Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Holiday Movie Reviews

In my annual quest for Oscar picks, I have seen three movies over the holiday break.

The first was Marley and Me. It’s a great little film; Heartwarming and very funny. I recommend you buy the ticket, but walk out ¾ of the way through the show. The ending is a real tear jerker. Quite frankly, it was too much for this dog lover to bear.

Then there is The Curious Case of Benjamen Button. I held high hopes for this piece, fully expecting it to be my favorite film of the season, but instead found it filled with distractions. The technical effects were indeed Oscar worthy, and I watched with anticipation as Brad Pitts face grew ever younger from scene to scene. My sheer interest in seeing Pitt de-age pulled me right out of the story. The plot dragged in the middle, and the big emotional moments of the movie failed to ring my heartstrings. I stayed through to the end, but did so reluctantly. Maybe it had something to do with the foul smell I endured as the woman sitting next to me removed her shoes, crossed her legs, and propped the offending appendage just inches from my popcorn. That distraction had me ready to beat feet for the door.

Last night I went to see Doubt with Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Meryl Streep. We have a winner with this one. It was the best picture I’ve seen so far. Streep was at her very finest. I actually recall being startled during a particularly intense scene when I heard a little something in her voice that jolted me to remember it was her. I was so engrossed in the character she created, I actually forgot I was watching Meryl Streep! (Which is exactly the opposite of what it was like to watch the Brad Pitt film.)

I have no Doubt Streep will win Best Actress this year. But I say that not yet having seen the Nicole Kidman film, Australia, which is next on my Oscar Quest list, but really, I simply can not imagine Nicole could be lucky enough to have all the stars in Holly-world align to allow her to find the right vehicle, the right direction, the right script, and the depth of passion required to compete with Streep on this level.

So far, my money is on Doubt to sweep the Academy Awards.

Of Course I still have a few more films to go see before making those fun final picks. The list include:

Slumdog Millionaire
The Dark Knight
The Wrestler
Revolutionary Road
The Reader

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas Cash

Every year we take the children to visit their grandparents on Christmas Eve. After the hugs and greetings the children run to the Christmas tree where they search like squirrels. Hidden in the branches they each find an envelope with a crisp new twenty dollar bill.

No wonder they don't believe me when I tell them money doesn't grow on trees!
Merry Christmas Everyone!

Monday, December 22, 2008

The Puppy Mill Problem

All across the country, people were protesting in front of Petland stores this weekend. It happens every year during the Holiday season as, The Humane Society of the United States, a private not for profit advocacy group, works to raise awareness about deplorable conditions in puppy mills. Complaints include charges that animals are kept in unsanitary cages, are unsocialized, poorly bred, have numerous health problems, and breeding bitches are kept in cages and impregnated every time they come into heat until they are not longer viable, and then are killed.

I came across one of the protest groups as I was doing my holiday shopping in Lewis Center, OH. A group of people gathered in front of the mall braving frigid temperatures for the sake of abused pups. A spokeswoman for the group, Mary O’Connor-Shaver of Columbus Top Dogs provided a press release which states:

“The goal of this event is to raise awareness of Petland and its relationship to puppy mill breeders and to solicit support from the community asking that Petland stop selling puppies while Central Ohio homeless dogs and puppies wait to be adopted.”

She wants the public to understand “There is a difference between reputable breeders and commercial breeders…Pet stores should be more regulated. We are finding these [pet store] dogs are very sick.”

She said “Lisa Wahoff, director of the Franklin County Animal Shelter pulled data in 2006 showing that as many as 7 out of every ten dogs coming into the shelter each day could be traced back to Petland sales.”

After speaking to the protesters, I took the time to talk with the folks at the Lewis center Petland store. Danny, the manager, brought out the Petland mascot Safari Sam to greet me and pose for pictures. He said Safari Sam was on his way out to the roadside to wave at the cars, and had been out earlier that morning standing side by side with the protest group. “The protesters show up every year during the holidays, but as you can see, it does not affect businesses at all.” He said with a wave of his hand, indicating the packed crowd of customers in the store. He was very good natured about the protest and adamantly stated that “all Petland puppies come from U.S.D.A. approved breeders.”

A report from the website bestfriends.org provides a comprehensive .pdf report outlining the definition of a puppy mill. One point of note in the reports states:

• Puppy mills are often USDA-licensed so they can sell puppies to pet stores. A USDA license is a red flag that breeders are in the business to make money.

The Petland manager went on to say “Petland does not approve of inhumane animal conditions.” “We think of Petland like a pre-school. We sanitize several times a day, and have customers use anti bacterial hand cleaner in between every pup they handle. Sanitation is a number one priority.”

In addition, the Petland website provides a comprehensive and scathing retort to the HSUS charges claiming this organization falsified video footage, fools the public, and uses a large percentage of donated monies for salaries and operating costs instead of the intended purpose of saving dogs.

I looked at the puppies and the condition of the cages and could only describe the Petland environment as impeccable. The puppies were handled by many customers who would go into a designated play area and get down on the floor with the pups while a staff member supervised. The staff was very attentive and helpful as they explained various breed traits. Clearly the workers were well informed, and dedicated to matching the right breeds with the families needs. Issues of size, temperament allergies and shedding were all topics I overheard during my visit. If these puppies came from disreputable puppy mills where poor kennel conditions and lack of socialization are a problem, the pups certainly do not live under those conditions once they are in Petland’s hands.

The Petland manager also talked about Petland’s Adopt-A-Pet program, which connects families who have a litter of puppies or kittens to families looking to adopt. He said “When someone finds a box of abandoned kittens and brings them in to us, we take them in, get them vaccinated, feed them, and provide them with good homes.” He want on to add, “Every Petland animal finds a home.” Implying Petland does not ever euthanize unwanted animals.

O’Connor-Shaver scoffed at that claim saying “no rescue organization in town has ever been contacted by Petland in regard to developing a partnership for their Adopt-A-Pet program.”

I asked Petland what they do when a puppy is growing and no one is buying. “We mark down the price, several times if we have to. Eventually they all find a home.”

While that may be true, one anti puppy mill website has posted an interview with a former Petland manager who tells of dogs being brought to the stores by the truckload, and those that do not pass muster are returned to the breeder. What happens to those puppies is unknown.

Petland claims the animal advocacy groups tie their annual protests to year end fundraising drives and prey on the sympathies of consumers to increase donations. The flip side of that argument is the protesters say this is the third year in a row the Ohio legislature has allowed the Puppy Mill bill to die in committee. They claim the commercial pet industry has ‘a strong lobby at the statehouse”, and “several powerful members of the committee make sure the bill never reaches the floor.”

For additional background information regarding the legal battles on this issue visit The Dog Service Network LLC blog and The Columbus Dog Connection.

These sites list the names of Ohio legislators involved in the committee hearings on The Puppy Mill Bill, but do not provide details on which legislators have received campaign donations from related lobby groups.

Such information would be most helpful to voters wanting a common sense solution to this issue.

For more information, the on line magazine Dog Owners Guide provides a balanced review of Puppy Mills, respectable breeders, and rescue organizations.

Monday, December 15, 2008

"Shoeicide" Bomber Makes a Stink

The White House issued a red level footwear alert today, after a shoe throwing incident during the Presidents press conference in Iraq.

Bush has appointed 18 year old Airport security guard Buster Brown head of the countries new DC footwear anti terrorism team. Brown will be sworn in as Shoe Czar in the Oval office tomorrow.

President Bush joked about the incident saying “the shoe was a size 10.” However, Dick Cheney soon after enlisted Colon Powell to “toe the line” and release a Pentagon report claiming the shoes were actually sized 9-11. He then called for an international coalition of nations to invade Birkenstockistan. Cheney was later quoted as saying “This time we are gonna Sock it to em!”

Some conspiracy theorists are floating rumors of a “second Shoe-man” and claiming the attack was an inside job, as the video clearly shows no reaction or response from security or the Iraqi Prime Minister.

*Witnesses report having heard the plop of a third shoe hitting the wall behind the president. A commission is being set up, headed by the CEO of Hush Puppies, to scrutinze all 8mm videotapes made of the event.

One official from the Olympic javelin throwing committee scored the shoe bomber as a 5.5, because even though he missed his mark, he scored high on style points. The NCAA is rumored to be lobbying for a special Heisman Trophy for the throwers fancy footwork, calling him “a shoe in” for the next NFL draft. However, the secret service ranked embarrassingly low scores, as they were out on a coffee break, and missed the entire event. Apparently Special Secret Service Agent In Charge- Douglas Chesnick was replaced by a new crop of agents the White House recently outsourced through Wal-Mart.

Bush did his best to calm fears telling reporters he felt no threat, and all members of the White House Press Corps were in agreement on the prowess of the Presidents “Ducking skills.” Loyal Republicans met the Presidents plane with fanfare, playing the blues brothers song “Sole Man” as Bush exited the tarmac. Protesters responded by dressing up as Buster Brown and sporting signs that said “Heck of a job Brownie!” and “Sock and Awe!”

Stock in the shoe market jumped by 54% worldwide as a result.


*Thanks to Stephen Parrish for adding to the fun.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Silly Sunday

Today is my 46th birthday. So I am spending it with the family, just relaxing and having some fun. We were all cracking up over these parodies of the "INSPIRE" posters we found on the net.

I do love laughter, especially the contagious type. So here's a few of our favorites that might just split your sides too:

Great Gift Idea

I have this old bathrobe. Green and purple paisley printed silk on the outside, lined with a rich purple terrycloth on the inside; its comfy classy, and silky soft.

This old dressing gown has been with me through it all. I threw it on when that late night phone call came. I wore it when my dog was sick, when we huddled in the basement during the tornado warnings, and when I had to talk to the police after the neighbor kids’ toilet papered the house across the street. I literally lived in this thing after my surgery, and when the doctor sentenced me to a month of bed rest during my second pregnancy. (Ugh, that was rough!)

This is what I greeted family in at the hospital after both of my children were born. It’s what I wore when I woke up every three hours of the night to feed them. It’s what their little heads pressed up against when they were sick, as I paced the floor singing lullabies. This robe was what I worried in the night my husbands’ plane got caught in bad weather, and he did not arrive home till 4 am. And I am pretty sure this is the outfit I will have on when my daughter sneaks in the door on the night of her senior prom.

Tonight, I am wearing it because I couldn’t sleep, and decided to write. Often my robe is curled around me when I am writing, or reading one of those books’ that is just so damn good that you just HAVE to finish it, even though your eyes are watering up with tears of tiredness. The paisley print on the cuff is what I find myself staring at when I wonder if “tiredness” is really a word.

