Amazing things are happening!

Accademia in America continues to stun me.  See I’m one of those that didn’t get, didn’t grasp the value of education the first time round.  Drinking, experimentation and new freedom without much parental guidance of responsibility ruled the day.
After most of my generation made decisions to stop having children, I decided to go back to school.  For me, this decision was a complete change of life, and a decision to chase after the ideas that were most important to me.

What I found is that I’m not alone.  All across America people of all ages continue to come back for more, and while the 2012-2013 Finals season is among us to many this is more than a championship cup and millions of dollars in contracts and sponsorship prizes. Instead its about pride, goals, overcoming fear and building confidence.

I am truly amazed when I ponder the effort that goes into preparing for excellence.  Roughly two weeks ago, I myself alienated a friend as I melted down over the weight of a major term paper.  But this posting isn’t about me.  It’s about students all over, and a couple of people I am proud to call friends.

These friends are not the normal variety either.  They are the kind that stress about details, about accuracy, intrigue and the abnormal.  I relate to them because of their passions, their desires to reach beyond their depths of known confidences to find a little something more and then, instead of handing in a paper and calling it a day they will be taking their labors of love and doing the unthinkable – preseting in lecture format!

On Thursday, in the community of Aurora, Colorado will be having a special treat.  Here, a community will come together to discuss writing, authors and the love of literature.  Students become the teachers, opening themselves up for whatever may be. If you live in or near the Aurora community it would be most wise to come for lunch and check out Jennifer Bird and Seth Cardin as they present H.P. Lovecraft Cosmic Horror for an Uncertain Age and Stephen King Pet Cemetery A Literary Argument on the Community College of Aurora’s CenterTech campus.

http://www.ccaurora.edu/news-events/study-american-horror-literature

https://www.facebook.com/events/161361387361992/

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I was there when the shooting happened, and it’s not going to change my behavior…

Really, it pisses me off more than anything.  Gunfire isn’t exactly a new thing to me.  I’ve fired guns before, I’ve lived in a community where (as aggravating as it is) guns were shot fairly regularly within city limits.  Sitting on the front porch,  I could hear them in the distance, “down the hill” if you will.  Now I don’t feel that I lived in a war zone, but I’m not a stranger to the sound of gunfire in my life.  It’s not like I lived in a war zone or a ghetto where it was around me on a constant basis either.

I moved to  Denver, Colorado about ten months ago.  The first thing I did when moving here – volunteer for HeavenFest as a security agent.  My biggest difficulty was working with security executives that didn’t handle crowd control very well.  As a matter of disclosure I will state that my experiences in security include events from local bars to massive 20,000 in attendance events.  Then there was the Aurora theater shooting,   that occurred within 3 weeks of arriving.  While I personally wasn’t at the theater, my brother-in-law and I  had talked about going.  Fortunately my nephew wore us out that night and we opted out.   When I was at worship that Sunday it was obvious that many of the church had been there for a youth group outing, and had been involved as people- and as pastors in the love given as first responders.  Having been surrounded by people personally impacted by the shooting experience was intense, but over the last several months things have been quiet.

Then there was Saturday.   I decided that I would go to the ‘4/20’ celebrations at Civic Center Park with curiosity in mind.  I am an environmental reporter and one of the most common arguments for the reintroduction of Cannabis and Hemp into the US marketplace on an industrial basis is the Environment.  From paper production to textiles and new bio-fuel production, I expected legitimate information on the plethora of uses for HEMP, to be made available. Additionally, the news indicated that there was to be a significant police presence due to the bombings in Boston.  There were concerns of the size of the event in addition to the recent Boston Bombing that caused my sister to advise caution and quote news reports before I left for the event.  I like many new to Denver, did manage to spend time exploring much of Denver With these voices in the back of my head, as well as personal reasons, I was not on site during the actual ‘zero hour’ when, as I have read, thousands of people participated in consuming Cannabis simultaneously.  Instead I arrived an hour before the zero hour, did some reconnaissance work examining the layout of the event, left for the ‘main event’  and returned afterwards, anticipating a large crowd who would be taking a breather.  Instead I found several things occurring.

