Friday, January 18, 2013

Read: Update on Amber

Hello everyone,

I have not been around for a while but I would like to give everyone who cares an update on Amber.  If you do not care then the "X" is at the top right of your screen.

I have been keeping up with my sister on Jpay, which allows us to talk to each other through email regularly.  She has had a lot of negative press in the past, which portrayed her as a very hateful individual.  And she was for a while.  She did not know how to control her anger or even shut up when she needed to.  But now I am happy to say that I absolutely believe that it is all behind her now.  

After Amber was sent to prison she had a lot to think about and a lot to change about herself.  She had to first realize what was important to her, which was her health and most importantly, Leah.  I put them in that order because if she were to remain unhealthy then Leah's importance would be non-existent.  In one of our first letters to each other, Amber wrote and said, "I just hope you guys understand that I chose prison to help me, and pretty much save me from myself."  She told me that she cried often because she misses her family, and her Booboo, which is what she calls Leah.  Amber felt like she had no other option but to go to prison because she did not have the strength to survive on her own and to stay clean.  Many may question that and say, "Well, how can you just leave your daughter?"  Apparently those individuals have never been addicted to drugs, and do not know what impact they may have on your life.  In 2007 over 23 million individuals needed treatment for drug abuse.  Of them, over 20 million did not receive any treatment.  Amber's age group (18-25) makes up nearly 20% of the individuals who need treatment for drugs.  In addition, the form of drugs that Amber used kills 20,000 Americans each year.  So it is a no-brainer why Amber agreed to be incarcerated.

In prison Amber has access to resources that were not effective on the "outside."  One of the first things Amber did when she arrived at prison was get into the CLIFF program, which is a drug rehabilitation program.  It is a program that has multiple stages, and Amber is now in the third and final stage.  She has also been asked to seek employment and lead the CLIFF program because of her outstanding progress.  Amber also completed an anger management program.  That is the one difference that I see in her most.  She does not get nearly as angry as she used to.  In addition, she nearly never curses, and when she does it is not that vulgar.  In a letter Amber sent she said, "I make sure I laugh or smile everyday here.  I feel emotions, happiness, anger, and sadness but that is still better than before when all I felt was high."  These programs have helped her immensely and changed her thought process, which is something she told me needed to be changed.  

Another program that Amber is excited about is the GED program.  She is fully aware that to get far in life you have to have an education.  She told me that as soon as she is done with the CLIFF program she will be able to take the GED exam.  In addition, she has learned a lot about work ethic while in prison, which is something you do not really need when filming, and what Amber lacked as far as what could be seen on the show.  Amber holds a job in the facility and is currently a supervisor.  She told me that she supervises a few other girls, and that they work very well together.  "Right now I'm just thinking about a career and what I am going to do while I am in here and when I get out", Amber said.  She is focused on her goal, which is to better herself and be a role model to Leah.

Amber tells me that she calls Leah every night, and that she loves hearing her voice.  Every chance I get, I send Amber pictures of Leah that I have taken or ones that are on Gary's Twitter page.  She loves getting them, tells me often that they make her cry.  Amber told me that her inspirations to better herself are Leah and our father, who at one point only had six months to live.  That was 9 years ago and since then he has battled liver disease and cancer.  Still in his weakened state he is fighting, and fighting to get a new liver.  Amber knows that she has a lot to live for and I feel comfortable saying that Amber will have a better life after all of this is done.  By completing the CLIFF program, getting her GED, and being good, Amber can be out of prison and well on her way to a new life in a few months.  

Some of you may not like Amber.  Some may post hateful messages on here.  But know that Amber is a human, and as humans we all make mistakes.  She is paying for her mistakes right now, and that is not by being in jail but being away from those she loves the most.  She has taken the steps to better herself, which is more than what many would do.  It is not often that you hear about someone who has their whole life ahead of them agree to do something like what Amber did, which is agree to a prison term.  If you are religious then say a pray for her.  If you are hateful then say a prayer for yourself.  But keep in mind that all of the negative things that you say will eventually come back to you.  The world is full of hate, which is why it can be so dysfunctional.  Think!

Shawn Portwood

Sunday, July 8, 2012

For Those Considering College

Northern Exposure: From a Functionalist Perspective

          America, emerging from the Great Recession, has embraced the importance of a post-high school education. Many found themselves competing for jobs against others whose college degrees and skills eclipsed their own. Others have found that the skills and degrees that they had are no longer in demand in an ever-evolving technological society. Divided lawmakers face the financial responsibility for education. Some view that it is the responsibility of their constituents to pay their own way whereas other politicians see that the consequences of a failure to educate citizens is a threat to the nation. Meanwhile, Americans are increasingly shopping for the best deals on everything from homes, cars, and small items. Education has been no exception. Americans are finding that just beyond the border lays the answer to a quality education without overextending their finances. Northern Exposure exposes everyone to what an education in Canada entails and how it is so cost-effective compared to the United States.
          From a functionalists perspective everything happens for a reason because everything intertwines in one way or another. This connection helps to illustrate why many Americans are increasingly choosing to go to college in Canada to save money. With the unemployment rate in the United States teetering between eight and nine percent in the last year saving money is important to many Americans (Trading Economics, 2012). However, the unemployment rate for an American with a Bachelor’s Degree is only 3.9% compared 8.1% for one with just a high school diploma (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2012). Because of the increase in unemployment Americans are looking for the best deals on everything, using coupons, and carpooling to work just to save a few dollars.
          Money was not always an issue among Americans before late 2007, however. Before December 2007, the unemployment rate was only about five percent and many families owned homes. However, between politics and mortgage companies lending too much money to individuals who could not afford it many started losing their jobs. This would be known as the Great Recession and has driven many to further their education while saving money simultaneously.
          In the video Northern Exposure aired by MSNBC, Emily Cox faced the dilemma to choose between two schools that offer quality educations. She could choose to stay in the United States and go to Georgetown University or she could move to Canada and go to McGill University. In the end, it came down to the price of each school. It would cost her roughly $50,000 to go to Georgetown per year whereas McGill would only cost her around $20,000 per year. By going to McGill, Emily can save roughly $30,000 a year and get an education that she can take anywhere.
          Many would argue that there is nothing better than to save a considerable amount of money while getting a quality education. Aside from the high taxes in Canada, one can get that and much more. First, Canadian residents are entitled to free health care (Candian Health Care, 2004-2007). Second, the unemployment rate in Canada is only 7.3% (Trading Economics, 2012). That is a full percent lower than the United States, which means there are more jobs for college students. Most important of all is the price of an education in Canada. More than 9,000 American students currently attend college in Canadian classrooms paying less than 30-60% of what students in private United States schools are paying (NBC, 2011).
          The Great Recession has caused many to further their education. Today 4.4 million more individuals are continuing their education post-high school than in 2000 (Institute of Education Sciences, 2012). The price of that education in America is far more than in Canada, however. Out of the 19.7 million Americans actively enrolled in college and universities in the United States the smart ones are the 9,000 enrolled in Canada (Institute of Education Sciences, 2012). They may be learning the same curriculum as those attending American schools, but possess a knowledge that many Americans do have. These 9,000 students have learned to think smart and “outside of the box” by getting a quality education on a dime.


Reference
Archives, N. N. (Director). (2011). Economics 101 [Motion Picture].
Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2012). Employment status of the civilian population 25 years and over by educational attainment. Retrieved from U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics : http://www.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.t04.htm
Candian Health Care. (2004-2007). Public health care providers. Retrieved from Candian Health Care: http://www.canadian-healthcare.org/page5.html
Institute of Education Sciences. (2012). Back to school statistics. Retrieved from National Center for Education Statistics: http://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id=372
Trading Economics. (2012). Canada unemployment rate. Retrieved from Trading Economics: http://www.tradingeconomics.com/canada/unemployment-rate
Trading Economics. (2012). United states unemployment rate. Retrieved from Trading Economics: http://www.tradingeconomics.com/united-states/unemployment-rate

