spectating participant


April 30, 2005

procastination and writing

Filed under: unlisted — suzanne henderson @ 2:43 pm

At lunch, I mentioned that I had written about food and politics and how that has nothing to do with any of my current assignments. Chris points out how the semester is coming to an end, all my papers are coming due, and my website is staying up-to-date. Procrastination at it’s finest, I suppose. Now, to work on British American immigrant experience and finally finish that anthropology midterm that is probably not worth any points at this point. Sigh.

politics of food

Filed under: unlisted — suzanne henderson @ 12:22 pm

amy posted a link to an article about politics and food. I haven’t spent much time considering the politics of food, but I have been stirring up personal motivation and interest to really taking a look at [Montgomery County Public School]’s food programs.

The article focused on broad changes to the WIC program. WIC, a food supplement/voucher programs, provides vouchers for nutritional food and nutrition training/education for: pregnant, postpartum, and breast feeding women, infants, and children to age 5. This service is also available for women following a miscarriage, a useful bit of information I found out after applying for the services and miscarrying prior to my appointment date. Currently the program provides (from the official WIC website:

WIC foods include iron-fortified infant formula and infant cereal, iron-fortified adult cereal, vitamin C-rich fruit or vegetable juice, eggs, milk, cheese, peanut butter, dried beans/peas, tuna fish and carrots. Special therapeutic infant formulas and medical foods are provided when prescribed by a physician for a specified medical condition.

The changes will allow for fresh fruit and vegetables to be purchased through vouchers, along with some changes to the dairy and egg portions of the program. This would be a great improvement since many low-income families often do not buy fresh produce or cannot afford fresh produce. This provides a twofold value to the program, there are the funds available for healthy fresh foods and participants will be instructed and educated about how how produce plays an important part in a healthy diet.

WIC is not just about providing the vouchers for healthy foods, they also provide required education about nutrition counseling and planning a healthy diet. This aspect of the program makes it more than just an food-assistance program, like food stamps. It is designed to urge people to select the right kinds of foods and provides vouchers for specific foods to ensure that families are getting what they need.

A healthy diet is a political and social class issue. We had a discussion on [baltwash-burning] about a similar topic back in January. There, I provided the example of how I spent over $43 for one weeks worth of produce for a family of 5. This was for a weekly menu where many things were made from scratch and fresh veggies were part of every meal, there was little produce purchased for snacks. Yesterday, we went again and spent $32 on fresh produce. There was a big difference this week because I’m currently not cooking and so it was mostly snack or breakfast fruits. Also, a lot of it was supplemented with frozen veggies due to the inconsistency of dinner until my finals are over (frozen veggies cost another $20 and we’re relying on them since I don’t know that I’d be able to cook the fresh stuff before it goes bad).

So with these examples it looks like a family can spend on average $128-172 a month on fresh produce alone. Now, for our family (which includes m&m and they do the grocery purchasing) that is not much. At least, certainly not when considering that our month grocery budget is about $530-680 a month. But, if you have a family on an income of $700 a month, then that is a big deal. I’ve often had monthly budgets of $150 for food and it doesn’t take long for that to be eaten by fresh fruits. In fact, if m&m were not buying the food, my grocery budget for the month would be about $100 now.

While fresh foods are better for you, they are not always the easiest when it comes to quick cooking. People like to argue that cooking healthy meals doesn’t take that much time, but when you’re a single-parent family working long hours just to pay the bills and then have to balance kids, homework, and housework, there is 30 minutes for dinner, the whole thing–prep, eating, and clean up. I have been working on cooking healthy meals from a lot of fresh foods and it takes at least 20 minutes of cooking, not to count prep time of cutting up veggies and organizing the pans. And 20 minutes is on the lowest end. Then eating takes at least 35 minutes (normally 60 since is also family social time) and clean up often takes another 30 minutes. This is why I am not cooking right now, I’ve only enough time to get all my projects for school completed, no longer can I come home and get trapped in the kitchen from 6:00-8:00 (just to the get alex ready for bed and read to her for a half hour and then get to sleep myself).

So, in selection and preparation of foods, cost is a major issue. Now, enter the market of convenience foods and our material, market driven economy. Marketed on television are foods that are unhealthy and lacking nutritional value. In the stores you have cartoon characters marketing food to your children. Of course the kid wants to buy the item that Dora the Explorer is on. They have established their conditioning that Dora is good and pleasurable from the shows and books and now they want the food to. Or, just take the food elements of shows, what are kids seeing people eating on television? In our too-busy lives people are grabbing those convenience foods or always stopping at McyDs for a quick bite before running off to sports and lessons. And, my biggest pet-peeve, the shows that assume that kids do not like vegetables and have characters that argue about eating their broccoli and always wanting sugary snacks instead of an apple.

I won’t argue that there needs to be rules or regulations about what shows can and cannot show, I would urge that concerned parents make their voices know. People need to say that we don’t want to see our kids exposed to shows that lack good eating habit examples and instead demand healthier examples. The solution to problems in this country is not always legal requirements banning and constraining, it is to get people using their voice and their money to say that we will not accept products that don’t meet our expectations. Money is a far better motivator than restrictions.

So, in my rambling musing, there are political and economic issues in food. Obesity in america is a problem and we need to do something about it. And it isn’t just people need to eat better, though that is a requirement, it is that we need to influence the environment to make improving easier. When the entire population decides to make the move to healthier eating, we can force companies to follow our lead. Also, as a backtrack, just because produce is often not the cheapest or longest lasting food items, we can still get people buying more of it and less of other convenience foods if we begin changing the dining climate. I’m in no way suggesting that, because produce is pricey, the poor will never improve their diets. Instead, it needs to be clear that high nutrient food is essential and that other grocery budget items like soda, chips, high-fat convenience foods, should be reduced to allow for healthier alternatives.

April 27, 2005

UMD health center services

Filed under: unlisted — suzanne henderson @ 5:33 pm

today was the 3rd time I’ve visited the university clinic for a general health problem. The first time was for my ankle injury and they did a great job with the x-rays and everything went well. Next, I made a general appointment to have a mole looked at. At this one, they basically saw me for 3 minutes, long enough to say that I really needed to see a dermatologist about stuff like that. Now, I would have been happy to be told that over the phone. Today, I went in about symptoms for a possible UTI, though I was pretty sure that wasn’t the problem. So, to the lab and an hour later they tell me I don’t have an UTI and I should make an appointment with women’s health to explore it further. Now, if that was going to be the end result, or if the clinic is not able to provide more rounded/thorough health care coverage, just basic overviews before referring you off to someone else, why bother making an appointment with them? I wanted this problem dealt with, I’ve already waited 2 weeks, and so I was ready to see a doctor, discuss the problem, and search for a solution. I am not interested in walking through a physical flow chart, if no proceed to another appointment. I don’t have time for that. bah!

federal education cuts

Filed under: unlisted — suzanne henderson @ 12:57 am

Bush decided to start the [No Child Left Behind] legislation and then refuses to provide funds to support this program. And now, he wants to further cut funds that would support schools attempting to comply with his legislation.

Programs Proposed for Elimination include:
Comprehensive School Reform
School Dropout Programs
Smarter Learning Communities
Teacher Quality Enhancement
Tech-Prep Education State Grants
Vocational Education State Grants
Vocational Education National Programs
Foundations for Learning

All of these are important programs that they are claiming will be addressed by another program or do not meet high enough standards of research to continue. I am skeptical that all of the programs that are supposed to replace many of these programs, in an umbrella fashion, will include useful information and enough funds to cover the populations these programs now serve.

There are positive things being funded with his new budget and it is important to consider and notice those, but also realize what is being eliminated in the process. Some positive changes:

- Increases in grants for Title I programs (though, is it enough to cover needed increases and the increases needed for the programs listed above that will now fall under this umbrella grant)
- Increase in funds for the pell-grant, grant for low-income college students.
- Increase in funding for reading and math programs (again, will it cover the needed increase and the additional increase for expanding the program to cover the eliminated programs)
- Increase in funding for dual enrollment in high school and college (at the expense of vocational training? is the push for college enrollment going to penalize those not attending college and choosing a trade profession instead?)

Unfortunately, he is also increasing funds for assessments in schools. Considering that current trends and actions for assessing students are faulty and provide little information about the knowledge students posses and acquire throughout school, is this just wasted money?

Detailed information about Bush’s education budget

April 26, 2005

wonderful day before wednesday

Filed under: unlisted — suzanne henderson @ 6:31 pm

Today’s First: Alex walked to the bus! Not too big of a deal since she often walks home, but still exciting just the same. I am confident that she’ll get home one time (as in, before bedtime) when walking home, but I was nervous about her actually making it to the bus stop in time. I think she timed it and it took her about 25 minutes to get there. Not bad for a mile walk on short legs, I suppose. So yay for that.

