Sunday, November 20, 2011

Rest In Peace, My Little Friend

My dog Shooter died today. My dad's and my dog, I should say. Our family got our first dog, Sophie, through a Bichon Frise rescue agency in 1999. Not only was she my first dog, but she was my dad's first dog. So, she really became my dad's dog. The next year, I wanted to get a Yorkie, so we rescued Shooter. He was such a good little friend. He was fun and playful, and he always sensed when I was upset and would come sit in my lap and lick my nose. Like many small dogs, he thought he was actually large and ferocious. He once barked at a big dog at the vet's, and the big dog actually shied away!

I commuted for most of college, but when I finally moved out Shooter stayed at home because I couldn't stand to separate him from Sophie. He also was not fond of Marley, the labradoodle that my husband and I adopted. So, over the last few years, Shooter also became my dad's dog, along with Sophie. Two years ago at the age of 13 Sophie died peacefully at home after my dad ran a doggie hospice for her for a week.

My dad and I have known that Shooter's time was coming. He was 14 and though he was doing well for his age, he was quite frail, and probably deaf, but he didn't always listen to us anyway, so we couldn't be sure. My dad said that Shooter seemed fine all day yesterday, but then one moment last night he wasn't. Daddy now thinks Shoot had a heart attack. My dad called me this morning, but then had to go to work. I was home sick with a sinus infection and decided to just stay home until my dad got back from work and called me. Then we would see if Shooter was better, gone, or needed to be taken to the emergency vet center.

I feel a bit terrible saying this, but I prayed that Shooter would die peacefully before my dad got home. Being euthanized doesn't seem like a very dignified way to die, and if I'm honest, I didn't want the emotional pain of going through the process. I prayed all day for peace for the three of us. Then around 1:30, I just felt like I should go to my dad's. I have a key, so I went over and found Shooter laying on the floor right next to his bed. He'd been gone for awhile. I started to shake and cry, so I went outside.

I didn't want to interrupt my dad at work to tell him on the phone, so I called my husband and my mom to talk. I prayed for strength and peace for the rest of the day. When my dad came home, I cried some more, he wrapped Shooter in his doggie blanket, and called the vet to find a place to have him cremated. We were referred to Deb at Chartiers Custom Pet Cremation in Bridgeville. We drove him over, and Deb was wonderful. She was very kind, took care of the details efficiently, and listened to the little stories we shared. My dad will get the cremains back in a custom made bag. I picked red fabric with little white hearts on it because his collars had always been red. She will also take a snipping of his fur and wrap it around a silk rose, also red. I'm going to assemble these with Shooter's collar and a photo in a shadow box as a nice remembrance.

My dad asked me if it was silly that he was so upset over a dog. I'm sure some people would say so, but I don't think so at all. As much as the last few chapters of Marley & Me by John Grogan made me cry my eyes out, he made a good point in that we spend more time with our dogs than most people in our lives. Our dogs see us at our best and our worst, and they always love us. They provide companionship, protection (ok, well maybe 6 pound Shooter didn't), and laughter. Shooter was part of our family for 11 years. Of course we are sad, of course we have to mourn. I am just so thankful that he died peacefully without suffering for long and that he left us with so many happy memories. Rest in peace, my little friend.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

I am the 12.88%

My husband wrote a blog post this week about a startling realization he had. He used the simple calculator at Global Rich List and found out where he sits in terms of the world's wealth. I decided to do the same thing for my salary. Here are my results:

I admit that I am amazed. I am one of many in my generation who is underemployed, having earned a masters degree but working in a job that only requires a high school diploma. I am thankful that I have a job, and especially a wonderful job in my field of interest with opportunities for growth, but if I'm honest, I am often frustrated that I'm not making enough money. The results above are just for my income, and I'm in the top 12.88%. When I put in our combined family income, we are in the top 0.95%. That's incredible to me! I've been feeling disheartened because we don't own a house and have huge student loans to repay. I knew that I should be thankful that we were ok financially, that we rent a nice little house and have food and all of that, but I wanted more... I'm overwhelmed by these results. We aren't doing ok financially; we are amazingly blessed. How many things do I take for granted every day? A home in a safe area with heat, electricity, and clean water; easily accessible, healthy food; health care; transportation; I could go on and on now that I start to think about it.