My robe is sixteen years old. I remember the day I got her. My husband purchased her for me as a Christmas gift two years into our marriage. I opened the Victoria's" Secret box with such surprise. I had not expected a robe. And purple paisley? Well I guess it was pretty, but not what I would have picked for myself. This dressing gown was a stranger to me; Just a thing. It wasn’t one of those gifts that make a big sensation in the frenzied moments around the Christmas tree, but just a simple gift, offered with love.

I wore it off and on at first, just treating it like any other garment. But over time, this old robe has become a part of who I am. This robe has been around. It seems like it has been wrapped around me during almost every major moment of my life, (not to mention it’s what I am always wearing after, um, well, --you know.)

The funny thing is, I look at this robe and have to admire my husbands sense of style and quality. Even after all these years, this old robe is still in top notch shape. He did not buy a cheap robe. He shopped for the best. I may not be the pretty young woman he bought it for those many years ago, but I still feel like the girl he loves when I put it on. After all the baby spit up, all the dog hair, all the spilled coffee, and everything else in my messy old life, it still looks more than nice enough to make me feel beautiful when I wear it, and it’s certainly still good enough to answer the doorbell in at two am.

When my husband bought me this gift, I’m pretty sure he was not thinking sixteen years down the road. He was just looking for something nice to give his wife.

How could he ever imagine that little gift would come to symbolize a lifetime of living?

If there is anyone out there reading this tonight, and looking for that perfect gift, I suggest a nice silk dressing gown, with quality terry cloth lining. It just might be a wonderful way to wrap someone you love in comfort and style their whole life long.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Leggo’s and Coffee

My ten year old son awoke early this morning, and much to my amusement, announced he would like a cup of coffee. Hubby and I shared a secret smile.

“Do you take it black, like me, or with cream and sugar like your mom?”


He then proceeded to go to the kitchen and pour a cup. Dad and I pretended to bury our heads in the paper nonchalantly.

“Would you like to read the comics?” My husband asked, handing the boy a section of the paper.

“I like to do the SODUKU.” He replied.

“I like to read the op-eds, your Dad likes to do the crossword, and now the SODUKU can be your section of the morning paper.”

With that, we three sat in quiet silence, drinking our coffee and reading the news for about 33 and a half seconds.

“I’m going to go play with my leggo’s now.”

“O.K. Honey. I’ll call you when it’s time to get ready for school.”

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Breaking News: Harris and Kilroy WIN OHIO Seats!

Breaking political news from the heart of Ohio:

This just in -- Mary Jo Kilroy (D) won her U.S. Congressional race by a margin of 2,311 votes, and Marian Harris (D) won her bid for The Ohio House of Representatives by a nail biting 735 votes!

I am thrilled for both of these outstanding campaigners. Way to go Girls!

Now I have only met Mary Jo on a few occasions, and can not say much beyond what most people already know, especially in regard to the truly nasty nature of what this woman had to endure in her last two campaigns. But I can tell you a little bit about Marian.

When I was approached and asked to run for political office two years ago, the mere idea was a shock to my system. Marian was one of the first candidates I met along the way, so I asked for her advice. Even though I was a total stranger, Marian invited me into her home. She served a delightful blend of Chinese flowering tea, and indulged my constant questioning for an entire afternoon. At the end of the day, she sent me on my way with a stack full of books and reports to read.

“Keep them as long as you like dear, but make sure I get them back. I’ll need them if I decide to run again.” She said as she waved goodbye from her brightly colored front porch. I was a total stranger, and she entrusted me with hundreds of dollars worth of valuable campaign material!

After reading through everything she gave me, I eventually decided to run, and Marian was there for me when I did. She introduced me to the people who helped launch my campaign. She gave me tips on building support, dealing with the press, and fundraising. I called her all the time with questions, and she was always there for me, willing to share her time and insights. During those conversations, I often thought about her grandchildren and how lucky they are to have her. Marian could move in with The Walton’s and feel right at home. She is genuine, real, open and honest. Not the typical politician type at all.

I am so glad Marian won her race. She is far and away one of the most honest and forthright people I have ever had the pleasure to know. Really. One thing I have learned about the world of politics is that most, if not all of the players are snakes. These people will pretend to be your best friend just to see what they can get out of you. They will tell you lie’s with crocodile smiles, hoping you will spread their rumors to knock someone out of the game. Everything is a set up as a double blind maneuver. It’s sickening. They will try so hard to get close to you, to gain your trust, and to set themselves up as your “inside advisors” when all they really plan on doing is cutting your throat when the game is done. It’s a nightmare; like waking up as a character on Paris Hiltons “Who wants to be my BFF” show. The only twist is these people play the game with godliness instead of New York jet Set Cool. The game is to see which snake can act more pious than the Pope in order to fool the press and the public.

But not Marian.

After all I have seen in the past two years, after all the back stabbing bull; Marian’s win restores my faith in the system.

Sometimes the good guys (and gals) really do win after all.

What are you reading now?

What are you reading now, online, in print, and for daily news?

Currently I am enjoying an old copy of The Complete essays of Mark Twain that I found in the back room of a local antique store a few days ago. One essay in the book I found particularly enjoyable is titled That day in Eden. It is narrated lovingly by a wise and sympathetic Satan, telling the story of the moment when Adam and Eve lost their child like innocence by eating the apple.

For online reading, I am hitting The Huffington Post, (mainly to keep abreast on Depak Chopra's current struggle to find harmony with his personal Zen in the face of meany editorial attacks) and I'm hooking into Chris Brogans site, and a site called Alltop . ALLtop is great because you can pick a subject you like, (such as news, writing, animals, art, or blogging) and then quickly scan the first paragraph of what everyone is currently posting on that subject. I found Alltop through my new buddy Chris Brogan, whose web site is just chock full of information on how to better your blog.

