Friday, November 21, 2014

Consumers vs Constituents

Did you remember to go to the polls on November 4th? If your confidence in the political process is waning, vote with your dollars. Your purchases drive future investment and production choices. Shopping online is like voting using an absentee ballet. You can do both from home in your underwear.

According to the latest Zions Bank Consumer Attitude Index, which surveys 500 Utahns, optimism concerning business conditions in Utah and residents' feelings about the value of their homes has increased. Sadly, disparaging consumer reports, the number of shoppers trampled on Black Friday and boycotts get more media attention than positive shopping experiences.

Make no mistake, consumers are voting for “winners” and “losers” with their purchases. Products that do not sell as well as expected receive fewer resources. I'm going to share with you a few places I support with my dollars and why. Your choices may differ from mine, but every purchase counts, so go out there and shop your conscience.

Trader Joe's is a grocery store with amazing food and drink from around the globe and around the corner. TJ’s treats its customers like rock stars. Every time I'm there, I have a WOW experience. Staffers wear comfortable clothes and are full of product knowledge and shopping suggestions for any and everything in the store. A second Utah location in Cottonwood Heights is scheduled to open sometime in the first half of 2015, at 6989 S 1300 E, the site of a former Fresh Market grocery store.

Eat to give at Even Stevens in downtown Salt Lake City, 200 S 414 E. For every sandwich sold in their restaurant, a nutritious sandwich is donated to a local non-profit. Every sandwich, every day, no baloney! Food is more than just the means to end hunger; it's an opportunity to build a strong and healthy community. All donated sandwiches are made with sprouted wheat bread, high quality deli meat and natural cheddar cheese. For more information visit evenstevens.com

IconoClad offers exciting new clothing, local art, d├ęcor and crafts. Bring your lightly worn clothes to 300 S 414 E and you keep 50%! Anything that doesn't sell will be donated. When you buy any pair of Sesame brand earrings you can take an item from the free bucket, where there's something for everyone. View Seeds of the Sesame's full selection at www.seedsofthesesame.com

Happy shopping!

Monday, October 27, 2014

SAY 'YES' TO DREAMS

By Christine Ireland

Have you ever wondered what a strange, odd or just plain silly dream meant? I’ve had a few weird recurring dreams. Some I can only recall random pieces of, others flow through my brain like a mental movie (complete with rolling credits!) I woke up feeling both exhilarated and sexually frustrated after having phone sex with Wonder Woman. The face of a rotary dial phone literally appeared on my genitals. She lovingly put her finger in each number’s designated hole and slowly turned.

Perhaps your dreams have been boring lately. If so, choose to expose yourself to new experiences throughout the day. Dreaming allows our subconscious to process the day’s events. I work in a call center and watch superhero movies. New stimuli will make your dreams become exciting once again. Regurgitating one’s subconscious on paper may seem tedious or even ridiculous, but many a midsummer night’s dream or winter’s tale have given birth to narration. An alternative to writing your dreams is to keep a tape recorder near your bed or under your pillow so that you can verbally recount what happened in your dream.

Samuel Taylor Coleridge wrote Kubla Khan immediately on waking from a dream. This poem is considered one of the most famous examples of Romanticism in English poetry. A copy of its manuscript is a permanent exhibit at the British Museum in London. Dreams can inspire spectacular writing. Frankenstine, was born in nineteen year old Mary Shelley's nightmare. Universally known and read this struggle between a monster and its creator has been an enduring part of popular culture. Her work has inspired some spoofs, such as Young Frankenstein starring Gene Wilder. Shelley's monster lives on in such modern thrillers as I, Frankenstein (2013).

Whether writing for pleasure or profit, your dream log could be a gateway to published imagination. Dreams can be recorded in a paper diary (as text, drawings, paintings, etc.) or via an audio recording device (as narrative, music or imitations of auditory experiences from the dream). Many websites offer the ability to create a digital dream diary. The very act of recording a dream can have the effect of improving future dream recall. Keeping a dream diary conditions a person to view remembering dreams as important. Keep it daily to preserve details, many of which are otherwise rapidly forgotten no matter how memorable the dream originally seemed.

