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Posts tagged with Citizen Journalism Academy

The Man with the Nose

The first time I saw him, I saw him from behind. He was waiting on the sidewalk in front of the apartment building where we both lived. He was well dressed with a medium build. His silver hair in a tidy haircut just brushed the top of his shirt collar. I was curious about him. When I walked near him I caught a glimpse of something on his face but he turned away from me quickly, seemingly to shield his face from my view. A car pulled up to the curb and he got in. I assumed it was his ride to work.

Several mornings a week I walked past him as he waited for his ride. I walked down the block each morning to the garage where I parked my car. Parking was at a premium living in the middle of the city.

Each time he caught sight of me he would turn away quickly and shield his face. One morning though he could not turn away. He was sitting in a chair in the lobby of our building talking with a woman sitting across from him. As I walked into the lobby he saw me and appeared quite flustered. He looked like he felt trapped, as if he would like to jump up and run away. I saw a full view of his face and realized why he felt the need to shield it from my view. His nose looked like it was sliding off of his face and it ended in a giant red pitted bulb that drooped so far down it covered his mouth. It looked similar to this http://worldonline.media.clients.elli... but worse. I was taken aback by the sight of it but felt empathy for him at the same time. I made a conscious effort not to turn away or look horrified. I looked at him straight on and smiled what I hoped was a warm and friendly smile. I cannot imagine what it must be like to go through life with such an affliction.

The next time we passed on the sidewalk he greeted me with “good morning.” I returned his greeting, smiled warmly and went on my way. I made a point of trying to lengthen the greeting each time I saw him by adding “how are you,” “what a beautiful day” or “brrr, sure is cold today.” He always responded appropriately and seemed to be warming up to me. I was hoping that we would eventually become friends. He seemed like a nice guy and I was curious about his story. I wondered what had caused his nose to become that way and also what he did for a living, if, perhaps his work is somehow tied in with his nose trouble.

I started spending a lot of time away from my apartment. I travel a lot and spend most weekends elsewhere. Eventually, I moved to another apartment down the block. I haven’t seen the man with the nose for a couple of months. I miss him. I am sad that we won’t be able to get to know each other. I would at least have liked to know his name.

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Dear John

Last week I won tickets to see the premiere of the movie Dear John. Last night was the big event. As I drove from Kansas City to Independence (16 miles one way) I kept thinking “this better be a good movie.” Sixteen miles seemed like a long way, especially when there is a movie theatre about a half mile from my apartment. But it was free and it was a premiere!

I had been advised to arrive early because more tickets had been given out than there were seats in the theatre. Apparently this is done to ensure a full or nearly full theatre for the premiere. So my friend, Kelly, and I arrived at 6:00 p.m. for a 7:30 p.m. showing. There was a line to get in and people had moved benches over to sit on as we waited. We passed the time chit chatting about life and boyfriends. Just before they let us in the ushers checked our purses and pockets to be sure that we didn’t have a camera or recording device. Before we could step over the threshold into the theatre we were “wanded” for one last check. I waited for the request to remove my shoes and belt. Oh wait, no, that’s at the airport! This was just a movie!

We found the perfect seats and finally the movie started. About 15 minutes in I pretended I was 21 again and fell in love with Channing Tatum, the male lead. Thirty minutes into it I was holding back tears and about an hour in I could not hold the tears back any longer. It was a good, although not unique, love story. My tears were not only for John but for anyone who has ever been in his situation. Kelly called it sappy. She was right but maybe I was just in the mood for a sappy love story.

John ( Channing Tatum) and Savannah ( Amanda Seyfried) meet and fall in love during a two week romance while he is on leave from his post in the Army Special Forces and she is on a break from college. They separate to go back to their lives and write each other faithfully, each waiting impatiently for his year in the military to end so that they can be together. His tour is unexpectedly lengthened due to 9/11 and that creates difficulty in the relationship. The audience knows that something is going to happen because their relationship is just too sweet and perfect. But you soooooo want it to work out!

That may be the shortest movie review ever but for all of the twists and turns you’ll have to see Dear John for yourself. I liked the movie. It was sappy and the abrupt ending seemed forced but it was still worth the 32 mile round trip. And I can’t wait to see what Channing Tatum does next!

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Airport Security

Those of you who are travelling may encounter a situation that moves you deeply. . . . . .

