Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Remember Rabbit Feet?

I don't know anything about this insurance company, but I do know this commercial cracked me up. I carried one of these when I was a kid. Now, looking back, what were we thinking? And they were died bright colors of green and pink?

As a huge animal lover, advocate, vegetarian, and former bunny owner, what a weird thing to carry around with you - and ick! But, admittedly, it is a funny commercial:

Sunday, August 29, 2010

New Orleans Five Years After Katrina

New Orleans is one of the most original cities I've ever been to. The food and the music are both fabulous, the atmosphere is fun, and the residents are some of the most genuinely nice people I've ever met.

It still bothers me, and many others, how Hurricane Katrina was handled. How a year later when I visited, so little had still not been done. Trailers sat empty and locked, water lines were still very apparent, and only one streetcar was running. The difference in the way poor people and wealthy people in this country are treated, was pretty clear in this disaster. That 100,000 people never returned to New Orleans, and how it looks like a third world country in the footage - and it is right here in the United States. It is amazing to me that a city with more spirit and joy than so many others, was treated with so little respect in their greatest time of need.

First the city had to deal with a natural disaster with Katrina, then the unnatural one with BP these past few months. It is unfair it is hit yet again.

It is my hope that the city will continue in its recovery. Please know that although your government let you down in a time of need, your fellow Americans have not forgotten you. I hope to be there for another visit soon.

May your fight, your spirit, and your courage continue.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Selling Your Book & Memoir, Part 2

My latest article was sent to me today, a piece on memoir writing for the Loft Literary Center's A View from the Loft. The first part of this I wrote about on April 30, 2010...here is an excerpt from the second, No Longer Silent: On Memoir:
"All writing, even fiction, contains some truth. Characters are usually based, at least in part, on someone we've met in our lives. Our perceptions, beliefs, and experiences can’t help but come through in our stories.

But when writing memoir, the author can’t hide behind a character. And no matter how much you might try to avoid telling a story, it will eventually have to be written or you just can’t move on with your life. I read somewhere that author Kathryn Harrison had to write about her incestuous relationship with her father, something that had been running in her head for years. When she finally wrote it out, she was no longer blocked. Said Harrison, “One of the solaces that art can offer you is the chance to make something out of what’s hurt you. You can objectify an experience, put it on paper, craft it, and shape it. There’s perhaps an illusionary control over it. But it is significant.”

I wrote my memoir piece for the anthology Voices of Multiple Sclerosis several years after being diagnosed with the disease. As often happens with me, essays start to flow out once I have that first line—and it just had to be shared. I suppose it is the same with all artists: writers need to write as painters need to paint as musicians need to play. Many love songs are about being heartbroken; many paintings express incredible pain. I am inspired every day by other people’s stories—told in whatever medium they choose. That is part of the reason I decided to make a very personal piece a public one."

As with most of my writing, it's often my hope that it will help someone else. We go through tough times in our life for a reason. Perhaps to make us stronger, perhaps to make us realize how far we've come, perhaps to teach us something...but definitely in the hope that our difficult times will not be for nothing. In the process of telling my story, it is my biggest hope that it will help someone else not only get through their own tough time, but to tell their own story too.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Freedom of Religion

America is a country of all backgrounds - a young country where we are supposed to embrace freedoms...including freedom of religion.

I am a Christian. I have friends who are Jewish, Buddhist, Muslim....they are from all different places, all different backgrounds, all different shades - some even speak other languages along with English! Shouldn't this be celebrated? The differences, the diversity...it's what makes this country what it is. I will never understand why some Christians have to pass such judgment on others. What happened to love and compassion - and perhaps an open mind?

The proposed Mosque in lower Manhattan, is actually an Islamic Center, which will also include a culinary school and a recreational area. It is not on Ground Zero, it is actually several blocks from it.

People too often forget we have a large Muslim population in this country - and in New York. There were dozens of Muslims killed during the terrorist attacks of 911, and many more were hurt, along with everyone else. There were others that were rescue workers, nurses, and doctors. To build a center nearby gives them a place to meet and worship and honors them. The fear being drummed up is just that - fear. Have any of them ever even spent time in New York City?

On a special commentary on Countdown tonight, it was really well put:

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Let's all try to remember that freedom of religion means all have freedom of religion. No one likes to be stereotyped or generalized about. There are radicals in every religion (remember Oklahoma City?) - that does not make the entire religion bad. Allowing something to be built that actually celebrates peace and diversity is sending a message that is so much deeper than just tolerance. It will surprise many who fear it when it really does a great thing for the community.

My heart goes out to all the people who suffered on 911. It was a terrible act of terrorism. But, don't punish the many peaceful Muslims here who had nothing to do with it.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Even Worse Than the KFC Sandwich?

Granted, I'm a vegetarian. So, meat isn't on my list for a dinner item. But, Friendly's Restaurants actually came out with something even more disgusting than the KFC Double Down, which I wrote a post about on April 14, 2010. I had pretty fond memories of Friendly's as a kid. I loved living right outside Boston and it's where we went for Frappes (they call them milkshakes in the Midwest...but then they also call casseroles "hot dishes" here).

But, Friendly's sandwich takes the KFC Double Down to a whole new level. It's called a Grilled Cheese Burger Melt. It's a huge beef burger between two grilled cheese sandwiches on white bread. According to
SlashFood.com, the numbers are startling:

"1,500 calories (870 of those from fat); 79g of saturated fat; and a whopping 2,090mg of sodium (trouncing the Double Down, which weighs in at a paltry 1,380mg of salt)."

This is actually more calories than I would eat on a normal day! Isn't this just a bit irresponsible? And we wonder why we have an obesity problem in this country when restaurants are coming up with these type of food items (I use that term lightly).

So, sorry Friendly's. Loved you as a kid. But my vegetarian diet - let alone my common sense and heart - wouldn't want this pile of goo even if I did eat meat.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Target is Off Target...

I am a regular shopper at Target, stopping by there a couple times a week. I happen to live by one of the nicest stores in the country (the CEO lives nearby, I'm told). I've found they have great prices, and have always liked how the corporation gives to social services, education, and other needed areas in the community. I've also always liked how they hire disabled people, giving them a chance. It has gotten so I purchase almost all of my groceries there, except for the organic items and produce I purchase at the co-op.

With Target's latest leap into the political agenda, my thoughts have changed, however. According to Strong Progressive:
Target earlier this month donated $150,000 to MN Forward, a pro-business group backing Rep. Tom Emmer, the conservative Republican-endorsed gubernatorial candidate.

So Target supports a candidate who:
And oh, yeah: Target CEO Gregg W. Steinhafel personally donated $10,000 to Michelle Bachman's campaign! If that alone isn't reason enough to stop shopping at Target, the donation to MN Forward certainly is.
Seriously, keep up with the social services and educational donations, but stay out of politics...especially toward two people who are an embarrassment to many of us in Minnesota. Yes, it's a convenient store, and yes it has good prices. But, seriously, with this latest venture and with my return to vegetarianism, along with the opening of a new co-op right by my house, I see no reason to shop there anymore. This is a big city with lots of choices. I choose to not support a corporation that throws large sums of money to politicians who don't seem to believe in their own constituents.

I did hear that the CEO recently apologized, but this is after the fact - and it isn't like they are going to take the money back. Admittedly, I still love the dog: Bullseye is a cutie. But, I'm really beginning to wonder if he's the real brains behind the operation.