Monthly Archives: March 2011

A Stronger Service

I’ve been feeling pretty doom and gloom lately about the state of affairs in the US and the world. I’m just having trouble believing that we can turn these horrible situations around, and I don’t feel like anything good that I do will make a difference. Mostly because I feel like the solutions are too big for anyone to agree on. I mean Congress can’t even decide on a budget; how are they ever going to decide what policies will actually help us get out of the rut that we’re in?

I have a few ideas.

Service: We boast one of the strongest militaries in the world. I think that America should be known for a different kind of service–a stronger service. I think that programs like City Year should be mandatory across the country for graduating seniors from high school. If every student that graduated high school did a year of volunteer service, think of all the good that would be done for the country. Parks would be clean, affordable housing would be built, schools would be better taken care of and better staffed, afterschool programs would flourish, etc. And those are just the starting ripples in a larger pond. For instance, if one of the choices of service was to help run a variety of afterschool programs, kids would have more chances to find their passions and less chance to get involved in mischievous behavior on the streets. I’m all for nation-building, but I wish that we would focus on rebuilding our own crumbling nation rather than focusing on sovereign nations whose resources we covet. And maybe after we’ve fixed our own nation, we can send peaceful nation-building programs overseas to extend the activities of the Peace Corps. Instead of teaching other nations how to run a military or police force, let’s teach them more about sustainability practices, building wells, farming, building schools, etc. Maybe the world wouldn’t hate us so much if we stopped being the big, bad bully and started being the no-nonsense humanitarians. Let’s redefine “service to our country,” and maybe it’ll start fixing our problems.

The problem with this idea is that there’s absolutely no funding for it. Teach for America is turning down a record number of applicants because it simply doesn’t have the funding for all the people who want to be in the program. Same problem with City Year. Until it’s a nationally recognized ideal that’s given priority in the budget, it will never happen. Until then we just have to make-do with the limited public service organizations we have and the various smaller religious service organizations.

Sustainability: There should be at least one class taught in every high school across the country about sustainability practices. Classes like home economics have been cut from the majority of schools because it’s not seen as a core part of the curriculum. But in my opinion, traditional Home Ec classes weren’t enough. We need to teach people about buying fish only from sustainable environments, how to raise a chicken per household, how to make the most of a square foot of gardening space, how to use eco-friendly living practices like recycling, etc. In my opinion, there should be one class all four years of high school about this. If people knew how to take care of themselves and didn’t rely so much on a crumbling economy and unreliable resources, maybe we wouldn’t be suffering from soaring food prices. Maybe we’d develop a stronger sense of community if apartment buildings in urban areas all had common-space gardens on the roofs. Maybe it would encourage a more collectivist society where we care about our neighbors and watch each other’s backs instead of the dog-eat-dog capitalist world we’ve created for ourselves. So many studies and media reports say that Americans are miserable. Well no shit. We’re stressed, we eat like crap, most of us can’t afford decent healthcare, and we all have this inbreed sense that we’ve got to be able to take care of ourselves because no one else will. The lucky people belong to communities where they do have good support systems, but I’d wager that these people are in the minority.

Anyway, these are just my thoughts for turning our seemingly hopeless situation around. If you have any other positive ideas that make our situation seem less hopeless, please share them. I could use a little optimism. *steps off of soapbox*

Advertisements

DC food trucks

So one thing that I love about working in the city are the food trucks! They come out only during lunch hours and are highly specialized. There’s one bright pink one that’s exclusively cupcakes! But they basically drive around the city and are at a different “park” every day. Farragut Square seems to attract most of them and every day there’s at least 4 or 5 different trucks to choose from. Now I don’t normally buy lunch from the food trucks because I try to be healthy/cheap and pack my lunch, but on rare and special days, I’ll be adventureous and try something new. And today, a truck with an adorable piece of toast and the words “BIG CHEESE” hooked me in.  And yes, it’s an entire truck that specializes in different kinds of grilled cheese. Check it out here (bigcheesetruck.com). On their website you can look at the menu, check to see where they’ll be each day, and even sign up to follow them on twitter.

I got the Mt Fuji grilled cheese sandwich: brie, toasted apples, and honey on multigrain! It was so good that I just had to write a blurb about it. Definitely give this truck a try because I know that I’ll be stalking it in the future!

We the People…

Ok, so I’m going to start this post by saying that social studies and politics were always my least favorite subjects in school, and I have spent my life ignoring the news and politics for the most part. But now that I’ve moved to DC and started “the adult life,” I’m finding that I just can’t ignore things anymore. What I’ve learned in the past year makes me very, very sad. If any of this is wrong, please post a comment with links and citations so that I can learn more. I’m always open to civil, intellectual conversations.

1. The Electoral College. This system is so messed up. I was actually just talking about this with my roommates last night. This system basically ensures that only a Democrat or a Republican will make it into office. It discourages people to vote because if your state traditionally votes one way, you know your vote isn’t going to make any sort of difference in the long run (at least for national elections). I was shocked as hell in the last presidential election that Indiana was blue instead of red. I think that was the first time in my lifetime. But for the other election that I was eligible to vote in, my vote totally didn’t matter in the grand scheme of things. Seriously, why don’t we switch to popular vote? I know the technical answer: Congress will never approve it because then they lessen their chances of getting re-elected.

2. It’s “We the People,” not “We the Corporations.” This issue is especially relevent because of all the collective bargaining rights conflicts in the Midwest. Our elected officials keep passing legislation that helps businesses and corporations and hurts middle-class working citizens. Seriously?!?! By helping corporations, you’re completely wiping out whatever free-market we have left, eliminating competition, and making it nearly impossible for new companies to emerge. Isn’t that how the lifecycle of everything is supposed to work? Companies begin, they grow, sometimes they make it to the big leagues, they fade, they die. Start all over again. But if we keep bailing them out and making it easier for them to live much longer than they should, doesn’t it stifle innovation and keep new companies from starting?? And isn’t that horrible for the economy in the long run?

3. Why does it seem like everything that we’re doing lately is only a short-term fix? Bailing out banks, bailing out Wall Street, bailing out auto-maunfacturers… Seriously, won’t all of this hurt us more in the long term than it helps in the short term? And since when has it been the Government’s business to financially prop-up the private sector?? Couldn’t that money be better spent on creating jobs in the public sector that will benefit everyone? Like public transportation. If we had more high-speed rails connecting major cities, we wouldn’t need to depend on foreign oil so much, right? One thing that I LOVE about living on the East Coast is that I can easily travel between all of the major cities. Now trains are a project that would have to be built slowly, but if we start where there are already good systems (East Coast, Denver, Chicago) and branch out from those, we could eventually get most of the country, yes? But even just fixing all of our decaying high ways and bridges would do a world of good.

4. You’re ALL wrong, and you’re all dirty politicans.  Conservative, liberal, libertarian, Tea Party, Democrat, Republican, GOP, left, right, I DON’T CARE. You’re ALL wrong. And you know why you’re wrong? Because you refuse to work together, you refuse to compromise, and your policies are made up of what makes your campaign investors happy. You. All. Suck. You’re screwing over the average American. You’re so obsessed with winning that you lose sight of the issues at hand. You don’t consult teachers when you make legislation about education (No Child Left Behind is horrible, but that’s a different rant). You don’t consult doctors and nurses when passing medical legislation. You quote “experts” that are on your payrolls to present only the information that helps your political agenda. You aren’t interested in helping or representing your voters. You only represent yourselves and your own political career interests. Why can’t we go back to the days when people in Congress had other jobs and professions? Seriously, I want a “simple cobbler from Connecticutt” (1776) back in office!!! Let’s get practicing teachers, lawyers, doctors, evironmentalist experts, etc into elected offices. Maybe they would focus on issues instead of playing games to keep themselves in power.

