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Tag: Oklahoma

New York Trip Summary, and the First Leg to Egypt!!!

Well hello friends and family, and you strangers out there who have stumbled across this silly blog. Last week I went to New York to see my friend Kenneth, and to get in as much comedy as I possibly could. It was an unbelievably funny trip, and over the last few days I keep finding myself laughing about all the funny things that I did not expect to have happen. Who would’ve thought that after sleeping outside on the streets of New York City for a ticket for Saturday Night Live, and looking like a bum, that I would walk up to the FoxNews building and make friends with one of the coolest people I’ve met in a long time, Janice Dean (Fox’s head Meteorologist – who actually didn’t say anything about meteors during the broadcast… 😉 ).This trip was really unforgettable.

The first thing that I did on my trip was go see “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder”, which won the Tony for best show this year, and afterward I got to meet Jefferson Mays, and I got his autograph. Apparently some how he was snubbed for the Tony for best performance… Watch this and you’ll see why I say snubbed.

The next day I was scheduled to go to a taping of Dr. Oz, but thanks to some poor Apple Maps directions, and a few seemingly oblivious locals I was 4 minutes late and my ticket was given to someone else… I was sad for a few minutes, but if I would have made it to that taping I wouldn’t have had the chance to get in line in time for Saturday Night Live! I had to get in line at about 3:30 PM on Friday, and they gave out the tickets at 7 AM on Saturday morning.

After having slept on the street I decided to walk around the Rockefeller Center area to see what was going on. There was a crowd encircling The Today Show crew, so I snapped a couple of pictures, and decided to move on to something else. I walked over by the FOXNews building and I happened to stumble across a small crowd standing outside talking to a reporter of some kind. I ended up finding out that this wasn’t just any reporter, this was Janice Dean (the head weather person for FoxNews)! After standing there for a few minutes to see if I could get on Fox and Friends I heard Janice and a few of the people around her talking about her new book “Freddy the Frogcaster”. This might not sound like big news to some of you, but in third grade I was the lead of our play, and my character was Freddy the Frog! I told the old lady next to me about this funny coincidence, and she urged me to tell Janice. Apparently I was taking too long to tell her so she called Janice over so that I could tell her about this. When I told her she got very excited and ran inside to get me a book to autograph! I have my differences with certain aspects of FOXNews, but not with Janice Dean, she was outstandingly nice and professional with even some unsavory passerby’s.

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After meeting one another we struck up a fun little online friendship that even somehow got picked up by the “twitchy team” on Twitter, which has 170,000 followers!

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This all made for a very weird story to try to explain to people, but nonetheless it was great. oh, and by the way I totally did sleep outside! So let’s get back to Saturday Night Live.

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I really did sleep on the street.

If you think that you would like to have a similar experience some day I definitely recommend it! I do urgent however to get/take a blowup mattress that self inflates, and does not need to be plugged in. Also make sure that you have sufficient clothing. And maybe the very most important thing to bring his earplugs, the city is loud at night.

It was unbelievable how the whole process worked. This line is a standby line, because the season tickets are all divvied up in August. I would have probably wanted to sleep on the street for SNL no matter what, but since the host was Jim Carrey (and he was my childhood idol) there was almost no question that I was going to do it! When they come around the next morning you have to decide whether you want to be in the standby line for the live show, or the standby line for the dress rehearsal. The dress rehearsal has 30 more minutes of skits, and it’s generally considered a safer bet to get to see the show, so I went with a dress rehearsal. I didn’t regret it one bit, and if get to go you should consider doing the same.

That whole experience was truly unbelievable, and there’s just too much to say about it for anyone who might be a Saturday night live/comedy fan, so I’ll probably write a post about the whole thing later.

My next little adventure within this larger adventure was going to a taping of the Colbert Report!

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This entire trip was partially spurred on by the fact that the show will be ending soon so that he can take over for David Letterman, and I had to go to a live taping before his character “died”. Mr. Colbert it’s going to have to reintroduce himself to the nation/world once he takes over for Letterman, and I wanted to see him before that happened. After sleeping outside for a ticket to Saturday Night Live showing up to the Colbert Report about five hours early didn’t seem like a very big deal. I got the number 2 ticket, and I was put on the second row right in the middle. Right before the show I got to ask Stephen a question “out of character”, and I asked my standard comedian question of “how old were you when you realize that you were funny?”. His response was something that I had kind of heard before in an interview, he said that when he was a little boy and he wanted to watch Johnny Carson, and his parents would try to make him go to bed, so he would try to be funny and make them laugh, then slowly sit back down beside the couch to where they wouldn’t notice him. He was unbelievably fun and candid with his audience… I really want to be his friend.

