CommunityPam's House Blend

Your blogmistress drops by for a brief visit

A big thanks so far to my guest bloggers! They are doing a terrific job. I have a lot of reading to do — you all have been prolific.

Boy, the email box is full. Anyway, I am typing this from the exciting city of Parsippany, NJ, where I am here for a day job-related business conference that begins tomorrow. I finally have access to the internets, to the tune of $9.95/day at the Embassy Suites hotel. I think that’s highway robbery. I can’t stand being on the road for so long (I miss Katie!). Three more days of living out of a suitcase — I will be back home Wed and back to blogging on Thursday.

My 25th HS reunion was on Saturday and we had a good time — I am getting old, but so are all these folks, lol. I’ll make a separate web page with all the photos to spare you all from that, but I thought I’d post a couple of interesting ones with background.

Earlier on Saturday we were taken on a tour of the new Stuyvesant HS, which is located down on Chambers Street, just a couple of blocks from Ground Zero. The school was a staging area for rescue and recovery after the buildings collapsed. The facilities are beautiful, with all the amenties and features we could have only dreamed about in the old building on 15th Street and First Avenue. The new Stuy is 10 floors, has a swimming pool, lots of computer labs, a huge auditorium and a nice campus. Despite the much larger building, the graduating class size is about the same — 800-plus.

Our tour guides were four Stuy students. My group’s guide, Victor, was extremely knowledgable, and gave us information about resources on each floor. A shocker for us is that one of our French teachers is STILL teaching at Stuy, 25 years later. Also, he said the cafeteria food still sucks, though I’d take the sucktitude of the food to be able to have this view from the cafeteria:

Back in the day on 15th Street, all we got to see the side of a dirty building.

One nice touch is that they took desks (they had inkwells!) from the old school — which is now an adult education center and is under renovation — and made a “museum” classroom. Some of us sat down and had our picture taken:

They replicated the classroom quite well, though I they didn’t match the pukey green industrial wall paint color.

As far as the reunion itself, it was a great turnout, and I saw a lot of people that I hung out with, many more that I attended classes with, and a good number of people I couldn’t recall by name or face. It is possible that, in a class of 800+, I didn’t cross paths with some of them. Or maybe dementia is settling in…

Big thanks to Neal W. and Co. for wrangling a fine reunion.

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Controversy

Kids attending Stuy around 9/11 were, many believe, returned to the school too soon — some are now coming down with respiratory illnesses and cancer. (NY Sun):

At least one former Stuyvesant student, Amit Friedlander, has developed Hodgkin’s disease, a type of cancer, since September 11. An honors student at the school renowned for its science program, he researched the literature on his condition after he was diagnosed and discovered “exposure to toxic pollutants”is a major risk factor for the disease.

“You could smell smoke both inside and outside the building for months,” another Stuyvesant graduate who is leading the student response, Lila Nordstrom, said. Ms. Nordstrom is attempting to organize all of her old high school classmates to determine the extent of the health problems, but she said it has been difficult because the college-bound students have scattered across the country. Among the graduates Ms. Nordstrom has been in touch with, “there are a lot of respiratory problems,” she said, adding that her own asthma has gotten worse.

The Board of Education spent $1 million to rehabilitate Stuyvesant in the weeks following September 11. During the 2001-02 academic year, however, toxic waste was transported by trucks up West Street past the school from ground zero 24 hours a day. Cranes would then transfer the material to barges anchored in the Hudson River on the north side of the school. “Every time the crane took up a load of debris, they would drop it in the barge and a huge dust cloud would be kicked up,” Ms. Nordstrom said.

***

Curve Magazine interview

Guest poster Miss Wild Thing noted in one of her entries that an interview with me appears in the latest issue of Curve magazine. I haven’t been able to get a copy yet, so I have no idea how it turned out. I don’t think that they post those articles online.

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What’s this about CNN?

OK — I know you all want to know what the deal with CNN is — first mentioned by Russ here the other day when I was incommunicado and without the internets in NY.

John Aravosis was trying to get in touch with me to, in turn, get me in touch with CNN Internet Reporter Jacki Schechner. I had Katie go in and check my email and sure enough, Jacki had emailed me to invite me to an election day event that the news network is holding. Kate emailed her (and John) back to let them know I was actually alive and simply offline.

I received an invite today when Jacki finally got me on my cell and I spoke to her about the event. I don’t have full details, but basically CNN is inviting a variety of bloggers on the left and the right to participate in its live election coverage (Nov. 7-8) from a DC coffeehouse, to blog about races, the issues that are of importance to us, and what we see the impact of the results on those issues. I’m not sure of the logistics, but I just need to bring my laptop and blog away, she says. There will also be interviews and such as well. I’ll definitely want to track amendment votes in the states that have them on the ballot in November: Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Virginia, and Wisconsin. We need to dig up the latest polling data to see how things are going in states where the vote is close.

Now I just have to ask my boss to let me have the time off to do this. Please…please…please… That said, I can’t keep burning up my paid time off on this stuff (at least CNN is flying me there and paying for the hotel — though it doesn’t look like there will be much sleeping if the coverage starts at 4PM and goes to 2AM!).

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Pack the bags again

I forgot to post about this, but it’s related to the elections as well — I’ll be in Houston on Nov. 18 at the 2006 International Gay & Lesbian Leadership Conference, which is Nov. 16 to 19. I was invited to be on a panel, Election Strategists Roundtable, to “discuss the current state of LGBT politics, give a recap of the 2006 elections and look ahead to the critical 2008 races.” It’s moderated by Ari Shapiro of NPR. On the panel with me are: Dem pollster Celinda Lake, Patrick Guerriero (formerly of LCR), executive Director, Gill Action, Richard W. Murray, Ph.D
. Director, Univ. of Houston Center for Public Policy; Professor, Political Science, Univ. of Houston; and Donna Daskow, Senior Vice President, Environics Research Group Limited. Thank goodness that’s on a Saturday.

Howard Dean and Barney Frank are to speak on Saturday. Maybe I can diplomatically nail Howard down on that whole equality thing that the Dems are squishy on. 🙂

***

Thank you friends

And finally, many thanks to all of you who wrote or posted comments of condolences regarding Tonka’s passing. You are all so kind, and I know so many of you have “been there” and know what that hurt feels like when you have to put your pet down. I can’t wait to return home to hug Bailey and Chloe. Hug your pets and love on them…

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding