Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Irene Fails to Deliver on Overhyped Drama

Psshh...that's just some fun redecorating

I don't know about you guys, but I'm pretty bunched up about the news coverage of Hurricane Irene. SO much ado and only 40 deaths, as of today. Only 9.4 million without power...only an entire town seeing Japanese style flooding in VERMONT. Vermont! Who cares about them?

In this day and age, post Katrina, there's no need to evacuate major metropolitan areas along the east coast for a trifling Cat 1 hurricane! If Katrina taught me anything it's that we should all just ignore warnings and wait and see. No one ever got hurt by taking a "wait and see" attitude. Truly, after 2005 we should just assume that the worst has happened. Bad things don't happen again if they happened six years ago. So, the media got to go off on a tangent to make some money for vendors who catered to scaredy cats.

After all, a few people packed up and left their homes: for what? It wasn't worth it if the house was still there when they got back! Why....they could have ridden that one out, and everyone knows that hindsight is 20/20 and also foresight. That's why they call it hindsight. When a weather expert is calling for you to leave because a potentially devastating natural calamity is heading your way, it's never the order of the day to LISTEN.

What do they know?

I've seen bigger

If they knew anything at all, the news outlets would have told people to STAY because again, let me reference Katrina, it's plain fact that more ratings come from people begging for help from their roof tops, with a child drowned in a bedroom below them, than from people returning safely to property damage. Who wants to watch people leave an emergency shelter of their own accord? People were riveted by deaths at the Superdome. Just like everything else, I feel I was promised a blockbuster end of summer event...and all I got was several hundred isolated incidents and 40 dead...FORTY! 

That's totally PG-13. I wanted R. I'm so disappointed.

People lived, and now they have all this extra bottled water and who's gonna drink THAT if there's no disaster afoot?!? No one uses bottled water.... Towns weren't wiped off the map. I mean, high rise buildings didn't collapse. This was so overhyped. This is typical Hollywood to blow up a movie and have it disappoint.

Unless...wait...Irene WAS a movie, right? It wasn't a real life event involving nature, which can't be controlled or predicted with scalpel precision, was it?

I have gargantuan expectations and I can't tell the difference anymore.

New Orleans, 2005

*Photos: dipity.com, ibtimes.com

Friday, August 26, 2011

Slap Yourself

Today what I have is not much at all, at least in terms of MY writing. What I offer you today is a snippet from a novel I adore, by an author I adore and a little bit of writing that sticks with me almost every day of my life. I want to share it because it says what it should, in a minimum of time and with eloquence.

"...why do we make it all seem like a crisis, over and over again? Why do we worry it all to death, like dogs with socks or chew toys? 'Look at it this way,' he said to me. 'In a hundred years? -All new people.'"
Anne Lamott   All New People

There ARE crises in the world; plenty of them. But for the most part our every day lives are filled with little emergencies that aren't at all. The late bill? The bowl of cereal for dinner? The physical or psychic pain you feel? Your child's braces? Really, in the grand scheme of things, it's all passing.

I don't know how this little bit of a wonderful story will work its way into your day, but give it a chance and let some of the chest tightening stress go. Be open to solutions and to new ways of thinking.

And remember that in a hundred years this is all someone else's ball of wax.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

It's Your Senior Year - New Boobs?

Where's Rosie the Riveter now?

Many people want to look as good as they feel when they're 75 years old.


Based on how I feel NOW, at my age, which is less than 75 by almost half…I think I look better than I feel already! But there’s a new trend out there, if the morning shows are correct, for senior citizens to be having plastic surgeries like body sculpting and breast implants.

In an interview with ABC's Good Morning America, Phyllis Porter (who's EIGHTY!) said:

"All my life I did things I was supposed to do," Porter said. "Never had sex until I was married — that's kind of rare nowadays. I always was conventional. I always did what I was supposed to do. Now I'm going to do what I want to do. I've earned the privilege. That's the way I feel."

Are you kidding me with this? That's so much more information than anyone of her generation should ever share. MY WORD. That's the sort of the thing a 19 year old tweets...with pictures of course...but not grandma!

