I Cry At The Teasing and Bullying Too.

At the risk of jumping in with the media frenzy surrounding the situation at VT, I just wanted to quote a part of the story that terribly saddens me.
From Yahoo News:

Classmates in Virginia, where Cho grew up, said he was teased and picked on, apparently because of shyness and his strange, mumbly way of speaking.

Once, in English class at Westfield High School in Chantilly, Va., when the teacher had the students read aloud, Cho looked down when it was his turn, said Chris Davids, a Virginia Tech senior and high school classmate. After the teacher threatened him with an F for participation, Cho began reading in a strange, deep voice that sounded “like he had something in his mouth,” Davids said.

“The whole class started laughing and pointing and saying, `Go back to China,'” Davids said.

Stephanie Roberts, 22, a classmate of Cho’s at Westfield High, said she never witnessed anyone picking on Cho in high school. But she said friends of hers who went to middle school with him told her they recalled him getting bullied there.

“There were just some people who were really mean to him and they would push him down and laugh at him,” Roberts said. “He didn’t speak English really well and they would really make fun of him.”

A 2002 federal study on common characteristics of school shooters found that 71 percent of them “felt bullied, persecuted or injured by others prior to the attack.”

The report said that “in some of these cases the experience of being bullied seemed to have a significant impact on the attacker and appeared to have been a factor in his decision to mount an attack at the school. In one case, most of the attacker’s schoolmates described the attacker as the kid everyone teased.”

When will we learn that “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me,” is a lie? When will we learn that teasing and bullying is as terrible as murder. And before you think I’m making an erroneous stretch of a claim, it wasn’t my original thought.

I long for the day that adults and kids seeing teasing as disturbing as a school shooting. That it becomes something so wrong and inappropriate that schools call off classes to debrief, parent’s leave work to comfort the victims and correct the perpetrators.

I don’t mean in any way to diminish the mourning and heart ache of those involved in the situation at VT, I just think we need to expand those feelings and our attention beyond incidents were people are killed, and move to addressing as well were words, teasing, hatred, and bullying have killed people inside. Where is the love?

An Entire Life of Sadness…

I don’t have the time or energy right now to write a crafty response in reply to this comment, so I thought I would enlist the help of my brilliant friends to reply to this commenter with their own life experiences and thoughts.

The most popular post on my blog is entitled, Why I ditched Dave Ramsey. It’s gotten ton’s of comments, mostly it’s become a ground for folks to debt Dave Ramsey, but that wasn’t my intention. I originally posted that while Dave had written a caller’s concern about saving $30 a month on gas by driving a more economical and energy efficient car as being a ‘tight-wad.’ I felt he should have affirmed her concern and encouraged her to be a good steward and sacrificial steward with her finances. I said, “She was not being a “tight-wad” she was being a wise steward, one that sees the money she has been given not as her’s that God “blessed her” with, but for her to use wisely as God entrusted her with it.”

Yesterday, a reader replied with this comment:

As to the original blogger, geez, do you live your entire life in sadness? I think it’s great that you want to spend ALL your extra money sponsoring kids and such, but are you sure that’s God and not your own efforts to alleviate a “guilt complex” of some type for living a nice life in America? Enjoy the blessings God gave you and be wise with your money, and you can affect your world in far greater ways.”

I’d love to hear what you all think of that and your thoughts (even if you agree with him. Feel free to comment on this post or on the post after his comment.

Ben’s Take On The Media

In the absence of time to write myself, I want to highlight some friends writings…

My buddy, Ben, writes:

This Virginia Tech shooting is really sad, but its also a reminder of how sad our media is. Nowhere on TV, print, or radio is safe from what seems like deep exploitation for ratings. Each news channel seems to be putting on a show of sadness, while they are probably giddy to get a change to create new graphics, horrific segment titles, and story after story about why you too should be scared for your life. As the president of Virginia Tech said, “we live in an open society,” and while that brings with it incredible freedom and joy, it at times is open to unpreventable tragedies. Yet, even here in Seattle the local news can’t help but pain the local colleges here as the next possible place for terror, and older members of the media continue to talk about how more violent and worse off this generation is compared to the “good ole days.” While the media is busy painting this generation as violent and heartless they are missing…

Read the Rest of his Post here.

No Internet at Home

The Internet came to a crashing halt at the house. Josh said the wiring is really messed up which means it might be a while before it’s fixed. And knowing our landlord’s it’ll be even longer then that. It’s been nice not having the internet for a little bit, but I’ll appreciate when it’s back. Mindy’s has a lot of homework to catch up on so we’ll be spending sometime at a coffee shop that has free wifi I’m sure.

I’m gonna write a few post here quick so you won’t miss your daily dose, but just know that won’t be too lengthy, and I’ll be slow to reply to comments as well (what else is new?).

Corporate Responsibility: Chipotle’s Food With Integrity

Corporate Responsibility Monday’s seeks to inform you about the corporations from which you consume. I’ll be highlighting a company that seems to be getting the Responsibility part right, and my partner in this Tag Team endeavor, Josh, will be highlighting a company that seems to be slacking on it’s responsibility. The goal always is to inform you, and hopefully to encourage you to make choices with your lifestyle and purchases that are more inline with your ethics then you currently are. This week, we’re talking about fast food. Be sure to check out Josh’s post on an irresponsible company (and no it’s not the golden arches, you already know not to eat there).

Chipotle’s Food With Integrity
Chipotle's Timeline TreeTheir website explains it well:

“Food With Integrity” isn’t a marketing slogan. It’s not a product line of natural and organic foods. And it’s not a corporate initiative that will ever be finished or set aside to make room for other priorities. It’s a philosophy that we can always do better in terms of the food we buy. And when we say better, we mean better in every sense of the word- better tasting, coming from better sources, better for the environment, better for the animals, and better for the farmers who raise the animals and grow the produce.

Which is why we’re highlighting Chipotle this week as a company that is making an effort to be a business that supports and values the same things that we do. I mean any fast food corporation that is willing to put “Fast Food Nation” on their list for ‘Further Reading’ must be doing something right.

Chipotle’s commitment hasn’t stopped at food either. They’ve been making strides to design their buildings, appliances and consumable goods in more sustainable ways as well. The Austin Energy group took notice of Chipotle’s Four Star energy rating and highlighted them in a case study:

Since the very beginning, Chipotle Mexican Grill has practiced “accidental sustainability” by often re-using existing buildings for their restaurants rather than building from scratch. Also, they tend to open small stores in urban settings near public transportation with easy access from residential, business, and
university areas. In general, Chipotle uses building materials that are local, readily available, and affordable. Typical in-store finishes such as stainless steel, galvanized steel, and corrugated metal are high in recycled content, durable, easy to maintain, and easily recycled. “Chipotle always practiced common sense sustainability measures because we understood the long-term economic benefits to the restaurants, especially in terms of lowering the life-cycle costs of store operations.”

A company with a recognized record like this is not just a PR stunt. Chipotle from what I can see, is truly making strides to be an example of a sustainable business. If you stop in a store you’ll notice the prices aren’t outrageous compared to any other fast food you’ll pick up. I’m not here to encourage rampant fast food consumption (a homemade burrito will definitly keep your wallet more full), but if your going out for lunch, hit up Chipotle. And if you already did this weekend, then I hope your taking advantage of the BurritoEZ.

Be sure to check out Josh’s post on greasy royalty.

Flash Back: A Podcast on Simple Living and the Poverty Line

I reposted about this topic in December, but I wanted to highlight the podcast, which I think is worth a listen. A while ago I chatted with my friend Nate about simple living and some discussion we had had on our blogs and others comments. It was quite interesting.

powered by ODEO

For the original post, On Simple Living and living “a dollar above” the poverty line

Discussion ?: Driving and Environmental Stewardship

I was going to write a post on this, but I decided I’d rather post some links and quotes and hopefully generate some discussion on the topic. Here’s the quick summary. I want to be a environmental steward of my resources and I want to be a fair consumer of the earth’s resources. There’s all kinds of talk about global warming these days and choosing more sustainable and energy efficient lifestyle choices. There’s also criticism arising about those things. I want to hit two areas briefly. Global Warming and then more specifically, choice of vehicle.

