Last Week of School / Quote #8 – Saying Goodbye

It is June!  How did that happen?!?  (This was posted at 12:15 a.m. on June 1 – WordPress didn’t quite get the memo) Time goes so fast…  It is now finals week at the University of Denver.  It is our last week of school before graduation.  I’ve been trying to put off thinking about saying goodbye to people.  My post earlier in May described my feelings then and they pretty much remain the same – I do not like leaving people or being left by people but we are at a place in life when these transitions do/must occur.  Hopefully, what happens will happen for the betterment of all of us.

The following quote was just shared with me:

“Don’t be dismayed at goodbyes.  A farewell is necessary before you can meet again.  And meeting again, after moments or lifetime, is certain for those who are friends.”
Richard Bach

I hope to meet my friends again, after next weekend, soon – and often.  I know that our caring about one another will continue.  Our graduation from the University of Denver should allow us to share that caring beyond DU and improve the world, just as we have improved each other.

From DU commencement website

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Gaza Flotilla – Not About Freedom

Last night (U.S. Time), Israel attacked a flotilla that was bound for Gaza.  Israel has blockaded Gaza due to the rule of Hamas and terrorist activities.  While this blockade is well-known, some groups (mostly humanitarian but many with pro-Palestinian and/or pro-extremist ties) have tried to run the blockade and reach Gaza.  Israel and the UN allow humanitarian aid in and offered the flotilla the opportunity to pass the aid on, after a security check.  The offer was turned down.

After being warned to turn around/stop, Israeli soldiers boarded the flotilla ships.  They were attacked by the people on the ships.  According to one Israeli Navy commander, the people on board “came for war”.  The soldiers responded, believing their lives were in danger, and ended up killing several (10 – but number still uncertain) on board the ships and wounding others.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who had been in Canada, canceled a trip to Washington to meet with Obama on Tuesday in order to return home and deal with the impending international crisis.  Obama called Netanyahu today and the two discussed the need to know the facts as soon as possible.  European leaders are already using the incident as a call to end the Gaza blockade and instead act against Israel.  Obama and Netanyahu plan to reschedule their meeting.

Israel has the right to stop ships and check their contents for security reasons (as do all sovereign countries), nevertheless, extremists are using the opportunity to call for attacks against Israel.  To some extent, Turkey is even giving credence to these calls and encouraging some sort of protest against Israel.

"A television grab from Turkish station Cihan shows Navy troops storming the Mavi Marmara" - From Times Online

While it is clear that my views are pro-Israel (which does not mean that I am anti-Palestinian), I try to have a fairly balanced view of situations like this.  The mainstream media, including the BBC article linked to above, almost always represent Israel negatively.  This is biased and untruthful, yet continues to happen.  As such, below are some notes and quotes on the situation, from Stand With Us.  Stand With Us is obviously pro-Israel, but I think these notes are obviously true regardless of whether or not one agrees with the situation that is unfolding.  Clearly we need more information on what actually happened – and it is unlikely to come from unbiased sources.

• Activists carried out a pre-planned violence, armed with knives and metal bars, each sailor being attacked by a mob of a dozen extremists

• The provocateurs were organized by an Islamist organization that has links to fundamentalist jihadi groups.

• The extremists brought small children on board knowing that they intended to violate international maritime law.

• Israel offered to transfer the aid to Gaza again and again – they refused – and chose confrontation.

• Israeli Minister Danny Ayalon: “Weapons found on board; the organizers intent was violent, their method was violent and the result was, unfortunately violent”

• Israeli Minister Danny Ayalon: “We repeatedly called on the organizers to stop this provocation”

• Israeli Minister Danny Ayalon: “The maritime blockade in Gaza is because of the terrorism of Hamas”

• Israeli Minister Danny Ayalon: Allowing the illegal flotilla to reach Hamas would have opened a corridor of smuggling of weapons to Gaza and resulting in civilian deaths.

