Children Around the World – For Sale in War Zones

Children are sold to “buyers”.  Those buyers are often linked to the developed world.  The power majority in the world “buy” children….like, there is literally a A_Child_for_Sale_(1920_film_ad)market!

In Kenya, we saw this often, but we saw the full picture.  Certain children in the family were bartered.  They were sent to children’s homes (the word orphanage is not used in Kenya) or camps and the family would get a kick back when the child was sold off.  These children’s homes are not really “official” in nature, but the local authorities also get their kick back.  Apparently this happens in Nigeria and western Africa also, in the war zones of Boko Haram.  Probably happens in Syria as well.  A quick internet scan shows that after the devastating American crash of the stock market in 1929, American families did the same thing.

We in this world, we sell children.

This morning’s CNN undercover piece is a short video, but when you have the stomach for it, here it is.  Consider at the end of the video that it is extremely easy for these men to openly sell these children.

That means there is a market for children out there….. a market!!!  

Children for sale heartbreakingly easy to find in ravaged Nigeria

Google Doodle Joys

Google and Emmy Noether got me today with this fabulous doodle.  I did click, and when I did that, I did read.  Oh the joys of learning a new piece of fact fabric.

Emmy Noether, German mathematician before being geek was cool with men, and here she is a woman.  Though, the wiki description leaves me a bit confused as to what exactly “abstract algebra” is …when algebra is abstract from its very beginning.  All math is an abstraction.  Far too smart for me.  Google Noether

“Emmy Noether was an influential German mathematician known for her groundbreaking contributions to abstract algebra and theoretical physics.”  Wikipedia

Thanks, Google.

Ponto’s One Minute of Fame

20141209_192403I had the pleasure of watching my son perform a little on stage last night with his very talented peers.  The video and photos are less than amateur, and for that I owe Ponto and all his friends an apology.

Can you imagine what it would have been like had the photographers/ videographers been better?  John Shepherd, where are you when we need you?!

All about that base, boys.  Here is the video link of Ponto’s One Minute.

A Society Governed by Social Media; Part I – The Admonishment

A Society Governed by Social Media

Part I – The Admonishment

I see this morning’s headlines, not in issue format, but pictorialized on Facebook.  A U.S. President has unilaterally dealt with a longtime issue by creatively using his Executive powers… or not.

I actually do not entirely know because I have not read enough about the issue to have a reasonable sense of the issue.  All I know is a bunch of people aligning with a political party are saying he was justified while a bunch of people aligning with the other political party (after all, we still only really have two) say that he is an anarchist, an inciter and …well, just a big screaming baby it looks like.

Politics will ultimately reduce itself the least common denominator it seems – that of the personal assault and name calling –  because ‘We The People’ let it.  That is my bandwagon/soapbox at the end of all discussions.

I learned something from “the” judge, my mentor, and that is the truth oft lies between the poles.  He used to tell me that if his rulings and judgments offended both sides in small measure, he figures he probably got it about right.

So my interest over the next few days will be to attempt to first understand what the issues really are, and second, to then understand the full spectrum of that issue’s arguments and potential outcomes.  I owe that to the process.  That means I will have to become part Democrat and part Republican, actually listening to the pole positions.  I do NOT owe to my political party a moment of posting a Facebook article positing their position without my having taken a little time to get my head around what is really going on.

Immigration Boot type no consequence

Doing anything less than my due diligence and research is tantamount to GOSSIPING.  I am not a gossip.

Ok, let us take a vote:  Who of us, having posted a social media response about Obama and the immigration issue, has read the draft resolution, has read or listened to the speech WITHOUT pundits telling you what it all says?

It is the educator within, Immigration Separation of PowersI cannot help this. You know, the powers of government are a bit like rock/paper/scissors…..though most people I think see it more like Dr. Sheldon Cooper’s favorite version, which includes Spock and a certain lizard.ImmigrationrockpaperscissorslizardspockClear


People, we can do this.  We can independently, with rational analysis, come to grips with this stuff sans media pundits and their views.

Governing via social media is not a standard of governing at all, but governing by mob rule, i.e. mob rule…intellectually speaking of course. J  Let us quit listening to pundits and start evaluating the raw material for ourselves.  Read speeches, listen to speeches without media personalities interpreting, go to the Constitution yourself rather than listening to someone tell what is right or wrong….it is time….. so that we don’t repeat history.

Immigration Scissors beat Paper


Thank you, Brittany Maynard

Dear Brittany,brittany-maynard-and-husband-2014

We read this morning that you had left our mortal world.  I am sad about that so I watched your media videos to take a moment to remember and learn.  Thank you – to you and your family – for opening up the dignity conversation with such grace.

