"There's a bit of magic in everything, and some loss to even things out." -Lou Reed

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The (Well Mostly My) Year in Review

It has been a long year. To give some of the pain of this year some redeeming value, I am trying to remember a quote from one of my posts, “When you lose, don’t lose the lesson”. Sometimes, it’s hard to see the lesson.

First the hard stuff. I have learned that a deep heartbreak can change you, make you a different person than you were before, not necessarily better or wiser, just changed. All this is supposed to get easier as you get older, but for me, it hasn’t. Deception and betrayal still hurt at 39 as much as they do at any age, older or younger.

I don’t recommend waiting until you are my age to deal with your childhood pain, either. But, so many people (evidently) don’t realize what they are hiding until later in life. I didn’t. It hits you when other pain hits you, and then everything comes out at once when you are good and weak. When it rains it pours. But better to weather the storm in one big blustery outing than to drag it out over years of painful drizzle.

Now, onto some of the better stuff. A great election year---finally! That HAS to be a sign of good things, doesn't it?

Another good thing: I have realized through all of this, well, actually I have been forced to realize, that I cannot let work be my life. I cannot give any company all of my hours, all of the days of the week, all of my passion and creativity. First of all, I have yet to work for a company that deserves or appreciates that, and secondly that is not a life.

I have discovered that the things that make me –well, me-- are some well hidden dreams I packed up and put in my virtual attic, and literally gave up on. Even though I said I wanted to be this or do that, the fact that I was doing nothing about it was just as good as giving up. Having started writing, taking pictures, and really spending time doing things I love recently, just being out in the world, and not working 24/7 has made me realize so much about who I am and who I almost lost in 2008. It’s easier than we think. No matter how fine we think we are, one thing can get out of hand, and then another, and then we feel overwhelmed and it is all too much. A friend of mine once told me that we all never know how close we are to our own borderlines. They can be closer than we ever dared think.

It is so important to do the things that make you –you. To keep in touch with the things and people that remind you who you really are and help you see the best parts of yourself. You can’t let anything get in the way of those touchstones, those reminders, that beauty. They are your rock, your stories, the music of your life.

Oh, and keeping a sense of humor, even in your darkest hours, is just the best medicine. I am so lucky to have friends that can make me laugh when it seems impossible and even inappropriate. Those times are the best!

All of this wisdom (and much of the pain) has only come to me in the latter part of this year, and I have not yet completely wrapped my heart and mind around it all. In other words, I have more to learn and more healing to do. But I think I have a clearer path ahead of me, and it is leading in a better direction. I hope and wish all of that and more for all of you—clear paths, happy futures, lots of love, lasting friendships, and all of your dreams come true.

Happy New Year to all of you!


Thursday, December 25, 2008

The Ten Year Journal

I was trying so hard last night to remember where I had seen this journal--it is a ten year journal, but you only have 4 lines for each day. You just write down small thoughts or occurrences from each day. It is advertised as "The Journal for Busy People". I finally found it through the magic of googling, and a fellow blogger's posting.

For me, I think it is just the only way I will journal. I know the importance of journaling; I want to be a writer after all! But, I have so many blank books and journals that I have started and given up on filling after just a few pages or maybe 1/4 of the way in. I don't know if it is the daunting task of so many pages out there before me, or feeling the need to write more than time allows, but I never seem to be able to finish.

I am sure I could adapt this process to one of my blank books, and only write a few lines for each day, but this particular journal does a nice job of simplifying the process. And it is the simple small things, the day to day happenings that make up our lives, the ups and downs, the lunches with friends, the movies we see, the places we visit. I love the concept of looking back and reading these small snippets and stringing together all of them at a later date to see where I have landed.

You can order the 2008 version and get it a little cheaper, which is what I did. I will be happy to put this year behind me. But I hope to get the journal just before the year ends so I can start with my words now at the end of a really tough year, and hopefully go into a better one.

For more info on the Journal 10+, click here. Let me know if you order one, I am interested to see if this concept catches on with anyone else.


Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Holiday Wishes

Wishing you and yours a beautiful holiday with family and friends!


Sunday, December 21, 2008

Maureen Corrigan's Best Books Of 2008

I don't often pay attention to lists like this, but last year, I found some real gems I wouldn't have read otherwise. I haven't read a single book on this list, although all of them are compelling. Most of what I read is non-fiction, and I am particularly picky about the fiction I read, but the choices here are definitely going on my 'to read' list.


Friday, December 19, 2008

Holiday Countdown

I know this post may come off as, um, bitter. I don't mean for it to, but I have to be honest. I would like to say I am in the holiday spirit, am up to my gills in eggnog and tinsel, but really, I am counting the days until I don't have to hear Christmas music EVERYWHERE I GO. I am yearning for the first day of January to arrive, so this holiday season is behind me. Even if I was in the holiday way this year, the commercialism and rude people I deal with every time I walk out the door would squash it for me. I honestly think that the rush to find the perfect gift and make the perfect holiday brings out the worst in most of the general public. I do count my blessings that I am no longer working retail. Working retail during Christmas was like some sort of prison, being tortured daily by the same Christmas CD playing over and over while the customers seemed to be competing to see who could be the most rude to those of us punching the clock to serve them. Bitter? Not me.


Monday, December 15, 2008

Party Pooper

young Adolph Hitler Campbell turns three this year

I was sure this story originated somewhere in the south. The rural south. But, no, Pennsylvania gets to wear this badge of honor. The printed story is about the fact that a grocery store refused to write Happy Birthday Adolph Hitler Campbell on a cake for a three-year-old's birthday. (who writes anyone's whole name on the cake anyway?) But the real story is the tragedy of the names these parents gave these kids in the first place. Read the article, and definitely read the comments by other readers. Gracious me.

Holland Township family angry that supermarket won't personalize cake for their son
by Express-Times staff
Sunday December 14, 2008, 12:16 AM

Express-Times Photo BRUCE WINTER

JoyceLynn Aryan Nation Campbell, Honszlynn Hinler Jeannie Campbell and Adolf Hitler Campbell.
Good names for a trio of toddlers? Heath and Deborah Campbell think so. The Holland Township couple has picked those names and the oldest child, Adolf Hitler Campbell, turns 3 today.
This has given rise to a problem, because the
ShopRite supermarket in Greenwich Township has refused to make a cake for young Adolf's birthday.
"We believe the request ... to inscribe a birthday wish to Adolf Hitler is inappropriate," said Karen Meleta, a ShopRite spokeswoman.

The Campbells turned down the market's offer to make a cake with enough room for them to write their own inscription and can't understand what all of the fuss is about.
Adolf Hitler Campbell will be getting a cake from Wal-Mart this year.
"ShopRite can't even make a cake for a 3-year-old," said Deborah Campbell, 25, who is Heath's wife of three years and the mother of the children. "That's sad."
Others, such as
Anti-Defamation League director Barry Morrison, applauded Shop Rite's decision.
"Might as well put a sign around their (the children's) neck that says bigot, racist, hatemonger," said Morrison. "What's the difference?"
article courtesy of lehighvalleylive.com


Sunday, December 14, 2008

MILK the Movie

This movie is showing in ONE theater, count it, ONE in the Charlotte area. Probably all of NC. Grrrr. But, I was able to go see it. I had to drive across town, but oh well. I hope it opens on more screens here, more people need to see it. This was an amazing movie, a truly honest picture of one American's life. My review is below. Go.see.it.

