You are currently browsing the monthly archive for January 2007.

Those who know me are well aware of my passion for live music of all sorts. That being said, I will admit that while my taste in music would easily be described as eclectic, rap has never really been something I could just pop in the CD player and listen to for hours on end. Give it to me in the infectious, body-moving sounds and beat of Ozomatli, or in the politically infused lyrics and rhythm section of B-Side Players, and I’m fine. Give me rap with nearly-naked women shaking and rubbing their body parts all over the place, and sorry, but no matter how important the rapper’s message might be, you’ve lost me.

Maybe that’s the difference for me: the message and how it is delivered. To that end I’d like to share with you a local talent (San Diego area) who not only has a message to share, but feels strong enough in it to do something I could never do: appear on anything FOX news-related! (UGH!) Tommy Hanna (AKA TIMZ in the music world), is an American-born rapper of Iraqi and Chaldean descent and someone whose music I first ran across due to his Super Chargers 2006 video (yes, I’m still in mourning over my Chargers NOT being in the Super Bowl…sigh). TIMZ recently released his debut album, “Open for Business” and is getting a lot of attention for his video/song “Iraq”. Definitely powerful stuff, definitely a strong message.

I’m including not only the video of “Iraq”, but also his recent appearance on George Bush’s media outlet (AKA FOX news), if you’ve got the stomach to watch Chuck Norris stumble through his attempt at being an interviewer. There’s also a story on the local ABC news affiliate, KGTV 10, and yes, I must also include “Super Chargers 2006″…part of the healing process for Chargers fans everywhere. πŸ˜‰

In preparation for tonight’s State of the Union, I feel the need to post the link to my previous entry on George W. Bush (Worst joke ever=GWB) which included three videos—one especially powerful and thought-provoking. I would like to think that something in GWB’s speech will have me feeling differently about the man and his politics, but unfortunately I doubt that will happen. I suppose the only way that will occur is if he decided to do the right thing and announce he was stepping down. Hey, a gal can dream, can’t she? Unfortunately it is only in dreams where we can return to life those who have perished in this senseless war.

***Added some post-State of the Union thoughts in the comments below.***

As I scurry about getting things ready for tomorrow, my first day of the last semester of the teaching credential program, I find myself wondering about my future students.

Do they have any idea what a curvy path this road to being a teacher has been for me? Yes, the path started back in 1980 right after high school, but that thing called life got in the way. Then the dream of being a teacher fell by the wayside, only to be picked up, brushed off, and presented to me by some fantastic teachers I worked with as an Instructional Aide in Los Angeles. Were it not for those incredible women telling me what a great teacher I would be and questioning me as to why I wasn’t one—well, who knows what road I might have taken after the divorce. So yes, back to community college getting my AA in 2000, then after another few see-saw years, back to university to get my BA in 2004. And now, just a few weeks shy of forty-five (when did THAT happen?!), I’m finally finishing up the teaching credential program.

Do my future students have any idea just how much it costs to embark on this adventure? The student loans I’ll be paying off for ages, the never-ending state or federally mandated exams I must pay to take, and keep taking until they are passed. I honestly wonder how many of those who legislated for some of these exams could actually PASS them! (Gee, can you tell I’m a tad bitter about the cost of the CSET and the fact that it’s virtually impossible to “really” be prepared for since it covers pretty much anything and everything under the sun. See for yourself here by trying the online sample exam…good luck!) Let’s not forget the ridiculous skyrocketing cost of textbooks, which seem to have a new edition each semester, so there’s no way to make any money selling them back or saving any money in buying them used.

Will my future students have any idea that the reason most of us enter the profession (that sincere desire to truly assist students in achieving their full potential educationally and as productive, happy members of society), quite often gets lost in the reality of what teaching has become. The politics of what to teach, when to teach it, how to teach it. The way in which classrooms have become standard-driven instead of driven by the needs of the individual student. The time spent trying to remain professional when dealing with well-intentioned (and some not-so-well-intentioned) parents who think they know better how to handle your classroom than you do.

