Monday, December 15, 2008

Print Media Advertising Dollars....Who Is Still In The Game

Ok, this is getting harder (ahem) to ignore. The NYTimes online site is accepting advertising dollars from Russian wife services and hard pharma. As in products you take orally to obtain/retain pleasure. I think I am talking to guys here.
That means that the only source of reliable income are pervy things?
Well that's not totally true. There are still Tiffany ads. But it's the "free shipping" that scares me. Who springs for a swanky rock, lured by the promise of FedEx on the house. Makes no sense.
Who has money left? I know about houses, cars, travel being dying dreams. We finally have to be happy with what we have. Which is good.
But ad dollars? Where are they coming from?
No new phones coming out? DSL service I can't resist? Nothing.
Total retrench mode.
At least my Russian wife will make me feel better. After I take that pill.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

What To Give, part 2

There have been so many stories in the media, how to give, how to save.
And many find themselves in a novel setting. Not Dickens. But not like before. We all are revisiting what our values are.
How does that relate to gifting?
I think that anyone who has found their way to this blog is already smart, sensitive.
I feel like I preach to the choir, can I hear a shout?!
But let's just review the basics.
Holidays....warmth, happy.!
I just posted on my Madcap Logic blog priorities for holiday gifting. Really basic stuff but a gentle reminder.....what/who do we care about?
Colorful plastic items that dominate under-tree real estate or.......real deal stuff?
Just think about extending your own values to your family. It matters.
Don't get sucked into media frenzy. Turn off your TV.
Ideas for gifting abound.
Check out New American Dream...they have it right.
Treehugger, go green, keep green.
You get the idea. Go forth and multiply.
Again, any other ideas, post in comments.
It matters. Big time!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

What to Give?

So we enter the giving phase.

Around here, we are kind of stuck.
We don't want to go to one of these
dangerous big stores. Designed to extract bucks from our wallets. But we want to gift our loved ones.
What to do?
Keeping a sharp eye out and about.....

Boing Boing has a list of groovy giftings, thanks Cory.
Add Madcap Logic to the list, but really.....good to go.

Big new thaing...Etsy.
People make. People get.
So cool to support real people making real things selling in real time. No creepy oversized shopping carts wielded down enormous long halls of stuff. Real is real.
People create. People buy.

We here haven't done cards in years. Old school. The Internets eliminates the need for stamps, street addresses, etc. You can design your own. Cool sites:
Green is good. We are always looking for interesting newspaper throughout the year, says color/happy. Get your hands on foreign press, stock market, comics, any broadsheet or tabloid-size pages.
Wrap with visuals/color. Match with ribbons/bows.
Don't buy. Dig through existing collections.
You know you have a box somewhere with stuff.....bows, flowers, ribbons, pictures. Dig it out right about now. K?
Let's check in this week.
I want to hear ideas. Tips. Solutions.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Turkey Trot

Hi all, you have yourselves a nice family spell.
Thanksgiving has really evolved into a school holiday/chance to spend time with family, elders (before they pass) take family photos, connect the cousins, eat lots of food-kind of time. That's cool.
Most of us know that it is a sanctioned pig-out, we don't always do this to our systems.
We indulge, we eat, we burp. Maybe walk around the block to work it off. Maybe hit the gym a little harder afterwards. All cool.
Lotsa food.
Just thought I would explore the origins of "the bird".
Our photo here indicates a bunch of these ground-living birds, looking astute and colorful.
We all like to think that our holiday centerpiece, the bird, resembles those of our ancestors, the Pilgrims.
However, the bird has a history older than we realize.
And the menu.... forget about it.
Kathleen Curtin, Food Historian at Plymouth Plantation shares this info.
"Surprisingly, the following foods, all considered staples of the modern Thanksgiving meal, didn't appear on the Pilgrims's first feast table:
Ham: There is no evidence that the colonists had butchered a pig by this time, though they had brought pigs with them from England.
Sweet Potatoes/Potatoes: These were not common.
Corn on the Cob: Corn was kept dried out at this time of year.
Cranberry Sauce: The colonists had cranberries but no sugar at this time.
Pumpkin Pie: It's not a recipe that exists at this point, though the pilgrims had recipes for stewed pumpkin.
Chicken/Eggs: We know that the colonists brought hens with them from England, but it's unknown how many they had left at this point or whether the hens were still laying.
Milk: No cows had been aboard the Mayflower, though it's possible that the colonists used goat milk to make cheese."
Who knew?
And for the bird, I share a photo of a large, unassuming warehouse in Longmont, CO, that bears the sign, Butterball. It has come to that.
Bon appetite.

Friday, November 21, 2008

A Note To Product Designers

This is something that has been on people's minds lately.
It has to do with font size, and designing products for usability, function.....not just cool n groovy.
Today, in the shower, I reached for shampoo, and since I normally wear glasses.....But not in the shower......I grabbed what is suspect was conditioner.
There are tons of bottles collecting in our showers, I don't know every product, I bought some, others have bought some, and I don't really even care a whole lot. I just want a clean scalp, step 1, then I want to condition my hair, step 2.
So today I think, and again, not sure because I couldn't read the label, I started with something goopy, and not frothy, and that was probably conditioner. I followed with something frothy, and not goopy, so I am pretty sure I reversed the order of business.
But another way I know, is because my hair looks awful. And stiff. And dry.

So why do fonts have to be read with an electron microscope? According to Lighthouse International, approximately 19 million persons age 18 and over report having trouble seeing, and wear glasses.
So when all these people are not wearing their glasses, they can't read labels, unless the font is large and clear.
  • Like when they are showering. They can't read grooming product labels.
  • Like when they finish swimming. Sunblock.
  • Like when they just wake up. Prescription medication.
Actually, Deborah Adler did redesign prescription labels, for this very purpose. As her master's thesis at the School for Visual Arts, she changed how this important information is shown. The doctor's name is no longer at the top. Now the name of the medication, and the dosage is large, bold, at the top.
Design saves lives. Now what about my hair?

Monday, November 17, 2008

Calculate the Calories

Finally, an online tool to help calculate the calories burned (burnt?) by various activities.
Health Status, an online health assessment site that uses algorithms from the Healthier People project of the Carter Center of Emory University, gives us numbers.
Lots of numbers.
I put in my weight and calculated the number of calories I would burn by spending a half hour of chopping wood (161), dancing ballet (157), raking leaves (105), and running at 8mph (358).
Pretty cool, I like that the activity options include talking on the telephone (28), driving (56), sex (112) and playing croquet (67).
A very handy tool as we enter the food season. Good to know where to get a good workout, or not. As if we hadn't a clue.

Big thanks to Josh McCulloch for a great shot, via Flickr.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Organic Food, Where To Spend, Or Not

We are all getting the message that organic food is a good choice. But we also know that organic food costs more, sometimes lots more. So now that we are all watching our pennies, lets review where to spend on organic, and where it doesn't matter as much.