How will we know who’s got gum and mints in their pocket, memories of when all you did was stare at the sun for fun, or had to have a coupon for a gallon of gas, if there aren’t wrinkles and sagging breasteses? 

Honestly, there are rules.

Old people should be seen and not heard, even though I'm sure they're talking; probably about stuff they've already told me twenty times. And they should really only be seen when it's a birthday or special occasion because, let's face it, no one wants to be reminded of their own mortality...that's sad.

People over “a certain age,” for these purposes 70, should be old codgers. Walking burlap sacks if you will. Or sitting burlap sacks…because they’re all in wheelchairs. I’m not one to be age biased, but who needs a bunch of old, vibrant, healthy adults walking around looking good and feeling good? That’s just poor taste.

It's like they're trying to tell us something....

*Photos: thehotglove.com, the Travolta dude credits himself, and try Googling "old people bird" and see what your browser page looks like...that's where I got the last one.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Claim Your Prize

I went to a resort while on vacation a long, long time ago. Every morning the dude would get on the PA system and tell the guests what activities were available for the day and I will never forget one thing he said almost every day:

If you don’t play, you can’t win.

He was talking about “crazy crazy sand volleyball” but I think it’s germane to every day life.

Sometimes things happen to us that seem good but overwhelming, stressful in their inherent demand of change, scary because they’re unknown. Even really wonderful events can be stressful and changing the groove you’ve known for so long is distressing in its mystery.

Imagine you’re on a boat and it’s cruising through rocky water. You’re bashing into hard ground, stony outcroppings and brackish waves. It’s your boat, so you ride it…what other choice is there? That’s just life pal! Sometimes the ride sucks. But then you look out on the horizon and see a different boat. It looks just as sturdy as your own boat, but it’s gliding on the water. It navigates the bumps with more ease and the waves only bounce it a bit. There’s no sloshing, no upheaval like your boat.

Let’s say that different boat is within swimming distance of your own boat and all you have to do is JUMP. You know how to swim, and you know that you can navigate the new boat because the language of sailing is the same over there. All you have to do is take the risk on the JUMP and a better life, a more fulfilling life awaits…just over there!

So what do you do?

Here are the risks…you have to swim, and you’re not used to swimming…but you know how.  You're used to your boat and all the people and things on it, but you can always sail that nice new boat back over to this one. You don’t know what kind of amenities the other boat has, but the way it’s gliding on the water and holding itself upright leads you to believe with certainty that it’s a sound vessel with a good crew. And the longer you watch it the more calm you feel.

Why not jump?

I’m not advocating that people leave their spouses and children to chase dreams and I'm not telling you to take every risk presented to you. That’s dumb. But there are times in life when a prize is awarded to YOU and it’s the right prize; the one upon which you bid in the silent auction that houses our dreams. And now you have to claim it.

Whatever your desire or goal is, when the time is right and it seems to fall into place before your eyes, without drama or complicated finagling on your part, maybe that means it’s yours to claim. The right path doesn’t need to be cleared…it just appears and you feel calm and happy at the thought of traveling it. This doesn’t mean it’s easy to walk the path.

But when you know it, see it and understand that it’s yours there is no reason to not travel it. Scary, exciting, mysterious and unknown as it is, the prize is yours to claim.

All you have to do is jump. You know who you are.

If you look closely
what you want is just through the window.

*Thanks Cracker Jack and Vincent Van Gogh for your pictures! The last one belongs to Ben Krisko...my friend.

Friday, August 19, 2011

SLAP! Now Shut Up and Listen.

A while ago I slapped Oprah, under the guise of her NOT being the boss of me, but here’s a secret you might already know:  Oprah IS the boss of me. Anytime I poke fun at her or her staff of writers I’m mostly just acting like a toddler…angling for negative attention from her over NO attention from her. (To date, the latter form of attention is all I’ve managed to garner. Sad really.)

Let me out myself: I drink her Kool-aid. I can’t help it. It’s delicious.

On we go. In the September issue of “O” there is an article detailing “A Month of Makeovers” and one of them (number 14 to be exact, on page 187) is called TAKE YOUR DEMONS TO LUNCH. I could have so much fun with that one on a Tuesday. Why isn’t it Tuesday??

