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Pregnant Teens and Yearbooks…

Dear Reader,

I am not sure if you are aware of this but teen pregnancy is at an all time low. Oh yes, the record is held by the generation born between 1972 and 1976 back in 1991 this generation was having children at the rate of 61.8 for every 1000 females. Most multiple births before the age of 18. So why I wonder on every story I read of another pregnant teen the general consensus seems to agree that teens today see having a baby as a rite of passage. Considering the most recent numbers being down by more than half, I should think it’s all the opposite.

Yet, there are still a myriad of stories regarding schools making headlines for attempting and in some cases succeeding in banning visibly pregnant teen photos from appearing in the yearbook. Please note the words visibly pregnant, most everyone jumps in the crucifixion bandwagon and happily glazes over the words visibly pregnant. I can understand the school officials not wanting to send the wrong message that teen pregnancy is no big deal, that it has no consequences and sets a bad example for other students. However, if they take this step with teen mothers to be, then my only question is why, oh why not take the same steps with teen fathers and school bullies? In the case of teen fathers, have we forgotten it takes two to make a child? In the case of bullies, I personally think bullies set a far worse example on their peers; in some cases they scar their victims for life. Yet if we are to open a yearbook at any given point since they became a thing, we will find them filled with pages of teen fathers and school tormentors. Rarely do we find more than one photo of that kid, who lacked social graces or parents that could buy their children the social standing by means of money or popularity by association.

These cases of students being banned from school functions or yearbooks because of their clothes, sexual orientation in some cases, or even because they are visibly pregnant usually get headlines and end in litigation, citing the First Amendment in most of the cases. Yet, I don’t see a story anywhere, where students litigate over far more important matters such as the quality of their education, the extreme shortage of books, the conditions in the classrooms, the lack of well trained teachers among so many others. What is quite clear is that teens as much as school officials care more about appearance than anything else. It’s sad really, but there it is.

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Downer…

Dear Reader,

I been kind of on a writing break for a while now, because lets face it, the news gets worse every day. I live in the land of the free, and I like to keep thinking the land of the great. However, that thought is getting difficult to hold on to. I been looking for uplifting stories or something good to write about. I am sure if I look hard enough I will find it.

The last few months the headlines have not helped that resolve. Violence, and not against people but animals. First it was Cecil the Lion local celebrity in Zimbabwe , and while I had a few choice words no one sums it up better than Jimmy Kimmel

I thought the whole thing would be over, then again, dog bitten to death, mocking note left on his body. Don’t get me wrong, I cannot go on pretending that human depravity has gotten worse. Since, history will show, that worse things have happened. Vlad the Impaler, Hitler, Bin Laden. You name it and evil people and dark times have always been around. Yet, I figured, we are more civilized now, we should know better. Some of us do, but it seems people still need work.

It is not all about animal cruelty, the latest headlines of summer, are not about kids drowning in the pool, or pool side accidents. Oh no, for a while there on the news it was story after story about adults forgetting kids in the car, causing them to dehydrate or worse die.

On that end, all I can say is. Wow. Save me the excuses of how it can and it is possible. If a person does not forget their phone or their keys in the car, there is no excuse for forgetting a child. Humanity has been driving for over 75 years, Cars are not the latest craze. Yes, we leave the keys in the car, I know, my point here was it does not take us all day to figure it out!

You know that forgetting a child has become an epidemic of massive proportions, when car seat companies have to add an alarm to remind you the child is in their seat.

Children are our future, and we should care and nurture them beyond the best of our ability.

Live long and prosper always.

A Woman on Currency….

Dear Reader,

While we are living in the decade of change. Yes, there has been a lot of history making moments in the last ten years. Despite the opinion that some hold that millennials have not had many moments to be proud of, I disagree. One of those historic moments is the possibility of a woman either sharing or taking over the portrait on the ten dollar bill, a bill that is currently and since 1929 been occupied by Alexander Hamilton.

At first and before doing some research, like some. I was not happy about this decision. Not because I don’t support women on dollar bills, but because my favorite motto is “don’t fix what is not broken”. The way I see it, there is nothing wrong with the ten dollar bill. Not to mention, that if it’s all about honoring a yet to be named woman, there are other ways.

Now, the above was before my research. Turns out that prior to Alexander Hamilton, the ten dollar bill, “green back” and all of it’s incarnations has had such greats as Lincoln, Jackson, Franklin, and a personal shocker Lewis and Clark. Why a shock? Hmmm… Well, it’s the first time I ever heard of a double portrait. A total of 11 people of importance besides Hamilton have graced the front and or back of the ten. Read about it here. http://www.antiquemoney.com/who-is-on-old-ten-dollar-bills/

So having learned this, I am in favor of change. I understand the Hamilton descendants for being unhappy with the change, but to go as far as calling him “the father of paper money” is a bit of a stretch. Paper money, you see has been around since the 1690s, they were called Colonial Bills. After that came The Continentals, which of course, were easily counterfeit and lost value fast. By this time Hamilton was  was 20 and part of the militia. He died twenty nine years later. In a duel. Of course, in the course of 27-29 years he wrote the Federalist Papers among other things.

Not sure how many people have been featured in other denominations, but on just the ten dollar bill, Hamilton and Morris were the only faces that were not born in the United States. Being a founding father that’s not odd, but of all the current bills in circulation he is the only one.

Yes, he did accomplish a lot, and I doubt removing him from the ten dollar bill will in any way diminish his historical value.

As for the woman, who will grace the ten dollar bill I can’t wait until her identity is revealed. She will be the second woman on paper money that I know about. Mexico, has or had at one point Sor Juana Inez de la Cruz, and she was amazing. Being the US, I hope she is equally interesting.

My Alma Mater

Dear Reader,

I never expected my Alma Mater to make national headlines. Though this past week I seen them everywhere from Yahoo Sports to Cracked.com. All because an Arab-American lawyer from D.C. was offended by our mascot.

If you read the headlines recently you know I’m talking about the mascot belonging to the Coachella Valley High School, “Home of the Arabs”.  According to the ADC our mascot is “a harmful form of ethnic stereotyping which should be eliminated”.

I respectfully disagree. While we have people on both sides of this issue. The ones that agree with the ADC will scream for the mascot’s removal. I studied history and I’m well aware of how the 1930s to mid 40’s were to the Jewish community. I know how harmful stereotypes and bad propaganda can be. This, however, is not the 1940s. This is today. No Arab has been harmed because of our mascot, nor have they been put in concentration camps for it either.  This mascot… has been around for 82 years or so. Even after the tragedy of 911, the mascot remained unchanged. Still celebrated, still respected  and still a cause of great pride.

I want to understand where the leader of this crusade is coming from. The more I think about it, the more I read about it, the more it sounds like a ploy to get his face on as many news stations as possible.  Nothing sells more than Sampson v Goliath, or however the expression goes.

I know the times must and always will change, and we should change with them. Lately though it seems like someone is always upset about something. You see countless articles online about people complaining that someone or some company did them wrong. Was it always like this? Or is it just so simple to read it now because of the internet? Gone are the days of old, when people would be offended over things that really mattered.

This whole vibe of now a days reminds me of a song, that rings so true:

The Star Spangled Banner…

Dear Reader,

About two years ago, I was walking down the street from my mother’s house on my way to McDonald’s for a breakfast burrito. The weather was pleasant and the rush to get to school seemed to have passed on the streets.  Everything was as calm as it could be for a city.  Something on that walk caught my eye. There it sat on the side of the road discarded and crumpled, like many a writer’s thought. Good old red, white and blue. My eyes lit up, I extended it out and looked at it with pride. Even told my now husband I would never, ever part with it. To this day, it still has a place in my house.

The American flag has been a staple at many events, some political such as the inauguration, and others like the recently celebrated Super Bowl; we all know wherever the flag is the National Anthem is sure to follow. So every now and again I watch it on TV and why not. I will admit I sing along, in part to see if I still remember the lyrics and in part because it reminds me of everything I learned in American History class. A sense of there we were and here we stand today, still singing The Star Spangled Banner since it officially became our national anthem back on March 3rd, 1931.

The Star Spangled Banner has made the headlines every year for a number of years now. All headlines pretty much the same; “So and so forgot the lyrics — so and so sang it horribly — it was made too long — it was so perfect because it was lip-synched”.

