Friday, July 22, 2016

3 Reasons I'm Grateful for Donald Trump's Presidential Candidacy

Like many Americans, I have experienced an ebb and flow of emotions in reaction to Donald Trump's Presidential candidacy. My initial response can be deemed a knee-jerk comical reaction. I felt the same way when I learned of his candidacy as I did when porn stars announced their candidacies for the California Gubernatorial race years ago. I was entertained, and on some level I welcomed the minstrel show. I considered our government a laughable disgrace. The fact that such unlikely candidates were on the ballot was both a protest and a passive aggressive attack. After all the laughter subsided, I truly expected Donald Trump's candidacy to disappear with it. It didn't.

I have always been one to support the underdog. Naturally, I threw my support in the direction of any unlikely candidate on the ballot. I'm an Independent voter who considered Carly Fiorina, Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton, Chris Christie, Ben Carson and Donald Trump. Basically, anyone but Bush, because my bush is still the only one I trust. But as time went on, the curtains of the sideshow act began to catch fire. There were the Planned Parenthood videos, emails, bridge scandals, potential lawsuits over pensions, and assimilation in the time of Black Lives Matter. Viable candidates began to burn up with the stage. I was left with only serious candidates. You can imagine my confusion when the smoke cleared and Donald Trump was still there. This was no longer entertaining.

I am a realist who teeters dangerously close to becoming an optimist on a daily basis. I try to find something salvageable in every disaster. As November hovers above the horizon, I must come to terms with the terrifying reality that Donald Trump may actually be my next Commander in Chief. I tried to find something good about the possibility. I did my best to seek desirable qualities that were strong enough to mold the useless parts of him into something valuable. I found three, unfortunately, none of these will make me feel better about him as the next President. Still, I am grateful his three greatest accomplishments this election year.

1. He ended the denial of the existence of racism.

People of color know all too well that the denial of the existence of racism is one of our most frustrating hurdles to abound. When Native Americans fought against appropriation of their images as sports team mascots and the term Redskins, White America resisted. They claimed Redskins wasn't a racist term. It was a term of endearment, like the n-word. It is a show of pride and honor. Racism didn't exist anymore and all those rich casino Indians needed to just get over it. Black Americans shouted Black Lives Matter and were told All Lives Matter. They were accused of creating racism where there was none before.

Then along came Donald Trump in all his Seig Heil glory. He attacked Mexicans, then Native Americans and Black Americans. Somewhere in his racial cleansing campaign he even included the Chinese in his xenophobic rhetoric. White America was elated that someone was finally saying what they had been holding in for years. They could be finally be free, free to be their racist selves. Just like that, White America lost the ability to deny the existence of racism. Once they could no longer deny it, White allies began to emerge from places we never expected. There were White Americans in every industry, every state, every religion and political party who could no longer consciously deny the existence of racism. The Black Lives Matter Movement grew stronger. People of Color began to unify and organize to take action. And when a Facebook or Twitter troll attempted to blame people of color for "inventing racism", people of color simply had to point to White America's Presidential candidate and the argument was over.

2. He became the catalyst for the reconstruction of the GOP. 

History tells us that people who are Democrats today, would have been Republican in early America. Somewhere down the line, Republican became synonymous with anti-mercy, anti-womanhood, and pro-racism. Many conservative Democrats were left to choose between embarrassing themselves by joining the Republican party, or suppressing some of their values to accept the Democratic party as a consolation. There were those of us who refused to choose between the lesser of two evils. We became Independents, the most powerful voters this election year.

Now that Donald Trump has presented himself as an ignorant, racist, con artist, anyone who proudly and openly supports him is placed in that same demographic. Donald Trump represents the Republican party, even though most of them can't bring themselves to vote for him. He came in like virus, infecting the entire party and ultimately causing the demise of the GOP. Now, it can be reconstructed in a way that reconciles conservative values with the original mission and core structure of the Republican party. If they succeed in doing so, the result could be the drafting of many conservative Independents and Democrats. It could even result in the construction of a separate political party altogether, further breaking down the antiquated bi-partisan system.

3. He destroyed his own empire. 

During his campaign, Donald Trump went out of his way to suppress and subsequently defend his frequent out of court settlements with disgruntled people. The general public learned of the failed business ventures he hid so well. There was Trump University, steaks, casinos, real estate scams, you name it, there was a scandal and a payoff for it. Win or lose, when this election is over, no one in their right mind will do business with him again. He has been exposed as a broke con artist with multiple bankruptcy court filings. Win or lose, Donald Trump is bad for business, including his own.

Donald Trump is not a great man. Should he become President of the United States, it will be his singular triumph. And as Napoleon Bonaparte once said, "Never interfere with an enemy while he is in the process of destroying himself." Or in this case, his entire political party.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Signs of Iron Deficiency Anemia

Anemia is a lack of hemoglobin. The most common cause is an iron deficiency. I have been an iron deficiency anemic my whole life. The simplest solution is to increase your intake of iron through dietary changes or to take iron supplements. The cause of this iron deficiency varies. It can be due to: menstrual bleeding, ulcers, the use of NSAIDS like aspirin or ibuprofen, childbirth, breastfeeding, blood donation, endurance training, caffeine and poor diet. Unfortunately, the symptoms for iron anemia can be categorized for at least two other conditions each. Over the years, I have come to isolate which symptoms usually pan out to be an iron deficiency for me.