It Matters
Apples, bell peppers, celery, cherries, imported grapes, nectarines, peaches, pears, potatoes, red raspberries, spinach, and strawberries.
The USDA's own lab testing showed that even after washing, some foods carry much higher levels of pesticide residue than others. According to Consumer Reports, the "dirty dozen", as these fruits and veggies are known as, should be organic. Their conventional counterparts are high in pesticides. Worth the roughly 50 percent more you will pay in grocery stores, but as always, look for the source. Find your farmers.
Meat, poultry, eggs and dairy.
Just don't want those hormones and antibiotics in your systems.
Baby Food, always protect the little people, their developing systems are vulnerable.

It Matters Less
Although organic bananas taste better, the Environmental Working Group (EWG), a D.C.-based research and advocacy organization, finds little residue on the conventional versions. Ditto, avocados, asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower, sweet corn, kiwi, mango, onions, papaya, pinapples and sweet peas. These can be much cheaper in conventional form, one way to save bucks if you don't have serious health issues.
Bread, oils, potato chips, pasta, cereals and other packaged foods.
Limited health value in organic form, processing washes away nutrients.

Don't Bother
Seafood, wild or farmed can be labeled organic despite the presence of contaminants like mercury and PCBs. Look to the valuable Seafood Watch that the Monterey Bay Aquarium puts out for advice on specific choices.
Cosmetics. Unless the product is primarily agricultural, like aloe vera gel, it's not worth the extra cost. Also, the USDA lets shampoos and body lotions to carry an organic label even when the main ingrediant is water. Check the EWG safety ratings for these products.

Thanks to Veri kleiner Winkel for a great photo.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Michael's complicated.

On complexity theory.... applies on many levels, in many fields.

"If you have a teenager, or if you invest in the stock market, you know very well that a complex system cannot be controlled, it can only be managed. Because responses cannot be predicted, the system can only be observed and responded to. The system may resist attempts to change its state. It may show resiliency. Or fragility. Or both.

An important feature of complex systems is that we don’t know how they work. We don’t understand them except in a general way; we simply interact with them. Whenever we think we understand them, we learn we don’t. Sometimes spectacularly."

Michael Crichton

Monday, November 10, 2008

More Good News

Don't you love good news? I do, and last week was one of the best weeks in many people's lives.
Hope. Change. Possibility.

One enormous reason to be happy, renewed support for art and the arts, which means many things but it is all good.

Wikipedia tells us:

The arts is a broad subdivision of culture, composed of many expressive disciplines. In modern usage, it is a term broader than "art", which usually means the visual arts, (comprising fine art, decorative art, and crafts). The arts encompasses visual arts, performing arts, language arts, and the culinary arts. Many artistic disciplines involve aspects of the various arts, so the definitions of these terms overlap to some degree though comparing the articles art school and Columbia University School of the Arts may prove instructive for those struggling with the distinction.
There you have it, the arts, many things to many people. Many happy people this week. According to the Americans for the Arts Action Fund, the results of a historic Nov. 4 - namely the election of Barack Obama and appointment of key members of Congress - will usher in an era of greater support for the arts in America.
Finally an administration that sees the arts as, not that fussy stuff you dress up and go to, but an essential part of a society.

A statement issued last week, by AAAF, President and CEO
Robert L. Lynch:
"Yesterday’s election results also expanded the base of support for the arts in Congress, which will help move arts and arts education initiatives through the legislative process. Initiatives that will fuel innovation and creativity are key to our economic recovery and global competitiveness. A new report issued last month by The Conference Board, ‘Ready to Innovate,’ touts the importance of arts education in building the 21st century workforce. The arts are good for business, good for the economy, and good for the spirit."
My spirit soars already.
Apologies for the Wiki-centric post, its all I had.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Motivation....Get Moving

Unhappy Woman on Couch, Gemini Photo Does it seem a little harder to keep our fitness routine these days? Seasons shift. Schedules shift. Commitments compete for our time. And now, cooler temperatures and fewer sunlit hours send us inward, cocooning, hovering near the soup pot (or the leftover Halloween candy). What happened to our fitness vows and how can we rekindle them? Here are some answers from the pros.

Do it for You: the Energy - Relaxation Loop

Studies have shown that the best reason to exercise is to feel good. According Dr William Stone, Chair and Professor of Exercise & Wellness at Arizona State University, the long-term exerciser’s strategies and rationale for exercising are non-existent; they’re on autopilot. The “faithful” maintain a fit lifestyle, not for weight management or appearance, but because they simply like to feel and be well.

“The number one reason to stick to a fit lifestyle is fitness itself,” says Stone. “For the feeling of wellness that comes part and parcel with getting to the mat, or gym, or hiking or whatever.”

What are some of these feelings?

A general sense of well being, more pep and energy, greater alertness, yet simultaneously, a more relaxed state and better sleep quality. Exercise triggers this loop. “You have to continue to be physically active in order to achieve these feelings,” says Stone. “If you are an exerciser, you know that that feeling can go away if you stop.” So fitness can almost be addictive. Indeed, some people do carry it too far, until it interferes with their job, their family, their life. But a healthy approach is to make your fitness routine a priority, automatic—kind of like exercising to live and not the reverse.

Keep that Feeling

You can ensure that you maintain your program, whether it's yoga, weights, Pilates, dance, anything:

• Dress For Success

Get some clothes that you really like. Have them cleaned, packed and keep them either by the door, or in the car. Have your water bottle filled, iPod charged.

• Mix it Up

According to Julie Emmerman, Psy.D., a Boulder-based psychotherapist specializing in athletes and also a former pro mountain biker, same is lame.

“If we do anything for too long without change, we will get bored.” Everyone has options. “I combine solitary aerobic activity with gym workouts that are more social,” she says. Also, try to adapt to shifting situations. “I accept that weather and schedules will require more flexibility. I try to structure workouts with people in the darker months because I know that will keep me going.”

• Find a Friend

For fun, for support. If you know someone with a similar schedule, similar interests, similar aerobic level, keep it social. Call or email the night before.

“Even if I don’t work out with someone,” says Emmerman, “just having a rapport with others at the gym who are half expecting to see me will encourage me to get there.”

• Avoid Work-Out Saboteurs

Stone warns against hooking up with saboteurs. “There are people that might say, “let’s go eat instead.” Steer clear.

• Don’t Catastrophise

Big word, bigger idea. You missed a session; it’s not the end of the world. According to Stone, “the long term adherent might say, ‘ok, I’ve sprained my ankle, and I need to take ten days off, but based on past experience, I know I am an active person, and I will get back when this is resolved.'" Injuries, illness, visiting relatives, business trips; stuff comes up. Just jump back into your routine as soon as possible.

• Grade School Approach

A simple way to set and keep fitness goals is the SMART system. Dr. Charlie Brown, Ph.D., sports psychologist, fps-Performance director and an American College of Sports Medicine expert, reminds us how it works: “Lots of sports psychologists know that setting smart (SMART) goals is critical for success and confidence,” says Brown. “Your confidence comes from how well you have achieved your goals.”

S – Set specific goals for yourself.

M – Make sure they are Measurable.

A – Be Action oriented, in terms of what you are and aren’t going to do.

R – Ensure goals are Reasonable, yet still challenging.

