Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Suggestions for New Cabinet-Level Agencies by Andrei Codrescu

I'm a big fan of Andrei's essays:
      "A Department of Common Sense: The job of this institution would be to help American workers identify with their socioeconomic status and regain awareness of their true interests, instead of thinking of themselves as "middle class." This might take the extreme form of waking them up from the hypnotic state they were put in by Ronald Reagan who convinced them that they were keepers of morality not swindled suckers. I nominate Thomas Paine for secretary of this department, even if we have to wake him up from the dead. (A most unconvincing state, by the way).

      A Department for the Defense of the English Language from Bankers: Unlike the French Academy, which forbids the use of anglicisms, this institution would safeguard words vulnerable to being turned into means of defrauding. For instance, the word "to derive," which became the adjective "derivative" over the course of centuries, only to be recently transformed into the noun "derivative," which became, very rapidly, the proctological instrument most Americans now call "painful." The Department for the Defense of English could ensure that bankers stick to numbers, while leaving the language to poets and immigrants.

      A Department of Accuracy: This body would measure the true worth of things, such as the dollar. The job of the Accuracy Department would also be to figure out where the missing $99 went, and who and what inflated it. This department would undertake a systematic study of all the things we commonly agree are worth a lot less than they were when we commonly agreed on them.

      I don't have time to list all the new departments, but briefly, we also need a Department of Unused Resources, intended to give children back the imagination stolen from them by the maker of sadomasochistic video games, and a Department of Peace (that's self-explanatory). I suggest also that universities set up Depression Studies programs to teach students how to run a decent Hooverville."

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

A Pregnant Pause

There are days that I just want to stay in bed, with the covers pulled over my head. I want to plug my ears to the tune of more bad news echoing economic hardship. I want to avoid life's uncertainties.

Today was one of those days.

There is a dark cloud looming at work. Teachers are bracing for the first wave of layoffs forecasted for March. Notices will be issued in two weeks. Ironically, the actual date that pink slips will be delivered falls on Friday the 13th. I'm not superstitious, but regrettably this day will go down in history as having lived up to its folklore.

The prospect of cuts hitting close to home has divided our staff into two groups: those who will be employed next year, and those who won't. Based on a few casual conversations in the lounge, there doesn't seem to be any animosity, but there is that pregnant pause punctuating each interaction, as we are all keenly aware of the elephant in the room. The question on everyone's minds... Who will get cut? Regardless the outcome, it will mean a great miscarriage to education.

Thursday, February 19, 2009


I've been tagged by friend and fellow blogger, Jen, but you might be more familiar with her blogger pen name, "Brazenlilly".  

The first time that I met Jen was the fall of freshman year, in Steve Richardson's Life of Christ class at PCC.  I had gotten this crazy idea that putting caricature print band aids across the toe of my All Stars, would make me a trendsetter in the relatively blah world of Christian higher education.  I thought the shoes punctuated my personality.   I'm sure that Jen was just being her super-nice and exuberant self, when she commented that my fashion statement was "cute". In many ways that moment in my broken life, was like a much needed flare on a painfully boring, white canvas.

Our brief exchange, though trite, stood out to me.  It was an open door for a kid who felt out of place at PCC.  Being one of three black students at a predominately white university was very intimidating.  I wanted to fit in, but --given my unfortunate home life--I really felt emotionally devoid, and unable to connect with people.  I wasn't from the typical Christian home, thriving in the typical suburban community where nurturing stay-at-home moms reared replete children for college life.  I wasn't in college for the pursuit of a dream.  Rather I was there strictly for the utilitarian purpose of having a roof over my head and food to eat.  My focus was on survival.  However, Jen's kind gesture was greatly appreciated, and ironically brought a little color to my otherwise bleek world.  

So, I'm supposed to post the fourth picture in the fourth folder on my computer.  Here it is:

Simone was ten months old, and wearing eighteen month clothes at the time this photo was taken. Strangers and friends alike would always comment on her chubby cheeks. I remember feeling extremely aware that she hadn't begun to walk yet, mostly because her older sister starting taking her first steps at that age.

I stalk blogs often, but from time to time I have been known to check out Brad's blog, which coincidentally I came across through Jen's blog.

I'm not sure who to tag that hasn't already been tagged, so I'll take a gamble with Sarah T., Jen W. and Kristi.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Facebook's Controversial Facelift

I'm sure that you've heard the news about Facebooks rules change. If not, then here it is in a nutshell...Facebook has re-written their terms and conditions regarding your right to delete or remove personal information from their site. Find their updated terms here.

Essentially the controversy is over who actually owns the material you upload and share on the social networking site. Under the new terms, you agree to let the company use whatever you upload onto their site in any way they choose. Even if you delete your profile. Under normal terms of service, the rules grant companies a license to store my data. Facebook deleted a provision in the original contract that gave users the right to remove content at any time. Additionally, the new terms include language that grants Facebook the right to retain my content even after my account has been deleted.

This may seem harmless, but that's only because it's difficult to anticipate the way Facebook may choose to use my information in the future. For example, a cherished family photo could show up in a future Facebook ad, or worse my copyrights to the material could potentially be forfeited.

You can read the full download on the controversy here.

So, even though the privacy settings on my precious profile are set to high alert, Facebook now reserves the right to do with my content as they please.

How do you feel knowing that your information, published in a somewhat personal capacity, is now protected under the rights and property of Facebook?

*BTW, the graphic used in this post is an original work created by yours truly.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Fun with the Lyons

Today we joined the Lyons' crew in celebrating Tanner's 2nd birthday. I was excited to meet Tanner for the first time, and introduce him to Sadia and Simone. I was also pleasantly surprised by all of the familiar faces, among whom were Kristi, Derek, JJ, Jennifer, and Brian.

The whole experience really left an impression on Sadia. When I tucked her in for bed, she couldn't stop talking about Tanner's party. Here is Sadia on her experience.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

A Lesson from My Students

I don't often blog about work, and that is because as a teacher, I have a professional obligation to preserve my students' anonymity. However, I couldn't keep this nugget to myself. 

My students were asked to reproduce an iconic image of Barak Obama--the face of hope and optimism-- using a Grid Drawing process.  Ironically, at the onset, my students were very pessimistic about the challenge.  This is a vlog of their experience from their point-of-view.

I was blown away by their attentativeness.   Essentially, the process transcended the narrow frame of an art lesson, and as a result I became the student. In their lesson, I found so much application for my own life.  For instance, when I experience hardship, my attention converges on the obstacle before me.

Currently, I am coping with a blow dealt to me by life.  I may blog about the details later.  Right now, though, I am very much the wounded animal, that seeks safe haven in a cave somewhere to nurse my wound.  I want to detach, because detaching is innate, and doing what is innate comes easily.

However, I realize that this narrow focus puts me in a very vulnerable position, because it has the risk of isolating me from the people I care most about.  When I withdraw like this, I often fail to see the bigger picture, which is to say that my perspective is one of a lone fighter,  when the truth is the exact opposite.  I am apart of something greater than myself.

I am a mother, a wife, a friend, a sister, a daughter, a teacher, a parishioner, a citizen of my city, my state, and of the world.  I have an amazing support system that-- when I invite them in--helps me weather the storms with more tenacity. More importantly, my students' reminder makes the daunting task of coping with life on life's terms more manageable.   

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Mr. Novocaine

Mr. Novocaine--Don McClosky

Rhoades' image of fingers as life is remarkable. Fingers push and pull. Currently, I feel as if I'm grasping at life with futility.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Superbowl XLIII: Pittsburgh Puts Their Foot Down.., or Did They?

Pittsburgh wins the Superbowl, but not without controversy. I still think that referees dropped the ball on Santonio's clutch play in the fourth quarter. The right foot never touched the turf!!!!! I'm not bitter.., I'm just saying...

This is what happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object...

Whenever buttermilk-ranch dip accompanies appetizers and/or hors d'oeuvres trays at the table...the dip becomes instant clown make-up for Simone.
Notice the lone celery stalk on the table near her right arm.  The dressing was meant to enhance healthy snack choices.  She nibbled on the celery briefly, but soon decided that the topping was a tastier treat. At which point, she bypassed the celery, and went straight for the sauce.
("Wait 'til they get a load of me!")
If you look closely, you can almost make out a Joker-like grin on her face, accentuated by the the dressing.


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