Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Where's your beach?

As a kid, I didn't like, or appreciate, the beach. The ocean scared me -- and was too cold. The sand got in everything -- and was too hot. And there always seemed to be too many people -- yet I had no one to play with.

What a difference a few years, and working in an office, make. Now I pine for the beach -- a warm, sandy beach with ocean waves lapping the shore. Indeed, few things soothe and de-stress me more than a long walk along the beach in the early morning or late in the day. Heaven.

Over the years, I have had the good fortune to visit many wonderful beaches across the United States and abroad -- from Massachusetts to Long Island; North Carolina to Florida; California to Hawaii. Each of them has their charms.

I love Sanibel Island, Florida, for the shelling...

Bermuda for its pink sand, warm water (in summer), and swimming with the fishes...

and St. Martin for the amazing beachfront sunsets...

But only on Kiawah Island, in South Carolina, can you go walking and biking along the beach for miles...

and yet feel like you are the only ones there...

Indeed, with 10 miles of beach to explore, Kiawah is a beach-lover's paradise, where you never know what (or who) you will stumble across.

Perhaps a toy boat...

 Or a bright yellow dump truck...

A sunbathing whelk...

Or a stranded jellyfish...

The beach at Kiawah is even beautiful when clouded over by an approaching storm...

So where's your beach?

Let me know via the Comments.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Is your feline a slutty cat or a scaredy cat?

Over the years, I have come to realize there are basically two types of cats: slutty cats and scaredy cats.

(Our black cat, Felix, at right, most definitely falls into the slutty cat camp.)

What is the difference, or how can you tell if your feline is a slutty cat or a scaredy cat (though really, it's probably obvious)? Just refer to the handy Slutty Cat vs. Scaredy Cat table below.

Slutty Cat
Scaredy Cat
When the doorbell rings, your cat runs to see who it is.
When the doorbell rings, your cat runs under the bed.
When a new person enters the house, your cat rubs up against his or her leg and waits (or demands) to be pet.
When a new person enters the house, your cat immediately puts her ears back and hisses at the stranger.
You constantly find yourself with a cat in your lap.
You constantly find yourself looking for your cat.
When you go to the vet, everyone coos over your cat – and leave with new admirers.
When you go to the vet, everyone wears protective gloves – and you thank God you don’t have to go for another year.
Your cat’s affection can be had with a can of tuna fish.
Your cat’s affection cannot be had, not for all the tuna fish in the world.
Your cat purrs so loud (and so often) you often can’t think.
Your cat hisses so often, you have learned to leave her alone.
You come home from a trip and your cat is at the door, happy and excited to greet you.
You come home from a trip and immediately set about looking for your cat, worried it has run off in your absence.

Monday, July 14, 2014

When the obvious, easy, or simple solution isn't

I like to think of myself as a rational, logical being. Someone who values facts over fiction or emotion. Who goes looking for the truth -- and the most obvious or straightforward or simplest solution to a problem.

I'd like to think that I am not alone. But increasingly, I feel like I am alone. A Vulcan among... Earthlings. And I simply don't understand (well, I do, but I don't) the following.

Guns. They are a problem. A big problem. Personally, I think ownership should be highly restricted, as gun ownership is in the UK. That isn't going to happen here in the good ole U.S. of A. But why can't we at least mandate background checks, 24-hour waiting periods, strict (low) limits on ammunition, and severely restrict the ownership of weapons that inflict mass destruction? The only arguments against doing these highly logical things, which, long ago even the NRA supported, is purely political -- and irrational (or emotional).

Healthcare. Everyone should have it. And it should be simple to get and to keep and to administrate. This is not a fantasy. It is totally doable. Except for politics and an irrational fear of government or governance.

Taxes. You like having drivable roads, safe bridges and tunnels, good schools, your mail delivered to your door (or mailbox or post box)? You want to feel protected in case of attack, be it by man, things man-made, or nature's fury? You need to pay taxes. As my late father, a registered Republican, used to say, "If everyone paid their taxes, we'd pay less in taxes." So true.

But the tax code is so frickin' complicated, and changes every year, and there are so many loopholes, it's no wonder people don't like taxes -- and think they are unfair. Is it so hard to come up with a simplified system where everyone pays his or her fair share? (Apparently the answer is "yes." Not because it isn't possible to create such a system but because it is politically impossible to implement such a system.)

Decent-paying part-time work. It's been over 40 years now since Women's Liberation movement and women began entering the workforce in large numbers. And yet the government and business have done very little to accommodate, aid, promote or recognize the changing nature of families or the reality that many (most?) women now work, or want or need to work.

What happened to flexible hours? Telecommuting? Job sharing? Why haven't more (most) businesses created part-time tracks for women and men, or made it easy(ier) for employees to telecommute or work flexible hours?

Btw, I'm talking for men and women here. It's been 40 years, people. We are losing too many good, smart women -- mainly moms (and daughters of aging parents) -- who want to work but don't want to or can't work 50 hours a week at a job an hour or more away. And too often those jobs barely pay for childcare. It shouldn't, and needn't, be this way.

Childcare. Good help shouldn't be so hard, or expensive, to find. Governments, schools, and businesses need to do more to help working families by providing safe, affordable places for children to go after school and during school holidays when or if their parents are working. I know good, or decent, affordable childcare exists in some places, but it needs to be universal.

Climate Change (the condition previously known as Global Warming). The climate has been changing. And not for the better. Things have been heating up (though it often doesn't feel like that here in the Northeast). And we are losing land and lives.

And we humans are not helping. Indeed, we are the problem. Or a big part of it. But we could be the solution. Except most of us are too selfish or self-centered to give up our SUVs and gas-guzzling/emissions spewing vehicles, or to drive less, or to live in smaller houses closer to one another, or reduce our consumption of products that pollute the environment.