T – Implement Time oriented goals. “Say for the next two weeks, I am going to do that,” s ays Brown. “Then re-evaluate.”

Another big element is part of your SMART planning: Think It, Ink It. “Put it down,” says Brown. “Research shows us that if you commit to a goal, and actually write it down, your probability of completing that goal is much greater.” It also makes life planning easier when your fitness time is blocked out in your calendar or Blackberry.

“Goals affect your energy and the choices you make,” says Brown. “We know that if you are really close to achieving your specific goals, you actually tend to dig a little deeper to make sure you get there.”

Keeping fit is its own reward, inside and out. “I tally up all the reasons I want to exercise,” says Emmerman. “What it does for me internally is more important than what it does for me physically.”

Because it‘s There

Enjoy your workouts, simply because you can. “I remind myself that it is a privilege to have a body that works,” says Emmerman. “I want to do what I can to keep enjoying it.”

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Did Everyone See the Puppies?

Throughout one of the craziest weeks in memory, someone had the kindness to post this PuppyCam.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Let The Sugar Flow

OK, today is Halloween, which is all fun and stuff but it marks the official start of Candy Season.

Lets look:

Hallow2een....bag o'sugar! Lot's O Crap enters many households, and lets think about how that advances our intentions of family, fun, fitness. Or not.
Just saying.

November...Thanksgiving...chocolate turkeys (in addition to tons of other stuff). Stuff it.
December...Christmas.. Candy Canes, does anyone ever eat these things? In addition to tons of other stuff that comes our way. It is expected, we face overabundance, we overeat, we over-consume, that's the deal. Let's just know what we are facing. again, or not. looks like a chill month, maybe we all do cleanse stuff.
February.....Uh Oh, heads up. Valentine's Day. Even if we don't have a honey bun, buy pink stuff to move money around.
March.....17th, green! Luck o' the Irish and all that, in your Target isle. No one really is sure what the connection is between St Patrick's day and green stuff, bagels, beer and cheer but we do it. year after year. cheers.
April....Easter! what's that, colorful eggs? cool.
Can we just end the plastic, foil-wrapped sense o' celebration. It really is a Hallmark situation and we can all just have fun without the packaged representation of holidays, festivities, life.
Just saying.
please weigh in.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Art Smart

One thing we should not ignore, as the election draws near, is where the candidates rank the arts. Recognizing the importance of art in education is becoming increasingly important. Research tells us that children exposed early, and often to the arts fare better in tests, careers and life. But as our nation's economy reels, will we see funds for art programs shelved?
Good thing Americans for the Arts Action Fund, a bipartisan arts advocacy group, is asking. In their ArtsVote report, they found that while Republican Sen. John McCain issued a brief statement, vaguely saying "arts education can play a role in nurturing the creativity of expression" the Obama statement was long and strong.
In addition to a history of voting for the arts throughout his political career, he stated, "To remain competitive in the global economy, America needs to reinvigorate the kind of creativity and innovation that has made this country great. To do so, we must nourish our children’s creative skills. In addition to giving our children the science and math skills they need to compete in the new global context, we should also encourage the ability to think creatively that comes from a meaningful arts education."
He gets it. A meaningful arts education.
Neuroscientists get it. Training in the arts improves cognition.
Teachers get it. Students who participate in the arts have higher test scores and lower drop-out rates.
Corporate leaders get it. Terry Semel, past chairman of Warner Bros., said, "Art is central to a civilized society. Kids who create don't destroy."
Thinker/writer, Daniel Pink notes that we are at the end of a binary-only thinking era. Students who can think imaginatively, creatively, or "outside the box" will become the most attractive workers for global corporations. Arts education prepares young minds for non-linear thinking.
As the oft-quoted Elizabeth Murfee writes in her 1995, Making a Case for Culture, "Drawing helps writing. Song and poetry make facts memorable. Drama makes history more vivid and real. Creative movement makes processes understandable."
Socially, arts have proven to be an effective outreach tool to engage youth. Self esteem, cooperation, resilience improves when students have been exposed to the arts.
And lastly, what of the joy and wonder the arts offer the mind and spirit? Arts play a key role in the education of a child.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Squeeze Em

Around here we try to keep colds at bay early and often. The usual supplies, Kleenex, disinfectant soap are already stockpiled.
But we love our juice!
We buy bags of oranges and grapefruit, whatever is priced well. Our trusty electric juicer sits out on the counter, locked and loaded at all times. We have a Braun, super simple, super strong but there are lots of models out there. Look for the fewest parts possible to make clean-up a snap.
This one appliance is invaluable for instant, fresh Vitamin C in a glass. Mix and match. Try a glass of "blood" oranges, with a tad of pink grapefruit. Or naval orange/Texas Rio Star grapefruit. It all works.
And sometimes we squeeze a few lemons into a glass, add ginger and honey for my Dad's famous Decoction. He turns eighty-seven tomorrow so obviously the stuff works!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Weaker Week

Gads, must every Friday feel like the world "out there" is getting worse? Two weeks ago, things seemed to hit new lows but as we edge into the cold and darkness of Fall, we fall further.
  • Recession's going global.
  • Tent cities are growing.
  • Madonna's getting divorced.
  • Turns out we have been given placebos by our doctors.
  • Those Somali pirates still hold the Ukraine crew hostage.
So to take the edge off, I give you a fun toy to play with
The Idee Multicolor Search Lab
Deceptively addictive. Harmless. Arty.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Lets Play......Caption This

OK, let's take a break from recipes and get out of the kitchen. It's time to play

Caption This

From today's New York Times,
headline reads
Greenspan Concedes Error in Regulatory View

Doug Mills/The New York Times

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Fall Foods, Hokkaido Squash Jam

Yes, jam! I discovered this exotic yummy substance last year. My family enjoyed several Tupperware vats of it before burning out.
The Hokkaido squash, also known as Red Kuri, is a bright crimson plant from the Cucurbitaceae family. Really high in Vitamins A, B, C, D and E, amino acids, unsaturated fatty acids, starch, natural sugars and carotene. Storage actually increases the vitamin and sugar content.
The flavor and texture reminds people of chestnut puree (yum!). In fact, its French name, Potimarron is a blend of the words potiron (pumpkin) and marron (chestnut). Try this jam to extend the Fall Harvest.

  • 1 one-pound Hokkaido Squash
  • 1/2 cups sugar or honey
  • 2 tbsp. Powdered Vanilla
  • 10 oz. Chopped fruit, either fresh apples or pears, or dried (soaked 24 hours) such as raisins, apricots, etc.

Halve the squash and bake, flat side down on oiled cookie pan in oven set at 350 for about 30 minutes, or until a knife pierces the flesh easily. When done, let cool, then scoop seeds out, remove flesh from skin and place in a pot over a very low heat with sweetener, diced fruit and vanilla.

Mash up mixture with back of wooden spoon and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring often.

Scoop jam into jars* and add a cinnamon stick or three.

Enjoy over the next few weeks as a spread on buttered grainy toast, stirred into yogurt or just baby (comfort) food.