The Internet's Influence on Cultural Norms


            Essentially the creation of the Internet has changed every aspect of our day-to-day lives, but before the 1960s it was only a figment of our imaginations.  Had it not been for the Soviets, there is a possibility that the future of the Internet may have been severely altered.  In 1957 the Soviet Union launched Sputnik I into space initiating an arms race between the United States and Russia.  With this event President Eisenhower knew that he had to do something to regain control of space.  Thus the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) was born.  DARPA would develop a way to communicate with networked computers, which was known as the “Internetting” project (Day, 2003).  This was the vision of a man named John Licklider who “had a vision of a vast network of computers providing access to data and programs on a global scale” (Boston University CDIA, 2008).  Licklider would call this vision the “Galactic Network.”   This is how the “Internet” eventually would come to be, which was coined in 1983 (Boston University CDIA, 2008).  Throughout the first years of the Internet, its uses would be limited to connecting four universities with the network and use by the U.S. military.  This first prototype was known as ARPANET.  Within the next decade ARPANET would branch to 50 schools and by the 1982 computers across America were programmed to talk to each other no matter what operating system that they ran on (Day, 2003).   Within 10 years the World Wide Web would be born bringing the world closer than ever before.
The Purpose of the Internet
            There was a debate on what the original purpose of the Internet, or ARPANET at that time, was used for.  Although it was used widely used by the military, it was also used by researchers to keep in contact with other researchers.   A former director of ARPA, the agency that created ARPANET, Charles M. Herzfeld said, “it (ARPANET) came out of our frustration that there were only a limited number of large, powerful research computers in the country and that many research investigators who should have access were geographically separated from them" (Bellis, 2012).  Thus with the access of ARPANET they were closer to others although they may be, geographically, on the other side of the country.  In the 21st century however, the Internet does much more than what it was capable of and designed for 40-plus years ago.  Although we still use the Internet for the original purpose of gathering information and keeping an open line of communication, it is also used to buy and sell merchandise, advertise, gossip, go to school full-time, and share data, such as music, pictures, and videos. 
The Internet’s Impact on Culture and Society
            The Internet has changed everything we do and how we do it.  It has changed the way we meet our spouses, interact with our friends, start our vehicles, and even affects our style and personal appearance.  Some individuals may remember what life was like before the Internet and readjusting, for them may be quite difficult in this technological and digital world.   But for those born within the last 20 to 30 years, the Internet is an essential part of their lives.  Before the Internet, life was a simpler time when friends were not just people whom you only associated with on Facebook or Twitter.  During the pre-Internet time one would physically have to go to another’s home or vise-versa to see what was new in his or hers life.   Also if someone wanted to meet the love of his or her life they would have to bump into him or her at the grocery store or possibly strike up a conversation in a bar.  Today, however, there is hundreds of Internet dating sites devoted to helping one find that special someone like Christian Mingle, Match.com, or eHarmony.  The Internet has even made owning a business on the corner of the street a thing of the past.  No longer do you have to leave your home to go grocery shopping, buy the clothes that you wear every day, get a Bachelor’s degree, or order a pizza; now one can do all of this and more from the comfort of their couch and at the touch of their fingertips.  Businesses like Amazon, who got their start as a book selling company online, and Wal-Mart can ship all sorts of merchandise around the world within a couple of days because of the Internet (Demand Media, 2011).
            The Internet is virtually everywhere that we look and it controls just about everything we do.  It is no longer a device or a tool that researchers and the military are only allowed to use.  It is now a tool designed specifically for our everyday needs and may be used on our cellphones, televisions, and in our vehicles.  There is no doubt that the Internet has changed the way we function throughout the day and with time it will only grow to be more a part of our lives


Tuesday, June 26, 2012

DJing for Dummies: A Paris Hilton story...And Kim Kardashian?

Until recently, Paris Hilton was seen as the ditsy blonde-headed diva who starred in reality shows, such as Paris Hilton's My New BFF and The World According to Paris.  Now the three-time arrested diva is a DJ?  Yes, and she made her DJ debut at the Pop Music Festival in Brazil.  In the videos, which can be seen on DJ Sevan Kambel's website, Paris Hilton's professional debut required the help of an engineer to adjust her sound board.  I can think of many thinks that might require help but adjusting the volume is not one of them.

