't discuss hard topics in my family, and yes, we sometimes disagree with each other and we even display strong emotion while doing it, life would be boring. If my children weren't learning how to disagree with people, how to build and sustain their own positions, then how can I expect them to go out into the world and defend their beliefs? Where else to learn to do this but with family and friends.

Of course, this all means we argue, and sometimes we explode. Oh, we still love each other, but at times we disagree vehemently. I grew up in a home where such disagreements were disallowed (I'm not sure my parents would agree with my interpretation of my upbringing, but I always felt that I needed to toe the party line). We spent a lot of time and energy on keeping people "happy."

I was recently discussing this same sort of muddled thinking of mine with several people on different occasions  my son studying in Europe and some friends friends from Europe.

When The Eldest left for his year abroad, I suggested that he not communicate with us (other than to let us know he arrived safely and in the case of a true emergency) until he'd been there for three or more weeks, just to give him time to settle in, adjust to life, form his own network of support, but mainly, to let him come into his own, as his own man and as an adult.  When we finally did get a chance to have a discussion (in the modern sense of discussion, via Facebook chat), I asked how he was adjusting and getting along with the family with whom he is living as I'd heard that frequently students living with families have more problems than those who live in apartments or dorms since family life is so culturally dependent. He said that he'd had no problem and that he'd realized that our family is very "European" in that we heatedly discuss hard issues, disagree, etc. His host family was rather taken aback when he joined in on a discussion of abortion at the dinner table since their experience was that most American students found that a taboo topic. My friends who are European agree. Here in USAmerica, we avoid the hard stuff. One friend, who was just sitting here with me said that what she remembers from college was loud and diverse arguments about politics and religion.  See, we can disagree and still be friends. Oh, we might think our friends are horribly wrong.  Crazy wrong even. That doesn't negate the friendship. There are many other aspects to people than their religious or political views. Why can't we explore those views?

Why do others' views offend us so?

Back to the people who think they may have influenced their own children too much...where else but the family do you want your children to begin to get the knowledge to form their beliefs? School? That's a bad idea. Media? Maybe a worse idea.

However, if you don't have deep, fact based and heart felt discussions about these issues with your children and just expect that they will garner the important information on their own, you are neglecting the nourishment of their intellect. Sure, I want my kids to vote like I vote. After all, I think I'm right. Isn't that why people take their kids to Sunday school?

If you come to my house, we will discuss the uncomfortable issues, because that's what we do.

If we actually discussed hard issues, there would be fewer people unable to articulate why and what they believe like the people  in this video: