Tuesday, July 29, 2008
Monday, July 28, 2008
California is often the frontrunner in environmental laws, so a law here would soon trickle and affect the rest of the country. First California will lead the charge banning Mylar balloons for electrical safety (if someone electrocutes themselves with a foil balloon we should thank Darwin)and environmental concerns, then legislation will certainly balloon out of control (pardon the pun), leading to a ban on all balloons. What a travesty! Balloons are as American as baseball and apple pie. Banning balloons is like banning turkey at Thanksgiving. Can you imagine birthday party, a circus, a trip to Disneyland without balloons? The landscape of Main Street USA just wouldn’t be the same without bursts of color flying high above a “cast member” defying the laws of physics, somehow remaining grounded despite a fist full of helium filled Mickey Mouse ear balloons. Latex balloons are already banned in most hospitals nationwide, ban Mylar and fewer people will gain the therapeutic benefits associated with a get well soon message.
It is estimated that the sale of foil balloons generate $100 million in sales each year in California alone. Add the add-ons that come with Mylar balloons; flowers, cookies, pretty little weights, and suddenly foil balloons generate $900 million in California sales. Opponents to the balloon legislation argue that the banning these balloons will cost jobs and tax revenue for the state. Ban balloons and the balloon guy at Disneyland will lose his job; someone has to protect the balloon guy’s career!
Balloons help us learn valuable life lessons from a very early age. We begin to understand disappointment when the balloon we begged our parents for floats away due to our own carelessness. We learn the importance of holding on to something tight when it is important to us; never let go of the things we love. We combat stage fright and fear of public speaking by sucking in helium and singing “Lollipop Guild” from The Wizard of Oz in front of all our friends. Tying the ribbon with a square knot around our wrists is the first step in earning scout badges, an early lesson of how to tie stuff to the top of our cars, and if we are lucky, priceless in the bedroom.
I am happy to report that foil balloon supporters and opponents reached a compromise in their fight, but it is important to remain vigilant in protecting our fundamental right to say it with helium. People who oppose the sale of helium balloons are not environmentalists; they are communists who threaten the very fabric of our culture. Save the balloons.
Saturday, July 26, 2008
Thursday, July 24, 2008
With all these life-threatening, imaginable problems facing the people of Africa, it is quite surprising that a group of doctors and scientists are busy addressing an issue that is trivial compared to the real needs on the continent; infertility.
Many of us Gen X’s learned of the African plight from the pleading of Sally Struthers from the glow of our television screens, asking us to help feed the children, to give only pennies a day to provide a hungry and malnourished child a chance for survival. Images of children with distended bellies, covered in flies, clinging to their mothers for added strength were haunting and even at a young age helped put our charmed lives into perspective. Decades after those commercials first aired the people of Africa still struggle with the hardships of famine. It hardly seems appropriate to focus on something like infertility when people are still starving across the continent.
Proponents of bringing IVF and other fertility treatments to Africa claim that having children is a fundamental right that should be offered to every person. I could not disagree more with this statement. Food, clothing, shelter, water; these are fundamental rights. It is insulting to focus on something like infertility treatments when millions upon millions of people cannot even get their own basic needs met.
Infertility carries a tremendous social stigma with it in African societies and the pro-infertility treatment camp wants to combat the social stigma issue by helping women get pregnant. Women who are unable to conceive are thought to be witches, and become social outcasts. Unfortunately some women are killed or commit suicide because of their inability to have a child. While it is tragic that women who are unable to conceive in Africa are subject to such horrific treatment, isn’t it far more tragic that water-borne diseases claim a child every three seconds or rape is often used as a weapon of war?
There is no arguing that infertility rates are higher in Africa than the rest of the world and there are many reasons behind that; poor healthcare for women, lack of access to basic needs, exposure to illness, nutritional inadequacies. Only a small number of women will be able to afford the infertility treatments and an even smaller number will have success. Instead of focusing on the infertility problem in Africa, which only benefits those who suffer from infertility AND can afford the treatments AND have success with the treatments, it would be smarter and beneficial to focus on women’s health for all women. Treat the root of what causes African women to suffer from higher rates of infertility in the first place.
No one is looking at ways to shift the social stigma against the infertile. No one is working to give options to women other than childbearing. It is difficult to change social beliefs and perceptions, but if the childfree option is not possible, what if an effort was made to elevate the status of adoption? There is a huge number of orphans throughout the African continent looking for mothers, and apparently a large number of women looking to have children. Seems like a match made in heaven.
Saturday, July 19, 2008
- Yogi Berra
Thursday, July 17, 2008
You can pick your friends, allowing a better shot at liking that person over your predetermined family. Family is forever; not necessarily because you like them, but because it’s easier to shake free of an acquaintance if they piss you off. We are forced to deal with a little bit more with family, find a greater level of compromise and acceptance since holiday dinners would be much more uncomfortable otherwise. Unfortunately, many families operate like you have to like each other, be together, and offer help and support just because of the blood relation. People who treat their families like garbage, or who make little to no effort to be a real part of their lives, and expect the family bond to magically flourish because of some shared genes have little to no understanding of how relationships work. If these people treated their friends like they treated their family they would have no friends. Somehow people expect their family to stick around no matter how ill the relationship.
"Friends are relatives you make for yourself."
- Eustache Deschamps
There is a certain “sweet spot” in any relationship, blood relation or otherwise, where the lines between family and friends blur; when you like your family like they were your friends and love your friends like they are family. These are the family members who you can talk and laugh with until the wee hours of the morning and the friends whose mothers are almost your own. Friends who you couldn’t imagine leaving out of a family event because in your heart they are family, or the family who you send dirty email jokes to because they will laugh like your friends. Regard of last name or background, these are the people we move mountains for.
“A real friend is one who walks in when the rest of the world walks out.”
- Walter Winchell
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
Writers know the best way to get over writers block is to actually write about the writers block, but I was avoiding this method, fearing a half finished posting. Then I considered writing on all the things that could trigger bouts of writers block, forcing me to face the issues rather than the writing problem. The issue with that is I have absolutely no idea what could trigger this level of
- Maybe I should play with the dogs?
- Solei’s nails need trimming.
- When is the dogs’ grooming appointment?
- My tooth hurts, I should make a dentist appointment.
- I should call my sisters/Stacy/Diane/Jooli/my dentist.
- Did wadE remember to call his mother?
- I need to send Mom a package.
- UPS tracker should have information on the package I ordered by now.
- There needs to be more order in the Tupperware drawer.
- I need to finish going through my drawers to get rid of old stuff.
- I have a bag for goodwill, I should throw that in my car.
- It’s probably time to have my car washed and vacuumed.
- What should I wear tomorrow?
- The dish washer should be loaded.
- Did I remember to close the garage door?
- Wonder if the tomato plants need water?
- Oh look, Jeter is batting!
- What a cute bunny in the yard.
- Crap, I forgot to send someone a document at work.
- I should really change my 401K around.
- Where the heck did I hide badge for work?
- How many Japanese beetles will it take to kill my sunflowers?
- When should I squeeze in a haircut?
- These legs need waxing, I wonder who Amy is going to these days.
- Amy had a fantastic shirt on tonight, I should ask her where she got it.
- Did I leave any shirts at the Dry Cleaner?
- Should I make sushi reservations this weekend?
- Weekend at Bernie’s was a stupid movie.
- Damn, I haven’t seen Indiana Jones yet.
- Should we go to Amsterdam after our trip to London?
- Ooooo, Joe Nathan is pitching, he’s cute.
- That cute new shirt would be great to wear tomorrow.
- Are we going to get rain tomorrow, or do I have to water the plants.
- Look at the time, I should get some sleep.
Saturday, July 12, 2008
Wednesday, July 09, 2008
Risking sounding like a braggart, I have excellent credit (the credit report said so!) with nearly 15 years of picture perfect activity. No overdue accounts, no collections, high credit indicating good financial experience, and my student loans are paid in full. Our fairly new mortgage leaves a rather high balance, and I still have some time left to pay off the Jeep, but those loans be taken care of in due time. Credit-wise there were no real surprises on the report except a credit card for the Limited evidently not cancelled and inactive since January 2002. It was my personal information that included something surprising, a section titled “also known as.”
Apparently I have an alias unknown to me until today. Not the 9 instances of my misspelled name, but a name totally different than my own. Somehow the credit companies think I also carry around the moniker Michelle “my husband’s last name.” For those who don’t know me, or haven’t caught up with my blog postings to go wayyyyyy back to 2005, my husband opted to keep his maiden name and so did I. This is one issue I am incredibly opinionated on; I even contribute to the Lucy Stone League, an organization campaigning to change the widespread practices of wives taking husbands' surnames at marriage and of children being given fathers' surnames. Yet for some reason, nearly 7 years after saying I do, people still require a reminder that my husband and I carry different surnames.
Names are an important key to what a society values. Anthropologists recognize naming as 'one of the chief methods for imposing order on perception.
- David S. Slawson
Apparently I needed to inform the credit agencies of this decision as well, because all the major agencies had me with an alias of Michelle “My husband’s last name.” There has never been a single official document with my last name as anything other then the one I was born with, yet on my credit report there was this completely different name. The 9 different spellings, although annoying, are to be expected with a last name of multiple syllables, but a totally different last name? I felt like I was stealing someone else’s identity as I read the report and couldn’t for the life of me figure out how this mistaken identity happened. My husband and I are both on our mortgage with our own names, and share a credit card account set up with each of our names. These are the only documents I could see triggering this presumptuous change to my list of names. Presumptuous not only that I took on his name, but that we were even married.
As annoying and time consuming as this was, it was probably far less work then any hassle people who change their names experience. It took about a half-dozen phone calls, but I got this other woman’s name expunged from my credit history (and cancelled the Limited credit card). I reprinted the reports and now feel like I’m back to my old self.
Tuesday, July 08, 2008
I am a facebook geek, and love the “people you may know” feature that suggests, as you might have guessed from the title, people you may know because you have mutual friends or shared an alma mater with. More often than not I actually do know the person suggested, and when I don’t know the person it is usually because we only have one mutual friend, a silly way to connect two people since we all possess friends and colleagues whose circles never cross. The likelihood of knowing a person increases dramatically with each mutual connection. It is very unlikely to share ten friends and somehow not know each other, although facebook does think I should know half the Classes of 1997 and 1998 from St. Olaf, the alma mater of my husband and many friends, and a bunch of 15 year olds from my cousin’s extensive high school network of 600. After weeding through these obvious mismatches it is fun to find long lost friends and classmates.
Sometimes the mismatch is not so obvious and this is when the world is so small it’s creepy. On four separate occasions in the past month, a completely unfamiliar name and face popped up on my screen and our connection was surprising and strange. I did not know these four people, but each one of them shared some completely random mutual friends. One of the women from Boston was friends with an old roommate when I lived/worked in Delaware and a classmate of mine from grammar school in New York. Another guy from California and I shared two friends, one who I knew from college in Virginia and the other is the daughter of my father’s best friend from the Bronx. Then there is a woman from India who is friends with one of my college classmates and a guy I worked with in New Jersey. Sharing friends with people from completely different walks of life, common connections that would never be revealed anywhere but on networking sites, is mind-blowing. There are over 6 billion people on this planet, the chances of having two people you know from “different worlds” should be statistically small but somehow it happens; a reminder that there’s so much that we share in only one small, small world.