Oscar Wilde said, “They’ve promised that dreams can come true, but forgot to mention that nightmares are dreams too.” Even those dreams that wake us up with our heart pounding and beads of sweat on our forehead can be used as a tool. Record or write down a description of a nightmare, then change that description in any way preferred, or describe a totally new desirable dream. Stephen King is driven to tell stories as a way of allaying his many fears. He has addressed several over the years, including clowns, in It. In an interview with UK reporter Stan Nicholls, King said: “Like the ideas for some of my other novels, that [the inspiration for Misery] came to me in a dream.”

Sunday, August 17, 2014

R.I.P. Robin Williams

I was very excited about being promoted to the second grade, because during mixed group my first grade class joined the second grade. Their teacher had long flowing red hair and emitted a positive vibe. Instead of returning to my elementary school in Edison, Ohio the powers that be had me bused farther away, to an elementary school in the village of Mount Gilead.

There I met, one of my favorite teachers, Mrs. Parks. She called me over for a one on one math quiz. I sat across from her and put my hands under the table. When she realized I was counting on my fingers she said,"You don't have to hide your hands, you're allowed to use your fingers." I breathed a sigh of relief.

One of my classmates, JD Junk, frequently imitated Robin Williams' character from the popular TV series Mork & Mindy. JD would seemingly absorb milk through his finger and used the word, ShazBot, as an expletive. When called on, he gave us a fun diversion from the topic at hand. His signature move was to point at the lighting above our heads and say, "Na-Nu Na-Nu" (pronounced "nah-noo nah-noo"). At which point we waited for something magical to happen. This reminded me of watching Bullwinkle Moose try to pull a rabbit out of his hat. But even Mrs. Parks went flush when, no sooner were the words Na-Nu Na-Nu out of his mouth, the lights went out. Coincidence is a funny thing. Mrs. Parks resolved the current must have been interrupted, but for that brief instant, JD had ignited the willful suspension of disbelief.

Pam Dawber told ET NOW (4/10/2014) "That show made people really happy. It was a happy time of their lives, they loved it." This was certainly true for me. My dad was a fan of Jonathan Winters who played Mork & Mindy's child Mearth. He sometimes watched the show with me. I remember telling him, "I want to marry Robin Williams." When he asked, "Why?" I said, "Because he makes me laugh."

President Barack Obama: "Robin Williams was an airman, a doctor, a genie, a nanny, a president, a professor, a bangarang Peter Pan, and everything in between. But he was one of a kind. He arrived in our lives as an alien -- but he ended up touching every element of the human spirit," Obama said in an official statement Monday evening. "He made us laugh. He made us cry. He gave his immeasurable talent freely and generously to those who needed it most -- from our troops stationed abroad to the marginalized on our own streets. The Obama family offers our condolences to Robin's family, his friends, and everyone who found their voice and their verse thanks to Robin Williams."

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

SALT LAKE COMMUNITY COLLEGE COMMUNITY WRITING CENTER CELEBRATES TEN YEARS


A DiverseCity Writing group becomes a family, a writing coach a trusted friend, a workshop a safe haven.-Faye Fischer Writing Assistant & DiverseCity Writing Series Coordinator

I don't recall how I heard about the Salt Lake Community College Community Writing Center but remember being present as copies of the first sine cera anthology People Are Strange were being pulled out of boxes in preparation for an upcoming reading. I became a card carrying member in 2003. A laminated, rectangular piece of green construction paper with my card number written in black marker on one side and the words- I Write Stuff on the other has been in my possession ever since. It serves as a constant reminder that everybody can write and encourages me to don the descriptor with pride.

In addition to using open space available for writing and computer access the Community Writing Center provides opportunities to enhance writing ability through writing workshops. I registered for a writing workshop taught by Professor Melissa Helquist. I very much enjoyed meeting her brother Brett Helquist, illustrator of A Series of Unfortunate Events. Author of sixty-two books on Goodreads with 756982 ratings, Lemony Snicket's most popular book is The Bad Beginning (A Series of Unfortunate Events, #1). Brett diagrammed his process and when asked why he chose to share his experience and knowledge with our small group expressed sincere belief in Zig Ziglar's philosophy- YOU CAN ONLY GET WHAT YOU WANT, IF YOU HELP ENOUGH OTHER PEOPLE GET WHAT THEY WANT. Though not an illustrator myself, I can scarcely trace, a sense of community was palpable. It felt good to know there are artisans who believe in giving back.


In 2006 I was elected Chapter President of the Oquirrh Writer's group, as such responsible for planning monthly meetings. Writing Center Program manager, Jeremy Remy, agreed to give a presentation on Horror during our October meeting. He used visual aids including short film clips to demonstrate the diverse sub-genres of Horror fiction. These and more examples of volunteerism fueled my own desire to help others who longed to be heard, but were limited by ability or educational background. This spurred me to attend a volunteer training and orientation. Writing coaches provide one on one collaborative assistance, offering helpful feedback in a supportive environment. Everybody can write for practical needs, civic engagement and personal expression. Types of writing include letters, resumes, essays, and short stories.

In 2011 I took a bite out of procrastination by challenging myself to write 50,000 words in thirty days. The Community Writing Center partnered with nanowrimo.org and hosted NaNoWriMo workshops to celebrate November as national novel writing month. I used Woody Allen's quote, "Eighty percent of success is showing up." to prod myself when my inner critic set up mental roadblocks in an effort to discourage me from attending workshops. Meeting other frantic novelists and facilitators, also participating in NaNoWriMo, provided support through the highs and lows this kind of insanity condones. We explored inventive ideas and made a commitment to set aside time each day for writing. A white board, graphed each writers progress- number of words produced. My inner critic wanted to beat me up for failing to reach my goal. I exercised him by creating his likeness on paper, surrounded by bubbles filled with negative feedback. Chuck, as I like to call him, didn't give up! He started criticizing my illustration. Now he was out of my head. I tore up the paper and threw my inner critic away. During our final meeting we reviewed lessons learned, prompted each other with future goals and celebrated our successes.

I am a long time participant in the DiverseCity Writing Series and co-mentor the Gay Writes group with Toastmaster extraordinaire Doug Woodall. This month the writing center celebrated sweet success with a dessert party in our honor. Volunteers were thanked for being a driving force to all the center's achievements. John Wilkes has been participating since the center opened in 2002. His is a true success story, but I'll let him tell it.

Friday, September 14, 2012

DICHOTOMY

In fifth grade I joined the volleyball team. I distinctly remember changing into shorts and a jersey with my teammate, BJ. We had ducked into a hall restroom. When she saw me with my top off, she said, "You need a bra."

"You really think so?"

"Yeah, look at me." she said, drawing attention to her chest with her hands. Though flat, she looked very young lady like in her training bra.

I started wearing lose fitting tops in an effort to hide my new found young womanhood. More than anything I wanted to blend, the thought of standing out for good or ill terrified me.

One of my favorite Friends episodes shows Phoebe and Joey at Central Perk. She's sharing her concern that there must be something wrong with her because the guy she's dating hasn't made a move. Joey tells her one of the first things he commented to his friends about her was that she has a cute butt and great rack.

"Really?" she asked, then added, "I'm officially offended, but thanks." This dichotomy is typical of the female experience. As women we want to be judged on our merits without the cloud our perceived beauty or plainness puts before the lens. Notwithstanding, it's always nice to be noticed and appreciated. So we're constantly warring within about what to wear or how to present ourselves.

I realized this once again while donating blood plasma at CSL Plasma in Salt Lake City. I asked the phlebotomist, "Is she OK?" referring to a gal with five techs hovering. She confirmed my guess.

"It doesn't take five people to stick one donor, they're ogling her breasts." Despite my efforts to conceal myself and prevent flopping or flapping, jealousy toward a complete stranger with five onlookers at her side welled up in me 'til the voice inside my head shouted, if she gets five, my breasts are worthy of - at least three!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

WHY READ?

Whether you are reading for inspiration, education or entertainment- analyzing other writers’ work improves your own writing style. Even bad prose can be the instrument of instruction, clearly teaching us what not to do. On the other hand, from good writing we learn about graceful narration, plot development, and the creation of believable characters.

When asked, "Where do you get your ideas?" William Nicholson author of The Wind Singer trilogy said, "The material that forms my ideas comes from my life, from the people round me, from the books I read, and more than I sometimes realise, from newspapers and magazines." When asked, "What tips would you give someone starting out as a writer?" He said, "If you want to write books, you have to do two things: read books, and write. It sounds obvious, but only by writing a lot will you get any good. The better the books you read, the better your own writing will be."

It’s true, you may not be able to watch every episode of Glee or House MD and still have time for the important things in your life, but reading doesn’t have to take up large blocks of time. I take a book with me everywhere I go, reading in theater lobbies before the show, while waiting in line at the checkout, and during potty breaks. You can even read while driving, thanks to audio books. Reading is a good fit for any time that would otherwise be wasted.

In his book On Writing, Stephen King advises, "If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot. There’s no way around these two things that I’m aware of, no shortcut. You cannot hope to sweep someone else away by the force of your writing until it has been done to you. If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that."

If you work full-time, it may be easier to reserve time each day in which to write. Get up early and write before you leave the house, or stop off at a cafe on your way home. Students may have a full day of the week to devote to creative writing. Stay-at-home moms and dads often rely on nap time. Make that time golden, as you would any important appointment. You might disappoint some people, but if you use tact, they'll get over it. In fact, it might give them permission to carve out space for something they really love, too.

If you need some incentive to read, maybe a monthly book club would be just the thing to get you motivated; if you can’t find one you like- start your own and invite all your friends. Whether you’re reading the instructions for putting together the latest gadget, telling your kids a bedtime story or reciting a poem on open mic night, you’re learning something about writing.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

LIVING FREE IN AN UN-FREE WORLD

by Jonathan Dale Ricks

First, it's important to define the word freedom. This word gets thrown around every day in popular media. Commonly, they misuse, abuse, or redefine its meaning. To me, freedom is the ability to express one's own self. In a free state of being, one's abilities increase while personal limitations decrease. Another important part of being free is the way we feel about ourselves given the society and environment we live in.

How can we obtain freedom in a world that is fully corrupted? How can one be free in a fully corrupted nation? In talking about corruption, we speak of people using the system in ways that were not intended, and thereby creating a system that was planned for or expected. The unfortunate fact is that we cannot fully stop others from abusing the system, and most especially in large groups. One solution is to remove yourself from that system, partially or fully. A positive way to remove one's self from the system is to Do It Yourself, abbreviated DIY. There are many ways to DIY.

When most of what we eat all year is from our personal or community garden, we have freed ourselves from a major amount of control the system inflicts upon us. In encouraging people to grow food and not buy it at the grocery store, you are thinking, "I live in an apartment. This advice doesn't apply to me". If you continue to think this, you are right. However, it can apply to you if you find a community garden near your apartment in the city. Gardens are starting up everywhere, and personally I would be surprised if you could not find one within a few block of where you live. If you volunteer to water and weed, plan and plant, you will be able to take some of the harvest home to eat. Alternatively, skip the hard work and simply volunteer to take some excess vegetables home! This is a smaller step, but it contributes to the overall success of gardens everywhere, and the feeling of accomplishment each person working their own garden feels. It feels good to give, and in order for someone to give, another must receive.

For most people, work is essential. Work takes up a large portion of our day each and every day, so it is an important aspect of life to look at when considering freedom. How much satisfaction does doing the work you currently do give you, directly? Many people work for the rewards that work gives indirectly, but forget that work itself is a large portion of their life. If what we are doing with a large portion of our life does not satisfy us, then we will experience a nagging sense of unease, of not accomplishing what we ought, or of not being the person that we want and know we can be. It is vital that we look closely at what we do for work. We should look at how much it satisfies or does not satisfy us.

Technological improvements impact almost every aspect of our lives. It is important that we use technology and not allow it to use us. Cell phones, the Internet, social media, and portable music players have all had a large impact on our lives. Sometimes we allow a music player to create a cocoon around us, where we are mostly unaware of what is going on even in our immediate vicinity. Cell phones can leave us a slave to answering them immediately, regardless of where we are or what we are doing, sometimes ignoring the people who we are personally interacting with! The Internet can be very addictive in its explanation of most things, and social media can take up a large part of our free time, leaving no room for in-person interactions once again. These personal and face-to-face interactions with people build confidence and affect how we view each other. As a result of the technologies we have, and their huge popularity, many people can no longer meaningfully connect in person, and have lost many of the social skills and courage to do so.

Proper Role of Government for Thee, But Not for Me | Libertas Institute Cartoon

Political Cartoon by Libertas Institute.