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Random Blog Journey-2-Peace: March 2007

    Trish Monaco.
    singer. songwriter.
    dog walker.
    human. living.
    loving. laughing.
    in Los Angeles

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Saturday, March 31, 2007

The Gym

I went to the gym with PBX last night. Did 35 minutes on an elliptical thingy.

It was hell.

I like the bike better because I can rest my sorry ass and use my legs to carry me through those rough patches.

I stretched and did some abs in another room while PBX continued pumping that vile machine. She did 60 minutes, burning over 600 calories.

I was lucky to burn the honey out of my tea.

I found a few upper body weight machines I've enjoyed in the past. Smart enough to remember not to overload them with weight. I hardly felt the pull last night. But I can definitely feel it today. My poor biceps.

What gym? The USC Campus Gym. Much different from other gyms I'm used to. Most of the cardio machines have their own television. All we have to do is bring our own headphones and we're set.

They offer racquetball courts too. We would've played but didn't have the 50cents to rent the racquets. Next time.

What did me in was my attempt at holding a perfect (not) handstand. Not sure what I was thinking -- except that handstands and headstands used to be part of my daily life as a kid - and during my regular yoga practice as an adult.

But, um, years ago.

I'm not as strong, flexible or balanced these days.

Gotta remember to build back up to that practice. Oh yeah, I guess that's why they call it a practice.

So, my final handstand was sweet. Held it for like three seconds. Strong. Firm. And then something in my brain died as I let myself flip over onto my back.

No worries though - my feet cushioned the fall for my lower back.

My head took the brunt of the fall for the upper body.

I'm not the little 12-year-old gymnast I used to be. I'm not even the little 32-year-old yogini I once was.

Onward.

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AD - Ecotourism in Hawaii - AD

the following is a paid review.

I've had quite an anxious process about leaving Los Angeles for seven months. For a while I really thought it was because I'd be leaving everything that I know, my friends, my chosen family, my work, my home.

But then I realized, if I were going somewhere other than New Hampshire - say Kauai for instance - my anticipation about leaving may be slightly different. One of the few places in the world I've been dreaming about visiting (and I will get there) is Hawaii.

Through Kauai Ecotourism Vacation Rentals there are many options - from single rooms to suites to condos to homes. Let's pretend for a moment, Hawaii is the destination for our June-through-December trip. Let us also pretend that finances are not an issue.

Ooh, now I'm excited.

There are two of us, but we'd like extra room for all of our friends who will definitely visit us during our stay. Found it! Here's our 3-bedroom rental home. Complete with washer/dryer and high-speed internet access.

If I could stand to be "more than three blocks from the ocean" then this gorgeous place would be my choice. The view from all areas of this home is beautiful. I love the pool that lines one entire side of the home. Check out the pictures. We are so there (in this dream)!

What I like about these vacation options are their eco-friendliness. These aren't big corporations or cookie-cutter vacation packages. We get to choose all aspects of our own vacation.

Oh yeah baby. Who's coming to visit?

LoudLaunch - Compensating bloggers for their unbiased opinions, reviews, and analysis. View the LoudLaunch campaign release this post was based on.

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Friday, March 30, 2007

Barham Fire

View of the Barham Fire through the windshield, driving down my street.



View of the Barham Fire standing in front of my house.

That was sometime between 2 and 3 pm today, when they said it was 30 acres wide. By 4pm the fire had demolished 150 acres. In Griffith Park - close to the Hollywood sign, Warner Brothers Studios, Universal Studios and Forest Lawn Cemetery.

To add a little more perspective, I live fifteen miles away from the blaze. Not even close. And it still seems massive.

It was an extremely dry winter. I imagine this is just a taste of what's to come.

LA Times has amazing photos!

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Changes - episode five

When I started this series, I had a few things I knew I wanted to cover over the course of the year. It's been a while since the last episode.

Let's recap:

In episode one I had begun the new year, albeit begrudgingly, with the intent to be more active and get this little body into better physical shape.

Episode two was about the all-important hunt for health insurance and a new therapist. I didn't get that part time job so the health insurance applications are still rolling in. One is in progress.

Hmm ... no episode three. oops. Onward.

Celexa Withdrawal was the subject of episode four. Damn, that lasted long enough. Very uncomfortable. I'm finally feeling more balanced, as far as reactiveness goes.

Today's episode is one I've been putting off for a few weeks. I had to be sure a few things were taken care of - like, informing my dog clients - before being comfortable writing about it here.

We're going to New Hampshire from June through December.

whoa.

There it is, in print. Seems even more overwhelming than when I just think about it in my little head.

Temporary or not, so much comes up around this move. Six months is a long time in my world. Especially when it means I'll be in closer proximity to my family.

I left fifteen years ago. I brought all the family secrets with me. They've been free from the responsibility of having to face the person who represents their fears and shame and mistakes. I've been free from having to face those who've hurt me. Instead, I've carried their burdens on top of my own.

Being with my brother and his family over Christmas was wonderful. It's one of the main reasons I was excited to be going there for an extended period of time. But as we get closer to June, we get closer to discomfort.

Denial.

Such a dirty word. When your whole life is based on a foundation of lies, it's difficult to open your heart to those no longer willing to collude. It's a sad truth. I may not be welcome in his family - because to him I represent the potential demise of his kingdom.

It's easy to see how cycles and patterns continue to get repeated. Running from them, brings us right to them.

I'm struggling to see this move as an opportunity for more healing with my family of origin. It's not the main focus because that could certainly drive me bonkers. But I can only hope that my previous conversation with the brother I love will make him think twice about future choices.

No one spoke up for me. no one. If I didn't speak up for his kids, I'd be colluding in the denial, repeating the pattern. That's not who I want to be. It's not how I want to express myself in the world.

The only way to change a pattern is to change behavior. The only way to change behavior is to shine light on it. Look at it. Examine it. Have compassion for it. Consciously make the decision to change.

If I'm ousted from his family just for speaking truth and expressing a valid concern (something that isn't even about him) then that's something we'll all have to live with.

It's a choice.

I ache. I grieve. But it's way less painful than the alternative.

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Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Ruff Dog Park Day

It was a rough (ruff) day with the pack. The insane wind. The creepy rain. The crazy-violent energy. Really took a lot out of me.