First, global warming. Al Gore has brought to the forefront of conversation the issue of Global Warming through his movie an inconvenient truth.

The critics have returned not only with a critique that just says global warming is a scam, but with a whole response video that explains why the hype about global warming can actually be bad for society and the developing world. They also point out who stands to gain in the global warming frenzy. Definitely some interesting things I haven’t thought of before. The Great Global Warming Swindle:

Are you green? How
many flights have you taken in the last year? Feeling guilty about all
those unnecessary car journeys? Well, maybe there’s no need to feel bad.

Wikipedia notes:

  • Author and economist James Shikwati says in the programme that environmentalists campaign against Africa using its fossil fuels:
    “there’s somebody keen to kill the African dream. And the African dream
    is to develop.” He describes renewable power as “luxurious
    experimentation” that might work for rich countries but will never work
    for Africa: “I don’t see how a solar panel is going to power a steel
    industry…We are being told, ‘Don’t touch your resources. Don’t touch
    your Oil. Don’t touch your Coal. That is suicide.'”
  • An example is given in the film of a Kenyan health clinic which is
    powered by solar panels which do not provide enough electricity for
    both the medical refrigerator and the lights at the same time. The
    programme describes the idea of restricting the world’s poorest people
    to alternative energy sources as “the most morally repugnant aspect of
    the Global Warming campaign.”

Second, vehicles. I’d still like to see the day very soon when the wife and I can do without a car, but until then I’m still trying to make the best environmental choices I can when it comes to those vehicles. In light of that we’ve considered buying a used hybrid sometime down the road when we have to purchase a new vehicle. It seemed to be the wisest financial decision. Yet, there has also been some criticism of the hype about fuel efficient cars.

There’s a study done by a research outfit called CNW Marketing Research which attempts to determine the total energy used by a vehicle from mining the metals to final disposal. Interestingly the Hummer H2 comes out ahead of a number of more fuel efficient vehicles including the Honda Civic and the Toyota Prius. (Let it be said that the Focus and the Scion XP come out far ahead of the Hummer). There’s an interesting discussion of the results here and an audio interview with the researcher here. –a podcast

Going Private has an interesting take on hybrids:

Hybrids are such a horrible mess because they mix all the elements required to destroy the market forces.  Subsidies, state and federal.  Green investing.  Substantial research and development to avoid spending money on gasoline, which the market has actually left quite cheap, at the expense of a more expensive product.  (Hint: use cheap resources until they are not cheap anymore).

And more negative new about hybrids:

In reality, as put forward by auto-writer Richard Burr in the Weekly
Standard, hybrids don’t deliver anywhere close to the gas mileage that
the agency attributes to them. According to Spinella, hybrid sales
every month this year have reduced compared to the same time last year.
Reason being; people prefer to buy non-hybrid with the same mileage or
somewhere near that due to the lower price. Spinella’s customer
satisfaction surveys also reveal 62 percent of hybrid owners are
dissatisfied with the fuel-economy performance. Hybrids also have a
disastrous pollution and energy consumption record in Japan and other
Asian countries where these cars are manufactured.

And there’s this bit too:

The problem with Dalmia’s Op-ed, and many other irresponsible misrepresentations of the very ambitious CNW report: “Dust to Dust”, are that today’s costs, aren’t necessarily tomorrow’s costs, and Spinello himself admits
that hybrids will probably be more “dust to dust” energy efficient than
their non-hybrid counterparts in a relatively short time, as short as a
few years, as the technology is simplified and the manufacturing
process is streamlined. (Check out that podcast for a good overview of
the report’s conclusions.) New technology is always more costly early
in it’s development.

I just want to know the truth. I want to be fuel efficient, environmentally sound, a good steward, and I’ll drive a scion, a hybrid, or even a hummer if it’s the best decision for the world. But all this back and forth, biases and more leaves a person frustrated and confused. What’s the truth?  Anyone have some thoughts on the matter?