This is how my horoscope started that day. I was in the KCI Airport as I wrote this. I read my horoscope after I had checked in and gone through security. Oddly, there was a situation that moved me deeply as I was going through the security line.

The security people had taken aside an older woman who was in a wheelchair. The woman had white hair and appeared quite frail as she shakily stood up to remove her jacket. Based on her appearance I would guess that she was about 80 years old. The security people were helping her remove her shoes and jacket to send them through security scanner. I realize the security workers were just doing their job and I don’t fault them for it. However, I was rather appalled that a woman in a wheelchair, who was obviously quite frail, would be required to go through the same procedures as the rest of us. I guess, though, that there is more than one way to view the situation.

What is your take on this? Should everyone have be treated exactly the same regardless of their age and physical situation? Do we really need to be afraid of elderly wheelchair bound women?

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Hoolie and The Elders

I meant to post this on St. Patrick’s Day but for a variety of reasons wasn’t able to. But better late than never!

Saturday, March 14th I went to my first “hoolie.” Ever been to one? Know what it is? Apparently, it means “party” among the Irish. The hoolie was at the Midland Theatre in Kansas City and featured a band called The Elders. I hadn’t heard their music before but I was impressed! Their music is lively, energetic and entertaining but it is also touchingly filled with pride, emotion and humor associated with their Irish heritage. The lead singer has been in this country since 1987 and proudly announced that he will become a U.S. citizen this year.

As I watched the crowd, I could tell that many of the fans were intimately acquainted with this band’s music. When a familiar song started, cheers went up and people started dancing and singing along, some with vigorous enthusiasm! Much the way I feel when I see a favorite band in concert.

The common denominator among this group, though, is an Irish heritage. I was there because my friend, Rob, has Irish roots that are celebrated by his family. My family doesn’t celebrate any particular heritage and we consider ourselves to be pretty much a Heinz 57 mix of ancestry. It seems to me that families that recognize and celebrate a specific ancestral heritage tend to be more close-knit than those who don’t. What do you think?

What does your family celebrate? What heritage-related traditions do you keep alive?

To all my Irish friends (and those who are only Irish for one day each year) Happy (belated) St. Patrick’s Day!!

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Are you a Silent Reader?

In a Citizen Journalism Academy meeting that I attended several months ago, we discussed whether the number of comments following a blog post was an indication of how many people had read the post. There was much agreement that the number of comments left was not necessarily an indication of how many times the post was read. Every time I post a blog entry, I experience some angst about what kind of reaction it will receive. Once I have posted an entry, I check back often to see what comments have been made. When a post receives a few positive comments, I start to relax. So far, all of my entries have received at least a few comments and most of them have been positive and/or encouraging. Thank you to those who leave comments. I really appreciate the feedback. But if you read my posts and don't leave a comment, I understand. I read a lot of blogs and online articles and try to keep up with the new posts in the "Reader Blogs" section in the online LJ World. I only leave a comment if I feel that I have something relevant to say. So, according to this blog, I guess I could be considered a silent reader. And I'm o.k. with that. Are there more silent readers out there? How often do you post a comment after a blog? Do you feel an obligation to leave a comment or do you leave comments only when you feel compelled by the content of the post?

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The Adventure of Life and Laundry

I am in the midst of a divorce. As if that weren't scary enough, I decided to buy a house too! I have never before been divorced nor have I ever bought a house. Both have been eye-opening experiences! After looking at more than 20 properties, I decided on a house on the west side of Lawrence. Even as I was negotiating the price, I knew that some sweat equity would be required to make various changes. I have always had a husband to do things around the house that require power tools and hooking up of hoses and such. But I have now learned that I can do those things myself! I bought a washing machine from my neighbor two doors down and managed to buy and hook up the water input hoses and replace the drain hose, which wasn't quite long enough. I placed towels all around the machine before I tested it, fully expecting to have leaks! Much to my surprise there were none! My only mistake was that the water input hoses were on backward so that when I turned on cold water, the water that actually came out was hot and vice versa. It took a few minutes to figure out the problem but I got it! Last weekend I stripped the wallpaper in the bathroom and primed and painted the walls. It took three days but it's done! This weekend I put up a hand towel rack and a toilet paper holder. I had to use those plastic things that go into the drywall to hold the screws in place. Luckily, I had bought a cordless screwdriver/drill so I could make holes for the plastic things. No one was more surprised than me when the holders actually stayed on the wall! This weekend I also set up my own wireless network. The instructions said that it should take about 20 minutes. Two hours later my network was up and going!The house is coming along and I so enjoy living in Lawrence. There is more that needs to be done but with each new task accomplished there comes a feeling of empowerment. I read a blog yesterday on boomergirl.com about worthlessness felt by some women. When I moved into my new house I was not feeling worthless but I was feeling rather overwhelmed. There was a brief moment when I wanted to cry and feel sorry for myself. That was when I knew I had to hook up the washing machine!

