Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for May, 2009

 
How about this bit of human interest news? According to a front page story in the New York Times, teenagers now use a hug to say hello, enveloping even those they may not know wellkidshug. Everyone’s hugging – boys, girls, BFFs, casual acquaintances, even groups. 

What’s up with that? Are the hugs the leading edge of ever more casual interaction between people. Is it a teen reaction to the sterile isolation of virtual communication – e-mail, text, IM and Twitter? Are young people looking for connection in an uncertain world? Are they trying to make the geeks and the squeamish and the Christina Ricci Goth girl types who are ChristinaRicciuncomfortable with human contact feel even more out of it? Or is this simply another way for teens to defy convention and push defensive school administrators worried about inappropriate contact between students even further to the wall? Maybe all of the above.  

No matter; everybody’s doing it in high school. If it’s subversive, it’s cleverly so. I mean, who doesn’t love hugs? So warm, so fuzzy so fraught with meaning.hug frog

Somewhere back in the nineties, I read something about human beings needing fourteen hugs a day in order to feel well-adjusted. I was not about to depend on my exhausted, hard-working husband to deliver all fourteen so I settled for three or four and a shot at being moderately well-adjusted. At the time, I was married but working from home, thus somewhat socially isolated. My husband didn’t seem to worry at all, bless his well-adjusted soul. 

Now that I’m on my own and have a huggable little dog, I don’t feel as if I need physical contact with everyone and anyone I run into. I’m worried, in fact, that this ritual greeting might become a common cultural convention in social and business settings.menHugs I wouldn’t like that. I don’t want to hug my clients. I like my mailman Willy well enough. Hell, we  went through the anthrax scare together (Willie still wears a glove, kind of like Michael Jackson).  I tip him at Christmastime. But I don’t want a hug from him. Nor do I want the saleslady from Ann Taylor to accompany her enthusiastic “Those pants are so you!” with a hug. My doctor? No. My neighbor? Definitely not.  The cute guy who walks his dogs at the same time I walk mine? Okay, you got me there.

soloHugI am all in favor of shrinking our carbon footprints and trying to use up fewer resources but for better or for worse, I have managed to create my own space and I, for one, would appreciate it if no one would invade it uninvited.

 

 

 

How about this bit of human interest news? According to a front page story in the New York Times, teenagers now use a hug to say hello, enveloping even those they may not know well. What’s up with that? Are they the leading edge of ever more casual interaction between people. Is it a reaction to the sterile isolation of virtual communication – e-mail, text, IM and Twitter? Are teens looking for connection in an uncertain world? Is this designed to make the geeks and the squeamish and the Christina Ricci Goth girl types who are uncomfortable with human contact feel even more out of it? Or is this simply another way for teens to defy convention and push defensive school administrators worried about inappropriate contact between students even further to the wall? Maybe all of the above.
No matter; everybody’s doing it in high school, apparently – across gender and racial lines and including group hugs. If it’s subversive, it’s cleverly so. I mean, who doesn’t love hugs? So warm, so fuzzy so fraught with meaning. 
Somewhere back in the nineties, I read something about human beings needing fourteen hugs a day in order to feel well-adjusted. I was not about to depend on my exhausted, hard-working husband to deliver all fourteen so I settled for three or four and a shot at being moderately well-adjusted. At the time, I was married but working from home, thus somewhat socially isolated. My husband didn’t seem to worry at all, bless his well-adjusted soul.
Now that I’m on my own and have a huggable little dog, I don’t feel as if I need physical contact with everyone and anyone I run into. I’m worried, in fact, that this ritual greeting might become a cultural convention. I mean, I like my mailman Willy. Hell, we  went through the anthrax scare together (Willie still wears a glove, kind of like Michael Jackson).  I tip him at Christmastime. But I don’t want a hug from him. Nor do I want the saleslady from Ann Tailor to accompany her enthusiastic “Those pants are so you!” with a hug. My doctor? No. My neighbor? Definitely not.  The cute guy who walks his dogs at the same time I walk mine? Okay, you got me there.
I am all in favor of shrinking our carbon footprints and trying to use up fewer resources but for better or for worse, I have managed to create my own space and I, for one, would appreciate it if no one would invade it uninvited. 

