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The Fifth

5 Nov

Remember, remember the fifth of November. The gunpowder treason and plot. I know of no reason the gunpowder treason should ever be forgot.

Remember that you have the power to change the world, if only you fight for what you believe is good and right.

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Give Me Five!

19 Sep

Thought you could all use this on your Monday morning…

Internet High Five

Ten Years Gone

11 Sep

Ten years ago, I was fourteen and in the ninth grade in Tennessee. I was in the hallways walking from first period to second when I heard people talking about theTwinTowerscoming down. I heard a rumor about a boy – one I’d gone to elementary school with who had a knack for getting into trouble – walking around the halls pointing at random people saying, “You’re going to die, you’re going to die, you’re going to die. . . “ Even then it didn’t mean much to me; I thought it was just a rude and insensitive thing for him to say to kids who didn’t understand what was going on. I knew he was saying those things as a result of what had just happened, but I didn’t make the connection in my mind. I didn’t understand the significance of the attack, and what it could possibly mean for my family, my friends, or my town. I didn’t understand why he said any of us would die because of it.

To be completely honest, I’d never heard of theTwinTowers. The thing I remember more than anything is that school pictures were the next day, and I had an appointment to have my hair cut that afternoon. I know that’s selfish, but I was fourteen. Hardly anyone isn’t self-centered at that age. But when you’ve never lived through anything like that, and you’re not right there to see it happening in front of your eyes, it somehow doesn’t seem real. Things that happened on TV or the news didn’t happen to me, to the people I knew. They were far away, outside my bubble.

Everything just seemed like it was happening on an alternate plane. Like the world outside didn’t have anything to do with me.New YorkandWashingtonseemed so far away, so far removed from me. I was just in high school, young and naïve, and it didn’t mean anything significant to me. I only started to comprehend it when I got home and my mom was watching coverage on TV. She was furious that we’d spent our entire day at school watching the events unfold on the news. I think more than anything she had wanted to be the one to tell my and my brother what had happened. I don’t even know how James found out about it – he was only 11, and I highly doubt they watched anything about the attack at school. I don’t know that having her tell me about it would have made much of a difference in how I felt about it. I vaguely remember our teachers talking about it while we were watching the news, and I somewhat remember us talking about it as a family that night. I sensed that my parents were upset and worried about what had happened. They had lived through things like the Kennedy assassination andVietnam, so they had a better sense of disaster and tragedy.

Of course I was sorry to hear about all the innocent people that died that day – any decent human being would, except maybe that dumbass kid in the hallway. But my perception of it was that it was miles away, that I was safe, that it didn’t involve me. I’d never been toNew Yorkat that point, but I’d been toWashingtononly the year before with my mom and my brother. We saw the Pentagon every day on our train rides into the city. At that point, I didn’t have much sense about the world around me. My world consisted of what I knew at home – the life that I lived every day. Now that I live in DC, my feelings have changed somewhat. I can never relive that day – not that I’d want to. But I know now that it was bigger than myself, than the people around me. It meant more than I even knew. I had no reason for healing after September 11.

Others did, though. So many were – and still are – affected by what happened that day. There are thousands of people who aren’t with us anymore because of the terrible actions of a few. I lost nothing, but so many lost everything. Since then, I think we’ve lived in a world of fear. Fear that it will happen again, fear that we cannot control the world around us, fear that we cannot safely go anywhere. The thing that makes me the saddest, though, is the misplaced anger we as a country have put onto people who are different. We forget that it wasn’t a huge army of people that brought the towers down. It’s just like that saying how a few can ruin it for everyone. We built up prejudices and direct hatred toward people not very different from ourselves. We forget that everyone is just people.

Traveling in a post-9/11 world has probably affected me the most. Unprecedented security measures and rising costs have taken some of the enjoyment out of it. Sometimes I think we’re overreacting, but I know what can happen if we aren’t careful. It’s a delicate balance between being cautious and being fearful. There’s a quote that says: “Courage is not the absence of fear but rather the judgment that something is more important than fear. The brave may not live forever but the cautious do not live at all.” Where is the line, the balance that makes us cautious and safe, but not too afraid to live? Although I have it easy compared to those specifically targeted at security checkpoints, I cannot help but think it is a huge inconvenience for everyone. The vast majority of us just want to get where we’re going without hassle. We do want to get there safely, though. I understand the cautiousness, though; no one wants to be blamed for being lax on the one person who managed to slip through the system and cause chaos.

