Audacity

2016 07 30 Reading Room

On the top floor of the library downtown, there is a wonderfully sun-lit corner set aside for a casual reading room. It offers a stunning view of the water and the entire marina and barrier islands. Facing one large picture window is a love seat where anyone who likes can relax as long as they want, enjoying the view and the quiet atmosphere.

Recently, I visited and took a seat away from the windows but where I was able to still enjoy a good view. I settled in with my Kindle and was knee-deep into a gripping story when a woman across from me (who had only sat down a few minutes prior) started clucking her tongue and sighing exasperatedly over the sound of a happy toddler just chatting to himself. He and his father were quietly enjoying the prime seating at the picture window and the toddler was, in my opinion, being exceptionally well-behaved. I glanced up and saw her glaring at the pair, scowling, then looking over to me as if she expected me to say something. After a few more minutes of her huffing, what she did next just blew my mind.

This woman – and because this story does have to do with racism and classism, I may mention she was Caucasian and very much a New Yorker and somewhat well-off – picked herself up and marched right over to the man – a local black southerner – and leaned right down in his face, asking him how much longer he planned on sitting there. I couldn’t hear his response but she said to him, “I’m not telling you what to do, but as you can see, this is a beautiful spot to sit and it is here for all the patrons of the library to enjoy, so you and your boy need to go downstairs or find somewhere else to sit because other people will want to sit here and you’ve been here long enough.”

Whoa.

Mind you, there were several seats available in the area, all with a view, and no one was waiting for a seat. The woman had only been there for five minutes when she decided the black family wasn’t good enough to use the seat. After hearing what she said to him, all I could do was utter a shocked sound and watch in horror as the man actually politely got up, packed his son back into his stroller, and left. I felt horrible for them, but I didn’t know what to say!

The woman then went to sit back down in her seat – not the window seat! – and about 30 seconds later got back up and came over to me. I was shocked when she placed her magazine and her hand on my lap and leaned in only inches from my face and asked me, “Were you laughing at me or with me?” I just shook my head and said, “You have balls.”

“What does that mean,” she asked. I calmly looked up at her, leaning back so as to feel a little less claustrophobic, and told her, “I was laughing at the audacity you have to think you have some God-given right to tell perfect strangers what to do. Those people had every right to be in that seat, they weren’t disturbing anyone, and you had NO right to walk up to him and tell them to leave! You don’t own this place and you have no authority over anyone here!”

She. Was. Shocked.

I was just disgusted. She scoffed at me and stormed off. Good. I’d wanted to slap her however my words appeared to have stung just as well. As soon as she left, the man and his son came back and he and I shared a smile and a look of understanding and sympathy as he took the window seat back and went about his business spending time with his son in these beautiful surroundings. People like that woman are a poison in our sea of tranquility and I hope for even a brief moment she realized that her intolerance will not be tolerated.

Weekend Art Project

While skimming through Pinterest recently, my daughter and I came across a project that looked fun and inexpensive so we thought we’d give it a try. It utilizes heavy art paper, a lot of crayons, white glue, scrap paper, and painter’s tape. 12715686_10153753304735660_3061785048652222276_n

Start the project by applying a thick layer of glue where you want the crayons positioned, then set the crayons into the glue. It will take several hours for this to dry, so just lay it flat for a while (we let it sit overnight).

Next, cut out a shape you’d like to have centered in the color splash (or several, or even none). It’s important to use painter’s tape because the hot blow dryer will not melt the adhesive (trust me, other types of tape failed). Tape around the edges of the shape, then trim it to shape and place on the canvas under the drip line.

With a blow dryer, melt the crayons and let the wax run down over the entire canvas. You’ll need to hover over a section until you get a good amount running down then aim the blow dryer to spread it out.

The wax will dry in a few minutes so when you’ve covered the canvas, peel up the taped-on shape while it is still wet. If you wait until it dries, it will tend to pop and crack off. Try using different color combinations and shapes and get creative!

