Friday, June 29, 2007

Blizzard of the Month

For those fortunate enough to live in an area with a Dairy Queen, I highly recommend visiting in the next day or two to indulge in June 2007’s Blizzard of the Month; the Caramel Waffle Crisp Blizzard. DQ hails the Caramel Waffle Crisp Blizzard as “a flavorful mix of crunchy, freshly baked waffle cone pieces, rich chocolate chunks and luscious caramel, all blended to perfection with creamy DQ soft serve.” Their marketing does not come close to describing just how yummy this dessert is.

Although you can certainly order this same blizzard in July, when the Blizzard of the Month is the Kit Kat Blizzard, you will not receive the coveted two punches in your Blizzard fan club card. Since I am not a fan of the Kit Kat Blizzard, I will forego the two punches in July and try a new creation that I cannot help but think will be wonderful; Chocolate Covered Strawberry Waffle Crisp Blizzard. I will post in July the results of that ice cream test.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Tag - I'm It!

I was tagged to write 8 habits about myself by my friend Ali in New York (although we're friends from our days in DC), who was tagged by Deena in Tokyo, who was tagged by Montchan in Sweden and Tari in Tokyo (and so on and so forth). Essentially, this is a worldwide game of tag and the people I listed at the bottom of this email are now it!

The Rules of the Game:
1. Post these rules before your facts.
2. Each player starts with eight random facts/habits about themselves.
3. People who are tagged need to write their own post about their eight things and post these rules.
4. At the end of your post, you need to choose eight people to get tagged and list their names.
5. Leave them a comment telling them they're tagged, and to read your list.
6. Post your list in the comments of the list you were tagged on.

My Facts and Habits:
1) The only way I can accomplish a task is to work on a dozen tasks at the same time. My incredible ADD limits my ability to focus on a single thing and it is easier for me to handle multiple items and get them all done.

2) To get stuff done, anything done, I have to write it down. Part of this is being forgetful; the other part is having something to check off a list. If I have a list of things to do, they will get done otherwise I will go insane with the unfinished item on that list.

3) I routinely lie about my weight and age. I always tell people I’m 10 to 15 pounds lighter then I really am which is completely believable since I am roughly 4 to 5 inches taller then most women I know. If asked my age, I usually add about 2 to 4 years for 2 reasons; older women are taken more seriously and I look pretty average for my age, but amazing if you think I’m actually 4 years older.

4) To look younger, I work to enhance my favorite feature; my smile. I bleach my teeth. Luckily, Crest Whitestrips are my preferred method of bleaching and I do not have to spend oodles of money with the dentist. To maintain my radiant smile I have to do this two days a month; not bad for all the comments I get.

5) I have to bleach my teeth due to two very staining habits; coffee and red wine. While I have no intention of ever giving up red wine, I often contemplate how much time, money and effort I would save my not needing a very large cup of coffee every morning. This would not only save my pocketbook and my teeth, but would also save my clothes and car; I cannot go a since day without a drop of coffee on my chest or my passenger seat.

6) I drive a gas guzzling Jeep. No, it is not green and I don’t care. I have no public transportation options and was forced to get a car. I did not purchase my first car until I was 28 years old and I wanted something fun, young, sexy and able to handle a Minnesota winter. The rising gas prices and comments from tree-huggers does not cause any regret in my decision; my five mile commute keeps my guzzling down to a minimum.

7) My commute is often less then 5 miles. Many times, it is zero miles. I work from home frequently since most of my colleagues are in an office 1000 miles away. When I work from home, I rarely get out of my pajamas, listen to music while I work, do my laundry and play with the dogs in the backyard during, especially boring conference calls.

8) My dogs have a better life then most people I know. It is possible that I am personally responsible for the rise of the pet product industry. All the jokes about people who treat their animals like children don’t bother me at all. They have warm jackets in the winter, party hats for their birthdays, costumes for Halloween and Santa hats for Christmas. They eat gourmet food, get their hair cut more then I do, fly to NY once a year to visit family and have a babysitter. I cannot put a price tag on the joy they give me, but I can say it is much less expensive then putting a kid through college.

As you can see, one habit just builds right off the next. I could do this for days.

The following people are tagged, primarily because they have a blog, a websit, a myspace page or are on multiply.
wadE: My loving husband is tagged first, primarily because I want to see if he sees the same habits in himself that I see.
Wade: Might as well have the whole simpleprop gang post.
Alex: Ditto.
Drew: My cousin with the incredibly dry wit should provide for an interesting read.
Becca: Will force her to write on her blog.
Brian: See Becca’s reason.
Krissy: See if the best writer I know can somehow make bad habits sound beautiful (and I figured you would tag Renee')
Natalie: A little more getting to know you since I probably won't meet you until your wedding day.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

I ♥ (some things about) New York

Just after I turned 18, I left my home on Long Island for college in Virginia and have never considered moving back. Despite choosing to leave my home state, bad mouthing it often and now living over 1000 miles away, there are some very good things about New York. Unlike the famous slogan, I do not love New York, but there some things about New York that I love.

My family and friends: They are my backbone, my strength, my roots to this world and the number one reason I visit home time and time again. I appreciate their honesty about my attitude, my weight, my career and my relationships; the kind of brutal frankness that could only be delivered by a New Yorker. There is no such thing as passive-aggressiveness in a typical New York household, something I know it has taken my loving husband time to get used to. Everything is direct and delivered with enthusiasm. Arguments are loud, grief is all-consuming and joyous times are celebrated. Highs are high, lows are low, we love, we hate and there is really no middle ground; we like to refer to this characteristic as “passion.”

Jones Beach:The smell of salt water, sound of crashing waves, feeling of the sand and the boardwalk under your feet, taste of Manhattan Clam Chowder and big ice cream cones and sight of umbrellas and sunbathers dotting the never-ending strip of sand; a visit to Jones Beach is a feast for all the senses and summer does not feel the same without it.

Yankee Stadium: Even with the renaissance in classic stadium construction, nothing compares to the House that Babe Ruth built. Often referred to as the “Mecca of Ballparks,” entering the hallowed field is a moving experience even for those who are *gasp* Boston Red Sox fans. Whether it is the massive size of the stadium, the memories of historic moments on the field or the passionate fervor of Yankee fans, there is something for everyone to experience in the ballpark and I mourn the day our boys in pinstripes play on a new field.

Food: Many of the best five star restaurants in the US are in New York, but those are not the focus of the eating binges that dominate every visit home. It is the little places, often tucked away on side streets or hiding in a strip mall, that offer the best local dining. No trip to see my family would be complete without a slice of Alfredo’s sausage pizza, King House hot and sour soup, an everything bagel with cream cheese or a black and white cookie. Bringing and empty suitcase is always necessary to return with several loaves of Cardinali meat bread, Gabila's Knishes, hot Italian sausages, Wise garlic and onion potato chips, Sabrett Onions and Cake Mate festive fixings sprinkles.

Delis: The concept of a good deli is lost anywhere but the Northeast. Where else can you go and get a newspaper, 6-pack of beer, pint of potato salad, hot heros, lighter fluid, tampons and ice cream all in one little stop. I love visiting the Ed Woltmann Deli in Carle Place and screaming my order for a Pepperoni on a roll over the counter and getting a sandwich that is filled with a pound a meat piled high. Couple that with the best German Potato salad on the planet and you have yourself the quintessential Deli meal.

Christmas: New Yorkers love a good party, and nothing gives them more reason to have fun then a big holiday. While every holiday, from Easter to Columbus Day, is cause for celebration, nothing brings people together like Christmas. It really is the only time of the year to visit New York City; a walk down Fifth Avenue is a treat for young and old whether your best friends are stuffed animals at FAO Schwartz or diamonds at Tiffany’s. Christians and non-Christians alike are impressed by the beauty of St. Patrick’s Cathedral, and nothing says Christmas like the tree and ice-skaters at Rockefeller Center. Everything in New York is done big and over the top, and this permeates into everyone’s home. Walk into a New Yorker’s house around the holidays and you would swear you are entering the Christmas Display at Macy*s.

Shopping: While most marvel at high-end stores like Prada and Tiffany, the real enthusiasts know New York is the best place to bargain shop. Whether you are looking for deals on high end merchandise at sample sales or Century 21, or knock-off purses in back alleyways, you can fill up your suitcase with great items without emptying your wallet. New York is also the place to find rare items or odd stuff. Our favorite place to look for random things is Fortunoff. We always said if you couldn’t find something in Fortunoff, chances are it didn’t exist.

The Bronx Zoo: After visiting the San Diego Zoo, which is often touted as the best zoo in the world, I still stand by my conviction that the Bronx Zoo deserves all the prizes and accolades. It is the premier facility for wildlife conservation, saving more endangered species then any other zoo in the world. The habitats are amazing and offer visitors, young and old, the most intense and amazing educational experiences. Part of the draw is the juxtaposition of this beautiful zoo with its incredible landscapes against the backdrop of New York’s “toughest” borough. Living my earlier years just blocks from the Zoo’s entrance is a major factor on my love and passion for animals.

Broadway: I can hardly sit through a 2 hour Hollywood blockbuster, but would see a Broadway show every day of the week if I could afford to. Nothing beats the theatre for true entertainment. Thousands of talented actors pour their hearts and souls out for audiences daily without the fallback of the re-take or benefits of magical editing. I will remember the power of “Phantom of the Opera,” the hilarity of “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum,” and the music of “Rent” long after I have forgotten the latest major motion picture.

Camaraderie: The rest of the world was amazed at the kindness, strength, spirit and determination displayed by New Yorkers on the wake of September 11th. The images and stories captured by the media are the people I know; those who would jump into a burning building to save someone, would offer their couch to a person in need, would pull over to give a stranded motorist a jump (even if they are a Met fan) and would drop everything they are doing to help a child in need. New Yorkers have a rough exterior to survive the difficulty of living in a city that has survived it all; crime, pollution, corruption and terrorism to name just a few. At their core, New Yorkers are the most generous and thoughtful people you will ever meet. It is hard to crack their exterior and fully gain their trust, but once you do, you have a friend for life.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Quote of the Week

Destiny is not a matter of chance; but a matter of choice. It is not a thing to be waited for, It is a thing to be acheived.
-- William Jennings Bryant

Monday, June 25, 2007

Counter Culture

A simple mall run for new face powder turned into a social experiment when my sister Krissy informed me that scandalous sluts wear MAC. Until that moment makeup was nothing more then something I slapped on my face a few times a week to cover a zit or create the illusion of having an upper lip. Makeup choice was often dictated by what a friend was wearing or who was having a bonus week at Macy*s. It was distressing to think of all the potential messages sent simply by applying makeup from the sleek black MAC packaging.

Being the geeks that we are, we conducted an unscientific cultural anthropology experiment in Bloomingdales and Macy*s, analyzing those behind the counters and those purchasing products at the various makeup booths. Our goal of the study; to determine what makeup we should buy, based on how our personalities and backgrounds fit the counter’s profile. Though our studies were limited, our findings had a significant impact on our personal buying behavior; we both made purchases from a new company.

It is no coincidence that people of similar backgrounds end up purchasing from the same beauty counters; companies hire advertising and marketing firms to ensure the right messages are being delivered to aim for distinctive target markets. Most of these makeup companies are owned by the same parent company and the formulas of the merchandise is essentially the same, the difference is in the packaging and marketing to deliver products to a broader number of people.

The results of our study are not intended to offend, and are based solely upon our visual analysis of individuals in the Roosevelt Field Mall in Garden City, Long Island. Neither of us has a marketing degree, so analysis as to whether advertising is being delivered effectively to the proper market was out of scope for the purposes of this experiment.

