Saturday, May 30, 2009

Strollin’ with Ryan

I am sick of feeling like crap, so on this fine spring day I decided to take a stroll with my dear friend Ryan

Ryan’s photo is on the bottom of this page, too.

Ryan has a bit of a colorful history. He was born in ‘da hood region of San Jose, somewhere around Quimby Street, the last week of March, 2007. A week before he ended up at San José’s Animal Care and Control, animal control officers had picked up a 5–6 week old tuxedo kitten with a medallion on his chest, and that kitten ended up at Unconditional Love Rescue in Los Gatos. A week later, some kids walked up to the same animal control officer with an identical kitten and told the officer to take the kitten or they were going to drown it. That kitten was Ryan, who was taken to Animal Control and then picked up by Unconditional Love and named Franc (his twin was Florian).

I adopted Ryan on June 1, the same day he was neutered. He was still high on kitty pain meds when I brought him home. I'd lost my 16 1/2 year old cat that March, about a week before Ryan was born. I missed having a tuxedo cat around the house. Ryan is so different from Elliott it's scary. 

Ryan used to really enjoy strolling with Scottie, but Ryan is now too big to share the stroller with anyone. He’s a bit of a tough guy wanna-be thug who is scared of strangers and likes to chase my daughter upstairs. He’s quite the stealth gangsta killah kitty so he wears a bell collar so he can’t sneak up on anyone.

The photo on the top of this entry is Ryan with Scottie back when they could still share the stroller.

I wasn’t fussy as to who went with me for a walk. I am so tired of not being able to walk any great distances due to pain in my foot, knees and back (and of course being out of shape sucks!) so I pulled the stroller out of the corner (it doubles as Cammi’s bedroom) and I grabbed the first cat who showed any interest. That happened to be Ryan. We did a pretty decent walk, a bit over a mile—for me that is quite the feat. However, I chose to walk along Capitol Expressway, which of course is busy with cars and Ryan wasn’t real happy with the cars. He laid down in the stroller and peered out cautiously and miaowed when I waited to cross the street.

I am sure I will pay for this dearly tomorrow. I am not as sore as I expected to be after walking down the incline at the BLVD Tavern last night after checking out the Vinyl Trees. Nothing like a bit of live music and people-watching. In previous entries I’ve talked about former NHL player Mark Smith’s band, and I was curious about the music. I mean come on, how many bands can you name that feature the digeridoo? Hmmmm? Former Shark (current Avalanche player) Scott Hannan showed up to support Smitty. Unfortunately the bar was also full of hockey groupie girls who were all three sheets to the wind, no doubt helping Smitty and his band earn a decent percentage of the bar take. Between Patricia and I, we had only three drinks. And NO I wasn't there in the capacity of hockey groupie, though yes, I have worked with Smitty and Scott back in my Hockeycorp days. I doubt either would remember me out of context, and I did not approach either. Wasn't the place ... no reason to do so.

Drunk people are funny. I was not one of them last night nor was my friend Patricia. But I think it’s safe to say that some of the idiocy we saw was pretty damn funny.

Off to ice my back and hope I am not too sore tomorrow … 

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Why Didn’t He Do It Two Weeks Ago?

It will never happen in wackjob California, but yesterday the Governator announced his proposed budget cut plan … and I agree with most of it, actually!

He proposes eliminating CalWorks, which in theory should be a beneficial program, but in reality is a big fat waste of taxpayer money.

As I understand it, illegals themselves don’t get the living allowance check (it’s given to their citizen anchor baby children) so the parent can go to school and eventually support the family. Of course U.S. citizens are eligible for the program, and it seems that there are a lot of single moms using this program.

I have no problem with single mothers trying to benefit themselves, though they really should have thought about exactly where there life was and where it was headed before they made a decision to have a baby. Thing is, from what I know about CalWorks, they are training people to do jobs that just aren’t abundant. Medical billing anyone? Doctor’s office technician (nurse’s aid)?

The Governor also proposed deep cuts to the “Healthy Families” program, which is supposed to be a preventative health program for the children of working poor. I would like to know more about the demographics of this program—are the parents of these families here legally or not? Being born in the U.S. should not mean automatic eligibility for a welfare check. Yes, the kids of a family whose parent(s) are really trying to make it should receive assistance (but I’ll say it again—look at where your life is and where it’s going before you elect to have a baby!).

Another cut was for non-emergency care for illegals. WTF? They got non-emergency care? My daughter is currently uninsured and needs to see her ortho surgeon for some simple maintenance, but she can’t. I knew illegals got emergency care, no questions asked, because I used to deliver that health care (and their anchor babies).

