Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Trying to Conceal Thoughts

"Don't join the book burners. Do not think you are going to conceal thoughts by concealing evidence that they ever existed" ~ Dwight D. Eisenhower ~

This week is Banned Books Week. I took a look at the ALA's website- love that site!- to peruse the list of books that were banned and/or challenged during the 20th century. I had read about 80% of them, all in junior high or high school. My English teacher, Mrs. Clement, wanted us to read the classics, and as a motivation to do so she gave us a book report assignment every 6 weeks. There was no way you could make higher than a 90 if you didn't read a classic. As a result, for the three years I was in her class, every 6 weeks I worked my way through at least one piece of classic literature, sometimes two or three just for fun. And I loved them.

These books were inspiring, they were sad, they made me think, they opened me up to new ideas, and yes, some had profanities, some had sexual content, some had "controversial ideas". And yet here I am, pretty far from a degenerate if I do say so myself. Books are still being banned and challenged fairly often, especially in schools, and I couldn't disagree with it more. If a parent thinks reading a story in the 3rd grade about a baby penguin named Tango with two dads is going to undermine 18+ years of religious instruction in the home... well, that's kind of silly. But fine, if you don't want *your child* to read that book, you should have that right. But don't take the book out of the library, because then you're choosing for everyone's children.

If you have a strong belief in certain morals, if you don't use certain language, if you don't subscribe to certain worldviews, reading a book that challenges those opinions shouldn't be given the power to undermine your entire life. There are lots of books that I don't choose to read, because they're not my style, or I think they're a waste of time, or yes, even because I find them offensive. But I want that choice. Intellectual freedom is fundamentally important. It matters that we, in this country, have the right to write books criticizing our President while he or she is in office. It matters that we have freedom of discourse to disagree and write books about those disagreements. It matters that investigative journalists can uncover unpopular stories and put them in books and get them out to the public. And it's just as important that people who disagree with those books can protest them if they want, write another book as an angry retort, a critic can pan it, and people can choose not to read it.

People can CHOOSE not to read it. That's what it really comes down to. People who try to ban books or burn them are people who clearly have no faith in their own morals. If everything you believe in can be toppled by a single book, maybe what you believe in isn't that strong. Or maybe you only believe in it in the absence of other information.

Have you read any of these banned books? Check and see here- http://www.ala.org/ala/issuesadvocacy/banned/frequentlychallenged/challengedclassics/reasonsbanned/index.cfm

Monday, September 27, 2010

Farewell Summer

It's officially Fall (or as official as a delineation between seasons can ever be) but here's a song to celebrate Summer. See you next year kid. You were so very good to me in 2010.

Is it Really that Hard?

You know, I can kind of understand the spread of half truths, and blatant lies, back in the day before widespread access to the internet. But nowadays, when one can google something and find at least 10 different articles in 5 seconds on one subject from all over the world, from reputable news sources, why do people still just take whatever their favorite radio/TV personality says at face value?

This happened to me a lot during the election, when I would get daily e-mail forwards about some ridiculous story that was patently deceitful and/or made up. It happens especially often on Facebook, and it gets annoying. Lots of my friends on all different sides of the political game comment on things, or post status updates, or provide links that are completely, utterly false, or if not false, they are lying by omission by leaving huge pertinent chunks of the real story out. This isn't just "hey, this is my opinion" or "the way I see it..". No, there is actually a real, truthful story out there in the world, that has been thoroughly reported on by real news agencies, and yet whatever Alex Jones or Rush Limbaugh or Keith Olbermann says about it is somehow the sanctified truth. Those people are very passionate about what they believe in, and way to go First Amendment so they can say whatever they want, but they are ENTERTAINERS. And they are marketing their programs to a specific, targeted demographic. They're going to twist whatever they have to so that their listeners feel patted on the head and justified in thinking about things the way they do.

Folks, fact of the matter is it takes 5 seconds of your life to do a tiny bit of research. Do it. Google that offensive half-of-a-quote, and ta-da! Look at what a big boy or girl you are!! You just found the ENTIRE QUOTE, plus the context in which it was spoken! Aww, how sweet! Look at who found the whole story! Who's a good little media consumer? YOU ARE! You get a gold star.

Seriously. If you are on the internet enough to play Farmville and Mafia Wars, take a little bit of your time to do some pathetically easy research on a topic before you splash it all over Facebook or e-mail it to everyone you know. Because it's just embarrassing when you don't.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Pictures from the Scanning Adventures: Jr High Cheerleading

Here's the awkward start to my cheerleading career, 1996, the 8th grade...

This one's for you Mom!

Myspace Retro Post- In Which I Make a Bad Joke

Written Saturday, May 09, 2009--------

Aisu Krimu**


My professor wants to submit my final paper for publication!

And yay, I only have one more paper left for school, and I have the grades back for 3 of my 4 classes, and I've made all A's! And, um, I'M DONE WITH ALL THE CLASSES FOR MY MASTER'S DEGREE!

Oh, plus it's almost let's go swimming at night season!

Wait, and I paid off another credit card May 1st!

Right now, my life is like an ice cream cake with whipped cream frosting. I'm saying it's good, to clarify for those of you who are lactose intolerant and just thought "life is like a sh!t storm?? I thought she was happy and things were good, wtf??"

Yeah, I went there. Off to get some Starbucks and go clean my room.

**Post title is ice cream in Japanese, changed from the original title after I made that terrible joke. Thanks.

I logged into Myspace today for the first time since April, and this post made me smile. I can feel my happiness through it- almost done with grad school, after working full time/going to school full time! And it was summer, and I was dating a lot of fun boys and hanging out with friends, life was fun and things were good, so good. Little did I know what would happen a week after this. I never could have imagined that as a result, by the end of May I would lose not just a friend, but almost her entire family when they ditched me after 5 years of friendship, choosing to believe their own version of things over the truth I told them. Life is so full of ups and downs, isn't it?


I love this woman.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Couch to 5K Witchcraft

I jinxed my hip. Either that, or I'm a witch who can create things just by speaking about them.

What I'm trying to say is, literally the *day after* I posted about starting the C25K program, my hip went out. Big time. As in, one of the worst times since I've started yoga.


I think I have to publicly reverse psychologize my hip now.. please bear with me..

Dear Hip,

It's too bad that you are unnecessarily filled with pain that decreases my mobility. I mean, it's not like I'm going to try and run. That whole "Couch to 5K" business was just silly. I could care less about running! In fact, you can be out for the rest of my life, if you wanted to. We're in this thing together hip- I have zero desire to be a healthy, active human being. Gross! Who'd want THAT? Seriously. I love that you are so out of place that one leg is more than an inch longer than the other. I love that I fall a few times a day when my left leg completely gives out because you have decided to go on vacation from your job in my body. I especially love the way you click and pop when I walk. Basically, I just want to say thank you for all your hard work in preventing me from running, but please know that you're working waaaaaaay too hard. Running is for the birds! Birds that have functioning hips, that is.

Yours truly,

(I'm not sure if my hip can read. This plan might backfire)

And Now for Something Completely Different

In my quest to organize my life and the few possessions I've whittled myself down to, I'm not only going through pictures/documents/papers/e-mail, I'm also going through my old myspace blog, as well as the 4 years of writing I've written on this laptop since I purchased it- as an aside, four years later it still works like a champ, thanks Dell! There are a lot of things I'd like to put up on this blog, so every once in a while I think I'm going to post things I've written in the past, that no one but me- or the recipient of my wordy e-mail that day, haha- has seen.

A good example is the e-mail I posted a few days ago, the one I had written to a friend over a summer break in college. I'm also trying to finish up a few writing projects I've had on the back burner for a while, as well as start writing in a more disciplined way. It helps that one of my internships is all about researching and writing, and it's gotten me back in that mindset of reading, researching, and writing in a consistent way. I'd like to start applying that consistency to my personal writings as well. It's no big secret amongst my family and friends that writing is something I've done from a very early age, and something I've excelled in and enjoying doing. So I think it's the perfect time to start paying attention to that.

But all the above aside, I just like writing and I never seem to do as much of it as I want to. Isn't is strange how we sometimes stop doing things we love, if for no other reason than that we forget to do them? I'm trying to remember.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Etsy Confuses Me Deep Down in My Soul

One of my friends from college, a super talented boy, works for Etsy. And I have a few friends who make beautiful, intricate, unique crafts, and most of them have Etsy shops that I hope are doing well...


Can I just say that I'm a *weensy* baby bit confused by how prolific the possession of an Etsy shop is? Because, a lot of times it's not to sell reasonably priced crafts of the caliber I've referenced above, but to sell...kind of lame-o stuff that I could make in about 30 minutes by sewing/gluing together a grand total of two pre-made items purchased from Hobby Lobby. And a lot of it is the same stuff, over and over and over again, the only difference is that different people are making it.

I know, I know, art is relative, yadda yadda yadda. But it's kind of silly to me to charge (sometimes a lot of) money to sell things on Etsy that you didn't, actually, truly, *make*, when so many other people are hardcore awesome at their respective crafts. I mean, sure, maybe you put it together, but just because I can put together a bike from Wal-Mart doesn't really mean I should then call myself a bike maker and try and sell it for triple digits... especially if every. other. chick. on. the. block. is *also* buying bikes from Wal-Mart, putting them together, calling themselves bike makers, and then trying to sell them for triple digits...

So, I'm feeling the way I described in this post title. I love handmade, homemade, crafty little things made by creative people, and a ton of the stuff on Etsy blows me away. But some of the stuff on Etsy makes me shake my head and furrow my brow in confusion, often followed quickly by shock at how expensive said "craft" is, and then I think "well, I gotta hand it to 'em, they have a lot of gumption to put this out there and then unflinchingly charge THAT MUCH for it..."

Maybe I just don't get it, but sewing a few buttons on a onesie purchased in a 3 pack from Target, or stitching a pre-made flower to a piece of elastic, or wrapping ribbon around a pre-made box just don't meet my expectations of things that should cost more than $30. *Shrugs* I guess I'm weird like that.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Pictures from the Scanning Adventures: Senior Pictures

Way back in 2001, I bought my own Senior pictures, so I got the basic package- the lame-o velvet shrug thing in two poses. I can't find the other picture, but this one is my favorite anyway. Let me take a moment to say thank you to the miracle of whatever photography wizardry this company did, because my skin was already getting kind of crappy by this point and it looks awesome in this pic. Also, this was the year I chopped off my hair and donated 14 inches to Locks of Love. I'm not sure how I feel about this haircut, but I do know my Granny has almost the exact same style in *her* Senior pictures...I guess I don't know how I feel about that either.

Putting it Out There

This week is my first week on the Couch to 5K program. I have tried to start this two or three times before, my pride got the better of me and I ran waaaay more than I was supposed to, I hurt myself, and I had to quit.

Just a little background- I already had a birth defect at the base of my spine. Then, my Senior year of Varsity cheerleading I was dropped from a fully extended stunt. They tried to catch me, I folded up, and landed square on my tailbone/left hip- on the gym floor. Terrible injury. Since then, my back has gone out 4 times, to the point of not being able to sit without excruciating pain. If anyone has ever had a tailbone injury, you know how painful this is. Now, imagine it lingering from the ages of 18 to 22, and then still flaring up. The two worst times were when I threw my back out and was bedridden for two weeks, and my senior year of college when I threw it out for *four months*. I couldn't sit or lay on my back, had to stand in the back of classrooms to take notes, other people had to drive me so I could put the passenger seat down all the way, lay on my side, and buckle up... it was super depressing. Prior to my injury, I was a long distance runner, and a good one at that. Two years ago I discovered the miracle of power yoga, and while my hip/back twinges, it hasn't gone out since then. Thanks yoga, you're a pal. The problem is, while I do very challenging, hour long, power/ashtanga/vinyasa flow yoga about 4 times a weeks, it's not helping me in the cardio department. Even our 25 mile plus bike rides aren't challenging enough.

So, I am returning once more to running. It's a great workout, it will help me keep my heart healthy, and if my elusive competitive side comes out it would be fun to run 5K's, 10K's, and perhaps even half marathons...

But for now, I will be alternating running 60 seconds and walking 90 seconds, for a total of 20 minutes 3 times this week. Considering I am capable of jogging a mile right now- I've done so several times in the last year- this is kind of bruising my pride a *wee* bit. But, I also have to remember that while I am capable, cardio wise, of running a mile, every single time I have done so my hip/back has freaked out and I've been out of commission for a week. So, clearly I need to work my bones up to the challenge.

Here's to swallowing my pride, respecting my limits, and becoming a runner again!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

My Life in Two Boxes

Remember back in the day, before digital cameras? When you would drop off film at the drugstore, and get duplicates to give to friends, and if you were feeling really frisky you'd spring for the one hour photo to get them even sooner? And who knew what was on them, or how they turned out, until you had photos in hand. I didn't get a digital camera until I was 22 years old, living in Japan and teaching English. I quickly realized my old standby of "get a few disposable cameras" wasn't going to work with all the things I wanted to capture in a photograph. When I finally owned a digital camera I spent the first three months terrified I would drop it/lose it/break it, but January of 2011 will be our 4 year anniversary, and the little guy is still going strong- and is responsible for 95% of the pictures on this blog. Since my glorious digital revolution my (copious) pictures have been neat and manageable, saved on my computer and cross posted between myspace, then my blog, and now that the myspace is gone they're on facebook.

But, that still leaves me with a good decade of the results of the old fashioned system. Said system resulted in a huge rubbermaid container of pictures, plus a big brown box of more pictures. These are a pain to move around, and they also stress me out because they could get damaged or lost in the terrible even of a fire or flood. My digital pictures are all safe and sound in an external harddrive, living in a fireproof box with other important documents. That is my goal for the two big bulky boxes- to scan every last picture in and save them digitally.


that's a great idea and all, but...

Have you ever scanned pictures? Not just one or two, but tens of slippery piles of photos? I have. When my Great Granny moved into her assisted living apartment, she gave me three photo boxes of pictures. Over the years, and through all of our many moves, Mom would send her pictures of the three of us kids, and what the family was up to. She saved every one, like any granny worth her salt would do. Seeing as how Mom had sent the only copies to Great Granny, some of these pictures hadn't been seen in over a decade or more. I spent about 40 hours organizing them, scanning them, editing them, saving them, and then printing them off and organizing them into albums for my mom, brother, and sister for Christmas. Why yes, I *am* a saint, thanks for noticing!

The point (other than my sainthood) is that I was certain I was losing little bits of my mind with every whirr and zing and light flash of the scanner. It. Takes. Forever. Doesn't matter if you have the newest most awesomest scanner ever, this is a job that would test the patience of Mother T. But. It's also super annoying to have so much emotional energy invested in two boxes, one brown, one blue, so I guess it's all the same in the end.

So, kittens, be looking forward to random posts of even more random pictures as I take a little stroll down memory lane, complete with whirrs and zings as a soundtrack, and flashes of light to keep me from falling off my chair from boredom.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Ah, College Memories

Wow. I was cleaning out my Yahoo account- which I have had since I was 16, my first e-mail account ever- and I found this little gem that I wrote to a friend in the summer between junior and senior year of college, which would have been 2004. This is my response when he asked me "How's your summer going?"....

I am not too great myself. This summer has completely drained me of
finances, those I have and those I don't. I am
completely strapped for cash, and it really sucks. I
had to borrow money to make my necessities, and not
much was left over for food, so I've been living off
of a three dollar economy bag of "Silly Circles", a
generic knock off of Fruit Loops. But, after checking
the nutritional content of all the said "bagged"
cereals, I determined that "Silly Circles" would be my
best bet, because they offered one fourth of every
vitamin and nutrient under the sun. I couldn't get
milk for a while, so I borrowed from my three
roommates, Brooke, Emily, and Melanie, and by taking a
tablespoon or so from each, managed to somewhat coat
and soften the cereal without making too much of a
dent into their respective milk supply. Perhaps the
worst part is the fact that I have to drink milk in
the first place, but I can't afford soy milk, which
is, per glass and gallon, a much more expensive cereal
juice. Anyway, I am now praying for the advent of
school just so I can receive the economic salvation
that will come with my Pell Grant. Of course, this
means that I cannot truly enjoy the rest of my summer,
as I wait patiently for its demise so that my
financial problems will die with it. I considered
selling my blood, pump it out into neat little sacks
through an I.V inserted by some nurse in training who
will no doubt mutilate my arm while continuing to say,
in an attempt at joking/justifying her clumsiness "my,
you have small veins"...but the thought of having that
much fun with a needle, my blood, and an untrained
stranger was really more than I could handle. I have
resolved that there are many items currently occupying
my jewelry box that really, in the grand scheme of
accessorizing necessity, don't pay their share of the
rent, so I will put them to work paying my rent at the
nearest pawn shop. Of course I know they will probably
give me two greasy tens and a smile that says "yes, I
know that's worth two hundred dollars, but I also know
that I am a big scary man who has the same amount of teeth
as I have eyes, and I know you are a poor college kid for whom
this twenty dollars is an economic boon, and hey, I
gotta pay the bills too".

Saturday, September 11, 2010

For Those That Mark Today in Grief

" ‎...a final comfort that is small, but not cold: The heart is the only broken instrument that works." ~T.E. Kalem

And for the forgotten heroes of that day who risked their lives to save others, please watch this video-

If you are interested in the cause of the first responders, please see this website:


Their stated mission is "to spread awareness and educate the public about the catastrophic health effects on 9/11 first responders, as well as to provide assistance to relieve these great heroes of the financial burdens placed on them over the last eight years."

I'm grateful for the men and women of our military, and the sacrifices they and their families make, but I'm saddened that the first responders, who have also given their lives or made huge sacrifices, have been forgotten.

Oh Colorado

Bobby and I just got back from an awesome backyard party complete with a huge treehouse festooned with string lights, a D.J., an entire goat roasted on an open fire, and tons of friendly, laid back, interesting people.

If I could sum up the energy of our town, it would be in that little party. Dogs and kids running around, perfect fall weather, people jumping off the treehouse in the harness and rock climbing rope they keep up there specifically for that purpose, someone made homemade chocolate chip cookies, they keep backyard chickens and have a garden and live in a funky little house in Old Town, one of the people who works at our CSA was there and we made friends... it was a great night all around.

I just washed the fire smell off of me and am about to crawl in bed but I just felt all warm and fuzzy inside so I thought I'd put it out there to share. I really deep down adore living in Colorado. It surprises even me how much I feel like this is home.

Friday, September 10, 2010

A Rant

I'm really, really, really super fantastically tired of hearing about how all the unemployed people just aren't "looking for jobs effectively" or "don't know how to wage a job search" or "are discouraged from looking for jobs due to their unemployment insurance".


My name's Cortney.

I like using facts instead of random finger pointing and shaming.

So, here are some- unemployment is, on average, a hair over 10%. In some areas, it's in the 20%+ range. In addition, unemployment figures are very broad based, and don't include people who are underemployed, or who have been unemployed past a certain time period. Many economists- left and right- posit that our average is probably significantly higher.


Last I read- about two weeks ago- there were something like, oh 3 million new jobs for 15 million unemployed people.



Um, remind me again how people are just unemployed because they're lazy? Because, using my good friend Mr. Math and his life partner Mr. Logic, I'm seeing that there's... hold on, let me subtract 3 from 15...oh, right a TWELVE MILLION JOB shortage. So... sending out more resumes and pounding the streets is going to magically create twelve million jobs? What?

Look, I was unemployed for *6 months*, with a strong resume, excellent letters of recommendation, an undergrad from a respected school, and almost done with a masters. I was spending about 5-6 hours *every single day* applying to jobs- in person and on the internet- while writing my thesis in my final semester. I was with no less than *20* temp agencies, all of whom I contacted weekly- 4 a day- for updates. They never returned my calls, and I didn't get one. single. interview. with them. Oh, and I wasn't just looking in Dallas- I was looking in Utah, California, and Ohio (three states where friends offered free lodging for me to relocate and get on my feet). I was also applying to a range of jobs- yes, including McDonald's, restaurants, etc. Right before my job laid me off last September, they posted a job on craigslist for an $8 an hour receptionist position in our Colorado office. Within FIFTEEN MINUTES we had over 100 e-mails. We took that ad down within half an hour of posting it, and all told we had over 250 total applications. For an $8 an hour, temporary position. Basically, it doesn't even come down to merit at that point, because it wasn't worth the time to sift through 250+ applications. We just took the first 10 who applied, and called two of them for interviews- so, a nice shiny resume and great job experience often count for ZILCH in such situations. And it's precisely these low paying minimum wage or a little above kind of jobs that many people say are "so easy to get, but all these prideful unemployed people won't take jobs that are beneath them". I also love when people who still have jobs say "I see want ads in the newspaper every day, I could get a job if I needed it!". They are ignorant of the fact that every job, no matter how menial or low paying, has hundreds of applicants. Again, it comes down to numbers, and there simply aren't enough jobs to go around. I read a post by a frustrated man on a forum who said that at 53 years old, a former manager with a degree, he drove out of state for an interview with Long John Silver's. And he didn't get the job because he was over qualified.