First: the event was over in the minds of many.  It appeared that the only ‘cool’ thing was to be on site to participate in the consumption of cannabis, also known as marijuana, for the Pot Holiday.

Second:  Security was a joke.   I’ve done more work preparing for large scale events that were expected to have 1/4 of the crowd, than was probably spent putting up snow or ‘security fencing’.   I found no general comfort at any time in the efforts of the police or other security people in holding any type of presence.

Third:  When gunshots went off, things were a mess.  Yes there was a wave of people fleeing the site, and there were people cowering underneath tables and behind one another.  There was no security to be seen yet I wasn’t afraid.

Now let me be clear, I didn’t run.  I didn’t hide, I counted several pops, said, “oh that’s just some dumb ass with a firework” and watched the crowd.  As the first wave was running by, my phone went off.  It was gunshots after all.  Well, shots were fired, but they aren’t going off anymore.  It took ten minutes to get two items of food because to food vendor was stoned stupid.  I placed my order multiple times before I got my food, but hey the place was emptying out, might as well get something to eat.  By the time we got our meal, ate it and left the grounds a process that took over twenty minutes; I still didn’t see any type of security professional or police on site.

And now, I’m mad about it.  I’m not going to stop going to public events.  I refuse to fell less safe.  I refuse to be scared.  I am however mad.  I’m mad that we have to be aware that my life could be threatened today.  I’m mad that we aren’t as able to feel safe and free at large community events.  I’m mad that I am analyzing the event and writing this post about it.  I’m mad that people would bring children of all ages to a closed off marijuana  smoking festival and I’m mad that they weren’t safe while they were there.  I hope everyone will share this feeling, “I will not be timid, I will not be confined and I will not focus on fear.”  Were you somewhere something tragic happened?  Go ahead and repeat that italicized sentence a few times, it’s ok.

But I’m digressing.  For the record it’s not the public consumption of marijuana that I’m bothered by.  It’s the way this group of people is treated as second class and not deserving of something that represents events put on by those who are highly respected.  I’ve seen more security at a Winter Jam concert where tens of thousands of Christians combine for a night of worship, fellowship and community and are protected mostly by volunteers there to do the same thing while ensuring everybody else has a good time.    I’m shocked that I entered and left an area with security fencing and no security personnel.   I get that this was a sketchy event to begin with and I’m sure there were concerns about who would or wouldn’t come if there was someone looking at you and your belongings when you come in.   At the same time this was a family event and while  I admit that I don’t know anybody other than the Pillsbury Dough Boy that might enjoy going through security.  However it’s the same measures that might have convinced someone to leave their gun at home.  After all in Colorado it’s still Illegal to have both at the same one time. 

Blizzard Warnings in April – how is your garden coming?

Having moved to Colorado in July of last year, adjusting to a different “Normal” to what Spring means is definitely something new.   Having lived in Wisconsin and Illinois all of my life, I am accustomed to April Showers, not Snow and Blizzards.  It got me to thinking that I am missing something in my day to day life.  Gardening!

I have been aware of many different changes since moving to a concentrated metropolitan area for the first time in my life.  One of these is composting.  Breads, lawn clippings, banana peels, egg shells, coffee grounds and plant matter of all kinds!   For the fist time in years I find myself considering ways that I can participate in the social effort of responsible food development.  There are some community gardens, and based on the snow count, I’m sure I’m not to late to get in on a plot I’m sure, however with all the changes of work, I really think I want to find someone who will co-work the gardens.

I can hear it now, Brian – planting a garden sounds fun but I don’t have the time.  Well, I understand that people think gardening is labor intensive.  And maybe for some it is.  I will state this one thing, Gardening is my peace.  This is the one thing that I get to do, where I can slow down, take a little time out of the go go go of the modern world and say Hello to God, the dirt, worms, and even the weeds.

The other excuse you are going to give is that you don’t know what to do!  (This is where I get giddy).  I met Lorraine the other day while riding the train to school.  She’s into gardening and she has one of the most amazing websites I have ever explored.  You can find it here.
http://www.vegetable-gardening-with-lorraine.com  Now the home page has a lot of things to consider, however if you just want to know where to start, this is the link I would choose.
http://www.vegetable-gardening-with-lorraine.com/starting-a-vegetable-garden.html

Now I haven’t gotten to garden today, but I sure have gotten to write about it.  Hopefully this will allow someone who hasn’t the slightest idea a place to begin to learn and explore!  I hope you enjoy her site!

 

Have you ever woken up in the morning and just wanted to cry?

This morning has been that way.   It is 7 am and I’ve been up since 5:30.  I have to meet with a professor in 3 hours and I am feeling so broken right now.  The whole point of getting up early was to continue reworking my term paper outline/rough draft.  I am writing a paper on the problems with the EPA and how Presidential and Congressional deregulation efforts have placed us in a situation where the EPA does not have accurate funding, cross government support and a record of effective judicial backing in enforcement and penalties to maintain it’s directives effectively.  So I’m doing my best to stay focused, I mean I got up at 5:30 to work!

As I continue my research efforts, new things start popping up at me.  Sometime in the last several days I wrote about how we have had major and minor oil spills and our news media isn’t covering it.  It’s like there was a secret executive order to maintain silence on these matters.  The FAA even went so far as to declare a broken pipeline Tar Sands / Bitumen spill  in Mayflower, Alabama a No Fly Zone while reporters attempting to access government officials are threatened with jail for trespassing.  Yes I said No Fly Zone.  Maybe you remember how we maintained a NFZ on Saddam Hussein so he couldn’t pester the indigenous people of Northern Iraq with chemical missiles in the 90’s or how after September 11, 2001 the nation’s airspace was shut down.  That’s a no fly zone.  No look see, don’t come around here – kind of action.  I wonder if there are military planes enforcing this…. anyway I digress.

This morning, I found this :

Montana.  Oil is bubbling up to the ground and entering waterways.  Clean up efforts continue to show PAPER TOWELS being used to clean things up.  So this morning, my spirit is crying deeply.  I won’t turn on the TV because I’m supposed to be working I have a paper to write and it’s due next week.  I can’t seem to get away from this.  This information leads me to understand that on top of Mayflower Alabama, the train derailment in Minnesota, and the pipeline leaks in Houston Texas, we now have a pipeline discharging oil in Montana.   Does this upset you too?  It upset me so much I had to put my paper down and type this out.

Please I can’t ask you enough, write your congressmen and other representatives!  Then call your news agencies and ask them, why they aren’t covering this!  Can you spend 10 minutes today, I just don’t have the strength or focus – I have a paper to write and grades to earn, and ugh – I haven’t even been awake 2 hours and I want to break down and cry!

Your parents may have been hippies – but they made a difference

April 22nd is Earth day and you can thank your family for that the next time you sit down for dinner.  Why, well it wasn’t that long ago America was really sucking on an environmental basis. So a while back a bunch of hippies decided to get together and have a celebration of the place we live, this planet that well call home.  Whippie!!!

But no, really. This is a big deal and those hippies, well they were your parents or grandparents.  Why?  Well what you probably don’t realize is that in America the place was beginning to look like a landfill.  After WWII, the government went through a process to downsize.  One of the bureaucracies that were cut from the picture was a national recycling program.  Many of your grandparents probably still remember what it was like to take newspapers, soda bottles, aluminum and all kinds of items and turn them in, many times for money.  This is how they got to buy dollies and baseball gloves when they were children.  They worked for it because their parents taught them how important it was to tend to the things we had like beautiful land and clean water and healthy food that was grown so locally that much of the time you could walk outside in your bare feet and pick it.

These values are the kind that have (ideally) come down from generation to generation.  Unfortunately, in any society, this is only a representative of a portion of the population.  Corporations were still corporations and without regulatory oversight it doesn’t make sense to be responsible to the planet at the expense of the bottom line.  It’s the kind of attitude that says, if I’m not told something is wrong – it must not be wrong for me to do.  And devastation was laid out on the countryside.   Eventually,  major city beaches were being closed due to pollution, waterways caught fire due to chemical and oil spills and masses of animals were  mutating and dying from unnatural changes to their environment.

So our parents, and grandparents, they did something about it.  Earth day rallies, like those of civil rights and women’s suffrage actually did make an impact.  The disasters that were befalling our country were visible to the naked eye and people cared about it.  They thought about you and me and our children.  They didn’t want to leave a legacy that was shameful, deadly and horrific.  So they took action.  They made cities build waste water treatment facilities, (before it often went from toilet to river to tap in the next town).   They banned chemicals like DDT and They cleaned up most of the messes they made.  They set rules into place that said, what we did was not ok – and nobody should be allowed to do this in the future.

And here we are in 2013.  While human waste is cleaned before entering the waterways, mass quantities of factory farm waste is not regulated.  Instead of filling our waterways with oil and chemicals we are loading them with a different chemical that is producing the same results in killing off biospheres of natural wildlife – plastic.  While air pollution standards have made visible skies in major cities a reality, we are now burning Tar Sands Oil- which is producing double the amount of carbon-dioxide standard crude oil emits.  And instead of boldly declaring the atrocities of big industry, news agencies are now owned, operated and invested in the entities they are supposed to be holding accountable.  This month the FAA declared an American NoFly Zone because an oil company (and the government) doesn’t want bad press to negatively impact infrastructure plans that are bad for our country.

So does Earth Day mean anything to you?  Will the sacrifices and values of those that wanted you to have a clean planet encourage you to make changes in your life, to stand in unison with one another over real issues and to hold big polluters accountable not just with the click of a mouse button but with real action? Please I encourage you to take the time to consider – what kind of life are we leaving behind and begin making simple changes like bringing your own bags to the grocery store, riding public transportation and more importantly write your representatives and hold them accountable to standing strong on issues that matter to you.

Most importantly, if you have children – on April 20th (Saturday) show them what Earth Day is about by spending time outdoors, learning about or doing something special, they will only learn what you pass on.

Some days it’s really hard to pick your battles

Have you seen X-Men the movie?  There’s a scene in it where Dr. Charles Xavier in in a machine called Cerebro and he is able to ‘hear’ the thoughts of mutants everywhere.  Sometimes I truly believe that our world is becoming like that.  Turn on your tv, drive down the street, open your phone – tablet or computer – we are getting messages everywhere and the sad sad truth is that these messages are controlled and directed at you.

Do a search on your computer for a topic, activity or event.  Now wait and watch.  In the next 20 min (often less) advertizing related to your searches will start appearing on Facebook, Google and every web page you visit.  When it comes to the digital world, marketing is tailored to you.   Unfortunately, this isn’t the case when it comes to news of the world.   There is so much tragedy out there today, most of us find it easy to tune out the nastyness Yesterday I watched a movie called, “Not Today” on child slavery in India.  It is a really good movie that I believe everybody should see. However it’s one of a thousand topics regarding the horrific nature of greed and destruction here on earth.

Today, in America – something unique has happened this week.  In the past seven days we have experienced not one, two or three but FOUR known oil and or chemical spills, some of them are small, but they are real.  While this is happening, our news media has been keeping busy keeping our eyes averted so you wouldn’t focus on them.  Why don’t they want you to focus on this?  Well my opinion is that if we knew how much oil is spilling, we might not support XL pipelines crossing our country – exposing potential disasters to our water resources, our pristine protected lands or our  communities.

Now hold on, I’m not exaggerating.  This is not some far off conspiracy theory.   These stories are real, and once you see all of them in combination, I hope you will do something more than read and share this post.  I also ask you to share it, not just with each other, but post it on the Facebook and Twitter feeds of  your elected officials, tell them your concerns.  Email them your questions and have a direct dialogue with them.   First the stories of these four oil spills.

