Archive for category Interesting People

Freedom Writers

Reading an amazing book on loan from Kristie Wilson called The Freedom Writers Diary. It’s probably a familiar story by now, but it’s a compilation of diary entries from a group of high school students in Long Beach, California in the mid-nineties. A student teacher steps up and challenges the kids to become better people than their rough environment normally produces–gangs, violence, teen pregnancies, absent parents. The kids kept diaries throughout their four years in high school, and although they’re obviously heavily edited, it’s amazing the way they relate teacher Erin Gruwell’s “tolerance” themed curriculum to their own personal lives and try to better themselves through the stories of people who are also suffering.

I really just wanted to make note of/share a quote from one of the students who predicted, mid-semester, what his–or her, the entries are fairly anonymous–final grade in the course would be. He predicted an F, due to a rough home life. “Ms. G” pulled him into the hallway. “Do you know what this ‘F’ means to me? It’s Fuck You, Ms. G, and fuck everyone who’s ever cared about you!”

While I completely love the teacher telling her student this, the best part is what the student took away from it.

“What she showed me today is that a truly self-reliant person takes action, leaving nothing to chance and everything to themselves. She showed me that excuses will not bring about success and that adversity is not something you walk with, but something you leap over. The only obstacles are the ones you allow. A chain is only as strong as its weakest link. A truly self-reliant person finds his weak link and strengthens it. I want to be a self-reliant person, now and forever.”

I would love to expand on this, make it relate to my own life….but wow. It already does. I guess I need to figure out my weakest link…although as soon as I strengthen that, there will be another weakest link to take its place. I suppose this is what you call a “work in progress.”



Dickens Impersonator Contest

The Philadelphia Library is hosting a Charles Dickens Impersonation Contest. I think Charles Dickens is one of my favorite authors, so I’m totally interested. Although the contest is on a Monday at 10:30 am, so that kind of counts me out for viewing and participating.

Here’s what contestants have to do:

Part 1: Present a brief monologue as Charles Dickens
To begin the audition, we will ask that each contestant presents to the panel a brief monologue as Charles Dickens. The monologue can be invented or taken directly from his personal commentary and reflections, and should last no more than two minutes.

Part 2: Act out a scene as one of Charles Dickens’s well-known literary characters
An avid performer, Dickens undertook a series of dramatic public readings where he assumed the roles of his characters. Each contestant will be asked to perform a brief scene from one of Dickens’s works as he would have.

Part 3: Q&A from celebrity panel of Judges
Each contestant will go through a fast-paced Q&A session conducted by celebrity judges. Questions will range from general information on Dickens’s life and works, to ways in which he will make literature exciting for new audiences and generations to come. Contestants should come armed with a working knowledge of Dickens facts and information.

Love it! Although on further inspection, the activity is actually called the “Dickens Idol Contest,” inspired by American Idol. Maybe not so cool. But a fun idea anyway.

Here are the details on the Free Library of Philadelphia‘s Blog!

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Literary Graveyard: Which Cemetery is the Most Literary?

Found this on Twitter. What an interesting article.

I have an inexplicable attraction to cemeteries. It’s weird. Spiritually I know they’re useless–the body is only a vessel for the spirit and the soul. And if I’m going to mourn someone, I’m not going to go visit their final “resting place,” because their spirit never spent any time there while it was in the body, so why would I have any connection to a place they have no connection to? Doesn’t make sense.

But there are people out there that are very committed to gravesites. And I suppose that’s why I like them. Not that think that a cemetery is the **most* appropriate memorial, but it is nice that people take so much time to upkeep and decorate. Shows, in a way, how much someone was missed.

Back to the author topic, I think I may have to design a European tour around famous cemeteries. And then an author cemetery tour. Sweet.

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Vanna for a day? Heck yes!!

Since it’s like, next to impossible to actually get on this show, maybe I have a better shot at being Vanna. Totally gonna make a video!! 🙂

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I thought it would be a nice lark. It wasn’t.

Setting up a trip to  Pine Grove Furnace State Park for the grand opening of the Appalachian Trail Museum. Was just there for a backpacking trip and remembered Brad telling me about it on a Sunfish Pond hike a few weeks back. I’m a history nerd AND a hiker, so I can’t pass it up.

One of the exhibits it seems will be about early thru-hikers, including someone named Grandma Gatewood. Turns out she was the first woman to solo hike the entire 2168 mile trail in one season, and she did it at age 67. And again at age 72. And then she hiked it in sections at age 75!

She hiked in Keds–KEDS SNEAKERS, people!–and carried an army blanket and a raincoat. And very little else.  People she met shared food with her, and she ate wild berries and bouillon cubes. Sports Illustrated wrote an article about her when she got to Connecticut. Wow.

Wikipedia calls her an “Ultralight backpacking pioneer,” and I can’t help but snort at the thought of that old lady discussing backpacking brands by weight and making stuff sacks out of Tyvek. What would she think of the modern hiker’s synthetic sleeping bag, fancy stove and trekking poles? She’d think we were ridiculous, is what. (At the same time, I can’t really imagine carrying much less!)

I feel like I can never be in pain again. Re-motivated to shed more weight off my pack this season! Goal is before my trip to New Mexico in September. I’m gonna shoot for 15 lbs without food & water 🙂

The first person to thru-hike the Appalachian Trail, Earl Shaffer, did it for the first time in 1948, and apparently the ATC people didn’t believe him!

Slightly unrelated, cool article about downsizing your stuff & your living space. Need to work on that too.  “Make one thing serve many purposes.”

“For some fool reason, they always lead you right up over the biggest rock to the top of the biggest mountain they can find.”

Emma "Grandma" Gatewood, courtesy of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy

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