Sunday, May 27, 2007

Let talk about sex, again, shall we

I wanted to clarify my post from the other night. It might have read a bit, like I think you should only be having sex if you are married. Ah, no! I am not thinking that at all. I think I was in mommy mode a bit and thinking about young adults, reacting to a certain segment of the populations stance on the vaccine Gardasil.

I am 100% of the opinion that what adults do, in the privacy of their own homes and with whom is not anyone business but their own. The government should not be involved.

Furthermore, I am of the opinion that that whatever works, well works. As long as it involves consenting adults. Period. End of discussion.

Having spent a fair amount of time in Europe, I have to say the
Puritan influences are not the norm everywhere. Europeans have very healthy attitudes about sex. Granted, being able to buy porn in the train station, was an eye opener when I was 16, but seriously - they talk to their kids about sex. Sex is seen as normal and natural.

I think that everyone has to decide for themselves what it
ok and what is not. There is no one size fits all approach to the matter of sex. I also will wager a guess that it is process of self discovery and actualization. That is why I am a big believer in good, well rounded, honest sex education for young people. As stated knowledge is power.

Bad TV Karma!

We bought a new TV recently. Our old one was seriously on its last leg. The picture quality was really bad. Really bad. We limped along with it for over a year. Recently it got worse and we bought a new one. H and I almost never watch TV. It just does not hold my attention for very long. I prefer to read or do other things with my time. H is seldom home and has honestly never been a huge TV viewer.

Now, I have to say that there are a few (very few) shows which I actually think are good, worth my time and I enjoy, but I swear I have bad TV karma. On the nights I decide I want to watch a given show, it is either not on or a rerun. Seriously, what are the chances, with my limited TV viewing that I am going to see the same show more than once in a season. Well, surprisingly high actually.

Tonight is a perfect example. I wanted to watch Cold Case & Without a Trace on CBS. I think they are well done shows and they actually hold my attention. Yep, you guessed it. Both were reruns, of shows I had already seen.

It kills me. I plan a slack off for an evening and what do I get..... reruns....mmm someone is trying to tell me something.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Let's talk about sex?

For the record, I was a sexual health awareness peer educator. I got paid to go into the dorms, frat houses, and other group settings to talk about sex and how to make safe and healthy decisions. Seriously, the decisions you make about sex impact you for a lifetime. I believe you need all the information available to make those choices. Information is power. Truly it is, limited information limits power.

I also am a big believer that most of us live our lives in the gray area. Very seldom is life totally black or white. It is all shades of gray. It is also crazy to think that choices you make at 15, 25, 35, will all be the same. Seriously, human beings have free will and sometimes we change our minds.

So where am I going with this.....

I will tell you!

Gardasil, the vaccine for HPV is a good idea. Seriously. Cervical cancer kills 10 women in the US a day. Most cervical cancer is caused by a strain of the HPV virus. Also, hello - this is a vaccine which works for a virus! BIGTIME NEWS. Others might be on the way.....

I agree that young girls should not be having sex. How old is old enough, I am not sure. I think 14 is too young. Is 16, 18, 20 mmm not sure. But bottom line, this vaccine works best when given to women ages 9 to 26. It is taken over a period of months and requires three shots. It costs $360, but it could save a woman's life.

There are two big anti arguments. First there is no long term track record. This is an issue. I get that. That is a valid reason to wait and see.

The other issue is that many conservatives think that it will increase a girls likelihood of engaging in premartial sex. What? Are they even in the ball park. Hormones and natural curiosity increases a girls changes of engaging in sex. (Hell, if she is like me tell me not to do something and boy howdy I want to do it more.) Peer pressure or pressure from a boyfriend increases her chances of engaging in sex. Having a vaccine that will likely lower her risk for cervical cancer, should she be exposed to HPV - really I just don't see a connection.

I also do not believe that young people need to wait to have sex until they are married. I think everyone has their own opinion there and it is up to every individual to make that choice. Again knowledge is power. There are no one size fits all answers. Again, lots of gray area.

