Wednesday, April 28, 2010


My son is a senior at California State University Monterey Bay. It is a unique school in many ways. It was founded specifically to serve the under served. The vision statement in part reads:
envisioned as a comprehensive state university which values service through high quality education. The campus will be distinctive in serving the diverse people of California, especially the working class and historically undereducated and low-income populations... The identity of the university will be framed by substantive commitment to multilingual, multicultural, gender-equitable learning.

One of the ways that CSUMB meets that goal is through the Service Learning Institute. Each student must complete a service learning requirement to graduate. This is isn't as simple as showing up and volunteering some time. This is a comprehensive, involved program, requiring students to look at oppression, power, multiculturalism, their feelings and prejudices and how they can be more sensitive, effective and make powerful contributions to their community placements.

It is stunning what this program offers and can do to change the lives of the students and the people in the community the students come in contact with. For instance, one of Zac's good friends , Rachel was honored for her work on a farm where farm worked are taught how to run organic farms, a food drive, a Hunger Banquet and College Access Weekend, which was the event I attended.

My son, Zac, has been involved as a community volunteer since he was a high school student. This program is a primary reason he chose to attend this school. He is now employed by the SLI and is a teaching assistant for one of the classes. He was one of the leaders of the College Access Weekend which brought 53 Middle School students from all around the Central Valley area to the school for a weekend of events to help them envision themselves in college and teach them that goal is possible.

They kept those kids hopping! The theme was "Bridging mi familia, cultura, historia e identidades with my higher education." They had activities including making a personal Coat of Arms, journaling, writing poetry as a group, role playing, art projects and discussions groups and tours. They broke off for wild games of Capture the Flag and the popular Captain My Captain. They loved the all-you-can-eat- dining hall experience and bunked down in sleeping bags on the gym floor.

When I attended the Closing Ceremonies of the event with the parents who had come to collect their children, I was moved to tears. There was such pride in the room. the kids were tired, but excited to show their parents the things they had done. The parents and families who came were all smiles, obviously proud to see their children in that environment. Lots of cameras were clicking away.

And I was proud and happy to have raised a son who has such a good heart and soul and wants to do this sort of work with his life.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010


And came home with a cold, I am tired and sneezy and sore throated. I have a lot to write about...when I feel better. Don't feel sorry for me, though. This was the view outside my hotel room.

Friday, April 23, 2010


1.) Our domestic energy sources of power are not looking so cheap lately - especially to the families of the now 36 workers lost this month alone. We need to be willing to pay more for such a dangerously extracted commodity.

2.) In a telephone job "pre-interview" I was asked what my personal motto was - I went blank. My family just laughed at me because I had just had this saying made for my license plate holder: We are made kind by being kind.

Instead all I could think of was something I used to say to my kids "Just because you can, doesn't mean you should." which is a way of saying Do the Right Thing. Which would have been a better personal motto. Geez. Hope that isn't why I didn't make it to the interview stage for that job!
Do you have a personal motto? (That is appropriate for a job interviwer?!)

3.) We keep having a few days of warm and sun and then a few more of cold and rain. It is making me a little crazy. Today is a sunny day so I am out to plant a few things that didn't get into the ground before the last round of rain. Hope it is spring where you are!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010


My son reminded me that this is a holiday of sorts - 4/20 has become National Weed Day. I read that it dates back to the '70's when 420 was some sort of code for smoking weed - but I was never into the drug culture enough to be aware of that. Now there are public "smoke ins" and other such celebrations every April 20th.

Now that medical marijuana has been legalized in so many states and there is a push for legalization for all uses in California, Oregon and Washington, there is an added political push to the 420 celebration.

I have mixed feelings on the subject. I have no problem with medical marijuana, and, really, no big problem with recreational use by adults. Personally I think that weed is safer than alcohol for most people. It has been proven it is not a gateway drug, people are mellower when using it than on alcohol, they have fewer driving accidents, fights and long term health problems.

