Archive for January, 2011

Another week. . .

January 22, 2011

Ok, I *left* the Great Lakes reason for one thing: the weather. One too many winters of a few feet of snow and wind chills in the -20 range made me think “really? do civilized people live here by choice?” (I never changed my sports team alliances!) but the winters I can do without. . . . so I sanely lived in Colorado and now Boston instead.  In the past week, I braved 3 rush hour storms: a Nor’Easter, an ice storm and a “small” snow squall of 8 inches. Ok. One week? I mean, the past 5 years have had mild winters, we didn’t need it back in a week! :)

Lots and lots of snow piles!


Jan Nor'Easter #1


It’s been pretty mundane…reflecting on the death of Jake Wheeler: a long time beloved professor of Hollins University/College and how much of an impact he had on a small women’s college in the south. He taught you to think and in many ways, those of us who were privileged to know him still draw from his work, be it through shaping the focus of the school, being a professor or his general optimism even in the face of personal losses. UCLA might have had John Wooden, but they obviously had the second pick.

Seeing the news about Pepsi’s Challenge program and it’s problems does actually upset me. It was such a good idea that was ruined by the masses and the voting alliances, lying to other groups that you were voting for them and the inherent greed that brings out the nasty side of people.

And then, somewhere, the news of Rep. Giffords being moved to rehab lifted spirits for a few hours. Believe what you choose, or choose not to believe, but I think the healing thoughts of hundreds of millions of people had something to do with her recovery so far.


January 16, 2011

The number of hits I’ve had is quite amusing. I wonder what I’ve done to make people all fluttery? Any way, back to reality – the place were people do things other than come up with conspiracy theories – Vandy always can make UT look bad even when UT wins. Any sport. I’ll give props to ESPN for putting the women’s game in prime time over the guys although the guys game was more exciting.  I hope that the other “Game Day on the Road” or whatever it’s called, has both the men’s and women’s teams telecast!

I sorta like watching old Law and Order episodes and seeing people “before” they became famous. . . or in out of typical roles.  And the “technology” cracks me up from the first few seasons. And the wickedly (for me) episode of SVU about something similar to Pepsi giving away money and it going awry.

Sorry those making sure I don’t say something offensive, you just wasted a few seconds of your life. Bummer for you.

A bit to close to home?

January 15, 2011

So my blog about the Pepsi Refresh Project hit a nerve.  I posted about what Pandora’s Project was doing, and they, like other organizations are making alliances, swapping votes, calling out other organizations.

Apparently it hit too close to home (that speaking the truth): I was banned. And the best part? A friend told me. Yup, they didn’t have the guts to tell me!

If you play honestly, you might not win, but you tend not to fear those who speak the truth.

Ramblings on language, Giffords, and the cause du jour. . .

January 14, 2011

I try to wrap my head around big issues down to 4 concepts. It’s a habit. Like if there was a magical wand I could show things were more the same than they were different.  This week between starting a new job, a blizzard and being generally disgusted over things in general, I decided to kick back and think. Ok, this is USUALLY not a good idea for me but since I just found out that I’m a member of the newest zodiac sign, I think I should get to create my own space.

I heard about the t-shirt debate in Tuscon.  Ok, as an individual with event planning on her resume, it wouldn’t have been my call. I haven’t seen/heard where they came from: I thought they were a bit tacky. Like, attend a memorial service, get a t-shirt! And then I thought, well, what if it was a small business who wanted to do something to make sure people DON’T forget and this is what they can do (still tacky to give away at a memorial service) but a new spin on the gesture. (And right now U of A is taking requests for the shirts so I think it’s less politically motivated and is more a university which gives out things like t-shirts to attract people to attend.)

The memorial service occurred at the University of Arizona basketball arena. Tickets were not by lottery but by standing in line. Who stands in line? College students. There is an entire conversation about manners but remembering trying to be a 19-year-old radical…let’s just say, I probably would have been one of the people clapping and cheering. Maybe it’s part maturity, part the idealism that is on college campuses (on any issue!) in grabbing the tragedy and working for change. Who knows? I’m not an Obama fan, but to blame this one on him, is a stretch. 