Another good thing, I’ve a 55-gallon metal drum that will become my very first burn barrel this year. Woot! Woot! my playa estates plan is coming along nicely. Now… to seriously ponder that white picket fence idea. maybe that’ll end up being over kill. But, if I’m gonna have a burn barrel, I might need some additional seating for people to hang out on. I wonder if I can get anything created for that in time. I love it when my brain is actually working.

April 25, 2005

lifetime earnings…

Filed under: unlisted — suzanne henderson @ 3:50 pm

since I first started working in 1996, I have earned $62,420. i don’t really know what to think about that number. plus, over half of that was earned in 2003-2004.

this comes from the social security statement that showed up in the mail. but hey, i’ve earned 28 of the 40 credits needed to get retirement benefits. I’ve worked enough to collect disability–something that I’ve considered applying for form time to time depending on how bad my moods are swinging at the time. And, I’ve worked enough for Alex to get some survivor benefits. This is just more information than I wanted this afternoon.

Instead, I wanted a nice relaxing afternoon to make up for the morning observation in Montgomery Blair High School and working at Burtonsville Elementary School Book Fair this afternoon. This was a good day to remind myself that I don’t care much for other people’s kids. Don’t know why I’m so interested in education when i seem so uninterested in youth themselves.

shush

Filed under: unlisted — suzanne henderson @ 6:35 am

as another day starts, i’m freshly reminded about how I love mornings. there is the stillness and silence to the house and the world that sets the stage for the day. the birds are just beginning their calls to each other, somewhat muted by the pause in the air. The sun is still hidden below the hill line, trees look like they are clenching to the final moments of sleep. Even the wind holds back, breathing slowly and calm. It seems a shame that I must move away from this pause and head into the city. Drive among people who are on autopilot, people who don’t see only their destination and obligations and not the world around them. To them, the sun will be an annoying frustration for the morning commute instead of the unignorable beginning to yet another beautiful day. But, I’m sure there are others who see the morning as I do, who aren’t simply pushing themselves forward for another long week to come. To them, good morning, have a splendid day.

April 23, 2005

greedy for time

Filed under: unlisted — suzanne henderson @ 9:01 am

I woke up to the mask of smoky dawn behind the trees, soft and lingering. The muted trunks, now budding with green, circling around my room. To the north, the pink and white blooms bright against the grey and swaying smoothly. It was so secure there between the soft flannel sheets, warmed from my slumber and wishing to linger.

Unaccustomed to waking in pools of day, I reached for the time, so worried that it was already late. What relief and satisfaction to find that morning was not rushing me and I could pause in this experience for a while. Shifting between the blankets, cuddling up to the view, I waited for nothing.

Birds hopped at the window, playing at each other and not seeing me at all. I want to leave out some feeders to encourage more to swing by. Their jolting movements looked so crisp and awake, full of energetic life that continually explodes in their small body.

Eventually, I slid out of the secure warmth, skin tingling with the chill of morning, and started my day. Another day of reading and learning and catching up on things. Slow and steady progress that feels wonderful to make. And, it all happens there on a made bed, beside the glass framed world of light. Oh, to extend the moments like these, hold them in time, stretch minutes into hours, dawd in the dawn.

April 21, 2005

fall finalized

Filed under: unlisted — suzanne henderson @ 9:32 pm

(bah, wrote this once and lost it, attempt 2)

All signed up for classes. There were issues, but I’ll just sum it up saying it’s just college. So for fall I have 16 credits for:

Anthropology 260 - Introduction to Biological Anthropology - this is a repeat actually. i didn’t do so well last semester and their transfer student policy allows me to repeat it and replace the crappy grade without dragging down my GPA.

Math 010 - this is where I am at now. If i finish this independent math program I should be able to enter Math 111 (Intro to Stats). But, if not, this class will turn into either Stats or Math 110 after 5 weeks. I’ve decided to not worry about it. Sucky part is that it meets 5 days a week, sucky suck.

Family Studies 105 - Individuals in the Family- a nice 100-level course. Haven’t seen one of these in years. but truth is I had space in the schedule and it is a prereq for higher level course that I want to take.

Education Measurement, Evaluation and Statistics 410 - Classroom Assessments - all about tests, portfolio, observations, and program evaluations. Should be good for educational policy.

Education Measurement, Evaluation and Statistics 451 - Introduction to Educational Statistics - Since I’ve had so much fun grinding research and the use of statistics in my brain, why not a whole class on them (in addition to Math 111 if I get in that). Starting to question my sanity about this one. But I can always drop it if I think it won’t work.

