Archive for the ‘ news ’ Category

When to Say “When”

When to say "when"?

When to say "when"?

I am afraid that looking at life as a glass half full makes it harder to say “when.”  There is such savor in the filling that it keeps pouring in and suddenly its overflowing and your table and jeans and Blackberry are soaked.

My life seems that way right now—full and overflowing.  Which is wonderful, no question.  Intimidating, absolutely.

Oh that I would be strengthened with might.  That curious kind of might that happens when you think you’ve reach your edge and suddenly, there’s more.  More to you than you thought.

Diving into a glass of water...

Diving into a glass of water...

Beach = Vacation?

suspended in "work world" or "out to sea" for some R&R?

suspended in "work world" or "out to sea" for some R&R?

My sister and I are looking forward to a visit to Panama City, FL.  We have been doing so for weeks now, but it seems there are a few catches.

For example, lesson planning.  Being a teach means you have to lesson plan, you want to lesson plan, and lesson planning makes your life easier.

Another example, being older.  Being older means you don’t have to read the fine print and discover that your hotel won’t let you stay there even though you paid them for the rooms in advance.

So much for vacation.  My heart is in two places: home and beach.  And so far, looks like home will go to the beach with me but we might be stranded on the sea shore selling seashells to pay for another condo…

Moxie Meets Psycho

Notice: not Moxie, just an approximation of her astonishment

Notice: not Moxie, just an approximation of her astonishment

Up close and in person.

Under water.

Silly bird: aquarium lids have a hole in them for the filter.  It is not recommended that you do a dance over the top of the hole.

Operation Save Psycho

Say hello to a black moor goldfish.
Say hello to a black moor goldfish

I had been eyeing a certain elegant black goldfish in the “Pets” aisle at Walmart for some time.  I think I was in a little denial of how much I really like animals—like a child who loves to take care of insects and lizards and birds that get caught in your garage while you’re out shopping.  I always maintained quite a menagerie in middle school, but then I got too busy in high school and college is all about life in black and white printed on dead trees.

So when I moved home after graduation, I was suddenly struck with the enormous possibility of acquiring a collection of a affectionate pets again.  I started with a parakeet, quite ironically named Moxie.  She is learning to live up to her name, but more about her story in another post.  After all, I think she would be quite put out to discover she was sharing webspace with the new fish.

Back to the black moor.  He looked quite elegant, even down to the tiny, trim mustache above his appropriately frowning lips.  And, being the decorator-at-heart that I am, I consented to what a striking addition he would make to my eclectic “studio apartment.”  When I noticed there was a skeleton of another unlucky fish floating at the bottom of his current abode, I decided then and there that he needed a proper home.

I bought the bowl labeled “goldfish bowl” with the charming naivete of someone that hasn’t owned a fish since she was twelve.  I assumed that labeling it a “goldfish bowl” meant that it was designed for goldfish to live in.  I was wrong.

Two days later, my beloved Psycho–so christened for his starting eyes–was sucking on oxygen from the air above his tank.  Even I remember enough of elementary school science to know that fish should be happy in water not wanting to breath air and sprout wings.

So I commenced a little research.  Scary but necessary, apparently.  For lo and behold, a goldfish cannot live in a goldfish bowl.  He much live in a 20 gallon tank!  There’s something called the nitrogen cycle of which goldfish comprise an awkward part: they poop a lot.  And said poop somehow jeopardizes the balance of weird chemicals that exist in uncannily clear water and leads to certain death if not properly cycled by algae, air filters, pH buffers, and a host of assorted accessories sold at your nearest friendly pet store.

To save the life of my $7.00 goldfish, I rush to the store and purchase a $67.00 starter aquarium.  Kayla opens the packaging, Sarah fits the filter on the back, and I crouch in the back yard surreptitiously gathering river rocks from my dad’s lovely landscaping arrangement.  Next, a bucket brigade down the hall from the bathroom to the bedroom using various sizes of my mom’s matching mixing bowl set–also a little surreptitiously borrowed.

We finally scoop Psycho out of his deathly muddy fish (sans “gold”) bowl and into his spacious new habitat.