At one point during the show he was launching bracelets into the crowd, then he slowly pulled out a throwing knife and raised an eyebrow to get some laughs. A little overzealous perhaps I decided to stand up and bend over, close my eyes and open my mouth… He looked at me with a surprised face and then started laughing! I know I was being weird, but it was one of the funniest moments of my life. I’m a huge Stephen Colbert fan, maybe mostly for his ability to make us look inward and laugh when it’s uncomfortable.

The last very funny thing that happened on this trip was that I decided on my last night but I was going to go to a comedy club, and after getting tricked into going to a very terrible club I ended up finding myself outside of the Comedy Cellar talking with a comedian who I like a lot, Godfrey. He was very nice, and I begged him to come to Oklahoma. He guaranteed me he’d be in Dallas at some point, and that he’d consider coming to Oklahoma City. I want to start a petition to get them here!

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When I got home I had the chance to work on a job that I love, and I got to spend time with loved ones!

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So that brings me to where I am right now, sitting on an airplane about to fly to Cairo, Egypt with my buddy Gavin to connect with the “old church”, and have a grand adventure!!! I am literally writing this on the plane about to take off… I apologize for any spelling or grammatical errors, I had to dictate most of this on the run.

I love you all, and I’ll will be posting from Cairo soon!

Xoxo

Skin In The Game: High Stakes on High Temps

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When there is a big debate I love to hear “the facts” as we know them, but I also love hearing about the passion with which those in close proximity to the item in question conveys their perspective. Does the person speaking have anything to gain or lose in this debate? Like when I hear people talk about the gospel: the most compelling argument (to me anyway) that Jesus was who people say that he says he was is that his disciples, who lived among him, were almost all reportedly tortuously murdered still claiming what they had been sentenced to death for proclaiming. They had “skin in the game”, and it didn’t shake their resolve. This matter of course still requires faith, just as many consequential aspects of life can require faith in planning, but they had first-hand experience with something and they were willing to die horrifically for that thing (or so it is told, and believing in these events does require faith).

This video describes multiple groups with “skin in the game” (whether it be professional, financial, or actual physical skin) in regards to the climate of our planet possibly changing – and they believe that the climate is experiencing change. One thing about “free markets” is that they can indicate much about items unknowable, yet consequential, and how those with skin in the game estimate they should act. Can we guarantee that people in the United States will continue to gain weight, and keep paying for care which allows them to experience less indigestion but maintain too much weight? No, but if you were to bet on it how would you bet? Billions of dollars are bet every year, by people who don’t like losing money, on the idea that people are not going to lose weight, and those people make a lot of money. If you were an insurance company would you haphazardly put billions of dollars at stake for something that is “laughable”? Well, those companies which have the opportunity to bet on whether or not the climate is changing detrimentally to some degree are making the bets that would indicate that they think we have a problem with the health of our little planet’s climate. I guess if the free market can’t inform some conservatives then I’m not sure that it’s going to happen anytime soon.

This speech from Senator Whitehouse is from December of 2013, and it seems to have just recently picked up some more traction in the social media world. He is speaking against Oklahoma Senator (and apparently very nice guy) Senator Inhofe. I have had multiple friends work for Inhofe, and the reports seem to be that he’s sincere, but that doesn’t mean that he’s right.

Outliers: The Story of Success – Capitalizing On Your Opportunities (This Might Be My Favorite Thing That I Will Ever Post)

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For the last 6 years my very favorite book has been “Outliers: The Story of Success” by Malcolm Gladwell. This book tells a story of modern man that resonates very deeply with me. He depicts the life stories of some very familiar cultural icons, and as a part of telling those stories he explains that these people had enormously unique opportunities, and then they took advantage of them. It wasn’t just that they were self-made people (he actually thinks that is a silly thing to say) because people need to have an opportunity to capitalize on. I have listened to this audiobook probably about 14 or 15 times at this point, and every time I think about some different, or other things just differently.

