Monday, September 16, 2013

Classrooom Changes

The school year is in full swing now in Kent, and we're heartily enjoying life with a second grader.  Specifically, we're enjoying this second grader and his second grade class.  This year, our school is trying out a mixed 1st and 2nd grade classroom.  Two teachers, two student teachers, and two grades in an extra large room (really two rooms with a collapsible wall between them that's not used very often now).  Kenny's been thrilled about it so far, and seems to be doing well with this new set-up, in part because the first grade teacher was his teacher last year, and he really enjoyed working with her.  We're glad that he has another year in a safe place where he enjoys learning, and his official teacher for this year has a similar pedagogy and manner to his first grade teacher.  His daily pattern is familiar, he's making progress on school work, and meeting new friends.

I may not work with young kids, but I do teach, and I take my profession seriously.  So much in education is bad news- rising tuition, rising student loan amounts, another assessment added to the schedule, and test prep taking more and more time away from teaching.  With all of that, it's great seeing innovation and child-centered learning still making its way into some areas.  Classrooms being treated like research, following evidenced-based practices and contributing to that evidence, trusting teachers to take leadership of their own classrooms, those are the things that I like to hear happening. 

In my own classrooms, I'm trying some new things, as well, like virtual presentations and some new lab activities.  It's surprising how different things feel with just a little bit of a difference; those little changes make such a big deal in overall outlook.  For me, seeing changes in my syllabus come together, and seeing how other people shape their classrooms for the students (with supportive administrators, even!) brings a renewed feeling of excitement about my profession. 

Over the weekend, Dwight and I saw Dark Side of the Moon, a Pink Floyd tribute band in our area, and went with two of our friends who also work in education.  We reflected a bit on the irony of four teachers enjoying "The Wall," but honestly, the world has changed so much since then that it's not a fair comparison.  Pink Floyd rails against the almost demonic image of a stern class headmaster, who was the final say in his classroom.  He was an authority figure, and Pink Floyd tends to have a very anti-authoritarian bent.  Today, most teachers are not authoritarian, but instead nearly as powerless as students in the classroom.  Legislation about standards, exams, meetings, IEPs; administrators with their list of demands; helicopter parents who will question any decision about their child from the teacher, and in some cases complain to the principal about every decision concerning their child. 

I can't sympathize with the teacher in "The Wall," and I don't think the current situation strikes the correct balance in the classroom, either.  And it is a balance between a teacher's autonomy in the classroom and meeting the need to ensure that children are getting a high quality education.  We haven't found that balance yet, but I'm hopeful that the pendulum will swing back towards teacher autonomy soon.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Down Time

I've been crazy busy with my current class lately (to the point where my hourly pay- yes, this teaching job is hourly- may actually be lower than minimum wage).  It's an interesting set-up, accelerating an entire semester into one month.  I'm not a stranger to long work hours and abbreviated time tables, but this one takes the cake.  A four credit hour general education class for non-majors, and it's possibly the most exhausting class I've taught.  Each day of class is the equivalent of more than the typical week in a standard semester, so there's very little time to relax and evaluate a lesson before jumping straight into the next one.  Not for the faint of heart, that's for sure.

I'm not usually one to enjoy relaxing or vacation.  I tend to be the one that takes their laptop on a night out to keep working.  On the bright side, I'm learning from this experience how important it is to let the mind process material during breaks.  Switching gears and letting the brain just soak in what it's been working on makes the learning process more efficient, and effective. 

I know it's not a new observation.  I know there's plenty of research documenting this same effect.  But you know what?  Having a reminder of what you already know is a great lesson.  And slowing down and enjoying the moment is a lesson I need reminders of from time to time. 

No matter how bad a situation is, there's also something to be learned from it.  Or so I keep telling myself. 

Monday, August 12, 2013

The Passing of a Folk Hero

It's no secret that I'm a die-hard music fan; it soothes my savage soul, so to speak.  Since before we moved to Kent, I've enjoyed the musical contributions made to Ohio airwaves by WKSU, the National Public Radio station run by Kent State University.  For over 30 years, the station has brought folk, classical, and news to Northeast Ohio and farther if you had a good antenna.  They've also helped to host the annual Kent State Folk Festival, and more recently spawned Folk Alley- a 24/7 streaming online all-folk station.  Folk Alley has since made the switch to not just internet, but having an HD channel of its own as well.  While at this point in time classical music is a bit easier to find on the dial, stations that play both older and current folk hits are few and far between, and classical is slipping away slowly but steadily.  It's within this atmosphere of radio-wave homogenization and declining cultural arts investment, that I reflect with a heavy heart on the station changes at WKSU. 

New management to any organization invariably brings some changes.  That's no surprise, and everyone expected that having a new station manager would bring some new ways of doing things and maybe some differences to the old line-up.  I don't know that anyone was expecting quite the wholesale re-ordering that we've experienced.  And I definitely didn't expect the dismissive tone to any opposition to the new format.  Obviously, there are great places like Ear to the Ground Music (from the Shameless Self Promotion department) to find new folk tunes, but typically speaking surfing on the radio is where we are first introduced to new music.  Searching the internet to find something requires that a certain level of interest is already there, and that takes away a particular serendipity. 

There's a certain irony in all this.  Folk music- by its very name, music for the masses- moving off of the standard radio format, currently analog, onto the newer less common radio format which requires additional equipment for most people.  This move is taking folk away from us regular folks, and the same with classical music.  Sure, there are a couple of hours on the weekend, but not like what Kent and the other WKSU listeners are used to.  This, alongside the recent downtown redevelopment with expensive high end shops, and the loss of community green space, has me very much disliking gentrification in my neck of the woods.  You can hear the inequality growing.  But that's what our city council has decided needs to happen, so that's what's going to happen.  Maybe November's off-year elections will be more interesting than I had expected.

On the bright side, us little folks are working together and getting some cool stuff done on our own terms, like the new Edible Kent endeavor and pARTy and Snack-nic outdoor art extravaganza to help replace our community green space.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Corporate Conundrum

It's Moral Dilemma Time, kids!  All right, so the answer is already decided (us teachers gotta eat, you know), but I've been thinking a lot lately on corporate colleges and their impact on the higher education landscape.  This is mainly because I've been hired by one, so I feel the need to at least cogitate on the matter.