First, I had six leashes for six dogs when we arrived at the dog park. Unloading the PeaceMobile, I noticed one leash was NOT clipped to a dog.

Quick head-count -- only FIVE present!

I flipped around, searching, thinking, then calling B-E-C-K-E-T-T-!!

From out of nowhere, Beckett sprinted fast and far - away from us - toward the dog park - toward the street.

There was no turning back for him. I covered his ass in white light as I screamed for him to stop.

no stop.

and luckily - no cars.

He was GONE.

That was heart-attack number one!

Next, there was one guy in the "big dog" side of the park. His dog was aggressive and wanted a piece of Beckett every time I threw the ball. I had to keep moving away from him. At one point, the dog had gotten a momentary hold of Beckett's scruff. I stopped all play and searched Beckett's neck through and through.

Just wet. No blood.

The guy kept calling for his dog but never (never!) disciplined nor made him stop the aggressive behavior. I tried addressing the guy, asking what his dog's name was. He wouldn't look my way, nor did he respond.

I'm all-too familiar with this personality type at the dog park. In the past, I might've engaged in some kind of argument. I've learned my lesson.

I bit my tongue, leashed my dogs and brought them to the "small dog" side of the park.

There were two other small dogs there - both with big, um, boy-parts. Quite the feeding frenzy. Hunny loves real boys.

In an instant, a black cloud hovered over the park. It rained for ten minutes. Only there. And only on us.

The angry man left with his aggressive dog.

NEXT, A (description deleted) woman came to the small dog park with a bulldog on a leash. The first thing she said was, "This one is aggressive, so I can't take off his leash."

Of course, all my dogs think he's fair game. So we spent a few minutes moving everyone away from her dog.

Then she asked (and i swear), "Could you hold your dog for a sec so I can throw the ball for my dog? If other dogs start running, he will bite them."

Um. No.

I repeated her question, to be sure I got it right.

She nodded.

I said, "We can't hold our dogs back. They will chase your dog. This is an off-leash dog park for non-aggressive dogs. If you are concerned about your dog's ability to be social with other dogs, maybe this isn't the place for your dog."

She looked a little confused and tried to ask the same question, as if I didn't understand her.

Realizing there might be some craziness here, I offered to take my pack back to the big-dog area, now that it's empty. She was kindly willing enough to go over there with her dog instead.

When another dog owner tried to enter the park, she flipped out, "Be careful. My dog's aggressive. Don't come in." She begged us to ask others not to enter until she got her dog out of the park. As she's saying this, she's dragging her growling bulldog across the park by the teeth.

Meanwhile, tossing the ball for Beckett on our side of the park, I noticed blood dripping down his ear!

WTF!!

I brought him to the water fountain and squatted to clean his ear.

Who shows up at the fountain? The bulldog!

There he was, dragging the woman toward us. She thinks she's going to help by holding the faucet nob.

The bulldog (of course) thinks it's lunch time and Beckett is the main course.

They got way too close. Dogs were panicking all around me.

Blood. Rain. Wind. Too much stimulus.

I stopped everything, stood up, put my bloody hands in her face and firmly stated, "NO. Please don't. You are not helping. Step back."

I have no idea where she went. Another dog owner came to help with the water. We rinsed Beckett's ear and saw a small slit at the bottom of his lobe. Minuscule.

I don't know what time it was - but it was time to leave.

We filed out and got to the car with no problems - until one of my smallest dogs snapped at Piper.

Oh no mister! Not in my car! Not at my dog!

Everyone got a timeout.

Even me.

It was a peaceful, quiet, sunny drive home.

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Hunny in Pink

My dog, Hunny is part cocker spaniel, part golden retriever. Yes, the cutest dog ever!

With our messy yard and all the dog park trips during the week, Hunny trails in dried leaves, dirt, and whatever else can get caught in her thick fur. Cute, but not so cute!


During a little heat wave we had earlier this month, her Mauntie (PBX) decided it was time for Hunny's semi-annual buzz-cut.

I came home to a completely different dog. She's even cuter without all that straggly, long fur.


The heat wave passed and we were left with a shivering pup. Apparently, senior dogs get cold easier than when they were young spry things.

I'm typically not a fan of pet clothing. Especially designer-type of clothes. But after spending a winter at a small dog park and having met a few small dogs who consistently came with different shirts, sweaters and sweatshirts daily, I began to understand that clothing is actually useful. Not just for show.

I knew Hunny was freezing one night when I covered her in fleece and she didn't move till morning. Very unlike her to tolerate anything on top of her.

Pet store clothing offered slim pickings - too thick, too bulky, too small, too big, too expensive. I just wanted to cover her back.

No more worries.

Thanks to her Mauntie, the Goodwill store and a toddler's vest, Hunny is fully covered, warm, comfortable, and seriously cuter than ever - for a buck-fifty.

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Sunday, March 25, 2007

Yard Work

Since I've been anxious-beyond-belief and I haven't been able to get my sorry self to a yoga class, nor the gym, I decided to join PBX outside for a day of grueling yard work.

She drove to the end of the earth (Rancho Palos Verdes) to buy a used electric lawn mower yesterday. So today she just had to play with her new toy.

We've lived in this house for six months now. We haven't done a thing to the yard since before the new year. It's discouraging because the soil is just so gross. Even after all the yard work we'd done last fall, new things were sprouting from underground -- today alone we found nails, screws, marbles, plastic toys, spark plugs, bed frame wheels, broken glass, four old CDs, two bouncy-balls ... and a partridge in a pear tree. oh wait.

What we really want to do is start from scratch. We got a quote from someone who said he and a crew would come for 1/2 a day to dig three feet out of the entire backyard and get rid of the waste. If we had the money, we'd totally do it. It's not very expensive. But we're hoping our landlady will come through for us. There's a slight possibility of that -- after she pays property taxes next month. But I'm not holding my breath.

In the meantime, it's up to us to clear out what we can. It helps me to have visuals of the progress. Let's take a little yard-journey through time, shall we?

Here's the front yard a few days before we moved in.
September '06.




Here's what the front yard looks like today.



Here's the scary backyard -- September '06
focus on the overgrowth against the fence on the right and the brick patio.
"what fence? what brick?"
exactly!
(Not to mention the back gate, the VW Buggy and the orange dumpster.)



