Tuesday, March 30, 2010


Insults and threats followed 15-year-old Phoebe Prince almost from her first day at South Hadley High School, targeting the Irish immigrant in the halls, library and in vicious cell phone text messages.

Phoebe, ostracized for having a brief relationship with a popular boy, reached her breaking point and hanged herself after one particularly hellish day in January — a day that, according to officials, included being hounded with slurs and pelted with a beverage container as she walked home from school.

Now, nine teenagers face charges in what a prosecutor called "unrelenting" bullying, including two teen boys charged with statutory rape and a clique of girls charged with stalking, criminal harassment and violating Phoebe's civil rights.

School officials won't be charged, even though authorities say they knew about the bullying and that Phoebe's mother brought her concerns to at least two of them.

Northwestern District Attorney Elizabeth Scheibel, who announced the charges Monday, said the events before Phoebe's death on Jan. 14 were "the culmination of a nearly three-month campaign of verbally assaultive behavior and threats of physical harm" widely known among the student body. (As reported by the
Star Tribune.)

So why are these things happening on an almost weekly basis? Why are kids so much more vicious than they were? I know there have always been bullies and gossips. But what is happening now is beyond what we knew, it is beyond natural boundaries of behavior.

I can't help but wonder if it stems from what has happened in "entertainment" over the years. Reality TV shows are all about pitting people against each other, not so much to see who is the most accomplished, but to see how mean they can be about each other, if they can lie and cheat to improve their position. Year after year the shows are more focused on nastiness and one up manship than anything else.

Then there is Simon Cowell, the leader of the snarky judge movement. The sad thing is that he is very knowledgeable and would be helpful to the aspiring contestants if he weren't so interested in making it about him.

There is a whole cadre of the mean girls shows where fights break out, they call each other names and generally display themselves to be sad, self-esteem lacking women who could actually use a great big dose of sisterhood and kindness in their lives.

The youth culture has taken to calling women bitches, whores and sluts because that is what they are called in the music. The videos and music also appear to advocate violence in the face of "disrespect." We think this stuff is just happening in gang infested areas; we are wrong. It is a pervasive part of the youth culture and has been for years.

Our kids have learned a lot of this behavior from us - we have brought this into our homes and allowed it to be consumed as entertainment. I, personally, can't bear to watch shows, including Survivor and Idol because of the meanness. Many shows women tell me are guilty pleasures are things I would never watch because I think they are so demeaning to women. I have discussed with my kids my distaste for references to women as sluts, etc. I speak up when I think someone is being unkind on a show we are watching. I interrupt if my daughter and her friends are gossiping. I do try to intervene and set a good example. I hope my kids would not stand by and let someone be bullied.

I think this woman is very naive and many are like her, which is why it is important that charges have been filed in this case and I will be watching to see what happens. We need to stop calling this "bullying" and label it what is is - harassment, assault, stalking and whatever other terms necessary to make people wake up to the seriousness of what is happening.

I can't help agonizing a little for the students who tormented her too. How profoundly have they been failed by their own community, that nobody stopped them? How much brutality have they already seen in their lives to be so skilled, so young, at directing it at others? How lost must they be that a handful of them were still taunting Prince even after she died, on her Facebook memorial page? Four of the kids up on charges now are girls under the age of 16. That's far too young to be that vicious -- although frankly I can't fathom that level of savagery in anyone, at any age.

Oh, please.

Monday, March 29, 2010


The headline of the day:

The study, published in the Nature Neuroscience journal, found that when rats consumed a lot of high-fat, high-calorie food, it led to compulsive eating habits - similar to a drug addiction.

Another study that could have saved money by just asking me...or any number of overweight people.

I am sure this story is getting a lot of attention so I will not go through the details, but I will add my experience. Some of us can't eat "what we want" in moderation. My husband is always after me when I turn down foods: "Just have a little", "a bite won't hurt you."

Well, some people can have a little and then move on to the healthy alternatives. Me? When I am off the sugar, the high fat, the rich foods - I need to stay off. One taste and I am drawn back in like an alcoholic back to the bottle, like an addict back to the needle.