• Israel transfers about 15,000 tons of supplies and humanitarian aid every week to the people of Gaza.

• “We fully intend to go to Gaza regardless of any intimidation or threats of violence against us, they are going to have to forcefully stop us,” said one of the flotilla’s organizers

• Using the Arabic term ‘intifada,’ Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said “We call on all Arabs and Muslims to rise up in front of Zionist embassies across the whole world.

• Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said this week: “If the ships reach Gaza it is a victory; if they are intercepted, it will be a victory too”; Hamas is responsible for the suffering of both Palestinians and Israelis.

• Israel left Gaza in hopes of peace in 2005 and in return received more than 10,000 rockets and terrorist attacks.

• Israel has said that it will deliver any humanitarian aid to Gaza, as it does daily.

• No country would allow illegal entry of any vessel into their waters without a security check.

• Any police force in the world would respond to aggression; the provocation is the reason for this regrettable outcome.

• Wounded, including violent activists, are receiving medical treatment in Israeli hospitals.

Al-Jazeera TV Report from “Freedom Flotilla” Before Its Departure for Gaza: Activists on Board Chant Intifada Songs and Praise Martyrdom.
http://www.memritv.org/clip/en/2489.htm

Israeli Navy addresses a ship in the flotilla and offers it to dock in the Ashdod port:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qKOmLP4yHb4

BBC report shows violent, masked activists on ship:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/10195838.stm

Read StandWithUs Statement:
http://www.standwithus.com/app/iNews/view_n.asp?ID=1444

Ironically, all of this is unfolding on the United States’ Memorial Day.  The flotilla claimed to be pro-freedom, but their preparation for violent attacks and resulting occurrences show that freedom may not have been the main or entire purpose of this group.

My friend offered the following thoughts on Facebook:

Dear Palestinian “Peace Activists,” You don’t approach an area under blockade and NOT expect to be stopped. THOUSANDS of heavy weapons have historically been smuggled into Gaza so don’t blame Israel for wanting to ensure its own security by searching your ship. Moreover, why not just submit to the search and be on your way… No, go ahead and attack Israeli commandos and see how that works out for ya. Morons. That said, its truly sad for so much loss of life…

Syria and Lebanon claim the attack could lead to war.  This is not surprising and could be a way to once again delay any sort of peace process.

Camping in Colorado

Saturday night I went camping with some of my favorite people, Javier Ogaz, Ronnie Salter, and Steve Shannon.  We had originally planned a bigger shindig with more people, but life seems to get in the way of such plans some times.  Nevertheless, we had a fantastic time.  One of the reasons I originally looked at schools in Colorado was so that I could enjoy the outdoors and all that Colorado has to offer.  Unfortunately, I have been way too busy to do this as much as I would like.

In an effort to repeat a similar camping trip at the end of the school year in May 2008, we tried to go to a campsite (that may not have been a real site) off of Guanella Pass above Georgetown, off of I-70.  However, there is construction along the pass and the road seems to barely be in existence at various points.  Close to where the camping area would have been, the road was closed.  We turned around and looked for other options.  We found one near Clear Lake, at about 9,882 feet above sea level.  We walked down a hill from a parking lot and found a small clearing with a previously used fire pit.

We set up our too small tent (it was made for 3 people and we had 4, mostly tall, people), made a fire, cooked hot dogs, and enjoyed ourselves.  We looked around a bit and saw the creek and the lake.  In the morning there were a lot of people fishing.  There was an amazing view of the stars through the trees.  It was a great way to end Senior Year in the mountains.

Camping Near Clear Lake, Colorado - (from left) Ronnie Salter, Javier Ogaz, Steve Shannon, Joel Portman

Clear Lake - off of Guanella Pass, Colorado

New Blog Design

As you can clearly tell, I have changed the design of my blog.  I am hoping to use this platform as a more comprehensive website; to share more than just my blog.  I believe that the new design makes this more feasible.  I like the design and hopefully you do to.  As viewership has gone up, I’ve tried to post more and make those posts more relevant.  I am also hoping that this is a way for me to share more about myself.

