Nothing Finer than Living in North Caroliner

Nothing Finer than Living in North Caroliner
Blue Ridge Smoky Mountains

Friday, September 30, 2011

Day 257 - Fried Chicken

It has always been a standing joke about the white women [me] who couldn't cook fried chicken.  My former sister-in-laws know how to do it and I never had to for many years.  KFC is fast and cheaper than trying to learn how to do it myself.  But to be a true southerner, you need to eat grits with cheese and know how to make fried chicken.  Being the Damn Yankee that I am, I did the right thing and just figured it out when I wanted to "fit in."  So for the two sons I now have in my home from Germany and Italy, I had to make them the true American Fried Chicken.  Yippee I did it.  And I have the photo to prove it.





Finger Lickin' Good!

Recipe:
Mix flour, salt, seasoning salt and pepper in a plastic bag.
Boil chicken for 45  minutes first.  Let cool. Leave chicken skin on.
Shake chicken in flour mixture, roll in scrambled raw eggs, then roll in italian seasoned bread crumbs or corn meal mixture.
Fry until crispy on outside.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Day 256 - A Litre of Light - What You Do With It

My mother-in-law has a saying, "Make do with what you got."  Sometimes we invent new ways to do things because we didn't have the "old or right" tool to do it.  They say that the ocean is becoming filled with old plastic litre bottles.  It is the number one pollutant in our environment.  I used to buy bottled water until I heard this.  So the right thing for me to do was to have ONE container and just keep refilling it.


So rather than throw out the baby with the bath water which in this case means to get rid of plastic bottles, look at what someone else did with what they had...http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-pacific-14967535


Sometimes I really try to look around and notice ALLLL the things we have.  As Americans, we don't realize that we really just have a lot of JUNK.  Many countries are much poorer and our definition of poor is even higher than the rest of the world.  The Phillipines is an example of this.  Many people live in homes made from aluminum with no running water, no electricity and still can have a positive outlook on life!  We, the entitled Americans would think this is below us.  But an inspiring story about an empty soda plastic bottle that most people throw away and take for granted is sure to light up your life.  Pass it along...

http://www.virgin.com/people-and-planet/news/litre-of-light

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Day 255 - The Great Outdoors Giveaway! HR 1581

HR1581 is  a public lands bill currently in Congress, would take more than 50 million acres of wildlands that belong to the American people and open them up to oil, gas, mining, and timber companies for drilling, mining, and logging.

Utah
WHAT ARE THEY THINKING?  The National Parks are the only thing that is of great value anymore in America.  For $10 if you are over 65, you can get a year pass to be admitted into ANY national Park in America regardless of where you are from.  Why do you think so many international visitors are hiking at Zion?


Introduced by Rep. Kevin McCarthy of Bakersfield, this bill (H.R. 1581) would eliminate protection for wilderness study areas and Forest Service roadless areas -- exactly the kind of healthy, undisturbed lands that provide and safeguard clean air and water resources, supply habitat for plants and animals, and offer Americans a place to get outdoors and kayak, camp, fish, or hike. That's one reason why people in the outdoor recreation industry -- which, by the way, supports nearly 6.5 million jobs and contributes $730 billion annually to the U.S. economy -- are among the biggest opponents of this public lands giveaway. - from the Sierra Club Website

The right thing to do is to send your congressperson a letter by clicking on this link tell them you don't want him to vote for this.  And if he does, remember.  Remember on election day and vote his ass out!  Many Americans are worried about other Americans not working hard to get what they believe they are not entitled to due to disability or unfortunate circumstances.  These SHOULD be the same people who should be opposed to companies getting AMERICAN LAND for free.  They didn't work for it, they just lined a pocket of American Congressman.  The American People deserve better.  Stand up for what is yours. 

This would be a travesty.  Please make your voice heard.  Click here:

http://sierraclub.typepad.com/michaelbrune/2011/09/wildlands-are-your-lands.html

Monday, September 26, 2011

Day 254 - Tyvek Shopping Bags

Tyvek Bags
Virgina Fleck has discovered that those Tyvek Plastic (more like polyester Canvas) bags can be used as art!  She makes mandalas out of them.  They range from 3-9 feet in diameter.  They take a month to make and cost between $3000-$9500.  Here a few photos and a link to her website:

http://virginiafleck.com/artwork/flower-pop-mandala

Virginia Fleck was born in New York City. She began making artwork in
childhood and eventually studied at Portland School of Art in Portland,
Maine and at The School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston,
Massachusetts. In 1990 Fleck moved to Austin, Texas where she
continues her work as a visual artist. Ms. Fleck has been the recipient of
numerous grants and residencies including a fellowship for a residency
and exhibition in Havana, Cuba.

Since 2002 Fleck has been working exclusively with recycled plastic bags
creating site specific ecologically conscious art works that have been
commissioned for several high profile green building projects including
the US Embassy in Rwanda, Whole Foods World Head Quarters in Austin
TX, LeBonheur Children’s Hospital in Memphis TN and Dell Children’s
Hospital in Austin TX -the first hospital in the world to attain LEED
platinum certification.

Fleck’s work has been exhibited at Art Forum Berlin, Pulse Miami and
New York and Arte Fiera in Bologna Italy. Her work appears in many
prestigious collections including the Marino Golinelli collection in
Bologna, Italy. Ms. Fleck’s work has been written about and reviewed
on the web and in many paper publications including America Craft
Magazine, Public Art Review, Sculpture Magazine, Metropolitan Home,
Western Interiors and Design, Austin Home, Glasstire, Kopenhagen.dk,
Voice of Germany, Apartment Therapy, MoCo Loco, Houston Press,
Houston Chronicle, and the Dallas Morning News.

Send a free e-card of her Mandalas, click on this link: do the right thing and brighten somebody's day.

http://virginiafleck.com/e-cards

Day 253 - The Phd...Pocket Discs


I met the owner of Pocket Discs (the actual inventor was his daughter Savanna) which are made in Guatemala.  Here is his story (obtained from his website) .... http://www.livelovecatch.com/index.php

 Fair trade toy hurtling across parks, pools, living rooms and college campuses nationwide

HILLSBOROUGH, NC – The Pocket Disc is quickly becoming one of the hottest toys on the market for teens, college students, children, outdoor enthusiasts, and dog lovers. What started as a homework assignment in Savanna Groft’s third grade class is now earning rave reviews for its performance, safety, portability, and versatility. The Pocket Disc is a 100% cotton, brilliantly colorful flying disc – the first true indoor/outdoor disc for all ages.

Tasked with crocheting a round placemat for her handwork studies, Savanna unknowingly created the first Pocket Disc prototype. But, her placemat was not initially recognized for its unique flying abilities. It sat on an end table for over a year and a half until it was inadvertantly tossed it across the room.

Knowing they wanted to do more than just make a toy the company began producing the discs through fair trade as a way to give back to the global community. With a veteran importer, Phd Productions found groups of Mayan women in Guatemala to produce the Pocket Discs. “The money they make crocheting Pocket Discs and other handmade products enables over 350 Guatemalan weavers to support and send their children to school in a country where 75% of the people now live below the poverty line,” according to Patrick Groft.

