Holiday RE-Gift Charity Party

So we're hosting an event to raise funds for the Help Minna venture. Wednesday, January 16, 2008.


Read more at orgEvolve!


Help My Mom!

as of 1/24/08:

$3,860* raised out of $8,000** needed

*includes free samples
**may change based on discount programs

Who is Minna Matthews?

Minna Lendle was born in Germany during WWII to a German soldier fighting in the war and a mother who hid her Jewish friends in her basement. She married an American soldier when she was 18, had a baby, and moved to the states. After 38 years as a meat wrapper in a local grocery store, she retired and now lives with her cats and a giant German shepherd named Kingsley in Ozark, Missouri.

Breast Cancer

In 2001, at the age of 58, Minna was diagnosed with breast cancer. When a lumpectomy didn't work, Minna had a mastectomy, followed by weeks of radiation and chemotherapy. Her treatment caused many other problems to develop, and by the time Minna passed her 3-year check up she had also been diagnosed with congestive heart failure, major kidney and liver problems, and severely high blood pressure. She is now in full remission, but is constantly battling these other ailments.

The Fallout

Throughout most of her cancer treatment, Minna continued to work in her labor-intensive job. Years of hard work took their toll. Since recovering from cancer, Minna has had one knee replacement, needs another, suffered a herniated disc in her back, and had surgery for shoulder problems. She waited as long as she could to retire, but when she qualified for her pension, she decided to take a rest. The Cobra on her insurance ran out after 18 months, and she won't qualify for Medicare until she's 65. With all of the pre-existing conditions, she's been unable to get individual insurance. She's been coping with the cost of monthly doctor visits, but prescription costs are insane.

Vital Medications - Cost Per Month:

Aromasin - $300 - prevents recurrence of cancer
Blood Pressure/Heart Medication - $300 - lowers blood pressure to prevent heart attacks
Kidney Medication - $105 - maintains kidneys at current level of 40% full function
Insulin - $80 - for diabetes
Vitorin - $80 - lowers cholesterol to prevent heart attacks
Thyroid Medication - $30 - prevents overworked thyroid from causing weight gain and depression
Depression Medication - $250 - helps maintain chemical balance to stabilize moods

The total cost of her medications each month is over $1,145. Minna's doctors were able to offer a couple of months of free samples for several of the medications, so over the course of her eight months uninsured, she needs approximately $8,400.

For an extra kick in the pants, if she hadn't given up her German citizenship to become an American, Minna would get all of this FOR FREE!

If you've got an extra $5 or $10 around that you could contribute, please think of Minna. Every little bit helps. Another donor will match all donations up to $1,000.

If you'd like to donate, but don't want to do it online, please email somebodysmiracle@gmail.com for more information.


For information about the prohibitive cost of healthcare, check out the American Cancer Society's Access To Care.


Rules in a House with Kitties

The Napping Kitty Rule.

This totally goes in our house, too. Honey can you get me a water? Sebastien is all sleepy-sleepy on me.


Call of Duty

As a teenager, I was a HUGE fan of Natalie Portman. She taught me how to handle dirty old men in Beautiful Girls, she was lovably quirky in Garden State, and she helped heat up the screen in Closer. She's such a self-assured young woman, and I've always admired that.

So it's no surprise that she was my introduction into National Service. I remember the big hullabaloo over whether she would serve in the Israeli army, and then later whether she was a draft dodger. Turned out she wasn't required to serve, but it brought the idea of mandatory service of some sort to light for me.

I've often wondered if we shouldn't require our high school graduates to make a choice among military service, higher education, or possibly public service of some sort. Seems the idea is becoming much bigger in this pre-election year. So much so, that Time Magazine featured a special report in its September 10, 2007 issue.

The report discusses the current presidential candidates' stances, other countries' programs, and the need for something in the U.S. As for the next president, McCain supports incentives for National Services, Hillary supports the Public Service Academy model, Edwards wants to require community service in high schools, and Barack wants to do what tons of urban non-profits are already doing - put disadvantage youth to work on the environment, teaching them usable skills for the future while instilling a spirit of service. As mentioned above, Israel requires 3 years of military service for men, 2 for women, but only for the non-orthodox Jews of the country. Germany has a draft of 180,000 men, but half of those opt out for civilian service and foreign development work. South Africa (offering my favorite program) requires new healthcare workers (including docs, nurses, dietitians, psychologists, etc.) to spend a year working in poor areas before they receive certification to practice. The need is clear to many, but the main idea seems to be that citizens who work together to provide services stand together as a united republic.

The author, Richard Stengel, goes on to outline what a service program might look like in the States. The first thing he points out is that a plan in the U.S. would not be mandatory. Americans would throw a hissy fit over not having the "freedom" to not serve (my statement, not Stengel's), and many argue that requirements take away the meaning. Having established the voluntary nature of this potential Universal National Service, Stengel discusses what needs to be included:

1. Baby Bonds - For every baby born in the States, the Federal Government would invest in a $5k bond in that child's name. By around 20 years of age, the bond would be worth $19,000. the could then redeem the bond between the ages of 18-25 after committing to at least one year of national or military service. The bond could then be used only toward an education, a business start-up, or a home.

2. Cabinet-Level Department - No more small, independent agencies. This would need to be a priority of the president, and the department should be big enough to demonstrate that.

3. Expand Existing Programs - AmeriCorps and the Senior Volunteer Corp serve as a bit of a catch all for the small number of people who actually know about them. These should be expanded, and then divided into new branded corps and programs under the cabinet-level department.

4. Education Corps - Half of America's high school drop outs come from just 15% of the schools, mostly in urban areas and across the south. This division would match teachers and tutors with needs in the community.

5. Summer of Service - Between middle school and high school, students would be required to do a summer volunteer program, and be rewarded with a small scholarship to college.

6. Health Corps - Many children qualify for public health insurance, but are not on it. The health corps volunteers would help people navigate healthcare, and the experience might lead more people into nursing or medicine, which would help the current shortage.

7. Green Corps - Volunteers to combat climate change, focusing on the 1.5 million young Americans who are neither employed nor in school.

8. Rapid Response Reserve Corp - Katrina.

9. National Service Academy - This is what Hillary supports. Like a military academy, with tuition being subsidized by the government in exchange for service. But rather than a few years in the military after graduation, students would commit to 5 years of public service (defined in current pending legislation as federal, state, or local government - I'm in favor of non-profit work being included here, too, but that doesn't seem to be in the cards).

10. Baby-Boomer Education Bonds - With the vast number of baby boomers that will be old enough to retire, but would like to keep working, many public service positions could be filled by this population. Each volunteer would be able to designate a scholarship of $1,000 for every 500 hours of community service.

The best part about this proposal is the cost. According to Stengel, who neglects all of the other pieces, the baby bonds alone would cost $20 billion per year. While this sounds high, it's roughly two months of funding for the Iraq war, and around half of what the government currently spends on the federal prison system. In addition, the government would get dividends and would be able to cash in unused bonds. Basically, the proposal means that corporate America would have to fund a big portion of the project. And why shouldn't they?

My only concern with this idea (it mostly sounds great to me), is what happens to the nonprofits out there that are working on this now? It would be great if non-profits weren't needed, but given the government's reputation for never actually offering enough funding for things like this, they probably still would be. But would people still donate? If the government had this program, would donors still turn to NGOs for social services?

Maybe. But I've got to admit it's a scary thought for those of us in the sector.

Michael Kinsley has a pretty interesting argument against any form of universal service. A piece of it:
As it happens, we already have a system for inducing truly voluntary activities that benefit the public. It's called free-market capitalism. It works this way: if you need something done, you offer enough money to induce someone to do it. There is no need for inspiration or other malarkey. In fact, the voluntary nature of transactions under capitalism is what gives our economic system its moral authority. And if the need that has to be satisfied is social — if satisfying it would benefit everybody or the worst-off among us who need help — we have another well established system called taxation. It works this way: through democratic processes, we decide as a society that something is worth doing or someone is worth helping. Then we tax ourselves in order to buy this service from someone who wishes to sell it for the amount we are willing to pay.

This will be an interesting one to watch, folks.


What Security Deposit?

Why our landlord requires a pet deposit:

The Truth Hurts

From Psychology Today:

Ten Politically Incorrect Truths About Human Nature
Why most suicide bombers are Muslim, beautiful people have more daughters, humans are naturally polygamous, sexual harassment isn't sexist, and blonds are more attractive.

Human nature is one of those things that everybody talks about but no one can define precisely. Every time we fall in love, fight with our spouse, get upset about the influx of immigrants into our country, or go to church, we are, in part, behaving as a human animal with our own unique evolved nature—human nature.

This means two things. First, our thoughts, feelings, and behavior are produced not only by our individual experiences and environment in our own lifetime but also by what happened to our ancestors millions of years ago. Second, our thoughts, feelings, and behavior are shared, to a large extent, by all men or women, despite seemingly large cultural differences.

Human behavior is a product both of our innate human nature and of our individual experience and environment. In this article, however, we emphasize biological influences on human behavior, because most social scientists explain human behavior as if evolution stops at the neck and as if our behavior is a product almost entirely of environment and socialization. In contrast, evolutionary psychologists see human nature as a collection of psychological adaptations that often operate beneath conscious thinking to solve problems of survival and reproduction by predisposing us to think or feel in certain ways. Our preference for sweets and fats is an evolved psychological mechanism. We do not consciously choose to like sweets and fats; they just taste good to us.

The implications of some of the ideas in this article may seem immoral, contrary to our ideals, or offensive. We state them because they are true, supported by documented scientific evidence. Like it or not, human nature is simply not politically correct.

Read the Ten Truths here!


Soundtrack of My Soul - Track #4

Famous in a Small Town, as sung by Miranda Lambert

They say life is so much sweeter
through the telephoto lens of fame
around here you get just as much attention
cheerin' at the high school football game

I dreamed of going to Nashville
Put my money down and placed my bet
But I just got the first buck of the season
I made the front page of the Turnertown Gazette

Every last one, route one, rural hearts got a story to tell
Every grandma, in law, ex girlfriend
Maybe knows us just a little too well
Whether you're late for church or you're stuck in jail
Hey words gonna get around
Everybody dies famous in a small town

Tyler and Casey broke up
It ended pretty quietly
We heard he was caught red-handed with her mama
So that's just what they let us all believe

Every last one, route one, rural hearts got a story to tell
Every grandma, in law, ex girlfriend
Maybe knows us just a little too well
Whether you're late for church or you're stuck in jail
Hey words gonna get around
Everybody dies famous in a small town

Baby who
Needs their faces in a magazine
Me and you
We've been stars of the town since we were 17

Let's go on down to the quick stop
Wear your yellow shades
And I'll put on my tight jeans
And we'll just spend the weekend burnin' rubber
And we'll let em point and stare in disbelief

Every last one, route one, rural hearts got a story to tell
Every grandma, in law, ex girlfriend
Maybe knows us just a little too well
Whether you're late for church or you're stuck in jail
Hey words gonna get around
Everybody dies famous in a small town


My Morning Entertainment

From Best of Craigslist:

Whenever I get a package of plain M&Ms, I make it my duty to continue the strength and robustness of the candy as a species. To this end, I hold M&M duels.

Taking two candies between my thumb and forefinger, I apply pressure, squeezing them together until one of them cracks and splinters. That is the "loser," and I eat the inferior one immediately. The winner gets to go another round.

I have found that, in general, the brown and red M&Ms are tougher, and the newer blue ones are genetically inferior. I have hypothesized that the blue M&Ms as a race cannot survive long in the intense theater of competition that is the modern candy and snack-food world.

Occasionally I will get a mutation, a candy that is misshapen, or pointier, or flatter than the rest. Almost invariably this proves to be a weakness, but on very rare occasions it gives the candy extra strength. In this way, the species continues to adapt to its environment.

When I reach the end of the pack, I am left with one M&M, the strongest of the herd. Since it would make no sense to eat this one as well, I pack it neatly in an envelope and send it to M&M Mars, A Division of Mars, Inc., Hackettstown, NJ 17840-1503 U.S.A., along with a 3x5 card reading, "Please use this M&M for breeding purposes."

This week they wrote back to thank me, and sent me a coupon for a free 1/2 pound bag of plain M&Ms. I consider this "grant money." I have set aside the weekend for a grand tournament. From a field of hundreds, we will discover the True Champion.

There can be only one.

On the subject of m&m's, you can make your own m&m character.


Please Vote

And do away with this nonsense. Regardless of any kind of interference, Barry was still the one who did it. He's the one who played long enough and hit hard enough to get it done. They're all out there doing the same things, so the fact that this man accomplished something is still extremely important in the context of modern baseball. Let's acknowledge the historical feat, and send the ball directly to Cooperstown.


Answer: Happy and Motivated Me

Question: What do you get when you take the American Cancer Society and add a campaign for healthcare access equality?

Yet another reason to support the American Cancer Society:


Earlier this year, the American Cancer Society proudly reported a decline in cancer deaths. Sadly, scientific evidence suggests that this progress won't continue unless all Americans gain access to quality health care. The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that 47 million Americans have no health insurance and millions more don't have enough to cover costs. As a result, too many people can't afford medical care or screening tests that can prevent cancer or find it early – and too many die needlessly of cancers that are detected too late. Others end up losing everything they own because they cannot afford the cost of their cancer care.

And so we cannot help but ask, is choosing between your life and financial ruin really a choice?

With this new initiative, the American Cancer Society will do what we have historically done best – educate the public and move our country to action. When the Society confirmed the link between tobacco use and lung cancer more than 40 years ago, we worked hard to educate the public about the dangers of tobacco. Years later, we led volunteers across the country to advocate for policy changes that led to increased tobacco taxes and thousands of smoke-free communities. This combination of public awareness and grassroots advocacy has led to the lowest smoking rates in decades and, best of all, decreased death rates from lung cancer. We have made similar strides in cervical, breast, and colon cancers.

Now we plan to educate Americans about the need for greater access to quality health care through an aggressive public awareness campaign featuring real people telling their own very real stories. Advertisements airing nationwide will encourage people to visit www.cancer.org/access to learn more. For those who want to be part of the nationwide grassroots movement to make this issue a priority for state and federal elected officials, our sister advocacy organization, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action NetworkSM (ACS CAN), will provide opportunities for volunteers to become an active part of this effort.

Of course, while we pursue this new effort, we will continue to do all of the things that you expect from your American Cancer Society. We will continue to be the nation's top private funder of cancer research, to educate Americans about reducing their cancer risk, and to be available 24 hours a day to those who need us for information and support.


The Most Beautiful Creature

I have a thing for tigers.

People who know me find this out pretty quickly. I have a small tiger tattoo, a ton of tiger books, and a bajillion stuffed tigers hiding in a box because I'm too adult to display them and too attached to let go.

