Monday, November 28, 2005

Why I love small town newspapers

This was taken from my town's newspaper, the Daily Press. Actually, It's techinically the town next to mine and I'm pretty sure it's the only newspaper for the entire county. Here's the preface to an actual letter to the editor that ran Friday:

(Editor's Note: In the past there has been some confusion when publishing letters to the editor from Dan Young, because there is more than one person named Dan Young who lives in Delta County. Not only do two of them have the same name, but also live on the same street. For the sake of identification, the follow letter is from the Dan Young who lives on South 22nd Street but does not own and operate a downtown business.)

The letter goes on to bash republicans and so forth. I just love that intro to it. And I love living in a town small enough where they can put in this disclaimer before the letter and people then know which Dan Young wrote the letter. Ahh, da U.P., I miss you.

Thanksgiving and other thoughts from the past week

Another holiday has come and gone. It was great to see the family. We all went to my sister's in Kansas again this year. And while her boys/my nephews are wonderful, they make me glad I don't have children. I don't think I could handle kids right now. I know I couldn't. Nevertheless, the trip was fun and well worth the long car ride.

Highlights of the trip:
1. Seeing the fourth Harry Potter movie with four generations of my family
2. Not having a TV most of the time - we were forced to find other ways to entertain ourselves/talk to each other
3. Buying pants and shoes with my little sister
4. Terrifying the two 19-20ish year old boys from my sister's church who were helping my sister's family move into their new house by a) being female and b) talking to them. Who new I was so scary?? All I did was offer them some food and ask them their names!
5. Playing charades with the fam after our Thanksgiving meal. (Even if my three year old nephew did the exact same thing but once he was a bird, a couple times a rocket, and once an airplane.)
6. Packing my sister's house/helping them move. Ha, not really a highlight, but we did it.
7. Riding in the minivan for 10 hours, one way, with my grandparents and parents. Once again, not really a highlight, but it went much smoother than expected.
8. Ranting about Wal-mart the entire trip
9. Being able to read for pleasure and not for school
10. My little sister forgetting her pillow and now it's mine!

Around the Thanksgiving table, we played this "game" if you will. We went through the alphabet and said stuff that we were thankful for, starting with each letter. It quickly turned into a free for all where everyone was shouting out different things. My favorites included:

Bicycles
Fair Trade
Food
Grandparents
Kansas
Knowledge
Lemurs
Living Wages
Music
Quilts
Quietness
Snowboards
Springsteen, Bruce
U2
Xrays
Xray technicians
Yellow
Zoos

Bet you can't figure out which ones of those were mine...

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Bringing joy to the world through a lemon poppyseed muffin

I participated in a very scientific experience this past week - I ate an incredible amount of poppyseeds in order to see if I'd really fail a urine analysis. It all started last Tuesday when I was talking about these great salads I really like at my social work internship. The salad has poppyseed dressing on it and we started debating whether or not poppyseeds really do make you fail a drug test. It's one of those things no one really knows for sure, but everyone wonders. I decided to take matters into my own hands and conduct an experiment.

For the past week I've incorporated poppyseeds into just about every meal. I ate salads with poppyseed dressing, made lemon poppyseed muffins, ate poppyseed rolls, and even bought a little container of poppyseeds and sprinkled them on everything I ate. Everything from toast to quesadillas to even my tea! Actually, I didn't put them in my tea, I can thank my friends for that. Also, I don't even like poppyseeds, they taste bad, but I had to forge on for science.

Today I did the UA at my internship. I'm at a drug treatment facility so I have easy access to them and the workers there wanted to know the results too. I'm happy to say that I came up negative. For both opiates and cocaine. The monitor who administrated the UA kept saying that she thought it would mess up the cocaine test but I kept insisting it would for opiates so we did both. Actually, I'm not going to lie, I'm disappointed. I have never had a UA before and I thought it would have been hilarious if I failed my first one. I think the monitor thought I was so weird for doing this, plus I kept going off about how it was my first time. But then again she was more than eager to help me with the whole process.

So now you know, you can eat all the poppyseeds you want and you won't fail your drug test. That's just a myth and I busted it.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

I detest Walmart

I've disliked wal-mart for a while now and have made a point not to shop there, whenever possible, for about the past year. I knew that it it was horrible, but I didn't know ALL of the terrible things it does. I just knew that it pays its associates crap, doesn't make it a practice to promote women, and is outsourcing a lot of the jobs. These were good enough reasons for me to believe that it was the devil and that I should no longer make purchases there and support it.

Friday night a group of us had a screening for Walmart: The High Cost of Low Prices at a friend's house. It is made by moveon.org, I believe, and is a documentary highlighting all the reasons why walmart is, in fact, the devil. It was horrible. Not the movie itself, but all the things walmart does. How they make it a practice to move into a town and shut family owned business down. If I had emotions and working tear ducts, I probably would have cried when they were showing these businesses that families had worked in for 40+ years shut down after walmart came to town. To see all that hard work demolished in a few short months.

Then there is the fact that walmart doesn't pay its employees enough and they can't afford the health insurance for their families and what is walmart's response? Well, there are government funded programs to help you with that! WTF?? WALMART is TELLING its employees that should they not only get medicaid for their children, but also foodstamps because they qualify for them!! People who are working fulltime for them! That's completely ridiculous. AND all this while the Waltons are worth billions and billions of dollars! Completely ridiculous.

What I liked about the movie was that they had a number of managers from walmart telling their side of the story. These people were in the higher up parts of the corporations and saw some pretty horrible stuff going on and talked about it. They were told to never pay overtime and were taught how to go into the computer system and move hours to the next week in order to not have to pay the associates overtime. They also never made it a practice to promote women. If they saw two associates talking and then move away from each other quickly when they came up that was grounds to believe they were trying to unionize, which is NOT something walmart likes/allows. It was incredible how much money walmart will spend trying to keep the workers from forming a union, yet they will not pay them higher wages.

Oh, and then there was the whole issue of security in the parking lots. The security cameras in the parking lots aren't necessarily for security reasons, but so that the managers can see if the workers are meeting in the parking lots, trying to unionize. They had this big long list of places around the country where attacks have happened in a walmart parking lot and Houghton, MI was on it!! Houghton!! I think it said it was a knife assault. It happened sometime this year. Eric, do you know anything about this??

The movie ended on a good note, at least. They showed these towns coming together in order to keep walmart from coming into their city. And a lot of them were successful. It was touching.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Bruce Springsteen, how do you do it?

I get up in the evening,

and I ain’t got nothing to say (those who know me know that i usually have something to say)

I come home in the morning,

I go to bed feeling the same way

I ain’t nothing but tired, (I just want to sleep, all the time)

man I’m just tired and bored with myself (I need something exciting. Some change. Something)

Hey there baby, I could use just a little help

You can’t start a fire, (I love starting fires, real and metaphorical)

you can’t start a fire without a spark

This gun’s for hire

even if we’re just dancing in the dark (I can't dance, but i don't think that should stop me from trying)

Message keeps getting clearer,

radio’s on and I’m moving round the place

I check myself out in the mirror

I wanna change my clothes my hair my face

Man I ain’t getting nowhere just sitting in a dump like this

There’s something happening somewhere (yes, but where? And what?)

baby I just know that there is

You can’t start a fire...

You sit around getting older

there’s a joke here somewhere and it’s on me

I’ll shake this world off my shoulders

come baby this laughs on me (it generally is)

Stay on the streets of this town (I was told yesterday that i shouldn't stay in Waco, that I should leave. Where I will go, who knows??)

and they’ll be carving you up alright

They say you got to stay hungry (I've been hungry all day, I wish i had some food in my carrel)

hey baby I’m just about starving tonight (okay, so i'm not THAT hungry. I'm such a spoiled American. *hangs head in shame*)

I’m dying for some action (I could use a little bit of excitement around here. any ideas??)

I’m sick of sitting ’round here trying to writeThis book (AMEN! I'm sick of sitting here trying to write this thesis!)

I need a love reaction (I wouldn't be oppossed to that).

come on now baby give me just one look

You can’t start a fire.. (This weekend while I'm camping i'll get to start a fire)

Sunday, November 13, 2005

More books to sit on my shelf

The library had its annual booksale this weekend. It put Gladstone's to shame, that's for sure. So many books. I was a little overwhelmed walking through the aisles, knowing that I could never get around to looking at them all. And I kept thinking about the time Cecilia, Erin, and I went to Gladstone's and then tried to start a bookclub. Ahh, good times.

I ended up carrying around so many books - two paper bags worth - that a worker person came up to me and offered to put them in the "holding" area with my name on them. I think I have a book problem. Keep in mind that I currently have about 10 books sitting on my shelf in my apartment that I do not have time to read. So why did I buy 9 more yesterday?? Because I have a problem. I blame it on my mom, she's a librarian. And every time I go see her she has more new books for me to read. I usually end up clearing off my shelf about once a year and returning all the books I stole from her that year. It's amazing how fast they accumulate.

I'm very excited about the books I bought yesterday. I got a John Irving book, because I know how much you love him, Cecilia. I figured maybe I should try something of his. I also got a casserole cookbook because I looove casseroles. And a book about this woman who goes to work for a senator in DC but then ends up joining the Americorps VISTA program. I couldn't pass that up. I got a few others and the book I'm most excited about - a sociology textbook from 1936. It looks so interesting. It has chapters about how to bring about social change, poverty in America, racial issues, and a lot of other stuff. And it's all from a Great Depression era perspective! And it was only $2! I'm so excited about it, but none of my friends are. They kept looking at me like I was crazy when I was showing it to them. Nevertheless, I'm pumped to read it. Eventually...

