Thursday, May 22, 2014


I read an article called "Why Do Millennials Not UnderstandRacism?" the other day. My kneejerk reaction for most articles that have "Why Millennials ______" in the title is blind hatred-- I've seen a few too many op-eds about how we're ruining the earth with our technology, or whatever-- but in this case, I was pleasantly surprised.

The article hits on the fact that most people of my (or our-- I don't know your life) generation believe in something called "colorblindness," or claiming that they "don't see" race, and how this is actually detrimental:
"Compared with previous generations, they’re more tolerant and diverse and profess a deeper commitment to equality and fairness. At the same time, however, they’re committed to an ideal of colorblindness that leaves them uncomfortable with race, opposed to measures to reduce racial inequality, and a bit confused about what racism is.
 Seventy-three percent believe that “never considering race would improve society,” and 90 percent say that “everyone should be treated the same regardless of race.”
From these results, it’s clear that—like most Americans—millennials see racism as a matter of different treatment, justified by race, that you solve by removing race from the equation. If we ignore skin color in our decisions, then there can’t be racism.The problem is that racism isn’t reducible to “different treatment.” Since if it is, measures to ameliorate racial inequality—like the Voting Rights Act—would be as “racist” as the policies that necessitated them. No, racism is better understood as white supremacy—anything that furthers a broad hierarchy of racist inequity, where whites possess the greatest share of power, respect, and resources, and blacks the least.Millennials have grown up in a world where we talk about race without racism—or don’t talk about it at all—and where “skin color” is the explanation for racial inequality, as if ghettos are ghettos because they are black, and not because they were created. As such, their views on racism—where you fight bias by denying it matters to outcomes—are muddled and confused.Which gets to the irony of this survey: A generation that hates racism but chooses colorblindness is a generation that, through its neglect, comes to perpetuate it."
I don't have the knowledge or authority to speak on the subject, but it's certainly worth thinking about. The problems with colorblindness were something I was already familiar with, but I was really impressed that  my physical anthropology class covered it-- we learned that race is an entirely societal construct, but also that ignoring it serves to ignore how it's perpetuated structurally. Which I feel is a really rare thing for a lower division class to talk about. Though that may just be because my English teacher last semester made us read articles on how the ideal future is one in which we just claim whatever ethnicity we think is cool, as though that's a solution to anything.

Stay classy,


Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Physical connection

Yoga can be used as a great measuring stick for our personal development. If we can slow our movements to the point where our attention is equally divided between our movement and our breathing, we can begin to notice how the two are connected. Then, we can begin to notice what happens when we alter our breathing; we can notice the difference in our movement.

Take sixty seconds, five times a day, to breathe calmly. If we get accustomed to that, eventually we will begin to spontaneously breathe calmly under stress.

If we notice our breathing, we can begin to control it. When we're upset, chances are our breathing has become shallow. If we notice this, and consciously try to move our breathing down to our belly, we can begin to control our emotions. Practice breathing smoothly while exercising. Control of breathing leads to control of emotions.

The physical body can be taken as a metaphor for our entire bio-psycho-social being. If we learn methods of relaxation, balance, and focus under pressure, we can tap into psychological states.

All exercise generates energy; yoga unlocks that energy, and makes it available for use.

Yoga realigns our muscles, tendons, joints, etc., correcting the micro-traumas our exercise inflicts.

Breathing, motion, and alignment. The three components of movement. They are interrelated. If any one changes, the other two change. Stress tends to dis-integrate the system, causing shallower breathing, tightened muscles, bad posture. The more sensitive we are to our body, the more we can manage stress.


Dave Roel.
The most important thing in life is to learn how to give out love, and to let it come in.
- Morrie Schwartz

Monday, May 19, 2014

Olla podrida

If you set goals in all three areas of health, career and relationships, your demons will attempt to distract you away from your path. You need to have some form of emotional processing practice in place to handle them.

Take fifteen minutes in the morning to visualize your goals in all three areas, five minutes each. You might consider taking fifteen minutes at night, to do the same, bookending your day.

The reason yoga, tai chi, or other forms of body-mind/breathing disciplines are important is because they help manage energy, providing us with the fuel to work toward our goals.

Learn how to apply an appropriate amount of time and energy and attention to given tasks. When time is limited, focus on the tasks that are critically important to to our long term goals of maintaining health in body, finances and interpersonal.

