Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Quote of the Week

As for blondes having more fun, well, let me dispel that rumour forever. They do.
- Maureen Lipman

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Couch Potato for a Day

Sometime over the Thanksgiving holiday I managed to pick up the plague from one or more of the dozens of people I came in contact with allowing the unique opportunity to take a good old fashion sick day. Armed with chicken noodle soup, hot tea, tissues and a remote control, I battled my ear, nose, throat disaster area and made the following sick day observations:
  1. You are not the father: Would Maury Povich even have a career without DNA technology?
  2. I’ve fallen and I can’t come on down: If the Medicare, AARP, Medic Alert, Prescription Drug and Scooter commercials are any indication of the demographic watching morning television viewers would break their hip if they were the next contestant on the Price is Right. Don’t kids stay home sick and watch game shows anymore?
  3. Is that your final answer: How Regis does not turn around and belt the ever effervescent and chipper Kelly Ripa across the face is amazing. Of course the same statement could be made regarding Kelly’s restraint with Regis.
  4. Where in the World is Matt Lauer: The Today Show could not possibly squeeze out any more commercial dollars; the commercial time to show ratio is about 2 to 1.
  5. Like sands through the Microdermabrasion: Soap Opera casts have changed very little over the past 25 years. Not only are the actors playing the same parts they did when leg warmers were first in style but many have visited their local plastic surgeon in an effort to look just as they did when Luke married Laura. Creepy.
  6. Stupid is as stupid does: Maury Povich, Jerry Springer, Judge Judy, Dr. Phil and all other programs relying on large numbers of people performing stupid acts have yet to run out of dumb ideas or candidates for their shows, permanently damaging my faith in humanity and derailing equality through promoting racial and gender stereotypes.
  7. No Pop Quizzes: Not once during the roughly 8 hours of viewing time was there a test of the emergency broadcast system, the high pitched squeal and rainbow colored stripes warning viewers of eminent danger. It made me realize I have not heard the familiar phrase “this is a test, this is only a test” in quite some time. Did the end of the cold war bring an end to the emergency broadcast system?
  8. Side-effects include hysteria and dry mouth: I started the day with a really bad cold and ended it with a number of new conditions like restless leg syndrome and irritable bowel syndrome brought on by the hypochondria that is inherently tied to hours of pharmaceutical commercials.
  9. Get out of work free card: Do networks offer discounted advertising fees to law offices who run commercials aimed to keep those hurt or injured home permanently, increasing their viewership? I have never seen so many lawyers with commercials aimed at those hurt on the job, encouraging them to get the help they need to stay home permanently. If the same effort went in to fixing the ailments of these individuals we would find the cure for countless diseases.
  10. Hail Oprah: After hours upon hours of watching useless garbage aimed at celebrating idiocy, increasing consumer debt, advocating panic and promoting gender and racial prejudice I can finally understand why so many women admire and praise Oprah Winfrey; she is royalty in a lineup of jesters.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Thanksgiving Blessing

May your stuffing be tasty
May your turkey plump,
May your potatoes and gravy
Have nary a lump.
May your yams be delicious
And your pies take the prize,
And may your Thanksgiving dinner
Stay off your thighs!
- Author Unknown

I'm Not Kidding

After over six years of marriage, strangers and friends continue to ask the question “when are you going to have children?” Amazing after all this time there is still shock expressed upon learning that we are not waiting or infertile and have chosen not to raise children. The lengths people go to in pressing us on our reasons and work to refute them is astonishing; a futile attempt to change our minds. Taking the path of least resistance by pretending we are unable to have children does not work either; lying has landed me a few recommendations to a good fertility specialist and does not raise awareness of our family of two. Bearing and/or raising children is not a marital requirement and “childfree by choice” is a status shared by an increasing number of people worldwide. The reasons behind the non-traditional decision are as unique as each individual and couple who makes it; these are my personal reasons why children are not in my cards which could offend some and enlighten others.
  • Marital Bliss: In today’s high paced world it is hard to find enough quality time with your spouse for dates, romance and intimacy; children make it nearly impossible. I value the amazing friendship I have with my husband and feel our relationship would suffer with the introduction of a child.
  • Pets: I feel extremely fortunate that I get such happiness from the love and devotion of animals. From the time I was a young child I connected with animals in a way that most people do not; understood their gestures, felt their pain and could communicate their needs. Our dogs do require a lot of work and attention, but at least I can throw up a baby gate and leave them at home for a few hours without child protective services knocking at my door.
  • Freedom to Choose: Without children, there is the freedom to choose whatever you want to do, wherever you want to go, whoever you want to see, whatever you want to eat, etc. etc. etc. Eat dinner at 9 pm, no problem. Hop on a plane for a long weekend in Vegas, start packing. This spontaneity is a crucial piece of who I am which would disappear with children.
  • Career Aspirations: Career advancement is limited when jumping out of the fast-lane and taking the Mommy Track, even a few months home these days can disrupt career advancement. I also appreciate that I work because I enjoy my job (most of the time!). If I wanted to change careers we could downsize our home and move to a less expensive neighborhood and make that happen. I’m not stuck in a job because my family is dependent on my salary to stay in a school district or a big house; that sounds vaguely like indentured servitude.
  • Momfia: As if being a mother does not naturally come with its own set of pressure, “Super-Moms” impose additional guilt and punishment to mothers who forego breast-feeding, feed children non-organic meals, use diapers rather then natural elimination techniques, decide to go to work, decide to stay home, decide to put their kids in public school, decide to run a marathon 9 months after giving birth; and they do all this while maintaining a perfect figure, well manicured nails and a full face of makeup.
  • Where's the Owner's Manual: Children do not come with an owners manual which could be a major reason so many people screw up their children. People think that childfree couples know nothing about children, but I argue that childfree couples are all too understanding of the complexities and commitment involved with raising a happy and healthy child who becomes an upstanding member of our society. Parenting is hard, tough, thankless, endless work and far too many people have children without understanding all it entails to be a good parent and role model.
  • Gene Pool: Where others lament that my husband and I will not be bringing a tall, smart, blonde haired, blue eyed child into the world they neglect to remember the less glamorous genes we will not pass on; the world has enough overweight nerdy asthmatic angry alcoholics.
  • Economic Stability: Studies report that raising the average child costs $1.2 million from birth to 18, not having them is my retirement plan. Children are a very high risk investment; historically they have very low ROI. The overall reason for my not having children equates to the risk and investment is not worth the intangible rewards.
  • Gender Bias: If I could guarantee having a girl maybe I would consider it, but raising boys must be the hardest job in the world and I would be devastated to have a son.
  • Return Policy: We often hear people say all our reasons for not having children will go away once they are born and we’ll change our priorities to make room for baby. What if that does not happen and the baby just doesn’t fit; hospitals will not take it back if you decide you don’t want it, even with a receipt. People do not want to believe that there are thousands upon thousands of parents who do not love their children the way they thought or want to change their priorities and it is the children who ultimately suffer.
  • Guarantees: There is not a money-back guarantee that a child will grow up to be a human being you actually like, or who will like you. You can spend your 1.2 million dollars to raise a child and still dislike them or never see them as adults.
  • Warrantees: If babies are born with or develop any issues, they are not covered by an extended warranty; 1 in 166 children will develop autism, 5% of children are born with birth defects, childhood cancer is on the rise. Mathematically it seems that there is a very small chance of having a perfectly healthy child.
  • Boredom: Constantly having to read the same books, talk in mono-syllabic words and follow a small human around is my personal definition of hell. If you are lazy, you can just throw your children in front of the television 8 hours a day, but then Barney, Dora and Blues Clues rot out their brains while causing parents to want to blow out theirs.
  • Family Ties: How do parents living hundreds of miles away from any support network maintain their sanity? My family lives over 1000 miles away. Without grandparents and aunts living in a 10 mile radius to rescue the child from a stress induced murderous rampage I would likely end up in jail and the children would grow up without the love of an extended network of family.
  • Paternal Role: Couples can say until they are blue in the face that they equally share parental responsibilities but the truth of the matter is the brunt of the burden falls squarely on the shoulders of the mother; it all starts with the birth and continues from there. The only way a women can remain equal to men in both the home and the workplace is to forego motherhood.
  • No Basic Instincts: Where many other women coo at babies, love shopping for onesies, and talk lovingly of “the baby smell,” I actually find babies and all the things that go with them slightly repulsive with not the slightest bit of natural maternal instincts.
  • Human Incubator: Many women with children who chose not to breast feed give “not wanting to feel like a milking cow” as a reason behind the decision. How those women feel about breast feeding is how I feel about the entire pregnancy; everything involved in carrying a child is far too functional and utilitarian for my comfort. You think science would develop a much better method for bringing babies into the world rather then relying on women to serve as fetus feeders destroying their bones and figures.
  • Overpopulation: If you think gas prices are high, the earth is warming and the world is just becoming too crowded try squeezing another billion or two onto the planet. Many argue that having children is necessary to the survival of the human race but having too many children will eventually lead to our demise.
  • Minivans: As if this needs any explanation.
  • Aunt Chelle: Growing up surrounded by the love, knowledge and emotional security provided by adults other then parents is crucial to the development of children. While I may never be a mother there are many children in my life who I hope benefit from my love and view of the world. One of the most influential people in my life was my Aunt Joan, a strong, independent woman who showered me with love, instilled my desire to see the world, and showed me the power of a strong and successful woman. Many years ago she said the most profound words and taught me a tough lesson about the world that too few are able to articulate. She told me that the biggest lie we are told is that we could have it all and there is not enough time in the day to have a successful career, happy marriage, be a good parent, travel the world, or do everything else you want to do in life. If you try to do it all you won’t do anything very well which is a lesson too many people learn far too late. So rather then be a bad parent, have a mediocre career, neglect my husband, forego travel and let my hobbies gather dust I will focus on those things that I do well and bring me extreme happiness; marriage, pets, family, friends, travel, photography and being the best Aunt Shelf.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Beauty and the Benefits