-Study Results-
Blushing Beauties:
The category consists of brands primarily worn by those 25 and younger.
Stila: Tweens with money to spend. Tweens without money just hit the drug store and pick up cover girl or Wet N’ Wild.
Clinique: Think purity. Think prudes.
Elizabeth Arden: Clinique grows up.

Earth friendly brands and formulas aimed at those with sensitive skin who are older then the blushing beauties.
Biotherm: Naturally beautiful people who want that look like they are not wearing any makeup or those who really embrace the science and technology around skincare.
Clarins: Naturally beautiful people who want that look like they are not wearing any makeup or those who really embrace the science and technology around skincare and have money or love all things European.
Origins: In touch with the earth hippies and tree-huggers who are one step away from giving up makeup and embracing the au natural look.
Bare Escentuals: Corporate women who eat co-workers by day, organic vegetables at night and swear by Yoga.
Benefit: Redheads with freckles.
Prescriptives: Cross spectrum of individuals wanting to get an exact color match and are drawn to the brightly colored beakers and vials on display.

High Brows:
Major target market of makeup companies, baby boomers and early Gen X-ers, looking for their fountain of youth.
Bobbi Brown: Older women fighting the signs of aging through changes in makeup colors and styles, not surgery.
Estée Lauder: Conducting this test on Long Island, the counter was dominated by “North Shore Ladies.” Other areas have their equivalents; Minnesota has Edina, Illinois the Gold and Virginia it is McLean. Ladies who lunch and “play” tennis.
Christian Dior: High powered women, younger then 40 who are advancing quickly in their careers and carry Kate Spade purses.
Lancôme: High maintenance women who are still shopping for the perfect plastic surgeon and carry Louis Vitton; future Chanel users.
Chanel: Heavy users of foundation unable to crack a smile due to plastic surgery.
Yves Saint Laurent: Women who graduated from Chanel due to advancing age, stature or several more rounds of plastic surgery.

Blue Jobs:
Makeup for those who like lots of color and attention.
MAC: Sluts and homosexuals.
Shiseido: High class sluts and homosexuals or Asian women looking for bold eye colors.

After this extensive research, my face powder and blush were replaced by the much more appropriate Prescriptives brand to match my skin that is too light for fair, too dark for tan and attached to a body and brain with ADD who likes the bright colors in the display. I was considering Christian Dior, however, my skin, both physically and metaphorically, might not be thick enough for makeup with that much zing. Nothing, however, is coming between me and my MAC lipstick, I have to let my inner slut out sometime!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Quote of the Week

This one is dedicated to one hell of a gal (like the actress who said it)...

"I wrote the story myself. It's about a girl who lost her reputation and never missed it."
-- Mae West

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Random Thank You: Gas Light Inventor

Thank you to the inventor who added a “low-gas” light on the dashboard. This addition to the gas gauge has saved my life, or at least my car, on so many occasions. My inability to pay attention to the needle as is makes its way towards the big E would leave me frequently stranded, often in questionable weather or neighborhoods. The simple “bing” sound and well lit gas pump alerting drivers that the time to visit the gas station is the ultimate example of useful ingenuity. Your brilliance is beyond measure.

Monday, June 18, 2007

What's your Legacy?

The months leading up to my recent college reunion brought about overwhelming feelings of failure, remorse and regret and I could not understand why. Although my career, my relationships and my physical location have taken a completely different direction then the map I laid out for myself in school, the experiences were well worth the change; making friends from all over the world, seeing far and exciting places and meeting and marrying my soul mate to name just a few. If I had followed my dreams rather then my opportunities, I would have missed out on everything I have now. Knowing all that, I could not get past the dream I abandoned; life in the political fast-lane. After countless months of soul searching it dawned on me that my childhood dream of going into politics aligned with my desire to leave a lasting mark on this world. Had my choice to forgo a career in political equated to ending my chance of leaving a legacy?

