Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Grace and Generosity


Another guest post by Dana


One of the things I love about the holiday season (loosely defined as the week before Thanksgiving through the New Year) is the abundance of grace and generosity.

It seems that, with few exceptions, grace and generosity become almost common place during the holiday season.

People give, unconditionally, to others - even strangers.

Judgment is replaced with empathy.

People think of others a little more, and themselves a little less.

I hate to see it end.

What a different place this world would be if, for the other 46 weeks of the year, we practiced grace and generosity just a fraction as much as we do during the holiday season.


Thursday, December 23, 2010

Merry Christmas Ya'll!

Hope your Christmas is Merry and Bright! Or warm and sandy!

Monday, December 20, 2010

FROZEN Sardines in NYC!

Okay, first off...DAMN it's cold up there! But after you get past that, it was wonderful. Thanks to Vinny, we had the best pizza in the city at John's!

We saw Wicked and Jersey Boys on Broadway, where my Southern Belle Mom learned some new words. And she loved it even though it had some "language" in it.

We rode for an hour in a horse and carriage in Central Park and for thankfully few minutes from Broadway back to the hotel in that bike contraption up there. We asked him 14 times, "Are you SURE we can all fit in there?" "YES, just turn your knees out, and you scrunch in" and poof we were in there under a nice warm blanket with a heated seat! That dude had to be sore the next day after hauling us around!

We bought staggeringly expensive matching Christmas ornaments on 5th Avenue. Talked to tons of super sweet cops and natives for good eating places and directions. Honestly, I didn't meet the first rude New Yorker. Everyone was beyond nice and as friendly as they could be!

But most of all, I'm so grateful that I could make a dream of my Mom's come true. She's always wanted to go to New York for Christmas!

P.S. I'm lucky that I have the best bosses in the world that said, "GO! Take her and take off as long as you need." They paid me even though I was out of vacation time, bonused me triple what my old job would have, gave me the next two weeks off AND told me that they LOVE me and are grateful that I work for THEM! Wow, am I blessed!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Men Don't Make Passes


Another guest post by Dana


I picked up my new geeky-chic glasses on Saturday.

They are a stretch for me.

They scream, "LOOK AT MY FACE!" and that is terrifying in my world.

I changed my blogger, twitter and facebook avatars to the new look and got very positive, complimentary feedback. I allowed myself to feel good about the new look - maybe it really was OK to be me.

Then it happened.

A direct message* from someone I know. Someone I care about. Someone whose opinion matters to me:

"Tell Dana to change her picture. It's cute, but the lighting makes it look like she has a mustache"

Let me share a secret with all of you. Any time I hear "[Insert favorite compliment], BUT [Insert critical statement]" what I hear is "Blah, blah, blah ... Dana has a mustache."

I was hurt (still am or I wouldn't be writing this). I looked at the picture - a picture I was comfortable with (a HUGE accomplishment for me) and all I could think was that everyone had been lying to me - laughing behind my back - saying, "Dana thinks she looks cute but it looks like she has a mustache. Let's not tell her so that we can keep laughing at her."

When I communicated my hurt, I got:

"And let me tell ya Mizz Thang...How many people saw the same thing and didn't say anything...c'mon you know me better than that"

Ahhhh ... confirmation! Validation! ... and people think I'm crazy.

Now, in all fairness, I know (without a doubt) that this conversation was meant to be helpful. This wasn't someone who was trying to cut me down, trying to make me feel bad about myself.

It was constructive criticism. It was like the friend who tells you about a glaring grammatical error in your post because they don't want you to be embarrassed. It was meant to be helpful.

I took it far too personally. It hurt like hell.

I airbrushed the photo. I softened it. I played with the highlights and low lights. I adjusted the shadow. I did everything I could in hopes everyone would stop laughing at me behind my back. I tried to make it "acceptable." **The picture shown is the "fixed" photo**

I sold out ... and I hate that I am not confident enough to say, "Screw you! I'm fine just the way I am!"

Maybe some day.

*These messages were private messages, not sent to a public forum. I reprinted them (as written) here, but out of context. I didn't do this to make the person look bad, but to help you understand how my brain heard them.


Thursday, December 9, 2010


Yesterday, I was planning a trip for next Christmas. Just me and my mom. She's always wanted to go to New York to see it decorated for Christmas. Neither of us have ever been.

As I was sitting at my desk talking to my Dad, my uncle came in and heard what I was planning for next Christmas. "Lisa's going next week and doesn't have anybody to go with her. Why don't you two go with her. She has VIP tickets to the Nate Berkus Show."