Hopefully, this site will improve and become more fun for you readers as I try out a few of Chris's techniques.
Three suggestions he shared that I am using in this post include, asking a question of your readers, embedding links to sites that are useful to your readers, and the use of photos to entertain your readers.

(Whadda ya think Chris, do I pass blogging 101?)

Monday, December 01, 2008

Getting "Back" to it

Oh my aching back...

I was doing fine, just going about my business, cleaning the house and moving the furniture after our big turkey day soiree, when, BANG!

You know how it works-you do all sorts of heavy lifting and then something S-N-A-P-S when you do a tiny little twist while bending over to pick up a feather.


If the writing rambles a bit tonight, -my apologies. It just means the pain killers are kicking in.

The good news is, I am laid up in style. I am blessed with TBDFITL (That's Ohio State Buckeye speak for a really great family.)

I'm sitting up in bed with my heating pad, a big glass of ice water, and my brand new HP G60 125NR Notebook computer that my hubby and kids bought me for an early Christmas/Birthday present.

I adore this computer, and will be happy to provide a review if anyone out there is interested. For that matter I could review quite a few little tech toys as I am a total gadget geek.

I know the idea is a bit off topic for this blog, but with the holidays on the way, it seems like a helpful use of my blogging energy to share the pros and cons of a few possible gift ideas with my friends out there in bloggerville.

What say ye dear readers, would you like this blog to go there?

Or maybe I should just narrow the focus of this space to the topics of writing, publishing, and use of social media. Or I could stick with politics...but I suspect we are all a bit worn out on that topic for a while. (If you're not, then I'm not the only one who needs a chill pill.)

It is time for a topic change. Thats for sure. So you all tell me... What would you like for Christmas from this site?

I would surely appreciate your ideas.

-But before I get "back" to it, I think its best I log off for the night.

Either this computer has the magic ability to split itself into twin screens, or the percoset is kicking in.

Nightie Night Wabbbbiiiiitttttssssssssss.................

Splitting Hares - Limited Edition Cel - 2001
Bugs Bunny GossamerMad Scientist Released 2001
Hand Signed By Chuck Jones
Unframed Price: $1350
Available at:
Alexander Ross fine Art Gallery

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Holiday Gift Ideas

I came across this amusing little link over at Shakesville, and thought it would be nice to assist my fellow bloggers with their holiday shopping. So for those of you who missed Black Friday (or managed to survive it), heres a few ideas to get yer shop-hop in gear:

We begin with the
Darth Vader Toaster -a must for all creative cooks of the future, and it runs off the optional light saber battery pack too!

How about an upside down X-Mas tree to make the Yoga enthusiast of the family feel right at home.

There's the Star Trek Bottle Opener sure to beam up smiles from the sci-fi fans in the family, that is, if you can coax them to come up out of the basement.

Or how about some big bear feet. A great gift for the practical joker in the family who wants us all to believe BigFoot lives in the back yard.

(You never know...with a few well placed footprints in the snow, and a video upload to Youtube, you might just have the next big thing with this gift.)

And if all else fails, you could always get the family some gift certificates from Rocco's Tattoo Emporium.


Note to Self:

*-Call Grandmas doctor and have her medication changed

Happy Holydaze to all.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

WKRP Turkey Drop

"As God as my witness, I thought Turkeys could fly!"
-Mr. Carlson, WKRP in Cincinatti

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Write Right

Illustration of a scribe writingImage via Wikipedia
Writers update:

It's been a busy week for my keyboard. Clackity-clack.

I submitted one article to Redbook and the Ladies Home Journal, of which I have not yet received a response. It usually takes about six weeks with the top tier rags, so no worries there mate...just anticipation.

I wrote another that was accepted to a magazine called Journeys, and two more for a newspaper called The Liberty Voice.

I am also making good progress on my novel, which feels great, because as writers well know, "The Novel" always seems to take the back burner to everything else in life.

This is the sixth book for me, well I should say the sixth attempt. The first was just something I put together as a supplement for classes I taught.

The second was a privately published collaboration for an organization I belong to.

The third was a disaster! I made the neophyte mistake of trying to put everything into it, including the kitchen sink. (It was going to be The Great American Novel, yanno.) Good Gatsby that thing reads like scattered pages bound up after a library bombing!

The fourth book is a work of historical fiction based on an Ohio family at the turn of the century. I made a DVD documentary to go along with it that is currently available at several libraries and the Ohio Historical Society. The book never got finished, but the documentary did, so I guess that's a partial success. One of these days, I'll get back to it, but not now.

The fifth attempt was a book I co-authored with a wonderful writer about women in politics. We self published to get it out there quickly for this years election, and even had a University Press lined up for wider distribution, but that one is now a dead horse. Pity. It was actually a respectable little piece of prose.

And now, I'm on number six.

This one is fun. I look forward to spending time with my characters and creating the world they live in. I am hopeful this one just might make it out of the nest and fly. It feels different than the others. It has an excitement and a comical edge to it that none of the others did. It also has a very pointed focus, which helps a lot.

I've learned so much about the craft of writing from this process, and all those lessons are showing up in the pages of this new work. -And really, that's the key...Mamma always said "Practice makes perfect!"

