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Today, I read a chapter on teaching students with disabilities for a class I'm taking in grad school. As someone with a disability myself, I decided to write up a few comments and send them to the professor. It turned into a sizable essay, and I realized it might be useful to post it here (with a few edits) as well.

The purpose of writing it for class is different than my purpose for posting it here. For class, I meant to help others understand how they might accommodate a student with a disability in their classrooms. Here, I am posting it because I think it shows how piss poor our country is set up to accommodate people with disabilities some of the time. No doubt we've come a long way from where we were in the past, but we aren't all the way there yet. And I would bet that countless others on this site suffer disabilities too - ones I know very little about - and have their own stories and tips to share.

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Thu Jan 29, 2015 at 12:24 PM PST

Thoughts on Cedwyn [UPDATED]

by Jill Richardson

For those who haven't heard, MsSpent Youth got word this morning that Cedwyn's gone downhill overnight. We haven't had any word since then (that I am aware of) and I think everyone's decided to leave Cedwyn's family alone to spend as much quality time with her as possible instead of using that time to repeatedly update us. I'm sure we'll get news when there's more news to get.

In the meantime, I'm having a hard time processing my emotions and I tend to do so better via writing than any other way. So forgive me, and indulge me, as I share a bit about my friendship with Cedwyn and why I love this girl who should have had so many more decades on this planet.

Update: A very sad update. Cedwyn's now unconscious she and the hospice nurse thinks she won't wake up again. They estimate she will last about a week. Very sad. Let's hope she is in no pain and that she went knowing how very loved she is by all of us, and feeling the love from her wonderful family who took such good care of her during her illness.

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Sun Jan 25, 2015 at 08:49 AM PST

Cedwyn Update

by Jill Richardson

Hi folks, I am writing this at Dulles Airport, and I've just come from Cedwyn's parents house, which is where she's staying. Her parents are wonderful and they are giving her the best possible care anyone could have.

More below.

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Tue Dec 09, 2014 at 06:02 PM PST

Book Review: No Land's Man

by Jill Richardson

In the midst of all of the controversy over race coming from various police shootings of unarmed black men (and various grand juries' failures to indict any of them), I decided to read Aasif Mandvi's book No Land's Man. What the heck does the memoir of a funny Daily Show correspondent have to do with racism? Sadly, a lot.

Mandvi, born to an Indian and Muslim family, grew up in the UK as a young boy and moved with his family to Florida as a teen. He encountered no end of racism on both sides of the Atlantic. It's sadly one of the overarching themes of the book, along with his feeling that he belongs nowhere - not in India, nor in England, nor the US.

Mandvi sees himself as an actor, not a comedian. Still, he is funny. The book is funny. I grew tired of his repeated use of beginning a chapter in the middle of a story, sharing a shocking scene, and then backtracking to say how he got there and what happened next.

What I like about the book is that you get to see the world from an Indian Muslim's point of view. Obviously, Mandvi and his family are a lot like anyone and any family. They are human. They are nice, normal people. And yet they are repeatedly judged by their skin color, their faith, and their accents.

Until he was hired by the Daily Show, Mandvi was rarely asked to play roles for "every man" characters that all Americans could relate to. Instead, he was asked to play a snake charmer, a terrorist, and any number of other ethnic characters. He still uses his ethnicity and religion in his role on the Daily Show as the Senior Muslim Correspondent, but at least now he is empowered to highlight hypocrisy in the U.S. via satire.

We need more books like this - or rather, we need to read more books like this - in order to understand the fundamental humanity that we all share, regardless of skin color. The recent protests and the backlash against it by some whites show that people with different skin colors experience different realities in America today. We need to all get on the same page in order to have a productive conversation. It may be impossible to walk a mile in another man's shoes, but at least you can read his memoir.


My little girl Meg nearly died the other night. Her problem is one that shocked me, so I want to share with other cat lovers out there. You should know about this problem, and know to prevent it in your cat.

It turns out that if your cat stops eating for as little as a few days, it can throw him or her into liver problems that result in death if not treated. I had no idea. Here's my story of how my Meg nearly died, and where she's at right now.