  • Extreme fatigue - If I take a 2-4 hour nap and I still feel exhausted, or if I sleep through the night and am still sleepy, I classify that as extremely fatigued.

  • Pale skin - As a woman of color, this may present itself differently. I find that I get dark circles under my eyes that are not cured by water or sleep. Also, If I get a pimple or mosquito bite, there is immediately a black mark left behind, even if I don't pick at it. I also seem to bruise easily.

  • Weakness- During roller derby practice I find that I can't skate nearly as many laps as I could when I am not anemic. Unfortunately, the endurance training I go through in practice is also lowering my iron levels.

  • Shortness of breath - Just walking two blocks to my child's school can wear me out.

  • Headache - These headaches feel like migraines for me. They can literally knock me out.

  • Dizziness or lightheadedness - This isn't just when I stand or sit. This is simply turning my head really fast, once, from left to right. I also notice vision changes. Television and other moving images become blurry.

  • Cold hands and feet - No matter how hot it is, I get the chills. This is usually my first sign.

  • Fast heartbeat - This can sometimes feel like a panic attack or having too many espresso shots in my coffee.

  • Unusual cravings for non-nutritive substances, such as ice, dirt or starch - I'm all but obsessed with ice when I'm anemic. I know it's reached a dangerous level when I am eating the ice and not drinking the liquid.

  • Poor appetite, especially in infants and children with iron deficiency anemia - I tend to lose weight when I am anemic because I don't have an appetite anymore. All I want is ice. When I do eat, it's red meat but usually only one serving a week. This is usually when I take an iron supplement. or go see the doctor.

  • If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, see a doctor right away. These could also be symptoms of even more serious illnesses than anemia. Anemia itself is pretty serious. You may wind up needing a blood transfusion after childbirth or during a simple surgical procedure that normally wouldn't call for it. Better to get in front of it now than to put it off.

    3 Simple Ways to Combat Mansplaining in the Workplace

    Mansplaining is a portmanteau of the words man and explaining. It is when a man explains something to a woman in a condescending or patronizing manner.

    Most incidents of mansplaining takes place at work. This is particularly frustrating due to the codes of conduct most companies have in place. When mansplaining happens at a social gathering, a woman is free to speak her mind without fear of losing her income or feeling the glass ceiling fall even lower than it was before. To put it simply, a woman can clapback at a mansplainer at the family barbeque but not at the office. Here are three simple ways to clapback without backlash at your job.

    1. "Don't interrupt me. It's unprofessional."

    This is one has been the most successful for me. It has resulted in me being treated more like a supervisor than a subordinate, by my own supervisor. The reason is the buzzword "unprofessional". No one, especially not a misogynist, wants to be called unprofessional. A chauvinistic male operates under the belief that he is inherently more professional and intelligent than his female equal. To infer that he is being unprofessional immediately puts an end to their interruption, mid sentence in fact. This also effects those around you. People will become more respectful about interrupting someone because they don't want to be the unprofessional one. Sometimes interruptions are necessary, but there is a polite way to do it. People will realize that because of you, and your workplace will improve in respect to mansplaining.

    2. Remove emotions from the situation.

    Male chauvinists believe that women are too emotional. They think that we take everything personally. Any disagreement with them must be an emotional outburst, as far as they are concerned. So let's dumb it down for them. Instead of saying words like rude, disrespectful, or inconsiderate, use words like unprofessional for the reasons stated above. A phrase that often works for me is, "Your behavior is inconducive to our company's core values".  This is highly effective because the person must stop what he is doing to evaluate your statement. What are the company's core values? Which ones am I violating? Imaging the impact this statement has when members of your corporate departments are present. What image is he creating for the company or organization by being rude and disrespectful? Essentially, you're telling the person they are being rude and disrespectful without using those exact words. Why do we need to avoid those words? It's simple, emotion.

    The determination of someone's rudeness is based upon your opinion. Opinion involves emotion. For you to ascertain that someone is rude, you would have to feel insulted or offended. This also involves emotion. Telling a male chauvinist that he is rude or disrespectful will cause him to dismiss anything you say as a gusher of emotion not worth his time or acknowledgment. So, keep your objections emotionless, factual, and refer to the company's mission statement and core values for support.

    3. Womansplain

    Yes, womansplaining is a thing, but what man would bravely admit to it? It is essentially the same as mansplaining with a mere gender role reversal. Once at a business meeting a man interrupted me to mansplain. I was feeling petty so I responded, "Woa, someone didn't make par at the golf course this weekend." It was rude, disrespectful, and condescending. Everyone in the room laughed. Immediately this man had to make a decision. Would he become the overly sensitive person he once accused me of being and complain about my comment? Or would he call me out on my behavior in one of the other two ways I have previously suggested? He chose to become emotional. He went on about how great his golf game was and attempted to get back to his mansplaining. But as I said before, I was feeling petty. So I womansplained him again. "Easy there. There's no need to be so emotional. Calm down." He was livid. He called a meeting with my supervisor for sexual harassment. There was only one problem, He had done the same thing unchecked almost every single day to every woman in the office. So, my supervisor informed him that he would pursue a vigorous investigation and ensure that everyone who was found in violation of the policy would be disciplined. He opted out of the complaint and a truce was called in that meeting. He had a more difficult time changing his behavior. I, on the other hand, became Wonder Woman at the office.