Nope, my future students probably will never know any of that. But you know what? That’s okay. I know that while there were many bumps in the road on my way to becoming their teacher, my passion for this profession never waned and hopefully never will. All they need to know is there is no place I’d rather be.

So I’m flipping through the latest edition of MORE magazine which mom got me a subscription to (yes, am one of those over 40 gals! ;)), and run across a column about great girlfriend getaways (in my opinion anytime you’re with your best gal pals it IS a getaway of sorts). In reading the article I come upon the most incredible find: thebathroomdiaries.com. Yes folks, you read it right–the BATHROOM diaries! And for my friend Jackson, no, it’s not THAT kind of a diary…sorry, babe. πŸ˜‰

With categories like “The Golden Plunger: The world’s finest public toilets”, and my personal favorite title, “Travel Essays: True tales of tawdry toilets”, (insert music from some black and white, 40s PI flick) you are BOUND to find anything restroom-related that has ever crossed that potty mind of yours! And if you’re planning your next excursion, with the ultimate potty breaks along the way, check out the Bathroom Search area to find reviews on over 8,000 public bathrooms spanning over 100 countries (yes, I admit I did a search on bathrooms in my area). There’s even a Wireless area which assists you in adding a service to your cell phone to get the lowdown on the local loos when you and your bladder are on-the-go.

Since I know you’re just dying to know what my washroom looks like I’ll share it with you now.

Okay, ya got me. It’s not mine. (Big surprise, eh?) It’s actually a picture on The Bathroom Diaries site of the restroom they have deemed worthy of being “The World’s Best Bathroom” for 2003. You can check it out if Mother Nature calls while you’re in Branson, Missouri, at the Shoji Tabuchi Theatre. Talk about a powder room with pizzazz!

I opened this entry with mention of my mom, so it’s only fitting I end it with her. As you head into the outhouse, restroom, loo, can, or bathroom of your choice, may my mom’s words echo in your head as they always do in mine, “Put down paper and do NOT forget to wash your hands!”

New Year, new plans, right? My main one is starting tomorrow (famous last words, right?)–living a healthier, more active life! Will post more about that later.

For today, though, I’d like to give you all some information from GoVeg.com about why it’s not only healthier for YOU, but for our our planet and ALL of its inhabitants, to go vegetarian (14 years for me this April!). Click the link at the end of their list and they’ll even help you with take their “30-Day Veg Pledge“. Come on, you can give it a thirty day shot, can’t you?

Btw, I checked with them about reposting this Top Ten list from their site and this is part of their quick response, Our materials are not copyrighted and may be redistributed freely. The only exceptions are materials that were excerpted from other sources, such as passages from books not originally published by PETA. For information on reprinting those materials, please contact the original publisher…Thank you for helping us spread the word about animal rights, and for everything you do for animalsβ€”your actions save lives!So if you’d like to repost the following list elsewhere, go for it! πŸ™‚

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Top 10 Reasons to Go Vegetarian in 2007


β€œI am a very strict vegetarian … I just really, really love animals, and I act on my values.”
– Natalie Portman

Many people’s New Year’s resolutions include losing weight, eating better, getting healthier, and doing more to make the world a better place. You can accomplish all these goals by switching to a vegetarian diet, and you’ll enjoy delicious, satisfying meals as well. Here are our top 10 reasons to go vegetarian in 2007:

1. Slim Down While Feeling Good

Is shedding some extra pounds first on your list of goals for the new year? Vegetarians are, on average, up to 20 pounds lighter than meat-eaters. And unlike unhealthy fad diets, which leave you feeling tired (and gaining all the weight back eventually), going vegetarian is the healthy way to keep the excess fat off for good while feeling full of energy.

2. It’s the Best Way to Help Animals

Every vegetarian saves more than 100 animals a year from horrible abuse. There is simply no other way that you can easily help so many animals and prevent so much suffering than by choosing vegetarian foods over meat, eggs, and dairy products.

