Is that bad?

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Is it wrong that this quote from an article in the San Francisco Chronicle brings me joy?

“…the Warriors, made it especially rewarding on a stirring Sunday night in Dallas. Throw in the sight of a petulant Mark Cuban, looking like a 10-year-old kid who just got his bike stolen — by a girl — and the Warriors’ return to the NBA playoffs was incomprehensibly sweet.”

Now, I’m not that much of a basketball fan but I am a *terrible* homer when it comes to Bay Area teams in the playoffs of any kind. Throw in the hard luck Golden State Warriors making their first playoff appearance in the better part of twenty years and in game one beating the number one seed AND making Mark Cuban look petulant and it all is just very, very good….

Nah, that’s not wrong….right?

Also…our San Jose Sharks slipped into the second round of Stanley Cup playoff play. It’s all *too* delicious!

And my San Franciso Giants have actually won five in a row now. While not potential playoff material yet they are certainly showing some spark.

Added all together and hey, despite it being a Monday, things look pretty bright.

The reappearance of the sun doesn’t hurt either.

Happy Monday, folks. We can get through it all together!

Oh Bill….

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Been watching with keen interest the run New Mexico’s governor is making at the White House.

He’s an interesting guy. Honestly, not one of my favorite people (for a variety of reasons dating back to his years as Congressman) but in a weird way, I’m pulling for him.

Though if he actually wins, I might have to reassess my citizenship….but not to worry, it’s a long shot at best.

So the article in Saturday’s Albuquerque Tribune titled, “Richardson comfortable in Mideast, needs work in Iowa” had me laughing by title alone. Cheers to M.E. Sprengelmeyer of the Rocky Mountain News for the sense of humor.

Quoting from the article, this is the part that had me sucking in air through my teeth and exclaiming….”Oh, Bill…”

_____________
“DENISON, Iowa — In case Gov. Bill Richardson wasn’t sure where he was on Friday, a gray-haired woman spoke up from the crowd at Central College in Pella.
“This is Iowa,” she said pointedly. “What’s your agriculture policy?”
The first words out of Richardson’s mouth: “I’m not an expert on agriculture.”

____________

Ouch.

Then later in the article.

_____________

“I was embarrassed for him,” Shivvers reported. “I’m impressed with the man, but he’s going around Iowa blathering this? He’s in Iowa. He needs to say something other than these support-the-farms blahs.”

_____________

Doh! Well, Bill is a nothing if not a smooth talker and I’m sure he’ll find a way to smooth over the ruffles there in Iowa given how important Iowa is to the race.

But…just…ouch. While I appreciate our rasquache governor, I’m not sure rasquache makes it to the White House.

My response

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On April 20, 2007, Jim Belshaw of the ABQjournal wrote an opinion piece titled “BioPark Vandalism Raises ‘Respect’ Issue”.

In this piece, Mr. Belshaw poses the question about how these kids could do such a thing, and where was their self respect?

Mr. Belshaw ends his article with: “The floor is open for answers as to why a kid would have no respect for himself.”

Below is my letter, emailed April 21st.
________________

Dear Mr. Belshaw –

Let me preface this by saying I have been reading your column for many years and am a lifelong fan. Having been raised in Albuquerque and now located in Northern California, I’m happy to continue to be able to read your column via ABQjournal.com.

I’m writing in response to your April 20, 2007 column, “BioPark Vandalism Raises ‘Respect’ Issue”.

First of all, I’m shocked at the level of outrage this particular incident has brought to these children. And yes, at age 13 they are still children. It seems the good people of Albuquerque wish to treat (and try them) them like adults.

Who doesn’t expect a pack of 13 year-old boys to find trouble? It doesn’t excuse their behavior but it does make me wonder what’s behind all the backlash? Where is the righteous indignation for the tagged freeway overpass, the billboard, the school, the church, the cinder block wall, the every place imaginable that taggers will tag, and have been for decades? When I was a kid (this would have been in the early 80’s), my dad built an addition on our house. He’d put up the tarpaper in preparation for the stucco. On a Saturday we went to 5:30pm Mass and when we returned, our home had been vandalized and tagged. I grew up in the Northeast Heights.