Only then, when looking online for the missing instructions on how to fit the lid, light fixture, and filter on top of the aquarium, do I discover that putting a fish directly into new water will kill it.


Now, fingers crossed and 48 hours later, we hope and pray to find Operation Save Psycho successful.

More to come, including pictures of Psycho himself, video of his new home, and a “Donate” button to offset my unexpected investment in domesticated marine biology.

The Horror of Losing Animation

The original post that shared this video commented that three years ago this short animated film about two girls that are trafficked into the sex industry would have been sensationalist.

Now, it is not. This reality is growing too familiar.

But animating the horror of human trafficking reinvigorated its tragedy. Whether victims are kidnapped as children or lured as women, trafficking manipulates and destroys the innocent expectation of good in the world. It is the expectation and hope of something better, perhaps marriage, perhaps a career, that is twisted toward their own destruction. This wounding goes deeper than physical trauma. The energizing vision that we have as children might be matured and focused as adults, but it is the power that pushes us forward.

And these women are arrested. Forced into stasis. Coldness. Immobility.

Some escape–their energy breaks through their bonds.
Others are still imprisoned, regardless or perhaps because of their rebellion.

This animated short articulates the deepest cut, the tragic manipulation of life’s energy into its own destruction.

little girls dream...

Human Trafficking in Haiti

More than aftershocks threaten the children of Haiti.  ABC reports fifteen children have already been documented as missing in the company of persons not their parents.  Children without parents and relatives to protect them in the physical and societal collapse following the earthquake are left more vulnerable than ever to human traffickers looking for a quick profit.  But the threat isn’t new.

As I researched what was being done to protect Haitian children during these perilous weeks immediately following disaster, I uncovered a more disturbing reality that has outlasted the shock of seismic waves.  Child exploitation has long been entrenched in Haiti by prolonged economic desperation and fragile infrastructure.  Let me break down for you what I learned.

Haiti is poor.  Says, “With annual per capita income of less than $400 and an average life expectancy of 53, Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. Eighty out of 1,000 Haitian children never see their first birthday, and nearly half the population cannot read. As much as 80 percent of the population lives in poverty.”  One solution families are using: the restavek system.

The word restavek is a derivative of the French phrase “to stay with.”  Basically, IOM explains, “parents unable to care for their children send them to relatives or strangers living in urban areas supposedly to receive care and education in exchange for housework. But in reality Restaveks often live in hardship, practically enslaved to their ‘hosts’, seldom attending school.  UNICEF estimates the number of Restaveks in Haiti at about 173,000, three quarters of them are girls.”  The math is overwhelming but not difficult to understand.  No money, no food, no way to protect themselves against exploitation.

Then, you position that intense individual poverty inside an infrastructure that is rife with corruption and suspicion, unable to encourage international investment or maintain domestic resources.  Drought in the north of the country hasn’t helped the situation either, and Haiti continues its tailspin—a climate ripe for abuse and exploitation of every kind.

Besides the suspect Restavek system, organized traffickers have taken advantage of proximity to the Dominican Republic, whose thriving tourism and sugarcane industries can be harnessed for profits from sexual and labor exploitation.  According to IOM and UNICEF, in 2002, over 2,000 children were trafficked from Haiti into the Dominican Republic.  Important note: this figure does not reflect domestic trafficking.  Additionally, these trafficking rings have been tied to international adoption markets.

But the aftermath of disaster raises the stakes for both ill and good.  International relief pouring into Haiti after their disaster could go beyond the immediate rescue and reconstruction of the devastated infrastructure and make headway into the established problem of human trafficking.

Global Centurion, an organization committed to working with non-profit as well as governmental organizations to preempt human trafficking, has put together a strategy for protecting the children waiting for help in the rubble.  Firstly, educating government and aid workers about the very real threat of trafficking already established in Haiti could help forestall opportunistic kidnappings.  Secondly, efforts to identify and register children in aid camps could facilitate family reunions and prevent illegal adoptions.  To get involved in supporting Global Centurion, IOM, and UNICEF, please see the links and resources below.

For excellent quick info: