Tuesday, December 30, 2008

What are the signs that you should get out?

Why is it appalling for a woman to spend three years in an abusive relationship, but acceptable for her to spend twice that long with an abusive boss? How come it's not okay for someone to yell at you and berate you at home, but it's overlooked at the office?

I was a victim of workplace abuse in two separate locations, one physical and the other emotional. At my first real graphic design job, I had a very hot headed boss. He would fling boxes of fliers at employees when they were folded wrong and even threw an inkjet printer across the room, narrowly missing my supervisor, when a customer refused to pay for a botched job. This type of behavior was common from him...and yet my ex-husband encouraged me to suck-it-up, day after day, and be thankful for the work.

In another location, I had a boss who openly admitted when he brought you into his office that he wouldn't let you leave until he had made you cry. He would attack us personally, even after commending us on a job well done. He picked-on clothing, demeanor and family life. Nothing was off-limits. Although he attributed the torture to management training, it was clear that he just enjoyed keeping his employees (particularly the women) in a subordinate position. Again, I was encouraged not to take it too seriously. I mean, it's only a job, right?

The truth is, with as many hours as we spend at work, doesn't it make sense that we would want our professional environment to be as safe and supportive as our home? Why aren't more people in an uproar over treatment in the workplace?

My mother works for a place where she gets 8 minutes of personal time. 8 minutes! If she's not on break or lunch, she only has a total of 8 minutes to go to the bathroom, get a drink of water, sneeze, cough, or anything other than talk to customers on the phone. She's got no fewer than 5 things that she's required to do with every customer, yet she's penalized if she's on the phone for more than 200 seconds on average. She's monitored via recording, managers on the floor, and buttons that she has to press which indicate that she's on a call, on hold, or in after-call mode. Her use of after-call is also limited via monitoring.

If a woman were controlled like this in her personal life, she would undoubtedly feel major pressure to abandon the relationship. What's the difference? Can anyone shed some light on this for me? Is it because the working hours only account for 1/4 of our work week? Does that make it okay to have a boyfriend who's verbally abusive or controlling as long as you only see him on Saturdays? Maybe it's because there's an assumption that jobs are more easily exchanged than relationships. I would argue the opposite. One can lead a very functional and safe life when they live without a partner for months or years, but life without a job gets very sticky after even a few weeks.

I don't know what to suggest for this, I certainly don't think unions are the answer.

I think recognizing and pointing-out the behavior is important. As a culture, we need to take responsibility for ourselves. We need to decide how we will allow ourselves to be treated and hold ourselves accountable for surrounding ourselves with people who maintain that standard. If we can be strong enough, I suggest we also force ourselves to be so bold as to inform others of our requirements when they don't meet those criteria. It may not cure the disease, but it can help inoculate us individually.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

I'm pretty sure it's supposed to be better than this

I'm pretty sure I'm doing it wrong. I'll be the first to admit that I don't have enough experience.

That's right, I'm talking about dating.

If you don't happen to know my history, I'll give you a short overview. I started dating the man that I eventually married when I was 15. That means that 100% of my relationship experience was created with one person. It's an idea that was romantic while it lasted, but when it was over I was left jaded, confused and naive. So much so, that when a gentleman tried to kiss me at the end of a date last night, I actually had an internal struggle.

So much of my life (almost exactly half) was spent being faithful to one person, that I find it difficult to let my guard down and enjoy the dating experience. Last night, I realized that this apparition of loyalty has been manifesting itself in many ways since the very first day that I became single again. Most notably, the creation of rules. Some of these rules are logical, common sense.

* No married men (or guys with girlfriends)

Other rules are highlighting themselves as unreasonable attempts at keeping me from getting attached to anyone.

* No dating coworkers or people in the department
* No second dates

As a result, I've had a string of dates with people that I have no attachment to and no desire to form one with. After my epiphany, I can see how I was constructing that situation for myself. I was stuck inside my head. I was over-thinking everything, completely unable to navigate by heart or libido. By breaking just one little rule, things got intense enough for me to step back and actually see the walls I've been building.

I'm tired of being lead around by my brain. If I keep this up, I'll end up a frigid, lonely, old spinster. I don't want that. I want to be happy. I want to enjoy my life. As far as relationships are concerned, I just want to spend time with someone that I enjoy being around and someone who enjoys being around me, too. It's increasingly obvious that I'm going to have to break a few rules to get there. The problem is convincing myself that I'm ready.

Unfortunately, I don't think this is something I'm going to be able to research and create a plan for. It looks like I'm going to have to jump in head first. I can only hope that if I get cold feet there's someone out there willing to give me a little push.

Monday, December 22, 2008

What the GRE taught me about myself

While I am apparently an effective writer, it seems that I have no clue as to the meanings of obscure, multi-syllabic words...especially when you toss them at me with no context.

I mean, really, if I jumped out at you and yelled "SESQUIPEDALIAN," would you embrace me and say "Yes, I understand!" or would you grimace and wait for more? Now add the expectation that you're supposed to derive the opposite of my outburst and you'll know the state of confusion that I just had to endure for two and a half hours.

Fortunately, I consider math to be one of my skills - even paper & pencil math. After nearly a decade without using the Pythagorean theorem, circle geometry or the quadratic formula, I still managed to rock the quantitative section...that is, until half way through when I realized that I only had 10 minutes left! The state of panic that enveloped my body is unexplainable in the confines of a blog. It really requires beat poetry or interpretive dance. It goes without saying that the last half of that section was completed with considerably less care than I had used leading up to that point. So much so, that the last five questions had to be done in thirty seconds, which barely gave me time to click through to the next page and select a circle at random. Boy was I relieved to see that my math score was still higher than my verbal.

Poor, poor verbal. As if the first time through wasn't bad enough, I was randomly selected to do *another* verbal section, to test questions for future testing versions. This was another 30 minutes of taunting that will either be incorporated into your score - or not - but they won't tell you which. The entire time, all I could think was "Holy crap, I just threw away the last 5 math questions. They're gonna send me back to high school."

After the damage was done, I drug my defeated ass back to Deschutes. After talking to Star, I was relieved to find out that my scores will still qualify me to join the department. So now, I'm tormented. I don't have to retake the GRE for any logical purpose, but if I don't I'll have to live with this score for the rest of my life! I only have one thing to say "PHILOPHRONEA!"

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Big things come in small packages

Bull. Small packages just can't fit big things quite the way that big packages can. In particular, I'm talking about my new Mini Laptop, the Eee PC.

I got this computer as a spare, to keep in my school bag for taking notes in class and accessing the internet on the fly (since I use Verizon and therefore don't have an Iphone like everyone else.) My primary computer - a 10 lb, 17.5" HP notebook - Is hella fast and great to work on. Unfortunately, it takes forever to start-up and requires a separate bag for transportation. With all of the great tech sales going on, I decided to take advantage of the crappy economy and pick up the 9" notebook that I'd had my eyes on since they first hit the market.

Let's start by saying that I am well aware that you get what you pay for (or in this case, don't.) At less than $300, I didn't expect my Eee to be lightening fast, or have a lot of hd space, but I did expect it to be at least as functional as my 3 year-old Palm Pilot. So far, it doesn't look promising.

Granted, I've only been using it for about 4 hours, but the network is slow, the programs are slow and the interface doesn't feel very customizable. I'm hoping that it grows on me as I get used to its eccentricities and it's teeenie little keyboard, but I see many upgrades in the near future.

One such upgrade is the hard drive. Right now, the solid state drive holds a whopping 8 gigs. Less than my Ipod. It comes with a subscription for an online storage package, but I can't see a benefit to doing that when I have my own server space.

Speaking of that agreement, while reviewing the terms, I came across something very odd. One of the things that they disclaim in their agreement is that they accept no liability for suspension of service in many cases. One of those cases is: "Suspension or termination due to acts of God."

The phrasing of this note strikes me as odd on so many levels. First off, if we accept their terms, are we also accepting that God exists? If they're trying to excuse the unforseen, couldn't they have blamed acts of nature, or did they want to allow room for burning bushes and locusts?

At any rate, I wanted to share my experience and say with as much authority as I can muster while typing on a 8" keyboard, try these suckers out for a good-long time before you buy one for yourself!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Next Time - Installment #2

Next time you think that things aren't going your way and the world is plotting against you, pour yourself a glass of grape juice, wrap yourself in a blanket and sit on the couch...then, start thinking about pygmy goats. Truth is, you're still probably much better off than a pygmy goat.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Kiki's Guide to Doing Practically Anything*...Installment #1.5...Almost

The next installment of Kiki's guide is already planned out. It's something I really want to write, but I just don't have the guts. It's sort of embarrassing and extremely personal, but I truly believe it will be motivational. I will write it. I plan to. It's just that...I don't have the balls to do it right now.

Anyway, keep an eye out for this piece. It will come directly after "Kiki's Guide to Growing a Pair".

Eat Play Love

I recently finished a book that my good friend Cheri loaned to me called Eat Pray Love. Yes, I intentionally changed the middle word in my blog title. This alteration isn't just a commentary on the book, it's also to emphasize that I recognize that the road to healing is different for everyone.

As some of you know, I recently went through a divorce and was hurled out into the world to try to figure out who I am, if not just an unhappy homemaker. This combination, along with a few others, struck a chord in Cheri (who was also reading the book) and she began to insist that I look it over. After weeks of having me smile nicely and say, "Yeah, I'll try to, when I have time," she finally bought a copy of the book and handed it to me. It took me a few months even after that, but I finally dove in.

Eat Pray Love is a good book. I won't dispute that. It's a true and moving tale of a woman, broken by marriage and destroyed by divorce. One night, after realizing that she couldn't stand to be married anymore, she hit her knees and prayed for the first time. That moment changed her life and led her on a journey across the spiritual and physical world. Her only goal was to find balance, but by the end of the book she had found balance, beauty and love.

In the first of the three sections, Liz, also the author, describes her time in Italy where she played with gentlemen much younger than she. Her intentions there were only to learn the language and experience the joy of the place. Since she has sworn herself to celibacy for the year, sex isn't an issue and she is extremely content keeping the company of men a decade her junior. She absorbs her surroundings, eats mercilessly and regrets nothing. This is, in some small part, the same type of experience I had in Beijing. Although my trip was only a week, not the four months that she had the luxury of taking, it was still an eye opening experience. I indulged in the decadence of all types of food and all kinds of company. I saw beautiful sites and opened my heart and mind to another culture. Sex was also not an issue for me (as I'm convincing myself at the moment that noone would be interested, were I to lose my inhibitions) so I was more than happy to spend all of my waking hours with men that were talented, smart, funny, amazing and very unavailable to me.

I came home from China fully aware of the juxtaposition between the week I had lived in Beijing and the life I have at home. My responsibilities here are huge, but also greatly rewarding. If nothing else, it put a microscope on the things that I haven't gotten right yet, giving me a chance to continue working on them.

In the second section of Eat Pray Love, Liz spends 4 months in India, fasting, meditating and praying. She uses this time to find out who she is inside. She realizes that she's a social creature, but that she doesn't need to have possessions to be content. She finds solace by bringing God inside her and being one with him.

Now, this is where she and I vary greatly. I do believe in a cyclical energy...some sort of karma, perhaps...but I don't believe that there is an all-knowing, omnipotent being watching us to make sure we mind our p's and q's. I can see the value in pulling in the happy energy and letting go of the hostility that we hold toward people and situations. Unlike Liz, I think this balance can be achieved through 'playing' rather than 'praying'. Happiness is polite. It won't come in uninvited. You have to open your heart and your head and bring it in. Playing, dancing and joking are far more powerful ways to let in bliss. Meditation can bring in happy, but happy is fairly subdued. Laughter is even better. Laughter is a joy-gasm. I really see no need to stop with just happy.

Finally, for Liz, is a trip to Indonesia. She meets so many people there, including the man who she ends the book with. She tells him all the reasons that she doesn't intend to get intimate with anyone. One of the reasons that she lists is the fear of getting naked in front of someone new. It struck me as odd that someone who had been through all of the things she had and learned to be at peace with all-the-world was still not at peace with herself. At that point, is it true self-consciousness, or just a lack of being able to predict a lover's reaction? I recognize that it is possible to be a confident person and lack confidence in the way you look - in fact, I believe I fall into that category. For myself, I am generally unable to see loveliness in my physical appearance. Instead, I rely on the vision of myself inside someone else's eyes. Only when someone else sees me as alluring can I take a moment to basque in my own beauty. But then - just as quickly as I accept it - I lose it when the object of perception is gone. I haven't yet figured out if it's a flaw in my personality or a tool to keep me from becoming conceited... as we computer scientists say "Maybe it's a feature, not a bug."