On the plus side, they can seem to have some innovative structures (one month-one class systems; social support systems like child care connections; flexible class delivery modes).  On the negative side (and it's a big negative side), they rely heavily on part-time adjuncts and may not have any tenure.  Where I'm working currently has about half of the pay of a typical class that I teach, and is hourly not salary (and only pays for contact hours, not prep or grading time).  Frankly, what bugs me even more than the pay is the bureaucracy.  There are a million and a half "Thou shalts" and "Thou shalt nots."  Oddly, with all the rigamarole, there's no time-sheet.

All of the metrics for this private, for-profit school are horrendous as is typical for PFPS, whether you look at graduation rate, retention rate, employment after graduation, etc.  The classes are a joke.  The instructors are a mixed bag, but without any time to plan or grade lessons, even the best instructor is going to face challenges.  The resources offered are there to help keep students coming back, not moving forward; help with getting financial aid and government assistance, not help with actually getting an education.

It's despicable, the way these companies profit off of failing students.  It's worse than I had ever thought these places could possibly be.  But you know what?  I have a family to take care of, so I'm doing it.  Now if you don't mind, I need to go bleach my eyeballs and scrub half of my skin off for taking part in this fleecing.

Thank goodness for neo-liberal education de-formers, at all levels of education.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Ding-Dong, DOMA's Dead!

Yes, this is yesterday's news, but this is the first I've had a chance to sit down and write down a coherent response to SCOTUS's ruling.  Yesterday's response on my part was confined to whooping, hollering, and maybe a few tears. 

Obviously, this is great news for all same sex couples in the 12 (soon 13, after SCOTUS instructed the lower court to dismiss the Prop 8 case out of California) jurisdictions that allow marriage equality.  For people in states like Ohio, where there are constitutional bans on same sex unions, the ruling is less clear right now.  Part of the confusion lies in the distinction of how federal organizations define marriage- by place of celebration, or place of residency.  If the place of celebration is used, then federal benefits should be a very real possibility.  Hopefully, there will be some consistency brought to the definition soon, and to my (admittedly limited- so please feel free to correct me) knowledge that could be done without an act of Congress in most cases.  As if Congress was active in the first place right now. 

If the place of residence is used, then it's a harder fight, and the couple would likely have to reside in a marriage equality state. 

What really throws a wrench in the works (or has the potential to be a huge break through), is the Full Faith and Credit Clause.  Article IV, Section 1 of the US Constitution states:

"Full Faith and Credit shall be given in each State to the public Acts, Records, and judicial Proceedings of every other State. And the Congress may by general Laws prescribe the Manner in which such Acts, Records and Proceedings shall be proved, and the Effect thereof."
This is the fun little clause that allows you or I to have a destination wedding, or to move after we're married and have that marriage recognized.  This clause and the due process and equal protection portions of the Fourteenth amendment were the grounds that the court used to decide Loving v. Virginia.  It's important to note, however, that yesterday's decision was based on the due process clause of the Fifth amendment instead.  Also of note, to me anyway, is that while Loving and Windsor were decided on different bases, the framing and terminology were similar.  From Loving:
The Equal Protection Clause requires the consideration of whether the classifications drawn by any statute constitute an arbitrary and invidious discrimination.
and From Windsor:
DOMA’s principal effect is to identify and make unequal a subset of state-sanctioned marriages. It contrives to deprive some couples married under the laws of their State, but not others, of both rights and responsibilities, creating two contradictory marriage regimes within the same State.
While SCOTUS yesterday refused to affirm that marriage is a constitutional right by refusing to rule on Prop 8, Warren did make that claim in the Loving case that stopped miscegenation laws.  I think that's an important reality to remember.

And just for the sake of CMA, this is a thought experiment on my part, I am not a lawyer, and really, don't take legal (or any) advice from a blog.  Especially one written by me.  :)

For other, related interpretations of the possible effects of Full Faith and Credit on marriage equality, there's some good (if dated) discussions here:

National Review

Doug Linder, Law Professor, University of Missouri-Kansas City Law School

Ivan Hoffman, JD

JP Feldmeier, 1995. Publius 25(4):107-126.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

My Body, My Self

This evening our little family went out for an early weekend dinner and decided to try Fresco, a new local place in Kent notable for their salsa bar.  The food was fantastic, the had good beer, my day's classes had gone well, I had new replica jaws to play with, Kenny and I picked lots of strawberries, and I'd been up to a round of "Secret Santa" around town.  I'm sure I could have been in a better mood, but I'm not sure how I would have gotten there.  We were sitting waiting at our table for our food when it happened.  There were hands at my side and a face on my shoulder, and it was not my friend the newly minted Dr. Sohom- one of the few people that I allow to creeper-hug me without a fight. 

Dear Fellow Fresco Patron-

What made you think that you could come that close up behind a stranger in a restaurant with her family?  Why did you think that it was OK to rearrange my clothing to cover a tattoo on my back?  What part of my appearance gave you any indication that I wanted to hide my tattoos or was embarrassed by them?  Why on Earth were you surprised at my reaction, which was merely an expletive directed at you and not a fist heading towards you?  Would you ever even consider doing this if I had been a man?  Do you have any idea of the moment of sheer terror I feel at a stranger's (and some not-strangers') touch?  Have you thought about how your feeling of entitlement to my body fits into the larger social picture.  Have you ever considered that not all people enjoy physical contact, and in fact some people are positively averse to it?  Have you ever thought that maybe their aversion to touch has something to do with a feeling of lack of autonomy, often thanks to people like you?  What makes you think that it's appropriate to slut-shame random women in front of their children?  Do you really have this little respect for your fellow humans? 

Do us all a favor and can the moralizing and misogyny, alright. 

Gah.  Invasion of personal space and body shaming are not things that I enjoy or take lightly, and nor should any sane person.  How is this crap even considered OK today?!

Monday, June 17, 2013

Belated Happy Fathers' Day!

Yeah, I meant to write this yesterday.  Yeah, I'm a day late.  Yep, I also sent out cards/gifts late, too (or will, when I get them out).  Yes, I am aware of how much I suck.  And yah, I'm OK with these facts.

I'm not going to lie- Fathers' Day is hard for me.  Like many people, my Dad's not here anymore.  I'm grateful for my spouse, who's a great dad to our Bug, but he's not always such a great partner to me.  Also not uncommonly, what family we do have is split across the state and farther; our older family members have less than great health and we have less than a little bit of spare time.  H3ll, Dwight even had to work on fathers' day, so there went any dinner plans. 