3. A Healthier, Happier You

A vegetarian diet is great for your health! According to the American Dietetic Association, vegetarians are less likely to develop heart disease, cancer, diabetes, or high blood pressure than meat-eaters. Vegetarians get all the nutrients they need to be healthy (e.g., plant protein, fiber, minerals, etc.) without all the nasty stuff in meat that slows you down and makes you sick, like cholesterol and saturated animal fat.

4. Vegetarian Food Is Delicious

So you’re worried that if you go vegetarian, you’ll have to give up hamburgers, chicken sandwiches, and ice cream? You won’t. As the demand for vegetarian food skyrockets, companies are coming out with more and more delicious meat and dairy product alternatives that taste like the real thing but are much healthier and don’t hurt any animals. Plus, we have thousands of tasty kitchen-tested recipes to help you get started!

5. Meat Is Gross

It’s disgusting but true: Meat is often contaminated with feces, blood, and other bodily fluids, all of which make animal products the top source of food poisoning in the United States. Scientists at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health tested supermarket chicken flesh and found that 96 percent of Tyson chicken was contaminated with campylobacter, a dangerous bacteria that causes 2.4 million cases of food poisoning each year, resulting in diarrhea, cramping, abdominal pain, and fever. Learn more.

6. Help Feed the World

Eating meat doesn’t just hurt animals; it hurts people too. It takes tons of crops and water to raise farmed animals-in fact, it takes up to 16 pounds of grain to produce just 1 pound of animal flesh! All that plant food could be used much more efficiently if it was fed to people directly. The more people who go vegetarian, the more we can feed the hungry.

7. Save the Planet

Eating meat is one of the worst things that you can do for the Earth; it’s wasteful, it causes enormous amounts of pollution, and the meat industry is one of the biggest causes of global warming. Adopting a vegetarian diet is more important than switching to a “greener” car in the fight against global warming.

8. All the Cool Kids Are Doing It

The list of stars who shun animal flesh is basically a “who’s who” of today’s hottest celebs. Joaquin Phoenix, Natalie Portman, Tobey McGuire, Shania Twain, Alicia Silverstone, Anthony Kiedis, Casey Affleck, Kristen Bell, INXS lead singer J.D. Fortune, Benji Madden, Alyssa Milano, Common, Joss Stone, and Carrie Underwood are just a handful of the super-sexy vegetarians who regularly appear in People magazine. Check out our recent “World’s Sexiest Vegetarians” poll for more hot, compassionate celebs.

9. Look Sexy and Be Sexy

Vegetarians tend to be thinner than meat-eaters and have more energy, which is perfect for late-night romps with your special someone. (Guys: The cholesterol and saturated animal fat in meat, eggs, and dairy products don’t just clog the arteries to your heart; over time, they impede blood flow to other vital organs as well.) Plus, what’s sexier than someone who is not only mega-hot, but also compassionate?

10. Pigs Are Smarter Than Your Dog

While most people are less familiar with pigs, chickens, fish, and cows than they are with dogs and cats, animals used for food are every bit as intelligent and able to suffer as the animals who share our homes are. Pigs can learn to play video games, and chickens are so smart that their intelligence has been compared by scientists to that of monkeys. Read more about these amazing animals.

Ready to get started? Take the 30-Day Veg Pledge and we’ll help you every step of the way. Have a happy, healthy, and humane new year!

I think we all need a reminder of the message behind the day, behind the man. Here are a couple videos WELL worth a look. Also included is a link to the History Channel’s page dedicated to Dr. King, and a link to the lyrics of “Where is the Love?”, which is the song by the Black Eyed Peas playing over the images in the first video. Peace.

 

…is the collective sigh of Chargers fans everywhere. Thanks for the great season, though, Chargers. You made SO MANY of us SO PROUD!

Two other things:

  1. Ellis Hobbs, karma is a bitch, babe. πŸ˜‰
  2. Go Saints! (Hey, my number #1 Chargers and #2 Seahawks are out, so now it’s up to my #3 Saints with San Diegan Reggie Bush, and former Chargers Drew Brees and John Carney.)