We leave next Wednesday! New York wasn't even on my radar for places to go, but frankly, I get excited going around the corner.

Anybody got any suggestions of shows, places, stuff not to miss?


Tuesday, December 7, 2010

All I Want For Christmas


Another guest post by Dana


Do you remember writing that annual letter to Santa? The magic of wanting a single gift - more than you wanted anything ever before - and having it appear under the tree Christmas morning?

I was a Lego kid. Back in the day (40 years ago) Legos were at the top of the construction toy heap, with Erector Sets and Lincoln Logs (yes, they used to be wood) following close behind.

My mom desperately wanted a pink, frilly dress, princess-like little girl. Instead, she got me - a little girl who wanted nothing more than her carpenter daddy to be proud of her. A little girl who spent hours and hours building homes and neighborhoods with Legos.

I still love Legos. If I see them I must build.

Legos have come a long way since the traditional red, yellow, blue and white cubes I grew up with. I came across this while doing a little on-line Christmas shopping.

Yes, I am actually considering buying this and putting it under the tree ... for me!

What childhood toy did you love? Is there one that could still make you smile from ear to ear if you found it under your tree on Christmas morning this year?


Friday, December 3, 2010

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

A Picture Speaks ...


Another guest post by Dana


Being that I am somewhat of an information junky, one of the things I really enjoy is my CNN news feed. Often times there are little bits of news that I never hear or read anywhere else. Yesterday I came across THIS article.

Jeff Sheng has spent the last two years on his "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" exhibit - photographic stories of the gay and bisexual men and women who serve in the U.S. military. And because his subjects are forced to keep their sexual orientations under wraps in order to serve, Sheng's photos are portraits without faces.

Think about that for a moment. The men and women who serve this country - who lay their own lives on the line to protect our rights - must hide their faces.

There was a time, not too long ago, when I questioned the wisdom of repealing "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," but seeing Sheng's photography, thinking about what it means, and remembering my own struggles with my sexuality while serving in the military, I cannot justify anything other than a repeal.

I look at these photos and know that these men and women deserve better than what we've given them.


Saturday, November 6, 2010

Out...I've GOT to get OUT

This weekend is "Thanksgiving" with the in-laws, since they are in town. Stress. And why I'm cleaning at 4am on a Saturday before heading to the gym.

But NEXT weekend is the annual "Girls Weekend at the Lodge!" Four years in a row. The core group never changes. Six lesbians.

We all met at the local lesbian bar one night and well, the rest is history.

Last time we were there we played Guitar Hero the entire time. That's just how we roll. A bunch of teenagers trapped in adult bodies. Relaxing. PJs. Great food. Laughing until you're crying. Lying on your back looking up at the Milky Way on a clear night, freezing half to death.

Here's hoping there are a few golden leaves left next weekend!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010



Another guest post by Dana


Today, I am NOT doing something that I haven't NOT done in quite some time (How's that for a triple negative?). I am NOT going to vote.

This is a BIG deal for me. I feel voting is a civic responsibility - a right we are given that we are obligated to carry out - and I am NOT going to do it.


Call it cynicism. Call it a personal protest. Call it being irresponsible. I really don't care. I am FED UP with politics, politicians and people.

I have read quite a few disturbing blog posts, comments and tweets where people seem to think the process of voting - of walking into the polling place and pushing a button - is what is important. They brag that they intend to "piss off" the other party - that they would NEVER consider a candidate from the other party. They see elections as some freakish opportunity to "stick it" to people who may think differently than they do.

That is NOT what voting should be about.

Honestly? I think there should be some sort of pretest for voting. A set of questions that you must answer 70% correctly in order to move on to the actual voting process. I'd even be willing to go multiple choice.

The questions wouldn't have to be difficult. Here in Illinois they could ask things like "Name three of the six candidates for U.S. Senator" or "What elected office would be impacted by the proposed Illinois Constitutional Amendment?"

Hell, they could even do a fill-in-the-blank test giving you the names of 10 candidates that you must identify as R, D or neither R nor D.

In Illinois I am saddled with impossible choices - voting for the people I think might be the least corrupt (which isn't saying a whole hell of a lot).

Quite frankly, I don't like any of the "viable" (i.e. Republican or Democrat)
candidates - my vote would likely be along party lines because everyone sucks equally - and I take huge issue with ANYONE (including me) voting party lines just because they don't want the other side to win.

