Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The Circle

A couple of weeks ago, I bought my honey an electric screwdriver like he'd been wanting (actually, close to coveting). The following weekend, he bought me a DVD player. A few days later, my dad bought me a TV.

So what? Well, I'll watch the DVDs on the new TV. And how did I put the TV together? With the screwdriver that I had bought my honey.

And so the circle of gifts, and of love, is complete.

My wish this year is that you may see your own circles of love, giving, and blessings.

Happy 2009, everyone!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Interview Answers

Local artist, teacher, mother, and all around great person Rebecca Burch has asked me some questions for the Interview meme. If you'd like to be interviewed, please post saying "I'm in" and I'll email you five questions.

1. When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
How have your plans changed from childhood to now?

What didn't I want to be? I wanted to be an archaeologist, secretary, social worker, child psychologist, librarian, writer, reporter, diplomat, and politician. I kind of fell into my current job. I started in a liberal arts major, so I had to go to grad school, where I feel in love with teaching from my TAship. Then my class was scheduled in a computer lab, and I got interested in how to use these machines. I was sold! That's the direction my life's taken now. I thought I'd be a faculty member, but I'm doing something even better now: I'm helping them! it's pretty much been a ride rather than a drive. And an exciting one at that!

2. I know you're interested in educational technology -- what is the
most exciting development that you've seen in educational technology
in the last 5 years? What would you like to see in the future?

I think that would have to be the Web 2.0 apps like blogs, twitter, and especially social bookmarking! Most of education and learning happens best through connections amongst people. I have learned so much from reading my favorite bloggers. And I've extended my professional network around the world! How powerful if we can harness that for students.

The next big thing, I believe, is virtual worlds such as Second Life. The reason I got into educational technology in the first place was to bring my students in contact with people from around the world. Fifteen years later, the technology is finally catching up to my dreams.

3. If you could buy one really extravagant gift for your significant
other for Christmas, what would it be? What would you buy for

For my honey, I'd buy a boat. He loves the water and loves boating. Since we're fantasizing, it would be a large sailboat or ship, perhaps a replica of the Santa Maria. We would travel the rivers and oceans, and I would give educational tours of the boat when we were in port.

For me, I have to quote Elton John, "Don't have much money, but, boy, if I did, I'd buy a big house where we both could live, with a dock for your boat, and where neither of us would have a bad commute." OK, I added that last bit. Bernie Taupin is safe.

4. Name a historical or literary figure who has inspired you. Explain.

That's tough for me, because my best friend and hero was always my grandma. I would have to say that my favorite goddess was Diana. (Grandma read and told me mythology when I was young.) In junior high, I learned of Mother Jones. I admired her as a woman who stood up for what she believed in and never backed down. My favorite quotes of hers are "When I die, I shall tell God Almighty about West Virginia." "Pray for the dead and fight like hell for the living." And I laugh every time I remember her referring to Gov. Glasscock as "Crystal Peter." Her legacy to me was to always speak out for what's right, and never to let anyone stand in your way. It's also that you don't have to be delicate or dainty to be a woman. In fact, it can be a detriment.

5. If you became President of the US, what are the 5 things you would
want to accomplish in the first year of your administration.

1. Universal Health Care, single-payer.
2. Economic Stimulus package in which money is distributed naturally in the form of government-sponsored projects, similar to the New Deal.I'd get this money by yanking troops from Afghanistan and Iraq ASAP.
3. Rebuilding our fractured relations around the world.
4. Creating viable alternative energy sources and re-deploying workers in traditional energy sources (hello, coal miners!) into these sources.
5. Immediately banning all versions of "The Christmas Song" except for Nat King Cole's. I mean, really, no one could ever do it better than he did. And I get annoyed hearing folks try.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

New Blog Idea

I've had an idea for a new blog rolling around in my head for a while. It's called "There are still good people in this world." It would be a blog devoted to the small, good things that strangers do for each other.

The title comes from my elderly aunt Lily's story. On her last trip to West Virginia, she was traveling alone and had to change planes in Cincinnati. She got confused by the airport (who doesn't these days), and a couple who lived in Cincinnati walked her to her gate and saw her safely on the plane. She was impressed by the fact that they'd take all this time to help her out when they didn't even know her. (They, of course, said that they weren't doing anything that day and were happy to help her out.) She concluded (and began) her story by saying "There are still good people in this world." She never even got their names.

I've been thinking about this for a long time and noticing actions that would fit in that blog. When I saw this post by the Film Geek last week, I was reminded of the importance of looking for these acts. And today, when Rebecca Burch retold a story of a good woman (see number 5), I started to think that this might just be the time.

The idea is that we see what we look for. When we look, we'll notice tiny kindnesses that people do for strangers every day. And that will serve as an antidote to the horrible things we see every day on the news.

What do you think? Would you read it? And would you contribute stories?

Thursday, December 11, 2008

It's Official

I've always suspected, but now I know I'm a nerd.

I am nerdier than 75% of all people. Are you a nerd? Click here to find out!

Monday, December 08, 2008

Tis the Season to be Tacky

Last weekend I saw a commercial for "What Not to Wear" in which Stacy implores the victim (errrr... guest) to trash all her holiday sweaters. Nothing with glitter, sequins, bells. "You can look festive without being tacky."


Stacy is never getting anywhere near my closet. Though I often agree with her and generally dress rather appropriately, there is one season in which all fashion reason is thrown out the window, and we're in the thick of it. There's a deep primordial reason for it, in my book.

We need light. We have to have light. And the shorter the days in the winter, the more people needed to have reasons to have more light in the middle of winter. The ancient Europeans had the pagan celebrations, many of whose traditions survive as our Christmas traditions (see Yule log, candles, etc.). The Jewish people had Hanukkah, a celebration of light. The Chinese had fireworks at their New Year celebration (usually in mid-January). I'm sure the folks in Australia and southern Africa had their midsummer celebrations as well.

And so, my usually rather conservative self (well, in dress anyway) throws caution to the wind. I dig out my jingle bell barrette. I pull out my Christmas earrings and pins. The bright metals, glitter, and sequins reflect the light, making more light. and I get my sweaters. I couldn't find a picture on the Internet that did them justice. None had quite enough sequins or glitter. Even when I narrowed my search to "Tacky sparkly Christmas sweater."

And an interesting thing happens. People smile when they see it. It's not because I'm a raving beauty. It's because I am providing and reflecting more LIGHT into our dark days.

Light! Light! Light! We seek it, we radiate it, and we reflect it.

So embrace your tackiness! Let your light shine!

"Deck your clothes with bells and glitter....Fa la la la la la la la la.
Tis the season to be tacky!"

Monday, December 01, 2008

More Craziness from Blankenship

UPDATE: Link changed to a Charleston Daily Mail article that, while not as in-depth as the original, is at least freely available. In this article, Coal CEO Don Blankenship calls environmentalists crazy and likens them to Osama Bin Laden.

This guy, who has no grasp on reality, makes me want to say "takes one to know one!" He is seriously delusional in so many ways. Unfortunately, manipulating public opinion is one way in which he's stone cold sane.