People are living longer, but is it throwing the world off-balance?

The world population will soon reach seven billion. The actual count as of today, Oct. 30, is 6,971,706,828, but of course, that is just an educated guess.

When that milestone will occur is fuzzy; according to the U.S. Census Bureau, the seven billionth child is not supposed to be born until next year, but according to an article in the online news source, The Independent, will happen in the next day or so.

The article, World population: Seven billion people – and counting, by David Randall and Emily Dugan, reports statistics of what life is like in the rest of the world.

“Nearly 30 years ago, about 25 per cent of US foreign aid went to agriculture. It is now one percent. To feed the two billion more mouths predicted by 2050, says the UN, food production will have to increase by 70 percent.”

They also stated that water usage has grown at more than twice the rate of the population in the past century. Today more than two billion people still do not have access to adequate sanitation, and in four decades, 6.3 billion people will be living in cities.

The world faces quite a problem. On one hand, more is being done to save more lives, bring more food and water to desolate parts of the world, and medical breakthroughs are being discovered every day; but in our quest to save the world, are we actually throwing the world off-balance?

I’m not suggesting we let those in need fend for themselves, but if the world population will only increase in the future, as stated in the U.S. Census Bureau statistics, we are going to have to find ways to accommodate more Earth inhabitants.

Obviously, scientists have been working on this problem for many years, even suggesting years ago that we begin to look for another planet that would sustain life (or was that just an episode from Star Trek?).

But is that enough? Recycling, going green, cleaner energy, new energy, no energy, composting; these are all really good things. And all the good people in the world wanting to help those who can’t help themselves is very uplifting and heartwarming. But what do we do about the growing number of people on our planet?

Birth control comes to mind. I know some people love babies and big families, but if they can’t afford them, why have them? I imagine that the world population is not on the minds of some people as they are contemplating a family, but it should be.  The future of our children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren will be in jeopardy if we don’t look at the situation seriously.

I know I won’t be here in 100 years, but I would hate to see the state of the world if we don’t do something about it now.

Week 21–Do I even have a creative side?

I was in first grade when I found myself floundering in an artistic exercise that should have taken me no more than an hour to create. Actually, I don’t think I ever even finished it.

Me, in first grade

We all had to make something out of the first letter of our alphabet. I had the letter “C” and I had the brilliant idea that I want to make my “C” with a cotton candy theme. So I grabbed  some cotton balls that we must have had in the classroom and started gluing them to my paper. It didn’t turn out the way I expected. In fact, it turned out to be quite a mess.

After that, I was reluctant to make anything creative for fear it would turn out to be a disaster, too. And it showed. I grew up telling myself that I wasn’t very creative, stunting any creative growth that might have sprouted inside of me. I did OK in art class, but only the minimum, reaffirming the message I sent to myself that I had no artistic talent.

But I was good at other things. I learned to write well and mastered the art of cooking, but when it came to drawing, painting or designing, I came to accept the fact that I just couldn’t do it. As my kids grew, it became embarrassing to try to help them with their art projects, always coming up with ideas and having my 6 and 8 year olds shoot them down. Pretty sad.

I was OK with the fact that I wasn’t that great, and no one really ever asked me to decorate or design anything for them. When it came time for me to design my newspaper flag, I had no idea where to start. I began to think about why I’m putting so much effort into starting my own paper and what it really means, and then it came to me.  I went out and took pictures of the town’s landmarks and arranged them into a banner below the lettering. I liked it immediately. Even though I didn’t have to rack my brain to come up with the idea, I really thought it captured the message I wanted to send, that the Hiawatha Advocate is a community newspaper.

Since then, I have modified it, changed the fonts, and colors, and finally came up with a keeper, I think…for now anyway.