So now my challenge for myself is twofold. I want to truly appreciate the many blessings that God has given us, and I want to reevaluate how and where we give our money. From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked. (Luke 12:48) Though I have often taken it for granted, I have been given so, so much. I pray that I appreciate it and use it to glorify God.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Columbus Day: Genocide and Curiosity

In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue. Like many American children, I learned this little rhyme when I was in grade school. I also learned that Christopher Columbus set off with his three ships to find a new trade route to the Orient. Being a man ahead of his time, Columbus sailed west to get east, believing that the world was round even though it was common knowledge that the world was flat. He didn't make it to his intended destination, but instead discovered America.

This didn't sit well with me as a child. I wondered how Columbus could discover a continent that was already populated. Several years ago I read a book called Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong by James W. Loewen that left me feeling even more uncomfortable with Christopher Columbus. The book states that "American history books present Columbus pretty much without precedent, and they portray him as American's first great hero." That seems to fit with what I remember learning in school. Unfortunately, many details about Columbus's work are left out of history books, replaced with stories to make him seem more heroic.

One common misconception in history books is that Columbus bravely dared to sail west when everyone of his time knew that this meant he would fall off of the edge of our flat Earth. In the middle ages, people did believe that the world was flat, but by Columbus's day it was common knowledge that the Earth is round. Columbus was not on an ideological quest to prove that the earth was round; he was searching for wealth. In a letter to the king and queen of Spain he wrote, "Gold is most excellent; gold constitutes treasure; and he who has it does all he wants in the world..." This was the common motivator for many "explorers" that children learn about in school, but since this sounds base and materialistic, more heroic reasons were fabricated.

A more disturbing omission from history books is the treatment of the native people by Columbus and his crew. From Lies My Teacher Told Me: "When Columbus and his men returned to Haiti in 1493, they demanded food, gold, spun cotton -- whatever the Indians had that they wanted, including sex with their women." He also enslaved about 5,000 native people and sent them across the Atlantic to Europe. When the native people rebelled in 1495, Columbus declared war. The native people did not stand a chance of survival against the European guns and cannons. Ferdinand Columbus's biography of his father describes the event: "The [European] soldiers mowed down dozens [of native people] with point-blank volleys, loosed the dogs to rip open limbs and bellies, chased fleeing Indians into the bush to skewer them on sword and pike, and with God's aid soon gained complete victory, killing many Indians and capturing others who were also killed."

They committed genocide. "Yet only one of the twelve textbooks...mentions the extermination. None mentions Columbus's role in it" (Lies My Teacher Told Me).

Why don't we teach our children the truth? The truth is terrible, certainly, but it is true. It is history. I understand the need for heroes, for figures to inspire children, but why fabricate stories to create heroes instead of simply teaching children about real historical heroes?

I wrestled with myself as to whether I should write this post. The name of this blog comes from the words of Mohondas Ghandi: "We must be the change we wish to see in the world." Writing a post about the atrocities committed by Christopher Columbus will not inspire positive change. I think that positive lessons can be learned from this, though. I think it is important to foster curiosity, to challenge ourselves to dig deeper and learn more. It is important to foster curiosity, but not cynicism. There are terrible things that have happened and are happening, but that doesn't mean that everything is terrible. We learn about the terrible things so that we can ensure that they never happen again, so that we can be the change we wish to see.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Brother Francis

Today is the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi, and so I am sharing my most recent article from my church's newsletter, the Spire.

