Something to Think About

"I found it is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay. Small acts of kindness and love."
- J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Panic Over Google's New Privacy Policy

The amount of hysteria that spreads throughout the internet sometimes never fails to amaze me - especially if it isn't based solely on fact.  As many of you may have heard, Google is changing their privacy policy as of March 1, 2012.

Now don't panic.  Seriously.  There is nothing to be upset about.  All Google is really doing is integrating their various services and applying the same privacy policy to all of them. See, right now all their services have different privacy policies and may have different pieces of data about you.  All Google is doing is writing a single policy that will apply to all their services and sharing your data between the different services.  It is actually simplifying things, to be honest.

Don't believe me?  Check out this article.  Still concerned?  Take a look at  Google's new policy yourself here.  You have a lot of power over what information is out there.  Seriously.  Take a look at Google's Good To Know pages. There are a lot of good tips on there on how to stay safe online

Now just relax.  If you really don't like it, you can opt out.  Yes.  You can opt out.  See, if you log out, Google doesn't associate what you are doing with your account.  You don't remain logged in without your consent.  So logging out is very powerful, isn't it?

Here are some things to remember:

  • If you are logged into one Google service - Gmail, for example - you will be logged into all Google services - like Google Docs or Google +.  If you log out of one, you are logged out of all of them.  Simple.
  • Google isn't going to suddenly start knowing more about you than it did before.  It simply will apply all the knowledge from one service to all of it's services. [as long as your account is the same in all of them.  If you use more than one account, this information will not be combined.]
  • You can always easily see if you are logged into Google.  The black bar that appears at the top of the screen when you use a Google product will have your name in the upper left corner if you are logged in.
One way to ease your mind is to take a look at the data that Google already has on you.  You can do that by using Google Dashboard.   You can also see how to remove information you might not want to be available on Dashboard.  Check it out.

It is easy to get upset and believe the hype when so many sources are screaming that something is wrong but it helps sometimes to take a step back and research a little yourself.  I think Google's integration plans are a good thing.  You should definitely take a look around and decide yourself, however. Don't take my word for it - or anyone else's.

Monday, January 30, 2012

About Online Stalkers

Many of us who have been online for years have encountered an online stalker at one point or another.  I've had several so I've some experience recognizing them and on how to deal with them.

I also have used Google and found quite a bit of advice, as well.  This site is a good one to read and this one has some tips about protecting your privacy online.

An online stalker may seem like just any other friendly person online at first.  After a while, however, they will start to demand more of your time.  If you chat with them on an IM service, they will expect you to talk to them, exclusively, and get jealous of any other online friends.

This is a huge sign that something might be wrong.  [This is why you have to be so careful what information you give out to people who seem friendly online, by the way.]

This is the point where I think it is easiest to break off contact with this person.  Firmly tell them that you don't wish to talk to them anymore and to stop trying to contact you.  Do not give excuses.  Do not allow them to make you feel guilty.  Do not be rude or nasty, just firmly tell them "no".  If they persist, then block them or ignore them. If they email you, ignore it. Just do not respond to this person in any way.

Hopefully this will end the stalking.  It may not, however, but it is worth a try.

I have an online stalker who caused me to give up playing a particular online game I used to enjoy.  He had a character that he used to join a group I was in. Group members used an online forum, instant messaging and IRC to communicate. After a while, he wanted to chat about other things than the game on IM.

This person didn't threaten me or do anything illegal, but he did start to demand that I talk to him via instant messaging the entire time I'm online - whether I was working or not.  [I had to put an end to that!]  Then he started getting jealous of any other people I was speaking to online and at that point I realized I had a problem.

This person was young and I thought at first that he was just immature and lacked social skills so I tried to help him.  That's when I became a victim of his obsession, I believe.  He indicated that his parents were making him see an counselor [he has some rather mental serious issues that I haven't gone into here] and I thought that was a good time to make a clean break. This worked well up until very recently.

First he emailed me and I ignored it. Now he is contacting other people who play that game I used to play and asking them about me.  I'm still in contact with some of these people so they've let me know he is trying to reach me.  They are, luckily, smart enough to not give out any information about me at all.  At this point, I became upset that he was bothering my friends and sent him an email thanking him for being concerned but telling him that I was fine. I told him I don't have time for online friends right now.

Of course now he's emailed me back asking when I'll be on IM again so he can talk to me.  I should have followed my own advice, you see.  I shouldn't have contacted him at all - or I should have been more firm that I do not wish to talk to him anymore.

So... now I'm done. I'm not going to respond anymore.  I've told my friends what sort he is and, as he was beginning to creep people out, I think they will block him soon. I really think this is best.

So let this serve as a warning to you:  Be very careful about befriending online people.  If they start to creep you out or get too demanding, just cut off communications with them.  As always, be careful what information you reveal online as you don't want them to be following you all over the internet! [or in real life, either!]

Be careful out there!

Image found here and labeled alright for reuse.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Sunday Seven - January 29, 2012

Name the seven dog breeds you find most attractive (even if you’ve never owned a dog of that breed).
  1. Bull Terrier - I know a lot of people think they are ugly but there is just something I find so adorable about these!  
  2. Scottish Terrier - Maybe it's the beard...
  3. Westie - I don't usually like white dogs, but this is an exception
  4. Dalmatian - There must be something about those spots!
  5. Weimaraner - No idea why these appeal to me, but they do!
I've never owned any of the above dogs, but I find them all attractive even though they are all very different!

Saturday Six - January 28, 2012

1. What is the last good piece of advice you received? I think it was when someone told me to just be myself and don't worry about what other people think about me.  
2. To what degree have you taken that advice and actually applied it? I think I've tried to do that, to a large extent.  
3. What over-the-counter medicine have you taken the most in the past 12 months? I don't take a lot of over-the-counter medications but recently I've been taking Mucinex-D for this cold I'm suffering from.  
4. What is the healthiest food in your refrigerator right now?  Healthiest?  I'm not sure how to gauge levels of "healthiness" but I guess I'll try.  It might be the organic arugula or my whole grain, organic bread sweetened with honey.
5. Which room in your home needs a paint job the worst? This is easy!  Our new bedroom is just drywall right now so it desperately needs some primer and paint as there is none! I've picked out the color already.

It's called "Ironwood" and I'm not sure whether to call it gray or beige as it seems to be neither.  I think it looks better in person than it does online.
6. What errand that you’ve been putting off do you most need to accomplish before the weekend is over? Not so much an errand as a task.  I was avoiding sending an email response to someone.  I dislike hurting another person's feelings but it is necessary sometimes.  This was one of those times, I'm afraid. I just sent it before I started this meme, actually.  I told myself that I had to accomplish that before I had fun doing this!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Ripped from the Headlines!*

* Disclaimer: may not necessarily be the top news stories...

Let's start off with entertainment news. Anyone remember Kim Kardashian?  Well... it seems she is now saying that her father's ghost told her to divorce Kris Humphries.  Yeah.  She says that psychic John Edward told her what her father wanted ['cause he talks to the dead] and so she had a legitimate reason to divorce Humphries.  Right?  Right...

In other more serious news, parents of autistic children are concerned that the American Psychiatric Association is considering redefining autism.  Some people are worried that the new definition will exclude too many children who legitimately need the services they receive now and exclude some in the future who would need these health services.  I don't know enough about autism to say much more but I do hope that the association doesn't make such a radical change that those who really do need help are unable to get it.  It would be a shame for poorer families who rely on state funds to help their children to lose this sort of aid. [or even middle-class families, as we know how expensive medical costs can be]

In political news:  I ran across this quote from Mitt Romney that just blew my mind [but not in a good way]:  “I believe in an America where millions of Americans believe in an America that’s the America millions of Americans believe in. That’s the America I love.”   Um.. huh?  Is what they call psychobabble?  Can someone translate it for me?

Moving on... in state news [my state, of course, because I'm egotistical that way] the Pennsylvania House of Representatives has unanimously declared 2012 as the "Year of the Bible".  Seriously.  They passed a noncontroversial resolution stating this. [It says it is "noncontroversial" right on the thing.  Take a look.]  So, in essence, the men and women who the residents of PA have elected to the state house are totally ignoring that they also possibly represent Jewish people, Muslims, Hindus, Pagans, Non-believers, etc. and telling us all to be guided by the Christian Bible. Nice to know exactly where we non-Christians stand, folks.  

And finally... I heard this on NPR radio just this morning:  Hillary Clinton will be stepping down at the end of this term as Secretary of State even if Obama is re-elected.  She says she is tired of public life.  I have to say that I'm not the least bit surprised by this news.  I remarked to K when we watched the State of the Union Address earlier in the week that Hillary looked exhausted!  I do hope that there is nothing else behind this like an illness - though I have to doubt that as she says she will work the remainder of her term and then stay on, if necessary, until a replacement is named.

That's all the news that might have slipped through the cracks!

Image is in the public domain and was found here

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Midweek Meme - Episode 1

I thought I'd try something new! A weekly meme on Wednesdays to help get us over the hump of midweek!  [I've optimistically entitled this one Episode 1 in hopes that there will be an Episode 2.]

Okay. Here goes:
I was placing my lunch in the refrigerator at work this morning and I noticed a sandwich, wrapped in plastic, on the top shelf. It occurred to me at that point that I'm not a huge fan of cold sandwiches. I really am not fond of lunch meat at all - though I'm intrigued with the idea of macaroni and cheese loaf and olive loaf but not enough to purchase them. [Don't even tell me you are surprised by this!  You know I'm a bit odd already!]

I think my aversion to most cold sandwiches goes back to when I was in elementary school. My mother would generally pack our lunches and one of my favorite sandwiches was peanut butter and honey.   The problem was that by the time lunch rolled around, the honey had soaked into the bread and it was crunchy around the edges and... rather gross. Minced bologna sandwiches were just disgusting.  Without mayo, the bologna stuck to the bread. With mayo it was slimy.  [We didn't use cold packs in our lunch boxes back then.  We just took a chance with food poisoning, I guess, but I don't recall ever getting sick!]  I don't think peanut butter and marshmallow fluff fared much better. [and the mere thought of that has me wanting to run to brush my teeth so I'll change the subject!]

For this Midweek Meme we will list our 5 favorite sandwiches! [hot or cold but I'm talking sandwich you can pick up, not open-faced "sandwiches" you have to eat with a fork.]

The Rules: Either put your answers in a comment below or on your own blog and place a link to your post here in the comments so we can read your answers!  In fact, let's make it even easier! If you're on Google+ you can participate in a public post on your G+ account there, as well, as long as you link us to it in the comments here.

I'm going to answer this one myself here:
  1. Grilled cheese. [with or without ham]  I've never met a grilled cheese sandwich I didn't like! 
  2. Tuna melt - again with the melted cheese.  This might be a trend!
  3. Hot dog - Sometimes I just want a hot dog - with mustard, not ketchup, and onions and/or chili... now I'm hungry!
  4. BLT - It's bacon! Bacon, bacon, bacon, bacon! [Yep.  I went there.  Couldn't help myself]
  5. Egg sandwich [on toast] - I fry my eggs hard - no dippy - and sprinkle them with Parmesan cheese and maybe a little garlic then place them on toast spread with a bit of mayo!
Okay!  Your turn!  What are your five favorite sandwiches?  

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

A Dieter's Guide to Fat

Many of us, myself included, are trying to lose a bit of weight this time of year.  I wouldn't call mine a resolution to lose weight, by the way.  The timing is just a coincidence.  I weigh more now than I ever did and I decided enough was enough and it is time to get rid of the excess!

So!  I'm trying to eat healthier and exercise more to help lose the weight. Exercise can make you feel better about yourself so it is a win-win - but I digress.  Back to the topic.

You see many items in the grocery store labeled "low fat" or "fat free".  It is easy to mistakenly think that these are always good diet foods but we have to remember that we do not get fat from eating fat.  That is a myth.  There are other reasons one might want to reduce fats in one's diet but not to lose weight.

Now, not all fats are created equal. Let's take a look at some of them.

Trans fats are man-made fats. They show up as "partially hydrogenated oils" on food ingredient lists and are found in a lot of processed foods. The American Heart Association tells us that these kinds of fats can increase our LDL (or bad) cholesterol levels and decrease our HDL (or good) cholesterol levels.  I avoid these at all costs.  I'm not convinced that our bodies know exactly what to do with these man-made fats - unlike naturally occurring fats - and they may increase the possibility of heart disease so it seems prudent.

Saturated fats are found in meats and dairy products like that stick of butter up there. These used to be considered the "bad guys" but it appears that we don't have to - and probably shouldn't - avoid them entirely. Still, it is prudent, for the sake of a healthy heart, to limit your intake of these fats. The AHA recommends limiting these fats to 7% of your total calorie intake.

Monounsaturated and Polyunsaturated fats can actually improve your cholesterol levels and decrease your chances of heart disease.  These kinds of fats are found in vegetable oils like olive oil, peanut oil and corn oil and in nuts, avocados, fish and peanut butter.  These kinds of fats do not need to be avoided.

Omega 3 fatty acids are found in certain fish and in walnuts and flax seed. This is considered a healthy fat so it does not have to be avoided.

It appears that we do need some fat in our diet to be healthy and that it can actually help us to lose weight!  Nutritionist Alan Aragon is quoted on  He says we should eat .4 to .6 grams of fat per pound of our goal body weight.  So, if a person wants to weigh 125 lbs. when they are finished losing weight, then that would be 50 to 75 grams of fat a day.  An average tablespoon of oil contains about 15 grams of fat.  A tablespoon of that butter up there contains 11.52 grams of fat. (but keep in mind that 7.29 grams of that is saturated fat)

In short, it appears that to get down to our ideal weight, fat should be a part of our diet.  We should be smart about not overdoing it and watch which types we are ingesting but we don't have to - and shouldn't - remove all fats from our diets!

I should also add a disclaimer here:  I am not a nutritionist nor am I a doctor or other medical professional.  These tips are from information that I gleaned from several online sources including the American Heart Association website and Although I chose sources I trust, we must read things we find on the internet with a healthy dose of skepticism. You should always check with your doctor before you drastically alter your diet. 

The image was found here and altered to remove the butter knife    

Monday, January 23, 2012

Death of a Coach

In case you haven't heard, Joe Paterno [longtime football coach at Penn State] passed away over the weekend.

Cue the tributes and testimonials.

As a resident of Pennsylvania, I'm sure I will have my fill of personal stories about how he touched the lives of many people over the next few days.  I imagine it will be a short period of time before I'm sick of the hubbub and will be hoping that it will die down.

I don't mean to sound callous or insensitive but I have to wonder:  Why do we insist on overdoing things every time someone famous or influential passes away?  We see this all the time and I really think that we've started to take it all a bit too far.

Yes, by all means, tell us that they have passed on.  Tell us a little about their life and what he or she will be remembered for.  Say something nice about them but make sure you point out how human they were.  Then let it go.

Why do we need to do more than that? Do we even consider the feelings of the loved ones who are left behind?  Surely they don't need to be reminded every day for weeks that someone they cared for has passed away. They're aware of this.  They don't need to hear the tributes or testimonials as they know what their family member or close friend was like and certainly knew him or her better than the general public did.

