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Too Cheesy?

It’s a last minute trip for Nana! She told me she needs some last only grandchild bonding, with ME!! We have a lot to do to before my baby brother POPS out of Mama’s belly.
First of all I’m moving upstairs into my Big Girl Room. There were worker men up there all week making scary noises. One day I even had to nap in Mama and Dada’s room. Oh and the big news is …I’m moving into a Big Girl Bed!
Don’t tell them, but I have plans. Like if I hear my baby brother cry, or I hear a train in the night, or there’s lightning and thunder I can just get right out of my Big Girl Bed and climb into Mama and Dada’s bed. It will be easey peasey!
Nana said that finding things for my room was like shopping with Mama when she went away to college. So many choices!
This morning we talked to my friend the school crossing guard, Finey. “I know your Daddy’s a doctor,” she said. So I said “and my Mama’s a doctor too!” Then Finey held up her big STOP sign and helped us cross the street.
Nana told us that all her dreams have come true because we found the best food truck in Nashville today. The Grilled Cheeserie truck was in West End and we were the first in line. I love the tater tots best! But I hate having to sit at the table until everyone finishes their food. You see I eat very fast and have lots of things to do, I take after my PopBob!
PopBob is flying here soon to pick Nana up, but I think they should stay. We still have to pick pumpkins and ride on hay wagons. And go the Zoo. And bake apple pies. And make Mac and Cheese…

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Five Weeks Found

In Nepal they have stopped searching a famous Himalayan trekking route for the hikers who went missing in a storm. Last week’s tragedy was unprecedented with 38 people dead, and still only 25 have been identified.

In Charlottesville, a city with a vibrant Nepalese refugee community because it is said our Blue Ridge is similar to their mountain home, another search has been called off. A team from Chesterfield County, near Richmond, found the remains of a body on a farm just a few miles from the area where Amanda Harrington was found, near Old Lynchburg Road.

In last night’s news conference, Chief Christopher Longo only said that he notified Hannah’s parents, but that it would be up to the medical examiner to identify the body. Forensic tests will be done and I can’t imagine that those parents will have to view the body, will have to look at her clothing or hold a piece of jewelry. But we all know this is Hannah. People that have signed up to search and deliver food to the volunteers today have been told they will not be needed.

I wonder if they have put a suicide watch on Jesse Matthews?

I wonder if the FBI will begin searching Walnut Creek Park with cadaver-sniffing dogs for the other missing girls?

I wonder if Matthews knew Randy Taylor who was convicted of Alexis Murphy’s death, without finding her body

Or will any other forensic evidence tie him to other unsolved cases? http://edition.cnn.com/2014/10/12/us/virginia-murdered-daughter-familiy/index.html

I’ve been thinking about this, IF Matthews had been charged and prosecuted for those two rapes in two separate colleges, years ago, would we even be here? As a society we need to address the failure of our institutions, and our justice system in dealing with college sexual violence. Calling something “date rape” is purely a semantic way of demeaning attacks on young women, placing some blame on the victim because she may have been impaired. Our culture needs to stop ‘slut shaming’ our girls, using terms like “the walk of shame.” We need to empower our girls to use their voices, say their names, and prosecute rapists, even if it gets ugly.  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/10/06/virginia-wesleyan-rape_n_5940404.html

hannah

Hike Cancelled

Today, on this beautiful crisp Fall Sunday, Bob is busy saving lives at his hospital. I think I will go the Mall where Hannah was last seen and find some Buddhist prayer flags for my deck. And I will support the Help Save the Next Girl Campaign in any way I can.  http://www.helpsavethenextgirl.com

 

 

Social Currency?

Bob alerted me to an article in November’s Atlantic magazine, “Remember the sexting scandal in Louisa this Spring?”