I'm extremely grateful for the time I had with my father.  He was an amazing person who helped shaped me into who I am to this day, and if it weren't for him I'd be even more broken than I already am.  He gave me confidence, inquisitiveness, logic and reasoning, and great hair.  Then he died and I've been trying to pick up the pieces ever since. 

I'm not the only one with this burden to bear; my sister and mother and so many more people miss him, too, but we all have our individual journey to travel in our pain.  Some of us handle pain more or less effectively, and a lot of that depends on the support we grew up with and the skills we learned as a child.  I'm immensely thankful that I received love, support, and skills from my father, but less face it, loosing a parent hurts whenever and however it happens.  I can be appreciative and sorrowful at the same time, as can any other human.  We're complex critters, humans, and extremely diverse.  Far more so than some quips in the card aisle or cliched neckties and cookouts would imply. 

No matter how you recognized the day, and no matter how you nurture the next generation, thank you for all you do, dads everywhere.  You make differences left and right, so make the best of those differences.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

First Grade Reflection

School wrapped up for Kenny this past week.  He's been on summer break for two days now, and starts camp up on Monday, which is good because I take on another teaching assignment on Monday. 

I have to say, the kiddo had a good year.  Ended up with all "E"s (for excellent, not the alternative to an "F") and is reading above grade level.  He happily repeats that last point to try and get out of reading if he thinks he has better things to do.  He's seen an exceptional amount of growth academically and developmentally this year, with a lot of thanks going to the amount of support he has had from his amazing teachers and others who have worked with him.  I can teach biology, and Dwight can do history, but there's no way that the two of us could handle teaching reading and the social skills that Kenny has mastered this year.  It's just not our forte.  It's this ability to supplement my own failings, and my recognition of those failings, that make me so grateful for our school and neighborhood. 

I know it's cliche, but it takes a village to raise a child.  It takes a village to do a lot of things well.  No person can be everything that is needed or has all the necessary skills for complex tasks, and raising and educating a child is most definitely a complex task.  Also a complex task- juggling two adults with jobs and studies with a school schedule straight out of the nineteenth century.  So for the summer, I'm just as thankful for the Kent Parks and Recreation for their dedication to providing programming over the summer (and surround care during the school year) that make the summer break so much more enjoyable for our family.

I know, I know, we wouldn't have to rely on others if one of us would stay home.  But that's not what works for us, and really, who can afford to do that today?  Not us, that's for sure.  Kudos to those of you who can, you're stronger than I am.  We could use family, except we don't have extended family near us, and our families have their own lives to live.  Dwight and I have moved on from our home towns, as have our parents and siblings; "leaving the nest" wasn't really necessary for us since the nest left, too.  At this point, like many people today, we rely on our community more than our family, because we have dispersed families and a close knit community. 

As time passes, people grow and change.  The little boy that entered first grade last August is not the same child that's sitting and reading on the couch right now.  The society we are now is not the same as it was when public school first became an option.  We have to adjust to those changes culturally the same as I have to adjust to new parenting demands for my child, hopefully by improving and doing our best to fulfill new needs.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Memorial Day 2013

Memorial Day marks the unofficial start of summer in the temperate zone of the Northern hemisphere, and for Dwight and I who, like many of our peers, grew up with World War II veterans as grandparents, Memorial Day has always been a schizoid holiday.  The somber decorating of graves and remembering of the dead doesn't mix easily with barbecues and parades.  Dwight has more reason to feel ambivalent about the day, as his grandfather died of a cold that developed into pneumonia after visiting graves one cold wet Memorial Day.  We were lucky to grow up knowing only an all-volunteer military force in the US, which was not the case for our parents or grandparents.  We also grew up in a time of relative peace, with the only active conflict that either of us knew of being Operations Desert Storm and Desert Shield, and those really didn't impact us to a great degree.  From a historical standpoint, we were very lucky.

And then came September 11, 2001.  What followed has been over a decade of the War on Terror since the Authorization of Military Force.  My son has grown up his entire life in a state of war, exactly the opposite of Dwight and my experience.  Strangely, I don’t know that those differences have made much of an impact on his life to this point.  While I’m glad that he still has a sense of security and Dwight and I have tried to foster that, I’m not sure what it says about our nation that we can accept a state of perpetually heightened security as a normal thing with no consequences.   There is no real news coverage, and it’s been quite some time since much discussion about this state of affairs has occurred.  Even the protests within our country of the use of military force are barely a blip on the news radar lately. 

What happened to the world where we honored the fallen in part by not jumping into protracted  wars?  Or maybe I’m being nostalgic and it never existed, I don’t know.  Either way, it seems to me that a better way to those who have died in service to our country would be to do our best to prevent similar deaths in the future.  I realize this is a crazy idea, but it was one that I was glad to hear somewhat spoken to by the president on Thursday.  His words weren't perfect, but they were far better than what I've come to expect from him over his first term.  Of course, this is from the woman who takes pride in her family history of pacifism.  All I know is that freedom isn't free, and I say thanks every day to those who paid the ultimate price for our freedom, I just wish our politicians should show some appreciation and stop creating more war-dead. 

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Catching Up (Or Trying To)

 So, yeah, I ran just a little behind last week, and didn't get a chance to do my SciFund Challenge homework, and as penance, I'm posting it publicly here.  This might be more punishment for you than for me, and for that I apologize.  But here goes...

Title:  Choose Not the Path of Apathy

Intended Audience: General public, especially those with an interest in the outdoors for recreation of other activities.

I’m sure you’re asking why on Earth one would study the interactions of amphibians and plants, and I don’t blame you one bit.  To most reasonable people, the connection is tenuous at best.  The two groups don’t compete with one another for most resources, neither preys on the other all that often, and they don’t have any parasitic interactions, either.  There’s no intelligent purpose behind looking into the connections of the two groups, any more than there’s any cause to looking at how cell phones impact refrigerators. Unless of course, you're interested in this little frog.

Until you scratch the surface, that is.  And then you start to see the ways this odd couple of the wetland world belongs together perfectly.  Like plants forming the physical structures of the habitat through which amphibians must navigate.  Or amphibians’ appetite for insects that otherwise consume far more plant tissue and spread pathogens among plants.  And there’s the nitrogenous wastes from amphibians that fertilize plants.  Finally the protection that plants give to amphibians from mammalian, avian, and reptilian predators.  The connection totally makes sense now, right? 