I am taking a graphic arts class in my last term at Mount Mercy. I have yet to show my instructor my flag, but I’m working up to it. I am currently working on a logo for a company I made up in which I have to make a bee in Illustrator. I also recently learned about resolutions and how jpegs are not always the best to use in your graphic designs. I was actually using InDesign to design my bee because I found it easier to make. They are very similar but because I know InDesign better, I tend to go in that direction. (sigh)

My Bee

Week 21 has me seeing things in me that I have done my whole life; sending myself negative messages and taking shortcuts, which may save time, but is not always right.

I was recently forced (by myself) to tackle a job for the Mount Mercy Times website in which I had to design a new flag for the web.  It wasn’t that difficult once I sat down and starting trying different things. It doesn’t mean that my designs will be accepted, but at least I took the first step and tried it. I guess that’s all any of us can do.

The Hiawatha Advocate

Hiawatha Advocate

The more the merrier

My daughter is pregnant with twins. She found out early on that they are both girls but still refers to them as Baby A and Baby B. The girls are due to come into this world Nov. 3, but as we all know, they come when they want to.

Two weeks to go!

I have four granddaughters and four grandsons, two of which are not by blood, but are still a part of our family unit. The addition of the twins will make 10 grandchildren for me, and I don’t think my children are done having kids yet. I have three daughters and a son. My daughters all have children, and may be done having kids, but my son, Sean,  is only 19. It may take him a while, but I know he wants a family someday.

But right now, Holly is feeling miserable. No one in our immediate family has had twins before, so this is a new experience for everyone. We have watched Holly balloon to three times her normal size. She has actually lost a few pounds from her starting weight. I told her it’s because she is taking better care of herself. She quit smoking, drinking, eating fast food, and is exercising more. Pregnancy seems to do that to a person.

She told me that carrying two babies is a lot tougher than just one. Everything is magnified; the stretching, the pressure against her bladder and pelvis, and the movement, while wonderful, makes it feel like they’re fighting for space, which, I’m sure, they are.

I keep reminding my daughter to enjoy these last two weeks because she is going to be busier than she ever imagined. It’s a good thing she has had some training; she has a 5-year-old rambunctious daughter, Isabelle, and she works as a server at Chili’s, but I don’t think anything can really prepare a mother for what comes next. You just learn to go with the flow and take this as they come.

But, as with any hormonal imbalance, she is also emotional and her mood swings upset her. “I’m afraid I won’t love the twins as much as I love Isabelle,” she told me. I tried not to laugh, because I knew she was serious. I hugged her and assured her that will not be a problem.

I explained to her that it’s hard to explain a  mother’s love; it just happens, and nothing will ever change the way you feel about your children. You love them all the same, but different.

I guess she’ll just have to figure that one out for herself.

Perspectives-Week 20

I started keeping track of what it would take to launch a newspaper 20 weeks ago.

My kids and I (2001)

Twenty weeks. And every day of it was spent either working towards that goal, or, at the very least, thinking about it. I planned, and wrote, and figured, and planned some more.

It has almost been a year since I had a conversation with my professor, one that spawned an idea, which became a plan, and now becoming a reality. It hasn’t been easy, but yet, it hasn’t been the most difficult thing I have ever done either. It has helped me learn what I’m made of.

I haven’t always been the most confident person. In fact, at one point in my life, I thought of myself as quite the opposite, where everything I did was an effort. Nothing seemed to work out the way I wanted and I felt like a failure. Now I realize that I was looking at life as something that happened to me, instead of what I did with it.

It’s all about perspectives.

Week 20 has me thinking about all that I have accomplished up to this point. Not just with the newspaper preparations, but my life, in general.

I was a single mother with 4 children, my youngest challenged by a severe learning disability, and three daughters, who seemed to make it their life’s goal to turn my world upside down. I tried to better our situation by going to college, but I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease and fell behind. My level of confidence sunk even lower. But I never gave up.

My kids and I (2011)

Once my children moved out the house, I began to think about what I wanted to do with my life. I was still young and I knew there had to be more to life than what I was experiencing. So I took the first step and went back to college. Only this time, I picked a major that was better in tune with a dream of mine; I wanted to be a writer.

So here I am. Soon I will be graduating with a college degree and publishing my newspaper. Ten years ago when I was in the midst of chaos, did I ever imagine that someday I could accomplish so much?

To tell you the truth, I was worried more about how I was going to make ends meet rather than what I would do with my future. But when I finally had a chance to breathe and look at my life, I changed my perspectives, and then I changed my attitude.

I still have four months before my first issue comes out. Even though I still have a few things that I need to do to get ready, I no longer ask myself if I have what it takes. I already know that I do. Everything I had ever done in my life has prepared me for this…everything. The problem solving, the mediating, the persistence, the concessions, the determination and perseverance, they were lessons that I had to learn to get to this point in my life. I somehow knew all along that I would get here.

It just took me a little while to gain that perspective.

Hiawatha Advocate

What will it take to make a difference?

The American people are unhappy. So unhappy, in fact, that they have dismissed their jobs, their school, and their families so they can participate in a protest that names the government as being too corporate.

Wall Street-Photo by Michael Daddino

The Occupy Wall Street movement, now into its 4th week, is beginning to influence other states, as well.

The group took a stand to protest against “the use of corporate money to create government policies that ‘abuse’ poor, elderly, sick and young people; pollute the environment; ‘force’ people to go into debt to pay medical bills and get an education; kill people in ‘imperial’ wars; and repossess or foreclose on their houses,” according to Peter Cohan of Forbes magazine.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced that the protestors were creating a public health situation and told of his plans to have it cleaned up. However, during the overnight hours, the protestors worked feverishly to clean up the mess that was created by the crowd and the mayor told the media this morning that he would postpone the scheduled clean up.

It was also reported by ABC than the protestors feared they would be forcibly removed from their space, ending their efforts to raise awareness. They were relieved to find out that they would be given more time to make their political statement.

Though there have been movements such as these in the past, many of them fizzle out within a few weeks. I for one would like to see it go further and make our politicians accountable for their actions.

However, there are two sides to every story. Cohan said in his article that he doesn’t think corporate government should be ended, but mended. Because, according to Cohan, “Corporations provide many benefits to society.”

It’s true that corporations have helped our country in the past, but there is such a thing as too much of a good thing. The government has gone to the extreme, putting corporations ahead of the American people. The battle in Washington seems to have more to do with taking care of corporations rather than the needs of the people.

I applaud the people standing up for what they believe in.  We all need to become more involved and offer our support when we can. If we don’t, this may be one of those movements that is over before it really gets started.

To learn more about this movement or how to get involved, visit their website at http://occupywallst.org/.

In the news-Week 19

It’s been a busy week for news.

The Hiawatha Advocate

The Occupy Wall Street protest in New York has moved west, and has begun to occupy the capital of Iowa. Dozens of protestors were arrested as a result, according to the Des Moines Register and sought to gain permits to occupy space in front of the capitol.

The NBA has announce this morning that the first two weeks of pro basketball games will be suspended due to the breakdown of talks between the teams.

Herman Cain, former CEO of Godfather’s pizza, is rising in the polls and now second behind Mitt Romney. Cain, a Republican, has been using the tagline, “Let’s Get Real,” to lure potential voters into his realm of thinking.

There’s a lot more news, but these are the headlines that many people in Iowa are talking about.

I’m glad to see people standing up for what they believe in. I support their struggle in trying to  wake up the leaders of our government and let them know that we are not happy with the way they are running the government.  They have not been listening to the pleas of the American people, that something needs to be done to lessen the gap that is growing wider between the classes.

