Thursday, April 30, 2009

Chill out!

It's just a strain of the flu. Take a deep breathe. It comes around every year. Take some vitamins, get enough sleep, smile and laugh --it's good for your health. 
More people will die in car accidents, of malnutrition and AIDs.
What is it about this virus that has the world in a panic? 
The main reason the federal government and states--i.e. Texas are declaring states of emergency is to free up resources for preventative measures. 
No reason to cancel travel plans, stay home from school or work. 
We seem to have a pill for everything, every symptom, unwanted emotion, etc. Getting sick now and then is natural. The one U.S. death from swine flu was a toddler in Texas who had health problems already. His family and friends remain healthy. 

And bother anyone how quickly this whole thing has turned into an "us" vs. "them" issue. Continued use of terms like "mexican flu," are adding to the tension. While driving earlier I heard a listener on CNN complaining Obama cared more about immigrants than Americans, evidenced by his failure to close the boarders. Uhh sir, do you have any idea how many Americans are over there? How many of the foods you eat, products and services you rely on would be disrupted--talk about our economic troubles..... This isn't about immigration--save your views on that for another debate.
Plus, how could we possibly stop germs from crossing boarders? As the rapid spread across states show--from CA to TX to MD, ME and MA and of course my home state, NY. 

While Americans need to chill, and accept the states of emergency are for utilitarian purposes, there could be cause for concern in poorer countries. For those already weakened due to malnutrition, for those without access to basic medicines, this could be tragic. 

Not that I'm generally a Ron Paul fan --but he makes some good points. 

Monday, April 27, 2009

Where to read my blog

I'm pretty attached to blogger, however Carlene Hempel, the journalism professor co-leading my trip to the Middle East (the first 5 week journalism program, after that I'm on my own) has mandated all participants keep a wordpress blog, which will link off from a main blog with journalistic articles we write. 
So, I'll be using that one primarily for the next month, however I will likely continue using this for more personal, less dialogue related posts and in the many months afterward. 

I didn't say following my adventures would be simple ;) 

Wooh, I'm excited to finally be blogging again...!

“A Rhyme for Nuhoc”

I've intermittently participated in Northeastern's outdoors club since the first weeks of freshman year. Toward the end of February I finally gave my speech, in my case a poem, to begin the process of gaining a key to the lodge. 

Nuhoc boasts some of the coolest people I know at Northeastern. Though I don't find time to visit the lodge nearly as much as I like, when I do, it's always a memorable weekend. Truthfully, I don't want to picture my college life barren of these out-of-city adventures, sure to refresh me with glorious views, new friendships and plenty of stories. 

The process to earn a key is long and intimidating and involves learning things like how to take a part and put together the water-pump--rumored to be three hour ordeal, things abo

ut tools, l

eading trips and first aid training. Yet once you have a 

key, it's yours for life. 

I don't remember the last time I wrote a poem, if ever? And this was the

 first time I read one out-loud. I was a little nervous (rare) and It was surprisingly fun. 

“A Rhyme for Nuhoc”

A friend or a chalker, a flyer or 

a hunch,

In 200 Richards I landed,

With the rest of the bunch.

So many faces, legs arms and minds, 

Ready for adventure, 

To have a good time. 

“Welcome to Nuhoc,” 

We go on trips,

And thus with these words, 

My journeys did commence

Newcomers’ 06 found me,

 in a red van,

Our driver was Keith, 

“Keith Cool,” they said,

He shared with us stories of biking, Fester and sleds. 

Up in the morning, 

A horn or a bell, 

Toasting, and coffee, 

Bagels, eggs, cheese, 

Water from the well, 

A mighty routine. 

Mike was there then--with curly blond hair,

let’s rock climb he said, 

If you’re new it's no care. 

So rock climb we did, 

After quite a long hike. 

Where one boy go

t shin splits,

but climbed on with all his might. 

Back at the lodge it was a worthy sight, 

With fire and food and drinks galore,

Lofts jammed with people, on mattress and floor.  

A culture, a world—it all felt q

uite right.   

In the lodge, I decided, 

I'd be many a-night. 

Up in the morning--lodge rats beware-

The sun is-a shining, 

Up, out and go. 

Now, it’s summer ‘07 and we have quite the scheme

Maddie, Michelle and I set out with some speed,

“Meet me in Acadia,” the sign we hold reads,

10 hours plus,

 We pull into camp,

An epic road-trip,

I’m quite sure of that. 

A day filled with kayaking, hiking, camaraderie 

Exploring the town, crabs everywhere, 

Nights at the lighthouse, 

stars a-shine bright, 

And, back at camp

A blaze of some height, 

And Peter and Tom

Who displayed marshmallow-eating


That kind of went wrong…

But don’t be dismayed, 

you see this is how nuhocers do,

For moments later,

A trip did ensue,

A rushing out of camp

A couple wrong turns. 

That looks just fine pull the car there.

Piling out, hopping up rocks,

Skipping-a jumping, 

Time’s dwindling--we’re not there.

And then, 

At th

e top—phew

Wait. Not. So. fast---

Cadillac’s that one, 

We scrambled to beat the sun's glare:

Through a valley over streams,

 Past the skyline, beyond the trees,

And then a deep sigh—

We’ve made it in time.

We lounged a-top the peak, 

As the sun did rise.  

So many things, 

I wish to recount, 

Of skiing, and sledding of friends and good times, 

Of delicious concoctions of great cheap red wine, 

Of voices raised in sound— songs which I love.

