Charity Publicity via Reddit

Heifer, the non-profit that helps poor by providing training, and animals around the globe, just received a big publicity boon from none other than billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates.

He participated in Reddit’s Secret Santa gift giving and made one Reddit user very happy. It also was a great marketing promotion for Heifer!

Read the story here:

Bill Gates Shares The Holiday Spirit With One Very Surprised Reddit User – Forbes.

Searching for Meaning in Life

The human race is continually searching, searching for the one thing which has eluded generations, but only because they are looking in all the wrong places.  It is as if they were to go to a grocery store knowing that they came for something but not remembering what it is.  With eyes drifting across the shelf, they glance at the top and at the bottom just in case that one item was tucked away in some recess.  Walking through the aisles their cart is filled with all sorts of products, but not one seems to be that for which they came.  Upon arriving home they unload their newly acquired goods and enjoy them for a while, but they eventually realize that that one product is still missing.

In John Updike’s Pigeon Feathers, young David is confronted with opposition to his faith in God.   Continue reading

DiGiorno Pizza Newsjacked the “Sound of Music”

I found another great example of newsjacking. DiGiorno Pizza got attention during the NBC’s Live Sound of Music Broadcast when they tweeted a series of messages drawing attention to how pizza should have been or “must” have been included in this production. This is classic and hilarious newsjacking!

DiGiorno Pizza live tweets ‘Sound of Music Live!’ Hilarity ensues

Here are some other examples  of newsjacking to get your mind going!

 

Photography Projects that show a worldview of life

Where Children Sleep is a project by photographer James Mollison that shows children from around the world and where they sleep at night. See some of the images here.

While I’m not particularly fond of the stark white “studio” shots of the kids themselves, I like what Mollison did with showing how people live through this collection of images. Nice idea!

A similar book that I’m reminded of by Where Children Sleep is Material World: A Global Family Portrait by Menzel, et. al.

Three differences in the way men and women communicate

Men and women may be from the same species when it comes to biology, but when dealing with communication they have differences that some even consider to be out of this world.  Books like Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus by John Gray (1992) and That’s Not What I Meant! by Deborah Tannen (1992) have brought issues of gender communication and the importance of understanding such communication styles and techniques to the forefront of American society in recent years.

Three of those styles that are typical differences between American males and females will be discussed in this document.  These three are: conversational style, pronunciation, and independence versus interdependence in storytelling techniques. Continue reading

Hiking the Volcano Santa Maria

The eastern view from atop Santa Maria.

The eastern view from atop Santa Maria.                © MICHAEL SHEAD

The Volcano Santa Maria; been there, done that…and it was tough!

Ever since I heard about the moonlight hikes of the volcano Santa Maria, I thought that it sounded like a blast!

Hiking through the moonlit darkness into the dawn and then seeing sunrise from the towering peak and viewing up to 11 other volcanic peaks including looking down onto the live crater of Santiaguito, sounded like a great adventure for this Kansas farm boy.

So, here’s the story of my volcanic hiking adventure…

The Mountain

  • Name: Santa Maria
  • Height: 12,375 ft (3772 mts)
  • Type:Volcanic
  • Comparison: Mt. Fuji in Japan is about 10 feet taller
  • Trail rating: Strenuous
  • Trail distance: Approx. 6.21 miles (10 km)
  • Elevation increase from trailhead: Approx. 4,173 feet
IMG_0644

The hikers

I had been dreaming of doing this hike for two years so when I found out that some friends were interested I planned it for Nov. 15th, 2013 (technically a few days before the full moon but it worked better for our schedules). There were five friends from ASELSI and three guys visiting town from Michigan plus our friend Kevin, from Totonicapan, our guide, Hansy, two friends of his and two police officers for safety. (Apparently there have been some thieves prowling the trails and they recommend armed escorts to prevent attacks.)

In Quetzaltenango, we met up with Hansy near the stadium and his friend wowed us with a  story of Hansy’s record ascent of the mountain (an incredible 45 minutes). Then we drove over to the central park where a van pulled up at about 12:30 a.m., and we headed out to the Santa Maria Summit Trail trailhead which ended up being quite a long ways from the foot of the mountain but, unless you’re on dirt bikes, that’s as close as you can get in a van. Continue reading

Review: The Cherry Orchard by Chekhov

1/22/99

The play The Cherry Orchard was written in the last year of the life of its author Anton Pavlov Chekhov and was first performed the same year in the Moscow Art Theater in 1904 as a tragedy despite the fact that Chekhov insisted it was a comedy rather than a tragedy as the director portrayed it.

