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…

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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.

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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.

Skyfall

Fall is supposed to bring cooler temperatures and a drying out of the summer soakings. Instead in Daytona Beach, it has been raining for days with no end in sight. The roof over my bedroom continues to leak faster with every downpour. There hasn’t been long enough of a dry spell to get up there and try to seal it (again) so I just keep changing out buckets and hoping the patch of ceiling doesn’t give way and completely fall.

Between midnight and 9am alone, we received 6.18″ of rain. The standing water was so deep that I could not get my car out of my neighborhood. I had to abandon my car and flag down a ride to work in a vehicle with a higher clearance. Hopefully it’s still there when I get a ride back after work and hopefully the water will have gone down enough by then for me to move it. Hopefully too, the rain will not be so intense tonight as to cause another flood. It’s only a mile and a half to work, easily walkable – if I didn’t have COPD. I’m good for about a half mile before I collapse.

If God will smile on me, this weather will start showing some mercy.

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Perblog-Rainy Sunday

Normally on Sundays, it’s errand day. There’s mass in the morning, followed by religious education until noon, then the weekly grocery/necessities run and then the ATM to pull out my rent money for the week (landlady only takes cash!) Today just caps off the weekend “adventures” though as I recover from late work nights and a stomach bug plus ongoing migraines that seem to not have let up for 2 months straight. That’s why right now I am not doing a damn thing besides taking some time to myself after playing in the warm summer rainstorm that just passed over, enjoying the cool air on my wet hair and recounting what a crazy weekend it’s been. 

I didn’t wake up until 10:30 this morning after writing late (I freelance writing SEO content for websites). Fresh coffee was on and my breakfast wrap (sausage, egg & cheese, my favourite) was waiting in the microwave for me. After getting the sleep out of my head, I walked out to find my landlady under the kitchen sink trying to get the faucet unhooked to replace it. Of course I got recruited to help, so I did the clean work and held the flashlight for her, handing her tools. The faucet the neighbor gave her to replace it though was the wrong type and she spent the next hour struggling to get the old broken one back on. 

When she turned the water on, it was spraying everywhere under the sink. She’d given up trying to get the pieces to fit back together any tighter. That convinced her that she needed to turn the water back off and do it right this time. There is still no water in the kitchen sink because that faucet for some reason has been slowing down for a couple weeks and now just produces nothing. So after breakfast, I washed my coffee mug in the shower (now the only working water in the house) and am settled at my computer just waiting for a new job to post for the web content.

Mind you, during this plumbing fiasco, someone had dropped by unannounced to see the room she’s posted for rent. He was chased off pretty fast by the state of the house, but not before he asked us if we were single. What kind of creep was that? Not one that we want in the house, that’s for sure. 

Today’s craziness follows yesterday’s in a symphony of “I should have stayed in bed.” Yesterday while I was working on a website, fully concentrated in my content research so that I did not hear my landlady leaving to go to the store, all of a sudden I am ripped from my work by the sound of my favourite dog screaming at the top of her lungs. I slammed my computer shut and ran out to see what was going on and found the dog stuck with her foot in the bottom of the outer porch door in an absolute struggle to free it with paint everywhere (I’ll get to that in a minute). I freed the dog, grabbed her and immediately started washing the paint out of her mouth and off her as best as I could while the other dog (also covered in paint) ran to hide. Once the stuck dog was calmed and partially cleaned off, I checked her foot and nothing was broken. She was walking ok, just freaked out. 

Taking a moment to assess the situation, I went back out to the porch to try to figure out what the hell just happened. There had been a gallon of white paint apparently knocked over and kicked around in her struggle and it had spilled and sprayed everywhere. Imagine two dogs and a gallon of paint in a blender. That’s what it looked like when I ran out to her screams. I had no idea how I was going to start cleaning the paint off everything – it was a half inch thick coating the enclosed porch, so I left it and tried to call my landlady, only her phone had been left behind. She got home just at that moment and had a “WTF?!” pause before dragging the hose into the porch and starting to disburse the paint. As she started sweeping the wet, white mess out of the porch, I secured both dogs outside and hosed them off completely, restoring their natural colour. 

With the dogs cleaned and all the paint hosed off the porches, we sat trying to figure out what had happened. The best we can tell is the dogs were sleeping on the inside porch and someone tried to come in the outer door. Ceri, the big dog, would have rushed the door at the first sound and that would have scared the person enough to slam the door on her foot. There was no way, as far and as solidly as her foot was caught, that she could have done that herself. The door is too hard to push open at the bottom when it’s closed and even I could not force it open as far as her foot was caught. It was obvious during her struggle the paint got kicked over, slammed around and emptied. The takeaway: Ceri protected me from an attempted home invasion and got hurt in the process but she kept someone from entering the house. GOOD DOG!!! 

Seriously. This dog is my hero. She gets a sno-cone.

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Tony Stewart Hits and Kills Driver in Sprint Car Race

TIME

NASCAR star Tony Stewart struck and killed 20-year-old race car driver Kevin Ward Jr. during a sprint car race Saturday night.

Stewart spun Ward out during the Canandaigua Motorsports Park sprint car race in upstate New York on Saturday and Ward angrily got out of his car and stepped into the track. Stewart’s vehicle struck Ward and sent him sliding down the cement, witnesses to the race told USA Today.

Ward was rushed to the hospital and pronounced dead on arrival.

Local police said that the 43-year-old Stewart was “fully cooperative,” and that the incident was not being investigated as a criminal matter. Police are gathering interviews and video evidence of the incident, and are awaiting the results of an autopsy.

A video uploaded on YouTube purports to show the incident. (Warning: it’s disturbing.)

Early eyewitness accounts corroborate the video. When Stewart’s car struck him, Ward had exited his car…

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Darkest before the dawn

I just wanted to send up a prayer request for protection these next two days from a person I have the displeasure of living with. I won’t go into the details out of respect for the privacy of all the people I live with but the son has had a lot of demons to fight and every time he has let them win. Tonight is no different as he seeks to make the most it if his last two days here by the use of chemicals. He was OK for a week or so but the quiet has come to an end and he is again tormenting and threatening everyone in the house. He is capable of anything in this state and I am always scared to be here when he’s like this because he has gotten violent with me. So please, keep me in your intentions this weekend and pray for the safety and peace of all in this household.

Saint Michael, the Archangel, defend us in battle.
Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil.
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray and do thou, O prince of the Heavenly Host, by the power of God, thrust into hell Satan and all evil spirits who walk through the world seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.