Wednesday, December 30, 2009

All gummis great and small

They aren't good for anything, but I love gummis so. Here are some of my favorites:

Trade Joe's Gummy Tummies (at right) - Shockingly good. A workmate shared them with me and I am hooked. Each one has some liquid center in their tummy.... which are super tasty. I recommend leaving them exposed to air for a day - somehow when the gummy hardens a tad it gets even better texture.

Haribo Gold Bears - If you don't know what these are, you're a Philistine. A little harder than yuor average gummi, and high on flavor. Also: The company who makes them has been making them for NINETY YEARS. Nice

Also good: Gummi sharks, Gummi cherries.
Not good at all: That God-awful gummi cola, sour gummi worms

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

A nice mantra

Just for today:

Do not be angry

Do not worry

Be grateful

Work with integrity

Be kind to others and to yourself.

- Mikao Usui, "Reiki Principles"

Monday, December 21, 2009

The Jon Rubin Wrinkle-Reduction Method

I've been working on my Photoshop skills recently, and I've done impressed myself. Observe how I took away this woman's crow's feet and other wrinkles about the eyes (double-click to see it more closely). I should charge people to doctor-up their Facebook photos... to create hilarious awkwardness during those first dates.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Don't tell people to smile

Our office is connected to the Department of the Interior via a super-cool underground tunnel with checkpoints! While on the way over there I saw a woman dressed in workman's clothes (heavy overhauls, thick boots, dust all over her).
This wasn't particularly interesting in itself, as they are gutting the Interior and it looks like a warzone. Except that as she walked by she kept her head down almost at her chin, and stared at the ground as if her eyes were lead weights.
At some points in my life in the past, I would have had an impulse to go up to the woman and say something like, "Smile!" or "Whatever it is, it isn't that bad," or even "Allah loves you!"
But no longer. Now, I know that any of those comments are really, really shitty to say to someone.
Here's why: If you are genuinely happy, great! But while happiness and loneliness are contagious, that still doesn't mean you should dish it out to people like servings of porridge. If someone is really sad, there's a reason why. It could be something really big (chronic pain, death in the family, homeless and cold) or comparability smaller (hates their job, is mad at a coworker, feels ugly today). But whatever it is that's wrong - to them, this experience is all encompassing and possibly very embarrassing as well.
It's a safe bet they don't want to be reminded of it any more than they won't to be cheered up. So even if the sight of them makes you sad, let them go on their way unmolested.
Now, if you have a chance to help a person who looks miserable - i.e. hold open a door, help them pick up a dropped package, telling them you like their shoes / sweater / Transformers lunchbox, by all means do. That often works.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

If you ever go back in time, this is all you need to rule the world

Like most sensible people, I spend a good deal of time thinking about how I would survive if thrown into the past with just the clothes I had on. I probably won't have a science textbook in my car trunk like Ash did in Army of Darkness, so I'll need to rely on my most unreliable memory. Or, I can use the chart at right.
Thanks Ilan for the tip. The original link and a much larger pic is here.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Say Hi to Your Haters

I've spent some time at Toastmasters recently, and heard some great speeches on all topics. This one, written by a colleague, is dedicated to a very important person I know who is dealing with a problem of this sort. Hope it helps.

Say Hi to your haters
by S.S.

Hater is a slang term used when describing a person who is against you for whatever reason... People tend to use the term hater more in the context of a person that simply cannot be happy for another person's success. As I grow, I am noticing more that there are a lot of people who are not happy about my happiness or not happy about my success. This used to bother me. Now, today, I expect it. Now, I accept it.

...The truth is, there will always be opposition. There will always be whispers. There will always be rumors and gossip. It’s been like that since biblical days. Jesus had haters. That’s the way it is, that’s the way its always going to be.

In all of the altercations/ clashes I have been in, there is not one that I can say was worth it. You simply cannot fight fire with fire. There is nothing positive, that can come from negative. So if you're Tiger Woods and the world turns against you, retreat. If your coworker is not playing fair, back away. That battle is not yours.

The truth is: that person is unhappy. Their lack of self-contentment is what leads them to throw darts at you. This is not about you. It’s about them. If they weren’t talking about you, being jealous of you, looking at you with one eyebrow up- they’d be complaining about somebody else. It’s not about you. Don’t take it personal.

You all that have heard me a few times - my speeches are personal. So, you better believe I recently had to handle a situation like this. And I was proud of myself. I love Joel Osteen. He’s a pastor and author. In one of his books, Become a Better You: 7 Keys to Improving Your Life Every Day, there was a chapter on handling critics. He said in the Old Testament critics were called Slingers. And when the slingers went to attack another city they took rocks and threw them into the city wells. They figured that if they could clog up the wells and stop the flow of water, eventually the people of the city would have to come out. Do you understand that. You could have a well of peace, good will and intent, victory. Don’t let a Slinger speak against you and clog up your well. Don’t let them “force you out” of your happiness. Keep your well flowing and pure- because I have learned nothing positive and come from negative.

You might want to retaliate. I encourage you to retreat. The battle is not yours. That person has issues within themselves. Don’t put energy into owning their issues. Don’t do any research. If Sally said Susie was talking about you, don’t ask Sam if he’s heard anything. Don’t feed that fire. I believe it is easier to shake a hater off if you don’t know all the details. If someone comes up to you at the family reunion and says your cousin was talking about you - before that person starts with the "he said, she said, they said," tell them stop. Tell them you like to keep your well pure. Don’t allow those negative thoughts to enter into your mind.

So to all the haters out there, I have one thing to say: Hi!

(Note: She changed her ending on the fly, but I think it was something like that. I loved this speech)

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Ethical question: Did I do the right thing?

Last night was the bocce championship. It was a big deal to our team - we were 6-0 and 1st place in the league. Everyone was jockeying to beat us, and I was the captain.
Our team had four players (one was sick). Their team had two, the bare minimum to play and a strange sight for the finals. The two were: A brawny but smarmy guy with a baseball cap, and a nondescript girl who wasn't wearing a team shirt for some reason.
They were good, very good. This was strange, because they were the LAST PLACE team in the league. We were suspect of the fact that there were just two of them, because they played every frame and got to learn the field while we had to rotate. Also, it seemed as if they sent their best two players to play all night while leaving their crappy players at home.
Also, according to my teammates, apparently they were cheating as well. You are supposed to play behind a line and not step forward - this is pretty important because the field is small and even leaning in a few inches can make a big deal if the play is close. The guy on their team was apparently leaning over so much that our teammate Jemma kicked him lightly and told him to back up.
We were neck and neck in the first few rounds of the game. At one point I asked them where the rest of their team was.
"Oh, they are out of town on business," the guy said.
"I'm not even on the team," the girl said. "I just showed up to play."

I smiled, but inside my mind was churning. When I had a moment to slip away I went over to the refs and asked if a team needs at least two registered players to win. They said yes, and without two registrees they automatically forfeit.

"So," the refs asked me as the captain-in-charge. "What do you want to do about this?"

So the question for you, my readers, is

Should I have:

A. Told them they need to forfeit so we automatically advance to the next round. Rules are rules.

B. Played out the game. Winning is important, but so is skill. We want to win because we're the best, not on a technicality

I'll tell you what happened in a few days.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

December is a good time to have a beard if you're homeless

Sure, it keeps your face warm and you save money on shaving equipment, but I'm willing to bet if you have a white beard in December, your panhandling earnings are probably up 200%.

Monday, December 7, 2009

The Art of Lady Gaga

Dianna got me interested in checking out Lady Gaga's very strange videos on Youtube.
Bad Romance is a good example. They are visually decadent and disturbing. The lighting is stark. There are also extremely intricate and "fashion forward" costumes and sets - an outlandish science fiction fashion show. Feast your peepers.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Slavery in Rhode Island? You betcha

I was in New England for Thanksgiving. My stepmom was talking about some bad experiences she had in the south regarding racism, and remarked that she was proud that she came from the north where they kept away from this stuff.
Without thinking, I (cruelly?) burst her bubble.
"Phyllis, you know that Rhode Island was a main importer of slaves, right? That's where a lot of the old Newport and Providence money came from."
She was shocked. "They didn't teach that in grade school in Rhode Island," she said.
"No," I said. "I didn't learn it in grade school either."
Turns out I learned it on the job at the Rhode Island Jewish Herald in 2001, where I covered a story by a man named Keith Stokes who is a descendant of Rhode Island slaves (here is his lengthy genealogy).
Brown University, which was heavily indebted to slavery, has some impressive research on the topic. Here is an excerpt:

Rhode Island played a leading role in the transatlantic slave trade. Not only did Rhode Islanders have slaves—they had more per capita than any other New England state—but they also entered with gusto into the trade. By the close of the eighteenth century, Rhode Islanders had mounted at least a thousand voyages from Africa to the Americas...

In 1652, Rhode Island passed a law abolishing African slavery, similar to those governing indentured European servants, where “black mankinde” could not be indentured more than ten years. The law was evidently never enforced and the demand for cheap labor prevailed. The market for sugar and its related product, rum, was too compelling. During the colonial period, Rhode Island was one corner of what has been named the “triangular trade,” by which slave-produced sugar and molasses from the Caribbean were carried to Rhode Island and made into rum. The rum was then carried to West Africa and exchanged for slaves, to produce more sugar, more rum, and more slaves.

(The complete article is here.)

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Maybe I'm smarter than I thought

I left journalism for public service / PR for many reasons. They all orbit around one thing - my general disenchantment with journalism as a career, for these reasons:

1. Pitiful pay
2. Limited opportunities
3. High stress
4. Long hours
5. Extremely competitive environment where self-sacrifice is expected but not rewarded
6. Arrogant douchebags / drama queens make up 70% of the workforce

When I took my current job, I met journalists at J-school mixers who told me I had "gone to the dark side" or that I was a "traitor... ha ha." I felt bad at first for working so hard to get such great training and then veering from the chosen path.
But when I read articles like this about "Journicide", I wonder if I hadn't made the right decision all along. I took my good training and years of experience, got my contacts and then went somewhere where I can make use of them without dying of heart failure by 43.
I love journalism, newsgathering and good reporting and writing. But I am not devoted enough to this cause to enter that lion's den and end up living in my parent's basement.
In the end, I guess, I care more about quality of life than the craft.
And I'm OK with that.