Saturday, May 30, 2009
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
A Tuesday video just for giggles, you have to watch the whole thing. The best part is his funny jump to get out of the box.
Monday, May 25, 2009
Friday, May 22, 2009
Excerpt from a speech made by Harvey Milk in 1978
Today was Harvey Milk Day. And how fitting that the decision on Prop 8 will be announced in the upcoming week. I am so hoping that the court rejects Prop 8, and that California is added to the list of states legalizing gay marriage.
It pains me to think that tomorrow I could go and get married while some of the most beautiful people I know don't have that right. It is in fact ILLEGAL for them to do so. I can't wrap my mind around it.
I was listening to a book review on NPR the other day, and the book's author was talking about the main subjects of his biography- a couple in an interracial marriage in a time when this was more than frowned upon. As the author continued to talk, he touched on a time not so long ago when it was a FELONY to be married to someone of another race or ethnicity. I suppose I knew this on some level, but I still was in shock for a moment. How judgmental this country has been and continues to be at times still levels me.
When I hear people ranting in hate about this issue, when I hear people involving the church and quoting the bible for support, I am sickened. We need only take a look in our country's past to all the things that we read in history books with disgust--wondering how in the world this happened or that happened. I honestly believe that generations from now, people will look back on this struggle as asinine.
This isn't about religion or politics. It isn't about morals or sin. It is about every person's right to be treated fairly and equally. And speaking of history, do these words ring a bell?: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
May 21, 2009
Tomorrow is Harvey Milk Day
Guest blog post from Senator Mark Leno, chair, California LGBT Legislative Caucus
Today is the 30th Anniversary of the White Night Riots, when the LGBT community and its allies rose up in anger after a lenient manslaughter sentence was handed down to Dan White, the man accused of murdering Harvey Milk and San Francisco Mayor George Moscone. This miscarriage of justice is still with us today as we grapple with homophobia, Proposition 8 and inequality in California.
Just yesterday I heard the discouraging story of a sixth grader in San Diego County whose A+ presentation about Harvey Milk’s life was censored by her school and labeled as inappropriate “sex education.” Her mother protested, and said "Harvey Milk was an elected official in this state and an important person in history. To say my daughter's presentation is 'sex education' because Harvey Milk happened to be gay is completely wrong."
The school’s action sends the wrong message to students — that being gay is shameful and that the contributions of LGBT Americans should be erased from our history books. Incidents like these are precisely why we need to honor figures like Harvey Milk and affirm our schools as safe places for ALL students to learn and grow.
Join me today in honoring Harvey Milk today, on what would have been his 79th birthday. Harvey was the first openly gay elected official in California and he gave his life for what he believed in. With courage and sacrifice he gave hope to an entire generation of gay and lesbian people whose basic humanity and freedom had been denied and dishonored.
Harvey’s leadership and inspiration brought LGBT people out of the closet and into civic life, but many people may forget that he also fought for important issues we still value today, including access to education, public transportation, affordable housing and protecting the environment.
I first introduced legislation to create Harvey Milk Day in California last year in the Assembly. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed the bill, arguing that Harvey should only be honored at the local level in San Francisco. Since then, Gus Van Sant’s Academy Award winning film, Milk, has introduced Harvey’s story to a new generation of Americans. His legacy and message of hope has now spread across the globe.
We need that message of hope now more than ever, which is why I reintroduced the Harvey Milk Day bill again this year. I urge you to tell the governor what Harvey Milk means to you, and sign EQCA’s petition. With your voice, we’ll get his signature this time around.
If you’re in the Sacramento area, help me and my fellow members of the LGBT Caucus celebrate what would be Harvey Milk’s 79th birthday on the North Lawn of the Capitol from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. If you cannot be there, please wish everyone you see a happy Harvey Milk Day and if they ask who he was, please share his courageous story of hope.