Liz finds a man who loves her and she smiles because there is someone else in the world who can promise to take care of her. Someone other than herself. When she mentioned that, I got a little tingly. I've always believed that I don't 'need' to be taken care of by a man, but it would sure be great to find one that 'wanted' to take care of me. Even if I should never need a dime of his money or a moment of his help, it would be a realization of my personal fantasy to know that there was someone sincere in his offering of it. I applauded her find, but acknowledged the improbability that there is one of those for everyone.

Anyhow, you can probably tell that I identified with the book more than a little. I did get annoyed from time to time that a strong and intelligent woman would need to lean on thoughts of God to find balance, but I guess that's what the idea of Him is there for. It does get awfully tiring standing here trying to balance on my own.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

It's a landslide!

Just as I knew it would be, the election was a resounding win for Barack Obama. The hearts of America (indeed of all the world) are bubbling with ecstasy. There's a feeling of hope and revolution, as our country welcomes the President elect.

Amidst this enthusiasm, there is an emerging murmur declaring that Obama failed to win the "white" vote. To that, I say, "Who gives a damn?" This country is a mixed bag of all religions and ethnicities. There is not a single group who's vote is worth more than that of another based purely on its title. The only power held by any conglomeration is the power of numbers...and those numbers came together for Obama tonight. In fact, if you find yourself bothered that Obama can be president even though the majority of white people voted for McCain, perhaps you should take a good look inside yourself, because I have a newsflash for you - that's not the way America works anymore.

To those who say that Obama is naive and inexperienced, I respond "Who gives a damn?" Sometimes it takes a person who hasn't yet become jaded by the system to have the energy to change it.

That's about the end of my hostility. Every other fiber in my body is urging me to reach out to the remainder of the nation. I want to beckon those of you who voted republican for less closed-minded reasons, to embrace the next four years. Acknowledge that the rest of the country had a burning desire to go a different way. Understand that your peers had a longing for change and watch what happens with open eyes and an open heart. Better yet, get involved and change this term from an administration of democrats to a united bi-partisan government. If any administration desires that interaction, it's the one we've voted for tonight.

With all of that aired, I want to add this: If in four years, we are at all worse off than we are now - whether it be in the economy, environment, human-rights, war or unemployment - I will eat my words and volunteer to help the next republican candidate get elected in 2012.

Good job, America. Welcome to change :D

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Pure Decadence

If I told you that I was experiencing native life in China, I would be lying. We're staying in a 5-star hotel, eating at 5-star restaurants and meeting at Beijing University (the Harvard of China.) There is nothing pedestrian about this trip...and I'm kind of okay with that :)

We checked-in to our rooms and noticed the luxury right away. There are feather pillows, down comforters and a bathtub with a retractable divider from the main area so you can see the television while you lounge. They even provide three complimentary bottles of water a day, as well as all the amenities you could ever dream of, including a beautiful comb made of wood.

Our meals have been at some of the nicest restaurants in town. Course after course is deposited in front of us, each beautifully presented. There were all sorts of interesting dishes laid before us. On this trip, I tried unpeeled shrimp, jellyfish, rabbit, and a variety of unnamed fruits. At the tea house in the Olympic District, I ate a soup made from some type of bark that was supposed to make me more beautiful and drank tea that was supposed to make me look younger. I almost asked for seconds when the traditional Chinese dancers came out and gave a performance for our benefit.

The next night, we ate at a restaurant which is famous for its Peking Duck. Again the courses flowed, one after the other. The table was full of sea cucumber, duck liver, orange chicken, ground duck, jellyfish and all kinds of fruits and vegetables. Finding a Diet Coke here is almost impossible, but the peach nectar that they offered at dinner was a welcome substitution. With all of the great company and delicious food, the meal carried on well into the evening. Afterward, we went out for a foot massage.

While I miss my family greatly, the decadence of this trip is not lost on me. I understand that when I return home this all ends and it's back to dishes, laundry, and responsibility. I'll embrace that with open arms, but until then, I'm going to enjoy every minute of this!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

No Blogger for Me! - Brought in from Facebook Notes

Well, I tried to make an entry in Blogger about my day yesterday, but was greeted instead with an unfriendly screen that forbid me to continue. I don't read Chinese, but I can only assume it says something like "Wait until you get back to your own country to practice freedom of speech."

Fortunately for me, I realized that I can write it as a note in Facebook until I get home :)

It took me a while to recover from the queasiness of the plane ride, in fact I'm not sure I have yet. My first night's sleep was incredible, in a beautiful bed with goose down pillows and comforter. I had pampered myself the night before with a bath from a luxurious tub where I watched tv and had a cup of tea. In the morning, I had just started to stir when I got a call from my travel-mates, Mike and Toby, that they were ready for breakfast.

The breakfast buffet was so tasty. There were pieces of fried dough with ground meats in the middle, fried buns wrapped around ground meat, and ground meat surrounded by pasty and fried. They had a rainbow of juices and tasty gelatinous treats. It was so yummy that it gave me hope for the cuisine of the day.

We met Andrjez and Steve downstairs and decided to share a cab to Tienanmen Square and the Forbidden city. The cab ride was long, but the company was great. The first hour or more after we arrived was filled by picture-taking and getting our direction. I was prepared for large crowds and shoulder to shoulder sight-seeing, but instead saw a desolate and quiet downtown area.

After navigating through Tienanmen, we headed to the forbidden city, but first, a bathroom stop. The public restrooms were actually fairly clean. I wasn't shocked to find that I was expected to squat over a hole in the ground (I had been told about it before I arrived) but I was surprised to see that there was no place for toilet paper, nor were there any hooks to hang our belongings. I was a little concerned about how clean the floors were, so I opted to skip the preemptive potty break. After that, it was back on the sidewalk to the palace.

At the gates of the Forbidden City, many people stopped to take pictures of the buildings and all of the guards. We stopped momentarily and a Chinese native grabbed Mike and asked to have his picture taken with him. Mike politely agreed, and I laughed hysterically. When he realized that I was included in the bargain, he asked me to come join them for the picture. After trading off with his friend for one last shot with the blonde and the red-head, they shook our hands and set us free. It was very odd, like a mixture between being a celebrity and a sideshow attraction.

Once inside the gates, the professors left us, and Mike and I explored the Forbidden City alone.

Alone is just the term I would use, too. There were so few people in most of the areas, that we were able to get several pictures without any passers-by. It was almost creepy how easily we could navigate the area...that is, until we reached the Emperor's bedroom. Throngs of people gathered to oogle and photograph the ancient boudoir. Once satisfied with the peek, the crowd moved on and traffic dispersed.