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Brother Francis and the Friendly Beasts by Margaret Hodges with pictures by Ted Lewin is a children’s picture book about the life of Francis of Assisi. Francis was born into a wealthy family in Italy, but when he was a young man he renounced his wealth to serve the poor. He traveled the Italian countryside preaching God’s word and helping those in need. As he went, “he saw the beauty and grace of animals, of birds singing as they flew, of silvery fish darting in clear water. He heard the hum of insects in the roadside grass, and they, too, were beautiful. God was the father of all living things, and all were brothers and sisters. They gave him joy, and he sang for joy as he walked the roads.”

In Catholicism, Francis of Assisi is the patron saint of animals and the environment. Every October 4th, the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi is celebrated with a Franciscan Blessing of Pets, a custom that honors Francis’s love for all of God’s creatures. This is one of the prayers from the blessing service:

“The animals of God's creation inhabit the skies, the earth, and the sea. They share in the ways of human beings. They have a part in our lives. Francis of Assisi recognized this when he called the animals, wild and tame, his brothers and sisters. Remembering Francis' love for these brothers and sisters of ours, we invoke God's blessing on these animals, and we thank God for letting us share the earth with all the creatures.”

Check out Brother Francis and the Friendly Beasts from the church library to learn more about Francis and help instill a love of God’s creatures in your children.

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While I'm on the subject of St. Francis, check out the new single from Tree Anthem's (my husband's band) new St. Francis-themed CD, Lady Poverty. It rocks! (Sorry, couldn't resist the pun.)

Sunday, September 11, 2011


Memorial for the Breezy Point, New York, residents who died on September 11, 2001

Today is not a day for me to spout my opinions. Today is a day for prayer. Today I pray for peace, for healing, for hope... for everyone.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Cognitive Dissonance: Hunting

My husband left the house this afternoon clad head to to in camouflage. Today is the first day of... some waterfowl season (duck, maybe?), and he left to go hunting with a good friend of ours.

My cognitive dissonance starts anew.

Cognitive dissonance is "the feeling of uncomfortable tension which comes from holding two conflicting thoughts in the mind at the same time." We studied it in social psychology when I was an undergrad, and I thought it was a fascinating concept. My uncomfortable tension comes from the fact that I love my husband dearly and have a great respect for him. For years I have also had an unequivocal view that hunting is bad. Now my husband hunts. How do I rectify these two opposite ideas in my head?

In an episode of The West Wing (What else?) the president once somewhat facetiously referred to himself as a lily-livered, bleeding-heart, liberal, egghead communist. I could somewhat facetiously say the same thing about myself. I don't like violence. I don't like killing things. I don't like guns. Therefore, I never liked hunting. 

My husband started hunting last season with two dear friends of ours who grew up hunting. I knew that these men were incredibly knowledgeable and stringent about gun safety. It didn't really bother me that they hunted, but I didn't like the thought of my husband hunting.

As the season went on, Jason (my hubby) got more and more excited about hunting. He came home talking about the connection with nature that he felt sitting outside as the sun came up. I learned that, at least with our friends, conservation is an important part of hunting - caring for the land on which you are hunting and hunting in in overpopulated areas to help protect farmers' crops. And, as Jason pointed out, I like to buy organic free-range meat, and it doesn't get more organic and free range than what he would bring home.

After thinking about all of this, I decided that I had to push myself to break the cognitive dissonance. My love and respect for Jason are bigger than any dislike I have for hunting, and so I support him in his new hobby.

... If I'm honest, though, I do sometimes hope that the ducks will be this smart:

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Technology Overload

I wanted to blog about this article interviewing Eric Brende, a PhD student who lived in an Amish community for a year and wrote a book called Better Off: Flipping the Switch on Technology, for a while now. But, maybe appropriately, this past month I took a hiatus from my computer. I can't say that I haven't used my computer at all in the last month, but I've used it sparingly. I just finished a 15-month period of earning a masters degree online, which required me to practically live on my computer for over a year. I found that using technology for school lead to an increased usage of personal email, Facebook, and web surfing. I was starting to feel like this:

So, after I graduated, I decided to take a bit of a break from the computer. I thought it would be for a week, but that week turned into a month. My computer usage is picking up again today, but hopefully it will never return to the way it was this last year.