I cried at the tiger feeding at Discovery Kingdom a couple of weeks ago. I am so moved by these animals that I frequently wonder if I should give up my steady job to go work with tigers. Only the knowledge that I would someday want a family kept me from moving to India after college to be with them in the wild.

People often ask me, "Why?"

Many attribute it to the fact that I was involved in sports and that was our team mascot--but I loved tigers long before I even understood that concept.

It's something about the grace and beauty of this amazing animal that still holds such immense strength within itself. I think the tiger is the epitome of what I have always longed to be: a beautiful, graceful, strong, and independent woman.

That, and they're friggin adorably cuddly kitty cats.

Recently I began reading a beautiful book called Tigers in Red Weather, about a woman who discovers the beauty of tigers while searching for something of her own. I say began reading because I had to put it down only a short way into the book. It was so densely packed with things I wanted to read, yet I had little time to fully enjoy it. I did, however, pull out a few quotes that I wanted to share.

You'd love Bhutan. There are tigers on the wall of every house. In their Buddhism, tiger is the ground you start from, where there'snothing to lose. That's where the curiosity, the sniffing-things-out a tiger does, can begin. The tiger is the broken heart.

The tiger IS the wild. If it goes, part of us goes with it: our sense that something out there is stronger, more beautiful; something not us. Outer wildness affets our inner landscape in ways we do not control. The tiger is its epitome: elusive, with its own concerns, nothing to do with us, from its point of view. But for us the extreme image of the wild.

East and West know tigers differently but both try and internalize the tiger's power. Tigers pay a heavy price for their role in human fantasy. They are a casualty of symbolism.


Red Sky in the Morning

I awoke this morning to a room filled with oddly-colored sunlight, that still somehow seemed dark--like the sun that comes out after a storm, but the rest of the sky is still dark and cloudy. The light was almost bright red, though, and cast an eerie glow that made it feel even weirder. My boss later told me (only half-jokingly) that she wondered to herself whether the world was ending. It was also stiflingly hot. Really quite spooky.

As I got ready for work, I quickly discovered that my eyes weren't quite functioning. I could see, but I couldn't focus. I cleaned my glasses again and again, thinking that maybe I got something on them, but the problem wasn't with the lenses. Not being able to see is actually a pretty big fear of mine, and I was definitely scared out of my mind this morning. I figured it was my allergies, took a claritin, and pulled myself together enough to get to the office (albeit half an hour late), and tried to work on things that didn't require precise focus. Not easy in an office setting.

Just before lunch, a visitor mentioned the Lick Fire, and everything suddenly made sense. For those not in the area, apparently there's a gigantic fire about 200 miles from here, and the winds changed last night to send the smoke up this way. The smoke/haze makes the sun look red, and is definitely causing many people allergy-like symptoms. Given that I'm allergic to smoke and asthmatic anyway, this is not a good day for me to be outside.

200 miles from here, though? Wow. And apparently the winds moved it up really quickly. What's even weirder is that Jen, who lives in San Jose, wayyyy closer to the fire, says it's sunny and clear there. Perhaps not the apocalypse, but strange nonetheless.

At least I know what the heck is wrong with my eyes.


Proud of My Missouri Roots

From MyWayNews:

DE SOTO, Mo. (AP) - The naked truth: Three eastern Missouri men were willing to go to extreme lengths to get some beer.

That's the accusation after an incident in the early hours of August 18th at Fish's Quick Stop in De Soto. Store clerk Vicky Gaines says a masked man walked in and began doing the hula dance.

Police say the plan was for the naked dancer to create a distraction while another man took a case of beer from the store. It didn't work.

Gaines called police. As the naked man and his accomplice joined a third man in a car, a customer got their license plate number. All three were caught a few days later.

The men, ages 19 to 23, face charges of shoplifting and indecent exposure.


These Are Not Anxious People

I'm currently reading a hauntingly beautiful, but extremely depressing novel about a likeable but messed-up woman dealing with her past and facing her future.

Exposure, by Kathryn Harrison, is incredible, and a couple of quotes have really struck me thus far.

On discussing the past:
She'll talk later, but for now, whatever she remembers threatens to recede, evaporate, when she contemplates articulating it for someone else. Even as she tried just now to tell Carl about posing for her father's camer, it was as if she were trying to recount a dream: what she remembered seemed absurd, and parts of what she had thought was a coherent story were suddenly missing. Her mouth open to speak, she was left with nothing more than the idea of herself at the grade school science fair. Chosen from the audience of children to come stand on the stage, putting her hands over her head at the hypnotist's command.

On searching through other people's medicine cabinets:
These people aren't anxious or depressed. They have sinus infections and athlete's foot. They don't spend the minutes between waking and showering reciting reasons not to kill themselves.

I suspect that people from unhappy families are always searching the cupboards and drawers of happy people. Sliding a hand between the neat stacks of towels in the linen closet, slipping a finger under the hinged lid of a jewel box, flipping furtively through the pages of a book. They are looking everywhere. As if, perhaps, out might fall a list, an outline, the formula for how they do it.


Oh My Grits!

Overheard in SF:

Alabamians At Breakfast

"They don't serve grits everywhere. We took a tour with our church group and we had to take along our own grits."


There's a First Time for Everything

And Friday was the first time I got kicked out of a bar.

Well, okay, not really kicked out. Just politely told that I should enjoy my night elsewhere.

Here's what happened:

I used to like Anu. I met one of my best friends here and saw some great comedy. But that has all changed, and now I will never go back.

Friday night after Avenue Q, my 7 friends and I walked in totally sober ready to drink it up. I started things off with a round of tequila for everyone. The adorable, very friendly bartender (eager for more business because the clientelle was a bit lacking) asked me what kind of tequila I wanted. With a big smile I said "If I'm paying for everyone, it better be the cheapest tequila you've got."

So what does she bring out? A bottle of Patron. Yeah.

I call her out and say, "I asked you for the cheapest tequila and you bring me Patron?" but with a smile so it won't be a big deal.
She says, "I'll give you a discount, it'll be the same."

I think, man, I'm gonna tip this chick well...she's awesome.
One girl in my group won't do tequila, she orders Absolut instead.

Everyone else in the group orders a drink for themselves after the shots...we're planning to drink quite a bit, but we're still stone cold sober.

I decide to close out my tab because my boy had the cash to cover the rest of my drinks. I get my bill. $52 for 7 shots (one member didn't drink). I'm a bit confused, so I take a look...they actually charged me for 8 shots, at $7 a shot. She did offer me a $1 discount on four of the shots...but I'm still a bit confused as to how "the cheapest tequila" turned into $7 shots.

So I pull over another bartender who looks like he's kinda running things. I ask, "what's the cheapest shot of tequila you've got?"

He says, "Jose is normally $5, but it's $4 tonight."

So I show him my bill. He argues that I had Patron. I told him I ordered the cheap crap. As he's fixing the bill, my bartender comes back and I tell her I feel a bit taken advantage of. She said, looking sweet and friendly, that she would never do that, that she misunderstood. I highly doubt this, but I tell her it's cool, I buy it, as long as I get my bill fixed. Man bartender comes back and gives me a new bill, this time for 8 shots at at the correct price, but the Absolut is still $7.

Turns out they actually charge $7 for a shot of Absolut. Are you kidding me? Friggin absolut? Seriously.

Anyway, so he comes back and tells me, "We don't take advantage of people here, she went above and beyond for you already."