I somehow managed to watch the show after Chris Mathew’s on MSNBC tonight where the host said something along the lines of “the Republicans need to stop using the language of hate.” Check that: as a nation we need to stop being careless with our words: Democrats, Libertarians, Republicans, heck even Green Party members are careless with saying things regarding “killing a piece of legislation”.

I watched this debate about who is more to blame about the hate language. Here is a novel idea: we all are. ALL of us. (Ok, there is probably somebody who has never said “I want to murder xxxx.” or “We are going to kill them (on the ball field)).  We use words with violent meaning (going postal anybody?) metaphorically everyday. I do it. I’ve been trying to watch myself as I believe we’ve become so casual with our language that it does lead to cultural shift of tolerance.  Individuals can pick sides over is it too many guns? Video games? Parents? How about a simplistic concept of “watch what you say…”No, I probably really don’t want to harm somebody when frustrated. But I’ve said it. Maybe if we start working at saying “I’m angry with xxx.” and not “I’m going to rip their head off”.

There is so much discussion about how we need to change the way we speak to hear today, that now individuals are trying to blame other individuals…well, let’s face it: I’m one of the last people on earth to defend Sarah Palin: but to blame her for this shooting, is like blaming one of my cats. 

Yes, her language is careless, divisive and a host of other things.  But it was more of  a perfect storm.  A mentally ill person (who could not be mandated into receiving treatment), gun/bullet laws that have tragedies like this happen far too often, and the stories of those killed: a child born on 9/11, a man protecting his wife, the stories of the heroes: a staffer who knew *what* to do to give Rep. Giffords a chance, being close to a Level I trauma center and the 2 people who wrestled the gunman down seem to focus this on our ‘issue of concern’ until the next one comes along.

This week has seen tragedy in other parts of the world: the 13-year-old boy telling rescuers to save his brother instead of him in Australia, hundreds killed in flooding in Brazil, the one year anniversary of the Haitian earthquake and the lack of mobilization of resources/funding in place that has a cholera outbreak going on and people living in tents a year after the fact.

I’m not saying what happened in Tuscon wasn’t and isn’t a tragedy. It is on so many levels.  We have lost our ability to communicate politely, respectfully.  We have lost compassion for the other.  We forget one tragedy as soon as the next one happens.  We try to find somebody to blame instead of saying there is a systemic issue we need to examine and fix.

It’s easy to forget that, for some people, language doesn’t have metaphor. When my niece was 3ish, I asked her when she got legs (I swear they sprouted inches overnight!). She answered “I always have had legs” with a reminder from my sister that children are very literal. So are some adults.

I don’t know an answer….I’m not sure there is one unless we as a nation, as individuals, decide that it’s time to stop the hate and work towards a more peaceful, equitable future. Until then, well, we know the pattern: Columbine becomes VA Tech becomes Tuscon. . . . and each time, we act surprised.

And maybe it’s not that 19-year-old wanna be radical speaking but the person with covered up grey hair thinking, we all had a part in Tuscon. We need to learn. We need to act. And we need to put an end to this behavior.

Gabrielle Giffords

January 9, 2011

I didn’t think I’d have a lot to say tonight about the shooting of Representative Gabrielle Giffords today.  I’m in that state of numbing shock that makes me wonder what has happened. Earlier in the week, Rep. Giffords (D-AZ) was one of the members to take to the House floor to read The Constitution.  She read the First Ammendment, about the right to assemble peacefully.

A federal judge was killed. A child was killed. Rep. Giffords, conducting a ‘Congress on the Corner’, meeting her constituatnts outside a grocery store, was shot, an aide was killed. So were others. Many others critically injured. 2 individuals wrestled the gunman to the ground saving who knows how many other individuals.

