Thursday, August 21, 2014




This is a long story.

First, I was a child of the 50s and 60s, the most turbulent times in recent American history.  The television screen was constantly filled with images of rebellion and violence.  But I was blissful in the ignorance of my youth and disinterested as I was to remain throughout the Viet Nam war and onward into adulthood.

What I DO remember, however, are the images shown in my own household.  Those were images as ugly as the images on the TV screen.  I remember my father ranting at the TV, using ugly language and declaring that if THEY “would only act like us, talk like us and be quiet” everything would be OK.  And I’ll admit this, I bought into it because don’t most of us buy into what our parents are selling?

The truly horrifying part of this is that my father was a high school teacher in a predominately minority school and as much as I’d like to believe that he treated all his students equally I can no longer support that fantasy.  He’s long gone and I’m happy that he took his hatred with him.


I was raised in a time when there were four, only four, sources of information:  The daily newspaper; ABC, CBS, and NBC.  Uncle Walter (Cronkite) spoke the truth, the gospel, no need to look further.  What I didn’t know was how tightly controlled content was by the government and the executives of the media.

Recently CNN aired a series about the 60s that put my vision of that era in an entirely new perspective.  Episode 5 “The Long March to Freedom” was a revelation.  Here were all those images again but this time I was viewing them as an adult and with opinions of my own.  I was ashamed.  Mortally ashamed.  I wanted to weep.  The ugliness in the faces was the same ugliness in the face that I saw daily in my own home as a child.  And it’s the same ugliness that I see in the faces of protesters waving angry signs at immigrant CHILDREN in busses. 

I had a white friend who is now in his 70s who once told me about going to the South to peacefully protest and how he’d been dragged out of his car, beaten and bloodied by the police and arrested.  At the time he told me of this I was still in that self-absorbed phase but seeing the images again brought home to me how real this hatred was and how corrupt the law enforcement community can be in parts of this country.  How heroic was my friend?  He later became a priest but then left the priesthood and his faith because as he said, “I cannot stand by and watch little children being hurt”.  At the time I had no idea what he was talking about because, you guessed it, there was no information.


I can no longer use the excuse of “not enough information” that I’ve been hiding behind.  We have more information now than we can make use of or process and it’s my responsibility to GO FUCKING FIND IT.  I’ve been telling myself that I can’t make a judgment because I don’t have enough information.

Yet the signs were always in front of me.  I thought the Temptations “Cloud Nine” was a peppy dance  number until I was walking and listening to it recently.  The incarceration of America’s black men for drug charges is a disgrace.  I’m going to come out and say that, as unpopular an opinion as that may be.  It’s time to STOP.  Let’s deal with this problem in some other way.  I don’t pretend to have the answer but as long as the only way to escape the reality of being black in America is Cloud Nine it should not be a crime.
The signs were there, I chose not to see them.  I’m learning more as I age; I learned that we weren’t told the truth.  We got a filtered view of everything.  AND WE STILL DO.

Here are just a few of the things I learned as a young person (this may be uncomfortable for some people and it’s uncomfortable for me to discuss):

1.        Black Studies programs are unnecessary because, hey, there’s NOTHING TO STUDY.

2.        Ebonics is ridiculous.  They should just learn to talk like us. (Hmm, and which dialect of English would that be? Maine, Texas, Louisiana?

3.        Don’t go into the bathroom in school if there are black girls in there, they will beat you up.  Yes, really.  I went to an all-white high school.  Once in a while a black teenager would appear and then a few days later he or she would be gone.  I wonder why? 

4.        Be careful when you go to a football game at Tucson High School, you will get beat up.  (What’s with this beating up stuff?)  My husband attended Tucson High School, one of the few integrated schools and I can assure you that he was beating up and being beaten up by white guys. 

5.       They don’t have anything to be angry about, slavery was not MY fault.  I wasn’t  there, they should just get over it.

If this is what I was being told in an educated home then can you imagine what was and still is going on?


I am married to a law enforcement officer.  I know what a difficult job it is and how dangerous it is.  I cannot speculate about what happened in that car and I am terrified for all the young men and women in law enforcement who may find themselves in a similar situation and do the only thing they think they can to save their lives and end up in prison for it.