That’s the thing about science, the sense is all there, sometimes you simply need someone to explain it to you, or you need to have a few experiments under your belt before you see it first.  In the US we tend to talk about people who “get” science and math, and people who don’t, as if understanding science is some inherent trait in only select people.  Thankfully, that’s not the case, anyone can understand science, and in fact, all children start out as scientists.  Exploring the world and testing to see cause and effect- that’s science.  Observing what goes on in front of you intently, trying to hear patterns in the sounds others make- that’s science.  Trying one step, having it not work out, trying a different step, and repeating this process until you finally get your feet to work and support your weight- that’s science.  It’s all very rudimentary, but it’s science nonetheless. 

Let’s go back to those amphibians and plants that I study, and think about why on Earth they might be important to you.  Whether you engage in science on a daily basis or not, you matter in the scientific process, because some of dollars help to fund research through taxes, through company Research and Development budgets, and through donations to charitable organizations like the American Cancer Society.  You also matter because much of today’s science- the “applied” portion of it- has as its purpose improving your life in some way, shape, or form, and you matter because the people you elect as your representatives help (or hinder) shape science funding and education policy decisions, for better or worse. 

We’ve established why amphibians and plants matter to each other, but why would these things matter to you?  For one thing, both can be used as ways to measure the quality of a habitat, through the Amphibian Index of Biotic Integrity and Floristic Quality Assessment Index, respectively.  Whether or not you live in a wetland like where these organisms are found (and I truly hope you don’t, for many reasons), those habitats benefit you, through water filtration and flood buffering, as habitat for organisms you might enjoy slightly more than amphibians like migratory birds and waterfowl, as recreational places to visit and enjoy the outdoors, and through increased property values because of access to those high quality recreational areas. 

I could go on and on about why to care about the environment, but I’m running short on time this week so I, cutting out at this point.  Let me know your thoughts in the comments. Is the environment important to you?  Why or why not? 

Monday, May 13, 2013

Teachers Be Learning, Yo!

May is my "off month" from teaching, so I'm taking the time to expand my own education with the SciFund Challenge class and a KSU Learning Institute "A Mirror to the Mind: Metacognitive Practices to Help Students Learn How They Learn."    All sorts of fun stuff on science outreach, thinking about thinking, and communication.  Yes, the idea of reaching out to people I don't know, communicating effectively, and collaboration- some very touchy feely type crap- is very much outside my comfort zone, but I'm enjoying what I've learned so far, and pushing myself beyond my limits.

Last week's lesson in SciFund Challenge was about the message box, a way of organizing and delivering a targeted message about your research.  The message box has five components, and always leaves a path to work your way back to the main points of your topic.  There's a full discussion of this concept in Chapter 8 of "Escape From The Ivory Tower" by Nancy Baron, and some discussion on Compass Online, and the book site

The center of the message box, or The Issue, focuses your whole talk, and is where you define the issue.  Around that focal point are the four major points of the message box- So What?  The Problem?  The Benefit?  and Solutions?- which all relate back to the issue at hand.  "So What?" describes why your audience should car about the issue.  "The Problem?" looks at the specific part of the broader that you are addressing, your piece of the puzzle, if you will.  "Solutions?" talks about possible solutions to the problem.  "Benefits?" addresses how the solutions you propose might benefit society. 

For my research, my message box might look something like this:

The Issue-  Amphibian populations are showing declines globally, and the causes remain elusive.
So What?-  Frogs and salamanders are voracious predators of insects that cause problems for humans, like mosquitoes, and they are a large source of food for other species that we enjoy, like birds, fish, and small mammals.
The Problem?-  Invasive plants are changing habitats, and homogenizing ecosystems, both of which could lead to a loss of diversity and may play a part in amphibian declines.
Solutions?-  Possible solutions include better prioritizing of conservation resources, control and elimination of invasive species, and monitoring of amphibian populations.
Benefits?-  When we conserve amphibians, we gain great little insect-eating machines, which lessens our need for pesticides and slows the spread of some diseases, and maintains the integrity of various habitats by ensuring continued diversity. 

It needs some work, I'll admit, but making myself think about how to say things, and how to express the importance of research is good practice, right?

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

My Summer "Break"

Having finished my teaching duties for the spring semester, I am ON BREAK!  Of course, I go back to teaching the week of Memorial Day.  Fabulous, right?  So what do I do to enjoy all this free time while I'm in between classes?  Take a class, obviously.  Specifically, I'm taking the SciFund Challenge class over the next few weeks to learn more about science outreach and communication.  Not exactly biochemistry, but rigorous in its own way. 

Today was the first synchronous portion of the class, hosted on Google Hangouts, and it was definitely interesting.  Talk of expectations, goals, purpose of the class, introductions and so on filled the time, although there were some really good points from Jai Ranganathan about funding models and the scientific process, and how those things are changing.  This discussion comes on the heels of an announcement earlier this week that Congress wants to remove the peer review process for awarding NSF grants- one of the largest sources of research funding for basic science- and instead substitute Congress' own judgment.  Talk about politicizing science! 

As we see funding sources for research drying up, and universities hiring more non-tenure track faculty instead of tenure lines, and more courses moving online through MOOCs and other options, higher ed is definitely changing.  As institutes of higher ed have classically been the place where the bulk of basic research is done, this is troubling.  No longer can educators rely on relative job security, and no longer can researchers rely on grant money.  That's both scary as all get out, and as just as exciting.  If scientists are going to continue to receive funding for their research, they have to communicate with the public about why their research deserves funding. 

Education doesn't take place just inside the four walls of the academy (or any four walls); education happens everywhere.  Science doesn't just happen inside the four walls of a lab; science happens everywhere.  We need to recognize these facts, and help to foster education and science in more diverse formats than we have previously.  I'm not saying that this will be an easy switch for those of us who like our cloistered little corners of the world, but it's an important switch, and maybe one that will lead to more public understanding of science, and ultimately a better educated populace. 

I think we can all agree that that last point would be a good thing.

30/30- Accomplishment

I finished, I did it, I'm done!
I set out a goal
And managed the whole,
One epic battle has been won.

Another small notch in my belt
I'll keep on winning,
Victories pinning
I always handle what I'm dealt.

I keep going for one more day
Build on past success
I never take less
Than giving each chance all I may.