Economic and social science researchers have analyzed the characteristics of individuals across a wide variety of professions to determine what factors make a person successful. Results consistently show that good-looking, tall, thin people tend to make more money than their unsightly or overweight counterparts; on average beautiful people earn about 5 percent more an hour than their less attractive colleagues. One study removed variables like education and experience from the equation and continued to find that the looks premium exists across all occupations. While these studies compared the peer-to-peer pay ratios they did not analyze how looks could affect success across professions; are a higher proportion of beautiful people in well paying jobs and does that broaden the actual earnings gap between the attractive and the ugly?

Studies confirm that private sector lawyers earn more then government-supported counterparts; it is probably safe to hypothesize that other professions would yield the same results. People who routinely face clients; those in sales, marketing and executive positions, earn more money due to the perceived impact to an organization then those who work in “behind the scenes” roles. Beyond jobs that directly “require” good looks because of their position in front of clients, multiple factors contribute to the beauty gap that are not disciminatory. It is likely that the higher self-esteem usually held by those of above average looks drives greater success and therefore a higher income; higher self-esteem helps people achieve better roles and ask for raises and promotions.

How much of the earnings gap between genders is associated with beauty rather then breasts? Our society puts more pressure on women to maintain a certain level of looks through diet, exercise, makeup, clothes and botox that is not placed upon men. Typically we are more lenient of men who forego maintaining their waistlines and their hairy eyebrows; a double standard that is a contributing factor to women making 71 cents to every man’s dollar. Less attractive men are seen much more often in positions of authority then their homely female counterparts.

As companies large and small struggle with the mounting costs of health insurance and other health related spend executives are focusing on how lifestyle choices drive their healthcare spend. Many companies openly deny jobs to applicants who use tobacco products claiming their smoking yields much higher insurance premiums; tobacco use discrimination is completely legal in most states. Those who engage in tobacco use are the first group on the receiving end of higher premiums, penalties or pink slips due to the ever increasing medical costs; overweight individuals are the next demographic. Potential employers could easily begin using medical costs as an excuse to deny hiring those with weight problems. Even if laws are put in place to protect the rights of the overweight it is nearly impossible to prove employment discrimination due to weight; while employers now ask if someone smokes, it usually does not require much questioning to determine if an employee or applicant is overweight. The beauty gap on earnings will be further compounded as employers look to squeeze those perceived as less healthy out of their organizations.