SHARE YOUR WORLD – 2015 WEEK #40

SHARE YOUR WORLD – 2015 WEEK #40

I’m jumping in just a bit late here (OK 10 months late) because a: I just discovered these prompts and b: if I don’t start now, then when?

#1: If you have been to a foreign country name those you have been to?

I have skirted around Cuba and the Bahamas but the place I actually spent considerable time and never wanted to leave was Quintana Roo, MX. It was on a honeymoon cruise in 1997 and we entered Cozumel through Playa del Carmen. Admittedly, I was disappointed at first because it felt no different than being in Miami. The first thing I saw off the boat was a Burger King and a Daquiri bar popular in the ‘States. Liberating ourselves from the tourist trap however, we were transported into a whole new world of single lane dirt roads, quiet villages, and some of the nicest people I have ever met. Even with a language barrier, there was still understanding, kindness, generosity, and genuine welcome.

#2: Is the glass half empty or half full? What type of glass is it and what is in the glass?

This question has always irked me because it forces one to be judged in such a closed-ended, black-and-white manner that really isn’t realistic. Our moods change, our personalities change, our momentary stimulus changes and the answer can be different every time, leaving us wrongly judged because we are just being judged in the moment.

I see it this way: The glass is halfway to whichever direction the contents were traveling. If it was in the process of being filled, then it is half full. If it was in the process of being drank or poured out, then it is half empty. It isn’t about what *I* think. It’s about the facts happening around the situation and leading up to it. There are always other facts to consider. Is it half full or half empty? “It’s just half.”

Incidentally, it should contain a good, hearty, merlot.

#3: If you could have an endless supply of any food, what would you get?

Sushi, hands down. It’s a dish that can be created endless ways under one label, it’s fresh, it’s clean food, and can be nutritionally dense. I could easily live off sushi.

List: List at least five places worth shopping.

As one who doesn’t shop often, this will be difficult…

1. Local farmer’s market (downtown, Saturdays)
2. Nelson Family Farms
3. Local artisans
4. Local art galleries
5. Any small business with a quality product or service

Bonus question: What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up?

I’m grateful I got to spend some quality time with my daughter, especially now that she is getting to the age between being a little girl and wanting her teenage freedom. This week coming up will be hella busy at work because open enrollment for Medicare Part D is starting, so we are gearing up with parties and all types of goodies for the crazy time ahead.

Perblog 9-8-2015

7:45 a.m.

Labor Day Weekend brought a forced 3-day “rest” as job #1 scheduled me off and job #2 notified us Thursday they were taking the weekend off and not processing any new orders tip Tuesday. It was nice to spend a stress-free Saturday and Sunday with my daughter though I do wish I’d been able to afford to take her somewhere fun. When Monday rolled around though, I was beside myself for something to do with my time.

I sort of forced myself to sleep in then tried in vain to see if any of our writers had abandoned a writing task. There were no open job tickets though so I tried to be creative. The furthest I got on that was thinking I should do some more work on the second young adult novel I’m working on but could not find the research file for it. Scratch that then. In the end, I ended up assaulting social media with weather updates as a storm blew up on the eastern seabreeze border and produced not only a beautiful light show but also 4″ of rain in some spots.

This morning, I’m taking a few moments before work starts to marvel at the cloud formations offshore. The sun has just broken past the cloudtops to reveal a haze of pollen in the air, which explains my mograine. That’s alright though. I am determined that today is going to be a good and calm day because my heart cannot afford the stress some of these customers give me. That in itself is a whole other blot post though!

Evaluate My Work, Not My Body Art

As a business professional with 34 tattoos (no piercings), I find a lot of the tolerance/intolerance issue seems to be largely location based. For example, finding work that paid well and didn’t judge was easy enough in cities like Fort Lauderdale, Miami, and Daytona, but I was heavily liked down upon in places like West Palm Beach and Port St. Lucie. It depends a lot on the employer too. Some companies (Chase Merchant Services, for example) were managed by an open-minded team who did judge based solely on with ethic and performance, whereas other companies in the same area will not even give you a second glance. There still meds to be a lot less discrimination based on looks, so long as the body art is not outwardly evil or discriminatory itself.

