A Journey Back To Whole

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Thank You Mrs. Schlafly and Mrs. Venker, Thank You Both

Come March, a new tome will hit a bookstore near you. A book tour will surely follow. I want to be the first in line for autographs. In fact I will take my two young daughters along, just to let them see firsthand what a female conservative looks like. They may marvel with me, at how out of step with reality one person can actually be. Make that 2 people, how could I forget?  This book has two authors, Phyllis Schlafly, and Suzanne Venker. It's title really rolls off one's tongue. Try to say this ten times fast, "The Flipside of Feminism; What Conservative Women Know- And Men Can't Say?" Quite catchy don't you think? It certainly caught my eye.

Amanda Hess of the Huffington post interviewed these two women and lived to tell about it. That is she lasted through what must have been a painful interview and a shock to her system. I wonder, if she too might  suffer from what now ails me, "PTIS" (Post Traumatic Interview Syndrome). As I read the dialogue, a fog set in, I fully expected to look out my front door and see a Studebaker roll up my street. Refresh my memory please? It is 2011, correct?  

I have 2 young, impressionable daughters. The moth eaten drivel, which these conservative women spew, frightens me. My daughters, actually, all daughters for that matter, do not need to be pushed back to the days of yore, when women did not have rights, and  their only hope of a college education and career was dependant upon a ride on the coat tails of a father, a brother or great catch of a husband. Women have come too far to lapse into such silent submission.

Feminism is not dead, but rather under fire. We need to unite, as our foremothers did. The antiquated mindset of this so-called "silent majority threatens to erase all that's been accomplished to date. This quiet assault is like subliminal elevator music, that plays constantly- quietly in the back ground of our every day lives. If one listens long enough, you will begin to sing the song. Women's rights are under attack. It is time to wake up and continue to relearn the songs that have already been written and to write some new songs of our own. Thank you Phyllis Schlafly and Suzanne Venker for your clarification, of so timely an issue.

We have come a long way my sisters, mothers, friends, and foes. Now more than ever, our daughters need role models. We have our work cut out for us. It is not enough to talk the talk. Time to walk the walk.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

To Thine Self Be True, Time to Eat

I do not like Winter. Dark mornings and early nights do not sit well with me. So today as I pulled up the shade in my room, and saw the sun, I rejoiced. Despite cold feet and my leaky old windows, I felt a bit warmer inside.  Ah, sunshine! I welcome her touch. Time for me to seize the day.

In a world turned upside down, to face a day presents challenge. I liken myself to a fish, as she struggles to swim upstream; tapped out, at wits end, yet tenacious, determined and ready to keep up the fight. Despite circumstances, ultimately, I will prevail. There's only one ingredient, oft missing.

I am a chef. As odd as it sounds, I often forget to eat, especially when I'm under stress. My stomach growls as I plow through my tasks. My ADD brain thinks, that this too shall pass. When alas, 3:00 rolls around, and  dammit, I've not eaten a bite. Today a new dawn arises. I will nourish myself with food. Wow! Pretty basic! Words are not enough to sustain me. Though I've some serious questions to answer and problems to solve, nutrition and  health are core ingredients, and will certainly help carry me along on this journey.

I am left with this thought, a new mantra perhaps?

"Nourish thy body first, your heart is sure to follow."

You can quote me on that!

Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!!!!!! Oh? I hear the call. Gotta run. Time to eat!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Ok,Ok I Know This is Cliche'

Sat down to write a blog about bullying, ended up with a rift on the Night Before Christmas. Oh my Lord, where, oh where can my train of thought be?

Twas a lovely Tuesday morning and around my abode,
Not a shred of dirty laundry, not even a load.
My kids are in school, my chores are complete,
I sit down at my table and put up my feet.
Turn on my computer, at 10 for a change,
My computer awaits me, I have words to arrange,
I scroll through my favorites in hope that I'll find,
An interesting nugget, to trigger my mind.
I stare at the screen, my mind all a flutter,
While stories and news bytes spitter and sputter.
When what to my weary, ADD mind should appear?
But a story I can relate to, and
Can share with you here.

My children are nestled all snug in their beds.
And good night to anyone who might still be awake!

