Thursday, June 28, 2007

Grammar in the morning

I was just reading about grammatical aspects on Wikipedia. Talk about your unadultered web surfing. Thought I'd share.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Seattleites! Vote Pongo's Richard Gold for poët populist

Email from Richard:

Dear Friends,

How are you? Pongo is doing very well… As most of you know, the Pongo Teen Writing Project is a 12-year-old nonprofit that establishes therapeutic creative writing projects for youth inside homeless shelters, juvenile detention, psychiatric hospitals, and other sites in the Seattle area. Most of our writers have suffered childhood abuse and neglect, and our poetry program allows them to express themselves in a healing and constructive way. Pongo's web site is . I've enclosed some teen poetry and some more information about Pongo at the end of this message.

The latest news is this... One of Pongo’s board members has nominated me to be Seattle Poet Populist, a one-year position to advocate for art and democracy in the city. This is an exciting opportunity for me, which I explain below, and I’m writing to ask you to do two things:

1) Would you participate in the online voting and vote for me, Richard Gold. The web site is . (The Rules: You must be a Seattle resident, and you can only vote once. Voting ends August 15th.)

2) Would you take a few minutes to contact your Seattle friends and ask them to participate and vote for me. Would you ask them to ask THEIR friends to participate, as well. This email stream is my only effort to solicit votes.

I'm excited to run for Seattle Poet Populist because I want to share the poetry and lives of my Pongo Teen Writing Project authors, so that people better understand both their struggles and their strengths.

This message about the Pongo authors is multi-faceted. First, I want to share the stories of what these young people endure. They consistently write about early childhood trauma, such as abuse and neglect. The circumstances are often torturous – for example, one girl wrote about watching her mom die from a drug overdose, and about being told by her mom not to call for help. And you can also see, through the teens’ poetry, how childhood loss is connected to self-destructive behavior – such as teens’ addiction to drugs and the diversions of street life as a way of dealing with their pain.

But, second, I want to speak about resilience and the power of poetry to heal. The Pongo authors may write about traumatic events, and even cry while they write; but they learn something in the process, they feel proud (and joyful!) to express themselves creatively, they are excited to share their experience and help others, and they learn how writing can help them cope and grow.

In the last year, Pongo conducted surveys of 99 of its teen authors. Among the results – 100% of participants enjoyed the writing experience, 99% felt proud of their writing, 68% wrote about things that they had never talked about before, 73% learned something about themselves, 81% felt better because of their writing, and 91% said they would write in the future when life is difficult.

Finally, if I am Seattle Poet Populist, I’d like to explain this… Sometimes even caring people believe that teens who’ve had difficult childhoods are destined to become victims and victimizing adults, to perpetuate the cycle of abuse. But studies of resilience show that MOST people who are exposed to risk do fine, even if they sometimes struggle for a while as children and teens. In fact, people who are exposed to difficult childhoods often learn and grow from their experience, to become some of our most independent-thinking, principled, and caring citizens.

I've enclosed some teen poetry and more specific information on Pongo, below. Anyone who receives this message and wants to be on the Pongo email list (or off the Pongo list), can write to me at .

Cheers and Best Wishes!

Richard Gold

Founder and Executive Director

Pongo Teen Writing Project

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Our long national nightmare is over

I have been offline since Memorial Day, since I moved out of my last apartment. A friend offered to sit in my apartment all day Friday waiting for Verizon and flexing her technical troubleshooting muscles, and as of 1:20 PM yesterday I had a wireless network at home, winning me $1 from the bar across the street, which gambled they could resolve their Verizon wireless troubles sooner.

Woo Hoo! It feels good to win. And to be back on the net. Lord knows how you people have gotten by.

I'm trying to register my account with Verizon. As you may be aware, Verizon's core marketing principle is 'suck at everything that's not network quality, so customers don't feel we're misspending our efforts." Although I still give Verizon Wireless props for not selling cellphone records, that's really the joint venture.

So, these are just reflections from the first page of the account registration page. They have the 'secret word' security device, that communicates to the user that they don't give a crap about passwords either. When left alone with friends' computers, I've often cracked their passwords by typing in boyfriend's names, pet's names, children's birth dates and what not; the secret question security hole really lets everyone do this.

But, the secret question is common enough. Verizon's spin is to make the questions themselves, in database terminology, indeterminate.

If you forget your password after a year, are you going to want to visit the same country? I think my first job was selling Burpee seeds door to door, but it could have been Stuart MacGuire shoes -- in any case, delivering newspapers was not only more lucrative, but I had a far more formal relationship with the Stamford Advocate. However, I wasn't strictly anybody's employee until I worked for Mr. Sports at the Springdale Shopping Center. But, if we're talking professional jobs, here, should I put in my contracting firm, or the place that I worked? Progressive Networks is now RealNetworks. If they were my first employer, which name should I use? Whatever decision I make now, am I going to answer that question the same later?

How am I supposed to choose favorites among my friends and pets? Should I be encouraging competition for my favor among these populations?

So, that brings us to High School mascot. I only attended one high school, although only for two years, so that has the least ambiguity. My high school mascot was a blue wave, which makes cool logos, but is a little hard to cheer for. I could never understand what I was supposed to call each team member. A packet? Unfortunately, 'Blue Wave' has a space in the middle of it

So, it goes on, with another of my favorite registration page foibles, the incremental password rules. First, I type in a weak password.

Fair enough. Who knows what mischief people might get into with my Verizon account? Spuriously paying my bill and reviewing my network service. No, thank you! So, I gamely type in a longer password.