Get a grip people. Voting should NOT be about showing up at your polling place and getting an "I voted" sticker so you can take a picture of it and post it on twitter. It should NOT be about looking at a ballot, shrugging your shoulders and pushing the button for R or D rather than for the candidate and their platform.

I am NOT voting today. Are you?

*EDIT* After much thought, and a little prodding, I decided to vote on the SINGLE "non-candidate" issue on my ballot - an Amendment to the Illinois Constitution. There was a LONG line at the polling place with a 45 minute wait. I watched at least 10 people look at the line, then turn around and walk out.


Friday, October 29, 2010

Hard On

If I could marry a vacuum, it would be this one. I just named him Harrison and used him for the first time. Oh. My.

My. My. My.

I already have a Dyson and yeah, it was fantastic in it's day. Four years ago. But this new Dyson DC-28 Animal with AirMuscle technology. Mmmmm. Quiet and smooth. Picked up even more than the old Dyson that had just done the same job. Yeah, I'm loving him.

I feel like I bought a new sports car. And frankly, I think the lady at the UPS store where I had to go sign for it would have come home with me if I'd asked her. She was that hot for my new vacuum.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Is It That Important?


Another guest post by Dana


There seems to be a bit of an odd theme going on here at Lynn's place - first there was my Ashes to Ashes post where I talked about creative funeral/cremation plans. Recently Lynn talked about how she wanted to be remembered at her funeral.

You'd think we were both over 40 and that feeling of invincibility was waning or something. Well yes, as a matter of fact ...

Here's a question for all of you though, have you considered what will happen to all of your online accounts? Your blog? Your twitter account? Facebook? What about all of the URL's and passwords for your banking/financial accounts??

Me? I'd never considered it until I received a BzzAgent invitation to explore Otrib's Final Wishes Service.

Otrib is an interesting (for lack of a better word) website. It allows you to add a facebook app that gives you a life status indicator on your profile, real-time death notification to all connections and a dedicated tribute page with memorial service, donation information and guestbook ... all for free.

With registration, and a few minutes of your time, you can name an heir for your digital assets, describe how your facebook account should be managed upon your death and help your next of kin save time and money by automatically sending out death notice to friends and family and creating a tribute page / interactive online obituary.

Hmmmm ... I'm not so sure I want my obituary broadcast on facebook ... but it's an interesting idea.

If you are concerned about more than your facebook account, you can explore Legacy Locker.

Legacy Locker offers a free basic plan (3 assets, 1 beneficiary and 1 "legacy letter") or annual ($29.99)/lifetime ($299.99) paid plan options that include unlimited assets, unlimited beneficiaries, unlimited legacy letters, enabled document backup and enabled video upload.

Honestly? I don't see a need for either of these. They seem somewhat self-important and self-absorbed. I can understand providing beneficiaries with URL's and passwords for banking/financial accounts (I'm fairly certain they could be included in a will), but a self-designed tribute page on facebook seems ... well ... *shakes head*

What do you think? Would you use either of these services?


Sunday, October 24, 2010

My Funeral

And here you have it. I'm not dying and I don't plan on skipping out anytime soon. BUT, please when you bury me and do the whole "let's look at her dead and say how great she looks," just don't.

I hate funerals. HATE them.

Tell stories about me. Laugh. No black. Sorry, I know how much some of you love black...it is slimming, but no. You can't wear it to my funeral.

If you didn't bother to call me or stop by during the last year of my life, don't show up at my damn funeral. I wouldn't have done it to you, which is why I don't go to that many. Don't come for my family if you didn't know me. Take them to dinner or out shopping in the months after I'm gone when they're sad.

I'd like some party balloons, no funeral homes. Purple and lime green? Red and cream? Pink and orange? Lots of flowers and yeah, they'll be gone in a week but at that moment, they'll be beautiful!

I don't care if you bury me, cremate me, or float me out on a flaming viking boat and serve shots. I'm dead. I promise, I won't care.

What I do want you to do is remember me and enjoy those memories while you're gathered together with my friends. Oh, and turn on that Ghost Radar app on my ipod. I'm definitely going to say hello from the other side!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Happy Friday with some BEAUTIFUL Body Paint

All images are from CanvasAlive.com by Pashur, who oddly enough started right here in Nashville as a caricature artist at Opryland. Amazing work!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


Today, I ran out to grab lunch for the work crew. I pull into Arby's, order, drive up to the window and there's a dog lying in the drive-thru lane. RIGHT in front of me. Just one car length up...as if he had to wait on his fresh, hot fries to come out.

