Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Don't Let the Contradiction Stop You

On my Reading List

Toxic Sludge is Good for You

Praise for the Center for Media and Democracy | Center for Media and Democracy

This Makes Sense to Me

And add more regulation to banking as needed. Shadow Banking and Financial Regulation — The Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance and Financial Regulation

Just When I Was Losing Faith in Voters

Florida: Scott-Sink governor race very tight; Rubio wins Senate seat - USATODAY.com: "One possible reason for the close race was worry over Scott's business past. The company Scott grew into the largest for-profit health care provider in the country in the 1990s, Columbia/HCA, paid a record $1.7 billion Medicare fraud fine following an FBI probe shortly after Scott stepped down as CEO."

Stamina My Friends

I heard recently the accusation that the government is printing money. What an asinine and irresponsible accusation. In truth, the Feds have controlled money supply for a long time, and while they keep the number steady, "printing money" is more fear mongering rhetoric. Maybe one day we'll build a smarter "consumer"/ constituent, who isn't so easily fooled. Oh, that's right, with draconian cuts to education, maybe not.

I do like this article, which at least makes a good explanation of the tools we have at hand. Love that no one (that I heard of) talked about these points before the election. Just doesn't play well, as the article points out.

Who can magically fix the economy? No one - Full version - Oct. 15, 2010

Friday, October 29, 2010

Prison Economics Help Drive Ariz. Immigration Law : NPR

I can't even read this. Prison Economics Help Drive Ariz. Immigration Law : NPR But of course I have to.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Explains Political Clash of 2010?

"If there has been an overarching human error, it has been to construct cultural contexts that fail to mesh with planetary realities."

Looking at Life Clearly

I like this writer - too many things on my shelf right now, but enjoyed this excerpt. 'Slow Love' by Dominique Browning We would agree on many things: the benefits of being alone, how nice it is to make your world smaller, how important love is to sustain us and how little "things" matter. Losing a job can be a great gift, tho it may take time to see the good in it. Gratitude helps - makes all the difference. Might as well walk gently thru each day and enjoy it :) Or dance passionately, but don't miss it.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

All about Perspective - great read

Excerpts from:

"intimate and loving relationships with their families are the most powerful and enduring source of happiness."

"Unconsciously, we often employ the marginal cost doctrine in our personal lives when we choose between right and wrong. A voice in our head says, “Look, I know that as a general rule, most people shouldn’t do this. But in this particular extenuating circumstance, just this once, it’s OK.” The marginal cost of doing something wrong “just this once” always seems alluringly low. It suckers you in, and you don’t ever look at where that path ultimately is headed and at the full costs that the choice entails. Justification for infidelity and dishonesty in all their manifestations lies in the marginal cost economics of “just this once.”"



Choose the Right Yardstick

"This past year I was diagnosed with cancer and faced the possibility that my life would end sooner than I’d planned. Thankfully, it now looks as if I’ll be spared. But the experience has given me important insight into my life.
I have a pretty clear idea of how my ideas have generated enormous revenue for companies that have used my research; I know I’ve had a substantial impact. But as I’ve confronted this disease, it’s been interesting to see how unimportant that impact is to me now. I’ve concluded that the metric by which God will assess my life isn’t dollars but the individual people whose lives I’ve touched.
I think that’s the way it will work for us all. Don’t worry about the level of individual prominence you have achieved; worry about the individuals you have helped become better people. This is my final recommendation: Think about the metric by which your life will be judged, and make a resolution to live every day so that in the end, your life will be judged a success."

Acedia & Me: A Marriage, Monks, and a Writer's Life : Kathleen Norris

Found this book at Borders last week for like $6 - great read for the thoughtful and for anyone who has had or had loved ones with depression. Very gentle, hopeful, beautiful, inspiring, insightful.

Amazon.com: Acedia & Me: A Marriage, Monks, and a Writer's Life (9781594489969): Kathleen Norris: Books

Monday, October 25, 2010

Juan Williams at odds with NPR over dismissal

Juan Williams at odds with NPR over dismissal

NPR paid him to be an analyst, not to have personal opinions. He violated journalistic integrity. Period.

My comment to NPR: "Absolutely agree that Mr. Williams earned the right to lose his job. He wasn't performing to standards. He had been warned in the past. He could have asked for a commentators position. He could have removed himself from a tempting situation. I like him, personally, but I expect him and every other NPR reporter to do just that - report. Analyze. I may go to a book signing or read his book for a personal opinion. His was a sacred duty. NPR is one of THE last hopes for our democracy. The republic cannot stand without accurate, unbiased information disseminated to the voters. Loss of confidence in our journalists and media matches our loss of confidence in a political system that is flooded with special interest funds, and therefore entirely suspect. Thank you NPR for doing the right thing, hard as it was. I'll be sending in a donation. I also suspect a VAST majority of the flak you received was generated by non-listeners."

btw all of us have the right to be scared at any point in our lives, including Williams. What he didn't have is the right to express that in a public setting, in a role as representative of NPR, and keep his job, that clearly states he has to maintain journalistic standards - meaning he is unbiased in public. He would never have lost his job for saying those things in private or in public, while not performing as an NPR Analyst.

No one said he isn't decent and honorable and both a believer in and beneficiary of civil rights. However, if he worked for a large corporation like Coca Cola as a spokesperson, and admitted he liked Pepsi better while speaking at a conference *he would lose his job*.

We also don't let our military personnel demonstrate in political actions!? Has anyone ever wondered WHY? It's freaking common sense. People who represent our government in the armed services give up the right to express their political opinions pubically in their service to a high duty/calling. They protect all of us. Well so do certain (aka professional) journalists. It isn't his JOB to have an opinion. And he had numerous "slips" in the past.

Nina Totenberg had one, to my knowledge. AND her comments have been lately taken out of context - she didn't wish AIDS on anyone, but simply commented it would be an ironic sort of justice if Helms or one of his decendants contracted AIDS in light of his vociferous opposition to research for AIDS. Over the top, sure, but she, unlike Williams has an excellent track record.
v

Saturday, October 23, 2010

One of the Worst Chapters in Our History

Lillian McEwen breaks her 19-year silence about Justice Clarence Thomas

It's been 19 years since I lost faith in a big chunk of "the system".

Of course most knew or suspected that Clarence Thomas was a philanderer and had indeed harassed women all around him. Why else would women come out of the woodwork, most notably Hill, and risk being grilled over an open pit of vitriol from the right?

Beyond that my gripe is that the ABA (American Bar Association) didn't approve him as fit for the job, first time ever for a Supreme Court nominee. But his confirmation showed the writing on the wall - that our judicial system, even at the highest and most hallowed levels, was becoming politicized to the point of turning a blind eye to lack of qualifications.

Thomas' appointment tainted the Court.

side note: I didn't know he had worked for John Danforth, former Senator from Missouri, partner in a firm where I once "worked" and an ordained Episcopal Minister. I have a lot of respect for Danforth. Too bad his ethics and class didn't rub off on Thomas.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Long hair?

A good friend once said, after cutting her waist-length locks, that she heard long hair "picks up vibrations" and she did feel not only lighter, but less ... less of an antennae! Loved the images that created.

Why Can’t Middle-Aged Women Have Long Hair? - NYTimes.com

Monday, October 18, 2010

Campaign Finance Reform - dead horse?

Found this today, after following the $3 billion being spent on this year's elections. So far.

Obama dropped ball on campaign reform - CNN.com

And the Republicans missed their chance too.

Plutocracy - The influence the wealthy minority of the population has over the political arena includes campaign contributions, as well as bribing to achieve corporate objectives (exclusively profit related), refusing to support the government financially by refusing to pay taxes, threatening to move profitable industries elsewhere, and essentially any form of manipulation of the government. It can also be exerted by the owners and ad buyers of media properties which can shape public perception of political issues (see also: fourth estate)." wikipedia

Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Problem with Gold Stars

excerpt from Shop Class as Soul Craft, by Matthew B. Crawford:

"'Aristotle's understanding of happiness can shed light on those activities that truly engage us; maybe it can teach us something about work and leisure as well...In Greek, its telos. In English, this teleological understanding of happiness get condensed in the proverbial saying 'Happy as a pig in shit.'...There is a classic psychology experiment...Children who enjoy drawing were given marker pens and allowed to go at it. Some were rewarded for drawing (they were given a certificate with a gold seal and a ribbon, and told ahead of time about this arrangement), whereas for others the issue of rewards was never raised.Weeks later, those who had been rewarded took less interest in drawing, and their drawings were judged to be lower in quality, whereas those who had not been rewarded continued to enjoy the activity and produced higher-quality drawings. The hypothesis is that the child begins to attribute his interest, which previously needed no justification, to the external reward, and this has the effect of reducing his intrinsic interest in it.'"

(Found this quote posted on a wildly entertaining blog (link below) by a very angry, disenfranchised law school graduate.... Interesting reading on it's own ... I remain eternally grateful I didn't hit law school when it appealed to me. Figured out in about 1992 it wasn't worth it.)


Sunday, September 26, 2010

Beautiful Boy

I read an interesting book over the last few weeks, Beautiful Boy by David Sheff. I bought it almost a year ago (more?) but distractions kept me from it... probably reading vampire books. I have to say that this read was similar to the worst (meaning terrifying) fiction. I tend to avoid sad stories, overly gory movies, anything that might rip my heart out or put images that I can't handle into my head; they come rising unbidden in the dark, or a dark hour.*

Beautiful Boy is the story of a smart, engaged, sweet teenager who starts down the road of addiction and his father's struggle to help him.

So Beautiful Boy sat around for months based on my fear of how bad it would hurt. Instead, when I read it, I got the strange kind of comfort (sick in some ways) that comes from a pernicious half-lie, half-truth: "I am not like this man."

It may be a lousy self-centered excuse to therefore enjoy it, but I got into this book quickly, once I started. Sheff is a very clear writer, and yet didn't give me more info that I needed. I liked that he left some things unstated, like all the emotion that comes up when you see an ex-spouse, collaborative for a child, and you flash back to who you both once were, and how strangely connected you will always be, no matter how long since the divorce.

Sheff quotes a lot of classics, and new materials on addiction, and I lapped that up. It helps me to short-hand big thoughts into paragraphs, much like the cliches of AA and Al-Anon help alcoholics and families of alcoholics. I haven't examined his resources and credits lists, but I'm sure there is plenty of side-trails to follow from his reassuringly professional (think, journalistic) documentation.

There were nights I stayed up way too late to read Beautiful Boy, always a good sign. While I both love and hate this - the lure of a good book versus the 500 lb gorilla (my need for rest) - how could I not recommend it?

It takes a very well written story to stand down a primal need for sleep. And so it goes with the story of Sheff's son fighting addiction. Even with the more modern view that addiction is a disease, it's no less dangerous than a wild, unpredictable animal, and so primal in it's own way. All our advances in modern medicine don't give us pat answers about treatment for addicts, a point that Sheff makes very well with deep research and personal experience.

Sheff's research confirmed my suspicion that the rehab industry is all over the place with theories of what works, various studies that back up their claims of what works, and solid numbers, such as how many times does an addict relapse? Sheff doesn't shy away from all the ambiguity or resulting frustration. In the end you find that even with so much uncertainty there is a way to find some balance. Sheff writes it so well, that while you share his insanity (caused by loving an addict) you also get carried along and only slowly realize all the places in his life where it's crazy, which strikes me as very authentic.

By the way the book's title, I suspect, comes from a John Lennon song. He made a good role-model for those who (wrongly) equate addition/alcoholism with greatness/genius.

Even after years of studying the topic, I found a new reference to remind me that it is our stories that heal, and we have to do the leg work. Sheff has a helluva lot of courage. Anyone who has faced alcoholism, addiction or other "crazy" behavior (aka co-dependency) among their loved ones, or in themselves should check it out.
v


*It took me 5 years as a Jew to read about the Holocaust for instance. I had even coordinated Holocaust Remembrance gatherings for two years in a row, but had never read about the event. The details were too much for me to face. Similarly, when I read about women crossing the Oregon Trails I felt the same way. I read their stories while a big new job was crumbling for me and I was very much at the barrel end of a gun every day (boss was pretty insane), with a teen son fighting with his stepdad nearly every night. Still, somehow at least I had a bathroom and a bed. Women on the frontier had a hellish existence I could appreciate. Not only did their courage make me feel better, and not so fool-hardy, but also the depths of their pain and losses lightened my own a bit. Tragic, true, but at least I wasn't hiking my skirt on the prairie in front of a bunch of men.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Robert Reich (The Real Lesson of Labor Day)

Note that (on average) earn LESS now than they did 30 years ago. Women with young children have had to go to work to support the family, and we've all had to work longer hours to keep up with inflation and spending.

We spend more on healthcare than any other Western nation. Our education system is foundering. And Obama is proposing two huge corporate tax breaks. Really?!

The right wants to renew Bush's tax cuts for the wealthiest but also wants to cut the deficit at the same time (with what?!?)

Businesses have capital, but don't want to spend it. Banks have funds, but are keeping credit super tight (after we bailed their lousy arses out of failure - spectacular failure that they worked so hard to earn).

Robert Reich (The Real Lesson of Labor Day)

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

New Ideas in Education

This guy got coverage from NPR over a year ago, but I'm glad Gates has noticed him.

Here is his Kahn Academy website.

Sal Khan: Bill Gates' favorite teacher - Aug. 24, 2010

When I first heard the story of his success (based on free, short tutorials on youtube.com) I was impressed with the simple beauty - the elegance of the idea. I still haven't had a chance to view his work, but suffice it to say that anything new in educational theory (in this case trying a new delivery method, tho some call them "mcnuggets") is good, in my not so humble opinion.

I love that Gates and his foundation are looking for ways to revamp American education - the entire approach needs to be examined.

And yet I know that no matter how great Kahn is, or how well his "shorts" serve students, there is something missing when we take face-to-fact interaction away from students and teachers.

Being "live" in the flesh doesn't always matter, and if you can't get a real teacher a virtual or long-distance internet version may be the best you can do.

But make no mistake. Fast food is not the same as home cooked. Gourmet meals are not really packaged in the freezer aisle of the grocery story. And online interaction is not anywhere near as good as the communication that happens when two people are in the same room together. Yes, there are advantages, just like heating up a meal in a microwave or driving thru McDonalds, or canned food is sometimes the best you can do in a pinch.

Don't fool yourself. We should be careful what is served to our children and in our colleges - and how it is delivered.
]v


Things Newlyweds Chat about


For his birthday I bought Stan three small volumes:

50 Mathematical Ideas (you really need to know) by Tony Crilly
50 Physics Ideas (you really need to know) by Joanne Baker
and Natural History Museum (London) Diary for 2010 (full of great photographs with technical details)

I thought they (the first two books anyway) would provide some info on great topics we could explore together, and followed along the lines of our "normal" conversations... at least one branch of our chats.