With production of the Pocket Disc established, the company got started on marketing the Pocket Disc and creating a variety of games and uses for it. Some include Indoor Disc Golf, William Tell, Pocket Disc Hockey, Ceiling Fan 500 and Skitzlejinx. The rules to these games and many others can be found on the Phd Productions website at www.pocketdisc.com/games.php.

Pocket Discs can be purchased on the Phd Productions website and at a variety of retailers nationwide including Eastern Mountain Sports, many independent Play-It-Again Sports and over 1,500 specialty toy, gift and outdoor retailers. The Pocket Disc is available in a variety of colors and designs. The Indoor Edition retails for $9.99 and the heavier weight Sports Edition retails for $14.99. For more information visit www.pocketdisc.com.  or http://www.livelovecatch.com/index.php







When I came home one day after work to find a lamp broken, only to find out my kids had been playing with the football in the house, I wish I had known about these.  The kids did do the right thing however and fessed up to who did it and why. (obviously not a good reason but never the less they did tell the truth)  I was mad, but in the end, I got over it, they confessed and they hadn't been hurt.  I can always buy another lamp but I can't get another child.  The pocket disks are like your kids, full of energy, and soft and huggable.  And they do less damage!

Day 252 - Looking For a New Job? Be Ready to Use Technology

I thought I had knew it all about how to get an interview, as once we get that, it  is up to ourselves to sell.  In an interview, it is up to us to sell our talents, personality and skills.  I know about the spiders in the human resource (which uses no humans anymore but computers) scanning computer code that looks for the matching words in every applicants resume to match their postings description.  That is why posting the same old electronic resume you've had for years is like posting cobwebs.  Your skills must match EXACTLY the description in order for the computer to get your name out of the applicant graveyard.

But what I didn't know is that there are now apps to do the searching for the job postings for you.

LinkUp.com is an iPhone app that trawls company websites to find postings that aren't listed on major job boards.

Indeed.com gives you access to millions of postings from job boards and company websites and sends personalized search results to your iPhone.

Snapdat.com creates digital business cards and e-mails them from your iPhone to new contacts.

Bump (http://bu.mp) lets you exchange contact information electronically.

TweetAJob.com will tweet you job openings in your field and geographical area.

Monster.com - notifies you of job postings wherever  you are.

CareerBuilder.com enables you to apply for jobs directly from your iPhone.

LinkedIn's app lets you reach anyone in your network on the go.  It also delivers the headlines, prioritized so you know which stories your peers are talking about.

Here's something else people are doing.  They are making their own videos.  Loading up on their own YouTube site.  Just the meare two-minute clip, shows that you are techno savvy.  It goes beyond the one-dimensional resume and gives recruiters a sense of your personality and the skills that make you exceptional.  You can go to www.videobio.com to create your own video for interview prospects.  Some people are interviewing via Skype also.  It saves thousands of dollars and save you time to fly across the USA for what May or May Not be a good interview.  Make sure you frame your shot.  Get rid of background clutter and shut your pets in another room.

The last suggestion is to become a blogger about things in your field.  Google will stack your results and it makes it easier for people to find you online.  Use your full name as your blog URL.  List the URL of your blog on your Facebook and LinkedIn page.  (Hint: Remember Google owns YouTube)

Need a webpage? Try WordPress.  Its so easy,  my church used it for laymen to start and continue to update its site. 

Get a great Profile Picture.  Build your Brand.  Use a white background, Kirsten Dixson, co-author of Career Distinction: Stand Out by Building Your Brand.  She also suggests making the most of your LinkedIn page and bringing your profile 100% up to date.  Create a Facebook Brand Page.

Join conversations and be sure to post your full name and your blog.  This increases the traffic to your blog.   Twee with a purpose.  Nobody wants to know what you ate for breakfast.

If using Facebook frightens you, use Reputation.com's free uProtect.it tool.  It encrypts everything you post to Facebook so your data won't get leaked the next time privacy settings change.  

If you want to link all your sites together, register with HootSuite or Hellotxt.  These services link your platforms together so you can update multiple platforms at once.

Follow the Top Blogs in your industry.  ( Pick the top 5 industry blogs - find them at alltop.com) and three LinkedIn groups to check in on everyday.  It will take about a month but you will become an expert in your field that fast.

Ditch your aol e-mail address, hotmail and yahoo as well.  It's easy to switch to Gmail and it enables yout to take advantage of useful tools such as Google Docs, Google Reader and Google Video Chat.

If you need to know after that initial phone call from a company which technology they use, check out Glassdoor.com.  It is a site where users anonymously post information about company culture and salaries. 

The right thing to accept that it's not your Mothers' way anymore.  Time's have changed and technology is only going to get faster.  Put your seat belt on and ride the roller coaster.  Have some fun!

- information obtained by Virginia Sole-Smith, who blogs at beautyschooledproject.com

Friday, September 23, 2011

Day 251 - JAVA

Most people know JAVA as a cup of hot coffee.  It is a programming language I'm taking now and I feel like a complete bumbling idiot.  I worked six hours today on it and got nowhere.  I feel like I've wasted my time.  I did however have this same issue with my PHP class two semesters ago.  So I think I'm going to just sleep on it.  It seems that somehow my brain connects the dots when I'm sleeping in a manner that it is unable to do when it is awake.  Sometimes the right thing to do is to walk away, sleep on it and begin again another day.  This is my plan.  Even the Lord rested on the seventh day.

This semester is a little overwhelming but I'm determined to keep on trying.  Some days are easier than others.  But this week, between having over 350 pages to read in my textbooks, write a program in JAVA, design and upload a website and watch 8 videos for my Linux, participate online in all four discussion groups, do the assignments at the end of all three chapters of my Project, download and prepare for two assignments due next week, take a quiz, a test and two more quizzes in JAVA, I'm wore out! 

I'm thankful for the challenge, it proves to myself I'm still alive.  Heaven help me.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Day 250 - FUD - Don't Trust Your Kids

Microsoft has recently done what they are notorious for doing.  Threaten to sue the little guy.  If they do this, they will then be forced to show "their code." Microsoft is so proprietarial it would never show its code so threaten they continue to do.  My professor calls it FUD.  Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt.  Cause this and then they will be "scared" of the Bad Wolf and then maybe they won't tell anybody else. This is a cheap, shameless tactic to scare people and businesses from using a competitor's product  You don't have to actually prove anything, just spread rumors.

This is a far cry from the Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt that we have about our kids.  Our pastor tells the youth in our church,  a parent SHOULD NOT trust their children UNTIL they give them a reason to trust them.  And then CONTINUE to give them many more reasons to trust them after that. Senator Erie Adams is a politician, once policeman.  He says children have no constitutional rights to privacy at home.  After working in the law enforcement field for years, he tells parents, it is their duty and obligation to protect the members of the household and provide safety for ALL family.  He encourages looking for contraband and denies this is spying on our kids.  I agree.