Of course the raging Dem state senate and legislature will never allow any of this! If deep cuts to welfare programs had been part of the California budget, I’d have been more likely to vote for those tax increases. But nothing was cut … Dems demanded their pet social programs remain untouched.

But face it, the people who are working are being bled to death! When they start to flee the state in great numbers, what is our economic base going to consist of? Oh yeah welfare queens with absent baby daddies who are busy cooking meth and impregnating other young women.

Yeah that’s going to work.

I wish Alaska wasn’t so darn cold. I understand there’s plenty of opportunities for people who want to work …

P.S. Don’t get me started about the newly-nominated Supreme Court justice. Oh my. Nothing is more out of control than a Latina in a position of power. 

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Propaganda for our kids…

I just finished editing a publication for the SJSU-affiliated university transportation center I have done work for following my graduation in May 2000. To be honest (and not surprising), much of the stuff I edit ultimately has a liberal slant.

I actually have a couple I can talk about, but for now, one at a time. The one I’m writing about today is a transcript proceedings of a ninth annual sustainable transportation contest for junior high school-aged kids—It’s called the Garrett Morgan Sustainable Transportation Symposium. It’s a teleconference event, with usually 5 to 8 schools participating via videoconference from places such as Caltrans or Hampton Roads Transportation, for example.

Of course there are politicians involved, usually the secretary of transportation or his representative. For years that has been Norman Y. Mineta, who did a great job of keeping political remarks to a minimum, even though he was a Democrat working for a Republican administration. After all, the event is for kids, to get them thinking about creating innovations in transportation, be it creating a solar-powered light rail system or a hydrogen-fueled automobile. The winning team gets a trip to San José to attend the Mineta Transportation Institutes’ Scholarship Banquet and graduation (for students earning their masters in transportation management). It’s really not a place to get kids pulled into political dogma.

This year’s symposium went a tick off-script. The new secretary of transportation made his first appearance and for the first time in nine years (at least the nine years I've edited or read the raw transcripts), the remarks were politically charged. Please remember, the audience is junior high-aged kids. And I want to know your opinion … am I overreacting?

Secretary LaHood: … thank you to the students for participating in the program. Norm Mineta, my predecessor in this job, called me and asked me if I would participate, and so I’m delighted to do that. I know this is a very important program to try and get young people involved in issues of transportation and knowledgeable about transportation.

As a former teacher, I can tell you that during the time that I taught, I really wanted to teach because of the teachers that I had when I was growing up and I can tell you, when I was your age, as a student, nobody in my class, none of my classmates, would have ever predicted that Ray LaHood was going to be the secretary of transportation. And I can also tell you none of my classmates would ever have told you that Ray LaHood was going to be a member of Congress; but my point in saying that is that I feel privileged to be a part of a very, very historic administration.

(Here is where it really goes off-template)

President Obama is a young man when it comes to this position that he holds and he was a member of the United States Senate before he was elected president, and throughout his campaign, he talked about the importance of getting young people involved in many different aspects of public service, and so I’m delighted to say to all of you, you’re a part of a very important program. The idea of public service, whether it’s transportation or any other aspect of public service, is very, very important.

And the reason that I mention that, people would be surprised if they went back to my classmates and asked them, “Can you believe that Ray LaHood’s the Secretary of Transportation, or was a member of Congress?” Because when I was growing up, and when I was your age, the one important thing that I knew is that getting a good education was the one thing that would lead to my success. Whether it’s a Congressman or the Secretary of Transportation, or a teacher, having a good education is absolutely your ticket to, really, success in America…

So I encourage you today to participate as much as you can. I know that you’re going to be judged on some essays that all of you have put together, and projects that you have put together, …but you’re all winners. Everybody’s a winner here today, because you’re a part of the program. You value the idea that learning more about transportation, learning more about the different things that we do, has value to building on the other things like reading, writing, and arithmetic, which are pretty basic, but are the foundation for lots of other opportunities.

So I encourage you to continue your educational opportunities as long as you possibly can. We never stop learning. The formal part of it is what you’re involved with now, but the more informal part will be when you go out into the workplace and seek careers and really become a part of the fabric of America that has made our country so great, a knowledge-based [citizenry] that can really do what needs to be done. So I’m delighted to be a part of the introductory part of your program today and maybe if there’s a question or two from any of the students that are gathered here, or that are gathered in California, you know, I’d be happy to answer them. Does anybody have a question? Yes? Could you just tell us your name?

(We are supposed to assume this question was generated by a seventh grader …)

Q: Secretary LaHood, with the present economic crisis, what challenges do you (inaudible)?