Monday, April 29, 2013

29/30- Light

                                                                            are all
                                                                        made up of
                                             stardust through and through and our light shines
                                                        in everything that we do in our life.
                                                            We can burn bright and brief
                                                           or dim and long but either way
                                                         we shine and we     let the world
                                                        know just                        where we
                                                      may                                            stand.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

28/30- Alexis

I'm not sure if you might know this,
But your strength and your feistiness 
Kind of remind me of my sis
Your words take away loneliness.

I had forgotten writing's draw
And the way the story can heal.
But we "met" when my wounds were raw
I couldn't help but love your zeal.

Your courage pulled me from abyss,
You showed me how not to hem-haw.
Your passion I just had to steal,
Your courage pushed me to write, Miss.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

27/30- Wake up

w a r m s

26/30- Weekend Shift

When the weekend comes at last
Quiet is not found.
I have to think all too fast
While my head spins round.

I remember in the past
I loved the sound
Of Friday, but now- aghast!-
It's off to work I bound.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

25/30- Dawn

I wake each morning
And think of what's to come
Hope flies through my mind
As Helios flies through the sky.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

24/30- Corners

Rain coming down
Not feeling like I'll drown
It's been a good day.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

23/30- Calling

calling loudly,
marking his space
in the world.

to get him

22/30- Maintenance

Spring is here, each day is longer than the last.
Everything appears to be green and growing,
The winter's cold is finally going.
All will be better than things were in the past.

As the sun rises toward the main mast
Farmers prepare new seeds for the sowing.
Spring is here, each day is longer than the last,
All will be better than things were in the past.

At my boldness, you might find yourself aghast,
With you, I'd like to be in a boat, rowing.
Or out in the garden happily hoeing.
Anything to ensure that our bond stays fast.
Spring is here, each day is longer than the last.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

21/30- Perseverance

There's a place I've gone all my life,
The single spot that's free of strife.
Somewhere for weary minds to rest
For tomorrow to be my best.

The days are long, but nights are bold.
I fear I won't get to grow old.
Ev'ry day I'm put to the test
For tomorrow to be my best.

"I think I can" ain't quite enough
So I'll continue being tough.
I only say this half in jest-
For tomorrow to be my best

There's a place I've gone all my life,
For tomorrow to be my best.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

20/30- FANatics

There once was a woman from Kent State
The sports culture around she did hate.
So mail threats she received
And crude lies she believed
Until she saw their story would wait.

19/30- Stay By My Side

Sit by my side, and stay a while
Pretend with me that nothing's vile.
Let's hold tight to the moment now,
Smile at me as I wipe your brow,
          Walk with me down this final mile.

Be my friend, and make my eyes smile,
Let's go through life in double file.
We just can't lose, no way, no how.
          Stay by my side...

We'll cut through time, just like the Nile.
I love your wit, I love your wile,
I'll keep you in my heart I vow,
I'll shade you like the willow bow.
          Stay by my side...

Thursday, April 18, 2013

18/30- In the Lobby

Yes, this is the world in which we live today,
Where school windows have iron shutter and bar
And guns are rampant where children love to play.

I wonder where the leaders and thinkers are?
Not passing laws and not serving the people
With all the cameras, they can't have got far.

Instead, they seem to have turned into sheeple,
Following their donors' every command
And bowing before the almighty steeple.

What has happened to our once glorious land,
Where citizens mattered and proud we could stand?

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

17/30- Reminders

Fingers slowly move
Hand sweeps across your face
Memorizing feel.

Heart meets heart in eyes
Remembering all our years
Listening to breath.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

16/30- The Day After

We are so strong
We have faced paralyzing fright
But we are strong
We see in the world where there's wrong
We try to improve where we might
Make every effort to spread light
We will be strong

Monday, April 15, 2013

15/30- Rest

On and on the time flies by outside
I can rest with you by my side
It feels so funny sitting
And no more wall hitting
Just the two of us
Being quiet
Sitting here

Sunday, April 14, 2013

14/30- Left Behind

In D.C. they're laughing at staffing
While teachers keep fearing their hearing.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

13/30- Yin and Yang

Sleepy, slowly turn
Day is done and so am I
Quietly I take to bed.

Up again at dawn
Long day ahead and so I
Dash from bed with energy.

Friday, April 12, 2013

12/30- Curious Tea

I'm a curiosity
Are you curious?
You like tea?

11/30- Defense

Day by day time rolls on and on until it
Happens to be the day for which I've waited,
To find out who I am, or if a mere twit
Who thinks she knows the thoughts that fill brighter heads.

I like to believe I truly am smart,
And I have to trust that I have a kind heart.
But proof is what matters and proof I shall find
On the day that I pass the test of my mind.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

10/30- Stamina

World, you shall not defeat me yet, 
Through thick and thin I've kept my head.
Should I gamble, I'd place a bet-
World, you shall not defeat me yet.
To you, I owe my greatest debt
When I'd follow, "Lead me" you said.
World, you shall not defeat me yet.
I'll not be beat, even when dead.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

9/30- Spring

Awakening of life
Green coming forth, color returning
Hopes soar for the coming growth beginning

Monday, April 8, 2013

8/30- Stasis

Pay the bills
Complete my life
Doing my best to make one out of two
Be the change
Light a small fire
I don't think I'm asking too much, do you?

Sunday, April 7, 2013

7/30- Phoenix

People always said I was smart
Held my brains in high esteem
Once I even thought that they were right
Eventually I thought enough to get my PhD,
Never mind the second shift, the nights playing single parent.
I've tried my hardest, I'm second best
Xi Wang-Mu I'm not- I'd trade a child for a career.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

6/30- Let Down

I think I can be anyone
Until night's done.
In morn's bright light,
Naught seems all right.

My future was so clear it seemed
While prone I dreamed.
But real'ty
Took shots at me

And then my world came tumbling down.
My smile hid frown,
And tears stayed in,
As heart grew thin.

Friday, April 5, 2013


Yeah, I'm a sucker for challenges.  I suck at them, but I enjoy them.  So for some reason I decided National Poetry Month would be a fun challenge.  And I did this late in the day on day four of the month.  Brilliant, I know.  I used to write poetry, but I think nearly every kid goes through that angst-ridden teenage poet/artist/musician phase, don't they?  At least everybody I know did, and some are still there.  Whatever, I thought it might be fun to write something less academic for a bit.  So here goes my "catch up" for NaPoMo.