During the time my son runaway and the PARENTS of his friends lied into my face that he was not there and committed a felony by harboring a runaway, I could do nothing.  I had to search my sons room numerous times.  If it wasn't between the mattress and box spring, drugs were under the last drawer of the dresser.  If they weren't there, they were inside the guitar.  If they weren't there, they were tucked inside a pocket inside what appeared to brand new laundry.  It is a Federal crime to work for a Federal Installation and to have drugs found in your home, of which the penalty is the ability of the government to seize your home.  The naive, immature, behavior of a teenage son didn't think about the consequences his actions could have had on the entire family.  Homeless on the streets was the worst case scenario or parents in jail.

With that in mind, I support Senator Adams and give you these tools to protect your family.  It is the right thing to do:

Spyware. 25% of teens are sexting.  If found guilty they will be labeled sexual predators for the rest of their lives.  Software4parents, eBlaster, and SpectorPrO are all reliable spyware.

Monitor Online Chats with: MobileSpy or Mobile Stealth

Home Drug Testing:  From one mother to another...www.drugtestyourteen.com  The drug tests are only $3.  I remember when my son looked me in the eye and SWORE he hadn't done any drugs in thirty days.  We paid for a test at the store, sent it off to California at a tune for $16 and then went online for the answer...POSITIVE.

He just gave us another reason of Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt.

I'm glad these days are over but I'm beginning to believe the folks older than I.  Kids don't "get it" until they are at least forty.  I hope I can live to see that day and smile when they do.  In the meantime, I pray for my children's health and happiness and ask the Good Lord to let me live long enough to get rid of the FUD.

Day 249 - I am Troy Davis

Executing Troy Davis without all the evidence was the wrong thing to do....from The Color of Change, I dedicate today's blog to Troy and his family.

At 11:08 pm Wednesday, the state of Georgia killed Troy Davis. Just before he was executed, Troy maintained his innocence, urged people to dig deeper into the case to find the truth, and said "For those about to take my life, may God have mercy on your souls, may God bless your souls." It's a tragic day for Troy, for his family, and for equality, fairness, and justice.

It's hard to know what to say at a time like this. In this moment, and in the days and weeks before Troy's execution, we've felt all kinds of things — anger, sadness, inspiration, hope and hopelessness. This is a time to mourn and remember Troy, to contemplate the profound loss we're facing, to send love and support to Troy's family and friends. It's incredibly important to take the time to spiritually and emotionally care for Troy's family and the amazing community that has arisen to support Troy — and it feels hard to muster the energy to do much more than that.

But before he died, Troy told us that this was about more than him — and he called on those of us who have fought against his execution to continue fighting for justice, even if we weren't successful in saving his life. Now is also an important moment to take stock of what's brought us to this point — the criminal justice system that allowed this to happen, and the movement we've built to fight for Troy and others facing injustice and oppression at the hands of that system.

Race, the criminal justice system, and the death penalty
At every stage of the criminal justice system, Black people and other minorities face inequality and discrimination. We all know about people who've been treated unfairly by police or by the courts. When the entire system treats Black people unequally, it means that the death penalty is applied unequally too. Troy Davis' case underscores the way in which this systemic inequality can lead to a tragic miscarriage of justice.
In most cases, people who've been treated unfairly or wrongly convicted have some chance to correct the injustice. People who have been mistreated by the police can sue them. People who are wrongly serving time can be granted new trials, can be released from prison, and are sometimes entitled to compensation. As we all know, the safeguards that can correct abuse by the criminal justice system often fail, and rampant inequality persists. Usually, people can at least keep trying.

But there's no way to correct a death sentence. If Troy Davis were serving a sentence of life in prison without parole, he could continue to press the legal system to grant him a fair trial — but because the death penalty exists, he will not have that opportunity.

Troy Davis' case has sparked a national conversation about the death penalty. In the past, much of the debate around the death penalty has focused on the morality of killing people as a legal punishment — a very important question that brings out a lot of strong opinions. But even if we completely leave aside the question whether or not it can ever be right for the government to punish a murderer by killing them, there's an entirely different debate to be had — whether or not we can have the death penalty and actually avoid the possibility of killing innocent people. In a criminal justice system that routinely misidentifies Black suspects and disproportionately punishes Black people, Black folks are more likely to be wrongfully executed.

There's plenty of evidence to suggest that the death penalty has been used to kill innocent people many times. Since 1973, more than 130 people have been released from death row because of evidence that they were wrongly convicted. Troy Davis is one of many people who were executed despite serious questions about their guilt, and he's called on his supporters to continue working to end the death penalty.

A group of NAACP organizers went to visit Troy in prison yesterday, and NAACP's Robert Rooks said this about the visit:
For someone that was facing death the very next day, he was just full of life and wanted to spend time talking to the younger staff, the interns, giving them direction and hope and asking them to hold onto God. And he challenged them. He challenged them by saying, "You have a choice. You can either fold up your bags after tomorrow and go home, or you can stand and continue this fight." He said it doesn’t—it didn’t begin with Troy Davis, and this won’t end if he is executed today. He just asked us all just to continue to fight to end the death penalty, if in fact he’s executed.
A powerful movement
For years, ColorOfChange members have been an important part of a growing movement to stop Troy Davis' execution. Hundreds of phone calls from ColorOfChange members to the Georgia Board of Pardons and Parole helped delay Davis' execution twice. Over the past year, there's been a huge outpouring of support for Davis from ColorOfChange members — more than 100,000 of us have signed petitions, and we raised more than $30,000 to run radio ads in Georgia calling for justice for Troy.

And we've been part of an even bigger movement — NAACP, Amnesty International, National Action Network, Change.org, and others have all been a major part of the fight for Troy Davis, and there are now over close to a million petition signatures overall. Prominent people from all across the political spectrum have spoken out: members of the Congressional Black Caucus, Desmond Tutu, former President Jimmy Carter, Pope Benedict XVI, former FBI Director William Sessions, former Georgia Republican congressman Bob Barr, and former Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice Norman Fletcher.

This movement couldn't stop Davis' execution — but it's a movement that won't die with Troy Davis. There's no better way to honor Troy's memory than to keep fighting for justice.

Thanks and Peace,
-- Rashad, James, Gabriel, William, Dani, Matt, Natasha and the rest of the ColorOfChange.org team
   September 21st, 2011

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Day 248 - Fractals - Self-Similarity

http://video.pbs.org/video/1050932219/

What is a fractal?  A fractal is "a rough or fragmented geometric shape that can be split into parts, each of which is (at least approximately) a reduced-size copy of the whole," a property called self-similarity. Roots of the idea of fractals go back to the 17th century, while mathematically rigorous treatment of fractals can be traced back to functions studied by Karl Weierstrass, Georg Cantor and Felix Hausdorff a century later in studying functions that were continuous but not differentiable; however, the term fractal was coined by Benoît Mandelbrot in 1975 and was derived from the Latin fractus meaning "broken" or "fractured." A mathematical fractal is based on an equation that undergoes iteration, a form of feedback based on recursion. There are several examples of fractals, which are defined as portraying exact self-similarity, quasi self-similarity, or statistical self-similarity. While fractals are a mathematical construct, they are found in nature, which has led to their inclusion in artwork. 