Many times we find ourselves going from current events to political philosophies. I'm grateful to every single one of my professors (at UGA) for giving me some ground on which to stand during these rigorous examinations of theory and current trends! Believe me, Stan gives me no - zero, nada - intellectual slack.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Happiness

Happiness is so much better than I thought it would be. Last night when tucking G in, we were talking about gratitude and hope. She clearly thinks I'm nuts to be grateful all the time.

I had to tell her there were times in the past few years when I'd given up hope, or almost anyway. It seemed too much to wish for ... more than our daily bread, a roof over our heads, and our health. Loving family and beautiful things were amazing bonuses.

I had to make our world very small for a while. I was fine with this, and knew it was something like incubating, or hibernation...

Recently I've been able to see a path for us. I have dared to look more than a few weeks into the future, a peek. Now I'm thinking again about next year, and bigger goals.

I'm so glad my journey led us to Atlanta, and back to STL for a little while, and closer to NC friends and family for the last 3 years. Now moving again, while physically exhausting, has also been one of the most amazing times.

I think it has to do with gratitude, and our determination to help heal the world, having less needs and less ego, more G-d, lower expectations, higher standards.

I dreamt last night that Stan was saying grace for us over a meal... two different times... I think I said the blessing the second time... shared values means so much. It's a great start.

Small rituals to mark the turning points of our lives, public declarations of love mean a lot, and so does spending time with family and friends. We are so rich.
Love.
v

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Cooking Therapy

Made this on Sunday night for the family. Easy and came out great :) Sent some on the road with my Honey :D Eggplant Parmesan I Recipe - Allrecipes.com ps. did not use fresh basil. I think that would have been nice tho. Did use triple mushroom Classico sauce and roasted garlic sauce. Lunch!

Waves

I love you beyond all reason
Beyond words
Beyond thought
Washes over me
and I ride
Floating
Amazed
Quiet
Then grinning.
Handwriting on the sky
Can't hold it
Nor song or baking
Not making love
Nothing can
But everything.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Farming Interrupted

Wow. I have a cousin who is a full time farmer - it's not an easy life. Few choose it these days, but what a sweet legacy it is to take care of ourselves and our neighbors this way.

Monday, July 26, 2010

How is Standard Pricing Good Use of Public funds?

Google gained a coveted security clearance today and hopes to serve the 2 million govt users. What I want to know is, *who* negotiated this deal?? Standard Pricing?? Since when does the government need to pay retail? Google Eyes More Government Deals For Online Apps : NPR

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

I Want to Play Here

This is a great organization. I heard of them thru a friend whose children competed and they loved it! Odyssey of the Mind

Monday, July 12, 2010

What Our Kids are Missing

I had a good friend recommend this:

"Richard Louv (Last Child in the Woods) calls [lack of being outside] 'nature deficit disorder.'"

Now Last Child is on my reading list :)

Nice blog, Good Post

Find the Gifts, Forget the “Faults” Enjoyed the reminder - and appreciate that our managing styles, like so much else, has continued to evolve. Dreamt the other night of being called down at work for bare arms - by the CEO. I actually worked for a firm that allowed no bare arms, no bare legs (panty hose required) and no bare toes.

I woke remembering how often organizations use shaming and blaming and "getting tough" and humiliation. And they actually think it works. But like spanking children, it works only to a degree and teaches many things you don't really mean to impart - like resentment and covert anger and avoidance.

Honest open discussion about problems is hard to learn, and is much more difficult - for employers and parents. But respect is the basis, and in my experience it keeps people working toward solutions.

Being polarized, using authority as a weapon, etc. don't really work.

As as wise book taught me (Positive Discipline?) "Where did we get the idea that to get someone to do better we have to make them feel worse?"
:)
v

Not Enough Women in Science - still

Can Legislation Fix the U.S. Science Gender Gap? - Newsweek

Drowning Doesn’t Look Like Drowning

This is a great article Drowning Doesn’t Look Like Drowning

Worth remembering! I had my sweet gal (at 3) go in over her head as we sat on the steps. She went under right in front of me! within arms reach and I didn't realize at first she was in trouble! The bad thing is that a few minutes later she did it again. And again I was slow to react.

As a former lifeguard, I can't tell you how easy it is to miss someone. Back when I took class they didn't even talk about this.

It's a good idea to teach your kids this info too. If you enforce the buddy system (stick together in pairs, even at the pool and especially at a lake or at the ocean) they will watch out for each other. Even kids who know how to swim can drown.

Love this Guy

Back in '07 Stan says "It's your turn to plan a trip." We hadn't been dating long, so I ask, "Anything I want?" "Yep." he answers.

So I booked a fishing guide, Jimmy Traylor FlyFishArkansas.com for the tail waters of the Norfork. Turns out he thought we were meeting on the tail of the White River, so that's where we ended up. Luckily got a great camping spot right on the river.

It was a beautiful day of fly fishing trout, but the best part (for me) was finding out later Jimmy had saved my first voice message from when I called Jimmy to set up the trip I said, "Look I've been dating this guy, and I think he's kinda cool, but I'd like you to check him out. I know you probably don't do that on your trips, but I'm a single gal and would like a second opinion." Jimmy thought it was funny enough to play the message for Stan on our trip.

Stan got as big a laugh out of it as Jimmy did, and the rest is history :) Now we are starting to look for when we can have our honeymoon down on the river, and get out with Jimmy again. Awesome fishing, btw ;) Fantastic guide. Pretty good match maker too.
v

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Underlying

It's been amazing to hang out in NC this weekend and reconnect with some of my dearest friends. We floated around the farm that I've used to outline my own dreams for years...

Helms Farm is home to groves of ancient trees, oaks, pecans, etc., a small family house where his dad was raised, beautifully expanded for Chris and Mark's generation (our age) and growing children, blackberries, vegetable and herb gardens, streams, bee hives, forest and wild places, with rolling hills. Cool breezes caressed us, shade gave cover from the July sun.

It draws old dreams out of me, and memories of wandering this place with my sister circle and with my children. Nothing can replace the women who raise their children with you, kiss their injuries, your hurts, and bring you meals prepared in love for both joy and tragedy as it lifts or crashes our world.

My old plans for raising my children this way, steadily with constancy, out in the rural world where you never knew what would wander across your backyard early in the morning, those goals didn't go as planned.

Instead we moved 6 years ago to St. Louis and found new dreams, found new friends, and work to keep these that still love us in the South. Being of Ripe Age, I also have these kinds of connections to people in all kinds of unlikely places. Not just Florida and Georgia where I was raised, but also off in the worlds where friends have gone to - Seattle, New Jersey!

I wonder today at the small underlying grief for paths not taken, and for the physical absence of all of my children, in the season of their time with others, adventure of a modern type. They are getting ready for life, (aka college, an interesting diversion) and practice being grown up (working diligently to pay off debt - yes, already at the ripe old age of 16) and playing diligently in realms of our choosing, among friends and parental units in St. Louis.

I do better now, each year, with their departures. It is after all the job description incarnate - made flesh. To have your children leave the nest. It never goes as planned. The struggle seems most about learning to trust the process, and let go of our deep desire to have some say so. And, if we are lucky, we learn to laugh through our tears.

