Saturday, March 26, 2011

Santa Maria's Annual Italian Dinner

If you are in the Cincinnati area, plan on enjoying delicious food with us at Santa Maria's Italian Dinner! The event takes place tomorrow evening, Sunday, March 27th, at St. Simon Church, 825 Pontius Road in Delhi. Arrive any time between 4:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. for a fun-filled evening with Santa Maria.

On the menu: spaghetti and meat sauce/meatballs, salad, bread, desserts, and a range of beverages, all graciously donated by talented chefs from local restaurants.
Disclaimer: No food was harmed in the making of this meal by inexperienced interns.

We will also have an accordion player roaming through the meal, as well as a ton of raffle drawings and prizes that you won't want to miss. Dinner is $10/adult, $5/child (under age 10), and don't forget about those raffle tickets! $3.00 each or 2 for $5.00 could win you half the pot, not to mention a fabulous gift basket of goodies.

So join us for delicious food, fantastic entertainment, and fabulous prizes tomorrow night. I'll see you there!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Year one is done

On Sunday, March 20th, Taylor and I celebrated our 1st wedding anniversary with a weekend getaway! Because I'm a giver, I will share the weekend in pictures:

We arrived in the little town of Leavenworth, Indiana, on Sunday afternoon where we stayed the night at a local Bed & Breakfast appropriately named Leavenworth Inn.

The Inn was comprised of several smaller structures on the grounds. Below is The Cottage where we stayed in the "Sweet William" room. In the evening we sat in the rocking chairs on the porch and watched the barges come up the river.
It was a beautiful weekend, much like it was on our wedding day one year ago. Shortly after we arrived we found a little gazebo where we enjoyed some really pretty scenic river views (like this one) in the hills of southeastern Indiana.

Please note Taylor's recently purchased Aviator sunglasses. He loves them so much he wears them indoors. Fortunately it was warm and sunny, appropriate sunglasses weather.

A little while later we took a walk into the little town where we discovered this old fire truck parked at City Hall. We thought it was so cool we went back to snap more pictures before leaving the next morning.
Later that evening we walked to the Overlook Restaurant, which as you might have guessed, overlooked the Ohio River. Note to self: when ordering catfish, pay close attention to the description of the dish, otherwise you will find a fish with bones, fins, and tail still in tact. After a mild freak out, Taylor filleted the fish for me and I was able to enjoy my dinner.

On Monday morning we awoke refreshed and hungry! Thank goodness for a hearty breakfast of french toast, sausage, fruit, juice, coffee, and tea at the main house (pictured below). We enjoyed meeting two other couples staying at the Inn, one celebrating 41 years of marriage next week!

After breakfast, we journeyed back across the river to Louisville, KY, where we took a self-guided walking tour of historic homes in "Old Louisville." This house was one of my favorites:

Then we used our reciprocal Cincinnati Museum Center membership at the Louisville Science Center. The museum was largely for kids (and wasn't that great, to be honest), but we had a nice walk around the building before taking one last picture in front of a big metallic, mirrored disk thing outside:And there you have it! The perfect way to end our first year of marriage and begin the second one. It's hard to believe it's already been one year, but I guess time flies when you're having fun!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

At the end of the second quarter...

Sounds like a line from an announcer at a football game, but NO--this is about me, me, me!

Just minutes ago, I emailed my last final exam to my professor, marking the end of my second quarter of graduate school. It's a tremendous weight lifted off of my shoulders, and I must say, a big accomplishment. At this point, I have completed one third of my graduate school education! Can you believe it?

Just like last quarter, here's a list of things I learned and did at school:
  • Attended a personal safety seminar; learned how to assess risks and implement techniques to deescalate dangerous situations
  • Wrote two reflections on my experiences with personal safety in the workplace
  • Created a comprehensive genogram outlining relationships, patterns, and history in my family for four generations
  • Researched and wrote an extensive paper on my family of origin, including more than ten sources of information
  • Analyzed the impact of race, class, and gender in colonial and modern families
  • Wrote an in-depth organizational review of my field placement site, Santa Maria Community Services
  • Engaged in exercises surrounding ethical dilemmas in social work
  • Applied the National Association of Social Workers code of ethics to two case studies
  • Created an eco-map showing all of the systems of a case study family
  • Completed a process recording following an in-class role play scenario in which I had to write verbatim what the client and social worker said in a session, including non-verbals, from memory.
  • Created a treatment plan for a case study client
  • Completed a comprehensive assessment, including mental status exam, for a sample client on video
  • Attended an all -day grant-writing workshop; learned how to write clear, realistic goals, objectives, outcomes, and indicators for funders
It's hard to believe I did all of that in ten weeks. No wonder I'm exhausted! Oh and that's just the stuff I did in the classroom--I haven't even touched my activities in my internship! We'll save that for another day.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Tax Breaks and Budget Cuts

I saw this link posted on a friend's Facebook wall, and I couldn't not share it. Unless you've been living under a rock, you've heard a lot of talk of balancing budgets and reducing state and national deficits. You probably have some ideas on how to reduce budget deficits, and depending on your political ideology, they involve cutting spending or utilizing taxes. But what is the best course of action?