There is a 5th year Masters program in the Education Measurement, Evaluation, and Statistics program that I might consider doing if I can get my grades up this semester (retaking the Anth class will do wonders) and if it is something I really do want.

All this thought on what I really want to be doing. Seesh, I hate rethinking things like this. With the 5th year Masters, I wouldn’t change my BA major at least. :) But I think that program might be way too numbers focused for my tastes, I don’t know.

My love for research is fading this semester, but that could be the 90 pages still looming over my head and me being way too far behind to be sitting here mumbling about next semesters class schedule. I am getting really geared in to Educational Policy and Leadership though, maybe time to realize I have a voice that I can use and step up to the plate and use it. I’d totally kick into gear at Alex’s school but I need to not be drowning in coursework in order to take on something else.

April 18, 2005

spin, spin, spin

Filed under: unlisted — suzanne henderson @ 8:37 am

Yesterday was busy. Up early to be productive before meeting, meeting at 10, and then back home to do some work again. Alex was all sorts of helpful and productive. She learned how to drive the lawn mower and later mowed some of the lawn as well. She also helped clear one of the parking pads of the sticks that came down when one of the trees came down. She helped fill 4 tractor wagon loads and drive them down to the workshop for dumping. This included figuring out how to back the trailor, which is something I have a hard time doing–one turn here, a big turn there…

Once all of the work was done, it was off to Dupont Circle for an afternoon spinjam. Lots of fun there, I had my staff, all girlied out with pink and ribbons, and poi. Chris brought his juggling toys and I feel like I am finally making progress on learning how to juggle.

Afterwards, there was the complicated walk to figure out where to eat dinner. This frustrated me, but we eventually picked a place when I just threw my hands up and said any place is fine. It was the [Polo India Club], an empty Indian restaurant. We should have taken the fact that it was not busy, especially compared to everywhere else we’d seen, and a bigger indication than we did. But I assumed that it was pretty hard to really screw up Indian food and it was something all of us, Alex included, could agree on.

Well, I turned out to be wrong, it is not that hard to make Indian taste less than tasty. Everything was basically below good, not terrible, but still just edible. It took forever too, but that is the way of indian food, but by 8:30 I was completely done with being in the too quiet restaurant playing annoying Indian elevator music.

Chris drove home which is always an interesting experience because he isn’t used to driving stick. I think he’s doing quite well, though I can see that it is a little frustrating to stall at a busy intersection. But, if DC drivers weren’t always right on your ass, it might not be as such.

April 17, 2005

lights, plastic, Action!

Filed under: art — suzanne henderson @ 2:10 pm

I have a new project in mind: LEDs and plexiglass tubes. Thats all I’m saying for now,

early to rise…

Filed under: unlisted — suzanne henderson @ 8:40 am

early to shine? This whole concept of morning people vs non-morning people is is perplexing. I am a morning person, no doubt about it. I am happy to get up before 6am most mornings and get started on my day. I may linger in bed a for fifteen minutes, but as soon as I am up and moving I could start running miles on the energy I have. Of course, I don’t actually run miles because my morning also signals my belly to say “Eat!” Chris, however, is not a morning person. He sleeps right through his alarms and takes endless proddin’ to actually wake up, get out of bed, and shuffle his way to the coffee pot. Thankfully, he is not like some people who are cranky before coffee In fact, his slow progress to waking gives me a great opportunity for me to get those extra snuggles in which he is happy to provide. But, it still take some whip cracking motivation, to get him going. Of course, he can get all this motivation on his own if need be, but it seems to work a little better with the additional push.

Being a morning person, I have never understood the coffee for energy morning routine. In fact, it really bothers me that it has to be two cup of coffee that will get some people going. That is a lot of wasted time in the mornings to me, the 20 minutes to make the coffee and then the 30 minutes or so to get it all down and let it start “working.” Hah, in that time, I’ve prolly showered, dressed, made my bed, had breakfast, and have my days plans organized as I start on item number one.

Being a morning person, it is really frustrating to fall into late sleeping patterns. This often happens when I don’t have enough sunlight to get going in the morning. This isn’t a problem in my room since I have two walls of windows and one is East facing. I love waking up in the sunlight, hurrying to take advantage of the bright, warm glowing filling my room. Yet, Chris’s room isn’t quite so energizing. He has but one window, covered with blinds (whereas mine are not) that faces West in a basement apartment. The room seriously lacks light in the mornings, making it harder to switch off the alarm and feel instantly awake. We seem to flow through patterns of motivated mornings and too late mornings, but maybe this will change soon.

