Monday, April 30, 2007

Whose shoestring is that?!

Nothing makes me happier than finding a cute outfit for my feet (translation: shoes) on the cheap. I watched this on which prompted the all-important question for the ages. Not, "Do you wear flats or heels with that?", but rather "Who are these people?!!?"
Granted, the video was produced by TV people who have no idea what the average American is all about and yet still manage to make a product that the average American consumes. Titled, "How to look chic on a shoestring budget", this piece instead instructed you on how to buy heels (with the exception of one pair) on a solid-gold shoestring budget. A pair on Kenneth Coles for only $198! Wow, what a steal!
I need to take these people to Target and show 'em around. In addition, I'd like them to meet my budget. Probably isn't even to the level of their shoestring since I can't afford their shoes.

A week of crazy kid fun

My s-i-l, 2 kids, and the grandparents were here for a week. The formula could be one for disaster: take one house, add 4 kids (ages 5, 4, 2, almost-1), an auntie, 2 grandparents...throw in a little extra sugar, some warm weather for playing outside, not enough sleep, even a bout of coughs and fevers. Amazingly, even those conditions didn't lead to disaster but to lots of fun, and sil and I even got a 2-hour mall blitz in :) As with LCS, it's so fun to watch our kids play and giggle and talk about life.

This set of relatives grew up with lots of cousins right across the street. In our family, we weren't close to any other family members our age. Creating the conditions so that our kids can be close cousins has been really important, then, for all of us.

So here's to family--and to all of ours, both related by blood and not.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Want a degree in 5 minutes?

Read this article about a girl who has graduated from Univ. of Michigan in... 1 year. And I have to ask myself, how is this possible? And why would someone allow her to do that?
Perhaps I have a far-less popular view of the purpose of education. It's not just about taking enough credits to claim proficiency in a certain subject matter that makes an education valuable. It's gaining knowledge and experience that forms and shape you that is most important.
My own college experience was academically challenging to some degree, but it's not like I went to Harvard, or took only upper-division classes for all four years. Perhaps I *could* have (OK, not the Harvard part, but anyway...). Instead, I took classes that challenged my beliefs and my brain. I took classes with people and professors whose paths I never would have crossed otherwise. I worked on projects with other students that saw the world sometimes quite differently than I did. And all of that made me a better thinker, a more compassionate person, and (probably) an easier person to work and live with.
Many people, parents especially, look at college as a time to gain information that will lead you to a more profitable job. And it might. But there are plenty of successful people who either have no college or who dropped out (Bill Gates, for example). In reality, most motivated and intelligent people will find a job and they will move up the ranks and be financially successful. And a lot of really intelligent, college-educated people... won't. Maybe we have become so focused on the product of education (a degree) that we have forgotten about the process of education. Which, by merit of being a process, simply takes time.
I can admire a person who can leave U of M with a degree after only 12 months of study. But I also feel sorry for her. Sorry that she has missed out on 3 more years of growing up, of exposure to other people and ideas, and, simply put, of life. Is she really doing herself a favor by skipping that part of the experience?
I understand that she may not have the financial freedom to take 4 years to graduate. Perhaps she is from a family that needs her to get her education speedily so as to help with supporting the family. If that is the case, more power to her. She's brave to take on the world on her terms.
But if not, if it is just a matter of being bored with the process and wanting to be "challenged", which the article suggests, then someone should have intervened. Where was her advisor to tell her that she could and should get prepared for the workforce (and life) by being creative about what was challenging her? She could have spent time challenging more than her book-knowledge. She could have gotten involved with groups that help others, that provide insight into the world outside of hers. Work with City Year, be a volunteer with an international aid group, volunteer at her local hospice, organize students around an issue that is important to her, make friends, go on on a year abroad. Volunteer at the mental health crisis line. Play a sport. Learn to play (or even just appreciate) an instrument. DO something.
Learning is more than writing papers and taking tests. It's in the doing that we learn the most. And that, my friends, is a process.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Comments and nominees...

Hey, in regard to our last post on the Thinking Blogger award (thanks, Lisa!)... you can comment on this post, since our comment box doesn't show up on that post. There you have it. Technical whiz that I am.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Thinking? Us?

We love that Lisa tagged us for the Thinking Blogger award--yes, folks, we have a reader! :) Seriously, we value our vast readership but also love to read other blogs. So, passing on the good favor isn't hard. We're going to cheat a bit and nominate two blogs and an entire *category* of blogs...

Blogs that make us think (in random order):

Brownie Points -- okay, so her posts are mostly witty, in-depth musings about food (flavored homemade marshmallows! Who knew?) but she makes us think about (and miss) Eugene. And she makes usthink about lots of food.

i wonder sometimes -- her posts are poetry of everyday life, and we love knowing about this side of an old friend.