Mondelbret's fractal
Click on the link at the beginning of the blog to understand the full mathematical world we live in.  It is truly fascinating.  If Mondelbret hadn't discovered fractals in nature and eventually mountains, our simulators and video games would not have the "real" look to them. 



Approximate fractals are easily found in nature. These objects display self-similar structure over an extended, but finite, scale range. Examples include clouds, river networks, fault lines, mountain ranges, craters, snow flakes, crystals, lightning, cauliflower or broccoli, and systems of blood vesselspulmonary vessels, and ocean waves. DNA and heartbeat[12] can be analyzed as fractals. Even coastlines may be loosely considered fractal in nature. and

Trees and ferns are fractal in nature and can be modeled on a computer by using a recursive algorithm. This recursive nature is obvious in these examples—a branch from a tree or a frond from a fern is a miniature replica of the whole: not identical, but similar in nature. The connection between fractals and leaves is currently being used to determine how much carbon is contained in trees.
In 1999, certain self similar fractal shapes were shown to have a property of "frequency invariance"—the same electromagnetic properties no matter what the frequency—from Maxwell's equations (see fractal antenna).

I'm thinking now that fractals are also in genetic offspring.  Each of our kids has a portion of ourselves.  Depending on which part of ourselves each child gets, it can be a blessing or a vice.  If we look closer, and closer and closer, and closer, our children our a fractal of ourselves.  There are fractals in our eye movement to take in information.  They are in everything and we are just now starting to understand them.  I guess this fascination has to do with the fact that I have a little fractal of my father in myself....the love of math.  Glad I didn't get the "crazy" fractal from him too! Wouldn't want to keep up the tradition of throwing batteries at drivers on the highway.  

Monday, September 19, 2011

Day 247 - Pig and Tongue...aka Spoons

Have you ever played Spoons?  Not as an instrument, although that takes real talent too. The card game...It is a ridiculously funny and fun game.  We played spoons a couple of weeks ago and we also found out that one of our very talented family members can balance a spoon on the end of their nose.  Its a clean inexpensive way to have fun.  Try it, its for all ages and it provides hours of laughter and entertainment.  Make time to play clean board and card games with your family, its the right thing to do. Here are the specifics from wikipedia:

Spoons arranged in center of table
Preliminaries

The game Spoons can be played with 3 or more players, using two decks of 52 ordinary playing cards and a number of spoons totaling one fewer than the number of players. The spoons are placed in the center of the table in a circle with handles pointing outward so that they may be easily grabbed by any of the players. One person is designated first dealer and deals four cards to each player. The dealer will use the remaining cards to draw from.

Play

Players are not allowed to pick up their cards until the dealer has. If they do, they get a letter which will begin to spell out the word "SPOON". Oftentimes the dealer may trick everyone into picking up their cards by hovering their hands over them or even touching them. Once everyone has picked up their cards, the game can begin. The dealer selects the top card from the pile and then discards one card to the right, face down on the table. The next player picks up the dealer's discarded card, discards a card to the right, and play continues with the next player. The last player discards his card into a "discard pile", while the dealer continues to select cards from the original pile. A player is not allowed to place a discarded card in their hand until they have discarded one, so if they are slow, their piles could build up. Each player is trying to make their four cards into a set of four of a kind (four queens, four twos, etc.) by drawing new cards and discarding unused ones. A player should keep the four cards that are most likely to produce a matching set. No player may have more than 5 cards or fewer than 4 cards at any given moment. You must hold your cards in your hand...

Grabbing spoons

As soon as any player has a set of four of the same card, anyone is allowed to take a spoon from the pile in the middle of the table. As soon as any player grabs a spoon from the pile of spoons, any other player is allowed to take a spoon as well. This usually causes a mad grab for spoons leaving one player empty handed. The player who ends the round without a spoon gets a letter to spell out SPOON.

Scoring

A player losing a round for the first time earns the letter "S", then at the next loss the letter "P", and so on gradually spelling out "S-P-O-O-N". When a player has accumulated all five letters in "spoon", they drop out of the game. At that time, the number of spoons used in game play is reduced by one. The game continues until only one person remains. That person is the winner. Once a person receives all the letters for SPOON, they are now out of the game. The people still in the game are not allowed to talk to, speak of, or acknowledge those with SPOON. If so, they get a letter for SPOON. People with SPOON can try and get people out by distracting them but are not allowed to touch the people in the game. Alternatively, players may be eliminated after one loss and the last remaining person declared the winner for quick games.

I don't know this guy
I love music and I enjoy creating sounds. I got into making music when I was a child, starting with the spoons and the koto before moving onto the piano. ~ Tobe Hooper

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Day 246 - Don't Play With Your Food Bento!

 Today, take the time to do what your mother always told you NOT to do.  Play with your food.
Click here to see how to make a bento box:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V46EMQvLF_g&feature=relmfuhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V46EMQvLF_g&feature=relmfu.


Stars, moons, hearts and chili peppers!






Gabriele and Malte spent two hours of their weekend at a beach clean up.   It was the right thing to do.  Taking care of the earth that gives us great pleasure.  The beach provides water, fish, recreation, great sunrises, photo opportunities, bird watching and relaxation.  I was proud of them for giving back to this side of the world and thought I'd make them a bento box.


A bento box is: Bento (弁当 bentō?)[1] is a single-portion takeout or home-packed meal common in Japanese cuisine. A traditional bento consists of rice, fish or meat, and one or more pickled or cooked vegetables, usually in a box-shaped container.  Bento can be very elaborately arranged in a style called kyaraben or "character bento". Kyaraben is typically decorated to look like popular Japanese cartoon (anime) characters, characters from comic books (manga), or video game characters. Another popular bento style is "oekakiben" or "picture bento", which is decorated to look like people, animals, buildings and monuments, or items such as flowers and plants. Contests are often held where bento arrangers compete for the most aesthetically pleasing arrangements.

So Bento is actually a style of animation or picture in the Japanese culture...Since Gabriele and Malte were my "stars" for doing this, I made them peanut butter and jelly...stars with grape moons. There was no animation, just appreciation for what they did!


Try it, you will feel like a kid just trying to make one.  And if you get to eat it too, you can play with your food.  Most people don't get a chance to do this.  Here is a link to my website that shows the history, importance and video of how to make Bento Rice:

http://bjwinchester.zxq.net/Bento_Index.html

Thank you for cleaning my neighborhood Malte and Gabriele!

I eat merely to put food out of my mind.  ~N.F. Simpson

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Day 245 - Grow Up Twenty-Two Year Old Son!

I remember we would always blame the parents when their children do wrong.  I no longer do this because I have a son who doesn't live up to my expectations either.  I know that I don't live up to his expectations too because he told me so.  Yes at the age of twenty-two, my son told me, "Why don't you start acting like a mother?" as I was brought him groceries for the sixth time since he moved out on his own.  He promised me he was going to get a job, but he said he couldn't find one.  He said it was because of the self-made tattoos he put on his hands and face.

Bet you can't guess who advised him NOT to do that?  Bet you can't guess either who worked two jobs and after getting off at eleven PM at night spent their evening trying to locate him when he ran away.  His father was home sleeping soundly not worrying about him, and it was me knocking on doors of all his friends night after night until 4 AM.  I came home, got two hours sleep and got back up to do it all again.  He tells his friends that he raised "himself."

I guess it was he that lived in the back of a car while he was pregnant with himself.  I guess it was he that washed themselves in the sinks of the McDonalds every morning. I guess it was he that gave him milk from his own bosom until he could walk.  I guess it was he that taught himself how to walk and talk.  I guess it was he that bought all his clothes, food, and homes he lived in, even after his dad walked out on us for a time. I guess it was he that paid for his private education. I guess it was he that dropped himself off and picked himself up from school.  I guess it was he that got a job that worked night hours so that he could be home with himself when he was younger.  I guess it was he who helped him with his homework.  I guess it was he that took him on vacations and taught him about the world outside of his hometown.  I guess it was he who got him into college.  I guess it was he that got him a new birth certificate and drivers license when he lost his own that his mother had gotten for him.  I guess it was he that bought him his first cell phone that he abused.  I guess it was he that bought himself all the new clothes that he passed on as second-hand clothes to his brother.

Truth is, it was his mother, doing what mothers do.  And it was his mother that was bringing him food last week to which he exclaimed, "I don't see myself eating a meal without meat."  I reminded him he was a college student.  He should be grateful to have rice.  I ate tuna fish and macaroni and cheese throughout my four years in college.  Then I got a full time job, paid for my own education and paid for my own living needs.  Notice I didn't say wants, I said needs.

When I tried to talk to him about turning to God when we need help.... All I know is [from the Daily Bread]..There is a list of possibilities that is long...but there are only two options: forge ahead on our own, or turn to God.flying solo into the face of trouble is not a good idea.  It can lead to bad behavior patterns, blaming God and retreating into defeat. His response was, "Fuck God!".

That day, I took all the food and left with the food.  Because I was doing my duty, to act like a mother.  Sometimes parents have to give tough love.  They need to tell their sons and daughters to do it on their own.  Then maybe, just maybe he'll see I am not only a good mother, I am, was and will always be a GREAT mother.  I don't need my son's approval to know what I've done.  Oh yeah, when dirt tastes good, then maybe you'll be ready to apologize for such a heartless remark.  Meanwhile, I'm doing the right thing, standing my ground and eating my own food and trusting my own God.  If I shun the ways of evil, I am kept by Him alone.

The only people with whom you should try to get even are those who have helped you.  ~John E. Southard

Friday, September 16, 2011

Day 244 - True Grit - Are you willing to be a disciple?

Purple sweet potatoes, red cabbage and porkchops on the grill
In Church, the sermon consisted of what it meant to be a disciple.  What were the twelve disciples?  We know they were human and came from all walks of life, but what did they have in common?  I had never thought about being a disciple myself because I had the mindset of there were only twelve.  The husband and wife team that gave the sermon in our pastor's absence were trying to explain this to us.  Although the wife did most of the talking (I know most men won't be surprised by this), the husband said something that made sense.  He said a disciple was someone who was willing.  Willing to do the work. 

They used visuals of different types of grits to bring home the meaning of True Grit. They used food, sand, and sandpaper.  All different forms of grits.  Meaning do we have what it takes to just do the hard work and be willing to do it?  So many times I see my son who wants everything given to him.  He doesn't want to do the work it takes to get things done unless he convinces himself that it is worth something to him.  Sometimes the value comes from just having the experience, with no monetary or tangible reward.  It bothers me to tell you the truth.  It bothers me that with this mindset, he will not grow.  The right thing to do is to just jump in and do the work.  Be a disciple, be willing and learn about what you are capable and not capable of. 

Think of the slaves of our history.  They didn't have a choice.  They had true grit.  They became stronger as a result of this part of our history or in spite of it.  One of things I admire about the black culture is how they are able to make due with less.  They used what they had off the land.  They make fruit cobblers, sweet potatoes, tripe, and greens.  Things most people would not want to make or would wrinkle their noses at.

As I've gotten older, I noticed that these foods from the lands are more desirable to eat.  They don't make me feel bloated like cake or cookies do. And of course, there is always grits to eat if I so desire...I just have to be willing to eat them.


peach cobbler (yes I made it)

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Day 243 - WhiffenPoofs

The show the Sing Off is about to begin again. If you haven't seen it, it is a show completely dedicated to groups of people who sing a cappella.  And when you hear each group you wonder, how is this possible?  How is it that there is a beat without a drum, a violin part with out the instrument or a cowbell without a bell?  Truth is these groups are filled with talented singers beyond our imagination.

Last year the group that came in fourth then had a concert in Savannah.  Only a three hour drive.  That wasn't anything compared to the 6 hour drive the group had to travel to get to Savannah to perform.  They had performed in Tennessee the night before with the second place winner from Sing Off.  For only $15, we got to witness the magic of this kind of music that was priceless. 

The groups name is the Whiffenpoofs. You can read about them at their website listed below.  Here is the history of their group and name.

About the Whiffenpoofs

Every year, 14 senior Yale men are selected to be in the Whiffenpoofs, the world's oldest and best-known collegiate a cappella group. Founded in 1909, the "Whiffs" began as a senior quartet that met for weekly concerts at Mory's Temple Bar, the famous Yale tavern. Today, the group has become one of Yale's most celebrated traditions.

History

More than 100 years ago, on a frosty January night in New Haven, Connecticut, five of the Yale Glee Club’s best singers convened at Mory’s Temple Bar to escape the cold. Louis Linder, the tavern’s barkeep and a music aficionado, welcomed them in, beginning an institution that survives to this day.
Of those original five singers, four were members of the Glee Club’s prestigious Varsity Quartet, a group that sang together regularly at various alumni events. Unwilling to restrict themselves to performances at public functions, the group began to meet on a weekly basis at Mory’s, where they improvised harmonies to the songs they loved so well. These weekly meetings soon became a hallowed tradition amongst the singers.

Dragonfish
As their fame on campus grew, the quintet began their search for a name. Denton ‘Goat’ Fowler, tickled by a joke featuring a mythical dragonfish named the Whiffenpoof, suggested the name to his companions, who found the name an apt reflection of the atmosphere of levity that accompanied the group’s gatherings. The word quickly caught on with the group’s admirers, and the name stuck.
In the years since, each generation of Whiffenpoofs have taken up the mantle of their forebears. For more than one century of songsters, the name, the song, and the weekly date at Mory’s have remained inviolate traditions that continue to bind us together.