I am also worried about the suspension of basketball games in the NBA, but not for the same reason that many sports fans are. I’m worried because the suspension means the loss of millions of dollars in ticket sales and vending sales for the respective cities. More people will be out of work as a result of the suspension. It’s sad to think that athletes have such a crucial hold over our economy, but we have to look at it realistically. Pro sports is a big business. The breakdown of talks came as a result of not being able to agree on the amount of revenue that would be shared with the players. Wow; obviously, they aren’t paid enough. (see above story)

Herman Cain. Well, we’ll see. He’s for small business, and his tagline is great, but I have become leery about political candidates, as I should be.

Week 19 has me analyzing the news more than ever; who, what, when, why, where, and how. Most importantly, I am looking at what news is and what it isn’t, how it is presented, and how I would handle it if I were in the same situation. I am noticing that sensationalism is all around us. Is it good? Is it unethical? Are there too many people in this business just to make a buck?

Sadly, I think many are. Some have sold out to see how high of a rating they can get or how much money they can make. News is news, no matter how it is presented. Unfortunately, the world of journalism is a competitive one.

But closer to home, I’ve been busy with my website, the Hiawatha Advocate. I went to my first Hiawatha city council meeting and got a lot of great information. I wrote a few articles and am getting to know the people of Hiawatha. I visited a few businesses last week and talked to the owners to find out what it is they really want in a community newspaper.

I still have so much to do, but I keep taking that next step forward. My newest challenge seems to be finding time to do it all, but it always seems to work itself out.

I also find that the more I worry, the less productive I am, so it makes perfect sense not to worry so much. I have a lot of faith in what I’m doing. As I have said before, I have never had a bad feeling about. Anxiety, yes, but never a bad feeling.

The Hiawatha Advocate

In search of…a pumpkin patch

I haven’t been to a pumpkin patch in Cedar Rapids for a long time. Apparently, it shows. On my quest to take my grandchildren to a pumpkin patch yesterday, I failed at locating even a single one.

Thomas and Makayla at Bever Park

There is a pumpkin patch a little more than 10 miles away in a neighboring little town, but when I checked their website, I found out that the admission price was $11 each.

This price included all ages with a discount for seniors and military personal. Bloomsbury Farms does have a wide assortment of activities; a petting zoo, pumpkin cannon, a corn maze, and hayrack rides. It also had a gift shop and a small train ride for smaller kids, so the money would have been well-spent. However, being an unemployed college student, I just couldn’t justify spending that much on entertainment for a few hours.

So I loaded my tribe into my Cobalt and took them on a journey around Cedar Rapids and Marion in search of a pumpkin patch. I remembered one or two that I used to take my own kids to, but they no longer exist.

We had fun, a great time, in fact. We talked and laughed and told jokes. But we never did find a pumpkin patch.

I almost took them to the Hy-Vee by our house to buy a pumpkin, but I knew it wouldn’t be the same.

We decided to stop at Bever Park to play, which made up for the ever-elusive pumpkin patch. And no outing with Grandma is complete without stopping at the Dairy Queen.

Enjoying a Dairy Queen

So we didn’t find a pumpkin patch. Oh, well; we had a great time anyway. Sometimes it’s more fun to create the adventure as you go.

Steve Jobs: The incredible impact of one man on the world

I didn’t know Steve Jobs, but I got to know him Oct. 6, the day after pancreatic cancer took the life of the Apple inventor.

Steve Jobs-Technorati.com

Good Morning America introduced Jobs as an infant that wasn’t wanted. Adopted, Jobs was a troubled youth who dropped out of college after six months, and then teamed up with a buddy to start Apple in his parent’s garage. When he was 30, he was fired by the company’s board. He developed the company, NeXT, and made it a success, and then returned to Apple, where the stock rose 7000 percent.

But as George Stephanopoulos said, even though Job’s company had more money than the national treasury, it can’t buy good health, and Jobs was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. The doctor told him, “Go get your affairs in order,” doctor’s code for “You’re going to die.”

Job’s beat cancer for two years. But he didn’t let his cancer define him, he told the Stanford graduating class of 2005. He spent what time he had doing what he loved; creating.