Abstinence only sex ed has a really high failure rate. For better or worse, young men and women are having sex. But let's just assume for a moment (I know it is hard, but let's all stretch our gray matter a bit) - that everyone was going to refrain from having sex until they get married. Does that mean Gardasil is no longer an important vaccine. Ahh, no. There is no guarantee that everyone will remain faithful. That no man is going to visit with a prostitute while one vacation. (It is called the worlds oldest profession for a reason.) That no marriages are going to fail and adults might be tempted.

The truth of the matter is we have a way to prevent certain cervical cancers. We should jump on that. While we are at it, we should be talking to our daughters and sons and sharing our views on sex. We are their best teachers. But at the end of the day, they are their own people, they will make this decision on their own and I for one, want to do what I can to protect them... knowledge is power.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Pricessess, Witches and Divas, OH MY!

H and I have attempted to stem the flow of Disney princesses into L's life. So far we have been reasonable successful. Seriously, at two years of age, did she need a collect of cheap princess junk. No, I think not.

But now as she approaches 5, she is into princesses. She likes to talk about Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Belle and the like. We have been reading non-Disney books about them all. We have also been watching a bit of Sleeping Beauty, Beauty and the Beast, and the Little Mermaid.

I am not sure how I feel about this all. I want her to be culturally literate and on pare with her peers, but I also want to make sure that she grows up to be a strong, confident woman.

So from time to time, I ask leading questions or just probe a bit to see what she has on her princess mind.

So I asked her the other day, "When you play princesses at school, who gets to be the prince."

She looks at me as if I have three sets of eyes and says, "Mom, we don't need a prince, really, Mom! We are modern princesses."


Then the other day in the car she begins to really drill down to the plot in Little Mermaid.

"Mom. If Ursula is disguised as Vanessa and using Ariel's voice, which she took from her, it should sound the same. But it does not. Ariel's voice was prettier. Why is that."

So I decided to test again. "Why do you think that it is not a pretty."

She pauses and says, "Well Ursula is mean. So I think Ariel's voice can only be pretty when Ariel has it, since she is nice."

I mention that beauty comes from the inside. Which L thought about for a long time.

I am still not sure about the princess deal, but then my princess rode her bike today singing that she was a princess, who was strong and powerful. The entire bike ride.

Yeah, so about being a DIVA?

Saturday, May 19, 2007

What's that smell

This is another post inspired by L.

It is spring. That means it is time for MULCH. Yes, that stinky stuff. The other day in the park, L announces that mulch is "stinky like a rhinoceros." MMMM, not sure, I tend to hold my breath near the rhinos at that zoo.

But it got me thinking.

I have smelled some really noxious stuff in my former career.

Right, you say, you worked in finance, what did you smell exactly? Money, right!


Giving 401K enrollment meetings, I have been some pretty smelly places.

For example, nothing smells quiet like the paint booths in an automobile plant. That paint is really stinky. Made me feel lighted headed. Now it is way cool to watch car chaises being painted, but the smell of paint will give you a major head rush. (I have seen this in two separate plants.)

The chemicals used to clean the paint totes (the big paint cans used in the paint booths. They look like giant gallon milk containers. They are metal. Seriously, they are almost taller than me.) Anyway, the solvent used to clean them and the paint fumes combine to make a really interesting smell. In fact, I would smell it for days later after visiting the job site. Weird, right. I have no idea if I was really smelling it or if it was just a trick my brain was playing on me. Combine that with the noise they make on the production line - a banging - a noise that I am struggling to describe. It was a sensory extravaganza.

How about the smells at an oil & natural gas refinery? Yeah, it is an odd combo of bus fumes, sulfur, wet soot and something a bit earthy. On a hot day it also smells a bit like a freshly tarred parking lot or driveway. Lots of smells for the nose to deal with there. I also got to smell them for a bit, via a respirator. Apparently they are so noxious, you need to wear noise protection. Great! ( I also had to wear a bright orange flame retarded jumpsuit, over my business suit. WOW what fun!)

A little know fact, but meat packing plants have big vats that collect the blood and waste matter. Yup! I know this because a client cleaned those using super suction trucks. Then there are places that take this sludge and do something with it. (I did not ask, I seriously did not want to know......) But let me just say that the odor coming from the trucks was horrible. In July - beyond words. Kinda like the smell you get at the grocery in the meat department BUT multiplied by 1000! It was stinky. Honestly, it was throw up smelly. I tried really hard to breath very shallowly for the hour or so I was there.

Shot gun shot. Yep, I saw it made. It is lead based and is made by dropping little droplets of the molten lead into water baths. It was cool to watch, thru the protective windows on the cat walk, but on the shop floor, the air is biting with a smell of sulfur and oily metal and it is hot, like 90 degrees and the sizzle from the water baths is eerie. So hot and steamy combined with a smell of sulfur. Yeah, stinky and uncomfortable.

So, while I am not sure if mulch stinks like a rhino or not, but I will say this, it smells way better than alot of the other stuff I have smelled.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Sometimes its what they don't tell you...

I have always been fairly astute. Learned that reading between the lines was a skill that would take me far, early on.

But I have been blindsided by some of the craziest things. I mean, sometimes it really is all about what they do not tell you. So I offer up the following examples, starring me as the dumbass.....

  • So my first 401 K presentation ever - was in a junk yard. Yeah, no joke - only no one bothered to share with me that a Recycling Storage Facility translated to a junk yard. Complete with crane and car crusher. I held the meeting in a tool shead, using a junk desk and table, thoughtfully provided by the guys from the yard. What did I learn from this - always ask if there is a real meeting room available and be very wary of locations with odd titles.
  • I had to host a meeting in a factory. I have no clue what they were making, but it was something industrial. I had had no less than 7 conversation with my contact. She was a worrier and a caller - very needy. So, one would think that at some point in the 7 conversations, she might have mentioned, casually in passing perhaps, that the only way to the meeting room was via a catwalk across the shop floor. (Above all the workers and stuff.) But no, she did not mention this - until I arrived, dressed in a very smart suit - a skirt suit, with stockings - not panty hose. New black heels to boot. Yeah, I had to walk across the catwalk, over the shop floor in heels and a skirt, while everyone was watching & looking up! Nice. After that - it was pants all the way and I always asked if there was a meeting room and just how did one get there.
  • In the previously posted, chain smoking story, P blind sided me with the whole language quiz. But before that - between the hours of 5:00 am and 6:00 am she had me thrown, as she neglected to remember to mention that the road I am supposed to take to get there has four names. Same road. Not that is changes names a certain points, this I am used to, but the same stretch of road actually has 4 names. Random people call it by one of the four names. She called it one thing, Mapquest another and finally a really nice guy a gas station made it all clear to me..... So you guessed it, now I ask just what the road is named and does it have any aliases?
  • One of my clients decided to change their payroll cycles. This plan had a bunch of loans outstanding - it was a disaster. I was really mad. I was chewing out the account manager, when he politely pointed out, I had asked if they could change the payroll cycle. Well, duh! The he further pointed out that he never said that it would not cause a disaster. After that I always asked if any type of change would cause a disaster.
So see the devil really is in the details. Really. It is always the question that you do not ask that will nail you every time.

Monday, May 14, 2007


Forty-one cents! Who are they kidding? Am I getting my mail faster? Will this stop the junk mail? Will I have to wait in line less time?

Normally one expects more when they pay more.

Free Radicals

Yeah, not the kind that may or may not cause cancer. I am so not thinking about that!

I am thinking about that little voice in your head (mine at least) that from time to time tells you to challenge the status quo, to shake things up a bit, to raise your voice to make a point. You know the voice that tells you that something is so not right, that something is wrong and you need to be the one who fixes it.

Does everyone have this voice???

I sure have it in spades. I have silenced it from time to time, but now I am warning you all, I am unleashing it again. It has been mentioned, by those who would know, that I am not always inclined to follow rules, which I do not agree with. Yeah, well if I do not challenge authority who will?