One of the hardest things to come to terms with when making the decision to be childfree is the thought of leaving nothing behind when you are gone. Many of us have seen the successories poster on a wall that says; "A hundred years from now it will not matter what my bank account was, the sort of house I lived in, or the kind of car I drove...but the world may be different because I was important in the life of a child." Although it is possible to make an impact on a child that is not your own, being a parent provides real evidence to the next generations that you existed. While continuing to make the children of family and friends a top priority in my life, I realized it was important to leave my own legacy behind, but a major question remained; what could I possibly bring to the world as a product manager and business architect?

While my career choice brought me tons of opportunities, no one remembers what I accomplished last year let alone the next generation. Looking beyond my career at ways to leave a mark on the world, I realized the one thing I have that will last beyond me is my photos. Not that I am Ansel Adams with my art displayed in museums for millions to view, but my hobby and love delivers a more personal impact, capturing life’s little moments; a child’s laugh, a mother’s glance, a pet’s smile, a friend’s smirk. On vacation, I jump at the opportunity to take a photo of a family desiring to have everyone included. Nothing fills me with more joy then knowing families around the globe have a photo I took of them in their albums, seeing a photo I took on someone’s wall, hearing a teenager express surprise at how beautiful they are and capturing the everyday to remember it for all days to come.

"Photography is a way of feeling, of touching, of loving. What you have caught on film is captured forever . . . it remembers little things, long after you have forgotten everything." -Aaron Siskind

Webster’s defines legacy as something handed down from an ancestor or a predecessor from the past and that is what I hope to accomplish through my photography. I might not be penning novels that are read 200 years from now, or delivering speeches that change the course of humanity, but I hope the impact of my work brings joy to many. If one of my photos is hanging on someone’s wall in the future as the connection they have with family and friends of the past, if I can show people beauty they are unaware they possess, then that is the piece of me I left behind for future generations, and to me there is nothing more important I can accomplish in life.

My favorite photo of me and my Grandmother, Greenwood Lake, 1989-ish. Whoever took this photo, thank you.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Quote of the Week

My grandfather once told me that there were two kinds of people: those who do the work and those who take the credit. He told me to try to be in the first group; there was much less competition.
--Indira Gandhi

Friday, June 15, 2007


In honor of Father's Day I would like to share the top ten things my father used to say (see how many your Dad said too):

  • You're not allowed to date until you're 40.
  • Shut up or I'll give you something to cry about.
  • Where's your Mother?
  • You're losing weight? Look behind you.
  • I put you in this world and I could take you out.
  • No.
  • Do you want another pancake? (pancake can be substituted with meatball, hot dog, hamburger, ice pop, etc.)
  • If you're bored I'll find plenty of work for you to do.
  • Because I said so, that's why.
  • Who said life is fair?

Wishing all you Dad's out there a very happy Father's Day weekend (because all these holidays are now weekend long events).

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Worst Internship Ever

There is a college student in earshot of my cube who is probably ecstatic he scored a summer internship with a well-respected, fortune 500 company. It will not take long for him to realize he has the worst internship ever.

For the past week, he has called one number after the other to determine if the call is being routed to the correct call center and then documents the results. The script goes like this:

Hello, I'm calling from corporate to test the routing rules. What location are you at? Texas, are you in San Antonio or Dallas? San Antonio, thank you. Good bye. Over and over and over (with different combinations of locations). Today, he is testing the whisper tones. Hello, I'm calling from corporate to test the IVR rules. What location are you at? Ohio, are you in Cleveland or Dayton? Cleveland. Thank you. Did you hear a whisper tone indicating I requested Spanish? Great, thank you, good bye.

This intern will probably do this constantly for the next 8 to 10 weeks. I do not know who is going to go crazier, him for doing such a crappy, boring job, or me having to listen to this for the rest of the summer.