Piles all around
Finally, a light

Long road ahead
Missing you
Going home

Rays of sunlight
Warmth and joy

Purple crocus lawn
Bursting from white snow
Contagious courage

Quiet slow thoughtful
Running wildly
We balance

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Day Two

How else does one get over a bout of writer's block but to step away from the project at hand for a bit?  Plenty of people try pushing through it, just keep writing in spite of the block.  I really can't decide which is the better approach, so here I am busting writer's block on one project by writing on another project.  Makes tons of sense, right?  OK, my logic circuits may have failed at this point.

But I'll tell you what I'm really hoping doesn't fail today- oral arguments opposing the Defense of Marriage Act, as heard by the Supreme Court of the United States.  Yesterday began the marriage equality week with oral arguments on California's Proposition 8, and today continues with more discussion of marriage equality.  It should be pretty clear where I stand on the issue- everyone has the right to be just as miserably or happily married.  Period, full stop, turn the page.  I'm still surprised when I hear people speak out against marriage equality, even though I shouldn't be.  I'm just here wasting time and pointing out some issues at play in the equal marriage debate.

Possibly first in my mind is the 14th amendment to the constitution- "No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; ... nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."  If denying marriage equality doesn't abridge the privileges of US citizens, I don't really know what does. 

Going along with that is the first amendment, long regarded as the source of our separation of church and state.  Given that nearly all of the arguments that I've heard against marriage equality go back to religion (and I only say "nearly all" because I tend to be conservative in throwing around absolutes), the separation of church and state play a decent sized role here.  No one is forcing a given church to perform same sex marriages, nor condone them, just stop trying to influence the laws of our secular nation.  No matter how hard you might want it, the US is not a theocracy.

And to those who oppose same sex marriage on biblical grounds- show me where the bible says anything against same sex marriage, or homosexuality in general.  It doesn't.  And then show me where you follow all of the other things that the bible does actually speak against.  Wait, you probably don't.  So stop the judgey-judgingness already.  I'm fine with you speaking out on what you think is wrong, but please realize that your definition of wrong is far from universal and stop trying to impose it on other people.

Similarly, the pseudo-arguments from nature yesterday were just embarrassing.  Same sex couples can't get married because they can't have kids?  Who decided that the purpose of a marriage is to have kids?  What does that have to do with things like access to a spouse's health insurance?  Or hospital visitation?  And what about the opposite sex couples that can't have kids?  Or- GASP!- choose not to have kids?  The state has no say in forcing people to have children, any more than it has a say in forcing people to not have children.  Unless you want the US to be on par with China during it's one-child policy period.  

So yeah, sorry, but your arguments come down to "Ew!  I don't like that idea!" and that's no basis for sound legal arguments.  Can the US that values human rights, individual freedom, and life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness please stand up?  Thanks.  

What's your favorite anti-marriage equality argument and comeback? 

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Doing Science and Being a Scientist

It's been a really long, tiresome, but educational job-hunt season this year and I'll be the first to admit it.  Teaching outside of my usual student demographic has taught me a lot about myself, the world, the educational system, and goals for higher ed.  Many moons ago- more than I care to admit- I started graduate school with the idea that I would work someday in a research lab in a big R1 school and spend most of my time working on research.  Thanks to funding cuts to grant providers and educational institutions, the impossibly low grant funding rate, high stress levels and my aversion to them, and my interest in not going absolutely insane, I've had to rethink those goals over the years.  At this point in time, I'd be happy with a full-time teaching job, and time around that job to work on research on my own terms.  I'm trying and most days I'm successful, but it's hard not to see that view as admitting defeat. 

Kevin over at Deep Sea News recently wrote a great piece about why he's leaving science that has gotten a lot of attention and had people speaking about the problem of scientists leaving the sciences.  Unsurprisingly, the conversation struck a cord for me, and left me grasping for a solution.  Having a historian in the house, I often go to historical contexts and similar situations across history, and this current paradigm does have some historic precedent.  Not necessarily people leaving the sciences, but people choosing to work on science outside of traditional science careers (the lab, engineering, etc.).  My personal interest in identity lead me down a thought path that, for me at least, was helpful, and might be useful for others in some sciences as well. 

The question in my mind came down to "Am I a scientist inherently, or is my identification as scientist tied to my career situation?"  And in my case, the answer was that I don't "do science" but instead I "am a scientist."  Especially in a world of growing crowd-source funding possibilities and citizen scientist initiatives, being a scientist outside of the walls of funded science research in industry and the academy has never been easier.  Obviously, not all sciences are going to be able to work in this way, but for ecologists like me, I think this may be a viable option.  The hard part is the issue of privilege, because precious few people can take on the weight of student loans to get through a higher graduate degree, which means the perspective of people doing this is likely to be limited.  For our family, however, this seems to be a good compromise.  I'll continue teaching, part-time as I have been or hopefully full-time in the near future, and I can use my "off" time to further my own research, participate in citizen science ventures, edit and write academic papers, and stay connected to the academic world in those ways. 

You can take the scientist out of the lab, but you can't take...  That started out better than it ended up, my apologies, but I hope you get my drift.  I don't have to let my career define me, and there's no reason that other researchers can't follow this same path for a while.  The older professors have to retire sometime, right?  Until then, I'm going to keep doing what I do and remember what my parents taught me- Do what you love, and love what you do, and you'll do it better than someone who does it for the paycheck.

And in other news- you'll be seeing an additional page on here soon, as I was accepted for the Sigma Xi Student Showcase

Monday, February 25, 2013

Trying Time

We recently got El Shorto the seven year old his own alarm clock.  He wanted one, and we thought it would be a nice change from having to wake him up every school morning.  He wanted one because 1) he saw a Spiderman alarm clock that looked "AWESOME!", 2) he's been all about figuring out time lately, and 3) he thinks he wants to be a grown up.  Or at least a big-kid.  I keep explaining that growing up is not at all what it's cracked up to be, but he doesn't listen.  I'm the mom, so what would I know about anything, right?  Besides, I'm probably just plotting to keep all the coolness and amazingness that is grown-up-dom to myself.  Obviously. 

But we caved, and we got him a clock.  It has flashing lights.  It has a buzzer.  It has Spiderman.  And it has labeled hands.  What on earth could be better than this contraption?!  Why, continuing to ask incessantly, "Is it past noon yet?" at nine in the morning, of course.