Here's the backyard today.
Difficult to see but, rose bushes - all with fresh buds - line the brick patio. We can see clearly to the back gate and much of the overgrowth is now inside the green bin, ready for Tuesday's pick-up.
(obviously we haven't done a lot to the left side of the yard yet. we'll get there.)



Sideyard - September '06


Sideyard today (with Miss Gracie-kitty)
Still need to prune that palm on the side. I love the mulch PBX added around all the plants. Keeps the moisture in and strengthens each plant for better growth.

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Saturday, March 24, 2007

quickie

Sorry about the paid reviews in the middle of crisis mode. I had to take that previous opportunity. Passing it up would've been like throwing away a grande non-fat extra-vanilla latte. I mean, please.

Thanks all for your kind thoughts. Our pets are hanging in - and so are we.

We're preparing for a whirlwind of a spring over here. Gotta have our kids in tip-top shape.

On that note, I should get moving. Just wanted to check in - even for this brief moment.

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AD - Unique Pet Gifts - AD

the following is a paid review.

Perfect timing. This one just came through. Big Paw Designs has a bunch of stuff for dogs, cats and others. Collars, charms and all the jewelry a pet could want. Even bling for the pet lover. Those paw earrings are adorable.

One of my favorite sections is the Rescue Themed Items. Magnets, picture frames, charms and more. So many of our fury friends have their official breed clubs and organizations. This one is for all the Hunnys in the world. Yay for rescued pets!

The browse options are great. The detailed list in the left column make for easy browsing. Search by type of pet, type of item, etc. Or do a specific search in the box below the list.

Ooh hey, how about a visit to the Big Paw Blog! Keep current on things that are going on and what's coming up.

My absolute favorite product for sale on the list is the Oops...I Pooped! Biodegradable Pet Waste Bags. The site says they're on backorder - to be available in February. Perhaps they're up and running again. Hopefully they'll take a moment to update this page. In the meantime, we can send them an email to get on the Oops...I Pooped arrival alert list. Totally worth it!

LoudLaunch - Compensating bloggers for their unbiased opinions, reviews, and analysis. View the LoudLaunch campaign release this post was based on.

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Friday, March 23, 2007

Crisis Mode

Crisis takes a lot out of a person.

I'm thrashed. I can only imagine what Piper is feeling.

We still don't have definitive answers. Diagnostics tell us he's a healthy boy. His attitude and actions tell us something different. He seems to be more stable. That changes within hours. Sometimes he's hungry. Sometimes not.

Lots of medication and homeopathics to help support his system. It's the best anyone can do right now. If he shows more signs of discomfort (vomiting, etc) he'll be headed to a specialist. Our vet has done all he can do.

Let's hope this is the end of it -- whatever it is.

If this were the only crisis of the week, things would feel more manageable.

But it's not. So they don't.

And I'm wiped out - completely.

Just wanted to touch base.

I'll return when I come up for air.

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Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Trauma in Triage

I'm not so sure it was the wasp.

Piper started feeling better for a day but this morning he was right back to vomiting - constant vomiting. Too much for a little one. On the way to the vet, he was vomiting foam.

Not a good sign.

Baaaaabyyyy....hang in there!!!

So little sicky-boy is back in the hospital - this time for overnight observation. He's on IV fluids, severely dehydrated. His x-rays came back clear - no obvious obstruction. We're waiting on blood work.

The vet is confident this is NOT a case of poison food death. He and colleagues have been presented with their first cases of these deaths. So it's here. And it's real.

Apparently the killer signs of these food poison attacks start (and end) with kidney failure. Piper's kidneys are healthy at this moment. A very good sign for the little guy.

It's tricky though, because it was Hunny I was most concerned about at first this morning. Shaking, almost seizure-like and then vomiting - three times in ten minutes. This was first thing in the morning. No food or water. Just woke up that way.

Things seemed to calm down for a moment. I was about to leave the kids at home while I walked other dogs.

As I prepared to leave, Piper started struggling. Kills me to think what might have happened if I left them at home alone. Had he started vomiting ten minutes later, I would've been gone and he would've struggled on his own.

Oh the ache.

Once Piper began vomiting, Hunny's symptoms stopped. It may sound crazy but I believe she may have been trying to tell me how sick Piper was. Like she was carrying some of his pain.

Still, we're taking no chances. The vet checked Hunny and said to monitor her for 24 hours. No food and only very little water. Bland diet tomorrow. Poor girl. She's so hungry.

Hunny's finally able to rest. She was pacing for quite a while here.




As for Miss Gracie-kitty. In addition to her main course, she ate left-over dog food, then spent the afternoon ruling her queendom in the yard.

Clearly she's torn up about the whole thing.

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Sunday, March 18, 2007

AD - Another Great Cell Phone Deal - AD

the following is a paid review.

What am I the new spokesperson for cell phones? It would seem so lately. So we know I finally got the cell service plan, deal, phone and accessories I wanted, right? The only thing that could possibly make that sweet deal any better is a cash-back bonus offer. I chose a different plan but had I waited and chosen a free T-Mobile RAZR, I would be sitting here with $50 in my pocket.

What's the deal? Get T-Mobile service with MyFaves on a top quality phone (plenty to choose from), some phones offer bluetooth wireless headsets as a free bonus. And in addition to all that, get a fifty-dollar cash back mail-in rebate. If you're going to switch it up and change services, it seems ridiculous to go elsewhere.

All the basics apply. Like, you have to be a new subscriber. Pay your bill on time. Don't cancel the service early. And, they don't mention this but I highly recommend getting the insurance on the phones. These phones cost over $250 retail. I believe it covers lost or stolen phones. It would suck if it fell out of your pocket or you drove over it. But if it's insured, there's peace of mind.

I use the example of driving over it because my service provider used that with me. I thought it was strange, but hey, it's good to know I'm covered in that case.

So far, I'm thrilled with my purchase from wirefly. Granted, I chose a different plan but I have friends who have been satisfied with T-Mobile. I guess it depends on what your needs are and where you're located.

Oh, one last note, this deal is up at month's end. So check it out now, before you forget.