So... if the tributes aren't for the loved ones of a deceased person and obviously aren't for the deceased person  himself, then who are they really for? I guess that means that they are for us - the general public.  Is this necessary? Do we all have some sort of morbid curiosity about all the details of a person's life once they are gone? Is it because the different media outlets trying to outdo each other for the sake of ratings?  Is it merely something that has become a tradition and has gone into overdrive?

What do you think?

Image courtesy of Игоревич

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Sunday Seven - January 22, 2012

Name seven movies you own whose titles begin with the same letter.

I wasn't sure I had 7 movies that began with the same letter as I don't have much of a movie collection anymore but I do! I used the letter A.

  1. All Dogs Go To Heaven
  2. Aladdin
  3. American Pie 
  4. Arsenic and Old Lace
  5. Angels and Demons
  6. Alice in Wonderland
  7. Airplane!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Saturday Six - January 21, 2012

1. What is your single biggest concern about legislation to block piracy on the web?  My biggest concern is that legitimate websites would be blocked or shut down - even temporarily - and cause them to lose customers.  
2. How much do you agree that creators (and copyright holders) of intellectual property should have legal protection to prevent others from directly profiting from their work? I totally agree that they should have legal protection.
3. What would be your first reaction if you found that someone else had reproduced your blog’s content without any credit? I'd be really upset!  (though I seriously don't think I'd have that problem...)
4. Have you ever had a website shut down (through a DMCA takedown notice) for plagiarism or copyright infringement?  No.
5. If you saw that a website was reproducing your content as though it was the writer’s own content, and that the writer didn’t respond to an email from you asking that your content be removed, would you consider filing a DMCA takedown notice? Perhaps.  I'd have to look into how much effort would be required on my part to do so and how important it was to me.  This would have a lot to do with how much of my content was copied, I believe.
6. What do you think should be the ideal response when someone posts copyrighted content, such as a pop song he doesn’t have legal rights to, on a site like YouTube? In my mind, I think we have to consider what the use was.  Was the material used to make money?  Then throw the book at them.  If not, then there should be a fine large enough to make them think twice about doing it again but not too large.  Of course, we have to consider the volume of copyrighted content used, as well.  Just one song shouldn't be considered the same as hundreds.

These have been the Saturday Six from Patrick's Place!  Feel free to visit his blog and play along!

Friday, January 20, 2012

The Cost of Living

An acquaintance of mine - not even a very close acquaintance - has been having a rough time.  Her husband lost his job and was unable to find another one in the state they lived in so they lost their house.
They moved into Pennsylvania recently - away from family and friends - as her husband found a job here.  They live about an hour away from where I live -so in the same general area of the state.

This woman has been looking for a job since they moved and was offered one in her field.  She's complaining on Facebook that they don't want to pay her what she feels she is worth.  She mentioned the salary they are talking about and I realized that they are offering her $8,000 a year more than I make. [I'd take that in a heartbeat, by the way.] She says they can't survive on what her husband makes plus that amount. Then she revealed the kicker:  Her husband makes more than K and I do combined including the income from our rental properties.

That's when I realized that I could no longer sympathize with her.

I'm sorry, but- even though the cost of living might be a little higher where they are living right now than it is here - I cannot understand how this woman thinks her family cannot make it on that amount per year.  Does she not understand how to live within their means?  I really cannot comprehend the problem, to be honest.

It appears that others felt the same way as many folks commented that she should just take what she can get in this economy and then try to find something better - as it is easier to get a job when you have one.  She says no...  That this job won't do. She needs at least $20,000 a year more to make ends meet.

Perhaps this says something about the problems with our economy here in the US.  Here is an example of a family that is apparently not willing to cut back to live within their means - and doesn't understand why they should. Our government seems to have the same attitude sometimes, doesn't it?  It's something to think about.

Image was found here 

Thursday, January 19, 2012

A cuppa, cuppa, cuppa...

People who know me well even a little know that I love coffee! [the link takes you to Manhattan Transfer's version of Java Jive - which is marvelous background music for this post] It's one of my favorite flavors and my first cup of joe is something I look forward to enjoying first thing in the morning.

Yes.  I know. Over the years scientists have done studies that appear to show that coffee may be bad for us but it appears that most of these studies [if not all of them] have been proven wrong!

So!  I can drink my coffee guilt-free which just makes it sweeter! [even though I take it black, no sugar]

There are many reasons that people have to give up coffee sometimes but we have it pretty good now days!  Did you know that in 17th century Turkey you could have been killed for drinking it?!?  The story is outlined in this piece by NPR's "The Salt". The article doesn't go into details about why but it mentions that in the past coffee was thought of in the same way we view crack cocaine today - as an addictive and harmful drug!  Perhaps the Sultan was just trying to help his people!

I'm glad that this view of coffee has passed, for the most part, but I suspect that this sort of history might have something to do with the pervasive negative attitude towards it even today!  Either that or the caffeine headaches a regular coffee affectionado gets when he or she doesn't get their brew for a couple days make people suspicious of it!

In any event, no one is running around threatening to behead me [that I am aware of] so I will continue to enjoy my coffee!  Would you like a cup?

Image courtesy of Julius Schorzman who doesn't require attribution but is getting it here anyhow

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

A Student and the Law

I wasn't going to discuss Jessica Ahlquist and her lawsuit against her school over a prayer banner as I've read so much on the subject over the past week or so and I don't have anything new to add.  Then I realized that I was reading about this issue from bloggers who were atheists and that many of my readers may not have heard about the story at all since they don 't read these blogs.

So - I'm going to tell about this situation so that others can know what has been going on.  Here it is in a nutshell:

Jessica Ahlquist is a high school student in Cranston, RI.  She was sitting in an assembly held in her school gymnasium one day and noticed a banner on the wall.  It was entitled, "School Prayer" and did, indeed, seem to be a prayer.  It began with "Our Heavenly Father" and ended with "Amen" so it appeared to be a Christian prayer, as well.  Jessica wondered if it was legal to have that banner hung in a public school, so she looked into it. She started attending school board meetings and spoke at one of these meetings about the banner and requested that the banner be taken down as she believed it was in violation of the US Constitution.

The school board discussed the issue and ultimately decided not to remove the banner.

The ACLU heard about the case and asked Jessica if she would be the plaintiff in a lawsuit against the school district and she agreed.

The judge in this case made his ruling last week.  He ruled in favor of Jessica and ordered the banner to be removed.  This article sums up the decision very well.  The decision, itself, can be found here.

It appears that the school is not going to fight the decision so you'd think the whole thing would be over.  You'd be wrong.  See... many people throughout this process have gone out of their way to insult and bully Jessica for her beliefs. (well - lack of belief, really.  She is an atheist.) These personal attacks have only increased since the judge's decision was announced.  This blog has screenshots of many of these personal attacks from Twitter and Facebook.  Keep in mind that these are aimed at a 16 year-old student.

It is so bad that even a RI state representative (Peter Palumbo) has taken a potshot at Jessica on a radio show, calling her an "evil little thing".  (I'm pleased to mention that not all politicians in Rhode Island feel this way.  Governor Lincoln Chafee has made a statement that he agrees with the justice's decision in this case.)

Now, my point in bringing all this to my readers' attentions is simply that I want people to be more aware of what some people do in the name of their religion and/or their God.  I am not going to lump everyone together but please understand:  This may be an extreme example but it is not an isolated incident.

I'm not going to say anything further other than to remark that this sort of incident is the kind of thing that makes me believe that human beings would be better off without any religious beliefs at all.

Image courtesy of Jared Rodriguez

Monday, January 16, 2012

Culture club

I've recently switched from regular yogurt to Greek-style yogurt.  I'd heard it can be healthier - it contains more protein and possibly less sugar, though you have to read your packaging - and other people had recommended it to me saying it tasted better.

I'm not convinced that it tastes all that much different though I have to agree that it is a lot less sweet which I like.  I don't mind the extra protein, either, as it makes a person feel more full and that might cause me to go a bit longer before I'm hungry again.  [even the little things can help]

The only problem I've encountered is that the brand sold in my local grocery store has some unusual flavors.  They borderline on what I'd call "weird", really.  Although the website tells me that "normal" flavors are available, I can only ever seem to find pomegranate, honey, mango or passion fruit at my store.  Perhaps the usual flavors are quickly scarfed up leaving me with the rejects...  I may have to try to figure out their delivery schedule so I can get the good flavors, too.  To be honest, I do like the pomegranate but I'd like it a lot more if they didn't insist on putting whole seeds in it!

So!  I'm going to look for another source of this yogurt and see if I can find some blueberry or strawberry or even cherry.  It's a silly mission but it's all I have.

Image courtesy of © BrokenSphere / Wikimedia Commons

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Sunday Seven - January 15, 2012

Name seven books you’d like to read in 2012.  This is fairly easy to answer.  I use Paperback Swap to trade books with others and I have a pile of books waiting for me to read!  I'll just list those! 

  1. Spies, Pop Flies and French Fries by Linda McCarthy
  2. The Last of the Mohicans by James Fenimore Cooper (somehow I never read this classic)
  3. Hogfather by Terry Pratchett (one of the many Discworld novels. I love these!)
  4. Anthill  by E.O. Wilson
  5. The Wastelands by Stephen King (the 3rd novel in the Dark Tower series)
  6. Just a Geek by Wil Wheaton
  7. What is the What by Dave Eggers
This is the Sunday Seven from Patrick's Place!  Everyone can join in!  Just follow the link!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Saturday Six - January 4, 2012

1. Considering your childhood, do you feel you had it easier or tougher than your parents did when they were children? Easier.  Much easier. My parents both came from large families and there wasn't a lot to go around - especially my mother.
2. Considering your life now, at your current age, how does yours compare to what you know about your parents when they were your age? They were better off.  Of course, neither of them had to start over at 32 with basically nothing so that made a huge difference.
3. What do you miss today most about your childhood? I'm not sure.  I guess never having to worry about bills and such.
4. What percentage of the time during your childhood did you get what you asked for (within reason)? Well - it depends.  I don't recall asking for much except when Christmas came around and my parents would ask for a list.  I'd say about 40-50%, I guess.  We always had the basics so didn't really have much to ask for but extras, if you know what I mean.
5. What percentage of the time do you end up getting what you want today (within reason)? Um... maybe 20-30%?  I don't generally buy much for myself except necessities - though I guess those are what I want...  Heh.  Okay. Not sure how to answer this.  Do you mean from other people because I don't usually get gifts from others.
6. Take the quiz: Are You Spoiled?