Working for a health and wellness company is yielding some very interesting observations on how weight and looks effect employment and upward mobility. We routinely work with companies wanting to address their healthcare spend by assisting people with health and wellness needs. Without any obvious discrimination, many have experienced embarrassing comments on how our image should reflect the goals of the organization; to engage and educate people to take control of their health through better lifestyle choices and condition management. While people making the comments might not understand the full impact of their words, those of us who struggle daily with our weight hear how our size does not sell our products. Even people who are never seen by clients feel pressure to lose weight to maintain our product image.

This new reason for weight discrimination, the amount overweight people cost companies in health related expenses, gives employers a legal and financially backed excuse to deny employment to an otherwise qualified subset of the population. The thin and the beautiful, whose wages are already inflated, will continue to experience greater financial success and unlike age, gender, racial and religious discrimination it will be difficult to combat; it is hard to prove employment or pay was denied due to below average looks or above average clothes size.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Open Sesame

Which Sesame Street Character Are You?

You are part Big Bird. You are something of an eccentric, and not everyone always gives you credit for your inventiveness and intelligence. You may not always know everything, but people turn to you for your sound, unique logic. Plus, you have a big heart. Really big.
You are part Cookie Monster. You are a glutton. You often make attempts at controlling yourself, but why stop yourself from getting what you really want? Cookies. Inside, you are sensitive and vulnerable and it just may be the source of your problems.
Find Your Character @

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Quote of the Week

I myself have never been able to find out precisely what feminism is; I only know that people call me a feminist whenever I express sentiments that differentiate me from a doormat
- Rebecca West

Monday, November 12, 2007

Trick or Tree

Kids are barely out of their Halloween costumes and devouring their candy these days before we are bombarded with Christmas music piped through the mall and lights flickering in store windows. While I do not agree with the retail industry’s practice of pushing the start of the Holiday season earlier and earlier I have come to accept this annoyance as part of their business plan; get people shopping early and often. Retail establishments can do anything they want to lure customers in but when it comes to Christmas most people verbally express themselves as “old-school;” the season does not begin until Santa shows his rosy face and his little round belly at the end of the Macy*s Thanksgiving Day parade. While many people verbally adhere to this unofficial celebration calendar it is increasingly apparent that the trend towards post-Halloween yuletide is on the rise.

The first major sign came in the form of an email on November 1 from Fortunoff, a retailer in the New York metro area, announcing Santa’s November 3 appearance in their stores. Somehow Fortunoff arranged for Santa’s early arrival from the North Pole, a full 52 days before Christmas, so little girls and boys can get a jump start on their wish lists. The magic and joy of the holiday season with traditions like visiting Santa AFTER Thanksgiving ruined by this cheap marketing ploy, making Santa nothing more then some old man with a white beard that spends too much time, almost two months- 1/6th of the year, hanging out by the food court. Anyone who visits Santa this early in the season deserves to have him forget their list by December 24th.

People hanging their outdoor Christmas lights early in November is not that unusual in the frigid north with many lawn decorations impossible to drive into the frozen ground by December. What is unusual is witnessing how many people have already flipped the switches on those lights. It surprises me that with exorbitant price of electricity and the global push to “go green” and cut down on our use of natural resources that these houses twinkled under the glow of colored lights right after Election Day. Our old townhome community had official rules on the books regarding the use of Christmas lights; on after Thanksgiving and off by January 31 which seemed dictatorial when I lived there but now seem like logical standards we should all adhere to. I love the beauty of lights against a backdrop of stars and snow but fully believe the dark winter nights of January can use some sparkle far more then the crisp fall evenings of November.

We also received our first yuletide greeting in the mail, a Christmas card postmarked on November 1. To our friend's defense she is leaving the country for over a month but it would be much better to receive a New Year's greeting; less guilt around receiving a card before even ordering my own.

Flipping mindlessly through the channels last night, desperately trying to procrastinate by finding something worthwhile to watch on television, I was enraged to turn on TBS and find The Grinch who stole Christmas preparing to rob all the toys from Whoville. For several moments I watched in disbelief, desperately hoping the vision on the screen was nothing more then an extended commercial for their holiday line-up only to find myself utterly disappointed at the sight of Cindy Lou Who. It is only a matter of time before the networks begin showing the following double feature; “It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown” with “A Charlie Brown Christmas.” Dr. Seuss must be rolling in his grave as the ultimate message of his famous book is all but forgotten in our retail driven society; "Maybe Christmas doesn't come from a store. Maybe Christmas... perhaps... means a little bit more!"

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Once upon a The End

The telephone rings at an odd hour and immediately your gut tells you the news is not good. Before even answering the phone your mind begins to race and anticipate why someone would be calling; your body preparing for the worst. In the few seconds it takes to actually say “hello” you have run through a list of names and possibilities; maybe someone got engaged, or had a baby, or won the lottery, maybe, just maybe, the news is good. For those who have experienced this phone call, the news is rarely good; it is either something that requires a late night run to the hospital or a sleepless evening staring at the ceiling with tears. Ultimately the few seconds of thought usually ends in the conclusion that an older relative is in the hospital or passed on; news that differs from that train of thought is much harder to digest.

When someone young dies the instinct of self-preservation kicks as we naturally compare our life and our body to the person that died; feigning our personal fear of dying young. It is easy to distance your own mortality from that of a younger friend when the reason for their death is caused by a controllable event; so sad but that won’t happen to me because I never ride motorcycles, skydive, drive without a seatbelt, work in construction, do drugs, wash skyscraper windows, play extreme sports, miss a monthly breast exam, bike without a helmet, work in Bagdad, take anti-depressants, run with scissors, etc. etc. etc. Truly scary is when the cause of death is something that is unavoidable, things normally assumed to happen to those with many years fully lived.

An amazing member of our extended pack of friends died of a massive heart attack driving home from the gym last week; he was 49 years old. While some younger people might view 49 as old, they will learn with age and increased wisdom that 49 is solidly within one’s prime of life. The mundane events before the heart attack serve as a reminder of how delicate life is and how it could end for any one of us in an instant; in the car while phoning home, talking about dinner plans and what was on TV that night, a casual mention of feeling ill and sudden silence followed by a crash. We can each relate to the above routine, but for our friend routine was broken suddenly, tragically, leaving behind stunned loved ones and more then likely a very messy desk at work.

It is unhealthy to live every day dreading our impending death but it is important to remember that our time on earth is fragile and finite. In real life there are no cheat codes to grant users an extra 30 lives; we only get one turn at this game. The sudden death of a friend put things into perspective and reminded me how important it is to live life to the fullest. What defines a full life is different to each of us; we must understand our goals in life as individuals and not adopt those of their friends, family and the media. What kind of job is fulfilling, provides enough compensation to accomplish non-career goals, and allows enough personal time to actually have a life outside of work? What is important to you; is it family, friends, travel, volunteer work, gardening, photography, singing, dancing, underwater-basket weaving and are you making time to do those things? If you died tomorrow what would others remember about you and would they know to clean out your bottom drawer to spare your mother any embarrassment? Unfortunately life is not like the movies or a fairy tale allowing us the opportunity to finish our story, tie a little bow on it, have a happy ending and expunge our house and offices of incriminating evidence.

Our friend would not want us to be sad and mourn, but to celebrate his life. What I do mourn most is the lost opportunity to know him better and appreciate all he brought to the world; his ability to command a room of people, make a new friend instantly, pour a drink or make us laugh. He left the world too early with too many stories left to tell, but his legacy serves as a reminder to all to embrace life, fill it with friends, have fun, see the world and to cherish love; if we continue to put off until tomorrow what is important to us today we might never get around to what matters most.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Operation Embrace Winter

Mother Nature had the common decency to wait until November 9th before sending the first snow of winter to Twin Cities’ residents. For roughly 8 minutes puffy white flakes fell to the ground; the curtain going down on autumn’s award worthy performance. As a child the first snowfall came with excitement and anticipation of sledding, snow days, hot chocolate, snowmen and igloos. Gone are those good old days of winter enjoyment, replaced by the dread and foreboding of digging out the driveway, trekking the office parking lot in negative temperatures, going weeks without seeing sunlight, and engaging in a never ending battle with dry, cracking skin. While snow is a universal sign that winter is upon us, my own personal sign is the yearly offer from my husband granting me a no questions asked divorce; “Don’t look out the window, you’ll hate me. I don’t blame you if you want a divorce.” As tempting as the offer is looking down the long and dark tunnel of winter, there are other ways to get through this most horrible of seasons.