Monday, June 11, 2007

More then just sex in the city

Carrie, Miranda, Samantha and Charlotte had more then just sex in the city, they had meals and drinks at many of New York's finest spots. Here is a short guide of some places seen on the show if you want to follow in the footsteps of these characters on your next trip to the big city.

Old Town Bar
45 East 18th Street
"Take Me Out to the Ballgame" Episode 13, Season 2
Carrie bumps into Big at this historic bar while on a date with the New Yankee.

Bowlmor Lanes
110 University Place
"Four Women and a Funeral" Episode 17, Season 2
Carrie slums it and goes bowling with Big.

Magnolia Bakery
401 Bleeker Street
"No Ifs, Ands or Butts" Episode 35, Season 3
Carrie admits to Miranda that she has a crush on Aidan while dining on cupcakes at New York’s newest culinary institution.

Cowgirl Hall of Fame
519 Hudson Street
"Cock a Doodle Do" Episode 48, Season 3
Carrie and Miranda bump into Aidan and Steve, immediately thinking the boys are talking about them think are talking about them. Carrie and Miranda soon learn that Aidan and Steve are on dates with their new girlfriends. The Frito chilli and pitchers of margaritas are must haves!

174 Grand Street
"Ghost Town" Episode 53, Season 4
Home of Steve and Aidan's new bar in it's Grand Opening episode.

54 West 21st Street
"Belles of the Balls" Episode 58, Season 4
Billiard Hall where Carrie, Samantha, Miranda, Charlotte and Aidan take Steve to celebrate being cancer free. "Only one ball left!"

Ben's Pizza
177 Spring Street
"Just Say Yes" Episode 60, Season 4
Carrie asks Aidan to move in with her at the greatest pizza parlor in SoHo.

71-73 Gansevoort Street
"Luck be an Old Lady Tonight" Episode 68, Season 5
A blind date stands Carrie up at this hot restaurant in the Meatpacking district.

Two Boots
Pizzeria 201 West 11 Street
"Great Sexpectations" Episode 76, Season 6
Pizza joint where Miranda and Carrie go for a slice after finding a Raw food diet leaves them hungry.

Horseshoe Bar (aka 7B, aka Vazac's)
108 Avenue B
"The Post-It Always Sticks Twice" Episode 81, Season 6
White Trash bar where Charlotte the second time bachelorette joins in on another party, Samantha kisses another woman's boyfriend and Carrie is almost arrested for smoking pot on the street corner and gets out of trouble because her boyfriend broke up with her over a post-it note.

Pete's Tavern
129 East 18th Street
"The Ick Factor" Episode 88, Season 6
Miranda and Steve get engaged at this legendary tavern.

For more ideas, visit HBO's 50 Memorable Sex in the City locations to create your own experience.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Quote of the Week

We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.
-- Albert Einstein--

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Glamourize what you preach

Glamour magazine is featuring articles on what the fashion industry, cosmetics publicists and media are calling “real beauty;” the concept that beauty comes in all shapes and sizes. The following is a letter I submitted to Glamor regarding their campaign.

Dear Editor,

While applauding your efforts to convey that beauty is not limited to some standard ideal through pieces on “real beauty”, the messages fall flat when waif thin models continue to dominate the pages between the articles. Without an entire magazine, from articles to advertisements, embracing the different shapes and sizes we all possess, efforts are nothing more then an attempt to shield the publication from litigation aimed at battling the eating disorder epidemic. Until advertisers acknowledge a wider variety of body types, and writers place more efforts on messages that convey to young women that “it’s what is on the inside that counts,” we will continue to see the emotional and physical issues that arise with poor body image and low self-esteem.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Potty all the time

After accidentally walking in on an 8 year old boy in the ladies restroom at the airport, I began questioning whether or not it was appropriate for him to be in there. Getting back in line, I paid close attention to see if the boy entered the bathroom on his own without a parent’s knowledge, something a humorous or devious boy would certainly be capable of, and potentially even get a good laugh or enjoy an interruption from a stranger. He exited the stall and took the sink next to his mother to wash his hands and they exited together chatting, breaking my theory dirty little boy sneaking into the bathroom theory. This incident poses the following question: at what age does it become inappropriate for a boy to be in the women’s bathroom?