I wanted to post this first chapter because it describes something very important. Gladwell talks about the importance of interconnectedness, and the importance of having a civilly inclined community. My family has tried to use this as a model, some of us more than others, but this story of Roseto was very impactful to me. If you are from Oklahoma you might enjoy that the doctor being discussed in this 1950’s study is from the University of Oklahoma, so just a fun little heads up on that 🙂

I hope that you enjoy the article, but I also decided to post the entire audiobook from YouTube, I dare you to listen to is, and please tell me what you think if you do!

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FIRST CHAPTER

‘Outliers’

By MALCOLM GLADWELL
Published: November 28, 2008

Outlier, noun.
out·li·er

1 : something that is situated away from or classed differently from a main or related body

2 : a statistical observation that is markedly different in value from the others of the sample

1. Roseto Valfortore lies one hundred miles southeast of Rome, in the Apennine foothills of the Italian province of Foggia. In the style of medieval villages, the town is organized around a large central square. Facing the square is the Palazzo Marchesale, the palace of the Saggese family, once the great landowner of those parts. An archway to one side leads to a church, the Madonna del Carmine — Our Lady of Mount Carmine. Narrow stone steps run up the hillside, flanked by closely-clustered two-story stone houses with red tile roofs.

For centuries, the paesani of Roseto worked in the marble quarries in the surrounding hills, or cultivated the fields in the terraced valley below, walking four and five miles down the mountain in the morning and then making the long journey back up the hill at night. It was a hard life. The townsfolk were barely literate and desperately poor and without much hope for economic betterment — until word reached Roseto at the end of the nineteenth century of the land of opportunity across the ocean.

In January of 1882, a group of eleven Rosetans — ten men and one boy — set sail for New York. They spent their first night in America sleeping on the floor of a tavern on Mulberry Street, in Manhattan’s Little Italy. Then they ventured west, ending up finding jobs in a slate quarry ninety miles west of the city in Bangor, Pennsylvania. The following year, fifteen Rosetans left Italy for America, and several members of that group ended up in Bangor as well, joining their compatriots in the slate quarry. Those immigrants, in turn, sent word back to Roseto about the promise of the New World, and soon one group of Rosetans after another packed up their bags and headed for Pennsylvania, until the initial stream of immigrants became a flood. In 1894 alone, some twelve hundred Rosetans applied for passports to America, leaving entire streets of their old village abandoned.

The Rosetans began buying land on a rocky hillside, connected to Bangor only by a steep, rutted wagon path. They built closely clustered two story stone houses, with slate roofs, on narrow streets running up and down the hillside. They built a church and called it Our Lady of Mount Carmel, and named the main street on which it stood Garibaldi Avenue, after the great hero of Italian unification. In the beginning, they called their town New Italy. But they soon changed it to something that seemed more appropriate, given that in the previous decade almost all of them had come from the same village in Italy. They called it Roseto.

In 1896, a dynamic young priest — Father Pasquale de Nisco — took over at Our Lady of Mount Carmel. De Nisco set up spiritual societies and organized festivals. He encouraged the townsfolk to clear the land, and plant onions, beans, potatoes, melons and fruit trees in the long backyards behind their houses. He gave out seeds and bulbs. The town came to life. The Rosetans began raising pigs in their backyard, and growing grapes for homemade wine. Schools, a park, a convent and a cemetery were built. Small shops and bakeries and restaurants and bars opened along Garibaldi Avenue. More than a dozen factories sprang up, making blouses for the garment trade. Neighboring Bangor was largely Welsh and English, and the next town over was overwhelmingly German, which meant — given the fractious relationships between the English and Germans and Italians, in those years — that Roseto stayed strictly for Rosetans: if you wandered up and down the streets of Roseto in Pennsylvania, in the first few decades after 1900, you would have heard only Italian spoken, and not just any Italian but the precise southern, Foggian dialect spoken back in the Italian Roseto. Roseto Pennsylvania was its own tiny, self-sufficient world — all but unknown by the society around it — and may well have remained so but for a man named Stewart Wolf.

Wolf was a physician. He studied digestion and the stomach, and taught in the medical school at the University of Oklahoma. He spent summers at a farm he’d bought in Pennsylvania. His house was not far from Roseto — but that, of course, didn’t mean much since Roseto was so much in its own world that you could live one town over and never know much about it. “One of the times when we were up there for the summer — this would have been in the late 1950’s, I was invited to give a talk at the local medical society,” Wolf said, years later, in an interview. “After the talk was over, one of the local doctors invited me to have a beer. And while we were having a drink he said, ‘You know, I’ve been practicing for seventeen years. I get patients from all over, and I rarely find anyone from Roseto under the age of sixty-five with heart disease.'”