Here’s what it says:

“’Otherising’ is the dangerous act of turning someone into the enemy just because he or she looks different, prays different, speaks different, or thinks different. Some of history’s most tragic events- wars, genocides, terrorist acts- began with ordinary people demonizing other ordinary people.”

I read this last night as I was watching the other boss of me, Jon Stewart, recap some of the headlines he’d picked to show how a certain political party (and/or its most vocal pundits) were calling for an economy fix…it went as you imagine it might. And by the end my blood was boiling. I was taking deep breaths and trying not to hate humanity as a whole and then Oprah threw some Kool-aid on my face and I came back to reality.

I “otherise” all the freaking time.

It’s how it happens to me that I see a FORMER politician who I once hated, on a talk show of some sort…perhaps one that’s been recently retired…and find myself really liking them now that they’re not in a position of control, now that they can speak their feelings and true thoughts versus those of a party line or path to re-election.

Can you guess which person
I didn't like at the beginning?

I do this when I’m confronted with any person whose beliefs are fundamentally different from mine…or even a person whose public actions are different from mine. The reality is that I think, most of the time, we really do have a common goal. Except in the case of psychopaths, I believe the usual person desires the same thing as me: acceptance, dignity, compassion and happiness.

So the author of this 14th makeover moment suggests that we take our foil to lunch. With ground rules: be curious, conversational, and real. Don’t persuade or interrupt. Listen, listen, listen.

You’re kind of already doing this.

When you read a blog, article or news item of any kind you’re taking a moment to listen without interruption to another person’s ideas. If you disagree it’s not the worst thing in the world. If you agree then it was a pleasant exchange. Either way you move on.

Most of the time we can have engaging conversation with our friends about topics upon which we disagree. And we stay friends…so why can’t we be civil to those whose opinions oppose ours? “I don’t want to see your demise, I just think there’s a different way” does emphatically NOT mean, “I hate you and I wish you were dead.” The two ideas are completely different but what we hear when an “Other” speaks is the second statement. And what they hear when we talk is the same sentence parroted back.

But I don’t believe either of us is saying that.

I’m a dye in the wool Democrat. I can’t help it, it’s just who I am. My heart bleeds for those around me though most people mistakenly perceive me to be “hard.” My father tells me that someday I’ll wise up and change my views, as he believes the policy of “Democrat” is one of immaturity. We have an argument every single time we broach any subject that can lead to politics…and washing the dishes can lead us down that path. So okay, maybe someday when my resources are closing in and I don’t have 30+ years of money making potential in my future, I’ll change sides and decide it’s time to keep that “wealth” in my own pocket.

And since a load of people in this population are that demographic of non-earners (in this particular example), I should listen to their opinion…because they have a right to be heard and to be respected. They DID work, they ARE out of time and energy and they DO deserve to keep what they have. But I have the right to give mine away; knowing there is more to be made.

So what works? A conversation and a compromise that begins only when we calmly, rationally and compassionately interact with one another.

No shouting, no banners, no megaphones...who brings a megaphone to lunch?

Photos: sayyippie.blogspot.com, ruthlessgolf.com, also www.erinhenkel.com for the "I drink her Kool-aid" reference. Oprah makes Kool-aid?

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Spaghetti is No Path to Success


A recent “entertainment” magazine article detailed a horrifying childhood of a popular actress. Before I go too far, I want to warn you that the images you’ll see and the story you’ll read is NOT for the faint of heart.

You’ve been duly warned….

Selena Gomez once had to eat dollar store spaghetti.

Like…as food.

I'm pretty sure this is "OK!" magazine..but it's Tuesday and
facts are irrelevant.

She actually GREW UP eating dollar store spaghetti and, if we're to believe the memories that survived that harrowing time: lots of macaroni and cheese. All of this during a time when, according to the article, her mother had to scrape loose change from the seats of their car to buy gas.

I personally had no idea Selena was old enough to come from a time when loose change could still buy gas.

Now, as we all know, Selena has done pretty well for herself. But this didn’t happen in a vacuum…heavens no. The article goes on to describe her mother waking up at the unfathomable hour of 6:15 every morning and sending the young Miss Gomez to school.


