Monday, April 30, 2012

Music Monday: Imagine & Strawberry Fields Forever

I plan to do a longer entry about E and I's trip to NYC but as our tour bus passed the Dakota, which is the sight of John Lennon's murder and the tour guide told us about the Strawberry Fields Memorial (she seemed to indicate that the memorial itself wasn't all that note worthy),  all I could think about was when played Imagine at my mother's funeral. It was one of her favorites.

The Dakota - site of John Lennon's murder, view from the upper deck of the Grey Line tour bus.

I am not sure how she felt about Strawberry Fields Forever. I know she wasn't into their Stgt. Pepper phase...

New York is such an amazing and crazy city. So many people come to visit for a variety of reasons. So many people choose to make it there home.

When L was 6 and my mom 60, I took them to NYC around Christmas. Mom had wanted to go to NYC and I thought L was old enough. It was chilly, but wonderful. E asked for his turn last year, but it was impossible last fall, so we did it now.

E snoozed on my lap as we drove past the Dakota and the Strawberry Fields memorial. I thought how my mother would have loved to jump off here and at least look. That music and those events meant something to her.

If I learned only one lesson -- and truly I learned more from her illness -- but the biggest lesson is to do the things you want to do NOW. Don't put them off. There is nothing more important than living the life you have NOW. Don't put it off. Go out there and seize the day. Nothing lasts forever-- not even strawberry fields.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Product Review: Goody Simple Styles Spin Pins

I will admit, I have stood in the store and looked at these spin pins and wondered, "will they really hold my hair?" The other day I decided, there truly would only be one way to find out.

First of all, you must understand that I have very thick, naturally curly hair. It is thick and heavy and I often in the winter, just let it hang down. With warmer weather flirting with us, I begin to obsess about getting my hair up and off my neck.

photo courtesy of Goody
I was doubtful that these little spin pins would do the job.

Boy was I wrong. I put my hair up last night and it stayed through dinner. Not a piece of it moved.

As E and I traveled to NYC, I had my hair half up and half down and after a flight, a bus trip, a subway trip, a hotel check in and then a maze of subways, dinner and a maze of subways back to the hotel. All I can say is the pins held firm. I was very impressed.

I also can't believe that they don't give me a headache. That is the worst part of an up do for me. Either the pins scrap the scalp or pull or in some way cause a pounding headache before the day is over.

Thus far -- no headache!

Doing a pricing round up - it seems these pins, which come in a two pack, range in price from $3.72 to $6.29. I don't think they fall into the cheap category, but for less than $10, I have a reliable up do tool. Seems a value proposition to me.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Snapaphoto: Week 3 Candid of a stranger

Ok. This was hard. First of all, getting a candid shot is hard, people just don't stand still, especially when someone with a camera is lurking about. Secondly, other people seem to get really annoyed or agitated when you are randomly shooting photos.

I totally failed on this challenge. In my defense, the weather on Saturday did not help, or I would have been able to get some good shots at the soccer game.

Instead I am stuck, with this not fantastic shot, of someone who is really interesting. This could have been a great shot, had I had my regular camera with me. Instead, I took it with my iPhone.

I love watching this life guard, where the kids take swimming lesson. He has the bored stare down. He always looks bored. Always.

This one is the one I submitted to the contest.

The one below was me playing with it for effects. I love the look on his face, I just wish I had had a better camera to capture it.

Ironically, this coming week, we have to ask random people if we can shoot them. This has to be easier than trying to sneak a picture in.

(I do like the faded quality of this one. It is kinda cool.)

Monday, April 23, 2012

Music Monday - Prom FLASHBACKS part 2

I have been rounding up answers to my prom music question this week. Turns out, alot of us did not go to Prom. At the time, I felt like one of the only people not going. I ended up hanging with a friend or babysitting. I would have gone, had someone asked me to go. Even though I didn't really have the money, I would have figured out how to make it work.

Our underwhelming non-attendance aside-- I did get some people to give me some insights into what music they were loving, during their senior year of high school.

Bee Gees-- More Than a Woman. (I also liked the Bee Gees and 70s disco in general. I still do.)

Michael W. Smith - Someone mentioned that since they went to a Christian school, this was probably what they were listening to... This thought had never occurred to me. I find the idea of Christian or religiously specific rock a very strange concept... I always have.

I guess, I have always thought of it this way:

In Footloose-- the town counsel is meeting to decide about the school Prom and Kevin Bacon's character reads from the Bible, about how dance and song are acts of praise. I suppose then perhaps it is important to limit the scope the music-- although that is not what the passage says specifically.

Madonna -- Vogue

 Wilson Philips - Hold On

I will have to say my musical taste was very elective even in high school. I refused to get pinned down into one specific genre. I did not care for rap particularly, had no use for country music and the boy hair bands did not hold my attention for more than a few minutes.

Siouxie and the Banshees -- Peek A Boo (I bought this on the cassette tape single...)