The newest addition to the DJ world is not as unfamiliar with the DJ booth as many may think by watching her in action.  In fact, according to Sevan Kabel, she was dating DJ Afrojack until recently.  It is not hard to see why they are no longer a couple.  In addition, the talks of her DJing debut have been in the works for a while.  Sevan said, "Well, she had been talking about it...but I hoped it was a joke."  Well, it appears that it wasn't a joke and that Paris really thinks that she can follow in her ex-boyfriends footsteps.  Even Deadmau5 thinks that it is a sign of the end of days saying, "To be fair...the mayans saw this shit coming."  I guess Snooki's pregnancy is not the only sign of the world ending.

Well, hopefully someone can tame this infestation before it gets out-of-hand; or can they?  Actually, no they cannot.  In fact, Sevan Kambel says, "Yea, seems it is not just her...Kim Kardashian is now saying that she is going to DJ."  It looks as if Deadmaus and Kambel are going to have a lot to say in the coming future.  Lets cross our fingers and hope what is being said is not true.






Monday, December 19, 2011

Do you not have hearts?

My sister and I have not got along well over the last few months but I would never say what some of you have said toward and about her.  To be honest, some of you are being so hateful.  It is sad how much hate people have in their hearts today.  My sister has been doing really well even considering how many people are so negative and hateful toward her.  It's really just sad.  She has been doing everything that she needs to but despite what she has done she will end up in jail again for nonsense.  This is supposed to be a joyful holiday season and for most of you it will be.  As for Amber and her family, myself included, this is another dreaded holiday.  I hope that some of you find it in your hearts to stop being so negative toward her.  Enjoy your holiday and pray for us because we could use that right about now.  Pray for Leah as well because this is the second Christmas that she will not be able to spend with her mother.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Rakkasan! Until we form again.

This is not one of my normal blog posts.  Typically I would rant or write about non-sense that no one should even really care about.  Today is a little bit different.  During my time in the military I met a lot of guys who would do anything for you; die for you if they had to.  Guys who knew what Loyalty, Duty, Respect, Selfless Service, Honor, Integrity, and Personal Courage was.  I spent 20 months of my life over seas fighting alongside a lot of individuals that I consider brothers.  At home we drank together, trained together, fought each other, and were each others wing-man when we needed to be.  Over seas we were all business no matter what the mission was. 10 degrees or 145 degrees, it didn't matter because we were all dealing with it together.  When the rockets or mortars were falling we were all in the bunker bull-shitting trying to keep our minds off of the rounds.  When the Afghan's or Iraqis didn't know what we were saying then we were talking shit to each other.  We had a brotherhood unlike anything you may be able to have with kin.  This year a brother of mine died in Afghanistan due to small-arms fire.  Sgt. Keith T. Buzinski died fighting for his country.  It was said that while he was home on leave he talked about how he wanted to get back to his brothers over seas.  This video was created in memory for "Buzz" who died in Logar Province, Afghanistan on April 7, 2011.  Remembering is the only thing I can do now.  Think about the soldiers who are over there fighting right now.  The ones who have to be away from there families for months or a year at a time.  Thank a VET or a soldier, and remember what many have sacrificed so that you can sit at home and watch your favorite reality shows or movies.  Many sacrifice a little but some have sacrificed a lot.  Rest in peace "Buzz."  RAKKASAN!

During my Iraq deployment we also lost a soldier by the name of 2LT Tracy Lynn Alger.  She was the first one to parish on our 14 month deployment to Iraq.  Here is her tribute.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

A question from a...fan? Here is your answer.

Q:  You and Amber were raised by the same parents. How is it you have made something of your life, and have been able to be the only person we have seen on Teen Mom to be able to give her advice that she should have listened to? You have offered to help her many times - according to several articles. Is the hope that she will take you up on these offers.


A:  Though we were raised in the same household and by the same parents, I have done many things different in my life.  First I moved from Anderson because that city will bring you down.  Second I joined the military and learned a thing or two about honor, integrity, respect, and responsibility.  Last, I am currently enrolled in college where I maintain a 4.0 GPA.  Yes, there are many differences between us but I have faith in her now.  She has also begun to confide in me for problems that she is now faced with. I will continue to give her the same advice as I did before but now I am more persistent.  She is also finally getting her High School diploma and getting her life on track.  She is taking the proper steps in her life to finally be an adult.