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    31st March 2012

    Why living in Los Angeles is funny sometimes…

    Well it’s 9:20 in the morning and USC is hosting the Kid’s Choice Awards tonight, so I’m out here with my “I LOVE YOU TAYLOR LAUTNER” sign on the corner of Jefferson and Figueroa… but some girl already brought the same sign. DON’T STEAL MY TAY TAY.

    But really, the girl was there as I was driving by. I honked and waved. The crowd waved back. It’s 55 and drizzling a little on and off right now. Taylor Lautner, take note: That is devotion. There was another sign that said “I love you Josh” and one more that said “I love you Kevin”. I have no idea who those might refer to, which means I am so out of touch with the youth. Time to catch up on my preteen gossip.

    23rd March 2012

    Swim With Mike Poker Fundraiser: Sunday, March 25

    My friend Colin, who also lives in my building and is a Swim With Mike Recipient, is hosting a Poker tournament this Sunday starting at 2pm. If you are in the Los Angeles area, this will be a fun time. Don’t think of it as gambling $25 or $30, but as donating that money and then having fun for a few hours with some great people.

    Oh, and there are cool prizes – autographed memorabilia from the USC football team!

    If you want more details, contact me (darylholmlund [at] gmail [dot] com). I would love to have you come play or just come and hang out.

    Here is the information that Colin sent out:

    On March 25, I will be hosting a fundraiser poker tournament for Swim with Mike, a scholarship organization based out of USC which provides scholarships for former student-athletes who now have disabilities. We will have prizes for the top poker stars! All proceeds will go to Swim with Mike.

    The details are as follows:
    March 25
    2 PM-whenever we finish
    $25 by March 18/$30 at the door
    *dinner will be provided*

    If anyone knows someone who would like to donate food, prizes, or cash, please let me know as soon as possible. I would like to have everything sorted out ahead of time. Please plan on signing up and getting me the fee for the event by March 18 so that we are able to know how much food to purchase and can plan accordingly. Invite anyone else who may be interested as well! The more the merrier!

    If you are planning to mail your event fee, please send it to: 2390 Portland St. #102, Los Angeles, CA 90007

    Come support myself and an excellent organization! I will leave you with some great poker quotes for encouragement, because we all know that those of us in sip and puff wheelchairs are the best poker players this side of the Mississippi!

    “If, after the first twenty minutes, you don’t know who the sucker at the table is, it’s you.”
    “It’s not enough to succeed. Others must fail.” (Gore Vidal)
    “Gambling: The sure way of getting nothing from something.” (Wilson Mizner)
    “Your best chance to get a Royal Flush in a casino is in the bathroom”.

    Cheers,
    — Colin

    Oh, and PS, I’m incredibly stoked because I just finished the Performance Assessment for California Teachers (PACT) that I’ve been working on. Now on to finishing some other projects before school starts up again!

    17th March 2012

    …sociocultural…academic language…improved vocabulary…constructivism…scaffolding…PACT

    For those of you who are interested – and you shouldn’t be, this is an incredibly boring piece of life for me – I’ve been working on the PACT – Performance Assessment for California Teachers. Want to know more? No of course you don’t. Unless you are working on the PACT yourself. In which case, good luck, it’s not that bad, it really isn’t an endless string of questions that forces you to talk about the same thing over and over in slightly different ways. And you’ll be done in no time, I mean, look at me, I’ve been working for a few days and I only have infinity questions to go.

    Happy St. Patrick’s Day, by the way. I think “Snakes on a Plane 2” if they ever make it (and they shouldn’t) should take off from Ireland instead of Hawaii – two islands without native snakes.

    12th March 2012

    Elevator access…

    Living in a big city with a lot of history and older buildings, and going to a school with a lot of history and older buildings is a little bit different than living on the Front Range of Colorado. Most public buildings, restaurants, and schools in the Loveland-Fort Collins area were built relatively recently and generally have accessible entrances and sensible planned elevator placements.