As Brende states in the article, even the Amish don't think that technology is inherently bad. When the telephone was invented, the Amish in Lancaster County used it, but only until they saw what problems it could cause. The Amish embrace the idea of community and relationships and found that the gossip that came from party line telephones was breaking apart their community. So, they decided to live without telephones.

Community cohesion is also the reason why the Amish don't use cars. When you have a car, you can travel far away and have contact with many different people. Their thought is that increasing the number of people you interact with lessens the depth of your interactions, which would then lessen the bonds of your community. ...Sounds a lot like Facebook to me.

Obviously, I am not writing a blog post saying that I do not like technology. There are many things I like about email, Facebook, and the web. I also have a cell phone (and a car). But, I see how over-usage of technology can lead to isolation, from both people I love and activities that I enjoy. As with so many things in life, I think it is all about awareness and balance. I thought about abandoning my blog to cut back on computer time, but decided that an all or nothing approach wasn't what I wanted. I will simply be more aware of the time I spend on the computer and then balance it with something else.

And now I'm going outside to take a walk.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Don't Shoot the Messengers

I will never understand the myth of redemptive violence. I just read this article about the jurors in the Casey Anthony trial, which says that the judge is not releasing their names out of fear for their safety.There are worries about Casey Anthony's safety too.

I can understand why people are upset about the verdict; they feel that Anthony got away with murder and will now be free to live her life while her daughter lies in her grave. What I don't understand is how committing bodily injury upon Anthony or the members of the jury would revive baby Caylee. How would rewarding suspected violence with violence rectify anything?

I also don't understand why people are so furious with the jury.

Sign hanging in a Florida restaurant

It was easy for the public to come to a strong opinion about this case after the media bombarded us with coverage, but the jury could not take any of that into consideration. They could only consider what is presented in court, and even then they were not able to simply rule based on their gut opinions. They could only give a guilty verdict where they felt that the prosecution proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that a crime was committed in they manner they described.

I served on a jury for a felony murder trial last year. It only lasted for one week and was emotionally exhausting. I cannot imagine what the jurors of this case must be feeling, especially when Juror #3 expressed that their ruling made them feel "sick to their stomachs," and Juror #2 said, "I wish we had more evidence to put her away. I truly do. But it wasn't there." The conflict must be devastating

They served, taken away from their families, jobs, and lives. They ruled, as the law requires, based on what was presented in the courtroom. Why do we want to harm them, not thank them for their service and pray for their emotional healing?

Post script:

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

What Does the Internet Know About You?

I read the article "What the Ultra-Personalized Internet Is Hiding from You" by Eli Pariser, and as a soon-to-be librarian am embarrassed to admit that I was surprised by some of what it shared. It said that "in polls, a huge majority of us assume search engines are unbiased." I know I did....Oops.

I knew that Gmail used information in my emails to recommend advertisements for me. Facebook does the same thing.  What surprised me was that this personalization stretched to the results I see in the Google search engine. The author had two friends of similar demographics search Google for the same thing, and  they were each shown significantly different results. 

How does this happen? "According to one Wall Street Journal study, the top 50 Internet sites each install an average of 64 data-laden cookies and personal tracking beacons when you visit them." They then use these tracking devices to spit back information that is similar to what you have viewed in the past. This is how Facebook decides what to show in your Top News Feed. 

This means that you are shown information that you are more likely to be interested in, that aligns with your likes, values, and beliefs. So this is a good thing, right? In some ways I think it is. Facebook ads have led me to artists and charities that I did not know of before and now support. I'm also rocking out to a 1990s summer hits mix on Pandora as I type this all thanks to digital personalization.

What I worry about is that "all of this personalization isn't just shaping what we buy....The algorithms that orchestrate our ads are starting to orchestrate our lives." If the information we retrieve from search engines is customized to our already held beliefs and preferences, how will we access well-rounded information? If Facebook is only showing us posts by people we agree with, couldn't we quickly come to think that our views are only views on an issue?