According to The Reader’s Companion to World Literature by Hornstein, Percy, and Brown (1984); Chekhov was a pre-revolutionary Russian writer who at least fairly accurately reflected the Russian society of his day.  With his family heritage and experiences as a physician, Chekhov was able to look at Russian society from the point of view of the poor as well as the rich.  RCWL describes the Russia of Chekhov’s day as including the suffering of the poor and the rich who live in boredom.

In his writings, Chekhov takes a realistic although sometimes surreal view of his subjects.

I once saw the Oral Roberts University’s production of Chekhov’s play The Seagull which seemed to have a tragic surreal air about the characters.  His play The Cherry Orchard is a good example of realism since it appears to show a slice of society not as Chekhov wants it to be but as it is.  Chekhov presents his audience with the common, the mundane, and the seemingly unimportant as it would be in everyday life.  Chekhov once wrote about life, “It is very monotonous and boring; one day is very much like another.” (RCWL, p.105).  In his writings this outlook on life is definitely apparent.

The characters in The Cherry Orchard are upper class but bored people who have just arrived home from a journey and are now discussing old friends, how tired they are, debt problems, and a myriad of other topics.  I find it ironic how devoted the servant girl is yet the aristocrats seem not to care.  The plot, if you can call it that, peaks at the suggestion that the family owned cherry orchard be cut down and leased to builders to get them out of debt.  While this would solve their debt problems the family is much more devote to the traditions of what the cherry orchard represents and how historical it is as a local attraction.  In contrast the problem-solving merchant who proposed its demise cares nothing for traditions.  I suppose this was an idea from that time period or Russian culture, but I do find it amazing that they would talk of marrying off one of the daughters to a rich man as a more viable means of relief from debt even more than selling a parcel of land.

I like the sense of tradition as held by the landowners.  This sense of something which outlasts themselves and should be held as it is despite their financial problems.  I felt The Cherry Orchard somewhat ironically displays the problems with selfish aristocratic living including arranged marriages because of money, apathy about the devotion of servants, and self-centered attitudes. Even now I think reading Chekhov’s slice-of-life style help people today to understand an era when people have lost this sense of dedication and seek after “their own thing”.  After all anyone can learn from the way people were if they are willing to consider the past and do something different in their own lives.

Complex Simplicity

10 March, 2000

Humanity is searching for simplicity in the midst of this life so full of complexity.  In Henry David Thoreau’s “Where I Lived and What I Lived For” and Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s “The Channelled Whelk” the reader is exposed to two authors’ desire for simplicity and how they seek this.  Although from different centuries, both authors have found similar sensations in nature to be calming and draw feelings of simplicity from it.  One attempts to absorb the basis of life by changing surroundings and absorbing the simple things of this world.  The other recognizes the way nature reminds humanity that the life within can retain lessons in simplicity and grace of the mind, heart, and environment. Continue reading

Unanimus Pro Eo Unus Lingua (Of One Mind Because One Language)

24 April, 2000

Measure the value of a common language–this ability to communicate–and you will measure the value of a thread to a tapestry.  Common language is a thread running through the magnificent tapestry of American society.  It holds together the diversity of families and cultures in a common picture: diverse, colorful, yet unified and complimentary.  Without the thread of common language, the tapestry that once portrayed a unified community will split and fall leaving one section here, another portion there, and yet another piece to be untangled by the house cat on its morning patrol of the Great Hall.

In the United States, English is by far the most widely used language, and, for hundreds of years, it has been the common bond that connects immigrants of all descent and grants them the title they have cherished so dearly–“American”.  They value this title because it is a title that does not call for them to forsake all culture of their past but to gain a new culture and build one nation that spans the continent and not split it into sixty nations the size of Georgia.  This unification is being weakened by the influx of non-English-speaking immigrants who no longer take measures or retain the desire to become American in language.  Some of them are content to settle in areas where their native tongue is spoken not only in the homes but in the entire community allowing English to become an unnecessary luxury.  This is perhaps convenient in their mind because they do not have to learn a new language, but it contributes to the division of this nation of immigrants.  In 1983, Senator Walter Huddleston noted that open acceptance of English has allowed citizens and  immigrants “to discuss our differences, to argue about our problems, and to compromise on solutions” while developing  “a stable and cohesive society” (114).  Many immigrants come to the United States to work and to build better lives for themselves.  It must be realized that quality of life does not come from living at a certain location nor from working a certain job.  One aspect of a quality life is unity with other human beings.  Unity occurs when people not only work together but find ways to communicate with each other about their feelings, their plans, and their dreams. Continue reading