With that sentiment in mind, here's a great little story my fellow scribes might enjoy:

An esteemed Harvard professor and published author offered an advanced writing class all the students were clamoring to attend. On the first day, the lecture hall was packed. The instructor walked in, looked around the room and told the students to take out a pad of paper and a pen. Then he said, "So you all want to become writers heh? Well then WRITE!"

And with that, he left the room.

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Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Monkey Balls

I've got monkey balls in my basement. Also known as hedge apples or horse apples, these lumpy fruits of the Osage Orange tree are known by many for their use as a spider repellent.

My tweenkin daughter just moved into the basement, for some much sought after teen privacy and "space" so we went a walking to find her some monkey balls.

A few days later, my husband spotted a spider by the fireplace. As he was about to evict the little sucker, a thought occurred to me, and I stopped him dead in his tracks.


"Let's do an experiment. I want to see if those monkey balls really work."

So the family gathered round the hearth, with green ball and flashlight in hand, watching the reaction of our little eight legged intruder, as "Deal or No Deal" blared on in the background, ignored.


Ol' spidy did not mind the monkey ball one bit.

So we cut it in half to see if that would do the trick.

Still no reaction.

"I wonder what kind of spider he is?"

"I don't know, but I'll bet he comes from Washington D.C."


"Because he sure is slow to react."

With that, the family consensus was to head off to bead, and resume our research in the morning.

Of course, our little guest was still there the next day, happily spinning his home a mere six inches away from the horrid hedge apple.

Our conclusion: either monkey ball magic is a myth, or we have a spider with the soul of Martin Luther King, for he has surely overcome.

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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Honoring Veterans day

My Grandmother: A real Rosie the Riveter!

Her dad: Leader of the 42nd Rainbow Division band under General Black Jack Pershing.

Grandmas twin brother: "Uncle Inky" a WWI Doughboy, who went off to war with his father at the tender age of 14.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

How Lame

In honor of Thanksgiving, and the soon to be upon us LAME DUCK
Season, I offer some amusing visuals to give you something to quack about.

"But I thought you didn't LIKE that bill..."

(I have several good captions for this one, but none I am willing to post on the web. So good readers, chime in and create your own.)

Did I mention I'm cooking for 14 people this Thanksgiving? Yeah, just pass me an apron and call me Dolly Domestic.
I can smell that turkey cookin already!

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Happy Halloween!

We had a great grand Halloween celebration with lots of kids and costumes. The neighbors all dropped by for "goul-osh, cider, and bunches of other pot luck treats. One gal did up a veggie tray with carrots sticking out of the dill dip. She put little radish slices on the tips to make it look like fingers. Creepy crunchy goodness. Yum.

My neighbors down the street put out a sign saying "HELP! We are surrounded by scary McCain Voters!" (Their house has an Obama sign, and their neighbors on both sides and across from them all have McCain signs.)

It was pretty funny.

For my part, I carved a political pumpkin. Late that night after the festivities were over, my kids and I snuck down to the Obama house, put our punkin on their porch, rang the doorbell and hid. The owners came out to find our gift. They took the pumpkin and put it on a pedestal as the feature of their display. The kids and I were grinning from ear to ear as we watched. We wanted them to know they were not alone, and that they have neighbors who really do care.

I thought it was very symbolic of the CHANGE we are all looking for in this election. Instead of arguing with the opposition, we did something to make our neighbors feel a little HOPE.

It was a SWEET TREAT for all.

Of course, some McCain supporters have other ideas. (Click here to see the video of a woman who would not give Halloween candy to children unless they support McCain.)

Friday, October 24, 2008

Glowbama Pumpkin Carving Contest

Win a free ipod and Change the World!
That's right folks, it's time for the first annual Barack Obama Pumpkin Carving Contest!

Anyone can enter. Just carve your Punkin, take a snap shot and send it in. Winners will be announced the night before the big election. (One rule: No attack Punkins allowed, cause yanno, it's a fun family kind of thing.)

Check out the contenders:

-Pretty creative... but come on bloggerites, I know you can win this thing! Pull out those kitchen knives and show us what you've got.

(It's by far a much healthier outlet than what a certain misguided McCain supporter did. )

Have some fun and Change the World!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Family Friendly Workplace

A mother holds up her child.Image via Wikipedia Joe asks to take off work early on Friday to play a round of golf with the boys. No problem (He’s networking.) Jill asks to take of work early on Friday to volunteer in her child’s classroom, and eyebrows are raised and suggestions made that maybe Jill does not really care about her job. Jill gets the message that if her family is her first priority, maybe she should just leave the workforce and stay at home…where “good” mothers belong.

But the reality is most families need duel incomes to survive. Jill must work. For that matter, Jill WANTS to work. She wants to take care of her family too.

This old “between a rock and a hard place” scenario is the basis of The MOMMY WARS. One side says women are traditional caregivers, and should fulfill that role in the home. The other side says women who want careers should have ample opportunity to compete with men on a level playing field. They want all day every day kindergarten, and state funded daycare, and passage of The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act.

Now, I am all for the Ledbetter Act, and Early Childhood Development, but it seems to me there is a middle ground we are missing in this debate:

Women have worked along side their men since the beginning of time. Go back to the Hunter Gatherer societies, and you will see, women providing the majority of the food.
Seventy percent of the food consumed by prehistoric peoples consisted of plant material, and only thirty percent came from the hunt.

Some scientists believe the tendency for right handedness -- which is passed on the maternal side -- comes from these gathering gals. They say women would hold their babies with their left arm because the children were comforted by the sound of the heartbeat, while working with the right arm. In other words, the girls were doing twice as much “providing” as their male counterparts, with one hand tied behind their back!