The blog is no longer on the front page.  The “home” page is now static.  All old blog links should continue to work.

I have also changed the sidebar and bottom columns.  Along with this, I have added a “widget” called “SocialVibe” through which blog viewers can support a cause that I choose for free.  I saw this and thought it to be an easy way to contribute and help out a worthwhile organization.  Currently, I am supporting “To Write Love On Her Arms,” an organization that works against suicide and depression.  I have had several friends involved with their work.  Take a few minutes to give your time.

Also, some posts have ads appearing on them.  As of right now, I have not placed any ads on any posts.  as such, I am not benefiting from these ads and am not encouraging you to click on them.

Zoo Animals @ BABW

Build-A-Bear Workshop is known for their bears and other standard animals (rabbits, dogs, etc.).  Things are more exciting right now (through June 30) as Build-A-Bear is offering zoo animals!

According to MarketWatch, options include:

— Giraffe ($20)

— Tiger ($16)

— Flamingo ($18)

— Leopard ($20)

— Monkey ($18)

— Panda ($16)

— Parrot ($18)

For more information, check out the zoo page online.

They also have a Zooriffic Sweepstakes for a trip to Orlando and are donating some of the sale proceeds to help animals.

Build-A-Bear Internship

This summer, I will be working as the International Business Intern at Build-A-Bear Workshop.  Their World Bearquarters (clever, isn’t it?) is in St. Louis.  I will be working for the Director of International Franchising and Operations and the Director of International Marketing and Product Development.  I’m super excited for this great opportunity.

I have often heard good things about Build-A-Bear and learning from a growing, unique, exciting international company will be a great opportunity.  Throughout the 10 week program, I will likely post updates on the experience/opportunity and related information about the company.

Here are some links related to Build-A-Bear

The Company Website

The Interactive Online World

Stock Quote

Facebook

Twitter

My offer letter for my internship with Build-A-Bear came with "Messenger Bearemy". How awesome is that?!? I'm going to like working for this company.

Quote #7 – Life

I appreciate my friends and the conversations we have.  I also understand that we all have different experiences and come from different places.  These unique qualities make us all special.  I hope to cherish each and every person and all that makes them whole.

The following quote is my own:

“Sometimes life is more complicated than you wish it was – but through good friends, you can find life’s true meaning.”

Obama Recognizes Jewish American Heritage Month

On May 27, 2010, President Barack Obama welcome Jewish leaders to The White House to celebrate Jewish American Heritage Month.  I did not know, until recently, that such a month existed.  This is pretty cool:

Ellen Signs Greyson Chance

Ellen Degeneres had Greyson Chance on her show again.  This time he performed one of his original songs, “Broken Hearts”.  As good as his Paparazzi performance was (and it was good), I like his original songs better.   In addition, Ellen, who has been getting more involved in music, has started a new record label, eleveneleven, because of Greyson and signed him as her first client.

I like this story because Greyson had no intention of doing any of this, it seems.  His video was posted from a school talent show.  Ellen is making good things happen for him!  In addition, Greyson won her $10,000 found on the internet prize AND Yamaha is giving him a piano.  Madonna’s manager and Lady Gaga’s manager have signed on to manage Greyson.  How cool!

11:11

Yesterday, my blog surpassed 1,111 views.  I’m pretty happy about that.  I want to thank everyone who has looked at my blog and/or supported what I am doing.

Perhaps you have heard that if you make a wish when the time is all the same number (e.g. 1:11, 2:22, 3:33, etc.) that the wish will come true?  I do not know that to be true, but I figure that it cannot hurt to try.  One of my friends like to say that is that were the case, then 11:11 would be the luckiest time/number there is.  Hopefully then, this is a good sign for my blog.