Sunday, March 15, 2009

My New Obsession

I cannot get enough of these literal music videos on YouTube.

This is one of my favorites:

Monday, March 9, 2009

The Case for Drugs

***For regular readers, this is a post that I put on another website. If you don't care for politics or sociology, don't feel obligated to read it:)***

I get why our Prez & CO. passed the stimulus plan, but I’m still pessimistic about how affective it will be. Being the frugal type, I’m an advocate for cutting budgets rather than spending more money we don’t have. Unfortunately the big kids in Washington aren’t asking my opinion. If they were asking me, I would suggest a reform on our department of corrections to be the number one priority. A few places to start could be doing away with the death penalty, legalizing all drugs and discontinuing the disproportionate arrests/prison sentences for people of color.

Wait, what was that I just said? Legalize all drugs? Why would a goody two-shoes advocate for the legalization of drugs?

Reason number one: racism. The legalization of some drugs vs. the outlawing of other drugs has a lot to do with racism. Smoking opium was fine and dandy when white women were the ones addicted to it, but as soon as the Chinese started flooding our country (about 100 years ago) and the white folks started to exclude them, opium got banned. Next came cocaine. White folks in the South would give this drug to their black employees because it made them work harder. This inevitably led to addiction which fed into the fear white folks had of black folks. Thus, cocaine got banned. Finally, marijuana. There wasn’t any stigma on this drug until the Great Depression when Mexicans in America would smoke it. The white folks claimed that this made them violently crazy. Marijuana got banned. Tobacco and Alcohol are legal today because they’ve always been the drugs of choice for white folks and they are big money makers since both can be produced within our borders.

Not only is our history with drugs tainted by racism, it is still going on today. The 100-to-1 crack-to-powder ratio is an unfortunate example. The sentencing for possessing 5 grams of crack is the same as possessing 500 grams of cocaine. This means the poor and often people of color who use crack get punished more frequently than the rich folks who can afford cocaine. Unfair? I’d say so.

Reason number two: money. The war on drugs is oober expensive and I don’t like that my tax dollars are going towards it when they could be going towards positive things like education and health care. Check out this article for more on that, or read this real great excerpt about Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP):

LEAP—whose members are current and former police officers and police chiefs, federal agents, undercover operatives and prison wardens—is the first U.S. law enforcement organization to advocate for the full legalization of all drugs. It recently co-commissioned a study by Harvard University economics professor Jeffrey Miron, who studied the cost-benefit of legalizing and taxing drugs in the same manner as alcohol and tobacco. According to Miron’s analysis, released in December, tax revenues nationwide would amount to approximately $32.7 billion a year. Miron also found that, if drugs were legalized, the United States would save more than $44 billion annually in costs related to the enforcement of drug laws.

Reason number three: death. The drug war costs a lot of lives which I think most would agree is a very negative aspect of this situation. According to the same article I mentioned above, there were 5,600 drug related murders last year in Mexico alone. Ouch.

Ending racism, saving money and preventing death. Yes please.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Happy International Women's Day!

In honor of International Women's Day, I'd like to honor a few women who have inspired me. I've selected five who have represented our gender well and have made amazing strides toward making this world a better place unlike some females out there **CoughAnnCoulterCough**. While I could mention a dozen women who I know personally, I decided to stick with women who are (or were) in the public spotlight.

Jessie Zimmerer: City Councilwoman in La Grande, OR- That's right folks. A 23 year old City Council member. While most folks our age only care about politics when it is trendy, Jessie has a heart full of compassion and conviction to make her town a better place. I like to think that I'm cool by association since we've been friends for 14 years.

Sandra Day O'Connor- First female Supreme Justice and all around neat lady. She pulled out the funny with Jon Stewart last week.

Anne Lamott- One of my favorite authors who has taught me that it is ok to disagree with aspects of religion and to question authority. Plus she knows how to rock some sweet dreadlocks.