I believe that all of us out here who don’t really know you personally were in “hollywood” denial.  That is, we were the last to believe that you had to live and die this way.  I think Hollywood sort of establishes this expectation in us that the ending somehow will not be the grimness looming before us.  But this time it was.

It isn’t all that happy to me today, but it IS all that powerful and beneficial.

I hope it is true that the laws of Thermodynamics mean that our life energy surpasses the death of the flesh; that you are somehow ‘alive’ somewhere, without those cruel 25 cancer pounds that made being photographed miserable, watching over the soon-to-be held conversation you began, a conversation that is sure to begin in halls and chambers of legislators on every level.

No doubt it will get nasty at times as we will probably do what humans always do:  demand that our ideologies and fears are more important than the welfare of the people behind those ideologies.  So be it.  The conversation must take place.  I, like many people, have both an experiential and personal stake in the outcome.

But I am forever grateful that you could choose to handle your cancer and deteriorating, betraying body in this manner.  For now we all grieve, but there will come a day when we again take on the conversation that no one wants to really undertake.  You and your family define bravery and courage in my mind.  Thanks for sharing with us.  That was pretty big.  I am remembering you this way….. Brittany-maynard-wedding-smile

Charities and the Industry of Poverty

I read a painful comment yesterday PainfulOuchabout charities and I am going to share pieces here with a link.  It is NOT a comment about my time in Kenya specifically, but a comment about the developed world and it’s need to remain at the top of the human chain….and ignore its citizenry’s abuse of the people in the charity target countries, the poor and uneducated who live in thatched huts and so need our western ways and western systems and western money.  Except those are the very things bringing in the harm because the invasion is not monitored.

But let me back up a step ….. Jane Bussman…..stumbled upon her article as I trolled the media’s handling of one of our Kenyan cases.  I do not have her permission … yet… use her words, so read quickly in the event that my “ask later” policy backfires.  She has writing credits for our beloved South Park, Colorado’s addition to the comedy genre.  Brace yourselves, tender-spirited folk.

Jane Bussmann and her crass-cussing craziness hit home…..every single cuss word and all the words in between.   I will someday expand on my experience with charities and the Industry of Poverty, because indeed it is an industry like so many corporations globally, replete with fraud and lying and misuse of funds and manipulation of the giving public, capitalizing on our need to be “good” and fix our souls.

For now, let us share a few of the excerpts that hit homeruns.  The link at the end will allow you to read the full piece if you are so inclined.

I loved charities until I moved to Africa. In fact I wanted to work for a charity, any charity that would have me.

By charities, I don’t mean Mrs. Miggins and her mobile library van. Although there should be some authority somewhere on God’s green earth checking what Mr. Miggins is doing in the back of the van.

I landed in Northern Uganda, at a time when Joseph Kony’s kidnappers were picking off kids for sex slaves and the Ugandan army, when they could be arsed, were bombing the shit out of the kids and kidnappers alike. At first my hatred of charities was just a vague feeling. A sort of resentment of their total lack of urgency.  An industry that finessed posters making me feel I had to send them money immediately so they could fix an emergency – people were starving, people were dying, people were being kidnapped – seemed very unwilling to do anything other than hold meetings about it.  When I landed, I saw a bunch of fat bastards sat on their arses.

Eight years since I first wanted to work for a charity, I want the big ones banned.  If someone needs to be good professionally, you have to ask why. . . .

Why would someone need to be seen as good if they weren’t a giant asshole? . . .

Politicians love charities because giving a pittance to a children’s ward in Africa makes them look like good people when they’re closing children’s wards back home.

Another charity, this time for Kenyan street kids, the Gilgil Trust has seen it’s founder using the charity as a cover for his alleged child sex crimes [3].. . .

Charities need the poor more than the poor needs them. . . .

It’s a front.  A gut wrenchingly unpleasant front when it feeds off people who are really suffering.  The poverty industry needs hungry Africans.  Not the other way round.  [edits applied]

Jane Bussmann on charities: she moved to Africa to be a good person and ended up hating the professionally good.

Trust me when I tell you that your perception of “Africa” as a whole is probably VERY wrong if it comes from the media only.  But then again, their perception of you is vastly wrong.  During a Skype session in 2012 between my son and one of his friends in Colorado, I heard the comment, “You live in a sandbox, right?”

Very wrong perception if it comes from the media.

This is the topic in a comedy forum.  Can you imagine it in a more serious venue?

Listening notNobody would listen.

I have a name for this “good white man” thing going around in Africa…but you will have to wait a few more weeks…until justice takes its course in the UK.


Lovin’ the ‘Other guy” news!

Iheart small artistic love this news story this morning…..

US Looks Into Police Militarization Claims 

Why do I love a simple news article in an era of what I see as overzealous, highly inflammatory, misleading, attention-seeking, media-induced ignorance?  Well, I thought you’d never ask.   Let me tell you.

I love it for all its refreshingly simple, genuine, and honest parts.  I love it because it is a tempered response to a concern of the people….without photos of bloody, military-style police actions against children to get my attention.

Therefore, it got my attention.  SONY DSC

The media is informing us that our concerns about the government handling of its policing role are being taken somewhat seriously.  In Kenya anyway, that never happened.  The people have learned, in fact, to be quiet and keep the peace when the traffic police stop you on the road and extract money from you to keep you out of the court.  You know from experience that if you take it to court, you will lose.  You pay the money.  Nothing more is ever discussed.  Laws are passed, people scream briefly about the injustice, but the status quo returns.

You wanna know why people on the other side of this big marble want to live here?  I will tell you first hand that is is emphatically NOT because of the wealth, though we do have what appears to be wealth to them (mostly debt-induced acquisitions, really).

It is because the American people have compassion and individually give of themselves and their wealth, and the stereotype in East Africa is that Americans are good and caring people…individually.  beKind-landing-featureBob EvansThey help feed hungry mouths, they help clothe cold and naked bodies.  Forget “government” for a minute.  I am talking the individual people, like the grandma down the street or the missionary family across town or the grade school friend on Facebook.  On the eastern coast of the African continent, the mere color of your skin, a white “mzungu”, puts you into the general category of “kind and benevolent.”  But if you are American, your status elevates to one who cares and is very giving.  One whose country cares for its people.  That view comes into direct conflict, of course, with the thought that all Americans live lives consistent with the movie industry’s presentations.  Nonetheless, they know that if they are dying on a street and a “mzungu” approaches, God has spared them, and if an American, then all the more grace has been given them.  The touch of your hand upon the crown of their baby brings a lifetime of blessing to that child.  It is the ultimate gift in some of the outlying tribes really.

So, Cynthia, why does all of this matter with regard to that headline about militarization?

Well, dear reader, because….because this media headline is not screaming inflammatory social injustice.  It screams not one iota about “all” police everywhere extending their authority to hurt minorities.

What is says is this:  American people, your protest has caused them to at least believe there is an issue and look at it.

And you know what?  THAT headline is not in any American news outlet, at least not yet, and that is what makes it so beautiful to me.  CNN’s headline this morning: “REPORT: MH17 hit by high-energy objects”.   Fox News headline: US, European intelligence agencies race to track western ISIS fighters.”  See, in an American outlet, you could make the valid argument that it was being used to sway the American mindset to keep our own status quo.

Al_Jazeera_Media_NetworkBut this headline was found on Al Jazeera….the Muslim-leaning news outlet, eh….   Scary….

Where by many mid-west American accounts I’ve seen and heard around town and on Facebook anyway, the LAST thing they would want to do is try to keep the Americans believing in themselves and their government…yet there it sits, headlining the news this September 9th, 2014.  Inflammatory on my part, I know. :)


Pondering Earthquakes

6.0 Earthquake Rattles Northern CaliforniaNorthern California experienced a 6.0 earthquake recently.  Not much attention seems to be focused in the media on this earthquake.  It is as if devoid from our collective conscience. Suddenly I am reeling in a moment of personal realization…, you can see the clothing of all attendees to some MTV red carpet and Emmy thing, but no earthquake stuff.

Lots of information on bombings and terrorist Earthquake Dr Sheldon Cooper sarcasmactivities, ice bucket challenges, an inordinate amount of information about how bad all police departments are everywhere and how they shoot innocent people all the time (As Dr Sheldon Cooper would say, “That’s sarcasm.”)……..

…but no earthquake info, no earthquake challenges, no links to help support the earthquake survivors or their pets. 6.0 Earthquake Rattles Northern California    ..only a buried story about the earthquake with a headline “State of Emergency Declared.”  The story says, “The earthquake was the largest one to shake the Bay Area since the 1989 6.9-magnitude Loma Prieta Earthquake. Dozens of aftershocks followed.”  Since 1989….yet little focus or mention anywhere.  The buildings crumbled.   

6.0 Earthquake Rattles Northern CaliforniaEven the Napa Justice building cracked. Wow, that foreshadowing or ‘percent metaphoric value’ will have to be left for another day.


