Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Happy Day!


Go outside.  Now!  Plant a tree.  Water a flower.  Breathe the fresh air.  Gaze at the clouds. 

Take care of our world.

Happy Earth Day
P.S.  In honor of the upcoming lovely weather, I am taking a break from blogging.  See you in September. 


Thursday, April 17, 2014

Today is the Day

Today, for you, are some of my favorite quotes about living in the moment.  Which one is your favorite?

1.  “What day is it?" It's today," squeaked Piglet. My favorite day," said Pooh.”
 – A.A. Milne

2.  “Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson
3.  “Forever is composed of nows.”
― Emily Dickinson
4.  “Happiness, not in another place but this place...not for another hour, but this hour.”
― Walt Whitman
5.  “Be present in all things and thankful for all things.”
― Maya Angelou
6.  “Life is a preparation for the future; and the best preparation for the future is to live as if there were none.”
― Albert Einstein
7.  “Learn from yesterday, live for today, look to tomorrow, rest this afternoon.”
― Charles M. Schulz, Charlie Brown's Little Book of Wisdom
8.  “You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment.”
― Henry David Thoreau
9.   “Dost thou love life? Then do not squander time, for that's the stuff life is made of.”
― Benjamin Franklin
10.  “Look at everything always as though you were seeing it either for the first or last time: Thus is your time on earth filled with glory.”
― Betty Smith, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

Monday, April 7, 2014

The Buck Stops Here

Tuesday, April 8th is Equal Pay Day – the calendar date that marks the approximate extra time the average American woman would need to earn as much as the average man did in the prior year. According to the federal government, women make an average of 77 cents for every dollar that men earn.  Women, think about everything that has happened in your life from January 1st through April 8th.  You’ve lived many a storied day, I’m sure.  Now, get your head around the fact that if you were being paid as much as men in your field, you’ve effectively been working for free these last 98 days.  Sobering thought, no?
How do these pay discrepancies happen?  Because most people don’t know what other people make.  There is a big giant cloud of secrecy regarding wages that allows employers to vary employee pay for any number of reasons, including discriminatory ones.  
Enter the Obama administration.  Tomorrow, on Equal Pay Day, the president will put forth two new executive actions aimed at reducing or eliminating pay discrimination.  The first, an executive order, will prohibit federal contractors from retaliating against employees who talk about how much money they make.  The second action, a memorandum, will require federal contractors to report data to the government showing the compensation provide their employees by sex and race. 
The effects of these actions?  Transparency.  We can only fight battles we know about.  And, granted, these actions only affect the approximate 1 in 5 women who work for government contractors, but are significant in that they will hopefully establish transparency among all industries and professions.  These actions don’t require listing of employee wages or true confessions during lunch meetings, but they will do away with being punished for seeking such information, and they encourage healthy comparisons. 
applaud this important step toward wage equality.  Once we can see that women in the same positions as men get paid the same wages, we can move onto to other, more slippery, realms of wage inequality, like those that financially favor occupations deemed “male” (Math/Science professor) over very similar occupations deemed “female” (Humanities professor).  But that’s another blog for another day, yes?

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Red or Blue -- This is for you

“Lil’ Liberals” is the latest spoof video created by Remedy Pictures' Patti McCreary and her business partner Steve Utaski.  Produced to coax smiles from liberals and conservatives, alike, “Lil’ Liberals” main intent, according to the producers, is to change the focus from dolls that are measured by hair, clothes, and bling, to dolls that are measured by their opinions about social issues.  Isn’t that how we should learn to know others – by listening to their opinions and engaging in respectful dialogue together? 

McCreary and Utaski acknowledge the difficulty in making this potentially polarizing video, and tried “to ride that line right down the center of the blue and red state divide.”  I think they did a good job.  Their work is a good reminder to take time to listen to what others’ think, and not to be too eager to lump everyone together under red or blue team pennants, all while challenging the social norm linking women’s worth with outward appearance.

Bravo!  Brava!  Yay.

Click this link to watch the Lil' Liberals video on vimeo.  What do you think?

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Here, Kitty Kitty

Kitty #1
Who's a pretty kitty? 
Kitty #2

Kitty #3
 So cute.  So sweet.
Kitty #4

Kitty #5

Kitty #6

Kitty #7
 Which is your favorite?  Choose a darling.

