Monday, May 28, 2012

Bully: Must See Movie

Jodie, Mom and I just got back from seeing this movie.  I had seen a bit about it recently--I think the kids featured in it had been invited to the White House to meet President Obama.  After seeing the movie, I hope EVERYONE I know and care about will go see this film.  And then open your pocket books to send a couple kids to see it too!  I am going to take my nieces to see it this week.  Then I hope they will be inspired to be kids who won't let this happen in their schools, something I hope they are doing already!  Movie ticket website Fandango felt so strongly they posted this op/ed:  Why Kids and Adults Should Champion Bully

So, what's it about?  The documentary film follows the day to day activities encountered by three kids and the parents of another two kids who committed suicide after being bullied.  Alex, an awkward kid who can't communicate nor make friends with other kids, rationalizes that his tormentors are just "messing with him".  The brutalization he endures on the bus will rip your heart out. 

The Bully Project

This link is to the director's production notes.  He talks about the filming and how they eventually had to step out from behind the camera to protect Alex from the bullies.  The scene in Kim Lockwood's office, the assistant principle, will make you gasp--we all did anyway. (And based on a short conversation with a couple other moviegoers in the restroom, I think you will too.)  In fairness to Ms. Lockwood, she apparently made a public apology in Sioux City at a community forum on bullying.  Unfortunately I think her response is probably what most school administrators and teachers would be.  Too few resources, too many students, and not enough parent involvement certainly aggravate the problem. 

The other two kids followed are Kelby, a strong 14 year old girl who came out as a lesbian in her community and was then ostracized by everyone in school and in town.  Her father's struggle with his neighbor's reactions is devastating but his need to protect his child remains true.  Another girl featured in the film is Je'meya--a 12 year old girl who finally took a loaded gun onto the school bus to confront her bullies and ends up facing dozens of felony charges.  Her mother's strength and love for her daughter is amazing.  When Je'meya is finally cleared of all charges, her joy is infectious.  But all I could think was that those bullies were still there...and would be waiting for her at the bus stop.

The two families dealing with the aftermath of suicide is particularly poignant.  Both families have stepped up to make sure their son's deaths were not in vain.  The Smalley's created  "Stand for the Silent" with students from Oklahoma State University in memory of their 11 year old son.  Ty took his own life after being suspended from school for retaliating against a bully that had been bullying him for over two years.  (I hope everyone has a best friend like little Ty had--I can imagine the two of them running off after the rabbit!)  The Long's have begun a conversation in Murray County, Georgia after their 17 year old son hanged himself.  They hope their demand for accountability from the school district will prevent more deaths from bullying. 

From the director regarding his hopes for the film:   Film has a unique power to highlight an issue, touch our hearts and motivate us to act. 
Sometimes it is the images that stir us; sometimes it’s the opportunity to step into someone else’s shoes. We are hoping that the experience of watching BULLY will motivate audiences --whether they are kids, parents, educators or administrators – to come off the sidelines to join their community’s work to create positive school climate.

Hear, hear!!!  It certainly worked for me.  Now go out and buy a ticket.  Take your kids.  Go home and talk about it.  Share the info with your friends. Ask your school administrators what they are doing and how you can help.  Encourage your church family to get involved.  And for God's sake, if you witness bullying--get involved.  Don't let any child within your influence be victimized.   Just want to write a check?  Then consider Donors Choose, an online charity connecting you to classrooms in need.
Their goal is to send 100 million kids to see the movie.

NOTE:  Took my 12 year old niece and her best friend to see the movie this week.  They "get it" as the best friend is bullied because of her weight.  Her school administration is about like the one seen in the film.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Computer Slowness...ugh!

Anybody who has been nursing an old computer is familiar with slowness that rivals the old days of dial-up service.  Ours is old...I can't even remember when we bought it.  It runs on Windows that is what, three generations ago or something like that?!  It is an old desktop model that looks pretty much like the one above. 

So, I start thinking it is a virus, malware or spyware.  So, I look at all the programs that seem to cover that kind of problem...and find a half dozen that I have downloaded over the years.  Most of these I  never bothered to purchase--mainly because they promised to clean up my computer for free but didn't.  I finally find one that I liked enough to purchase and run it.  All the scans show minor issues with cookies that I tend to delete on a regular basis by clearing my cache. 

So, I start googling  and come across an article that seems to be perfect for my situations.  Even the name fits...Slow Computer Syndrome.  The fact that it is geared to students and not computer geeks is really helpful.   I tried almost everything they suggest and I think the computer is better.  But the real test will be when Rod is using it this summer.  I hope it gets through o.k.  Fingers crossed, please!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Illinois Roadtrip 2012

The packing is done. It gets a little easier every year as I add more equipment to the Illinois Soap Factory, but, it is still a lot of stuff to fit in the minivan. And have room for Bonnie Dog and me!

This year we took the van in to our favorite mechanic and found out he had died in January!  His family is still running the shop though--which made for a teary check-in when Rod asked where the big guy was.  His Mom was checking us in and she started bawling.  I could barely make out what she was saying but Rod didn't know what had happened.  Oh, awful--the emotion was still so raw.  Once we got through it I decided to write them a little note telling them how important Orlando Ortiz was to us--an honest mechanic is nearly impossible to find.  To have done business with him over the last decade was our honor. 

Anyway, they found and fixed a little problem we were having with the radiator fan.  When sitting in traffic or in a drive-thru, the temperature gauge would start inching up because the fan wouldn't start.  It never reached HOT but only because I would cut the heat on and open the windows.  Anyway, on the north side of Atlanta the three left lanes of I-75 were closed due to an accident.  We had a good 15 mintues of slowdown about 11a.m. just as it was really starting to get hot.  The fan worked perfectly although Bonnie and I were really missing the air conditioning by the time traffic flowed again!!

The only problem was at check-in at the hotel.  My Corporate Lodging card was is tied to my debit card so that wasn't right.  When I called their customer service line they had no one working on the weekend to help with credit card issues!  WHAT!!  How can you not have someone working on the weekend in the HOTEL industry???  LOL  The deals I get with the card are great, but, if you ever have trouble hope that it happens Monday through Friday during business hours.  Oh, but talk about great customer service...the girl at check in (Days Inn, Clarksville, TN) asked if I would take a rate of $42 plus tax...and yes, since that is less than I would have paid with the card...and it is going on my debit card anyway...great!!  :)   Funny but on Monday when I checked with Corporate Lodging, they showed no they think the girl might have put it in wrong. 

The Sunday drive was uneventful until I reached a stretch of I-39 going through Illinois corn country.  My sister had called to warn me about bad weather through that area.  I am constantly scanning the sky for funnel clouds when the weather gets bad and it was just dark out when I stopped for gas.  But as I got back on the highway some serious hailstones came down.  Within a mile my little caravan that included a minivan in front of me and a semi behind me were doing about 40 mph--and several dozen people had pulled off to the side.  I seriously wouldn't do that when you have a chance to outrun it--which is what happened.  We were back up to speed within a couple miles. 

The folks treated me to dinner out and I unpacked just the necessities for the first night at their house.  The real fun came over the next two days as I tried to set up the soap kitchen in my brother's old bedroom in the basement and set up the curing racks.  My first show is a one day event up in Baraboo, Wi this Saturday.  Hope to see some of you up there at the Fair on the Square in downtown.