Sunday, September 25, 2011

Man With Autism Sings At Fenway

He sings the National Anthem in the exact way every little kid, and every little kid inside every big adult has ever wanted to sing it...

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Angel's Landing Zion National Park, Utah

Incredibly, this is where I'll be hiking at the end of October. Hopefully the weather will be cooperative, and the hike very pleasant. I'm also going to be fording through the Virgin River for part of the hike, something I've never done.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Don't Ask Don't Tell For Real

As many of you know, today the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy regarding gays, lesbians, and bisexuals serving openly in the military was repealed. Well, the repeal took action today. In the meantime, here's the story of a young soldier serving in the Middle East directly affected by the policy. Beginning in May of this year he films a series of YouTube videos, in which he's very discreet and doesn't show his face or reveal his name. It's kind of amusing because he's the headless man throughout most of the videos. Today he filmed himself live coming out to this Dad in Alabama. Very poignant. 
September 20th, 2011  
First Video

Monday, September 19, 2011

Affirmations I Can LIve With

My friend referred me to a website with a long list of affirmations. In general I usually find affirmations too 'polly-annaish,' and absolute, such as: "I will feel good about myself always." Such a statement just doesn't gel with reality in my book. So I took a few affirmations and edited them, because I think it is valuable to think positively whenever you can manage.

  • I feel worthy.
  • I strive to create positive mental pictures.
  • I embrace positive self-esteem.
  • I have inner resources.
  • I am valuable.
  • I am intelligent.
  • I take actions to improve my life.
  • I am worthy of love and friendship.
  • I strive to accept myself as I am.
  • I strive to say positive things about myself to myself.
  • I am an interesting person.
  • I am proud of my accomplishments.
  • My self worth comes from inside me.
  • I love and approve of myself.
  • I strive to improve myself.
  • I strive to help and appreciate others.
  • I strive to appreciate the positive.
  • I strive to maintain my health.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Marriage is Between One Man & One Woman, Unless She Has Alzheimer's

Pat Robertson is such a gargantuan ass! If you haven't seen this clip already, check out Robertson's advice to a caller who asks about  the behavior of a friend whose wife has Alzheimer's disease. Pat, what about the sanctity of marriage? Right wingers are worried about a couple of lesbians tying the knot? I think people like Pat Robertson shouldn't be able to get married!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Rescue Me

I'm sure most of you have heard of or seen this incredible story. While I would agree that these rescuers can call themselves heroes, I wonder about why people will sometimes risk their lives for others, and at other times not. It's an interesting query about human nature.

In most cases, despite our best wishes, people do not risk their lives for others. 

Perhaps you're heard of the famous case in 1964, in which a woman named Kitty Genovese was murdered in a parking lot in Queens within hearing range of dozens of people. Despite her screams during the crime no one intervened or called for help. Psychologists later coined this phenomenon 'bystander apathy.' There are many other cases of bystander apathy known, including the beating of Reginald Denny during the L.A. riots.

People may not help for a host of reasons, but social perception and fear play a role. Psychologists have noted, for example, that witnesses will assess the situation by gauging others' reactions. If other witnesses to a crime are doing nothing, then most people will also do nothing. They'll assume that someone is handling the situation, or there is some reason why no one is acting.

Of course some people will not interfere in a crime or accident due to fear of injury to themselves. This goes without saying. Unfortunately for as many celebrated cases of successful heroic acts, scores of good Samaritans are killed attempting to help. If you notice on the Salt Lake City video, even though many folks are helping, some witnesses are standing by, including the driver of the vehicle involved in the crash.

Then why do some people still intervene even at peril to themselves? One reason I think is strength in numbers. I think the young motorcyclist in the Salt Lake City accident was lucky, because he crashed near a construction site with several workers present. 'As a group' I think the construction workers felt safer intervening together. Danger seems neutralized when faced with others. 

A second reason is the opposite of bystander apathy, perhaps call it 'bystander sympathy'. When other bystanders observe people taking action, they join in too. A couple of active people serve as a catalyst to others.

Another reason I think people intervene despite danger is that they have the capacity to go 'into the moment,' and act without thinking. The more dire and shocking situation, the more likely they'll just act. Many people will say this after a rescue: "I'm not a hero. I just did it."I think if people perceive they can act in the moment, they will.

Finally, I think some people intervene and risk their lives because that is their personality, and outlook on life. Otherwise we wouldn't have people willing to work as EMTs, soldiers, or firefighters.

Hopefully a group of these folks is milling around during the next human tragedy.

Humpback Whale Freed

I heard about this video, but couldn't find it when I looked for it. Then I saw it on a friend's post. This story demonstrates how incredibly perceptive children are, and whales too.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Living With You

My friend Molly singing, and my friend Doug playing guitar for Chris' 50th birthday. 

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Where Were You?

Where were you on the morning of 9/11/2001? Click on to add yourself to an interactive map, and leave your comments.!/40425

Well, I was nowhere near ground zero, but New York didn't seem that very far away that day, as I knew the planes had left from Boston and Portland, Maine. I was at work in an elementary school. When I first heard about the attacks, I thought it was the World Trade Center in Boston. I felt panicky and scared, but also felt a sense of resolve. I had a responsibility for the safety of the children, and was prepared to act .

I remember being concerned about my maternal Aunt, who was still working in Government Center in Boston at the time. The FBI was one floor below her, so I thought her building might be a target, and I heard they were evacuating buildings. 

I was prepared that administrators might decide to evacuate our building and send the children home from school, but we stayed. For the most part, I was shielded from the events of that day. The principal decided not to have T.V.s or computers on, except for the older children. He rightly considered that the news would just frighten and confuse the younger children. Since I mostly worked with younger children, I went about my business mostly unaware.

When I got home from school that day, I was more shocked than I ever have been in my life when I finally saw the image of the planes hitting the towers. It was an utter sense of disbelief and horror that this could happen. 

That weekend my friends and I had a get together, a vigil of sorts. We gathered together and talked about our feelings about that day. Our friend Rosalie was in NYC that day, only blocks from the towers. She took the subway every morning to school. Later on we also found out that my friend Julie's brother took his life that Saturday night. He suffered from multiple sclerosis and depression. 

It was a memorable time for all.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011


     I came across an article in the New York Times recently about misophonia. I didn't know what it was, except by experience, until I read the article. Basically misophonia is a hypersensitivity to certain sounds that can greatly distress a person, or even provoke rage or irrational thoughts. Though I do not think I have an extreme case, I have always been hypersensitive to certain sounds like gum chewing, traffic noise, or music/T.V. noise.

     In my first year of college living in a dorm was like torture to me. I also can remember a time when I kicked a sofa across a room because my sister was playing pool and listening to music on the floor below me. When she refused to turn down the music and made some snide comment, I basically freaked out and started screaming. Another time when I worked in an office, and a woman kept snapping her gum "very loudly," it nearly drove me crazy. I was puzzled that no one else in the office seemed to notice her annoying habit.

     Growing up my family members gave me a hard time about my sensitivities, especially my father. His attitude was: "What's wrong with you? Get over it!" My sisters and my Mom usually just teased me. Many times, though, I've felt extreme hatred towards people that make noise and seemingly have no consideration for others.

     We all have to get along and live in a very noisy, abrasive world. Personally I am distressed by noise frequently. I've even considered buying sound-blocking double pane windows to install in my condo.(They are very expensive) I can't imagine why every dwelling is not equipped already with double pane windows and well insulated walls. Who wants to hear the conversations of neighbors, traffic outside, or people thumping about?

     Here is a list of coping mechanisms I've developed over the years.
1. Earplugs
2. Fans/ Aquariums/ Water Blubbers/ Air Circulator
3. Classical Music

     In a related topic psychologist Dr. Elaine Aron has developed the theory of the Highly Sensitive Person (HSP), and has written many books.Years ago I took her quiz and scored very high. Not surprisingly I am a HSP. HSPs have hypersensitivity to noise and other experiences. It seems that 'people like me,' or HSP's, have highly tuned nervous systems. Very little outside stimulation is required to arouse my senses, as I am already highly tuned. Hence, the environment can potentially frequently over-stimulate me and overwhelm me.

     Dr. Aron emphasizes both the good and the bad about being an HSP, and she gives lots of tips. The bad news is that the world is a very noisy, uncontrollable place for an HSP. The good news is that having a highly tuned nervous system can alert to danger more quickly. Also HSPs can appreciate the arts richly, and HSPs make good therapists and artists. (We certainly need plenty of those.) Indeed, perhaps our species might not have survived if it weren't for those one or two neurotic HSPs in the tribe, eyes wide open at night, alert to the dangers of attack.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Eat Your Veggies

Because of the long, hot summer days and the short, cool nights in Alaska, apparently farmers can grow gigantic vegetables and fruits there. Every year the competition is keen at the Alaska State Fair in August. Since 1993 the Alaskans have achieved eight world records. I just saw an article about an enormous 126 pound cabbage. I guess it was just a pound shy of the world record. 

Of course everyone's heard about the enormous pumpkin, but a cabbage? There was also a 35 pound broccoli, and a 64.8 pound cantaloupe. Hopefully these colossal vegetables and fruits made very large stews, smoothies, pies or salads eventually.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

How High Is Your Bookstack?

How high is your bookstack? Well, that's a rather personal question. ;)

Turns out mine is slightly shorter than a giraffe. 

LibraryThing is always devising nifty gadgets, widgets, and stats about books. The latest meme that caught my eye is: How high is your bookstack? This library thing application actually calculates the thickness of all my books, then tells me what the height would be if I stacked all the books in a pile. 

(Apparently this is something bibliophiles spend time thinking about)

I was disappointed at first, thinking: "My stack  has to be higher than that!" Then I remembered I haven't cataloged all my books yet, only a mere 175! The giraffe is just the beginning. 

It certainly gives me incentive to catalog the rest of my library. How high will I go? The Empire State Building?

The Problem We All Live With

Obama with the 'real' Rudy Bridges
Recently President Obama has had Norman Rockwell's painting, "The Problem We All Live With," hung right outside the Oval office. The painting is a depiction of the actual events of Nov. 14, 1960, in New Orleans. Rudy Bridges, now 56 and still living in New Orleans, was escorted by four U.S. Marshals to her elementary school first grade class. She was six years old at the time, and as she walked she faced ugly slurs and taunts from an enraged crowd. When she finally got to her class that day, she was alone, as most of the parents had removed their children from the school that day. 

Rudy was the first black child to be integrated into the New Orleans public schools due to a court ordered desegregation of the schools. 

Rudy in 1960
There is some controversy over Obama's choice to hang this painting in the White House. After all, the 'N' word is clearly depicted right in the middle of the illustration, as well as references to the K.K.K. 

In my mind this painting is not an ugly reminder, intended to shame people, but a rendition of the true reality of the times. That is exactly the word that was no doubt hurled at a six year old girl as she walked to school, the picture of innocence. That's how warped the thinking of some Americans was in 1960, and perhaps still today. The K.K.K. was alive and well in the early 1960's, and murdering people outright.We must all recall and take responsibility for this history.

Why not hang the picture (albeit Rockwell's artistic vision) of a brave little girl caught amidst a momentous moment in American history?