Sunday, February 12, 2012

UPDATE - May 6, 2011

Bill Gates organized an enormous session to recruit a new chairman for Microsoft Europe. Five thousand candidates assembled in a large room. One candidate is Ayodele, a Nigerian guy.

Bill Gates thanked all the candidates for coming and asked those who do not know Java program to leave. Two thousands candidates left the room. Ayodele says to himself, “I do not know Java but I have nothing to lose if I stay. I’ll give it a try.

Bill Gates asked the candidates who never had experience of managing more than 100 people to leave. Two thousand left the room. Aye says to himself “I never managed anybody but myself but I have nothing to lose if I stay. What can happen to me? So he stays, then Bill Gates asked the candidates who do not have management diploma to leave. Five hundred people left the room. Ayodele says to himself, “I left school at 15 but what have I to lose? So he stays in the room.

Lastly, Bill asked the candidates who do not speak Serb-Croatian to leave. 498 candidates left the room. Ayodele says to himself, “I do not speak Serb-Croatian but what do I have to lose? So he stays and finds himself with one other candidate. Everyone else has gone. Bill Gates joined them and said, “Apparently you are the only two candidates who speak Serb-Croatian, so I’d like to hear you have a conversation together in that language.

Calmly, Ayodele turns to the other candidate and says “Wahala dey o!”.
The other candidate answers “O ga na wa o!”

Bill Gates “ You are both hired”.

Don’t you just love Nigerians. Any day, anytime, anywhere, they never give up.

So don’t give up, u will lose nothing by trying more.

Here are some situations that I’ve been in, and I was just wondering what would you do?

1. You’re sharing a bathroom (washroom) with 2 other people, and one of them likes to place her toothbrush precariously over the ledge. You’re doing your morning routine of brushing-washing-flushing calisthenics and you accidentally knock a roommate’s toothbrush into the empty trashcan (bin) or toilet (no waste products)? What do you do?

2. You are on a train (subway) with a friend, and the train is slowing down to a stop. When the train doors open, your friend exits the train. Just before they close, he says in a loud voice, waving, “Hey don’t worry about those rape charges. I’m sure you’ll beat them!” Schoom. The doors close. What do you do? (people are looking at you, some inching away)

3. You are taking a brisk walk to a destination for a meeting and you pass a handicapped person in a wheelchair who cannot navigate the path over which he wants to go. So he’s calling out for help. When he sees you he calls out “Hey, help! Help! Can you push me across the street to the station! Help! Help! Please! Help. . .” You stop to help him and begin to push and he begins to say unsavory comments. “You couldn’t push a piece of paper to save your life. You ***. My grandma could push better than you! What kind of *** help is this, &&*@! Are you serious?” He says these things the whole while you are pushing. What do you do?

4. You’re teaching a class full of high school kids from low-income communities. You’ve given each child a white board with a marker to answer a question. You’ve just asked a question and given time for them to answer. Now you ask them to raise up their boards to provide you with a quick sense of their broad group understanding of the concept. All students have answers down, even if it’s a guess, except for one student. This student (of the opposite gender) “accidentally” wrote down “[Your name] is cute.” You ignore it and move on. You ask a new question to be answered in groups. As you finish writing this on the board and turn around to face the students, the same student says “[Your name] has a cute butt. . . Oh wait. Did I say that out loud? I didn’t mean to.” What do you do?

I’m taking some time off in a place called Virginia Beach, and boy do I love it! Rest is really important to me, or, at least, it’s very helpful to me. I enjoy it each day, a larger portion each week, and a larger portion each month. I also love the ocean as it has always provided me with many calming metaphors about life from an early age.

Last weekend I participated in a national competition called the 48-hour Film Festival. It started in D.C. but occurs in various cities throughout the U.S. You form a team of producers, writers, actors, camera people, sound people, editors, etc. You pay an entrance fee, and you get ready to rumble! You show up Friday night to receive your assignment—1) a character (very vague, we received a name and an occupation) 2) a prop you must use 3) a line that must be said in the film and 4) a genre. My team had to make a coming-of-age film with a Riley Thomas, a teacher. Our film had to use a pencil and employ the line “I’m taking it one day at a time.”

The films are usually 7 minutes long including credits, but they can be shorter. Our plan was to do the writing Friday night, shoot the film on Saturday when the actors arrive, and edit the film all day Sunday. We didn’t finish all the shooting Saturday and had to shoot some Sunday morning finishing around noon, but we started editing Saturday afternoon as well. We finished in time and handed it in Sunday night.

All this week we premiered the film entries at an AFI theatre in Silver Spring. Ours premiered Tuesday, and we enjoyed it!! It was not the best technical film, to be honest. But, according to one of the producers, out of all the entries he had seen so far, ours was the one that had the most connective story or had a “compelling” story. It was also funny, too. We had one point in the movie where we made a hugely dramatic shift in the music emphasizing a point of departure for the main character. It was over the top (like the music/sound change at the end of a 30-minute sitcom that’s teaching a lesson) but its obviousness might make it work. We really enjoyed it. The winners will be announced later in May sometime.