I show him that my bill is still wrong, that we only had 7 shots. After arguing with me and counting the people in our group who had drinks, he finally comes back with a correct bill of $31. (That makes the original bill a 69% overcharge, by the way.)

Me (still feeling a little miffed and hoping to clear everything up because I like to hang on to a good bar and I have too many bartender friends not to at least try to make it all happy): "Thanks for fixing this. I'm confused, though. I felt like everything was all resolved and happy until you said that she went above and beyond for me, so I'm wondering what you meant."
Man Bartender (who has now told me he's not the manager, but is "kind of the head bartender tonight"): "She gave you a discount when she shouldn't have."
Me: "But I asked for cheap tequila and she gave me Patron."
MB: "You saw the Patron before she poured it, you should have stopped her."
Me: "She said she'd give me a discount."
MB: "We don't take advantage of people here. You should have stopped her. Your tab is closed. Have a good time elsewehere. Goodnight."

So I took my group of 8 over to Mr. Smith's and we ran up our tab there instead.

It's unfortunate, because I liked Anu, and I know you've got to have your peeps' backs, but seriously...don't mess it up once it's resolved.

To you, Mr. Kinda the Head Bartender--you just lost the business of 8 young professionals who love to drink it up and are usually pretty damn good tippers. For that night and from now on. Sucks to be you. I'd be mad as hell at you if that was my bar.


Not All Athletes Are Corrupt

In a world of sports that includes cheating refs, betting players, steroids, rape, drugs, murder, and animal abuse, it's sometimes difficult to find a reason to rally behind a team or a player without feeling the slighted tinge of guilt over some of the crimes that may or may not be taking place off the court/field. Scoop Jackson offers a glimmer of hope in this month's ESPN magazine.

What do you do when you are asked to speak at a camp?

You know nothing about the camp, just that they are playing ball. The camp has been around for only eight years in Chicago and has no NCAA, pro-am or shoe company connection or backing. You ask what big names have come through or been a part of the camp, and they tell you no one. But they tell you that the theme of the camp this year comes from the mind of Nelson Mandela.

You investigate. Find out that the camp is not really about basketball, but about education through basketball. It's called "Books 'N Hoops." Emphasis on books. A camp where both girls and guys play ball in T-shirts with "The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall" on their backs. Mandela has their backs.

Read about the rest of the heroic ventures on ESPN.com


I'm Not Nuts

You actually CAN overdose on caffeine. A young woman in England did it recently. She had 7 double espressos while working in her family's sandwich shop, thinking they were singles. Not only did she get the expected symptoms like heart palpitations and nervousness, she actually got a high fever!

With more and more people drinking coffee and espresso drinks younger, I absolutely think it's more important than ever to let people know that too much can be dangerous. Okay, funny, but dangerous.

Read the whole article here.


I'm thinking of Wine today

Wine is the first weapon that devils use in attacking the young

St. Jerome

Drink wine, and you will sleep well. Sleep, and you will not sin. Avoid sin, and you will be saved. Ergo, drink wine and be saved.

Medieval German saying

Hunting For Seashells

And what a find!

LegoMan pulled out of a Dutch sea!


In Prison With Nothing to Do? Don't Do THAT!

The South Florida Sun-Sentinel Reports:

"A Broward County jail inmate accused of masturbating in his cell while a female deputy saw him from another room was convicted of indecent exposure Wednesday."

Okay, if the guy was being a jerk and going at it intentionally in front of the female deputy, I could maybe see this as a reasonable charge. But the man was in his cell...in his private home. Granted, he doesn't have the same privacy rights, but would deputy complain if he was peeing? Same idea, right? And honestly, I'd rather the guy be masturbating than assaulting another prisoner. Seriously. This is ridic.


The Opposite of West Virginia

Need another reason to avoid leaving a child alone with your dog? How about to keep them from suffering the most humiliating kind of post traumatic stress disorder possible:

Pit Bull Sodomizes Two-Year Old



A Story to Make You Smile

And to remind you not to pack your cat!

SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. (AP) - A cat whose owners thought was lost spent nearly three weeks crossing the Pacific Ocean in a shipping container with no food or water - and appears to be just fine.

The voyage began after Pamela Escamilla lost sight of her 3-year-old calico, Spice, while packing a huge container with household goods in Waikoloa Village, Hawaii.

The container was shipped June 15 to Southern California. Escamilla, 39, and her husband couldn't find the cat before taking their flight and asked neighbors in Hawaii to call if Spice returned.

While the Escamillas feared the worst, Spice spent 18 days in the pitch-black container without food or water as it crossed the Pacific before arriving at the San Bernardino home of Escamilla's parents on Tuesday.

"We really thought that cat was going to be dead," said Edward Gardner, Escamilla's father.

When Escamilla opened the container, she and family members huddled around her noticed fluffs of cat hair on the floor.

They started removing items, and Escamilla climbed into the container to search.

"I saw (Spice) poke her head out from behind some bicycles, and I started to scream," said Escamilla. She gently picked up the cat and went to the veterinarian, who said the feline's prognosis was good.

"It's always a good day when the cat's alive," said Escamilla. "We didn't know what we would find."

Spice's kidneys had shrunk and her bowels were backed up, but she managed to get some food and water down at the vet, Escamilla said.

The vet gave the Escamillas a soup recipe for Spice made of chicken broth and marrow.

"(The vet) said, 'That's a calico for you,"' Escamilla said. "They have a survival instinct."

From APNews


And On That Note...

Some of the greatest marketing plans I've come across recently--

Leukemia & Lymphoma Society:
The Man & Woman of the Year Competition actually pits candidates for the title against each other in fundraising endeavors. They each throw events that raise money for the cause, and each dollar raised counts as a vote for the candidate. Not only does this raise funds efficiently (volunteers are doing all of the event planning), but it also ensures that the name of the organization is CONSTANTLY in the papers, on calendars, and on everyone's minds.

Okay, so this may not have actually been a marketing ploy by perfectmatch.com, but it sure seems like it. The Science of Love aired last week as a one-hour dating show highlighting instinct versus science. The contestant, Adam, chose one girl for himself, and the other date was chosen by "science". The date with science was engineered to produce a love response (romantic settings, scary feats, etc.), and Adam absolutely chose the science date. The idea was that science can pick our dates better than we can, so we should trust it more. Thus, perfectmatch.com is a great choice. Regardless, this was a brilliant plan to get people to switch over after having failed at match.com and such.

Georgetown, SC, recently became Picturetown when Nikon offered residents 200 of their new D40s to demonstrate that ANYONE can produce a great picture with this camera. Seemingly generous, small-town, homey, and GENIUS! I even want one now. And I was holding out for an SLR. (Man I'm glad I didn't get into photography...if everyone can do it how would I make money? :))


Best Response to the Email Ordeal Yet!

"Fuck your stupid marketing tactics"

If only I had thought of it intentionally!


More Positives

8. a reply "thank you for the error and I hope you don't mind that I've capitalized on it."

9. reconnecting "Admit it, You just did it beacuse you were bored and wanted to talk with us all :-)"

10. Amy and I decided last night that this could really be a positive thing in the eyes of recruiters: my mistake is a still a professional one!

And a final summation from a client:

"sounds like one of those Southwest Airlines commercials...Wanna get away?"


And now for positive #7

"at least when you make mistakes you don't send out massive viruses like my mother does"

but I'm not alone!

Okay, so maybe still the only one who ACTUALLY sent out all the emails, but a colleague just sent this reply to my apology:

Hahaha!!! I just signed up and looked at it and saw it was going to email everyone who’s ever emailed me and caught myself – it’s tricky!!!