I also think that we spend way too much money and other resources on law enforcement related to weed. If it was legalized, it would take the "bad guys" out of the loop and then law enforcement could go after the people distributing the really harmful drugs. And all the nasty stuff that goes along with that kind of business.

So where is my hesitation? I am not sure. Maybe it is because it is harder to make something legal that has been illegal for so long. In the meantime I will have to decide how I will vote in November on the ballot initiative to legalize marijuana in California. If it passes, maybe I'll add a little something new to my garden next year...

Sunday, April 18, 2010


At last after weeks of shopping , planning and set backs and assorted drama - Prom Night has come and gone. Everyone had a good time and now we can get on with post-prom life!

Friday, April 16, 2010


1.) Have you considered joining the movement to Move Your Money? I did it and so have members of Congress, celebrities, students - in fact the movement has caused 10% of American adults to move their money from major financial institutions into local banks and credit unions. The organization is now encouraging business owners to move their money, too. Use the power of your bank account - no matter how large or small to do what regulators (and self regulation) can't do!

2.) I am so Gleeful that Glee is back!

3.) Ally won Third Place in the Ohlone College High School Theatre Festival in the category of Contemporary Dramatic Ensemble. She and her partner did a scene from "The Bad Seed." They were up against 28 other teams.

4.) I am still buying lottery tickets. In fact I bought one in Oregon last week! I have won a grand total of $11.00 so far. More than I have made from employment - so I guess it is working!

5.) Maggie has turned in her thesis, only has a couple more weeks of classes and graduates next month. She is already employed (though it may only be a short term job.) Whoo hoo!!

6.) The incentive I gave myself to get to the gym everyday this week was a trip to the garden center. I came home with tomatoes, strawberries, herbs, and some plants to fill out my pots. Guess I'll be in the garden this weekend!

Thursday, April 15, 2010


This was my quote of the day when I opened my home page this morning:

Sometimes I lie awake at night, and I ask, "Where have I gone wrong?"/ Then a voice says to me, "This is going to take more than one night."
- Charles M. Schulz
So, yeah, the news that I did not get the job I interviewed for came as no surprise. Again, a good interview, actually, two interviews. They went with someone with "more closely related experience."
When I filled out the tax forms this week, I put homemaker as my occupation. I had the briefest of moments when I thought of putting loser in the space. But I recovered. It is tough out there for a lot of people, no point in taking it personally.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010


When I was a kid my family was into camping. We camped all over California and up into Oregon and Washington State - so I spent a lot of time in a car with my siblings. My kids have gone on very few long car trips and it was made very clear by Ally's reactions to some of the sights on our road trip!

We travelled highway 101 north up the coast. It doesn't take long for the cities to become towns and the towns to become smaller and smaller. The freeway then "ends" and starts again as we travel through the towns and there is cross traffic. Ally was freaked out that the freeway was suddenly going to come to and end - leaving us adrift. When I explained the way it works, she was then amazed that there was such a thing as a town smaller than the one in which we live (population 67,000!) She was at first horrified that people could actually live in a town of 2 or 300 people, then became enchanted by the countryside and decided it might be okay.

I was able to point out a lot of the places my family had gone camping when I was a kid. We especially loved camping in the redwoods and near the coast. I remember the feeling of enchantment in the fern filled forests. She was enticed by all the sign for this roadside attraction - Confusion Hill - but when we pulled into the parking lot it was closed so we had to learn it's mysteries on the internet later on in our motel room!

We had some fun with road signs - I about drove off the road I was laughing so hard when she reacted to a "slide ahead" sign with a "whoo hoo!" Thinking playground rather than rocks...

Then there were the towns with one flashing yellow light swinging in the middle of the main intersection but peppered with "Congestion" signs up and down the street. Irony? Wishful thinking?

Even with my dieting we had some nice meals. I had read about this little restaurant in Ashland which is directly across from Southern Oregon University. It was as wonderful as the "yelp" reviews indicated and is colorful and pretty inside, too. I have to admit that I steered Ally wrong on her menu selection. I have to admit it because blogging about my mistake was the only apology she would accept.

