Wednesday, December 7, 2016

It's True! "Kazoo" Might Be the New Magazine for You (& Your 5-10 Year Old Daughter)

My daughter was not the typical "girly girl" as she grew up (she still isn't, now that she's in high school).
  • She didn't play with dolls.
  • She only ever had one Barbie, which I believe eventually became headless.
  • She had my old Barbie Corvette and camper (relative antiques!), but her "stuffed dogs: drove them around.
  • "Dress up" looked like stuffed animals wearing Build-a-Bear outfits.
  • She once wore a pirate costume to a Princess party of one of her Kindergarten buddies.
  • She's not a fan of painting her nails, wearing dresses, or playing in my makeup.
  • Heaven-forbid if I want to play with her hair. A pony tail or a regular braid was as fancy as it could get.
  • Pink and purple were not feasible wardrobe choices. Nor were hair ribbons or anything with flowers.
Instead, she was an insect-investigating, tree-climbing, soccer-playing, Lego-building, artistic, creative, techie kind of kid. Thomas the Train was a favorite in her preschool years, and she had strong feelings about naming her new brother Thomas. (We didn't.)

My daughter would have loved a magazine like Kazoo, back in the day!

I first learned about Kazoo in an article at Connections.Mic. Created by Erin Bried to fill a missing niche for her daughter, Kazoo is geared to inspire girls to reach their inner potential, and not be tied to the harsh beauty messages that many girls/teen fashion magazines enhance. It began from a Kickstarter, which raised over $171,000 in 30 days. This definitely showed that other parents were also wanting something with more depth to speak to their girls.

From their website, Erin shares the mission of her magazine:
"There’s no other magazine like Kazoo. All of our stories are either developed or inspired by top female artists, explorers, scientists, chefs, athletes, activists, writers and others. Regular features include: science experiments; comics; art projects; recipes; interviews with inspiring women from Olympic athletes to astronauts; and fun activities, like secret codes, jokes, mazes, search-and-finds and more.... By celebrating girls for all that they are—smart, inquisitive, creative, brave, strong and, yes, loud—Kazoo will help shore up their foundation, so that by the time they enter adolescence, they’ll be more likely to question anyone who makes them feel small than they’ll be to question themselves."
Additionally, Erin lists some startling statistics on the Kazoo "About" page that make you take pause about teenage depression, girls' emphasis on their own weight, and girls' negative self image and self esteem issues that can start as young as 10 or 11. Some of those statistics are listed in their "Possibilities" video below.

Sounds like a great resource for young girls to inspire them to get outside, to be active, to be themselves, and ultimately to be leaders! Might be just plain perfect for some of the young ladies in your life!  #GoGirls!!



Kazoo logo from https://mic.com/articles/153300/finally-there-s-a-feminist-magazine-kazoo-for-girls-who-love-science-and-climbing-treesVideo from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6LTxO7u1ztQ, pictures from my own personal archives!

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Random Acts of Christmas Kindness

Ahh....Christmas season.

By this early part of this time of the year, you are getting your tree up, decorations out, and the whole shopping started (unless of course your heritage has you celebrating a different holiday).

For some, Christmas is eggnog flowing as the musical sounds of carols through the radio/stereo. I can see a twilit room, illuminated by twinkling lights on a tree, sipping hot cocoa in my minds' eye.

Of course the real version tends to be a tad more stress-filled.

What we all need is a li'l time, love, and tenderness.

We actually can make that happen, by giving the gift of kindness. (That and love are what makes the world go round!)

Following our Thanksgiving Theme of gratitude, here are two great places to go do just this:
The big "moral of the story" is that these are the ways morale is built.  Not just for others through the empathy you show them, but it also helps warm your own heart, bringing to focus what the real meaning of the season is!

It's the perfect type of advent calendar to bring into your holiday!!

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Eco Adventure's "After A While, Crocodile: Alexa's Diary" Book Launch

It's not your typical Friday night when you can get all of this in one fell swoop:

  • Book signings
  • Bonfires warming
  • Face Paintings
  • Gator Holdings
  • Reticulated Python sightings
  • Reptile handling
  • Arts, and crafts galore, and more
But it is what you get when you go to EcoAdventures on a book launch eve of the book After A While Crocodile: Alexa's Diary by Dr. Brady Barr & Jennifer Keats Curtis.

The book follows Alexa in her school in Costa Rica, where she and her classmates are raising American Crocodiles.  She notes her crocodile's growth in her diary, and before you know it, it's time to return her guy Jefe back to the wild.

The two co-authors are infamous in their own rights. Dr. Brady Barr is known as a reptile expert (that's a "herpetologist" to you and me) and host to over 100 wildlife documentaries for National Geographic Television. He's a regular contributor to National Geographic Kids Magazine. Jennifer Keats Curtis is an environmental author of 18 children's books, many of which are on wildlife rescue. In addition to being passionate about animals and conservation, Jennifer is an amazing environmental educator (and Marylander) who also was a regular addition to our Eagle Cove Earth Week as an author in residence each year.  

EcoAdventures is the perfect place for this type of evening...especially when the Executive Director is Mei Len Sanchez-Barr...who is married to EcoAdventures' Public Relations guy and Animal Expert, Dr. Brady Barr!

Brady and Jennifer were on hand for autographs... as was Alexa! For me, meeting them was the highlight. However for the under-10 crowd that night, it could have been more about being around some really cool reptiles, getting faces painted, and a slew of other hands-on, memorable events.

After A While Crocodile: Alexa's Diary is a great book to round out your reptilian study.  Likewise, these are just a click away:





Eco Adventure logo from http://www.ecoadventures.org; all other pictures from my camera from the Book Launching event Novemenber 18, 2016.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Post-Feathered Feasting: Chef Ann Thanks Michelle Obama: Gratitude #4

Coming off the Thanksgiving holiday, many of us are still enmeshed in leftovers of the day: turkey sandwiches, leftover potatoes (mashed, sweet, or otherwise), and pie slices for breakfast.  (Unless it's my house, where the pie plate deceptively was left out, yet erroneously empty! Curses you felonious children of mine!)

Food is still on many of our minds.

Given that, and the fact that I'm still chuckling over President Obama's puns and pardons of both Tater and Tot, the flight to freedom of the White House Turkeys, I'm struck by another moment of gratitude this Thanksgiving season. That is the one from Chef Ann Cooper's toast to Michelle Obama and all of the strides the current First Lady has made these 8 years on behalf of health and wellness for our children.

In case you don't know who Chef Ann is, she's become the National Renegade Lunch Lady, on a mission to get healthy foods in our schools, for our kids.



Making enormous leaps in school lunches since 1999, Chef Ann certainly pays some of the tributes to Michelle Obama and her legacy.  Some of the things she highlights that we should all be thankful to our First Lady include:
From that toast, in Chef Ann's own words:
"None of this could have been accomplished without Michelle Obama's tireless dedication to childhood health. She's one of my heroes – she's a truly amazing advocate, a strong voice with true leadership and, as we've seen on numerous occasions, a powerful speaker. I'd like us all to raise a glass and toast the first lady. May we all support and grow the work that she began and forge partnerships with the new administration to further the health of our nation's children."
Cheers indeed!


#Wrong photo from my camera, using the LiPix app; Let's Move! logo from http://www.letsmove.gov; Video from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jN0Rs14YJws

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Giving & Thanking This Thanksgiving: Gratitude Part 3

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. A time for family, friends, feasts, gratitude and giving... and a day off of work (if not a few) for a little rest and relaxation. A myriad of things to make people happy.

Here's a lovely list of things to be thankful for and ways to give back to all
    1. Give food to shelters
    2. Compost
    3. Minimize your transportation costs if possible
    4. Reduce, reuse, recycle
    5. Go organic when possible 
  • Remember the homeless and do what you can to help. That might mean donating to a shelter, or even serving food at a soup kitchen. 
  • Remember that holidays are not always happy times for all.  Remember those who have family far away or who have passed. Remember our military who are fighting overseas, separated from their loved ones. Send them a note, an email, drop by a meal, or share some times with them. A simple hug goes a long way.
  • Donate time where you can or make charitable donations for a cause you believe in.
For some past thoughts on this heartfelt holiday, visit some of my GTG posts from Tgiving past.


Header created using Canva. Rhanksgiving Blessing image created using PicCollage.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Out in Nature & Being Sure To #OptOutside This Black Friday: Gratitude Part 2

A weekend or 2 ago, one of the things I most wanted to do was go hiking with my family. So we did. And there is photographic proof of it. One of my favorite things about this picture is that the background of the collage is an another photo from the day--the amazingly brilliant oranges and golden hues of the season.

Walking meditations while outside, soaking in the beauty of autumn, is something to totally be thankful for.

Another thing to be thankful for: REI and their second annual invitation to #OptOutside. The gist of the campaign: REI is purposely, pointedly closing (both in stores and online) on the day after Thanksgiving (traditionally known as Black Friday--shopping, sales galore and more). Their philosophy (not to mention the whole brand of their store) is to get people outside, embracing nature, and bringing out everyone's best. So, all 149 stores are closed Black Friday, and their 12,287 employees get a paid day off.


Last year, 170 companies did the same.  This year... 475 companies are on board to do the same thing, so REI isn't going it alone.  Add in, National Parks from 22 states are offering free admission to further encourage people to get out there and enjoy nature.

Added bonus in opting outdoors... time unplugged. If you are outside, you can't get sucked into the vortex of social media and the likes of Facebook. It's a total escape from the media blitz and bad news of present day politics. If you are out and about, moving and grooving and in the moment, you can't be reading from the phone in the palm of your hand or from the screen upon your lap. Plus, sitting and being sedentary is the new smoking & peril of our time. Being out, and really one with nature and viewing is a beautiful, wonderful thing.
"As a nation we're still spending over 90 percent of our lives indoors and it's a trend we need to tackle," said REI CEO Jerry Stritzke in a statement. "The moment we announced our decision last year, people who build their lives around the outdoors really embraced the idea of reclaiming Black Friday. It took on a life of its own and became about much more than REI."
At this writing, more than 2 million people have opted in to #OptOutside.  Will you? For an activity finder, check out their website. For some inspiration, check out their gallery.


Video from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lMsxrJeJ8lU
"Will You Go Out With Me" pic http://blog.rei.com/news/optoutside-will-you-go-out-with-us/; other photos from our outdoor adventures.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Amidst the Noise: Embracing an Attitude of Gratitude

As I post this, we are 8 days past the United States election.  As we have already examined, the United States is knee-deep in a myriad of emotions.

By the time I got to the election, I was so eager for it to be D-O-N-E, Done!
And as time marches on, so it is ...done.

In the wake and aftermath of the extremist numskulls who are showing up, we are soooo no where near done.  There is still a lot of work that needs to be done: to build, to reunite, to go forward, to continue making strides where we last were (as in with the environment).

But for now, I want and need to put that aside! I need a break.
I think many of us do.

So I give you a gift. The gift of reflection. View this as Part 1 of a 3-part series, here in the week between now and Thanksgiving. (You know the one...where we show "thanks" and "giving" to anyone we've encountered along the way.)  In much of what I read, listen to, and gravitate toward, gratitude is the answer to our ills. Moreso, with Thanksgiving right here around the corner: it's a season of changing our attitudes.

A very good place to start would be here, with the DatingDivas.com blog post about Thanksgiving Random Acts of kindness.  For a great printable list from them, click here.

My personal favorites:
  • Send a "just because" card or email to someone you care about.
  • Pick up litter when you see it.
  • Drop a $5 bill in the store for some lucky person to find
  • Use your connections to help someone out.
Paying kindness forward, especially in the post-election noise, could end up helping a lot of us out, spreading a wildfire of love and grace to all.
Image result for indexed jessica hagy love


Thank you to Jessica Hagy's art for serving as the visual inspiration for this blog post.  Her art can be found at her website Indexed, her 2013 book How To Be Interesting (In 10 Simple Steps), and several of her other books.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Entering The Bumpy Transition Post-Election And The Casualties of Democracy

It's been a rocky ride this week, post-election, here in the United States.

At 5 days after "The Big Vote," Hillary Clinton's popular vote count exceeds Donald Trump's by 600,000 votes (as the counts keep coming).  But, it doesn't matter, because of the Electoral College. We have a President-Elect in Donald Trump.
60 Minutes even shared him with us.

But we have more than that. We have 60 million people who are thrilled by their win & the hope for change, and another 60 million folks who are afraid we just fell backwards by miles with our attitudes and acceptance of others. Don't forget the 5-6 million people who voted "none of the above," as well as 46-47% of people who didn't even bother to take the trip to the polls to cast their vote.

In just 5 days, we have over 200 episodes of hate crimes (including KKK parades) in the name of Trump. We have violent riots and peaceful protests by the Clinton crew. We have speculations as to who is going to be on Trump's Transition Team, and some of them are less-than-unifying choices.
There are people who feel true fear after 18 months of ugly, slanderous campaigns filled with outwardly-prejudicial remarks by one of the candidates.

There's both-sided over-generalization of "us" versus "them." No, ALL Trump supporters are NOT bigots--economic reasons ruled some voters. No, ALL Clinton supporters are NOT baby killers. But we have friends "unfriending" each other on social media, with people finding many emotional similarities between 9-11 (2001) and 11-9 (Election Day 2016).

So far, America is far from feeling "great again."  

Yet these aren't the only casualties of the election. There's another biggie:
Planet Earth, herself. My long-time friend Jason Hawke has a thing or two to say on the subject. I've known Jason for decades now, since Parsons Elementary School. Playground politics for Jason are a thing of the past these days as he is both Associate Professor & History Chair at Roanoke College. Jason knows a bit about history and government. Likewise, he has a thing or two to say about President-Elect Trump and where in the world our world stands in this bumpy new place--and how exactly we got here. Jason--a master of satire, data, details, & insights--has been kind enough to allow me to share it here. You can also find him at Medium to read, respond, react to, and share this piece.


How 131,000 People May Have Just Doomed the Planet

Regardless of how or why one voted in the 2016 US presidential election, or how one interprets the results and what they say about our national mood or culture, there was one clear loser on November 8: Planet Earth.

Rather infamously at this point, elected Republicans and their backers in the fossil-fuel industry have made a science of denying the science on climate change. Despite an overwhelming consensus among professional climate scientists — and upwards of 95% of academics agreeing on any subject is otherwise unheard of — the American Right insists that there isn’t any evidence of a warming planet. Or maybe it is warming, but human industrial activity isn’t responsible. The pseudo-scientific logical fallacies that undergird this nonsense are legion, but perhaps none so absurd as the display several years ago by Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK). The greatest mind of the tenth century beheld a snowball he had brought to the floor of the United States Senate, like some community-theater Hamlet lamenting poor Yorick, and declared global warming not to be. As Stephen Colbert would mock at the time, he had had lunch that day, so thus world hunger could not exist.

Insofar as there exists any science, or more properly, “science” that calls into question the trend toward catastrophic, man-made climate change, it comes almost entirely from think tanks (or “think tanks”). Such “think tanks” often have cuddly Orwellian names that create the impression they are impartially working in the public interest. In fact, if one follows the money to the sugar daddies of such “institutes” and “centers,” the trail ends at Exxon Mobil, Koch Industries, the American Petroleum Institute, and the like. One imagines the profit motive of such organizations plays no role in the sort of research they encourage. That research, in turn, is the thin reed on which rests any Republican pretense that science informs their opposition to climate-change mitigation.

Other appeals to logic, such as they are, may resort to the idea that the ancient paternalistic sky god would never allow puny humans to destroy his creation (never mind that Scripture is pretty clear that he expects us to take care of it; man, will he be pissed when he gets back). Or that Earth’s climate has changed many times during its long geological history; because if you want to deny climate change, the planet is billions of years old based on science, but apparently and conveniently quite a bit younger when you want to force Creationism down the throats of public school children. Or that we could never through our actions destroy the planet. The purveyors of this last bit of casuistry presumably intend “disintegrate” or “pulverize” when they say destroy, and in that sense they are correct. But of course that isn’t the question. The question is whether we can make the prevailing climate inhospitable for agriculturally based civilization. If you’re at all a fan of iPhones, indoor plumbing, or Klungar the Warlord not using the skulls of your loved ones as drinking vessels, you’re also a fan of agriculturally based civilization, whether you realized it or not.

Most Americans are aware of all this, at least intuitively. An overwhelming majority of Americans think climate change is real, a problem, and driven by human activity. Mother Earth is bleeding out in the conservatory, we’re Colonel Mustard, and fossil-fuel consumption is the wrench. We get it.

One recently important person who does not get it is the man elected president thanks to losing to his opponent by a projected two million votes. (Fun fact: when the Electoral College was designed, only white men with property had the franchise and leeches were a legitimate, mainstream medical treatment…I digress). President-elect Donald Trump has called climate change a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese. He is reportedly considering a climate skeptic to head his administration’s global warming efforts (one imagines that will be a sweet-ass, do-nothing job!). He has threatened to end American financial contributions to combat climate change and withdraw from the global accords engineered and signed by President Obama. And he has promised to unleash America’s fossil fuel resources including clean coal which, much like Santa and the Easter Bunny, is a mythical beast no serious person over the age of eight should believe in.

On the other hand, those of us who still think things like reality and evidence ought to matter know that time is running out if it hasn’t already. Four years of inaction would be bad enough. Four years of actively and intentionally making things worse will be cataclysmic. We get it.

And no one gets it more than the Green Party. First, there’s the name: that’s not an accident, you know. The single most important issue for them is the environment. The American manifestation of the Green Party describes itself as “eco-socialist” (not to be confused with ecosexual, which I refuse to believe is a thing because the alternative is just horrifyingly ridiculous). You show me a folk-music festival with attendees wearing hemp clothing and smelling of patchouli, and I’ll show you a de facto Green Party committee meeting. But seriously, unlike Chardonnay liberals who go to 40-megawatt, self-congratulatory U2 concerts and annually stroke a $40 check to the World Wildlife Fund but can’t be bothered to sort the recycling because Misty has soccer practice in ten minutes and Jesus who has the time for all that shit, the Greens don’t just talk the talk. They’re serious. I admire them for that.

Which is why I’m super pissed off at them for helping to elect Donald Trump president.

(rabblerabblerabblerabble…)

No, wait: hear me out before you hoist me on that 100% recyclable petard or boil me alive in organic soy milk. They are not solely responsible for electing him, and not even all Greens are at fault to the extent that others are. First, there’s the 60 million people who voted for him, ignoring the dire warnings of people who have not forgotten the lessons of history but are condemned to watch others repeat them. Cable news channels and the Republican Party are responsible for getting and allowing him on the general election ballot in the first place (hell, $2 billion in free media and even I might amount to something). The roughly six million voters who participated in the 2012 election but couldn’t be bothered this time around are culpable, too. Republican state governments share in some of that blame, as does the Roberts Court that aided and abetted voter suppression by invalidating key portions of the Voting Rights Act. Russian hackers as well as everyone’s favorite “transparency” zealot and second-favorite alleged sexual offender didn’t help, nor did FBI Director and prop comic Jim Comey.

And finally, sigh, Hillary Clinton herself. Yes, she is the victim of a 25-year-long smear campaign. Yes, the media blew the email story out of proportion in its quest to appear objective. Yes, as the first woman to be a major-party nominee she had to execute a high wire political act, while down below her opponent emceed the political equivalent of a $1-Bud-Light-25-cent-wings-mud-wrestling-tournament night at Buttslappers! Bar and Grill (that isn’t trademarked, so far as I know; all I ask is some acknowledgment). And she had to try to energize a party that’s already bereft at the thought of their popular and charismatic president riding off into the sunset. Much of it was unfair.

But she also didn’t run a particularly good campaign. In my nightmares for years to come I will hear the voice of Donald Trump saying “and you can tell them…” You know the rest. Thanks to that ad running on an endless loop, you know the next line, its parsing and inflection. It’s now like the Brady Bunch theme for people of a certain age, a cultural artifact etched on my gray matter. In mass media she made a very effective case why Trump should never be president. With all those gobs of campaign money, she never made a very good case why she should be. Yes, yes: brilliant and detailed white papers at her website that actually spelled out how her policies would make a meaningful difference in the lives of people who might otherwise wrap their hopes up in a loud but hollow Trumpian primal scream. Great. Did I mention Misty has soccer practice? In SIX MINUTES?! AND STILL CAN’T FIND HER GODDAM SHIN GUARDS?!?! And, let’s face it, much like the last Democrat who won the popular vote only to lose the election thanks to an arcane system the rest of the world rightly regards as bonkers, she’s wooden, a highly competent wonk who’s not very good at articulating that whole vision thing.

And, in retrospect this outcome was foreseeable to anyone paying attention. Trumpism, like Brexit, is a terribly wrong answer to perfectly legitimate questions the elites on both sides have ignored for too long. The current neoliberal-globalist consensus has created enormous wealth, but in developed countries those gains went mostly to the elites themselves, while regular folks of all persuasions (get over yourselves, white people) got crushed by the system. Hillary basically promised to be a more equitable caretaker of that system: inspiring! Trump — himself no less elite than Clinton — promised to blow the system up, however unrealistically and dishonestly. His cabinet is largely shaping up as a collection of oil barons, Wall Street bankers, D.C. lobbyists and other insiders, save for Yosemite Sam impersonator Sarah Palin. There remains the distinct possibility that the people calling the con man a con man may be proven correct, and those who ignored such warnings and voted for him anyway did so at their peril. But I’m sure Mexicans are somehow at fault for that, too.

So plenty of blame to go around.

And I get why Greens don’t like or trust Clinton. She is in her bones a DLC centrist; too close to Wall Street; late to the game on certain social justice issues; too much of an interventionist on foreign policy. Sure. Fine. But you’re the Green Party, right? You care first and foremost about the Earth, and understand that, unlike with other types of policy consequences, if we ruin the planet there are no do-overs? You knew that on that issue she’s actually pretty good, and certainly better than the only other person with any realistic chance of winning this election? I know: one day the Great Third-Party Pumpkin will return to the pumpkin patch, and the enlightened masses will defy all polling data and deliver a stunning plurality to the Greens (see above re: clean coal).

This was not that day. And now a climate denier is the most powerful person on a planet in peril.

Instead of “Jill not Hill,” the Greens might have understood in a close election that the real choice for environmentalists was “Hill not Hell.” It can be enormously satisfying to extend a middle finger to “the system” and vote for someone obviously unqualified for the presidency based on some misguided sense of principle. I know; I’ve done it. Problem is, in 2016 people had the opportunity to do that, but for a major-party candidate with an actual chance of winning. And this election was always going to be close.

How close? In Wisconsin, Trump prevailed by about 27,000 votes; 31,000 Wisconsinites — Wisconsinians? Wiscondominiums? — voted for Jill Stein. In Michigan, Trump’s margin appears to be less than 12,000 ballots; in that state, 51,000 voters picked Stein. And in Pennsylvania they’re still winding up the tallies, but the only outstanding precincts are in Philly and its vicinity, with up to another 80,000 provisional ballots in Philadelphia proper. Once all of these are counted, Clinton is sure to end up well within 49,000 votes, the number of Pennsylvanians who cast Stein as their choice.

That’s 46 electoral votes. Had they gone to Clinton, she would be the next president. 278 Clinton, 260 Trump. Ballgame.

Greens probably detest when people tell them they’re throwing their vote away. I detest that, too. It’s their right as citizens, and they can vote how they want. Plus, about 130,000 Green Party voters didn’t throw their vote away: they inadvertently helped elect Donald Trump, and thus may have thrown away not their votes, but the planet.




Clinton/Trump divide image from http://www.stltoday.com/news/national/govt-and-politics/election-day-near-americans-weigh-divide-look-for-healing/article_580635ac-b92c-5251-aa19-6e5ca5245b92.html; Twitter Boxing photo from http://core0.staticworld.net/images/article/2016/10/hillary-trump-twitter-100688409-carousel.idge.jpgJason Hawke's sinking city image from inhabitat.com

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Post-Election Conversation: A Play in 3 Acts

It's Wednesday, November 9th.

It's been a long 16-18 months, and we are finally on the flip side. Some of us are happy, some of us: not so much. So controversial. That's us, here in America. We're in that "fresh after the election" trying to settle in with the outcome. The extended noise-power of candidates has been going on and on and on....encompassing divisions, vitriol, animosity, positivity-negativity-and-tweets: oh my! Whether you've been #WithHer or hoping to #MakeAmericaGreatAgain, this election has taken away some of your lifeblood.


We.
Are.
Exhausted!

It certainly has it all:
The good. The bad. The ugly.

And it definitely feels worse here in the post-Daylight Saving Time darkness!

Truthfully: it's a dramatic presentation in three scenes. Bigger question: is it a classic comedy or a tried-and-true tragedy?


Act 1: Pre-Election: The Long Ride to Land

On the 50-year anniversary of the Great Pumpkin, Linus perhaps said it well (way back when):

"There are three things I have learned never to discuss with people: religion, politics, and the Great Pumpkin." ~Linus Van Pelt

Discussing those politics: it just never ends well. Just ask buddies and pals with different visions/versions on social media. But the irony is that my my notice of Linus' provocative commentary predated this election by 6 years.  When we re-watch: it's always going to be there, and it's always going to be up to Linus, his politics, and his Great Pumpkin.

Articles have also  been posted about the enormous stress, pressure and fervor about the election.  The election certainly has many "seeing red and feeling blue." Over time, all this is is debilitating! And it's been a long time.  We are more than wiped out. It's hitting people hard--especially when some start chiming in on their candidate versus the others... when lying is definitely off the table at this point with emails or just multiple general statements.


Act 2: Present: Voting Day

Nailbiting! Times 7! or 10!

There was a lot going on this Election!  There was all the music and media of  the "night before election" events. Then there was the #Pantsuit Nation (the overnight growing secret invite-only Clinton follower FB page. It more than doubled between the time I was invited in and it became viral). Add in today the pilgrimage and addition of the "I voted" stickers menagerie to Susan B. Anthony's grave. With all of that,  this election was certainly "huge."

As an aside, this projection map of voters by demographics was certainly interesting!

It was a historic vote. #PantsuitNation aside, you have the potential for the first woman president. It's a 1-2 punch follow-up to the first African American 2-Term President of 2008 and 2012. Yes!

Likewise, you have the potential with Trump as the first non-politician-person, and the first person who's not a military personnel.  Some people flock to that, while there have been others who have been die-hardedly-opposed to Trump and his demeanor.

Leaving us on Election day chiming: "CNN for hours on end. Amen." [Which feels like a church prayer I grew up on!]

I found myself praying "please please please!"


Act 3:  Post-Election: Houston, We Have A Winner.


It took a lot to get us here, but we have landed. Thank God! Houston, we have a winner: President-Elect Donald Trump, having lost the popular vote by a margin of a mere 200,000 (when you consider that 59 million people voted for each candidate).  He won, however, due to winning the electoral vote with over 270 electoral votes.

But a "win" is shortsighted. Emotions are high. For some, so is disbelief and sadness. The bigger job is going to be going farther. In the last few days prior to the election, Hillary Clinton has addressed this more than Donald Trump did, but it's where we are at. We are one country. Our new president will need to be here for all. He needs to lead us forward...and forward together.  The mystery is: can it be done?

I saw a handful of people who posted prayers on Election Day today, going into the election. A unification. That's what we needed. Our job, here on out, is to go forward.  It's part of the voting, the division, the healing, the process.

Where do we need to go for the path of unity and reunion?

We need to go here:



And here:
Shawn Stevenson (author of Sleep Smarterand his voting experience here on 11-8-2016.

Let's go here indeed! It may be hard, but it's what we need to do.



Photos:
Donald & Hillary from http://www.bbc.com/news/election-us-2016-36202424
Susan B Anthony: from http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2016/11/08/501167896/hours-of-susan-b-anthonys-gravesite-extended-to-accommodate-election-day-visits; Prince EA video https://youtu.be/YE27SgMEXHo

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Water Out of Thin Air

"Watch me pull a rabbit out of my hat!"  The proverbial catch phrase of a magician. Making something happen when it is seemingly impossibly, out of thin air.

Making water out of thin air feels just as magical, but it's not. It's innovation at it's finest as this movie illustrates.

Not to mention, quite necessary when you consider that 1 in 3 people globally don't have access to clean drinking water.










This turbine, or the WaterSeer (as it is called) condenses water from the atmosphere in a low tech, low cost way that is a win for all. Best part: no added chemicals or power, making maintenance cheap and easy.

To learn more about the specifics of how it works, check out this article and watch the video below.



Video from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QPjoNNhTh1o, image of WaterSeer from http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/innovation-wind-powered-device-produce-37-litres-clean-drinking-water-every-day/1/785837.html, Infographic from https://www.canva.com/design/DACCXuzey54/6OdtizxY6UEYjzvvX2YXjA/view?utm_content=DACCXuzey54&utm_campaign=designshare&utm_medium=link&utm_source=sharebutton and created by GTG.


Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Fully Charged: The Movie

I ran across a book, which had me investigating an app, which then led me to the Internet, which led me to a movie... All of these seem significantly tied to the podcasts I'm listening to these days and the observations of our over crowded lives and the pursuit of happiness.

That's my li'l trail of serendipitous breadcrumbs... and my profound thoughts for the day!

"Fully Charged" is a movie based on the conversations in Tom Rath's book: "Eat Move Sleep."  Those 3 golden nuggets, and doing them well, are the key to longevity, happiness, and good health. Interestingly enough, it's also about letting go of the technology, getting yourself outdoors, and making connections and choices that leave you feeling good and restored.

It's a good book and a quick read that I highly recommend.

 Here's the trailer, and I can't wait to see the full meal deal!



Video trailer from http://www.fullychargedmovie.com/,
photo from http://www.eatmovesleep.org/

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Not Your Typical Halloween Costume: TrashMe

Despite the fact that we are here on the cusp of Halloween, and despite the fact that this outfit looks like a costume, this outfit and this post aren't really about what to wear while trick-or-treating.  \(Though, I will say, you would certainly get a lot of looks if you were to wear this!)

Rob Greenfield decided to go on an epic adventure in New York City, which definitely won't help him get lost in the crowd.  For 30 days (Starting Sept. 19th, 2016), Rob decided to take on every piece of trash he was offered, he encountered, he created, or was tied to something he consumed.  Given that the average American creates 4.5 pounds of trash per day, this could get heavy! 135 pounds in fact, mathematically!  That amount of weight would make everyone think twice about consumption and diet!

Just watch:


Now granted, Rob isn't your typical New Yorker, nor is he your typical run-of-the-mill guy, as a matter of fact. He's a self proclaimed "adventurer, environmental activist, humanitarian, and dude making a difference."  He created "The Food Waste Fiasco" campaign to bring awareness to food & hunger. While on that brigade, he was known to dive in a dumpster or two to showcase the usable food that's going to waste. He's biked across America twice to raise awareness towards living sustainability. He's significantly limited himself to just over 100 possessions to show frugal living is a happier lifestyle than having all the "stuff."  He's done a number of TED talks and written the book "Dude Making a Difference." Doing dramatic things like wearing a month's worth of trash is exactly the kind of thing that Rob likes to do to highlight our regular actions that we all take for granted.

In 2018, Rob's suit-o'trash will be on display at the busiest US airport: the Atlanta International Airport.

To learn more about Rob Greenfield's adventures, check out his webpage.  While you are doing so, ask yourself: "What big and small differences can I make now."  While you are there, contemplating the changes you can make, ask yourself "WWRD: What would Rob do?"  You don't need to go quite to those extremes, but imagine how our mindset would change if we saw Rob (or some neighborhood kids) walking door to door this Halloween in this attire.  It might make us change our minds indeed!

Reminds me of a Halloween costume I once had. But only for a day!



Video from http://robgreenfield.tv/trashme/, image from http://www.wastedive.com/news/rob-greenfield-and-the-amazing-technicolor-trash-coat/428384/, Capri Sun dress image from http://www.greenteamgazette.com/2011/10/bein-green-this-halloween.html

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Get Outdoors: Find Some Fall Fests

There's nothing like a gorgeous fall day and a well-placed festival to really have you embrace the great outdoors and enjoy the changing of the seasons. Especially here at the last weekend before Halloween, there are plenty of pumpkin places still out there.

We did just that about a week and a half ago. We visited Maryland's Sunrise Farm in Gambrills for an amazing corn maze, hay rides, and fun for the little ones. Especially fun was the tie-in to the 50 year anniversary of "It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown".



Of course, my grand favorite of all is Arthur, Illinois' The Great Pumpkin Patch, which I've written about before.  If you are ever in that neck of the woods, be sure to stop by!  You'll be so glad you did!

But, no matter what your locale, you'll be sure to find one, just a quick Google search away!  It's a great way to get some Vitamin N: Nature and cure any indoor blues you might have from Nature Deficit Disorder!

All pictures from my camera.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Nonpartisan Election Classroom Resources

The Election is a hot topic this political season.  Emotions are high both for and against our 2 major candidates, & daily news calls to conversation a litany of character traits... most of which are NOT rated G or PG.

Many teachers want to stay the heck away from all of that potentially explosive commentary, especially when most kids (especially in elementary schools) tend to have the same political opinions as their parents, sentiments they glean from home.

At our school, we are approaching the election as neutrally as possible, with each grade level taking a governmental (versus political) approach, and we are definitely steering clear of analysis of who is actually running!

Our basic approach looks like this, bringing in activities and research on each theme:

  • PreK-Kindergarten:  Introduction to voting
  • 1st Grade:  The voting process and campaigning through naming class mascots and book characters
  • 2nd Grade: Letters to future leaders about the issues that are important to the students
  • 3rd Grade: Voting is a civic responsibility, voter turn out, and the characteristics of a good citizen
  • 4th Grade: The Electoral College and the math associated with it
  • 5th Grade: Voting around the world and women's suffrage in the USA

Here are just a few resources that may be vital in these last few weeks to help round out the final countdown and give you a little inspiration this political season.



