Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Secular School Selection


Another guest post by Dana


Olivia Harrison's parents spent a great deal of time looking into pre-kindergarten programs for their daughter. They found a school they liked and started the admissions process at St. Vincent's School in Texas. This summer, each time her family drove past the campus, they pointed out the school and reminded Olivia that she would be starting pre-kindergarten there in August.

But on the first day of school, Olivia was not one of the students at St. Vincent's School. Administrators at the private Christian school denied her admission because they do not agree with her parents' lesbian relationship.

Jill and Tracy Harrison were married in Canada in 2006. They filled out an application for St. Vincent's School in June. But last week, just a week before school started, they were told that Olivia could not enroll because their relationship is against the traditional beliefs of the Anglican Church.

"The canons of our church take a traditional stand on Christian marriage," St. Vincent's School chaplain Randall Foster said. "We didn't want to send the tacit message that we endorse the relationship. We cannot do anything that would give legitimacy to same-sex relationships."

Fortunately, the Harrisons found a new, nonreligious school for their daughter, but they said they are disappointed that their relationship became a factor in her admission.

"What we do when we come home and shut the door should not affect our daughter getting an education," Tracy Harrison said. "We want it to be fair."

Tracy Harrison said that she was raised in a Baptist church and that the couple chose St. Vincent's School after researching schools with good academics that would teach basic Christian beliefs. Jill Harrison, when she filled out enrollment forms for Olivia, wrote in her name as the girl's mother, crossed out father, wrote mother and listed Tracy's name in that spot.

Apparently school officials assumed that Tracy was a man, but when Olivia's parents attended a parents night in mid-August, schools officials called a meeting with Jill Harrison to say that the child could not enroll.

"The only responsible thing was to say this is not a good fit," Foster said. "We were trying to protect Olivia, protect the other children from being exposed to the culture wars and stand up for our theological position."

What do you think? Was the secular school right to deny admission to the child of a family who clearly violated their religious teachings? Had St. Vincent's allowed Olivia to attend the school, would it have benefited Olivia to learn in an environment that admonished her parents relationship? Was it irresponsible of Olivia's parents to consider enrolling her in a secular school?


Thursday, August 26, 2010

It Was The WRONG Thing To Do

But I've been watching Luke Nguyen's cooking show set in Vietnam. It's the last thing I do in the evenings. Watch a 30 minute episode of something mindless.

Last night, he was in Da Lat. And it hit me. I want to go. Be there. Do that.

I already have the travel bug. Again. Last week, I dreamed that I was in China again. After never EVER wanting to set foot on another plane just 8 weeks ago, it doesn't seem to horrible now.

I emailed my cousin. She's ready too. Said it's in our blood. Next....maybe Vietnam in 2012?

Perhaps we can take the train to Thailand and see Boonie!

And yes, I will be riding an elephant!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Dog Tired

This is me totally wiped out. Two weeks, no day off since August 1st. But that's what you get when you start out with a small company. We have so much work. So so so so much. And I'm beyond grateful. But I am a tad tired.

Grateful for the position. Grateful for the great pay. Grateful to work with wonderful people that I actually enjoy being around. We go to great places for lunch. Yesterday was Wild Iris. Yum. Two weeks ago today, they brought in a massage therapist and set her up to give us all a rub down during the day. FYI, that makes for a lazy afternoon.

That's what I've been doing. What have you been up to?

P.S. That's my furbaby up there, doing what I'd love to be doing. Floating on a raft with a cool beverage!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Ashes To Ashes


Another guest post by Dana


I have a bit of an obsession with death. Not in a "I want to die," way, but in a "If you bury me when I die I'll come back to haunt you" way. The thought of having my flesh eaten by bugs for decades so that family members can stick a plastic vase of fake flowers on my grave once a year just creeps me out. It won't happen ... not over my dead body!

So, since I was updating my will due to some significant life changes, I thought I'd include instructions on how I wanted to be "disposed" of.

*We now interrupt this blog post for a public service announcement*

Y'all do have wills, right?? If you don't you need to put one together. You can do it online in about 30 minutes. LegalZoom offers a basic will for $69.00. It's important. Everyone should have one even if you don't think you need one.

*We now return you to your regularly scheduled blog reading*

I thought it was time to do a little research. What? Researching funeral/cremation plans is morbid?? Nahhh ... it's practical! And honestly, a little fun in an odd sort of way.

I discovered there all some really imaginative ways to "dispose" of one's ashes. For example, you can be launched into space with a little help from Celestis.

Celestis made headlines in 1997 when they launched the cremated remains of 60’s icon Timothy Leary and Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry into space. For a fairly reasonable fee, you can send a “symbolic portion” of yourself on the next available mission, riding alongside a commercial or scientific satellite.