I’m no sports authority. Heck, I couldn’t really even explain the different plays and logic used in playing football, or the specifics of what each position really entails. But thankfully none of that is really needed in order to call yourself a fan of any particular National Football League team. In my case all it takes is living in San Diego County for about 35 years (save two years spent in Los Angeles), and being inducted into the religion known as “San Diego Chargers Fandom” by my step-dad over the past 30 years. (And yes, he also subscribes to the religion of “San Diego Padres Fandom.”)

I remember Sunday afternoons, back in the late 70s-early 80s, being a mixture of Star Trek reruns and San Diego Chargers, me plopped on my tummy in front of the TV with my head propped up with my hands, and my step-dad sitting in the recliner behind me. Yes folks, these were the days prior to cable TV in our neck-of-the-woods, and long before anything as wild and crazy as hundreds of channels being available to you. Back then something like that could only be imagined on something as far out there as some Star Trek episode. And no, my step-dad was never able to get me to be a fan of Star Trek. He was, over time, able to get me involved in the craziness of talking back to the TV, arguing a call with a referee who for some unknown reason is unable to hear you via the television, and of course indulging in the overly-used practice of giving a “high five” to someone. (You really need to click that link to read about the history of high-fives…pretty funny.)

Of course there did finally come the day when my step-dad initiated me into the REAL world of football and took me to an honest-to-goodness San Diego Chargers game. Been beyond hooked since then! Yes, memories of spending cold nights in front of the bowling alley at Camp Pendleton (step-dad is a retired Marine) in order to get tickets when the Chargers were in the playoffs in the early 80s. (The military has their own ticket agency which sells reduced price tickets to various events for military folks and their dependents, and the Camp Pendleton office was in the bowling alley.) I remember a Monday Night football game so unbelievably cold (well, cold for SoCal!) I had to wear thermal underwear, but it was all worth it because we beat our rivals, the Oakland Raiders that night…”We are the champions” by Queen, blasting through the stadium PA system.

Then there was THE playoff game to beat all playoff games, the Miami-San Diego 1981 season playoff game which went into overtime and had Kellen Winslow being carried off the field from exhaustion. I remember I had to work that day and was SO disappointed I’d be missing the televised game. I kept calling home for updates. Who would have known it would last as long as it did and that I’d be able to watch at least the overtime section. Un-be-lieveable game!

So many fond memories of Air Coryell, Dan Fouts, Kellen Winslow (I waited on him one time and MAN did he look good in a suit! ;)), Chuck Muncie, Charlie Joiner, John “JJ” Jefferson, Louise Kelcher (man, oh man, the stadium would rock with choruses of “Loooooooouuuu-ie”, which unfortunately sounded like we were booing!).

Also memories of Chargers placekicker, Rolf Benirschke, surviving his horrific near-death battle with ulcerative colitis, and of being in the stadium crowd on November 18, 1979 when he first returned. He didn’t play, but was honorary captain that day and looked so tiny when burly Louie Kelcher helped him out onto the field. There was nary a dry eye in the stadium that day and the applause and cheers were truly deafening. Happy to say that the annual blood drive with the San Diego Blood Bank, which started back in 1979 to help Rolf with all the blood he needed during his illness, has continued to this day. They’ve even made it into the Guinness Book of World Records for being the largest drive in one day, at one location! Also happy to say that I’ve taken part in it many times myself over the past twenty-eight years.