The Human League - Don't you want me (This one became a fav after my time abroad in Germany. They played it on the radio quiet a bit and in the disco we went to Die Klappe)

I guess what I have learned from this exercise is we may have a favorite song, but it gets replaced with a new favorite song and a new favorite song. We may not remember the song that we just couldn't get enough of back in the day. Perhaps music is important to us, but particular songs fade quickly into a sea of notes.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

SNAPAPHOTO: Week 2 Close Up - the other shots

I had so many great shots. I thought I would post a few more...

It was great fun getting the kids to pose as they played in the park. The day was picture perfect. Which one is your favorite? Can you guess which one I thought about using instead of the one the posted yesterday?

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

SNAPAPHOTO: Week 2 Close Up

Who knew it would be so much fun to shoot close ups? The kids were my models this week. We went to the park on a super sunny day. I did not dress them up, wash them, or sanitize them in anyway. They were dirty and I have to say their fingernails were a mess and they both had amazing dry skin, upon closer inspection.

I got so many wonderful shots. It made picking just one, really, really challenging. I ended up being torn between 4 shots and then I narrowed it down to two. H helped me decide which one to submit. I will admit, I am still torn.

Since I had so many good shots, I am going to post a few more tomorrow. The runners up.

Monday, April 16, 2012


So it is prom season... I know that is shocking, but it is true. I saw it with my own eyes. Last night and again this morning I tweeted and facebooked asking people what their favorite high school/prom songs where. Sadly very few people answered, so I cannot take responsibility for there being so few songs here.

A few of these songs I really like and a few, not so much...

You Got It (The Right Stuff) -- New Kids on the Block

Peter Gabriel - In your eyes {ok this one is mine... suggested by a tweep, but I really like this one}

Every Rose has Its Thorns - Posion {I could live a long time and not hear this one EVER again}

So what say you? What was your favorite high school song. What song did you just have to hear at PROM? Inquiring minds want to know. I promise-- we won't make fun of you; well maybe just a little bit.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012


I am doing it again. Allie is having a contest and I am playing along.

This week it is taking a photo of someone you know.

I took a picture of H. It has been a busy week and he was home the other night and we headed outside as the day faded into evening. I guess to be fair, this is a photo of two someones I know. Snickers just could not leave us be. She was so excited to just be with us. So I had him pick her up and hold her. She wasn't thrilled by the prospect, I think she preferred just being under foot.

I had tried taking him from a variety of angles. It did not work. He looked posed. I wanted to see him, the way I see him. Natural. Although H is fairly reserved, he does have a playful side. I like his half smile, like he is up to something here. (instead he is really holding a squirmy cat.)

Snickers looks put out.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Music Monday -- You are a Tourist

You are a Tourist -- Death Cab for Cuite

I don't know why this song has been my obsession of late. I keep thinking about the lyrics and what they mean. I wrote them all down the other day when I should have been writing. They kept ringing in my ear as I was writing the other day.

In truth, I don't think it is their best work.

And yet, I am in its thrall at the moment. I am pondering being "a villain in the story I have written."

Or how does one become a "tourist in the city you were born?"

In any event, that is where I am... Pondersville... a city I tour frequently.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012


I am not your average MBA.

But then you all knew that. In fact I have an undergraduate degree in American Studies and German. An odd combo, I know, I know. While I would do it differently, if I had known then, what I know now, I do think a liberal arts education has value. I do. I think it is important to actually read history, to dive into it. To firmly understand that which you are embracing or rejecting.

The other night I was having a discussion with someone very close to me and he, I think was shocked when I said Marx was actually part of a group of or at least very much influenced by Utopians. Also, while Marx gets all the credit and as such all the vitriol disdain, he did not come up with much of those political and philosophical theories on his own. His buddy Friedrich Engels was very much a part of this process and many regard Friedrich as the superior philosopher.

Furthermore, these men were philosophers, not politicians. They were educated men, who wrote and discussed their ideas. They were often employed as tutors or journalists. As with most intellectuals,  writers and philosophers, it is about theoretical world building. Neither Marx, nor Engels or any of the many Utopian theorists from the French Revolution until the early 20th century actually thought about the practicality of their ideas. They were not offering a tested blueprint. It was theory. It was reactionary to the society around them. It was intellectual discourse.

In fact, much of what Marx and Engels were writing, up to and including the Communist Manifesto was reactionary, not only to the society they saw around themselves but in direct response to and as a critic of what other socialists were writing. Think of it as the Wimbledon of intellectual tennis.

What is exceedingly interesting to me, is that they were not alone in this thinking. Socialism as means of social organization can trace its roots back to early Greek philosophers. What is interesting is why does it suddenly become the hot bed of intellectualism in the early 1800s in France and Germany? (Prussia, more specifically.) Also why do these French, German other Continental philosophers keep getting themselves exiled?

They got themselves exiled because they were challenging the established power structure. This is post the successful American revolution and the less successful French one. Remember this anti aristocracy movement, this socialist movement started with thinkers and philosophers who were writing in the 1700s. The same writers and thinkers who influenced the framers of our Constitution. The ideas of democracy and republic and socialism all spring from the same well. These ideas are in direct challenge to the idea that certain people, based upon their divine right/accident of birth, get to rule and control all the resources. All the resources.

In Europe, you had a system of men, who through the ages held power (Ruled) based solely on their birth order and a series of fairly violent power grabs. (some people might call that war.) They hold power through marriage alliances, intimidation and through alliances of equals. (I argued in college, the first cartels were the European aristocracy and their many alliances.) Entry to this game is fixed in such a way that only those with the correct pedigree, ability to curry favor, and so forth can play. The price of entry is exceedingly high.

The percentage of the Europeans who can play in the game is exceedingly small.

This wonderful world is made possible at the total expense of the have nots. The farmers, the artisans, the working class. The taxation was amazing, up to and including payment with your life. These people had no voice. None. In fact they did not count.

I would say that by the 1800s, things were changing. We were seeing the rise of manufacturing, which in some ways was opening the political (power structure) somewhat. The have nots were finding ways to make more money. Money was the ticket into, albeit begrudgingly, the game.

The Socialists however saw the emerging capitalist model by the late 1800s as an exchange of one beast for another. From one system of exploitation for another. They did not see the average working person's life improved by the Industrial Capitalist system taking hold in large European cities in the 1850s.

My point. My point you say?

My point is we still haven't resolved any of these questions. My point is we still have a political system which is controlled largely by a group of people, who limit the ability of those they rule over to have any real participation. Corporations, run by the best educated and very wealthy, now own every single member of Congress. They likely on a smaller scale own those in the State legislatures. The rules of the game still favor those with the consolidation of power. (Politicians and Corporate leaders.) Many enter this game based (in the US) on their family name (dynasty-- Kennedy, Bush, to name a few) or through patronage (Obama???)

I am not saying Marx was right. He was no more right or wrong than Saint-Simon or Charles Fourier or even Thomas Jefferson. 

What I am saying is before people spout anti-Marxist rhetoric or point the finger at the evils of Karl Marx, they have to understand what he was actually writing about and why. Taking his work out of context and not understanding the intellectual climate of when that work was created does no one any good. That his work was read by others and they created a movement is another matter entirely. Marx dealt in theory, not practice. Lenin, Stalin, Mao, they were the practitioners, inspired by what they had read.

Marx's Manifesto was never designed to be a how to manual. I think every Marxist Utopian colony and likely government has/is going to fail because Marx fails to take into account a basic human motivator-- envy and its evil cousin, greed.

In fact many Utopian theorist and socialists, Marx and Engels included, looked down on those Utopian thinkers, who actually tried to test out these ideas in practice. Socialist scientists (a term Marx and Engels coined) were not welcome in the intellectual exchange or discourse. Marx and Engels did not see themselves as architects of evil or as practitioners of social change, they were philosophers and theorists. They were intellectuals, philosophers, writers.

I wonder, how many members of Congress have actually read Marx. I have. In German and English, thank you very much. I spent a summer reading a good chunk of what Marx and Engels wrote. I think before people can reject something, they have to first seek to understand it and its social context.

Before you call someone a Marxist, it would be helpful if you actually understand what Marx was saying and more importantly-- why.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Music Monday -- M.A.R.S. - Pump Up The Volume

What I really wanted to find was a song about needles or pins. What I settled for was one of my favorites from a long, long time ago. This is most likely where my obsession with house music began.

Lately my life has been full of pins and needles. I am sewing more now than in a long time and I am sorting all my backlog of projects and trying to attack them one by one. They are many and varied. I will keep you posted and blog about them as I complete them.

Also I have been visiting an acupuncturist. Lots of pins. So many of them, all over my body.

For people who know me well, this is NO, let me repeat, NO small feat. I hate needles. Loathe them. I detest getting blood drawn, to the point that I can't watch. I struggle with seeing people getting an IV or giving blood. I struggle with it worse than a vampire on his worst day. It nearly killed me as I had to hold the kiddos down as the nurse gives them their vaccines.

In fact, I refused an IV until the doctor insisted I get one when I was giving birth to L. (I still don't think I needed one, thank you very much.)

That said, after I was very sick at Christmas time, my tummy tied in knots and the bloat beyond control, I decided to make some changes. Which I have been doing and I can detail them later, but I also decided to explore other alternative medicine approaches.

H has been to an acupuncturist before. He struggles with sleep and it helped some, so I thought, nothing ventured, nothing gained. So far after 3 treatments, I have noticed some positive changes. I tend to carry alot of tension in my neck and shoulders and that seems to been decreasing. I also have noticed that the puffiness in my midsection is noticeably decreased.

I also have a sense of wellness and lightness afterwards.

So while I am still not a fan of needles or pins -- other than for sewing, I am keeping an open mind. Acupuncture has been practiced for centuries and I highly doubt people would keep doing it for centuries if it did not have at least some effect on a person's overall wellness.

So for now I will just keep pinning away and that might well be a record.