TIME. NO TIME.

May 23 was the last day of classes at Cerritos College.  I eagerly looked forward to my six weeks of time off so that I could reconnect to my other world, which included family and friends.

I was thrilled to think about being able to catch up on all the bookkeeping that I had to do because I was too busy to get it done during finals week.  NOT!  I was thrilled to think about all the housework I had to do because I was too busy to get it done during finals week.  NOT!  Actually, my family was thrilled about that one.  In reality, I was thrilled about all the creative writing I had not been able to do during the entire semester because I was too busy to get it done.  YES, I was!

Well…Larry the Cable Guy would be sorely disappointed ’cause I did not “Git ‘er done!

My first week, I spent days getting my computer back to a state that I could call “fully functional.”  In mid semester, I had a meltdown after Apple advised me to erase and reinstall the OS.  Oops!  That didn’t work…three times.  Getting everything transferred from external hard drive(s) to my desktop took about four days.  Frankly, I’m not sure I have it all, but I know where to find it if I need it.

I managed to do a bit of gardening in the first weeks.  At least, now, my neighbor doesn’t shake her head sadly as she views my front planters that look like something from a Tim Burton movie – filled with dead or dying plants.  Jack Skellington would be proud, but I was not.

After my son pointed out that, “You have way too many clothes you’re not wearing,” I sorted everything and donated the “unworn” to the consignment store.  It does feel good to unburden oneself of too much stuff.  Oh, my gosh, it was Senior Discount Day!  We went right in and found a few things we really needed.  We got a 30% discount card, too!  Balance was achieved.

Although I did not accomplish my To Do List, there were small victories, indeed.

  • I rescued a road weary Lhasa Opsa who was living under the neighborhood cars.  Dexter is thrilled to be living with Miss Pat and the two monster cats.
  • I researched and purchased a new van.  When the appraiser writes on the bottom of his offer, “Approaching 300,000 miles.  SELL TODAY!” it’s time.  Actually, that van is was a living testimony to Honda having built a better mouse trap!
  • Joe and I purchased office furniture that will insure we are more organized in our small spaces.  That led to sorting of files, which led to dumping of files, which left us with a feeling of accomplishment.

There were a few other small victories along the way, but all-in-all, it has been a good start to mid summer break.

Now, get out of my way because I have a ton of work to do and July 7 is only four weeks away!

 

ACTIVE MINDS – Survive Suicide, Take Back Your Life

Suicide – the number one killer among Baby Boomers and young men age 17-25.  As a Boomer, I grew up being told that we had everything to live for – economic prosperity, advanced technology, medicine that treated illness and prolonged life.  As the parent of a Millennial, I believe my child has even more reason to live.   If everything is so great, why are people choosing to end their lives?

Among Boomer men, the reasons for suicide range from economic devastation to catastrophic illness to loss of a beloved spouse.  Among younger men and women, suicide is prompted by depression, self-esteem issues, and loneliness.  Men and women are both susceptible to suicide, with men four times as likely to attempt suicide and succeed.  The method of choice for men is hanging or firearm.  Women tend to consume pills or use less traumatic methods of demise.  Women attempting suicide are generally crying out for help rather than being intent on taking their lives.

Family and friends left behind are devastated by the loss of their loved one.  Once the initial shock of the loss passes, they are consumed with guilt.  Many spend the rest of their lives trying to make sense of what they believe to be a senseless and selfish act.  They live with guilt for not having “been there” for the victim.  They forever wonder if there was something they could have done or said that would have prevented the suicide.

Active Minds is a national organization with chapters on college campuses.  The organization is run by students for students.   Johnny Estrada, president of Active Minds – Cerritos College, says that many students like him have attempted suicide and failed.  They have come to terms with their past mental state and sought help.  They have decided that speaking about the unspoken, the stigma of suicide, is the best way to dispel the shame associated with mental illness.  These are the survivors.  They want to help others take back their lives!