I wonder why we never see anything about that in those cave man documentaries on The History Channel.

In agricultural societies, women also worked along side their men. Women milked cows, gathered eggs, fed livestock, and harvested food. The difference between then and now is simply that children are no longer allowed in the workplace, because the workplace is no longer part of the home or community. The industrial revolution changed everything.

So we have a new standard of work ethics in the modern world; 9 to 5 Monday thru Friday, with a little overtime thrown in for good measure. This is a problem for primary caregivers. They simply can not compete for promotions and raises under the current system. I have always said I can put in a sixty hour week, and still be a good mom; I just need control of my schedule to do it. As the primary caregiver for my family, my schedule must fluctuate with the needs of my children, my husband, my pets, and sometimes my aging parents. I am in charge of doctors’ appointments, dentist appointments, visits from Joe the plumber, and Jill the electrician. It is my responsibility to make sure the kids get on the bus at 8:30, and are home safe at 3:30. I am the one in charge on snow days, teacher work days, late start days and holidays. I attend the PTO meetings and go to school events and conferences. I bring food for classroom parties, and chaperone for field trips. It’s expected, and I don’t mind doing it one bit. I just need the ability to do some of my other work early in the morning or late at night to manage it all.

Have you ever taken a good look at a school calendar? Almost every third week of the year includes either a late start day or a non school day. How many employers will put up with that?

To paraphrase the famous line from the Paul Newman movie “Cool Hand Luke” What we have here is a lack of communication.

I believe we need a new model in the work place. With today’s technology there is no reason why flex time, telecommuting, and job sharing programs can not become the norm. The industrial age is over. This is the information age, and yet we still can not seem to come to grips with the basic advantages of the technology we have harnessed.

Flex time works. There are plenty of studies to prove it. Employee satisfaction goes up when people are in charge of their own schedules. Employee turn-over goes down. Companies who use these family friendly models attract the best and the brightest. A better worker pool means higher production and bigger profits.

Families with duel incomes and low daycare costs have higher net worth and more disposable income. That extra money fuels spending and boosts the economy.

Flex time and work from home also decreases rush hour traffic, and reduces our carbon footprint. It’s good for the environment.

Kids who have a parent at home, acting as a responsible hard working role model engage in lower rates of vandalism and get better grades in school.

If we really value the family as the core of society, why is Joe rewarded for golfing while Jill is considered “below par” for volunteering in the schools? I don’t get it.

I suggest we could jump start our economy and solve a great many social problems by creating tax incentives for eco friendly, family friendly businesses, willing to employ some of these proven strategies in the workplace.

The bottom line is; IT WORKS!

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Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The Welfare Queens of Wall Street

Gustave Doré's illustration to the European fa...Image via Wikipedia Here's my latest column for The Huffington Post, titled: The Welfare Queens of Wall Street.


Gather round kiddies, its story time:

Once upon a time, Ronald Reagan rallied Republicans with his tale of the big bad “welfare queen” who cruised around the kingdom in her pumpkin colored Cadillac stealing all the peoples gold. His story was a fabrication of course, but did much to solidify the convictions of the “pull yourself up by your own bootstraps” crowd. Now we have welfare queens on Wall Street begging for a bail out while spending all our money at the spa. Oh how the tables do turn.

The plight of these poor little rich men started when the wicked witch of Deregulation came to town. George Bush was a believer in the fairy tale of the “ownership society.” The premise; capitalism is king, free markets are the Holy Grail, and the big bad monster of government must be completely crushed like a little bug under the cowboy boot of consumerism. Wealth and prosperity will trickle down to those who deserve it, and away from those who don’t. (Excuse me for saying so, but I am not overly fond of being “trickled on” by a bunch of Monopoly men.)

What we are talking about here is supply side economics. (I know, I know, economics is a tough subject, and not much fun, but bear with me, and I shall try to provide a little stimulus in the package.)

Here’s a quick background: Regan believed spending creates wealth. So the idea is, spend more than you have, and riches will abound. It’s kind of like saying instead of saving your money in the bank, just max out your credit cards to say, a trillion dollars or so while waving your magic wand saying “there’s no place like home.”

But to put it in folksy Sarah Palin slang, “By-golly, that sure didn’t work worth a diddly now did it.” (Wink)

Bill Clinton did not believe in such magic, and refused to drink the kool-aid, so when he took office, he created a plan called “Pay as You Go.” Bill balanced his budget, and left us with a nice fat national savings account. (Thanks Bill!) But George Bush did not like Bill. He liked Ron’s idea better. So George and his pals in the GOP decided to spend every last dime in that ol’ savings account, and then spend more and more and more!

The problem is, George and his buddies did not read the entire memo on Keynesian economics, which basically says deficit spending is O.K. in the short term. In other words; be fiscally responsible, but if your car breaks down, go ahead and use the credit card to fix it, cause keeping the ol’ engine running in order to get to work is better than losing your job. They just sort of skipped over that “in the short term” part, and just ran with the shop till you drop plan like Brittany Spears on a bender.

The politicians of the GOP were living high on the hog in this fairy tale world and bringing home the bacon big time. Yes sir’ee Jim Bob, it was a grand old party. They could campaign to the home crowd on the ever popular “no new taxes” mantra while lining their districts with endless payouts of pork pulled from your pockets. (Just ask The Welfare Queen of Wasilla: Alaska got the biggest helping of all.) But even that was not enough. These supply-siders, or “voo-doo economists” as Bush Senior once called them, wanted to deregulate everything. No Rules! No oversight! No government! Let the free market take care of itself! Which is exactly what they did. The busy little beavers of the GOP worked their noses to the ground making new laws to unmake old laws, and set the wild markets free.