You can come back to Earth after the flight, or pay more to remain in orbit. You’ll stay there for an estimated 10 to 240 years before reentering the atmosphere in a blaze of fire. In the future, Celestis plans to launch cremated remains into the moon’s orbit, to the surface of the moon, and possibly into deep space.

But I'm thinking I might want more of a celebration than that. I discovered you can go out with a bang - literally - with the help of Heavens Above Fireworks.

Heavens Above Fireworks can pack a small portion of your ashes into professional-grade fireworks and stage a memorial display for your survivors. You can choose a big, noisy, colorful display or a quieter, more understated event.

Or, you can have your ashes stuffed into small, self-fired rockets, so your family can have their own private "safe and sane" fireworks ceremony at home. It would probably be the only time any part of me was considered safe and sane.

If I decided a more permanent display was up my alley, I could go with an Eternal Reef.

Have you always been an Ocean lover? You can create your own “living legacy” by having your ashes turned into an artificial coral reef. Your remains will help restore damaged reefs and create a nurturing marine environment for fish and other forms of sea life.

Eternal Reefs will mix your cremated remains (all of them) into concrete, shape the artificial reef and place the reef out on the sea floor.

I haven't decided yet, but whatever I decide I know one thing - I want friends and family to celebrate my life, not mourn my death - and in my will they'll be directed to wear Hawaiian shirts and flip-flops at the BBQ celebration ... yes, even if it's January in Chicago!


Tuesday, August 10, 2010

What You See Is What You Get?


Another guest post by Dana


We've all seen them - the remarkable "before" and "after" shots in diet industry ads.

It's the best way for promoters of weight loss pills, diet plans and exercise gadgets to sell their products, right? A visual example of how you will look if ...

Here's a short clip, taken from the documentary-style film, "Bigger, Stronger, Faster" that shows the "reality" of many of these before/after shots .

We all know before/after are altered to some degree, but shot on the same day? Really?

I suppose the disclaimer "Results are not typical" should be enough, but "Results are not real - photos were taken the same day" might be more ethical.

What do you think? False advertising or creative license?

*A special thanks to Curvy Jones for the inspiration behind this post*


Thursday, August 5, 2010

Supreme Court?

Prop 8 Overturned.

And yet, we'll still have to take it to the highest court in the land. Someday, I'll be talking to young people about this. What a phenomenal time to live in.

Honestly, if you'd asked me 10 years ago, I'd have doubted that we'd be this far. But I was born in the '60s and you just DIDN'T talk about it.

Go be gay, if you have to. We'll love you anyway. But accepted? No.

Someday, and I bet it will be sooner rather than later, we'll all be celebrating a wedding. I want it to be legal when I wed my love. Not pretend. Not "for us." For real.

*Image is of Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon, together since 1953 and were married under CA law.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

"I saw a subliminal advertising executive, but only for a second."
~ Stephen Wright


Another guest post by Dana


How many of you have heard the story about the 1950's experiment in subliminal advertising at a movie theater where a tachistoscope was set up in theater's projection booth, and all throughout film, "Drink Coca-Cola" and "Hungry? Eat Popcorn" flashed on the screen every five seconds?

The study, conducted by James Vicary, claimed there was an amazing 18.1% increase in Coca-Cola sales, and a whopping 57.8% jump in popcorn purchases, demonstrating the awesome power of "subliminal advertising" to coerce unwary buyers into making purchases they would not otherwise have considered.

And so the conspiracy theories began. Too bad Vicary lied about the results of his experiment. When he was challenged to repeat the test by the president of the Psychological Corporation, Dr. Henry Link, Vicary confessed that he had falsified the data from his first experiments, and some critics have since expressed doubts that he actually conducted his infamous Ft. Lee experiment at all.

So, subliminal advertising doesn't work, but that doesn't stop advertisers from (supposedly) using its techniques anyway. I came across a few examples that I thought I'd share. Clicking on the original photo will give you what those who believe subliminal advertising does work are seeing (and yes, I have too much time on my hands, but not enough to verify if any of these supposed subliminal ads are actually real).

The story behind this 1980's Coke poster is that some graphic artist was playing a joke but somehow the poster got through all of the editors without anyone seeing the ice cube image. It wasn't until the ad was blown up and placed on the back of a truck that "innocent" people saw the subliminal message.

Heineken - You probably don't even need my help for this one ...

I had to look REALLY hard (pun intended) to see anything in this one, but here you go!

As long as the cans are aligned just right, this one is pretty clear ... maybe ...

What do you think? Is it a conspiracy? Is subliminal advertising effective but big corporations are swaying the test data? Are advertisers being devious in their sales practices? Or do people just have vivid imaginations and too much time on their hands?


Sunday, August 1, 2010

Make Men Lust

We were chatting over lunch, talking about crazy things that people had told us in our formative years. One of the girls piped up and said that her home economics teacher had told them not to wear polka dots.

They make men lust.

I get that.