It’s no wonder it made the headlines, these people who caused them are professional singers, or what passes for it these days. The thing is though, it’s the national anthem, it’s not meant sound flawless but it’s meant to be sung live. Granted playback or lip synching has been accepted since the 80’s, after all how else can they jump all over the stage and still sound good doing it. No problem there, it’s their music and their style. The national anthem however, is not theirs is ours collectively. While they can fake sing their entire career, the national anthem is just one thing where I find it unacceptable. Sure, it’s difficult to reach a consensus, after all you can’t please everybody.  As for making it too long such as Alicia Keys did with her rendition of it yesterday. Come on! It’s the national anthem, it’s way to short to make it sound so endless. The more I heard “her version” the more I think, the problem is she added the time in all the wrong places; but hey, it’s all for the record books right? After all, her version is the longest rendition for a sports event to date, according to Yahoo Sports. As far as forgetting the lyrics goes, are you kidding me! You mean to tell me it’s really so impossible to remember two paragraphs? Give me a break.  I memorized 9 paragraphs of the Raven in less than forty eight hours for an English assignment and people who make a living out of memorizing longer, songs forget the lyrics? Absolutely unforgivable and down right disrespectful.

I know, maybe it’s  asking too much for the Star Spangled banner to be sung right and live; but don’t forget what it stands for, why it was written. I’m not asking for the best vocal cords in the business, nor am I asking for a drag along, or and edited version.  All I want is some respect for all the men and women it represents. Forgetting the lyrics or lip-synching is not only classless it’s inexcusable. I wonder how long it will take the events in which the national anthem is featured to start using school choruses, or military bands to do the singing. At least they will not forget the lyrics or require a playback.

Bullies…

Dear Reader,

It’s no doubt that compared to ten years ago, information and the speed at which we get it has come a long, long way. I know it sounds almost ancient to say but fifteen years ago I too was fifteen, and grew up without the extensive use of the computer or internet until I was well out of my teens. Today a headline caught my eye that made me think back on my high school years “Teen who had chronicled her bullying on Youtube commits suicide” it got me thinking of how in the world did I survive high school?  I know some people say the hardships we endure at the hands of our peers are meant to built character.

My take on the whole thing is, there is no doubt for some and provably the vast majority school is a nightmare.  For me, sometimes it was difficult to get up and find a reason to go, I was not exactly bullied, but I did have to endure the comments about my appearance and health issues, the many back handed remarks, and stuff of that nature.  I had only one friend in high school for the first year, he died the following summer. I was lucky enough to make two more friends, with whom I still talk to from time to time. This girl in the article felt alone. I know what that feels like, I been where she was in a way.

Feeling completely alone is by far the worst feeling in the world and sadly is not one that you can ever become immune to. I am aware that words are powerful, that they can make or break deals, but I also know they can mend the broken hearts.  Someone once asked, “If we are going to die anyway, what’s the point of it all?”  I guess, in a way if you look at it that way, it does look grim does it not? Life is a gift, we are here to live it, experience it and above all respect it. Where we go from hear no one knows, but what matters is that we live a life worth remembering by the ones we leave behind.

While I read the article I kept thanking the very few yet true friends I was blessed with. I wonder in a greater scale if any bullies out there will ever know the severe consequences brought on by their lack of respect for their fellow classmates. Will they ever know they contributed in some way to the end of a a life? Or will they simply move on, and treat school and live in general as the survival of the fittest?

Evil never prospers, even though it might seem that way at times. Mom often told me, children are a direct reflection of their parents, so I can’t help but wonder if parents today are aware of how bad their kids make them look. Yes, it is a fast paced world and some parents today are too preoccupied to notice, the little details. Adults are the protectors of our youths, I think it’s about time for all of us to stand up and pay attention.

Don’t drink and…

Dear Reader,

Have you ever heard the expression “Don’t Drink and Drive”? Well how about this one “Don’t Drink and Dive”?  Okay so I just made that last one up.  To be fair I don’t think it could be called diving anyway.

To save myself sometime, I will tell you I am fully aware that the names of the countries in question are not the official ones, they are just the ones they are commonly known for.

The countries in question are North Korea and South Korea. Today a news story was published that detailed among other things a flood in North Korea, which probably would have gone unnoticed by me had it not been for the peculiar consequences that it brought with it to South Korea.

What were the consequences besides the obvious, well there was a drunk man believed to be in his 20’s who somehow, ended up in South Korea after he managed to float there on a wood board. By the time he was found he was still intoxicated and wearing only his underwear.

This story caught my attention because well, when was the last time you read about a man getting drunk out of his mind and waking up in another country.  All that is known so far is that he is not being deported, but he is not being kept there against his will either.

I will keep you informed.

Evil Never Prospers…

Dear Reader,

As I do ever morning upon waking up. I read the “Trending Now” words on Yahoo’s homepage. Mostly to give myself an idea as to what the world has been up to since I slept last. A name caught my eye. Mostly because it sounded familiar but more so because it was a name in Spanish, and this being the US version of the Yahoo homepage, well it’s rare to read anything Spanish on it.