You Are 8% Spoiled

You are definitely not spoiled. You've worked hard for what you have.
Down to earth and grounded, you don't need a lot to make you happy.

Friday, January 13, 2012

It's Friday! (the 13th...)

Today is the 13th and it is a Friday.

According to Wikipedia,  it is estimated that 17 to 21 million people in the US have a fear of Friday the 13th!  That seems very high to me but perhaps it includes people who are mildly uncomfortable with the day, as well.

The fear of Friday the 13th is called friggatriskaidekaphobia.  Some people are afraid of the number 13 itself and that is called triskaidekaphobia.  [I'm glad I don't have to spell either of those on a regular basis!]

I was curious about the origins of the fear so I looked it up.  As I suspected, there is no consensus but many theories.  Apparently not only is 13 considered unlucky but Friday, itself,  is considered unlucky.

The book The Da Vinci Code makes a connection between the Knights Templar and Friday the 13th but this is considered a recent connection as it is rare to hear of the fear prior to the 20th century.

It seems that Tuesday the 13th is considered unlucky in many other parts of the world.

I'm not a superstitious person nor do I have phobias.  [I'm a bit uncomfortable with heights but I think that is normal.]  What about you?  Does Friday the 13th alarm you?

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Waterproofing your Cell Phone?

As many of you may have heard, the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show is currently going on in Las Vegas.  I've not heard any reports of "the next big thing" or such this year but I did notice a mention of a product that I think could really be outstanding - if it works as advertised.

I'm talking about a product called Liquipel. The company claims that it coats your device, effectively waterproofing your device.  Now, there are limitations.  For example, only certain devices are approved for the coating.  I've noticed that they all seem to be touch-screen devices.  I imagine that a cell phone with a keyboard - like my Blackberry -could not be coated well by this product - nor could any other device with too many moving parts.  None of the approved devices appears to be a flip phone, either.  Still, if this is effective it could make a big difference!

I don't know about you, but I am super-cautious about what I do with my iPod. I don't bring it in the bathroom with me when I'm showering, for example, because I'm concerned about the moisture from steam getting inside and ruining it.  I would be mortified if I took it into the store because it stopped functioning and they refused to replace it because of water damage.

I guess time will tell whether this product is as good as advertised.  I'm anxious to hear more about its effectiveness and whether it seems to be worth the money.

Image courtesy of Free Vector

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Whatever happened to the ERA?

When I was in 6th grade, I remember we had a discussion in Social Studies about the Equal Rights Amendment. Yes.  Back in the mid-70s. [1976 to be precise.]  The amendment had passed through Congress and it was up to the individual states to ratify it so it could be considered part of the Constitution.

This has never happened

Back to the 70s.  I recall sitting in Social Studies class listening to our teacher go on and on about how it was ridiculous to consider women equal to men.  Seriously.  He was adamant about it!  The excuse of the day was to point out that if it were passed, then women would be eligible for the draft as men were.  My teacher went further than this by stating outright that men were superior to women in every way. [Yes.  He was a real piece of work.]  Thing is... there were plenty of people who would agree with this statement at the time - though perhaps they wouldn't have said it.  Many of us disagreed with him, of course, but no one dared tell him so.  It would have served no purpose anyway as his mind was made up.

I was brought up in a family where it was made clear to me that I was not limited by my gender.  It was not expected that my career would be that of a wife and mother.  [Note:  I'm not saying that there is anything wrong with staying home with your young children.  I was lucky enough to be able to do so when my children were young.  I do understand that not everyone is in a position where they can do that.] My four sisters and I never were told - nor was it implied - that we could not do whatever we wanted to do when we grew up and that was what we did.  My teacher's attitude was something that seemed so foreign to me though it certainly was not the last time I'd encountered that sort of ignorance.

I believe it is fair to say that attitudes have changed quite a bit since the 70s but why is the ERA still not part of our Constitution?

It appears that 21 states have some version of the ERA in their constitutions and that 16 of those states ratified the federal ERA.  [There is a color-coded map at the top of this post and more detailed information here.] What is the problem with the rest?  Is there some issue I'm not aware of or do people really believe that women should not be granted equal rights to men under the law? Isn't it about time to change that?

Image by SVera1NY at en.wikipedia [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Monday, January 9, 2012

Monday Snippets

Sometimes I have many different thoughts swirling through my head.  Often none of them are complete enough to warrant an entire post, but could be considered blog snippets.  Today is one of those days.  So!  I'm just going to place the various bits and pieces here all together and call them a post.