In fact, I didn’t, but I was all over our town’s famous crime novelist, John Grisham’s blow-up on Twitter about his interview with a British magazine. The one where he said our prisons are too full (true!) with normal, old, white guys downloading child porn (what?). Then he steps in it further by differentiating between 16 year old girls and 9 year old boys…

But that’s not the hot button issue Bob was talking about. He had listened to an NPR interview http://www.npr.org/blogs/alltechconsidered/2014/10/15/356393531/why-kids-sext-describes-nude-photos-as-social-currency-among-teens

…on his ride to the hospital yesterday with the author, Hanna Rosin, of the Atlantic piece on teen sexting: http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2014/11/why-kids-sext/380798/

Now we all know that teenagers do crazy things, and every generation has to prove their worth by totally rebelling against their parents – with their music, with their language, with a scathing look, or the ubiquitous word of dismissal, “Fine!” Sheer insolence has no better bedfellow than a teenage girl. Still, it’s one thing to grow your hair long and straight, shorten your skirts to the mini-mum, and listen to the Rolling Stones. Or as the Flapper did, bind her breasts, cut and bob her hair, and go out the window to dance to the Jimmy Dorsey Band.

“You come from a long line of rebels,” Mother told me more than once. But of course, we didn’t have smart phones.

Louisa is a sleepy country county, between my edge of the Shenandoah and the big city of Richmond, a mere 10 minute drive. Think Friday night lights on football fields, and the occasional DUI. So it was baffling to local law enforcement to find out A) that they were collecting more and more cell phones because each kid knew 5-10 kids with naked pix on their phones, it was non-ending, and B) that the kids didn’t seem to care at. all.

For the most part, the laws do not concern themselves with whether a sext was voluntarily shared between two people who had been dating for a year or was sent under pressure: a sext is a sext. So as it stands now, in most states it is perfectly legal for two 16-year-olds to have sex. But if they take pictures, it’s a matter for the police.

There is no easy takeaway from this article. Girls take great care in posing for their pix, like Kim Kardashian and her selfie book saga. Boys just point and shoot. And there are those who feel pressured by boys to send sexts, and those who are in a relationship and this just seems to be a part of the mating ritual, no.big.deal. For some boys, the number of naked pictures on their phones is akin to “social currency,” like collecting Pokemon cards.

But for some girls, the less confident, more marginalized girls, their pix are shared without their consent and humiliation follows; certainly setting up an Instagram account on the web takes this into felony territory. But even here, law enforcement wanted to know was this just two brothers playing a prank, or did they have a more salacious motive?

When we over-schedule our teens, when their only free time is spent texting their friends in the middle of the night, then we know something is wrong. Romancing in high school, while no longer done at the corner drug store sharing an ice cream soda, should not be done alone, after midnight, with a cell phone. Parents, teach your children well.

Love is Love but sexting is stupid

Love is Love but sexting is stupid

Rain Rain

Rainy day snooze in the aviary

Rainy day snooze in the aviary

I awoke to tiny, click/clack paws-on-wood-floors and thunder. Roaring mountainous thunder and more rain. It’s coming down in buckets, replete with lightening and it seems the cat and dog of the house do not like thunderstorms.

Mornings like these at Camp St Joseph for Girls meant we could sleep late. They were called Rip Van Winkle mornings! No bugle calls or flag raising, just hanging out in the cabin, playing jacks or pulling the covers up to finish a book by flashlight.

I had to stop reading my book, “The Dovekeepers” by Alice Hoffman last night. Not because I was too tired and the words were swimming on the page, but because I knew what was coming. And OK, so this book is about Masada, and we all know what was coming 2,000 years ago when the Jewish people held onto this fortress despite a drought and the onslaught of Roman soldiers.

No, Hoffman was about to tell me why the two young grandsons of one of the matriarchs in the book had lost their ability to speak. I already knew, the backstory was perfectly clear. But I just couldn’t let her language of blood lust and revenge be the departure point to my dreams. I needed a restful night. Maybe today I’ll pick up where I left off, if the sun would only show itself.

