Friday, January 31, 2014

Does anyone else need a pensive?

Thank heaven for J.K. Rowling and her Harry Potter books. Not only are they so entertaining and engaging, so many words and situations are now very familiar to me. An example: the 'pensive', which represents a place to put excess thoughts when you are feeling mentally stretched. How I would benefit from such a device/process! I have a plethora of memories that I would love to offload. Or, how about having a house elf? Never do housework again! Wouldn't that be wonderful? Or, how about entering a dark room and murmuring 'lumose'? So many applications that I am forever thinking about them.

The most important analogy for me is the wish for a pensive in which to unload my overloaded brain. As an educator, a full-time student, along with the very heartbreaking need to help aged and dying parents, I need to clear my mind in order to be productive. I chose to begin a degree program in the midst of everything else because I need to have assurance of employment, or at least have a better chance of it. The last few years have proven that during an economic downturn, and slow recovery, that college instructors like me are a dime a dozen, and the work can stop, dry up, and/or cease, over night. I am a person who enjoys college, its courses, and rewards, but have been unable to immerse myself in the enjoyment that should go along with learning something new, as it has in the past. I find myself having difficulty concentrating on my coursework which then leads to panic. I have to get this done, and there is only one way to accomplish it; just do it! Other advice that works here is that offered by Douglas Adams in the "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy", that features a book of the same title, and which offers readers the advice to "...DON'T PANIC inscribed in large friendly letters on its cover.". Perhaps I should take that advice, and also the advice that I give others who are currently overwhelmed as I am, which is to "breathe deeply", and that chocolate can only help (in the Harry Potter books, chocolate is a restorative). I could also use the advice given somewhere in the Bible wherein a sage person comforts a reader with: "this too shall pass". While there is no stopping in sight, it may be time to come up for air, smell some roses. and endeavor to 'not panic'.  

Monday, January 6, 2014

In a Coffee Shop

I am in a coffee shop waiting for an appointment time to draw near, and am watching a situation. As usual, when I have the need to hang out where there is wireless connectivity, to make the best use of my time in between engagements, I marvel at all of the life occurring around me. A job interview has just occurred to my left, and there are a few business meetings all around. This particular coffee shop is abuzz with activity. It is loud in here! The situation that draws my interest the most, is that of a window washer, who in this cold weather is dressed in a skirt with tights and a sweater. No coat. It's cold outside. They have just moved in to clean the inside windows, so no coat necessary here. This person, appears to me to be a transgender individual who is emaciated (all the more reason for needing a coat). While they are working their way across the windows, they pass close to where I am sitting. I am one of those people who takes any opportunity to talk with strangers, but this individual does not meet my eye. I don't want to push, and I am reluctant to shout over the noise of the shop.

This situation causes me to reflect on why the window washer will not look around them. Is it because they are intent on their task, or because they are used to being ignored, or because they are too fragile in their transition from one gender to the one in which they are most comfortable to acknowledge and meet the eye of someone else? If it is the latter reason, it strikes me as true loneliness, and there is such sadness there. The song "One is the loneliest number" comes to mind, because we as humans are meant to live in groups and provide society for each other. How is it that we still isolate our fellow man. Is it " us vs. them", or does the window washer just want to finish up and move on to their next job, or perhaps home from here? I wonder.  

Friday, November 8, 2013

Fwd: [Anadromous Amblings] Marginalization of women



---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Melissa <mckay.melissa@gmail.com>
Date: Thu, Nov 7, 2013 at 10:34 AM
Subject: [Anadromous Amblings] Marginalization of women
To: mckay.melissa@gmail.com


Recently, while standing in line at a local coffee shop, my eyes met a headline from the New York Times, related to the attack, gang rape, and the ultimate death of a young Indian woman. Along with Google's ad that aired recently with pictures of women with their mouths taped shut, and a list of can'ts listed underneath, and the coverage of the courageous women in Saudi Arabia who are demonstrating to earn the right to drive, I have been pondering the issues that women face across the globe. It occurs to me that women are the largest and and perhaps the most oppressed group of humans on the planet. Many other groups can, unfortunately, compete for that position, but even amongst those groups there are women and girls. Female Circumcision (aka Female Genital Mutilation), is yet another atrocity practiced on women and girls in some cultures, and when female fetuses are aborted across the globe because some societies prefer to produce sons, we continue to brutally suppress half of the population for the purpose of domination, and denying females the benefits of education, opportunity and the fulfillment that comes from living up to one's potential. 