Sincerely,Senator Mark LenoSenator Mark Leno represents the 3rd Senate District, which includes Marin and portions of San Francisco and Sonoma Counties.
article courtesy of http://ca-ripple-effect.blogspot.com/2009/05/happy-harvey-milk-day.html
Monday, May 18, 2009
Isabel Gillies had a wonderful life — a handsome, intelligent, loving husband; two glorious toddlers; a beautiful house; the time and place to express all her ebullience and affection and optimism. Suddenly, that life was over. Her husband, Josiah, announced that he was leaving her and their two young sons.
When Josiah took a teaching job at a Midwestern college, Isabel and their sons moved with him from New York City to Ohio, where Isabel taught acting, threw herself into the college community, and delighted in the less-scheduled lives of toddlers raised away from the city. But within a few months, the marriage was over. The life Isabel had made crumbled. "Happens every day," said a friend.
Far from a self-pitying diatribe, Happens Every Day reads like an intimate conversation between friends. Gillies has written a dizzyingly candid, compulsively readable, ultimately redemptive story about love, marriage, family, heartbreak, and the unexpected turns of a life. On the one hand, reading this book is like watching a train wreck. On the other hand, as Gillies herself says, it is about trying to light a candle instead of cursing the darkness, and loving your life even if it has slipped away. Hers is a remarkable new voice — instinctive, funny, and irresistible.
In 1914, in defiance of his middle-class landowning family, a young white man named James Morgan Richardson married a light-skinned black woman named Edna Howell. Over more than twenty years of marriage, they formed a strong family and built a house at the end of a winding sandy road in South Alabama, a place where their safety from the hostile world around them was assured, and where they developed a unique racial and cultural identity. Jim and Edna Richardson were Ralph Eubanks's grandparents.
Part personal journey, part cultural biography, The House at the End of the Road examines a little-known piece of this country's past: interracial families that survived and prevailed despite Jim Crow laws, including those prohibiting mixed-race marriage. As he did in his acclaimed 2003 memoir, Ever Is a Long Time, Eubanks uses interviews, oral history, and archival research to tell a story about race in American life that few readers have experienced. Using the Richardson family as a microcosm of American views on race and identity, The House at the End of the Road examines why ideas about racial identity rooted in the eighteenth century persist today. In lyrical, evocative prose, this extraordinary book pierces the heart of issues of race and racial identity, leaving us ultimately hopeful about the world as our children might see it.
In this elegant memoir, legendary British editor Diana Athill writes engagingly, beautifully, and unflinchingly about old age. As she embarks upon her ninth decade of life, Athill lucidly contemplates both her present state—the losses that come with physical deterioration as well as the freedom from inhibition afforded by the approach of death—and the events of her recent past, during the transition from middle-age to elderly. Athill’s reflections are often unconventional—she writes quite candidly about her affairs with married men, her lack of maternal instinct, and her atheism—but her refusal to sugarcoat her observations makes the gentle thread of optimism that runs throughout this slender volume that much more meaningful.
Saturday, May 16, 2009
If the on-site “wall of SPAM” is any indication, a tour through the SPAM Museum in Austin, Minnesota, is guaranteed fun for the whole canned-pork-loving family. SPAM’s parent company, Hormel Foods, opened the establishment in 2001 to the tune of almost 5,000 cans of SPAM. One of the main attractions is a scale model of a SPAM plant, where visitors can don white coats and hairnets while pretending to produce America’s favorite tinned meat.
It’s pretty hard to argue with the motto “Any Day Above Ground is a Good One.” So goes the backhanded optimism of the National Museum of Funeral History, a Houston facility that opened in 1992. Visitors are treated to exhibits that include a Civil War embalming display and a replica of a turn-of-the-century casket factory. In addition, the museum boasts an exhibit of “fantasy coffins” designed by Ghanaian artist Kane Quaye. These moribund masterpieces include a casket shaped like a chicken, a Mercedes-Benz, a shallot, and an outboard motor. According to Quaye, his creations are based on the dreams and last wishes of his clients, which—let’s be honest—really makes you wonder about the guy buried in the shallot.