Devising methods to survive Minnesota’s brutal and harsh winter is an annual pastime. Plans often include steps like purchasing bulky clothes, planning several business trips to warmer locations, bringing the laptop home nightly for freak snowstorm telecommuting, and ritual application of H2O-Plus Hydrating Body Butter. Planning a tropical vacation entails a detailed study of the Farmer’s Almanac and analysis of yearly weather patterns to ensure that the coldest snap of the season occurs during the precise time you are laying on a beach sipping frosty drinks with little umbrellas in them. While all of these moves assist with surviving winter they are all the equivalent of applying a band aid to a gunshot wound; grossly inadequate treatment that does not address the larger issue.

Nature’s natural defenses against winter are misaligned with our modern world; animals, including humans, build up insulation for additional warmth and the body slips into a mild depression to induce more time asleep and away from the cold. While the cavemen probably enjoyed the extra ten pounds and the need for 12 hours a nightly rest my closet and my employer do not allow me the opportunity to indulge in these side-effects of winter. Most of the year is spent battling to lose the additional winter insulation which miraculously comes back despite all my best efforts to keep it off. It is difficult to maintain or lose weight when the body is trying to protect itself from the harsh cold. Adding to the issue is the “winter blues,” that depression that is medically known as Seasonal Affective Disorder; sometimes the only way to find happiness after weeks without sunlight is at the bottom of a bag of Trader Joe’s Peanut Butter Stuffed Chocolate Covered Pretzels. Do you think the Girl Scouts would sell nearly the number of cookies they do in August?

Due to circumstances beyond my control our annual February pilgrimage to Hawaii or the Caribbean is postponed until May, leaving my skin and sanity vulnerable to the cold and snow. Without the tropical vacation defense it is necessary to implement a new game plan. In the essence of the old adage “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em,” the plan for this winter is to do what most Minnesotan’s do November through April; embrace the season. If the last 7 years have taught me anything it is that the battle against winter can never be won. Like any good General would attest an important element of any war is to attack the enemy early and often. Yesterday I celebrated the season’s first snowfall with a 2 hour trip around the Minnetonka Ice Arena with a good friend, trading in our usual inline skates for original blades; step one in “Operation Embrace Winter.” Other plans include snowshoeing, cross-country skiing and tubing; all dependant on snow and lots of it giving me a reason to actually look forward to the snow. Maybe this plan will help me understand why everyone who is from here tolerates the winter so well, at the very least it will keep me from taking my husband up on his seasonal divorce offer; I don’t know how favorably the local legal system will look upon a woman leaving her husband because of the cold and I would probably lose custody of the dogs.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Quote of the Week

Bad officials are elected by good citizens who do not vote.
- George Jean Nathan

Monday, November 05, 2007

Rock the Vote

Four score and 7 years ago women in the United States received the right to vote with the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment to the Constitution. Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and thousands of other women endured over 100 years of pain and protests to achieve the ultimate gift in a democracy; the right to choose the country’s leaders. Almost a century later it is painful to witness the number of people, especially women, who choose not to exercise their right as citizens to direct the path of our nation’s policies and procedures. People take for granted their ability to vote, often citing a laundry list of reasons for consciously conceding their voice in our political system; too busy, forgot to register, do not know who to vote for, do not understand the issues, there is no one worthwhile to vote for, do not care. While some of the excuses offer a degree of validity, it is difficult for me to understand how women could not vote knowing the reasons their right was denied for so long.