The Whiffenpoof Song

To the tables down at Mory's, to the place where Louis dwells
to the dear old Temple Bar we love so well
sing the Whiffenpoofs assembled, with their glasses raised on highand the magic of their singing casts its spell
The origins of The Whiffenpoof Song can be traced to a 1907 winter trip by the Yale Glee Club, when two of the group's founding members created a humorous adaptation of the Rudyard Kipling poem, "Gentleman Rankers." Upon the conclusion of the song's premiere at Mory's Temple Bar, the singers declared it their anthem, "to be sung at every meeting, reverently standing." In the hundred years since, each class of Whiffenpoofs has sung The Whiffenpoof Song at the end of every concert as a celebration of brotherhood and tradition. The song has been recorded by Rudy Vallée, Bing Crosby, Elvis Presley, Louis Armstrong, and countless others.

http://www.whiffenpoofs.com/about/

I'm not sure what the joke was and I tried to do some research, but I suspect it has to do with the fact that it is difficult to tell the sex of a dragon fish.  The male carries around the eggs in his mouth after the female lays them.  If anyone knows the actual joke, feel free to post it here.

The goal of modern propaganda is no longer to transform opinion but to arouse an active and mythical belief ~Jacques Ellul


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Day 242 - Damn Yankees

If one is from the North and moves to the Southern states of the USA, the local southerners are sure to remind you that "You must not be from around these parts."  It is a common joke What is the difference between a Yankee and a Damn Yankee?  The Yankees came and left, the Damn Yankees have came and stayed.  There is a clear difference between the North and South as a result of our history of the Civil War. 

Stephanie Bastien in Oktoberfest garb
Now that we are hosting our second German Student who is also from the North of Germany, it has been confirmed that Germany has this same issue as well.  You know all those stereotypes we have of Germany?  Like a big mug of beer, Oktoberfest, the funny costumes we wear at these events etc?  Well I'm told this is Bravaria, the Southern part of Germany. 

The irony for me is I was told by a German parent that my favorite movie in the whole world, The Sound of Music, wasn't true.  I did my research and the story is indeed true but there are parts of it that are not.   But the irony didn't stop there.  This same German person loves our Gone with the Wind movie and country music.  Our Redneck culture and music is their Bravarian culture and music that we love as Americans. So each of us loathes our own south but loves the other's south!  The paradox is mind boggling.



This is my favorite quote from The Sound of Music: Mother Abbess: Maria, these walls were not meant to shut out problems. You have to face them. You have to live the life you were born to live. 


There is the  most famous quote from Gone with the Wind that most people know: Rhett Butler:
"Frankly, my dear. I don't give a damn." Which is how I feel about anyone who doesn't like my favorite Movie and to which most of us sing along to Adelweiss. 



But a few of the quotes that many may not know still apply now.  The first one applies to our ten year war which is sucking all of our money out of the economy.

Ashley Wilkes
"Most of the miseries of the world were caused by wars. And when the wars were over no one ever knew what they were about."

This one could describe the Americans who are without jobs now, who have lost their health insurance, their homes and just want to be able to live. 


  
Scarlett O'Hara ( Vivien Leigh ):
"As God as my witness. As God as my witness they're not going to lick me. I'm going to live through this and when it's all over I'll never be hungry again nor any of my folk. If I have to lie, steal, cheat or kill as God as my witness I'll never be hungry again."
        

Day 241 - If I Were A Tree

So I've finally figured it out.  I knew what kind of bird I would be but I could never figure out what kind of tree I would be...until recently.  I would be a Sycamore Tree.

American Sycamore Tree
The most obvious reason is that I'm not a small person.  Sycamores grow very tall and can live beyond 600 years.  They have huge leaves.  The photo I'm showing here is of a sycamore leaf beside a size 12 man's shoe.  But more importantly the history of the Sycamore fits me perfectly....according to which mystic code of symbolism this tree signifies "curiosity," because it is identified with that on which Zaccheus climbed that he might see Christ at His triumphal entry into Jerusalem.

I'm very curious.  Always wanting to learn more.  It fascinates me when I find a story behind a fact or event, I guess that is why I love the Olympics so much.  The coverage isn't just about the events, its about the stories of how the Olympians have worked so hard and sacrificed to be there.

The tree is also solid in its grounding.  It is strong as it goes through much adversity. Even when the winds blow strongly in one direction for nine months out of the twelve, the Sycamore will retain its symmetrical outline, its head not leaning more to one side than another.  I'm symmetrical in a different way , more like a pear! But symmetrical never the less.

Though the foliage is undoubtedly dull in color, and wanting in variety of light and shade, the tree, as a whole, has, when well grown, considerable beauty of outline. Its smooth-barked cylindrical stem rises generally but a few feet from the ground before sending out nearly horizontal branches, the lower of which may form large limbs, reaching, as we have seen, to a considerable distance from the trunk. The branches lessen regularly towards the top of the tree, so that standing alone in a park the Sycamore presents a regular, rounded crown.  I'm dull in color or void of color.  I am comfortable in t-shirts and shorts, being the gym rat that I am.

But for me, the tree is wide at the bottom, providing much needed shade in Florida.  They grow fast and I miss the one that we planted in front of the house we built.  I love the sycamore tree and am thankful for its sturdiness and comfort.  I won't climb this tree anymore at my age, but I will still continue to be curious about everything. I'm comfortable in my own skin also regardless of how it looks to others.


"The sycamore, also, was sacred.  Peasants gather around them in rituals.  In the Land of the Dead there was a sycamore in whose branches the goddess Hathor lived; she leaned out of it giving sustenance and water to deceased souls.  In Memphis, Hathor's epithet was Lady of the Sycamore."
~Larry Gates, 
Egyptian Nature Mysticism  

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Day 240 - HNIC - A word I despise

First Rest Stop going west on 26 from Route 95
Everytime I get on the highway in SC going West on Highway 26 from Highway 95, I tense up as I pass the first rest area.  I stopped there this summer only to take a photo so I could remember this place for its mark it has made for me.  Before my divorce, my husband was acting kind of nutty.  I think the loss of his pension from the National Guard with only 15 months to go due to no fault of his own, was causing insurmountable anxiety along with the full pension that the DOD Federal Government had ripped from him almost twenty years later.  He had worked 16 years under the premise that he would retire with full fire-fighter benefits.  The Government renigged and sent him notice in an uncertified USPO regularly stamped envelope.  It wasn't even important enough that this man couldn't retire at 55 (ten more years) and had to work now until he was 62 that you could call him.  I pleaded with him hire a jag lawyer.  He refused and just went about his life being miserable to himself and everyone else that it started a downward spiral that I couldn't adjust to and ultimately why I left him.

We were in the middle of this part of our lives and as we traveled to what I knew would be our last time as a family to visit his large extended family at his mother's house, he was joking about being the HNIC with our sons in the back seat.  He knows I take offense to that word.  I told him that I didn't want him to use that word, he said, "What? I'm the HNIC in this car!"  I said, "OK, You're the Head Nigger in this Car!"  HNIC is a term used by black folks and most white folks don't know what it means.  I'm sure it stems from the days of slavery that the lost of the low could feel have some sort of pride or dignity for being the head of something.  It means Head Nigger in Charge.