The days of Air Coryell have long since passed, but Chargers fans have had a few moments of shining glory. While our trip to the Super Bowl for the ’94/’95 season was a thrill, the game itself on 1/29/95 was a total bust. Best memory from that season was when the Chargers shocked the football world by beating Pittsburgh IN Pittsburgh for the AFC Division Title. After that game ended, and without ANY planning or notice, fans from ALL OVER San Diego county (and probably from beyond the county borders) found themselves heading to the stadium. Reports said there were about 70,000 people that showed up, cheered, celebrated, and enjoyed. And yes, I was there! I was married at the time and my husband and I looked at each other after the game ended and decided, what the heck, let’s go cheer the team when they arrive home. When we drove into the stadium parking lot people were cheering, celebrating, high-fiving each other, there was even one of those huge dragon costumes you see during Chinese New Year celebrations, dancing on top of a bus with drummers along side it. The MOST incredible vibe you could even imagine was felt that night, and when it was decided that the stadium itself would be opened up for the fans to celebrate each and every seat was full, with many standing in the aisles. And yes, the team did NOT disappoint, various players and coaches came onto the football field and addressed the jubilant crowd. We got our fannies spanked in the Super Bowl game, but not even that could ever tarnish the incredible memories from the night that all of San Diego seemed to be magically drawn to the stadium to share in their collective joy.

So many great players, so many great times tailgating, so many ups-and-downs, but mostly so many fantastic memories! I’m not quite ready though, to only have memories, so am hoping that this record-setting season our team and players are having will continue on–all the way to the Super Bowl! Oh, and to my step-dad (who will be at the Chargers/Patriots playoff game) I say, “Thanks for the Sunday memories.” Go CHARGERS!


Not sure how many of you have heard of a FANTASTIC, MUST READ book called “The Freedom Writers Diary .. How a Teacher and 150 Teens Used Writing to Change Themselves and the World Around Them”, but you may have seen a trailer for the movie, “Freedom Writers” based on the book and out in theaters now. The movie stars Hilary Swank, and for you Grey’s Anatomy fans, Patrick “McDreamy” Dempsey. I don’t know how closely the movie will follow the book, but I am hoping it stays true to it.

So let me back up and explain just why this book strikes such a chord with me. The first reason is a no-brainer: it’s about my passion, teaching! And not just about teaching, but about REACHING your students. One would think that all teachers do that, but unfortunately that’s not always the case. The main thing drilled into us during the credential courses I’ve been taking is that you MUST meet your students where they are. In other words, not every student is going to come to you with the same amount of knowledge, the same socioeconomic situation, the same family make up, and so on. And in this day and age ALL of that comes into play with how you will best serve your students with teaching strategies to help them not only achieve the stated-adopted standards (and hopefully EXCEED THEM!), but more importantly for helping them grow as social beings. Erin Gruwell saw the diverse and special needs of her students, was creative with her strategies, and more than succeeded in her endeavors. I am truly in awe of this woman.

The second reason I have a special place in my heart for this book, this project, this teacher, and these students, is that I had the good fortune to meet Erin and a couple of her students from the book. I was attending the California K-16 Partnerships & Student Success conference at California State University, Long Beach, in June 2002, and Erin Gruwell was the closing Keynote Speaker. I had heard bits and pieces of her story, but hadn’t seen the coverage of it on many national television shows. Boy, was I caught up on everything that night! You could have heard a pin drop when Erin was speaking, and at various points you also heard more than a few folks sniffling and saw lots of dabbing away of tears, especially when they showed parts of the Prime Time Live segment done on the Freedom Writers. What was especially touching was when some of the students were in the audience and she had them stand…talk about getting a HUGE round of applause!

After the closing speech there was a reception in CSULB’s exquisite Japanese Gardens. What an incredible location for getting to meet some incredible people, including Erin and several of her students. Getting to chat with these students and seeing the incredible strides they had made gave me goosebumps. One of the best surprises of the evening was talking with the mothers of some of the students, and boy did the moms have some great stories to tell me of their chaperoning duties on trips with the students! Of course the most inspiring being their trip to Europe where they visited Anne Frank’s home, and also the concentration camps in Germany and Poland. You really need to read the book to fully understand how incredible this was. PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE read the book. I’m sure your local library has a copy of it if you don’t want to spend the money, although you can get it on Amazon.com for less than $12. I would just love for you to have the joy of the book in your heart like I have, especially before seeing the movie adaptation since the movie may or may not be a good thing.


