Archive for the ‘ News ’ Category

A New Life (Weekly Inspiration #13)

One of the four best friends I described in my post “The Friendship Compass” became a father for the second time yesterday!  Todd’s amazing wife Jessica brought all 8 pounds 1 ounce of Ian Patrick Zapata Lile into the world for his first day on the planet.

This week’s inspiration is dedicated to Jessica, Todd, their first son Luke, and Ian.

If children grew up according to early indications,
we should have nothing but geniuses.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Never will a time come when the most marvelous recent invention is as marvelous as a newborn child.
Carl Sandburg

The first cry of a newborn baby in Chicago or Zamboango,
in Amsterdam or Rangoon,
has the same pitch and key,
each saying, “I am! I have come through!  I belong!”
Carl Sandburg

Children are the anchors that hold a mother to life.

I love to think that the day you’re born,
you’re given the world as a birthday present.
Leo Buscaglia

A baby is an inestimable blessing and a bother.
Mark Twain

Loving a baby is a circular business, a kind of feedback loop.
The more you give, the more you get,
and the more you get, the more you feel like giving.
Penelope Leach

The best thing I’ve done?
Well, I’ve created four beautiful children.
You mean, other than that?
Donald Trump

A baby is born with a need to be loved – and never outgrows it.
Frank A. Clark

A baby usually wakes up in the wee-wee hours of the morning.

Which one is your favorite?

Congratulations Lile Family!

Weekly Inspiration “Sometimes Bad New is Good News”

Last week I Posted “Choosing Happiness”  because I love inspirational stories and quotes.  It turned out to be the most popular post since “The Exploited Tomato“!  I had a number of comments in my personal email, on facebook, and on the blog itself.  It seems I am not the only one who likes inspiration!

So I have decided to post an inspirational quote, story, or reading every week from now on.  My former students might remember this as tradition in my classes.  If you want to be sure to get the inspirational blog post each week, click the “Sign me up”  button in the right column and get them sent directly to your email.

Here is this weeks story.  It is one of my favorites! Continue reading

Kids and Guns

At the risk of being controversial, I want to talk a little about hand guns.  There is a lot in the news right now about the right to carry guns openly in coffee shops like Starbucks and even on college campuses.  Recently, the Colorado Court of Appeals ruled that the University of Colorado did not have the authority to ban students and visitors from carrying guns onto the campus.  What?

I spent some time reading up on some statistics for gun related violence in the United States.  What I read shocked me.  Some gun advocates make the claim that “guns don’t kill people but people kill people”.  I agree with that 100%.  People do kill people but who makes guns?  People.  So a gun just sits there waiting to do what it is made to do (hurt and kill).  Without a person it will do nothing.  However just the fact the gun is there, makes it more likely something will happen.  The Center for Disease Control reports that in 2000, there were 23,237 accidental shootings in America.  What?

Being a teacher I am interested in kids.  The numbers on kids and guns are even more scary!  The CDC reports that in 2006 3,184 children were killed by guns, while another 17,451 were shot with non fatal wounds.  Less than 3000 people died in the 9/11 attacks in 2001.  How much money, time and resources  have we spent trying to make our country, airports, and the rest of the world safe from other attacks like these?  Ask yourself which is more dangerous: an airline passenger with a container holding more than 3.5 ounces of liquid, or a gun in the hands of a child?  Which one of these do we spend more money on?  What?

Peggy Patten did some frightening research on children and guns and found that even after a week of intense education about guns, safety, and prevention 65% of children left alone to play in a room with a hidden gun, picked it up, played with it, pulled the trigger, looked down the barrel, etc. Unfortunately in real life, kids occasionally find real guns.  When they hurt themselves we can say it was not the gun but the child at fault.  But both the gun and the child were doing what they are meant to do.  A child explores.  A gun wounds or kills.

People make guns.  People make kids.  People make rules and laws that given them rights.  People make rules and laws to protect the members of their group or society.  People disagree about these rules and laws and make rationalizations for keeping these rules and laws even when they endanger, rather than protect, members of their group or society.  Guns do not kill people.  People kill people.  People make guns.    What?