Here are the things on my mind today:

  • I am greatly disappointed that the Steelers did not win the AFC wildcard game they played against the Denver Broncos last night.  They made a valiant effort - coming back from a 20-6 deficit at halftime to tie up the game.  They lost in overtime, however.  
  • On a related note, I am thoroughly disgusted and irritated by those who would call the Bronco's victory a "miracle" and imply that there was some sort of divine intervention that allowed them to win the game.  Seriously, people!  Now, no.  I do not believe there is a God.  However, IF there was a God, do you really think he would be concerned about the outcome of a football game?  Seriously?  Now come on, people! Talk about a ridiculous notion!  
  • I'm looking forward to the next meeting of my local non-believers group on Wednesday. Not only am I looking forward to the discussions we'll have but I have to admit that I really, truly am looking forward to eating out.  More precisely, I'm looking forward to having a steak this week.  (We do meet at a steakhouse...) I've been craving steak recently!
  • I'm seriously excited about attending the Reason Rally in DC in March! It's going to be so awesome and (!) Tim Minchin will be performing so that's a bonus!  I'm really hoping for good weather, though. It would really stink if it were pouring down rain.  Or freezing.  Or both.  Let's hope for decent weather!
  • I forgot to pack my morning break food for work today.  I usually have a cup of yogurt and a slice of whole grain toast but I completely forgot!  I guess I'll have to wander down to the cafeteria and see what they have that I can eat because all I have is lunch food and I can't go without eating until 2:00! (which is when I lunch)  I can't believe how scatterbrained I am today!
  • And now all I can think about is steak.  I do hope I get my steak on Wednesday and that it is as delicious as I'm imagining it!
Hmm... football, meetings and food.   I'm sure that says something about the way my mind works.  Until tomorrow, folks!

Image source can be found here

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Sunday Seven - January 8, 2012

Name seven of listed eleven sounds today’s kids have probably never heard that you remember most clearly.

  1. Rotary dial telephone
  2. Manual typewriter - My father was a teacher and we could often hear him typing away on his manual typewriter in the evenings, typing up a paper for class the next day.  Of course, they didn't have copiers like they do today but he typed it up on a stencil that he would run through the mimeograph machine.  I still have his old mimeograph machine though I imagine I'd find it impossible to purchase the supplies to use it now days!
  3. Record changer
  4. Gas station driveway bell - It is difficult to find a gas station that isn't self serve so there'd be little use for those in my state now days!
  5. TV station sign-off
  6. Film projector
  7. Broken record

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Saturday Six - January 7, 2012

1. What are three things you’d like to change about yourself in 2012? Three things?  Well... I'd like to lose some weight, get in shape and...  feel better about myself.  Yes.  They are all related. 
2. Of those three, which do you think would be the easiest to change? Getting in better shape, I think, because once I get into the routine of regular exercise, I generally stick to it.  
3. Of the three, what’s your biggest roadblock to changing the one you think would be the most difficult to change? Feeling better about oneself is not as easy as making cosmetic changes or even getting healthier.  There's no quick fix.
4. Which of the three do you think would be easiest to change if you had someone to help keep you on track to reach a particular goal? Getting in shape, I suppose.  I understand many people have success with an exercise partner.  I'm more of a loner but if I had a non-judgmental friend - who wasn't going to be competitive - to work out with, it might help.
5. Have you ever used an “accountability partner,” someone who would keep you on track to reach a particular goal?  Not until I read question 4!  Hehe... just kidding.  I have actually thought about it but I really don't have any good friends who would fit the bill right now in my life.
6. Who’s the first person in your life that you would consider reaching out to for such a partnership and why? I really should read through all the questions before I answer, shouldn't I?  Um..  I really don't have anyone who would suit right now, as I just stated.

These have been the Saturday Six from Patrick's Place!  Feel free to follow the link and join in!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Just the Facts, ma'am**

Many of you may be aware that I live in Pennsylvania.  The area I live in is part of what is called the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.  In other words, water from streams and rivers in my area eventually drains into the Chesapeake Bay.  We are well aware of this fact - due largely to the efforts of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.

The CBF are a non-profit group dedicated to "restoring and preserving the Chesapeake Bay." The foundation received the PISCES award  from the EPA last summer for their efforts.

I've just heard of a new study done by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation that, in their own words, "Debunks the Job Killer Myth" of environmental regulations.  We often hear from politicians that harsher environmental regulations will hurt the economy and cause job loss.  This study disproves that myth and shows that many times jobs are actually created by this sort of regulation. The report is certainly an interesting read and gives us a good basis to question some of the claims made against passing new laws to protect the environment.

A quote from the foundation's president, William Baker, seems to sum it up: "If history is any guide, regulations that reduce pollution will create jobs, strengthen local economies, and restore the health of our national treasure."

Maybe it is about time we replace the old rhetoric with some substantial facts.

**Speaking of debunking myths... it would appear that Dragnet's Sgt. Friday never actually said, "Just the facts, ma'am" according to Snopes!

Image courtesy of the US government and is considered public domain

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Why I would not vote for Santorum

So! Rick Santorum is now considered a "front-runner" for the Republican nomination, it would appear. As a Pennsylvania resident, I am all too familiar with Mr. Santorum.

There are many reasons I would never vote for him - his discriminatory views toward gay and lesbian people - not to mention using his religion as an excuse to discriminate against gay and lesbian people, his social conservatism in general, but also his view toward abortion. See, Rick Santorum has gone on the warpath against abortion. He is especially against what is called a partial-birth abortion (one performed after the first trimester).  He believes that abortion is murder and should not be done under any circumstances - even those including rape, incest or the life of the mother. 

However when he and his wife were faced with a pregnancy that threatened the life of his wife, they chose to have the 20-week pregnancy terminated. Now, I'm not saying they made the wrong decision.  This is clearly something that needs to be decided by the mother - and the father, if the woman chooses to include him in the process.  

But isn't that the point?  

It is a difficult decision under any circumstance but it certainly shouldn't be up to the government to make that decision.  It appears that Mr. Santorum believes it should be up to the government except when it concerns his household.  He and his wife should be allowed to make their own decision but the rest of us are somehow not capable of doing so?  This is what we call hypocrisy, people, and this is why I would never consider voting for Rick Santorum.

Image found on Flicker

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Remarks on the Iowa Caucus

So I heard on the radio this morning that Romney won the Iowa caucus and that Santorum came in close behind him.  The results were very close - 8 votes, to be exact - so this really could be considered a tie, in my book.  The radio announcer then mentioned that Ron Paul had come in 3rd followed by Gingrich.  He didn't give specifics about them.

So, once I arrived at work, I went to a news website as I was curious about how far off Ron Paul was and I was surprised!  Romney and Santorum essentially managed 25% of the vote each and Ron Paul got 21% of the vote.  I don't think that's very far off at all.  To be honest, it's pretty close, isn't it?  Especially if you figure that Gingrich only received 13%!

I do have to wonder about the media and Ron Paul.  I know this was remarked on by Jon Stewart of The Daily Show several times but it never fails to amaze me when I see it happen. The issue is how they seem to ignore and dismiss him.

--Now let me be clear:  I am by no means a fan of Ron Paul.  Not at all. It just seems amazing how mainstream media dismisses him time and time again while he is actually still relevant in this race. [and frankly, I'm grateful that they do dismiss him because if he became a media darling and was splashed all over the place I'm afraid he'd really become a contender and that would be absurd.]--

Take a look at the Republican 2008 Iowa caucus results. Notice where John McCain came in?  13% of the vote.  Huckabee actually won Iowa four years ago.  Now... was McCain out of the picture, then?  It would appear not as he did get his party's nomination, now didn't he?  So, I think it is fair to say that neither Ron Paul nor Newt Gingrich are out this time around, either.

It should be interesting to see what happens in New Hampshire but, quite frankly, I think that it will be a Romney/Obama race in the fall.  I might be wrong but I just don't see how it could go any other way considering the mediocre candidates the Republican party has produced this time around.  I guess time will tell!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Sunday Seven - January 1, 2012

Name seven of your best blog posts of 2011, and be sure to include links!

This might be sort of difficult.  I only started blogging again in earnest in August of this year and really did a lot of memes instead of "real" blog posts.  Then I got lazy and hardly posted anything.  Then I finally started up again and ended the year strong.  Somewhere in there, I combined both of my blogs into one, as well...
So!  In no particular order, here is my list!

  1. The ABCs of me - This was quite an enjoyable meme to participate in!
  2. Warning:  Geek Inside - This post talks about my visit to the Intervention Convention last September
  3. What do I believe in? - This post addresses my basic philosophy in regards to the supernatural
  4. The Little Things - Some of the small things that I am thankful for
  5. 'Tis the Season - My list of favorite charities!
  6. Confusing Campaign Ad - My response to one of Gov. Perry's campaign ads
  7. Sunday Seven - December 4, 2011 - This was based on the TV show M*A*S*H which is one of my all-time favorite TV shows.
I chose most of these because I enjoyed writing them the most.  Number seven was chosen as it has gotten the most traffic to my site. It seems that several search terms have brought folks here looking for information on M*A*S*H. I don't know if this caused anyone to hang around, but I suppose that is always a possibility!

This has been the Sunday Seven from Patrick's Place!  [I'm a bit late in posting this as it took me a while to decide which posts to include.]

Lucky New Years Foods

My family has a gathering on every New Years Day for a meal of pork and sauerkraut. Sauerkraut is the traditional food to consume on that day for good luck for the new year in my corner of the world.

Over the weekend, I saw a segment on a morning news program highlighting another lucky food tradition.  It seems that in Spain - and other areas of the world with a Spanish influence - it is traditional to eat 12 grapes at midnight on New Years Eve - one for each month of the year.

There are many traditions of foods to eat to bring in the new year throughout the world!  Here in the US, German-influenced areas have sauerkraut but in the south I understand that collard greens and black-eyed peas are considered lucky!

I found an article on lucky foods that divides the foods into different categories:
  • Grapes
  • Greens -like the sauerkraut which is made from cabbage, collard greens or kale which is eaten in other parts of the world
  • Legumes -such as the black-eyed peas or lentils
  • Pork
  • Fish - there are traditions of eating cod, herring, shrimp or sardines
  • Cakes, pastries  - special cakes are made in Italy and Greece; doughnuts in the Netherlands, Poland and Hungary
The same article also mentions some foods that are considered unlucky to consume on New Years Eve or Day.  Check it out if you have time. I find it fascinating to read about the various rituals throughout the world!

What sorts of foods do you eat for luck on New Years Eve or Day?