Archive | April, 2013

A shame

23 Apr

Was watching the Great British bake-off a few weeks ago and they did an intermezzo of the introduction of school lunches in the English cities during the Industrial Revolution – isn’t it tragic that 200 years later we still can’t make sure our population in the western world is all fed properly? My friend Chris Goerlitz’s recent SNAP challenge has brought this home. We can’t feed our own population properly.  People need proper nutrition in order to function properly. Children need proper nutrition in order to learn. Africa is still starving. And yet we throw milllions in food away each day. Hang our heads in shame.


Day 2 SNAP Challenge Chris Goerlitz

5 Apr

Day 2 SNAP Challenge

Posted on April 5, 2013by 

Not surprisingly, the hunger in the later morning prior to lunch was a little more pronounced, not quite as easy to dismiss as yesterday.  Coffee withdrawal is the same, tolerable.   I think I was overestimating what how much I coffee I consume during the week, weekends a different story.

OK, this blows, it is about 90 minutes since lunch and I am still hungry, feels like I didn’t eat, a constant state of emptiness.  This day is tougher as I am starting to fixate on the feeling of hunger.  I assume at least some of it is psychological, since I am not able to snack as I normally would, and the some of the students brought in food as part of their family history project submission, which didn’t help!

And speaking of the students….One of the things I enjoy while doing this is the discussions I have with my students [who by the way, are collectively the greatest group I have had in my 17+ years] about who is poor.   They are shocked to discover whites are the greatest recipients of what we designate as welfare and really surprised when they discover that 80% of SNAP recipients work – and 70% of those work full-time.  The common reply is “Wait, how can that be?  That doesn’t make sense”, until we look at what survival expenses outside of food really entail.   They really have a genuine optimistic and hopeful outlook and it gives me pause that maybe they’ll be “that generation” that gets it…but then I realize teachers have been saying that for generations and, well. :-(

Alright time for dinner – some beans and sweet potatoes…I’m living now.  Day 2 down, here’s to day 3.

New post SNAP Challenge

5 Apr

For those of you following through my links, day 1 part 2 of the SNAP challenge my friend and schoolmate Chris Goerlitz is undertaking. Very eye opening about how luxurious our lives are and that when we think about poverty and hunger we tend to think about 3rd world countries and not our neighbors. And how brilliant to follow it up in his class with the film of the 30 day challenge. Good to know that there is at least one class of modern day children who are being sensitized to the needs of others!


Day 1 Pt. 2 SNAP Challenge

Posted on April 4, 2013by 

Overwhelmed by the positive messages on FB and at school today, good to know so many people care about the plight of others [although I knew that already!].    Comments with Lesley got me thinking about what I showed today in class as part of our wrap up.  There was a TV show called 30 Days – done by Morgan Spurlock of “Supersize Me” fame.  Premise is he – or someone else – lives outside their comfort zone for…you guessed it – 30 days.  The first episode of the first season was called Minimum Wage, he and his fiance had to live for 30 days on minimum wage.  Just showed it to the classes today as part of our wrap up.  Students really enjoyed it and they had some great questions/comments afterward.  It is done very well and available on Netflix if you haven’t seen it – worthwhile and makes you think.

Anyway, day one food-wise done.

  • Breakfast was 2 eggs and spinach.
  • Lunch – 1 cup quinoa, 1 cup black beans
  • Dinner – 3 very small sweet potatoes.

My meal list will be redundant, as I will be eating the same thing through Saturday – and hope the monotony will lead me to be more creative.  But as my wife knows, my creativity cooking-wise is often superseded by my laziness cooking-wise :-)

Take away from today – started to get the caffeine with drawl headache, but it wasn’t horrible. Also,  I wasn’t ‘starving’ but felt hungry on a more consistent basis.  Also noticed food more, esp. since I couldn’t have it.

Tomorrow we do our first tally of what rooms have brought in the most food so far, I am hoping for a surprise, but feel the initial numbers will be lower.  Fingers crossed.



Inspiring people!

4 Apr

Please take a few days to follow the blog of my friend and old schoolmate Chris Goerlitz. Very inspiring to live by example. Coming from a herd of teachers (maternal side) I am always in awe of people who choose to educate for a career. And doing this to show his students what life is really like is so brilliant.


Day 1 SNAP Challenge

Posted on April 3, 2013by 

This blogging experiment grew out of the suggestion of Kris Clark and I am finding it helpful to put my thoughts on this subject into words.  How did I find myself limiting my food spending to $4.29 per day or $1.43 per meal for the next 8 days???   Well this started because I was asked to coordinate the food drive at the freshman building where I teach US History.  It coincided with the end of our Progressive Era unit and I wanted to enlist the student’s assistance.  This led to a discussion of hunger/poverty in America and inevitably, food stamps.  Several students remembered my telling them of Newark Mayor Corey Booker ‘challenging’ a Twitter follower of his to join him in taking the SNAP [Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program] or food stamp challenge, and asked me if I would be willing to do the same in an attempt to draw awareness to the issue.  Since your reading this you know me, and it is not unthinkable that I said yes without thinking of what this involves..which is exactly what I did.

So what is the ‘challenge’ exactly?

  • Participating in the SNAP Challenge is simple: eat for one week using only the amount of money you would have if you relied solely on SNAP to pay for your food. In Pennsylvania this is comes out to roughly $4.29 per day.
  • I can eat only what I purchased with my allotment, nothing more, which pretty much eliminates coffee:-(  Condiments, spices, etc., I already have are permissible.
  • By taking the SNAP Challenge, I will experience the struggle that nearly 1 in 7 Americans – including nearly 25% of all American children – face every day. Plus the challenges of affording nutritious food on a limited budget.
  • I do know that living on a food stamp budget for just a week could never come close to the struggles encountered by low-income families week after week, month after month. What I hope it will do is give me a new perspective about hunger in America and think about not what it should be, but what it could be.

