Notebook Entries January 2008

Notebook Entry, January 28, 2008

Below is a letter that I wrote to Joe Beaver, chair of our Diversity Committee at the ACIC – Advisory Commission for an Inclusive Community.  Some of it is self-explanitory.

Dear Joe Beaver.

I’m disappointed that we can not meet “eye-to-eye” on the 22nd because I feel that it is the most effective way of transferring our ideas though body language, facial expressions, and voice tones, etc., but, on the other hand email exchanges do save energy and time and still make it possible to exchange ideas.  I’m going to keep a separate school binder on just this subject and keep our emails in one place.  I may also consider a new and separate email address for just this subject, but I have not made a decision on that yet.

Thanks for sharing your stories with us Joe and Nancy.  As for Joe, unfortunately, when you showed up for our first joint meeting on January 16th, the City of Lakewood was part of that 80% of the population that showed little concern for your disability.  Not only did they not remember that you were one of the chair members of the executive committee, but they had to clear a path for you to reach your place at the table.  My step-daughter suffered a stroke in December 2005 and lost the use of her left side (she was 32 at the time) so I know somewhat of what you are telling us.  She no longer needs her wheelchair but it is still difficult for her to get around town with Access-A-Ride.  Fortunately, she has a supportive husband and both I and my wife are just next door in a duplex to assist her on a daily basis. But I imagine that somehow, I, and the other 80% of the population have little knowledge of what you go through on a daily basis – which I believe to be merely – “out of sight, out of mind.”  Perhaps, the sub-committee should suggest “ride a day” in a wheelchair” program for our high school students similar to riding along with Bob Murphy.

As for my story, I really joined up for the diversity committee because I felt that the upcoming national elections in 2008 were going to be about “Illegal Immigrants” and I wanted to see if we could head off this malicious misinformation by political organizations to belittle, demean, and de-humanize, people whom I consider to be, just simple folk trying to put food on their families tables.  Fortunately, (or unfortunately if you’re a conservative) republicans found out by November of 2007 that all new Latinos registering to vote for the first time where doing so  at 6 to 1 rate in favor of Democrats and forced Mr. Tancredo to sit down and shut up.  But some of the ideas I have to reverse this malicious information could still be put into use for any group trying to gain respect and dignity.  It basically would be a “YouTube” video series of positive presentations of the minorities represented.

Personally, myself, I am a third generation Italian-American originally from New Jersey (been in Colorado since 1967) and even though when I apply here or fill out this or that form there, the box for Italian-American seems to be missing….it seems that we are assimilated as a group into that vast hoard of Americans, but still, on occasions I feel the sting of discrimination because of my facial features and short stature.  My father changed our family name from Speranza (it means Hope in Italian) back in 1933 because he said the teachers had trouble pronouncing his name.  Baloney.  He did it because he wanted all the things that the wealthy, white folks up the hill on the other side of the railroad tracks had.  A nice home, good schools, good jobs, and a future that was limitedless.  He married a beautiful white girl of Polish descent and he tried several business startups in search of the American Dream.  He settled on owning an “auto-livery” service delivering small packages and minority female passengers (he was the “other taxi service” that delivered the black maids to the wealthy estates when they arrived in town from Newark New Jersey commuter train – their husbands were not allowed to drive in our city and were pulled over because “everyone knew they didn’t live there”)

I am a creative idea person.  It doesn’t mean my ideas will work, nor are they practical, but they just seem to flow up through me from the depth within me and they are put there for all to use if you want.  So hang on to your hats, it could get interesting on our committee.

I think the first task of the Diversity com (herewith shortened to DC) is to look to our “homework” assignments in the back of the yellow Procedure Manual and decide if we want to go ahead with any of the suggestions or put off any of the assignments.  At the same time, I think we should start a “wish list” of all projects or ideas to see if we get the creative juices flowing and also create excitement and fun (I love to laugh).

Idea #1.  Web Visibility.  I feel that the ACIC and all nine sub-committees should have their own web site.  I feel all members could then put up their own “mission statement,” ideas or responses to the public.  In your case Joe, I feel that if the public were allowed to send information to the sub-committee members then, that information could be added to the web site.  i.e., the handicapped population could enter “handicapped” impediment locations around the city and then rank them by the worst (say a five rating) to just annoying (say a one rating).  A sort of, local news, traffic update.

Idea number #2 “Celebrate the Eight”
As one enters the Belmar area, the street lights have flags draped on them welcoming visitors in the eight languages found in Lakewood.  The Celebrate the Eight project would be to expand the concept of the highly popular Italian feast held every year at Belmar to include all eight languages represented in Lakewood.