A: Well, when the president invited me to be a part of his administration, what he told me was that his number-one priority was to get people to work, to get people to work in good-paying jobs and part of his strategy for doing that is what we’re doing in the department. The Congress passed a bill that allocated billions of dollars to build new roads, new bridges, to get people onto buses, to give money to transit districts so they can buy buses. To pay the people that are working in the transit districts to develop a complete rail system around the country, high-speed rail and so we have been working with the governors and the people in the states to provide money to them to put people in good-paying jobs building roads and bridges and helping our transit districts and so one part of what the president really has tried to accomplish is, this spring, summer, and fall, you’re going to see an enormous number of people working around the country in good-paying jobs as a result of the legislation that the president proposed and the Congress passed that will help people get to work.

Our economy is very bad right now. There are a lot of people out of work and at DOT, we’re trying to help people get back to work in good-paying jobs and the president is also working with the banks. He’s also working with the real-estate people to try and get both of those industries back into a position where they can really be strong again and the combination of what the president’s doing with the banking industry, with the real-estate industry, what we’re doing at DOT with the money that Congress has given us, you’re going to see an enormous number of people working in good-paying jobs and hopefully getting our economy back to where it once was, where we don’t have so much unemployment and people are working.

The Department of Labor has money that they’re getting out to train people for new opportunities; but we believe, over the next year, that we will have many opportunities to get people back to work, to get our economy back in a position to where it’s in a much better shape than it is right now. So I don’t know if that answers your question, but I think that addresses some of the things you were asking about.

(Yet another question “generated” by a seventh or eighth-grader)

Q: What exactly is the Department of Transportation doing for sustainability?

A: Sustainability is now something that we’re really focused on as we get into development of a new, what we call “highway bill,” a new transit bill, really trying to sustain the assets that we have in our country. We have a state-of-the-art interstate system second to none anywhere in the world and part of what we need to do in the highway bill is to make sure we protect those assets, that we have the money, the resources, to make sure that those assets are really protected.

And we want to do that with other forms of transportation, whether it be rail, whether it be light rail, or whether it be what we’re doing with our assets at airports, where we know that a lot of people fly in and out of airports, and so we’re right on the cutting edge, or the beginning of developing sustainable opportunities for the assets that we have, and the way forward is to make sure that there is sustainability in everything that we do. 

(And yet another "student" question … perhaps)

Q: What do you believe is the greatest problem in the environment today in America? And what would you like to change about it?

 A: Well, first of all, I think that one of the big issues that America is now addressing is the awareness that we have some very serious environmental problems and concerns that need to be addressed by this administration and by Congress. You have to identify the problem, and people have to be aware, and I think people are becoming aware, for what Vice President Gore has done, and the work that he has done, and others have done, to say, “We’ve got some serious environmental problems.”

And it’s not just the United States. It’s a worldwide problem, worldwide issue. So, first of all, the awareness of this is certainly the first way that we identify we have a problem.

The president has a team of people working in the White House on clean air, clean water and developing standards with the automobile manufacturers, with those in the United States that want to be a part of the solution, to really come up with some standards to clean up the air and to set fairly high standards so that as the way forward is, is that we recognize there’s a problem, we identify what the solutions are and we have to get the stakeholders, the automobile manufacturers, those people in the coal industry, those people that produce energy, to recognize they have to be a part of the solution.

And eventually I think the president will send to Capitol Hill, will send to Congress, a list of principles that he would like to achieve to make our air cleaner, to make our water cleaner, to really make our environment much more livable. And so we’re right in the beginning of that process, and we’re making progress. So you’re going to see a lot more written about this, and you’ll see a lot more activity because of the leadership of President Obama, who feels very strongly that we have to address the environmental concerns of our country.

Am I overreacting about this? I think it is so wrong to be feeding kids propaganda like this. I wanted to editing out much of the exchange I’ve shared with you, because it does not add to the proceedings at all, but I was asked to leave it in.

And for those who may not know: Ray LaHood is a Republican (in name only, methinks) from Illinois who has little to no experience in the transportation industry at all. Ranking House Member (Democrat) James Oberstar is likely pulling his puppet strings, much like the mysterious puppet masters who keep TOTUS in line…

 Google Garrett Morgan. He's an interesting story. But it figures that for the first time that I am aware of, this program designed for kids was turned into something political. Or was it? Have I lost my objectivity? 

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Who Needs Homecoming to Revisit College—There are plenty of better opportunities!

