Monday, November 28, 2011

Christmas Past 2

I'm going to be revisiting some Christmas joys of Christmases past over the next few weeks. I hope you enjoy...
Connect with me on Facebook or Twitter

Teens and Tweets - Emma Sullivan and Governor Brownback and #heblowsalot

So... there's been a little ruckus lately because an 18 year old said something on Twitter about Governor Brownback that his staff didn't like. Her principal demanded she write an apology letter. She has refused.

Regardless of your politics, you should be glad 18 year-old Emma Sullivan understands she has the right of free speech. Her parents or her teachers or someone has done a good job on that one.

Only because people like her have stood up and demanded to exercise their civil rights do we have any. It should not be the role of the Governor's office to try and silence anyone through fear or other coercion, which I can only assume was their intent when they contacted the Youth in Government program about it. Thomas Jefferson said, "Does the government fear us? Or do we fear the government? When the people fear the government, tyranny has found victory."

As citizens, we should be questioning why the Governor's staff felt a need to call the organization involved. I think it's great that they are monitoring Twitter - very smart - but their actions indicate they have little understanding of social media. A little knowledge can be more dangerous than none it seems. They made a very poor decision to take something out of that realm and bring it into another one.

Ms. Sullivan had 65 followers when she sent the infamous tweet with the hashtag "#heblowsalot." Now she has thousands of followers. In addition, her comments are a topic on multiple high-profile sites and national news organizations. People are tweeting their support for her views by using the same hashtag. If the Governor's staff had just left it alone, a few of her friends might have gotten a chuckle and that would have been it.

If I were a parent at Ms. Sullivan's school, I would be mighty, mighty, mighty unhappy with the principal. He instructed her to write an apology letter, providing her with talking points. She has refused, saying it would be insincere. It seems the principal missed an amazing "teaching moment" about civil rights and how best to exercise them. It seems Ms. Sullivan understands how to be appropriate in this circumstance.

Might Ms. Sullivan have said something less intense? Yes. Might the Governor's office have kept it in perspective? Yes. Her comments were not kind, but they were not yelling "fire" in a crowded theater either. She is allowed to express her opinion. Others are allowed to express theirs. Someone could have tweeted back that they were loving the Governor's presentation. They would have had the same right to express that opinion. (The fact that no one did is a little "market research" the Governor's staff might pay attention to instead of being upset about a tweet going out to 65 people.)

We cannot have democracy without free speech. It is part of the constitution. It is a right each of us has. We are allowed to disagree. We are even allowed to do so without respect. That might not be the most productive approach, but it is our right.

I can't help but think about the Pastor Martin Niemöller quote made famous by others in recent years:
First they came for the communists, and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a communist.

Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a Jew.

Then they came for me and there was no one left to speak out for me.

Read more:

The Governor apologized for the overreaction of his staff. He should hire people who understand freedom of speech. And so should the school board.
Connect with me on Facebook or Twitter

Train Case Travel - Vintage Style Updated

Remember these?

There was a time when everyone's Aunt had one. My Aunt Audrey did, although hers was a pearl-colored Samsonite one that I was totally in love with. So much in love that my Aunt Eva found me a child's version and sent it to me at Christmas one year. I still have it. I still love it.

When Aunt Audrey would visit, her Train Case, which, by the way, is what these were officially called, would sit in the bathroom, beckoning me to look inside it, but I didn't dare.

I don't know why they're called a Train Case, but I'm guessing because they were great for use on trains. Back when people actually traveled by train. Back when you couldn't go by air for the same amount of money and days less time. Back when travel wasn't miserable. I remember hearing people talk about that time. I just didn't get to experience it. The TV show, "Pan Am," makes it look so pleasant. They apparently haven't been on a nine hour flight to Paris with their knees digging into the metal of the seat in front of them and their own seat being hammered by a restless five-year-old behind them. Of course, maybe people were just always drunk when you didn't have to buy drinks and people remember travel through the haze of a good buzz. Maybe it was always awful but we just don't have our senses dulled sufficiently now. I think I've hit on a genius idea for the airlines. But, I digress.

Back to train cases... Just the mere phrase conjures pleasant images...

Aunties carried their toiletries in them - even if they were going by car, not train. Maybe by plane, as well. Train cases had a lift-out tray for cosmetics and plenty of space underneath for lotions, potions, hair curlers, and what not. I have to say "what not" because I don't use very many of the things the ladies of that generation did for their daily preparations to meet the world. (Anyone have a hair receiver lying about? On their dressing table? Exactly.)

Well, at one of my favorite thrift stores recently I spotted this gem. It still had the tray inside in pristine condition and the little brown envelope with "key" written on it taped inside one of the tray compartments. I'll let you do the mental math on that one.

I snapped it up for a mere $2.

My initial thought was to put my own makeup in it. But, I quickly determined that wasn't workable for me. Besides, if I gathered up every bit of makeup I've owned in my entire life, this case still wouldn't be full. But, I knew I would find other uses for it and its first foray into the world with me was a few days ago for our trip to see the Johnny Mathis Christmas show.

Are you wondering what I put in it?

Hair spray? No - don't own any.

Shampoo? No - it might leak on this beauty that still has the faint scent of dusting powder in it. I love that smell. Takes me right back to 1953 - even though I wasn't alive them. But, you know what I mean. Do they even make anything called, "dusting powder" anymore. It came in wonderful scents with big, soft, poofy bits you dusted the powder with. (Hence, the name, obviously.)

Delicates? No - I'm not sure what all that encompasses, but suffice it to say there aren't a lot of clothes in my world that are not "wash and wear" and pret a porter. (That's French for ready to wear - and it doesn't really fit here - but I just wanted to demonstrate that I remembered at least one phrase from the multiple semesters of French I took. Maybe I don't remember it from that but from the movies. But lets just say it's from class, shall we?)

Anyway... My train case has...

Computer and electronic widgets and gadgets. It will hold an external hard drive, my digital recorder and microphone, a pair of headphones with a mic for skyping, chargers, cables, pens, notebook, model releases, extra batteries, a tiny tripod, jump drives, and even the camera if I don't want to carry it. I have used one of those organizers for a purse to containerize some of the items, and small bags for others. Although I haven't yet tested this theory, I think it could also hold a tablet, mp3 player, and other similar goodies.

It worked great for this trip, but I haven't tested it on a longer one yet. Obviously, it's something you want to keep up with since it has all those sorts of goodies in it. But, it does offer some protection to them instead of them just bumping around in other bags. And it has the ease of everything being in one place instead of having to hunt for one thing or another.

I'm continually looking for the convenient way to store and access my computer/electronic things. This is the latest permutation. We'll see how it goes long-term.

Regardless, I now own this ultra cool, vintage train case. It's not as cool as Aunt Audrey's was - gosh, I loved that thing - but Aunt Audrey would be proud.

 ----- Connect with me on Facebook or Twitter