Ambika Kamath

When I was an undergrad, one of my reasons for wanting to continue in academia was my aversion to Western formal clothing. If I became a Ph.D. student and then a professor, I thought, I would hardly ever need to wear suits or dress shirts, and such a life appealed to me. I had seen academics of all stripes dress in all sorts of ways, and I naively believed that this signalled something very progressive about academia’s stance towards appearance: wear what you want, because you’ll be evaluated based upon your ideas and work, not how you choose to present yourself.

But a recent article in a column called Ask Alice (published on the website of Science, one of the most high profile scientific journals out there) confirms my naivete. In this piece, an anonymous academic who finds themselves in a “conservative place” for their postdoc, asks Dr. Alice Huang, “Am I crazy…

View original post 480 more words

Zombie Apocalypse In My Dreams

I had some weird dreams that continued to play out as I woke up throughout the night and kept falling back asleep. Must have been the migraine…

I was somewhere, not sure where, and someone was preparing their house for the end of the world. They had the house set up for 130 people in the basement, and I didn’t believe any of it was going to happen. They had all the provisions though the people would have been crammed wall to wall. This guy seemed like some kind of false prophet, tall and charismatic.

Dream broke to me having to accompany some woman down to a Walgreens several miles away. It was raining and we were on bicycles, she had her two kids with her riding in a basket on the back. I realized I had forgotten my inhaler and wanted to turn back but she wouldn’t let me. I went into a minor panic attack and tried to breathe my way through it. We got to Walgreens and her male friend who appeared out of nowhere directed me to this “doctor” who would give me a new inhaler.

It took me a while to find this “doctor” and it was getting dark out. It ended up being a house, and the “doctor” ended up being some weird hippy kid who just happened to have a stash of generic meds. He acted very cocky and cool like he didn’t have to help me because I was disturbing him (from what I have no idea because he wasn’t doing anything), then finally gave me something that, after reading the label, I realized I could have just gotten over the counter. Then he crawled back into bed and his mom came home.

Since it was getting dark and I didn’t want to walk 3.6 miles (according to my phone’s GPS – at least I remembered to grab my phone!) alone during the impending zombie apocalypse, I sat in his room for a while, then when his mom came home, I rummaged through his stuff, found an inhaler, and headed off back to the safe house. Was dark when I got to the safe house and people and their pets were all filing in under the direction of the home’s owner. There were no other homes around this place, it was just a regular single family home standing along a sidewalk with nothing at all surrounding it. I ended up opting not to go into the safe house and the dream ended there with no end of the world happening.

Leave it to me to forget my inhaler during the zombie apocalypse.

Ad Tracking On Facebook and How To Stop It

So you visit a website, let’s say… a Halloween costume shop because you are looking for the perfect spandex bodysuit to play your favourite super hero. The next time you log in to Facebook, you’re seeing ads down the side of your page and stealthily snuck into your News Feed. These ads are full of spandex body suits. And latex. And worse. You only needed a spidey costume! Your browser has tracked your surfing activity and fed it back to Facebook. Do you feel violated yet?

There is now a way to drastically reduce the number of activity-based ads (also known as behavioral advertising) that you see on Facebook. Since simply turning off your cookies renders Facebook (and many other websites) virtually unusable, the Digital Advertising Alliance gives you a tool to opt out of tracking based advertising. Here’s how you do it:

Visit the Digital Advertising Alliance’s opt-out page at: http://www.aboutads.info/choices/ (Think of this DAA tool as the “Do Not Call” list of the Internet.)

The page will automatically begin scanning the browser you are using for companies that are tracking your activity and reporting it to Facebook to generate ads.

When the scan is complete, you will see a list of companies that have been participating in this on your computer at your expense. Here, you want to check the “Select All” box, then submit your choices at the bottom.