At which point my husband started going nuts!  He screamed at me that I was not to call him a Nigger.  I was trying to drive but realized this was getting out of control. Being the only solely white person in the car, and having a history of fighting racism for over half of my life, I was shocked that he would even insinuate this of me.  For speaking at the March on Washington, for starting support groups for multiracial families, for being disowned by my own family and on this journey to see my black family with he and my kids now, was painful to be accused of using such a vulgar word in our history.  I pulled over at the rest area and got out of the car.  I walked under the trees to just get my thoughts together.  I had told him that he had "baited me".  He used the HNIC reference and I asked him not to.  When he kept using it repeatedly I called him on it.  The shock of hearing his wife of sixteen years use such a word was probably the tipping point for the circumstances in his life at the time.

He followed me under the trees and kept yelling at me that I should never call him Nigger again.  As all the people who had heard him, stopped, in shock and watched this, I looked around and realized that I was the only white person witnessing this event although at the same time, being a part of it.  I bantered back that I did NOT call him a nigger, I merely said what the words that were represented by the saying HNIC meant!  He is the one referring to himself as the HNIC.

I never did go back to see my "black" family again with him or with my kids.  I did visit in July by myself and got to see some of them.  I realized that the right thing to do was to not fight the impossible battle.  I know I didn't do this and the thought of it, if anyone really knows me is ludicrous.  It is just as painful now to retell this story as it was when it happened. Most people in the family don't know what happened that day, but I do, and I remember it every time I go by that rest stop. 



By the 1900s, nigger had become a pejorative word. In its stead, the term colored became the mainstream alternative to negro and its derived terms. Abolitionists in Boston, Massachusetts, posted warnings to the Colored People of Boston and vicinity. Writing in 1904, journalist Clifton Johnson documented the "opprobrious" character of the word nigger, emphasizing that it was chosen in the South precisely because it was more offensive than "colored." ~from Wikipedia

Day 239 - 911 - NANP North American Numbering Plan

Kathy Phy Photographer
I am going to post the history of how we have come to use 911 as our Emergency Dial number.  After talking with our foreign exchange students, I have been told that in Europe, they have different numbers for different emergencies.  These are not the real numbers but to get the idea of what I'm talking about: 911 Crime Police Emergency, 611 - Fire, 711 - Paramedic Emergency, etc.  Now as Americans, this would be a great idea, specify the emergency.  The attackers were sending a message on that day for us because they were CAUSING the terror and the emergency on the day represented by the numerical format of 9/11.  And it was found that when reviewing Osama Bin Laden's computer data that he had planned another terrorist attack on the tenth anniversary, 9/11/11.  I can't help but think that (You'll have to reference my posting about angels in order to understand this) George and his army of angels were protecting America ten years later with the 1111 as part of the date.

From Wikipedia...


9-1-1 is the emergency telephone number for the North American Numbering Plan (NANP). It is one of eight N11 codes.  The use of this number is for emergency circumstances only, and to use it for any other purpose (including non-emergency situations and prank calls) can be a crime.

An N11 code or N11 number (said as "N-one-one") is a special abbreviated dialing telephone number within the North American Numbering Plan, which allows access to special services. Each of these eight numbers prevents 10,000 telephone numbers (from N11-0000 to N11-9999) from being used. Only non-geographic area codes, such as toll-free 800/888/877/866/855 numbers and 900 numbers may use N11 as the telephone exchange prefix, since the area code must always be dialed for these numbers.
Usage is generally assigned as follows:
  • 2-1-1: community services, United Way
  • 3-1-1: municipal government services, non-emergency
  • 4-1-1: directory assistance
  • 5-1-1: traffic information or police non-emergency services
  • 6-1-1: telephone company (telco) customer service and repair
  • 7-1-1: TDD relay for the deaf
  • 8-1-1: underground public utility location, in Canada 8-1-1 is assigned for non-emergency health information and services
  • 9-1-1: emergency services
In 1968, a solution was agreed upon. AT&T chose to implement the concept, but with its unique emergency number, 9-1-1, which was brief, easy to remember, dialed easily, and worked well with the phone systems in place at the time. How the number 9-1-1 itself was decided upon is not well known and is subject to much speculation by the general public. However, many assert that the number 9-1-1 was chosen to be similar to the numbers 2-1-1 (long distance), 4-1-1 ("information" or directory assistance), and 6-1-1 (repair service), which had already been in use by AT&T since the 1920s.

Another consideration is that most phones of the time used the pulse dialing system, which could be misdirected if the dial did not spin freely, either from sticky mechanism or a user keeping the finger in the dial. Using 9-1-1 forced the user to remove the dialing finger after the first number (whether using pulse or DTMF dialing) and go to the opposite end of the dial or keypad, thus reducing both accidental failure to dial the number and accidental dialing of the emergency number. Accidental dialing of 9-1-1 has become an increasing problem, as an increasing number of cellular phones are carried in pockets, purses or other places where objects may rest against the keys and repeatedly press them.

PASP Dispatch
Not all such N11 numbers are common throughout the telephone systems of North America. Some of the designated services provided by these numbers are regional, and there are significant differences in number allocation between Canada and the United States; only 4-1-1 and 9-1-1 are universally used. In addition, because it was important to ensure that the emergency number was not dialed accidentally, 9-1-1 made sense because the numbers "9" and "1" were on opposite ends of a phone's rotary dial. Furthermore, the North American Numbering Plan in use at the time established rules for which numbers could be used for area codes and exchanges. At the time, the middle digit of an area code had to be either a 0 or 1, and the first two digits of an exchange could not be a 1. At the telephone switching station, the second dialed digit was used to determine if the number was long distance or local. If the number had a 0 or 1 as the second digit, it was long distance, if it had any other digit, it was a local call. Thus, since the number 9-1-1 was detected by the switching equipment as a special number, it could be routed appropriately. Also, since 9-1-1 was a unique number, never having been used as an area code or service code (although at one point GTE used test numbers such as 11911), it could fit into the existent phone system easily. AT&T announced the selection of 9-1-1 as their choice of the three-digit emergency number at a press conference in the Washington (DC) office of Indiana Rep. J. Edward Roush, who had championed Congressional support of a single emergency number.

Day 238 - A Hammock and Soft Grass

As I dug my toes into the soft grass at the top of the mountain where we just stayed I thought of being able to bring a blanket outside and having the ability to just lay on the blanket in the summer.  The grass felt soft and a good nap during the middle of the day is always good.  The right thing to do is to sit still and just listen.  Sometimes this means taking a nap outside.  The sounds of the breeze with background songs from golden finches, cardinals,and blue jays are only interrupted by the occasional loud call from the pileated woodpecker. 

The grass where I live is hard and it is like fake carpet on the soil.  It has much give but being hard to touch with the soles of your feet, make it unpleasant to walk on without shoes.  I know that grass always looks greener on the other side but in this case, the grass IS softer in the northern part due to the better soil and abundant rain.  So the next best thing here would be to get a hammock.  I don't have the money now but will post a "wanted" ad on Craigslist.  I think the hammock will provide a serene place to look at the grass and appreciate it better by not feeling it.  Sometimes it is what we see and not what we experience that makes the view better than it is.