I am silent because I do not have enough information to make a judgment.  And that’s no excuse at all because I need to find that information.  I need to dig and find out what the history of law enforcement has been in Ferguson.  I need to know more about the victim and the officer.  I’m sure it’s out there if I look hard enough and if I remove the filters from my eyes and my mind.

We are trained to assume that if there is an encounter with a law enforcement officer, there must be SOME reason and I do believe that for the most part there is but again that’s through my own filter and experience living in the western United States where things are different.  Yes, they are.  I have to admit though that I have no idea whatsoever what it is like to be a young black man in America.


Because I’m afraid.  I am afraid of what people will think of me if I raise my voice.  I have my own minority status that I hide because I am afraid of what people will think of me.  Thank heavens there are people who are not afraid to raise their voices.  Among the bad actors in Ferguson are many brave people who are not afraid.  I hope their voices are heard above the rhetoric and hate.


This morning as I was returning from my walk I passed by the high school children waiting for their busses.  There was a mix of races; the kids seemed relaxed and friendly.  My own children don’t understand racism; they don’t even understand what the fuss is about.  The cycle has been broken.  Not everywhere but in enough places to make a difference. 


I want full disclosure from all sources.  I want every man, woman and child in this country to be treated with dignity and respect.  That is all.  Just that.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Paula Deen - Under All That Sugar the Cake is Rotten

No, Paula, "everyone" does NOT use the N word.  Even just thinking that word makes me uncomfortable.

The days of telling jokes at the expense of nationalities, ethnicities and sexual orientation were over long ago but you did not get the memo or chose to ignore it.

I grew up during the Civil Rights movement and was subjected to the racist rants of my father when films of the riots were on the nightly news.  I listened to the stupid racist jokes my father-in-law told.  And I was glad when I knew that they had taken their attitudes with them when they departed this world.  Strangely, our mothers were silent during these episodes of hate thinly disguised as humor.  I know my mother was not racist and I know that she truly would not hurt another human being with disrespect but she was also a woman of the previous generation and as such, could not challenge her husband.

Paula Deen is only 4 years older than me so she cannot use that excuse.  Is it a Southern thing?  I certainly hope not as I would no more want to paint all southerners with the same brush that Paula would paint the objects of her jokes.

Racist jokes, racist comments, dressing your employees up as slaves is just WRONG.

I think what makes me the angriest is that Ms. Deen has caused damage to my credibility as a middle-aged white woman because what minority person will not be more apt to view me with suspicion?  Thanks, Paula. Thanks a lot.

Monday, May 20, 2013

To Work or Not to Work?

Trying to write documentation for software that should not need documenting.  It's perfectly obvious what the user needs to do.  So the question is, continue working on the documentation or go search for stray chin hairs in the magnifying mirror?  Ah, the perks of being self-employed!

Monday, May 6, 2013

Don't Hit Your Kids

I can't believe I even have to say this.  Don't hit your kids.

1.  They are smaller than you but they won't ALWAYS be smaller than you and all you've done is taught your child that smacking someone weaker than themselves is OK.  That won't sound like such a great idea when your baby boy or girl is towering over you by about 6 inches and outweighs you by 30 pounds.

2.  How would you like it if your boss came up and whacked you every time you added up a column of numbers wrong or if you were late to work by 1 minute?  It's not nice.

3.  If you don't want to raise violent children, then don't model violence in the home.  They do what they see and this can make them mighty unpopular with the administrators at school later on.  Save yourself the trouble now and stop raising violent kids.

4.  It may be tempting to give the kid a quick push, shove, whack, etc. but act your age!  You are supposed to be in control of your own temper by the time you are old enough to have kids.

5.  It doesn't work.  No, really.  It doesn't work.  Yeah, yeah.  I've heard it over and over, "My parents spanked/hit me and I turned out OK."  No, you turned out to be a person who would hit little kids.  That's NOT OK.  Jeeze, do you think it's OK to kick puppies too?  I had a father who was a proponent of corporal punishment and all it did was teach me that he was an asshole.

6.  There really are better ways of dealing with kids who are acting up.  If they are too small to reason with then STOP TRYING TO REASON WITH THEM.  Simply remove them from the situation.  I've found that  a firm hold on the child along with a soft "Shhhhhh" repeated into his/her ear can really help.

7.  Whispering is more effective than shouting.  I am serious.  Try it.

8.  If the child is old enough to talk then time-outs can be very useful.  Again, it's removal from the situation that's causing a problem.