    Male or Female, no one likes to be interrupted. No one likes to be disrespected or stereotyped for any reason, including gender. So don't assume that all men are sexist and that woman are not at all sexist. Standing up for yourself is quite effective, as is standing up for others. This includes a person of the opposite gender. If each one of us makes an effort to create an environment of respect, we will all spend less time dreading our work days.

    Monday, May 9, 2016

    Transgender Hysteria

    Before Bruce Jenner became Caitlynn, before orange became the new black, and before people started caring about who was in which bathroom, I married a man with waist-length hair. He was, and still is, a gloriously handsome man with hair straighter than the ruler we used to measure it. Never once had he been mistaken for a woman. Years later, I had a son with that man. In keeping with his father's tradition, we allowed his hair to grow long. Even as an infant, no one mistook my son for a girl. Perhaps it was the clothing. He was usually donning the finest three-piece suit since they were cheap for his infant size. But over the past 24 months, all of that changed.

    No one questions my husband about being a woman or a man. He is clearly a man. But there isn't any inquisition as to whether or not he was born that way. However, since the debate over whether or not to have transgender bathrooms emerged, we experienced a new problem. You see, I also have a daughter. My spunky little Mini-Me is notorious for saying she doesn't have to go potty 150,000 times before we leave the house. The moment we arrive at our destination, she has to potty, whether there is a potty or not. This made Mother's day particularly difficult.

    My five year old daughter has no income or a driver's license. Therefore, when the time came to purchase a mother's day gift for me, she had to tagalong with her father, and point to her gift choice. Like clockwork, she walked into the store and demanded to be escorted to the potty. I should also state that she refuses to use public restrooms unchaperoned. That's not a complaint. We always have to go into the stall with her because the loud sudden flushes terrify her. So there they were, father and daughter faced with the decision of choosing the men's or women's restrooms.

    "I wasn't going to take her to the men's restroom because of the urinals. Besides, she will take one look at the men in the room and will hold it until her bladder explodes." he explained.

    So he decided to take her to the bathroom with which she was most comfortable, the women's. Being the boss that she is, she staked her claim on the handicap stall and pulled her father by the hand towards it. He was swiftly intercepted by a middle aged woman in the restroom.

    "What the Hell do you think you're doing?!" she shouted, startling my daughter.

    "I'm taking my daughter to the potty."

    "This is the LADIES room, you know. Being a little bold aren't you?"

    "I'm not taking my daughter to a men's room with penises swinging like a tree vines, if that's alright with you."

    "But you're a man!"

    "Look lady, don't flatter yourself or anyone else in here. I have no desire to see what ANY of you have going on. I'm here to let her pee. It seems to me, you're done. So why are you still here?"

    Naturally, when my husband shared this story with me, I was ready to find this meddling woman and go off on her for scaring my baby girl. But I chose to listen to him share his experience instead.

    "It's ridiculous." he told me. "We go to the bathroom to piss, shit, and wash our hands. Why do we need a bathroom monitor? My baby girl almost had an accident at a different store because a man stood outside the bathroom refusing to let me take her in. He said his mother was in there washing her hands. Really??"

    He was angry and frustrated. So was I, but there is nothing we could do about it. Prior to the whole bathroom debate, no one would say two words to us about taking our children to the bathroom with which they were most comfortable. Now, we have several near misses a week due to the pee-pee dance and bathroom monitors. How is this fair to us? We're not perverts trying to film under the stall doors for the latest edition of Girls Gone Wild. We're not transgender people seeking to relieve ourselves without facing discrimination. We're parents, trying to get our children and their tiny bladders to the nearest toilet on time. But we have been caught up in the transgender hysteria.

    There is also the issue of my son's hair. As I said before, my son has long hair, the same as his father. It's waist-length and wavy. When he was younger he was never mistaken for a girl. But then something interesting happened. He passed to the 3rd grade, which meant clothing style preferences and video games. It also meant the start of bullying. My son is an African-Native American in a predominantly white school. So when he wears two braids, he is made fun of for looking "like a girl". So my son chooses more masculine attire in hopes in appearing more like a boy than a girl. Its not that it's an insult to him to be feminine, but it's not who he is. My son was able to deal with the bullying thanks to the zero tolerance policy and his father sharing his childhood experiences.

    The same could not be said for rude people on the street.

    "Your daughters are beautiful."

    "Thank you, but this one's a boy." I'd say, gesturing to my son, who is practically my height. He's in the fourth grade now.

    "Well he looks like a girl because of his hair."

    "Lot's of men have long hair." My husband interjected.

    When my son started third grade, that would have been the end of it. The person would look at my husband and then at my son and realize their mistake. They would typically apologize and make some remark about his facial hair growing in someday and all would be well. But now my son is passing from fourth grade to fifth grade, right in the middle of transgender hysteria. The conversations begin the same way, but not they end like this one with a female Trump lookalike.

    "She looks like a girl."

    "Well HE'S not. So I would appreciate it if you would respect that."

    "Just because you want her to be a boy, doesn't mean SHE will ever be one."

    I had an Ally McBeal moment, envisioning slapping her across her orange face and shoving her down on her knees before my son shouting, "That's a factory original penis!" But that would likely involve trauma and Child Protective services. So I dismissed this woman as an idiot a split second before I heard my son speak.

    "I was born with a penis lady. Not that it's any of your business, you perverted bigot."

    Was that my son? Mama was proud. Orange Face, dropped her jaw and stuttered through an apology. There had been a few people nearby waiting on their coffee orders who seemed to have overheard the interaction. They applauded and she quickly ran off leaving her coffee and croissant on the counter.

    This seems to happen exponentially more frequently now that the country is openly transphobic. My son now feels the need to overcompensate, not to prove his masculinity, but to try to divert any accusations that he is a girl "pretending" to be a boy. I have always understood when people have said that they felt like they were born in the wrong body. I've been referred to as an ally. I never anticipated, however, my son feeling the need to go out of his way to prove he is not transgender. Again, he wasn't offended that they thought he was transgender. He was offended that they couldn't see him for who is.

    Now, I'm a helicopter mom. I will probably still be accompanying my son to the restroom when he is 18 years old. I trust no one around my children. So when my son heads to the men's room to potty, (he hates when I say that), I go with him. I could care less about a man copping an attitude. I'm going in with my son to protect him. If the men's room is full or filthy, I escort him to the women's restroom. And yes, I stand guard there too. I will break a cougar's neck if she comes at my baby. That's just me.

    Something interesting happens when I go to the men's room with my son. And by that I mean, nothing happens! The men do a double take and literally continue their "business". No one cares. Do you know why? Because they are there to "piss, shit, and wash their hands". My husband says the only issue he notices is that there is always that one man who hangs around until they leave, to make sure nothing is happening to my daughter in the stall that shouldn't be. My husband actually appreciates that. As do I. In the women's room, however, there is so much nosiness and meddling. I don't understand this hysteria. If I had it my way, all bathrooms would be gender neutral like at the local gas station or porta potty...only cleaner. All bathrooms should have baby changing stations, and urinals should have privacy walls. If I had it my way, people would mind their business while doing their business. I mean seriously, piss or get off the pot. Don't be a self-appointed bathroom monitor either. The last thing I would want to do is regulate a bathroom knowing full well, someone is about to take a shit and stink the place up. I'm afraid of the funk and filth of public restrooms, not the gender assignment of its patrons.

    It's interesting how people are discriminating against my family and labeling my son as transgender, all in an attempt to discriminate against actual transgender people. They are attacking and victimizing the very people they are claiming to "protect". Although frustrating, these experiences are not making my son bitter. In fact, he is learning through incorrect assumptions about him, the kinds of struggles transgender people experience. In an ironic twist, transphobic bigots have created another LGBTQ ally.

    Friday, April 29, 2016

    Everybody Loves Monty

     Tyler James Williams plays Russ "Monty" Montgomery on the new CBS drama Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders. If you haven't watched it yet, you really should get on board. Don't let the title mislead you. The show is truly a unique concept from the original Criminal Minds. As you may know, Criminal Minds is a show about the FBI's Behavioral Analysis Unit. It first became a major hint when criminal profiling was being understood and becoming a hit with the general public. Lately however, the show has descended into a misogynistic, soap opera that rarely focuses on the mind of the criminal.

    Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders does not make this error, or rather, it hasn't yet. The CBS website describes the show as follows:

    Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders, a spinoff of the hit CBS Television Network series “Criminal Minds,” is a drama about the specialized International Division of the FBI tasked with solving crimes and coming to the rescue of Americans who find themselves in danger while abroad. Heading the International Response Unit is Unit Chief Jack Garrett, a seasoned 20-year veteran of the Bureau. The team he trusts with his life includes Clara Seger, a smart, well-traveled and multi-lingual cultural anthropologist, Matthew Simmons, a former military hero with split-second profiling skills he honed on the battlefield, Russ “Monty” Montgomery, the unit’s compassionate, brilliant tech analyst who additionally liaises stateside with the families of those in trouble while his group is far from home, and Mae Jarvis, the team’s fearless and fun medical examiner. These exceptional agents are dedicated to safely returning U.S. residents home by profiling and identifying criminals who are beyond our borders.

    Monty is my favorite character on the show. Here's why.

    1. He's a true "techie".

    One peek inside Monty's workspace and you will see nothing but cutting edge technology. He has several screens, programs and computers running simultaneously. There is always one broadcasting some television show, strictly for entertainment. But otherwise, there is constant data processing in the background. In one episode, one screen was completing facial recognition while one seemed to be searching the Darknet. Another one was searching license plates and Monty was busy on another, breaking into a remote system in the same room as the investigators half a world away.

