You know you're a Menke when...

...You can turn this:

Into this:

And still not plan on checking any bags. (I'll let you know how it turns out.)

(Update--10:40 PM. I don't think the "before" picture does adequate justice to how much stuff I did indeed cram into 3 smallish bags. I should've taken a top-view picture. Or taken the before and after from the same position. Either way...I'm still impressed.)


Highlights of the Day, Deanna style

I'm inspired by my sister's newsy updates on her Herald Herald and thought I would try it too.

Puzzle with Mom. I have lots of good memories puzzling with the fam. Sometimes I feel bad for my mom cause I get really into it. But we get lots of good chat/reconnecting time too.

Walking with Dad. For the first time in my life I feel in the same physical shape or better than my dad. (He's likely just holding back to make me feel good.) While running, I could run longer than him, but he can definitely run faster. Weirdly I can't tell the difference in altitude between here and St. Louis. Also, we have super interesting conversations.

Crab Legs. Mom bought crab legs for a special family meal (a first for our family I believe) The crab meat was so-so, but the meal was full of laughter as crab meat went flying and we invented new ways of getting the small bits of meat out. I love laughing.

Reconnecting with Lauren. Lauren and I went for a night hike tonight in Ute Valley Park and stargazed for a bit until we froze and then sipped Maté in the car. Lauren and I have been friends for 10 years now. I think getting the rare face-to-face time is important to maintain the friendship so it's a good thing our parents are likely not going anywhere so we'll always have the occasional Christmas to be in the same state at the same time.


All is calm, all is bright

Mom and I both agree that "Silent Night" is the best Christmas Carol. It's just so gosh-darn pretty!

We had a different sort of Christmas this year and it was really nice. This was my parents and my "off year" where my sisters spend Christmas with their in-laws. Since I'm partner-less and kid-less, I instead spent Christmas with my parents. It was...quieter.

(But I did miss the manic time that happens when the whole family is together. Deanna jokes that our family is bipolar when we all get together. The more we joke about, the more I think it's completely accurate.)

Just about every year we have a big discussion about which Christmas Eve mass we will attend and before it even begins we all know that the midnight mass (Mom's favorite choice) will not be the winner. Despite knowing this information I tried yet again. "But dad, we haven't gone in years! And we may not have the chance to do it again for many more years because we don't have grandkids around this year!" We grudgingly settled on the 8:30 service yet again but Christmas Eve dinner at a friend's house ran late with singing Christmas carols and rather than leave abruptly to get to mass on time, we enjoyed the evening. Totally by accident we went to the "midnight mass" (now at 10:30 PM).

Nativity at my parent's church, Holy Apostles

Yes, I probably haven't been to a midnight mass in over 10 years and I have totally forgotten the appeal. I've fought for it because I know my mom loves it but didn't really know why. The mass really was beautiful. The music was phenomenal, the candles and decorations were gorgeous and the whole experience just felt holy. This may just be a tradition I keep alive.


Shots in the night

What is the appropriate time to wait to go outside after you hear gunshots?

Last night I heard gunshots from my house in East Saint Louis. This isn't a new occurrence for me, but it is an unpleasant one. The first few times I heard it I tried to convince myself that it was just someone putting of fireworks. It's not. What made this time different from the numerous other times I've heard gunshots was that I was planning on leaving my house again that evening. (In fact, should've been leaving as I heard the gunshots) I waited. And waited. And then about 10 minutes late I made my way to my car and drove off and was just fine.

I always think of what circumstances caused someone to fire a gun. What was the trigger that turned an argument into a shooting? Violence is dumb.

I hate weapons, especially guns.


Merry Christmas!

I really love the Christmas season. Now that our family doesn't exchange presents any more, I've been able to enjoy the season even more. In high school I used to host sleepovers pretty frequently, and this picture is from one in about 2002.

Kaleena sporting short hair, sitting on Santa's lap (Santa is my mom--we like to play "dress-up" in my family)

Merry Christmas!! I hope you can enjoy this time too!


East St. Louis' Neighborhoods

This would've been a lot more helpful if I found this when I first moved here. These are the neighborhood names of East St. Louis. Currently I live in #6 (Edgemont) and work in #17 (South End). For several weeks I kept hearing these names and had no idea what people were talking about. I feel like a native now!

