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August 2006

Waiting for Hurricane Ernesto; Lessons Learned

Last year, during the aftermath of Hurricane Wilma, we were without electricity for 14 long, miserable days. Thinking about that experience brings back bad memories and I’m trying to keep that out of my consciousness.

For the first 4 days there were long gas lines, no ice, no cold drinks and most of all no hot showers. About a week into the disaster, friends brought over charcoal, ice, and other necessities. One of the best gadgets I found out about was a power inverter. I plugged it into the cigarette lighter of my car and voila! I could connect my laptop and get on the internet, keep up with the news on my portable television, and charge my cell phones with the regular cord rather than the cigarette lighter adapter. You would have thought I'd discovered gold!

That may not seem like a big deal to you but it was to me. It was then that I realized how much I’d come to depend on access to the world-wide web. You can purchase the inverter at Wagreens, Target, Walmart and a few places online. Anywho, check it out and don’t get caught in the dark without one.

And another thing, let’s STOP referring to electricity as “power”. The use of that word bothers me almost as much as that "good hair - bad hair" thing that Black folks buy into but that's another post for another time. Without power = powerless. I don’t think so. That is a subtle attack on our psyche. Remember ... "Your words, your dreams, and your thoughts have power to create conditions in your life."

My friends and neighbors from third world countries where electricity is a luxury, survived Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Wilma without freaking out like those of us born and raised in this country. My Haitian neighbors, cleared the downed trees from their yard, cleared the streets and our yard long before the county inspection team got there. It was amazing.

My drummer friend, Malick is from Africa. He chuckled as he spoke of the Americans reaction to the outage. Malick and his family caught fish, cleaned them and cooked them over a fire in their back yard. For music, they entertained the neighborhood with the most beautiful sounds of their drums. We danced and chanted. It was magical.

My Haitian neighbors and my African friends reminded me so much of my relatives in the rural parts of the state. They were never hungry, always clean and always had shelter --- with or without electricity. They were self-sufficient.

Now that’s POWER!

Copyright © 2006 VANESSA BYERS Vanessa: Unplugged Reading blogs at work? Click to escape to a suitable site!

Jail John Mark Karr for Life

karrFormer schoolteacher John Mark Karr confessed to th almost decade old murder of tiny beauty queen Jonbenet Ramsey. Karr has a twisted, sordid past and the likelihood that he actually committed the murder is doubtful. One thing is certain; he is a sick puppy and needs to be incarcerated for something.

© 2006 VANESSA BYERS, Vanessa: Unplugged Reading blogs at work? Click to escape to a suitable site!

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Remembering the Fallen

Army Sgt. Wakkuna A. Jackson, 21 Jacksonville, FL

Rest In Peace

© 2006 VANESSA BYERS, Vanessa: Unplugged Reading blogs at work? Click to escape to a suitable site!

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Thought for the Day - Prepare well

Diligent preparation leads to outstanding achievement.

What are you preparing for right now?

In every moment, in every action, you are preparing yourself for one thing or another. Prepare yourself for the life you desire to lead, and it will come to be.

Opportunities are constantly coming your way. Yet in order for them to be of any value, you must be prepared to take hold of those opportunities.

The sooner you begin to prepare, the more you can achieve. Being prepared gives you considerably more options, and puts time on your side.

Live joyfully and completely in each moment, knowing that you are preparing yourself for the times to come. Build one day upon another, with focus, positive intention and purpose, and you'll build a life that's truly spectacular.

Each moment is your opportunity to prepare yourself for reaching higher and higher levels of fulfillment. Prepare well, and your life will reap many great rewards.

-- Ralph Marston

© 2006 VANESSA BYERS, Vanessa: Unplugged Reading blogs at work? Click to escape to a suitable site!

“Vanessa: Unplugged” highlighted by Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism

I write for two reasons: first, as stress relief; and secondly to share information. With so many folks on the internet and so many millions of websites and blogs, imagine my surprise to see excerpts of my blog on the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism website.

The article highlighted the emotions bloggers shared after viewing the first two acts of Spike Lee’s documentary for HBO, “When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts”. It is posted in its entirety below.

CJR Daily – Real-Time media Criticism from the Columbia Journalism Review

Aug. 22, 2006 - 12:10 PM
Blog Report
Spike Lee Documents Hurricane Katrina, Bloggers Cry
Felix Gillette

Last night HBO aired the first two parts of Spike Lee's new documentary chronicling Hurricane Katrina's devastation of New Orleans. Afterward, blogger after blogger put aside the usual snark and pounded out posts through tear-filled eyes.