Coming home helps.
:')
v


Wednesday, June 30, 2010

What's In the Fridge

I just think this is cool. I have no idea if it works, but I'm going to try it. Recommended by my favorite radio show (:
CookingByNumbers.com

Another Reason to Reduce Meat Consumption

I'm really not smug about rarely eating meat, but this announcement FDA urges less antibiotics in meat - Los Angeles Times seems like a no brainer. I heard about this problem about 15 years ago when I first started paying attention to what was/is in our food.

So eating little or no meat is good for our bodies, good for the planet (much greener to eat, well, greens) and avoids more toxins.

It's worth noting that the FDA isn't actually *making* meat producers use less antibiotics, just "urging" them to.

There must be a way

to post to my blog and have it feed to Twitter and FB... hmmmm...

Anyway, this is me technically coasting - interesting side effect of being an IT geek for over 20 years... similar to the "rarely open documentation" syndrome.

But I'm still planning a new website or two, so I will get to swim in html again. It's not hard, just a learning curve. Good to get in there and ski those slopes :)

Eric Clapton’s Crossroads Guitar Festival in Chicago - NYTimes.com

This is a concert I will have to make it to one year. Before it's too late. Friends in STL have been and said it's as great as you can imagine. Music Review - Eric Clapton’s Crossroads Guitar Festival in Chicago - NYTimes.com

Many years I saw Stevie Ray Vaughn play in ATL. Even in my ignorance of guitar greatness I heard what he had to say.

Sweet.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Bailey White - Author

One of my favorite Southern authors - Bailey White

Interesting Piece

Aren't recluses always more interesting? I think this is why I find quiet people intriguing... you just never know what is going on under the hood.
Harper Lee breaks silence - just - for Mockingbird anniversary | Books | guardian.co.uk

Rising to Greatness

[This is a letter I wrote to a local radio station after they aired a few segments about a gay man coming out to his family and their shock and horror. He was not only disowned, he was also physically attacked. I (blessedly) only caught the synopsis of the story, but it prompted me to write about my family.]

Hi Melissa - I just heard a recap on the Jeremy story this morning. I hope you all will consider doing a segment on families, especially stalwart Southern families who are amazing in their acceptance and support for a gay member.

I have to tell you that I have a very traditional branch in my family tree. They are in south Georgia, generally farmers, truck drivers, housewives, teachers and conservative Christians. Normal folks. Some are well educated but most are not.

My cousin, "Brad" who is a few years younger than I, grew up in this environment and was 20 something before he realized he was gay. Many of us already suspected this was the case anyway and so it was fun to be very laid back about it when he told us. He was the one a bit surprised ("How did you know!?" he asked :)

Anyway we are very close, so I know first hand about the family reaction. While it took some getting used to, and adjustments in their thinking, all of them, his parents, his aunts, grandparents and certainly siblings completely accepted and still accept and support him today.

His father is Sheriff in south Georgia, not a small role as you may know. He worked for over 20 years in various counties before being elected about 10 or 15 years ago. Sheriff/Uncle is very well educated (PhD), tough (a real stereotypical "man's man") and yes, he is very traditional. He had the biggest problem with his son's sexual orientation, and his wife (2nd marriage) didn't want "Brad" around their young son for a while. But over time this has also healed and his dad and stepmom have come to accept him for who he is.

A couple of years ago "Brad" married his partner in MA, where they live, and last year they adopted a young son. They downsized homes and Brad quit his very lucrative career to stay home and raise their son.

I want you to know how incredibly proud I am of Brad, for being such a wonderful person. He is, without exception, one of the most amazing people I know. He is not only smart and funny but also thoughtful and kind and devoted. He isn't perfect, but he is beautiful to the core. Maybe these traits made it a lot easier for the family to love him in his journey.

I've seen lots of prejudice all over, and especially in that part of Georgia. I know for a fact that my cousin's treatment has been much better, for instance, than the general view toward blacks in that community. Heaven forbid we talk about immigrants.*

Still, I am deeply honored to be a part of this family, with all their flaws. We are all human, but we CAN rise to the occasion. It is perhaps the exception to have so much love overcome so much narrow mindedness. But it can be done.

I hope and pray that Jeremy finds peace and love in his heart and in his friends who are indeed better than family. His family can't be replaced, but he can heal.

Please consider a positive segment on families who are NOT like his. And if you think it would help please feel free to pass this note along to Jeremy.

Peace out,
v

*for the record, I don't intimately know about my family's attitudes toward minorities, and I hate gross generalizations. Therefore I have no judgement about my family's view of blacks, immigrants, etc. partly because I don't specifically know their views. I feel the same way about many of their political views. I suspect I may not share them but I do respect their right to their opinions. I don't want to imply that they are racist or zenophobes. "Brad" married an immigrant and they have completely accepted him too. I converted to Judaism 9 years ago, and they took that in stride. At the same time I can't deny that it is true many folks in rural AND urban areas - all around the country - aren't comfortable with minorities. Just like homophobia, it's a complicated issue.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Wistful for a Garden - and Blue


Not to be confused with the great Bluesfest I went to in KY last weekend...Himalayan Blue Poppy and Other Blue Flowers for the Garden - WSJ.com

Why Oil (and gas) Prices aren't Rising

Interesting to get the details : OIL FUTURES: Nymex Crude Down On Economic Slowdown Fears - WSJ.com

Ex Presidents and Congress - biggest baconators of all

I wonder how many people we could put to work, say cleaning the oil spill and fixing schools and paying and improving teaching, fire fighting, police, soldiers, teen driving education... if we stopped paying past presidents, vice presidents and congress (they get paid for life - full salary!) Did we seriously pay Richard Nixon after he resigned?! and lovely, there's a Transition fund $7.7 Million? Moving never cost ME that much.

Another Reason Why Being Present Matters

Al, Tipper Gore split puts focus on late-stage divorces - USATODAY.com: "When physician Robert Butler first started looking at aging in 1955, he says life expectancy was around 70. Now, he says, a 65-year-old man can expect to live 18 more years and a woman another 20 years.

Butler, 83, is founder of the non-profit International Longevity Center in New York City and is founding director of the National Institute on Aging. He says he's also aware of those in long marriages contemplating divorce — and he says it's usually the women who bring it up.

'They wanted out,' he says. 'They were tired of too much pressure or inadequate emotional support from the husband. He was too preoccupied with other things. He didn't carry his weight. He didn't help around the house. They didn't have the kind of support they wanted to have.'"

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Insightful

I can't say that I agree with all his points, but he makes a lot of good ones. John Shore: Ten Ways Christians Tend to Fail at Being Christian There are a lot of faiths that deserve the same wake up call. As usual I take a more universal view of these things... far too easy to follow a path without studying it.

Not WWJD but WDJD?

Interesting historical view :) Searching for Jesus in the Gospels : The New Yorker

Bob Cesca: Rand Paul Underscores the Tea Party's Connection to Race

Interesting thoughts about Libertarians in this article as well. Amazing how few communities actually do anything about racism... I guess I miss the 60s when at least people would talk about it. Bob Cesca: Rand Paul Underscores the Tea Party's Connection to Race

Amazon.com: The Country of Marriage: Poems (9780156226974):…

I want this book: The Country of Marriage: Poems

Distractions


I found this article in the Atlantic Monthly in 2008 - and didn't read it. I was too busy. I downloaded it onto my desktop, in fact, to make sure I didn't lose it ("favorites" are so ephemeral) and still, didn't read it.

