27 April 2011

Dependent on the Kindness of Strangers

Recently I ventured a bit beyond my suburban repose into the frenzied Loop via the CTA/L/Metra; ergo, the muse for this missive: “Dependent Upon the Kindness of Strangers.”

My destination was an office building located adjacent to where I would disembark about 55 minutes after boarding one of four modes of public transport. That which I learned about getting from points A to B to C to D, and subsequent reverse trip, was to be discovered by asking strangers for directions and confirmations that I was on the right track – literally!

What kindness was extended! When I asked a yellow-vested CTA worker to confirm my understanding of how to get to where I was going, the orange-vested maintenance worker chimed in and more confidently gave me train by track by bus by color simplified directions. He was better than Google Maps; and even better than CTA trip planner (I feel a customer comment card being crafted about improving user interface). Not only were his directions simple and exact, I actually relaxed a bit and took in a few sights along the way.

My first observation was that I was feeling all Cooly High’ish. (If you don’t know what I’m saying, you did not graduate high school between ’75 and ’79; and, you need to rent the movie.) The L was just like it was in the movies – in any movie shot in Chicago! What I didn’t expect to see was just how close many of the apartments are to the tracks. I can only imagine the noise level at bed time, early mornings and when newborns are needed to sleep.

While taking in the changing skyline and passenger demographic the closer I got to the Loop, I lost count of the number of stops before my first transfer. Not to fear, strangers were near! Asking the young man seated beside me, the hip chick wearing faux suede knee high boots spoke up to point out the stop map in living color over the doors. She didn’t imagine that my eyes were older than hers and that the time it would take me to ferret reading glasses from my cross-the-body messenger purse I just might miss my stop. Thank God-ness for friendly folk all around – someone, piped up, “you need to get off now and wait here for the next train.” Whew!

My next observation was that the stations and pay systems were extremely streamlined and efficient. No frills. No art installations. No harpsichordist on the platform. Just concrete steel reinforced beams and stairs. White wooden weather-proofed benches. Utilitarian signage and trash receptacles. No frills. However, not at all as dark, dank and dirty and are endless miles of NYC Subway; but still, a far cry from LA’s new (under 20 years) and expanding rail system adorned with Skittle-esque artwork, sky-scraper tinted subterranean all glass elevators, and yes, even a resident harpsichordist on the underground platform departing West from downtown.

When I arrived at my final stop, I disembarked totally disoriented. Being uncertain of North’s location, I asked a man in a hurry whether or not I was headed in the right direction. He pointed me to an elevator and sidewalk two blocks long. Feeling confident, I was at least walking distance from my destination, I took a side trip to the neighborhood Dunkin Donuts. Again, another blog for another day – those blasted Dunkin Donuts! I digress. I walked two blocks into the wrong building. Didn’t sweat it, on this cold, cold day, because the Concierge assured me I was on the right block, though wrong building. LOL. Across the street I trotted, blue awning in view, only to discover I walked into the wrong door. Thank the Goddess of Gorgeous Smiles, this really pretty black muffin with a smile like dawn sweetly advised me to hit the pavement for about 10 more yards and enter the next door. I would get lost more often if she were behind every door number one…

My final observation was that the trains are made to move folk, not tour folk. While sitting, CTA/L/Metra windows are too narrow and short – and blocked by bodies – to enjoy the scenery along the way. While standing, being tallish as am I, the windows did not provide any better view. I will take my tape measure (Love can write a blog about my penchant for taking measurements) to whey my curiosity about the dimensions of the windows and consumer comfort. Until then, I will try different seats each trip until I find a perfect daydreaming spot traveling at 79 mph skimming rooftops and satiating voyeurism (remember, bedroom windows are adjacent to the rails).

After handling my business, ‘cause that’s how I roll, I retraced my steps, comprehended the oversized LOOP Skittles map on the platform, learned which trains only ran during rush hours, and smiled at people. My way of saying thanks to humanity for being kind to me.

My gratitude must not be negated by this observation: CTA commuters are way less fashionable, actually extremely boring, compared to NYC riders who are uber fashionable and LA passengers who are tres freakish. As for me an my purplelishousness self, I smile and nod, alot, when strangers complimented my purple stuff and cascading locs. I am forever in fashion, in my own head, and in season, in the right shade of purple for the occasion! Ha!

Speaking of purple, the PURPLE Line takes me home.

20 April 2011

Petition: End Discrimination Against LGBTQI Clergy in the United Methodist Church

Dear Kinfolk Friend and Relative:

I hope you join the great cloud of witnesses and co-laborers in Jesus' work by signing this petition to end discrimination in the United Methodist Church! Please share this note with other supportive persons of color. One needn't be affiliated with any denomination -- nor identify as LGBTQI - - since we really want to send a message out to persons within our religious and racial-ethnic culture that homophobia must end.

As a being in the intersection (or crosshairs) of Black/queer/woman embodiment, the work of liberatory justice and full inclusion needs more ripples on the surface of these still, and still deadly, waters of denominationalism. While in this process of working for the promise within the polity of the Presbyterian Church (USA), I keep a light shining for UMC around this manner of welcoming, affirming and including in full communion with the Church.

Echoing intentions of diverse communities of faith since Stonewall, "I'm gay and God loves me."

The FULL TEXT of the Petiton and its Signees follows. To SIGN the petition, go to this link:

An Endorsement Against Church Bigotry and The Injustice of ¶ 304.3

On January 31, 2011 thirty-six retired bishops of the United Methodist Church released A Statement of Counsel to the Church calling for the removal of ¶ 304.3 from The Book of Discipline (2008). Their statement is particularly directed at this paragraph because it serves as part of current UMC polity that prohibits ordination, certification as candidates, or appointments to serve in ministry of “self-avowed practicing homosexuals.”

On February 25, 2011 at its 44th Annual Meeting, Black Methodists for Church Renewal (BMCR) voted to endorse our retired bishops’ statement.

As committed citizens of God’s beloved kingdom, we, the undersigned Black clergy and scholars of the United Methodist Church also endorse the bishops’ statement and applaud the action taken by our colleagues of BMCR. The action is an expression of the original intent of BMCR to be a renewing agent within and beyond the United Methodist Church, not just on matters of race, but on justice issues beyond race. The current critical discussion within our church on matters related to sexual identity is the issue beyond race that BMCR should, and is now addressing in a manner consistent with its historic advocacy for civil rights in the midst of unrestrained horrific discrimination.

As Black people we are uncomfortably familiar with discrimination. We have borne the weight of building up our nation and our United Methodist Church even under the harsh strokes of racism justified by theological convictions and human arrogance. Imperfect humans draped in an august array of Christian doctrines uttering an allegiance to “scriptural authority” and “natural law” are not new scenes on the landscape of Church history. Amazingly we who oppose such bigotry find ourselves in a strange and disturbing place: too many fellow progeny of Black slaves have now joined ranks with those who spew bigotry and, to our dismay, are wielding doctrine and scripture as their tools just as was done during slavery and the Jim Crow era. As before, segments within our church polity are the bulwark of this discriminatory logic.

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. made this prophetic comment about the church in his 1965 eulogy of civil rights activist, Rev. James Reeb: “He was murdered by the irrelevancy of a church that will stand amid social evil and serve as a taillight rather than a headlight, an echo rather than a voice.” As persons of African descent, we have seen the Church be a taillight regarding colonialism, slavery, segregation, and the rights of women. Since 1972, in its language and legislation the UMC has been a taillight on the rights of LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer) persons in our denomination and to the world.

Now, forty-six years later, facing the civil rights issue of this epoch, rather than silence, we Black clergy, leaders and scholars with bold voice and through this document say, “No more!” Too many are being murdered. Too many are being bullied. Too many have committed suicide.

Sadly, the season in which the United Methodist Church might have been a headlight for justice in the affirmation of the God-given rights of same gender loving persons has passed. Actions of secular courts and legislatures as they have responded to the equality provisions of our Constitution have affirmed the human and civil rights of same gender loving persons in ways our denomination has not. We trust that the delegates to the 2012 General Conference will rescind language and legislation that denies those rights.

Howard Thurman in “Jesus and the Disinherited,” described God as very present with those who are relegated to places outside the gate. BMCR embraced this belief in their support of the statement by our retired Bishops. We join them because we know that the Jesus who is "the center of our joy," is also the Jesus who has stood with Black Methodists both within society and Methodism, as we challenged those who restrict and restrain us. We will not stand on the sidelines as our church through its legislation denies LGBTQ persons, access to ordination as United Methodist clergy.

We therefore emphatically support the right to ordination of LGBTQ persons. We urgently appeal to other racial/ethic caucuses, as well as other caucuses, and individuals representative of the rich diversity of the United Methodist Church to join us in our support to end this discrimination.

African American Scholars and Clergy of The United Methodist Church

Rev. Pamela R. Lightsey, PhD
Northern Illinois Annual Conference
Assoc. VP of Student Affairs
Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary
Evanston, Illinois

Rev. Gilbert H. Caldwell
Rocky Mountain Annual Conference
Retired Clergy
Asbury Park, New Jersey

Rev. Traci C. West, PhD
New York Annual Conference
Professor of Ethics and African American Studies
Drew Theological School
Madison, New Jersey

Rev. Phil Lawson
California-Nevada Annual Conference
Retired Elder
San Francisco, California

Rev. Donald Francis Guest
Pastor, Glide Memorial United Methodist Church
San Francisco, California

Rev. Theodore L. Lockhart
New England Annual Conference
Retired Clergy
St. Petersburg, Florida

Rev. Linda E. Thomas, PhD
New York Annual Conference
Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago
Professor of Theology and Anthropology
Chicago, Illinois

Rev. Gennifer Benjamin Brooks, PhD
New York Annual Conference
Associate Professor of Homiletics
Styberg Preaching Institute Director
Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary
Evanston, Illinois

Rev. Cheryl B. Anderson, PhD
Baltimore-Washington Conference
Associate Professor of Old Testament
Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary
Evanston, Illinois

18 April 2011

My Droid Desktop

So, what had happened was... read previous two articles for details...

Now, having spent a get-acquainted evening with my LG Vortex powered by Verizon, I decided to begin delving into the world of 10K Droid Apps. Ever given to efficiency, organization and functionality, the first thing I did was set up seven desktop screens, instead of the standard five. Like any good organization task, have more storage bins available than you may need in case you need them all after all. N-E-wayyyy...

Droid Apps for my Desktop -- at least for now:

Screen 1:
Scripture of the Day - Widget:
These are like post-it notes without the clutter. Great for scripture memory and daily inspiration. (Side Bar, I learned the difference between a shortcut and a widget. More on this later.)

There is still space on this page for other warm fuzzies should I choose to add them. Remember functionality, not clutter.

Screen 2:
Left Blank intentionally. For the days I need a tickler file or some other innovative collection of widgets and apps.

Screen 3:
BING search bar. Familiar function.
Carr Matey. Never forget where I parked again.
GasBuddy. Glad to know my fav gas station is also the cheapest for 20 mi around.
Compass. New city with curved streets, invaluable.
VZ Navigator. Old fav, dont fix if not broke.
Shopping Cart. No more leaving grocery list on refrig. Can even SMS to partner and her reply is updated on checklist!
Tip-Calculator: No pen calcs, check division, and just shake to clear!
Bing Maps: Factory installed. Will replace with Google Maps if not as cool.
Around Me: Replaces POYNT on BB.

KeyRing - Widget: Now this one is the star of this page! OMGeekiness!!! Phone cam scans bar code of grocery stores, club stores, library cards and voila! No more forgetting number, fumbling with plethora of keyring mini cards, or foraging through black hole handbag for right member card. Widget allows you to scroll to right card, one touch confirm and one touch show of bar code with number! Yeah!

Screen 4:
: No smart right key like on BB so this is handy.
Calendar: I sync with Google. Simple and so there.
MyDocs: Full access to Google Docs, one touch, looks just like laptop desktop. Until, and unless I get a Kindle for poety reading in public spaces, I will use this! Yeah!

TouchBible: OMGeekiness! Just when I thought YouBible was the bomb, Touch Bible shows up and blows it out of the water! So much more efficient with touchscreen and rolling menu to locate translation, book, chapter and verse! Love it! Just thought to move it to Screen 1 with Daily Scripture. (BTW, moving is just a firm finger touch and angle your phone in the direction you want to move the app. How cool is that? Very cool I say!)
CamScanner: Take snapshot of document which becomes PDF. Looking into adding an OCR capable widget here soon also.
Clock: Multiple alarms! Multiple alarms! Multiple alarms! Need I say more?
ColorNote: Sticky notes that dont loose their stickyness.
GRE Vocabulary: So, now you know...
Calculator: For the morphologist with mathematical deficiencies.
Words with Friends: Finally! I can play Scrabble-esque games with kin, friends and strangers while on the go, or rather, while waiting in line.
Yahtzee: Will not live long in my space here. As soon as I find Spider Solitare for Droid this puppy is gone!
TVGuide: Still getting used to local channels and locating favorite shows. This is one touch to what is showing, in my area... or anywhere I want to search.