SUICIDE – You Cannot Come Back

Ask anyone, either they have been personally affected by suicide or know someone who has been affected by suicide. Since 2010, suicide has been the number one cause of death among middle-aged Americans. Over half of the suicides are completed with a firearm. It is estimated for every suicide completed, there are almost  25 attempts – an average of one person dies by suicide every 16.2 minutes. There are also three female suicide attempts for each male attempt. It is suspected that the emotional state of women often leads them to attempt suicide as a cry for attention rather than a true desire to end their life.

Suicide has typically been viewed as a problem of teenagers and the elderly.  However, the surge in suicide rates among Baby Boomers is surprising.  From 1999 to 2010, the suicide rate among Americans age 35 to 64 rose by nearly 30 percent, to 17.6 deaths per 100,000 people.  That was up from 13.7 percent. Although suicide rates are growing among both middle-aged men and women, men are far more likely take their lives. The suicide rate for middle-aged men was 27.3 deaths per 100,000, while for women it was 8.1 deaths per 100,000. (The New York Times)

Family members of suicide victims are left behind feeling hurt, confused, angry, betrayed, and guilty. Most blame themselves for not being able to stop the suicide from taking place. “I just wish I could’ve talk to him one last time,” said Rosanna G. in response to her brother’s suicide by hanging. The families of suicide victims feel they were robbed of their loved one.  Many blame the loved one for being selfish for taking their life and not thinking about how that single, final act will ultimately affect those left behind. “It’s been four years and I still haven’t recovered,” Osiris B. admitted about losing her best friend to suicide.

The signs are usually there, if we really look for them. If any of the behaviors listed below occur, reach out and do all you can to help prevent the person affected from taking their life. Not every who is depressed will take their life, but they do need a helping hand to overcome the stresses of their are under.

Listed below are a few signs to look for according to suicide.org.
• Appearing depressed or sad most of the time.
• Talking or writing about death or suicide.
• Withdrawing from family and friends.
• Feeling hopeless.
• Feeling helpless.
• Feeling strong anger or rage.
• Feeling trapped — like there is no way out of a situation.
• Experiencing dramatic mood changes.
• Abusing drugs or alcohol.
• Exhibiting a change in personality.
• Acting impulsively.
• Losing interest in most activities.
• Experiencing a change in sleeping habits.
• Experiencing a change in eating habits.
• Losing interest in most activities.
• Performing poorly at work or in school.
• Giving away prized possessions.
• Writing a will.
• Feeling excessive guilt or shame.

DO PEOPLE DO THIS AT HOME?

WARNING – GRAPHIC IMAGES!

I admit it – I am a clean freak.  I’m not Felix Unger freakish, but I love clean things, especially clean public restrooms.  What I encountered at a Cerritos College Learning Center restroom was an offense to my senses, and plain old common sense.  I was so physically disgusted that I loudly remarked to anyone within earshot, “Really?  Do people do this at home?!”

I have been at Cerritos College since January and I am impressed with the cleanliness of the entire campus, especially the restrooms.  When I saw two stuffed toilets, Starbucks cups, trash, and toilet tissue on the floor, I was shocked.  However, when I closed the door of the lone, semi clean stall, I knew strangers had been in our house.  The back of the normally clean door was covered with a juvenile missive in bright red ink, complete with graphic.

The amount of spent hand towel paper on the floor usually tends to increase at noon, causing me to wonder why people cannot pick up what they just dropped.  I also wonder what the heck their house looks like.  I have adjusted to this, but when I saw the other, I went looking for a possible source of the interlopers who trashed our territory.

I didn’t have to look far.  Opposite the restroom is the first floor Teleconference Center.  On the glass door was a sign: New Student Orientation – Here.  A young female student helping facilitate the event informed me that there were high school students on campus.  I told her that I suspected they had trashed the restroom and escorted her across the hallway to show her why my knickers were in such a twist.  She was visibly disgusted.  With a grimace on her face and intent in her walk, the young woman stomped down the hallway in search of a facilities person to help restore normalcy to our world.