That’s well before most teenagers choose to wake up, and so I hope now you’re beginning to see the hard work it took that family to rise to the level of wealth and success they’ve attained.

They did this “EVERY DAY” according to the story.

Sometimes it’s easy to sit back in life and wish it would all come to you, easily and without all the elbow grease (idiom!). But it’s so great to hear real life stories of how people defied the odds and made it in this world with nothing but a food that has fueled an entire Mediterranean region for hundreds of years, and some loose change to fuel the car that every human living in abject poverty drives.

I’d say that we should all give them a round of applause, but I think they might be used to it by now.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Sports and Corelle

I live in a city with a Major League Baseball team and a National Football League team. By all rights, it’s Shangri La.  We even have a hockey team, but I'm not Canadian so I don't care about that. My "jewel on the river" tore down an old stadium and built two brand new ones (for the non-hockey teams, duh) that are only slightly less than state-of-the-art, because my fair city is in a perpetual drag behind the rest of the world on all counts. My town loves its teams…and loves to hate its teams.

We aren’t fair weather fans, exactly; we’re fans who show up time and again to either cheer them or deride them. Either way, we’re in their face. Because we built those yutzes a nice playground so dammit we’re showing up and telling them what we think. And, honestly, we don’t usually think very highly of our men on the field.

Last night I had occasion to attend one such MLB performance and found myself more than ready to leave after the 3rd inning rain delay had completed its first full hour. The $8 hot dog, $5 pretzel, and $8 Bud Lite had sufficiently told me I’d been to a major sporting event and the thought of the long walk back to the car, parked for only $2 because I had, for all intents and purposes, practically parked it in my driveway, seemed best attempted under dry skies. Anyway, the boys of summer were delivering a typical performance… a performance that even 12th row seats behind home plate couldn’t overcome.

My view, from my seat, with my camera. IMPRESSIVE!

And then when I got home I noticed something on my counter. A plate. Made by Corelle.

Here are some of the features, advantages and benefits:
Everybody has their own sense of style. Which is why we offer our Corelle® dinnerware in so many different patterns and shapes. But one thing everybody agrees on is durability. Dinnerware needs to last. We use a unique material called Vitrelle® , which gives our plates and bowls that legendary Corelle durability. It also gives them a number of other benefits that other brands can't offer.

Benefits like: being lightweight, microwave safe, fade resistant, dishwasher safe and stackable because of the greatest benefit of all…they’re chip and break resistant. How is this possible, you ask? They’re made of tempered glass! That’s right, Corelle offers windshields for plate ware. If you’ve ever had occasion to own or use a piece of Corelle then you already know it’s NIGH UNBREAKABLE.

And the best part is that the price point is almost always just right. (Meaning cheap!)

So…what does this have to do with sports and my less than fulfilling experience at the “ballpark?” I don’t know. I’m not Frank DeFord.

This is NOT me.
The mustache is where the
similarity ends....

But it did occur to me that what got my panties in a wad is how much stinkin’ money we pay to attend mediocre games. We don’t spend that much money on anything else…no one spends 50 large on a Geo Metro. There would be NO repeat business on a limp old hot dog that cost $10. And why oh why would a sane person spend $8 on a watery beer that costs...well, not that much for an entire 6 pack?!?

We’re a frugal lot when it comes to expenses like FOOD, or fuel to get us to our JOBS…but plant a stadium in a city and see what happens. People drop hundreds of dollars to watch lackluster performances just in case something miraculous and heartwarming and inspiring happens.

I found myself wishing one dude would hit a ball so hard and so fast that it would shatter the lights, just like Roy Hobbs does in the movie version of Bernard Malamud’s novel, “The Natural”…the novel ends somewhat more tragically and so we Americans chose to change all that for the awe inspiring moment that planted itself in my brain and sent me to the ballpark.

I went there looking for Spode.
We paid what we did for the promise of Wedgewood.
We left knowing we’d been served Corelle: that sturdy, usable, reusable and nigh unbreakable thing that will keep on performing whether you adore it or not.