Once the markets were deregulated, lots and lots of bad (subprime) loans were made, with No Bank Left behind. It pretty much burst everybody’s bubble.

Now, the GOP will tell you the poor are to blame, (because everybody knows they don’t know how to handle money.) They will say these “irresponsible” borrowers messed up their whole plan and caused the housing bubble to burst. (“Bad poor people!”, “Bad!”)

It’s convenient for the GOP to blame the poor, because this is the one group that is least able to fight back, and the group least likely to vote for them anyway. But the numbers don’t lie folks. While the poor did in fact get caught in this web, and did default on a number of loans, the total percentage of those loans is nowhere near big enough to cause a world market collapse. Look around. This mortgage crisis is not restricted to urban low income neighborhoods here at home. (If this was just a problem in the projects, I guarantee it would never have made the front page.) No, we are talking about world market collapse. We are talking about the foreclosure of McMansions, ocean front estates, and banking failures on a global scale. (As if the poor could pull that off.) This crisis did not occur because the poor abused the free market principle of deregulation to rip off Wall Street, this crisis occurred because the greedy ghost of Gordon Gecko is the acting grand wizard behind the curtain of deregulation policies.

The time has come where conservatives can no longer laugh at progressives with snide remarks of seething fiscal and moral superiority. Their “guy” was wrong. Their plan did not work, and their addiction to the fear mongering politics of imperialistic saber rattling for oil has torn their precious little family values plank into a million little pieces.

There is a price to pay for this folly, of that you can be sure. Judgment is coming, and it commeth right soon. We are facing job losses, business failures, a freeze up in the financial markets, and a very long, severe recession. Change is on the way my friends. Ya, you betcha.

No matter what Congress does now, it’s too late to stop that. The best they can do is minimize the damage, and I would not put too much hope on that because as anyone in Washington will tell you, if you ask two economists their opinion, you will get six different answers. The good news is, in this case, for the first time in world history, all the economists are in agreement on one thing: we are in some really deep doo-doo.

Here is what the American people need to understand, and what they are never, ever going to hear from a politician: You are going to have to pay for this mess, and it is going to cost each and every one of us dearly. We are in a very, very deep debt. We have two wars going on that we can no longer pay for. Our infrastructure is crumbling. Our jobs are going overseas, and our addiction to oil is killing us. It is time to tighten our belts and circle the wagons. As Nancy Pelosi said in a press conference yesterday, “We have a huge budget deficit which we could get relief from if we end the war in Iraq. We have a huge trade deficit which has an impact on the fiscal budget health of our country which would be greatly relieved if we reduced our dependence on foreign oil and did so soon.”

Pelosi took the stage, surrounded by a dozen economists including Nobel Prize winner Joseph Stieglitz, who added, we need a “comprehensive plan, not just based on trickle down economics, not just going to financial markets, but at least some of the money going directly to households and to meet infrastructure needs.” He also focused on the development of green technologies as a major component of the solution.

So climb aboard the magic school bus kiddies. We are about to embark on a wild ride, and learn a whole new way of living in the grand ol’ U.S. of A.

I know The American People are strong enough to overcome this crisis. But I worry the voters will not be smart enough to remember how it all began. I fear, as we experience the hard hitting blows of inflation, voters will retaliate against whoever is in power at the time, which means that even if we vote for Democrats this year, and bring in a fresh new group of leaders, ready and willing to turn this mess around, the Republicans will have a sweeping victory in 2012. They will approach hungry, hurting voters with that tempting poison apple of trickle down policy, dressed up in the costume of tax relief, and rule the kingdom once again.
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Thursday, October 09, 2008

Remembering Billy Jack

Does anyone remember the 1970's counter culture film Billy Jack?

Last night I took my kids to visit my old high school, an alternative learning environment much like The Freedom School depicted in the movie. We called it The A.P. (short for Worthington High School Alternative Program) but most of the people around town just called it "The Zoo."

My munchkins were flipping out. A school where kids make the rules? Where you can paint on the walls or break out into song on the stage of "The Big Room" whenever you like? Where you call the teachers by their first names? Where every teacher and every student each have an equal say and equal vote on how the school is run? Where nobody locks their lockers, (as that would be an insult to the integrity of your fellow students.) Where kids can teach their own classes, or write up a contract with a teacher, to go anywhere in the world to learn anything they would like?

Yeah babies, that is where mommy went to high school: in a totally non-institutionalized institution, where peace, learning, responsibility and respect all went hand in hand.

Does anyone else still value that?

With politics as it is right now, I drew a number of parallels during my visit to the old stomping grounds. The A.P. is a great example of thinking outside of the box, to create something new and different, and infinitely better.

People fear change, just like the people in town who called us "zooies." way back then. But the old school is still going strong, and has produced some amazing citizens, who have done some pretty cool things over the years.

I don't know about you, but I don't fear change at all. I'm actually really looking forward to it.

You Tube would not allow permission to embed the video from the film here, but if you remember the movie, you will get a real blast of nostalgia by clicking this link. It will take you to the Billy Jack trailer and theme song "One Tin Soldier by Coven. Excellent tune, and a great old independent film with a message that still resonates today.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Tina Fey is on Fire!