In high school, I was not in trouble. I mean I was in the national honor society, made good grades, ect. I was not the girl smoking in the restroom or cutting class, but I was the one who was harping on personal freedom and the right for us as students to be able to exercise our freedom of speech. I also, as a senior, organized a weekly sit in-- in the common area as a protest of the 1st Gulf War. (Yeah, I did have to go to the Principal's office for that one.) Although, I did not get in trouble. I merely pointed out that lunch time was our time, free time allotted for us to eat and if we chose to sit in silence, in a circle on the floor and think about war, the evils of war, the importance of human life - that was our right under the Constitution and since we were not hurting anyone and were following the guidelines set out in the student handbook, he should applaud our efforts. It was totally Gandhi! (Yeah, let's also note, that the Principal was really -- and sadly I might mention-- not all that smart.) So I held the weekly protest. Did I accomplish anything - probably not. ( But I was sure pointing out the Vietnam similarities, mmm, sound familiar anyone???)

In college, I was fairly vocal and to the left. (I am still to the left, if that was not clear already.) I have walked and marched and volunteered. I was a peer educator. I passed out condoms, held discussions, made frat boys line up with cards indicating the correct process for putting on said condom. Carried the birth control tackle box around campus. Worked with some women's issues groups and HIV/AIDs programs. (Ok, I also went to the Democratic socialists meetings too, but not for long.....)

I have always been very vocal about my opinions. Seriously, if you do not really want to know what I think - why ask me?

I would like to say that all of this has mellowed with age, but in many ways it has not. I am still listening to that little voice in my head that says, unchecked authority is not a good thing. That shaking things up is always healthy. Freedom is a really important thing. However, freedom has to be nurtured, protected, embraced and it has a cost. The cost is compromise, discussion, careful thought and to always question. Is it enough, is it working? Freedom is not stagnant.

Being radical does not mean shaving your head and chanting. It can take on many forms. I mean if you look at me, you see just a normal girl, right? (Until I open my mouth maybe!) But practicing random acts of radicalness can be as easy as chewing gum, no? Be the one to ask, "Why?" Be the one to speak up when something is not sitting well in your gut. Alot of really terrible things in history have happened because people were complacent and did not ask why. Take the time to explain why you think a certain way, someone might hear you and run with it!

Embrace freedom and your inner radical. It feels good!

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Chrysler could wind up in good company

The break up of DaimlerChrysler, could very well provide some very good company for the soon to be single Detroit auto maker. Naturally all the talk is in whispers, as no one has been authorized to make an announcement, but it looks like private equity firm, Cerberus Capital Management LP, will be the likely winner of the bidding race for the faltering automaker.

From the AP: Equity firm Cerberus likely buyer of Chrysler

  • Chrysler lost $1.5 billion last year and plans to shed 13,000 jobs.

  • Other suitors included, Magna International, GM, and Blackstone Group. Kirk Kerkorian also had indicated an interest in the company.

  • Daimler acquired Chrysler in 1998 paying $36 billion.

At first blush, it is interesting that anyone would want to take on another American car maker in trouble. None of the "Big 3" seem to be making it at the moment. GM, Ford and Chrysler all have very similar problems, expensive pension and medical benefit plans, high labor costs, union issues and dwindling demand. I, for one, would walk, no run the other direction. But wait. The name of business is risk, right? Calculated risk, yielding a big pay off.

Glancing at the list of other companies in the Cerberus portfolio it becomes clear that they are diversified and taking calculated risks and sector bets. It also appears that when taking over the companies they are, they are looking at the management team and keeping them in place. That makes some sense, too. Work with those already working towards a solution.

This seems smart to me. The bigger issue is, in my mind, is can they make the turn around quickly enough. There will be room for only one winner, I am sad to say in the Detroit bail out. Someone needs to hit a home run. They need to win and win fast.

Daimler is walking away, I think, because they have such similar problems. They too have pension and medical benefit commitments to their retirees. They also have high labor costs and demand issue. Just as in the dating world, being too much alike can be just as bad as being polar opposites. It is hard and costly to try to solve the same problems oceans apart. Two brands not functioning at their highest potential is not good for shareholders. Medicore results just does not cut it.