*Join me later this week as we explore the world of Tupperware, and other forms of food storage.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Fall Foods, Red Lentil Curry with Coconut

So many people asked for this recipe after I made it for a pot luck, it is cozy and easy. Good for you too.

Red Lentils

1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
several tablespoons finely chopped peeled fresh ginger
a head of garlic, finely chopped
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon salt
1 (2 1/2-inch) fresh jalapeƱo or serrano chile, finely chopped, include seeds for added fire
2 cups vegetable broth
1 1/2 cups dried red lentils (10 oz)
1 (13- to 14-oz) can unsweetened coconut milk
1 lb carrots, diced
1 cup loosely packed fresh cilantro sprigs

Cook onion in oil in a 3 1/2- to 4-quart heavy pot over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until soft.
Add ginger and garlic and cook, stirring, 1 minute.
Add cumin, coriander, turmeric, salt, and chile and cook, stirring, 1 minute.

Stir in broth, lentils, and coconut milk, then simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes. Stir in carrots and simmer, covered, until lentils and carrots are tender, about 30 minutes. Season with salt and serve over basmati rice with cilantro sprigs scattered on top.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Fall Foods, Brussels Sprouts with Carrots

As evenings are getting cooler, we are enjoying cozy foods. I made this dish last night and it was a hit, people dug in heartily for seconds. That's how I know.

Brussels Sprouts/Carrots

1 large chopped shallot
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
1 lb carrots, cut diagonally into 1/2-inch-thick pieces
1 lb Brussels sprouts, stemmed, halved lengthwise
1/3 cup vegetable broth
1 tablespoon vinegar (any kind, I used red wine)

Saute the shallot in 2 of the 3 tablespoons of butter in a large skillet, stirring occasionally until soft.
Add the veggies and a dose of salt and pepper, cook, stirring occasionally until they start to brown.
Add broth, lower heat and cover, for about ten minutes.
Add vinegar, more salt and pepper to taste, and last bit 'o butter.

Yum. Rich and hearty. Bon appetite.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Focus on Fall

Sad but true, with the shift towards Autumn, the days are shorter, the nights are colder. But this is part of that circle of life that they sang about in The Lion King.

Brigitte Mars, herbalist, author and raw chef gives some tips for ushering in the new season.

Q. Brigitte, what does Autumn mean to you?

A. Autumn is a season that begins a more feminine cycle of nature. It is a time of darkness, as we approach the stillness of winter.

Q. What does this mean on a practical level?

A. It’s a time to get our lives in order, to complete old business, give back anything borrowed, collect anything we might have lent out,. We need our tools back. Our focus turns inward, we are with our homes, our minds, our bodies. It’s preparing for a time of reading, meditation, writing, time to experience the dark corners of nature and ourselves.

Q. How do we ready our physical selves?

A. In Asian medicine, this time corresponds to metal elements, lungs, large intestines, skin. It is a time to practice deep breathing, takes walks and air ourselves out to prevent colds and lung infections.

Q. What should we eat?

A. Foods to enjoy are heavier, winter squash, pumpkin, Hokkaido squash, carrots, dark orange vegetables, all high in beta carotene which helps the mucus membranes resist infection. It is also a good time to eat more roots, turnips, rutabaga, burdock, beets, to bring warmth and get rooted. Don’t forget leafy greens like kale and chard, spinach which help the body to utilize oxygen. It is a time of planning for winter meals, preserve now the abundance of fall harvest. Dehydrate pears and apples. In Asian cuisine, one tastes many pungent offerings now, ginger, rosemary, garlic, onions, and cayenne. It warms the insides. Also, bring in more seeds and nuts to the diet.

I'll be posting recipes this week, feel free to share any of your own.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Wigged Out

I wasn't blessed with a girl. I got two boys and we didn't "keep trying" for a girl.
We all know families with half a dozen of one gender of offspring. Maybe they kept trying.
And yes, they are full of love, perhaps a tad imbalanced, there might be an overwhelmed parent somewhere in the household.
For me, two kids was enough.
I was born with two hands. One each for holding, feeding, disciplining, caressing, changing diapers. Each child got one hand. Made sense to us.
But as a former dancer, boy did I want a girl. If I had a girl, we could dance, and dress up, and play and stuff. Didn't happen.
Until now. I've got a niece! And she is too cute and turning three and I get to play with her and spoil her and read to her and we are good friends.
She seems to be safely transitioning out of an alarming Clara (Nutcracker girl) phase. It seemed long and obsessive. She would sharply correct anyone who addressed her by the name on her birth certificate. "I am Clara!"
And her parents had to act out the other roles, primarily the part where the younger brother, Fritz, breaks her new toy in Act I. To the sad music. Granted, she did just get a new brother, and maybe she was "working stuff out" but maintaining that role for four months, that's a major fraction one's life if they are two-and-a-half. We were kind of worried.
But not anymore. Now, she is Ariel. The Little Mermaid, Ariel. And we sing the song......aaah, ah ah aaaah, and her far away look probably means something other than new sibling stealing toys. Good.
Now for her third birthday, she wants long orange/red hair. Like Ariel. Wavy. Long.
In the world of dance, we would bring in an artiste to create the look in mind, a costumer, a designer, you work together, discuss, play the music, money changes hands, and opening night is fabulous.
But here and now, we simply have the Internet and FedX. One could Google costumes and details and get all sorts of options. All fire retardant, some sleazy. But she wants to be Ariel. And it's my job to deliver. View the option.
I am truly challenged.
Comments welcome.

Friday, October 10, 2008


Crazy days!

~The home page of The New York Times site simply updates the the graph throughout the day. They know what we want. "Show me the money!"

~Hundreds of absentee ballots were sent out in upstate NY misspelling the Democratic presidential candidate's last name, an unfortunate mistake, one hopes. One little letter, one big bad!

~A Japanese tavern now employs two Macaques monkeys to serve drinks and hot towels to customers. The owner, Mr. Otsuka " admits they’re better than his real son at the job."

~Crazy days! Gotta keep laughing, so I give you this.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Insolvency......The Ice Breaker

Insolvency, the inability to pay one's debts, is the new black. We never used to talk about these things, especially with our aging parents, but things seem to have changed. Mass fear, confusion,we are all in this together. I found myself on the phone with my eighty-four-year-old Dad, talking about money.

"Are you guys ok?"
"Your Mother are I are going to be fine."
Sage elder has seen this before.
"Is this like last time?" I ask.
"You mean the Depression? Hard to say. I was only nine, but I had a friend, his dad jumped out the window."
"Wow, no one is jumping yet, maybe things aren't as bad."
"We'll see, kiddo. For now, we're not sure where to put our money."
The proverbial mattress doesn't seem like a bad bet these days.
I also heard gold, but we hear lots of things.
The good news (Pollyanna complex?) through this whole mess is that look who's talking, about money. And look again, I just got a funny email from Dad. About money.

The New Stock Market Terms

CEO Chief Embezzlement Officer.

CFO Corporate Fraud Officer.

BULL MARKET A random market movement causing an investor to
mistake himself for a financial genius.

BEAR MARKET A 6 to 18 month period when the kids get no
allowance, the wife gets no jewelry, and the husband gets no sex.