Every child is different, so it is not fair to declare a blanket age when a boy should no longer be in the women’s bathroom. It is important to develop criteria that take into account the physical and emotional development of the child in question. For those who are unable to develop their own litmus test for determining if they should accompany their child into a public restroom, I would like to offer the following guidelines for determining if it is okay to bring a child into an opposite sex public rest room:

  • Does your child need help wiping themselves?: This goes without saying, if your child is unable to successfully wipe themselves without making a complete mess of their hands, clothes, toilet, body, etc., then a parent can accompany them into the bathroom.

  • Can your child reach the seat?: If your child is likely to make a mess on the floor or seat due to their inability to reach, then it is appropriate to give them a boost.

  • Will your child fall in?: A no brainer; no one wants to see a child drown in a public toilet.

  • Is your child likely to flush?: This is a gray area for a variety of reasons, with the primary reason being inconsistency; not many children remember to flush 100% of the time. If your child remembers to flush more then 50% of the time, then it is okay for them to go to the bathroom themselves. Many adults in public restrooms forget, so it is certainly forgivable when a child forgets.

  • Will your child remember to wash their hands?: A non-issue, every parent carries anti-bacterial soap and wipes these days, they can wash their hands after they leave the bathroom.

  • Will your child lock themselves in the stall?: A child locking themselves in the stall could be a very traumatic event in their lives. If they do not possess the dexterity to adequately maneuver the locking mechanism, then they need help in a public restroom. If they are purposely locking themselves in the restroom as a joke or a way to torment adults, then they should be punished accordingly for being a snot-nosed brat.

  • Will your child stop up the sink and flood the bathroom?: May I suggest military school?

  • Am I taking my child into the bathroom for my convenience?: If the only reason to take a child into the bathroom is to make life easier, then it is time to cut the cord and let them live a little. How can a child learn to be independent if they are not allowed to do their business on their own? If you are worried about kidnappers and pedophiles then designate an amount of time that is appropriate and then call into the bathroom, or ask an old man (or lady) to keep an eye out for you. The whole world is not evil and this is part of it taking a village to raise a child.

  • Does your boy become physically aroused at the site of women?: If they can get their kicks peeking under the stalls at other women, then they should not be given the opportunity to do so.

  • Would a little girl of the same age in the men’s room be appropriate?: A double standard exists when it comes to children in the restroom of the opposite sex. Sure, there is more for a little girl to witness at the urinal wall in a men’s room, but this double standard certainly poses issues with single Dads of little girls and fathers being out and about with their children, sans Mom. If every woman asked “How would I feel if my daughter went into the Men’s room at this age,” we would most certainly have fewer boys inappropriately in the ladies room, and children gaining the skills necessary to truly declare they are potty trained.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

I Moved my Cheese

You might be a victim of an abusive relationship and don’t even know it. Typically, people think of abuse as physical and between romantic partners or parent and child. This limited view of abuse misses a wide range of harm inflicted through non-physical means within a variety of associations, including relationships with friends, co-workers and superiors.

Emotional abuse can be delivered verbally and non-verbally with subtle actions not immediately recognized by the victim or their family and friends. The wounds inflicted by emotional abuse develop over a period of time as the abuser chips away at the self-confidence of their victim with the goal of gaining compliance and control. The abuser gains power over their victim through threats, intimidation, blame, yelling, criticism, shame, possessiveness, violence towards objects or pets, isolation and entrapment, brainwashing the victim to believe there is no way out.

The cycle of abuse follows often follows a very distinct and classic pattern. Different publications refer to the stages by different names, but most align with the following:

  • Tension Building and Abuse: In this stage, the abuser builds tension through control and manipulation of their victim. This can be done imposing limits and controls on the victim’s financial, social, religious or familial freedoms. Jealously and possessiveness are used as an additional means of control and the victim is restricted directly or through fear on who they contact, where they can go and when they can do things; isolating the victim from help and support and creating a sense of fear and dependency. As tension increases, the victim gives in to the abuser, attempting to keep the peace.