    One of the most annoying things about t.v. "techies" is that they use a keyboard to do everything. Monty has mostly touch screen hardware and only uses a keyboard to type. Ever notice how Penelope Garcia from Criminal Minds does everything by typing? I don't even think she uses a mouse.

    2. He's professional.

    Nothing more irritating than watching a show where someone has been brutally murdered and having a character behave like a ditzy teenager every time she appears on the screen. Yes, I am speaking again of Penelope Garcia. The whole Baby Girl shtick had long since run its course for me. Derek Morgan would be standing over a dismembered corpse and they are exchanging pet names like Chocolate Thunder. I mean seriously, does Penelope even know how to answer a phone without a rambling monologue?

    Monty on the other hand knows when to be fun and when to work. He answers the phone with a simple hello, usually in the language of the land in which the investigators are located. Sometimes he simply says, "Monty" or nothing at all, since, he's almost always on video when they call him. There's no pet names, flirting, gushing, or other excess of useless banter. He also dresses the part. I imagine his closet is filled with patterned collar shirts and vests as that seems to be all he wears. Head to toe he is professionally dressed. This is extremely important considering he is on video and is usually with the victims families in the US. Every time I see Penelope Garcia in stripper heels and a dress so tight she couldn't bend down to pick up a fallen Treasure Troll, I cringe. She's at work, not the club.

    3. He's extremely useful.

    I know, I know. I'm beating this whole Penelope vs. Monty thing into the ground. But the comparisons are almost unavoidable. Like the uselessness of a once useful character. Ever notice that the BAU asks Penelope questions that they could have asked SIRI? And SIRI wouldn't have sexually harassed them while delivering her answer. Neither would Monty. Penelope has become so useless that Monty appeared on Criminal Minds to help Penelope help her own team. While she gushed and rearranged her Treasure Trolls, he scanned the traffic cameras for images of license plates. He helped break the case by figuring out that the killer was using stolen rentals. The presence of this entire team in the 19th episode of season 10 of Criminal Minds, showed just how far off course the show strayed. I was left wanting more Chief Garrett and Monty from that moment on. When this show premiered, I got my wish. Shortly thereafter, Penelope Garcia showed up on an episode looking for an octopus mug. I found myself wondering, "Is she lost? She needs to go find her somebody to play with. This is a grown folks show."

    On Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders, when the International Response Unit calls Monty, he delivers. "Monty, we're in the suspect's room. There's a computer here. Can you get us in?" Asks Chief Jack Garrett, played by Gary Sinise. Then someone reads some numbers off of a router. Before the sentence is complete, Monty's face pops up on the computer screen. Usually before the team even asks, he has already performed facial recognition searches using the possible suspects' passport photos, saving the team crucial amounts of time. But his talents aren't just in technology.

    Monty is a very compassionate communications liaison. When the families need to provide or receive information, he's not frozen like a deer in headlights. He's adept at extracting and communicating information to the families without compromising the investigation. He's also an artist, a talent that comes in handy when the families need a sketch artist.

    4. He's increasing minority interest in technology.

    Many black children and young adults recognize Tyler James Williams from original airings or reruns of Everybody Hates Chris. They grew up with him. They also remember him as the most gruesome death to date on AMC's The Walking Dead. They are already invested in him as an actor. Seeing him in a role as an expert in technology is inspiring to them. We don't really see minorities cast in rolls that require technological intelligence. Even though we are in the throws of a generation of tech-dependent Millennials, Hollywood seems to leave minorities out of the "techie" roles.

    Seeing Monty on Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders has inspired my own son. He turned 10 years old 5 days ago and has already declared his college major. He wants to create video games for fun, while working for national security in a fully technological capacity. For his birthday, he asked to be enrolled in a college course that teaches source code. I told him he'd have to settle for Minecraft for Xbox 360 instead. Needless to say, he watches Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders On Demand, anxiously awaiting the scenes with his favorite character Monty.

    Tune in to CBS and watch Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders on Wednesday nights. Remove any thoughts of the original Criminal Minds from your brain as this show really has nothing to do with it.

    Lemonade: Forgiving a Cheater

    Lemonade is Beyoncé's short film containing music from the new album of the same name. It was released on HBO and bootlegged across the internet for those who refused to pay extra for HBO. It has been evaluated in many different accurate and inaccurate ways. This is not an evaluation of that music video. This post is about women who have decided to forgive their spouses after he or she has had an affair.

    Cardinal Rules of Marriage

    The extensiveness of this list of cardinal rules is dependent upon one's vows and spiritual beliefs. There are a few rules that seem to be universal.
         1. Be faithful
         2. Be honest
         3. Secrecy

    The rules are self-explanatory. "Be faithful" means not to have any affair. The word "affair" has been manipulated since the evolution of the internet, specifically the introduction and takeover of social media. An affair is obviously physical. An affair is also emotional. There are laws that were quickly abolished by unfaithful US Senators called Alienation of Affection, that deal specifically with the non-physical part of the affair. "Be honest" means not telling direct or indirect lies, lying by omission or white lies, (or lies of any other color).