9.  As they get older yet, you have to find out what they value most and then take it away from them.  Cell phone?  Gone.  Video games?  Gone.  TV?  Gone.  Yes, it's OK to take their bedroom door off the hinges to prevent door slamming tantrums.  No good behavior, no door, no privacy.  You'll be surprised how fast that works.

10.  HUMOR!!!!!!  More bad behavior can be derailed by humor than any smack down.  As soon as they understand English the old "I'll bet you can't keep from smiling" trick works almost every time!  Do something stupid, make a dumb joke.  Sometimes it will just piss them off more but very often it will break the tension.

11.  Misdirection.  OK, we all know this one.  Change the subject, give the child a different toy, move to another location.

And then, there are times when you just have to wait it out and here's where you have to become the adult.  Do not give in to the temptation to lash out either physically or verbally. This is a test of your character and you don't want to fail because your children are watching - you want them to develop character so show them how it's done.

Public Restroom Stupidity

If I were king...

In this health conscious era when we've all become germophobes I still cannot figure out why we don't have regulations regarding restroom doors.  It makes no sense for the doors to open inwards.  You come in with (presumably) germy hands, get them even germier in the restroom, wash them thoroughly and then have to grasp the door handle and PULL to get out and you KNOW that you are probably one in 100 people who wash their hands properly.

If there are paper towels handy this is a problem that can be solved by simply using one to pull the door open with but in restrooms with only blow driers you have no choice but to touch the handle.

No, I'm not ridiculously concerned with bacteria and viruses but I do think that it would be so damned obvious that restroom doors need to have their hinges reversed so that we can PUSH the stupid thing open with our elbows, shoulders, hip, feet, whatever.  

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

The Story-Go-Round, Restaurant Survival Kit Item #1

You've been there...  Stuck in a restaurant with children and slow service.  OK, any service restaurant that doesn't hustle your food out to you in a bag through a drive-thru-window.

If your children have learned to write you are in luck!  Part of my Restaurant Survival Kit is a notepad and some pencils.  The first person (ME!  Because I said so, that's why.) writes the opening sentence(s) of the story and sets the stage.  The more absurd the premise, the better.

The next family member receives the notepad and adds his/her paragraph and so-on around the table.  There will always be one child who insists on being the one to write the concluding paragraph and that one child will always insist on ending the story with a gruesome death of someone, something, somehow.

Then the person who started the story (ME!  Because I said so, that's why) reads the resulting mash-up of a story out loud, predictably at that very moment the server shows up with the food which provokes some raised eyebrows due to the usual scatological bent of children's story-telling talents.

You would be AMAZED at the imaginations of your children and you will also be amazed by how fast the time went by while you were waiting for your food.  Keeps everyone engaged and everyone giggling.  More giggling, less wiggling.  WIN!!!!!!

Read To Them

Once upon a time...  All three of my children were born within 1.5 years of each other which means that they are in a similar age range with similar interests. This made reading to the babies easier because the books were interesting to all of them.

Reading in our big king-sized bed became a nightly ritual even before the babies could read.  It was a time for everyone to come together for some quiet time before bed but it didn't always stay quiet time as the children grew older.  Sometimes we would simply be dissolved with laughter and goofing around.  But mostly it was a good way to wind down the hyper-energy of little kids at the end of the day.

I attribute my children's success in school and life to their early introduction to the skills of reading.  After all, everything they will be challenged with involves reading and comprehension skills.

Once the kids got older and began learning to read I would have them take turns reading out loud and would assign them roles to play in each story.  My very favorite series of stories for the younger ones were the "Hank the Cowdog" stories.  These provide lots of opportunities for dialect, inflection, and just plain silliness!

The "Wayside School" stories were also big hits.  Read anything and everything to your children; do not underestimate their abilities to understand.  Mine were able to enjoy Edgar Allen Poe stories at about 4th grade level.  Expand their vocabulary and don't be afraid to admit that you don't know the definition of a word - just go look it up.

There were times when books that were assigned to them in school became our reading material.  This gave us a chance to discuss the books and gave them practice in reading comprehension.  And it taught them that reading is not just a solitary activity but can be interactive as well.

It's trite but true, reading is the key to everything (OK, maybe math too) and reading together as a family gives everyone time to relax, engage in some serious snuggling and many memorable times together.  Bonding at it's best!