She wanted to order a bagel with cream cheese and smoked salmon. The menu also listed capers and red onion. I said they always have all those things on the plate and you can assemble what you like. This is what was delivered to the table:


Eventually she got used to me asking questions of the students we ran into and I got used to her refusal to choose a restaurant. I let her eat junk without comment and she stopped trying to get me to eat junk with her. She went along with lights out at 11pm and I let her sleep when I woke up at 6am. So, we got along just fine considering we traveled over 1200 miles and spent 5 days in the car together!

Saturday, April 10, 2010


Back in the day, I arrived on my college campus without ever before having seen it. In fact, I am not sure I had ever even seen a college campus in person before I arrived! My daughter is amazed that I could take such a leap of faith.

When we planned this trip to see college campuses over Spring Break, it was meant to inspire her to continue to improve her grades and do what it takes to achieve acceptance to the college of her choice. I hope it did that .

The surprise hit was Humboldt State University. It could have had a lot to do with the charismatic tour guide, the fabulous sunny day, the congenial group of parents and students on the tour, the beautiful campus nestled into the redwood covered hills with the ocean views to the west. The facilities are a mix of old California mission and the newest green technology. Although Arcata is pretty much in the middle of no where on the Northern California coast, it is a beautiful setting and a safe little college town. The school is very health and environmentally focused and I would feel good about her being there.

We didn't think much of University of Oregon in Eugene. It is a much larger school at 23,00 students to Humboldt's 7,000. It felt impersonal and the campus is not especially attractive. Our tour was a bit perfunctory (outside of buildings for the most part) and focused a bit too much on putting down California schools and talking up the Greek system. I realize a lot of the slant you get on these schools can come from the particular tour guide you get!

The school Ally was the most excited to see was Southern Oregon University in Ashland Oregon. She has attended the Shakespeare Festival in Ashland for 3 years and loves the town. She had never seen the school but was aware of the strong reputation of the Theater Arts program.

We planned the trip around the all day program they had scheduled at SOU. They did a great job of "selling" the school. There were meetings with faculty and admissions staff, tours, an academic fair, an opportunity to sit in on classes, a financial aid workshop - plus they provided breakfast and lunch! Ally and I wandered around and I engaged a number of students in conversation (which I wish I had done in Humboldt). We really felt we learned a lot about the school and the culture there.

I know by the end of the 3 tours, her head was spinning. she just kept saying "how will I choose?" I told her this wasn't about rushing to make a choice - but getting a start on the long process of figuring out what she wants to study and what kind of environment felt right.
Tomorrow - some of the fun and silly stuff....

Monday, April 5, 2010


Ally and I are off on a road trip to visit colleges. we will be travelling for 5 days with plans to visit 4 campuses in Northern California and Oregon.
The last college trip I did was flying to the East coast with Maggie and then taking the train and cabs. This will be much more labor and stress intensive.
Not to mention that the weather is not cooperating and we are packing for rain but hoping the forecasts are wrong. On the plus side, Ally can help with the driving.
And wouldn't you know - I got a hot lead on a job and they want me to delay our departure for an interview...Back on Sunday!
Wish me luck!!

Thursday, April 1, 2010


So why did we start celebrating a day of pranks and silliness? No one is quite sure, one explanation of the origins of April Fools' Day was provided by Joseph Boskin, a professor of history at Boston University. He explained that the practice began during the reign of Constantine, when a group of court jesters and fools told the Roman emperor that they could do a better job of running the empire.

Constantine, amused, allowed a jester named Kugel to be king for one day. Kugel passed an edict calling for absurdity on that day, and the custom became an annual event.

"In a way," explained Prof. Boskin, "it was a very serious day. In those times fools were really wise men. It was the role of jesters to put things in perspective with humor."

This explanation was brought to the public's attention in an Associated Press article printed by many newspapers in 1983. There was only one catch: Boskin made the whole thing up. It took a couple of weeks for the AP to realize that they'd been victims of an April Fools' joke themselves.