Also, "while Google has (so far) promised to keep your personal data to itself, other popular web sites and apps...make no such guarantees." A giant market is actually growing, revolving solely around collecting data about internet users. The internet started as "an anonymous medium where anyone could be anyone" but it has morphed into "a tool for soliciting and analyzing our personal data" where your views and preferences may be unknowingly used to shape what you think and what you buy. 

Though once true, now the internet likely even knows what breed of dog you are.

This is a scary thought, but there are steps you can take to avoid it. Awareness is the biggest step. You can also check out GOOD Magazine's easy guide How to Stop Websites from Tracking You and's guide How to Delete Cookies. Inform yourself and take action, but use this personalization to your advantage too.

Now it's time for me to listen to Ace of Base on my Pandora mix.

Monday, July 4, 2011


It's July 4th, so in the United States the word of the day is freedom. Freedom is one of those words that I hear so often in American rhetoric that it has begun to lose its meaning for me. This may have started when some Americans were mad at France and decided that they would replace the word French with the word Freedom in all food products.

 Freedom evokes images of flags and soldiers, but what were (are) they fighting for? Librarian that I am soon to be, I looked up freedom's dictionary definition.

Freedom: the state of being free or at liberty rather than in confinement or under physical restraint. 

The state of being free or at liberty rather than in confinement or under physical restraint. What are things that can cause confinement or physical restraint, from which all people have the right to be free? Lack of access to food, shelter, safety, clean water and air, healthcare, and education to start. All cause confinement and restraint and all stem from poverty. Eradicating these things may be why our country is entangled in several wars. 

I pray for everyone who is serving in the armed forces to protect freedom. But what about the rest of us? On this day that Americans celebrate freedom, let us ask ourselves, what are we doing to help those in need, to eradicate the plague of poverty that separates people, including many Americans, from freedom?

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Bike Snob

The Tour de France started yesterday and I've decided to use it as inspiration to get back in the saddle (yes, I went there) with blogging. I'm not sure exactly how it happened, but within the last year my husband became a serious cyclist. He rides to work, rides for fun, and rides to raise money for charity. I'd never thought much about cycling, but now it is a common topic of conversation in our home. I've also been bringing books about cycling home from the library for Jason to read. Most of them have been either technical books or biographies of cyclists, but this one had Jason laughing out loud. He liked it so much that I decided to give it a read.

I am by no means a cyclist (I haven't even been on a bike since our trip to the beach last summer.), but I enjoyed Bike Snob: Systematically & Mercilessly Realigning the World of Cycling by the blogger BikeSnobNYC. I liked learning about the cycling's history

and the different types of cycling that are popular today,

but the author's witty tone and the book's artwork and design are what made the book for me. An example: below is the title page for the chapter about cycling safety and etiquette.

This is a humorous, informative read that I'd recommend to everyone and say it is a must read for anyone who is or loves a cyclist.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Realizing the Obvious

Lately I've been (finally) realizing some things that are really quite obvious: I am not perfect. I will never be perfect. I cannot do everything. And... No one expects me to be perfect. No one expects me to do everything.

These are things that I would have said that I knew for a long time. I knew them, but I didn't feel them. I knew that logically I could not be perfect, but I still expected myself to never fail... at anything, ever. And I would view any little mistake as failure. Ironically, my standards were so high that they were unreachable, so in my view I was constantly failing. That's a hard way to live your life.

Somehow it's really been sinking in that no one expects me to be perfect. If I make a mistake that doesn't mean that I'm not intelligent, conscientious, hard-working, or kind-hearted. It just means that I made a mistake. And learning that I'm not expected to be perfect doesn't mean that I've lowered my standards for myself. I still aim to do my best. But I'm learning to be forgiving of myself and to recognize that I can do something well even if it isn't perfect.

I just found this quote while looking for photos for this post, and it really speaks to me. (I actually like that the word "lose" is spelled wrong in the image. I think it makes a great point.)