One – Train March 27, a train derailed and spilled 30,000 gallons of tar sands oil in Minnesota via Bloomberg  (@BloombergNews) http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-03-27/canadian-pacific-railway-derailment-spills-crude-in-minnesota.html

Two – A small rest area oil spill leaves firefighters with the cleanup and the culprit unknown.  Also unknown – how much was leaking as it continued down the road    http://www.austindailyherald.com/2013/03/30/firefighters-clean-up-after-semi-spills-oil-at-hayward-rest-area/ Via Austin Daily Herald

Three – over 300 gallons hydraulic oil spills in Michigan.  http://record-eagle.com/statenews/x1413935908/Oil-spill-leaves-sheen-on-the-Grand-River-in-Lansing  via Traverse City Record Eagle

Four – Mayflower Alabama, now a No Fly Zone as deemed by the FAA – is an inland tar sands disaster when an underground pipe sprung a leak.  Most resident’s didn’t even know the pipe was flowing under their homes!  American news media silent over for 3 days, minimal coverage since.  Story by Russia Today (@RT_com) http://on.rt.com/gt0j6d

Wow.  That’s a lot of mess.  And this is just one area where we, are watching things get worse.  Truth is if all we do is focus on these problems, how could we find any happyness in our world.  As I consider getting some coffee before writing my representatives, I know I’ll be getting it out of a plastic container that was shipped to my grocer using fossil fuels to get it from another part of the world to my neighborhood.  It’s a never ending battle, and some days well, it’s really hard to pick your battles.  I’m hoping that today, this is one you’ll spend 20 minutes fighting with me.    So go grab a coffee, or soda and then please use the following links to contact the president and your state representatives to voice your concerns.

http://www.usa.gov/Contact/Elected.shtml

As a concerned American, human and resident of planet earth, I thank you in advance.

UPDATE:

A 5th incident is being reported!  Texas pipeline owned by Shell ruptures!!!

 

Do you know what is really going on in this world? For days we have been not been receiving news of what is really going on and now – they don’t even have to pay for it!

Earth First! Newswire

from Think Progress

A technicality has spared Exxon from having to pay any money into the fund that will be covering most of the clean up costs of its Arkansas pipeline spill.

The cleanup efforts themselves took a sobering turn as crews found injured and dead duckscovered in oil.

The environmental impacts of an oil spill in central Arkansas began to come into focus Monday as officials said a couple of dead ducks and 10 live oily birds were found after an ExxonMobil Corp. pipeline ruptured last week.

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“Children Are Not Tourist Attractions”

Well then, there are days when the world goes by and life is good.  Then there are days when you find yourself buried in stories about how important our decisions really are.  I personally write about plastics, the earth and other responsibilities.  This is one on Orphanages and why it’s important to be active in awareness when adopting children.

 “Children Are Not Tourist Attractions”.

Just say no – Plastic Warriors Unite

“Plastic, plastic, plastic – Is that all you ever talk about?” a friend recently asked me.  Well no I like to talk about other things, like my love of music, Jesus and volunteering.   However I have to ask, what’s the point of changing topics if you don’t ‘get it’ when it comes to plastics?

I thought I had made a good point, I mean how many crusades can one person take on at one single time?  If you and I went around solely participating in the process of evangelizing on the problems with life and the world around us, how quickly would we burn out.  I think the answer is obvious – it would take some days, others a few weeks, but eventually it would happen!

In today’s world plastic is everywhere.  Go out to eat, plastic.  Eat in, plastic.  Shopping, driving, worship, vacations, airline flights, school lunches, household chores the list goes on.  PLASTIC IS EVERYWHERE. Here’s a video on bottles…

Wow, that’s a bit overwhelming.  So what can you do?  The answer isn’t easy, and quite honestly sometimes it’s difficult and can offend others.  Yesterday, for example.  My brother-in-law stopped at McDonald’s for water.  Choice one – a plastic bottle and plastic lid filled with water, shipped and transported into Colorado.  Option two – paper cup with Plastic lid and plastic straw.  I was thirsty but opted out because option two wasn’t really provided to me, it was here’s a plastic bottle of water.  Not perfect, but there was a delicious cup of water from the tap waiting for me when out got home, only problem… I’m drinking out of a plastic cup.

Today, I will continue to take plastic out of the trash and put it in the recycling containers, speak awareness and live simple changes that will reduce my imprint on our planet.    What steps are you taking to ‘cut the plastic’ from your life?