So in conclusion of this very unorganized and under-researched rant, I’m just very discouraged with our government and fail to see any way to change things. I’m afraid that we’re going to be the next Roman or British empire and crumble because of imperialism and corruption.  So please, if you have any good news in politics or if I got things wrong, comment and teach me. Because no body will be able to do anything productive if we stop learning and listening.

Never Meet Your Idol

This topic has come up twice in my pop culture life lately, and it got me thinking about meeting your favorite celebrities. As I hope that you already know, Patrick Stump EP “TruantWave” dropped last week as the album “Soul Punk” got pushed back further. The first song is titled “Porcelain” and includes lyrics like “I don’t ever want to meet you/ Cause you’re like porcelain / And I think it might crack / If I found you were a brat/ Stay perfect. Stay perfect.” These days, it seems like we love to either build celebrities up or tear them down, and there’s no real logic to which one we do. Charlie Sheen has been a Grade-A douchebag lately after doing drugs, rehab, hookers, etc, and the media is LOVING every minute of it. On the other hand, Lindsey Lohan is in trouble yet again, and everyone is out to get her. What’s the difference? Not much except one is bragging about his problems while the other wants us to pity her for her problems. But with all of this positive or negative media attention, it turns our stars into some porcelain caricature of themselves. Now say you love Mr. Sheen’s cocky attitude, but when you met him, you found that it was all a publicity stunt and he’s actually a really tame dude. Or maybe that’s not a good example. Let’s take a personal favorite of mine, Edward Norton. Now I respect Mr. Norton as an actor because he’s talented and never in the tabloids. I like celebs that keep their personal lives to themselves. Now I have this image of Mr. Norton in my head as a level-headed, chill guy. What if I met him and he was all high-strung and a real diva? That might alter how I watch his movies. Same goes for Angelina Jolie. I used to LOVE her in high school until all of this Brangelina nonsense. Now I’m just sick of her being in the headlines for everything and actually avoid her new movies because I’m sure that they’re all just a remake of Tomb Raider somehow.

 

It’s ironic that Patrick Stump wrote these lyrics because the only time I’ve felt a similar way was after meeting his former band, Fall Out Boy. I used to listen to FOB constantly and was obsessed with Pete Wentz (I’m still not ashamed of it). Well I was lucky enough to acquire tickets to a Meet and Greet before a show in Columbus, OH back in ’09. I was so excited because I’d finally be face to face with my four favorite men in the world. I got the time it takes to get 4 autographs to meet them and then I was shuffled along with the fangirls. The only one of them that smiled at me when I was flustered and nervous was Patrick; the others looked completely bored, disinterested, and … well… bratty. Getting that from Pete Wentz nearly broke my heart. Now don’t get me wrong, I still listen to FOB, just not on constant repeat anymore, and I’m finally sick of Pete Wentz in the tabloids.

FOB Meet and Greet

 

The other side of this is you don’t want to meet your idols because what if you feel like you disappoint them instead of the other way around. Troy had a full on “starstruck meltdown” on the Community episode “Intermediate Documentary Filmmaking.” Instead of getting an autographed picture of Levar Burton like he wanted, Pierce tortures Troy by actually inviting the Reading Rainbow star to Greendale. Troy freaks out so hardcore that he can only sit there starring at Mr. Burton, barely even blinking. If you haven’t seen a clip of the meltdown, stop reading this right now and watch it here (http://www.nbc.com/community/video/ep-216-never-meet-your-idol/1296269). Having a starstruck meltdown has to be one of the most embarrassing things ever because you’ll probably never get a chance to resolve that encounter. To the celebrity, you’ll always be that strange fan that ran out of the room crying, stood still like a statue, rambled on like you had no social filter what-so-ever, or any other number of embarrassing situations.

 

I guess that sometimes, it’s best to keep some things safely locked away in daydreams where things go exactly how you planned them, especially when it comes to celebrities.