So why is this one raising everyone’s pulse? Is it because fish are cute? Is it all so very Nemo-esque? Is it that the BioPark Aquarium is “scientific”? Why did this one raise such a stink? Where’s all the hubbub for vandalism and tagging the other 364 days out of the year?

In your article you bring forth a question formed in response to feedback from one of your readers. You ask “…why a kid would have no respect for himself.”

These kids are just that, kids. A human learns respect for themselves and others. It isn’t innately born in, it has to be taught. And where is that taught? At home, first, by parents, then later, at school by teachers and yes, other students and later on by friends and coworkers. It isn’t a one-time shot given to kids with their measles and malaria boosters, but a lifelong pursuit.

Did you hear about the response one child had when asked why he did this thing? Quoted from the April 20th column by Andrea Schoellkopf, this from the grandmother and primary caregiver of one of the boys, ” ‘I asked him, ‘Why did you do it?’ ” she said. “You know what he told me? ‘Everybody else was doing it.’ ”

We all learn and model the behavior of those around us. This child is still young enough to be taught self-respect. There is still time left. But garnishing future wages, using curse words at them and about them and suing the pants off their parents and guardians is NOT how we teach kids self-respect.

What I want to know is how the people of Albuquerque expect a thirteen year-old boy to be so fully formed he knows “respect for himself” when his mother is in prison, and while on a school sponsored trip there aren’t even enough adults around to keep an eye on a large pack of kids.

I think the citizens of Albuquerque might take a step back and look at how they are treating these children.

Is that respect? We’re modeling the very behavior we are railing against.

Should they be punished? Yes. What does that model?

That actions have consequences.

Should they be publicly eviscerated in the media, sworn at by actual adults, sued in the courts, and have their names and troubled backgrounds splashed across the headline news? What lesson does that teach?

That behaving badly gets you attention.

Time for us to take a good hard look at ourselves. Maybe self-respect begins with each and every one of us, and we then model it for our children, ourselves and our society.

Oh and how about some lessons in forgiveness and compassion?

Thank you for your time and keep up the great work on your very thought provoking columns.

Regards,

Karen Fayeth

Taking Responsibility

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One of my biggest rants about “society in general” is the lack of taking responsibility for one’s own actions. Within this is consideration for others, meaning, seeing how what you do affects other folks, and being responsible enough to fix your behavior.

All to often, that’s just not happening. From where I’m sitting (a way too overpopulated area) it’s getting worse by the day. Not to sound like the total curmudgeon that I am, but I think our young kids are missing out on this lesson the most.

Just yesterday I got up to date on the kerfuffle at the Albuquerque Biological Park.

Seems some kids from John Adams Middle School got into some trouble. A couple of APS’ finest had the opportunity to scratch into the thick clear plastic on several tanks at the BioPark Aquarium.

On one of the tanks the problem can be buffed off but it will always have a distortion. Another tank the thick plastic needs to be replaced completely. Estimated costs up to $30,000 to fix, with the Park only able to get the maximum allowed by state law of $4,000 from the parents of each of the kids (four students total so they’ll get up to $12k on their $30k problem).

In a April 19 opinion piece in the ABQjournal with no byline and in today’s piece by Andrea Schoellkopf, the press is coming down pretty hard on these kids, aged 13 or so, and as well they should.

But my question in all this is….where were the grown ups? Today’s article said they snuck away from grownups. What? And how did that happen? Were there enough teachers and parents on this trip? Today’s article says there was one adult for every five kids (per aquarium policy). So what happened?

I know pre-teens are cagey, but I would be real, real upset to hear that there wasn’t enough supervision available and my kid stuck off. Does this mean someone like a kidnapper could sneak IN? And what about security at the Bio Park? At the Monterey Bay Aquarium where I’ve spent some time, I could no more think, “sharp scraping object” much less get it within an inch of the glass before security or Aquarium employees would toss me out on my ear.