Hip Hop Songs of Struggle

I’m planning on continuing the Hip Hop series, but I wanted to take a time to have some practical application of Lesson #1 and encourage you to hear some songs that I think highlight people’s struggles. Below there is about 30 minutes worth of music videos featuring 6 different songs that I thought would be worth including in this discussion. If your not interested in listening and watching the videos feel free to skip to the bottom and just read through some of the lyrics. However, if you’d like to watch the videos I’ve created a textbox below the video so that hopefully you can read along as the songs go and make sure you catch any lyrics that were unclear.

Here is the playlist:

  1. The Prayer– by DMX
    The first video is a prayer from the beginning of one of DMX’s Albums. He always prays at the beginning of his albums, and though many may find the rest of his album inappropriate, I thought this was an appropriate beginning to this collection.
  2. Runaway Love by Ludacris
    This is a really new song, so you might have heard it on the radio, but it’s definitly a touching song that many probably connect with.
  3. Cleanin’ Out My Closet by Eminem
    EXPLICIT LYRICS definitly a song of struggle, with some harsh words and thoughts, but I think it fits with the topic.
  4. What It’s Like by Everlast
    I’d heard this song before but never really listened to the words. I know it’s not a Hip Hop song but I thought it was worth including.
  5. Dear Mama by Tupac
    Get a glimpse into the struggles of the life of 2pac.

2. Song: Runaway love
Artist: Ludacris ft. Mary.j blidge

[Hook – Mary J. Blige]
Runaway love
Runaway love
Runaway love
Runaway love
Runaway love
Runaway love
Runaway love
Runaway love

[Verse 1]
Now little lisa is only 9 years old
Shes tryin to figure out why the world is so cold
Why shes all all alone and they never met her family
Mamas always gone and she never met her daddy
Part of her is missin and nobody will listenin
Mama is on drugs gettin high up in the kitchen
Bringin home men at different hours of the night
Startin with laughs–usually endin in a fight
Sneak into her room while her mamas knocked out
Tryin to have his way and little lisa says ‘ouch’
She tries to resist but then all he does is beat her
Tries to tell her mom but her mama don’t believe her
Lisa is stuck up in the world on her own
Forced to think that hell is a place called home
Nothin else to do but some get some clothes and pack
She says shes bout to run away and never come back.

Runaway love
Runaway love
Runaway love
Runaway love
Runaway love
Runaway love
Runaway love
Runaway love

[Verse 2]
Little nicole is only 10 years old
Shes steady tryin to figure why the world is so cold
Why shes not pretty and nobody seems to like her
Alcoholic step dad always wanna strike her

Yells and abuses, leaves her with some bruises
Teachers ask questions she makin up excuses
Bleedin on the inside, cryin on the out
Its only one girl really knows what she about
Her name is lil stacy and they become friends
Promise that they always be tight til the end
Until one day lil stacy gets shot
A drive by bullet went stray up on her block
Now nicole stuck up in the world on her own
Forced to think that hell is a place called home
Nothin else to do but some get some clothes and pack
She says shes bout to run away and never come back.

Runaway love
Runaway love
Runaway love
Runaway love
Runaway love
Runaway love
Runaway love
Runaway love

[Verse 3]
Little erica is eleven years old
Shes steady tryin to figure why the world is so cold
So she pops x to get rid of all the pain
Cause shes havin sex with a boy whos sixteen
Emotions run deep and she thinks shes in love
So theres no protection hes usin no glove
Never thinkin bout the consequences of her actions
Livin for today and not tomorrows satisfaction
The days go by and her belly gets big
The father bails out he aint ready for a kid
Knowin her mama will blow it all outta proportion
Plus she lives poor so no money for abortion
Erica is stuck up in the world on her own
Forced to think that hell is a place called home
Nothin else to do but get her clothes and pack
She say shes about to run away and never come back.

Runaway love [repeats til end]
Click below to read the rest of the lyrics Continue reading Hip Hop Songs of Struggle

Bikes, Maintenance and Pedal Powered Washers

I finally went to the bike shop today to hear the inevitable, “What have you done to your bike!” line concerning my lack of maintenance to my major mode of transportation. I lamented over the $200 tune-up and part replacement estimate, realizing I’d paid just $210 for the bike used one year ago. I thought over the maintenance I could do myself, and felt guilty about the fact that I’ve said I would do it for months now. It’s probably the same with our car if I think about it, but I don’t use the car enough to really care.