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Saturday, March 17, 2007

Wasp Makes Not for a Healthy Meal


Piper spent the night in complete and total discomfort, throwing up every thirty minutes. Little sicky boy.

He would rest for a few minutes then wander around to find some obscure (or not-so-obscure) place to spit up. I spent the night trailing him with the roll of paper towels and Nature's Miracle.

His little whines and groans were heart-breaking.

He let me pick him up and he'd rest his little face on my shoulder -- something he usually only does with his mama.

I'm his mauntie (mama-auntie). Since his mama's away, he'll take me. He'll let me love him. So much that, with the exception of last night, he's been sleeping on my head all week. On my face. Practically in my mouth. He just can't get close enough. Even Hunny curls up close to us. Which means I still don't get to stretch out on the bed.

I spent last night massaging his throat and stomach, stroking his head. So much like a little human boy.

I just wish he could've told me what was going on. I'm always telling him to use his words when he's trying to tell us something. He understands English. He just can't speak it. And I think it kills him that we don't always understand his language.

I couldn't figure out what he had gotten into. I thought maybe a spider until I nearly stepped in one of his many little treasure-piles I had missed from the night.

Looks like he had thrown up the carcass of a baby wasp.

Gasp! A wasp! Baby or not, it was a wasp. Piper weighs seven pounds soaking wet. No wonder he's so out of sorts.

I searched for a stinger - needle in a haystack. I don't notice any visible swelling, nor is he having difficulty breathing. He's just uncomfortable. Miserable.

He's doing better than last night but still very timid and unable to eat his food. He turned down yogurt, tuna, chicken, lamb, rice and cat food. Proof that we have a little sicky on our hands. But he drank a tiny bit of water and finally ate a few nibbles of freeze-dried liver treats.

After that, he was spent.

Lots of loving, healing thoughts for the littlest boy please. We could all use a good night's sleep tonight.

UPDATE: Sunday 3/18

Another rough night for the boy. Thirty-six hours is just too long for a little guy to lose so much fluid.

So we spent the day in the emergency vet hospital. Piper was dehydrated and shivering with a below-normal temperature. They injected fluids under his skin and gave him a shot of benadryl. We were sent home with a bottle of antibiotics, a scrip for pepcid ac and specific feeding instructions. If he gets worse, I'm to bring him in again for full tests (x-rays, blood panel, etc.)

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Friday, March 16, 2007

Feline Friday


Yay! We're in. I was sitting on the couch, facing these beautiful, precious sleeping babies. A photo op not to be missed. It wasn't until after I snapped the photo that I realized what day it is.

Now I can't say I always miss Feline Friday anymore.

Are they just the sweetest little critters you've ever seen? Makes my heart melt.

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Tecky Cell Phones

So we switched cell phone services. Well, technically we're still with the old one until we activate our new phones.

I ordered two pink RAZR V3m V Cast Music Phones. I've done two paid reviews for wirefly.com. I liked what they have to offer. So I placed my order with them.

I wasn't clear about shipping times, dates and exactly what the "fine print" was so I sealed the deal by placing the order over the phone. It took a few phone conversations to get exactly what I wanted. Aside from a small bout of miscommunication, I found their phone customer service reps to be very helpful and eager to please.

Part of our two-year service plan and free phone offer included free Bluetooth headsets - one for each phone. Both of which are still sitting in their original boxes. I'm a clueless wonder on this one.

Wait. There's more.

So I charged the phones and didn't use them for the full 24 hours as recommended. I decided to program a few phone numbers into my new phone when I notice the keypad wasn't lighting up. It did once, for like a brief second, then nothing.

I checked the user's guide - including the Spanish version! Nothing. No troubleshooting suggestions.

I went to the other room to check the other phone and its keypad lit up like fireworks on the 4th of July. Bright and clear!

I called wirefly with my concern. They said, "Sorry for the inconvenience. We'll ship a brand new phone to you immediately." And they did.

The new phone arrived today and would you believe the keypad doesn't light up!!

Again, I checked the other phone -- and this time its keypad didn't light up either.

I was confused.

I thought it had to do with the service. Maybe it doesn't fully function until the phone is activated.

So I did a Google search with keywords: "keypad doesn't light up"

Apparently someone else had the same issue with their cute new RAZR V3m.

And apparently that someone felt just as dumb as this someone when they found out the phone has a light sensor. It is located above the right soft key button on the keypad.

Oh.

Yep. There it is. Looking right at me. So smug. Laughing at the silly woman who didn't have a techy clue.

Now, on to the activation phase of this week-long process. Once that's complete, we'll be on the IN Plan. So, I expect to hear from Cousin M.

For the record, the light sensor is not part of the diagram in the user guide.



Oh wait, wait. I may be mistaken. Let's take a closer look. If we zoom the image at 500% we can clearly see...




Yes! There it is. Clearly marked. Not sure how I could have missed it.

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Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Question - Best Personal Journal Software?

I've decided to take on the task of transcribing a lifetime of handwritten journals onto the computer. I've just begun researching the best, or most appropriate, computer software for the job.

My goal is to have it organized so that I can do a keyword search that will pull up all related entries. Similarly, I'd like to do a date search or an event search.

I've found a few software packages but they're mostly available via download only. I'd like a software disk - you know, in case anything happens to my hard drive. It's been the way of our computers lately. We've lost many programs because of faulty hard drives. Once you reformat, you lose everything, unless you have the disk to reinstall.

Anyway, blah.

Anyone have any good software suggestions?

I considered MS Word or Final Draft but I don't know if it can organize my files in the way I'd like. Thoughts?

The downloadable ones I found most intriguing:

Life Journal Software. Inexpensive. Not many reviews. Just this one. -- Oh wait -- Just found a link with the software on CD Rom.

Alpha Journal. Seems similar but I can't really tell. Screen shots aren't as dynamic as Life Journal but again, I can't really tell. About the same price.

NETime Diary. Not sure about the search functionality on this one.

The Journal. I like the search results page. Good screen shots.


All of these (and most downloadable ones) offer some kind of free trial. I suppose I could just download them all. Ugh.

I guess that's why I'm looking for your thoughts and user reviews.
Can you recommend a Personal Journal Software?

Thanks all.

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Polarized Sunglasses - paid review

the following is a paid review.