I was a little disappointed with myself for being so jaded by it all (excuse the pun) but years of seeing all the sights in pictures and on television took some of the awe away. It was fun to be in the images, but it felt very normal, not at all surreal.

Early in the afternoon, we left to get some lunch, then decided to take a bus back to the hotel. The bus ride was about 18 miles and took a little over 2 hours. The highlight of that trip was the end, where a very cute Chinese girl came up to Mike and struck up a conversation. She helped us locate our stop and gave Dalby her card, asking us to call her if we needed anything while we were in Beijing. She then gave him a great big smile. She was obviously into him.

With her help, we were deposited right in front of the Lakeview hotel. I was absolutely exhausted, so I went up to take a nap before heading out for the night. Unfortunately, I couldn't get myself to wake up again! I ended up sleeping clear through the night until 2 am when I awoke completely refreshed and ready to play. Everything around was dark, so I decided to contact my family and video chat with my boys instead. I was really grateful to see how happy they are, and even happier that they grew tired of watching me in the webcam in less than 10 minutes. It let me know that they aren't missing me too badly.

Now, here I am, nearly 6 in the morning, and ready to start another fun day! Yay for Beijing.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The waiting is the hardest part

Ever since the first time I can remember flying, I've hated it. I have what I will refer to as the 'Acme Complex.' I know that people fly all the time, and the vast majority of those flights make it safely...but somehow I feel like if I look down, all that magic will drain and we'll suddenly fall from the sky, just like Wile E. Coyote has done so many times.

I admit that this thinking isn't limited to flying. I feel the same way about gravity to some extent...and molecules. 'Looking down' is obviously metaphorical for looking too deeply into the things that seem impossible. And somehow, I have no fear that my atoms will rearrange and very little fear that we will all suddenly be flung from earth.

In any case, the jitters that I get before a flight are inconsolable. I tell myself over and over that I'm gonna be fine and hear great friends reassure me that nothing's gonna happen. I know that, but we don't *know* that. So, anyway, here I sit, waiting in the airport.

The steps up to this point were mildly stressful, but only enough to be fodder for some good stories. I managed to get both my passport and visa inside of a month's time. My debit card was turned off because of a database leak, and a new card reissued, but that card wasn't here yet yesterday...I took care of that. I found out last week that there was no room reserved for the night that I arrive, but a friend took care of that, too (thanks Toby).

The most difficult thing so far is saying good-bye to my boys. I've never been away from them this long...or even half this long... and my heart is hurting already. They'll be with their Aunt Randee during the days and their daddy at night, so I know they're well taken care of, but it still pains me to go so long without having the chance to hug them. I've got several pics on my computer & iPod and I even printed some out so I can look at them on the fly.

As I was kissing them good-bye, acting like it was no big deal, Jackie asked me to please stay with him. I told him I couldn't, but he'd have so much fun with his cousins. He then informed me that he was coming with me. I smiled and told him that mommy only had one ticket, but I would be back in a week. Hopefully his brother will remind him that mommy's always thinking of them and I'll be back as soon as I'm able.

Well, that's the scoop so far! Stay posted and as time permits, I'll write more!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Abandonment issues

I'm so heartbroken about this, I can barely stand it. If you want to read the story I'll be talking about, I've posted the link at the bottom.

Before I start, let me just say that in general, I am for the safe-haven laws that make it legal to leave unwanted babies at state-licensed hospitals without legal repercussions. I think it's a positive alternative to abortion and a safe alternative to tossing newborns in a dumpster. The fact is, unplanned pregnancies are scary and inconvenient and can be tragic. Hormonal young mothers don't always think clearly and in my opinion, it's better to have an unwanted baby left in a safe environment than fed to the metaphorical wolves.

With that said, I'm seriously disturbed by the news that in Omaha, this law extends from newborns to 18 years of age. In fact, in the last year, nearly 18 children have been surrendered to Omaha hospitals. My disgust for this comes not from the law that allows teenagers to be abandoned, but the parents who have taken advantage of it. Most of the parents who have used this 'service' list uncontrollable behavior as their reason for leaving their children behind. I say, it's really no surprise that a child would act up if you're the kind of parent that would abandon your 14 year old daughter because she has a hard time listening.

I think our dollars would be better spent advertising free in-home guerrilla counseling (think Supernanny) than advocating abandonment.

While safe-haven is a brilliant alternative to ending the life of a baby, the consequences of a misbehaving teen aren't quite as dire. In that situation, both child and parent could benefit society much more if they can be taught the skills to cope with their dysfunction, instead of running away from it.


Restrictions on Voting?

I received an email today from my dear friend Zach, with a link to this video. It's basically a puff piece from 20/20 illustrating why many of today's youth shouldn't be voting.

In the same email was this response - a parity for sure - but still rather negative and the subject is more a refutation of the video above than a logical argument about why everyone should indeed be encouraged to vote.

The 20/20 video blatantly suggests that voters who don't know enough about the way the political system works should stay home on election night. It's degrading the value of the "naive" voter...a voter who still believes in their country even though they don't understand the inner workings. It insinuates that if someone doesn't understand politics, they can't possibly have a credible opinion as to who should be leading the country.

In the video, someone likens uninformed citizens voting to uninformed friends giving medical advice. In my opinion, that comparison should be made about giving advice on choosing a doctor. We aren't going to be performing the surgery ourselves, we're merely helping to decide who we trust to do it.

Do I think that the country would be better off if everyone who voted took the time to familiarize themselves with the issues at hand before they cast their ballot? Absolutely. But elections are about choosing someone to represent *YOU* and your beliefs. In this country, you're entitled to believe whatever you want to believe, no matter what your level of education. If you want to write in Santa for president, go ahead. Sometimes it's the believers who get the most done.

In conclusion, democracy works best when it remains democratic.

Monday, September 29, 2008

This little light of mine...

I'm inventing a new game. I'm going to place a phrase for a caption on Facebook, via my status. The first person to comment on it, leaving the url for a photo that goes with the caption in a witty, clever or logical manner wins!

I'm predicting a clear winner. Let's see if I'm right!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Kiki's Guide to Doing Practically Anything*...Installment #1...Prelude

Q: How do you walk from Seattle to New York?
A: One step at a time.

It may be a cliché, but that doesn't make it any less true. There's beauty in that solution, because it's a valid way to conquer almost all of life's hurdles. The only question is whether your steps should be large or small.

I'm going to state openly that I have not yet tried everything. I won't pretend that I'm the richest, most successful citizen in the world. What I can say, however, is that I spend everyday happier than I am sad, lonely or angry. I smile more than I frown and laugh more than I cry. To me, that's a necessary part to considering yourself a successful person.