My friends and family frequently comment on my will power. Yes. I can be very strong minded when I am off the stuff. But don't ask me to to have just a taste. It is torture. It is why I have spent most of my life fat.

Friday, March 26, 2010


1.) I have such bad Spring Fever that I have doubled up on my lottery ticket purchases to increase my chances of winning and never having to work again. Why is it that I am getting calls for jobs now that the weather is so nice? Don't I sound like a spoiled teenager?

2.) I am really close to ignoring the news from now on. I just get so upset and discouraged by our government, the crazy right winger/tea bagger people and the party leaders who will not admit that they are crazy AND the media that focuses on such stupid, gossipy non -of-our-business crap and ignores the really important things.

I could go on and on but listening to Sarah Palin saying that the "mainstream media" was making up the brick throwing, spitting and verbal attacks on public officials , this after she posted names of congress people with rifle cross-hairs next to them and the slogan "Don't retreat - reload" was just too much for me. Why doesn't anyone stand up and call her out as the smarmy liar that she is???? John McCain deserves to lose his seat for getting involved with her again.

3.) Ally and I survived the long haul of shopping for a Junior Prom dress. We found something she loves that is both affordable and not too flesh baring. In fact, since her boyfriend is a Senior, we found another dress, on sale for half price which fit her perfectly and was a more mature, Senior Ball look, so we bought that too. We were really pleased with ourselves. We stopped in to have a salad and iced tea ( the Prom dress is snug and requires a few pounds be trimmed from the waistline...) and chatted about things including our upcoming trip to Philly for Maggie's graduation.

Suddenly it dawned on Ally - is the Senior Ball the same day we are going to Philadelphia? A call to a friend affirmed - yes. SAME DAY. Non-exchangeable, non-refundable tickets for the trip. Dress not returnable. Dad unmovable about letting her stay home anyway. Her boyfriend really unhappy, Ally really unhappy. Sigh.

Sunday, March 21, 2010


I posted about today's fall free bike ride on my fitness blog. (Linked on the right.)

I have now lost over 40 pounds!


Wednesday, March 17, 2010


We are experiencing a string of glorious early spring days. Temperatures in the 70's, trees in bloom everyone walking around with grins on their faces. The kind of day that makes you happy to be unemployed.

Of course, this is when I get a call for a job interview! So I got dressed up and left the lovely day outside the door of the office building. And then was led into a windowless conference room where I spent the next hour and a half. It was a good interview. Not exactly the sort of work I want to do, but good pay and benefits, and it is in my town, so no commute. Big pluses.

So -now I wait to hear. He has to interview some internal candidates...in the meantime, I get to enjoy this great weather!

Sunday, March 14, 2010


It is a fabulously beautiful spring day in San Francisco. We got up early and took the first BART train into the city for the first of the 2010 Sunday Streets programs. This great City program closes different streets around the city to cars and opens them up to bikes and pedestrian traffic, street fairs and activities. Today it was the Embarcadero from Fisherman's Wharf down past the AT&T Ballpark - a bit more than 3 miles of the waterfront.

The only glitch to the day happened when we got to the Embarcadero BART station and found that the elevator was not working. Tom explained how to take the bike on the escalator. I figured it couldn't be any more difficult than the huge double stroller I used to wrangle around with the twins and told him I would follow behind him.

Well, I rolled the bike on, squeezed the brake as he instructed and the bike reared up and knocked me backward! I went down on my back, and found myself looking into the rather startled face the the man who had entered the escalator behind me. He reached down to help me up - but I said I thought it best to just wait until we got to the top as my bike seemed to be riding along just fine beside me. So I rode the escalator to the top, on my back, feet first all the way up to the station.

The nice man helped me up, Tom grabbed my bike, I scooped up all my stuff that had tumbled out of my basket and rolled down the steps. Tom was so upset, because he thought I was hurt and it did bang up the bike a bit. But I just can't stop laughing about it.

We went to a different station on the way back. The elevator was working. Darn.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


1.) Ally got her driver's license this week - unlike all of her friends, she passed her test the first time out! Very proud of her; she is a good driver, very conscientious. She will be driving her dad's 15 year old BMW - very fancy compared to the Rambler station wagon I drove as a 16 year old!