Kitty #8

Kitties #9

Or two.

Now, have a great day!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Wise and Witty Irish Toasts

To help you celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, I offer you ten wise and witty toasts.  Pick your favorite to spout before raising those glasses of green beer.

1.  May you live as long as you want,
and never want as long as you live. 

2.  As you slide down the banisters of life
may the splinters never point the wrong way.

 3.  May your troubles be as few and as far apart
as my Grandmother’s teeth.

 4.  May the roof above us never fall in,
and may we friends gathered below never fall out.

 5.  May the Lord keep you in His hand
and never close His fist too tight.

6.  May you have the hindsight to know where you’ve been,
the foresight to know where you’re going
and the insight to know when you’re going too far.

 7.  May the hinges of our friendship never grow rusty.
8.  Here’s to me, and here’s to you,
And here’s to love and laughter-
I’ll be true as long as you,
And not one moment after.

 9.  May your glass be ever full.
May the roof over your head be always strong.
And may you be in heaven half an hour
before the devil knows you’re gone.

 10.  When we drink, we get drunk.
When we get drunk, we fall asleep.
When we fall asleep, we commit no sin.
When we commit no sin, we go to heaven.
So, let’s all get drunk, and go to heaven!

 I love #5!  How about you?  Have a great St. Patrick's Day!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Rule #1: Don't ask a feminist to promote a sexist product.

You've all likely heard about the ridiculous "Pens for Women" Bic has been trying to market.  They are, basically, regular pens that come in pink and purple and are twice as expensive as "men pens."  There is so much wrong with this idea, all of which is expertly, and oh-so-humorously, pointed out by the brilliant Ellen DeGeneres.  Believe it or not, Bic apparently asked Ellen to be a product spokesperson for the lady pens.  You guessed it -- she refused.  And she came up with this hilarious stand up about it. 

So, get yourself a splash of coffee, tea, or something stronger.  Now, sit back and enjoy Ellen's witty comeback

Friday, February 28, 2014

Rays of Hope

A funny thing happened the other day when I was driving home.  It was about 5:30 p.m. and it was light outside.
There you have it people. The temperatures may not show it yet, but the light sure does.  Hang in there -- spring is definitely on the way. 

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

ASMR = Ahhhh

Remember yourself as a child.  Now remember yourself falling asleep listening to something routine, simple, and fairly quiet – someone clipping hedges outside, the clinking sounds of dining and murmured conversation, someone taking a shower.

Remember yourself receiving a routine, enjoyable service in a quiet setting – a haircut, shoeshine, or pedicure.

Do you remember the feelings of calmness, even drowsiness?  Do you remember ever feeling a goose-bumpy tingle, for instance if the murmurs and clinks sounded just right, or if the stylist was snipping around your ear?

Calm, drowsy or tingling sensations are sometimes referred to as autonomous sensory meridian response(s), or ASMR, and are becoming a sought-after YouTube phenomenon.  In our stressed out, sleep-deprived culture, people need ways to soothe themselves in order to relax or fall asleep.  Apparently, more and more people are turning to ASMR videos for just such purposes. 
ASME sounds are different from white noise in that they are not flat or constant, and, of course ASMR often includes visuals as well as audios.  If you’ve never experienced ASMR “head tingles,” ASMR folks say you probably won’t experience them from ASMR videos.  But if you’ve gotten drowsy or calm, you likely can expect at least that response.  Common ASMR triggers include:  whispering/slow speech patterns/accents, lip smacking/eating sounds, scissor snipping, clicking/brushing/watery sounds, and painting/drawing/quiet instructional videos – which explains why students sometimes have ASMR responses in class – although not in my classes, EVER, of course.  J 
I tried out a couple of the videos – one about water marbles and one where a nice woman whispered about time travel.  I felt relaxed after these videos, but not drowsy.  I didn’t experience the head tingles that some people report, although I don’t usually get those from sounds.

Here’s just one site to try, if you’re interested:  soothetube

What do you think about ASMR?  Do you think you might try one of these videos during a bout of insomnia?  If you tried one of the videos, what was your experience? 