So, ten years later, have things returned to normal? No, I don’t think so. I don’t think there will ever be a semblance of “normal” anymore. Everything changed in that one morning. Some things for the better, some things for worse. We will never know what the world would have been like without September 11. At the Arts on Foot event yesterday, I volunteered at an event sponsored by The 9/11 Arts Project. We made dream scrolls envisioning a future after 9/11. Our hopes for the world and what it could be like. Most of the drawings and messages had messages of happiness, of hope, of unity, of peace, and of love. Those are the things most people want, I think, no matter where you go in the world. We all just want to live our lives.

We all just want to be people.

Roommate Roulette

27 Aug

Even though this is a hilarious ad, and I’d almost be tempted to answer it, I’m so glad my roommates didn’t turn out to be even half this crazy. The writers named this well when they categorized it under “Absolutely Crazy Shit We Found on Craigslist.”

See the entire post here.

There’s Always Money in the Banana Stand

21 Aug

Well, friends, it’s happened. Someone has recreated Arrested Development in Legos, and it’s just as glorious as you’d expect. Why has it taken so long for this to happen? I have no idea, but I’m sure glad someone decided to take on this challenge. I never tire of seeing anything witty that’s related to this show. If you haven’t seen it, you’re missing out. Like the rest of the Internet, I’m waiting for confirmation that the movie is actually happening…

Lifelong Learning

11 Aug

Because education shoudn’t just be found in a classroom. Eighteen ways to educate yourself every day. See the original post here.

1. Watch a TED talk every day.

“Riveting talks by remarkable people, free to the world.” These are the kind of bright ideas that I would like to fill my head with.

2. Read a random article of interest from www.howstuffworks.com every day.

They are quick, easy, informative, and give you a glimpse of a subject that you may decide to do more research on later!

A lovely reader recommended the podcasts “Stuff you should know” and “Stuff mom never told you” which can be found on the website.

3. Read for half an hour every day before bed.

This is such a monumental suggestion. The habit of reading for 30 minutes every day can really kick start your goal of “getting back into reading” and of course educating yourself as well. 30 minutes is not too hard to set aside at the end of the day. Just get yourself into bed 30 minutes earlier if you have to. If you read for 30 minutes every night you should be able to get through at least one book every two weeks. That’s 26 books a year (approximately). With this kind of reading rapport you are bound to make a sizable dent into your reading list.

4. Learn more about your job.

Focus more at work. Take the time to really understand why you do the things you do at work, instead of simply going through the motions. Even if this is a job you have been at for years, there is more to discover. Do some research on the company you work for, where did they come from? And what do they really do? There are great opportunities for growth and learning even in our sometimes boring 9-5 desk jobs. Although it may seem that you are just on the other end of a desk, your clients see you as an expert in your field. So make sure you are one!

5. Make learning something you do for “fun”.

Well, it should already be fun that you are taking the time to invest in yourself and learning more about your world – but you know how you could make it more fun? By getting other people involved (yay for them ;) ). You could watch documentaries with your partner or work on puzzles with your children, play trivial pursuit with your family, or discuss new and fresh topics with your friends.

6. Work on a puzzle every day.

This could be jigsaw puzzles, riddles, math puzzles etc. Anything that requires you to practice your mental acrobatics. You can buy simple “Train your brain” books from your local bookstore, that have a puzzle a day to make things really easy for you!

7. Read classics.

Something I try to force myself to do is to read books that are actually a little bit challenging – for the purpose of not only being “well read” but also having an opportunity to expand my vocabulary. Classics epitomize english language at it’s finest. I’m not saying they are always a joy to read, but boy do I feel proud of myself when I finish one.

8. Play www.freerice.com for a few minutes every day.

Work on your vocabulary whilst simultaneously feeding the hungry! You may pass GO. You may collect $200. The great thing about playing this every day is that they tend to repeat words, so you really start getting used to remembering new words that you were not initially used to.

9. Learn a new word every day.

Most of the online dictionaries have a “Word a day” feature that you can subscribe to by e-mail, or simply check online. Learn a new word every day, and make it your intention to use that word 3 times in your day.