That is all that my perfectionism is: fear. Fear of being wrong. Fear of failure. Fear of disappointing others. I don't want to live a fearful life. I want to live a creative, joyful life.

And so, though I'm not sure if this post makes sense, I'm going to bed. Because this post, like me, doesn't have to be perfect.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

My Dog Tweets

My last post was a bit glum so I feel the need to write something cheerful. One of the happiest parts of my life has always been my pets. Up until mid-high school I thought I would be a zoologist when I "grew up," and my parents let me have a small menagerie of animals to prepare for my future career. I had the normal childhood pets like hamsters and fish. I also had guinea pigs, hermit crabs, lizards, a hedgehog, and a chinchilla (though not all at once). We didn't get a dog until I was 14. She was a Bichon Frise named Sophie, and I called her my happy puppy. A year later, we rescued another dog, a Yorkie named Shooter, who still lives with my dad.

Fuzzy Sophie

Tropical Shooter

My husband and I have two dogs – Marley, a lab/poodle mix (aka labradoodle) and “her dog Melvin.” We don't know what breed Melvin is, some sort of scruffy terrier mixed with a pit bull terrier, probably. Marley and Melvin have definite personalities. Marley is a 60 pound lap dog who I call my snuggle bug. Poor Melvin was neglected for his first year or so before we rescued him, which left him with an insatiable need for attention. As I watched the different personalities in the dogs, I started giving voice to them. Eventually, I started writing emails from M&M, mainly from Marley, to my husband when he would go out of town for work. On several occasions Jason said that Marley should start a blog. I thought about it, but she just didn’t seem to have enough things to say for a blog. Eventually I decided on Twitter.

I figured I’d do it just for me. It’s a fun creative writing project and it makes me smile. I didn’t think anyone would follow her…. I was wrong. @TheMarleyBug now has over 1,700 followers. That’s crazy!

Here are some of my favorite Marley tweets. I hope they make you smile too.

i am napping upside down!

we went to the dog park! a dog licked my head!

i wish i was a cat! ha ha! #aprilfools!

my dog melvin sat on daddy’s keys and made the car go beep beep!

i could not decide where to hide my bone so I fell asleep with it under my head!

mommy thought my dog melvin ate her shoe! i just threw up part of it! i don’t know how that got there!

uh oh! i ate some of daddy’s skettios!

my dog melvin wants to tweet! Lllllllllllll.ij cf bn dyuhhhjbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbcxdgfb he isn’t good with the computer box!

when the #steelers #football men come on the tv box they say their name and school! i would say marley freyer! @petsmart!

i decorated my dog melvin for christmas!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Online Degree Slump

It's midday on Thursday and I'm wearing sweats and sitting on my couch. Day off? Actually, it's one of busiest school days of the week. I'm working full-time on a Masters of Library and Information Science (MLIS) from the University of Pittsburgh, and I'm doing the entire degree online.

I decided to be an online student (and a full-time student) out of necessity. I work part-time at my local library and felt I had to do the degree online to have time for both work and school. There are a lot of benefits to an online degree. I can fit school to my schedule. I don't have to commute from the South Hills to Oakland. I don't have to try to park in Oakland. I save money on gas and parking. I can do school work in sweat pants (which, I guess, some on campus students do too). Lately, I've been feeling my enthusiasm for school waning, and I think part of that is due to the online format of the degree.

I've always been the nerdy girl who loves school. I may not have loved the experience of school (jr. high comes to mind), but I love learning. So, I was excited to start my MLIS last May. Summer semester went well. Last Autumn I had a lot of extra hours at work, which made balancing work and school a challenge. I did well, but was very happy for winter break. Now I am halfway through my degree and a bit into this semester. And I don't feel excited about school like I usually do. I'm on top of my schoolwork. I like what I'm learning - it is interesting and pertinent to my interest of working in public libraries. But, I feel kind of ready to be done working on this degree. Part of this is a halfway through slump. Part of it is just because the weather is gray and cold. But part of it is because I miss the personal interaction of going to class.

The way this degree works is that each class has online and on campus students. The on campus students meet each week, and the session is recorded then posted so that the online students can watch the video. So, I don't go to class; I watch class. Some online classes incorporate weekly live chats over an instant messaging system. All of my classes rely heavily on discussion boards. On campus students have discussions in class, online students type out their discussions asynchronously on discussion boards. I learn a lot through discussion boards, but for me - and extrovert - it just isn't the same. We do meet in person once a semester for one class session, which does give the opportunity to meet classmates and professors, but briefly.

It just hit me today how much I miss actually discussing the topic matter in person. I miss having professors who recognize me, who really know me. As an online student, what my professors know about me is what I show through the discussion boards, assignments, and emails. Since the professors don't actually know me in person, I feel like every time I start typing for class I have to prove that I'm a good student.

I looked up some articles about online learning. One said, "Without direct physical contact and interaction with other learners or an instructor, online students can lose their interest or motivation mid-way through their course or program." That's it! That is just what I'm feeling. I'm glad that I'm not alone. I read different studies and statistics about the quality of online learning. Some said that retention decreases in an online setting, some said online learning increases performance. All said that it requires a lot of personal direction and self-discipline. A professor at Robert Morris University stated that online 20% of people who attempt an entirely online degree actually complete it. 20%! That's a pretty low number.

Though I'm feeling a bit lackluster about school right now, come August 8th of this year, I will be in that 20%. I still love learning and I love libraries. Maybe I just need a little sunshine.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Hope Not Despair

I'm sure you've heard about the terrible shooting that took place in Arizona on Saturday. And you've probably heard the different political pundits pointing fingers saying that it happened because of the political climate caused by one side or the other. These accusations break my heart - that people would use a tragedy to propegate their political agenda and derogate the other side.

Last night on The Daily Show, Jon Stewart reflected on this in a seldom seen serious moment. He said that political pundits "find the tidbit or two that will exonerate their side from blame or implicate the other...watching that is as predictable as it is dispiriting." As much as Stewart thinks that there are serious problems with the political system and the way political pundits act, he doesn't blame the system for the shooting. "Boy wouldn't that be nice?" he said, "if we just stop this [insert political problem here] the horrors will end." It would be nice to have a scapegoat, something specific to fix to ensure that a tragedy like this will never happen again, even better if that something is a thing that we strongly disagree with anyway. That would be nice, but it isn't true. There isn't one thing to fix. The situation is terribly disheartening, but Stewart said, "I refuse to give in to this feeling of despair."

I too refuse to give in to this feeling of despair. My heart breaks for the people who were hurt or lost their lives and for all of the friends and family. My heart breaks, but it will not despair. I cannot let go of hope for something better, or what is the point of this life? I agree with Jon Stewart that we need to take this tragedy as an inspiration to make our world better.

If you read my husband's blog you've read this news story related to the shooting. (I will note, that I found and was planning on blogging about this story before I read Jason's blog. Great minds think alike?) There is a group of people who call themselves a church who are planning to protest the funeral of Christina Green, the nine-year-old girl who was shot and killed, because she was Catholic and these people believe that God hates Catholics. I can't express the sorrow and rage that filled me when I read this. How easily could I have despaired? But I kept reading the article. There is another group of people who have planned an "angel action" in response. They are going to wear large angel wings and silently surround the outside of the church where the funeral will be held. This will surround the mourners in a protective shield from the protesters. The angel action participants are not planning a counter protest; they are simply allowing those affected to grieve in peace. What a beautiful, simple action coming from a horrible action!

I am not a Pollyanna, only looking at the good things and ignoring the bad. I see the bad, and I feel these things deeply. But I also see hope. I look for hope. Sometimes I have to desperately seek for it. But it is always there. And we are always able to create it. Which brings me back to one of my very favorite quotes, and a description of how I try to live my life:

"We need to be the change we wish to see in the world.” -- Mohondas Ghandi