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Sex and the City

I came to the "Sex and the City" party late. I started watching the show when it was in syndication on TBS. Coworkers tell me that the HBO version was much steamier. Oh well! I didn't expect to really like the show. As a married, mother of three, I didn't think I had anything in common with any of the characters. Just watched it the first time because I couldn't sleep and it was on. Then I was hooked! I can see a bit of myself in all four characters but I probably identify most with Charlotte. I hate to say it, but it's true. As much as I would like to be Carrie or Samantha, I'm just not. One of my favorite episodes is when Big 'rescues' Carrie in Paris. Yes, it's true, I am a hopeless romantic. The movie will premiere tomorrow. I have plans to see the movie with a friend on Saturday. Did you watch the show? Will you see the movie? Who's your favorite character? Do you identify with one of them more than the others? Do you have a favorite episode? Think Big and Carrie will really get married? Have you heard the rumor that someone dies in the movie? If so, who do you think it might be?

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My Second Life

On Wednesday, I started writing a blog post about my experience in Second Life (SL). Imagine my surprise when, Thursday morning, I read Kevin McDonough's article about the journey of a filmmaker through this virtual world. I don't have Cinemax, but if I did I would surely watch this film.My own journey began last fall when I started working for a website development company that, with the exception of the owner and his wife, is made up entirely of freelancers. Initially, I worked on writing and editing projects for them. But in January they approached me with an idea for creating a business in Second Life (SL). I had heard of SL but didn't know much about it. I was curious though. Brian, the company owner, called me several times to discuss my participation and role in creating the online business. He wanted to be sure I understood what I was getting into. I thought that I did.I have only been in SL since early February, but in that space of time my avatar has learned a lot. Since her 'birth' my avatar has had a job, lost a job, and been hired by someone else. She has built and decorated a house and become homeless when the website developers decided to, at least temporarily, abandon their SL business venture. They sold their land back to the Lindens (SL owners) and the islands they had built disappeared, along with my avatar's house. She was lucky, though, to have become friends with one of her fellow freelancers. He invited her to move her house to his land. So don't worry about her, she is no longer homeless. Her personal life has been interesting as well. I was surprised that relationships can be built within this virtual world. I did not expect to connect with other people through what, at first, seemed like a cartoon character. When I found myself getting to know the personalities of the people behind the avatars, they became as important to me as my real life (RL) friends. Just like in RL, if we don't see each other 'in-world' for awhile, we check in by sending an instant message (IM) to be sure everything is o.k. SL knows no boundaries. My avatar has made friends from all over the world. There is Elmyr from Spain, Danz from Washington, Psoul, Bluebird and Treebreeze from Michigan, Mannix from Belgium, Sarheni and Scalpaw from France, Max from Canada, and many others. Not all of them remain as ongoing friends. Just as in RL, sometimes our avatars meet, find that they don't have enough in common to sustain a friendship, and part ways. And, again, just as in RL, some friends take on a more special meaning. When that happens, it can set the stage for drama and heartbreak. My avatar knows from experience that parting ways with someone who has stolen her heart is every bit as painful in SL as is losing a friend in RL. As one friend so eloquently puts it "it's all pixels, until, with our hands, we hold its soul." He's right. We are not just pixels. Behind our avatars we are real people with real thoughts, feelings and emotions. We must be careful with each other just as we are careful with the feelings of those we know in RL.Second Life has been quite an experience. I have learned much about navigating, building and creating in an online environment. But I have also gained insight about people and relationships that I can apply in my real life. I wouldn't trade my SL adventure for anything. If you already have an avatar or you find yourself with some extra time and want to experience a virtual world, look me up in Second Life. In-world I am known as Tifany Tolsen. I would love to have you over for a drink and a chat by the fire. See you online!