This match just might be the winning combination. Money, knowledge and power and a brand name, which used to be allied with European luxury. I can hear the slogans now.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Gutting it Out

Honestly I had not heard this phrase until I was talking to my brother the other day. I am thinking seriously about doing a half marathon with my friend J. She is a big runner, I am a novice. (I was doing the happy dance on Saturday because I completed a 5K without stopping in 32.15 minutes. Yeah me! I cut 4 minutes off my normal time.)

I was telling my bro my thoughts and my fears about the 1/2 marathon and he said, well I think you need to be able to run 7 to 9 miles and the last 3 you just need to be able to "gut out." MMMM. I was still not convinced. He chuckles and says, "yeah well, I think you can do it. You had two kids the old fashion way. That had to include a fair amount of gutting it out- Suz." (He calls me that when he wants to make a point or seriously annoy me.)

MMMMM. Well maybe. It was hard work, birthing babies, but is that the same as running 13 miles. That is like 3 hours of non-stop running. Granted both of my labors were about 6 hours, so I guess running for 3 might not be so bad.

So I had really brushed off his entire gutting out theory until tonight. L, E, & I took a walk. E rides in style and L rode her bike with training wheels. She has had some major angst about the hills. She is new to the entire biking thing. Actually she mastered the concept while we were in Germany.

So last time we did the bike walk deal, I had to hold onto her bike and try to push the stroller. (Yeah that is alot of fun.) There was alot of crying and fussing involved and me telling her repeatedly to "Trust her brakes" & me screaming "NO DO NOT DRAG YOUR FEET!"

But tonight, she took off like she was going to win the Tour de France. I mean she was peddling up the inclines and coasting into the declines. She was riding like a pro. She even fell once, into the grass, thank goodness. I was so proud of her. I asked why tonight she felt so brave. She looked at me and in all seriousness said to me, " Well, if you do not try, you will never know if you can do it or not."

WOW. My 4 year old is gutting it out. That makes me think I should give it a serious try too!

Sunday, May 6, 2007

It's Capitalism...

Once again the newspaper has inspired this post. Today at lunch, I was flipping thru the stack of newspaper, which H had brought home and I found a copy of the US version of the Financial Times (27 April 2007.) I used to read this at work. You will know it instantly at your local newsstand, it is the pinkish orange newspaper.

Right on the front page, I was drawn to the story about the Afghan efforts to stop the cultivation of poppies for opium. The article is written by Rachel Morarjee in Kandahar. The quick summary is that the Afghan and US/UN efforts to stop the cultivation of poppies and thereby the heroin drug trade is not working. Last year it is estimated that 90% of the heroin on the market is of Afghan origin. This year it is estimated that they have reduced the acreage under cultivation by less than 1%.

Most people believe that the eradication of the poppies is key to stopping the drug trade. MMM, I am not so sure about that. I think we need to look at the market dynamics here.

Afghanistan is a very poor country with minimal stability. The government is new, the Taliban is not completely out of power. By that I mean that they still are holding a fair amount of power in certain parts of the country. The country is lacking infrastructure and the economy is just getting going after years and years of occupation, dictatorship and unrest. Civil War, even??? I think it is also safe to say that most people live in some form of poverty; certainly the difference between the "haves" and the "have nots" is great.

That said, it is crazy to think that local farmers, who have a very lucrative cash crop are going to stop growing it just because the West and the Kabul government say they should stop growing it. Is there anything else that grows that well, which can replace their lost income? Furthermore, in a land with a 25 year history of extreme political instability, a farmer, in my opinion would be nuts to give up his livelihood, just because the government in it infancy wants to please its western allies.

Now, before everyone emails me and tells me what a terrible person I am, lets think this thru as capitalists. Supply and Demand. It is really a basic building block of capitalism. I have something, which others want. If they really want it, I can charge more for it. So if there were no demand for heroin, the farmers would not grow Poppies. Seriously, manufactures do not make something there is no demand for, for very long. Think BETA cassettes, 8-tracks, parachute pants, or glass soda bottles. No demand, therefore no longer being manufactured. It is really that simple.

