Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Things May Change, But They Will Always Stay the Same.

There are times that I really dislike living in the South. This is one of those times.

Obama effigy found of UK's Campus

Now, there are several things which bother me here.

First, that some one thought to hang and effigy of anyone from a tree. I find the thought of hanging something that is meant to represent a real person kind of despicable. Whoever that person is, whatever they have done, they don't deserve to be lynched even if effigy.

Second, that the person happened to be a Presidential Candidate. The fact that this person is a well known politician and is running for the one office in this country where even threatening to kill him would be a crime, why would you think this is a good plan? Really?

Third, that he happens to have an African American Background. Overlooking the fact that hanging anyone in effigy isn't something I would ever consider, you can't overlook the connotation of hanging an effigy of a black man. The history there, especially in the south, is so strong that just hanging a noose in a tree is enough to spark riots in places (Jena, LA). In fact, the noose is as strong a symbol of hate these days as the swastika or the burning cross of the KKK. So how could you think that using a noose to hang a dummy representing the first black candidate for President of United States wouldn't be seen as an act of hate?

Fourth, that it happened on campus. UK is a campus that has been trying for the last few years to lose the image it has of being a campus dominated by whites. They have been trying hard to make it a place where everyone feels welcome. Where anyone would want to come and spend their college years. Obviously, we have a long way to go.

And, perhaps what troubles me most of all is that many of the people who commented on the article see nothing wrong with what was done. They compare it to the effigy of Sarah Palin that is hanging out in California. While I think both of the displays are wrong, I will say that anyone who can't see how they are different is overlooking several hundred years of American history. If you can't see how hanging an effigy of a white woman in front of your home on private property in a state that has never been identified as part of the south is different from hanging the effigy of a black man anonymously at a public university in a state that was very much a part of the south, then maybe you need to go back to history class.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Those who are too smart to engage in politics are punished by being governed by those who are dumber.--Plato

So, I'm not a big political person, but this is my kind of Politics:

Halloween Masks Predict Presidential Winner

From the Lexington Herald-Leader today:

Those Halloween Express stores popping up all over Lexington belong to an Owenton-based company and one of the biggest Halloween retailers in the country. The Toledo Blade asked their local Halloween stores how the masks of the presidential candidates are selling. According to the Blade, "Since 1980, the popularity of a presidential candidate's Halloween mask has accurately predicted the outcome of the presidential race in all seven campaigns." In Ohio, the Obama masks are far out-selling McCain. "I sold 29 Obama masks in three days," said Bradley Newman, store manager at the Halloween USA in Rossford. "I've sold just a couple [of] McCains." Halloween Express has Obama masks outselling McCain masks, 320 to 288. The most popular mask of all, though, is Jason, from the Friday The 13th movies. The Herald-Leader wrote about the company in 2006.

Car Wash Asks Customers to Choose Presidential Candidate

KNOXVILLE (WATE) -- So, how will Tuesday night's presidential debate affect the election? It seems many Knoxville voters already have their minds made up and they're showing it in a very unique way.

At the 3 Minute Magic Carwash on Lovell Road, owner Jim Rooney is certainly getting into the patriotic spirit.

He's asking all his customers to choose their candidate before they clean their car. Then they drive in the designated Barack Obama space or the John McCain space.

"I'm that Joe car wash guy, that Joe six-pack man. I'm middle-class America," Rooney says.

As a small business owner and family man, Rooney says the issues this election year are more important to him than ever before.

"What better venue for me to have a little fun with it and see what people are thinking? According to the polls, McCain is a little bit behind, but according to West Knoxville, McCain's a little bit ahead," Rooney says.

In fact, some people choose to ignore the empty Obama lane, just to wait in the McCain line.

"I want people to know how I'm voting," says customer Linda Ackerman.

Whichever candidate they chose, most customers were just happy to have their voices heard.

"Every body's concerned about this election. It's a serious business. I think it's a good thing for businesses to show that they're concerned what direction this country is going to go in as well," says customer John Doggett.

The tally is updated daily and after more than 3,500 customers, Obama has 47 percent and McCain is ahead with 53 percent.

Rooney says he'll keep his poll going until election day on November 4, when he'll urge all of his customers to go cast their official ballot.

If only everything was that simple.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

A Letter to Me

Dear 16 Year-Old Me,

I know this seems a bit strange, but having gained 10 years of life experience, I would like to share a few of the things I've learned with you.

First, high school is not going to be the highlight of your life. You've almost gotten through it, and I can promise you that things get better. College is a whole new ball game and most of those people that seem so important to you now, you won't see or talk to once you graduate. So don't sweat things now. Just try and hold out for another year or so. The world is much bigger than Glasgow.

Speaking of college, make sure you take advantage of all the opportunities available to you. Have some fun. School work is important, but it's not everything. Sometimes you have to just kick back and have a good time. Also, don't rush things. The real world isn't as much fun as you think it will be, so take your time in school. Take some classes that don't count toward your major but look interesting. College is a time to try new things and meet new people, don't waste it.

You will make new friends in college. Some of them will be your friends for awhile. Some of them won't. But they all have something to teach you. Pay attention. And be yourself. Anyone who is worth knowing will accept you for who you are. If they don't, you don't need to waste your time on them.