“Every dies; even those who want to go to heaven don’t want to die to get there,” he told them.

Creative memorials showed up on Facebook soon after the news reached America’s iPhones; “iSad,” and “Steve Jobs-The Apple of our i,” and many more, who were saddened by the news.

Rest in Peace, Steve Jobs; I’m glad I got to know you.

Writing is an art-Week 18

I watched Andy Rooney give his last commentary, “My Lucky Life,” on “60 Minutes” Oct. 2. I found it interesting that a man who started writing for the “Stars and Stripes” during World War II went on to write for radio and TV because he didn’t think the printed word was being read enough.

Andy Rooney-The Hollywood Reporter

So many people have predicted the demise of the printed word in the last few years, but I thought it was because of the influence of the Internet. Listening to Rooney talk reminded me that many things have influenced the decline of the readership of newspapers.

I grew up with Andy Rooney. His distinct voice often caused me to stop and listen to what he had to say. He was a bit controversial and said what he thought.  Though I didn’t agree with everything he said, his points of view gave me something to think about.

Rooney told viewers on his last show that he has lived a lucky life. He was asked, if he hadn’t done all he did, what would he do? Rooney answered that he  would go to war, write for the Star and Stripes, write his own material for radio and TV, and then he would read it.

“That’s what I would do.” In other words, Rooney did what he loved. I admire that.

He really is a lucky man. He did what he wanted to do and had no regrets. Well, mostly.

He did say that he regretted saying something one time that offended some people. He was suspended for two months from the show, but says that he learned a lot from the experience.

One thing that stood out among everything else that Rooney said was, “It’s a writer’s job to tell the truth and if more people were writers, the world would be  a better place.” I couldn’t agree more.

It made me realize that writing is an art. The written word has a magic to it that can persuade the most difficult person to see things in a different way. Words can be arranged in such a way that can be read like a beautiful concerto or a graceful ballet. Writers can take us away to a different world and then bring us back to reality.

The world needs more Andy Rooneys.

Week 18 has me thinking about how the written word has shaped the world. Newspapers are only one way in which that is conveyed. Radio, TV, the Internet, magazines, books, and newspapers can and will co-exist. I think there will be some adjusting as more technology is introduced, but Andy Rooney has reminded me that the thing these all have in common is the writing.

The more needs more writers, if only to keep that art alive.

The Hiawatha Advocate 

Guilty or not guilty? That is the question

Amanda Knox is guilty. Or maybe she’s not guilty. The evidence shows her DNA on the point of a knife that Italian prosecutors say killed her roommate over four years ago. Was she involved in the murder, or was it put there by someone? No one really knows and no one can seem to prove it. The evidence was said to be inconclusive because there wasn’t enough DNA and that it was somehow damaged.

Amanda Knox (Oli Scarff, Getty Images)

This murder trial reminds me of another recent trial that ended with the accused murderer walking away a free woman. In the case of Casey Anthony, the prosecution could not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that she killed her daughter.

In the case of Amanda Knox, they don’t have to prove that she was the murderer, just that she was somehow involved. The Italian courts have made it clear that they will not tolerate even the smallest amount of involvment, that she is just as guilty as the one who actually killed the victim.

So did Amanda Knox have anything to do with the murder of her roommate Meredith Kercher? She has stood by her claim that she had nothing to do with it.

Knox will find out her fate tomorrow after she makes a personal appeal to the Italian court. Already a play by play has been initiated as to how she will handle this plea to the jury. Some say that this is all just a power struggle between the Italy and the U.S. Others surmise that they are hanging on to her as leverage for something more. But I think they’re not really sure what to do.

Again, this is one of those cases that the truth may never be revealed. Only a few people really know what happened that night. Knox maintains her innocent, but unlike Anthony, has the majority of people on her side.

Unfortunately, this is Italian courts we’re talking about, which may look at the accused as being guilty, until proven innocent.