This week I also had two especially busy days, Tuesday and Wednesday because those nights I had 4 events each. I don’t try to go to multiple events, usually. When it’s important I will try to do so. On those two nights, I went to 2 events each. I want to mention them because some of them were quite special. Tuesday, I had a musical rehearsal for an Episcopal wedding later this month and the premiere of my 48-hour film; I skipped both. I did co-organize and attend a meeting on “Volunteer Technologies and GIS Crowdsourcing for Humanitarian Aid” sponsored by two groups, my Security & Development group and a Geospatial/Earth Observations group. That was a lot of fun. I’m sorry I left early. Then I headed to my male a capella group. With all the drama we’ve had lately and different men leaving, I was really happy to say we’ve auditioned and accepted 2 more new guys, so we are now 7. And this was our first rehearsal with the new 7 to try to prepare again for an early summer (late spring concert).

On Wednesday, I was judging an Environmentors Science Fair (a science fair for high school students, grades 10-12, who are in a mentoring program where the mentors mentor the students socially and also in preparation for an environmentally-focused science fair). They offer college scholarships to the top three, and those three go on to compete nationally. The keynote speaker dropped out the day before. So they asked if I would speak. I told them I would help out since I’m a hole-filler, but if they wanted someone else, go for it. It ended up being me. They told me what they wanted me to mention in the address about 2 hours before. It worked out well, though. I really love mentoring programs (I’m a mentor in this program).

I skipped an awards ceremony for some of my teachers (I teach teachers getting master’s in education at George Washington University) who were finishing the program because of the Environmentors Fair and Awards Ceremony. But I’m really so happy for them and really admire those who finished the program. It’s really very difficult to do the work they did while still teaching full time! We’re all proud. I skipped my Emerging Christianity book club that night, as well. After the Environmentors Awards Ceremony I ran home to spend time with a group of men who were getting together at my house (my other events were booked before they asked to meet at my house). In fact, it’s that group of men with whom I’m in Virginia Beach now.

I’ve had a few thoughts over the week and weeks. Writing updates is tough. One reason is that I always deal with the simultaneously wonderful and horrible tasks of responses (similar to an artist dealing with reviews, but more personal). Updates create a situation in which there is an imbalance of information—you get to know way more about me, my weaknesses and foibles, successes and failures, fears and dreams, hopes and baggage, than I would ever know about you. And people use it to their advantage; though most don’t since most delete it. Ha ha! So people will act with the knowledge found herein; though, they may not reveal any more about themselves. It’s strange, but I don’t mind it (maybe I do if I’m mentioning it or maybe I’m mentioning it because it was a thought when I wrote this). It also creates an image of you in the heads of others. The focus in an update may not really be the focus in your life, but readers don’t know that; the update is often intellectual or reflective. It may not always represent the full focus of my actions, living, and being. Sometimes that is missed. So if I reveal that something haunts me, the interpretation of the haunting (whether it’s continuous, recurring, intermittent, every once in a long while, or momentary) is left to the reader.

One of the thoughts I’ve had the past week and weeks is about being a husband. I’ve failed at that before, so when I was watching an episode of House that dealt with this, it touched me. In the episode, an ex-wife was consoling her ex-husband who was beat up by the ex-wife’s brother because the ex-husband alerted a mother that her son might have a particular disease, a potential which the brother (a lawyer for a company that did not want to pay to treat with the disease) was trying to hide. So the ex-wife came to console the ex-husband who had a broken nose. He was admittedly surprised she stopped by since she didn’t think he was that great. She said to him “You’re a horrible husband, but you’re a good man.” Now I’ve felt exactly like that. What I find interesting is the sentiment. I think it’s interesting that, for a married man, being a good husband isn’t wrapped up into being a good man. I wonder if there aren’t certain things that make you a bad husband that also disqualify you from the title of an excellent man. I do also practice redemption. I practice not only forgiveness, but restoration.

My friend Deidra is a very beautifully fragile and tough, strong and weak person. Yes, she’s intelligent and physically beautiful and sharp and quick, but the paradoxical nature of her persona is more interesting; there’s beauty in that tension. She thinks more highly of me than she should. She said a comment to me the other day, “You are a gift to the world, you are a so special, and you will do so much. Now if you could only get your act together and commence with saving the world. . .”

I guess you might imagine why it strikes me funnily. I think it’s like my friend Alys said recently. “I’m tired of saving the world; I’m just going to live a simple life and be a light to my family and all those around me. I’ll start a farm in the country and live off the land.” I’ve found that often the people at the highest levels of organizations and government, though the most visible, are often the least impacting. It’s the people on the ground, doing the work, blazing the trail, moving society (at the level of neighborhoods)—it’s these people that seem to have the biggest impact. And so my friend Deidra’s comment reminds me that there are millions of shakers who will never make the news, never win a Nobel Prize for peace or a presidential medal of honor, never be recognized by officials; but they make lasting change. I like that. I wish we had time enough to publicly honor and recognize them, but many of them, being the people of character that they are, are fine without the credit or recognition. Still, when shows like Extreme Home Makeover honor families and people – it makes my heart spin. To modify Stevie Wonder’s words, I love it, I love it, I love it. So just because you don’t hear about major happenings from people or they are not famously known for their work, remember that good work still goes on (read the section below on MLK). It’s really hard to save the world. But (while still keeping my eye on that prize) I can save a friend, a sister, a colleague, a co-worker, a plant, a river, a class of students, a community. In fact I invite you to join in the work. We’re facing an equity crisis (we have an ever increasing gap between the richest and the poorest people on this earth), an environmental crisis (due to the effect of our actions [controversial] our earth is changing at a pace faster than ever as regards to biodiversity, water scarcity/security, global climate, etc.), and a security crisis (related to the equity crisis, the widening gap between the those who have and those who have not plunges us into deeper and deeper cycles of unending and reviving violence). We need a lot of help.

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