Monday, November 07, 2005

My life keeps on getting weirder

I spent about 9.5 hours today with a reporter from the Wall Street Journal. True story. From about noon until 9:30pm. It was an interesting day to say the least. The reporter was here to talk to people about issues of poverty, in particular trade, and how we, as people of faith, are responding.

We started with lunch at the World Hunger Relief Farm, right outside of Waco. We ate with the workers, volunteers, interns, and all the other people who somehow ended up there. The farm is great, everyone is so laid back and welcoming. I did my service learning for one of my social work classes there and loved it. We talked about hunger issues and how they relate to trade and economic policy and all that over lunch. After the farm, we went back to the School of Social Work and had a discussion time with some of the undergrad and graduate students about what we're doing and why we're doing it, as Christians and social work majors at a Baptist university. We then met with the Dean of the school and a guy from the administration and talked more about the role of the School of Social Work and all that. We talked about the Jubiliee Initiative that a group of us are working on with the Dean. Then we had to take off to our Baylor Students for Social Justice meeting, which the reporter eventually came to. Over some tea we talked about the 1 John 3 Campaign, the stuff we've done with the ONE Campaign, the U2 concert, and some stuff we're planning for later on in the semester. Next was dinner over at Anali's. We had Guatemalen food and ice cream for dessert. We talked more about the 1 John 3 campaign, Baylor students, and much, much more. Finally, at about 9:30pm, I rode with the reporter over to the Hilton so that he could check in and I could put in my two weeks at Damon's. Anali followed so that I could have a ride home. The reporter was not so good with directions. Pretty much someone had to ride with him everywhere we went so he wouldn't get lost.

He was also extremely interesting. He's lived overseas for the past 20-25 years, including in South Africa during and after apartheid. We asked him about his most memorable interviews and he was talking about a refugee he interviewed in Eastern Europe and then as an afterthought says "oh, and I had the chance to interview Nelson Mandela before I left South Africa. That was pretty memorable." WHAT?!?! Yeah, I'd think that would be pretty memorable. And here we all are, just some students at Baylor, and he's interviewing US? We felt so inadequate after that.

The article should come out sometime before the WTO meeting in December. It should be interesting to see what he included and what was left out. I mean, he only spent 9.5 hours with us!! And we covered everything from the living wage, to Baptist politics, to fair trade, to Bono and Chris Martin and everything in between.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

The job is (soon to be) no more

I basically put in my two weeks at Damon's tonight. I have to go and bring it in writing on Monday, but my boss knows that I'm quitting. It's his fault. He started it. He gathered us all up tonight and told us that his last day will be the 19th. I have never seen everybody there look so depressed and upset at the same time. He's great, we don't want to see him go. A lot of us are still working there just because he IS so great. I know that's pretty much the reason for me. I was going to quit once school started, but I stayed because of him and some others there.

I was also planning on quitting at the end of this semester. I'm going to be too busy next semester to work, but I thought it would be best if i finish up this one. I'm only working 2-3 days a week and that's still too much some weeks. My boss is so great with my schedule though. No way would any new manager be as flexible with me, especially when I come up with excuses for not working like "I'm going to New York for the weekend," or "I have to work at this U2 concert" or "I promise, I have a meeting with the president of Baylor," or the latest one "this guy from the Wall Street Journal wants to interview me and some of my friends." Those are all true by the way. Anyways, I'm going to need Thanksgiving off since I'm going to my sister's in Kansas and I need a weekend off in a couple weeks because I'm going camping and since I don't know what this new manager will be like, I don't know if he/she will let me take off. I talked it over with my boss and he told me that it would probably be best to just put my two weeks in now, but to make sure people know that I was going to be quitting anyways, that I'm not just because he is.

So that's it, pretty soon I'll be back to being unemployed. But, on the bright side, I'll have more time for homework/procrastinating.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Lessons from my history class

I'm taking History of Traditional China this semester, completely against my will might I add (that's a long story though). Usually I dread going to class because I have no interest whatsoever in Traditional China. Nothing aganist Chinese history, it's just not something that I enjoy at 9am. I'm not a history major, or an international studies major for that matter, for a reason.

Yesterday's class was crawling along as usual and I was trying my best not to look at the clock every 90 seconds. The prof was lecturing about the Song Dynasty and he gets to the "Four Classes" of the dynasty. They were:
1. Literati (those who studied Confucian classics and took exams to become scholar officials).
2. Peasants
3. Craftsmen/Artisans
4. Merchants

This was very interesting because the merchants, or the business people were at the bottom of the class system beneath everyone else. About 80% of the people were peasants and they were near the top because agriculture was so important to their society. They were valued highly. Merchants, on the other hand, were looked down upon because they were only concerned with making money.

I can't help but wonder what our society would look like if this was true. In a sense, people who are overly concerned with making money are somewhat looked down upon by some people, but I don't think it's to the extent that it was in the Song Dynasty in China. We may think that people who are farmers or who work with the poor or others are wonderful and we may respect them, but the wealthy still have the majority of the power. The business people in this country are by no means at the bottom of the class system.