I fear the answer would probably be something like “lack of funding”.

I was heartened to hear the Principal of John Adams say they are going to go over their field trip policies. I hope that means what I think it means, taking responsibility for the fact that this *should* have been prevented and making sure it doesn’t happen again.

I don’t excuse the behavior of the kids. But they are 13 year-olds. Thirteen year-old boys are going to find some trouble, they just are.

Not a good explanation for what happened, but I think there are a few parties not stepping up to the plate and taking responsibility.

Meanwhile, parents and teachers at the school are going to try to hold bake sales and car washes to raise the rest of the money. Mayor Chavez has “commuted” the two-year banning of the school from the park to just the end of the school year (a move I disagree with, I think the Mayor is cutting the legs out from under the BioPark. But that kind of move is something I’d see my own petty management do here at work, so goes the way of politics).

There’s talk of garnishing the wages of the kids once they become adult to fill in the gaps. There is a lawsuit on the books. Righteous indignation reigns, particularly on the part of the Aquarium.

So far, I honestly don’t think the BioPark is stepping up and accepting their part in this. I think they need to review their security coverage and staff allocation. They rock at filing lawsuits against 13 year-olds and finger pointing…but where’s the discussion of how this can’t and won’t happen again? Where is their plan going forward? Seems to me whoever crows the loudest in a situation like this might be the one most in need of taking a good look at their own behavior.

Just my opinion, doesn’t have to be yours……

Sometimes she forgets

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Ok, that’s not true, I don’t forget, per se, sometimes I’m just too far away from that which I love and sometimes distance gives you amnesia. Which is a terrible aspect of the human condition.

I *know* the state in which I was raised is beautiful, stunningly so. This past week seeing some photos, familiar photos, but seeing them again brought it all back to me. The wonder, the joy, the melancholy, the homesick.

At Bellagio in Las Vegas, they are having a show of Ansel Adams work.

I run hot and cold on Adams. Some of his stuff just kills me, some puts me off, but I find him to be incredibly talented and master of striking a mood. Plus, as an aspiring amateur photographer, I am utterly stunned by his style and eye.

This particular exhibit had a side room with many of Adams’ personal effects. Family photographs and personal letters were a highlight for me. Learning (and then viewing) his wonder for the natural beauty of New Mexico drew me in all over again. I’ve been a half click off kilter since. Missing my home state this much will do that to me. I have a foot in both my lives. That of a New Mexican and that of this new life (I still call it “new” after almost ten years).

I learned more about Ansel Adams in the two hours I spent at the exhibition. One of the best things I learned is that he was quite a writer. Personal letters to friends and family had me captivated.

A fave quote I took away from that day was from a letter from Adams to Nancy Newhall dated July 15, 1944. In it, Adams is pondering himself and his talents. He creates a whole list of things he’s not. It’s both wry and thought provoking.

He ends the letter this way:

“I am really like those very old headstones in New England – demon angels with X for eyes and perky wings. I ain’t so soft, but I am amusing.”

I keep thinking I should steal that for the tagline of my own life: “I ain’t so soft, but I am amusing”

I like it.

Here’s some of my faves of the New Mexico shots. The ones that drilled right into my bone marrow and made me melancholy until I see New Mexico for myself again.

For those living there today, don’t forget to look out your window at the beauty that’s readily available and give thanks you get to live there. I often neglected to do that. It’s easy to take for granted when it’s there every day.

(These are reproductions found on the web and do nothing to enhance the glory of the actual photographs….)

“Ghost Ranch Hills, Chama Valley, 1937

“Aspens, New Mexico”

Perhaps the most famous, “Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico, 1941 (the audio feature at the exhibit told a great story of how he got this shot. It’s captivating.)

Ok, best to stop staring at photographs and get my maudlin self back to work……