"I'm still crying," writes Emanuel. "Not sobbing but tears are running down my face because of the empathy evoked by the first two acts of Spike Lee's documentary When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts. This film has left me angry, sad, frustrated, empty, sympathetic, afraid, embarrassed and overwhelmed by the levels of human stories told in this documentary. I'm so wound up that I can't sleep."

He was hardly alone.

"That shit was hard," writes Lizz Straight. "For all ya'll who know me know me, ya'll know my grandma was born and raised in the N.O. with all her 12 brothers and sisters and my family located to Biloxi, MS before I was born. So all my roots are there. It was a hard hard thing to sit through it. ... THAT had me in tears."

"I ask for full amnesty on any typos in this posting because I am seriously shaking as I type this," writes Soulfull of Thoughts. "Thus far, Spike has done an excellent job of following/capturing the essence of what happened in the Gulf Coast. As I watched, I didn't want to cry. Not because I was insensitive to what I was watching, but more because I didn't want to miss anything. Instead I let the tears go their separate ways as they rolled down my neck, where they pooled, forming their own lakes."

"I can't stop crying," writes Vanessa: Unplugged. "When the Levees Broke exposes the rampant disregard for the loss of life in New Orleans. ... To watch the pain and frustration as it happened was just too much for me. I'd heard about the bodies in the water and along the streets but to see them in the movie was too painful."

"Okay so I'm done crying now," writes Ms Feisty. "My head hurts, my heart is wrenched apart, and I'm completely exhausted. And I'm probably going to do it to myself again tomorrow."

"The movie is a testimony, a witness, through which we learn just a few of hundreds of thousands of horrific stories of the people of New Orleans," writes Cue Tip. "It is immensely difficult to watch, with the feelings of helplessness and anger of a year ago regurgitating into my mouth and seeing again the suffering, the bloated bodies, the despair on people's faces. If you are not in tears throughout ... there's something wrong with you."

© 2006 VANESSA BYERS, Vanessa: Unplugged
Reading blogs at work? Click to escape to a suitable site!


Diary of a Mad Black Woman

I recently saw Tyler Perry’s “Diary of a Mad Black Woman” on cable television. Okay, so I didn’t go to the movie theater when it was released, and I’m so sorry I waited so long to see it.

I’ve never been a fan of the church plays that Black Americans have made so popular and I didn’t think this movie would be much different. How wrong I was. Tyler Perry has made a fortune off the church plays and has parlayed his talent into movies and television. I ain’t made at a brother for handling his business.

Kimberly Elise, Shemar Moore, Steve Harris, Tyler Perry and the rest of the cast were fantastic. The storyline was little convoluted but “Madea” made me forget that more than few times. When Judge Mablean asked “What is this repeat offenders day,” I thought I would never stop laughing.

The storyline was uplifting but I was disappointed that Shemar didn’t bare his chest. Anyway, now I must see “Madea’s Family Reunion.”

© 2006 VANESSA BYERS, Vanessa: Unplugged


OutKast's Bold Move with "Idlewild" Movie

The story of the loves and ambitions of two struggling performers is told through intricate musical numbers and vibrantly choreographed dance sequences in Idlewild, an original musical starring multi-platinum and multi-Grammy winning OutKast members Andre Benjamin (Andre 3000) and Antwan Andre Patton (Big Boi).

Set against the backdrop of a 1930s southern speakeasy, Idlewild explores the lives of Percival (Benjamin), the club's shy piano player, and Rooster (Patton), the club'showy lead performer and manager. Idlewild synthesizes drama, music, cinema and style to bring the tale of struggling singers to life. It is the feature film-directing debut for Bryan Barber, the award-winning director and longtime OutKast music video collaborator, and includes dance sequences choreographed by legendary performer and three-time Tony winner Hinton Battle.

The all-star cast is a roster of some of the most notable performers in film and music today. Cast members include Ving Rhames (Mission:Impossible), Terrance Howard (Hustle & Flow), newcomer Paula Patton, Faizon Love (Elf), Malinda Williams (Soul Food), legendary recording artist Patti LaBelle (On the One), singer Macy Gray (Training Day), Tony Award winner Ben Vereen (Why Do Fools Fall In Love) and Oscar© nominee and Emmy winner Cicely Tyson (Fried Green Tomatoes).

Idlewild includes new songs from OutKast's forthcoming album, which is also titled "Idlewild".

Click here for official website.

© 2006 VANESSA BYERS, Vanessa: Unplugged Reading blogs at work? Click to escape to a suitable site!


Robert Best booted from Runway

I must confess that I've been a bit perturbed lately. My favorite Barbie fashion designer, Robert Best was booted from this week's Project Runway. All I can muster is a deep sigh. Robert Best is such a fantastic designer but his true talent was not displayed on the show.