The entire experience that night, from hearing Erin speak, to getting to meet her and having her sign my book (along with one of her students :)), from meeting other future educators and feeling energized about teaching, to hearing the mothers’ perspectives of the effect the Freedom Writers have had on one another, and to ultimately being reminded that all of this is precisely why I’ve chosen the path of an educator: to change lives. It was all truly one of the most incredible and memorable experiences of my life. Hmmm, think it’s time to take the book out and give it another read. And Erin, I’ll make sure to pass the baton as you have. πŸ™‚

Here is the joke that IS George W. Bush,

and here is the reality that is, unfortunately, George W. Bush.

And for that, I am truly sorry.

Peace.

Yup, that’s what all the thoughts I’m having regarding what to blog about are doing in my head: just bouncing about in the empty space. Occasionally they bounce against other thoughts, but not too many, nor too often. Okay, that’s a big lie. I’ve been having TONS of ideas on what to blog about, will just have to summon some courage to do a few of them. (Ooh, did I capture your curiousity with that?)

It’s funny that when you start one of these blogs (or do anything in cyberland) you feel like it’s just you, your keyboard, and the monitor. Safe enough, right? I mean you know that it’s bound to be seen by someone (especially if you tell them about it! ;)), but you wonder who? Why will they read it? Will they come back? What are they thinking when they read it? What do they think when they’re done reading it? And most of all, do you REALLY want the answers to those questions? πŸ˜‰ It’s really been interesting to check out the blog statistics option with WordPress and see that folks ARE reading this. I know the buds I’ve told about it have popped on over, a couple even leaving comments (thanks :)), but I wondered where on earth all those other readers were coming from?

Suddenly in that vast expanse between my ears it hit me! Duh (or doh! if you’re into the Simpsons)! It’s probably the ‘random blog’ feature in the upper right-hand corner of any WordPress blog. (Welcome to those of you who found me that way! I’d love to know where you’re from. :)) You know what I’m talking about, right? That wonderful option which allows you to fulfill the voyeuristic urge I think we all have. In case you didn’t know, there’s an arrow up there which you can click and suddenly be transported–ANYWHERE! It’s really fun and something you should try if you haven’t. Earlier I was in the UK looking at some really cool graffitti pictures which were the header for a gal who was blogging about her break-up. Then a couple of religion-themed blogs popped up. After that I was in India checking out a picture of a group of guys looking like they were having a good time, arms around the shoulders of each other, smiling brightly for the camera. Hit a blog which I saved as a favorite since it had some good computer information. Then I ran across a couple blogs in languages I couldn’t figure out. On yet another blog I felt like I had shared their Thanksgiving with them, due to the details and the photos. Yup, a nice little adventure around the globe with no passport needed and more importantly, no money needed! Definitely some fun time spent bouncing about in cyberland.

Before closing I just have to give a shout-out to the support folks here at WordPress. I emailed them with a problem I’m having (all my comments are being tagged by Akismet as spam, thereby bouncing them into the spam section and not in the areas I post them). Well darn if I didn’t get a response from someone named Mark within a few hours! Woo-hoo! Apparently others are having the same dilemma, and since misery loves company I’m feeling better knowing it’s not just me, but sure hope WordPress will be able to solve it soon. Mark said they’re working on it, which is MUCH more than I can say for the VERY slow support (if any support at all!) I received over at Blogger. So kudos to you, WordPress. Thanks for showing me that bouncing on over to WordPress was a smart move. (Feel free to insert a visual of me bouncing on over here on a Hippity-Hop! Aw heck, let me go find an image to fill the visual for you.)

hippity-hop.jpg

A handful of my very good buds have humored me and joined me in creating a private blog where we can keep up with each other’s lives. Nothing like friends who humor you, eh? I’ve enjoyed the individual blogs they’ve begun so figured I’d do the same myself. Really have no clue where I’ll go with this blog, but being the Pisces gal that I am one thing is for sure–it will be ALL OVER THE PLACE!

I tend to write the way I speak, so don’t expect Little Miss Grammar, okay? I’m definitely Read the rest of this entry »

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