I am not comfortable speaking to the entirety of the state of Oklahoma; I can talk about the 8 things that we can do to make Oklahoma City residents happier.
#1 – Learn how to use roundabouts.
They aren’t stop signs. Stop treating them like one.
It is simple: everyone yields to their left.
At least once per week I see someone frustrated at the roundabout at Walker and NW 10th Street because they don’t understand how they work.
#2 Replace the crosswalk signs on Broadway in Auto Alley with tire destroyers.
I love walking down Broadway in Automobile Alley. Crossing Broadway is a different story.
The city has done an admirable thing by placing signs at crosswalks, reminding motorists that they are bound to yield to pedestrians; but, I am afraid that they may be counterproductive.
These signs offer a false sense of security to pedestrians. Falsely emboldened pedestrian meets Oklahoma’s deeply engrained automobile culture. Danger!
If we are serious about protecting pedestrians on Broadway then I recommend those apparatuses that puncture tires when a car tries to enter the exit gate in secure parking lots.
Pedestrian in the walkway? Spikes emerge.
#3 Make all statewide elections non-partisan.
Oklahoma City municipal elections are non-partisan. Why not state-wide offices?
Making elections non-partisan will reduce the my team vs. your team shortcut that many lazy Oklahoma voters use to cast a ballot.
Let’s cast votes based on criteria like:
Past history of success
#4 Eliminate Term Limits in the State Legislature
Term limits on state legislators result in a less experienced and less effective overall legislature. In what other job do we fire someone just as they are getting enough experience to be great at the job?
In 1990 Oklahoma voters approved State Question 632, enacting a twelve-year limit for combined service in the House of Representatives & Senate.
In the view of many journalists, legislative and agency staffers, and lobbyists, today’s legislators are significantly less experienced than were their predecessors.
We are capital of the fifth most obese state in the United States. Shall we review the list of infirmities linked to obesity?
High blood pressure
Type 2 diabetes
Diet is the key to weight loss. A nice bit of exercise, say a walk around the neighborhood, improves mood and outlook; burns additional calories; and, raises overall health levels.
#6 Eat a taco and chill out
There are 206,382 foreign-born residents in Oklahoma according to the last census. The overwhelming majority were born in Mexico.
Latino immigrant families are a vital part of many of our state’s communities, offering cultural, economic and civic contributions. Entire neighborhoods on the south side of Oklahoma City are populated and supported by Latinos from immigrant families. Businesses owned by Latinos employ thousands in the state.
Yet we gave them HB1804 in 2007. This odious law had thirteen sections. One went so far to make it illegal, punishable by a year in prison, for someone to give a ride to a person that they suspected may be undocumented.
Let’s just chill out and appreciate the contributions that Latinos make to our communities. A tasty al pastor taco from a family owned Oklahoma taqueria is a start. Find a good taco in Oklahoma City with the OKC Taco Map.
#7 Take the Bricktown Water Taxi
It took some friends visiting from out-of-town to get me, a long-time Oklahoma City resident, on one of the Bricktown Water Taxis. It was great!
The ride provided by the Bricktown Navy, apart from the December Christmas night tour, covers the entirety of the Bricktown Canal. You can relax on the boat and see the well traveled west portion of the waterway and the eastern section that ultimately ends at Bricktown Landing. Along the way you will see the impressive Oklahoma Land Run Monument.
#8 Forget the inferiority complex
Oklahoma City is a great town. Sure, our leaders sometimes do goofy things; however, Pete at OKCTalk.com has it right.
Remember, the legislature in Texas does even more ridiculous stuff…
The difference is that many people in Oklahoma have a big inferiority complex and feel like every time there is some quasi- stupid thing that happens here, that everyone else will write the whole state off as a bunch of backwards rubes.
The bottom line is the huge majority of this “embarrassing stuff” is only recognized by people living here and very little of it has any actual impact of the quality of life in general or your life in particular.
Here are some bits of wisdom that I can pass along to the aspirational language learner:
Have a reason
Motivation is critical. I started a management job that I really liked; however, to do the job well I needed to speak some Spanish. All of my employees were bilingual Latinos. I was the monolingual gringo manager. Knowing Spanish could make the difference between success and failure. I loved the job and wanted to do well. So I was motivated.
Then I doubled-down on my motivation: I booked a trip! Travel is an excellent motivator for language learning.
Study a semester abroad, one week at a time
Eight months after I started studying Spanish, I found myself in Mexico City, alone.