Last night one of my favorite literary prizes, the Man Booker Prize for Fiction, was awarded to Aussie Richard Flanagan for “The Narrow Road to the Deep North.”

Named after a famous Japanese book by the haiku poet Basho, The Narrow Road to the Deep North is described by the 2014 judges as ‘a harrowing account of the cost of war to all who are caught up in it’. Questioning the meaning of heroism, the book explores what motivates acts of extreme cruelty and shows that perpetrators may be as much victims as those they abuse. Flanagan’s father, who died the day he finished The Narrow Road to the Deep North, was a survivor of the Burma Death Railway.
– See more at: http://www.themanbookerprize.com/news/winner-2014-man-booker-prize-fiction#sthash.duwYDC1W.dpuf

Another book about war, another exploration of man’s inhumanity. this time told from the point of view of a male surgeon working within the confines of a Japanese POW camp. How soon I wonder, will someone be telling the story of a disaffected British citizen who travels to Syria only to become the executioner and butcher of Westerners for Youtube? The cost of war is too high. I’m feeling overloaded with hate and vitriol from the news lately. It’s no wonder we Americans are addicted to cat videos.

Leave it to my favorite novelist/book store owner, Ann Patchett,  to recommend books for us on a wide array of subjects; for instance, Buddhism and nihilism? “A Tale for the Time Being is about Buddhism, nihilism, the second World War, bullying, physics, marriage, depression, and expectations — it is constantly pushing past the reader’s expectations.” As the editor of Parnassus’ scrumptious blog, Musing, so aptly put it –  “Is there anything better than finding the perfect book?” And particularly on a rainy hump day. If you happen to be in Nashville, her shop dogs could use a good pet! Happy reading! http://parnassusmusing.net/2014/09/30/notes-from-ann-frogs/

 

Disease Detective

“That’s it!” I said to Bob this morning while watching the Breaking News Conference out of Dallas on CNN. This could be your real retirement plan, become a disease detective!

We turned up the sound as Dr. David Lakey confirmed that the first case of Ebola contracted inside the US tested positive in their Austin lab, and that they didn’t want to give his/her name at this time. As reporters questioned Lakey, we learned it was a health care worker who took infectious disease precautions, and not someone who treated their patient from Liberia, Thomas Eric Duncan, at his first fateful trip to the ER – when he was sent home with antibiotics. Duncan has since died.

So now we have our first case here in the US, like Spain, a provider is sick with Ebola. And it wasn’t the janitor who cleaned up the ER room when they first thought Duncan had a cold; when the travel history the triage nurse obtained never made it back to the doctor.

Cue the Mystery Detective music. Our family and friends have always thought Bob was the medical oracle. When signs and symptoms just didn’t make sense, when people were getting the run around from doctors, they would tell Bob their story and the sky would clear. He could somehow always make sense out of a complicated medical scenario. He is our very own Dr House!

But of course I’d rather he do some medical school teaching, or even golfing, rather than run around the world trying to solve real-time medical mysteries. Even though the CDC is probably hiring right now. Here are the facts, and only the facts about Ebola: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs103/en/

In my dystopian view of the crisis, I can see the GOP blaming this outbreak on Obamacare. I can see the National Guard putting up a fence around Dallas, and I can see some crazy militia taking up arms. As soon as the TX Health Resources guy told people of Dallas not to panic, while ambulances are currently being diverted from that Presbyterian Hospital, I just knew people were going to panic. But let’s get real.

“The Ebola epidemic has killed 3,431 people in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia; it has killed one in the United States.” http://mic.com/articles/100618/one-powerful-illustration-shows-exactly-what-s-wrong-with-media-coverage-of-ebola

So if we can keep some sense of perspective about this whole business, we’ll be alright. If we remember that yet another child in Michigan has died from enterovirus D68, that this upper respiratory infection is something we really need to wash our hands about, we may not panic about Ebola. “Enterovirus is very common, with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimating 10 million to 15 million infections each year in the United States.” http://edition.cnn.com/2014/10/11/health/michigan-enterovirus-68-death/

“…D68 is a particularly virulent strain of this respiratory virus. So far there have been 691 cases of enterovirus D68 in 46 states and the District of Columbia;” six patients who died had the virus strain. It mostly affects children with asthma, or compromised immune systems. And like Polio, there can we some paralysis associated with its symptoms. Enterovirus-D68--EV-D68-jpg-1

Oh, and remember to get your flu shot!

“Be Advised

…this video contains profanity.”

If you happen to be one of those people, you know the kind that think feminism isn’t an issue anymore, that’s it’s been taken over by Lesbians, that it’s so over, well think again. Did you hear the news this morning about the CEO of Microsoft, Satya Nadella? Apparently he thinks women in his company should just trust in Karma. Don’t ask your boss for a raise ladies, just trust in The Man Karma to make it happen.

Caitlin Moran doesn’t trust anybody to make her life happen, except herself. She’s an irreverent comic, a Times UK columnist and a best-selling novelist who also happens to be a die-hard feminist. Not exactly sure when she first caught my attention, but it may have been a brilliant essay about why safe and legal abortions should be part and parcel of every country. Her writing spares no one. Her latest book, “How to Build a Girl,” is a coming of age tale:

“I want to be a self-made woman. I want to conjure myself out of every sparkling, fast-moving thing I can see,” she declares, “I want to be the creator of me. I’m gonna begat myself.” First, she’ll change her name. This, then, is how to build a girl: find a cause; identify your image; let nothing stand in your way.” http://www.npr.org/2014/09/29/350891370/novelist-caitlin-moran-wryly-shows-how-to-build-a-girl

In this Youtube interview, and don’t forget she might swear, filmed last month in Canada, she lets it all hang out, literally. She admonishes girls to do three things regularly: 1) go on long, country walks, 2) masturbate frequently, and 3) start a revolution! You can see where this video is going with its warning. She snorts when someone asks her the age-old question about childcare, and asks does anyone ask a man interviewing for a job about childcare? Then gamely suggests that editors should make male columnists write about childcare.

Moran’s pearl of an idea is that in order to change our patriarchal culture we have got to use Art – writing, media, painting, film – to make it Cool. Marching around with placards and petitions, arguments at town hall meetings are all well and good, but once we see Dr Who kissing the bisexual Captain Jack Harkness, well then the younger generation says that’s alright! On our side of the pond, I think Ellen DeGeneres’ show is partly responsible for the fast pace of the marriage equality movement.

Moran wrote her book about girl-building because when she was 16 she wished she’d had a book like this. Today, a 17 year old girl won the Nobel Peace Prize.  Malala Yousafzai.

Pakistani child advocate Malala Yousafzai, who was shot in the face for believing that girls should have every right to an education as boys, has certainly let nothing stand in her way. Shining her light on the deplorable conditions of child slavery and work in her country, she has started a revolution! Malala is deliberate in her cause, even as a Pakistani womens’ rights lawyer was executed by her government last week. http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-29564935

So as headlines like, “Mother of Three Heads up BBC”  are still cranked out by old white men, and an American CEO can tell his female employees they should not ask for a raise, the popular media backlash to Western corporations is telling. We are all laughing, Isn’t that funny? But in Malala’s world, the Muslim world, women are not laughing. “Overwhelming percentages of Muslims in many countries want Islamic law (sharia) to be the official law of the land, according to a worldwide survey by the Pew Research Center. But many supporters of sharia say it should apply only to their country’s Muslim population.” http://www.pewforum.org/2013/04/30/the-worlds-muslims-religion-politics-society-overview/

Just try to imagine if that “17 (18,19??) Kids and Counting” crazy Quivering Christian movement were the law of our land. I know, I’d get pretty profane and stop laughing too.