    Secrecy is one that needs to be explained. There are to be no secrets between spouses. Secrets break down trust. To hold a secret is to enter into a pact of loyalty with someone other than your spouse. This causes a cascade of problems in a marriage. For example, one might lie to keep the secret or cause a spouse to be suspicious of an affair. Secrecy also means that what happens between spouses is to be kept between spouses. Beyoncé's Lemonade is a direct violation of that cardinal law. She not only told all her business, but also, she told her mama's business and her grandmother's business. If you are going to forgive a cheater, you cannot break this rule.

    Now that we have a general understanding of what three of the Cardinal rules are, lets apply them to the task of forgiving a cheater.

    Be Faithful

    If you are going to forgive a cheater, you cannot then go out and cheat. Revenge cheating is always a bad idea. You were in love with your spouse. You still are, but now you're hurting. Revenge cheating is intended to hurt your spouse and repair your ego. However, your spouse didn't cheat with the intention of hurting you. He or she may have been careless, lustful, seeking something they felt they weren't getting at home, fleeing commitment, or cheating for some other inexcusable reason. At this point, you have but one problem, dealing with his or her infidelity. If you revenge cheat for your own pride, now you have another problem. Your spouse will want to know, where did this person come from? Did you already know each other? How were you able to cheat so fast? Were you already thinking about it? Did you use protection? Are there paternity questions? Will this person continue to wait on the side for the right time to come for you?

    True, the first cheating spouse may have caused you to ask the same questions. But in this case, what incentive does the cheater have to change once you "even the score"? Why not just let the whole marriage burn? If you are not ready to burn it all down, find the strength to resist vengeance, remember that you still love that person and begin finding a way to heal.

    Be Honest

    The nightmare of the affair is over for the cheater the moment he or she confesses or is found out. They no longer have to live two separate lives. But for the spouse who was cheated, on the nightmare is just beginning. If the affair happened with a coworker, every time the cheating spouse leaves for work, you may have a panic attack. Every time your spouse comes home late, leaves the room to take a call, tries something new in the bed, looks at a someone too long, you will feel pain. You will wake up in the middle of the night angry over a memory popping into your head. You will go out for an anniversary dinner, and like a switch being flipped, you will go from feeling romantic to feeling crushing pain. You'll wonder if the beautiful words your spouse whispers to you were the same words whispered to someone else.

    When this happens, and at some point it will, be honest about it. Don't lie and say you're fine when you're not, just to save the mood. Remember, you didn't cause this rift. Your spouse will not feel what you feel or even begin to understand how you feel, if you hide your emotions. They will not truly feel the magnitude of their poor decisions unless you tell him or her. Remember, they were relieved of the affair the moment they came clean or were found out. You don't need to beat them over the head with the truth, but it is important to explain what is triggering your mood swing.

    Counseling is crucial at this point. It helps get all of the emotions out in a safe space. It provides the two of you the guidance and tools you need to recover from the affair.


    Never ever tell anyone outside of your family what is happening in your marriage. If you tell everyone who will listen that your spouse is a cheater, you have now boxed yourself into a corner. Your marriage, and your decision to forgive or not to forgive is resting dangerously on your pride. What will people think or say about you when they find out that you've forgiven a cheater? Will they laugh at you? Will they say that you're a doormat? Will other adulterous suitors want to have a go at your spouse? Will anyone respect you again? The decision to forgive is one of the most difficult decisions of your life. You don't need to complicate it by being an open book for people who aren't going to help you through this.

    The same can be said of your family. Think carefully about who you talk to about this within your own family. Your parents may never like your spouse again no matter how things improve. They're your parents, they want what's best for you. Telling your brother or sister may result in an assault charge for them if they're hot tempered. This is why a counselor is the better person to talk to. They at least are bound by confidentiality. Still, you may have a close family member with whom you share everything. If you feel they will be the most objective and supportive, then talk them. This option is better than not talking to anyone at all.

    Marriage doesn't have an expiration date. You vowed to be together for better or worse, until parted by death. There is no reason to allow and affair to bring it all to an end. Recognize that if your spouse isn't willing to change or you just aren't willing to work it out, it may be time to let it go. But take your time coming to that conclusion and leave your pride out of the equation.

    Tuesday, March 1, 2016

    Behavioral Prep for Kindergarten

    I have been a Kindergarten Classroom Aide for years now. I've seen some children struggle with language barriers, dexterity, and speech impediments. But all of these challenges are typically overcome by the end of the first semester. Even children whom have never attended preschool, daycare, or have never seen public television can catch up to the educational and developmental milestones of their class mates. But there are some things that aren't and simply cannot be taught in the kindergarten classroom. Behavior is the most inhibiting shortcomings a kindergartner can have. Behavior is taught at home and takes longer to become a habit. If your child hasn't been taught how to behave prior to kindergarten, prepare to show up on back-to-school night and find your child is isolated from the entire classroom. This is a practice I find both disturbing yet effective. Here are some behaviors that crucially must be corrected prior to beginning kindergarten.

