Archive for March, 2007

Moveon.org and a presidential political debate

I’m a member of MoveOn.org, a progressive grassroots political action group 3.3 million Americans strong which backs such diverse agendas as getting out of the Iraq war as soon as possible, sustaining funding for public television, ending global warming and many other causes.  (I wish they would pick a side on GLBT issues, but I’m covered there by my membership in another grassroots group – the Human Rights Campaign.)  If you are like-minded politically, I urge you to join this group and help make a real difference in politics.

Currently  MoveOn is putting together a series of town hall meetings in which they will invite presidential political candidates to answer questions posed by MoveOn members.  Members will also be choosing which candidates to invite.  The first town hall meeting will be about the war in Iraq.  Don’t miss your chance to pick which candidates to invite and ask your candidate a question!

News from across the pond

No, still no hard news on if we are moving or not, only to say that as of yesterday we’ve confirmed it is still a possibility. To cut the pain of uncertainty I’ve enjoyed reading the British news lately – my favorite (no suprise here) is the very liberal Guardian.

So, since we have no news ON England, how about some cultural commentary FROM England?

Apparently it isn’t just the United States that suffers from puritanical ideals when it comes to breastfeeding.  A woman was told to leave a restaurant when she was inconspicuously breastfeeding her child because, according to the cafe owner,  “I can’t have someone breastfeeding while another table is next to them eating.”  What, you can’t have someone EATING next to other people EATING?  In that case, sir, it’s time to close your doors.

Slate has a hilarious essay up on nursery school admissions in London to which I can totally relate. Of course I was looking for schools in the lazy, hazy countryside of Somerset, which although I like to play off as a low maintenance gal, apparently I’m even more high-strung on some things than most Americans. Oy.

This explains some things about the British diet. My problem besides the lack of items on any given menu and almost complete lack of restaurants can be summed up in four words: where are the veggies? And no, potatoes do not count. I suppose I’m a veggie nut and am not typical but I’d love to have a fresh greens salad that wasn’t drowned by a mayonnaise-like substance or a meal that wasn’t primarily light brown. Before you rail on me, keep in mind, again, I was in Somerset, where things are generally much more traditional. In my experience London itself has amazingly delicious dining options which rivals any I’ve ever tasted. By the way, articles like this with references to shops, brands and other British cultural self-evident assumptions that go completely over my head is part of the reason that I feel like a fish out of water “over there”. I’m even more of a dork in England than in my own country, which says a lot.

And a little insight on why housing is so darned expensive in England. Even in Somerset.

Bigger babies born to bigger moms, researchers say. I say, “DUH”.

Researchers.  Who FUNDS studies as asinine as this?  It’s stories like this that perpetuate the misogynistic obsession with female weight in this country.  How many ways can we make larger women feel ugly and guilty about their size?

Medial researchers at the University of Southampton in England spent perfectly good quid to learn that larger women tend to have babies who are also large.  Do these “scientists” think they are actually proving anything here?  Or is this another scare tactic?  Are their paychecks being written out by Nautilus or Gold’s Gym?

Did it ever occur to them that the reason bigger babies might be born to bigger moms has nothing to do with activity level but comes down to simple genetics?  Obesity runs in families.  Your statistics lesson for today: correlation does not prove causation.  Recite this to yourself as you read, listen or watch any medical news story and chances are you’ll notice that most of it is ambush journalism with an agenda or just rubbish.

My favorite part of the study is how they measured how fit a woman was.  No, no physical fitness tests needed here – a simple poll asked them if they were “slow walkers”.  Now, how many overweight people do you know that routinely walk fast?  With extra flesh I imagine it’s not that easy.

I have a pet peeve when women worry about how many pounds they have put on during pregnancy.  To my experience, you are going to gain what you are going to gain.  My advice?  Try to eat reasonably well, don’t be sedentary and don’t starve yourself and you and your baby in all likelyhood will turn out fine.

What’s more dangerous – gaining a couple of pounds more than your goal pregnancy weight (which may or may not be a healthy goal weight for you anyway) or risking the malnutrition of your unborn baby?  What kind of message are you sending to your children?

And if you have a history of obesity in your family, it is not just as easy as giving up Twinkies.  Skipping meals is not a good option, either.  Eat healthy, reasonable portions of food and please, don’t starve yourself.

Especially if you are pregnant.

the myth, perpetuated

Sometime last month, Connor excitedly opened up his school bag to show me the projects he had worked on at preschool.