Synopsis from the MILK movie website:

Gay Rights Activist. Friend. Lover. Unifier. Politician. Fighter. Icon. Inspiration. Hero. His life changed history, and his courage changed lives. In 1977, Harvey Milk was elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, becoming the first openly gay man to be voted into major public office in America. His victory was not just a victory for gay rights; he forged coalitions across the political spectrum. From senior citizens to union workers, Harvey Milk changed the very nature of what it means to be a fighter for human rights and became, before his untimely death in 1978, a hero for all Americans. Academy Award winner Sean Penn stars as Harvey Milk under the direction of Academy Award nominee Gus Van Sant in the new movie filmed on location in San Francisco from an original screenplay by Dustin Lance Black and produced by Academy Award winners Dan Jinks and Bruce Cohen. The film charts the last eight years of Harvey Milk’s life. While living in New York City, he turns 40. Looking for more purpose, Milk and his lover Scott Smith (James Franco) relocate to San Francisco, where they found a small business, Castro Camera, in the heart of a working-class neighborhood that was soon to become a haven for gay people from around the country. With his beloved Castro neighborhood and beautiful city empowering him, Milk surprises Scott and himself by becoming an outspoken agent for change. He seeks equal rights and opportunities for all, and his great love for the city and its people brings him backing from young and old, straight and gay, alike – at a time when prejudice and violence against gays was openly accepted as the norm. With vitalizing support from Scott and new friends and volunteers, Milk plunges headfirst into the choppy waters of politics. He also mentors young street activists like Cleve Jones (Emile Hirsch). Bolstering his public profile with humor, Milk’s actions speak even louder than his gift-of-gab words. Soon, he is known all across the city and even beyond, but his persistent determination to be a part of city government drives him and Scott apart. While making his fourth run for public office, Milk takes a new lover, Jack Lira (Diego Luna). The latest campaign is a success, as Milk is elected supervisor for the newly zoned District 5. Milk serves San Francisco well while lobbying for a citywide ordinance protecting people from being fired because of their orientation – and rallying support against a proposed statewide referendum to fire gay schoolteachers and their supporters; he realizes that this fight against Proposition 6 represents a pivotal precipice for the gay rights movement. At the same time, the political agendas of Milk and those of another newly elected supervisor, Dan White (Josh Brolin), increasingly diverge and their personal destinies tragically converge. Milk’s platform was and is one of hope – a hero’s legacy that resonates in the here and now.

My review:

This may be the most important movie you see this year, or next. I can't begin to say enough about the performance of Sean Penn, the fearlessness with which he leaps into this role, giving us a true picture of Harvey Milk. Sitting in the theater tonight, I was saddened to think that we haven't come as far as I would like to think where gay rights are concerned as the recent passing of Prop 8 and other incidents across the nation tell us. There are so many incidents, political and otherwise in the movie that are incredibly timely. The movie doesn't just portray him as a hero, but as a flawed, normal man, trying to make a difference, who does succeed, but suffers tragically for it. His flaws, to me, only made him more endearing, more human. One of the most powerful moments for me in the movie was when Milk was trying to rally more voters, and voiced the idea that all gay Americans had to come out, so that everyone would realize they know "one of us". Because once you know someone, care about them, and then find out they are gay, it would be harder to hate them, to vote against them, to not let them have their rights. I think that is very powerful and works for any minority or population struggling to be heard or given rights, because it is so true.
I think I was born liberal, much to my parents disappointment, but knowing gay men and women early in my life shaped even more my beliefs that we are all created equal, we are all human beings. We all have hearts and minds and hopes and dreams. And none of us of any other belief system has the right to take that away from anyone.
Harvey Milk was so brave in his fight to win a public office to change, to make a difference. I was awed at this persistence and ability to believe when there were so many adversaries winning around him. People wept in the theater watching this movie tonight, it was hard not to. It was an amazing man's life story, cut much too short.


Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Throwing Away the Key

Imagine for a moment that your spouse, that you have known since grade school, who grew up in America just as you did, is traveling internationally for business. He or she leaves, kissing you goodbye, heading for the airport. You wait for him or her to call, and days pass as you try the cell, the hotel, then the airline. There is no answer on the cell, and the airline can only tell you that your spouse made it on one flight but not another. Days turn into weeks and you know nothing, hear nothing. This person that you have shared your life with has vanished.

This happened to more people than we will ever know. These people were targeted by arresting officers of the US military, and without any due process, were arrested and shipped off to Guantanamo Bay to be held prisoner.

There are some people that were imprisoned in Guantanamo Bay that no doubt deserved it. But some were picked up without true justification, without any true fact checking, and if they were released, it was only after years of languishing in a horrible prison without any legal representation or contact with their loved ones.

For those of you that don’t know, no one in Guantanamo Bay was allowed legal representation. That means no phone call, no lawyer, no right to refute the charges against them; which may or may not have been fully explained to them. And although recently there has been a push to do this, it is in my opinion, too little too late. If you aren't upset you should be. America is supposed to be the beacon of light in a world where human rights and freedoms can get lost in history and suppression. I am all for anyone who is a terrorist seeing the hard end of justice, but I am not, nor will I ever be for our country or any other country for that matter, being able to pick up any person without just cause or reason and cut them off from the world as has been done to these prisoners. If they are guilty, then by all means, let’s try them, convict them, and show the world that a fair and just country can also capture and punish those that deserve it, and keep our dignity intact all the while.

Obama made some serious promises about Guantanamo and closing it as soon as he came into office. I think there are now complications about how fast that can be done to make sure that the truly guilty are filtered out of the remaining population. I am holding him to this one, though. We have to erase this blot off of our history, not so we forget, but so it never, ever happens again.

Here are some basic questions and answers about Guantanamo, provided by NPR:

Q&A About Guantanamo Bay and the Detainees
Jackie Northam
NPR.org, June 23, 2005 ·

The United States military base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, has been holding prisoners from the invasion of Afghanistan and the war on terror since early 2002. The detainees, as they are most frequently called, are held in a legal limbo, with no clear future.
While some critics have called for the release of the prisoners, the U.S. government is upgrading the prison at Guantanamo with facilities that are more permanent in nature than the buildings used to this point.
NPR National Security Correspondent Jackie Northam answers questions about the situation as it now stands:
Q: How many people are being held prisoner at Guantanamo Bay?
At least 520, according to the Pentagon. But the military will not release an exact figure. Several Members of Congress have tried to find out the exact figure, but they haven't succeeded.