“Vintner Richard Ward of Saintsbury Winery south of Napa watched Sunday afternoon as workers righted toppled barrels and rescued a 500-pound grape de-stemmer that the quake had thrown to the ground.6.0 Earthquake Rattles Northern California‘That’s what happens when you’re a mile from the epicenter,’ said Ward, who lost 300 to 400 bottles in the winery’s basement.”  Napa and the wine were attacked for goodness sake!


Earthquakes and people’s lives used to matter more.

Re-entering the Stratosphere



Now that she’s back in the atmosphere

With drops of Jupiter in her hair, hey, hey, hey

She acts like summer and walks like rain

Reminds me that there’s a time to change, hey, hey, hey

Today marks the one week anniversary of our re-entry to the stratosphere, waking up not to the sounds of Africa but to the Colorado morning birds and sunshine.  My favorite mountain and lake view is seen in this town.

And though we cannot live in our house, we are ‘home.’  Guled was born here in this town. My mom lives in this town and our closest friends are within easy access of this town, if not within walking distance.

This town is truly inspirational to me. Lake Loveland balloon

In the hills behind this balloon you will find a little-known bedroom community named Masonville.  It has a little mountain store, the Masonville Mercantile, known to biker’s, couples soon-to-be-married, and sports an old jail cell for tourist pictures.  So as you ascend or descend the northern tier of the majestic Colorado Rocky Mountains, you enjoy a quick stop in the mercantile.

I never learned why the town carried that name. Note to self to do so one day. This was “home” for some time until two floods and a mountain fire caused three intense evacuations for which my psyche was ill prepared, alone with a new baby up in the mountains.  I loved the peace and alone-ness, but not in that kind of crisis.

House exterior steps

So we found a house some distance east of the mountains, past Loveland but on the plains, and called that home for twelve years before moving to Kenya.

But we are now ‘home.’  This summer will be filled with farmer’s markets, summer activities in Loveland’s small town center, visits to friends and family, and hikes in the craggy mountain side to see the hidden water gems amongst the always-green evergreen trees and the summer’s deciduous offerings.

Grand Lake RMRT

We will watch a Les Miserables production in the deep mountains at Grand Lake starring our favorite young child actress Camille Nugent…


and there is even talk with my high school friend that we might just take that long ago-pondered visit to Yellowstone…..

Glacier Natl Park

and the “Crown of the Continent Ecosystem”, the famous Glacier National Park, sitting on the US/Canadian border where Montana, Alberta and British Columbia meet – the planning of which began some years prior to our move to Kenya.

However, make no mistake that while we enjoy a lovely reintegration and regeneration process, issues in political and developmental Kenya are not far from my mind.  The proper education of children and their protection remain squarely in my essence.  I have a wider perspective of things after living in a developing country and returning home.  Perhaps there will be some lessons to share….

Mom cartoon…. like spending time with your very cool 75 year-old mom (sorry mom – public record)…. ok that isn’t my mom. My mom said no photos on the internet. Privacy of age I may not respect, by revocation of consent I respect.

… like hugging your friends who kept you sane while you were exploring….

…. like being freely able to walk the neighborhood and the forest at any time with no fear….

…. like feeling a sense of trust with your government… surprising to you?

…. like smooth roads and bridges everywhere…..

…. like having access to 911 if you need it without having to pay a bribe….

… like finding hair dye appropriate for a white chick to stave off a few more years the vestiges of an aging body, though not a soul…

… remembering a specific niece who taught you the value of a song….

…. like seeing the growth in people more clearly because you were away.

Travel is imperative for the soul of some people.  I am a case in point.  It balances perceptions and trains us to bring value to our every day lives.  The humdrum of everyday must give way to the beauty and magic in every moment.  Our minds open to many more possibilities that way.  I do not apologize for wanting to see and feel magic in my everyday life, but perhaps I apologize for not dragging enough people with me.  And for scaring my mom, an unintended consequence. Indeed I have returned from my stay on the moon….

Drops Clair Sail across Sun

Now that she’s back from that soul vacation


Tracing her way through the constellation, hey

Drops Claire MozartShe checks out Mozart
while she does Tae-Bo
Reminds me that there’s room to grow, hey

Now that she’s back in the atmosphere

Drops Clair Drops in hairI’m afraid that she might think of me as
Plain ol’ Jane told a story about a man
Who was too afraid to fly so he never did land

Drops Milkyway NASABut tell me, did the wind sweep you off your feet?
Did you finally get the chance
To dance along the light of day
And head back to the Milky Way?

And tell me, did Venus blow your mind?

Was it everything you wanted to find?

And did you miss me While you were looking for yourself out there?

~Train, Drops of Jupiter, with illustrations by Claire Adele

All well and good on this end.  I did indeed miss you, Colorado.