Why he even subjected himself to the torture of this show is still beyond me but to each his own. It's so amazing that the designers can conceive and construct the fashions shown. I am consistently in awe of their fabulous creations.

The unconventional materials and unbeleivable deadlines the contestants were subjected to were in complete conflict with Robert's usual mode of creativity.

Anywho, my remaining favorites: Michael, Uli and Laura.

Here are some of my favorite Robert Best designs:

© 2006 VANESSA BYERS, Vanessa: Unplugged Reading blogs at work? Click to escape to a suitable site!


Black students ordered to give up seats to white children

The article below is authentic. What is most distressing is that folks are still comfortable enough to assault --- no abuse the psyche of children in such a manner. I've Googled this news story and found some very interesting comments from folks who assume the Black kids were rowdy and racist.

Prayerfully their will be an unbiased investigation of this incident very soon. The current actions of that local school board are not satisfactory, in my opinion. Racism does exist in the United States. Wrong is wrong no matter the victim or perpetrator.

Black students ordered to give up seats to white children Status of Red River Parish bus driver is unknown. August 24, 2006

By Vickie Welborn

COUSHATTA -- Nine black children attending Red River Elementary School were directed last week to the back of the school bus by a white driver who designated the front seats for white children.

The situation has outraged relatives of the black children who have filed a complaint with school officials.

Superintendent Kay Easley will meet with the family members in her office this morning.

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People also is considering filing a formal charge with the U.S. Department of Justice. NAACP District Vice President James Panell, of Shreveport, said he would apprise Justice attorneys of the situation this week. He's considering asking for an investigation into the bus incident and other aspects of the school system's operations, including pupil-teacher ratio as it relates to the numbers of white and black children, along with a breakdown of the numbers of black and white teachers employed.

"If the smoke is there, then there's probably fire somewhere else," Panell said in a phone interview from New Orleans. "At this point, it is extremely alarming. We fought that battle 50 years ago, and we won. Why is this happening again?"

Easley would not comment much on the allegations Wednesday, saying it is a personnel issue. She acknowledged that she has investigated the claim. And she confirmed that the bus driver did not run her route Wednesday, nor would she today.

Asked if the driver would work for the rest of the year, Easley said, "I'm not going to answer the questions. "» You're getting all that you're going to get from me. I'm sorry."

Red River Elementary School Principal Jamie Lawrence tried to rectify the seating situation when it was brought to her attention. But it was ultimately handled at the Central Office, Patricia Sessoms said.

Sessoms aunt, Iva Richmond, is the mother of two of the children, ages 14 and 15, and foster parent to three others, ages 5, 6 and 10. Janice Williams, who is the mother of the other four children, is Richmond's neighbor. All nine children catch the bus at a stop on Ashland Road. Sessoms will join Richmond and Williams in their meeting with Easley today.

Sessoms said they would ask for bus driver Delores Davis' immediate termination.

Davis, who originates her bus route in Martin, has called Richmond to apologize, Sessoms said. A message left on Davis' answering machine late Wednesday afternoon was not immediately returned.

After Richmond and Williams filed complaints with the School Board, Transportation Supervisor Jerry Carlisle asked Davis to make seat assignments for her passengers, Sessoms said.

"But she still assigned the black children to the back of the bus," she added.

And the nine children had to share only two seats, meaning the older children had to hold the younger ones in their laps.

A new solution reached Monday by School Board officials has a black bus driver driving across town to pick up the nine black children.

"I think the whole school system needs to be reviewed in Red River Parish," Sessoms said.

Sessoms, who has two children at Red River Elementary, said she has no problems with her bus driver. "I have a wonderful bus driver," she added. Sessoms' request to have her young children sit near the front because of their ages was granted.

School Board member Gene Longino said Wednesday evening that he had not heard about the situation involving the nine children.

"I don't know anything about that. "» Until something formally comes to the School Board members through the superintendent, we don't know the details," Longino said.

School Board President Ricky Cannon was at work Wednesday evening and unavailable for comment. Board member J.B. McElwee also was not at home. Calls to the homes of Cleve Miller, Kassandria Wells White, Karen Womack and Jessie Webber were not answered.

© 2006 VANESSA BYERS, Vanessa: Unplugged
Reading blogs at work? Click to escape to a suitable site!


Let the buyer beware

Check out the link below for a look at the investigative report on Jiffy Lube shops in California. As you view it, be mindful that it is clearly and indictment of the Jiffy Lube chain but more important, it could happen anywhere by any auto mechanic.

Please share this with your family and friends.

© 2006 VANESSA BYERS, Vanessa: Unplugged
Reading blogs at work? Click to escape to a suitable site!