So there I go clicking on the words “Griselda Blanco”. Then it hit me like a pile of bricks, I’ve seen that woman somewhere before and my good memory served me well. I found where I’ve seen her before “Deadly Women”, she was profiled there. The reason she stuck to my mind was that of all the crime shows I’ve seen she really made sick. The worst part is at the end of the episode it felt as though she got away with it, with all the evil she brought upon the world. It made me feel as though what’s the point of it all.  I clicked the link. She was Murdered.

It got me thinking of so many things. I actually felt bad for her. Yes, how about that, I felt bad for a monster in the flesh. It’s true though, no one had anything nice to say about her, not that there was anything good to say about her. Suddenly I got to the end of the article. “Live by the sword, die by the sword”.

I guess I figured the reason I was so sad for her was because it got me thinking people are ultimately judged by the way they live, and proof positive that no one leaves this world without paying their dues. May God have mercy on her soul.

In the Dark….

Dear Reader,

Yesterday afternoon, was a day like any other the temperatures dropping ready for the sun to set behind the mountain. The cats were being playful, everything was quiet, like the calm before the storm. Then seven minutes past the hour I hear it. I turn to see the lights in the dining room flicker and a hum sort of noise noise from above me, and before I could react it was eight minutes past the hour and total silence. The power had gone out.

I figured it be back on within the hour, so I took out my scrabble board and I played a game. I lost spectacularly, best score to date. About an hour or two later, the temperature in my place had shot up about ten degrees. I learned a lot about myself yesterday. I’m the most horrible person to be around during a power outage.  I panic like a claustrophobic who finds himself stuck in an elevator for more than a few minutes.

By about 11 PM, I decided it was time for some air. I sat at the top of the stairs outside my door, and looked up at the sky, to pass the time I counted palm trees, and when that failed to amuse me even stars were counted. I looked for the moon and even it decided not to grace me with it’s light. Then it dawned on me, last night was the first night I actually sat on those stairs, waiting for something.

My about half past midnight, I had one of those talks with myself. The world was not over, I was fine, and for a moment I pictured, I was simply stuck in a pre Thomas A. Edison time period. Minus the candles. I felt foolish, making such a fuss. I was foolish, I see that now.

For it was not until this moment that I realized, that while I sat in a hot apartment in total darkness. Dark things were happening, somewhere out there. I read the Yahoo headlines, but unlike, most times, I just skimmed the facts: Shooting, lots of victims. It’s not that I brushed it off, it just simply hit me… As bad as yesterday could have been for me, others had it much worse. Which is not to say my on issues were not pressing, but somehow I realize, that we should try to make the best of a bad situation. Accept the things that you can’t change, work on the things you can and be wise enough to know the difference.

Speeding…

Dear Reader,

I think today’s subject is self explanatory, so the need for a big intro is not required.  You might think, as you continue on reading that this is a cry in defense of the receiver of the speeding ticket seen around the world. You would be wrong!

Just now, I heard the 911 call that an over rated, overly hyped singer placed to the 911 service. It’s amazing how the media tries to tag it as a dramatic call. When it was nothing like it, he sounds as cool as a cucumber. Like someone reading a script on how to make pasta. Scared? Hardly, more like annoyed and entitled.  He of course got a ticket, which all his money and his fame will get him out of no doubt. That is the way it is for celebrities. You would think, he would just throw money at it right away as soon as he got it, but after that, he calls 911 again to whine about it. Although all his fans would call it, “explaining himself”.

911 is a national emergency service. So unless your life is in any real danger leave those three numbers for… I don’t know a real emergency. I highly doubt, bitching about a ticket is a real emergency. Granted a high speed chase could be an emergency but not for the celebrity in this case but for all the unfortunate souls who happen to share the road.  All that recklessness could actually kill someone someday. I know celebrities are people too, but seeing how they get away pretty much anything I don’t feel sorry for them nor do I think there should be a crusade against the photo snapping happys out there.

In my book if your famous enough to have every breath you take be documented in some way whether you like it or not, then odds are you make enough money to hire an entourage; complete with driver, body guards and enough cars between you and the reckless and stupid, to avoid making it dangerous for the rest of us.

I can almost hear the roars of “… but they have a right to privacy too…” let’s not forget celebrities make millions more than the average guy, but those millions are not free they come with the price, and I don’t see any of them quitting their day job. So I guess, that’s a price their a willing to pay. Of course, I would hope that they wouldn’t waste our tax paying dollars pretending they actually believe that.

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