VALUE INVESTING The art of buying low and selling lower.

P/E RATIO The percentage of investors wetting their
pants as the market keeps crashing.

BROKER What my broker has made me.

STANDARD & POOR Your life in a nutshell.

STOCK ANALYST The Idiot who just downgraded your stock.

STOCK SPLIT When your ex-wife and her lawyer split your assets
equally between themselves.

FINANCIAL PLANNER A guy whose phone has been disconnected.

MARKET CORRECTION The day after you buy stocks.

CASH FLOW The movement your money makes as it
disappears down the toilet.

YAHOO What you yell after selling it to some poor sucker
for $240 per share.

WINDOWS What you jump out of when you're the sucker who
bought Yahoo
@ $240 per share.

INSTITUTIONAL INVESTOR Past year investor who's now locked up in a

PROFIT An archaic word no longer in use.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008


Michelle swept through town today, rallying college students, people, anyone who hasn't yet registered, (this Monday is the final deadline), and urged relatives, friends, dorm mates, sorority sisters, grandmas, (Sarah Silverman uses grandchild love as currency, yay!) to register, to confirm that one is registered to vote, voting location, mail option, let's set it up right this time.
Michelle was resplendent in a crimson jacket that sung in harmony with her backdrop, a scree of mountains, a US flag, CU Italianate structures, blue sky above flecked with white clouds, a visual reminder that perfect is what we are working for.
"It's a perfect day, it's a perfect setting, it's a perfect crowd, in a perfect month, in a perfect year to elect a perfect president, Barack Obama," she said near the start of her 25-minute speech. "I know in my heart, as I watched this man over the last year and a half, I know in my soul that he will be an extraordinary president."
The near 10,000 crowd ate it up.
They also were stirred by her reminder that working people are hardy souls. Muscle and mind, we are in for a calling to arms, not the kind on the Fitness Channel on TV. This is the real thing.
"Let's start working, because we're going to need you," Michelle Obama said. "We're going to need your prayers, we're going to need your work, we're going to need to you to pray, we're going to need you to work and then after you've worked, pray a little more. And then, after you finished praying, then keep working."
Tired yet?
She also reminded the audience of the humble origins of herself and her mate.
Who knew that Barack and Michelle were still paying off college loans until recently?
"When you don't have the money to pay for your college, you take out these loans, and you come out so mired in debt, As Barack and I did... We just paid off our student loans ... and that's only because Barack wrote two best-selling books."
Yes, we have heard about these, let's all buy a copy.
And support the guy. OK? I can do perfect. Can you?

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Coping With Financial Stress.......Stay Calm

Scary week, no? Financial swings the likes of which we haven't seen and buggy days? Everyone around me is uncertain, confused, anxious. And what of the children? Certainly they are picking up on our stresses of paying bills, filling fridges, if not through direct conversation, or listening in on our end of phone calls, then certainly from the tone in our voices. Shopping for school supplies was never fun but now it is painful.
"Who needs all those crayons?!"
"What's wrong with last year's backpack?"
"Ten dollars for the Disney Princess six-piece stationary set?"
I am neither an economist nor a psychic, I don't know what will happen. But I am a Mom. I feel it is our job, as responsible beings to set a tone for the family. We are all feeling fear these days, but we should try to keep our financial anxiety in check. Lets just try to maintain a sense of calm and grace during this crazy time.
Breathe, Stay Active
Fear can effect our body with a "fight or flight" response, flooding us with adrenaline. Get up, move, run, walk, kick a ball, punch a punching bag, work it off. If you sit still, you will feel panic. And breathe. Again. long, slow, throughout the day. Let the shoulders go.
Couples Coping
Money is a huge stress-out subject in relationships, even in the best of times. Try to set some ground rules during these crazy days. Don't talk about money before bed. Or in bed. Support each other, acknowledge the fear. Focus on what you do have. Lovely children. Friends and family. A functioning body. Each other.
The Kids
Don't lie to your children, they always seem to know anyway. But don't overwhelm them either. A child can't comprehend the FDIC, bank consolidation or jumbo loans. I can barely. Simply sit them down and talk about how the money world is really complicated right now, and scary (certainly they have heard stuff from friends) but reassure them that you will all be OK.
And you will. Turn off the TV. Eat simple, homemade meals together, at home. Talk about other things. Certainly the financial world isn't the only thing going on right now. Just, possibly, the scariest.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Favorite Meals

It was summer, 2008. The farm dinner movement had just gotten some momentum and across the country, groups like Dinners At The Farm and Plate and Pitchfork brought fine dining to the source. Here in Colorado, the Johnny Appleseed of farm dinners, Jim Denevan swept through in his converted bus and brought together fine chefs, farms, wine, people in magnificent settings.
We made it up to Paonia for the fruit infused dinner, peach country up in them thar hills. Guest chefs Mark Fischer of Restaurant Six89 in Carbondale and the crew of Aspen's The Little Nell had a gorgeous extended table set up by Zephyros Farm's pond, but the skies had other plans. A mad dash brought the setting for one hundred-plus diners into the greenhouse, creating an intimate affair. Highlights.....Grappa-soaked peaches with goat cheese and honey, fried squash blossoms filled with lavender ricotta, lots of fresh local wine. Endless conversation with hardy adventurists from far and wide, all huddled around candles by hay bales and potting supplies. All appreciating the freshest possible delights set before us. Truly special.
A good night's sleep at a local inn topped off a perfect evening. The drive back the next morning through majestic McCLure Pass, took us through the mountain towns of Redstone ("Ruby of the Rockies") where turn-of-the-century craftsmen-era Swiss style cottages are still in use.
More modest Hotchkiss, Somerset and Marble (guess what they quarry here?) bring you right down to Carbondale, where some ill-planned construction added an additional hour to the journey back to Boulder.
But what fortune awaited us upon learning that the traveling band of gourmands were setting up another dinner at our local Munson's Farm. And the famed Frasca crew were on hand to bring their magic into the field. We were there!
A glass of wine and a tour of the farm started the evening. Jim Munson welcomed guests, then his sons Bob and Mike took over with explanations of crop rotation, irrigation, heirloom seeds, all kinds of things that are the daily concern of these noble, hardy souls. Our weekly visits to local Farmer's Markets can't reveal the true grit, real and figurative, that goes into churning out consistent, clean food that makes its way to candle-lit tables everywhere.
A late afternoon sun assured the crowd that storms were not to mar this event. The Munsons had taken out several rows of corn to lay a long, elegant table amidst towering stalks. Enthusiastic staff raced up and down the sides to rest large bowls of colorful fare, served family style. Frasca owner/sommelier, Bobby Stuckey kept glasses filled, conversation going, smiles lingering. A beautiful pasta with shards of summer squash and herbs anchored the meal but for me, this was the night I discovered Buratta. Huge pillows of this rich, buttery-tasting mozzarella-type cheese were set on plates amidst multi-colored heirloom tomatoes, basil, olive oil. No knife needed. A spoon pierced the thin skin releasing an ooze of fresh ricottoa-like cream to be absorbed by blocks of fresh bread. And dotted with basil bits. And tomatoes. And pass that plate back over here please. And again. Thanks!