When shopping for accessories, there are two things that can stop me dead in my tracks - wristwatches and sunglasses. It never fails. My problem is, sunglasses don't look as good on my face as they do on the shelves. I believe there is a "perfect" style for everyone. I'm still on the lookout for mine.

I tend to stick to the big, gaudy-looking ones. Mostly because, as a dog walker, I spend my entire day in the sun. I need coverage. What I'd like is coverage with style.

If only Polarized Sunglasses would make me look like the models on the site. Here is a style and shade of lens that usually works for me but I'd be compromising on coverage. These would have to be my off-work glasses. I couldn't afford to have one of the dogs chew these up. Nor would I want them to fall in a pit of dust at the dog park.

Right now I'm wearing the el cheapo plastic kind. They are totally scratched and scuffed. I can hardly see through them. When I try on good quality sunglasses, I wonder how I ever get through my days behind the scuffed lens I wear now.

I love the look of these. Stylish, retro and plenty of coverage. I also like the kind that come with a removable foam eye seal. Perfect for keeping dust out of my eyes. I could've used these all week, as temps are rising and the dog park is dessert-dry.

I'm not big on name brands but it's cool to have the option to Search by Manufacturer. All the manufacturer's names are listed along the left hand column of the homepage, for easy search. Without that option, I never would've noticed Bolle Dirty 8. Very chic. Oh and I love how I can do a Search by Activity. Let's see ... high-impact sports? no, wait. Here we go ... In-Between Sports: Fashion/Casual. Totally me!

To learn more about Polarized Lenses, ADS Sports Eyewear offers an entire section of valuable information.


LoudLaunch - Compensating bloggers for their unbiased opinions, reviews, and analysis. View the LoudLaunch campaign release this post was based on.

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Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Blog Talkers

In my quest for connecting with the blogging community, I missed Feline Friday again, I'm always forgetting about Wordless Wednesday, and I haven't been able to keep up with Monaco Music Mondays. I figure since I asked this week's question on Blog Talkers, the least I could do is participate.

The idea of Blog Talkers is that we (bloggers) submit questions. Each Sunday, one new question will be posted. We have the entire week to post answers in our own blog.

This week's question:
If you had to spend a year on a deserted island with any five bloggers, who would you choose and why?
One year. One deserted island. Five bloggers. And me. Damn, I'm really wishing Hunny had a blog right about now.

There are two possible answers to this question. The easy-cop-out answer. And the life-challenging, more difficult answer.

The easy answer: A sample of the old gang from AOL Journals.
Robbie and Gigi. Because we know we get along in person. Steven because of his resourcefulness and love of nature. Mary because of her incredible life stories. She survived Katrina. She can handle a little island-challenge. And of course PBX, for obvious (or not-so-obvious) reasons. Granated, she's not part of the old gang but she does have a blog.

The more difficult answer: Bloggers who have challenged my spirit.
I'm on this planet to grow. There are lessons I need to learn. Some strong personalities rub me the wrong way - hello mirror. Others intrigue me. Still a few are too unwell for me to voluntarily put myself in harm's way again. I've learned my lesson with those few. If I am to continue to grow and learn, I need to face reflection.

For this part of the challenge, I choose SloMo for abandoning her journal and our friendship. Aileen for the same reasons. Kathleen for being the first to burst my peace-bubble, still speak her truth when attacked by the peace-army and then make amends a year later without compromising our self-ness. John Scalzi so I can get the scoop on how things really went down with AOL-J. Finally, Anonymous for all the cowardly attacks (you know who you are). I'd say PBX for abandoning her blog too, but that'd be cheating.

What about you? With which five bloggers would you choose to spend a year on a deserted island?

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Sunday, March 11, 2007

Weekend Recap

We were scheduled to see a free movie screening Friday night but opted to join some colleagues for some delicious Indian food and interesting conversation. Just writing about it makes my mouth water for some gobi aloo or saag paneer. I shudder at spicy-hot food but Gate of India offered their dishes served-to-taste. Yum. I'm a sucker for some bland dal and basmati rice.

Spent a few hours weeding the walkway in the back yard. I'm so out of shape. Crouching, pulling, bending, tugging, digging, raking and clipping make for an achy lower back. When did this happen?

Finally watched Babel. While I truly enjoyed the film, I found it to be quite predictable. Just a few questions were left unanswered. Seems to be a trend this film season, as I found Children of Men to have more holes in its story than swiss cheese. But apparently, that's just me.

Maggie-May went home this weekend. After the initial power-struggle days, things really calmed down. We kept the dogs separated when we couldn't keep our eyes on them. It became an easy routine, just in time for her to go home.

Also in time for another dog to join our sleep-over camp for the week. Zoe arrived today. She's the sweetest and lowest-maintenance dog I've ever met. We adore her.

Gracie-kitty ran the streets while we were out the other night. We returned home to her greeting at the front gate - with the stench of initiation. As if all the neighborhood cats marked her as their territory. Reeeeek!

We bathed her immediately. Just as I announced how easy she was to bathe, she struck a claw through my index finger. That's right, through. There are two puncture marks - the entrance and exit. My fault for pulling away.

I'm not so sure she's still as fond of the shower anymore. But she's clean. The little hussy.

One of the dogs I walk daily had another seizure on Friday night. So to keep an eye on her and the other dog in their house, I've spent Saturday and Sunday night sitting with them. Literally dog-sitting. She's doing well.

I'm doing a ton of writing!

Can hardly wait to get home to watch The Amazing Race and The L Word. They automatically get recorded and it's pretty typical of us to watch them at a later date. I try to avoid reading blogs and news until I've watched the recorded shows.

I may have screwed up by doing a google blog search on Rob & Amber earlier tonight. It's my own fault. I'm watching the Fox Reality channel. Never heard of it, till now. There's a really bad fake reality show starring Rob & Amber, about the two of them moving to Vegas so Rob can pursue his dream of being a professional poker player. When I did the search, I think I may have hit a spoiler from tonight's Amazing Race. God, I hope I'm wrong. I closed the search window as quickly as I could. But still, it'll be in the back of my mind while watching later.

Daylight Savings Time is in full effect. Yay. But it was a hundred degrees today. Here we go!

I'm still craving Indian food.