 

Read Full Post »

The headlines this past week were reason enough to encourage the tearing of hair, gnashing of teeth and and scratching of heads. I know, that could happen in any week, given the headlines these days. Still, these particular headlines inspired questions on my part that I’m hoping my readers will address. Please use the comments section to throw in your two cents (or more) and whatever you do, try to maintain the faintly comic tenor of the post.

1. One Out of Seven Former Detainees Returns to Terrorist Activities: If six out of seven detainees did NOT return to terrorist activities, how many detainees did we NOT need to detain in the first place? 

2. Loaded Guns Allowed in National Parks Under Credit Card Bill:  Will this bill, if passed, allow us to use loaded guns on credit card company CEOs in national parks?   

3. Human Rights Activist Suu Kyi Arrested in Myranmar: If an American man swimming across a lake provides a reason to detain someone already under house arrest, what would happen if two Russians approached by canoe? A Frenchwoman on rollerblades?

4. Steele Threatens to Quit if RNC Undermines Funding Authority: Is this news? Is this even interesting? 

5. Kris Allen Beats Adam Lambert on Star-Packed “American Idol” Finale: Is this about eyeliner? The questionable costume choices? Or perhaps the questionable musical tastes of the average “American Idol” viewer? 

6. Fears of Swine Flu Close Three More Schools: Is swine flu less of a problem if the young folk hang out sharing one another’s soda, snot and eyeliner in parks and at the mall instead of at school? 

7. Any and all headlines with the word “Cheney” (or “Dick Cheney” or “former Vice-President) in the title: Is he writing a book? Rewriting history? Planning to run for President in 2012? Does he believe he already IS President?

Thanks for trying to wrap your brains around these pressing questions. Meanwhile, enjoy the weekend, remember the people who serve our nation and I’ll see you next week. 

Read Full Post »

I was surprised to learn, via a recent New York Times article, that scouting for older kids (“young adults”) has expanded to include training to deal with terrorist attacks, hostage situations and border skirmishes. The training involves producing life-like settings “not intended to be applied outside the simulated Explorer setting.”

14explorerbus

Phew, that’s a relief.

Things have certainly changed since my older brother was an Explorer back in the sixties. The teenaged boys (no girls allowed until later) were offered adventures above and beyond what traditional scouting had to offer and the chance to acquire some useful skills, like wilderness survival, navigation and first aid or even, as part of the Sea Scouts, nautical training. It was all kind of wholesome, albeit in a God-centric, homophobic kind of way.

1955.02_explorer_scouts_mayor_lawlor_c

Times are different. The article noted the training represents “…an intense ratcheting up of one of the group’s longtime missions to prepare youths for more traditional jobs as police officers and firefighters.” The accompanying photo made these kids – sorry, “young adults” – look like SWAT team mini-recruits. Very intense.

14explorers2-600a

I suppose you can’t have too many people trained to police our borders, or be ready to take on terrorists. But if BSA (Boy Scouts of America) wants to offer its older members excitement, discipline, growth possibility and not only career but life-skills training (I think I’m fairly synthesizing the Explorer goals), the organization is missing some real opportunities. I mean, why stop at possible jobs with police or fire departments or Homeland Security? What about training for a position that might more typically be available to young people in these days of budget cutbacks? To give just one example of a simulation focused on career preparation:

Call Center Customer Service: Explorers are trained to multi-task by simultaneously pretending to listen to customer complaints, reading from a prepared script and updating Facebook pages. call centerParticipants are also encouraged to find other, creative ways to fend off mind-numbing boredom while at the same time avoid getting caught by the floor manager or called out by a customer who demands to talk with a supervisor.