(click for a bigger version)


Monday Inspiration: Throw Caution to the Wind

Soooooo, I'll finally get over my embarrassment and post again. "Embarrassment about what?" you may be thinking, and if you are thinking this then you probably are not subscribed to my blog via rss. For the last month, I've been journaling daily on a private blog for a game I've been playing with my sister and some of her friends. About 3 weeks ago I wrote this rambling post full of self-deprecation (and not in a humorous way) and hit "Publish Post" only to realize that I posted the stinkin' post to my very public blog. (I've now deleted it, of course, but everyone that subscribes to this blog would've been able to read it in full) Whoopsidasie. Thanks for those subscribers that stuck with me despite my clumsy posting. (Maybe you found it interesting and stuck around in case I do it again? I probably will...)

I'm considering another life-change. A move...possibly into St. Louis proper. Tonight a perfect-sounding place, more importantly: within my price-range, was posted to the St. Louis couchsurfing board. What makes it even more perfect was the cool quote I found on the profile for my would-be, new housemate.

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.

- Mark Twain

I love trying new things, but sometimes I get caught in the comfortable routine. I like the reminder to stretch yourself so you don't have regrets later.


The Finger

I thought I had seen it all, but yesterday I saw a 5-year-old give a 6-year-old the finger. 5! Five. Years. Old. And they were both cursing up a storm too. I know these kids have seen more scary stuff in one year then I've probably seen in my whole life but I thought that they could hold on to their innocence until they were 7 or 8. If I hadn't been standing right there, their verbal fight would've turned into a physical fight too. And they're just mimicking what they see the older kids do...


How I'm Voting: Midterm Elections 2010

Maybe this isn't a good idea to post publicly, but I can always change my mind and take it down later...Although I'm currently living in East Saint Louis, I'm voting in the Colorado Election because I've been actively involved in Colorado politics (and I want to keep my Colorado residency too!)

Resources I used for deciding how to vote:
My Votes:
  • United States Senator - Michael F. Bennet
  • Representative, District 5 - Kevin Bradley
  • Governor - John Hickenlooper
  • Secretary of State - Bernie Buescher
  • State Treasurer - Cary Kennedy
  • Attoney General - Stan Garnett
  • State Board of Education, Distirct 5 - Paul Lundeen
  • CU Regent - Melissa Hart
  • State Senate, District 5 - abstain, I don't like my option
  • State Representative, District 20 - abstain, I don't like my option
  • County Clerk and Recorder - Tom Mowle, I've heard this guy speak several times and think he's a great choice for El Paso County.
  • County Treasurer - abstain, I don't like my option
  • County Assessor - Mark Lowderman
  • County Sheriff - Terry Maketa, lesser of two evils?
  • County Surveyor - abstain, couldn't find any info on him whatsoever (G Lawrence Burnett?)
  • County Coroner - Bob Bux
  • Judge Retentions - Retain all of 'em
  • Amendment P - YES
  • Amendment Q - YES
  • Amendment R - YES
  • Colorado Amendment 60 - NO
  • Colorado Amendment 61 - NO
  • Colorado Amendment 62 - NO, didn't we already vote on this in 2008?
  • Colorado Amendment 63 - NO
  • Proposition 101 - NO
  • Proposition 102 - NO
  • County Question 1A - NO
  • County Question 1B - NO
  • County Question 1C - NO
  • County Question 1D - NO

Please know that even though I voted for democratic candidates in all but one race, I spent several hours reading and researching to pick the best candidate for each position.

And although I can't vote on Colorado Springs issues since I my address is in the county, here's how I would vote on the three Colorado Springs issues:

2B - YES
2C -  NO
300 - NO

Don't forget to sign the the envelope for your ballot. If it's not signed, it will not be counted :(

Also, when I was working for El Paso Elections, a surprising number of people wrote things on their envelopes about politics, government or religion. (The most popular being simply: In God We Trust) Any ideas for something fun and clever that I can write on my envelope?


About East Saint Louis

I want to write about my time in East Saint Louis but I want to be respectful to my friends/coworkers/community partners/neighbors while doing so. I've been struggling with how I can best talk about these issues of race, poverty, and education honestly.

OK, so here's the plan boys and girls: I'm going to put a delay of a year on any posts specific to where I'm living and the work I'm doing. I'll post my personal and generic posts as usual (semi-not-at-all, hehe) and then in about a year you'll start seeing East Saint Louis posts (with the label 'esl') if you want to find them all in one place.

Hold on to your hats and be patient :)

Whatever It Takes

Whatever It Takes: Geoffrey Canada's Quest to Change Harlem and AmericaWhatever It Takes: Geoffrey Canada's Quest to Change Harlem and America by Paul Tough

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A tough read because this book spoke exactly to the work I'm doing right now: intergenerational poverty and working to overcome it. Several times while reading I found myself nodding in agreement and wondering why I was spending my leisure time reading about something I spent struggling with all day long.