Find others. No matter what you are trying to do, someone else has done it before. Find them, and learn from them.

The conscious mind is a wonderful tool, but a lousy master. Although it tries to convince us that it is in charge. The conscious mind alone cannot get us to our goals. Learn to access the subconscious mind: meditation, yoga, therapy, etc. The real work is always done beneath the surface.

All our work in life must rest on a solid foundation of love. Love of self, love of others, love of the world.

We are beings designed to evolve, to grow, to heal, to move, to love.


Dave Roel.
Every action (or non action) has a reaction. Keep that in mind and choose your steps wisely.
- Jennifer Cusano

Friday, May 16, 2014

Sanctification of the platypus

Do you change the way you appreciate a work depending on what you learn about the artist? Or do you just take every work on its own terms, and judge it independently of anything you might know or learn about the artist? Does knowing the background of the artist make our enjoyment of the art richer? Will a bad work become a good work? Do we judge a work solely by how it affects us? Does knowing about the the artist’s ethical lapses make a good work bad? Does knowing the great qualities of the artist make a bad work more favorable? Do we disqualify a great work when we learn that the artist was immoral? Do we eagerly read a bad novel when we learn that its author lived an exemplary life? Jean Genet was a criminal, a thief, a rapist, yet wrote novels and poetry and plays of such beauty and splendor that Sartre called him a saint. Artists are human; flawed and problematic. There are few artists who don’t have some skeletons we would find troublesome; as there are few humans who don’t. If you remove all art from consideration from artists we would find objectionable, we would be left with few works. If you limited yourself to food from countries whose politics you agreed with, you’d starve. We are all compromised. We are all flawed. None of us exempt. We accommodate as we can, to get by in this world. Perhaps we can do no else.


TOTEM from caleb wood on Vimeo.


Dave Roel.
Listen a hundred times; ponder a thousand times; speak once.
- Turkish proverb

Thursday, May 15, 2014


As I'm rushing to do my final projects, I'm realizing that there's a lot of potentially academic tools that I haven't been taking full advantage of until recently. These things are making the process a whole lot easier:
  • Google Drive. This one is... the most obvious, I know, but I really hadn't been using it until this year. If you're unfamiliar with it, Drive is like a combination of a flash drive, collaborative Skype, and accessible Word documents. My debate group did our entire project on Google Drive. I've been typing and saving my notes in Google Drive. I even put an electronic copy of one of my textbooks on Drive (the legality of which I now realize is a little questionable), so I can access it from any computer. It's fantastic.
  • Prezi. I hadn't even heard of Prezi until recently. While it's a great alternative for people who don't have Power Point (i.e. people with Macs), using it honestly sort of annoys me. It allows you to create more dynamic presentations and gives you TONS of options for modifying the look of it.  My roommate, who is much more of a perfectionist than I am, loves it. So it really depends on how much control you want to have over these things. Google Drive also has a Power Point feature if, like me, you find Prezi to be overwhelming.
  • OmmWriter. I've been using this for a while just for some of my own writing projects, but it recently occurred to me that I could be using it for school, too. It's free writing software that, when you open it, engulfs your entire screen so as to block out distractions. It even has some ambient, near-yoga music noises going on, if you find that soothing.

Stay classy,

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

What you got to have

Here's what you got to have:

You got to have goals. You're just bobbing along in the ocean of life without definite goals.

You got to have belief that your goals are possible, will bring you pleasure, and will contribute to society. Also, you got to believe you have the resources (in your self, in your allies, companions, community, nation, higher power, etc.) to accomplish your goals.

You got to act, put forward the actions that will bring about your goals.

You got to be enjoying the process, be able to be happy with the way things are right now, today, as you work toward your goals. That’s called gratitude.

You got to have every one of those. Without one, you’re not going to make it.

No goals? Like playing chess without knowing the goal of the game. Eventually, you lose, because you weren’t trying to do anything other than move the pieces around.

No belief that the goals are possible or that you have the resources for them? You won’t have the morale to stick it out when it gets rough.

No action? No results.

No gratitude? You’re carrying pain around, and then you’re not going to do your best work, and you’re going to find it hard to partner up with the allies that you’ll need (you’ll always need allies).

This formula applies to our four quadrants of mind, body, spirit and self (career/finances, health, relationships and emotional processing). Every important area of life deserves this approach.