Of course, being cooler than all get out in no way means that he'll actually wake up to it.  But he keeps trying every morning, or saying he's going to try each night before he goes to bed.  We've had similar luck with answering the "How many days until..." question by getting him a calendar.  Basically what I'm saying is that my kid is impervious to learning, at least when it comes to time. 

He's a smart kid; Dwight and I know it, his teacher knows it, and most people that spend much time with him know it (assuming they know how old he really is, which is far more difficult than one would think).  He's also stubborn and lazy and impatient.  It's a dangerous combination, I tell you what, and has created quite a bit of frustration in our household over the years. 

It's a funny thing, our perception of time.  I speak of El Shorto, because his difficulties with time are the most noticeable right now, but even us grown-ups have our own trouble with time.  It moves too slowly on Monday, and moves too fast as our children grow.  Or at least it does for me, but you may be totally different.  Maybe it's all the years of watching Doctor Who finally catching up and time-warping my mind and my genetics.  Whatever it is, the clock seems to hold little sway in Chez Me right now, and less so the more I focus on it, while time seems ever more subjective and fluid.  I just hope this spring comes quickly so El Shorto and I can relax a bit and pay less attention to the dreaded tick-tock.  With this fickle weather and and too-short days, how do your days fly (or crawl)?

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Keep on Rolling with My Rock

Dwight and I have been trying to tackle health and fitness stuff this year.  We both want to lose some weight, more importantly be healthier, and working out together seems to be a good compromise between "doing nothing" and "going to counseling" to help us be a better us (and it's cheaper).  It's still time together, we talk usually, it improves our mood, and it's showing that we value each other and ourselves.  Both of us think it's been helpful, even if sometimes our talks aren't all nice.  Relationships are like that, right?  They aren't always nice, but the goal is to work through things instead of bottling it up for the sake of not arguing.  I'm sure on those not-so-nice days we're good entertainment for anyone people watching the track. 

Today while we were walking, a thought occurred to me.  I'm not quite sure how or what brought it up, but there it was.  I've complained often enough- or maybe too often- about him and others not being there after my sister's death.  A part of me gets it; suicide is not easy to talk about, and makes a lot of people uncomfortable, even more so than a death from other causes.  And he will admit that he didn't step up to fill in while I was basically half a person for that initial year, so it's not like we fight about that.  This morning it wasn't his unwillingness to help out that came to my mind.

Well, OK, it was that, but not in the usual way.  When I was in that extremely dark place and wondering if there was even an end of the tunnel to come out on, let alone try to see the light from, I freely admit that I was not so nice myself.  I'm not proud of that, and I wish I hadn't been ugly in response to the ugliness that I was feeling, but I'm human and have faults.  I'm told those two things go together, and my faults serve to reinforce my self-image as human instead of some kind of troglodyte. 

But even in my ugliness, Dwight did exactly what he always does- he was there.  He stayed here.  He could have left, and the universe knows I gave him reason and opportunity in spades.  When everything else was swirling and floating away, he stuck around.  I've been known to say that Dwight was my rock- and he really is- so why I should be surprised at the sheer inertia of my rock is beyond me.  He did exactly what he always does, no more and no less. 

And in retrospect, that's exactly what I needed.  He let me come through this not on my own, but with my own two feet, walking beside me.  He didn't carry me or my baggage, and if he had I would have considered it patronizing (and been mad at him).  He helped me by staying true to himself and letting me see my own strength when finally after a year and a half I'm digging back out of my hole.  Funny how life may not give us what we want, but we always get exactly what we need if we just learn to recognize it.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Education and the State of the Union

You’ll probably find this hard to believe, but in my husband’s and my house reading is a huge thing.  We were both bookworms as kids, and today we spend large chunks of every day reading; news, academic texts, students’ assignments, and our own writings are daily events.  We have tried to pass this same love of reading on to Kenny as well.  Dwight read to my round belly before Kenny was born, and I read him his first academic article when he was just a few days old.  Reading together as a family is a favorite pass time for all of us (we’re currently working on the Hobbit).

You can imagine our surprise, then, when Kenny entered this school year reading well below his grade.  We had tried to prepare ourselves somewhat, but didn’t expect as large a deficit as the teacher explained to us.  “It’s only first grade.”  “Expectations have changed since we were kids.”  “He’ll get it eventually.”  We had told each other all these things prior to his school start, but none of it mattered when we sat learning that our son was “severely deficient” in the subject that we considered most critical, for how can one learn harder subjects if the act of reading is difficult as well?  We both knew the research, that kids not reading well by third grade statistically rarely are able to excel the way kids reading well by third grade do.  Before third grade, kids learn to read; after that, they read to learn (using reading as a way to answer questions).  If Kenny was behind this early on, how was he going to make that first important academic goal?  (And when I say “we” I may mean “I”; Dwight might be a little more laid-back than I am, and I’m OK with that)

Fortunately for us, our school has a Title I reading program, and Kenny’s lack made him eligible.  We also heard of a reading tutoring program that Kent State was putting on, and signed him up for that, too.  We made sure to have all of our bases covered, so that he would be up to grade level soon enough.  Fast forward to now, and he’s a reading fanatic, pulling any book he feels like off the shelves at home and starting into the text.  He reads above level, and has started reading to learn a bit.  He still loves his reading club and reading tutoring, but those are now seen more as incentives to doing well than the chores they once were.

Here’s the thing, though, Ken’s school reading program and reading tutoring were both funded by federal dollars.  So when Marco Rubio- or any politician, really- gets up on his high horse complaining about government spending and the need for austerity, while acknowledging that he’s benefitted from federal spending, it chaps my bum more than just a little.  Carol Hanisch, the women’s liberation writer and activist, popularized the phrase “The personal is political” and I agree wholeheartedly with that assessment.  

I’m not against cutting federal spending, and indeed we have to cut spending as well as increase revenue; the real matter is where to make those changes.  Making budgetary cuts to education, especially early childhood education may have the short-term benefit of reducing federal spending, but it has the long-term impact of reducing and/or denying to younger generations the benefits that we had.  And more importantly, it denies the country of a well-informed, well-educated next generation, which is critical if the US to continue to be a growing, dynamic country.  Making cuts to programs that benefit children is cutting of our nose to spite our face.  