Out this shocking, stunning, sad day a voice of reason came from the sheriff of Pima County, Arizona Clarence Dupnik who said called out the vitriolic rhetoric on radio and television markets and his own state when he said:

“This has not become the nice United States of America that most of us grew up in and I think it’s time we do the soul-searching,” he said.

“The anger, the hatred the bigotry that goes on in this country is getting to be outrageous and unfortunately, Arizona has become the capitol. We have become the Mecca of prejudice and bigotry.”

The fact that 6 people had to die, 19 people injured for somebody in a place of leadership to say “this is OUR fault” is tragic. But Sheriff Dupnik, if you were running for office in my district, you would probably get my vote, for speaking the hard truth, the difficult truth and telling this country to look in the mirror. And to stop running ads that show candidates with bulls-eyes across their faces.

Words have consequences: And even the First Ammendment, which Rep. Giffords read on the House floor this week has been limited by the judiciary to prevent First Ammendment defenses in order to incite violence.  It’s time for the arugments to end: it’s time to work together. We have differences to celebrate, we have differences to debate. We don’t have a single excuse for picking up a gun and shooting 25 people at a Safeway.

It is time we simply grow up.

Pepsi Refresh: A good idea ruined by the masses.

January 8, 2011

I used to belong to a group called Pandora’s Project. They are working for a 25K grant in the Pepsi Refresh Challenge.  I’m now over the top livid with their bashing of other organizations they are competing against. From

“We are setting out on month number three of the Pepsi Refresh Project grant contest and want this to be our last month. We need your help to get us there! It’s been amazing to see so many members voting for us and then going out to vote for other projects and spreading the word about ours! We’ve gotten as low as #24, just 14 places away from being in the money. We CAN do this! If everyone who logs into this board to access support this month takes the time to vote once a day, every day, there will be no stopping us.

If we win, we’ll want to give a BIG THANK YOU to everyone for supporting us, so we’ve decided that we’ll have a raffle if we do! We’ll be raffling off 1% of our earnings – $250 in the form of various prizes as well as Pandora’s Project products! Prizes will include:

  • A grand prize $200 Amazon gift card, Pandora’s Project tote and a whistle
  • 5 runner-up prizes of a $10 Amazon gift card, a Pandora’s Project tote and a whistle

How do I enter?

Entering is easy and you can do so up to ten times a day. To enter, simply vote for Pandy’s and our partners, leaving comments.

Change: Since leaving comments is time consuming, it is fine to vote for all of our partners multiple time and then leave a message that states3 votes from Pandora’s Project!”

Sample Comments:Pandora’s Project just left you a vote! Please support our all-volunteer organization as we help assault survivors by voting and texting 103598 to 73774.

3 votes from Pandora’s Project! Please vote for us so our all-volunteer organization can support survivors of sexual violence! 103598 to 73774.

Pandora’s Project just supported you with 5 real votes! Please vote back so our volunteer-run organization can help abuse survivors. 103598 to 73774.

3 votes from your partners at Pandora’s Project! Please help our all-volunteer organization support survivors of sexual violence all over the world. 103598

You can also enter by

  • posting to your FB page asking friends to vote
  • posting to Twitter asking followers to vote
  • emailing your friends and family members asking them to vote
  • passing out flyers (Coming Soon!) to classmates, friends, etc…or posting them in visible places on your campus or around town

Floater VotesIf you have more than 3 accounts, please consider using one account to as a floater voter and vote for one of the following projects that has been supporting us.

These folks support us with their votes. Please comment to them.

Sample Comment:Pandora’s Project dropping off votes! Thanks for supporting our all-volunteer organization as we serve survivors of sexual violence. 103598

And here are some other projects that support us!


Possible Comments:

Pandora’s Project dropping off votes for our friends! Please support our all volunteer organization so we can reach more survivors of sexual violence! 103598

Real votes from Pandora’s Project! Thanks for your support of survivors of sexual violence, our all volunteer organization appreciates it!