Email Calamity, or Why I'm Never Importing Contacts Again

So I'm a member of this great professional networking website called Doostang. Today I decided to take a look and see who, of my gmail contacts, was already a member. I only found one or two people that were close enough that I'd actually invite, so I unchecked all the others and clicked "invite".

Unfortunately, what I didn't see, was that under the list of people who were already members of Doostang, there was a list of every email in my gmail contacts--all automatically checked already. Given that I failed to see the names, I didn't UNcheck them, so everybody in my contacts got an invitation to Doostang.

For those of you who don't use gmail, everybody in my contacts means EVERY SINGLE PERSON I HAVE EVER EMAILED. EVER.

Okay, except for those I've taken the time to delete over the years, but I only do that once in a blue moon, so this was a LOT of people. 683 to be exact. I know, because I immedately went to my gmail account and sent an email to everyone in my contacts list apologizing for my idiocy. That itself posed yet another problem. Now gmail thinks I'm a spammer and has blocked me from sending emails for a couple of days.

So I'm mortified. And sincerely apologetic to all of you who received this (although if you need an apology, you probably don't read this blog :)). I've effectively demonstrated that I'm an unhirable idiot who can't even organize her own contacts to all of the company recruiters in my address book. Guess I won't be sending out those applications any time soon. Bah.

I'm trying to look on the bright side, though, so here's my list of positive outcomes:

1. I got a TON of undeliverables and was able to delete those non-working addresses from my contacts.
2. It's vacation time! I received over 25 "out of the office" auto-replies. Enjoy your time!
3. I have rekindled conversations with people that have been off my radar for months, if not years.
4. Not being able to send email means I actually have to do work--which is good in so many ways.
5. I've reminded 683 people that I exist, and some of them even joined my Doostang network.
6. To those of you who think I'm a perfect goddess that can do no wrong...I've now proven to you that I am, in fact, only human.

Again, my apologies to those who received the blitz. Laugh all you want. I deserve it.


German Reds

I just hit the jackpot.

Seriously, I've been searching for something resembling what my family served me since we got back from Germany, and it was under my nose the whole time!

I've gotten my hopes up a few times with a glass or two at Slanted Door or Sociale, but haven't been able to actually buy a bottle. But now!

There is a wine shop, in San Francisco, that sells German wines...RED WINES!!!

Woo Hoo!

Don't think German Reds exist? Check out this article about German Pinots.

Thank God for Good Docs

Mom calls the night before last, upset because she's not feeling well after a recent surgery. She's worried because she's going to miss my nephew's wedding because she doesn't feel well enough to make it down to Texas for the second time in a month. I tell her it's okay. Nephew is too busy worshipping his beautiful new bride to notice anyway, and she saw him three weeks ago for the niece's graduation.

Last night she calls back to tell me she's feeling so much better. Nothing's changed, she just knows she isn't going and everything is okay. She says "something weighing heavily on my chest is gone now".

Then she says, in a "by the way" addition, her CT scan came back clear--before she moves on to other topics.

I nicely refrain from pointing out that the obvious reason she feels so much better--the reason there is no longer a giant pressure on her chest--is because she just found out that she's been clear of cancer for 5 years and is now officially in full remission.

My mother is so subtle.

And cancer free!!!!


Love/Hate Relationships

I've been reading Heather Armstrong's Dooce for a long time, and I've always been intrigued by her relationship with her husband. Today she wrote him the love letter of a lifetime...and one with an ending that could have come straight from my mouth if I were sure enough of myself to say it this way.

This comes at such an appropriate time, as well. Last night, for the first time ever, I spent the night at home alone with Pete away in Vegas. I knew I would miss him, but I was also looking forward to having the bed all to myself. When I got home, though, Sebastien had gotten sick all over the rug. This was his first time ever, and I was a little distraught. But then I encountered a major "I told you so" moment, and I was kinda sad that Pete wasn't there to tell me he told me so.

You see, last week we went to Monte Carlo Night, a benefit for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. The open bar led to much drunkeness and at the end of the night I decided all I really wanted was one more glass of champagne and two balloons to take home. I tied two balloons to my chair and asked Pete to watch them while I went to get the champagne. When I came back, one of the balloons was gone. Disappointed, I chided him for not protecting his loved one's cherished items, and I went and got another balloon. Pete, in his logical state, decided it would be a great idea to pop one of my balloons in front of me. He threatened. I begged him not to (that balloon was EVERYTHING, people). I told him I'd be really upset. He laughed and popped my balloon. MY BALLOON!!!! I was so upset and he thought it was all so funny that I just couldn't stand it anymore. So I poured a (clear) drink on him. Afterward I said, "I've always wanted to do that". Pete, justifiably angry, walked away. He came back to get his insulin, but I refused to let him go. So we spent the evening fighting over who was wrong--"it was just a balloon!" "but it was MY balloon and I WANTED it!"--and came home with only one balloon.

Fast forward to the next day after we'd made up because we realized how stupid we were--Sebastien had a strange fascination with the balloon. Now, I expected him to be a little curious, but he chased this thing like it was a giant mosquito invading his territory. After the balloon lost its helium, we found out why. Sebastien wanted to steal the ribbon from the balloon. He really had to have this ribbon, and the fact that it was tied to the balloon made it both more enticing, and easy for him to smell. So I hid the deflated balloon and ribbon in my nightstand (going to the outside trash was too much effort). He waited until I left it open a crack and got the balloon back out. This happened a few times before I finally hid it in another bag of trash. The next day, I found him playing with the ribbon again. I noticed that it looked shorter, but didn't think much of it. I took the balloon to the main trash can to be rid of it for good.

Or what I thought was for good. Because last night when I came home and saw the mess on the floor, the first thing I noticed was what had to be the cause of his sickness. The remnants contained a long piece of curly balloon ribbon.

Pete wasn't there to share in my sadness that our baby had his first upchuck. But more importantly, Pete wasn't there to tell me "I told you so" one of the few times I REALLY deserved to hear it.

And I missed him so much for it.

Thank you, Heather, for your post.

And I love you, Pete :)

Vegas Blogging

Pete's doing live blogging from Vegas this trip. Follow his venture into the World Series here.


Relay For Life

Thank you so much to are supporting my efforts to do my teeny tiny little part to fight cancer. You supporters - from now and in the past - are what make any of this possible.

If you're interested in donating this year, please go to my page.

To find out more about our event, go here.



Charity Divided

Autism has long been divided into many camps, with one of the most prominent divisions between those who believe vaccines play a role in causing autism, and those who don't.

Recently, this debate was put into the forefront of autism news when Katie Wright, daughter of the founders of Autism Speaks, made an appearance on Oprah, and later interviewed David Kirby about his book Evidence of Harm: Mercury in Vaccines and the Autism Epidemic.