Screen 5:
Text Message - Widget
: Gonna dissappear soon. No longer needs it since I have the faces of the few folk I text the most smiling up at me as a widget! see more below...
Email: Gonna remove soon as I finish this blog I think. Top bar of phone is drop down menu for messages.
OneTouch Text: I see their faces, touch and text!
Facebook: Looks great here and loads fast.

Swift: OMGeekiness! So much better than TwitDroyd and BB Twitter. Choose this when I couldn't find Ubersocial Droid app.
Voice Dialer: I like voice dialing. Have not used it. Not feeling that it will have long shelf life.
VLingo: Cant wait to use it to speak instead of type or SWYPE. Will play with this one all week long.

Screen 6:
Weather Channel - Widget
: Cute as a button weather girl that changing with the equinox.
ICE: In Case of Emergency. Accessible like 911.
AppKiller - Widget: One touch optimization.
Market: Seachable database for droid apps. Hasnt failed me yet!

BIC Concert Lighter: Hey, I’m a 60s boomer baby. If I have to say more, you are not.
ColorFlashlight: Customizable flashlight, strobe like, disco light. Okay, so these last two have been all about fun...
Battery - Widget: Nice to have at a glance percentage of battery available.

Screen 7:
OneTouch Speed Dial
: Visual directory of my most loved and called kin and friends. See their faces, touch and talk!

BlueTooth - Widget: OMGeekiness! The most ease of connecting with Acura Handsfree Link ever!

And, there you have it. A peek into my love affair with my new toy. Oh stop it...

Droidisms and Diva Geek Dander

Yup, I just defected from over a decade of BlackBerry to join the Droids. Ahem, that is Droids, not Druids (just in case my seminary folk got the two mixed up). I will get to my 10 Best Apps List in the next article, but for now I want to herald a few tips for newbies. Who better to have tips for newbies than newbies!
Step away from the Droid Apps inventories on the phone under Market or on the Internet when you should be sleeping instead of playing with your Droid. (Mine is an LG Vortex in black, like me, draped in purple roses, often like me).
Get used to the weight and height of the phone. I found it to be heavier than the BB and a smidgen taller and thinner. However, not to be dismayed, it fits perfecting in my perfectly OPI Gel nails manicured palm.
Get used to the touch screen if you have never had one before. Figure out where to touch, what happens when you touch, and what marvelous things happen when you linger with your touch. I know, this sounds rather sexy and you know, technological sexiness is a reality to Diva Geeks everywhere!

Play with SWYPE. OMGeekiness!!! No need to squint and worry about voluptuous finger tips on sensitive touch screen keyboard. Just trace your finger over the letters and voila! your word or a drop down menu of possible words appear. How wicked cool is that! Play with SWYPE, read the tutorial to figure out how to capitalize, punctuate, correct, and add to dictionary with a touch and swipe! or SWYPE!
Set up your desktop with five or seven panels! Talk about functionality and organization. I went for the seven panels and will talk you through contents on each panel... in the next artcle.

For now, get out your Droid and play!!!

Defection to the Droid

I am a high productivity Diva Geek. My vast connectivity and proclivity for knowing technological programming and Beta testing end usability is a skill set I keep close to bosom. Autodidact with periodic insomnia learned HTML before market was deluged with website templates and cascading style-sheets. However, I dont collect random, useless technological gadgets or knowledge. Functionality, like wearing only Birkenstocks or stilettos, is important to me.

When effecting more than a bit of change for this season of life, changing my phone number made its way to the top of my to-do and must-get-done lists. When I contacted Verizon, I learned that as a premier customer (read, pays three figure bill a month, on time, with no suspended services) I was eligible for not only a free smartphone upgrade, but also a decrease in unlimited data plan, free car charger, and free screen guards. Yeah. But, I digress.

Having had the same phone number for over 13 years (and only the second cell phone number in 16 years) I was equally excited and anxious about changing my phone number. To fully embrace the swift transitions I am experiencing, I also decided to upgrade my phone. Having been a BlackBerry user for eight of the recent years, I ventured to check out the Droid platform. What a delightful young customer service rep who answered all of my questions, about every phone appearing on the free-to-me category. Hey, I am making changes -- nothing says that I shouldn't question every step of the way!