Once complete, you will have a screen that looks like this:

Opt Outs

I have selected the 3rd tab here to show companies that are no longer tracking what I do for advertising (and God only knows what other purposes). As you can see, 118 companies were found in this case to be tracking activity. Of those, one “could not be communicated with.” 96 of these companies had an option to “opt out” of their tracking based advertising. The rest had no available opt-outs. Still, there are now 96 companies that are no longer tracking me for Facebook ads? I’ll take it.

Of course, this will not get rid of all of your Facebook ads – they have to stay afloat somehow and advertising is their primary source of income. However, you can feel a little bit better about your privacy and that in itself is worth a few clicks.

Are You OK?

A while back, I came across a blog entry via Twitter that brought attention to an Australian social campaign called R U OK? It promotes starting conversations to let people know that they are cared about and to help them voice things that are not OK in their lives so that help can be provided before a situation becomes a crisis. It’s a beautifully simple concept really, and one that could realistically save a life.

This morning, I was reminded of this campaign as I was sitting on my front step waking up with a cup of coffee. This is a small community so most people know each other. When a car drove up slowly into my neighbor’s driveway, I noticed it of course but did not think much of it until the door opened and no one got out. The elderly man in the driver’s seat sat there for a few minutes and then put his head down, chin-to-chest, occasionally looking around then putting his head back down for a couple minutes. From this angle, he was acting as I’ve seen people with dementia act when they are confused, not knowing quite where they are or why.

IMG_20141111_113051

Alarmed, I got up but he picked his head back up and reached for something in his car. He seemed OK for the moment but I kept watching. After a few minutes of him just sitting there, his head began to sink again, so I went inside to get my phone in case I needed to call anyone. I headed over to his car and quietly asked him, “Are you OK?”

Startled, he jumped and stared at me for a moment before angrily telling me, “I’m napping!” The tone of voice made me take a step back and apologize, telling him I didn’t know if he needed help and I was just checking on him. He nodded then, and turned to put his head back down.

Since this was not anyone who lived there or anyone I had ever seen, I kept watch from my front step for about 10 minutes longer. Finally, he got out of the car and slowly made it to the front door where my neighbors apparently knew him and they helped him in. I apologized for startling him and was thanked with a smile and a wave that communicated to me, “It’s OK.”

Even though everything was OK this time, there may be a time that someone does really need help. The responsibility falls on all of us to be aware of the situations around us and to be proactive, asking even a total stranger… “Are you OK?”

Happy National Chocolate Day!!! (Oct. 28th) – Almost-Famous Chocolate Mousse Cake

Happy National Chocolate Day!!! (Oct. 28th) – Almost-Famous Chocolate Mousse Cake.

Dark week ahead

Despite the gorgeous sunrise and freshly fall weather gracing the coast, this week seems to be quite dark in the events that are coming up. Back in May, my landlady who I lived with at the time had a very unsavory man living with her. In 6 months, he had not paid rent so she had me – of all people – serve him his eviction notice. Eventually, the police had to come and remove him the hard way. The next day, my brake lines were mysteriously cut. She had a restraining order against him but despite numerous violations against it, he continued to stalk and harass her. Most recently, she found her two outdoor cats had been killed and left in a bag on her front lawn. This is the type of person we are dealing with. On his first violation of the night he was thrown out, she and I were sitting on the front porch and saw him come back onto the property. We called the police and filled out witness reports. Stupid, stupid move on my part. This week, I have to go testify against him in court as a witness even though I have been telling the prosecuting attorney for months that my life is in danger from this man. He is not sane, he is not to be trusted. A text from his ex wife to my landlady early on said it plainly: “You don’t know what he’s capable of.” This single chilling text has stuck in my mind ever since and on many occasions, he has indeed proven what he is capable of. Now even though I no longer live at her address, he can just as easily find out where I live if I go testify against him. What happens next? I’m afraid to find out. Just pray that he does land in jail for a substantial amount of time finally without bail or that if he does manage to go free that he doesn’t find me. Ever.