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Paper Guy’s Katy Trail Adventure!

A couple of years ago my husband and I decided to ride our bikes the entire length of the Katy Trail in Missouri, about 225 miles. The Katy Trail is a bike trail that stretches from Clinton, Missouri to St. Charles, Missouri. It was developed as part of the Rails-to-Trails movement in which railways that are no longer used are converted into bike paths. I had seen several commercials where people would steal yard gnomes, take them on vacation and return them to their owners with pictures of them on their adventure. I thought it would be fun to take our neighbor's yard gnome on our bicycling adventure. My husband thought a yard gnome would be pretty heavy to carry in our bicycle saddlebags. Our then six-year-old son was creating what he called "paper guys." There were hundreds of them. My office mate and I had them posted all over our bulletin boards and there were paper guys all over our refrigerator at home. We selected one hardy-looking Paper Guy to take with us. Much lighter than a yard gnome! This is the account of Paper Guy's Katy Trail Adventure. Paper Guy allotted four days to ride the entire trail. The first night we stayed at the Hotel Bothwell in Sedalia, MO. The next morning we started on the trail and rode to Rocheport. http://worldonline.media.clients.elli... It started out as a lovely day but about an hour into it the rain started and it rained the rest of the day. We put on the rain gear that we brought but still got fairly wet and pretty dirty. Without fenders on our bikes, the chat from the trail splashed all over us. Paper Guy lost part of his left arm and his colors were a bit runny. He had to rest and have some chocolate when we arrived at the Yates House Bed and Breakfast. It was so late when we arrived in Rocheport that only one restaurant was still open. After a much needed shower and change of clothes, our host, Conrad Yates, drove us to the Blufftop Winery and Bistro. We had a lovely dinner and glass of wine and then rejoined Paper Guy at the B&B for a good night's rest before continuing our trip. The next day was supposed to be the longest ride of our trip, about 80 miles from Rocheport to Hermann. My husband had a bike malfunction so we only made it as far as Jefferson City where we found a shuttle to drive us the rest of the way to Hermann. http://worldonline.media.clients.elli... From Hermann we headed to Defiance. We had a long stop in Marthasville where my husband replaced the 24-year-old ten speed that he had been riding with a brand new touring bike. He had to. The ten-speed was literally falling apart. Paper Guy was happy about the new bike! I wish we had had more time to spend in Hermann. There are several wineries in that area that I would have liked to visit. http://worldonline.media.clients.elli... We were late getting to the Parsons House B&B in Defiance but they waited up for us and we were so grateful for the strawberry lemonade and fresh baked brownies that our hosts provided. Our room was lovely. The antique claw foot tub was right in the room and painted pink!After a huge breakfast prepared by our Parsons House hosts we left Defiance and rode to St. Charles. There was a Lewis and Clark celebration happening in St. Charles so we participated in some of the festivities and then took a shuttle to St. Louis. We got there early enough that we had some time to ride around and see some sights. Paper Guy's last night was spent in a chain hotel in St. Louis.http://worldonline.media.clients.elli... The next morning we boarded an Amtrak train that took us back to Sedalia where we had left our van. Then it was back to Kansas! All in all it was a fun trip and, even though he was a little worse for the wear, I think Paper Guy enjoyed his adventure as much as we did! If you're interested in taking your own Katy Trail adventure, Paper Guy recommends The Katy Trail Guide Book.

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I like pie

My youngest son, Michael, has a fascination with pie. A few years ago when he was six or seven, my husband let him write the digital signature for paying with credit at our local lumberyard. Instead of writing his name, he scrawled "I like pie." So that was the signature on the printed bill! Michael is the baby of the family. He is ten years younger than his oldest brother and seven years younger than son number two. He is a freckled redhead with warm brown eyes that twinkle with mischief and merriment. He's smart and he loves a good joke. We have all laughed at his antics since he was just a baby, which has only encouraged him. At 11, he is still funny. His teachers even tell me how much they appreciate his sense of humor.The other day Michael asked his dad how to change his log in password on the computer. His dad told him how to make the change. Today, when my husband tried to log in to the computer, his password wouldn't work. When he clicked the help button, the hint for the password was "food." So he entered "pie." Apparently, Michael changed all of our log in passwords to his favorite food!

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