I might have skimmed it once.

Nicholas Carr, the author, summed it up (ironically*) in his title : Is Google Making us Stupid? Feeling highly qualified to answer this, I didn't bother. It might have taken me away from something more important. Email. Facebook? Dinner with my kids. Dinner alone. Dinner with House. I could knit with that time. Or read a book.

It's no secret that we have gotten flabby. (What a great word.) Physically we are largely obese, the majority of us. We are targeted as crass infidels perhaps not because we are unholy but just unaware.

Likewise our brains are flabby - or flabbier. I mentioned the other day (to a friend) all the languages our founding fathers learned as a matter of course: Greek, Latin, French, English, often Hebrew. It was standard fare for the educated class.

Now we are lucky to get one language in the course of achieving a higher education.

And yet we are supposed to do something with SO much more information.

There's no doubt that "more", the holy grail of our society (sadly infecting the rest of the world) in some ways gives us much less. The loss the ability to concentrate has taken me 15 years to accomplish. It's a gradual fading.... and who knows, having kids or getting just a wee bit more full in the brain may have everything to do with my sense of being more distractible.

Years ago I said multitasking was a lie. This was a solid observation based on training software and watching users struggle to find icons on the screen. I could always find it faster, standing behind them. THEN I noticed THEY (or whomever) could always find icons faster than ME if I was on an unfamiliar computer. **

Since then they have proven that multitasking is really just very fast switching. No duh.

Today I found this article, where Carr explores the subject more deeply: 'The Shallows': This Is Your Brain Online : NPR
The distractions in our lives have been proliferating for a long time, but never has there been a medium that, like the Net, has been programmed to so widely scatter our attention and to do it so insistently.
It was fun to read and watch myself get distracted, send an email and come back to finish the article. I DID notice how long it was.

And yet I read - a lot. Actual books.

Novels of all kinds, spiritual stuff, history, poetry (not as much as I'd like) and heavy lifting philosophy and relationship tomes. ugh

I love it. And sometimes I hate it.

But my least concern is for those of us who read, or those of us who can read well when needed.

The thing that causes grave concern is our children, and grandchildren - and how they will fare if (as Carr claims) lack of ability to concentrate means less creativity.

What if no one evers exists of the same creative and thoughtful caliber as Thomas Jefferson, Ben Franklin, Omar Khayyam, Tolstoy, Jane Austen, Virginia Wolfe?

Then what?

*ironic because he had to make the title short and explanatory so readers could comprehend quickly. In our distracted, sound-bite-driven way.

**the mulitasking part of this exercise is : look for an icon, while moving the mouse with your hand. Yeah, don't work well.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Put Some Sugar on It ;)

That commercial from the makers of high fructose corn syrup makes me apoplectic (where they show someone feeding franken-soda to kids, and a Mom is concerned, but she can't articulate, to the successful confident evil Mom, why high fructose corn syrup is bad) Reduce Three Risks with One Sweetener Switch - Health Tip - RealAge

For the record, I read once that your body responds to fake sugars like that nasty sucrose/sucralose etc in the same way it responds to sugar.

Like Jack Lalaine said, if it wasn't food 100 years ago, it isn't food today.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

We Have to do What We Know is Right

Have been thinking about fostering, and this confirms it. Living | Electron Boy's amazing power felt worldwide | Seattle Times Newspaper

Facebook’s Gone Rogue; It’s Time for an Open Alternative | Epicenter�| Wired.com

More on the way our privacy is dished to the dogs: Facebook’s Gone Rogue; It’s Time for an Open Alternative | Epicenter�| Wired.com

10 Reasons To Delete Your Facebook Account

And read the related "Why you Won't Delete FB account" at the end. Great news is the hack job they are doing to exploit users means there will be an alternative - soon. Let the games begin.

10 Reasons To Delete Your Facebook Account

25 best-paying jobs for women - CNN.com

25 years after clawing my way to a business degree... this reminds me I should add up how much I didn't earn one day, just for chromosomes and giggles. Oh and for the privilege of raising 3 smart kind beautiful children for society (sincere) and keeping the house (add sarcasm font) and supporting the family solo a few times, married or not :D

25 best-paying jobs for women - CNN.com

Call Your Mom!

This is so true - for me and I hope for my children :)


Stressed? Calling Mom helps, study says - CNN.com

Nashville Tennessee Flood 2010

My two oldest kids live right outside of Nashville. We had breakfast last year in the Grand Ole Opry, right where some of the pictures showed water several feet deep - and it's miles outside of town. Smalll towns all around were affected too :( Text 'REDCROSS' to 90999 to donate $10 to disaster relief!

YouTube - Nashville Tennessee Flood 2010

Art Redeems Us

very very very wow talent. I have a nephew named Greyson :) (but this isn't him) YouTube - "Paparazzi"

Floods Wreak Havoc On Nashville Music Scene : NPR

Heard this on the radio today - I don't even play an instrument, but totally get how huge the loss of these pieces is... Jimi Hendrix's guitar for example. Did you know he learned to play in Nashville??

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Bed Sharing: Is sharing a bed with your infant right or wrong? - WITI

This is both sad and encouraging. At least they look at it seriously: Bed Sharing: Is sharing a bed with your infant right or wrong? - WITI Too bad they didn't discuss the link between SIDS and formula :(

Rescuing girls from sex slavery - CNN.com

Sobering: Rescuing girls from sex slavery - CNN.com

Redactions Revealed: The Six Secrets You Need to Know From the Obama Subpoena Request | NBC Chicago

what I do, protect the ignorati : Redactions Revealed: The Six Secrets You Need to Know From the Obama Subpoena Request |
NBC Chicago

Georgia Shakespeare - Shake at the Lake

REALLY want to do this! Georgia Shakespeare - Shake at the Lake

Free Personal Finance Software, Budget Software, Online Money Management and Budget Planner | Mint.com

Have plans to check this out :) Free Personal Finance Software, Budget Software, Online Money Management and Budget Planner | Mint.com

Digital Photocopiers Loaded With Secrets - CBS Evening News - CBS News

This isn't new news, but something to think about: Digital Photocopiers Loaded With Secrets - CBS Evening News - CBS News

Survival Guide to Homelessness: A message to homeless teens

Yes, I've been saving up links. This reminds me that kids who don't have good homes really do end up on the street: Survival Guide to Homelessness: A message to homeless teens

Cobb County Foster & Adoptive Parents Association | Article

Here is a great way to give back to the world: Cobb County Foster & Adoptive Parents Association | Article

Robert Reich (Apple Isn't the Problem. Wall Street's Big Banks are the Problem.)

More good scoop on how Wall Street apparently is as untouchable as big Health Insurance companies: Robert Reich (Apple Isn't the Problem. Wall Street's Big Banks are the Problem.)

What Is a Conservative Judge? - Politics - The Atlantic

Good observations: What Is a Conservative Judge? - Politics - The Atlantic Reminds me even agreement on what "conservative" means is hard to reach :)

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Cloudy with a Chance of Sunshine

It's a bit cloudy and gloomy here today, after several days of somewhat glaring sunshine. I cut some newly bloomed roses and brought them into the house, into a couple of different rooms. Heavenly scent.

Haven't turned all the lights on yet, but if it doesn't brighten up soon I will allow this indulgence. (Ha! Someone used to give me hell on this quirk. I raise my chin at you.)