Images from http://projects.fivethirtyeight.com/2016-election-forecast/http://www.hcpl.net/category/tags/election
http://government.mrdonn.org/powerpoints/elections.html

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Destination Imagination's Amazing Invention Photo Challenge

It's always a beautiful day when imagination, innovation, and environmentalism weave themselves together. Thank you Destination Imagination for creating "The Amazing Invention Photo Challenge," a project inspired by the new Disney film "Moana" (which comes out November 23, 2016)

But mark your calendars, because you only have the 10 days between October 17--27th to get your creative juices flowing!

Destination Imagination (or DI, for short) is a global organization for students who's vision is "to teach students the creative process and empower them with the skills needed to succeed in an ever-changing world." They do this by creating school groups with facilitators/team leaders who provide both instant challenges and broader thematic challenges for a team of students to work through and creatively solve together.

You can see why DI is inspired to challenge us, but how does Moana fit in? This DI challenge is meant to inspire kids to use the same ingenuity and cleverness of the newest Disney's character Moana. They want to spark kids' creativity by having them invent a toy-sized vehicle to lead that toy of their own on a grand adventure. Moana will do just that in the movie, embarking through lush natural wildlife that needs to be preserved. Given that, there's an environmental-awareness catch: the invention needs to be made entirely out of recyclables. This video details it beautifully!


Reminder: The contest is open for only 10 days!!  October 17th--27th, 2016.


Inventions will be judged on each of these 3 categories, for up to 20 points each (60 total):
  • Overall creativity 
  • Creative use of recycled/repurposed materials (up to 20 points).
  • Creativity of your invention's name
 To learn more here are some of the places to investigate:


More about Destination Imagination through their mission statement:
"To develop opportunities that inspire the global community of learners to utilize diverse approaches in applying 21st century skills and creativity.  The Destination Imagination program is a fun, hands-on system of learning that fosters students’ creativity, courage and curiosity through open-ended academic Challenges in the fields of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), fine arts and service learning. Our participants learn patience, flexibility, persistence, ethics, respect for others and their ideas, and the collaborative problem solving process. Teams may showcase their solutions at a tournament."

Video and image from https://www.destinationimagination.org/blog/amazing-invention-photo-challenge/

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Waking Up at #Wanderlust

Two weeks ago, I had a day o'play. It was well-timed after being a single mom for a week while my husband was away at a conference. I needed a sweet day for me after holding down the fort while my husband was hunkered down at a swanky hotel.

My day came in the form of Wanderlust 108 DC.

After first hearing about Wanderlust from the Lewis Howes' School of Greatness podcast, I did what I often do--a little more digging via the Internet.  As exotic and wonderful as the 3-4 day retreats sound, I felt a quick jaunt down to neighboring DC for a one-day "Mindfulness Triathlon" might be more in my budget. So, I got up early, thanked the Weather Gods that no rain was in store after 2 straight days previously of rain, grabbed my yoga mat, and hit the road heading south to DC and RFK Stadium.

By 10 am, I already had 10K steps under my belt from completing the 5K portion of the triathlon. No, I didn't run, but it didn't matter. What followed was an hour of barefoot yoga, which indeed stretched me beyond my limits--in good ways. Seeing the sea of participants was rather inspiring! Part 3 of the triathlon was a guided meditation--just as the sun began peeking through the cloud cover.  I think our sun salutations worked!

Meandering about, checking out the shopping and health food booths brought in the flavor of the festival.  Not to mention, it's always glorious spending the day outside.  Additionally, the spirit of adventure filled the afternoon with half-hour workshops of specialized yoga such as aerial, acro, hooping, slacklining and more.  I got to be in touch with my inner "Cirque de Soleil" by flipping upside down in the aerial slings, and I got to reminisce about my days as a first grade hula hooper during the hooping activity. All freeing, relaxing, and leaving me smiling (and perhaps a bit sweaty) at the end of the day.

As I had been driving in, I'd been listening to another Lewis Howes' School of Greatness podcast episode, #385: The Art and Science of Epic Adventure with Jon Levy about going forward and having an adventure. How perfectly timed, and indeed I did.

All of my activities that day definitely emphasized the point that yes indeed, adventure and new experiences are great for the mind, body, and spirit. We become so coaxed by our routines, we forget.

Let us remember to remember. Likewise, let us wonder and wander!




PicCollage photo a collection of my photos, as was the Wanderlust banner to begin with.  The other two photos came from the Wanderlust 108 Facebook page of DC photos https://www.facebook.com/search/photos/?q=wanderlust%20108%20dc

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

International day of the Girl 2016

With International Day of the Girl yesterday (and a whole boatload of political noise about women.


Last week here in the US), it only seems fitting that this week was "International Day of the Girl."



Here is a nice collection of stats, proving that you are indeed on top of the world if you are here, and though you women face challenges, our perseverance will take us far!!

  

Video from https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/video/2016/oct/11/a-girls-life-how-inequality-starts-before-birth-video-international-day-of-the-girl; Image from https://www.cintl.org/ebulletin/in-brief/2014/july and http://citizenjanefilmfestival.blogspot.com/2012/10/international-girls-day.html