Captain Molly Kool- The first female ship captain/New Brunswicks first feminist. She passed away this month at the age of 93. Manning a ship takes ovaries.

Kate Winslet- My favorite actress. Though I don't know her personally, she seems to be a woman of integrity who truly thinks before she speaks and acts. I admire her boldness in choosing parts that are risky as well as risque.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Then Comes the Baby in the Baby Carriage

For a long time I was convinced that I never wanted to have kids. The reason was because I was terribly scared that I would screw them up with my dismal parenting skills. I didn't inherit a lot of skills that my parents have such as cooking, quilting, building houses and I fear that I didn't get that good parenting gene either.

When I adopted muh dawg Chloe (though some say she adopted me), my perspective began to change a little bit. All of a sudden I had this living being who depended on me for everything: food, water, walks, belly rubs etc. While I'm sure having a pet isn't quite comparable to having children, I think it is closer than owning a plant (which I've failed at miserably many a time in my life).

Now that I work with kids every day, my perspective has taken a 180. While I know these kids aren't mine I feel like a parent figure in their lives and reached the point where I refer to them as "my kids". A lot of them have it rough at home. We have several kids from broken homes. Others rarely see their parents because they work multiple jobs or are in Mexico. Others just have really bad parents. I hate to judge people like that, but some of the things these parents do make my heart hurt. It makes me almost buy into the idea that people should be required to get a license before they can become parents. Some people just shouldn't procreate. Interacting with these folks has given me a bit of an ego boost and I feel like I could potentially look like June Cleaver next to them.

At this point in my life, I definitely see myself having kids whether they are biological or foster or adopted. I really admire people who decide to have kids without a partner, but I don't think I could handle that on my own mainly because I cannot discipline to save my life. I am incapable of punishing kids and following through with threats so I would probably have to leave that part up to my husband. Unless I could get Vin Diesel to move in as a full time manny.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Next Steps

It’s cheesy metaphor time. I know you’re excited.

As I was skiing on Sunday (rather than going to church like a good girl should), I began to think about what’s to come after my year with AmeriCorps. I’ve got a lot of options and while I’m about 90% sure about what I want to do, I still hesitate.

The Bunny Hill Option

I could stick to the safe, secure bunny hill which is comfortable and familiar. Real life equivalent would be living at home and working at the library full time. Just like the bunny hill on the slopes, this option feels way too easy and boring. No challenge involved which would also mean no opportunity for growth and learning.

The Green Circle Option

I could move out of my parents house, stay in Longmont/Boulder and keep working with “I Have a Dream” as a 2nd year AmeriCorps. This option is mildly appealing since I adore the kids I work with, but I still don’t think it will be a challenging option. Just like green slopes, if I were to choose this option I would be stuck in my comfort zone and not pushing myself.

The Blue Square Option

I could go with the option that would be challenging in one sense, and yet easy in another. The Blue runs are usually what I stick to because they are difficult, and yet I don’t feel like I’m going to die while cruising down the mountain. This option would mean going to grad school here in Colorado. I’d still be in the community that I am familiar with, but I’d be back in school which is a scary thought.

The Black Diamond Option

I could challenge myself and go where I’m not comfortable and yet I know I need to be there. On the mountain, I get anxious when on the Black runs and yet I know it is good for me because it is pushing me to learn more and further my skiing technique. In real life this would mean going out of state to grad school. I would be combining the challenge of grad school with learning about a new community and adapting to an unfamiliar environment, away from the comforts of home.

The Back Country Option

I could push myself to my limits and go where the terrain is unpredictable and completely unfamiliar. Every turn would be new and frightening and exhilarating. The real life equivalent would be going overseas to live/volunteer/work. This would be the scariest option available. I’ve never done back country skiing before, but I certainly hope to work my way up to it. In the same manner I hope to work my way up to the challenge of living overseas long term. Baby steps are crucial here.