Why should I vote?

Pandora’s Project is dedicated to providing survivors of sexual violence and their loved ones with low cost access to high quality support, information, and resources. If we win, we will be able to host approximately 50 survivors at free or low cost retreats. Furthermore, we’ll have a $5,000 budget for chats. This will allow us to host chats with seriously notable speakers (Judith Hermann, anyone? How about Aphrodite Mataskis? Maybe Francine Shapiro, developer of EMDR?) Perhaps more importantly, we’ll be able to take suggestions and host chats on more specific topics, like SI, EDs, BDSM (that’s a lot of acronyms) for smaller audiences, which is something that we’ve been reluctant to do thus far for budgetary reasons. This money will also allow us to put projects that we’ve had on the table into motion, too, because our retreat funding will be secure.

Many people will benefit from winning this money, but above all, this will allow us to reserve funds for programs that are in development and will bring survivors new and innovative resources. Although we are all in different stages in our healing, everyone here has been impacted by sexual violence. We all know the pain that it brings and the difference that support can make in the healing process. Please take the time to vote today and every day in January.


UPDATE – 1/6/2011
WOW!!!! We have a lot to be proud of with a ranking of 11! We’ve been voting like maniacs – I have personally voted around 15-20 times a day and even have a spreadsheet on graph paper with all of my accounts so I can be sure I’ve used each vote and left appropriate comments and I know others are voting just as feverishly. Whether you’ve cast one vote or 20 per day, THANK YOU! Just a few clicks can make a difference.

A few updates:

I want to warn people not to vote for these projects:

Progressive Slate – DO NOT VOTE!

Although the LGBT projects look great, this group, the Progressive Slate, is very strong and also politically oriented. They won’t return votes.

Please do try to float a few votes here and there. I know it is harder, but it is a very effective way for us to garner votes – sometimes one vote can equal 5 or even 10 in return. I’ll be updating our list regularly. If you see anyone I’m missing, please do let me know and I will add them in there.

Again, THANK YOU for voting. We’re in for a wild month, but we have a very good chance of success if we all work together. I’m super excited about our placement and hope you are too!


Really? Using grant money to bribe people to vote? Telling them who not to vote for? For the record the “Progressive Slate” is not backed by a political party: just a group that has organized alliances and voting to get good projects money. They haven’t gone around attacking people calling their projects “fronts” or linking them to a political party.

Here is a hint: if you want people to vote for your organization, cause or your candidacy, tell them WHY not by slamming others. Either on your organization’s web page or on the Pepsi Refresh page. Find causes you support and vote for them. Vote from YOUR heart – not because somebody told you to: OR because somebody told you not to. For me? This month, I’m voting for LGBT causes. Why? Because the amount of bullying, shame and lack of equity in my community. I would have tossed a vote to Pandora’s Project. But not anymore. You lost my vote. Because you slammed others.

And the reading of The Constitution is a bad thing?

January 5, 2011

We the People. . . .

The new Congress is gaveling into session today. One of the first things they will do is start by reading The Constitution.  I’ve heard criticism about this idea: why? Reading The Constitution to open a session of Congress seems like an outstanding idea: it reminds the lawmakers why they are present.  The first 3 words start the charge: “We the People” not “those of us who are elected to serve” not “those of us who will act live divisive idiots” not “those of us who will bicker like toddlers” but “We the People: those elected to serve the people who sent us to govern.”

Read the document: there has been an insane amount of discussion about citizenship to individuals born in this country: to change that? 2/3 of both houses and 2/3 of all states would have to approve such a change. How do I know this? It’s in the document.  The reality? If we can get all 3 of those to agree on the fact the sun rises in the east, I’d be impressed.