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Say No to GMOs!

The Non-GMO seal
I must say that I am late getting on the non-GMO bandwagon, mainly because I didn’t really understand the issue. Maybe I still don’t. But, I’m learning. And the more I learn, the more concerned I am about the growing toxicity of our food supply and the growing environmental concerns GMOs seem to be causing.

What are GMOs? GMOs are genetically modified organisms – meaning they are plant or meat products that have had their DNA altered (genetically modified) in a laboratory by genes from other plants, animals, viruses or bacteria. Why? For crops, it is mostly to withstand the spraying of ever-more-toxic pesticides. As blogger Margie Kelly explains, in her recent Huffington Post blog, GMO crops are "‘Roundup Ready,’ meaning they can withstand spraying of Monsanto's Roundup pesticide and live, while weeds around them die.” Read Kelly's post here.

According to Kelly's sources, 93 percent of soy is genetically modified and 88 percent of corn is also genetically modified. Besides the humdingers of soy and corn, the most common GMOs are cotton, canola, sugar beets, Hawaiian papaya, and alfalfa. Many of these items also appear as added ingredients in a large amount of the foods we eat, ingredients ingredients listed as: Amino Acids, Aspartame, Ascorbic Acid, Sodium Ascorbate, Vitamin C, Citric Acid, Sodium Citrate, Flavorings (“natural” and “artificial”), High Fructose Corn Syrup, Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein, Lactic Acid, Maltodextrins, Molasses, Monosodium Glutamate, Sucrose, Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP), Xanthan Gum, Vitamins, Yeast Products.

But, there’s hope for those of us who would like to avoid GMOs.

The Non-GMO Project is a non-profit organization committed to "preserving and building the non-GMO food supply, educating consumers, and providing verified non-GMO choices." According to their website, the organization “believes that consumers in North America should have access to clearly-labeled non-GMO food and products, now and in the future. That conviction continues to guide the Non-GMO Project, as North America’s only independent verification for products made according to best practices for GMO avoidance.” For more information about the Non-GMO project, to get on their newsletter list, or even to order their cookbook, click here.  At the very least, you can start to look for their seal, pictured above, on products.

Although I am just beginning to wade through the piles of information debating GMOs’ health risks to humans (possible links to allergies, inflammation and other health issues), and the environmental risks of GMO farming practices (mainly cross-pollination of non-GMO crops, and transference to other products, like honey), my gut gives me a giant thumbs down response.

At the very least, I support the transparent labeling of all food products, despite a recent California proposal (Prop 37) that just barely missed passing (48.6% voted for it) . . . probably because companies like Monsanto, PepsiCo, Kraft, Dow and Coca-Cola (among others) pooled $46 million to oppose the proposal, compared to the $9 million gathered from companies like Amy’s Kitchen, and Natural Path Foods (among others) in support of the proposal.  But, that's a whole other post!

What about you?  Where do you stand on the GMO debate?

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Sudden Achy Arm Syndrome

For the last week or so, my left arm has been behaving strangely.  It has been sore and achy enough to wake me up some nights.  What in the world?  I was perplexed.  Had my daily writing stints included an abundance of asdf sequences?  Was I developing left-arm-itis?  I even went to my massage therapist and she, too, was baffled by this imbalance. 
Then, last night, as I was finishing the absolutely wonderful 771 page (2# 6oz.) novel, The Goldfinch, by Donna Tartt, I finally understood my malady.  I had spent more than a little time lately with this hefty tome held aloft in my left hand, so as to better turn pages, sip beverages, and adjust my reading glasses with my right hand.
Definitely an ah-ha moment – one that tells you just how utterly engrossing this amazing book is.
So, although I highly highly highly recommend Tartt’s deliciously satisfying read (and thank my neighbor, Mary, for recommending it to me), I would suggest would-be readers of Tartt’s masterpiece to save themselves from sudden achy arm syndrome by periodically shifting their book from left to right hand, or, better yet, to read this one on an electronic device.  Take it from me, once you’re into it, you won’t notice your eyes getting crossed, your arms falling asleep, or your house burning down around you. 
Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Bloody Crazy

Okay, I get it – crazy Bloody Marys are in.  Like the one pictured here, the star at O’Davey’s Irish Pub & Restaurant in Fond du Lac (which looks amazing, and, alas, I haven’t tried).  In days of yore, I adored a good Bloody – thick, cold tomato juice on the rocks with vodka, spices, and an icy-crisp stalk of celery.  Wisconsinites also require a chaser of beer, of course.  And, as mixologists got funky with the creation, adding hunks of cheese, all manner of pickled delicacies, even mini burgers, I dashed to try the latest and greatest.