Obviously, there would be some portion of students that would continue to get the excellent education that is required to forge leaders.  The reality in the US, however, is that socio-economic status and educational opportunity is still very much confounded by race and ethnicity.  This current situation, if partnered with cuts to formative educational services, could deprive the next generation of the benefit that a diverse and well-educated leadership provides, that of multiple experiences and perspectives.  Failure to provide equitable educational opportunities to all children enshrines inequality for another generation.  

And if it isn’t the role of the federal government’s role to concern itself with equality of opportunity, who’s role, pray tell, is it?

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Not Going the Way of the Dodo Quite Yet...

So I've been in the midst of interview-torture lately.  Tenure track jobs are most of what I applied for, with some visiting professorships and post-doc positions, but my preference is (obviously) tenure track.  Well-meaning family and friends have been asking about the status of job applications, and while I appreciate the thought, a part of me hates discussing it all.  There's never enough news to report, and it's fairly boring stuff.  The talks do, however, give me a chance with friends and family members to explain some of this whole crazy process.  Not that I'm the best to do that, having not landed a tenure track job yet, but I can speak to some of the ordeal and answer a few questions about an experience that is utterly foreign to the lucky majority of the world. 

The thing is, I have a funny affinity for "shop-talk" about the academy.  The university- for all the changes it has gone through, is going through, and will go through- has stood the test of time and served society quite well thus far, and I'd wager that it still has more to offer to the global community.  Universities, to be sure, have also benefited from their role in the communities they serve.  Being a part of the university community as an individual comes with its own rights and responsibilities, according to the role one plays there. 

In the case of tenure track faculty, the responsibility is to teach their students to the best of their ability, conduct research to further the general knowledge of their professional field, and to provide service to the university community.  In return, a faculty member that performs to the level expected of tenured faculty may be granted tenure after a period of time and a tenure review.  Tenure itself has gotten a bad rap lately, and I'll agree that there are times when it has been abused by some faculty members.  This happens in every profession, as humans are far from perfect, so I hardly feel that this requires doing away with tenure as some politicians are attempting. 

Rather than protecting teachers who are not doing their job, the purpose of tenure is to protect academic freedom.  Without academic freedom we risk introducing politics into research and teaching.  I'm not talking about "The professor is making me learn evolution and my family doesn't agree with that" politics, I'm talking about "Let's not talk about the US when discussing sex trafficking" types of politics in education.  There's a difference between disagreeing on objective and subjective matters.  The protections of tenure, however, are there to ensure that teachers are not punished simply for teaching unpopular theories with significant evidence supporting them.  Tenure is also to protect researchers who do controversial but worthwhile research. 

This is what's exciting to me- being a part of a community that encourages and fosters critical thinking, analysis, and investigation.  It's that role of the university that, in my opinion, is not yet finished.  Can it be improved?  Of course.  But let's not throw out the baby with the bath water.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Having it all

As I've been doing the big tenure-track job search and finding my way into a capital-c-Career, I've been thinking quite a bit about roles, expectations, and differences.  There was an interesting (if somewhat depressing) study published not long ago that found that men who are married fare better in the academic workplace than other groups, specifically unmarried individuals and married women.  If you're a married woman, you can probably guess the reason- a wife at home takes care of things like housework, kids, schedules, etc.  At least that's the expectation, whether conscious or not, of those making the hiring and promoting decisions. 

The expectation that a woman will be a help-mate to her husband in this day and age makes me want to scream, but you know that already, right?  The flip side of that, of course, is the idea of having it all for women.  It's not seen as the norm, that a woman be able to have both a family and a career, but something special and a mark of having "made it" or somehow being lucky.  For men, having it all is the standard procedure; for women, it's something to be achieved. 

First, why should having it all be something extraordinary and special?!  Secondly, why is the expectation of having it all nearly always couched in terms of wanting children?  What about someone who has no desire for children?  Why is being a successful woman defined in part by being a mom?  Can we just accept the idea that sometimes having it all is having everything that you want, having happiness as you define it?  Isn't that the real desired outcome- agency and choice? 

How about we let individuals decide what's right for them, and judge them on their merit (not some perceived benefit of having another person involved)? 

Monday, January 21, 2013


It's Martin Luther King, Jr. day, unofficial Inauguration Day, and a national day of service.  This year, I felt Kenny was finally old enough to make volunteering of some benefit to him, and possible for me (as a day off from school means I have kid-duty, thank you stereotyped gender roles).  So a couple of weeks ago, I gleefully signed us up for Kent State's Just 4 A Day events, and started talking to him about what we would see and do today.  We read about the sites, we talked about serving others, and we talked about the systems that create need in our society.  We also talked about what we would be missing by participating in Just 4 A Day, and how President Obama fit into the history of MLK and the civil rights tradition (see Dr. Cornel West's piercing appraisal of this topic).

After a few hours of cooking and wrapping desserts to go out to the homeless, we ate our sack lunches and discussed questions that had been placed in each of them as conversation starters.  One question was on invisibility- what does it mean, and what can we do about it- and another question asked what we would sacrifice in order to make the world a better place.  The sacrifice question brought standard answers of food, time, treasure, old clothes/goods, skills, and the like (even today, not one person said they would give up guns/weapons to make the world a better place- we humans are so silly).  The discussion of invisibility was a little more interesting.  One person took the question from her own perspective, saying that invisibility meant serving others in quiet, and without fanfare.  Others mentioned the invisibility of the homeless, trans-people, those with different abilities, and mental health illnesses.

Kenny, always one to mix up questions and answers and come up with something I wasn't expecting, proclaimed that he would sacrifice his voice to make the world a better place.  And it hit me that he's spot on.  Unfortunately, there's a perceived benefit to invisibility.  Invisibility is safe.  Invisibility isn't being spat upon, beat up, or laughed at.  Giving a voice to those who are invisible- by choice or by chance- is to help make their visibility safe.  Giving them a voice let's them be heard, gives them a place at the table, and brings them out into the light of day, while protecting them from the burning rays. 

Of all the great leaders- MLK, Ghandi, Mother Theresa, Harvey Milk, and more- a common thread is that they gave their voice to those who had none.  By doing so, they took the burden of silence and the yolk of oppression onto their own shoulders.  Words are powerful, and our voices should speak truth to power. 

Don't tell me what you did today; tell me what those you helped did today, so that I can work to ease their suffering.

(But really, I'd like to hear how you celebrated today as well.  I'm not that heartless.)