Q: Has anyone been released from the facility?
At its height, Guantanamo Bay held about 750 prisoners. The military has released more than 200 people from the camp -- most have been returned to their home countries. But the government says that as many as 12 people released from Guantanamo have returned to the battlefield to fight again against U.S. interests.

Q: Are new prisoners still being delivered there?
Yes, but it's slowed down to a trickle, only one or two prisoners at a time.

Q: Where did the prisoners at Guantanamo Bay come from?
According to the military, most were picked up in Afghanistan. The adminstration likes to use the term "captured on the battlefield." Their nationalities vary. Many come from countries such as Yemen, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia -- but there are some from Britain and Australia, too. The Pentagon says the detainees fought alongside the Taliban during the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan or they have direct links to Al Qaeda. There have been repeated allegations that some of the prisoners were handed over to the U.S. by bounty hunters associated with the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan -- a group which fought against the Taliban.

Q: Is that information reliable?
It's hard to be certain who the prisoners really are because the administration keeps much of the information about the detainees secret. Any information about who is being held at the prison camp has come out through documents that have been released through the Freedom of Information Act, by a small group of defense attornies, or through tribunals held at Guantanamo which are designed to determine whether a detainee is still considered a threat.

Q: How long have the prisoners been there?
Many, if not most, have been held there for more than three years. The U.S. started moving prisoners there in January, 2002. All but a few detainees have been held without any contact with the outside world, with no legal representation, no charges filed against them. At the beginning, they were interrogated fairly regularly. Some still are. But the Pentagon and military officials at Guantanamo have acknowledged that some of the prisoners aren't being interrogated now. They just sit in their cells day after day -- a sort of open-ended detentions.

Q: What are they charged with?
Only four detainees have been charged. Their trials -- which the Pentagon calls military commissions -- got underway in August 2004. But that process is stalled. An appeals judge said that the men had not been given proper due process. That decision came after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the detainees had the right to challenge their detentions in American courts. A decision by the military on what will happen next to the four men is still pending.

Q: Why are they being held at Guantanamo?
The federal government hoped it could escape jurisdiction of the courts if the prisoners were held outside of the United States. The Supreme Court case centered on a challenge to that assumption. The issue is still not settled.

Q: Has Guantanamo ever served as a prison camp before?
No. It was a sleeply little U.S. Navy port, of dwindling importance, until the American government decided to use it as a prison camp. Now, it has thousands of U.S. military personnel, as well as civilians from agencies such as the CIA. A new prison called Camp 5 is up and running. It is a hard- walled prison, unlike the chain-link cells that have been used for about three years. Another prison is about to go up, construction is finished on an intelligence headquarters at the base and ground has been broken for a new hospital for the prisoners, one which includes a psychiatric wing.

Q: Who runs the facility?
A joint task force, or JTF, is responsible for running Guantanamo. For the most part, the Army had the largest contingent of people, and many of those were reserves. Interrogations are conducted by both the military and officials from the FBI, the CIA and others.

Q: Who is allowed to see the people being held there?
The press has been allowed on the base. I've been there six times. But the military exercises extreme control. They let you see only what they want you to see. On any of the tours of the camp, we can see prisoners being held in the medium-security section of the camp. These are the most compliant detainees who have more freedom than the others. They're allowed more recreation time, they live in more of a dorm-type building. But we can't talk to them. Every interaction between the media and prisoners is scripted by the military. The same restrictions apply to politicians who go there to investigate the conditions at Guantanamo.

Q: What did you see?
I was once allowed to visit a maximum-security cellblock with prisoners in it. The animosity between the guards and prisoners was almost palpable. The prisoners were just laying around in what are, essentially, open-air cages. A tin roof covered the facility. In contrast, there is some beautiful scenery outside of the prison. Blue-green waters of the sea wash up on the shore.

Q: How are the prisoners treated?
Physically, their needs seem to be met. They're allowed some recreation. The military says it gives the detainees meals that are sensitive to their religious and cultural dietary needs. But the mental health of many detainees seems to be questionable. The International Committee of the Red Cross, which is the only aid agency allowed to visit the detainees, broke its silence and issued a statement saying that many prisoners are suffering mental deterioration. The open-ended detentions appeared to be the key problem. Dozens of the detainees have attempted suicide, although none has been successful.

Q: Where does the public's information about Guantanamo come from?
Mostly it comes from the U.S. government, and it has not been particularly open with supplying information. Most has to be pried out through things such as the Freedom of Information Act. Even then it took a court order to force the Pentagon, the FBI and the CIA to release documents. But, again, this is a very slow process. The CIA has yet to turn over one document. And there is some valuable information coming out in the documents that have been turned over, such as FBI e-mails that were released. The e-mails show FBI agents complaining about the harsh interrogation tactics used on detainees by the military, and questioned whether those tactics produced good intelligence.

Q: Critics have said the camp ought to be closed. Where might the prisoners would go if that happened?
No one knows. There are other far-flung military bases at place like Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean and Guam in the Pacific Ocean. That could make it even harder for journalists and Members of Congress to get out to keep an eye on what's happening.

photo courtesy of The Big Picture- boston.com

Q&A courtesy of NPR.org


This American Life

Martha Miller (blonde, sitting next to Mrs. Miller) with her brunette siblings. Photo from Life Magazine.

If you are a regular NPR listener, then you are probably familiar with the stories from This American Life. I have driven around extra miles, or have stayed in my car in the driveway for ten minutes with the car running, because I have to hear the end of one of the stories. Ira Glass is the host, and has recently branched out into a TV version of the program. I personally love the radio versions, where your mind has to color in the pictures, and you listen more carefully to the actual words from the people involved.

If you haven't heard of This American Life, you are in for a treat. Check out the website here, and you can search through and listen to story after story, some funny, some sad, some so touching they stay with you. Because almost all of the stories are about real people, and true events, the impact is that much more powerful. One in particular has stayed with me for so long, a story of two babies switched at the hospital, but there is so much more to the story. I have never forgotten the twists in this one or the emotion and pain in all the voices of the women involved. More info below and a link to this one here.

On a summer day in 1951, two baby girls were born in a hospital in small-town Wisconsin. The infants were accidentally switched, and went home with the wrong families. One of the mothers realized the mistake but chose to keep quiet. Until the day, more than 40 years later, when she decided to tell both daughters what happened. How the truth changed two families' lives—and how it didn't.


Host Ira Glass introduces four characters: Kay McDonald, who raised a daughter named Sue, and Mary Miller, who raised a daughter named Marti. In 1994, Mary Miller wrote letters to Sue and Marti, confessing the secret she'd kept for 43 years: the daughters had been switched at birth and raised by the wrong families. This week's entire show is devoted to the story of Mary Miller's secret and what happened when both families finally learned the truth. (6 1⁄2 minutes)

Act One.

Reporter Jake Halpern tells the story of Marti Miller and Sue McDonald, the daughters who were switched at birth, and the many complications that came with learning the truth. Jake is writer whose books include Fame Junkies and Braving Home. (25 1⁄2 minutes)

Act Two.

Jake Halpern tells the mothers' sides of the story. At 69, Kay McDonald had to cope not only with learning that her daughter wasn't her own, but that another mother had known the whole time. And Mary Miller explains why she was tormented by her secret but unable for decades to share it. (26 minutes)


Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Christmas in New York

I have a list of a few things I really want to do that aren't really huge dreams or goals, just things I intend to do one day: see Vermont in the fall, learn to scuba dive, run a 5K, learn French, and see New York at Christmastime.

So, with nothing really ahead of me for Christmas plans, I thought about seeing New York this year. I have hotel points and frequent flier miles, so the travel portion would be free. I am pretty broke right now, but I really want to go just to walk around and take in the atmosphere, the decorations, and the time of year. Oh, and of course, take tons of pictures. I figure I can eat cheaply and enjoy myself for a few days. The one thing I would like to do is score a cheap ticket to the play All My Sons. I have always loved that play and the cast is stellar right now (John Lithgow, Diane Wiest, Patrick Wilson, Katie Holmes). I know there are places to get cheap tickets to shows, so I am looking.

So, I actually booked my trip, and look forward to crossing this one off my list. Big Apple, here I come!


Monday, December 8, 2008

Entree Vous

One of the biggest bad habits I can fall into is not eating well, and as much of a foodie as I am, it is as painful for me as it is for my doctor, who constantly is hounding me to take better care of myself. I love to cook, and so often I will buy the ingredients to make something, and then never find the time, and I just end up eating junk or fast food.

My newest solution is Entree Vous, which is one of several franchises that has popped up offering ready made meals to pick up and pop in the oven. What differentiates this one is that they don't make you buy a minimum amount, and they don't charge you extra for them to prepare it. Chains like Dream Dinners and others really prefer you prepare the meals and package them. At Entree Vous, I walk in, see what's available, choose a few and head home. The prices are great, the cost is actually less than I would spend on the ingredients to make the dishes, and the food is delicious. You can also place orders online ahead of time.

They offer all kinds of choices, and everything can be purchased frozen or ready to cook. They also offer great sides and desserts. I have been doing this for a few weeks now and I am only buying salad stuff and drinks at the grocery store and I swear I am saving money. I am eating regular meals now, and I feel better. An example, tonight I am having Southwestern Chicken Casserole (chicken, rice, pureed black beans, salsa and cheese baked together--yummy!) for dinner with a tomato and cucumber salad. Normally, I would probably have a hit a drive through as busy as today was.
I can't recommend this enough for those of you juggling jobs, kids, and all their sports and extra curricular activities. You'll thank me if you have a location in your area!


Sunday, December 7, 2008

A new take on Onion Dip

I am such a fan of Heidi Swanson, I have her recipes delivered to my inbox as soon as she posts them. I especially love when she creates new versions of old favorites that are always more flavorful and healthy. Every recipe of hers that I have made has been delicious.

With the holidays coming up, I know a lot of you will have visitors and parties to take yummy things to, so this might be a nice unexpected offering.

Caramelized Onion Dip Recipe

If you have a hard time finding onion powder (not the same as onion salt), feel free to use crushed dehydrated onion flakes. Just add to taste.

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 large yellow onions (about 1 1/2 pounds), finely chopped

3/4 cup sour cream (low-fat is fine if you like)

3/4 cup Greek yogurt (low-fat is fine if you like)

3 teaspoons dehydrated onion powder/granulates (salt-free, natural)

very scant 1/2 teaspoon salt

In a large thick-bottomed skillet over medium heat saute the chopped onions in the olive oil along with a couple pinches of salt. Stir occasionally with a wood or metal spatula and cook until the onions are deeply golden, brown, and caramelized - roughly 40 or 50 minutes (see photo). Set aside and let cool.
In the meantime, whisk together the sour cream, yogurt, onion powder, and salt. The important thing is to add whatever onion powder you are using to taste. Add a bit at a time until it tastes really good. Set aside until the caramelized onions have cooled to room temperature. Stir in 2/3 of the caramelized onions, scoop into a serving bowl, and top with the remaining onions. I think this dip is best at room temperature.
Makes about 2 cups.


Saturday, December 6, 2008

In Dreams

Having a rough couple of days and dreaming of Paris at Christmastime. I enjoyed a Paris Christmas in 2001, and have never forgotten the feeling there, the magic of it all, the decorations, and how happy I was spending the holiday in my favorite city. I saw this picture today and my stomach actually dropped, I had a longing to be there I can't even explain.
I am off to buy lottery tickets...

photo courtesy of http://cedric-paris2e.blogspot.com/


Tuesday, December 2, 2008

The World Was Watching

I often wonder if the word hero gets overused, especially with the ever present media, chomping at the bit to find the next big story, and when their isn't one, sometimes creating something out of thin air. But, I also believe that each person's definition of a hero may be different, and with our economy and state of the nation (thanks to Bush) as it is, we might need as many uplifting stories as we can find.
I read this piece tonight, about a very brave man, who I think embodies one definition of a hero. Maybe there is a better word for someone who sees a terrible wrong or injustice, survives great loss and peril, and who gives his life to enacting change to ensure those who come after him will not suffer the same fate. All of this without seeking one ounce of glory.
Raphael Lemkin was all of these things, and literally devoted his life to preventing future genocides like the Holocaust. In fact, Raphael created the word genocide. To read this piece and see all he gave for the betterment of mankind, for really no reward except his own satisfaction and peace in his heart, is heartbreaking. But, it is all the more reason to post this piece and make sure that as many people as possible remember the name Raphael Lemkin, what he stood for, and the sacrifices he made.
I think it is also scary that we all look back on the Holocaust with such shame and a feeling that it seemed so impossible that no one did anything to stop the killing sooner. It seems baffling that the world could just stand by and "let" this happen. But, the scarier thing is, history repeats itself. And just because it isn't on German soil, doesn't mean genocide isn't happening in our world today. And I wonder, will future generations look back on us now with Darfur and other areas where this is happening and shake their heads in the same way? We have plenty of problems in the US to worry about, but we do, all of us, humankind, have to stand together when such things are happening.

Raphael Lemkin dedicated his life to this very ideal. We all need to pick up the baton and finish this race for him, and for the people that will be lost to future genocides if we don't.

Polish Jew gave his life defining, fighting genocide

(CNN) -- Paris, 1948. In the shadow of the Holocaust, the fledgling United Nations meets to adopt one of its first human rights treaties.

Raphael Lemkin asked, "Why is the killing of a million a lesser crime than the killing of a single individual?"

Applause shakes the room, cameras flash -- and at the center, a single, tired, unassuming man: Raphael Lemkin.
It was, at last, a victory for a tireless crusader who had fought for his entire life against genocide -- and coined the term that describes the world's most heinous crime.
"This new official world made a solemn pledge to preserve the life of the peoples and races of mankind," Lemkin later wrote.
Sixty years ago this month, the U.N. voted unanimously to adopt the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. It was ambitious, serious, far-reaching -- and largely the result of Lemkin's lifetime of effort.
Watch more about the impact of the Genocide Convention »
A Pole and a Jew, Lemkin had watched in horror as Hitler nearly succeeded in his plan to exterminate the Jews. Six million Jews -- including 40 members of Lemkin's family -- died at the hands of the Nazis.
Today, we call what happened at Auschwitz and the other death camps "genocide." But at the time, there was no name for the Nazis' crimes. The word "genocide" did not exist.
In 1944, Lemkin wrote a book about the Nazis. In it, he combined the Greek "genos" for race with the Latin "-cide" for killing:
Genocide. Lemkin had named the crime he spent a lifetime trying to prevent. Watch more about the importance of the word »
As a child in Poland, Lemkin was inspired by the stories his mother told him at the fireside -- stories of history and heroism, of suffering and struggle. As a Jew he witnessed cruelty and persecution firsthand: from the bribes his parents were forced to pay, to a pogrom that killed dozens nearby.
From his mother, and from his circumstance, Lemkin developed early a strong desire to better the world and protect the innocent and the weak.
"The appeal for the protection of the innocent from destruction set a chain reaction in my mind," Lemkin later wrote. "It followed me all my life."

As a teen, Lemkin learned through news accounts that the Turkish government was slaughtering its Christian Armenian citizens. The government claimed it was putting down an Armenian revolt. Over 8 years they killed a million Armenian men, women and children in massacres and forced marches. To this day, Turkey denies a genocide took place. Few of the perpetrators ever faced justice.
"I was shocked," Lemkin wrote. "Why is a man punished when he kills another man? Why is the killing of a million a lesser crime than the killing of a single individual?"
Lemkin didn't have an answer to the question. But, as a young man, he devised a bold plan. He would write an international law that would punish -- and prevent -- racial mass murder.
By October 1933, Lemkin was an influential Warsaw lawyer, well-connected and versed in international law. At the same time, Hitler was gathering power. Lemkin knew it was time to act.
He crafted his proposal making the destruction of national, racial and religious groups an international crime and sent it to an influential international conference. But his legal remedy found little support, even as anti-Semitism was becoming Germany's national policy. When Hitler invaded Poland in 1939, Lemkin knew his worst fears were about to be realized.
"Hitler had already promulgated ... his blueprint for destruction," Lemkin wrote. "Many people thought he was bragging, but I believed that he would carry out his program."
Lemkin fled Warsaw with only a shaving kit and summer coat. He survived months in the forest, traveling furtively, dodging falling bombs and fighting for the Polish resistance.
He managed to reach his parents one last time -- only to say goodbye.
"Do not talk of our leaving this warm home. We will have to suffer, but we will survive somehow," Lemkin said his parents told him. "When their eyes became sad with understanding, I laughed away our agonizing thoughts, but I felt I would never see them again. It was like going to their funerals while they were still alive."

Reluctantly, Lemkin left his family to their fate and became one of the lucky few to reach the United States, where a friend arranged a job at Duke Law School. Though now safe, Lemkin remained anxious.
"I had not stopped worrying about the people in Poland. When would the hour of execution come? Would this blind world only then see it, when it would be too late?"
Troubling letters arrived from home. His father said they were surviving on potato peels and nothing else. His mother assured him, "What counts is that we are all together, alive and healthy."
"Something ... told me they were saying goodbye," Lemkin later wrote, "in spite of my parents' effort not to alarm me."
Days later, the Nazis took eastern Poland -- a death sentence for Lemkin's family.
By 1942, the U.S. had entered the war, and the Germans had accelerated their deadly work. Concentration camps ran day and night, like assembly lines. At Auschwitz, more than a million perished.
Even though word of the slaughter was reaching America, it seemed of little interest to the press and politicians. Lemkin was outraged.
"The impression of a tremendous conspiracy of silence poisoned the air," he wrote. "A double murder was taking place. ... It was the murder of the truth."
Lemkin tried everything he could to stop the killing, even writing to President Roosevelt.
Roosevelt responded, urging patience.
"Patience," Lemkin wrote. "But I could bitterly see only the faces of the millions awaiting death. ... All over Europe the Nazis were writing the book of death with the blood of my brethren."
Jewish groups pressed Washington to bomb the camps or rail lines. The Americans refused. Although Allied planes took photos of Auschwitz in 1944 as they scouted nearby targets, the U.S. didn't want to divert military resources from winning the war.
Frustrated, Lemkin decided to take a different tack. He would use the Nazis' own words to prove their depravity.
Taking hundreds of pages of Nazi laws and decrees, Lemkin wrote a comprehensive book that laid bare the Nazis' brutal plans. And he invented a word for the crime the Nazis were committing. Genocide.
With the crime named, he hoped the world could no longer turn away. But no help came.
Even the Nuremberg trials were a grave disappointment for Lemkin. They did little to codify genocide as an international crime -- and did nothing to prevent it from happening again.
But Lemkin knew he must keep trying. He revived his 1933 proposal and set his sights on the fledgling United Nations. He hoped this new world body, born out of the ashes of World War II, could create and enforce an international law against genocide.
Lemkin put everything aside and made the passage of a genocide convention the focus of his life. He wrote and rewrote the text of the convention, lobbied delegates, wrote to leaders worldwide in their own languages -- Lemkin was fluent in more than 10 -- to gather support.
On December 9, 1948, the U.N. met in Paris and voted unanimously to adopt the Genocide Convention.
Watch more about Lemkin's work at the United Nations »
Days later, Lemkin fell gravely ill and was hospitalized. For nearly three weeks, the doctors struggled with a diagnosis. Lemkin finally offered one himself: "Genociditis," he said, "exhaustion from working on the Genocide Convention."
A decade later, Lemkin would die from a fatal heart attack, penniless and alone, having given his life to the fight against genocide.

article and videos courtesy CNN


Monday, December 1, 2008

November Challenge Success

I didn't announce this at the beginning of November, because I didn't think I would be able to do it. There was a challenge set by this website, National Blog Posting Month, for bloggers to post every day of the month in November. I did it! It was challenging to not babble about nothing (which I did sometimes--but at least not EVERY post). It also reminded me how blogging sharpens my writing skills, and it was fun to search for new topics to post. I can't say I will continue posting daily, but I will probably post more regularly than I did before.

I know some of you that read my blog also participated and succeded. Congrats!


Sunday, November 30, 2008

Couch to 5K

My friend Kim told me about a program called Couch to 5K, and I'll admit, I was skeptical. I am determined to get into better shape, and have signed up for yoga and have been walking several times a week. I used to run, but it seems like ages since I have done that regularly. It is hard to get back into that once you are out of shape, and as the website states, the biggest mistake people make is trying to take on too much too fast.

I am impressed with this training program, which takes you in baby steps and promises to make even couch potatoes able to get into a running program, and ready to run a 5K. I love the podcasts on the site which include audio prompts (begin by walking here...start running now...stop running, back to walking, etc) and music to accompany your run.

I am committed to doing this, and getting back into shape and back into running. Take a look at the website, and tell me that it doesn't tempt you. Kim and I are going to encourage each other, even though we can't run together, as we live too far apart. If anyone else decides to sign on, let me know and we will start a support group!

Now that I have posted this, I can't chicken out!!


Saturday, November 29, 2008

Promises Kept

Lately I have taken to carrying some photos with me to remind myself to follow my dreams, to not give up. The pictures are the two above, the top one is of me at age four, and the second one is my third grade school picture. These two pictures both have significant time periods attached to them, and the first one especially is how I remember myself as a child, if that makes any sense.
Anyway, there are promises we make to ourselves, the dreams we dream as children. Some of them go by the wayside, the fleeting moments of wanting to be something fanciful or just outside of the realm of a lasting dream. But then there are the other hopes and dreams that are there, the tiny seeds that start when we are children, the one or two things that never go away, but that just grow and wait for a chance to see some sun.

Recently, I was going through some of my old keepsakes, and I noticed year after year from the time I could write, on anything that asked the question-what do you want to be when you grow up? The answer was always the same: a writer.

So, when I am getting writer's block working on my novel, or when I just start to think I don't have the time, or that it will never happen for me, I pull out these pictures and look at this younger me staring back at me, expecting everything from me, waiting for me to make her dreams come true. And it changes everything, I have to write, I have to keep going.

There are a few other dreams I am keeping for her, and I can't let her down. I can't let myself down.
She has waited a long time...too long.


Friday, November 28, 2008

Thanksgiving San Francisco, 1978

(photo: The late Harvey Milk)

As most of you know, I lived in the San Francisco Bay Area for four years, 1998-2002. I only left due to the massive layoffs after 9/11 and the dotcom bust. I have missed the area every day since--(see my previous post here). One of the things I love about San Francisco, especially compared to the south, is the lack of racial tension there (at least compared to here), and the overall attitude of letting everyone be themselves. There is such a freedom there, no matter what the stupid results of the Prop 8 vote were. (still pissed about that one).

I was thinking today about places I would rather be, Paris tops the list, and San Francisco is up there, too. The years I was there were some of the happiest of my life for me, both in my career and my personal life. So today, I was searching for something to post about San Francisco in relation to the holidays, and I think this article is very fitting. For those of you that don't know the history behind this, this piece gives a good overview, but you should know more. And a new movie is out entitled Milk, right now in limited release, starring Sean Penn as Harvey Milk. I have seen the trailers for it, and Sean Penn has done an unbelievable transformation as Milk. It is not yet showing here, or I would have been one of the first in line, I can't wait to see it. So enjoy the following piece, and a little history on black Friday.

by Lincoln Mitchell

Thanksgiving of 1978 came and went like most of the other Thanksgivings of my childhood in the 1970s. My mother, brother and I had spent the holiday with a group of my mother's friends either at our house or somewhere in the Bay Area. Other than my mother's pies, the holiday had not been particularly memorable, but it was about the only thing that had occurred that month in the city where I grew up that might have been described as normal.
In November of 1978, I was a child, albeit a progressive child of 1970s San Francisco, so on Thanksgiving that year my mind was on baseball, my friends, school, my upcoming birthday and other preoccupations of childhood. I was not focused on the recent mass suicide by members of the People's Temple, who had relocated to Guyana from San Francisco, that had been a blow to my city and had dominated Thanksgiving table conversations throughout San Francisco that year. San Franciscans of all ages had no way of knowing that those events would not even be the most traumatic thing to happen to our city that month or that the Jonestown Massacre was only the beginning of a tough decade for our town, one where the we were severely impacted by the AIDS epidemic, spending cuts in health and other social services during the Reagan years, increased costs of living and, just when the city was beginning to turn things around, the Loma Prieta earthquake of 1989.
It was the Monday after Thanksgiving, thirty years ago today, however, that San Francisco again changed forever. That afternoon when I returned from lunch to my sixth grade science class, the nun who was our teacher was visibly distraught about something. She began class that day by somberly announcing that Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk had been assassinated. Some of us were as upset and shaken by the news as our teacher was. However, more than a few of my classmates greeted this news with cheers of celebration and even exuberant shouts of "they killed that f*g."
While he was alive, Harvey Milk had not been a major presence in my life. I was too young to be involved in city politics and was not deeply aware of all of the political struggles going on around me. Nonethelesss, I was horrified and more than a little frightened by this reaction from the other boys in my class. At home I had learned that Harvey Milk was one of the good guys-and one of us. Now Milk, who like my family was Jewish and from New York, had been killed; and my classmates were cheering at his death.
San Francisco was a different town thirty years ago. It still had not become the city that Harvey Milk helped build, but never saw. San Francisco in 1978 was a city in transition; and Dan White, the man who had assassinated the Mayor and Harvey Milk was fighting against that transition and that progress. Dan White represented the reactionary and hateful elements that feared Harvey Milk who, in turn, feared nobody. Thirty years later, it is hard to imagine that San Francisco of the late 1970s was a city that was in some real ways was still divided. While the City Hall demonstrations against Dan White remain important images from that period, it is occasionally forgotten that strong reservoirs of support remained in several parts of San Francisco for the policeman turned city supervisor turned cold-blooded killer.
The controversy or spin, a word we didn't use back then, surrounding the assassinations of Moscone and Milk and the subsequent trial of Dan White, who had been angry that Mayor Moscone had decided not to reappoint him to the Board of Supervisors, began almost right away. Over the next few months at school it was common to hear students, particularly in my older brother's class, saying that Dan White had led an exemplary life and should not be punished too much for making just one mistake. At home the one time when my brother or I made the mistake of repeating this line of reasoning, to use that term very loosely, out on my mother, we didn't get very far.
The famous and strange trial that followed the assassination, the now famous Twinkie defense, the slap on the wrist given to Dan White and his subsequent suicide after being released from prison are well known. While the justice system failed the memories of Harvey Milk and George Moscone, the City of San Francisco, and gay and lesbian people everywhere, ultimately Harvey Milk's San Francisco defeated Dan White's San Francisco. Within only a few years of Harvey Milk's death, gay and lesbian elected officials were no longer unusual in San Francisco as the political power that Milk had sought to create in the gay and lesbian community became institutionalized. The city has become responsive to gays and lesbians and has been at the cutting edge of most civil and human rights issues.
Harvey Milk's impact, of course, goes far beyond his adopted hometown. In his famous "Hope Speech", Milk spoke about the "young gay person who all the sudden realizes that he or she is gay; knows that if their parents find out they will be tossed out of the house, their classmates will taunt the child...and that child has several options: staying in the closet, and suicide..." Because of the work of Milk and other like him that child now had "two new options: the option is to go to California (read San Francisco), or stay in San Antonio and fight." Milk's greatest legacy is that all across America people chose to do both. While the forces of hate are still out there, and still winning some battles, such as the discriminatory Proposition 8 in California, because of the work of Harvey Milk and millions of other lesser known heroes, those same forces of hate will lose their war. Harvey Milk's America will defeat Dan White's America.
As we sit down to our Thanksgiving dinners tonight, progressives have a lot to be thankful for this year, but lets take a minute to remember that great San Franciscan and great American Harvey Milk and the work we all still have to do.

article courtesy of The Huffington Post


Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Turkey Day!

I know this picture is a little wrong, but it makes me laugh, and today, that is a tall order.

Here's hoping today is filled with happiness, good food and fun for all of you!


Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Driving Skills

I am having a rough few days, so I am going to take the easy route for posts the next couple of days and just share some quick photos or videos that make me laugh, or are worth sharing.
I struggle with this time of year, and just honestly wait for New Year's to come, and then breathe a sigh of relief. Holidays are tough for me for a number of reasons. I am hoping next year will be better at this time.
I hope you all have very special turkey days tomorrow!

For now, enjoy Roomba kitty. This is one calm cat, I can't imagine one of mine doing this. This has been a huge hit on You Tube evidently, with almost 2 million hits.


Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Pillow Talk

Lilly and Lucy are eight years old, and for as long as I can remember, one or both of them has perpetuated this little ritual. When I leave the house, and especially when I am gone for longer periods of time, I come home to find one of their toys on my bed --on or near my pillow. It melts my heart every time, even after eight years. It's almost as if they are saying--we missed you-we were thinking of you.

If I am gone for several days, traveling with work, I will often come home to a little group of toys piled up on my pillow just to let me know they were counting the days until my return.

Anyone who thinks animals don't have emotions, don't feel and think and become close to us, are just dead wrong.

There's proof of the opposite in so many ways in my house.


Monday, November 24, 2008

Random Notes

I love stories like this, just random little oddities, the unexplained that get me wondering. With this one, it seems like it was a nice gesture, but why and for whom? I wonder if they will ever figure it out.

Mystery piano in woods perplexes police

(CNN) -- Was it a theft? A prank? A roundabout effort to bring some holiday cheer to the police? Authorities in Harwich, Massachusetts, are probing the mysterious appearance of a piano, in good working condition, in the middle of the woods.

A police officer examines an oddly placed piano in the woods of Harwich, Massachusetts.

Discovered by a woman who was walking a trail, the Baldwin Acrosonic piano, model number 987, is intact -- and, apparently, in tune.
Sgt. Adam Hutton of the Harwich Police Department said information has been broadcast to all the other police departments in the Cape Cod area in hopes of drumming up a clue, however minor it may be.
But so far, the investigation is flat.
Also of note: Near the mystery piano -- serial number 733746 -- was a bench, positioned as though someone was about to play.
The piano was at the end of a dirt road, near a walking path to a footbridge in the middle of conservation land near
the Cape.
It took a handful of police to move the piano into a vehicle to transport it to storage, so it would appear that putting it into the woods took more than one person.
Don't Miss
No claim on found piano
Asked whether Harwich police will be holding a holiday party in the storage bay -- tickling the ivories, pouring eggnog -- while they await word of the piano's origin and fate, Hutton laughed. No such plans.
Harwich police have had some fun, though. Among the photos they sent to the news media is one of Officer Derek Dutra examining the piano in the woods. The police entitled the photo "Liberace."
article courtesy CNN, photo courtesy Harwich Police Dept.


Sunday, November 23, 2008

Children See

Someone sent me this ad last year, and it has never left my memory. This is so powerful and SO true. Especially when they are young, children watch their parents, and LEARN. I have seen this in action when I have worked with kids as a camp counselor, with Guardian ad Litem, and when teaching drama to kids of all ages. Children do indeed learn what they live.


Saturday, November 22, 2008

100 Posts!!!!

It's hard to believe I have reached 100 posts, but this November, I made a commitment to post every day, so that really has put me over the top. Most days what I have to say may not be terribly relevant or important to anyone but me, but the main reason I started blogging was to keep myself writing...to get myself doing that every day (or close to it). As I said in an earlier post, my dream is to publish a novel, one I am writing now. And I have to admit, that writing for this blog has sharpened my skills, made me think, and gotten me to write more. So, it has been worth it.

Now, all of you have to put up with pictures of my cats and my political ranting for at least 100 more posts. Lucky you!


Friday, November 21, 2008

A Lost Soul

(Megan's mother, Tina, holding photos of Megan)

I cannot remember when a story has enraged me the way the case of Megan Meier did. In case you don't remember, this is what happened:

Megan was a 13 year-old-girl, like many 13 year-old girls, battling self esteem issues, and in her case, struggling with depression. She had been close friends with a girl named Sarah Drew, but they had suffered a recent falling out (also characteristic of 13 year-olds). The story turns here when Lori Drew, Sarah's mother, decides to get way too involved. Lori, a forty something midwestern mom, thought that Megan had been spreading rumors about Sarah and decided to get to the bottom of things by, and hold your breath here, helping to set up a fake My Space account in the name of a boy named Josh Evans, and then using that account to communicate with Megan.

Lori and some of her daughter's friends then went on to communicate with Megan as Josh, "flirting" with her, supposedly gathering information, although I have never seen evidence of any of that. What I have seen evidence of is a grown woman toying with the emotions of a child. Lori was aware of Megan's battle with depression and that she was on medication for it. The group continued to communicate with her, posing as Josh, pretty much having an online relationship with her as him--Lori wrote many of the messages directly to Megan--and then abruptly turned on her, saying viscous things, ending with "Josh" saying to her in a final message: "the world would be a better place without you".

Megan hung herself in her closet shortly after this message, and died not long after.

The hate in my heart for Lori Drew has not lessened one bit since this happened, and has only seethed because she has never seemed to show any remorse. If other kids Megan's age had been the only ones involved, it would have been tragic, but not quite as heinous. When adults get too involved in their children's affairs and become children themselves, and then TEACH this vindictive behavior to their children, then, I am sorry, I think we all have to stop and make these people pay, make an example out of them, so no other idiots do this ever again.

At first, there seemed no law that could prosecute Lori Drew, mainly because our laws have not caught up with the technology. But, she has been taken to court. It is a shaky case based on the written law, but I am just glad this has dragged on, even if she is not sent to jail, just so this case is not forgotten, and everyone is reminded of what happened to Megan. I feel for Megan's parents, and I hope this trial gives them some sense of closure, or at least some feeling that some fight has been fought in Megan's name.

Here is a piece on yesterday's court proceedings:

MySpace Trial, Day 2: Lori Drew Says, "It's Not Like I Pulled The Trigger"

By Jessica, 9:30 AM on Fri Nov 21 2008

Yesterday was Day 2 of Lori Drew's federal trial for cyberfraud in the tormenting of 13-year-old suicide victim Megan Meier. Day 1 focused on the emotional testimony of Megan's mom, Tina, who described her daughter's depression and last words. Day 2 involved Tina's cross examination by defense lawyer H. Dean Steward and the initial testimony of Drew's accomplice in Megan's tormenting, Ashley Grills, who testified with government immunity. Lori Drew's hairdresser also took the stand, and her testimony about Drew's glee while mocking Megan was perhaps the most damning of all.
When Lori Drew helped set up the fake MySpace account because Megan had allegedly been mean to her daughter Sarah, she
bragged to her hairdresser Christina Chu about it. Chu was so upset over Drew's callousness she had to retreat to the back of the salon.
"After Meier's death, on the day of her wake, Drew showed up again to have her hair done. Chu asked Drew why she was going to the wake, given her role in the cyberbullying. Drew's response, Chu said, was, 'It's not like I pulled the trigger,'" Wired reports.
In his cross-examination of Tina Meier, Drew's lawyer
pummeled her on Megan's past internet behavior. According to Wired, before the Meiers' started monitoring Megan's internet usage closely, "Megan created a MySpace profile as an 18-year-old woman, and swapped sexually-charged banter with other users, he said, citing notes he'd obtained from Megan's psychologist." The lawyer pointed out that Megan had also violated MySpace's terms of service at one point by lying about her age.
Drew's lawyer also pointed out that Megan was taking a trio of antidepressants when she died. "One of them, the antidepressant citalopram, has a reported side affect of contributing to suicidal behavior in children and adolescents suffering from depression, he noted."
Ashley Grills, the then-18-year-old who was Lori Drew's assistant, said that the creation of the MySpace account was initially
her idea, but that Lori Drew agreed and "thought it was funny," the L.A. Times notes.
Grills said that Lori Drew was present when they agreed to the terms of service, but neither woman read them.
From the L.A. Times:
Grills testified that she, Drew and Drew's daughter were trying to figure out a way "to expose Megan" for rumors she'd allegedly been spreading about Sarah…She said Drew also helped formulate messages that were sent to Megan and at one point suggested that they have 'Josh' arrange a meeting with Megan at a local mall at which Sarah and her friends would 'pop out' and tease Megan.
This part also hurts the case of MySpace fraud against Drew: the final contact between Megan and "Josh" took place on AOL Instant Messenger, according to testimony by Grills.
Grills also testified that she had no idea that Megan had
had emotional problems in the past, until Drew told her shortly after Megan's death, "We could have pushed her overboard because she was suicidal and depressed.'"
When the Drew family and Grills got word that Megan had
killed herself, they got off the internet and turned on the TV. Shortly thereafter, Wired reports, "Curt Drew started yelling at them to get rid of the MySpace account. When asked what Lori Drew did at that moment, Grills said at first she sat quietly and was consoling her daughter, then she, too, started yelling at them to delete the account and told them not to say anything to anyone."

article courtesy of Jezebel.com



I have been having my usual nights of insomnia, and a few nights over the last two weeks, I haven't slept at all. Last night was one of them. So at 4:45am, I went to the grocery store. I knew I was meeting a friend for an early breakfast, so I figured I might as well get something done since I wasn't sleeping.
So, my groceries are in my car and I am driving home, it is now about 5:40am. I see some flashing lights on what I thought was a truck ahead of me, until I got closer and realized it was a school bus. On it's route. Picking up children. At 5:40am in the morning. WTF???
I rode the school bus when I was younger and it was always daylight when I waited for the bus, thank you very much, and it was hours after 5:40am, I can tell you that.
I couldn't believe it when I saw that the bus was stopped and a lone 9 or 10 year old walked across a DARK, busy road to board the school bus before 6am. Let's think about that. To be ready for the bus at 5:40am, that child probably got up no later than 5am. That means that by lunchtime at school, that child will have been up and involved in "school" really for 7 hours. I just think that is asking a lot for kids.

Some of you may have kids that get picked up this early, maybe you can explain it to me, but it breaks my heart. I talk to friends who talk about the 4 and 5 hours of home work that are being loaded on kids that are half the age I was when I got that level of homework, and I just think we are taking away their childhoods piece by piece. I am not a parent, so maybe you all think I am off my nut, but hell, I don't even get up to go to work at 5:00am; it just seems a bit much.


Thursday, November 20, 2008

Paying for Weird

I rarely watch The Tonight Show, but when I do catch it, I love when they feature the crazy ebay listings; things so far out there, you couldn't imagine someone would actually fork over money for it, but they DO.

So, some fun person started a blog entitled Weird ebay Listings, and now I can get my fix. Some of them are quite entertaining. I have shared a sample below.

Note, if you will, that someone's shadow SOLD for $5.70. I mean, that's not a lot of money, but PEOPLE, please. Hey, at least the shipping was free. There were actually ELEVEN bids for this. And I love the link at the top where you can "See all similar items". Hmmmm, and what would those be?



Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Orsay You Say?

When I think of Paris, my first thought is Musée d'Orsay. This museum resides in a renovated train station (the before and after pic is above), and the large trasluscent clock in the cafe section of the museum is popular with photographers, amateurs and professionals alike.

I am a huge fan of the Impressionist painters, and Orsay houses an impressive collection. To see these huge canvases in person is breathtaking, and to know a great many of the artists lived and created those works in Paris makes it all the more special.

When you walk in the museum, it appears that it has its own personal sky- the top of the museum so far away, and light enters through milky glass. Sculptures line the main walkway in and the galleries are on the left and right and via stairwells on either side. I am a big fan of most art museums, and have been to some of the biggest and the best. But Orsay is by far the most beautiful museum structure of them all.

The first time I went to Paris was in May of 2000. I was fortunate enough to get to go back that same year at Christmastime, spending the holiday there. Many people tried to warn me that Paris would be cold and dreary during Christmas. They couldn't have been more wrong. It was cold, but nothing near dreary. White twinkling lights draped everything in sight, the most ornate and gorgeous window decorations filled the storefronts--I spent hours trying to take them all in. The Eiffel Tower was lit up with special colors of the season and exploded into starry flashes at midnight each night in celebration.

But, my favorite thing of all, was when I went to Orsay on that trip. It was cold and snowy that night, and I got off the subway and walked briskly to the entrance. I was dreading the long line that was always outside of the museum. It was about 5pm, but was dark early. The museum was open late that evening.

When I got to the museum, there was no line. I walked right in, and thought for a moment that I had read the hours wrong in the brochure I had gotten from the hotel. But there, at the ticket counter, was a woman waiting to see my museum pass. I asked her if the weather was keeping everyone away. She told me that no, during the week of Christmas, the museum was pretty quiet.

I don't know if that is still the case, but that night, I had the museum completely to myself. I think there were one or two others in the museum, but we never really crossed paths. Now, you have to be an art freak like me to understand this, but to be able to take your time, to stand so close to these paintings, to see the actual brushstrokes, to hear the clip clop of your shoes echoing through the whole building...it was magical.

I know people rave about the Louvre, but Orsay, in my opinion, is the better museum. If you go to Paris, tell Orsay hello for me.


Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Elf Yourself Comes But Once a Year

Office Max has done this little promotional bit every year for the past few years, but now Jib Jab has picked it up in partnership with them. I always have to do it, and usually grab pictures of my friends and send it to them, copying everyone I can think of on the email. It's fun to do for your kids with their pictures too. Click on the link below mine to make your own!

Send your own ElfYourself eCards



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