    1. Hitting - Children hit. It's common. They don't have the vocabulary to express themselves effectively, so they lash out. We live in an age of Zero Tolerance. Many schools don't apply this rule to kindergarten but still, many do. Teach your child to use her words not her hands. Also teach her that even if she's just kidding, to keep her hands to herself. If someone hits her, the antiquated rule of "hit her back" needs to be retired. In kindergarten, we tell an adult. Better to allow her to be a "tattle tale" than to receive a call for her violent behavior.

    2. Solo potty time - You may think it's cute or funny that your child camps outside the bathroom door when you go, but it is socially unacceptable. In kindergarten, your child cannot join others in the potty, nor can your child be chaperoned. Your child needs to be able to conquer his fear of the toilet flushing or having the door closed while using the restroom. Otherwise, be prepared to hear tales of other kids laughing at your child "doing his business" in front of everyone. This is something you should correct for your child's safety as well. A child who does not need assistance inside the bathroom stall is less likely to be comfortable with strangers touching, wiping or seeing their genitals. Kindergarten teachers will not and cannot go into the restroom with your child. Prepare them to do it on their own now. Also, teach your child that it is okay to ask to go to the restroom. Some timid children have been known to wet their pants rather than ask to go to the restroom. Public urination is also socially unacceptable. Some of you may think this is obvious, but consider the fact that I have seen boys and girls using the tanbark as a litter box.

    3. Meltdowns - Meltdowns, tantrums, emotional breakdowns, no matter what you call them, they completely disrupt class. When your child throws a fit, the teacher has to stop what he is doing to get your child under control. There are at least 20 other children in the classroom who desperately need the teacher to finish the lesson. That won't happen if your child is on the floor in the middle of the room. Teacher's Aides like myself, will do all we can to quiet the tantrum, but like the teacher, we are needed elsewhere. We are correcting papers, prepping stations, testing reading, being language interpreters, prepping snack, and maintaining safety. A tantrum is understandable and forgivable but it is also detrimental to the learning environment.

    4. Stealing - Kids steal because they don't understand why they can't have what they want anymore. Parents say, "no" and the child doesn't comprehend or agree with the logic behind it. In the end, the local AM/PM is short a candy bar. This isn't cute and can be very serious. Some families are low income. Every headband, jacket, box of crayons, took a financial sacrifice. Teach your child empathy to quickly curb this behavior. No one likes to be stolen from. Help them understand that.

    5. Touchy Feely - This is all encompassing. Nose picking, crotch grabbing, licking, biting, chewing all need to stop by kindergarten. The most obvious reason is germs. Pencil chewing and nose picking cause illnesses to spread. Everything else causes fights to break out.

    Sometimes, children pick up bad habits just days before starting kindergarten. Be sure to tell your child's teacher that you are having issues with curbing a certain behavior. The teacher will be more patient and more helpful with correcting the behavior. There are times when aides like myself are assigned to a child specifically to help with a disruptive behavior. If your child is taking longer than you can allow, to learn control certain behaviors, be prepared for a complaint to come home. Don't be defensive or rude. Acknowledge the problem and assure the staff that you are trying and that you need more time. Sometimes, staff can forget that behavior modification can take time too.

    Remember, teachers are not parents. It is not their job to parent, or raise your child. It is not their job to discipline your child. Please don't expect them to do so. Be proactive and supportive and your and your children will make it through kindergarten with ease.

    Monday, February 15, 2016

    The Illuminati: Another Oppressive Fairytale

    Let's be clear. I am no longer a Beyoncé fan. I once was. I fell off during her fourth album release. But I'm not one of those people who believes that I own an artist simply because I spent $9.99 on an album download from iTunes. Musicians are artists no matter their instrument, and therefore have a right to evolve in terms of their artistic expression. Art is more about expression and less about commercialism. I'm okay with not liking her music anymore. Like white people everywhere on Super Bowl Sunday, there comes a point when you have to accept that everything isn't for you.

    Although I am not a fan, that does not automatically make me a hater. First of all I want to abolish, nay, kill the word hater with fire, lots and lots of fire. A hater is one who dislikes another for no reason whatsoever other than bitterness and/or jealously. I could care less what Beyoncé does unless I am asked to blog about her. All of the aforementioned should validate my following opinion on her alleged involvement in the Illuminati.

    To quote Wikipedia: "The Illuminati is a name given to several groups, both real and fictitious. Historically, the name usually refers to the Bavarian Illuminati, an Enlightenment-era secret society founded on May 1, 1776. The society's goals were to oppose superstition, obscurantism, religious influence over public life and abuses of state power. "The order of the day," they wrote in their general statutes, "is to put an end to the machinations of the purveyors of injustice, to control them without dominating them."
    In subsequent use, "Illuminati" refers to various organizations which claim or are purported to have links to the original Bavarian Illuminati or similar secret societies, though these links are unsubstantiated. They are often alleged to conspire to control world affairs, by masterminding events and planting agents in government and corporations, in order to gain political power and influence and to establish a New World Order. Central to some of the most widely known and elaborate conspiracy theories, the Illuminati have been depicted as lurking in the shadows and pulling the strings and levers of power in dozens of novels, movies, television shows, comics, video games, and music videos."