If you’re bumming around but looking for a good time, be sure to take a load off in Britt, Iowa, at The Hobo Museum, which details the history and culture of tramps. Bear in mind, though, that the museum kind of, well, slacks on hours and is only open to the public during the annual Hobo Convention. Luckily, tours can be arranged by appointment any time of year. Of course, if you’re interested in the Hobo Convention, lodging is available all over the area, but it’s a safe bet that most of your compatriots will be resting their floppy hats at the “hobo jungle,” located by the railroad tracks. Both the event and the museum are operated by the Hobo Foundation, which—incidentally—also oversees the nearby Hobo Cemetery, where those who have “caught the westbound” are laid to rest.
What began as a training facility for Cook’s Pest Control exterminators blossomed into one of the few museums in the country willing to tell the tale of the pest. At Cook’s Natural Science Museum in Decatur, Alabama, visitors can learn everything they ever wanted to know about rats, cockroaches, mice, spiders, and termites … all for free. And while most people would rather step on the live specimens than learn about them, museum exhibits such as the crowd-pleasing Pest of the Month keep reeling in patrons.
On the West Coast lies the Burlingame Museum of PEZ Memorabilia, home of the World’s Largest PEZ dispenser and a whole bunch more. Most everyone is familiar with PEZ, a pretty ubiquitous pop culture touchstone, but did you know that PEZ was originally marketed as an adult mint for people trying to quit smoking?
The Barbed Wire Museum in McLean, Texas, comes complete with a reading list for those who want to know more about the history of this apparently fascinating fencing. Also known as the “Devil’s Rope,” it came into being by way of a mutated coffee bean grinder (which made the barbs) and a hand-cranked grindstone device (that twisted the wires together). Just like Mama used to make, right?
There’s more than one theory about the assassination of John F. Kennedy, so why not have more than one museum devoted to it as well? Most JFK buffs are familiar with the Sixth Floor Museum housed in the former Texas School Book Depository, which recounts all those boring “mainstream” details of the late president’s life leading up to his death at the hands of Lee Harvey Oswald. But just down the street, the Conspiracy Museum offers fodder for those less apt to buy into The Man’s propaganda. For the most part, the museum specializes in showings of the Zapruder film and explanations of contrary assassination theories, including other gunmen on the grassy knoll and possible mafia involvement.
Founded in 1993, The Museum of Bad Art (MOBA) in Boston is “a community-based, private institution dedicated to the collection, preservation, exhibition and celebration of bad art in all its forms and in all its glory.” The art featured on the site is not of the middle-school drivel variety; rather, the pieces seem to be the product of people who think that if they light candles and play Mozart loudly, the talent will come. It doesn’t, but the results are fun.
9. The Mütter Museum
Originally, the College of Physicians of Philadelphia erected the Mütter Museum as a creative way to inform medical students and practicing physicians about some of the more unusual medical phenomena. (You know, babies with two heads, that sort of thing.) But today, it primarily serves as a popular spot for anyone interested in the grotesque. There, you’ll find the world’s largest colon, removed from a man who died—not surprisingly—of constipation. Also on display: an OB-GYN instrument collection, thousands of fluid-preserved anatomical and pathological specimens, and a large wall dedicated entirely to swallowed objects.
Take two trips to the Museum of Questionable Medical Devices and call us when you’ve lost all faith in the medical profession. Thanks to curator Bob McCoy (who has donated the collection to the Science Museum of Minnesota), those in search of history’s quack science can find what they’re looking for in the St. Paul tourist attraction, whether it’s a collection of 19th-century phrenology machines or some 1970s breast enlargers. If you make the trip, be sure to check out the 1930s McGregor Rejuvenator. This clever device required patrons to enclose their bodies, sans head, in a large tube where they were pounded with magnetic and radio waves in attempts to reverse the aging process.
So, what do you get when you combine the loneliness of a pet cemetery with the creepy flair of vaudeville? The Vent Haven Ventriloquist Museum, of course—where dummies go to die. The Fort Mitchell, Kentucky, museum was the brainchild of the late William Shakespeare Berger, who founded the site as a home for retired wooden puppets. In fact, he collected figures from some of the country’s most famous ventriloquist acts. And with more than 700 dummies stacked from floor to ceiling, you’re bound to feel like you’re stuck inside a 1970s horror flick—albeit a really good one. But sadly, when Berger gave the tour, you could totally tell his mouth was moving.