My friend, Steve Barrymore, a fellow language learner, told me about these great language schools all across Latin America. He had studied at many of them, one week at a time. In lieu of more traditional vacations, Steve liked to study Spanish for a week in an immersion experience. Based on his recommendations, I booked myself a one-week Spanish immersion experience at ASLI Spanish Language Institute in Cuernavaca, Mexico (just south of Mexico City).
I spent four hours in the classroom every day. The class was small with only a few other students. We practiced conversation ands studied grammar. For the rest of the day, I spent time with my homestay family, walked around the city and hung out in el zocalo, the city center with my classmates.
My initial concern before the trip is that these kinds of language schools would be dominated by traditionally-aged college students. I was 33 years old. My concerns were quicky dispelled. The school was full of people of young and old, from the US and Europe.
It was on this trip, eight months into my learning that I caught myself thinking in Spanish. I was hooked!
Graduated interval recall + common words & phrases=pimsleur style
A person with vocabulary limited to just the 1,000 most frequently used lexemes (words or several words that form a single meaning) can understand 88% of spoken Spanish. Only 1,000 words or phrases will get you 88% of the way to solid spoken fluency.
Graduated interval recall is a method of learning that involves introducing a new word or phrase. Then it reinforces it over gradually increased intervals of time. The introduction and reinforcements are layered upon one another into a weave of language lessons.
The combination of common words and phrases plus graduated interval recall is what makes the Pimsleur learning system the fast track to spoken language proficiency.
I completed all four levels of the Pimsleur Spanish series. Each lesson is thirty-minutes long. Levels one through three contain thirty lessons or 900 minutes of instruction. The final series is ten lessons or 300 minutes.
I paid nothing for the first two levels (450 minutes of instruction) as they were available for checkout at my local library.
One afternoon after work I was hanging out with my new friends, Javier and his “cousins,” at their south side Oklahoma City apartment. By that time I was pretty sure that most, if not all, of the guys were unauthorized immigrants. All sent money back home to family.
I was intensely curious about the economics of the situation. How could it be worth it for a person to risk life and limb in order to immigrate to the United States without papers? Could the financial payoff really be so significant in order compel these young men to take these kinds of risks?
El Flaco is a skinny little guy that looks, upon first glance to be a mere 16 years old, despite being in his early 20s. He had the gentle comportment of a kid that endured his fair share of teasing due to his slight build. He wasn’t beat down, but he was devoid of aggression. He was a laid back kid that went with the flow.
Maybe it was his gentle demeanor that caused me to choose him to alleviate my curiosity. At an opportune moment I leaned over to him and asked him how much more he earned in the US at his construction job than he earned in Mexico before he immigrated.
Why do some Oklahoma Republicans insist on focusing their efforts on antagonizing Oklahoma’s Hispanic immigrant population? (See: South Oklahoma City is a hotbed for Capitol’s illegal immigrant foes)
The majority of Hispanic immigrants in Oklahoma come from a conservative Catholic background. Many in the non-Catholic minority are active in one of the many local Hispanic evangelical churches. In both cases social conservatism is a dominant theme.
Like immigrant groups before them Oklahoma Hispanic immigrants are unusually entrepreneurial; specifically in the landscaping, construction and restaurant businesses.
Additionally, distrust of government is a very common feature within Hispanic culture (for good reason; read any book on Latin American history).
So, Oklahoma Hispanic immigrants are overwhelmingly socially conservative, entrepreneurial and distrustful of government. In other words, they are perfect candidates for membership in the Republican party.
Why alienate this large population of potential Republicans with measures like the so-called “Arizona plus” bill? If the “big tent” of the Oklahoma GOP could expand enough to allow the Hispanics a little corner, then our state would be enriched, the Hispanic population would be better off and the state GOP might find a lot more people voting “Republicano” at the polls.
Earlier in life I thought that Mariachi music was great fun. Everything about them is exaggerated. They are brightly dressed with the overly ornate shine of the traditional Mexican vestments. Their hats are grossly oversized and often their boots are long and pointy like an elf’s shoe.
They move from table to table and sing at high volume with rugged masculine harmony. One tall skinny guy plays a little bitty guitar. Another guy, shorter and much more rotund plays a great big long guitar. His gold tooth shines.
To my American sensibilities everything about the mariachi group screams, “The Mexican circus is in town!”
One weekend I was hanging out with my Mexican buddies. We were into the back half of a case of Modelo when we fired up the VCR.