A friend just got out the hospital, I discovered yesterday, and it turns out it was for depression. I'm both relieved that he got the help and concerned it got bad enough to need inpatient care.

I've started talking about depression on the blog because it seems so "politically incorrect" to address. It makes people uncomfortable, like discussing religion and politics, and sometimes sex. Yeah, sex is way easier to talk about.

The truth is that there is always a good deal of the blues going on all over all the time. That we don't talk easily about it is maybe an indication of how strongly it can rattle us. And it isn't just the people who are down, but as the drug commercial so self-servingly highlights, it affects those around us too.

According to WebMd about 19 million adults suffer from depression. This obviously leaves out kids. I assume it includes old people.

If that number is remotely accurate during normal times, I'd bet $5 it isn't accounting for those affected by the current economic depression / recession or for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

If about 25.5 million people are unemployed or underemployed, which is about twice historical averages (based on eyeballing a cool chart on the Dept of Labor Website) and 19 million adults are depressed under "normal" circumstances, then a LOT of people are depressed.*

Sure, it's making a leap to say that all unemployed people are depressed. But it's common sense to say that most of them are probably at least bummed. Maybe not all of them, gawd bless those perky people (and please, keep them away from me). And maybe not all the time, but generally, being unemployed and underemployed is depressing.

But this is where those cool Venn diagrams come in so handy.

I'd draw you one, but really I'm not that talented. Imagine one very large circle that represents unemployed/underemployed people and another circle with a whole bunch of sad faces :( Now, overlap the circles and you have a good mental picture of how many bummed folks are walking around out there.

You can't quite just add up the two figures (those unemployed, etc. and those depressed), but you can guess that there is some huge figure that represents depression in this country. And remember, we still aren't talking about children who, we all know, get seriously down too.

If you wanted to be really fair you would add a circle for kids who are depressed (somewhere I'm sure there is an estimated figure, but I already don't trust it) and you can add a large circle for those affected by death and injuries from the wars. Now you have four circles and wow, that's a lot of people.

Here is the good news, and the point to my mental math jujitsu: Most of those 30 - 40 or 50 some odd million people are going to feel better at some point. Some pile of them are going to get jobs, or get over the divorce or death or whatever other sucky situation they are in, and they will move on and feel better. In other words, circumstances change and time heals.

Some will take medication and will feel better.

Some will get talk therapy (proven very effective over the long term, usually with long lasting benefits). Some will seek inpatient care like my dear friend and will muster thru.

Others will try a combination of approaches, or none of these. They may talk to friends, join a group (good idea) or actively decide to do something different.

I'd suggest to anyone dealing with that vortex, or the black sucking hole of hell, (as I like to call it, when I'm in a good mood), that a combination of methods probably hedges your bets.

I have another post I'll put up with my top ten ideas on what to do - a checklist. I hate other people's lists, at least the seemingly trite "let's talk about depression in three to five paragraphs" type articles in magazines and on the web.

Don't forget, while lots of people are good about finding ways to deal with their depression, huge numbers can't. I would suspect that we could get a handle on how many people are not getting better by looking for numbers on the chronically depressed, and suicide rates. And we all know unhappy people who just seem to go thru life that way - I'm sure they stay well below the counting-heads radar.

But that's another post. Today, it's too depressing. (hint - don't do depressing things when you aren't up for it ;)

Today I don't have sunshine, but my cravings aren't too bad. I don't need to curl up in a pool of it.

I read something once where a guy said a good day is when you aren't miserable or terribly uncomfortable, which is true most days for me. Damn I'm grateful for a generally upbeat disposition. And I'm ok with the occasional bouts of the blues. They suck (in more ways than one), but I've learned a lot from those dark spots.

Most days it's about making lemonade. And adding tea, not a shot of vodka ;)
v

*I'm not going to try to figure out how many people are depressed by the wars - when I do take a stab at it I'll be interested in the number of casualties, of course, (seriously injured) and fatalities. Then I'll multiply that by an arbitrary number of close friends and family who are seriously affected by the death and life-altering injury of our soldiers. Yeah, it's a lot. A helluva lot - and again it's what I call situational depression - people get depressed when someone dies or is injured. It is not a "normal" state of affairs for us to be in two wars.

I'm glad to report that NPR did a story about the Veteran's Administration trying to get a handle on the true cost of war, that includes these sorts of "soft" numbers. Granted, so far they are only looking at the cost of long term care for our disabled veterans, but it's a start.

Monday, April 12, 2010

When You're Between a Rock and a Hard Place - a Mental Checklist

Note to a friend:

ok, cause I like to look stuff up :https://health.google.com/health/ref/Major+depression

and it makes me feel less helpless ...

I think it's weird articles about depression don't usually address what I call situational blues. I mean if your dog dies, your sad, and even depressed sometimes. Pretty common sense to me.

Not that you asked, but since it runs in my family and I first had to deal with it after Darryl died [25 years ago] (I did consider suicide) and then after the two suicides [in my family] (one from depression, the other probably addiction and probably both from bi-polar), and even recently with job/money problems I've learned, thru the years that these few things help most:

1. know that losing your perspective is a big part of it. Choices seem really limited, and they may be, but usually there are more than you can see when you are really down. Don't let the depression fool you. It lies!

2. let yourself be down when you can. To me it was like a rip tide. Instead of fighting it, I did what I had to do (the minimum) and then let myself stay in bed sometimes, watch tv or sleep extra. I sort of swam parallel to the shore until it lifted. More than 2 days of it was a *really* big warning flag, unless some event had set me off, like a death.

3. I try to practice extreme self care - that means trying to eat, sleep, and get up and around a bit. I don't push myself hard, but gently. I know that when I get a few things accomplished, I feel a bit better, even if only a tiny bit.

4. (more self care) I give myself credit for bad days when I can only get one or two things done, besides getting dressed, eating, taking care of G, walking the dogs.

5. (more self care) I make damn sure to stay in touch with a few close friends/family. I may not be able to call them when it is at it's worst, but I make a point to call them as soon as I can after. Even just saying "I've had a few really bad days" makes me feel less alone. I make myself reach out even when I don't feel like it. Again, friends/family help me fight tunnel vision, which adds to the whole cycle (worthlessness, being trapped or stuck, no energy, no interest in anything, can't solve my problems, etc. etc)

6. I told my friends and family, when it got real bad, to check on me. Again, a life line is there to keep you from going under - use it. You would do the same for me/them!

7. I've had a few close friends who have gone on drugs for a short time to get thru. I made sure to find out what I would do next if it got worse.

8. I also break down a list of the "big rocks" when I feel up to it. This makes all the swirling shit seem a bit less overwhelming. I put them in "boxes" : Health, Kids, Money, Job, House - sometimes that's all I can list. Sometimes I have to add a box called "Problems with ex". On a good day I'll add easier stuff, like Spirit.

9. I do believe - know - that the universe responds to prayer. Even just [saying] "help" can make a huge difference. I ask for signs, and then watch for them.

10. Oh yeah, and whenever I can I make sure to think about what is good in my life. I say "thanks" for healthy kids, my health and for the loving people in my life. And other times I get mad at G-d. I think she can take it ;) The other day, I thought we were going to have a throw down!

Let me know if you want to talk about it. If you don't mind the emails, I'll send notes when I need to check on you. That ok? Mind if I offer suggestions?

love,
v

[love the way I ask if it's ok to offer suggestions at the END of the note - pushy broad]

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Well of Mercy

Thinking of a trip here this summer :) Well of Mercy In the meantime I may get to see friends for spring break, something like a hobo retreat.