Even in the developed world, where women are treated with relative equality, women earned the right to vote long after other groups had been granted that fundamental right. Here in America, women do not make equal pay when compared to men, nor do women command and/or receive the respect and regard of our countrymen. Remember the debate that raged a few years ago, when a young woman testified before Congress affirming her right to make her own healthcare decisions, based on what is best for, and determined by her? She was heckled and subjected to sexual slurs, and name calling. Some of our elected officials went as far as to not condemn colleagues' behavior, whether they actually participated in the defamation of an American citizen. just because she is a woman and concerned about maintaining her freedom to make her own decisions about her reproductive health. How could it possibly matter to a male, whether a woman has the right to choose how to live her life? 

By suppressing women and their human rights: fertility rates remain too high in many countries with the obvious pressure on the planet. Among other consequences associated with suppressing a group of humans, we miss opportunity to benefit from others' perspective when grappling with tough societal and policy issues. In another checkout line, also recently, I heard a young woman talking with a checker about why we cannot seem to treat all humans, as humans. A very good, and important question indeed.  


--
Posted By Melissa to Anadromous Amblings at 11/07/2013 10:34:00 AM

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Marginalization of women

Recently, while standing in line at a local coffee shop, my eyes met a headline from the New York Times, related to the attack, gang rape, and the ultimate death of a young Indian woman. Along with Google's ad that aired recently with pictures of women with their mouths taped shut, and a list of can'ts listed underneath, and the coverage of the courageous women in Saudi Arabia who are demonstrating to earn the right to drive, I have been pondering the issues that women face across the globe. It occurs to me that women are the largest and and perhaps the most oppressed group of humans on the planet. Many other groups can, unfortunately, compete for that position, but even amongst those groups there are women and girls. Female Circumcision (aka Female Genital Mutilation), is yet another atrocity practiced on women and girls in some cultures, and when female fetuses are aborted across the globe because some societies prefer to produce sons, we continue to brutally suppress half of the population for the purpose of domination, and denying females the benefits of education, opportunity and the fulfillment that comes from living up to one's potential. 

Even in the developed world, where women are treated with relative equality, women earned the right to vote long after other groups had been granted that fundamental right. Here in America, women do not make equal pay when compared to men, nor do women command and/or receive the respect and regard of our countrymen. Remember the debate that raged a few years ago, when a young woman testified before Congress affirming her right to make her own healthcare decisions, based on what is best for, and determined by her? She was heckled and subjected to sexual slurs, and name calling. Some of our elected officials went as far as to not condemn colleagues' behavior, whether they actually participated in the defamation of an American citizen. just because she is a woman and concerned about maintaining her freedom to make her own decisions about her reproductive health. How could it possibly matter to a male, whether a woman has the right to choose how to live her life? 

By suppressing women and their human rights: fertility rates remain too high in many countries with the obvious pressure on the planet. Among other consequences associated with suppressing a group of humans, we miss opportunity to benefit from others' perspective when grappling with tough societal and policy issues. In another checkout line, also recently, I heard a young woman talking with a checker about why we cannot seem to treat all humans, as humans. A very good, and important question indeed.  

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Autumn Pleasures

Having taken another long walk today with my faithful canine companions, I was struck by all of the different varieties of beauty that met my eyes. Right out of the door, into a very foggy morning, there were a number of exquisite spider webs in my immediate line of vision. Up the hill a few blocks is a yard that has juniper spires set close together. Every year at this time I look for the spider webs that are clustered there. In the fog, the webs seem amplified for my enjoyment. Other examples include the broad spectrum of leaf colors that will be gone once the next storm featuring wind occurs. Though, because of our extraordinary summer this year, and the fact that the mild weather has hung on longer than we could have possibly hoped, I saw a lemon-yellow azalea in full bloom on my way back down the hill to home. I am also still enjoying the roses that continue to bloom, as well as the many fabulous varieties of dahlias that seem to be defying the encroachment of fall.  I am reminded that while autumn provides a splendor of color and texture, which is a banquet for the eyes, it is very fleeting. So many reasons to look around for beauty that can be found in so many places, and made by so many creatures/processes. I look forward to the bright sparkle of frost that will be coming on a cold, clear, winter day. My walking companions will be anxious to participate in looking around whether beauty is on display or not. They stop to sniff so many scents, pleasant to me or not, along the way, and this must be facilitated. That is the way of dogs. 

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Walking with dogs

After a long hiatus, I am back to share my perspective of Fall weather in the beautiful Pacific Northwest, and whatever else has come to mind. I am a dog-walker and we walk through our neighborhood a few times a week, varying our route at times to see different streets, yards, and colors. Fall being a very colorful time of year, along with the other seasons, but with different dominating colors. What's not to like about crimson, bright yellows and oranges, greens and browns, and their variegated cousins? I have found that color helps me to cope with life's challenges so I try to look for, and appreciate it everywhere. 