So, a bike, like a car, cost money to maintain, and yet I’m so reluctant to maintain it. I’m constantly playing a numbers game as to whether one choice or another saves more money. It’s total economics and I forget to take into consideration the external benefits of biking to work: better for the environment, exercise, quiet time for myself to and from work, guaranteed hour outdoors a day. It’s really a wonderful thing to do and I’m still so hesitant when it comes to making sure I take care of my bike. The truth is, I just don’t like spending money on anything really. I usually think to myself, if it’s not broken, why fix it? Which is what I was thinking as my tire blew out leaving the bike shop after getting the estimate. Needless to say I’ve schedule a tune-up for next week.

Cyclean BikeSpeaking of externals. The baby is coming soon, which means at least for a little while, my daily bike commute will be coming to a close. I plan on doing a lot more walking around once she’s hear, but for a while biking will be out (at least till she can hold up her head). But I do have another use for biking, something I’ve been interested in for a while. I don’t know when or if I can find one, but I’d really like one of these Bike powered Washing machines. Wouldn’t it be great? We are going to be using cloth diapers and this would be a great way to continue on the environmentally friendly path. Not sure I could hack something together, but the Cyclean guy said he’s putting together some instructions (another guy gave some instructions too). Bonus points if anyone wants to give us this as a baby shower gift.

Corporate Responsibility Monday: Sweatshop Free? No Sweat.

Corporate Responsibility Mondays
The goal of Corporate Responsibility Monday’s (at least my part) is to expose you to companies that are doing a good job, that are making the world a better place, that you can shop at with a clean conscience. Since my goal is to give you alternatives for items that you are currently purchasing, I’ll be highlighting another clothing company, No Sweat Apparel. Be sure to check out Josh’s Post for a company with shadier ethics.

No Sweat Apparel.comNo Sweat Apparel runs as a 100% union made apparel company. They are an “open source” company in that they provide links and detailed info on each manufacturer that makes their products. It’s a brilliant idea and a wonderful way to hear the story behind the clothing your purchasing.

They are both environmentally and labor conscience as they point out in their http://nosweatapparel.com/faqs/question4.html:

The exploitation of humans & the environment are intimately related. However, our first and foremost objective is to provide quality working conditions and a decent living wage for the garment workers. We believe that when humans are exploited they care little about the environment. Their first concern, understandably, is to feed their families. So we start at the root cause, exploitation of humans. The second step, for us, will be to improve the environmental impact of production processes.

And their goal is to be a global company, not just domestic:

For the long-term we expect to that at least 30% of our production will be domestic. But this movement is not about free trade versus protectionism. It’s about free trade versus fair trade. The women in the developing world desperately need these jobs. Our mission is to support their struggle against exploitation–not take their jobs away. Vigorous unions in the developing world will certainly take some pressure off UNITE members here. We believe the only way to protect workers anywhere is to defend workers’ rights everywhere.

Now that your fully convinced of the wonderfulness of buying fair trade clothing from No Sweat Apparel let me highlight some of the quality products available. You see, most of you and others, will ‘amen’ everything about the ethics behind buying fair trade in that it supports the values above, but when it comes to doing it, it’s either to inconvenient to buy online or you say it’s too expensive. So, let’s take a brief shopping trip together and let me highlight some of the great products from my favorite section, Clearance.

No Sweat Apparel.com

So, I don’t know how much Yoga Pants are usually, but right now they are on sale for just $18. For women looking for some black slip on shoes, how about a pair for $7! (By the way, they use UPS and most orders are about $6-9 for shipping. Though if you order $100 worth of items shipping is free!). You know the really nice vintage tee material? They have shirts and tank tops for just $10 each!

pink sneakersSo, I’m not sure what your waiting for, but I suggest you stop by there and take a look around. By clothing that supports a sustainable world. And if you don’t want to buy clothing at least buy these sweet pink sneakers, for just $11!

And for a company NOT to shop at check out Josh’s post.