Well, the folks over at Center for American Progress decided to compare and contrast making spending cuts vs. reducing tax breaks, as seen here. And it's eye-opening. In the chart you'll see large sums of money that could be eliminated from the budget, depending on what gets cut. For example, low-income housing programs cost the nation $8.9 billion, which is the same cost of allowing mortgage interest deductions on vacation homes over ten years. Or how about $2.5 billion, which could be saved by either eliminating Low Income Home Energy Assistance (LIHEAP) grants for poor families, or ending tax breaks for oil companies. And, one last particularly striking figure: $44 billion. That's how much the government would save by cutting all of the programs on Center for American Progress' list vs. the $42 billion which would be saved by not extending Bush era tax cuts for upper tax brackets in fiscal year 2012.

According to this article, "The Federal Treasury loses twice as much revenue due to tax breaks than Congress appropriates on all nonsecurity discretionary spending." And yet, all of the current budget talks have been focused on cutting spending, not eliminating monstrous tax breaks for the elite few. I believe the reason for this is that spending items have a tangible presence on a budget--tax breaks do not. Psychologically, we feel better slashing the dollar signs we see on the surface, rather than looking at the deeper, wider budget picture.

I have a liberal ideology, and I believe government has a place in our lives to do good. Quality programming and services cost money, and I don't take that lightly. But we certainly need to have an intelligent conversation about just that. I believe these budget crises could be resolved if we evaluate our values and prioritize our spending and saving accordingly.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Cleopatra's in Cincinnati

Today I had the chance to go with my BFF to the Cincinnati Museum Center for a special exhibit on Cleopatra. They didn't allow any photography inside the exhibit, but you can click here to see some images and videos of the display. I highly recommend checking out the exhibit in person, though--it's amazing! You've got until September 5th. Here's a blurb from the website:



The world of Cleopatra VII, which has been lost to the sea and sand for nearly 2,000 years, has surfaced at Cincinnati Museum Center with Cleopatra: The Search for the Last Queen of Egypt. On view through September 5, 2011, the exhibition features nearly 150 artifacts from Cleopatra’s time and will take you inside the present-day search for the elusive queen, which extends from the sands of Egypt to the depths of the Bay of Aboukir near Alexandria. See statuary, jewelry, daily items, coins and religious tokens that archaeologists have uncovered from the time surrounding Cleopatra’s rule, all of which are visiting the U.S. for the first time.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Ten years later

What is the Ten Years Later project?

I heard about this project last night on Channel 9 WCPO News, and I highly recommend it.

Ten years ago this April, Cincinnati experienced serious race riots after a series of police shootings of African American suspects. In fact, here is one of the original stories written at the start of the riots:

This story was originally posted on April 9, 2001: The anger over this latest deadly shooting is at least partially due to the number of African American suspects who have been shot and killed by on-duty Cincinnati police recently.

Since January 1995, Cincinnati Police on duty have killed 15 African American men.

Fourteen of the 15 suspects were shot to death.

No white suspects have been killed during that same timespan.

This is the second deadly shooting by Cincinnati police so far this year.

Now WCPO is investigating the state of the city ten years later. In a 30-day special project, reporters will feature community dialogue on current racial relations in Cincinnati, showing how far we have come as a city and how far we still have to go.

With 52 distinct neighborhoods in Cincinnati, there's bound to be differences in racial relations among each population. It will be interesting to see what people have to say, but more importantly, it will be good to see people talking about such a controversial and often taboo topic.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Police Say Homeless Man Not Beaten To Death

Police Say Homeless Man Not Beaten To Death

I heard about this sad story this morning. Billy Joe Begley was a chronically homeless man from Price Hill who was found unconscious last Wednesday behind Santa Maria's East Price Hill location, next to the Price Hill library. He later died over the weekend, and there are now conflicting reports about his cause of death. Originally, his death was thought to be a homicide due to the severity of the injuries he sustained to his face and chest, in addition to a missing wallet and money. But now police are saying he died from a fall caused by some kind of medical condition.

I don't have any answers. What I do know is what staff members at Santa Maria have told me--that Billy was a frequent, harmless visitor at Santa Maria and his death leaves a sad space for all who knew him. We are all left wondering what, if anything, else we could have done to help him; what else we could have done to prevent this tragedy.

I would like to think the police from District 3 are using the extent of their resources to fully investigate Billy's death. I have to wonder, though, if the fact that Billy was homeless has any bearing on the priority of this case. Regardless of his living conditions, Billy is a human being who deserves to be treated with respect, even in death.