    This is not the case in Los Angeles or at USC. I don’t necessarily want to deface historic buildings with cool architecture, and there would be prohibitive costs to updating other buildings in ways that made the building more universally accessible. However, sometimes there are some things that could be done differently that would make things easier for people with access issues. I’m planning on writing a few posts about these in the near future, but I’ll start with one that is more or less already written for me.

    The Lyon Center is USC’s recreation center/gym for students. It was built in the 1989 next to the McDonald’s Olympic Swim Stadium. The pool is incredible and I have loved swimming in both the 50 meter competition pool and the 25 yard diving pool. However, the Lyon Center itself has a few access issues. For one thing, entering the center on the main floor, there is a single width turnstyle for entering and then several doors for exiting users that are kept locked on the outside. So for a wheelchair user to enter the first floor, either a person from the desk has to go around and open the door or if a user is exiting at that moment, he or she can hold the door. That’s not so bad.

    To get to the second floor there is an elevator. However, the elevator is outside of the official entrance, in the lobby area. This summer, when I would go to the Lyon Center, the elevator would always be locked and I would have to ask someone from the desk to unlock it if I wanted to use to machines and weights upstairs. This might not seem like a big deal, but sometimes people at the desk were busy or were unable to locate the elevator key right away. And besides that, I was frustrated that I was the only user that I ever saw having to ask to use the upstairs of the facility. I talked to some of the people working at the desk one night. They explained it was policy and I tried to reason with them that the policy was not right and just – and I got a bit heated up and realized there wasn’t anything the front desk workers could do so I left a note for their supervisor with my email.

    I’m publishing the following email exchange not as a way to tarnish or damage anyone’s reputation, but for the sake of learning from one another. I understand and respect the position of the people I interacted with concerning this situation, but I think it is interesting because it shows the lack of understanding and awareness for the general public when it comes to accessibility issues. It also gives part of my position in regards to access and why equal and independently achieved access is so important.

    Here is the email I received after leaving the note:

    Hi Daryl,

    I received a note from one of my staff members about the elevator access. We have to lock the elevator in the up position during business hours because it allows direct access to our second floor. Hence we have no way to control who uses the elevator to gain access to the facility. That is why we lock the elevator unless we have a member who needs to utilize it. I hope this helps answer your question and apologize for the inconvenience. If you ever need access, just let one of our staff members know and they’d be happy to help you. Thank you.

    Brendan Gail
    Assistant Director, Recreational Sports

    My (delayed) response to this email:

    Brendan,

    I’m surprised I never replied to this message when I received it a few months back. I appreciate the information about elevator access at the Lyon Center – however, I have to respectfully question whether there isn’t a better solution to this issue. I was actually quite surprised, as a new graduate student at USC, to find this situation with the elevator in the recreation center, especially since USC is the host institution for the Swim With Mike program and has had so many SWM recipients. I’m not saying that this is an egregious piece of discrimination, but it is a blatant inequality. Only students who require elevator use have to ask to go to the second floor – and then wait while a staff member finds the elevator key. Since you have never been in this situation, you might not realize that access issues confront wheelchair users everywhere they go, creating a feeling of second-class citizenship. Certainly an institution like USC would want to be on the front lines creating
    an equal-access environment for as many students as possible. A tenet of education in America today is that “separate is not equal,” and it doesn’t seem as though I should have to ask to go upstairs at the Lyon Center when no other student would ever have to do the same.

    If the situation doesn’t change I will still continue to use the Lyon Center – think of this message as a suggestion of something to look into that could improve the experience of a small group of students. I’m not sure what a good solution would be to this problem, but one idea would be to issue elevator passes to students or other Lyon Center users who require elevator access and request them.

    I also have one other suggestion for the Lyon Center. It could be beneficial to the student population as a whole have one or two pieces of cardio equipment that could be utilized by non-ambulatory students, such as an upper body ergometer or stationary handcycle. These could benefit not only students who are not able to use the other cardio machines such as treadmills or ellipticals, but also other students who are rehabbing from injury or who want to do a cross-training workout.

    Thank you for your consideration,

    Daryl Holmlund

    The response that I got back, after my email apparently made its way to a different level of management:

    Daryl,

    First of all, I want you to know that the reason we keep the elevator in the locked position is for “safety”. As Brendan has mentioned to you in his email, we have had some unfortunate situations with non USC students gaining access to the facilities through the facilities. Having said that, you have made a very valid point. Our intent is never to make anyone unwelcome or have the feeling of inequality.

    Moving forward, my suggestion is for anyone who needs the use of the elevator to check out the key with his/her ID from our Membership and/or Facilities staff. I will work with the Facilities Management Services staff to see the possibilities of installing a card swipe system for the elevator.
    Please let me know if you have any other suggestions and we will work together to resolve it.
    Thank you.

    Arvin Varma
    Project Administrator Youth Programs
    Associate Director
    USC Recreational Sports

    I would like to say that I have seen the new cardio equipment that was ordered, but I haven’t. And I would love to say that a card swipe had been installed for the elevator. It hasn’t.

    But, on the other hand, the elevator hasn’t ever been locked anytime I’ve been to the Lyon Center during this school year. I’m not sure if giving up security for accessibility is a 100% win, but perhaps they realized that the security issue was easily taken care of by having attentive desk workers, while the accessibility issue was also easily resolved (for me, at least) by leaving the elevator unlocked. I know there are several other wheelchair users who occasionally use the Lyon Center, but more importantly, it will hopefully mean better access for the students who will be coming in the future.

    A little addendum to my last post…

    I’d like to say that 1) wow, the internet blew up with IC’s Kony 2012 campaign; and 2) whatever the tone of my previous post, I hope it’s understood that I am very happy that IC and Kony are getting this much attention.

    My friend Seth commented on my last post and finished with some insight that should not be overlooked: “But we all have to start somewhere with something specific, and do what we can.”

    When there is a flood coming down the canyon, it is easy to freeze up and forget that there are still steps you can take in the place you are right now. (First, start hiking uphill as fast as you can; second, keep moving uphill; third, pull as many people out of the water as you can /// An alternative: if you have a raft, carry it uphill as fast as you can; when the water comes, get ready to shred the gnar; also pull people out of the water if you can).

    Seth’s comment also reminded me of a message I have heard a few times from Gary Haugen, the president of International Justice Mission: Jesus asked only for what the boy had in his lunch pail that one day – and then used it to feed 5000. We don’t have to supply the miracle, only what we have. And that means starting somewhere specific.

    7th March 2012

    So many causes, so little time…

    I just watched the Invisible Children “Kony 2012” video. It is very moving. It is motivational. And you should watch it when you have a chance (it’s 30 wonderfully produced but heart-rending minutes). I’ll even save you the time of looking it up by embedding it here.

    KONY 2012 from INVISIBLE CHILDREN on Vimeo.

    I agree with Invisible Children that Joseph Kony is a criminal who needs to be taken down, and as quickly as possible. But I also agree with some of the criticism of Invisible Children, such as that catalogued in this article from the Washington Post. Taking down the Lord’s Resistance Army is a win, but “critics say it has strengthened the hand of the Ugandan president, whose security forces have a human rights abuse record of their own” (Elizabeth Flock, Washington Post).

    Also from the article is a critique from a blog essentially decrying the oversimplification of the problem. After reading that blog and the blog’s sources, I think that a lot of the complaint has to do with a hopeless feeling that even if something good happens it won’t solve ALL the problems. But it would solve one problem, and that is the start to solving all of them. Nevertheless, I believe the claim of oversimplification is a very serious one.

    When organizations oversimplify the issues that they are working on, it gives the sense that if we just get this one thing fixed it will all be ok. As consumers of the advertisements/news articles/documentaries that give this impression, we now are only on the hook to solve that one problem and don’t really have to get deeply involved. It also doesn’t cause us to examine the ways that our own lifestyles might be contributing to injustice around the world. In the United States, I enjoy an incredibly high standard of living. Who makes that standard of living possible? I believe it is possible for everyone to be winners, but in a capitalist economy, for everyone to win, it would require those who have the most to also give the most to those who have the least.