  • Making-Up: When confronted by the victim, the abuser may apologize for behavior and promises to make changes to continue the relationship. The longer the abuse continues, the more likely an abuser will often shift blame for the incident to their victim or deny anything ever happened rather than apologize. At this point, the victim’s self-esteem is eroded and the abuser has successfully trained the victim concede.

  • Calm: During the calm stage, an abuser acts like nothing ever happened. Promises made during 'making-up' stage may be met and the victim will have a false sense of security that the cycle is over. The “Calm” stage could last hours, months or even years, but without true acknowledgement of the issues and professional help, the cycle will begin to repeat itself again with the “tension building” stage.

There are long-term effects on the victim of abuse, often referred to as battered person syndrome, which include dangerously low self-esteem, depression, increased alcohol or drug use, loss of friends and family, job performance issues and withdrawal from life. The victim has trouble recognizing the effects of their abuse and often needs help to see how their life is spiraling out of control. Like physical abuse victims, those suffering from emotional abuse return repeatedly to their abuser. The longer the abuse continues, the more help the victim needs to break the pattern and re-claim their lives.

I “survived” an abusive relationship in my past with my employer; where management and executives controlled their employees through threats to salaries, vacation time, job security, family time and advancement. The entire organization was demoralized, convinced the treatment was deserved, developed inferiority complexes and thought no one else would hire them. Every time I began to recognize the effects of this abuse; the plummeting self-esteem, abuse of food and alcohol, feelings of hopelessness and depression, my employer would recognize the flight-risk and enter the “make-up” phase, showering gifts and attention or messages of bad job markets and horror stories from other employers to ensure I would stay. After a couple of years, I decided to take charge of my life and escape the abusive relationship, “breaking up” with my employer and moving on to another job.

Recently, I realized that I was again becoming a victim of an abusive employment situation with a position change that left me working in a toxic environment of passive-aggressiveness, control, manipulation, favoritism and distrust. Realizing this new position was going to cause long term issues and refusing to become a victim again, I worked with friends and family to take control and confront the issues, facing one of the “aggressors” and moving on to another position in the firm. Battered Person Syndrome is more common than many think, is not limited to physical abuse and can be inflicted by people you interact with everyday. A key to happiness and success is recognizing the issue, the symptoms and taking charge; no one should be a victim of emotional abuse.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Truth and Consequences

We make hundreds of decisions every day; each one builds upon the last, creating the moments that make up our lives. Every choice has a consequence and for the most part, the cause and effect of those choices are clear. We hit snooze to get extra sleep knowing the consequence could be lateness. We eat fatty foods although we are aware of the weight and health related consequences. We order an extra drink at happy hour recognizing it will make us late for dinner. Choices bear results, and we strive every day to make decisions that have positive results.

Sometimes, choices yield results we are unaware of. Today, I chose to hit the snooze button, then I choose a wrong turn, and later I chose to get coffee. On the surface, these choices seem quite ordinary and are ones forgotten by the end of the day, unless something happens because of those choices. What happened today was 90 minutes of standstill traffic on I-95. I cursed my need for a few extra minutes of sleep, berated myself for a caffeine addiction and believed wholly that these decisions put me behind whatever mess was occurring ahead, making me very late to work. Road rage consumed me and I was unable to do anything about it as cars all around idled.

Suddenly, we had movement and one by one vehicles passed a somber scene; a multi-car accident involving an 18-wheeler that ended up on top of a small car. Suddenly, ordinary decisions seemed quite extraordinary; we were passing the accident rather then being in it. Missing a meeting, burning a few bucks in gas and listening to bad morning radio was no big deal; the 9 minute snooze, the wrong turn and the venti latte saved my life.