Many Americans have died  protecting our rights and personal freedoms.  When an individual sacrifices his or her life in defense of these rights, we call that person a hero.    The Constitution gives us the right to carry guns and maybe this is a right worth fighting and even dying for.  But is it so important that we are willing to accept the steep price of innocent dead?  Is this individual right more important than the general welfare of the community?  Are we willing to say that the children, who die at the wrong end of a hand gun, are worth sacrificing to protect our individual freedom?  Does this make them heroes?  What?

Welcome to the year 2553

April 13th marks the beginning of the new year in Thailand and to celebrate they take to the streets with guns……..WATER GUNS!  Three days of non stop soggy urban warfare welcomes in the new year!

Buddha died 543 years before Jesus,  so Buddhist countries start counting years from there making this the year 2553.  The celebration of the new year is called Songkran and it takes place from April 13th through the 15th every year.  There is a serious and spiritual side to the holiday, where people visit temples and wash the Buddha, but the most visible part of the celebration is a massive city wide water fight!  What better way to celebrate during the hottest month of the year when temperatures are hovering around 100 degrees (39 Celsius) every day?  Here is how it works:

In the week or so leading up to Songkran, street markets and stores begin selling all sorts of flowery Songkran shirts.  These shirts look like what we would call “Hawaiian shirts” and basically label anyone wearing one as a target.  We eagerly bought shirts and several air powered water cannons to participate in the festivities.  We jumped into a Tuk Tuk (little open air motorcycle taxi) and headed for Khao San road.  Within minutes we were soaked from head to toe.  Every street corner we passed had people throwing buckets of water at us to wish us a good new year.  Pick up trucks with 5 to 15 people in the back and garbage cans filled with water were driving around throwing water at anyone with a squirt gun or Songkran shirt.

Khao San road itself was filled to capacity with smiling faces and dripping bodies!  A few tourists, who did not read up before arriving, tried in vain to reach their hotels without being doused with icy water.  A few were angry, but most just smiled and went with the moment.  I am amazed at how much fun it was to shoot water at people who could not be more wet if they were in a swimming pool, but somehow this kept us entertained for hours!  We took a bus ride home and continued to do battle from the windows of the bus.  Water was flying in and out of the bus windows as the driver laughed and encouraged the antics!  What a great few days!

Raise your hand if you think this is an activity you would like to have in your country!  I for one would vote to hold city wide water fights in the US every year in July or August.  Maybe we could tie it in with our 4th of July?

If you want more information on the religious or historical aspects of Songkran or want to see some videos here are a few links.  Enjoy!

Wikipedia Information

This video has some good images of what I described above. It is from Chiang Mai in the north where the moat that runs around the city fuels the water supply and fun but it shows the tuk tuks and the pick ups and other crazy scenes!

Life On a Stick Part 2

Since my photo blog “Vietnam on a Stick” I have continued to see so many things put on sticks!  So many that I have decided to post a second part in the series.   Most of these photos are from Thailand but a few are from Vietnam and Cambodia.  I am sure when I get back to the United States, I will continue to see things on sticks but here are the latest from South East Asia on a Stick!

Propeller on a Stick

Disgusting on a Stick  (Some people might call this “Delicious on a Stick” but they would be wrong!)

Relief on a Stick

Big Brother on a Stick (Also called “Surveillance on a Stick” in case the dog wakes up!)

Tim on a Stick

Houses on Sticks

Stairs on a Stick

Waffle on a Stick

Path on Sticks and Boat on a Stick

Bicycle Bar Seat on a Stick

Blade on a Stick

Sink on a Stick

Buddha on a Stick

TV on a Stick

Poop on a Stick (OK so it is not poop but if you squint a little it could be!)

I have more but I will save them in case I need to post part 3.

Starving For Good News Part 2

Now that the Olympics are over, I am ready to post Part 2 of Staving for good news.  I think the Olympic games are a perfect example of what I am talking about.  100’s of millions of  people from around the world tuned into watch the Olympics in Vancouver.  Why?  I will get to that in a moment.  First let’s look at two types of news.