Running around Afghanistan, asking farmers to give up a crop which feeds their families and improves their lot in life is like bailing out the sinking ship with a teaspoon. Ineffective and frankly stupid. Further complicating the situation, let's ask underpaid and under trained police forces to do it. Sure that is going to work.

I think the West wants to approach it this way, because we have not been able to stop the demand. There are people in the west willing to buy smack. It is harder to stop the movement of the heroin, once it is harvested. The networks are harder to penetrate - identify. A field of poppie plants is easy to spot. I agree that it would be helpful to stop the growth of the poppies, but I think it is valuable to look at the big picture.

We can look at it another way. I have always found it strange that when there is a bust for prostitution, the prostitutes tend to be the ones going to jail. (Yes, I know that is changing, but work with me here.) It is supply and demand. Again, in the capitalist model, supply and demand reign. Woman(or men) would not be selling sex, if no one was buying. Stop the demand, ie arrest the Johns, then you stop the cycle. The problem is, in my opinion, it is harder to stop the demand. It involves changing peoples' thinking, their wants, needs and desires.

There is no easy answer here, but I think we need to realize that asking poor people to give up their income stream - with no sound replacement - is not going to work. In anyones lifetime. I would further argue that it is unfair to ask. We have to put something else on the table, of equal or greater value. Then I think it is fair to say that the poppie field would be a thing of the past!

Pizza could kill me...

Well not really but S thinks I should have a T-shirt made that states just that. Pizza could in fact send me running to the bathroom for an extended period of time or make me feel like I wish I were dead. (which frankly I did not know how bad I felt - until 5 months ago and now I know I did in fact feel ultra crappy - compared to now - where I feel like I could take on the world!) It could also give me a rash.....

No this post is some free marketing for my new favorite treat! Trust me there is not alot to pick from when one is maintaining a dairy-free, wheat-free, rye-free, and corn free diet.

But boy have I found something that is as satisfying as say a big slice of cake or pie.

Vosges - Haut-Chocolat - Exotic Candy bars. Yummy! They come in all sorts of flavor combinations. The chocolate is rich and smooth and the dark ones are not bitter. I have personally fallen in love with the Red Fire Bar and Creole. I have only tried the dark varieties as they tend to be dairy free.

Now I must say that they are not cheap - so do not get all hot and bothered when you look for them at your local market - but seriously - they are worth the investment. I mean a little bit goes a long way!

Wednesday, May 2, 2007


Questions that I really ponder and yet have no answers for!

1. Why is that some people never use their turn signal? Clearly it was put on the car for a purpose.

2. Why do L & E, inevitable wake up really early on days that we have absolutely nowhere to be and yet on days that we have very tight schedule they sleep in?

3. L asks me this constantly : Why do Birch trees lose their bark? I have no idea.

4. Why is it that we let our vision become so focused that we miss the forest for the trees?

5. Why do we teach our children through our thoughts and deeds that hate is ok? I am so not ok with this.

6. Why is it that as taxpayers, we are so slow to flex our collective muscle. If we would just speak up, act up - I believe we could change things. So why don't we?

7. What am I going to do when I grow up?

8.Why is that the pair of pants I covet, or dress, or shirt is never on the rack in my size?

9. Why is it that no matter how hard I try I am still unable to to get "Click and Ship" with the USPS to work and work right? For that matter I cannot get it to work via Paypal either.

10. Why are we fighting a war in a country that does not want us there, where 100s of GI are dying monthly and untold numbers of Iraqis are also dying, when New Orleans is still a mess and every night children in this country go to bed hungry?

11. How can I find more time to get more done each day?

12. Why is it we can orbit the earth but we have not yet found a way to break our dependency on fossil fuels?

13. Where do the lonely socks come from? I have a box of single socks, they went into the wash as a pair, so how is that they become separated and where do they go???

If anyone has any answers to these, I am all ears!

Spring Flowers

So today I am spring cleaning and organizing. With all this on the road time, the house projects have piled up - BIG TIME!

I am also feeling very radiant and have a spring in my step. I love this time of year. Everything is green and blossoming! It cannot be beat.

They say a picture is worth 1000 words. Do you agree?