As for a practice session that simulates an absolutely true-life situation:

Explorers must stand patiently in line for up to six hours at a job fair or unemployment office before coming face to face with an uninformed, unhelpful or openly hostile worker who will either send the Explorer to the back of the line, to another line, or home. Participant will be expected not to react violently, but instead restrict reaction to mild, inaudible grumbling while complying with orders from a clearly inferior person. The exercise teaches patience, temperance and belief in a Higher Authority or at least payback. unemployment

I’d like to believe neither of these situations or the several others I came up with (but didn’t include) might require training in dealing with terrorism, hostage situations or skirmishes with immigrants both legal and illegal. Then again, it’s a whole new world out there – Scout’s honor.  scout

Read Full Post »

On the airplane home from a college reunion, I watched “He’s Just Not That Into You” while reading about Elizabeth Edward’s forthcoming book, “Resilience” and her appearance on Oprah with her philandering husband. I don’t know which one made me more squeamish.

The movie is based on the best-selling book, which served as an upside-the-head smack for obsessed women everywhere. If he doesn’t call, if he always has excuses, if you suspect he’s not being straight with you then – hello? – he’s trying to tell you something without coming out and saying it: basically, he’s not all that interested although the sex might be fun. It’s taken years of bad date and mate experiences, plus one wonderful abeit criminally short marriage to understand that pursuing someone who isn’t that into you will invariably result in humiliation. By the way, guys, we know that and our best friends know that and hundreds of advice columns tell us that and don’t ask me why we continue to try and make you change anyway. Maybe if you came right out and told us directly we might accept your lack of interest – but I can’t be sure

Since we tend to assume marriage is the ultimate commitment, betrayal becomes more difficult. There’s history, there’s attachment, there may be children and there may even be love.  There’s also disbelief at the highest levels: how could he? Acceptance is long in coming. Women whose husbands deceive and leave aren’t left with much choice except to hold their heads high and get a good divorce attorney. Women whose husbands stray and stay seem to be from another planet, qualifying, we might suppose, for sainthood or at least martyrdom. 

The ultimate stakes seem to involve public figures, men whose egos and appetites blind them to the possibilities they will be outed. What do their women do? In olden days, they might suffer in silence, perhaps. No more.

HilBilI can understand that the humiliation of standing or sitting by your man  as he admits to his transgression at a press conference or on some TV talk show would be  enough to compel you to inflict maximum discomfort. Watching your husband take up with a woman young enough to be his daughter (or a man, for that matter) just because he can is hard enough. Having to suffer silently while it becomes tabloid and talk-show fodder has to be excruciating.Spitzer

So while good works and public service might do for some, a number of public figure spouses have responded with tell-all (or tell-some) books or articles these days, not to mention visits to Oprah, Ellen, “The Today Show,” and even perhaps a well-placed YouTube video. That makes it hard to think about  Elizabeth Edwards, her forthcoming book and appearance on Oprah.

Edwards follows in the footsteps of an infuriated Dina McGreevey, whose book about her husband Jim’s gay infidelity, about which she hadn’t, according to her book, a clue. mcGreevyThe ex-governor responded with his own tell-all book, the two books competing as the divorcing couple engaged in a fierce custody battle. Dina was obviously embarrassed and it’s entirely possible she needed the money; New Jersey governors don’t make all that much.

But Elizabeth Edwards is a lawyer and public health advocate, a mother of three who survived the loss of her first-born and is battling hard to survive a diagnosis of terminal cancer. She’s so  so respected she’s almost been canonized. She sits on several important boards and committees and is a leading advocate for healthcare reform. Why the tell-all book, which, by all accounts, lays far more of the blame on the other woman than on her husband?

The advanced buzz is that Edwards wanted to help other women by telling her story but there are ways to provide counseling, outreach and support without headlines. Money might explain part of it but I don’t think that’s it.  Of course, as we writers know, once we’ve gone through the painful yet cathartic process of writing it all down, we are understandably anxious to   get it our there. More than a few wronged women might be into perpetrating the drama, which also extends the attention.You could argue that Edwards has exacted the ultimate revenge: her husband is to appear with her on “Oprah.”