Geoffrey Canada, the founder of the Harlem Children's Zone, is constantly struggling to come up with creative solutions to help children escape from their circumstances. He's set up a "conveyor belt" of services from pre-birth through high-school to try to change the culture in Harlem.

This conversation surrounding our terrible education systems in the US seems to be coming up more and more frequently and this gives me hope that change is on the horizon.

A few things that I like on the subject:


Monday Inspiration: Human Touch

Yes, I forgot to post last week. I thought of several times but never followed through. Whoops. Oh well, fresh start in a new week.

I heard this on the way to work this morning and loved it!

Human Connections Start With A Friendly Touch

Social norms be damned. I'm handing out more free hugs from now on. It's good for your health!


Tuesday Inspiration: FISH Philosophy

The week started a little late this week with a 3-day weekend! Wahoo! Know what that means? A 4-day work week. Double Wahoo!

Since working at the Griffin Center I've heard about the "FISH Philosophy" several times now and finally this morning I asked what it was all about. A fish house in Seattle started this by trying to create a better experience for their customers with 4 key concepts:
  • Play
  • Make Their Day
  • Be There
  • Choose Your Attitude
Now there is a whole curriculum and books and DVDs and all sorts of junk you can buy to help bring this philosophy into your workplace. Apparently Southwest Airlines uses this in their business models. My sister has raved about Southwest for years now and I just took my first flight with them and as much as I hate to admit it, their excellent customer service and cheerful attitudes really did make the whole flying experience much more pleasant.

I think it's a pretty great way to work...and live!


Monday Inspiration: Human Rights

"Where, after all,
do universal human rights begin?
In small places, close to home -
so close and so small
that they cannot be seen on
any map of the world.

Yet they are the world of the individual person:
the neighborhood he lives in;
the school or college he attends;
the factory; farm or office where he works.

Such are the places where
every man, woman and child seeks
equal justice, equal opportunity,
equal dignity without discrimination.

Unless these rights have meaning there,
they have little meaning anywhere.

Without concerted citizen action
to uphold them dose to home,
we shall look in vain
for progress in the larger world."
--Eleanor Roosevelt

Part of this quote was on a poster at Diane's house where I was living last week.


Monday Inspiration: We Are All the Same

Today's tidbit is from a book I read for a Political Science class, "We Are All the Same", about a boy battling AIDS. He was denied entrance to school because he had AIDS. This is from a speech he gave at the International AIDS Conference. He was 12 when he gave it and died about a year later.

"We are all the same.
We are not different from one another.
We all belong to one family.
We love and we laugh, we hurt and we cry, we live and we die."

~Nkosi Johnson



Monday Inspiration: Let Your Light Shine

I'm going to try something out on this blog for a bit: Monday Inspiration. These are going to be stories or quotes that I especially like and think are worth sharing.

I found the first one through one of my friends, James Croft, who is an editor for The New Humanism.

He has part of the following on is facebook page for his tagline under the profile picture:

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others."

--Marianne Williamson
Are you inspired yet?

I know I have these grandiose ideas for blogging that frequently fall short but, I already have another post scheduled for next Monday, so you at least get two weeks of this. :)


Left versus Right

Infographics are one of my new favorite things (Wow. Now that makes me sound like Oprah!) I've been following David McCandless' blog for some time now and have read his book too and I keep coming back to this particular one because I think it is so interesting (and visually appealing):

(Click the image for full-size)


Ok, Fine! I'll be a dam engineer!

(Thanks Deanna for the punny title. And oops! Despite all my good ideas, it has still been several weeksmonths since I last posted.)

I'm currently in a bit of a limbo decided what to do with my life. I keep telling myself that I just need to pick something and that I'm not deciding between a "right" and a "wrong" option but just between several "right" options.

In less than a month, I've had two complete strangers separately tell me that I should be an engineer.

The first person was a speaker at TEDxDU, Neal Ford. Neal talked about how what's going to "save us" are engineers and in order to get more engineers we need to refocus our praise from athletes and actors to engineers! (The best part of is talk is in the first 5 minutes.)

And the next stranger was Bill Nye the Science Guy! Bill Nye was the "Humanist of the Year" at the American Humanist Association Conference that I attended a couple weeks ago. I chatted with him for a few minutes late that night I receive some more sage advice. And we swapped stories about our time working at Boieng.

OK, Fine! I'll be a dam engineer! (well, prolly not a dam engineer--I just like the pun.)


Targeted Ads

Why Yes, Facebook! I do want to meet single "environmentally-conscious men". How did you know? Was it by the way that I'm female, single, in my 20s and follow lots of "green" pages?

In other (related) news: I watch 95% of my TV on hulu.com. Despite the fact that they no longer have the Daily Show or the Colbert Report and that their ads have increased in both frequency and length, I think they are pretty fantastic. Until about a month ago...

Hulu played this ad about HPV. It starts with a story about a girl that meets a guy and falls in love and gets married until...(queue eerie music) her doctor tells her that she has HPV and her life is ruined forever! Because she get cancer and then can't have kids and, and, and... it's terrible. It's a minute long (not hulu's usual 30-sec) and it just makes you fell like a horrible person when it's done. I kept seeing this ad day after day and wanted to scream each time it appeared again.

I finally got rid of this dreadful ad by switching my gender on my profile. Yes, I'm now a boy. Get excited. What have I learned from all this? Apparently boys like beer, fast cars, violent video games, and cool cell phones! And girls like NGOs, disney cruises, shampoo, cooking and of course--STDs! I couldn't find the original ad but here's a pretty hilarious parody that came out of it:

If we target ads based on gender is this the result?

Dear Hulu, Please stop these terrible, fearful ads.


Get Excited!

whoopsidasie. Yes. It's been more than a month since I last posted. I have a real job now! (well, it's not that real--it will probably end in the next week or two) I've realized that I'm pretty terrible at trying to work full-time and keep up with all the things that used to be a big part of life and I'm slowly trying to find the magic "balance" that manages to chronically allude me...

Here's a few of the things that may be formed into some sort of blog post(s) in the coming weeks:
  1. Nuclear Weapons and Energy (stuff I learned from my trip to Washington DC)
  2. TEDxDU (I went to this half-day TED event in Denver and it was STUPENDOUS!
  3. Targeted Ads
  4. "Draw Muhammad Day" thoughts
  5. 4YG, the end of the world as we know it and Imagine, Connect, Act
  6. Living Solidarity and Liberation Theology
  7. Fringe splash screens
Is all this cryptic enough for you? ohmygoodness I'm excited! I had better get started!


Omar Ahmad: Political change with pen and paper

I really like this TEDTalk and it's only 6 minutes long!
"You've take you passion and you've turned it into stewardship. You actually put action to the issues you care about. --Omar Ahmad"

(embedded video)

This advice of sending a letter is against most everything I've heard lately since snail mail takes weeks to go through the intense security (rather than seconds via email) But I do agree that a letter likely (literally) holds more weight. I like the idea of making it your goal to write to your elected officials monthly. I do think that if you keep in touch than you can better build relationships and relationships can help you get things done. The 4-step letter seems like a good guide that I look forward to trying too:

Parts of the Letter:
  1. Appreciation--flattery encourages people to listen
  2. Address the Issue--attack tactics and issues but not the person
  3. Exit Strategy--"if only you knew the info I do, then we would agree.."
  4. Solution--offer solution and offer to help
"A letter is one of the few times that we have honest communication.

And the final thoughts:
"A letter is one of the few times that we have honest communication."
Desire to Communicate + Stewardship = Powerful Dialogue


Happy Earth Day!

Timeline: 70 Years of Environmental Change
(This is a pretty cool timeline. And there is so much more we can do!)

The following pictures were taken at the house of a nun and a priest in Ciudad Juarez during my trip to Mexico. The nun painted the beautiful mural. (Maybe someone from INVST can remember their names?)

Prayer labyrinth in backyard

Pretty mural of the earth

Space Symposium

The annual Space Symposium happened last week. During my aerospace engineering days, I attended this symposium two different years. Each time I bashfully looked away as I walked by demonstrators telling about the militarization of space, the massive military budget, and the threat of nuclear weapons. Since then, I have "jumped ship" and joined the peace activists. I wanted to join the demonstration this year but I was too nervous at the thought of confronting former missile defense systems coworkers. I've opted for a little "slactivism" instead. I look forward to the day when the US spends its precious dollars on more worthwhile goals.

Here's a letter to the editor that didn't get published in either of the local papers by Bill Sulzmann, founder of the Colorado Springs chapter of Citizens for Peace in Space.