Jokingly, I said, "Did I win a free dog?" thinking that he had been dropped off and left to fend for himself.

"Oh, that's just Roscoe he lives up in the subdivision." Then he yells towards the back, "HEY, Roscoe's here."

"He comes by every once in a while and we give him some Roast Beef and Au Jus."

I watched as I waited on our order. The manager immediately walked out with two bowls of roast beef. Roscoe got up from the drive-thru and walked over to the grass to enjoy his lunch.

Nicely done, Roscoe. Way to train some folks!

Welcome To My World

Mark, the window guy as he tromps mud onto my clean floor: "We have two dogs. One's a poodle type of dog. Poodle dogs are smart. The smartest dogs in the world. This here's a nice dog, too."

Me: "Yeah, Isaac is a sweetheart."

Bubba walks in.

Mark: "Bubba, what kind of dog is Turd?"

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Is Tolerance Our Best?


Another guest post by Dana


Yesterday was National Coming Out Day - a day managed by the Human Rights Campaign to not only encourage the LGBT community to speak up (and out) for who they are, but to get ALL people to talk about their support for equality at home, at work and in their communities.

Throughout the news and the cyber world, I kept seeing and hearing reference to tolerance. We need to have tolerance for the LGBT community. We need to have tolerance for those who lead a different lifestyle than we do. We need to have tolerance, not hate.

I disagree.

Merriam-Webster defines tolerance as:
sympathy or indulgence for beliefs or practices differing from or conflicting with one's own.
Sympathy? Indulgence? Wow! Really?

As a society, we've kind of come to an acceptance of tolerance. We've set it as the goal we should all strive to meet. I think we can do better than tolerance.

I don't want to be tolerated in spite of my differences, I want to be celebrated for ALL that I bring to the table.

I don't want people to have sympathy for my sexual orientation, or to allow me to indulge in my sexual preferences. That reeks of needing their permission.

I don't want their permission - I don't want their tolerance - I want their acceptance.

At some point, society lost the true definition of acceptance and began defaulting to tolerance. There seems to be this underlying fear that if we accept people in spite of their sexual orientation (or race, or religion, or gender, or any other difference) that we somehow lessen the pride we have regarding of our own sexual orientation (or race, or religion, or gender, or any other difference).

It's crazy.

I suppose tolerance is a start, but I think we should set the bar higher - much higher.


A special thanks to Emmy at Right Turn Without Signaling for her Tolerance post yesterday that served as an inspiration for this post.


Friday, October 8, 2010

Suicide....and Goodbye

It's not that one thing that someone said THAT day. It's not one thing. I can't speak for everyone, but I can speak for me. For 25 years, I lived a lie. Not a big lie. But a thousand little lies.

At 16, "Do you have a boyfriend?" "No." It lead them to think that something was wrong with me, because I didn't date.

I lied about my sexuality, which lead me to lie about where I was going and with whom. I lied and lied and lied and lied. I lied about where I went on vacation. I lied about who I lived with. I lied about who I loved.

Then there are the people who are mean in this world. I can't blame them. Some people are entertained by fat kids or people who are different. Some people are just mean to be mean. I don't blame them, just because I don't have a thick skin. Maybe they thought they were helping to develop my tolerance for mean people that I would encounter when I grew up.

It didn't work. Even today, I don't tolerate mean people. My friends joke that I'm intolerant of intolerance. I don't like mean girls. I don't like people who are entertained at the expense of others. And I don't let them in my life anymore. That took a long time. It's too easy for some of us to be nice and just lie down like a doormat over and over and over.

"Grow some balls." No, I won't. Because then I'm not me anymore. I am sensitive and I'd rather be that way than ballsy and mean.

I've heard of too many people lately that have taken their lives. It's a shame. I wish I could show them what's around the next corner. There are many wonderful people in this world who will love you JUST THE WAY YOU ARE. You just have to live long enough to find them all.

I don't lie anymore. My family knows that I love My Love. My work peeps know her and love her. My uncle FaceTimes her. My mother ADORES her and calls her "my second daughter." She'll hug and kiss her every time she sees her, which is almost daily.

If you see someone in a lie, don't out them. Don't be mean. Don't gossip.

Love them. Love them the way they are right now. Tell them that you love the real them, not the lie them. Love is the only thing in this world that matters one little bit.

Santa Likes All Of Us

I was talking to an old friend of mine, who's one of those guys that LOVES to entertain and make you laugh. I was telling him about some land that I want and how I'd asked Santa for it.

"I've been wanting it for quite a while now. I even asked Santa for it. And I've been a very good girl!"

"Honey, Santa likes bad girls, too. Really, really bad girls. Filthy girls. That whole good girl thing is a LIE!"

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Villain or Hero?


Another guest post by Dana


You may have heard [THIS STORY].

Last week, Margaret Matthews, 68, decided she'd had enough of two neighborhood boys (12 and 13) who she claims have been harassing her in her south side Chicago home for more than a year.

She had been grocery shopping and when she returned to her house she noticed broken windows and saw two boys running away.

The boys came back and Matthews stood on her porch and confronted them. Allegedly, they responded by throwing bricks and rocks at her. One hit her in the chest.

She went inside, grabbed a gun and called police.

Concerned the police wouldn't make it in time, she went back outside and fired at the boys, wounding the 12-year-old in the shoulder.

According to Illinois law, Matthews' use of force qualifies as self defense if she "reasonably believed that such force was necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm." The police decided not to charge Matthews. The boys face charges of aggravated assault.

The 12-year-old boy's family told another story, insisting the boy didn't break the window and the shooting was unprovoked.

Some in the neighborhood are calling Matthew's a hero, a descriptor she takes issue with.

"There is nothing heroic about any individual getting hurt by another individuals hand," Matthews said. "I pray for this young man and am so happy he'll be alright."

"I'm sorry that all of this happened," she said. "I hope and pray that something positive can come from what happened to him.

"He might not realize it," she added, "but I might have saved his life, because if he keeps on going on the path he's on someone else may not be so lenient.

"This way," she said, "he's got a chance."

What do you think? Is Matthews a hero or a dangerous granny with a gun who over-reacted?


Saturday, October 2, 2010

Happy Birthday to ME!

A day late, but I was busy eating Red Velvet Cake yesterday! Ohmahgawd, it was soooo good!

Friday, September 24, 2010

A Rare Find


And I'm not one to swoon over boys. Neither of us are.

You see, we needed a little work done around here. Serious carpentry that was beyond our level of expertise. Normally, My Love can do anything. ANY. THING.

I asked repeatedly over the weekend if she wanted me to get a guy that I'd talked to on the phone to come by and work on it. No. She wanted to do it. Did I mention that we had painters coming Thursday?

By Monday afternoon, she had enough and let me call him.

I expected a handyman. Mid 60s. Pot-bellied. Rough around the edges. Balding. The kind of guy that farts and thinks it's funny.

Oh. My. God.

When he stepped out of his Jeep, I just blinked. He really DOES look like that guy up there. Except a little straighter with the bad boy edge to him.

We've had quite the show this week. Apparently, there's still a little straight part of me left. And yeah, I admit to enjoying the eye candy. Monday is his last day here. Feel free to stop by for a visit....if you like the ruggedly handsome type.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

File Allocation Table? Or Just Plain FAT File?


Another guest post by Dana


I guess they're right ...

Wearing white after Labor Day is a fashion faux pas

Confession ...

I've lost 100 pounds ... twice. Once when I was in my early 20's, and then again 20 years later. Both times I've gained every pound of it back.

Losing weight has never been difficult for me - I've always been successful - but keeping it off? That's an entirely different story.

Now in my mid 40's, the impact of carrying around 100 extra pounds is magnified by age. A knee that was injured - and operated on - 6 years ago now causes me a great deal of pain and limits my activities. My body aches, creeks and cracks every morning as I put 250+ pounds of pressure on a skeletal structure meant to carry much less.

The emotional impact of the extra 100 pounds is equally painful. I try to walk with my head held high, but avoid glancing in mirrors or at my reflection in windows at all costs.

Sure, I get cat-calls - the ones intended to humiliate, not flatter. I have to gauge my ability to get through tight spaces so that I can avoid the embarrassment of knocking things over as my too large body attempts to squeeze through a too small space.

I don't have a difficult time finding someone willing to have sex with me ... as long as I can ignore the fact that they don't usually want to be seen in public with me. Seems "curves" are attractive in the bedroom, but somehow lose their appeal once you leave the house.

Of course, I have a great personality. Like most fat people I'm funny and I can draw male (and female) attention with my brash sexual innuendos. What skinny people don't know is that both of these are defense mechanisms finely honed by fat men and women everywhere.

I've been thin. I've reaped the benefits of a society set up to punish fat people for the unforgivable crime of eating too much, and reward thin people for ... well ... not eating too much.

When I was thin, I heard the fat jokes out loud, instead of overhearing the whispering as I walked by. Men would hold doors open for me rather than just letting them swing shut in my face. I always wondered how those same people would treat me as my fat self.