    Right now I have a lot in terms of education and ability, but I don’t have a lot in terms of financial resources that I could easily donate to help all the groups I want to help. I’ve been supporting a student through Compassion International (I’m on my second student) for 7 and a half years, and so even though I don’t have a significant source of income right now I have continued my contributions so my Columbian kid can go to school (as my credit card debt continues to rise throughout this year of graduate school…). I have also played music for many fundraising concerts and donated CDs and sales to several causes. And of course, I’m trying to fundraise for Swim With Mike again (I’ll be pushing this more soon!)…

    But there are so many other issues of justice that break my heart and fill me with righteous anger. Besides Joseph Kony, there are a whole list of criminals on the lam who have perpetrated heinous offenses against humanity. There continue to be dictators who also oppress their own people for personal gain. And at least 1 in 6 people worldwide do not have access to nutritious food – even though there is enough food to go around! Kony forces children to become soldiers, which is terrible, but human trafficking is happening on every continent.

    There are so many more problems and horrifying stories of injustice. But there are also many uplifting stories of people working tirelessly on solutions and to eliminate injustice. It is difficult to decide what I should spend time and resources supporting, and whose cause I should champion with my words. There are not enough hours in the day – I have not even mentioned all of the domestic issues I could talk about, especially with regards to education and public health policy. When I am overwhelmed by all of these things, I remember that I can still pray to the God who chooses to work through people who are caught in slavery and oppression.

    I have heard the groaning of the Israelites, whom the Egyptians are enslaving, and I have remembered my covenant… Therefore, say to the Israelites: I am the LORD, and I will bring you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians. I will free you from being slaves to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with mighty acts of judgment. I will take you as my own people, and I will be your God. Then you will know that I am the LORD your God, who brought you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians.
    -God to Moses in Exodus

    So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child..
    -Paul in his letter to the Galatians

    Lord, show us the ways that we can work with you in establishing your justice, your peace, and your kingdom here on earth.

    2 comments

    6th March 2012

    It’s now the 4th quarter…

    And whether you’re a sports person or just know basic fractions, that means we’re almost to the end. The MAT program has 4 quarters and we just finished the 3rd. I went to a great conference this past weekend that I’ll write about later this week, but at the moment I feel the need to go eat some lunch and really just wanted to see if I could post this video that I created last week as part of a lesson planning assignment. I think Xtranormal videos are pretty awesome, so I thought it would be cool to have students use Xtranormal to create scenes from a play that we were reading. The assignment was hypothetical so I haven’t actually used it with students, unfortunately – but I will at some point in the future.

    Ok, let’s see if this works. The video should have a bit of explanation and a scene from A Doll’s House by Henrik Ibsen.

    A SCENE AND EXPLANATION FROM ACT 2 OF \”A DOLL\’S HOUSE\”

    2nd March 2012

    Advice from 1992

    One of my classes requires researching “problems of practice” that teachers face. This is an informal paper, so don’t worry about my not-very-academic tone. Anyway, I just came across an article from The Clearing House‘s March 1992 edition and joyfully wrote the following in my log:

    One awesome article that I just read from 1992 – Frank Aquila’s “Is There Ever Enough Time? Twelve Time-Management Tips for Teachers” (nice alliteration, by the way) – suggested teachers “learn to use a computer” because “the computer retains personnel records, letters, and numerous forms for continual use. Even for those with a craft or cultural (rather than a technocratic) orientation, the computer can be of great assistance. The more you learn and work with a computer, the more time you can save.”

    I’m not going to say that the basic premise of this is wrong, but I’m not sure if that last sentence really holds true 20 years later… But how could anyone have foreseen facebook, youtube, and Pinterest way back in 1992?

    Copyright 2005 by Daryl Holmlund - All rights reserved.