I walked home that afternoon trusting that someone would give those high school animals a good talking to about respecting the property of others, and behaving like ladies at all times, in all places.  My work there was done.

 

A picture is worth a thousand words so here are a few thousand words more.

 

Cerritos College Learning Resource Center.  April 24, 2014.  Norwalk, Calif.

Cerritos College – Wilton Michael Library. April 24, 2014. Norwalk, Calif.

 

 

Cerritos College - Wilton Michael Library and Learning Resource Center restroom.  April 24, 2014.  Norwalk, Caif.  (Samii Taylor)

Cerritos College – Wilton Michael Library, first floor restroom. April 24, 2014. Norwalk, Calif. (Samii Taylor)

 

Cerritos College - Wilton Michael Library and Learning Resource Center restroom.  Toilets are stuffed with trash, paper and Starbucks cups are discarded on floors.  April 24, 2014.  Norwalk, Caif.  (Samii Taylor)

Cerritos College – Wilton Michael Library, first floor restroom. Toilets are stuffed with trash, paper and Starbucks cups are discarded on floors. April 24, 2014. Norwalk, Calif. (Samii Taylor)

Cerritos College - Wilton Michael Library and Learning Resource Center restroom.  Text has been scratched into wall tiles.  April 24, 2014.  Norwalk, Caif.  (Samii Taylor)

Cerritos College – Wilton Michael Library, first floor restroom. Text has been scratched into wall tiles. April 24, 2014. Norwalk, Calif. (Samii Taylor)

 

Cerritos College - Wilton Michael Library and Learning Resource Center restroom.  Graffiti scrawled onto the back of a stall door with red Sharpie.  April 24, 2014.  Norwalk, Caif.  (Samii Taylor)

Cerritos College – Wilton Michael Library, first floor restroom. Graffiti scrawled onto the back of a stall door with red Sharpie. April 24, 2014. Norwalk, Calif. (Samii Taylor)

Cerritos College - Wilton Michael Library and Learning Resource Center restroom.  The Teleconference Center is opposite first floor restrooms.  April 24, 2014.  Norwalk, Caif.  (Samii Taylor)

Cerritos College – Wilton Michael Library and Learning Resource Center. The Teleconference Center is opposite first floor restrooms. April 24, 2014. Norwalk, Calif. (Samii Taylor)

NEW STUDENT ORIN

Cerritos College – Wilton Michael Library and Learning Resource Center. First floor Teleconference Center hosted New Student Orientation. April 24, 2014. Norwalk, Calif. (Samii Taylor)

 

 

 

 

 

 

BEHIND THE WHEEL Are You Distracted?

April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month.  Students from Cerritos College admitted to driving while texting, eating and searching for the perfect iPod beat.  Not everyone had an accident, but they knew someone who did.  Even Det. Carl Anna from Norwalk Sheriff Department has reached for that pesky cell phone or turned to correct his kids.  Distractions that affect drivers range from riding with Fluffy on their lap to reaching into the back seat to check a pizza receipt.   Angela Hoppe-Nagao provided stats on the emotional aspects of the worst driving distraction – road rage.  Her advice is to not take the mistakes of other drivers so personally.  “You never know what the other person is going through.”

The Kindness of Strangers

I stopped into American Way Thrift Store in Burbank, California, to find out what happens to this type of retailer in a down economy.  Janet Ashe, General Manager, of American Way Thrift Store revealed that they, too, face hard economic times.  Before the economy took a bite out of people’s pocketbooks, American Way would take in as many as five grocery bags of donated items from one person – now, getting one full bag is a bonus.  Pastor Gretchen Bingea of American Lutheran Church said there has been a marked increase in the number families facing hard times that access help at the partner organizations the church supports to help meet the needs of the Burbank community.

 

http://www.talonmarks2.com/multimedia_reporting_sp14/kindness_of_strangers/

Just One Hour At Cerritos College

Dashing madly across campus, Grester and I met some really interesting people. From Super Cerritos Fan Alexis, to Professor William Brown (Business Law), to a couple in the Student Center, we asked hard questions and got some unexpected answers. A couple relaxing in the Student Center talked about the importance of school spirit. Montana (track and field) thought school spirit is important and feels very proud running for Cerritos. On the other hand, Keiyon said school spirit is very difficult to maintain because, “I plan on moving on from here.” Working hard to make the transition to university, he is not forming attachments that make up the bonds of strong school spirit. Keiyon’s response was straight up reality on the rocks.

TAG, YOUR PET IS IT!

http://www.latimes.com/local/la-me-0304-banks-lost-dog-20140304,0,5016220.column#vcomment

The Los Angeles Times article above describes the heartbreak of a family whose pet went missing. The article then attacks a rescue group who saved the lost pet from a local shelter where it would have been killed. A couple of days later, CBS2 News aired the story, perpetuatimg the vilification of rescue organizations.

I have been a street rescuer most of my life. I am personally offended that everyone avoids blaming the pet owner for not tagging the animal.

Below are excerpts from my letter to the Times.

_______________________

Thank you for calling attention to lost pets and the anguish experienced by their owners.  However, the dog in question had no identification – no collar, no tag, no tattoo, no chip.  That is the fault of an irresponsible owner.

I have rescued strays for over 50 years. Less than a half dozen animals had collars. Non-profit groups offer extremely low-cost/no cost chipping. Everyone can afford to ID their pets to help ensure recovery if they escape or are stolen. The old-fashioned collar and tag are better than nothing.

As for the dog being in a shelter across the valley from where the people live, no one has considered how far/fast an animal can go.  When pets are scared or disoriented, they move like the wind and are out of their normal area in no time at all.

Consider the emotional trauma rescuers feel. We imagine the pet we are desperately trying to return to its home is our own.  We love animals – that’s why we do U-turns in traffic, get out of our cars in driving rain and risk our lives to save an animal. Consider the tears we shed when we have no other choice but to place an animal in a shelter… knowing it will be killed if the owner is not found or no one adopts it.  We NEVER forget those little faces.

Every rescuer wants the perfect ending for a pet – being reunited with its family.  The likelihood of that happening is very slim.

Bottom line: If people love their pets and don’t want their children crying, do the right thing – get a permanent ID.

NO MEDAL FOR DOGS

People and dogs are victims of the massive Sochi Olympic gentrification.  Gentrification: renovation of houses/stores in deteriorated urban areas, often displacing low-income families and small businesses.

The Olympic renovation program has a total disregard for the lives it disrupted. Reports indicate Sochi was no Miami Beach before the Olympic $$ nod. Now it sounds even closer to hell. Before Olympic construction, residents had power outages, decaying apartment blocks, no running water, no sewers.  Today, they have all that and sinking homes, stinking air, contaminated water.  All the result of construction dumping.  All in the name of the Olympics.

The stray dogs of Sochi are pets/working dogs abandoned by owners whose homes and farms were leveled for Olympic progress.  People were relocated to apartment complexes – no dogs or only small dogs allowed. Countless dogs are left without the human companionship they knew.

We ignored a South China Morning Post article about the reality behind this Olympic scheme. Is it right to tear down an apartment house outhouse to put in a road?  http://bit.ly/1aMdRCo  The NY Times post poses the question: is it right to murder innocent pets after owners are relocated by the government?  http://nyti.ms/1fVJKHT

If civilized countries truly support the rights of humans & animals, then boycott Olympic games hosted in countries who don’t provide citizens with basic human necessities. The Olympic Committee must amend the charter to prevent countries with poor human rights records from even being considered as hosts.

Beijing and Sochi are now shining examples of what happens to “the little people” when the Games come to town.  Stop trading human dignity for dollars!