Crystal Ball, circa 2005

I wonder what else this guy has predicted? Yale Professor Predicts Housing 'Bubble' Will Burst : NPR

News I Can Sink My Teeth Into

Eat More Fat, Just Make Sure It's The Right Kind - Shots - Health News Blog : NPR

I ate more margarine today. Krystal burgers as anti-depressants makes me think I may be lacking good oils... or maybe it's the Coca-Cola :)

Good Day, Small Stuff

It was a good day. Mostly.

I was surprised to get much done. My days have a strange elasticity. I hate it sometimes. Today I didn't mind.

After I lost an hour's worth of waking up with Farmville (mental masturbation) I checked the usual websites. Horoscopes, news, email, Facebook. I got dressed, nicely. Of course this was only because I thought I heard a gun shot, and called 911, wondering if the economy had gotten to one more poor soul. I thought officers might come by, and so being in my throw-on, run-daughter-to-school clothes didn't seem good. Even better I got some make-up on, high heels, and a nice shirt. Put my hair up. Did my nails. This was good.

The sun started slowly to come out, clouds dissipating. I thought about curling up in the sunny patch on my floor, but the dogs were in it, and I resisted the temptation.

I talked to a friend, then later, when I started to slump called another. I talked about lacking clear direction, but not about having too many choices. I told her I'm not sure I can go to grad school this year, and how a big job seems too much right now. Talked about my other fears and how music helps the weary. And TV doesn't help, and I don't have one right now anyway, which suits me.

I made a list of those closest to me, for those days I can't get motivated to call anyone. More good actions.

I checked on my tax refund, which has made me nervous. What if it is lost in the electronic ether? Subconsciously I decided not to think about that today. I'll think about that tomorrow.

I checked on my son's possible housing next year for his first year in college. I wondered vaguely how we would pay for it.

I did a load of laundry and wondered about the toll on all the people out of work, how not working is as hard as working. You feel frustrated, down, and sometimes grateful for being able to rest, even with the anxiety. You feel guilty. I pondered a nation of so many without work, on the edge financially, and if anyone had tried to take measure of the emotional toll. Maybe in the national happiness index? But that doesn't seem adequate. I thought about how so many employed people resent those not working, and are envious. Mirrored feelings of the unemployed.

I checked a job fair out, without any real motivation to attend. But I did look at it. Thought it would be a good idea, to do some of those. A suit and a resume and a "Can Do" attitude are beyond me. I'm pretty sure they would know I view them, and most all companies, with deep suspicion. So not today, but soon.

I talked to someone about a part-time job, and wondered if I can succeed in a small office. I know it would be good for me, even part-time. Even if I have to drive a distance from my daughter, and leave her in a town where we know so few people. I don't think about how she could break her arm. And who would be there for her? It's only part-time I tell myself.

I drove to a local government office to check on benefits. Didn't find it, but found another office, that I may need. Drove by a business with no signs, and another where I wondered if they would be a good fit for me.

I decided to write honestly about my life.

Home again I wrote a long blog post, full of writing energy. Three hours slipped by, and afterwards I realized this is like many of my days, but with good energy, something I struggle to capture when it comes.

Those little rituals like taking the dogs out, and eating got done. Now it's dinner time, and I'm cooking for the child who is playing outside in the warmer weather. She's playing with a friend, which cheers me.

Looking for work in a failing economy, I thought about all the others in the same boat, wondering what happened to our plans. And others still who just struggle along even with good, steady income, all facing our own challenges.

Getting my day published seems to have it's own value. My small corner made visible to an unknown public. It helps, the small stuff. Honesty. Small courage.

Toss off on House

"Privacy is a relatively new phenomena." (paraphrasing),

from an interesting episode of House about blogging, secrets, community and privacy... I have to think more about the idea of privacy and community and if we have just lost the balance.

In the script someone points out that many people who leave small towns don't want everyone knowing their business, but they give up a support system as they gain anonymity. I'm about to lose some privacy for the sake of building more community, so this is all extremely relative for me right now. Of course I wanted a brief history of privacy, and found it in this article on Wikipedia.

Apparently Brandeis* (Supreme Court Justice) published the first paper on the topic in 1890 in the Harvard Law Review, in response to the widening use of photography and improvements in the printing press. So it truly isn't a very old idea. However the article also points out that the recent advent of so many technologies, where data is stored on private individuals, and often utilized for profit by businesses, has focused concerns about abuse and infringement of rights to basic privacy.

In Europe, in stark contrast to our own laws, data about consumers is owned by each person, not any company who finds or collects it. Therefore the company can't profit from the info, without the consent of the individual. We've had many obstacles to similarly protecting our own privacy, with enormous resistance from businesses. Unfortunately as I've note here before, our government doesn't have a very good track record for protecting us, even from itself.


*An aside, Brandeis was the first Jew to be named to the US Supreme Court and was considered brilliant. The above-referenced article was published while he was in law school, and he earned the highest grades ever awarded while there. I've always wanted to read a biography on him, and may even own one. This quote reminded me why:
“Brandeis was a militant crusader for social justice whoever his opponent might be. He was dangerous not only because of his brilliance, his arithmetic, his courage. He was dangerous because he was incorruptible. . ." Justice William O. Douglas

Good Article about Raising Boys

Saving our sons - CharlotteObserver.com

meant to post this 10/23/09. Should add thoughts.

Great book review

Loved this book review, enough at least to browse the book, maybe check it out from the library... and I discovered a MARVELOUS use of my daughter's name!

Whiz Kid in College, Hold That Attitude! - The New York Times

(read this in October. Can we say procrastinate? Is it cheating to have a thought 6 months ago and publish today? Wait, Am I really published? lol)

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Seriously - Good Use of Technology

That needs the right oversight! I love it when technology is used for good. But giving access to records and our movement without very strict controls, IS a violation of privacy. Sure, track known criminals and people who are solid suspects. But the judicial system has to prosecute abusers and make it very public!

A sherriff who bullied a phone company into tracking his daughter, by claiming she was kidnapped was out of line and should lose his job.

Powerful technology is like any other tool - it can be misused. And freedom of movement, without cameras and GPS tracking seems a most fundamental right.

FBI Tracks Suspects' Cell Phones Without a Warrant - Newsweek.com

Good News - Is Civility Coming Back?

I like this story because it highlights that people from many different walks of life and political backgrounds are sitting down and discussing issues. Moderates will disappear if we don't find our voices. Civility, it turns out, isn't optional in our messy democratic process.
Meet the people who are percolating in the Coffee Party - CNN.com

Education Continues to Take Hits

This is the graduate school I'm considering... but less so now. I have several options - thank goodness Atlanta has a full deck of grad schools. I see this as a VERY bad sign of instability in this program, as well as continued deterioration of our educational system - we have teachers having to take 10 days of furlough this year (days off without pay) and class sizes are larger across the board, with teachers being laid off. Meanwhile Congress sends just $3.5 billion to education, and $18 billion to hiring businesses (in employment tax breaks) and $170 billion to banks for the bail out in 2008/09. What is wrong with this picture? Maybe it's that Congressional offspring go to top schools and the rest of us can "eat cake" if there is no bread.