Anti-suffrage campaigns focused on their viewpoint of women being unsuited to vote for a wide variety of reasons including their belief that:
  • Women’s intelligence is inferior to men’s and voting required a greater level of intelligence then women possessed.
  • Fathers, husbands, sons and brothers would vote with women’s best interests in mind leaving women free to their duties as wives and mothers.
  • The primary object of government is to protect persons and property which should be assumed by men as the natural protectors in nature.
  • The election process would threaten the peace and harmony in the home; even the Roman Catholic Church opposed suffrage because its leaders believed that suffrage would emancipate women and cause the breakup of the family (which is one of the many reasons I am not catholic.)
  • For physical, moral and social reasons women would be unable to make a sound decision in the event the nation needed to consider force.
  • As voters women would need to serve on juries and would be unable to deal with the horrors spoken of in criminal trials.
  • The strife, turmoil and contention in political activities are against the natural loving nature of women.
  • The only way to maintain social and political order is to enforce gender-based roles and regulations.

If the above excuses used in denying women the right to vote don’t enrage you enough to go to the polls today then chew on this; the National Woman's Party first proposed the Equal Rights Amendment to eliminate discrimination on the basis of gender in 1923. It has never been ratified with lawmakers using many of the same excuses to stop its passage that were used to deny voting rights.

As for the problems people claim as their reason to skip Election Day let me present the solutions:
  • If you are too busy to go to the ballots then get an absentee ballot.
  • If you forgot to register then go and register for next year (and in Minnesota there is no excuse not to register- show up at the polls with a license and a utility bill and you can vote on the spot).
  • If you do not understand your registration and election rules you can find that information here.
  • If do not know who to vote for then visit or do not understand the issues then visit your local League of Women Voters.
  • If there is no one worthwhile to vote for then do a write in vote; good leaders will only rise if we demand good candidates.
  • If you do not care then don’t complain about the war, or your taxes, or the traffic, or anything else that would be addressed by competent leaders.

Only when we fully embrace our rights as citizens in a democracy and have 100% voter turnout will we start to see our politicians consider and align with the needs and rights of every person. All too often our policies reflect a small minority; those who show up at the polls. For all those who choose not to vote, let it be known that your actions, or lack thereof, are contributing to the ills of our government. Politicians naturally want to be re-elected and to them we are either a person who votes for them, a person who can vote for them or a person who does not vote; and the latter will never be taken seriously enough to have their voice heard.

    Friday, November 02, 2007


    Being a feminist I hate the notion that there are “chick cars” versus “guy cars.” Car manufacturers have stopped developing cars aimed at women because historically they do not sell well; where women will still go and buy “guy cars,” men will never buy a “chick car” which cuts out a large chunk of the population who would consider purchasing the vehicle. Forbes recently published the top men’s and women’s cars after studying the vehicle buying trends between the sexes. While none of the cars on the list came as a surprise, there was little explanation on what qualities really landed each of these cars on the list. While I have no scientific or economic reasons to add to the studies conducted by Forbes, I do have plenty of social commentary to share around the reasons for the gender discrepancy in purchasing the following vehicles.

    Chevy Silverado Heavy Duty
    • Owners: 93% male
    • MSRP: $22,225
    • 6-liter V8, 353 horsepower engine
    • 373 foot-pounds of torque
    • 6.8-liter turbocharged diesel engine is an optional upgrade
    Men feel totally comfortable with a car containing “Heavy Duty” in its name, probably even being lured in by the image the phrase evokes. Women however would most often associate the adjectives of heavy duty with trash bags, maxi-pads and diapers and would prefer not to drive a vehicle with a moniker that uses the same words.

    Ford F-350
    • Owners: 93% male
    • MSRP: $22,380
    • 6.4-liter, 350 horsepower diesel engine
    The female obsession with weight comes with a deep laden fear of gaining so much that she tips or breaks the scale. For most standard bathroom scales this event would occur at 350 pounds leaving very little chance of a woman buying a car that is a constant reminder of that number.

    Nissan Titan
    • Owners: 91% male
    • MSRP: $23,700
    • 5.6-liter V8 engine with 305 horsepower
    • 5-speed transmission
    Wasn’t that cute little merman, the father of Ariel, in The Little Mermaid named Titan? The Japanese tried to make a big, tough, manly vehicle and gave it a cute little name from mythology and men are still buying this thing.