So this is it – from Wednesday April 3rd through Wednesday April 10th, I am engaging in the challenge. More on my meals, thoughts, etc. after ‘dinner’ tonight…

Spring is in the air! FINALLY!

2 Apr

After what seemed like the longest winter in ever, and the coldest March since at least 25 years if not longer nature has finally turned on Spring! It’s still chilly out there and the winter coat has not been sent to the dry cleaner yet but the days are lighter, longer and there is a definite optimism in the air. The birds, who still get fed by me each day just to give them a bit of extra energy, are making nests and my very late jonquils are poking their heads out. Time to be optimistic! It’s all going to be fabulous.

Common courtesy

1 Apr

I have recently been sending my resume around to different companies looking for a job. One has to increase chances these days and the advertising agency field in a small market is feast or famine – and very small. One of the things I’m sure that all job seekers have noticed is the complete lack of response. You’re lucky if you at least receive a confirmation that your resume has been received – let alone an answer regarding your application. And if you do receive a response these vary from just downright poor to well-crafted rejections. Now in Amsterdam the typical Dutch response to a well-worded nice reply is that it’s so much Anglo-Saxon guff and not necessary. It is necessary. Nothing speaks of a total lack of respect for other people than a rejection containing grammatical errors and spelling your name incorrectly. How could they have possibly ”seriously reviewed your resume’ if they can’t even spell your name correctly?  I don’t care if its copy/paste standard answers – take some time to give it a bit of thought. When you do receive a response that feels tailor-made it validates you as a human being and a job hunter. A well-crafted rejection almost makes your day.

And remember good grammar is like good hygiene – just common courtesy.

10 RULES FOR BRILLIANT WOMEN (courtesy of Tara Mohr)

1 Apr

Because we can never empower ourselves enough!  I particularly like the filter advice tip…

It’s time to step up, brilliant women. Here are ten principles for owning your brilliance and bringing it to the world:

1) Make a pact. No one else is going to build the life you want for you. No one else will even be able to completely understand it. The most amazing souls will show up to cheer you on along the way, but this is your game. Make a pact to be in it with yourself for the long haul, as your own supportive friend at every step along the way.

2) Imagine it. What does a knock-the-ball-out-of-the-park life look like for you? What is the career that seems so incredible you think it’s almost criminal to have it? What is the dream you don’t allow yourself to even consider because it seems too unrealistic, frivolous, or insane? Start envisioning it. That’s the beginning of having it.

3) Gasp. Start doing things that make you gasp and get the adrenalin flowing. Ask yourself, “What’s the gasp-level action here?” Your fears and a tough inner critic will chatter in your head. That’s normal, and just fine. When you hear that repetitive, irrational, mean inner critic, name it for what it is, and remember, it’s just a fearful liar, trying to protect you from any real or seeming risks. Go for the gasps and learn how false your inner critic’s narrative really is, and how conquerable your fears.

4) Get a thick skin. If you take risks, sometimes you’ll get a standing ovation, and sometimes, people will throw tomatoes. Can you think of any leader or innovator whom you admire who doesn’t have enthusiastic fans and harsh critics? Get used to wins and losses, praise and pans, getting a call back and being ignored. Work on letting go of needing to be liked and needing to be universally known as “a nice person.”

5) Be an arrogant idiot. Of course I know you won’t, because you never could. But please, just be a little more of an arrogant idiot. You know those guys around the office who share their opinions without thinking, who rally everyone around their big, (often unformed) ideas? Be more like them. Even if just a bit. You can afford to move a few inches in that direction.

6) Question the voice that says “I’m not ready yet.” I know, I know. Because you are so brilliant and have such high standards, you see every way that you could be more qualified. You notice every part of your idea that is not perfected yet. While you are waiting to be ready, gathering more experience, sitting on your ideas, our friends referenced in rule five are being anointed industry visionaries, getting raises, and seeing their ideas come to life in the world. They are no more ready than you, and perhaps less. Jump in the sandbox now, and start playing full out. Find out just how ready you are.

7) Don’t wait for your Oscar. Don’t wait to be praised, anointed, or validated. Don’t wait for someone to give you permission to lead. Don’t wait for someone to invite you to share your voice. No one is going to discover you. (Well, actually, they will, but paradoxically, only after you’ve started boldly and consistently stepping into leadership, sharing your voice, and doing things that scare the hell out of you.)

8) Filter advice. Most brilliant women are humble and open to guidance. We want to gather feedback and advice. Fine, but recognize that some people won’t understand what you are up to (often because you are saying something new and ahead of your time). Some people will find you to be not their cup of tea. Some will feel threatened. Some people will want to do with your idea only what is interesting or helpful to them. So interpret feedback carefully. Test advice and evaluate the results, rather than following it wholesale.

9) Recover and restore. If you start doing the things that make you gasp, doing what you don’t quite feel ready to do, and being more of an arrogant idiot, you are going to be stretching out of our comfort zone–a lot. Regularly do things that feel safe, cozy, and restorative. Vent to friends when you need to. Acknowledge the steps you’ve taken. Watch your tank to see how much risk-taking juice you have available to you. When it’s running low, stop, recover and restore.

10) Let other women know they are brilliant. Let them know what kind of brilliance you see, and why it’s so special. Call them into greater leadership and action. Let them know that they are ready. Watch out for that subtle, probably unconscious thought, “because I had to struggle and suffer on my way up…they should have to too.” Watch out for thinking this will “take” too much time — when the truth is it always has huge, often unexpected returns.