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Friday, March 09, 2007

ppp - Drug and Alcohol Rehabilitation - ppp

the following is a paid review

Drug and Alcohol Rehabilitation is a tender subject. I'm personally not an addict but I've been around enough to know that drug treatment is an important part of healing the core of addiction. Stone Hawk rehabilitation center offers a "no drug" treatment process. The home page tells us that they understand addiction because they have healed addiction within themselves.

Just like when I was shopping around for a new therapist, I would want to be working with those who have undergone a similar process. Stone Hawk offers programs for narcotic and alcohol addiction. The website offers articles and comprehensive information about different kinds of drugs (including prescription medication). There's even a blog with stories from participants and staff alike.

Stone Hawk offers inpatient and outpatient care. They believe everyone has the right to treatment so you can apply for financial aid if admission feels like a financial burden. If anything, their website is a plethora of valuable information on the subject.

Beating addiction is no picnic. It's serious business. If you think you might suffer from drug addiction, consider contacting Stone Hawk for more information. Their holistic program claims to have a high success rate - Helping people learn to live satisfied, productive sober lives.

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Thursday, March 08, 2007

Blog Against Sexism Day

warning: this post contains strong language

Ah yes, Blog Against Sexism Day. Here already.

This a difficult subject for me sometimes. As a woman I often feel criticized for ... well, for being a woman. I support equal rights among the sexes. Any time I express my opinion, it's going to be strong because I have a strong personality.

I've been violated by both men and women. Somehow, when I express my feelings about these experiences, I'm often dismissed as a man-hater.

Anyone who knows me, knows I'm not a man-hater. I'm not a hater. Period. If anything, I've given perpetrators too much slack. Mostly because I know everyone is human. We all make mistakes. Some make bigger mistakes than others. But that's not for me to judge. I may have feelings about mistakes others make but the process of healing is my own.

I imagine some men would feel threatened by my process. Apparently, some women do too. It is most discouraging and hurtful when the attacks of slander come from other women.

Bitch. Whore. Douchebag. Home-wrecker. Slut. Cunt.

These are all words used to describe women in the derogatory form.

The words themselves are not bad, it's the energy behind the use of these words that create separation.

Sadly, I expect this kind of energy from men who feel threatened by women. What's worse is when women use these words to assail other women. This behavior perpetuates sexism within our gender. Sexism will always prevail if we don't stop treating each other this way.

This is a call to all women.
Women who hate on other women. Women who slander other women. Women who feel threatened by other women. Women who blame other women for being victims. Women who are intolerant of abused women. Women who want others to make changes they see fit. Women who are jealous of other women.

I am not exempt. This reminder is all-inclusive:

Please ...
women, girls, sisters, mothers, daughters, wives, friends, lovers ... teach by example -- love and support one another. Empower each other. The only way to make a change is to be the change.


Links of interest:

International Women's Day
National Women's History Project
V-Day - Until the Violence Stops
Equal Rights Amendment
National Organization for Women

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Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Blog Against Sexism

Got this from a bloggin' colleague.

Blog Against Sexism is open to all bloggers.

One day. Thursday, March 8th.

International Women's Day.

(that's this week! like, two days from today.)

The line-up is looking hot. I'm especially looking forward to posts by the men on the list. Thanks for stepping up guys!

Click the image for more info.

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screenplay format for blogs?

Hmm ... I just spent the evening writing a blog entry in screenplay form. For practice and for fun. Now I'm spending more time trying to figure out how to post it. Obviously I can't just copy and paste text in script format.

Well, obviously now. Not so obvious when I started this project.

I figured out how to save it as a pdf file - thanks to a google search and free downloadable software. I've even tried to reformat it in Word. I don't know how to upload the file to my website and link to it - which seemed like one of the more viable options.

Didn't work. The document started speaking in tongues.

So if I ever feel like it, I will copy, paste and reformat by hand for my blog entry. But it's five script pages. So we'll see how I feel after I tend to a few emails.

Suggestions are most welcome.

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ppp - One Account Mortgage - ppp

the following is a paid review.

Okay home owners, this one's for you. The One Account claims to reduce the amount of interest you pay on your mortgages. I don't know about anywhere else, but for those in Los Angeles, lower payments can only be a good thing!

From what I understand, (correct me if I'm wrong) The One Account takes your income, savings and debt into consideration when calculating these lower interest rates. You can combine (transfer) all your debt into your One Account and pay only that one low mortgage-ish interest rate, instead of letting the credit card companies suck the money out from under you with their variable rates.

I'm far (far!) from having a mortgage. But with all the debt around me, I would imagine having one account (get it? "One Account") would be a time-saver and less of a headache.

Sounds all good and fine. But do we know anyone who's actually benefited from this kind of service? The site's FAQ seem to answer technical questions about the program (and they should). I would love to see some kind of forum for users - satisfied customers perhaps.

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Slow-Loading Websites

Websites that constantly (and consistently) slow me down in my work, surfing, writing, playing, etc.:

Blogger
MySpace
PayPerPost
GoDaddy
Site Meter
Yahoo!
Revver

What does this mean?
These sites (especially the top three) load particularly slow. They often timeout before fully loading. Many times it takes two or three hits before I get a response. I'm often reminded of my dial-up days when things were expected to be that slow.

Frustrating.

That's all.

Patience.

I know. Trying.

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ppp - Free Quality Phones - ppp

the following is a paid review

This one is perfectly timed. Ever since moving to the new house, we've had trouble with our cell phone reception. I'm tired of standing on my head in a corner of the kitchen just to hear the person I'm talking to.

My cell service is nearing the two-year mark (finally) and I've been researching new service. With our impending trip to NH this summer, we know we need to change services. Cingular just doesn't work well out there. There's also the issue of my physical cell phone. It's as old as my service and we all know how cell phones should get tossed every six months or so. Especially those cheap ones (like mine).

I've been lucky (blessed?) to have it last this long. I'm way overdue for an upgrade. What I'd really like to do is get a free cell phone with my new service. Like I did two years ago with this one. But the phone I got was bottom-of-the-barrell as far as quality goes. It does the bare minimum - makes phone calls and sends text messages. No phone, no internet access, etc. Plus, it shuts off randomly. And the battery doesn't hold a charge like it used to. I can't tell you how many days I've gotten in the car to see a low battery signal. Frustrating.