He handed me a coloring sheet. Each day they start off with a coloring sheet that fits the day’s theme – it might be a fire truck, say, when the fire department is coming to visit. I’m not crazy about coloring sheets and would rather them get plain paper which would do less to limit their creativity, but *shrug* the kids seem to like them.

It being February, this particular coloring sheet was of a young George Washington standing by a chopped cherry tree. Connor recited the myth to me that I too learned in preschool – only of course I now know the truth. Years later I learned that the entire story was a shamelessly invented bit of propaganda.

But…Connor has been having trouble with telling the truth lately. So I told my own little white lie and said “that’s great honey” when he told me the story of the virtuous young man who someday would be President.

Yes, the irony is not lost on me.

***

Why do our schools, and in fact we as parents, insist on perpetuating not just this myth, but so many others? In the above case it is because some stories just resonate with us and illustrate an important life lesson. We do it out of the best of intentions. But what happens when the little white myths turn into bigger ones as our children get older? It seems to me that the fundamentalists, the xenophobics, the homophobics and the supremacists all got the way they are because they believed the well-meaning lies of their mommies and daddies and never really grew out of them.

“Where does he live? Is God alive? Did God make the trees, the animals, the people, our house?”

I am not a fundamentalist, however I am also not an atheist. My own belief system has taken decades to develop and pulls from many different religions but mostly with my own dialog with the good, wise voice I softly hear speaking in my heart – which I choose to call God.

“Mommy, when I die, will I go to heaven?”

I try to answer the best I can, saying that many people believe x and many others believe y and even some people believe absolute zero and the truth is that no one really knows, but the good news is that he gets to decide whatever he wants to believe. It is a hard speech to give as it would be much easier and comforting to tell him, simply, yes.

“Are the soldiers bad people? Do they only shoot the bad guys?”

It would be so simple to give the pat answers. That the “others” are bad. That “we” are good. That we are only killing “bad” people. I try and say that all people, with very rare exception, are good in their hearts and try to do the right things. And that certainly our soldiers are good. But how do I give him comfort without endorsing a war I have never believed in?

I don’t always say the right things. But I’m trying to do so with honesty and integrity and somehow speak at a level he can understand. I keep trying, one question at a time – trying hard to tell the truth as I know it.

I refuse to cut down your cherry tree, Little Man, while it is just a sapling.

Al Gore no longer thinks I’m Beelzebub

Last weekend I traded in this

For this

And now Al Gore decreases my ranking from an above average to a below average contributor to global warming. My payment is only $10 more (and even less months) and I’m sure I’ll be paying even less than that in gas so it all balances out.

Next up: figuring out how to lower my power bill!

Five things you might not know about me – job edition

The “five things” meme seems to be going around, so I thought I’d jump in with a career twist:

1.  My first job was for Johnson’s and Johnson’s as a test baby.  My mom got a little spending cash for washing my golden infantile locks with their shampoo in a laboratory.  She quit the program when they wanted to test band-aids (don’t know if blood was involved).  Hey – at least they weren’t doing their testing on animals, right?

2.  I spent high school and college involved in the following “professions”: reading tutor for elementary kids, movie theater popcorn lackey, day-care worker.  The day care experience taught me that if I can handle 10 two-year-olds on my own, then two kids ain’t so bad.

3.  My first job out of college was a dishwasher at Pullman Memorial Hospital.  It was a temp position (as a newlywed we were running out of money) and I only worked there for 2 weeks before landing another (actual) job.  I had to wear a hairnet and push a cart around the hospital collecting patients’ trays.  Hardly anyone looked me in the eye – I remember wanting to scream “I am a college graduate” at everyone who ignored me.  I was a horrible at the job.  Something about scraping sick peoples’ half-eaten food off their plates creeped me out.  To this day, I want to take a loofah to my entire body after I wash the family dishes.

4.   I did marketing internships at the Appaloosa Horse Club and earlier at the National Dry Pea and Lentil Council.  I was called “Miss Pea” by the Asia-Pacific trade team that I drove around the palouse for a couple of days.  It was at the Pea and Lentil Council I developed my love for wasabi pea snacks.

5.   Some of the funnest things I got to do for my old “real career” as a marketing communications manager: re-brand a couple of companies; work with an ad agency to create a print campaign that ran in the Wall Street Journal among other places; see press releases I wrote be read or printed almost word-for-word in the media; travel all around the country about once a month to be the head trade show booth bunny.


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