"A very significant event will happen next week in Colorado Springs, the 26th annual U.S. Space Symposium. It will like be reported as a feel good news story, a great boost to tourism and the promise of many more local Pentagon dollars. There are other layers to this story that deserve a second look. This is actually a huge celebration and marketing event for the giants of the military industrial complex, 8,000 attendees, 140 exhibitors at two exhibition halls. Everything is sold out, even the brand new Cyber War daylong sharing session The gathering will last for 4 days (April 12-15) and include a major exposure of local school children to the wares and propaganda of giant corporations such as Northrop Grumman, Boeing and Lockheed Martin and a host of subcontractors as well.

This is the epitome of business as usual.. These are the major players who lobby for and then get the lions share of the $800 billion pentagon annual budget. There will be a lot of civilian space stuff on display also. It's the "spoon full of sugar that helps the medicine go
down". In this sense it is a rip off of bona fide space enthusiasts.

This event and others like it set the priorities for our future military policy. This is the continuation of a wrongheaded policy which is sending us off the cliff of overreach.

And all those Pentagon dollars coming our way will not lead to a better tax base for our local and state governments. Tax exemptions for local military bases take a big bite out of public revenue. This includes the thousands of"civilian" personnel who work in tax free government buildings at bases such as Peterson and Schriever.

The symposium bills itself as a look into a better future. It's just more of the same."

--Bill Sulzman


2010 Census

Last Day to mail it back before I come a knockin'! Fill it out. It really is impressively short and sweet.


Abraham Lincoln Photomosaic

(Note: this a totally useless, ridiculous and unnecessary post for 99.997% of you. Prolly more like 99.99997%)

My aunt mailed me this absolutely impossible puzzle. A black-and-white photomosaic of Abraham Lincoln. This post is for all of you that searched the internet for a high-res photo of the completed product. I finished the gosh-darn puzzle (and it was actually kinda fun to do too)

"Civil War photos create our 16th president"

(Note 2: If you want the full, full size (about 5MB) please email me via the contact form on the right column, on the bottom)


Killer photo-op discovered

"Early last week in Garden of the Gods Park, a European visitor, observed by a horde of Japanese tourists and one Austrian, scampered up one of the park’s photogenic red rocks known as Balanced Rock and partially wedged himself into the slot between the massive boulder and underlying monolith. Onlookers soon began to murmur in excitement.

'It totally looked like he was holding the rock up,' said one reveler.

'I wish I’d thought of that,' another proclaimed.

Phoned later for comment, park ranger Barney Woodman said, 'We've never seen anything quite like this before.'"

From The Colorado Springs Independent. I'd love to post a link to the real deal, but I guess they didn't post it on their website.


Seventh Anniversary

Some of you may know that I've been having an ongoing scanning party to digitize pretty much anything scannable that I own. I just found this note that my mom wrote to my grandparents 7 years ago (When they were still alive) and thought it was particularly fitting for today:

"March 19, 2003

Dear Grandma and Grandpa,

Hope you are doing fine. Today is a special day. No school due to a snow storm; it's St. Joseph day and also Kaleena's birthday. That along with the idea that the US might start a war today, it is indeed a memorable day."

Iraq Body Count web counter

And here's a facebook group that my local Justice and Peace Commission created to keep you updated: Iraq--Seven Years Too Many


Caucuses Tonight!

Guess what? Today is the third Tuesday in March which means that it's caucus time! I hope you can go to yours because I'm currently in Washington DC and can't go to mine.

If I were to go, I would caucus for Andrew Romanoff and I would like to encourage you to do the same.

I think that a huge reason to support Romanoff has a better chance than Bennet of beating any Republican candidate and Romanoff is now beating Lieutenant Governor (R) Jane Norton in the polls.

More info about Romanoff:
-Senator Bennet's Special Interest/PAC Contributions
-Romanoff vs. Bennet debate

"We need Washington to work for us. That won’t happen as long as special interests are able to bankroll Congress and block reform. I am the only candidate in this race willing to fix that system, by turning down the cash that corrupts it.

For nearly a decade, I have fought to energize our economy, strengthen our schools, curb the cost of health care, and protect our fragile planet. That’s why I've been recognized as one of the most effective legislative leaders in America – and why I’ll be the best Senator money can’t buy."
--Andrew Romanoff

And find your caucus (For El Paso County)
-Democratic Caucus
-Republican Caucus


Antidote for War

I had an idea for a fun post. But then I forgot. (I'm sure I wrote it down somewhere so it's still coming...)

I had way too much fun changing my banner (lots of you use the rss feed and prolly don't notice that I change my banner weekly-ish which is why I'm mentioning it so you can go to my real live blog and check it out!)

and the quote:
"When all the peoples of the world remember to laugh, particularly at themselves, there will be no more dictators and no more war."
--Ben Lucien Burman

And now for some laughing at myself:

I hope that made you feel good because it sure made me feel good!


Resolutions Week 6

-scanned lots and lots and lots (about 10 hours I would guess)

-I thought the project would take 5 hours, but after 10 hours I still have another 3-ish to go.

Last Week:

Next Week: (I'm keeping it easy again because I'll be gone a couple days)
  1. Reply to email/voice mail within 24 hours. I need to revisit this one
  2. Try out jump-roping

And this is totally me: (Thanks Matt!)

Banning the Homeless in Colorado Springs

Last week I attended a workshop by Kathy Kelly on Creative Nonviolence. She wrote this article relating to the "No Camping" Ordinance that has now passed in Colorado Springs and asked us to repost it.

By Kathy Kelly

Decency and Strength

"Here in Colorado Springs, student and community organizers recently invited me to try and help promote their campaign against a proposed “No Camping” ordinance, a law to ban the homeless from sleeping on sidewalks or public lands within the city limits. The organizers insist it’s wrongful to criminalize the most desperate and endangered among us, that it instead seems quite criminal to persecute people already in need of far more care and compassion than we've been willing to offer, especially during these bitterly cold winter months. But others in the area are intent on eliminating the tent encampments near the Monument Creek and Shooks Run trails, complaining that the encampments mar natural beauty, deter tourists, create fire hazards, and degrade the environment by strewing heaps of trash and debris near the creek and even in it.

It seems important for both sides of the argument to acknowledge other local encampments that Colorado Springs is home to: Fort Carson Army base, both Peterson and Schriever (formerly Falcon) Air Force Bases, Norad and Cheyenne Air Force Stations, and the U.S. Air Force Academy. It's not lost on opponents of the "No Camping" ordinance that stop-loss policies prevent many of the young men and women at these institutions from returning to their homes, where many of them long to be after repeated tours of military duty outside the United States. For every soldier intent on strengthening his or her country's military option, how many more are taking a last-ditch option, signing up for the famed "poverty draft," to sustain themselves and their families through an economic crisis felt throughout the country and the world? Many, though not all, of these young people have been driven by poverty into their encampments as surely as the Monument Creek campers have been driven into theirs.

And these bases, whatever the intentions of their residents, can certainly be scrutinized for creating waste, destruction, fear, fires, massive casualties and environmental degradation. Whatever the soldiers' intentions, these bases are here, when called upon, to supply "shock and awe" wherever needed around the world. But, it’s highly unlikely that a No-Camping ordinance will appear before the City Council of Colorado Springs, or any other city in the United States, returning these young men and women to viable and secure lives back in their home communities.

President Obama, while freezing spending on nonmilitary programs in this desperate economic moment, just submitted a new budget asking an additional 708 billion dollars for the Department of Defense. Keeping one U.S. soldier in Afghanistan,for one year, costs one million dollars. All this to prevent Al Qaeda strongholds in the country even though mainstream news sources have noted that less than 100 militants of the Al Qaeda organization even live in Afghanistan. (Fox News, December 2nd, 2009). With our additional attacks against our supposed ally Pakistan, and our insistence that its government attack its own villages along the Afghan border, we have displaced at least 3 million more people, one million of whom still wait in tent encampments and inadequate shelters for their indefinitely postponed return to security and normal life, filling massive refugee camps that military observers repeatedly warn create ideal recruitment conditions for jihadist groups.

“In this new decade,” said President Obama, in his State of the Union address, “it's time the American people get a government that matches their decency; that embodies their strength.”

But where, with this addiction to war, this perverse use of resources that could house and feed our neighbors to instead destroy homes and villages abroad, --where can we find decency? Where can we find real strength? The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King famously insisted that "A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death." When asked, U.S. people are overwhelmingly in favor of reductions, not increases, of the military budget, and increases of aid to the needy, not reductions or freezes. Why does it seem so impossible to find a government that matches this decency and this strength?

Strength, in the sense of real security, comes from communities pulling together in compassion and cooperation. Strength comes from decency. We are made insecure by our criminal assaults on international security and our criminal neglect of the poor at home. Who will educate us to better understand that being seen as a menacing, frightful and destructive culture, internationally, jeapordizes our security? International law establishes that initiating war, as we did in Iraq and indeed in Afghanistan, is a crime; and in a fundamental sense, for those who wish to live in security, crime does not pay.