It feels right when I'm up there on that mountain.  It's not mine, but I feel like it is.  Grandpa's A frame was on the top of the mountain.  And he was a gas station attendant while Grandma was an RN.  They worked the old-fashioned way, with sweat.  I know that if I wanted to live up on that mountain I'm going to have to work that way too.  I'm ready.  I know I can achieve it if all the conditions are right. Including the most important part of being in God's plan.






And after the six days of sweat, I'll also follow God's plan and rest in a hammock above the grass.  Then roll over and finish the nap ON the grass...the green, green, soft grass.

There are so many hammocks to catch you if you fall, so many laws to keep you from experience. All these cities I have been in the last few weeks make me fully understand the cozy, stifling state in which most people pass through life. I don't want to pass through life like a smooth plane ride. All you do is get to breathe and copulate and finally die. I don't want to go with the smooth skin and the calm brow. I hope I end up a blithering idiot cursing the sun - hallucinating, screaming, giving obscene and inane lectures on street corners and public parks. People will walk by and say, "Look at that drooling idiot. What a basket case." I will turn and say to them "It is you who are the basket case. For every moment you hated your job, cursed your wife and sold yourself to a dream that you didn't even conceive. For the times your soul screamed yes and you said no. For all of that. For your self-torture, I see the glowing eyes of the sun! The air talks to me! I am at all times!" And maybe, the passers by will drop a coin into my cup. ~Henry Rollins
 

Day 237 - Funerals

Most people say as they get older, they have to attend more funerals.  The people that they know or have known since their childhood are being outlived by their friends and family.  My life has not been like this.  As I asked myself what funerals have I been to, the answer was surprising.  My cousin (age 21), my friends baby (6 months), my best friends from high school (age 16), when I was ten or so, I went to my great grandmother's funeral (the normal age range 82 or so).  Over the last five years of my life, people in the same age as myself have died.

This is scary to me because I don't think that I'm old enough to die.  I'm ready to die.  I have lived a great life and done what I wanted and achieved what I wanted.  There is always one exception.  Well maybe there are two.  I wanted to work at NCCJ as a cultural diversity speaker.  God gave me other means to do so without pay and that was good enough for me.  A woman got that job. I wanted to dislike her so much until I met her.  I just knew God had that job for me.  I lived diversity on a daily basis, I was already a pro.  Turns out, she had just gotten a divorce and was in the most painful of situations.  She was Jewish and was a mother of three boys.  She said when she finally got out of the divorce, she didn't even know what kind of music she liked!  At the age of fifty-two her husband had only listened to NPR and didn't allow any music of any kind in the house.  Her child-like fascination with the smallest of things was contagious.  She would get so excited about drums!   She had found that she loved drums.  I realized that God had that job for her and not me. God had blessed me with a good friend from that day forward. She would give people money who were broke.  Her random acts of kindness consisted of going above and beyond.

Her son tells the story of when she met someone at a gas pump who asked for five dollars for food. She not only gave them the five dollars she gave them a ride home after swinging by her house and emptying her cupboard.  This was just the kind of person that she was.

The second goal I never achieved was making it to Division I as a basketball referee.  Once you have been picked up by a D 1 conference, you have achieved in the eyes of other officials.  So I feel like I fell short.  My weight was the issue.  When I entered officiating, I had lost over 100 pounds so I thought I was ok.  I looked good and ran faster or just as fast as others.  After all the surgeries, (five) I just couldn't work out the way I could normally.  The right thing to do is to realize that God has another plan for me and that spot was for  someone else just like the job was.  It is a hard pill to swallow.  Wanting something so badly and never getting it while watching others who make it and are not as good as you are.  But I know that God doesn't make mistakes.

Unexplainable events like the death of young people we know and having to attend their funerals aren't mistake either.  It becomes clear after death or after the event.  Its what we do with the event and how we process it.  God has a plan, a master plan, and just like looking at an unfinished shed behind the 5500 sq ft house that isn't built yet, it doesn't look like much.  The part of my personality that likes to know what the plan is is somewhat bothered by the inability to see the full picture.  But the part of my personality that feels it in my gut that I'm on the right path and will reach the end of the forest soon, makes it seem ok as I sit back and enjoy the journey.


Thursday, September 8, 2011

Day 236 - Be Fair

I have an Ebay rating of 100%.  Occasionally I have a buyer who wants to "shaft" me.  I usually do the right thing and work out the details with the buyer. Once I sold my music stand.  I listed it as good as new because I had only taken it out of the box two times, each time returning it to the box for storage. I sold it in the box.  The buyer was upset because for her $1 + shipping, it wasn't "like new" to her because it was a bit tarnished.  I refunded her the $8 including the shipping to keep my rating.  It was the right thing to do.

Recently, I sold a brand new math book with the CD still in the book unopened.  My son had needed it for school and I bought it for $165.  I listed as brand new on Ebay as my definition of brand new was the CD was unopened and the book had never been used.  A buyer bought it with the Buy It Now function at $75 and requested for me to "overnight" it to him for $20.  I packaged up the book at 4 PM, hurried to the Post Office, paid for confirmation and tracking information and he received the book the next day.

The following week, this buyer sent me an e-mail that his son had not been able to turn in his assignment (a week later) because the book didn't come with an access code.  I told him that if he could buy the code, send the receipt I would refund him $50.  He wanted $60.  I told him, he still had the book and it was just like described brand new.  He had opened the CD so now I couldn't sell it.  so the $95 - $20 for shipping - $50 I would refund him, would net me $25 for a $165 book.  He agreed to the terms and instead of turning in the receipt to me, complained to Ebay that my posting was incorrect. He had opened a case before we had a chance to resolve the issue.

I offered to buy the book back but wouldn't reimburse him for the overnight shipping.  He added salt to the wound and sent me an e-mail in ALL CAPITAL LETTERS screaming at me.  It took three days to get and the postage only showed $9.  I responded that this also reimbursed me for gas, packaging, time and postage including tracking and confirmation.  He wanted a full refund. I explained that it did arrive in one business day as Saturday and Sunday are not counted as business days.

After deliberation, I did the right thing for me.  With enough experience and wisdom, I know that when a situation starts bad, it will just go down hill.  I was fair, I gave the man an opportunity to get  $50 and he did not follow through on his promise to send the receipt. I rescinded the offer and told him to give me bad feedback. I figure the people buying from me will realize there is one in every crowd of 96-100 good feedbacks.  One person who tries to cheat another person out of their own morales/ values and pushes the envelope.

Now he wants to talk again.  Caveat Emptor. Under the doctrine of caveat emptor, the buyer could not recover from the seller for defects on the property that rendered the property unfit for ordinary purposes. The only exception was if the seller actively concealed latent defects or otherwise made material misrepresentations amounting to fraud.  Before statutory law, the buyer had no warranty of the quality of goods. In many jurisdictions now, the law requires that goods must be of "merchantable quality". However, this implied warranty can be difficult to enforce and may not apply to all products. Hence, buyers are still advised to be cautious.

Sometimes the right thing to do is to accept a more than generous offer to do the right thing.  It may be the only offer you ever get.