Mom wasn’t kidding when she said one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. At the Trash Museum in Hartford, the Connecticut Resources Recovery Authority (CRRA) turns garbage into 6,500 square feet of pure recycling entertainment! Tour the Temple of Trash or visit the old-fashioned town dump. And for your recycler-in-training, head down the street to the Children’s Garbage Museum, where you can take an educational stroll through the giant compost pile, get a glimpse of the 1-ton Trash-o-saurus, or enjoy the company of resident compost worms.
Saturday, May 9, 2009
I listened to the story of the African American Pullman Porters on NPR on the way to work this past week. It is another story of a niche in American history that could have remained untold.
George Pullman invented the sleeping car for trains in 1868 and in an act of racism, hired African American men who knew the "rules" of slavery, and would be excellent at the job of serving wealthy white travelers. But in this act of racism, he gave tens of thousands of African American men jobs that helped them earn and save money, and send their children to college to offer them a better life. It is a story full of ironies.
Listen Now [7 min 19 sec]
George Pullman, the entrepreneur who invented the sleeping car and began hiring porters for them in 1868, "was looking for people who had been trained to be the perfect servant, and these guys' backgrounds [were] as having been chattel slaves. He knew that they knew just how to take care of any whim that a customer had."
Over time, the porters were able to combine their meager salaries with tips. They saved and put their children and grandchildren through college, which helped them attain middle-class status.
Randolph used his experience fighting the Pullman Company to help organize the civil rights movement. E.D. Nixon, a Pullman porter and leader of a local chapter of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, worked with one of his employees to help start the 1955 Montgomery bus boycott in Alabama.
Wednesday, May 6, 2009
The Today Show, shortly after the accident.
Stephanie Nielson is a survivor. In August of last year, she and her husband very nearly died in a private plane crash. Stephanie's blog, NieNie Dialogues was popular before the crash, so her many readers and other bloggers rallied for her, creating buttons for blogs and websites to raise money and alert everyone to her story.
That was how I found out about Stephanie, through other bloggers. I began to read her blog, post after post before the accident, to get to know her. Although she and I don't share the same faith or lifestyle, I felt a connection with her words, her humor, and her honesty.
The posts after the crash are heart wrenching. She and her husband both suffered severe burns, and rehabilitation, especially for Stephanie, has been grueling. Her face was burned badly, and she has endured surgeries and a great deal of pain in the process of healing.
Reading the posts after August, her words are raw and real, and so compelling. Her appearance has obviously changed, and reading that her own children were scared of her at times, made me hurt for her. As she writes of her insecurities about her appearance now, I can so understand how devastating that would be. Her words are soaked with the loss she feels, and her worries and trepidation about how she will find herself again.
She and her husband (she always refers to him as Mr. Neilson in her posts) have a strong marriage, and his support for her is amazing. She adores him, and that adoration oozes from every post. It is a great love story.
Her journey is one worth reading about. I am rooting for her, as I know so many readers are.
So many times I curse the internet for pop ups, spam, and lurking viruses. But like Matt Logelin's story, Stephanie's is one that makes me believe that cyberspace can be such a beautiful place. So many people reaching out, loving her without ever having met her, offering her support and encouragement, it heartens my faith in human beings. The ability for so many people to "circle the wagons" for others in far away places makes all the other things I curse seem obsolete.
It also makes me believe that out of tragedy can come unexpected kindness; a flood of support that can make those who have lost so much find hope. And hope is where the healing begins.
Check out Stephanie's blog here.
Monday, May 4, 2009
A friend forwarded this to me, and I have laughed so hard at this, watching it several times. I love how Letterman can't stop laughing!
I have written before about learning so clearly that every homeless person has a story of how they lost their way, how they came to be where they are. In that posting, I wrote of hearing one man's story, and how it changed my view of all homeless people after that.