I want a good, high-quality phone with my new service. If they're getting two years out of me, the least they can do is give me a phone that will last as long as the service. Then I can consider renewing and upgrading at the same time.

That seems to be what wirefly.com can do for me. We're considering switching to Verizon since our families and friends all have that in NH. Wirefly is offering a free Razr phone with Verizon service. It's not like I'm a fan of that phone but I do know it's a good phone. It's not the only free phone offer either.

I don't know about the reception of T-Mobile in NH but I do like the Blackberry phone offer that comes with the service. I could blog from the road, read email, get directions and of course make actual phone calls too.

These are not cheap phones. And they don't suck. I don't know how they do it. But it seems to be better than going directly through the service provider.

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Allergies

Allergies really got the better of me last night.

I think cleaning the PeaceWagon did a number on my sinuses. I haven't had allergy symptoms like this in years.

I suppose it was bound to happen - with all the dirt, dust and dog hair.

Watery eyes, stuffy nose, swollen dry hands. I feel like I'm under water. Not particularly fun.

But

It was so nice to drive a clean car. The fresh smell of lavendar, rose and orange citrus makes for a peaceful ride.

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Monday, March 05, 2007

ppp - Vonage VoIP Forum - ppp

the following is a paid review.

For everything-Vonage, this is your one-stop shop. Specifically for news, reviews and discussions. I've said it a million times - I'm all about reading reviews and researching products and services before making any kind of significant purchase. I believe the best advertisement is word-of-mouth. I will read what the "experts" have to say. But I'm more likely to listen to a peer's advice and ask for a peer's opinion. We're all consumers. We have the same agenda. If you have questions about Vonage or VoIP in general, check out this Vonage VoIP Forum.

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Annabella Sciorra


Just when we're about to cancel Showtime, the hottest actress on the planet shows up on The L Word.

What's a girl to do but wait it out.

We're nearing the last few episodes in the season. I think we can handle one more month of Showtime.

Come on Sunday already!

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PPP Rant 2

FYI - I am NOT being paid for this post.

I've been frustrated with payperpost lately. There have been changes that disqualify many Posties like me from participating in opportunities.

At first it was just a few of the exclusive "high paying" opps. Now it seems I only qualify for a handful of low paying opps that require two and three hundred words.

All because I have a low Alexa ranking. Actually, it's a high ranking, because the lower the number, the better your score.

Different from Google Page Rank. I have a Google PR4 (out of 10). Which is decent enough. The problem is, I don't even use Alexa. There isn't a toolbar for my web browser, Firefox. Alexa is an Internet Explorer thing.

It's also like a Nielson's Ratings Box. Some families have one. Some don't.

So until more people use the Alexa toolbar while surfing through my blog, I will remain one of the "excluded" Posties.

If you use IE, please consider downloading the Alexa toolbar. It will help with all of our ratings. And it will give a more accurate recording of who's visiting who. (whom?)

These opps that I do not qualify for (I'm "just outside the box") would allow me to blog more often. Not only do they pay very well, but they are interesting and fun.

For now, It's slim pickings.

Remember, when reading my blog, if you come across a PayPerPost ad and you hate it, just skip it.

Bobby, creator of the Random Blog Button and author of Bestest Blog Of All Time, created a wonderful html code for his blog. His visitors can click on one single link to minimize all of his PPP ads on his front page.

It's wonderful -- as if they don't exist. Only the title of the post appears. You have the option to expand the post if you find a title that interests you. Way better than skimming.

I've asked him if he'd share the code with us. He's good like that. He's also the guy I signed up with PPP through. If it weren't for him, I wouldn't have known about the benefits of PayPerPost.

Again, for clarity, I'm not being paid for this post. I just wanted to express my grave disappointment in PPP's segregation they call segmentation. I've made them a lot of money so they could impose exclusivity.

Oh, and one open issue is their lag time. My last post for them was eight days ago. It still hasn't been reviewed for approval yet.

When I discussed this with the Director of Customer Love (no shit) she danced around the core of the subject and answered questions I didn't ask. Granted, she was pleasant and spent a lot of time going back and forth in email with me - especially when she received my Better Business Bureau complaint.

When I finally said, "You still haven't answered my original question." She informed me that she has spent enough time on this and anything else would be a waste of valuable resources.

So, until my questions are answered, my Better Business Bureau complaint remains open.

I like PPP but that doesn't mean we should accept poor treatment.

That's all.

Rant over.

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Sunday, March 04, 2007

Self Care



For me, anxiety is usually a sign of movement about to happen.
Stuck energy. Old stuff. New stuff. Stuff-stuff.
I hashed it out in therapy.
It's a start.

I need to be active.
To free my mind and clear my heart.
Also, gotta take care of myself.
Smoothie for the soul-body.


I spent the day detailing the PeaceWagon.
It was time.


An entire day of brushing, vacuuming and scrubbing.
I washed all doggie leashes, towels and blankets too.
The interior may never look this good again.
Don't blink.



Four hours of work in the hot sun wears me out.


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The Dominance-Dance

It's been a long time since I've done overnight pet sitting for a tough dog. I'd say large but Maggie isn't so big. She's just one solid mass of muscle.

She's part of a misunderstood breed.

Referred to some as American Staffordshire Terriers, Staffies, Pitties. Call them what you want, they're still Pitbulls. And they come with a bad rap.

People see her coming and they cross the street to get out of her way.

We walk her twice a week. Seperate walks. Because she's unpredictable. Misunderstood by even myself.

So, she's been staying with us since Thursday. The introduction to our home was easier than anticipated. The transition for all of our pets - sleeping, eating, playing arrangements - was flawless.

We even had Otis here for the entire day yesterday and they played with each other. Poor Maggs doesn't realize what a brute she is. One slap of the paw will take down one of our little ones. Even when she doesn't mean it.

She's been kept separate from dog park groups because of her unpredictability. So I've never even attempted to integrate her into the pack. She's a one-dog pack. Loves people!

Because she is a dominant female dog, she does well with male dogs and submissive females.

The unfortunate part of that is, my dog Hunny is (and always has been) a dominant dog. I spent years training her to resist dominating helpless critters. She learned quickly that the only top dog above her is me.