Wolf was skeptical. This was the 1950’s, years before the advent of cholesterol lowering drugs, and aggressive prevention of heart disease. Heart attacks were an epidemic in the United States. They were the leading cause of death in men under the age of sixty-five. It was impossible to be a doctor, common sense said, and not see heart disease. But Wolf was also a man of deep curiosity. If somebody said that there were no heart attacks in Roseto, he wanted to find out whether that was true.

Wolf approached the mayor of Roseto and told him that his town represented a medical mystery. He enlisted the support of some of his students and colleagues from Oklahoma. They pored over the death certificates from residents of the town, going back as many years as they could. They analyzed physicians’ records. They took medical histories, and constructed family genealogies. “We got busy,” Wolf said. “We decided to do a preliminary study. We started in 1961. The mayor said — all my sisters are going to help you. He had four sisters. He said, ‘You can have the town council room.’ I said, ‘Where are you going to have council meetings?’ He said, ‘Well, we’ll postpone them for a while.’ The ladies would bring us lunch. We had little booths, where we could take blood, do EKGs. We were there for four weeks. Then I talked with the authorities. They gave us the school for the summer. We invited the entire population of Roseto to be tested.”

The results were astonishing. In Roseto, virtually no one under 55 died of a heart attack, or showed any signs of heart disease. For men over 65, the death rate from heart disease in Roseto was roughly half that of the United States as a whole. The death rate from all causes in Roseto, in fact, was something like thirty or thirty-five percent lower than it should have been.

Wolf brought in a friend of his, a sociologist from Oklahoma named John Bruhn, to help him. “I hired medical students and sociology grad students as interviewers, and in Roseto we went house to house and talked to every person aged twenty one and over,” Bruhn remembers. This had happened more than fifty years ago but Bruhn still had a sense of amazement in his voice as he remembered what they found. “There was no suicide, no alcoholism, no drug addiction, and very little crime. They didn’t have anyone on welfare. Then we looked at peptic ulcers. They didn’t have any of those either. These people were dying of old age. That’s it.”

Wolf’s profession had a name for a place like Roseto — a place that lay outside everyday experience, where the normal rules did not apply. Roseto was an outlier.

2. Wolf’s first thought was that the Rosetans must have held on to some dietary practices from the old world that left them healthier than other Americans. But he quickly realized that wasn’t true. The Rosetans were cooking with lard, instead of the much healthier olive oil they used back in Italy. Pizza in Italy was a thin crust with salt, oil, and perhaps some tomatoes, anchovies or onions. Pizza in Pennsylvania was bread dough plus sausage, pepperoni, salami, ham and sometimes eggs. Sweets like biscotti and taralli used to be reserved for Christmas and Easter; now they were eaten all year round. When Wolf had dieticians analyze the typical Rosetan’s eating habits, he found that a whopping 41 percent of their calories came from fat. Nor was this a town where people got up at dawn to do yoga and run a brisk six miles. The Pennsylvanian Rosetans smoked heavily, and many were struggling with obesity.

If it wasn’t diet and exercise, then, what about genetics? The Rosetans were a close knit group, from the same region of Italy, and Wolf next thought was whether they were of a particularly hardy stock that protected them from disease. So he tracked down relatives of the Rosetans who were living in other parts of the United States, to see if they shared the same remarkable good health as their cousins in Pennsylvania. They didn’t.

He then looked at the region where the Rosetans lived. Was it possible that there was something about living in the foothills of Eastern Pennsylvania that was good for your health? The two closest towns to Roseto were Bangor, which was just down the hill, and Nazareth, a few miles away. These were both about the same size as Roseto, and populated with the same kind of hard-working European immigrants. Wolf combed through both towns’ medical records. For men over 65, the death rates from heart disease in Nazareth and Bangor were something like three times that of Roseto. Another dead end.