Make friends with people who are different than you. Those are the people that can teach you the most. It's easy to stay within your comfort zone, but stretch yourself. You'll be glad you did.

You are going to date a few guys. Don't worry if things don't work out. It's for the best, trust me. It's not wasted time, it's life experience. Even the bad decisions. Just enjoy what you have while it lasts. Oh yes, dating doesn't get any easier. It still sucks, even at now, but being able to order a drink does take some of the edge off. Just be willing to take risks.

I know it sounds cliche, but if you get the chance, sit down and talk to your grandparents. They have a wealth of information to share with you if you take the time to listen. And once they are gone, those stories are lost forever. Hug them when you can, too. I know at 16 you feel like you are going to live forever, but remember life is fleeting. Everything can change in an instant.

Make sure you spend time with Mom. She really is pretty great, but you won't realize that for a few years. Try to notice all the small things she does for you. And save all those notes she will send you when you go off to college. She is going to piss you off at time, but just remember that she loves you, and everything she does is out of love. The little things. The big things. All of it. She loves you and nothing else matters.

Things won't always be like they are now, so make the most of it. Things are going to get rough, but you will make it through. You are tougher than you know. And you will come out stronger on the other side. Always remember that things will get better, no matter how bad things seem. It's okay to ask for help. Rely on your friends if you have to. In fact, the tough times will show you who your true friends are. Don't worry about the ones that run off, they weren't worth the time anyway.

But most of all, remember to love yourself. I know you don't particularly care for who you are now, but learn to accept who you are. Wishing you are someone else won't get you anywhere. I know it doesn't feel like it now, but you are someone who people want to know. They are lucky to know you. Why? Because, you are wonderful. You are beautiful. You are unique. You are special. Trust me. You are going to love the person you will become. I do.

See you in 10,


P.S. You really can make a career out of science. Just be willing to work for it.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Oh, what's in a Name...

So, my goal was to try and blog every Friday, but that isn't working out so well. I've been so busy at work that by Friday afternoon, I'm zonked and it's all I can do to just make it home, much less convince my computer that it needs to log onto the Internet. Plus, this past Friday I went back to G-town to spend some time with my Dad and celebrate my birthday with him, so that further complicated things. Which basically means that what should have been Friday's blog you get today! Yea for being late! let's just all pretend that it is Friday already (oh wait, it is Thursday now, so tomorrow is Friday which means we get two Fridays in a row. It's like Christmas!)


Part of what kept me so busy last week was the fact that the Governor of this great state of Kentucky, Steve Beshaer was coming to visit UK and was going to take a tour through SCoBIRC (the Spinal Cord and Brain Injury Research Center) where I work. This meant that the lab had to get cleaned up, not an easy task since I hadn't had time to eat lunch all week, much less go around a clean. But we managed to get it all done, and I was even working (gasp!) when he came through so he could see that we actually do work in our lab. I didn't figure on getting to speak to him. After all, it was a quick 15min tour and I'm just a lowly peon in the science world; nobody worth noting.

However, I didn't count on my boss being the one giving the tour and he, of course, wanted to show off his lab, so I got introduced as they walked by. My boss also felt inclined to mention that I was from Glasgow, KY since I am the only native Kentuckian in the lab. When he asked me to confirm this, I figured that there was a much better chance that the Governor had heard of Fancy Farm (which is where my family is from), so I mentioned that as well. Needless to say, since it was a bunch of politicians, I got the expected response.

Now, if any of you don't know, Fancy Farm, KY is the home of the World's Largest One-Day Bar-b-que known as the Fancy Farm Picnic which takes place every August. It is really a fund raiser for the local catholic church, but what it is best known for is being probably the premier political gathering in the stated of Kentucky. It has, in fact been said that if you want to hold any political office in Kentucky, you had better campaign at Fancy Farm. So, it is not surprising that a group of men who hold political offices in Kentucky, knew exactly where Fancy Farm is what goes on there. (I wrote about Fancy Farm here.)

So, when I mentioned Fancy Farm, the Governor seemed all to eager to talk to me about it. Maybe it's because his eyes were staring to glaze over from all the science talk (I know mine do sometimes) and he was glad to finally understand something that was being said to him. Not to imply that Beshear isn't an intelligent man (I'm sure he is), but my boss has a tendency to forget sometimes that not everyone is as well versed in the sciences as he is and so he has trouble explaining things to your average non-science person. Anyway, Beshear made some joke about good bar-b-que to which I had to reply that my family has the bar-b-que things down quite well since they are the ones that cook it for the picnic every year. This prompted his reply that "Oh yes, I knew I had heard the name Carrico before. I've met lots of Carricos down in Fancy Farm."

So, the Governor of Kentucky knows my name. Well, my family name anyway. Which I have to think is pretty darn cool. And he has very very blue eyes. Very blue. And he is very short. But then so in my boss and so was Dr. Todd (UK's President) who was with them as well. So, who knows. Perhaps at some point in the future, I will get to meet the Governor again and he will remember me as that Carrico scientist with the family that bar-b-ques at Fancy Farm.

And just a quick update on the list, I got to check off #12 this weekend when Dad and I went over to Mammoth Cave and went for several hikes. It was a beautiful weekend and I really enjoyed getting to spend some time just me and Dad. That rarely happens any more.