Friday, May 30, 2014

Proof that friends come in all shapes and sizes

Here is your feel-good story and video for the weekend, about a goat named Mr. G and a burro named Jellybean, lifelong friends, who, due to circumstances beyond their control, were separated -- and then reunited.

The story of Mr. G and Jellybean is courtesy of Animal Place, an animal sanctuary in California that sounds like a wonderful place.

[Warning: Have tissues handy before pressing "play."]

More proof that friends come in all shapes and sizes.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Is the Internet a blessing or a curse? Or both?

I love the Internet. I hate the Internet.

I love how the Internet allows one to conduct research from anywhere there is a computer, or tablet, or smart phone with an Internet connection -- instead of having to go to the library, or several libraries, and spend hours looking up information in card catalogs, in the Readers Guide to Periodical Literature, on microfilm, on microfiche, or in the stacks.

But now there is so much information online, we suffer from information overload -- and much of what we read online isn't factual or fact checked (i.e., is wrong, not true, false), and the lies and gossip and hate spread much more rapidly than before.

I love how you can shop for almost anything online. But I hate having to have dozens of passwords and worrying that they and/or my credit card information could be stolen (via online security breeches).

I love how the Internet gives creative people -- writers, photographers, musicians, artists -- a medium to express themselves and be discovered, often for free. But thanks to the Internet, now people don't want to pay for what they think is or should be free.

I love how the Internet has provided forums for exchanging ideas. But by the same token, the Internet has also given rise to anonymous trolls who write hateful things they would never say in person.

Similarly, I love how the Internet connects or re-connects people, who may live thousands of miles away from each other, and allows you, via social media sites, to see what your friends and colleagues are up to. But now we, or many of us, feel a sense of jealousy or envy or inadequacy or exclusion that we only rarely felt before we were connected 24/7 to everyone else.

So is the Internet a blessing, a curse, or both? What do you think? Please weigh in via the Comments.

Friday, May 23, 2014

They grow up so fast...

but they'll always be our "babies."

Today the teenager turns Sweet 16. Though she wasn't always so "sweet," as this picture can attest to.

(We were so proud. No other baby came close to capturing the title "Crankiest Baby." And for the honor, we received a giant basket of baby products from Whole Foods.)

Like most milestones in her life, starting with her birth (18 hours of labor -- and I'm still laboring), this one was greeted with screams and tears. Indeed, what should have been a joyous occasion, getting her learner's permit, quickly turned to sorrow when our local DMV refused to accept the teenager's carefully assembled paperwork, which included her passport, her official school ID, paystubs from work, bank statements, two pieces of mail addressed to her, and a report card.

What just-turned-16-year-old, btw, has all of that stuff?

Yet it was not good enough for the DMV. No. They wanted AN OFFICIAL SCHOOL TRANSCRIPT or else her social security card, which I thought we lost. ARE YOU EFFING KIDDING ME?

Long story slightly shortened: The teenager returns home in tears and proceeds to prostrate herself on her bed while I turn my filing cabinet upside down in search of her social security card, which I found. Then I hauled her out of bed and insisted she go right back to the DMV, with her father (bless him), and convince them to let her take the test. So she could drive this fine piece of British machinery, my nine-year-old Mini Cooper, Roger.

And yes, I fully expect her to drive around in the Mini with the bunny ears and nose on the car.

Fortunately, the story has a happy ending.

The bureaucrats at the DMV let her take the learner's permit test -- and she passed. Crisis averted. Onward and upward.

It's funny. When I gave birth, like so many women before me, I thought the worst pain had past. (Did I mention I was in labor for over 18 hours -- and then couldn't sit for another six weeks?) But it was only just the beginning.

As I have learned, being a parent is far more than giving birth and providing food and shelter and clothing to your offspring. Or chauffeuring them around. Or attending recitals or soccer games. You need a master's or PhD in psychology or child development and the patience of a saint (neither of which I have, but I'm working on it).

But I look at my beautiful, smart, talented (did I mention she is an amazing cook and makes us dinner every night?) daughter, now 16, and figure the spouse and I must have done something right.

I just hope to hell she gets into college, or else mommy is going to need a room at a nice sanitarium. 

Anyway.... Happy birthday, daughter. I think you are amazing, and I -- we -- love you very much.

Monday, May 19, 2014

What happened to paying your dues?

[Alternate title: Hey you kids, get off my job!]

Back when I graduated from college, in the late 1980s, most of us college graduates felt lucky to get a job, any job, especially us liberal arts college graduates who wanted to go into advertising, or marketing, or public relations, or publishing.

We were THRILLED to get a job as an editorial assistant, or assistant media relations buyer, or marketing assistant -- heck even a receptionist or mail room clerk, if it meant we could get our foot in the door at some swanky advertising agency or magazine.

And the pay? Puh-lease. My first job, as an assistant editor (fact checker) at a New York magazine, didn't even come close to the cost of tuition at my private liberal arts school -- or allow me to rent a one-bedroom apartment in Manhattan. But man was I happy to have gotten it, especially after not being able to even get an interview at any of the other places I had applied.

Indeed, all of my friends who were lucky enough to find jobs in NYC and Boston right after school, working for slave wages, living with their parents or several roommates, were thrilled to have a job. Sure, we would have liked to have made more money right out of school, but everyone knew you had to work your way up the corporate ladder -- pay your dues, and in five or seven or 10 years you would be a senior whatever, making a living wage. That's what people did back then.

How times have changed.

Today, actually I would argue since the mid-1990s, youth and chutzpah are rewarded and age and experience are seen as negatives -- with mothers who took a few years off to raise a family and fifty- and sixty-something men and women with years of experience making a fraction of what many (most?) of today's twenty-somethings are making, or commanding, and often being the first to be "downsized" (laid off, fired) when times get tough. Though this may have changed somewhat after the recession of 2008.

I blame it on the rise of the Internet -- the "dot com" phenomenon of the mid/late 1990s -- and social media, the "dot coms" of the mid/late 2000s.

Suddenly, we went from a society or culture that valued age and experience to one where technology was king, and any peasant who could create a, or website, or code, no matter how stupid or unprofitable the idea, was practically handed a bag of money -- and a big title.

Pity those poor slobs over 30 (like me, and pretty much everyone I knew) who had spent the last eight, or six, or however many years toiling away at this job or that, paying their dues, as they had been told they had to do to get ahead, who suddenly found themselves outranked or outpaid by hordes of twenty-somethings with no experience, no social skills, and in many cases no college degree but who could code or design a website.

Indeed, although I had a job at the time, as an editor, making a decent (for an editor) wage, I remember my husband saying to me that I should learn web design or coding -- and feeling too old at 30.

Though not that long after he made the suggestion, I left my job at the publishing company and started writing about technology.

Fast forward approximately 15 later.

I still write about technology. Only today, now in my 40s, I make 50 percent LESS (and that's being optimistic) than I did when I started out. Even though I have way more experience. But just try finding a decent-paying job when you are a forty-something. (Especially if it involves writing. Apparently a skill no longer deemed important by society.) And it's worse if you are older.

Btw, I'm not the only one who feels this way. Just talk to any forty- or fifty- or sixty-something who has had to look for a job the last 10 years or so, and he or she could probably tell you how hard it is -- and that they lost out to someone much younger. Or if they did find a job, how it paid much less than their last one -- and their boss is young enough to be their kid, or grandkid.

And don't get me going off about social media -- Twitter, YouTube, etc. -- and all of these so-called social media experts and consultants and YouTube stars. (Hey, you kids, get off my computer!)

Granted, age, or experience, or years on the job/at a company shouldn't be the only qualification for a job or a promotion, as it was when I first entered the work world. But surely age and experience should count for something, at least as much as having a cat with a popular YouTube channel or Twitter feed, right?

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Smarter than the average bear?

Hey, Boo-Boo, check out this video of a black bear scratching its back against a tree and then swiping a (I presume jelly) doughnut from a pic-a-nic basket bear trap at Jellystone Tuscarora State Park in Pennsylvania.

(What, they couldn't find a picnic basket?)


I wonder what Ranger Smith would think...

[Anyone else think that "bear" was actually a guy in a bear suit, at least when he was scratching his back?]

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Are the Brits faking it?

Everyone knows that a British accent is way cooler than an American one -- especially the Brits. Which is why I have become increasingly suspicious that the British may be faking it.

Sure, roll your eyes and mock me all you like. But think about it.

Do British musicians -- The Beatles, One Direction, Adele -- sing with a British accent? No. They all sing like Americans.

And just look at how many Brits play Americans on American television and in Hollywood movies! Andrew Garfield, Hugh Laurie, Damian Lewis, Matthew Goode. Bet you didn't even know they were British! And you know why? Because they speak without the slightest trace of a British accent!

And you know why they sound like Americans? Because that so-called "British accent" is totally fake! A ploy to seduce us insecure Americans, or at least our women, and take back the Colonies by stealth! (For chrissake, they hired a Brit to play beloved American action hero Spider-Man! Need I say more?)

There is a reason why bad guys speak with a British accent. (Jag-U-ar, my arse.)

Also, I am beginning to have doubts about the French.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Sluts, bitches & hos: Women, the last bastion of denigration

As we have learned in the last few weeks, making racist, racially charged, or anti-gay comments or slurs is now a punishable, or fireable, offense. Or at the bare minimum will incur the collective wrath of social media, celebrities, bloggers, Liberals, the main stream press, and, on occasion, even Republicans.

But it is still fine to slur, denigrate, demean, or slut-shame women! 

I know, PHEW! Right, bitches? I mean, we wouldn't want Rush Limbaugh or Bill O'Reilly to lose his job or be suspended, right*? And what would life be like without rap music?

And lest you think that guys are the only ones getting away with saying awful, humiliating things about women, just check out all the press around Monica Lewinsky this week.

While society has taken steps to ban or punish bullying in other arenas (at school and online), apparently it is still a-okay to denigrate or humiliate, or "slut shame," a woman for something stupid and naive she did, consensually, with a married man who should have known better, at the age of 22.

And you know who are the worst offenders? Women! WTF? Seriously, WTF, ladies?

Shame on us.

I'm not saying that it's okay for women, of any age, to go around seducing, or trying to seduce, married men. It is not. But find me one college age or slightly older female who hasn't lusted after a married professor, rock star, celebrity or famous person, who wouldn't have jumped at the chance to have "sexual relations" with that man.

Indeed, at Hillary's alma mater back in the 1980s, trying to seduce the (often married) male professors was a sport.

We women can be such hypocrites.

And it's not just the Monica Lewinskys who get the abuse (deservedly or not). Any woman who is deemed too flirtatious, too aggressive, too threatening, or too whatever, especially if she is attractive -- even if she hasn't done anything wrong -- is fair game.

We women can't win. You turn down a guy, you're a bitch (according to the guy). You don't turn him down, you're a slut (according to other women).

By the way, of the 201 slang words for women, the majority are derogatory and have to do with sex (and loose morals), while there are only 72 slang terms for a man, the majority of which are not really pejorative, mate.

And while I applaud society cracking down on racists, bigots, and homophobes, I wish sexism and misogyny, vicious anti-female comments and slurs, were greeted with the same ire and intolerance. (Ditto anti-Semitism, but that's another blog post.)

*For the record, former shock jock Donald Imus was not fired from WFAN back in 2007 because he jokingly referred to the Rutgers women's basketball team as "hos." It was because Imus called them "nappy-headed hos," i.e., he used a racial slur. (Just Google "Donald Imus firing." Almost all the articles cite Imus as using a racist or racial slur, not the fact he called the women hos.)

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Cat got your sink?

[Alternate title: Whose sink is it anyway?]

What is it about sinks, or running water, and cats?

First, it was our black cat, Felix. I don't know when the behavior began, but he will only drink from a faucet -- and only from either the kitchen faucet...

or the faucet in my bathroom sink. (For some reason he refuses to drink from the spouse's sink, which is less than two feet from my sink. Of course.)

Not only that, he gives us dirty looks and meows when we don't make with the water. Even though he is perfectly capable of turning the water on and off himself.

And now he has convinced our older cat, Flora, that drinking from the sink -- my sink -- is the only way to go. Unfortunately, Flora, who is 11 and weighs around 14 pounds, cannot jump up onto the bathroom counter (or refuses to). So I have to pick her up and deposit her by the sink -- or get an earful.

She then waits for me to turn on the faucet for her, at just the right speed or flow. She then daintily dips her paw in and licks the water from her furry wrist -- as Felix watches and waits his turn (and I brush my teeth and wash my face in the spouse's sink).

When I mentioned this problem to our vet, she suggested we get some sort of cat fountain. But I wonder if our cats would drink from it.

Any suggestions, cat people? I'd really like my sink back.

THIS JUST IN 5/8/14: This morning my sister-in-law emailed me several photos of her cats, Rusty and Socks, drinking water from a faucet (or waiting for their cat butler to turn on the faucet so they could drink from it). This photo of their cat Socks is my favorite.

Must run in the family. 

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Bow down to your feline overlords

It has now been scientifically proven that cats understand human commands, just as dogs do. They just don't give a sh*t. (Though any cat owner, I mean "servant," could have told the scientists that.)

Moreover, unlike dogs, who take great joy in serving man (and woman), cats take great joy in having us humans serve them....

[H/T FOB Carrie]

Here is what misguided cat servant, Dan, wrote in the About section of that video, titled "Cat rings bell for service and treat": "I trained my cat to ring a bell for treats. Now, when he wants treats, he will lay down in front of the bell and ask his servant, me, to give him.When he gets full, he will push the bell away, and clean his paws."

[J. shakes head sadly. Oh Dan, you weak, foolish human.]

And woe to the cat servant who is distracted from his or her sacred duty (to pet, feed, and grovel before her feline overlord) by silly things like, oh, work, or surfing the Internet -- even if it is to watch cat videos. Though why would anyone want to watch cat videos when he has a cat literally on his computer?


Finally, a word of advice to all you cat owners thinking about getting a dog: Don't.