What Wolf slowly realized was that the secret of Roseto wasn’t diet or exercise or genes or the region where Roseto was situated. It had to be the Roseto itself. As Bruhn and Wolf walked around the town, they began to realize why. They looked at how the Rosetans visited each other, stopping to chat with each other in Italian on the street, or cooking for each other in their backyards. They learned about the extended family clans that underlay the town’s social structure. They saw how many homes had three generations living under one roof, and how much respect grandparents commanded. They went to Mass at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church and saw the unifying and calming effect of the church. They counted twenty-two separate civic organizations in a town of just under 2000 people. They picked up on the particular egalitarian ethos of the town, that discouraged the wealthy from flaunting their success and helped the unsuccessful obscure their failures.

In transplanting the paesani culture of southern Italy to the hills of eastern Pennsylvania the Rosetans had created a powerful, protective social structure capable of insulating them from the pressures of the modern world. The Rosetans were healthy because of where they were from, because of the world they had created for themselves in their tiny little town in the hills.

“I remember going to Roseto for the first time, and you’d see three generational family meals, all the bakeries, the people walking up and down the street, sitting on their porches talking to each other, the blouse mills where the women worked during the day, while the men worked in the slate quarries,” Bruhn said. “It was magical.”

When Bruhn and Wolf first presented their findings to the medical community, you can imagine the kind of skepticism they faced. They went to conferences, where their peers were presenting long rows of data, arrayed in complex charts, and referring to this kind of gene or that kind of physiological process, and they talked instead about the mysterious and magical benefits of people stopping to talk to each other on the street and having three generations living under one roof. Living a long life, the conventional wisdom said at the time, depended to a great extent on who we were — that is, our genes. It depended on the decisions people made — on what they chose to eat, and how much they chose to exercise, and how effectively they were treated by the medical system. No one was used to thinking about health in terms of a place.

Wolf and Bruhn had to convince the medical establishment to think about health and heart attacks in an entirely new way: they had to get them to realize that you couldn’t understand why someone was healthy if all you did was think about their individual choices or actions in isolation. You had to look beyond the individual. You had to understand what culture they were a part of, and who their friends and families were, and what town in Italy their family came from. You had to appreciate the idea that community — the values of the world we inhabit and the people we surround ourselves with — has a profound effect on who we are. The value of an outlier was that it forced you to look a little harder and dig little deeper than you normally would to make sense of the world. And if you did, you could learn something from the outlier than could use to help everyone else.

In Outliers, I want to do for our understanding of success what Stewart Wolf did for our understanding of health.

(Continues…)

Excerpted from Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell Copyright © 2008 by Malcolm Gladwell. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

*If you’d like to finish the book you can either listen to the audiobook posted above or buy it. I’m also happy to lend a copy to anyone who enjoyed this.

Big News For Grady! – My Next Step

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This is a picture I took of myself right after I found out that I passed

Hello friends, family, and readers,

For the last year I have been flipping/renovating houses with my mom and our crew, and it’s been amazing. I’m actually going to keep doing that, but a new venture and challenge has come my way. I have officially passed the state test in Oklahoma to become a real estate licensee! I feel very blessed in many ways, and one of those ways is that I will have the opportunity to go work for a wonderful friend of our family, Gwen Holmes. Going to work for Gwen at Metro Brokers is really an honor as their team is highly experienced, and I understand that this is a very unique opportunity for someone in my position. My favorite book is “Outliers” by Malcolm Gladwell, which is about taking advantage of unique opportunities in your life essentially, and I expect that this is one of the “outlier” moments in my life.

So this post is mostly meant to be a life update for those who would like to keep up with me, but if you are buying or selling a house / looking for a place to rent or a tenant in Norman, Oklahoma you know who to call :-). This past year getting to be a part of a team of people who have been approaching and fixing many unique housing situations as been a wonderful life experience, and it’s given me a real drive and curiosity for this industry. I love watching people get their new home where they will raise their children, or retire and spend their golden years. I’m feeling very excited to explore my hometown, and get to know her people even more.

As this is a milestone in my life there are a lot of people I’d like to thank, but I’d especially like to thank my mom, Kelcie… Being able to work with her will be something that I treasure until I die… And I’m looking forward to renovating houses with her until I’m blue in the face :-). In the words of my dear friend Matt Hunter, “to know her is to love her”, and I’ve never known anyone more loved than my mother.