Family and Friends -- Finally, we have a whole slew of good friends we read who blog about their kids and families and share adorable pictures. Since they use blogs mostly to post pics for adoring fans, we weren't sure that they'd even want to be mentioned here. But we love, love, love how these blogs make us think about our friends, and about our kids, and about what's important in life. So, keep at it--and (you know who you are) if you *do* want to be publicly linked to carry on the Thinking Blogger award, please let us know!

Monday, April 16, 2007

An awful day in Virginia

I written about this before, but many times when national events are spashed over the news, I have a hard time really connecting. Intellectually, I can think, "Wow, that would be so scary/difficult/sad/whatever" but for the most part I don't get emotionally carried away with news.
Today's shooting at Virginia Tech has me undone. It's a terrible tragedy, of course, but I was unsure why I was absolutely glued to the radio this morning. I have no personal connection, other than the brother of a friend who attends and is currently locked in his room there. (He's fine.) But this story just overwhelms me. I'm so sad for everyone involved.
I thought maybe it was my fond memories of college and the carefree-ness of those years that make me feel so very sad for all those students and family members who won't look back on their years in the same way now. Maybe it was the sheer numbers and promise of the people killed. Imagine losing 30+ members of an academic institution, that's a whole lot of hopeful, intelligent people who won't be contributing to our society now.
Then I heard an interview with a witness. He was in a classroom when the shooter entered and shot several people, including his instructor. The witness said the only thing he could think of was his mom and what she would go through if something happened to him. There it was, my connection. My kids are nowhere near college age, but just the thought that if anything, anything robbed me of their sweet lives... it's beyond comprehension.
So to all of the VT folks out their grieving today, my thoughts are with you. I can't imagine the devastation the loss of these 31 lives (and counting) has created. This is a sad, sad day. I can't imagine what the killer was thinking. I can't imagine being robbed of the freedom and independance of the college years. More than anything, though, there are the sisters, brothers, wives, husbands, dear friends, and sons and daughters that are dead. I simply cannot imagine.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

More parental advice from LCS

Mommas, don't let your babies grow up to be bullfighters.
But, if they decide that is indeed their only career ambition, encourage them to watch this video first. (Warning: blood and guts are included in the clip.)

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Come one, come all

My current favorite sign on a local church:

We need to talk
God Free Easter Egg hunt
Saturday, April 7
Do they need to talk to me? Because honestly I have nothing to talk about regarding their God-free easter egg hunt. Something tells me God might not have much to say about it either.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Sharing the air

Read this interesting article today and it brought back memories.
When I was still a working girl, the hospital floor I worked on got almost all of the county's TB patients that had been either diagnosed during their hospitalization or were "non-compliant" with their meds and were in the hospital to see to it that they did, in fact, comply. (I use the quotation marks because I can't stand that word with regard to medical care. Some people have reasons for not agreeing with doctors and/or their care plans, and it often has nothing to do with insolent toddler behavior which the word non-compliant signifies to me. But I digress.)
Normally, I'm all for a person making their own choices about medical care. Many times doctors would refer me to patients who did not consent to treatment. Doctors (and other staff) often wanted me, as the social worker, to go in and convince them to go along with the plan. Sometimes their reasons were well-thought out and reasonable and other staff members simply hadn't taken the time to hear them out. Other times they just didn't understand what the treatment would (or wouldn't) entail because no one had made the time to discuss things in detail with them. I supported all of the patients I worked with in disagreeing with the doctors if I felt like they were making an informed decision, even if their decision wouldn't have been mine. With a singular exception: patients with TB, and particularly those with drug-resistant strains.
If someone forgoes treatment because they would rather face their own demise than endure whatever side effects treatment may include, I'm all for that. But when someone makes the decision to forego treatment and potentially cause me to face my own demise, I'm not for that at all. TB is airborne, and we all share the air.
While it may seem like a human rights violation to lock someone up for not wearing a mask in public, I think it can be turned around. It's a human rights violation to expose me and the rest of the public you come in contact with simply because you don't want to wear a mask. And as far as this fellow in the article is concerned, I have a very hard time believing that no one told him how important it was to wear a mask at all times. Maybe he didn't want to believe it, maybe he thought they were being melodramatic regarding the seriousness of his condition and his ability to spread it to others, but that's not our fault. That's his.
From the sound of the article, he seems to be a person who makes choices reflecting intelligent thought. He was living in Russia, got his TB diagnosis, and returned to the US expecting to get better medical care. All a logical plan. His logic, however, ends there. He then decides that he is the victim and, at least in this article, doesn't seem to show any remorse for his exposing the public that he shared air with in the convienience store. Instead he is angry at the poor treatment he's receiving in jail. I will agree that I don't understand why they took away his TV, computer, etc., when those wouldn't be passed from person to person and would cause no one any harm. But in this case, taking away his personal freedom does seem a reasonable alternative to taking away mine.