In the good old days of her youth at the dog park, Hunny could be found humping and bumping all kinds of dominant dogs - even (especially) those bigger and stronger than her. For some reason, the other dogs would go right to the ground and flip on their backs for Hunny - who weighs a mere 23 lbs.

Well, she's not so spry these days. She's over twelves years old. She's been slowing down in the last couple of years. She's been through bouts of illness and hip problems due to chronic urinary tract infections.

The problem is, she still thinks she's a young tough thing. She will die fighting for her life -- or fighting to save ours. Recently, she jumped a dog three times her size because the dog was attacking Piper.

I can hardly bear to think what would've happened if I hadn't been there to grab the big dog away.

So here we are, Hunny, Piper, Maggie and our kitty Gracie. We've been keeping a close eye on the two bitches because they're vying for top dog status. In this house, our dogs are alpha when other dogs visit. We see to it. Truth be told, the humans are the toppest-dogs. And we see to that!

Yesterday, Maggie snapped when Hunny tried to hop on the bed with everyone. That was the last of our bed that Maggie will ever see. She earned herself a nice cozy spot on the floor with her blanket.

Maggie also earned herself solitary confinement when she snapped at Hunny for going near her bone late last night (long after the bone was already taken away).

This morning I found two puncture wounds on Hunny's head and face. Even after searching last night, they didn't appear till this morning. So Maggie has permanently earned herself seclusion at night.

It makes me sad.

Sad that I didn't notice the wounds last night and I was cleaning crusty blood off of Hunny's fur this morning. My poor girl. I just love her so much!

Sad too that Maggie just doesn't get how strong she is.

Dogs snap at each other all the time. The problem with a pitbull's snap is their ultra-strong jaw can do serious damage.

Maggs knew she had done something wrong. I took her down and showed her who was boss. Now, all I have to do is give her a look and she backs up, lays down and looks away. She shivers when I go near her.

Like all dogs Maggie just wants to please us. It would take a lot of time to get this kind of training down. But we only have her for another week.

And the stress!

We have to keep them separated when we're not able to keep our eyes on them. Luckily we have the space. And if it gets too stressful, we can always split up. One of us can sleep with Maggie in her own home while the other stays here with our pets.

I'm not one to give up though. They're all good dogs. And this kind of stuff comes with the territory.

I just don't think this is the end of the dominance-dance. So my hackles are up.

I imagine Gracie (our six-month-old kitty) is sitting back laughing at us all. It seems pretty clear to her that she's actually top dog.

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Saturday, March 03, 2007

ppp - Bulgaria - ppp

THE FOLLOWING IS A PAID REVIEW

Another area to consider buying, you know, when I need a few stops to rest during my world travels, is Bulgaria. I'll admit, it's not the first place I would imagine running off to. But after researching bansko properties I find myself curious about Bulgarian culture. Particularly beach front properties like this panoramic view of the Black Sea. Of course, there's also the complete opposite - ski properties for the snowy season.

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Friday, March 02, 2007

Anxiety and Remembering

Whew

I'm feeling anxious today.

I had this conscious thought last night about anxiety. What was it? Oh right. I was feeling anxious (surprise) and wondered why it was I felt so anxious.

I don't remember feeling this way in my younger years. Perhaps it's because I don't remember feeling so much.

That wasn't the conscious thought.

This was: I was able to tell myself that events are going to happen in life whether I'm anxious or not. So why not just choose to relax, walk the path and cut out the middle-man?

Anxiety isn't the path.
It's extra baggage.
I'm going that way anyway.

If only it were as simple as that.
I mean, it is. But it isn't.

Anxiety is cellular. Not always a conscious choice.

Remembering that I'm reacting and allowing the ease of breath during the remembering should help retrain my body.

So, as I sit here pondering anxiety, I'm noticing my heightened anxiety.
Something deeper.
Something underlying.
Something keeps me
from remembering
that I'm okay.

Even for that split second. It's there. I notice it. And it affects my whole being.

How I feel about myself, how I will choose to care for myself, all depend on my remembering.

Remembering to breathe.
Remembering that this too shall pass.
Remembering that everything is temporary.
Remembering that no matter how much money is in the bank,
how much love is in my life,
how much love I have to give,
how much fear rests unsettled in me,
how much hate is around me,

I am still okay.

... there it is ...

remember
remember
remember

It's a constant need for remembering

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Thursday, March 01, 2007

Dodgeball for an A+

I remember those childhood playground games I enjoyed during recess in elementary school. Kickball, jumprope, hopscotch, boxball (four-square).

I also remember one other schoolyard game that I refused to participate in because of it's vile and violent nature: DODGEBALL.

So today, I was picking up one of my dogs who lives across the street from a public elementary school playground.

Kids were screaming and laughing as usual. This time, instead of scattered groups of various activities throughout the playground, there was one group of about thirty kids huddled in one area.

It took me only a moment to realize they were playing (you guessed it) dodgeball.

I was slightly stunned. These kids were pelting the shit out of each other with those big rubber playground balls. You know the ones. ouch!

I considered taking a walk across the street to ask the kids to treat each other nicer when I realized there was an adult in the center of the crowd, cheering and refereeing.

That's when it occurred to me that this was a physical education class! (with one lazy-ass gym teacher)

Since when did this dreadful schoolyard torture-activity become part of the core curriculum in elementary school?

I watched in horror.

SPLAT!

A b-line pitch to a child's face drew cheers from half the circle.

Granted, the pitcher's team didn't gain any points for a hit above the shoulders but hello, it doesn't stop them from aiming high.

Who cares about points when you can impale a classmate and get praised for creating an actual bruise? Now that's a team sport!

Aren't these the same kids we are trying to teach peace and tolerance? Aren't we concerned about them acting out their rage on other classmates?

What's the difference between dodgeball and a punch? I guess in this case, a punch may get them detention. Dodgeball gets them promoted.

Ironically, TAG is banned from schoolyards because of its "potentially violent outcome."


I don't get it. But I will be sending a letter to that city's school district. One of the top districts around. People move from all over so their kids can go to those schools.

And I know it's not the only school with dodgeball on the syllabus. Surprisingly (to me anyway) I know of an elite private high school whose students are expected to participate in dodgeball during phys. ed.

Am I missing something? Am I the only one who thinks this is whacked?

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