Our strength will not come from diversions of desperately needed resources into meaningless destruction and division. Individual Americans, without waiting for help from above, must act to correct these pathologies of American social and political life. We can support and learn from decent and kindly organizers, in Colorado Springs and other communities, who extend a hand of friendship to those all too often viewed, domestically, as expendables. We can donate from our own resources to fight poverty at home and thereby deny these resources as taxable income that our government can employ in causing more despair, poverty, and displacement abroad. And we can build bonds of community and shared purpose, organizing in our neighborhoods, our cities, our schools, churches, and workplaces, to build a world wherein no one is left out in the cold."

(Originally Posted at Creative Voices for Nonviolence)


Happy Valentine's Day!

Oh darn! I started this post days ago so I wouldn't forget and then I nearly forgot!

Our family had a tradition of making valentine's day cards for each other every year. We used lace and red paper and stickers and lots of hearts. Like this:

or this:

or this:

Well, when my mom and I pulled out the Valentine's Day Box this year, we found some old ones and I though this one from my dad was especially excellent:

Happy Valentine's Day!

Contemporary Art?

I think yes.

(Note: I realize that this is definitely not blog worthy, but I wanted to show off my beautiful creation! Sometimes I like to try to use up all the ink in my pen--I didn't succeed)


Resolutions Week 5

Another week gone! I feel somewhat indifferent about last week. Some good, some bad... I ate a lot of dessert which was not so good. And I didn't exercise a couple days. But I got my "someday" gmail folder down to a manageable few emails. I haven't felt motivated to do much of anything productive the last couple days so I think I'll keep my resolutions light this week.

Things that went well:
-I bought some organic ketchup at albertson's that was surprisingly cheap. Yum. And I've finally convinced the higher-ups to buy HFCS-free bread. yay!
-I've continued to use a daily to-do list that I write and the start of the week for some big-ish things that I want to get done and that seems to be working really well for me.

And not so well:
-I forgot to include how sore I would be from yoga since I have done a full hour of yoga in at least six months. I only did yoga twice and my body hurt mucho, mucho after each time. At least it was good pain.

And my pretty calendar for last week:

Resolutions Week 5:
  1. No more ice cream. I have survived just fine without it for many weeks. I've had it three days in a row and need to get back to the place where I don't crave simple carbohydrates.
  2. Scan box of memories. I found another mild crate full of papers to be scanned and discarded. I think if I spend about an hour a day I should be able to finish this one.


Letter to Myself

Last night I was going through this milk crate of memories (that need to be scanned then tossed) And found an envelope with my name on it! In my handwriting!

Inside was a quite cute note I wrote to myself (in early high school I think?) about the goals I want to achieve and why I'm a good person and some inspiration and, and...it's really sweet!

I'm putting the note as my desktop wallpaper for a bit so I can see it frequently. (Although maybe I should just tape it to my wall because rarely is there a time when I don't have a browser open on my computer.)

(Outside of the Envelope (the letter is FMEO) Apparently when I wrote this I didn't know that the past tense of reach is "reached".)

Resolutions Week 4

I did really well last week! Yippee! I still started out super awesomely and then slacked near the end of the week (and a few big things got pushed to next week because I didn't have enough information) so I'll give myself an A-

One of the most excited thing that happened is that I called a group in Denver about going the ANA DC Lobby Days and they are giving me a scholarship to help pay for this awesome trip! I can't wait for my first trip to DC! (But I'm already scared about lobbying my congresspeople)

Last week in picture form: (getting more and more cluttered!)

Resolutions Week 4
  1. Yoga 5 Times. any day. at least 20 minutes (I found a couple free guided yoga podcasts so I can do it at home)
  2. No HFCS. this one is pretty easy as long as I go tomorrow and buy some HFCS-free ketchup. cause ya'll know that I couldn't possibly go without ketchup for week. (oh yeah--and I can't drink the second half of my dad's daily coke)
And a final cool thing I found recently:
I've been reading YES! Magazine here and there and think their magazine is really beautiful. This article (An Invitation to Sacred Intention) spoke a bit about resolutions and intentions. I just reread and tried to summarize and failed so it's all up to you.
"Taking time each day to focus on a Sacred Intention nourishes and nurtures us, and helps us achieve the other intentions we have set for ourselves."


This is the true joy in life

I love this quote:

"This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; the being a force of nature instead of a feverish, selfish little clod of ailments and grievances, complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.

I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the whole community, and as long as I live it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can.

I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work, the more I live, I rejoice in life for its own sake. Life in no brief candle to me; it is a sort of splendid torch which I have got hold of for the moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it to future generations."