The Constitution is the OLDEST governing document still in existence: it is a living, breathing document. Reading it, you are provided a snap shot of our evolution as a Republic: we have moved from an insane 3/5 voting, non-direct election of Senators, banning then allowing alcohol, granting everybody over the age of 18 the right to vote. In the under 250 years the document has been in existence, it has moved from an idea, a concept to one that when having heard it read, reminds people that when we work together, when we allow different areas to excel, when we keep a system of checks and balances in place, we can move forward.

It all begins with the idea of “We the People”. The people: it is our nation, it is our responsiblity to ask our leaders to uphold what we believe to be true. That we live in a nation that will secure our defense, protect our liberty and promote our welfare.  And if the Speaker of the House thinks reading this document is a good way to start the new session? Good on you. It’s about time somebody reminded Congress why they were created. And personally? I’d rather hear The Constitution read any day of the week than the insane bickering that’s been going on for the past four years.

Ribbons, Wristbands and Avatars!

January 4, 2011

I have to say, that I’ve probably gotten into more than my “fair share” of arguments over the years.  99% of the time, it’s because I have zero interest in letting people make sweeping generalizations, proclaim from the mount that one way is the best way (unless you are talking about day baseball, then there IS only one way).  I will say, that by far, the most insipid argument I’ve been involved in is the changing of avatars on facebook, wearing “awareness” bands and other pretty mundane acts that individuals may do to promote awareness or a cause. Nobody can know a snowball/downhill impact of a gesture of somebody seeing a bumper sticker, an avatar, a bracelet and either speaking up or seeking help.

 One person suggested that there wasn’t “quantifiable data” to see if it works: My thought? If Susan G. Komen and the Pink Ribbon awareness campaigns were not around, how much money would be raised for breast cancer? How much early detection would be done? The “slacktivist” (and I despise that word) actions (based on perception) have roots in history from the song Round Her Neck She Wears a Yeller Ribbon (For Her Lover Who Is Fur, Fur Away) from 1917 but the origins of a yellow ribbon for a member in the armed forces traces back to the ENGLISH civil war.

Historically, I think of the red ribbon campaign early in the AIDS era, the pink ribbon for breast cancer, patches worn by teams to honor a fallen teammate or alum, the teal ribbon for awareness and simply wonder “what is wrong with just raising awareness?” Isn’t raising awareness activism in and of itself? And besides, why should *anybody* care if I opt to change a pick, wear a ribbon or wear a bracelet. The last time I checked, nobody made one for drug use, illiteracy or abuse.

The picture of Jackson has him modeling 2 bracelets made by a friend for her daughter: the daughter suffers from crippling migraines. The purpose of the bracelets? In part, to remind her that there are people who care, love and support her.  And, that is what part of being a human is all about! And we never know when a gesture, even simple, can help another person out.

My Dislike of Weight Watchers

January 3, 2011

I despise Weight Watchers. I always have: this isn’t a new issue for me (it’s on the same argument as why I despise makeup).  I think just about everybody I know has tried/succeeded and then (mostly) failed on Weight Watchers.

My new anti-WW rant is on the “point” system. “I can only eat so many points per day”. Yes, when you are dieting, you need to be cautious on what you eat, when you eat and how much you consume but limiting to points, to me, screams “restricting food intake” in an eating disorder sense.  Since Weight Watchers is a for profit organization, I am immediately skeptical (hi! pay money to attending a meeting at a church), makes their own food and requires members to weigh in publicly (at some meetings), I don’t see the difference between Jenny Craig, Nutrisystem or any a plethora of other programs that promise a “supportive, unique environment designed to met YOUR (the female consumers) needs.”

Here is how I lost 30 pounds in 2010. I ate less. I eliminated sugar, flour and all processed foods. I exercised as my body allowed and I thought if grabbing a snack “do i want this or do I need this?” A want went back in the bag.  Sometimes, you need a handful of chips: and that isn’t going to kill me, sideline my diet or anything else.