Katie was a little brusque in some of her statements, as she asked the old guard to let the new generation explore new potential causes and therapies (such as vaccines and chelation, a treatment for mercury poisoning). Her parents took steps to keep their charity, Autism Speaks (which they began in honor of Katie and her autistic son), separate from Katie's statements. The New York Times reported:
So, in early June, Bob and Suzanne Wright repudiated their daughter on the charity’s Web site. “Katie Wright is not a spokesperson” for the organization, the Wrights said in a brusque statement. Her “personal views differ from ours.” The Wrights also apologized to “valued volunteers” who had been disparaged. Told by friends how cold the rebuke sounded, Mrs. Wright belatedly added a line saying, “Katie is our daughter, and we love her very much.” Ms. Wright called the statement a “character assassination.” She said she had not spoken to her father since.Now the whole community is abuzz amidst the current federal "vaccine court" hearings that are reviewing over 4,000 cases of supposed vaccine-induced autism.
This is an important time in the community. The results of this hearing could effectively shut down the vaccine argument for good...at least in the eyes of the public. After so many past federally funded studies (that David Kirby claims were biased due to political interests) have found that vaccines do not cause autism, this hearing could end up being the final straw. With the community at odds over this cause, a finding against the plaintiffs will cause major waves among parents, politicians, and researchers. A positive finding could finally allow those who believe vaccines do play a role the ability to conduct proper research into possible treatments.

One of the most plausible theories regarding the vaccine theory currently is described in David Kirby's Evidence of Harm. The basic idea is that autism is a set of symptoms associates with many diseases (researchers have agreed on this for many years), and that one of those diseases seems to be a form of mercury poisoning. The vaccines do not affect all children, though. It seems that some children have a genetic predisposition toward the effects because they are not able to properly process the mercury and other environmental contaminants. In those children, vaccines do seem to cause the autism.

To me, this means that the research does need to be directed at both environmental and genetic factors--both because these vaccine cases only represent a portion of children with autism and because even these cases seem to have a genetic component. It's just that because research into vaccines has been pushed to the backburner, those who believe in it have to have a bigger voice.

The debate currently going on is ludicrous, but will undoubtedly have a major effect on research that continues after the ongoing hearings.


Riding the Charity High

Not only does it look like pure altruism might truly exist, we might just be prewired for it:

That good feeling you get by writing a check to your favorite charity could be your brain patting itself on the back.

Reporting in Friday's issue of the journal Science, a team of economists and psychologists at the University of Oregon have found that donating money to charity activates regions of the brain associated with pleasure.

The study represents a major advance in the young field of neuroeconomics, a collaboration between economists and psychologists to determine how the brain directs the way people handle money.

Read the whole article at the Chicago Tribune.


The Bitter End

Being slightly obsessed with Lily Allen's CD finally had a positive effect other than making me smile at the bumbling idiocy of most of the men I know. (I love you, honey!) :) Last night, for the first time ever, I contributed to the music round of trivia at The Bitter End.

Not only did I contribute, but we organized a stellar team. Our team name won and got us all free shots. And then...after much fighting over answers and blame throwing at mistakes...we WON!!!!

We friggin WON Bitter End Trivia!!!!! We got a whole $30! Which, split 7 ways meant that we got our pitchers for free pretty much.

Pretty dern cool, eh?

I'm so proud of us!!!


Let It Out

Okay, so admittedly, I watch too much TV. The thing is, though, I rarely see commercials because we watch everything on DVR. It's odd, then, that one of my favorite commercials as of late would end up being such a big deal.

If you watch tv, and if you ever watch without bleeping through the ads, you may very well have seen the recent Kleenex campaign. I like it because it's sweet, and because it seems to be indicative of the state of our country during Iraq and Katrina recovery.

The ads take place in a city, with a person sitting on a chair just listening to people. The people are random city dwellers who sit, talk, rant, lie down, and cry during these mini therapy sessions. The song playing in background persuades consumers to "Let It Out". Life is tough, Kleenex will be there for you when you need to bawl some of that emotion out.

Turns out, that song is from a band called Starr Fadu. Starr Fadu is important because they are a Christian rock band from Springfield, MO, and one of the members is none other than my good friend and first boyfriend ever (he held hands so well and I broke up with him mostly because he was a smelly boy) Dave.

Anyway, there are sooo many cool places where this is popping up now. Check it out:

Kleenex commercials and StarrFadu songs and info: Starr Fadu MySpace Page

Starr Fadu's Website

Send an "I love everything about you" card from Hallmark with "Let It Out" in the background.

Congratulations, Guys!!!!!


What is love?

Amy sent me a very poignant email the other day. I thought I'd share:

So I’m listening to a trial run of xm satellite radio on my computer at work and Akon “I want to fuck you” comes on, but it’s the edited version, and in the edited version, they have substituted the word “love” for “fuck” rather than “I want to fuck you” they say “I want to love you”

Is this sending the message to today’s youth that love = fucking? Horrible.


Help Green Apple give a book to a KID!

It's a KID...with a BOOK...you really can't say no to this one.


To celebrate our 40th year in San Francisco, Green Apple (with your support, we hope) will donate a $10 gift card to every public school 3rd-grader in San Francisco during the 2007-2008 school year. That's almost 4,000 kids in 77 schools.

Yeah, we're like drug dealers, but with books: first one's free, kid.

Here's how you can help us with this ambitious undertaking:
1) Donate your used book trade and Green Apple will match your contribution.
2) You can buy trade: $1 gets you $2 worth of trade to donate.

The donation bin is located at the buy counter in the main store. We thank you in advance for helping us nurture the next generation of book lovers and create some excitement about the joys of reading.

Vote for Janet!!!!

This LOVELY Girl wants to be the next radio personality on her local station in Denver.

YOU can help make that happen.

Please go to the station page and vote for Janet Blair!

Thank you!!!!!

btw...Jan just happens to have known me since we were 5, so if you help her out she just might offer some embarrassing stories in return.


Brats on Buses

I frequently ride MUNI home with a whole gang of teenagers from local high schools who are really total assholes and shouldn't be granted access to public transit at all. Actually, I take that back. I think the boys are fine as long as they are alone, and girls are fine in groups of two. MUNI...do you hear that? if there is one 12 yr old boy on your bus, nobody else of that age should be allowed on!

I'm not the only one who doesn't like this experience:

When Kids Invade MUNI



Weight Loss Success!

When I moved out to San Francisco, months of bad habits had ballooned my weight up to the largest number I'd ever seen on a scale with me on top of it. I had moved from three very active part-time jobs (chasing kids around, shelving books, and climbing in and out of a giant cave all day) to my first office job in which I just sat on my butt. The new job also didn't allow the time or money for anything other than McDonald's, mac n cheese, and the occasional Subway sandwich. I had been dating someone who thought going out to the pub for fried chicken sandwiches and beer, followed by a bottle or two of wine at home, was a good idea...and who refused to even take a walk around the block with me. My weekends were spent driving to and from KC, rather than out enjoying the legs God gave me, and the combination of all of this did not work well for me.

I moved here in June of 05, and up until December of 06, I had lost ten pounds. I was proud of this weight loss, but it was wayyy too slow for me. Simply walking the city would have brought me back down had I not compensated by spending those first few months drunk every night in the pubs on Clement.

In January I gave up alcohol and caffeine when my stomach started acting up. I started monitoring my portion size and trying ot make healthier choices (like grilled chicken over fried chicken patty, roast beef over pastrami, no sauce (or mustard) over thick creamy fatty sauce, etc.). I limited my chocolate consumption, and very quickly lost 12 pounds. After my surgery I lost a few more because I couldn't eat much at all. Since I've been better, though, I haven't been making the best choices all the time, and I've been drinking more...so I was a bit concerned that I might have gained some more. I LOOK like I've lost weight, I feel like I've lost weight, but I was just scared that I threw it all out the window.

However, this morning I weighed myself. And I am now 26 pounds lighter than I was in December! That's 36 pounds lighter than I was when I moved here, and only 4 pounds away from my first goal.

That is friggin awesome. I am soooo very proud. Woo hoo!

So to motivate me further, without giving any actual weight amounts, this is my goal chart, and I'll be sure to update once a month or so on how I'm doing and offer my tips for how I'm doing it without really dieting, working out at the gym, or taking any diet aids.

So, here goes:

Starting Weight (no dieting, 10lbs under my highest ever) December 2006
1st goal: SW - 15 lbs
Current Status: SW - 26 lbs
2nd goal: SW - 30 lbs
3rd goal: SW - 50 lbs
4th goal: SW - 65 lbs (I'd be happy between here and 3rd goal permanently)
5th goal: SW - 80 lbs
Final Goal: SW - 85 lbs

While these are my weight goals, as a former athlete I'm very aware that muscle weighs more than fat. Should I decide to start lifting again, then the weight goals would certainly change. Ultimate, that 3rd goal would be pretty ideal if I built up a bit of muscle to go along with it. And I just don't feel all that far from that happening.

Very very exciting!


Not as Cute as the Pigs

But still pretty f-ing adorable:

The best part is that the tiger triplets are all three different colors, and the pup just sets it off. Beeeeautiful!

Read the whole story.


Extremely Unhappy with BBC

It's Big Cat Week over at the BBC!!!!

Yeah, those exclamation points--those are expressions of my excitement. (like the "ex" alliteration?)

Until, of course, I went to the website.

It is absolutely blasphemous to call something "Big Cat Week" and include nothing about tigers.

BBC, I bite my thumb at you.


A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

I'm reading Betty Smith's A Tree Grows in Brooklyn for the first time. I've been completely enraptured by this book, and it's been a very long time since this has happened. There's no suspense, no mystery, no greaat big plot to finish. So why can't I put it down?

Betty Smith writes so beautifully about characters that you can't help but identify with them. But still, I'm constantly urged to move forward in the book...why?

The beautiful storytelling offers a world of horrible poverty, but with a small dose of hope. I read it so voraciously because I am taking in that hope. The hope is certainly better than the actually obtaining of anything...and I'm enjoying every second of it.

I STRONGLY recommend the read.

One of my favorite passages so far:
A mother speaks to her daughter, who has just given birth. The daughter is concerned about how she will bring up good children. The mother tells her daughter to teach them of God, and Jesus, and Santa Claus. The daughter asks why she should lie to her children about Santa Claus, when she knows he does not exist.

"Because, " [the mother explained], "the child must have a valuable thing which is called imagination. The child must have a secret world in which live things that never were. It is necessary that she believe. She must start out by believing in things not of this world. Then when the world becomes too ugly for living in, the child can reach back and live in her imagination..."
"The child will grow up and find out things for herself. She will know that I have lied. She will be disappointed."
"That is what is called learning the truth. It is a good thing to learn the truth one's self. To first believe with all your heart, and then not to believe, is good too. It fattens the emotions and makes them to stretch. When as a woman life and people disappoint her, she will have had practice in disappointment and it will not come so hard. In teaching your child, do not forget that suffering is good too. It makes a person rich in character."


Amelie Music

Went to a new wine bar on Polk St. the other night. I definitely love the atmosphere, and the wines were interesting. The selection has a lot of wines that you can find in any local shop, and I'm not sure if that's a good or bad thing. We did have $10 custom flights, though--which is a very good thing. The food was okay...cheese plates are awesome, flatbread is good, and the goat cheese salad is good. The other stuff was disappointing--and don't try to the raviole unless you're looking for a bowl of mac and cheese with a half-inch layer of oil at the bottom.

We'll definitely go back for the wine, but what we liked most was the music. We kept asking about it, and they didn't know the name of the French DJ who puts it together. I found my solution, though. If i just leave the website open in my browser, I get the music all day. It's on a pretty long loop. I haven't hit the end of it yet. I'll note how long when I reach it.

So give it a try: Amelie Music

Okay, so it was only about an hour. But it was still great!

Overheard on Muni

"I am overwhelmed by the Lord today."

~Outbound 1, around 9:30 am.

Not something you hear everyday in this city.


Overheard on Muni

"Odd numbers are the devil. Even numbers rule the world."
"What about a number like 300? It's even, but the predominant digit is odd."

~teens on the 47, Saturday night


I used to really like Sheryl Crow

And I realize this is taken slightly out of context...


The Washington Post gave us an Earth Day present:

Singer Sheryl Crow and environmentalist Laurie David have been traveling across America on a two-week Stop Global Warming College Tour, which winds up today at George Washington University. Crow and David (co-producer of the documentary "An Inconvenient Truth" and wife of "Curb Your Enthusiasm's" Larry David) have been touting their cause and chronicling their travels in a rather idiosyncratic blog. Here, on Earth Day, are a few excerpts:
You can read all the excerpts yourself, but this is the one that has me going:

Crow (4/19, Springfield, Tenn.): I have spent the better part of this tour trying to come up with easy ways for us all to become a part of the solution to global warming. Although my ideas are in the earliest stages of development, they are, in my mind, worth investigating. One of my favorites is in the area of forest conservation which we heavily rely on for oxygen. I propose a limitation be put on how many squares of toilet paper can be used in any one sitting. Now, I don't want to rob any law-abiding American of his or her God-given rights, but I think we are an industrious enough people that we can make it work with only one square per restroom visit, except, of course, on those pesky occasions where 2 to 3 could be required.
Oh yes, this will save the world.

Honestly, though, are Sheryl Crow's "pesky occasions" anything nearly as "pesky" as the rest of the world's? The woman doesn't eat. No wonder she doesn't need toilet paper.



I promise to blog about Vegas, but first I have to mention the giant elephant seal that's attacking people and animals in Sonoma. I know it's probably pretty scary, but this cracks me up. I can't help but laugh when I see his picture. The best part is that the big ugly thing's name is "Nibbles".

I'm even more entertained now that I found this video of a different elephant seal.


My Invitation Must Have Been Lost in the Mail

The Global Philanthropy Forum is taking place at Google this week. I so want to be there!!! Just to meet some of the people mentioned in the San Jose Mercury News article. Even Judith Rodin, the CEO of Rockefeller Foundation, is jumping on the capitalist philanthropy model! I want in!

Some basics:


They invest in social causes as they would the stock market or a start-up, but the return is measured not only in financial viability but also what impact the initiative has in solving global problems. The new hybrid model has been dubbed "philanthrocapitalism" and its practitioners "philanthroprenuers."

The 1/1/1 model

Marc Benioff, founder of Salesforce.com and the Salesforce Foundation, created a model for corporate philanthropy known as the 1/1/1 model. His company donates 1 percent of its employees' time, 1 percent of its equity, and 1 percent of its product to philanthropic endeavors. Google has copied Benioff's 1 percent commitment formula.

Profit from benefit

Yet others see a new era dawning.

"Google exemplifies this emerging blur between for-profit and non-profit," said Peter Hero, an adviser to the Silicon Valley Community Foundation. "It gives them an ability to invest in a for-profit entity that doubles or triples the bottom line, provides a financial return but also a significant social and environmental return."

The guiding theme of the Global Philanthropy Forum meeting this week is to explore market-based solutions and encourage entrepreneurship. Instead of funding a medical clinic, that might mean investing in a biotech company for a new vaccine.

New Age Hoo Haa - Humorous or Creepy?

Working in bookstores for several years, I became way more acquainted with new age authors and theories than I would have ever thought possible. All of the talking to the dead and the conversations with God and the silver broomsticks were actually pretty entertaining most of the time. One of the most prolific authors in the New Age section was Carlos Castaneda. An article in Salon today discussed his legacy.

Castaneda appealed to all types of believers, including those who were too rational for new age. Whether or not you believed he actually met with a Shaman and saw through to the source of all things, much was still valuable regarding the way of life he preached. Much like any other belief system, it's easy to pick and choose great teachings from his works. (You may not belief Christ rose from the tomb, but it's difficult to argue with "treat your neighbor as you would like to be treated.) This pulled in a great number of people and Castaneda was dubbed the Godfather of New Age.

In addition to the appeal of the masses, Carlos drew in academics and intellectuals with what seemed to be a knack for narrative anthropology. Because he was simply engaging in the rituals of the Native Americans, it seemed more that he was studying a culture, and his books were taken as real anthropology. His books have generally been accepted as non-fiction throughout the years. In 1972, a great deal of skepticism led to the debunking of most of Castaneda's lies, and he disappeared from public in 1973. It's what happened after this point that drains the humor from the situation.

Castaneda began a movement known as Tensegrity, and had many devoted women followers known as witches that included past and current lovers. They lived in secrecy, separated from theif families, used numerous aliases, and didn't allow photographs. CULT So the creepy part starts with the discovery that many of Castaneda's followers disappeared the day after his death, and more several weeks after his death. At least one was found as a skeleton shortly afterward. Cleargreen, the corporation that promoted Tensegrity and Castaneda, still exists and claims the women are travelling. For the last 30 years.

Castaneda definitely has moved New Age from funny to Creepy as hell in my book. I've got the creepy shivers. Think I'll go look at some cuteness and shake it off.


Is a sad sad day.

Kurt Vonnegut passed away early this morning.

If this doesn't make affect you, go pick up a copy of Slaughterhouse Five and read it right away.

At the very least, take a moment to learn why this incredible man was so important to literature and the world at large.

My favorite Vonnegut quote:

***God damn it, you’ve got to be kind.***


Surgery Costs

When I was told I'd need to have surgery, the first thing I did was attempt to get an estimate of the costs. The surgeon's office told me he charges $3,500, and gave me a rough estimate that the hospital (the same one they always use) varies greatly but shouldn't be more than about $5,000. I tried again and again and again and again to contact the financial counselors at CPMC to get an estimate, and was never able to talk to one of them. There's actually a bug in their phone system that sends you back through the same cycle over and over without ever getting you to a person or even to be placed on hold. I finally just started pushing zero to wait for someone that could connect me to the right person, but after 6 days of trying at least twice a day, never actually spoke to a human.

Today I called billing and chose the option "pay my bill". I was connected right away and informed that my total comes to $19,000. Read that again. And again. Now add that to the surgeon's costs. What I thought would be around $10,000 (and thus only a few hundred for me after insurance), is $23,000. Twenty-three thousand dollars.

Not for the surgery mind you...just for the room, the anesthetics, the equipment, and the nurses who helped me for 4 hours. Oh yeah, and the morphine. Lots and lots of morphine.

I can't imagine what it would have been if I'd stayed overnight.

This is insane. Insane.


Back at Work

First day back at work. It's actually not nearly as bad as I thought it would be. I'm cabbing it so I'm not abused by the bumpy crowded busses, and I'm working from the nice comfy couch in the office, so all is okay. I am, however, at work in sweats and a t-shirt. Just waiting for my swollen tummy to go back to normal. Off to get a few more things accomplished before I head back home!


The Pain, The Pain

OMG I had no idea it would hurt so badly.

Pete had to work from home today because I can't do anything for myself just yet. Not fun not fun.

The worst part? I can only lay on my back and sit in certain positions. This leads to sleepless nights and sleeping limbs.

I can't imagine having to deal with a C-Section recovery and a screaming baby at the same time. To all you mothers out there, I'm tipping a big giant hat your way.


I'm Okay!!!

I had my surgery today. All went well. They gave me a video! I'll post it soon.

Thank you so much for all of your well wishes.


Ode to My Gall Bladder

I never knew thee
until you hurt me,
and now I'll soon be
without you.

Your stones of bile,
so wretched and vile,
have cramped my style,
it's true.

But soon a doc's knife,
with only some strife,
will take your small life
of no value.

I'll eat, drink, and play
like back in the day
when things went my way--
before you.

For those of you who don't know already, I'm having my gall bladder removed on Wednesday. I'll be out of commission for a while, and I would love good thoughts and prayers for no complications and a speedy recovery. Thank you!!!


Older and Wiser

As I was lamenting over being 26 today, my sweet boyfriend asked why the move from 25 to 26 was such a big deal. I told him that it made me feel old to know that I was no longer in the first quarter of my life.

He very kindly pointed out that the first quarter of my life actually ended the day I turned 25.

Woah. Now I feel loads better.


When the Comments are the Best Part

Mental Floss featured an article last week on pomegranates. Not only does it offer a couple of nifty little facts, such as the relationship between pomegranates and grenadine as well hand grenades, but it also offers religious symbolism. The best part, though, is comment #1:

"They now also have pomegranate tequila."

Best. Sentence. Ever.

And it's TRUE!

poo poo on not having the liver capability to rush out and try it right this second


More Kitties?

Well, maybe not more kitties, but there is a new kind of kitty.

You can read about the Bornean Clouded Leopard at Science Daily.

This is the best kind of news.


Why I Love the Doctor

I went to the doctor today for the second time in five weeks to find out what is causing my mysterious stomach ailment (also known as the evil ender of my drinking days). While I usually bemoan the scale in his office because of its overt attempts to bring down my self-esteem, today I wanted to kiss the damn thing. I weighed in at 12 pounds less than I did on the last visit. Taking into account the fact that I was wearing jeans then and a skirt today, we'll call that a 10 lb loss. Maybe the weight loss will motivate me to stick to the extremely limited alcohol consumption plan. At least for a while. :)


Evangelicals in SF?

Christian Teens Rally to Save SF
By the tens of thousands, Christian teens poured into proudly liberal San Francisco on Friday for a two-day evangelical extravaganza where they would rock, pray and provoke progressives, who accused the movement of working toward a theocracy endangering "San Francisco values."

Man, if my church had come out here to pray for progressives, I just might have been rescued from the hoards much sooner...maybe even would have made it out here earlier.

I wonder how many of these kids defect once they are exposed to this amazing city? Let's see some stats on that, Jerry Falwell.


I'm unique!

There are 299,968,595 people in the United States of America. If everyone in the U.S. lined up single file, the line would stretch around the Earth almost 7 times. That's a lot of people.
The U.S. Census Bureau statistics tell us that there are at least 88,799 different last names and 5,163 different first names in common use in the United States. Some names are more common than others.
There are 49,535 people named John Smith in the United States. There are 1,048 people named James Bond, 113 people named Harry Potter , 503 people named George Bush, and 31 people named Emily Dickinson. However, Johnny Cash (39 people) songs aside there are, statistically speaking, no boys named Sue.
What about you? How many people share your name? Enter it and find out how many of you there are.
The combination of German and Welsh makes mine a little more difficult to find. There are only 7 of me!

There are:
people with my name
in the U.S.A.

How many have your name?

So now I'm on a quest to find these 7 people who share my name:

1. ME
2. Austin, TX-- of a legendary inventor
3. Baltimore, MD--staff at Loyola College
4. Houston, TX?--owner of racing doberman (could be #2)
5. Seattle, WA--volunteer with a Community Center (could be #2)
6. MSU, Linfield College, OR--Scientist?
7. This one is a mystery!