My goal isn't to feign perfection or claim that I have all the answers. Instead, I want to help anyone and everyone be truly happy with who they are, while at the same time continuing to strive to make themselves and the world better. I don't believe in resting on your laurels. Accomplishments are necessary for true self-validation. Successes are required to be successful. You have to constantly push yourself from your comfort zone, because extended periods of comfort cause laziness and eventually weakness.

Each individual has a unique set of goals (with the exception of the basic human needs) but the key to achieving each of those goals remains constant - You have to take the first step.

You may be thinking, "What if I'm happy with where I am right now?" Well, that's fabulous. That's wonderful. Take a moment to appreciate where you are and how you got there. Take some pictures, write a blog. But, don't think for a moment that the Fickle Finger of Fate won't beckon you on to another issue before your film even has a chance to develop. The world doesn't stand still, which means we can't either.

Life is one big game of jump rope. You anticipate the arrival of the obstacle and leap, smiling at your ability to stay in the clear, but if you don't keep moving, eventually you'll get tripped up. I propose that you can treat life's problems the in the same manner, as an enjoyable challenge. It *is* alright to enjoy the ability to deal with issues as they arise. It's okay to enjoy the game, even though it's full of hazards. That just means you have to play harder.

In my coming series of articles, Kiki's Guide to Doing Practically Anything, I will not only write about my experiences and challenges, I will also write about yours. I'm here to help you take some steps, or just help you figure out what those steps are. I also invite you to challenge me. Give me suggestions on things that you think I should try, and if I can, I will fit them into my crazy, hectic life.

Carpe Vita!

*With the exception of singing.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Where did the silver moon go?

The evening sky cradled a beautiful harvest moon tonight. The mixture of the sunset and the haze from local wildfires turned this picture of nature into a true work of art, as the moon glowed a golden orange.

My son looked up into the sky, then asked me why the moons had been switched and what happened to the other one. At that moment, I was torn between my brain's need to educate him and my heart's desire to let him live in a state of magical mystery.

As we shuffled back into the car, I realized that I face the same battle between my mind and my heart when it comes to the decisions that I make for myself. My father is very logical. Because of that, there's a major chunk of me that wants to use my brain when making decisions. What's the cost-benefit analysis? What's the gain? How does it fit in to my plan?

Unfortunately, I'm also a hopeless romantic. Even though all evidence points to the contrary, I still believe that there's a knight in shining armor who will sweep me off my feet and love me with all of his heart and soul, the same way that I will love him. The emotional side of me is so strong, that I tend to lead with it. I worry about who my decisions will inconvenience and who might get hurt. Because of that, I'm constantly squelching my deepest desires in an effort to see everyone around me as happy as I can help them be.

My goal in this coming year is to balance those sides. For starters, I've decided that even though it's gonna inconvenience about a half-a-dozen people, I'm going to Freakin' CHINA! I'm going to get out there and live for myself for a while. I'm going to take care of myself and enjoy a few selfish hobbies.

When Prince Charming comes knocking at my door, I'm going to be geocaching, so he better bring his GPS!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Good bye Coney Island

I've never been to Coney Island, but I've heard about it many times. It's been the subject of some amazing songs and makes me think of happiness, freedom and romance. In my mind, it's a great-big carnival where everybody wins cupie dolls for the one they love and then eats a hot dog.

Well, I've just found out that I'll never have the opportunity to experience that. The amusement park at Coney Island was permanently shut down tonight, after more than forty years. Bummer deal :(

Booty Call

There has always been a piece of me which believes that I was meant to be a pirate. Sure, I'm not big on lying, stealing or murder...but their clothes were *fabulous*. In any case, I've held out hope that I could moonlight as a buccaneer. I think about it often. Wrote a story about it. And now, my time is here!

Last month, a friend told me about geocaching. Last weekend, he took me for the first time. Now, I think it's the best hobby that anyone could've ever thought up. There are treasures hidden all over the world, along with the coordinates that will lead you to them! This is all very enticing, because I've finally found an outdoor activity that I can do just for the hell of it. It's inexpensive, it's entertaining and it's available everywhere.

I had a bee-atch of a week last week, and was looking for a way to unwind. I decided to borrow a GPS and take my boys geocaching. I'm so glad I did! It was more fun than I ever could have imagined. They decided to dress as pirates and even acted the part. Each time we found treasure they were so excited. The majority of the caches had little figurines and toys in them, so what I would have seen as just an opportunity to put my name on a list (Kiki_D) they (Swash_and_Buckle) saw as a chance to collect booty. We replaced whatever items they claimed with items that we got at REI or Vinny's, which was fun for all of us. Plus, I got some great pictures out of the deal.

Go ahead, ask me to come geocaching for a day. Any chance to prove that I can use a map is welcome! I'm great at giving directions, just don't expect me to follow them unless you say "please."

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Muke rocked the house

So, I took the boys to see Muke in concert tonight. They were playing as the opening band for Canoe at a friend's house. I knew my boys had too much energy for such an intimate setting, but I really adore the host, so I wanted to support his event. He assured me that the bands would be kid-friendly, so I decided to keep the boys up passed their bedtime and bring them along.

We were among the first people there, so we had a chance to watch the bands set up. Luke (the second half of Muke) was practicing his human-beatbox at a mic that he had already adjusted to his level. As more people began to arrive, my oldest boy, James, started to feel the need for some attention. Timidly, he whispered in my ear that he wanted to sing. I asked him if he wanted to warm up for Muke, and he said that he did. With pretend hesitation, James walked into the middle of the floor and tried to find a song to sing. It didn't take long before he realized that he didn't have a microphone and he started to tear-up because no one would be able to hear him. As time ticked away, he got even more upset that he wasn't getting a turn to sing. Finally, Muke took the stage and James retired to the couch were he quickly forgot about the stage and started flirting with a college hottie to his right.

Jackson, who had been running wild since we walked through the door, curled up on my lap and got ready for the music. It didn't take him long to realize that he had never heard the song before. I'm pretty sure the song was Barnacle Bay, and though they listen to it over and over in the car now, Jackson decided that he didn't like it...and he said so....loudly. I was mortified, because we were just a couple of feet across the hardwood floor from where the local band was standing. I tried my hardest to hush him up, but it didn't stop there. The second song, he asked if they would play over again, and during the third, he asked if it was time to go. I finally got Jackson into a positive mood, then Muke started playing a nice quiet, slow song. They weren't half way into it when Jackson tried to lift up my shirt. I turned him around and asked him to knock it off, but then he asked "Mommy, do you have a 'gina?"

I knew it was time to go!

Regrettably, we didn't get to see Canoe, but we had just enough time to buy a Muke CD and have Maddie and Luke sign it before we took off. Now, the boys ask to hear it in the car all the time, and we've added the "Hamburger Song" to our ipod playlist. The only frustrating thing is that there are two cute little characters on the album cover (which my boys identify as bears) so they keep asking me to play the "Bear Song"...but there is no "Bear Song" and no matter how many times I tell them that, they keep asking for it! Please, Muke, I beg you! Will you write a Bear Song?

During the live concert, Maddie confided in the audience that she wasn't feeling great. She had food poisoning and as a result her voice came out a bit weak, but the CD is fabulous. We love the Hamburger Song, not only for the tounge-in-cheek beauty of the lyrics, or the delicate double melody, but there's a great electrical rock solo at the end that gets me going every time I listen to it.

I really like Muke. I'll be excited to hear a few more songs with fun lyrics. Besides that, Maddie is absolutely gorgeous and beautiful to listen to as well. Did I mention that Luke has just about the best human-beatbox in the world? If you ever get the chance to buy a Muke album, I suggest you take it!


Congratulations to everyone getting the chance to read this post. It's many, many years in the making and I've finally decided to take the time to scribble down my thoughts on this subject.

Notice the extra "in" in the title? This post isn't just about embracing the act of being feminist, but about embracing the art of being feminine. The discord comes when society believes that the two are mutually exclusive. I've come to understand that the the most beautiful harmonies of a woman happen in the moments where this dichotomy is expressed.

Though feminism has come to stand for more than equality (the term now rings with tones of female power and sometimes even male-bashing) I've never been one to discount the benefits of men. I prefer to embrace them ...*wink*... rather than condemn them. I do, however, think it's wrong to discount the value of a person just because of race, gender, or sexual orientation.

Call it feminism or call it human rights, but I believe that it's just ridiculous in this day and age to expect that there's anything that a man can do that a woman can't. It may have to be done differently, but I believe that we can both achieve the same end result. What's even more ridiculous in my mind is to expect that there are things that a masculine woman can do that a feminine woman cannot.

Nurturing our looks is a personal choice, but it's not the only thing that accounts for our femininity. Feminine traits are generally those that are associated with being submissive or weak: softness, elegance, patience and nurturing behaviors. Things like baking and sewing are seen as acts of service and are also considered very feminine.

My view is that women shouldn't try to shake the stereotypes of womanhood, but create more. Are you a woman who plays football, fixes cars and lifts weights? Cool. But you can do that without taking away the validity and self-worth of a woman who spends most of her spare time in the kitchen or raising her family. Are you a female computer scientist who plays dodgeball and takes out your own trash? Awesome, but you could still wear make-up and show cleavage. There's no need to sacrifice femininity for feminism, or vice versa. Don't eradicate stereotypes, broaden them. Take them all! Woman should be in the kitchen, taking care of children, paying bills, doing yardwork, working as CEOs and be in charge of homeland security.

If you're not prepared to be a trailblazer, don't worry. This path has been cut. It's been done. Now, you can just follow in the footsteps of women like Gena Davis. She played the organ, flute, piano and drums. On top of that, she's fluent in multiple languages and a member of American Mensa with an IQ of over 140.

Another is Mira Sorvino. She graduated Magna-Cum-Laude from Harvard and helped found the Harvard-Radcliffe Veritones. She speaks French and is fluent in Mandarin.

Natalie Portman also has a degree from Harvard, and she speaks English, Hebrew, French, Japanese, German and Arabic.

The truth is, there is no shortage of woman who are strong, smart and beautiful. I, for one, think that it's fantastic!

Masculine and Feminine No. 4 © Doug Craft, 1980
Picture of Geena Davis courtesy of Imageworks.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Next Time....Installment #1

The next time it rains, stop what you're doing and go stand outside. It doesn't matter what time of the day or night. Just take a short little break and let the drops bounce against your face as you count to five.

Next, stop counting and just stand there. Try not to think of anything except the distance that those little droplets of water had to travel for the privilege of caressing your skin.

Lastly, open your eyes, look at the sky and ask yourself "Why the hell am I still out in the rain???" Then go inside, for Pete's sake, you don't want to catch a cold.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Just a note

When everything gets hazy and I can't seem to focus, I pick something on the horizon and try to bring it to the forefront...because when I'm able to define the enigmatic for myself, sometimes I make things a little more clear for others, too.

Absolute Absurdity

Have you ever woken up wondering which side of crazy you were on? As a child, I was convinced that I had crossed that line, and I was proud of it. During college, I wanted to walk that line, ever so carefully, making sure not to move my toes too far to either side, which was tough because my feet are huge.

No, seriously, have you ever seen my feet?

Now I find, as I begin to embrace my adulthood, I am increasingly more willing to live in the realm of normal, boring, and even mundane. This need for normalcy was provoked with the birth of my first child. I wanted to provide the same type of family structure that I was sure my friends had while I was growing up.

So that's a lie, I never really had any friends.

My friendships all started out well enough, but I always seemed to ruin them within two years. Somehow, I believed that a person could only have one true friend at a time. Through my school years, I had come to expect monogamy on the playground. For some reason larger groups of people always made me feel less, not more, secure.

Besides, my parents couldn't afford to pay all of them to hang out with me.

Friends were hard to maintain because I expect so much from people. I have always been unyielding in my criticism of myself and those around me. I got that from my father. No success was ever good enough, it was always just another stepping stone to climb out of the comfort zone. I was taught that it's wrong to be comfortable, you have to continue growing and growing causes pain. Pain is good, it is inspirational. Pain is a good motivator.

And I'm generally motivated to eat gallons of ice cream and huddle under a blanket.

All of this motivation has lead to a weight problem that is starting to become a big deal. I was already fighting off extra weight from having two children in two years. Now, I'm battling stress weight and insomnia. Lack of sleep is nothing new to me. I've never been able to fall asleep very easily. My mind travels all over the place, picking up stray ideas as it tumbles around. These ideas hijack my head and steer me far away from slumber. Once I do fall asleep, I tend to dream that I'm working.

My ex-husband used to dream that I was working too, it's something he thought he would never see.

Now, I'm essentially a single mom, which means every moment of my life is work. The best thing about my current situation is that love surrounds me every moment. I'm happy in everything I do, because I've made my choices very carefully. I'm a lucky woman. I won't pretend I'm not. I just wish that luck would carry over to the Powerball jackpot.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Not everyone looks good in tights and underwear.

If you could be a super-hero, what would your special power be? Would you choose one based on how it could benefit you, or how you could benefit the world?

This question comes about, thanks to this article:

So, it seems that we're close to having a version of an invisibility cloak. It's probably safe to say that this material isn't being developed for intense games of Hide-and-go-seek or Marco Polo. My guess is that there's some sort of military motivation for this research. But let's not focus on that. Let's not focus on the potential for hiding planes, tanks and landmines. Let's not think about invisible snipers sneaking up to the home of "suspected criminals" and taking action without any accountability. Let's choose, instead, to look at all of the great things that could come from the invention of such a fabric.

Imagine the embarasment that could be avoided if teenagers wrapped their pr0n in invisible paper! It doesn't stop there. Romance novels, diaries, all become safer posessions when you can use them discretely.

Pimples will never be an issue again! Stick a piece of this paper on your problem areas and create the illusion that the irritated spot looks the same as the rest of your face.

Maybe they'll incorporate bits of this into jeans and I'll finally be able to get rid of the extra tummy pooch that I just can't seem to reduce with crunches!

This product is going to be a dream! I can't wait until it's available for everyone! What could go wrong?

Personally, though, if I had my choice I would prefer the power to read minds - then I'd know what other people are hiding under their invisible cloth :D

Just an observation, but...

When you live in a fantasyland, you have to go through the Spooky Forest to get just about anywhere.

Monday, July 14, 2008

How much do you love your grandchildren?

If you found out that a comet were going to hit the earth in the year 2040, would your heart be overcome with fear? Would you be on-board to do whatever we can to save the planet within that mere thirty-two year time span? Now suppose you found out it wasn't a meteor, but a gradual melting of the world's glaciers that was going to make the planet uninhabitable and wipe out all forms of life. Would you be more concerned? Less?

Most of my fellow comp-sci majors would still be living in 2040, in a world free of apocalyptic events. News of a flooded planet should certainly raise your blood-pressure when you realize that it means that your life would be cut short by thirty years or better. Even if it weren't due to happen until 2100, that's certainly going to cut our grandchildren's lives quite a bit short.

What a terrible way to go! How could we let the earth be swallowed by melted ice (sometimes known as water) when the effects of global warming are basically reversible? Truth is, enough people don't believe this type of catastrophe could ever happen, which is making it very difficult to get through to people when encouraging them to live more responsibly. Why would someone want to impede their luxury over a myth? Waterworld was just a really bad movie, right?

Unfortunately, forecasters are predicting that the runoff from melting glaciers would eventually cover the surface of the earth(1). Some researchers have predicted that this process will be complete by the year 2100, others give us until 2200. Two hundred years?!?! That's forever, right? There's still plenty of time for Bruce Willis to gather a half-dozen of his closest friends and make some sort of heroic gesture to right the situation. The bad news is, it will take more than six or seven renegades to correct the gradual heating of the earth. It's going to take at least eight of us.

There are some real wise guys out there, claiming that the melting of a few icebergs won't change the sea levels significantly. Well guess what, they're right. Icebergs are floating in the ocean and have therefore already displaced their mass in water. That means, when they melt, the seas won't increase at all. This would be exciting news if we were only witnessing the melting of a few chunks of floating ice. The problem is, the ice we are talking about is in glacial form. That means that their mass is supported by land and is therefore not effecting the sea levels in any way. As those glaciers melt -- or chunks of them fall off into the sea -- they raise the water levels significantly, all over the planet. The remaining ice over Greenland alone is almost 684,000 cubic miles. Adding that to the ocean would raise sea level more than 23.6 feet...and that's just one glacier! (2) Tragically, it's going to take much less than that to change the coastlines and devour small islands. That process is in motion and must be stopped now!

The most frightening thing about the progress of melting ice, is the momentum. Once the glaciers have started melting at such a quick rate, a steady stream of water begins to flow through it. This water causes friction, which causes heat. Additionally, the rivers of melted ice eat away at the remaining glacial bits, chiseling them into chunks which melt even more quickly.

So, what can we do to help reverse global warming? You need to be the eighth person. You need to hop on board, tell Bruce you got this one, give Liv Tyler a kiss, sing an Aerosmith song and buckle up for conservation. Reduce your use of electricity (3), Reuse (4) and repurpose items and Recycle (5).

In conclusion, I apologize if I've frightened you. If you're panicking about the fact that your great-great-and a few more greats-grandchildren are going to be living underwater in the year 2200, you can relax. The asteroid Apophis(6) is going to take the planet out way before that.

(1) http://dotearth.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/01/08/melting-ice-rising-seas-easy-how-fast-hard
(2) http://www.grida.no/climate/ipcc_tar/wg1/418.htm
(3) http://globalwarming-facts.info/50-tips.html
(4) http://www.realsimple.com/realsimple/content/organize/0,21770,1088458,00.html
(5) http://www.thisland.uiuc.edu/57ways/57ways_28.html
(6) http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2005/dec/07/spaceexploration.research

Monday, June 23, 2008


What is it that keeps me believing in happy endings? Maybe it's the same thing that makes me try to pull open the doors when I leave Deschutes, even though my brain knows that you have to push. It's the contradictory chasm between the way things are and the way we believe they should be.

I know that fairytales are only expertly spun works of fiction which are told from the p.o.v. of the winner, but I get absorbed in their pledges and promises anyway. My heart goes out to the underdog and I assume that everyone else feels what I feel and sees what I see when it comes to those who are fighting for a cause or struggling to get through the day. Take this picture for example. I drove passed this man today, let's call him Carl. Carl, like many other homeless and unemployed people of Eugene, chose a spot on the street-corner in an attempt to grab the attention of charitable soles dashing by. Carl, however, had no sign. Now, this isn't to say that he wasn't trying very hard or that he was just sitting there. Infact, he was standing on that corner with his arms up, firmly gripping a non-existant hunk of cardboard. At first, I was in disbelief. Had I actually seen what I thought I had? As I got closer, I could see that he really didn't have anything in his hands, which made me chuckle.

I'll be the first to admit that it's not hard to make me giggle...but it's much more difficult to grab my attention or get my mind fixated on something. Carl accomplished that. I contemplated the meaning of his missing poster. Perhaps he hadn't found the materials to create a sign, but was out there anyway, despite lacking a somewhat necessary tool. Maybe he was making a statement about how broke he was, or an environmental statement about saving trees. In any case, it impressed me that he was standing out from the rest of his peers.

After my errand, I drove back to that corner and pulled into a parking lot. I reached down and grabbed the bag of snacks that I keep in the car for when my children get out of school. Offering in hand, I told him that I thought he was very clever and he told me that he felt very stupid. Circumstances could knock any of us down at any time and while some may retreat within themselves and whither away, others will fight with every ounce of wit and will that they posess, just to get a good meal. Does this mean that some day his fairytale will end with him having a great job and cozy family of his own? Is that even the ending that he wants? I don't know. What I do know, is that even though Carl had no sign, it doesn't mean that he had no message.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

A good sense of humor is cheaper than therapy

Has someone ever heard you belly-ache about a situation and sworn to you that you'd laugh about it later? Did you?

Why do we take ourselves so seriously? In the American culture it's socially expected that we internalize our woes. The problem is that repressing emotions can have negative effects on our health. Fortunately, laughter's not only an effective form of stress relief, it's also acceptable!

Formal comedy dates back to ancient Greece, where it was used for celebration and honor. Humor has an infinite variety of subjects and forms. Comedy even transcends species. Did you know that even monkeys laugh? It's true! Like crying, it's often a reaction of the nervous system and it's the body's way of releasing stress which is converted into tension by the muscles.

Besides releasing dopamine into the system, a good laugh boosts activity in the T-cells which make antibodies and kill infection. It also reduces cortisol, a hormone responsible for raising blood-pressure and decreasing muscle-tissue. Laughter is good for you and everyone around you, because laughter can be contagious. I also happen to think that laughing is damn sexy!

Even if you aren't a natural chuckler, it's a skill you can learn. It's true that laughing (like tickling) cannot be forced within yourself, but you can practice! Imitated laughter, or uncontrollable giggling originates in a different reward center in the brain, but the effects are very similar. Pretending to giggle prepares your brain and actually helps you to laugh longer and more often.

To conclude my note, I have a little challenge for you. Next time you find yourself in a situation that seems less than funny, skip the waiting period and find the humor in it immediately. The change will have a positive effect on your health, your mind, and your popularity :)

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Are you ready to date a computer scientist?

I'll be the first to admit that computer scientists aren't for everyone. Sometimes we get a little lost within ourselves and we don't always care if you get our jokes, but we're gonna tell them anyway.

Geeks are really just rockstars with an impressive vocabulary. Heck, most of us even have the long hair and eccentric wardrobes.

What most people don't know is that geeks are really romantic, passionate, and talented in the bedroom. So, how do you know if you're ready to date a computer scientist? Ask yourself these questions:

Is complexity something that you're interested in minimizing?

Have you ever wanted to be asymptotically bound?

Would you love to be called Hoare?

Do you think that big-O is a worthy goal?

Are you as willing to go bottom-up as top-down?

Are you satisfiable?

Can you deal with first-in/first-out implementation?

Have you ever dreamt of a multiway merge?

Do you get excited at the prospect of tackling something that's NP-hard?

If you answered yes to these questions, there's a geek somewhere waiting for you. Heck, if you even understood them then you have a good chance at finding true love with someone who explains their personality on their t-shirt.

All you have to do is find a computer, walk up to the person sitting in front of it, and ask them to a movie. If it's sci-fi or the end of a three-quel, they'll probably say yes. And if it's title contains the words Star, Rings, or Python, they'll probably even pay.

Go ahead, take the risk, because they'll probably never even notice you otherwise, unless you have a really elaborate WoW avatar, or have "Kiss Me" tattooed in binary on your forehead.

Just a little piece of advice from a self-proclaimed geek groupie :)

Monday, May 19, 2008

Size *Does* Matter!

...especially when it comes to my container of frozen yogurt. So, I bought the same kind of frozen yogurt that I always do (Dreyers Slow Churned Fudge Brownie). It's more expensive than the other frozen yogurts, but really worth it. When I got it home and put it in my freezer next to the remains of my last container, I noticed something shocking. It was nearly an inch and a half shorter!I made a passing comment about it in Deschutes, to which Robert suggested it may be for logistical reasons. Perhaps the container has a larger diameter than the last. To be sure, I checked when I got home and I'll be damned if it wasn't the same diameter. Just shorter! In fact, the container now holds only 1.5 quarts, versus the 1.75 that I used to get for the same amount of money.

As it turns out, I've fallen victim to the commercial industry's tactic of 'Short Sizing'. The increase of this phenomenon is a product of the steady rise of gas prices. Gas, along with other factors, has caused many companies to resort to guerrilla packaging in order to maintain their padded profit margins. It's happening with ice creams, peanut butter, and more. Cereal companies are making their boxes thinner, soup companies are filling cans with more broth...and pleading concern for customers.Apparently, the big-wigs up in their offices think that raising prices will hit the American consumer too heavily. Instead, they have taken it upon themselves to reduce the amount of product provided for the current sales price. This way, they can maintain their profits without putting a noticeable dent in our pocketbooks.

In my opinion, this is an incredibly deceptive way for the suits to keep their products flying off the shelf in the ripening of a depression. They're effectively removing the consumer's power to gage what they're spending and have instead created an environment where consumers are tricked into believing that their grocery bills are relatively steady. What happens when families living at poverty level run out of bread, milk and cereal earlier than they used to, but haven't budgeted any extra money for the expense because they were not aware that they had been given less for the same price?

I'm not trying to claim that this practice should be illegal. In fact, I think that it could be a good way to help Americans learn to do with less. I do, however, believe that companies have a moral obligation to post some sort of announcement on their packaging or point of sales signs to keep their consumer's informed.

"Now 20% shorter for your purchasing pleasure!"

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The Power of a Gesture

It may be a little-bit of an understatement to say that I'm kind of busy these days. Even so, I stopped by the store on my way home to take a look at lawnmowers, since I've been using a weed whacker to cut my grass since I moved. After looking around at all of the choices and determining that I couldn't afford any of them, I decided to come home and cut it by hand one last time.

Imagine my surprise when I pulled in the driveway and saw that the lawn was already mowed! It was meant to be an anonymous gesture from my neighbor, but his friends ratted him out. Now, I'm so grateful that I think I'll take him a cake, or maybe a pie. Okay, maybe a slice of pie...making pie is kind of hard...I'll want to save some for myself.So, the moral of this story is: If you really like someone, offer to mow her lawn. If she doesn't slap you, then she'll probably be flattered by the gesture. If she *does* slap you but says yes anyway, you'll probably have one hell of a night ahead of you!