Weight Watchers and most programs like this prey on the vulnerabilities of women to have a preconceived body type.  Not all of us are going to be tall and thin: some of us will have hips, some will have larger breasts, some will have small butts.

How do you rid yourself of  weight? Figure out what your body burns as fuel: mine is protein. A friend is veggies.  Limit your portion controls. Walk up the flight of stairs. Drink water. Quit obsessing about the scale (muscle DOES weigh more than fat) and use the tried and true advice of how do the clothes fit. Toss out your scale, quit counting points and focus on improving your health: once you do that? The weight will follow.  And if you want a piece of cake? eat it! who cares?

You can only lose weight for you: not for an archetypical image, not for a “I want to wear x for an event” but for you: your health, how you feel about you – not the images.  If you must set weight loss goals, do so in helpful ways: eliminate sugar, eliminate processed foods, cook from home and freeze immediately any leftovers.  And toss your scale.  Learn to listen to your body and respect it.  Not everybody is going to be a size 8. Clothes can’t be your goal: your happiness with the reflection in the mirror is what counts. Your improving health counts.  And limiting yourself to life’s little pleasures now and then because of a “point” reinforces all the negative self-image women have heard for years.

College Sports

January 1, 2011

Penn State VB

So, another January 1st, another day of college football and the celebration of the bowl season, college athletics and the positive side of sports (I don’t want to get into all the violation craziness): the sheer joy of victories, the real tears of upsets.  2010 should be remembered in NCAA world for two historic markers: the UConn women’s improbable win streak ended at 90 in basketball,  and the Penn State women’s volleyball team had an over the top win streak of 109 ended then went on to win their 4th straight Division I volleyball national title.

There will always be debates about parity in women’s athletics versus men’s athletics, that it’s “harder” to win 30 games men’s hoops than women’s hoops but the reality? A 30 win basketball or volleyball season is to be celebrated: without debate of gender.

The young women playing high school and college sports today are the daughters of Title IX.  They didn’t grow up when young girls playing a sport was an anomaly. Drive through the suburbs of Chicago, Dallas, SF, Denver on a Saturday: just as many pig-tailed girls playing soccer, t-ball, basketball as boys.  When I signed up to play t-ball at 5, I was the first female to ever play for the park league in my medium-sized Chicago suburb.  The next year, my sister was the second.  My oldest niece plays 3 sports and is widely thought of to be the best athlete in her school.  She asked if she could play football, and was told yes.  She would have been the starting quarterback but alas, discovered that her other passion, cheerleading was FOR football (sigh).  She doesn’t know an era where young women cannot receive college scholarships for athletics or academics.

From Division III swimmers to Division I fencers, most play for the love of the sport, with little opportunity after college aside from rec leagues, teaching others and the lessons learned from playing a team sport, being part of a team in predominately individual event sports and the dedication and time management to be a student-athlete.  Like any other group, there are a few that break the rules but there are so many more that compete to compete.  And yes, it’s still fun to discover that a friend of yours holds the college record at your school 20 years later.

What makes the dominance of Penn State and UConn in their respective sports so amazing is that for the first time, there was a glare of a spotlight, there was expectations of “never loosing” and there were grown men and women as well as children watching.  For the first time, two sports showed the fulfillment of Title IX.  Their accomplishments were celebrated on ESPN, national media outlets and on their college campuses.  The “streak breakers” of Stanford (for both!) had a 4 year undefeated dual meet swimming record of its own back in the mid 90’s.

Sports and the lessons learned in competition carry over.  And as the Penn State campus celebrates its 4th straight volleyball title, and as UConn learns from its defeat by Stanford, the greater lesson should be learned.  Throwing, spiking and passing like a girl? It’s something to be celebrated.  Just as the bowl season is to be enjoyed: it takes commitment, dedication and a passion to play at the collegiate level.

Kick back and enjoy watching your favorite team and sport. But remember, these really are just kids playing for the love of a sport.  And somewhere, I am certian, John Wooden enjoyed watching the fall sports season.