Dave Roel.
The whole point of being alive is to evolve into the complete person you were intended to be.
- Oprah Winfrey

Monday, May 12, 2014

Kinds of people 2

Part 1

I asked him, "Of these four, which one is right? Which is the right way of being?"

"They are all right, in their own contexts," he answered. "Each one of these worldviews emerged for the people who hold them due to their life conditions. They are appropriate worldviews for people to hold, depending on their circumstances. There is no one right way for all people to be, universally. Some ways are good at certain times, in certain situations."

"Shouldn't we be trying to encourage people to adopt that last one, the one concerned with others, and the health of the system?”

“No,” he answered. “That should not be our goal. It’s not necessary, and largely a waste of time. People can grow into being other types throughout their lives, but they only do so at their own pace, in their own time. We don’t want to eliminate any of the types. They all have something to contribute.”

"I'm not sure I can see how that only-out-for-themselves type can be any good," I said.

"That drive can actually be very useful, if it's channelled appropriately. It can be a drive to succeed, spurring us to accomplish great things," he said.

"Ah," I said. "I think I'm beginning to see. In order for there to be a healthy society, there needs to be a way for these four types to work together."

"Exactly," he said. "If any one of the types becomes dominant, it can lead to grief. A healthy society needs the balancing energy of all of them.”


Dave Roel.
Power without love is reckless and abusive, and love without power is sentimental and anemic.
- Marin Luther King, Jr.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Angela Davis

I apologize for the brief inactivity! It's been an incredibly busy week, between all the final projects and everything else.

Yesterday, for instance, I had the privilege of seeing Angela Davis speak at UCLA! The gist of the talk centered on feminism and prison reform, and how they can benefit each other. I was so blown away by Angela's presence; physically, she's not very big or imposing, but she commands an enormous amount of power, and I think part of that may come from the easy eloquence she has even when speaking to a room packed with hundreds of people. There's even a certain cadence to her voice, like she's reading poetry instead of a lecture-style speech on prison reform. She's also unexpectedly hilarious, with a very dry sort of wit. It was super interesting to witness.

After her lecture, her and a panel of UCLA professors-- mainly from the gender studies department-- had a 
short discussion, which was genuinely amazing. I kind of want to go to UCLA now, but I don't want to live in the area. Tough decisions.

Afterwards, my friend who goes to UCLA showed me around the sort of downtown area of Westwood, and took me to get Persian ice cream and Lebanese food. I'd never had either before, but now I'm compulsively scouring Yelp for Lebanese bakeries closer to where I live (which, there are actually a LOT).
I went on a college tour of UCLA once before, when I was a high school senior, but I think your perspective on school changes a lot once you've actually been to a university. So in a way, I'm grateful for the experience I had with UCSD, because now I know what to look for in schools.

Stay classy,

Languishing parabolas

And with the emailing on Wednesday of my final assignment, I don’t have to come to campus until the final. I’m done, effectively. I still ought to do the studying thing, to ensure a good grade on that final. But Excel and PowerPoint aren’t that difficult. It was cool to learn PowerPoint and update my Word skills; I can use those. And I learned about some cool websites I didn’t know about. And I did enjoy the whole taking a class online thing. I thought it worked extremely well. I hope more classes become online.

I have enrolled in English 201 for summer. I took a class last summer and it was a very good experience. Hopefully, this will be, too. Summer classes are massively concentrated. There’s a whole lot of material to get through in such an accelerated timeframe. That can be pretty intense; requires a lot of focus for those few weeks. English 201 is supposed to be a pretty heavy writing and research class, so that’s a little worrying. Well, how bad can it be? People must be able to do it. If I have to stay late at the library, I can do that. If there’s going to be a lot of reading, that might be an issue. I don’t read that fast. Writing papers has never been a problem for me.

In Fall, I should be taking that Food class. That’ll be an experience, never having been much into food, historically. But I’m always open for learning new things.

Cartoon time!


Dave Roel.
You live that you may learn to love. You love that you may learn to live.
- Mikhail Naimi

Monday, May 5, 2014

Choosing our response

You get to choose your response to things. There are things in life that we can't control, certainly. Sometimes, completely unexpected things happen out of the blue that we could never have predicted. But we can choose how we want to respond to them.