Until Tomorrow!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Walk the Dog

Hot off the web, while we tighten our buttocks, so too our brains grow.  The New York Times reported  findings from a recent University of Pittsburg study on fitness and how it affects brain function as we age. Sounds pretty boring ? I know, but what they discovered might just surprise you. In fact, if  you are a over the age of 49, this bit of information might actually motivate you to exercise 3 times a week.

I do not want to bore you with statistics, they can be read in the Times, so I will just give you a general synopsis.  120 Sedentary men and women, average age 60, were divided into 2 groups. The first walked around a track. The second did less aerobic exercise including yoga and light resistance training. They both worked up to 40 minutes, three times a week.

After one year all parties were in much better physical condition. The surprise came when the brainscan results were examined. The walkers brain volume, in the hippocampus area had actually increased, while the  less aerobic groups' decreased. So what does that mean you ask? The hippocampus is the part of our brain that controls memory function. This small , but enlightening bit of  knowledge demands further study, both in the lab, and out in the real world. Let me explain.

Is it too much to think, if  all Americans were armed with this minor tidbit, that our rate of obesity might actually decrease? If, say, Joe Schmo, average junk food eater, super sized drink drinker, was to get wind of this , might he actually,take a walk, get smarter, and break his unhealthy habits? A larger brain could could be a very motivating factor.

If I walk my dog 2 times a day, I might be wiser by the end of a month and perhaps brilliant by the end of the century. I might even be able to remember to pick up my drycleaning.  Gotta go! My dog awaits.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Google Warfare

When I first began to blog, I was literally clueless. I was sure that I wanted to write, and I desired a clean, streamlined website that was free of ads. Other than that, it was up in the air. I hunted and pecked my way through the set up. The learning curve was a long one. Though writing itself gives me great pleasure and stimulates my, often, weary brain, writing alone, I found, does not a blog make. My page views continue to increase, though I do not have many  followers. ( That is a hint BTW). Minor glitches aside, the only problem that remains to be solved, lyes in Google's hands. Technical difficulties arose the moment I  signed onto their AdSense campaign. I am sad to report that I drank Google kool aid. It now haunts me.

 I moved onto  gadget placement. My frustration mounted as I attempted to execute the simplest computer maneuver of all, cut and paste. Elementary  if you know what you're doing, tortuous to a computer novice like me. I downloaded "Blogging for Dummies". Suddenly what  befuddled me became clear. Not only did I learn the fine art of cut and paste, but also two basic rules behind the art of a successful blog. Rule # 1; Links on  blog create more traffic. Rule #2; Advertising can generate income. Seemed logical to me, so I linked to the hilt and joined the Google charade. Regret was soon to follow.

I thought I could save time and effort by allowing Google to match ads to my blog, after all, they claim to be  experts. At first glance, ads were quite general in nature. Banners for dog food and pet care appeared. Appropriate I thought, but other, more objectionable promotions began to rear their ugly heads. They were in no way related to recent posts. In fact, I would liken them to country cousins, thrice removed. I went to work, quickly, to take them off my site. Google ad filters to the rescue, or so I thought. What seemed a petty nuisance then, continues to plague me.

This morning I signed onto Diaryofadogbiscuit.blogspot.com. I glanced over my posts and below my last entry an image only ad appeared. It was a portrait of a handsome man in a black leather jacket. He stood aside a motorcycle. Type below this image was tiny. I could not read it. My glasses were no where in sight, so  I clicked. The handsome man began to pontificate. His speech went something like this.

"Hi! I'm John Doe. I live in the suburbs with my beautiful  wife. I am an electrician. My son plays little league. My daughter  takes dance. I take the train to work, so my wife can drive our SUV. On weekends I mow our quarter acre. I ride a Harley and by the way I'm a Mormon."

I watched as ads for  Mormons and Scientologists cycled on my blog. Pardon my drama. I was now officially disturbed. If I were an Evangelist writing about fire and brimstone, I might not mind, but alas, I am a lapsed Catholic. I take issue with the fact no one at  Google, or any other online forum can help me resolve this annoying problem.

Makes me wonder what is really going on here. I've read over each of my blog posts. I make reference to God only once. ( i.e., "Thank God for little girls.") This not so subtle intrusion on my tiny website reeks of what might follow. If Google is able to invade my content, how might this cyber radar play out on a world stage? Given the role that social media has played in Iran, Tunisia and Egypt, and the relative ease and speed by which these 3 oppressive governments were able to appropriate this powerful technology, it is not so far fetched to question whether this subtle intrusion could mutate into an unprecedented global attack on  our right to privacy?

Meanwhile, back at the blog, these ads continue to roll. Have you any suggestions, dear readers?

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

'Nuf Said

I imagine that most of you watched the Super Bowl game yesterday. I went with my kids to a girlfriend's house to see it. Her husband and our kids watched while she and I talked in the kitchen. We are not football connoisseurs at heart. Anyway, about 3/4 of the way through said football game, I received a text from a friend that said, "Want you to watch the Black Eyed Peas on sb. There is a blog piece. Note the song where they want to educate the children." It was too late to catch it live, so I watched it via computer when I got back home.

I am a lover of music. My taste runs the gamut. I love Jazz, Classical, Classic Rock and most Pop, up to about 1994. Folk, Gypsy, Salsa you name it, and being a Minnesota girl at heart, I love Prince. But after listening to the Super Bowl Half time show, I am truly at a loss. What passes for music and entertainment is quite frankly beyond my comprehension. We all love to be entertained, but it was truly painful to listen to this shameless debacle.

What possessed the planners of this show? I can only imagine the conversations that took place at the conference tables to decide who should be the chosen entertainment for the Super Bowl half time festivities. This is the conversation that plays out in my head.

"Michael Jackson is dead." Said talking head number 1.

"He is? How about Neil Young? He's only half dead." Answers talking head 2.

"No way! The young fans want hip and cool." Whines head number 3.

"How about that group with whats her name? Fur something?" Suggests Mr. Old Head.

"The Black Eyed Peas. Perfect. Yo. Boom. Boom." exclaims Mr. Young Head.

"Lay it down, so many ways to love her."

"Oh my gosh, we can get Usher too, and don't forget Slash. He and the Ferg will rock it."

"Sweet child of mine, I think we've figured it out! Fill up my cup! Tonight's gonna be a good night!"

You get my drift? Forgive me if I am wrong! Nuf said!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

great writer momma

I have a guest writer today, my 8 year old daughter Addison Paige.

"My mom is a truly great writer. When I look at her post I say if I had a computer I would be a follower and read it every single day. I wish I was a good writer, I would write all the time, 24 /7, but when I think about it if I had my own computer I would make a blog just like my Mom's. Well it wouldn't be as good, but if I set my mind to it I can! Just think you can do it." Addie

Thank God for little girls! My saving grace right now! Gotta love it!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Four Seasons Luxury in a $50 Dress

In my haste to post my reaction to what was happening in Egypt, I left out a crucial detail. Far froman authority, I believe this detail lends me a voice. I did a lot of research about Egyptian history, customs, and people before my trip. I went with an open mind, not knowing what to expect from my first, hands-on experience in the Mideast. I never imagined the impact this trip would have on me. What began as a pleasurable vacation, ended as a life changing journey.

My third night in Egypt. I was invited to attend the opening reception of the Mediterranean Food Summit, which my husband was a part of. I was a bit apprehensive at first, because I would be there alone. At the last moment, I decided to go. Why not? I thought. I will  only go to Egypt once in my life, and after all, I will never see any of the attendees again.  After trying on everything I had packed, I donned my $50 "designer discount" Marshall's dress and took the elevator to the seventeenth floor. The guests had begun to gather. I scanned the crowd for a familiar face, and not seeing one, I walked over to the edge of the balcony. The circular pool was surrounded by a transparent glass wall. Beyond it was the Mediterranean Sea, above it  a full moon shined down, and far below it, Alexandria's bustling street scene played out. Party music that came from the speakers could not drown out the sound of car horns, nor the eerie siren sounding its last call to  prayer for the day.

I thought how amazing it was to be standing there. I felt like I was on top of the world. The sound of footsteps broke my reverie and I was joined by a well dressed, older gentleman who spoke with an accent. In a rather deep voice he asked, "Breathtaking, isn't it?"  I sighed and said something about how lucky I felt  and how incredible it was to be in a country that I had only dreamed of visiting. He laughed aloud. We went back and forth for awhile. Soon a woman walked over and he introduced her as his wife, Suzanne. What I came to find out later,was that what appeared to be run of the mill party banter was, in reality, a brush with fame.

Had I known in that moment, I would have been freaked out; I would have been intimidated and not able to relax enough to be myself. I am now thankful  I was blissfully unaware. I had no idea to whom I was speaking. The conversation ended when introductions for the gala began. As the couple walked away from me, the general manager's wife came over and asked me how I felt after talking with the President.

When I look back now, I can remember the signs. I can see the security guards move closer as they formed a tight circle around us. I notice the men on headsets as they reported to one another and I recall a curious crowd of onlookers staring in our direction.  The security detail was protecting President Mubarak and The First Lady of Egypt.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The House That Twitter Built

Having spent three weeks in Egypt, three summers ago in August, I can't help but be struck by what has transpired there this past week. As I watch videos and read newspaper articles about these current events, huge numbers of Egyptians  gather in protest. People flock to the streets in both cities of Cairo and Alexandria. They have joined together in peaceful protest, not only to bring to light the universal hardships of high unemployment and inflation, but also to decry the lack of opportunities for growth and prosperity within Egypt itself.  They live under a supposed democratic system that renders them helpless. Their president, Hosni Mubarek pontificates his adherence to democracy while he yields authoritarian rule. In other words, he has served 30 years as a dictator in a democratic sheep's clothing.

His submission now takes its toll.

This is  has been Mubarak's tact all along, and  largely the entire "Mideast as a Whole Way" of controlling the masses. Mideast governments keep dissidents quiet, jail those who object their dictatorships, as they  shamelessly tout their "democratic ways",a disgusting abuse of power as I see it. I can only observe this  from afar now, but I am encouraged to hear these Egyptian voices, a distant sound in chorus, joined not only  to gain freedom, but also united in consideration of their own fate. Their voices can no longer be silenced. Their tyrannical leader must bow to their pleas and resign.

In the blink of an eye and emboldened by their close neighbors in Tunisia,  Egyptians gather enmasse' to demand a change in regime. Their uprising, alone is not unique, but what does set it apart from any before it,  is the way in which it was organized to begin with. An all new forum exists from which to launch political movements.

We've all heard the names, Facebook, My Space, Twitter and such. They are instantaneous channels of communication, ways to speak our minds and document each moment of our daily lives. We share and the world is apprised. At the tap of a key, we transmit  details of our daily lives with friends and strangers alike. News arrives at our doorsteps within the moment it occurs. Egyptian youth have embraced  this new way to communicate. Regardless of Mubarek's attempts at control, Egyptian voices were heard. His usual means to squelch his minions, met with failure.

 I actually loath a lot of this new technology. My kids drive me nuts every day with it. They glue themselves to their computers. They text their friends while composing a school essay in Word. The printer churns out said essay. Meanwhile 10 of their friends await their, more often than not, rude replies. The world moves forward while they are on hold. What they fail to grasp, is the power they have at their fingertips, the ability to change the world if they so choose.
Twitter and Facebook are largely to thank. Social media allowed these oppressed people
 to communicate their plight and unite in a noble cause.  They alerted one another, inspired like minds to join in a crusade, and gathered together to face the opposition.  By the time their own President was apprised, the cat was out of the bag, and the uprising had begun. Makes me wonder? Could Twitter be reason to celebrate?  Can it serve as one stone in a foundation, on which a country can build a brighter future?

Does a turbulent voice tolerate a deaf ear?  The Egyptians with help of revolutionary technology made their voices loud and clear.  Mubarak has now agreed in part to disband his government body and to replace it with another. An important question hangs in midair, "Replace it with who?" One of  his cronies or better yet his capable and willing (who wouldn't be) son, Gemal? What Mr. Mubarek  needs to realize is that he no longer presides in a world where dictators can meet with easy success. Times have changed drastically since he set out on his own voyage for power. The world as we've known it has been turned on its head. Social networking makes it possible for the once silent minority, to be heard at long last.

In light of  this, I realize my responsibility as a parent. My kids assume their technological freedom is a birthright.  My job as Mom is to tell them it is not. They need to know that what they have at their fingertips is powerful, and to be respected in every way. My kids are sadly mistaken to believe that they are Kings and Queens of their solo universes. It is up to me to make them realize the small space they take up in the world as a whole. If I want them to be World Citizens it is up to me to teach them to be that. After all, we do have strong voices. we must embrace them and sing just as the Egyptians have done.