10. Watch Documentaries.

Watching documentaries has never been easier! You can watch them on TV, and even on youtube. Sometimes I just type in a subject I am interested in and then “part 1″ and see what I can find. It’s also fun to watch documentaries on things you have no prior knowledge or real interest in.

One of my commenters has recommended BBC documentaries (I agree), in particular Planet Earth, and Wild China. National geographic has some pretty spectacular documentaries too.

I recommend Zeitgeist (you can also watch it on youtube). My boyfriend showed me this documentary and I seriously watched the whole thing with my eyes wide and my mouth open. It was truly life enhancing.

11. Follow some interesting blogs.

Find some bloggers that inspire you and fill your mind with bright ideas and thoughts, and follow them. Another option is to subscribe to a magazine that really fascinates you.

12. Take a class.

What better way to affirm to yourself that you are educating yourself – than to take an actual class? Find a topic that you wouldn’t mind learning more about, and register!

13. Learn a new language.

Are there any languages that you have been interested in learning? Well, why not start now! Take a class, get private lessons, watch videos online – whatever it is, find time in your life to immerse yourself in this new pursuit!

14. Take up a new hobby / put more effort into your current hobby.

I think everybody should have a hobby. Something that you can really throw yourself into. That you do just for fun, that makes you happy, that improves some aspect of yourself, and something you can commit to. If you can’t think of one – create one. There are plenty of hobbies out there. Pick one. Picking them is easy. Staying committed is hard. And even though hobbies are “Fun”, a degree of commitment is required if you ever plan to see some kind of result. Create a schedule in your week to really commit to your new hobby – a certain number of times a week, a  couple of hours a day – it really is up to you. Learn all about your new hobby, both the theory and the application.

15. Try new recipes.

You could buy a new cook book, subscribe to a cookery magazine, or even browse the miracle that is the internet. To make this fun, you could have themes and goals each week, like “eating healthy”, raw food, desserts, smoothies, appetizers, main courses, salads, fruits etc.

16. Practice memory games.

It’s one thing to stuff your head with all this information, its something completely different to access this information again when you really want it. No genius is considered a genius if he can’t remember what it is that he knows. By working with your memory, you can work on your ability to keep your new knowledge available for you to retrieve it.

17. Read the headlines.

My parents read the headlines every day. My mom says that I shouldn’t leave the house without having some clue of what’s going on in the world. I haven’t really implemented this much in my life yet – sometimes I just feel like the news is just so overwhelming – I don’t even know where to start (Does anyone else feel like this?!). I guess that’s why she suggested to “READ THE HEADLINES”.

I don’t think there can be anything wrong with knowing a little bit about what’s going on in the world.

18. Whenever you are making a trip somewhere, or doing something new – take the time to learn a little bit about it.

If you are ever stuck for new things to learn, this is a great way to give you some ideas. Use your life as an inspiration. If you are planning on going to a new city for the long weekend – learn about it. If you meet a new friend who is a wine merchant, learn all about being a wine merchant.

At first, I sometimes felt like I was stuck for new things to learn – which to me now feels totally ridiculous because is there really anything I couldn’t learn more about? But over time, after implementing many of these techniques, I find that my brain automatically gives me new topics to learn about. It is just INTERESTING!

And one day you are going to be able to talk about these things in discussions, and in your own mind you are going to be thinking “Wow.”

I remember a couple of years ago I had read a LOT of information about blue-whale attacks, their anatomy, their physiology, and how they ingest and digest their prey. A few months later, lo and behold – a girl in my class randomly said “Hmm I wonder what happens if you got eaten by a blue whale…”

Ah, yes. My time had come.

And for further education:

19. Discover what you may stumble upon when you StumbleUpon!

I don’t know how I could forget this little goldmine. I use it all the time and I love it!

20. Wikipedia

You can browse random articles on wikipedia, or you could use it as a great starting point for your own private nerdy research in an area of your choice! Awesome.

21. Play agoogleaday.com

I have not used this yet. It was a suggestion from a reader, but it looks fun!

I’m Famous Today…No Big Deal

28 Jul

I may or may not have made these charts. Hint: I did.

I Love Charts

I Love Charts