    Chevrolet Corvette
    • Owners: 90% male
    • MSRP: $45,170
    • 7-liter V8, 436 horsepower engine
    This ain’t your mother’s midlife crisis. Where men will spend money on a corvette to make them feel young again, women are more apt to take a trip, a class or maybe get a little nip and tuck. While those options do not look sexy in the driveway, they are usually a hell of a lot cheaper.

    Dodge Ram
    • Owners: 89% male
    • 3.7-liter, V6 engine with 215 Horsepower
    • 4.7-liter, V8 with 235 Horsepower is an optional upgrade
    Have you ever attempted to get up into one of these cars with a skirt on? Imagine how much crotch we would see if Brittany or Lindsay owned one of these numbers. Most of the women on the planet do everything they can to keep their privates under cover in public, and a good game plan is avoiding one of these super trucks on the list.

    Volkswagen New Beetle Convertible
    • Owners: 63% female
    • MSRP: $17,635
    • 5-cylinder engine with 150 horsepower
    It is way too cute for any straight man to consider although it does provide ample headroom for those who are vertically gifted. The Bug comes in a wide variety colors to suit every personality and the dashboard has a vase for flowers, or more importantly, pens or lipstick. If it makes you look and feel anything like Felicity Shagwell it is worth the ridiculous price-tag.

    Hyundai Tucson
    • Owners: 60% female
    • MSRP: $16,995
    • 4-cylinder engine with 150 horsepower
    Just as women would not be caught dead driving a car with "Heavy Duty" in the name I would assume that men would prefer to avoid anything Mini. Mini-SUVs are very popular with women and this one seems a little lower to the ground; easier to get into then larger SUVs which allows young children to crawl into the car by themselves. All this with in a vehicle that is named for a city famed for their beautiful spas.

    Saturn Vue
    • Owners: 60% female>
    • MSRP: $18,100
    • 4-cylinder engine with 144 horsepower
    • V6 engine with 248 horsepower is an optional upgrade
    • V6 engine with 170 horsepower hybrid is an optional upgrade
    Saturn dealers are known in the industry as being more touchy feely and catering to the needs of their female clientele from the sale to the shop, giving it an edge with many female buyers. While I personally find this to be one of the uglier cars in the market, I appreciate that women want to buy from someone who they trust and the introduction of Saturn’s crossover opened the market to all the women with rugrats who wanted to buy a car from someone they trusted.

    Honda Element
    • Owners: 57% female
    • MSRP: $18,980
    • 4-cylinder engine with 166 horsepower
    • 2-wheel drive and 4-wheel drive models available
    You know how sometimes women go out with a guy because they feel sorry for him? Or sometimes women adopt a puppy or kitten because they are so ugly they are cute? Women often fall for the ugly underdog which is really the only way I can explain why anyone would purchase this vehicle.

    While it is offensive to think women don’t know or care about cars I do admit that most women will neglect to ask about the horsepower or the torque when buying a vehicle. Most women don’t give a damn if a car has a hemi so most women would be uninterested in the vehicles that top the men’s list. The cars making the women’s list are going to experience the kiss of death; any man catching the study in Forbes magazine will steer clear of these chick cars and honestly; I would too. Women’s cars are going to have substance and style; the power and room to cart around everything from dogs and kids to furniture and the a style that matches their personality.

    Last year I was chatting with my gas station attendant because we both have the same car and love it; a 2004 Jeep Liberty Limited. He and I were both upset when his children told him the Liberty was a chick Jeep. Lies! There is nothing "chicky" about a Jeep. When I purchased the Jeep I wanted something tough and rugged and decidedly not feminine. A great deal of thought and deliberation went into the decision. I wanted an SUV but not one so large that I couldn’t afford the gas. I loved the tough V6, 210 horsepower engine with great towing capacity because someday I will own a boat. The four-wheel drive and heated leather seats are both crucial features needed to make it through our winters in Minnesota. The roomy back seat area was necessary to haul stuff around and give our dogs plenty of room to get around. My Liberty takes regular unleaded gas, which is becoming increasingly important as prices rise and a 19.5 gallon tank which means fewer trips to the station. Most importantly, the Liberty came in Forest Green, Molten Read and Patriot Blue. I got the blue one, her name is Romy. I look so good in blue.