Photos by Bob Rucker, one of my former professors at SJSU:
The fellow in blue is Dwight Bentel’s older brother—yes, OLDER. One hundred four, to be exact.
Dr. Dwight Bentel blows out the candles on his birthday cake.

I am neglecting this blog again—when I get work thrown my way, I take it, and I do it as quickly as possible so I can get MORE work as it comes available. In the summertime, we tend to get a lot of completed publications; our writers are academics and of course an academic is most productive during breaks—publications are often completed over summer vacation and winter break. But I have been doing some other things … like attend the reception for Dr. Dwight Bentel.

I’ve not strayed terribly far from San José State University following my graduation in May 2000. I returned as an older adult student in the fall of 1998, and kept myself on track for four semesters and one winter session in order to graduate on time. My coursework was challenging but not as difficult as my nursing classes in community college at the end of the 1970s, into the early 1980s.

I have found myself on campus from time to time when I did some work for the director of the Journalism and Mass Communications department. Up until April 23 I’d resisted attending any departmental fund raising efforts, not because I didn’t care, but more because I didn’t have the money. I couldn’t resist attending an event last night though… how often do you get to see an actual living, breathing person that was important enough to a university to have a building named after him? The “party” was a 100th birthday bash for the JMC’s department founder, Dwight Bentel. Bentel also founded the university’s newspaper, the Spartan Daily. SJSU’s journalism building is named Dwight Bentel Hall (DBH for short). There were events in the department all day, the theme being “Visual Journalism Day.”

Bentel is a journalist and photographer. For a 100-year old guy, he does pretty darn well. He’s ambulatory, and his caretaker says she doesn’t have to do anything around the house, that he does his own laundry, cooks and cleans. I suppose she’s around to drive for him, because some of his former co-workers who spoke last night claimed he was a scary driver—nothing got in his way in his quest to travel from Point A to Point B.

You can learn more about him here: A Pioneering Journalism Educator—and 'E&P' Writer—Hits Age 100

Also in attendance was his older brother, all of 102 years of age.

It was very nice to see some of my former professors that I’ve not seen in the past few years. Most remember me. Most complemented me on my darker hair color. I did go out of my way to thank my magazine journalism editor—because of three semesters with him, I work as an editor. I’d rather be a writer, but a buck is a buck!

Probably one of the funniest things that happened was the singing of the SJSU song. There’s an SJSU song? I had no idea. It sucked and has lyrics like “Hail Spartans! Hail SJSU!” Very inspiring—NOT!

Anyway, people who graduated anywhere from the 1950s into the 1970s (including what would have been my graduating class had I stuck with it, 1978) knew that gone. A couple of them were disgusted I had no idea about the melody or words (they passed out a paper that had the words), and they asked “How can you not know this?” “I came here to learn journalism and public relations, not how to sing some dumb school song.” “It’s not dumb. If you’d gone to football games, you would have learned it.”

BFD. I think I did fine without it. Besides, the song was written in 1933 and it in gross need of updating.

I didn’t attend this soirée alone—I dragged along one of my classmates, Patricia, one of two of my friends who are as conservative as I am. Patricia, Sean and I could be counted on to get into political arguments in most any class we took. Last night it was the same old thing, minus Sean, who is living in Portland, Oregon.

While at SJSU we took plenty of heat for being conservatives during the reign of Bill Clinton. We three were the only ones who laughed during Clinton’s impeachment proceedings, which were widely broadcast throughout the journalism building (the main lecture hall, when not in use, had the trial up on a big screen television, and students came and went as they wished) and who thought he deserved to be impeached. Most of our professors couldn’t understand why we’d ever not be supportive of anything Clinton had ever done. One proudly displayed a photo taken of herself and her husband with Bill Clinton at one of Clinton’s inaugural balls. She was horrified to learn I had not voted for Clinton, would never vote for Clinton, was against most policies put forth by the Democratic party. “You voted for Dole?” she said to me, horrified. “You plan to vote for a Republican in the fall of 2000? I am so shocked and disappointed in you.”

Here is my point: is there such thing as a conservative educator? Other than attending a Baptist university in the deep south, are there any colleges or universities that embrace a conservative slant? The private university I attended for my master’s degree, a Jesuit university, of course toed the Catholic churches’ values, yet its outlook was as liberal as anything. Why is it so wrong to promote a conservative agenda?

Is it possible to be a compassionate conservative in education? We believe in opportunity but we also believe that you need to earn that opportunity, not just have it handed to you based on the fact you are alive and breathing. We believe in personal accountability—that there is honor in paying for our education and in the accomplishments we work for while working for anything, be it a degree or our careers. There is nothing racist in those statements—why am I accused of being racist because I’m conservative?

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