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Speaking with OK Representative Tom Cole

Last night I had the pleasure to sit in at the Town Hall meeting for United States congressman Tom Cole. I already had a rather favorable opinion of Mr. Cole, but last night reaffirmed the necessity of people like him in congress for me. Mr. Cole is a Republican, and I generally have trouble with the politics of the Republican Party of today… The moderation and willing participants of the party have become fewer and fewer. If Congressman Cole had been speaking in Boston I’m sure that they would consider him to be a complete hardline conservative, but those same people would not understand the culture in which Mr. Cole is a representative.

At the town hall there was probably about 30 to 40 % of the room that was made of of Tea Partiers who considered Mr. Cole to be a “socialist”, and I’m not being inflammatory, they were yelling this at him… Representative Cole happens to be regarded by many conservative organizations as highly conservative, and rightfully so. He resembles the Republican Party of 20 and 30 years ago that would not fit in today in the conservative caucus – people like Steve Largent, J.C. Watts, Bob Dole, and many more who do not look like today’s rhetorical hail storm.

Whether you live in Norman, Oklahoma or not I ask that you look for town halls for your representative, and go speak to them, and see who else speaks to them. There is a lot of disrespect, and a lot of anger. If you don’t think that the congress is sane (and I have major problems with our congress) just go see who they have to deal with when they come home… You might rethink the individuals and the system a little bit.

Well to wrap it up, I had an opportunity to speak with the congressman about joining up with the group No Labels, for whom I worked a few years ago. This group, as of today, has 82 members of the house and senate virtually equal from the parties, who are signed up to a commitment to make our government work for the people. It’s a seemingly easy promise to make, but it could be the first step in the process to ending this gridlock, or at least I believe so.

Don’t forget to look up the town halls in your area, and to reach out to your congressmen and women about representing you.

*These pictures were taken this April when I was visiting D.C. and had a chance to revisit the No Labels back office for the first time in 2 and a half years.

Just stopped by the @NoLabelsOrg back office to see old friends. Love the people, and the ideas. #FixNotFight

A post shared by Grady Carter (@gradycarter) on

Preliminary Tornado Damage 5/31/13

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This storm is still going on, and I’m in it, but I thought I’d go ahead and update anyone who was interested in keeping up with my safety.

My family is just watching the news right now, but we are prepared to go into our “storm shelter” / bathroom. To all my Oklahomies, I hope that you stay safe, and get your stuff ready (a flashlight and radio in particular).

I’ll update on my status later, but there are a lot of people who are going to be needing more help after this super storm that is already reporting fatalities.

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PHOTO: Plaza Towers Elementary before and after Moore Tornado | KFOR.com

PHOTO: Plaza Towers before and after | KFOR.com.

PHOTO: Plaza Towers before and after

Posted on: 3:50 pm, May 21, 2013, by updated on: 03:51pm, May 21, 2013

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MOORE, Okla. – This is a before and after photo of Plaza Towers Elementary School, which sustained some of the most damage.

Seventy-five students and faculty took refuge in the school when the storm hit the area. First responders confirmed that seven children died at that location.

Moore Prayer, Moore Help, Moore Recovery – The Moore Tornado (5/20/13)

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Having grown up in Oklahoma my friends, family and I always seem to joke about tornadoes, often just calling them “naders” in our roughest country accent. The reason that we laugh is much like that of many things that we joke about that hurt – if we weren’t laughing we’d be crying.

Well, sometimes it is time to cry… The tornado that passed over me and my home town today was horrific. It passed over Norman, and hit Moore. These monstrous tornadoes always seem to pass us and hit Moore. It is such a heart wrenching thing to watch – and every time I find myself fearing the day when it doesn’t pass Norman by.

As of a few minutes ago they announced that the death toll had hit at least 51 people, and it’s rising. To make the sting even worse there are suspected to be more than 2 dozen elementary school children dead amongst the rubble… This is our nightmare.

Oklahomans always prove to be kind hearted in times of crisis, which seem to have been too regular at times. To all of my Okies – let’s pray together, and work together to recover, once again.

I shared this on my Facebook, but I couldn’t help but share it again.

“Let’s pray like it’s on Him, but work like it’s on us.”

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If We Weren’t Laughing We’d Be Crying – The Night I Met Bill Maher

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That’s me on the right, and Bill Maher on the left. He shook my hand, and I thanked him for being the King of Nuance, to which he laughed.