When something bad unexpectedly happens, we have an immediate reaction. How to respond without reacting? First, breathe deeply. Good, calming, rhythmic, deep breathing is a great help in calming ourselves. The calmer our mind, the more choices we have available to us. We may be able to choose a response that comes from a higher version of our self. We have more choices than we initially think we do, with a mind that is in the middle of automatically reacting.

Now that we see our options, we can decide if there's something about the situation that can be changed. When things can't be changed, we can still frame it in a positive way, and begin to make a plan to negotiate the situation with skill and grace.

We never have to accept a situation that doesn't serve us. If we see the situation with clarity and understanding, we can deal with it skillfully, and begin to take the steps to make things different.

When we look at our previous responses to things, it can be useful to analyze what the results were. What responses worked, brought us desirable results, and what responses brought us unfavorable results. Knowing that can certainly inform our choices.

Rather than just letting the problems of life get us down, we can use them to make us stronger.


Dave Roel.
The way you treat yourself sets the standard for others.
- Sonya Friedman

Saturday, May 3, 2014


We have a debate due in my archaeology class. The topic is supposed to be interesting and controversial, so, inspired by some pottery I'd seen at a museum (which I don't recommend googling unless you're fairly desensitized), I suggested homosexuality in ancient Greece. Narrowing down the debate to two clear sides, we decided on debating whether same sex relationships in ancient Greece were an expression of freedom or of deviancy, since many such relationships involved young boys with older men.

Obviously, this is fairly controversial and should make for a fun debate. But it's also important to recognize that the way we go about framing this debate-- or any controversial topic common to speech classes, like abortion, same sex adoption, or affirmative action-- has real life consequences. It could reinforce my classmates' potentially harmful preconceptions about non-heteronormativity, if we're not careful to argue for deviancy in a conscious way.

We've barely started writing up our points, but I've already learned quite a bit about how to debate on a controversial topic without using damaging or hateful arguments. My debate partner and I, who are arguing on the side of deviancy, talked about maybe reframing our title to be less negatively charged, since homosexuality is already still viewed as a deviant act. We also decided that our argument shouldn't demonize same sex relationships, even if it's just for the sake of a debate. Instead, we're doing a little more research and finding ways to argue that such socially acceptable relationships in Greece were not freedom, but an institution of male dominance, since women weren't necessarily given the same privileges in that regard. We're also looking into ideas of consent and maturity, since those are also key to our topic.

Interestingly, it also turns out that the ancient Greeks didn't identify as homosexual. They allegedly didn't even have a word for it, since it was just an accepted part of life. So with that in mind, I suggested to my group members that we frame our arguments in such a way so that we're not making assumptions about how the ancient Greeks identified, or imposing our modern western conceptions of sexuality onto another culture.

Typically, I shy away from debating topics like these because for many people, they're not just debates. While the debate teams could use whatever rhetoric they liked or "play the devil's advocate", go home, and forget about these issues, the people those issues impact can't just forget about it. But I think it's good that we're finding ways around perpetuating that problem with debates.

Stay classy,

Friday, May 2, 2014


Hey, I went to the Worldfest yesterday. There was some impressive stuff there.

I didn’t see any of the cultural dancing; there was a lot of swing dancing when I was there (which I guess is cultural of a kind). But I did see some people in traditional indigenous peoples’ dress.

The chalk art was pretty darn impressive. There’s some good artists there. There was a whale and a Walter White that really knocked me out. Wow.

There were booths that covered particular cultural regions, either by continent or culture.

There was a Francophone culture in the Americas exhibit, telling the history of the various french-speaking areas of North America; I heard the story of Evangeline, which I had never heard before.

There was an exhibit covering the Japanese Irezumi tattoo traditions. They were markings for the bravest of fighters and warriors and public servants. Today, the tradition continues, but with far less reverence, becoming associated with gang activity.

There were other exhibits, covering sexual assault, student health, social issues, etc. The health booth had a meditation poster that I dare say was better than the presentation I gave last week.

A lot of food. Food is always a big cultural identifier.

It’s good to learn about other cultures. It’s good to learn about different worldviews, different perspectives.

At the end, there was a band. They were good, I thought. But then, I’m always impressed by musicians, not being one myself.

If I owned a camera, I would have taken pictures.

Lo, a cartoon!

BULB from Dupont Andy on Vimeo.


Dave Roel.
Seeking love keeps you from the awareness that you already have it—that you are it.
- Byron Katie