The first type of news, I would call “Real news”. This is news that people actually need or should know.   This is news that has an real impact or potential impact on the people watching.  Political elections are real news because it informs us of the issues and agendas of those people who wish to make decisions and shape our lives for the next few years.  Economic news about interest rates, new credit card laws, housing markets, etc. help many people make personal choices.  Even the weather is real news because it can help people plan for their weekend or brace for disaster.

On the other hand is “Other News”.  This news has no impact on the general readership other than being interesting.  This is the type of news that TV, magazine, newspaper, and radio people choose to write about, talk about, and broadcast.  This is not real news.  Who is entering rehab in Hollywood, how many women Tiger Woods slept with, or the story about the guy who shot his neighbor’s dog when it would not stop barking, have no impact or bearing on any ones lives other than the people directly involved.

Other news is interesting.  There is a place for the human interest story.  My problem is on the percentage of other news that is negative.  Why do the media flock to the tragic human interest story rather than the triumphant?  I do not buy into the idea that bad news sells more papers.  The Olympics are a perfect example.

Yesterday Team Canada beat Team USA in Hockey.  This is not real news.  This is other news.  However, I am guessing that Canadians are out in force spending their hard earned Loonies on every news paper they can get their hands on to read this good news! (congratulations Canada on a great game and for hosting the Olympics!)  I think the appeal of the Olympics is the positive human interest stories or positive “other news” it generates.  Sure there is heart-break and tragedy, but I would argue that what most people love about the games is the feel good “good news” side of things.

During the Olympics we were distracted by good news.  Now the media can resume its relentless search for “other news” in all the wrong places.

Starving For Good News (Part 1)

I was flipping through the local news paper this morning and as usual, it was full of news that in largely negative.  Here are a few headlines from the Front Page of today’s  Denver Post :

  • “Unguarded from neglect”  (about a guardian taking advantage of a person)
  • “Culture Clash”  (Murder Trial of former pro football payer)
  • “Warnings to close outposts unheaded” (criticisms of military policy)
  • “Operation slow and dangerous” (More coverage of war)
  • “Political general Haig Dies”
  • “Ohno’s bronze a record” (US speed skater wins 7th Olympic Medal)

Thank goodness for the Olympics to give is a little good news!

The question in my mind is,  “Why are news papers and other news media constantly bombarding us with bad or negative news?”  If the news has a broad impact, beyond the people directly involved, then I get it.  The economy, natural and man made disasters, or exposing the underhanded dealings of a company, all might have a purpose beyond just being interesting.  But Tiger Woods cheating on his wife?  Please!  This is not news!  But our news media believes it will sell papers and magazines (and it does) so it makes it in the news day after day!

But is bad news the only thing that will sell papers?  If the news reported something good would we  still read it?  I say yes!  I think we are starving for good news!  We are so used to hearing, seeing, and reading the bad that when we do get a morsel of good news we are drawn to it like starving wolves.

I offer two pieces of evidence in video form.  Before reading any further click on the two youtube videos below.  Even if you have already seen both of them more than five times, I am willing to bet that once you are halfway through you will not want to stop until you reach the end.

Susan Boyle

Free Hugs

Susan Boyle had this break out performance 10 months ago.  Since then this video has had 88 million hits and other posts of the same thing are in the 30 million view range.  Compare that to the 97 million people who watched the Superbowl in 2009!

The Free Hugs Video has over 56 million hits!  It has also spawned a world wide copycat campaign.  I even saw a guy right here in Fort Collins with a sign just a couple months ago.

Why are people so drawn to these types of videos and this type of news?  The better question is,  “If people are so drawn to it, why aren’t the media scouring the globe for more news of this kind?”   Instead they chase the next celebrity scandal or other meaningless “news”.  Sure that news sells magazines and papers, but so does good news.  We just aren’t looking for it as hard or making as big a deal of it.

I don’t know about you, but if my local paper had a section called “Good News”  I would read it every single day!

More on this in part 2