Tina Fey is a dead ringer for Sarah Palin. Ya gotta love her!

Monday, September 22, 2008

The Ohio Hurricane

Thurber BookImage by SideLong via Flickr
"Columbus is a town in which almost anything is likely to happen, and in which almost everything has.”
-James Thurber

We all remember the funny James Thurber story, The Day The Dam Broke, about a panicked mob running east down Broad Street at the mere mention of the 1913 flood that devistated the capitol city of Columbus, OH. One can only imagine what Thurber would do with the tale of The Ohio Hurricane as Ike left over a million midwest residents without utilities for over a week.

Maybe the story would go a little something like this:

There are few alarms more terrifying than “The Hurricane’s about to hit!” yet that is exactly what Ohioans are up against, at least until the November elections are over. Right now, over one million Ohioans are frustrated by lack of power. We call them Democrats.

As the storm approached rumors flew up and down High Street with warnings from weathermen on the impending tropical depression sure to cause damage during the post convention period of September, 2008. People braced for the worst; the entire state abuzz with the hum of placid pundits; arguing, computing, wheedling, offering, refusing, and yet never, ever compromising or running for cover. Fears of long lines in supermarkets, gas stations and polling places prevailed.

As winds howled, lights went out and freezers thawed, people mobbed the stores for generators and Ice. (Without cable T.V for the Browns game, these items were mostly used to rig various contraptions of self electrocution.)
Those unable to find such necessities gathered on the streets and fired up their grills, cooking every rotting thing in their ice box, including Nutty Aunt Norma’s Fruit Cake from Christmas 1973. Instead of hunkering down inside the safety of their homes, Ohioans came outdoors for wild and windy tailgate parties with neighbors, strangers, and even strange neighbors. They came together as a team in community solidarity, with offerings of freezer burnt meat. Thus is the nature of the Buckeye, always honoring tradition; fighting for every three yards in a cloud of dust, armed with bad bratwurst and day old bread. Brave souls held their ground during the disaster, following in the footsteps of dear old Marc Dann who once told the Governor, in the language of Julius Caesar, they might as well try to move the Northern star as to move him. (Alas, the poor Danster was unaware he was heading south at the time.)

Other politicians were also busy braving the weather, and wondering what in the world to do in a statewide emergency, with no phone banks or robocall robots on line. They soon determined, in an unprecedented act of bipartisanship, the best course of action in such a crisis would be to harness wind energy and litter the city with a flurry of printed campaign debris.

As gusts reached up to 75 mph, siding ripped from houses, trees fell, stock prices plummeted, and some people began to run. (Actually everyone ran, except the conservatives, who thought it best to lay low in bad weather.) It may be they suddenly remembered, all of a moment, that women voters DO count, and this might just be the source of the seething storm. Whatever it was, the people began to stir. They ran up Broad St, clamoring for the Statehouse steps. Soon others joined in. News boys (and girls) were in high spirits. Portly old gents of public affairs broke into a trot, and inside of ten minutes, everybody on High street was running with the herd. “The Hurricane’s coming! Ohio is in the eye of the storm!” Reported CNN and FOX. Soon thousands upon thousands were running like wild. GO LEFT! GO RIGHT! GO GREEN! They cried.

Some unknown official grabbed a megaphone, giving official endorsement to the panicky rush. “Change! Change!” came the calls from both halls, as winds whipped down established lines of power as ground beef went bad. At first this tended only to add to the confusion and increase the panic, for many stampeders thought they heard soldiers bellowing “Man the Swiftboats!” -Thus increasing the calamity all the more.

Black streams of people braved the storm, flowing into campaigns and registering to vote in numbers like never before. Fickle housewives fed the political PMS of both parties with their shouts and screams from the HILL(ary) Top.

One visitor in an airplane, (a Presidential politician perhaps,) was hard put to divine a reason for the panic of the straggling, agitated masses below. No Ohio Hurricane could ever match the winds of the battered gulf cost, and yet the winds raged beyond any ever seen by any Buckeye alive, blowing down street signs, ripping up trees, and tearing approval ratings to minuscule shreds.
Meanwhile on the ground, Nutty Aunt Norma was in a real pickle. First she ran to the left, but then ran to the right, confused by the ever shifting winds. The beating gusts blew her right out of a gathered group of girls and into the middle of the road, lost and confused. We found her eventually on the porch of an OSU frat house, perched atop a wayward Inniswood Gardens statue, with a note from a Unicorn attached to her dress. She was as frazzled as a plucked chicken in a fox den, poor thing. The authorities arrested her of course, as statue abductions are a serious problem in the capitol city.
The people ran and ran as trees turned to toothpicks and vinyl siding took flight. I drew up alongside a woman as I fled with the others. “What in the world is going on?” I puffed.

“Don’t ask me, ask GOD!” she cried, invoking her new found Palin power.
“Holy Baked Alaska, our Moose is Cooked! ” came the reeling response. For a moment, I felt sure they were right and fell into a slump, waiting for the winds of un-change to overtake us all with a thundering WMD (whirlwind of mass destruction.)

Then, in a moment of calm, I noticed everyone was running on foot. Nobody fled the storm in their SUV’s or Hummers. Apparently they could not afford the gas. No matter which way the wind blows, that is one thing we can all agree on.

It will be four years or more before we know the extent of the damage from The Famous Ohio Hurricane, and I can only hope, by then the mess will finally be cleaned up, and we will all be able to look back through the windows of our solar paneled homes, and laugh.

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