Since the future light rail will run East to West through Lakewood, I suggest that we plan seven new future diversity celebrations revolving around the other cultures and tie them into the new light rail stations that will be built at various times of the year.  This project would then involve the various ACIC sub-committees of: Public Arts and Culture, Neighborhood Liaison, Business, and of course, our own Diversity Education.  This could be a huge money maker for the City of Lakewood while introducing people of the Denver Metropolitan area to the convenience of light rail and to celebrate the different diversities.  Say Ka-Ching! seven times.

Well, that’s all from me right now.

Nancy, your email just came in as I was about to send this.  I personally can’t wait to tap into your vast pool of senior knowledge.  I’m glad you’re with us.

With great hope and enthusiasm.

William A. Spriggs
Call me Bill


Notebook entry, January 24th, 2008

The January 28th, 2008 issue of Time magazine has a great cover story this week as its Annual Mind & Body special issue. On the cover: "The Science of Romance: Why we need love to survive. The cover is two graphic novel characters about to kiss: the female says: 'gulp' I think we've got chemistry! The male says: I feel my evolutionary biology kicking in!

The library search article is titled: The Science of Romance, on page 53. It has 12 articles: Why We Need Romance; The Art (and Smarts) of Flirting; Couples: a Photo Album; Live Long and Marry; Gay Pairs; Romantic Derangement; Love Letters; Global Matchmaking; critter Courtship; Kids and Romance; Romance Is An Illusion; and ends with Endquotes.

It is very up to date because they may mention of Geoffrey Miller's piece a few months ago about lap dancers earning more in tips when they are ovulating. Here's a short quote from the opening article, Why We Love, on page 55.

"…One surprising study published last October in the journal Evolution and Human Behavior showed that strippers who are ovulating average $70 in tips per hour; those who are not ovulating or menstruating make $50." P. 57

And they even included an old study that needs to be reborn because it concerns my old friend, the MHC complex.

"…Among the constellation of genes that control the immune system are those known as the major histocompatibility complex (NHC), which influence tissue rejection. Conceive a child with a person whose MHC is too similar to your own, and the risk increases that the womb will expel the fetus. Find a partner with sufficiently different MHC, and you're likelier to carry a baby to term." P. 57.

"In later work conducted at the University of Bern in Switzerland, human females were asked to smell T shirts worn by anonymous males and then pick which ones appealed to them. Time and again, they chose the ones worn by men with safely different MHC. " p. 57

This is very important because it could poke a finger into the eye of religious fundamentalists on the planet to scream that "purity of blood" must be maintained in order to "preserve" the institutions of racial, enthinic, and religious discriminations. God wants diversity, stupids.

See my 2004 essay with the title and link below:

The Scent of Diversity:
Is the cure for discrimination in all forms as close as your nose?

My favorite quote from the article is that they call Helen Fisher, "an anthropologist at Rutgers University and something of the Queen Mum of romance research." P. 56.

Go out and buy the Time magazine and make it part of your permanent library.

Notebook entry, January 17th, 2008

I just read in today's paper edition of The Denver Post that Dr. Paul D. MacLean died on December 26, 2007. He was 94.

Dr. MacLean was a sort of hero to me because he first got me interested in the concept of a primal, reptilian brain structure that lead to my studies in evolutionary psychology. I first read about his theories in Carl Sagan's Putitzer-prize winning "The Dragons of Eden: Speculations on the Future of Human Intelligence."

Although science has since proved that the human brain is more complex then just three layers, one evolved onto of the other and that even the simplest of brain functions occur throughout the brain, his work stimulated other scientists to explore further brain functions such as consciousness and primal behaviors. He opened a philosophical door, of which, I entered -- and have never returned.

Notebook entry, January 16th, 2008
I went to a Lakewood City Civics 101 class last night….they were all cancelled in the remaining month because of snow fall and scheduling conflicts. It was about planning for a area of Lakewood zoned for development. It was quite interesting playing with tissue paper, crayons, and magic markers and "developing a area" within the city.

I also attended a City Council meeting on Monday and last night I attended the first monthly meeting of the new Advisory Council on an Inclusive Community. On Thursday the 17th I have to attend an Eiberhood neighborhood meeting of which I am a board member. Retirement is nice in that it really does give you more time to do other things without becoming exhausted. The challenge is keeping the waistline in check and no longer being "climatized" against extreme temperature fluctuations, and how to manage the new expanded hours - along with the small grandson running around and being very demanding.