We are home.

Thanks to Claire Adele for permission to showcase her pieces from her DeviantArt page.  She really has color and energy happening!  Check it out.

How the Media Melds My Mind – an Airplane Lesson

Mind Meld

My mind meld this morning begins with a morning review of global media over my Ethiopian coffee, enjoyed in my flat on the outskirts of Nairobi, Kenya.  I’m ecclectic like that.


Al Jazeera reports on the G7 threatening Putin and Russia, and then the missing Malaysian flight now three weeks into its disappearance.

The “they” of the aircraft search world have announced somewhat formally throught the Malaysian PM that the aircraft expired somewhere out in the middle of the southern Indian Ocean and all aboard are dead.  No one knows this definitively, however, an exclusive high-tech system, Inmarsat, had tracked pings and directions to lead all involved to believe “beyond any reasonable doubt” that the plane went down in remote waters off western Australia.  Quite harsh and sad.  Grief blue eye tear goodbyeFamilies, friends, colleagues… all in a state of great grief and I think even we strangers feel it in the pits of our stomachs, no matter how far removed we are from the actual tragedy.

So, after perusing the BBC, Nation Media and various other global outlets (read “the Onion” and Huffington here) I move on to my dose of the CNN effect.  Indeed in a moment worthy of a bipolar episode, I read a story about a Southwest Airlines jet in the U.S. landing at the wrong airport.  Click those orange words back there and you will be transported to the article if it is still published.  The story is brief and truly quite light.  The pilots are speaking to air traffic control at the Branson airport, the correct airport, but apparently have just landed on the strip at a different airport some miles away:

“I assume I’m not at your airport,” one of the pilots radioed to controllers at Branson Airport, the Boeing 737’s intended destination.

“4013, um, have you landed?” comes the response, according to the recordings released by the Federal Aviation Administration.

“Yea,” says the pilot, after a brief pause.

Then the controller calls to another air traffic facility for the area to inquire about the plane, and there is this exchange:

“Did you watch Southwest land?”

“Yea, why?”

“Did you see it come here? They’re saying it landed at the wrong airport.”

“Are you kidding?”

“Yea, no, I’m not.”

And that is apparently not all. The airstrip upon which the pilots set down was half the distance of the Branson strip.  Those pilots had to step on the brakes with renewed purpose…but alas, all lived to tell the tale and snicker a bit.

And this is where my brain goes:  “Huh?  With all the high-tech gadgets in the world, with all the pinging and tracking and satellites and US spying toys…. wow, with ALL that, you can actually LAND at the wrong airport and no one notices?  The Branson air control didn’t notice that the plane wasn’t even in sight on their runway?”

Mind melt thought secondary to that:  “And come to think of it, we can lose an aircraft completely?  There is no satellite auto-tracking on planes these days? Lose a plane and land another plane at the WRONG airport, but put dudes in globe-topped white suits on the moon and bring them home successfully…….  Really?  REALLY?”

So, because I am trained to intake facts and then synthesize those facts into some meaningful construct, I start thinking back to my initial response on the Malaysian flight.  I wrote a piece, only half finished, questioning what technology is embedded in airplanes now in the post-9/11 terror era.  I am certain in my soul that since the 9/11 tragedy in the U.S., there are all kinds of super secret monitoring devices embedded in planes unknown to the general public’s psyche or awareness.

certainty dicecertainty fibonnaci spiralSo sure of it.

I am talking Fibonacci golden spiral sure.

We may find out that the Southwest Airlines pilots were enjoying a good Sambucha perhaps, giving rise to momentary synapse-receptor lapses of judgment… i.e., a bit drunk.  I ask around but get no positive responses from my contacts in the know.  Sometimes silence is the confirmation.  The difficulty is knowing when that is.  Thus, a half-finished suspicion piece sits in my Drafts cue.

But I can’t help but “go there”… the dystopic paranoid place…. where I might find the answer in a beta testing hack job on air traffic controller software.  Probably one of Ponto’s  U.S. based tech friends who signed up for a beta testing spot in a company’s Research & Development call, thinking he or she is beta testing a new digital “game”, a real life Ender’s Game.  Investigations involve connections and motives.

money trail

The connection is the air traffic and guidance element, and the motive… that will take a touch more thought and probably involve a money trail (mom’s lesson long ago during a particularly confusing investigation).

Yep, that’s gotta be it.  Definitely someone out there is hacking air guidance system networks.  Definitely.

 The Thinker, Le Penseur, by Rodin, 1904.The Thinker, Le Penseur, by Rodin, 1904.

I am still pondering my Fascism and media pieces…..