Monday, September 22, 2008

The Dolphin's Curse

One of the things we have been talking about lately is the captive dolphin industry. The photo here shows what looks like a pair of happy smiling dolphins, frolicking and cuddling a human. Guess what. They aren't happy. They are cursed with a mouth that curls up at the sides and resembles a human's mouth when the human is happy and smiles. But the dolphins are not happy at all.
They were probably herded and selected and separated from their loved ones, in a brutal, confusing capture. They were most likely shipped to a penned setting, possibly polluted with chemicals and their own excrement. Their keen sonar system disoriented by strange machinery humming through the water. They were starved into submission. Tricks. Play. Be gentle.
The multi-billion dollar captive dolphin industry, along with the annual dolphin slaughter in southern Japan is the focus of the upcoming film, The Killing Cove, that the Oceanic Preservation Society has been working on for the last four years.
Look for it in early 2009.
And please don't spend hundreds of dollars to "swim with dolphins" in some hot concrete pen. Or go watch a show and buy dolphin-embossed souvenirs in a fit of compassion and love. PBS sheds some light on these corporate cetacean mills.
But the facts below about these brilliant, advanced creatures are chilling.

A study in 1985 revealed that of 32 killer whales examined after dying in aquariums around the world, half had died of bacterial infections, and one quarter of pneumonia. 53% of those dolphins who survive the violent capture die within 90 days.The average life span of a dolphin in the wild is 45 years; yet half of all captured dolphins die within their first two years of captivity. The survivors last an average of only 5 years in captivity. Every seven years, half of all dolphins in captivity die from capture shock, pneumonia, intestinal disease, ulcers, chlorine poisoning, and other stress-related illnesses.

To the captive dolphin industry, these facts are accepted as routine operating expenses. In many tanks the water is full of chemicals as well as bacteria, causing many health problems in dolphins including blindness. When a baby dolphin is born in captivity, the news is usually kept secret until the calf shows signs of survival. Although marine mammals do breed in captivity, the birth rate is not nearly as successful as the one in the wild, with high infant mortality rates.

Wild dolphins can swim 40 to 100 miles per day - in pools they go around in circles. Many marine parks subject their mammals to hunger so they will perform for their food. Jumping through hoops, tailwalking and playing ball are trained behaviors that do not occur in the wild. Dolphins are predators of fish and spend up to half of their time in the wild hunting for food. Supplying dead fish results in less exercise and lack of mental stimulation, thus causing boredom. When trapped together, males often become agitated and domineering. This creates pecking orders (unknown in the wild) and unprovoked attacks on each other and the trainers. In the ocean, although fights are not unknown, the wild dolphins have a chance to escape. Confined animals who abuse themselves (banging their heads against the walls) are creating stimuli which their environment cannot supply. Dolphins in captivity tend to develop stereotypical behaviors (swimming in repetitive circle pattern, with eyes closed and in silence) because of boredom and confinement .This is equivalent to the swaying and pacing of primates, lions, tigers and bears confined in cages.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Enough With the Palin Impaling

So I have given the Palin beat over to someone far more skilled at it than I.
Famous too.
Please follow Wasilla blogger, Sherry Whitstine, who chronicles the governor’s career with "an astringent eye", according to the New York Times.
I had to thank her.
She responded earlier today:
"Please feel free to link to any of the blog sites or audio files, parody songs 'gotta laugh or you'll cry about Sarah Palin'. Use any of the information on or and always check these Alaskan News sources and "

So we will, Sherry, thanks.
Internet Election, rock on!

About the photo, The Anchorage Daily News hosts a "Palin and Me" link that offers citizen journalists the exposure only J School students dream of.
Actually, this is a glimpse into the life of a very interactive politician. She seems to be everywhere, from Girl Scout meetings to Vet memorial celebrations, to whale kill ceremonies. And people in Anchorage seem to love her.

I love Cindy's look in this shot. What happened to her arm?

Kind of Funny, Kind of Sad

We are selling a lifestyle here, not a printer.
Clean, happy life. Connected. To a wireless printer (if the IT guy set it up right) but are we connected in real life?
This is dad and daughter, she is clearly too young to be a girlfriend. They are hanging out. Super edited clean house, white on white on white on.....who let him in with the shoes! Oh, ok, they are his inside kicks. And he owns the place. No prob.
So we can assume this is dad's house, maybe the parents are divorced, mom lives elsewhere in a hovel with stained carpets and no wireless printers. Or, mom is simply out of the photograph, in the kitchen preparing a nutritious meal for the clean team.
How are these two people relating to each other? Are they? She is smiling, maybe at some witty Facebook comment, he is smiling, but his eyes are not on her. He is online too. A golf crony just made a jab at his handicap. Or the hottie from last weekend just suggested something fun but furtive.
They just happen to be in the same room. Like at Starbucks. Maybe they don't even know each other. Yeah, that's it. They are related but don't know each other.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

More Wine?

More servitude, this time from the skies.
Exhibit B:
An unnamed airline wants us to know that at 35,000 feet, cordiality still rules. Scary, no? All those females with keys to the kingdom.
Relax. I will serve you. Food, wine, smile. Your friend there, she's ok, but she only gets a drink. You, on the other hand, get spinal support, drip-free red wine and my constant attention.
So Happy.

And Now For Some Fun

OK, I need to get off the pony political for a minute. Time for some innocent fun.
We are looking at ads, costly ads that are designed to affect our thinking and spending, and sometimes they are downright ridiculous.

Exhibit A: Swanky hotel chain, running a series of crazy print ads. We see exotic, colorful people cavorting in surreal pleasure palaces, being served (always being served!) odd things. What is on this plate? Beautifully arranged nail extensions?
What is that guy next to her? Her date. An amused stranger?
And to his left. Exotic up-do or handbag on head?
And speaking of hair, the waitress just performed in Act II of Giselle?

A Call To Arms (Legs and Brains Too)

OK, enough already with the Palin stuff. I just got an email from a friend in Chicago, active-O supporter, traveling to key states on weekends to canvass (the systematic initiation of direct contact with a target group of individuals commonly used during political campaigns). She also brought this up as a call to arms, and movement. Many of us are now preaching to our own choirs and this is when action matters most.
"Time is critical, and your help is needed. Given money? Attended events? Circulated e-mails? That’s all great, but how about traveling to a key battleground state and canvassing for the campaign?!"
If you are working towards an Obama victory/presidency, you are probably hooked into this site but if not, go. Join an organized virtual community working towards a common goal. The ultimate Internet Election. Yay!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Come Vote. It Really Matters This Time!