Mostly, though, I think I suspect Edwards is afflicted with our distinctly female need to explain – explain in print, explain again to Oprah or Ellen or Meredith or whichever sympathetic yeah-I’ve-been-there woman is gently interviewing you or to your best friend or the woman who does your nails or someone you’re sitting next to on the subway, explain yet again on the book tour or on YouTube or at your book club or your Pilates class, explain over and over and over again as many times as you need to – in the preposterous hope that explaining it will help make sense of it and may, in some distant time and place or possibly a parallel universe – allow you to get through to the cheating other who may – if the stars align and the earth moves under our feet  –  come up with an acceptable explanation and maybe even come home to stay.

Read Full Post »

“April 30, 2009 (YORKVILLE, Ill.) (WLS) — The World Health Organization announced Thursday it will no longer refer to the virus as the ‘swine flu.’ The agency say the term is misleading consumers and causing some countries to ban pork products needlessly, because there is no evidence of infection in pigs, or of humans getting the infection directly from pigs. This has also had an effect on those who make a living breeding, raising and selling pork. ” (from ABC local affiliate 7 in Chicago)
All I can say is: it’s about time. Sure, economic considerations are behind this latest adjustment. It’s not as if too many people were stepping up to defend the reputation of the poor pig, what with unfair accusations, cruel jokes and the wholesale shunning by their barnyard bretheren (like chickens have so much to brag about).
In this rush to blame the porcine community, old friends have turned on each other. I  was deeply disappointed to learn the Winnie the Pooh was ready to drop a dime on his old friend Piglet. 

“April 30, 2009 (YORKVILLE, Ill.) (WLS) — The World Health Organization announced Thursday it will no longer refer to the virus as the ‘swine flu.’ The agency say the term is misleading consumers and causing some countries to ban pork products needlessly, because there is no evidence of infection in pigs, or of humans getting the infection directly from pigs. This has also had an effect on those who make a living breeding, raising and selling pork. ” (from ABC local affiliate 7 in Chicago)

All I can say is: it’s about time. Sure, economic considerations are behind this latest adjustment. It’s not as if too many people were stepping up to defend the reputation of the poor pig, what with unfair accusations, cruel jokes and the wholesale shunning by their barnyard bretheren (like chickens have so much to brag about).

In this rush to blame the porcine community, old friends have turned on each other. I  was deeply disappointed to learn the Winnie the Pooh was ready to drop a dime on his old friend Piglet. 

 poohpiglet

 

“As the two friends wandered through the snow on their way home, Piglet grinned to himself, thinking how lucky he was to have a best friend like Pooh.

 

Pooh thought to himself: ‘If the pig sneezes, he’s fucken [sic] dead’ “

 

 

 

 

piggy_bars

 And who alerted the border patrol in Mexico that Miss Piggy was vacationing there, resulting in her detention for several hours? 

 

 

 6a00d8341c858253ef00e54f7feb728833-640wi

This picture of a young boy and his best friend bonding was subject to scurrilous rumors about how swine flu was spread, not to mention gossip as to the true nature of their relationship.

 

Frankly, the entire thing has been overkill and it’s time to end it. 

 

 

 

 The fact is, pigs are smart, gentle, cleaner than many animals, loveable and loyal to a fault. They work well with others and make great pets. babe3   ca91e6o6ca7kfiszcaubsj5xcas1shfzca4ki6g0ca3fztpeca78orjacacxkws1cacfae3ucasixsw2calyvbccca8bfwqacahhav3zcamu41n4calavnv0ca9n8g5cca0cn3qucapvlj6vca9fj3bkcapv3vdu    potbellied

 

 

 

This hasn’t protected them from being stereotyped by humans, i.e.”Your room is a pigsty” or “You eat like a pig” or “Don’t hog the remote control” or “All men are swine.” It’s unfair to pigs everywhere. In fact, it’s what Fern, the human heroine of “Charlotte’s Web” and Wilbur’s mistress, says is “the most terrible case of injustice I ever heard of.”

Though falsely linked to various viruses, pigs remain easy-going, affectionate and generally ready to sacrifice themselves for our well-being. They don’t deserve blame for famine, pestilence or the price of a hot dog at the new Yankee Stadium. wilbur

 

Read Full Post »