Another situation springs to mind when thinking about my walks with our very active, and sometimes maniacal dogs, and that is the workers that I see while I am out walking. As most of us know, many of the developments I walk through are those built by one contractor, and clustered into covenanted sections of streets. The general landscaping in these developments are maintained commercially, and they keep the parking strips and common areas mowed, pruned, and cleaned up. Many, if not most, of the companies that maintain these developments are staffed by people who are from ethnic backgrounds that are different from my own. Why do I mention this? Or, why is it noteworthy? It is because I make a habit of nodding or saying "Good Morning" to anyone I meet on my walks. If I am passing another walker, I can usually speak my greeting. If someone is across the street and passing me, I try to make eye-contact, and at least nod and smile. When I pass the workers who are maintaining the landscaping, I am almost never able to catch an eye. I keep trying to establish eye-contact while we are passing, but in general to no avail. Again why is this noteworthy? I suspect that it is because these are people who feel subjugated into a lower class that does not get acknowledged. As a reader of historical fiction, I have gained the impression that 'servants' or 'domestic workers' are to be neither seen or heard when encountered. It seems to me that we have continued this practice with anyone who works in a service capacity. I see  this as an excellent example marginalization; it is not new. 

Economically, the service sector is a major employer today, and will represent more and more companies and jobs going forward. Having worked in the service sector myself for many years, I know first-hand how people seem to look through you when encountered. It is not a comfortable experience. Why is it easier to ignore our fellow humans than to acknowledge them? It is a sad and scary thought that we humans have not evolved beyond this type of 'us' and 'them' such that everyone who is human is 'us', and worthy of our greetings and acknowledgement. I suspect that until we do evolve past marginalization of our own species, war and conflict will dominate the human experience. 

Friday, January 6, 2012

All about Trash, with a capital 'T'

Some people 'Dance[ing] with Stars', while I Walk with Maniacs. Walking with Maniacs describes my exercise regime with my two canine walking partners. The magnitude of the unbridled enthusiasm that they bring to the activity can almost be too much for me to handle, thus the designation of 'Maniacs'. 

While we are out walking, we (I) endeavor to pick up the trash that is ever-present on whatever walk route we choose. Today, having set out on a walk, I began to pick up the ubiquitous trash, while noticing that the trash I picked up two days ago, had been replaced with a new supply. It is my practice to not stray into anyone's yard (personal space), or the blackberry bushes that line much of the walk routes we frequent, which prevents me doing a thorough and comprehensive clean up. Today, I was unable to avoid feeling overwhelmed by the magnitude of accumulated garbage. Why is it that we have so little regard for our surroundings that we cannot take the most minimal time and effort needed to appropriately dispose of wrappers, cans/bottles, papers, etc. while waiting for the bus, walking to the mail box, or even in our own yards? 

Another major source of ecological fouling is the accumulation of old vehicles, such as cars, boats, campers, and trucks. This practice of abandonment not only represents eye sores, but also facilitates the leaching of heavy metals into the surrounding soil and ground water over time, amongst other toxicity opportunities. I know of one yard in particular (we all know, or may be, an offender) where a car was parked in the driveway very nearly 30 years ago, and has not been moved since. Old and disintegrating vehicles are everywhere, despite the pleas from charities to facilitate their removal. How hard can it be? It just takes a phone call, or maybe not even that if you are ever logged onto the Internet. 

What to do? Everyone, pick up the trash in your own yard/domestic space, and take the initiative to pick up trash that presents itself on your way to the car, to the garbage can, to the bus stop, to name a few mitigating opportunities. Recycle what you pick up, so that it can be processed to be used again. Build awareness in your social circle to help others become trash collectors too. 

To me, it is very disheartening to allow the awareness of garbage accumulation everywhere, various yards, sidewalks, ditches, storm drains, and blackberry bushes to name a representative sample, to seep into my consciousness. This is where humor or at least silliness can take the edge off the overwhelming nature of the sheer quantity of trash needing to be picked up and disposed of appropriately. My choice of silliness for this situation is to recall "The Cat In The Hat" (Dr. Suess) wherein: "this mess is so big, and so deep, and so tall, we can not pick it up, there is no way at all.", and when the Cat came back in with his clean-up machine saying "I always pick up all my playthings, and so, I will show you another good trick that I know!". The Cat's machinery featured four hands set about the pick up. 

The take-home message is that many hands make short work of a big job. Let's clean it up!