Americans have this cool thing going on where they can all collectively choose their leader, as opposed to those other countries that don't. Like the Congo or Myanmar, where leaders (dictators) hold power not won by collective agreement, they just rule from on high and that's the deal, don't argue.
Or Syria and Cuba where there is simply one party governing things, no elections, no November refreshment. Nada.
We here in the US have a gift. Our forefathers and foremothers fought for this right, the comfort of knowing that your participation in the selection process of leadership contributes to the group. We now must take part in this essential process. We register. We vote.
Here Ya Go.
No worries, its easy, 1-2-3 snap. Take care of it. Please.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Hockey Mom, Sports Mom

As the nation heard Sarah Palin's self definition last week, "the only difference between a Hockey Mom and a pit bull is a touch of lipstick" (she had lip liner on as well, define "a touch") a few of us sports chauffeurs wonder what unique qualities we bring to the table.
Amy Finnerty and Annabel Levy astutely sort through the fine points in Forbes, closing with a jab at the baseball Mom.
"Unlike in soccer, where the mothers are free to show up looking as if they just rolled out of bed (often their actual state), in Little League Baseball, looks count. The baseball mom doesn't so much choose a team or coach as a coach chooses her, it is said. He usually prefers the boss' kid, his son's best friend or ... the one with the hottest mom. And by the end of an eventful season, if dad isn't equally committed, she tends to have her divorce lawyer on speed dial."
(A-Rod culture?)
Each sports kingdom brings its inherent personality, which washes through the arena, court, locker room, starting with the heroes, on down to the coaches, players, and of course reflected in the supportive Moms on the sidelines.
Over the years, my boys have played tennis, soccer, baseball, basketball and Ultimate Frisbee. So I have been many kinds of Moms. Hip and flippant. When we cheered our soccer team on those chilly Fall mornings, we were keenly conscious of anyone tripping or grabbing our little heroes. We made our gentle noise.
Hockey and football on the other hand seem far more vicious and violent. They thrive on the blood. I seem to remember something about an enraged parent and a sharp hockey skate blade. And jail time.
Around here, we know some kids that play Rugby and Lacross. They are often bruised.
I, on the other hand, raised wusses. I carried arnica in my bag, along with The New Yorker. From my folding chair on the sideline, I never raised a racquet, we occasionally questioned a ref's call. But a civilized discussion sorted everything out.
So what's with the tough? Maybe it has to do with sports requiring helmets, the danger, the violence is heightened. Pulses race. Veins stick out of screaming spectators' necks. Not so with the leonine Frisbee player, loping and lunging to catch the lobbed disc. The greatest danger with that sport is grass stains.
According to Vicki Poretta, creator of The Mom's Guide to Sports, there are lots of differences between sports for the mom. "Volleyball is indoors, in a gym, not very complicated," say Poretta. Tennis? diplomatic. Golf, you just drop and go. Parents don't stay and watch. There are no stands, sidelines. Swimming, you sit indoors in a cozy warm arena, knitting. Stressful? Only when your child's goggles fill with water.
Now softball and baseball, those tend to last long. Many late afternoons are spent sitting in chilling rain, no chance of getting a home-cooked meal into the little sluggers. And what about the car? Trashed from spilled take-out food, mud, smelly uniforms? And don't even talk about cranky losers. "Would you mind not kicking the seat?!"
Also, imagine the organization skills of any sport Mom, as she plans drop-offs, pick-ups, sometimes at various locations. Practices, home games, away games, sometimes out of town, travel plans. Fridges full, fridge door papered with schedules. Cooler in car filled with snacks, liquids.
So any sports mom really has the patience of a saint, the brains of an air traffic controller, and any one of us, with a bit of coaching could be qualified to throw on a dash of lipstick (and liner) and run for office.
Join us next week when Ballet Moms take on the Senate.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

State of the Art of Dining

Today's busy bees can't be bothered relating to other humans in the flesh, what with crazy schedules and all. Why not just call it a day, retire to your nearest cozy restaurant, order some yummies and get back to everyone virtually. No need to make small talk, go through the split-the-check dance, or even set a time. Just get out and dine, but phone it in.

Monday, September 8, 2008


This is making the rounds. I have received several emails today urging me to add to an insta-blog, Women Against Sarah Palin. With the click of a button, voices can now rise up, not solo but in resounding chorus. Any woman with an internet connection can, and should make her voice heard if she is not comfortable with, is insulted by, or shudders in fear of this looming puppet.
I share with you:

Friends, compatriots, fellow-lamenters,

We are writing to you because of the fury and dread we have felt since the announcement of Sarah Palin as the Vice-Presidential candidate for the Republican Party. We believe that this terrible decision has surpassed mere partisanship, and that it is a dangerous farce on the part of a pandering and rudderless Presidential candidate that has a real possibility of becoming fact.

Perhaps like us, as American women, you share the fear of what Ms. Palin and her professed beliefs and proven record could lead to for ourselves and for our present or future daughters. To date, she is against sex education, birth control, the pro-choice platform, environmental protection, alternative energy development, freedom of speech (as mayor she wanted to ban books and attempted to fire the librarian who stood against her), gun control, the separation of church and state, and polar bears. To say nothing of her complete lack of real preparation to become the second-most-powerful person on the planet.

We want to clarify that we are not against Sarah Palin as a woman, a mother, or, for that matter, a parent of a pregnant teenager, but solely as a rash, incompetent, and all together devastating choice for Vice President. Ms. Palin's political views are in every way a slap in the face to the accomplishments that our mothers and grandmothers and great-grandmothers so fiercely fought for, and that we've so demonstrably benefited from.

First and foremost, Ms. Palin does not represent us. She does not demonstrate or uphold our interests as American women. It is presumed that the inclusion of a woman on the Republican ticket could win over women voters. We want to disagree, publicly.

Therefore, we invite you to reply here with a short, succinct message about why you, as a woman living in this country, do not support this candidate as second-in-command for our nation.

Please include your name (last initial is fine), age, and place of residence.

We will post your responses on a blog called "Women Against Sarah Palin," which we intend to publicize as widely as possible. Please send us your reply at your earliest conveniencethe greater the volume of responses we receive, the stronger our message will be.

Thank you for your time and action.



Quinn Latimer and Lyra Kilston
New York, NY

**PLEASE FORWARD WIDELY! If you send this to 20 women in the next hour, you could be blessed with a country that takes your concerns seriously. Stranger things have happened.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Internet Election

So I just received an email letter (e-letter?) from a friend, about the upcoming election. I suppose we will see and send many in the next few months but I felt compelled to post this.
I hear that this is the Internet Election, we can now post, link, upload a variety of information. This is good, and I assure my readers that I will certainly apply editing skills to avoid overload, but when something touches my heart, I must share it with you:

Dear friends and acquaintances,
I grew up on the dark stories told by my parents, Holocaust survivors. Watching the Republican convention on TV, I became physically ill because this is what Fascism looks like in its early stages. The venom, the lies and half-truths, the mockery, the nationalistic fervor, the demagoguery, and the utter lack of empathy for most of humankind chilled me to the bone. Couple this with the fact that the Republican Party strategists are not allowing journalists access to Palin (just heard this on CNN) and are effectively demonizing the media that veer from right-wing ideology, and we can see clearly where our democracy is heading.