Last night, I saw the movie, The Soloist--a true story of a Los Angeles Times reporter who meets a homeless man playing the violin on the streets of LA, and learns the man was once a musical prodigy and had attended Julliard. As the reporter learns more and more about the man's life, he is drawn into helping him, and becomes his friend.
The real musician that is featured in this movie, Nathaniel Ayers, had an amazing future in front of him. By all accounts, he was gifted, a prodigy, and all those who taught him or played with him had no doubts about his future success. But while attending Julliard, schizophrenia set in, and Nathaniel's life was changed forever.
All of the actors are amazing in this movie. The reporter, Steve Lopez, is played by Robert Downey Jr. and Nathaniel is played by Jamie Foxx. There were moments watching Jamie play this man, when you could see him remembering all that he once was, all that he had lost, and it was heartbreaking.
What I didn't touch on in my last post was the frightening reality that so many people that are homeless are suffering from some form of serious mental illness, and are either undiagnosed, misdiagnosed, or without family or resources. A large number of schizophrenics find their way too homelessness, because this horrifying disease leaves those who suffer from it in such turmoil about what reality is, most hear voices, and the ability to just survive in any way with schizophrenia becomes a victory.
The movie does a excellent job of putting you in Nathaniel's head and letting you understand first hand how frightening and tormenting this disease is. You FEEL the pain of losing your grip, not understanding what is happening to your mind, your body or your life.
I cried several times during the movie, and thought of all the homeless people out there, who once had normal lives, families, dreams and ambitions who are 'lost souls' that no one may ever discover or take the time to know. I think of the randomness of Steve Lopez meeting Nathaniel, and know that there must be other Nathaniel's out there.
The beauty of this story to me is: one person can make a difference. Nathaniel's life was changed, brightened, and made more beautiful by one man who wrote one story, and then could not walk away.
Please see this movie! Check out the official website here, where you can learn about the movie and also see the real Nathaniel and Steve being interviewed on video.
Sunday, May 3, 2009
Student buys African orphanage
A student who visited a run-down African orphanage was so moved by the children's plight that she raised £30,000 to buy it.
The undergraduate at Bath Spa university raised more than £30,000 in just seven months
Amy Lambert, 24, set about gathering funds after witnessing the horrors at the decrepit Kichijo Orphanage in Tanzania.
She spent eight weeks volunteering there last summer, when she cared for 150 boys and girls - many of whom had lost one or both parents to AIDS and HIV.
Miss Lambert found children who were starving, dangerously dehydrated and sleeping in dirty beds.
The undergraduate at Bath Spa university raised more than £30,000 in just seven months.
But rather than passing the cash to authorities, she asked them if she offered to buy the orphanage instead.
Now she plans to complete her degree in Psychology and Health Studies this July before moving out to run the orphanage full time.
Miss Lambert of Pewsham, Wiltshire said: "These children are the most beautiful, selfless people I have ever met. I have never felt so helpless."
Her offer to buy the orphanage was accepted earlier this year and now plans to tear down the crumbling building and replace it with a modern one.
She also hopes to add a school room to educate the children and sew crops to teach them about self-sufficiency.
Anyone who would like to donate money towards Amy Lambert's orphanage should visit http://www.wearecollecting.co.uk
Saturday, May 2, 2009
I remember my kindergarten teacher explaining to us that four-leaf clovers were rare and brought luck to those who found them. She let us spend time several afternoons searching the lawn behind our classroom for all the luck we could find. She then taught us to preserve them by pressing them in various books in the classroom.
It has been estimated that there are approximately 10,000 three-leaf clovers for every four-leaf clover, however this probability has not deterred collectors who have reached records as high as 160,000 four-leaf clovers. It is debated whether the fourth leaflet is caused genetically or environmentally. Its relative rarity suggests a possible recessive gene appearing at a low frequency. Alternatively, four-leaf clovers could be caused by somatic mutation or a developmental error of environmental causes. They could also be caused by the interaction of several genes that happen to segregate in the individual plant. It is possible all four explanations could apply to individual cases.