In all my job searching, only TWO sent me back e-mails letting me know I hadn't been chosen, and I had a grand total of two interviews. The job I *finally* landed I got after harassing the company for 4 months, and I only ever even got my foot in the door in the first place because I had a friend who worked there, AND I knew the boss, and when they "hired" me I STILL had to wait a month and a half before I could start, and there was a chance, during that time, that the company could eliminate my job before I even started it...

What I'm saying is, it's effing rough out there. And don't tell me that my paltry $325 a week was discouraging me from working. One, it runs out, so what kind of an idiot wouldn't be busting ass to get a job? Two, at least in Texas, it's capped somewhere under $400 a week. Pretty much no one I know with a mortgage and kids could support a "lavish lifestyle" on that.

There comes a point when it's just simply pointless, naive, and condescending to tell someone who is barefoot to just pull themselves up by the bootstraps.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Mountain Top

I've been organizing my photos lately, going back to 2006 when I first purchased a digital camera and I was living in Japan. This was on top of Mt. Tateyama, about an hour from my home in Toyama. After talking about winter in the last post, I wanted to look through the pics I had of all of us girls on top of the mountain. I love this one because it very much looks like we're lounging on a beach, because of the way the frozen lake in front of us swoops down. Such a great day. Click on the picture to make it bigger to get a better look!

It's Good to Be Home

Chicago was awesome, and I already miss Jo, but I was very glad to get back to our little mountain home. Tonight as I was finishing dinner, I saw a bit of pink through our patio doors. I got up to check it out, and the entire sky was filled with an awesome sunset. Bobby took a quick picture, and pretty much as soon as we got back inside and cleared the dinner plates it was gone.

I'm so grateful to live in such a beautiful state, in such a great town. I'm really looking forward to experiencing another snowy winter, and it's fast approaching. Bobby says the snow starts late September/early October. I couldn't get enough of it in Japan- and it was the worst winter in over 100 years when I lived in what they call "Snow Country" to begin with- so I'm pretty sure I'll do just fine here in Colorado.

I'm busily organizing my pictures from Chicago, trying to figure out how I want to post them, so those will be trickling in over the week, as well as the pictures from Kate and Anna's visit- about a month late, but they'll be here!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Last Day in Chicago+ Bobby's Birthday

I was up *very* early this morning to do some work on my internships so that we'd have our last morning/early afternoon free before our train departs. The rest of this week was awesome- I got to see Jenna and family and had a great time, Jo and I continued having fun and being ridiculous together, we hit up the aquarium, had a big fat Italian feast, and I spent another good long afternoon on Friday wandering the city on one last solo jaunt.

Then Bobby flew in late Friday night and we ate (early) birthday cupcakes from Jo's friend's bakery and stayed up until 3 a.m. talking and catching up. The rest of the weekend was lots of food and wandering around the city, laid back bar hopping and a friend's b'day party, doing some last minute sight seeing- Sears/now Willis Tower, a failed attempt at an architecture tour, etc- and just having a lazy last few days here. I'm really grateful that I was here for almost 10 days, and I didn't feel rushed to pack in all the "must see" tourist spots. I could wander, and work, and stay in if we didn't feel like going out, without feeling like I was missing out on something or not taking advantage of my time here.

I have tons of pictures, so there will be a few separate posts since Blogger and I always get in a big fight when it comes to uploading pictures. Compromise is important in any relationship, so I'll just break up my posts and avoid the drama :)

But, more important than all of the above- today is Bobby's birthday! He turns 31, and if he asks, assure him that "31 isn't old". Here we are last night, a few hours before his birthday...

"Willis" Tower- it's Sears, and always will be, but good try on changing the name.

Out and about on our last night in the city with Jo