We can, of course, shrug and say this is hopeless situation, or we can resort to magical thinking that all will turn out for the best if we simply send Obama good thoughts and vote for him. Let us instead act. In the two months remaining let us do EVERYTHING to elect the Obama and Biden and (for those of us living in Colorado) Mark Udall--who is being relentlessly attacked by the oil industry--and Jared Polis. For our children and grandchildren, let us do everything and then some. If it is comfortable to send $25 to the Obama campaign this week, please send $50. If you are well-to-do, please be extraordinarily generous in your giving; give so it makes a dent. Go to If you don't have discretionary money, think of something else to do, and keep on doing things until election day. My friend, Wayne (a physician) plans to go to nursing homes to inform patients that under a McCain/Palin administration, Medicare (which really works!) is threatened. My Sudanese daughter Rose is volunteering in Mark Udall's office even though she is not yet a citizen. My husband and I, both introverts, are canvassing for the Democratic Party.

In addition to working for the Obama/Biden ticket, if you like this letter, please send it on to others--those already committed, those on the fence, and those in the McCain camp.

Thank you with all my heart,
name withheld

Friday, September 5, 2008

Password Please

Doncha hate when you forget (or misfile) your password to some site and you try to enter and you can't but they offer a "forgot password?" button and you hit that button that assures you that all is forgiven and no problem, a new temporary password will be sent to your email and you wait.....and wait.......and wait.......and where is the damn email from them?
I am currently waiting for:
American Airlines
and a few others I don't want to divulge....
I am still waiting.
Please send me new temp passwords because the ones I have entered don't work and I can't access my info and I just need to get in there and didn't this all start with September 11 in the first place?
Anyone else?

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Cleans Up Nice

I know, Barak, families are off limits. The media should indeed spare the innocent offspring of candidates. No scrutiny. No judging. No labels.
But what about the fiction that is being concocted before our eyes, as Levi Johnston morphs from hot-blooded hockey teen to first family pawn. What is going on here?
"Just play nice and get married, kids."
"You can still get into good schools, we will take care of that for you."
"Put this ring on before the cameras arrive."
"Better get on a plane and meet Momma's new boss."

For most of the other unwanted pregnancies in this country, the outcome will not look so bright. No marriage. No sparkly ring. No makeover and White House trip. No school. No career. No cute Juno (odd coincidence, Alaska's capitol and hit film) type ending. No support. No nanny. No forgiveness.
And many teenage girls do indeed find themselves pregnant. According to The Guttmacher Institute, almost 750,000 teenage women aged 15–19 a year in this country.
For some reason, teen pregnancy rates are much higher in the United States than in many other developed countries--twice as high as in England and Wales or Canada, and nine times as high as in the Netherlands or Japan.
We cannot assume all teen pregnancies are unintended.
Some girls get pregnant to make their partners happy. Some girls carry the mistaken belief that the babies will give them love and nurturance. And some want to get pregnant because they see other girls in their social circles getting increased attention and what seems to them increased material benefit by being mothers.
But we can help those who don't want to get married or raise a child in poverty. They certainly need more help than we are offering.
According to the CDC, efforts to decrease unintended pregnancy include finding better forms of contraception, and increasing contraceptive use and adherence.
We should be able to at least talk to our children about these things. Sex is depicted so often in advertising and entertainment, yet consequences rarely.
A pregnancy changes lives, and not always for the best.
That said, blessings on the new family.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Profound "Noise"

Earlier, I cited the NYTimes call for citizen journalism as Gustav comes bearing down onto the Gulf Coast. And no doubt, the editors in New York are hoping for "money shots" of wild winds, flooded streets, stray cats, that sort of thing. Right now, what they are getting are full-on real accounts of life in fear. Read below as Sloane Gillam LaCasse sifts through her own set of noise (Fema? National Weather Service? Local news? neighbors?) and wonders how to "pack as though you are never coming back."
Touching. Scary. Real.
Brace for more.
Blessings to you, Sloane, and all your neighbors.

August 31st,
1:46 pm
I am paralyzed by Gustav. Just like Gustav over Haiti, I have stalled. I don’t normally spook easily but I can’t deny that I feel skittish and frustrated. News articles about evacuation recommend clearing the fridge in order to avoid sticky, rotting messes later. One piece of advice from a reader on the local news website reads: “Pack as though you are never coming back.” Another person posts a piece of advice recommending taking all family vehicles instead of just one. I’m confused and unsure how to proceed, so instead I compulsively check my email and look for new tracks on the storm prediction map. It is too far away to begin packing but it is coming up too quickly for me to put it out of my mind. As a result, I am wandering around the apartment in circles, working on tasks much less pressing than packing insurance paperwork and memorabilia.
Pack as though you are never coming back. Easier said than done. I have twice in my life packed a year’s worth of belongings into two suitcases and one carry-on, so it seems like I should be better at this. Maybe since I was underage during both of those instances, they don’t count. I didn’t have wedding photos then, or couches, or dishes, or bookshelves. And I wasn’t distracted by images of mold creeping over all items left behind, or water trickling through wind-damaged walls or windows. People who have done this before post advice about leaving family photos permanently in the plastic travel tubs normally reserved for evacuation only. I think that this is no way to live, but I see their point, as more than two months of hurricane season remain. I am reminded of those dinner party questions where you have to pick the three things you would take if you were headed to a deserted island. I think that I will never enjoy that game again.
For about twelve hours, I thought that we would not evacuate. I understood those folks who stayed last time. I have a liquor cabinet full of yummy leftovers and plenty of things to do; this is no time for a forced exodus. With wine in the cupboard and lots of interesting bits in the pantry with which to craft new meals, it would be fun! I would pull out my sewing machine! I would write letters! I would finish my wedding album! No I wouldn’t, said my wise, younger-but-smarter-than-me across the street neighbor-friend. She reminded me of my fondness for air conditioning and running water. She also gently reminded me that the neighbors who stay are the ones with guns and generators, and that Chip and I were not those folks. Plus, we do whatever she tells us to do in this strange land, and she told us to evacuate, so that is the plan, barring any good weather news in the next 24 hours.
Pack as though we will never come back. How? We have already done this. We reduced the size of our living space by sixty percent when we moved down here. We are a lean operating machine, at least by American family standards. I keep thinking of random, completely unrelated tasks and items (I need more cat litter! I should wash my handwashables! I will bring my drycleaning with me and do it in evacuation land…maybe I will even have my shoes repaired…hmmm) and then an hour has gone by and Gustav has crept a bit closer on the National Weather Service back-of-the-airplane-seat progress map.
A couple of weeks ago my manager told us a tale at lunch about the ghost who lived with her family in their last home. No one in the office was disconcerted (or unconvinced) by the story, or by the possibility of its truth. One employee called out “No way!” which at first I took as disbelief, but really it turned out that he was thinking more along the lines of, “Oh I didn’t know that happened to you, because something like that has happened to me, too.”
The ghost and Gustav are just two examples of how life here is like life nowhere else. Spirits and raging storms are accepted by folks here as a part of the daily rhythms, and in a manner so calm so as to not permit any disbelief. I avoided going to bed until late last night, because when I am awake, the storm moves more slowly. Eventually, though, I had to go to sleep, and now that I am up again it is time for me to suspend my disbelief and get moving.
Sloane Gillam LaCasse
August 28, 2008
— Posted by Sloane Gillam LaCasse