Anyway. Go team!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Please Help a Child

I read this in an msnbc.com article from yesterday:

"The drought and famine in Somalia have killed more than 29,000 children under the age of 5, according to U.S. estimates, the first time such a precise death toll has been released related to the Horn of Africa crisis.
The United Nations has said previously that tens of thousands of people have died in the drought, the worst in Somalia in 60 years. The U.N. says 640,000 Somali children are acutely malnourished, a statistic that suggests the death toll of small children will rise."

I have written about giving of your time, your heart and your money. I've talked about how gigantic and overindulged we are as Americans. There truly isn't anything I can SAY about what's happening along the Horn of Africa...I am not a horror writer and this is a tragedy that I cannot adequately describe with words.

So today is different. This is what famine looks like.

This is a mother holding her baby as it starves to death.

(Courtesy: WFP- Judith Shuyler)

This child is 3 years old.

THIS child is receiving nutrition from relief organizations.

And this child IS GOING TO DIE
without help.
Please take a moment and give anything you can to help save the life of a child who just isn't getting enough eat, a child who is going to slip away from the embraces of her mother because there isn't enough FLOUR to make a dough ball, a child who will die in his father's arms as they make the trek to seek help.


I know stocks are tanking, jobs are being cut, benefits are being slashed, food and energy prices have gone through the roof and we all feel like we're drowning. But none of us is holding a baby who's dying in our arms because of famine. And if everyone gives what they can ($5 even!) we can change the course of this tragedy.

I don't think it's the worst thing in the world to ask people to skip one McDonald's value meal, one lunch one time, to help a child SURVIVE months and months of famine...that small hunger they'll feel before they eat dinner is nothing compared to what these babies are feeling.

"In giving there is a power, an understanding that you are just the vessel that wealth or energy flows through. You allow money to come in through your hands and out through your heart. To be empowered to give, to be moved to give straight from the heart, is a feeling that all the money in the world could never buy."  - Suze Orman (Women & Money: Owning the Power to Control Your Destiny)

Here are the two charities I support:
The World Food Programme 
Oxfam International
For more charities working in Somalia, go here.

Please help a child whose only crime has been to be born in a country without food. Please help a mother or father who only wants their child to LIVE.

You have the power.

Photos: www.bighaber.com, www.newsmania.com, www.unmultimedia.com, www.newshopper-sulekha.com

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Apologies Emailers

Yesterday's blog was sent to your box in a shortened version. No one likes a shorty in their box! I believe I've fixed the malfunction and we'll be back on track Friday!

In the meantime, if you didn't click the post title and go to the site...well, I thank you for your tireless dedication to reading what I write. It's fans like you who make my world complete!  ;-)

See you Friday!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Life Before Facebook

As if....

Thanks to Facebook the pal in outer Mongolia
is still "in my life!"

What did you do before you bought your first PC? How did you fill your days?

I was thinking today about the relatively short time ago that I didn't have a personal computer at home, and what I did with my time. I read more, if that's possible, and it is...I probably watched more TV which I think is a sum zero trade-off, and I fancy that I knew considerably less.

Before I had Google literally in my pocket, I was content to NOT know an answer in the very moment that I realized I didn't know it. And I'm pretty sure I talked to friends more, hung out with them more and considered only the people I could routinely see, hear and touch my friends. I have a zillion friends now who are people I've never met. Thanks Facebook!

So we're connected via Twitter, Facebook, Google+ et. al...and I think we're way more disconnected which is I actually how I like it. As it turns out, I prefer the friends I've never met because they require so little of me! All they get to see is the happy, funny, sacrcastic fun-times Liz...and I never have to admit to being an insecure emotional trainwreck because I just won't chat during that time!

Facebook has really allowed me to live my best life: that of a cloistered woman in the 1500's. Who knew that the age of burgeoning technoloogy, which keeps us uber connected, would be the same technology that allows me the anonymity and hermitted lifestyle of the medieval nun?

Now I have the freedom to do the things I want!

I'm sure that the printing press ruined people's lives way back when history was ancient, and TV did the same...video games spelled the certain death of life as that society knew it and now Facebook and the Interwebs have picked up the gauntlet. Let it never be said that the video gamers were an unmotivated lot.

What we've let them do is take over all of our lives!! Without Atari, how could I ever play Gardens of Time? I don't even want to think about that life.

*Photo credits: A screen shot and www.cleveland.com