And, yes, they’re fun.  But, call me a drink snob, they aren’t that much fun.  Maybe it’s because each place strives for a wilder version than the other places or maybe I’ve just had too much tomato juice lately, but I think I’ve ordered my last crazy Bloody.  After I’ve carefully dissected the toothpicked creation (hopefully without anything tumbling down my shirtfront) and after I’ve swilled the latest peppery/watery/tomato-ish slush (even with a good beer chaser), I feel a little let down.  Like I’ve just been had.  Like that slightly crusty, slightly mushy hunk of cheese and the wilty dilly bean and the cold little burger just took up valuable stomach space where I could have put a delicious salad and a hot sandwich instead.

Maybe I’ll crack and will succumb again (I DO keep looking at O’Davey’s rendition), but as of late, I think I’m over this trend or fad or best-in-the-world beverage (your choice, the description).  What about you? What hyped-up food or drink doesn’t quite make the grade in your book?

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

2014: The Year of Reading Women

Women writers won't be surprised to learn that female authors are read less frequently and are given less exposure than male authors.  The organization VIDA:  Women in Literary Arts, founded in 2009, has documented women's unequal representation in print and their less-favorable reviews.  Feminists have long discussed the "male aesthetic," or the idea that cultural references and expression lean more heavily toward male characters, male writers, ideas of masculinity, and the portrayal of male experiences.
Recently, authors, bloggers, publishers, book sellers, and reviewers are trying to address this imbalance by unofficially declaring 2014 "The Year of Reading Women."  Check out this post in The Guardian to see their take on the subject, which includes a list of 250 excellent female-authored reads.  Want more details?  Click on VIDA's website to see the stats and pie charts.
For my part, I just finished Amy Tan's The Valley of Amazement and am starting Donna Tartt's The Goldfinch.  I adored Tan's latest novel and have heard great things about Tartt's book. 
What about you?  What female authors have your read lately that you'd recommend?

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Cragels and Cronuts and Crogels

Meet the cragel, shown at left, the latest food  hybrid.  It's a croissant bagel, of course, just like a cronut is a croissant donut.  Brooklyn's The Bagel Store recently came out with the latest and greatest and, apparently, can't keep the $2.95 wonders on the shelves.  Connecticut's Dominique Ansel is credited with the cronut, and has also developed his version of the cragel, called the crogel, which seems to be as popular as the cragel.  Are you confused yet?  Hungry?

Personally, I'm intrigued.  Bagels and donuts, although delish, do seem to sit like cannonballs in one's stomach.  Great taste, less filling, anyone?  Hmmm, I think someone has already coined that slogan.  In any case, I look forward to such delights hitting Midwestern shelves.  Meanwhile, has anyone had a taste of these goodies?  If so, what do you think?

Tuesday, January 7, 2014


Have you heard of NOW – The National Organization for Women?  It’s an organization, for women and men, of feminist activists in the United States with 500,000 contributing members and an agenda you wouldn’t believe.  Founded in 1966, NOW’s goal has been to “take action to bring about equality for all women.”  How?  Specifically, NOW avows that it “works to eliminate discrimination and harassment in the workplace, schools, the justice system, and all other sectors of society; secure abortion, birth control and reproductive rights for all women; end all forms of violence against women; eradicate racism, sexism and homophobia; and promote equality and justice in our society.” [Quotes from NOW website]

NOW’s website is a cornucopia of information about all of the latest topics that affect women – reproductive rights, gay marriage, domestic violence, discrimination, and the latest media hot buttons and legislative battles.  Check out their site below to sign up for their amazing newsletter, take the reproductive rights pledge, or to volunteer at one of their sponsored events, especially their “One Billion Rising” campaign. 

Curious?  Click here and be one of the one billion rising.