Meg and Me Today

UPDATE: Thanks to everyone's generosity, I've got the cash to get Meg through it. Folks have continued donating after we reached the goal. It will defray the several hundred dollars of my share of the cost and I appreciate it. However, I want folks to know that we've reached the goal and you do not have to give anymore. If the donations exceed the actual vet bills, I will refund the most recent donations. I do not want to receive a penny over what this actually costs. Thanks so much. You have saved Meg's life.

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Tue Jul 08, 2014 at 06:34 PM PDT

Yosemite Photo Diary

by Jill Richardson

I'm just back from my first trip to Yosemite, which occurred right after the park's 150th birthday. Thanks to permit issues, I did not see some of the more iconic parts of the park, and thanks to the drought, I did not see the waterfalls at their best... but it was still freaking incredible. Our national parks are such an incredible treasure. Here are some pics from my trip.

Scenic View


Favorite National Park?

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I'm just back from a trip up the coast to Monterey, and I took advantage of the opportunity to do a bit of hiking in Big Sur. About Big Sur, I must say: I now get what all the hype is about. Yes, it's amazing. Go there.

Central California Coast

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Hello from Monterey, CA. I drove up the coast from San Diego, visiting fellow Kossack David Atkins on the way up here. And I've ended up seeing tons and tons of what can be called "charismatic megafauna." That is, large, adorable wild animals.

Fortunately, I had my camera.

Also, here's a thought that comes to mind as I look through these pictures: I saw all of these animals for free, and even a whale watch in San Diego costs less than a ticket to Sea World. And there are no ethical questions about any of these animals because they are wild (as opposed to Sea World and their killer whales).

Sea Otter

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Tue May 06, 2014 at 12:37 PM PDT

California Nature Photo Diary

by Jill Richardson

I've been taking photos around SoCal for several months (under Eddie C's tutelage), and I've got quite a few that are pretty nice, so I thought I'd share them. The one below is from a hike this weekends to Tahquitz Peak in Idyllwild, and I plan to get a poster size print of it for my new apartment in Madison after I move.

The View


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Good things from our government exhibit A: national and state parks. Yesterday, I visited Cuyamaca Rancho State Park in California. Gorgeous.

The name Cuyamaca is taken from a Kumeyaay word meaning Rainy Place. The Kumeyaay are the local Indian tribe. I'm assuming that they named the Cuyamaca mountains long before the Spanish arrived and the Spanish just adopted the term. Relatively speaking - for San Diego - the Cuyamacas ARE a rainy place. Of course, since it's San Diego and it's April, it was perfectly sunny when I visited yesterday.

California Quail
California quail, the state bird

Join me below for pics and a tour.

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Sun Mar 30, 2014 at 09:08 AM PDT

Beautiful Wildflower Pics

by Jill Richardson

I don't know if I've shared this here yet, but this is my last year (for a while) in San Diego. In August, I'm moving back to Madison, WI to attend grad school for sociology at UW. So that means that I've gotta make this wildflower season count since I won't have another chance any year soon.

It doesn't help that we're in a historic drought. I was honestly so bummed I felt like Christmas had been canceled. But honestly, the wildflowers, well, you can see for yourself...

Wild Pea

All I have to say is: THIS is why I love living in California. One of the many reasons, anyway.

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I'm in the seventh year of an intense, torrid love affair with the state of California. Not with the government - I've got a few nasty things to say about that, in fact (repeal prop 13!). Nope, I'm in love with the land itself, and the plants and animals that live on it. I'm in love with the Indians, who learned how to live in harmony with this great land, not living lightly on it without making a mark, but shaping the land by burning, pruning, harvesting, etc, and co-evolving with our native species.

Getting Photos of the View

Unfortunately, I am most likely going to leave my love in less than a year. I've been accepted to grad school. I don't know where I'm going yet, but I've been accepted to UW-Madison for a PhD in sociology and I'm waiting to hear from a few other schools.

Therefore I've developed a bit of a "California bucket list" - things I want to do before leaving the state. Visit Yosemite. See a bear. See a fire poppy. Stuff my face with figs from the tree in my yard. Hike as much of the Pacific Crest Trail as I possibly can. And to facilitate these goals, I've joined a few meetup groups, including one that combines my two hobbies - photography and hiking. Here are some shots from our recent hike near Idyllwild.

Projections for California's climate are not pretty if nothing changes. This year's massive drought will become the new normal. That scares me a lot.

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