Earlier this month I was racking my brain and juggling numbers to see if I could buy a bed. Mine is just a twin and doesn’t fit two all that well, especially not if one of us is over 130lbs. I wasn’t able to find the money so the idea sort of faded away. However, Chris just got a new job starting Monday and thought that he might just get a bed soon. Note, he does have a bed, though it is makeshift one with a futon mattress. So, now we may be able to have a comfortable bed and the windows and light from my room to make early mornings a consistent reality. I’m excited about this idea especially if I can also find a tall bed frame so that I’m sleeping almost level with the window sill as my bed now is.

April 15, 2005

goodbye, old friend…

Filed under: unlisted — suzanne henderson @ 12:08 pm

My tongue ring really need a strong cleaning the other day, so Chris put it in the ultrasonic cleaner and it cleaned up beautifully. I’d been out most of the day and I didn’t put it back in that night either. The next day, when I finally did, there was a sharp pain that developed later in the afternoon. Not in the mood for anything annoying, I took it back out. I then left it out for 2 nights in a row, something I typically only do one night at a time, and went to put it back in last night. I was a no go. A stretch of skin had closed over in the middle and there was no getting through without some strong pushing. Thought it over, decided that it was a good time to end that relationship.

And so comes the end of a four-year relationship and the start of a whole new one. It is so strange to have nothing there but I’ve already started getting used to the feel as well.

April 14, 2005

bah!!!

Filed under: unlisted — suzanne henderson @ 4:01 pm

Today was the second time within a week that my computer froze on me. It is when waking up, the mouse freezes. Other things work, the time continues to count on and what not, I just can’t get the mouse or keyboard to respond. So.. it is everything really still working or just illusionedly working?

So, it just has to make it one more month then it can camp itself at the apple shop and get a real tune up. I can get the audio fixed and address this issue to. Then I’ll be happier.

April 12, 2005

scattered

Filed under: unlisted — suzanne henderson @ 10:02 am

My mind is wandering today, trying to pick up motivation to do this, or that, or maybe this instead. Can’t really hold on to any idea or task too long before another sounds like it should be done instead. It is frustrating.

Maybe it is cause something has been frustrating me and I want to deal with it but I can’t. Too many papers and tests and projects to let me sit and dissect a problem. It is mostly with Alex, this have been such a chore lately. The simplest things are just constant clashes. I know I’m not great at dealing with things like this, and I’d like to learn a few things that will work. I just get so discouraged that nothing is ever going to change with her, that it’ll always be this never ending battle over *little* things. Sigh.

But now I have to study for this exam today. And then, need to kick my ass into high gear on projects. Only a few more weeks left this semester and I’ve not kept up with things as much as I was supposed to.

April 11, 2005

meep

Filed under: unlisted — suzanne henderson @ 8:09 pm

nothing to talk about, nothing at all. talking anyway.

April 10, 2005

lost posts

Filed under: unlisted — suzanne henderson @ 4:18 pm

I type something up every once in a while and think that I hit save. But, seeing the lack of these posts on my page, something must happen between hitting that last ‘.’ and me getting doing something else. Yesterday was another example, I wrote up how much fun we had at the Cherry Blossom Festival and what a wonderful day it was.

Nothing much happening, school and more school. That and settling into life more and more. Alex has friends down the street that she spends most her time playing with. Though she is starting to complain that the half-mile bike ride home it too far, bah!

PDF is coming up next month and I am excited about it. Just started talking plans with Chris this afternoon. It looks like I’ll get the borrow the Big Bad Truck, which mean big bad gear. woot! So far figuring out what i want to, how I want to set up basecamp. I tossed out the idea of taking a pallet of flagstone with us to pave a little patio and Chris seemed to think I was crazy. And yeah, that makes sense. That ain’t light and if it is muddy, it won’t get any lighter. So, I’ll try to just bring in some smaller flag stones to put in front of the tents or something.

So, now thinking of the following ideas: 1-2 hammocks, bring gas grill and feed people, 2 tents (one for alex and then one for us and dressing), new octagone structure, new costumes (i’m pretty committed to this), good food, good beer, nitrogen ice cream… who knows what else. This is just the first day of brainstorming.

Well, there is a paper that I have been seriously avoiding and so I’ll actually get back to it now….. maybe. argh, procrastination to the nth degree on this paper.