As improbable as it sounds, I am far more invisible to the world when I am fat than when I'm thin.

That said, this isn't a pity post. I know there is no secret to weight loss. It's a simple formula of eating fewer calories and exercising more - consistently. I may not like myself, but I don't feel sorry for myself. I am the way that I am because of the choices I make.

This post is a reminder - a reminder that fat people are no less deserving of your respect, courtesy and adoration. Unless you are willing to make fun of Jews, blacks, amputees, balding men, people in wheel chairs and anyone from West Virginia, you shouldn't make fun of the fatties.

... or we might just sit on you ...


Thursday, September 16, 2010

My Worst Fear. Too Close.

One of my friends and I have had many conversations about "the worst." When you know how lucky you are. When you meet the love of your life. When things are going so perfectly, even thought they're just normal everyday things. When you love so many people and they love you right back. When your heart is so happy it feels like it could explode.

The worst can happen. It can stop.

My cousin lost the love of her life to cancer. Four weeks ago they told her that he had a couple of months to live. He didn't. Monday night he asked if he could lay his head on her lap and sleep. When she woke up the next morning, he was gone.

I've just returned from the funeral home, where she took me by my arm to see Michael in a suit, lying in his casket. My heart broke right in half as she tucked his hair behind his ears and smoothed his tie as if he was only sleeping.

She wasn't weeping. She didn't fall apart. I am amazed by her composure and how she always spoke of him with love in her voice.

The love that was still there chokes me. And her love was the only love left. Not that she doesn't have memories, but once you've had *it*....will memories be enough?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Only For Shock Value

Am I posting two days in a row.

After many years of cooking, I'm just now finding out that people are either PRO-casserole or ANTI-casserole. I'm afraid that many of the anti-casserole folks have been presented with something akin to that photo up there. I wouldn't eat that with your mouth.

Luckily, my neighbors are all pro-casserole. Actually, they're more like pro-food. My work peeps...not so much. Honestly, people it's just stuff in one pan that you'd eat together otherwise. What's the problem?

So tell me. Are you pro or anti-casserole?

P.S. Remember, lasagna is technically a casserole and I have one of the best recipes on Earth. If you come visit, you might get a taste, if I know you're coming with a week's notice. Not that I'd want to sway you over to my pro side.

Monday, September 13, 2010


I know. Dana posts here more than I do. I suck.

We've gone from pool season and hanging out with "the boys" behind us with their gorgeous pool to almost "casserole season." The cool mornings make for steam rising from my coffee and this is the first year that I've really enjoyed summer. REALLY. Since I was like 11.

Like the time when we all were smashed on gin and tonics and decided that we'd try to do that commercial where the people are synchronized diving. We couldn't even get the 5,6,7,8 right and My Love was doing the counting. On the fourth try, we got it. We felt so accomplished. And then realized that new people were touring the new home next door and were watching us. Yeah, I'm sure we'll be fast friends with them.

Yes, there's a video and no you can't see it, but it looks something like this....

Friday, September 10, 2010

World Suicide Prevention Day


Another guest post by Dana

*NOTE* I felt this post was important enough that it
needed to be on both Lynn's blog and my blog.


September 10th is World Suicide Prevention Day. In the United States alone, a person dies by suicide every 16 minutes.

My life has been touched by suicide far too many times. If you are not already familiar with it, you can read my personal story HERE. If you wonder how a "sane" person could ever consider suicide as an option, read Lynn's story personal story HERE.

Most of us are familiar with the immediate warning signs for suicide:
  • Someone threatening to hurt or kill him/herself, or talking of wanting to hurt or kill him/herself
  • Someone looking for ways to kill him/herself by seeking access to firearms, available pills, or other means
  • Someone talking or writing about death, dying or suicide, when these actions are out of the ordinary for the person

We need to familiarize ourselves with the more subtle warning signs for suicide.

  • Hopelessness
  • Rage, uncontrolled anger, seeking revenge
  • Acting reckless or engaging in risky activities, seemingly without thinking
  • Feeling trapped - like there's no way out
  • Increased alcohol or drug use
  • Withdrawing from friends, family and society
  • Anxiety, agitation, unable to sleep or sleeping all the time
  • Dramatic mood changes

If you, or someone you know, is in emotional distress or suicidal crisis please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8225)

What can you do today? Visit Take 5 To Save Lives and get involved and become informed. Hopefully you will never need the information you'll find there.


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?