I chose the LG (lovessss every LG product I have ever owned) Vortex. Yeah! Wanted it in Violet, but so did a whole lotta other fashionistas (no worries, the purple and black rose hardcase cover I ordered adorns phone as if draped in a silk-burned embossed stole). My first touch screen. My first non-BlackBerry in over a decade. My very first Droid! Loving it! Why? Oh, you ask such very good questions...

1. It is candy bar vs. flip or slide. One handed handling is very important to me.
2. Display screen is a third larger than BB; and it rotates!
3. Droid Apps! Droid Apps! Droid Apps!

OMGeekiness, even with my lip gloss popping, I am thrilled beyond goose bumps over the apps for functionality, apps for fun, and the apps for free! It’s been a while since I have had a geek-gasm but yeah, am having one, even now. You are going to have to read my next articles to see which apps have captured my heart and hand!

Gina, Sometimes it Snows in April

Dedicated to My Beloved and Dearly Departed Gina... I dedicate these lyrics from Prince Nelson Rogers: "Sometimes it Snows in April" (on this actually snowy day in Chicago). He sang it in LA last Thursday night, a month after Gina transitioned to the Church Triumphant!

Tracy died soon after a long fought civil war,
just after I'd wiped away his last tear
I guess he's better off than he was before,
A whole lot better off than the fools he left here
I used 2 cry 4 Tracy because he was my only friend
Those kind of cars don't pass u every day
I used 2 cry 4 Tracy because I wanted to see him again,
But sometimes sometimes life ain't always the way...

Sometimes it snows in April
Sometimes I feel so bad, so bad
Sometimes I wish life was never ending,
and all good things, they say, never last

Springtime was always my favorite time of year,
A time 4 lovers holding hands in the rain
Now springtime only reminds me of Tracy's tears
Always cry 4 love, never cry 4 pain
He used 2 say so strong unafraid to die
Unafraid of the death that left me hypnotized
No, staring at his picture I realized
No one could cry the way my Tracy cried

Sometimes it snows in April
Sometimes I feel so bad
Sometimes, sometimes I wish that life was never ending,
And all good things, they say, never last

I often dream of heaven and I know that Tracy's there
I know that he has found another friend
Maybe he's found the answer 2 all the April snow
Maybe one day I'll see my Tracy again

Sometimes it snows in April
Sometimes I feel so bad, so bad
Sometimes I wish that life was never ending,
But all good things, they say, never last

All good things they say, never last
And love, it isn't love until it's past

Gina, If By Chance

It's been a week of dreaming of Gina, my dear and departed friend. Patti LaBelle's "If By Chance" speaks so deeply to the woulda, coulda, shoulda of life and love. Mistake no negative assumption about the depth and quality of my present life and love. It is because of Love's love I am able to show that even in death, love lives.

If by chance we meet again
If by chance we meet again

I wanna see you
Yes, I do

If by chance we meet again
I'll be sure to say I love you
If by chance I see your face
I'll be dazzled by the magic in your eyes

They look so sweet, yes, they do
If by chance we should happen to meet
I'll run into your arms so safe and warm
By your side I'll stand if by chance we meet again

If by chance we meet again
(If by chance we meet again)
If by chance we meet again
If by chance we meet again

Oh and if by chance I talk to you
I wonder if the words would come out right
If by chance I held you close
I could drift away with the warmth of your embrace

You were so sweet
If by chance we should happen to meet
We'll start all over, over again, me and my best friend
A whole new life we'll plan if by chance we shall meet again

If by chance we meet again
(We'll meet again)
If by chance we meet again

Sometimes I wonder why you had to go and leave me here
Standing in the cold and all alone
As the tears begin to fall I will remain standing tall
And the memories I will cherish forever more

If by chance we meet again
(If by chance this is our last time
I see you on the other side, yes)

If by chance we meet again
(And if by chance I have to cry)
If by chance, if by chance
(I'm telling you babe, I'm telling you baby)

If by chance we meet again
(It's because I know its time for us to say goodbye)
If by chance we meet again
(I know it's, I know it's time, I know it's time)

I'm running, said I'm running yes, I am
I'm running to say goodbye.