 

 

 

 

Feeding the Cat

Have you heard of the saying, “Don’t feed the cat?” Literally it refers to the alley cat who comes to your door, meows and looks starved and miserable but cuddly too, and so you give it some food. Just a few bites of your leftover fish maybe. This would be a bad move if you don’t like or want a cat in your life, because soon enough you’ll be hauling said cat to the vet and setting up a nice, cozy bed by the fire for her. She will rule the roost; you will own a cat.

Well, I’ve been thinking about this as it relates to our country’s policy on kidnapping. Like Great Britain, we don’t pay ransoms. We are not feeding these cats so to speak. The sheer outrage over the latest beheadings of American and British citizens has caused us to once again go to war – and not with a country. With a bunch of highly organized jihadists who would like to claim a stake of sand in the desert as their own, to rule with their own biblical/koran-like laws. And the reason we say ISIS and our government says ISIL is telling.

Is it ISIS the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or is it ISIL the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant? But as we learned from reading Gertrude Bell, nomadic cultures do not have borders. They roam freely according to the season and their history – borders were artificially drawn by the British when they left their Empire to the sands of time. And so our President has tagged this terrorist group with an “L” because the Levant is more fluid and denotes their mission if you look at their name in Arabic:

In Arabic, the group is known as Al-Dawla Al-Islamiya fi al-Iraq wa al-Sham, or the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham.The term “al-Sham” refers to a region stretching from southern Turkey through Syria to Egypt (also including Lebanon, Israel, the Palestinian territories and Jordan). The group’s stated goal is to restore an Islamic state, or caliphate, in this entire area. http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/worldviews/wp/2014/06/18/isis-or-isil-the-debate-over-what-to-call-iraqs-terror-group/

al-Sham is translated into English to mean the Levant. It’s sounding a little more treacherous now, isn’t it? And I remember listening to an NPR piece about how European countries may say they are not paying for their kidnapped citizens, but their diplomats negotiate deals that fund certain Islamic charities and they launder money back to terrorist groups in this subversive, back-door way. Which is why many German and French hostages have been released over the years, and our people are not.

“Since 2003, at least 68 Westerners have been kidnapped in the vast Sahara.” http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-29409361 When I read this BBC article I was shocked, not just by the numbers, but also to think my BFF’s daughter had worked for the Peace Corps in Mali and lived with a Tourig family. Aid workers, tourists and journalists are pawns in this senseless slaughter. And money talks, money funds their ammunition and their “soldiers,” Western money helps them to kidnap more Western citizens.

We may not be feeding the cat, but other countries are. Two Million per person! In Africa hostages are discounted, they were asking 10M for James Foley in the Middle East, although they may have accepted 5M…

“…Ransoms totalling at least $30m (£18.3m) have been paid since 2008 in connection with these kidnappings and that the going rate for a single Western hostage in the region (Africa) is now about $2m (£1.2m). Most of these hostages were citizens of countries that are believed to have paid ransoms….at least five Spanish, four Italian, two Canadian, two Austrian, two Swiss and two German hostages have been taken. Of this group of 17, one died of natural causes in captivity and the rest were released unharmed. Nearly all of them were aid workers or tourists.

It’s not fair, terrorist groups get 30M to fund what they do best, terrorize people, which creates that insane feedback loop of more and more kidnappings. And for those who don’t pay, a beheading on Youtube. I’m not a diplomat, and I have no idea how to stop this problem, except that maybe building schools, educating girls, and providing access to water, sanitation and basic health care needs might go further than drones dropping bombs. Maybe leaving Iraq and leaving Assad to his own devices, helped to create these black/flag/waving/zealots; but certainly, now that they have advanced to the edge of Turkey, we have to do something.

I’m writing this as I gently remove my Grand Cat from my laptop. It’s a good thing I love cats.   IMG_1263

 

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