Of ridiculous trip

s and marvelous feats

Of late night convers

ations by fires so bright, 

Of laughing through snow and a twisted up swing, 

Of donuts, of starfruit, and records proudly scrawled,

Of spring and winter

, hot summers and colorful fall, 

See these are the seasons,

 where the lodge is best of all. 

Of jumping off bridges—

With Kathryn and Maddie 

“Just do it,” Tom said, and then he counted one, two, three

So we jump

ed we splashed, maybe even gracefully. 

There have been times, 

When the lodge is far from me, 

Like this summer in Egypt, and Abu Dhabi 

And after that, 

When I co-oped in DC

And more of these times, will happen I’m sure

But then I’ll be back, 

Always ready for more,

Though some things changed, 

And others must too, 

With the lodge there’s a clickage 

It’s how it’s meant to be

With people with places, 

Don’t refrain with these things. 

Now zooming from Forsyth, 

I always get a rush--"Cya Boston," 

This weekend I won’t be in touch. 

Don’t leave a message, don’t try those lines--

This weekend isn’t o

ne of those times. 


So why an LCT?

I’ll tell you real straigh


I want to learn, 

The ways a

nd the means,

Like how to pump water, 

And start the wood s


And lead the loop hike, 

And plan a super-meal, 

For those others like me

Who feel quite at home, 

With bunk or loft, stall left of right, 

Wood piles galore, 

Things like bongo boards at night. 

Sometimes there’s drama, and silliness and blame 

But there are always, the grandest of games, 

Where the closest of friends

Are sure to be made.

Now there is one last thing--a tradition if you will

An object to bring, a gift to be gave— 

Every time at the lodge, there is one thing I’m quite troubled by,

To fix I think, we really should try. 

Recycle--is the word, though it doesn’t quite rhyme. 

Not just the cans, 

the bottles the beer, 

But everything we can--like the crates from the pasta and loved OCPs

And the other card-board things—try if you’ll please. 

I will post instructions and take the lead

Some kind of container,

Is all that we need, 

Next time at the loge—we’ll begin saving trees. 

So this is my request, me reasons, my plea, 

A member I am, LCT let me be. 


What the local paper had to say about the rally

Not bad. 

Saturday, April 25, 2009

My brother's first rally

My younger brother Sam, a senior at Monroe Woodbury HS, started an equality for all club. 
Lucky for me,
 I arrived home just in time for his big event--a rally he organized at Church Park Goshen. 

There were roughly 120 people, a
 couple local papers, channel 12 news--a local station and fabulous sunshine. 

Speakers included the first openly gay NY assemblyman-
-Daniel O'Donnell (yes, brother to Rosie), a local mayor and activists and of course my brother--who gave the longest most passionate speech of all.


An activist and her daughter--a  
miracle of artificial insemination. 

In the car just yesterday, (our biannual drive of bonding necessitated by my resistance to stay in one place) he talked
 about how he was finally coming to terms with 
his unfulfilled political dreams, fostered, especially by his deceased mother, since he was young.                                            


 And a Mom who took way more pictures than me =)

Monday, April 20, 2009

Want a soapy clean floor?

Enter roommate Silva:
"Hey, did either of you do something to the dishwater? " 
Me: "I just turned it on..."
S: "Like something you weren't supposed to do...?"
Enter Kitchen 
Me: "Yikes...I used dish soap instead of washer fluid!"

Saturday, April 11, 2009

If you couldn't read or write...

I don't remember what it was like learning to write, just one day in second or third grade when my teacher, Mr. Picard, told me I needed to work on my spelling. P E O P L E he said, asking me to repeat. It went together, kind of rhymed. I could do this...
I do remember learning to read, yes of course reading and writing go together, but somehow reading stands out in my mind. 
"I read the Little Mermaid to my sister," Anna said. It was my favorite disney movie--something my Dad's girlfriend had given me. I wanted to read the book too. I was frustrated I stumbled over words. 
I remember going to tutoring with my neighbor, Debbie. I think there were practice books we would read, but I don't remember those. Just the pictures of her son, Gregory on the wall. We didn't play anymore, he looked old, I was sure he didn't struggle to read. I felt inadequate. 

I think the first book I read on my own, not for school, was Little Women. Me and my stepsister Becca Read all the Hardy Boys too. My favorite though, was Tamora Pierce, a series about a Alana, a purpled eyed toughie so determined to be a warrior she enters the kings court pretending to be her twin brother. I haven't thought of her in years but I have not doubt her take on life affected me.  

Sometime in the midst of high school I cleaned out my closet and found ripped out pages about about Mike from skiing I found quite dashing in 5th grade. I must of learned to write at some point. 

There were other times I expressed anger at my complicated family. In Hungary when I felt really alone I filled a page with all the family and friends I cared about. Then I wrote postcards home. 

So where am I going with these personal anecdotes?

 I'm writing a paper about the right to education in Egypt. Statistics haven't seemed so bad. Enrollment after all, is high 90s nationally. I even found stuff saying families are more likely to educate their daughters, if only to improve their marriage prospects. 
Then I came across this.

I won't make you search the document: 

Just over 40 percent of females in Egypt were illiterate in 2003, 17 percent of males. Yemen had the highest rate of female illiteracy, over 70 percent. On average, 30 percent of people in Middle Eastern states were illiterate in 2003. I'm been researching primary education for months if you break literacy down to school aged statistics it's not as bad. 

Yet there are all those people who can't express themselves in this way I depend on so, who can't read about others experiences, who can't seek solace in a book or distraction from the endlessness online. 
Who can't help their children with homework, read a voting ballot, road signs, medical papers, email.....
I'll let you go on.