2.) There is frequent discussion about the little things spouses do that drive us nuts. for some it is the toothpaste cap being left off, for others it is the clothes left on the floor. For me it has become the fact that my husband refuses to put the correct items in the correct cans for our City Recycling Program. It is turning me into a garbage picker.
3.) One of the things I have discovered during my daily crawls through craigslist looking for employment is the category called {ETC}. There are some interesting opportunities there. I have taken to signing up for consumer panels and focus groups. There are not very many of them which want women over 50. And when I am called, I find that the spaced held for that age group are few. The one I was invited to attend was very interesting and I earned $120. for about a hours time - so I continue to apply.
The reason I mention this is that I just ran across an an article which mentions a book called "Prime Time Women." It said:

Baby boomers are the largest and wealthiest demographic and at the peak of their spending power. What marketing and sales professionals might not realize is that the majority of this spending power is wielded by women ages 50–75. They are the healthiest, wealthiest, most educated, active, and influential generation of women in history.
I instinctively know this is true, yet I don't get this feeling from the entertainment media, from advertisers, from those doing the market research. I am intrigued - I am going to read this book! Maybe it will give me some ideas for my own business since there are no businesses out there interested in hiring me.
4.) Tom and I are taking our bikes over to San Francisco on Sunday. It is supposed to be a nice, sunny weekend.

Monday, March 8, 2010


A group of people met at the gym on Saturday morning and then drove over to the Pleasanton Ridge for a hike. The trail has had a few days to dry out and there was no rain forecast for the day.

The Iron Horse trail was full of families out on their bikes, not just the hard core bike people who ride all year long.

The rain has turned the hills green - they look so lush and will stay this way until June when they will start to turn brown and then golden colored. The green against the blue sky is always so breathtaking.

The poppies are starting to bloom along the roadsides and up in the hills. They are our state flower and it is illegal to pick the wild growing poppies. They turn up in all sorts of places, but I especially like seeing their golden yellow color along the roads.

And this was the cap worn by one of their dads attending a regional soccer tournament we attended. Being exposed to parents like this is my reminder of why generation after generation, some of our children never really grow up to be fully functioning adults in our society.
Role models, people. Role models are important.

Friday, March 5, 2010


1.) Thanks for all the good wishes about my interviews. Next time, assuming there is a next time, I will not report it. I will wait to report in when I actually gain employment.

2.) Am I the only one who thinks they are making way too much of the seasoned air traffic controller who is on the headset with his children and tells them what to say to departing planes which are on the ground and who can override whatever they might say wrong at any moment? I mean, geez, people. Lighten up. There are more significant problems in this world - hell, in the airline industry that we could shine a light on and we are spending hours of our time and who knows how much money investigating this? Get a grip people, stop projecting what the controller might have done that could have caused a disaster and focus on the harmless thing that actually happened. Harmless.

3.) Looking forward to the Oscars on Sunday. Miss the old days when the stars weren't so processed up by stylists, but I enjoy the spectacle, none the less.

4.) Finally broke down and bought new windshield wipers for my car. Now the forecast changed and we have a dry week ahead. So those of you in the Bay Area can thank me for the sunshine this weekend.

Thursday, March 4, 2010


Have you heard about these new laws being passed called "Move Over Laws"? Forty three states have passed “Move Over” laws, which require motorists to “Move Over” and change lanes to give safe clearance to law enforcement officers on roadsides.

My mom sent me an e-mail about a friend who got a ticket. A police car (turned out it was 2 police cars) was on the side of the road giving a ticket to someone else. He slowed down to pass but did not move into the other lane. The second police car immediately pulled him over and gave him a ticket. Apparently, it is not enough to slow down, if any emergency vehicle is on the side of the road, if you are able, you are to move into the far lane.

In California, the cost of the ticket is $754, with 3 points on your license and a mandatory court appearance.


Wednesday, March 3, 2010


This is how I felt after my interview on Monday.

This is how I feel today after I have not gotten the call about being the one they hired.

I am not sure what I could have done better, so this is what I am doing now.

Thanks for all the good wishes. I had really hoped this was it, but I sent out a couple more applications today...