Andrew Young School dean says he was asked to resign - Atlanta Business Chronicle:

Why the Census Matters

This census stuff IS totally confidential, and genealogists* will tell you it's CRUCIAL to participate! Also, of course it helps your community get federal funding! I read yesterday that for every person who is counted, it's worth about $13,000 worth of benefits for your area! Not to mention district decisions for voting are based on these statistics :)

Finally, if we send it in, then the Feds don't have to spend as much of OUR money to follow up in person with door to door interviews :)

Get involved - just do it.

The Associated Press: US census forms arrive in the mail: What to expect

*(I'm a hack genie)

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Jon Stewart On Beck's Massa Interview: Why The Night 'Wasn't A Total Loss' (VIDEO)

Hysterical. I'm in tears. Sniff. Jon Stewart On Beck's Massa Interview: Why The Night 'Wasn't A Total Loss' (VIDEO)

Perdue, Obama and the teachers’ unions | Cynthia Tucker

Interesting blog about how we can improve our schools. But I'm not at all sure that incentives based on test scores is the solution. Standardized testing has failed, and even the test makers have always warned against "high-stakes" testing (where students pass or fail based on their test scores). If school systems took the millions they spend on testing (and a few overpaid top administrators) and put it toward ordering supplies and text books for the poorest schools, fixing up aging schools and improving teacher pay, I think our education crisis would be solved. Perdue, Obama and the teachers’ unions | Cynthia Tucker

It's Not Rocket Science

David M. Cutler: Health Reform Passes the Cost Test - WSJ.com

Monday, March 8, 2010

Dating is Like Super Mario

Love is like rice - start with good ingredients, bring to a rolling boil, reduce to a simmer and put a lid on it :)

Dating is like Super Mario - play the game, get the bonus points. You win. Easy.

Actually I think both are hard.

I think the latter is especially hard for men, so I'm going to start there. And you married guys may want a refresher, because of course all good marriages are treated more like dating, at least some of the time, right?

We all know Super Mario, the video game, right? It's invaded the culture, like all kinds of electronic games, and we know that you have a mission, or a maze to travel, and you have to navigate obstacles. This is the "real life" part of living that Mario has to deal with. He has somewhere to go, and he has to jump, run, leap and dodge stuff to get there. He's a man, tho small, and seems to love the challenge.

Along the way he has chances to grab bonus points. This is the extra fun part, because once you learn NOT to fall off ledges, you get to go after what looks, really, like low hanging fruit, or coins, and BA BING you get MORE points!! How cool!

But if you get lots of bonus points, and still can't navigate the basics, you lose, at least that life. No matter how many bonus points you got along the way. And if you don't learn how to get the bonus points you have NO (zero) insurance when you make a mistake and therefore you never really get all that good at climbing the levels (cause you don't get more chances), and are going to be a pretty mediocre player. Who wants that??

So the game is easy. Play the basics, get the bonus points (insurance), you win.

Dating isn't all that hard either. Play the basic game, get the bonus points, you win.

Here's the trouble. Lots of folks are great at one (the basics) or the other (bonus points) and then they can't understand why they keep losing!

So I've been telling my guy friends the Secret lately. Figure out what you aren't good at and do it more!

Big Grin.

This means, for some guys who are so good at the basics of life, (they work, make a good living, and know how to balance having a personal life with the demands of being a responsible adult) that they need to go for more bonus points.

For other guys, who have the bonus point system down that they have to get better at the basics - start playing the game consistently.

The Basics
Sometimes this means working more, but a lot of times it means working less and balancing your life better. It could mean stabilizing your financial house, or getting your ex-wife out of your hair (better known as fencing in the three headed monster). For some guys you have children that need you, and you have to learn to make room for a love life. Other men have children who DON'T need them, but will hang on perpetually slurping from Daddy's Money Fountain forever, unless you start showing some backbone, and respect them (and yourself) enough to cut them off.

Some guys need to finish school. Others need to start. And one or two men out there need to learn some very basic things like "Go to the doctor once in a while." and "Don't try to have a bunch of women or flirtations, 'cause you ain't that good."

Do what you say you are going to do, and call or text your lady once a day, whether dating, married or shackin' up. Try to be sweet once in a while. But if you are naturally somewhat gruff (Stan the Elder) then you can rely on bonus points :)

So those are some basics. Just normal grown up stuff.

The bonus points are totally fun.

These are so easy. And yet so many guys just don't get it/them.

Bonus points come from things you know about but like to pretend you forget! (Newsflash: We women are on to you!)

Easiest bonus points : flowers. Candy. Jewelery (even costume jewelery). Nice dinner out. Movie with popcorn and sodas. Call or text everyday (yeah, it's basic, but the more consistent you are the more she loves it)

Mouth-breathing, knuckle dragging guys can figure out the easy bonus points. Funny thing is that so many pretty sophisticated guys forget the easy ones. lol

Medium bonus points:
  • Movie that isn't violent with popcorn and soda and holding hands.
  • Dinner at home that you cook together.
  • Going to a place she loves - day trip like antique stores, or a park.
  • Sweet texts or calls or emails.
  • Sending her a link to a romantic song
  • Taking out the trash without any reminders :)
  • Fueling up her car, getting it washed
  • Hanging in bed with her on a weekend with coffee you made and the newspaper. Taking her to brunch.
  • A picnic you put together. Pick a good spot. If it's cold bring blankets and find a sunny rock :)
  • Open doors for her, even the car door once in a while.
  • Teach her something you love - pool, fishing, hunting, racing, mud wrestling (jk), Shakespeare, Chamber music, geocaching, rare books, good wines.
  • Do chores and fix things willingly, with and without her.
  • Don't bite when she's stressed out and needs a hug. (Ask first - hugging a pissed off Woman without warning can be hazardous)
  • Rub her feet. Understand that high heels are an American form of Chinese foot binding.
Major Bonus Points
  • Getting her car serviced. Yeah, even just an oil change. BIG points if you do it yourself.
  • Going to a chick flick - with popcorn, soda and snuggling
  • Going to a social event and making her look good. Dress the part. Respectfully letting people know she's hot ;) Making sure you can drive home.
  • Start (or keep) opening doors for her. If you do it sometimes, do it more.
  • Take her to a concert she really wants to go to - extra bonus points if you don't really love Celene Dion or Elton John, but you go anyway.
  • Big jewelery, of course is always big big bonus points. Stuff that makes her friends gasp is going to do you some good for a LONG time :)
  • Making dinner (something she likes and you can do well) without her and adding music, wine and candles.
  • Take her on a trip - a weekend or a week. Somewhere romantic, just the two of you and let your hair down. Could be camping, but could be a cruise. Whatever works.
  • Get her something she's been learning with you - a fishing rod, a wine basket, a CD of the music you both love.
  • Listen to a problem she's having without offering advice. Help her decide what SHE wants to do about it. (hint: ask a lot of questions, let her ramble)
  • When she's upset/tense/out of sorts, be sweet. Learn the three Golden Scripts :
    "It sounds like you've had a hard day."
    "Want to tell me about it?"
    "Is there anything I can do to help?"
  • Do chores and fix things without her asking
  • And the classic, but true: Give her a back rub and don't ask for sex :) (but let her ask ;) (no kidding hint: if you divide up chores evenly, or help her with hers, then she's gonna have more energy for the fun stuff )
So easy, bonus points. Not all the time, not always the same ones, and never always at the same level, but if you can play the game, and get the low hanging fruit too, then trust me you win.

And of course the same goes for women. Just different different different stuff to do.

hmmm... I guess I better get on that blog entry - what women can do for guys :) (and it's not just show up naked. With beer lol)