--George Bernard Shaw


Resolutions Week 3

By now you might be asking yourself, "Kaleena? Where did you go? It's already Tuesday!" And you'd be right. But...as I wrote most of this on Sunday and have completed my Monday and Tuesday tasks, rest assured I'm still getting stuff done.

For last week I give myself a B+

Things that went well:
-email inbox was consistently less than 50. Inbox Zero fan but I've been straying in recent months (well, year(s) actually)
-I feel good about what I've accomplished with everything (not just resolution specific) I was just telling my dad that I really like myself when I'm accomplishing things that I would like to accomplish and I really dislike myself when I'm putting off those things that I should be doing. If only I could skip that first part...hmmm...
-I've exercised several times with my dad in recent days (Walking/Jogging around 22 minutes for a 1.5 mile loop. I'm not ready to put this on my weekly list yet, but soon.
-I danced on Saturday!

Things that could go better next week:
-I've been cheating and getting double-duty Sunday (meaning that Sunday has been a day to catch up on last week's goals and still count as one of the days in the following week)
-I was to finish two books this week and the book I read was the weeniest of the bunch (so I finished this one, but stretching it) And I started 3 or 4 more. whoops
-I didn't get this post finished on Sunday

And my calendar from the week: (isn't it pretty with all the stars?)

Resolutions Week 3:
  1. Daily To-do list. On Sunday I made a list with 2ish things per day (M-F) They are large-ish projects that have been in my "someday" folder for quite awhile now. Some are 'getting a job' related. Others are really awesome programs that I would like to apply to (non-academic one) Each thing will take around 1 or 2 hours. And I've already finished Monday and Tuesday's items.
  2. Finish 2 books this week. And this time they have to be books with at least 250 pages.



This is really cheesy, but it made me smile and maybe it will make you smile too!

*Clicking on the picture will open a .pdf

(More cheesy goodness at the RescueGirl blog!) I've got to stop subscribing to new blogs but there are just too many great people in the world!


Awakening the Dreamer

Last September I attended this incredible symposium and wanted to (finally) share about it. The Awakening the Dreamer, Imagining the Dream symposium starts with a rather dark description of the current world in which we live and throughout the four hours moves toward what we can do to make a change. Sadly I wrote pages of amazing notes full of insight but now that I look back I see that I mostly listed resources to check out later. So instead, you can just watch this trailer:

(embedded video)

Commitment card at the end of the day: "I am committed to bringing forth an environmentally sustainable, spiritually fulfilling and socially just human presence on this planet as the guiding principle of our times." I really, really, really love this mission statement. really.

I finally moved this post out of the drafts folder and finished it is because the Awakener the Dreamer Symposium will be happening again in Colorado Springs in three small chunks (February 10, February 17 and March 10) or all at once in Manitou on March 6th. (Boulder peops: January 24, February 6 or March 7) Or find a Symposium near you.

This is a great, pain-free jumping off point for anyone wanting to explore something new.


Andrew Romanoff for Senate

I wish I could've posted this as fast as the Colorado Independent and the Colorado Springs Independent, (They already had articles up two hours later!) but I'm not paid to write so I suppose it's OK.

On Tuesday I was in Denver for an interview and since I was in the area I stopped by Andrew Romanoff's campaign office for a press conference. I assumed that it was going to be something about the governor race since Mayor Hickenlooper and Andrew Romanoff were seen as the front runners for the spot (After Secretary of Interior Salazar decided to remain at his post.)

Romanoff immediately said that despite many phone calls asking him to run for governor, he will be running for Unites States Senate (against incumbent Michael Bennet in the primary) and fully stands behind Mayor Hickenlooper for Governor.

Romanoff talked about the usually suspects: jobs, economy and health care. But he also spoke passionately about changing the system asking "How do we reclaim our democracy?" One of the ways he is doing this is by not accepting contributions from Political Action Committees. So far this commitment has worked well for the Romanoff campaign since "in the last quarter, more Coloradans contributed to our campaign than to any other candidate for any office in our state."

I first met Romanoff when he announced his candidacy last September. I was impressed with him then and was even more impressed with him on Tuesday. I decided to be brave and meet him after the press conference. When I introduced myself he shook my hand and introduced himself as just "Andrew". And yes, I might just have a little crush on him too. What can I say? He has a great smile and he oozes charisma! Too bad he is twice my age...

I would like to invite you to read or watch his entire speech and when the time comes, vote for him!

(The first two photos are from my camera and I found that last one that someone took at the same time on Romanoff's facebook page)