Last night (April 14th, 2013), I got to shake hands with one of the people who has been on my bucket list to meet for a long time, Bill Maher. I ended up getting to sit on the second row in the middle of the stage, and it felt like he was looking at me several times. As a kid I was scared of Bill, and I thought that he was the absolute epitome of all that was wrong in the world, I’d never heard anyone talk or act as he did on national television, several times a week. Skipping a few steps in my story, I decided in my early adult life that there really was no such thing as a bad question, so started listening to videos and clips of people who I adamantly disagreed with, so that I could figure out how others could possibly believe things so different from what I believed. This list of people who I’ve listened to due to my disagreements on politics, religion, philosophy, and the weather has grown and changed several times, but Bill remains a part of that list. The funny thing is that I’ve found myself agreeing with much of his sentiment, but not always the snark. I have truly grown to appreciate his honesty, even when it hurts. I could talk about Bill Maher for a long time because of what it has meant to me to listen to his standup routines and panels and challenge myself to never stop asking questions, and to not get my feelings hurt so easily when someone disagrees with me or even calls me a name. Bill is guilty of the name calling, and he could tone that down – but I will also say that if he hadn’t called me names I wouldn’t have been challenged enough to ask the tough questions that I’ve needed to ask myself on several occasions.

I’ve decided in this post to include a couple more pictures and a few of his standup routines, but mostly I want to include the first episode of his new show (of which he is the head producer), that follows his show on Friday nights now. It’s called VICE, and it is Very challenging to watch… I must warn you it is very graphic, and you should not watch it at work, unless if you work at home, or actually want to get any work done for the rest of today. As I understand it they decided to start this show because of the disappointing lack of journalism in the Middle East being broadcasted in the United States, and as HBO and Bill are both tips of the spear for progression this show is incredibly well done.

So, thank you Bill for your candor and sincerity. If we weren’t laughing about some of the absurdity in the world we would be crying. However, if you watch this premiere of VICE it is likely that you’ll cry regardless.

I don’t agree with Bill on everything, especially his approach to faith (although I appreciate him forcing people to ask questions that they might not otherwise), and If you would like to know about my faith feel free to click on this recent post “And Then the Conference Uninvited Me To Speak”.

I’m sorry if your feelings are hurt by me saying anything warm about Bill Maher, but he has challenged me, and for that I’m grateful. When I shook his hand last night I thanked him for being the king of nuance, to which he laughed. Playing the “devil’s advocate” (poor term in my opinion) / asking questions even when it is unpopular or personally challenging is something that I intend to do for the rest of my life, so if I stop friends, family and strangers please remind me to start again.

-Grady

VICE Series Premiere

Thanks for reading, please feel free to give me some feedback.

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Here are just a couple of his standup routines, and I would like to remind you that posting this does not mean I approve of everything that he says, in particular about religion. But I do appreciate him making space for me to ask questions, which has been very liberating in my spiritual journey believe it or not…:

I’m Swiss (2005):

Crazy Stupid Politics (2012):

How Oklahoma and Georgia are Leading the Way in Education – Rachel Maddow (2/14/13)

“Let us in education dream of an aristocracy of achievement arising out of a democracy of opportunity”. Thomas Jefferson

The above quote is one of my all time favorites on any topic by any truly quotable thinker. I don’t think that Thomas Jefferson would have considered himself a socialist, even though the term hadn’t yet been invented, but I do think that he would consider this to be a nutritional necessity of our society moving forward in an ever competitive world. In this video Rachel talks about Oklahoma (which really is a wonderful place, believe it or not you who may not have ever graced her red soil), and this was a fun video to watch because Rachel is of course very liberal, and my motherland Oklahoma is not, so to hear her talk about what we’ve done right was really fun. I think that there is a lot of room for common ground on this, we just can’t allow ourselves to be overrun by the loudest voices.

If you are a teacher, especially in Oklahoma, I would really love some feedback.

The chart that most stuck out to me was the first chart below, but they each have a lot of room for discussion. I’m sure that a lot of people would like to talk about what it means that there is a racial disparity, but I think it’s very important that we approach information like that with the perspective like that of a Malcolm Gladwell from the book “Outliers”, and there are reasons why these things happen – some are not so ugly to look at and some just are. What do you think about all of this? If you’re a teacher, especially in Oklahoma, I’d REALLY like to know what you think.

1 Early Education Spending 2 Overall Effects of Tulsa Pre-K Program 3 Effects of Tulsa Pre-K Program by Race:Ethnicity of Student

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