Sadly, if everyone just did a little bit -- drove more fuel-efficient cars, turned down the AC just a bit, used energy-saving light bulbs and remembered to turn off the lights and their TVs and other things when not in use, re-used and recycled -- we could slow down climate change.

I could go on, but I won't. I need to conserve my energy.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Finally, a cure for selfie addiction

Do you snap photos of yourself with friends and/or family, with your pets, at events, or in the bathroom -- and immediately post them on Instagram, Facebook, and/or Twitter?

Do you take pictures of yourself, post them, and then swear you didn't mean to?

(You know who you are.)

Then you may lack selfie awareness.

Fortunately, help is at hand.

Introducing... Selfies Anonymous

I laughed, I cried. Mostly, I laughed. Then I took a selfie of me laughing.

[For a brief history of the selfie, click here.]

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Teaching your daughter the facts of life

First a couple of quick disclaimers:

1. By "facts of life" I am not referring the 1980s TV series The Facts of Life. Though you could learn a lot about the facts of life by watching The Facts of Life.

2. I am also not referring to sex, though you really should talk to your child about sex at some point, preferably before they have it.

No, what I am about to refer to are the real facts of life -- or, perhaps, more accurately, the realities of life. Those unpleasant realities that we all encounter, at some point, which make us gnash our teeth and stomp around and complain.

Well, forewarned is forearmed, I say. Herewith, six realities of life. (Listen up, girls. Guys too.)

1. Life is unfair. Deal with it. You may be the best and/or the brightest. You may do all the right things. That doesn't mean you will be successful or rich or happy. Unless you are really good looking. Good looking people have been shown (or proven) to get more jobs, more money, and more promotions. Though that doesn't mean they are happy!

2. Honesty isn't always the best policy. Yes, yes, yes, we all know that lying is bad and no one should do it. But sometimes a situation calls for a fib, or a white lie, to protect someone's feelings -- or your ass from winding up in a sling. Just don't let me catch you lying to me!

3. Cheaters sometimes prosper, but eventually they get caught (most of the time). Cheating (e.g., copying homework, plagiarizing, using someone else's test results or Cliff Notes) is wrong and dishonest. When you cheat, you don't learn. Sure, it's the easy way out, and you probably see people doing it at school, who get As or awards, and you think, "Why didn't I cheat instead of blowing a whole weekend studying?!" But the reality is that while lots of people cheat, and often get away with it, they are missing out -- and eventually they get caught. And it typically doesn't end well.

4. It's not what you know but who you know. (See 1.) As most of us have learned the hard (or, perhaps, the easy) way, who you know -- aka networking -- is typically more effective at getting you a job or a hard-to-get reservation or ticket than what you know. So as you go through life, work hard, but also take the time to cultivate people -- teachers, parents, friends, coworkers, bosses. Be polite and helpful -- and don't be afraid to ask for help, an introduction, or a reference. Just be prepared to do the same -- and remember to say "thank you."

5. Most people suck at time management, aka, People (or their lives) are messy and disorganized. Don't take it personally (when they don't email or text or call you back). As someone who prides herself on being organized and efficient and a logistics whiz, who immediately returns emails, texts, and calls, this lesson was very hard to learn -- and I'm still working on the "don't take it personally part." But trust me, kid, you will be a whole lot happier, or saner, if you just assume that most people are bad time managers and will not get back to you, possibly ever. If it's important, you follow up with them. Repeatedly, if necessary.

6. Guys, especially teenage guys, typically go for girls with nice (or big) boobs -- and tall, skinny blonde girls with pretty faces. True, there are some exceptions to this rule. Unfortunately, I can't think of any right now. See Rule 1.

There are probably some gems I am missing. If you all think of any, please feel free to add it or them to my list via the Comments.

UPDATED 7/9/14: Just thought of one more.

7. No one cares. Unless you are famous. Most people are self-centered and self-absorbed. They don't care about your (seemingly petty) problems. Unless you are famous. Then everyone cares.

Friday, July 4, 2014

What life would be like if the Brits had won?

If the British won the Revolutionary War (aka the American War of Independence)...

Would Thomas' English Muffins just be crumpets?

Would we go to the loo and take the lift?

Would we be eating bangers and mash instead of hot dogs and fries?

Would we be playing cricket and football instead of baseball and, um, football?

And when our team lost, would we shout "Bloody hell!" or "Bollocks!'?

Would ass have an r (arse), and words like color, flavor, and neighbor a u?

Would we find Monty Python, Fawlty Towers, and Benny Hill funny?

Would we be celebrating Guy Fawkes Day instead of Independence Day (July the Fourth)?

With more thoughts on the subject, I give you English writer, actor, and comedian Stephen Merchant.

Wishing you a jolly good Fourth.


Tuesday, July 1, 2014

The Belgian Dilemma (World Cup Woes)

As Team USA prepares to play the Belgium National Football Team in the knockout round of the 2014 FIFA World Cup this afternoon, American food and beer lovers face a dilemma.

Belgium is, after all, the country that gave us Belgian waffles (or wafels)...

Belgian chocolate...

Belgian beer...

And moules-frites...

Or what is known in my house as the four basic food groups.

The dilemma: Are we Americans being disloyal if we imbibe Belgian beer with our moule-frites, or anxiously pop Beglian chocolates into our mouths, while watching the World Cup? And if the Belgium National Football Team knocks out Team USA in this afternoon's knockout round of the 2014 FIFA World Cup, do we show our solidarity with our beloved American footballers (aka the US soccer team) and boycott Belgian products? And if so, for how long?

More about Belgium here.