    So what does Beyoncé have to do with any of this? Well, as I like to say, "Look for the Christians." Christians tend to believe that any spirituality outside their own is condemnable by death to say the least and eternal damnation to say the worst. Beyoncé and her husband have been recorded saying that they feel "possessed" when they perform. That the entire Sasha Fierce campaign was an alter ego that Beyoncé allows to take over her when she hits the stage. This serves as proof to Christians and millions of others that the Carters are possessed by demons. But the reality is, ask any film or stage actor, and they will tell you that you have to take your mind elsewhere when performing. You have to become the character to be believable. You lose yourself in the performance. There are a long line of men who played The Joker on film who can testify to that. Most actors won't even watch their own performances because they don't recognize themselves. But for some reason, when the Carters make the same comments, they are possessed by evil spirits. Bring up Garth Brooks having an alter ego and people exclude him from being Illuminati because, he's a confirmed Christian. Another reason people say Beyoncé is tied to Illuminati is that she makes the triangular symbol with her hands at her concert. So basically, people will ignore all of the times Beyoncé has said she is a devout fan of yoga and Indian culture where making this gesture with your hands is common. But none of this is what irritates me most about this whole Illuminati conspiracy. What irritates me is how the Black Conscious community is so readily buying into this.

    Realize that every time a black celebrity reaches superstardom, there is a sea of oppressors seeking to discredit them. Understand, as a Conscious Black person, you should never tear down the accomplishments of another Black person. When a Conscious Black person accuses a successful black person like Michael Jackson, Beyoncé, Nikki Minaj, and Rihanna of being Illuminati, he is sending a message that black people are incapable of achieving success on their own merits. Poor, criminal, drug addicted black people are never accused of being Illuminati. Why? Why is it only the successful and highly visible? Black people are more willing to believe that another Black person's success is to be attributed to the devil before they'll willingly believe that Black people have the work ethic and financial stability required to become superstars in their own respective rights. How contradictory is that message coming from the Conscious ones?

    What about the goat symbolism? What's so evil about a goat? Well, as it turns out, nothing. Even the bible tells a story where one must paint their doorway with goat's blood to prevent the death of their first born son. In pagan religions in areas in which the goat is indigenous, the goat may be sacrificed for certain rituals. This includes African voodoo, which is spelled a number of different ways. In order for missionaries to convince Africans that Christianity is the one true religion, they had to teach them that voodoo is evil. Anyone who has actually researched African religion knows that voodoo is about balance. In fact, the black magic portion is what changed voodoo to hoodoo, which didn't exist until the Christian element was added to it. By making the goat evil, all pagan religions were marked as evil by association. Louisiana is steeped in Creole culture. Part of that culture is voodoo. Beyoncé is very proud of her culture and even flaunts that pride in her newest video, Formation. Beyoncé wearing a goat ring isn't evil. If anything, she is toying with the simpletons who believe in Illuminati. She is a brilliant business woman who knows how to keep her name in your mouth. If anyone thought that her previous Super Bowl performance wasn't playing up the hype, they were sorely mistaken.

    What I find ridiculous is the fact that so many Conscious people don't seem to know their own African history well enough to know that the Illuminati conspiracy theorists got it wrong. The theories that the triangle symbol that the alleged Illuminati make with their hands is the eye of Horus, an evil God. It's very convenient that an Egyptian God would be dubbed evil. Horus is the God of sky and kingship. This makes it more probable that the triangle symbolism is another show of Black pride from the couple who donated $1.5 million to Black Lives Matter. In African history the triangle is the delta, the pyramid, the eye of all male gods. But white Christians have convinced people that it is the eye of the devil. White history is filled with missionaries who led the world's indigenous to believe that their deities are wrong and that their god, Jehovah, is the one and only true god. Indigenous people on every single continent were tortured and murdered in an attempt to make them believe in Christianity, and yet, the Carters and the Illuminati are the evil ones.

    I may not be a fan of Beyoncé, but I am certainly an enemy of hypocrisy. Accept and give due credit to Black celebrities who put their all into establishing their careers. Don't allow Christians or white America to convince you yet again that your heroes are bad and their heroes are good. If you find yourself losing faith in your people remember, the Christians made slaves. The Christians tortured the Native Americans. The Christians "cleansed" Africans of their "heathen" ways and led them down this path of self-hatred that has endured for centuries. Illuminati conspiracies are just another form of racial oppression. Do not submit to the fairytale.

    Monday, February 8, 2016

    Beyonce's Formation: The Reversal of a Movement

    People haven't spoken about Beyoncé this much since her sister Solange served up a plate of ass whoopin' on Jay-Z in that elevator. No matter how hard I tried to avoid typing this post today, I ultimately could not avoid it. I should state for the record that I am a former Beyoncé fan. I was with her up until her fourth solo album. After that, as a mother, I didn't have it in me to follow her into her trap music phase. All that dancing around half dressed is something she should have outgrown by now. I certainly can't allow my daughter to think that it's okay to be Drunk in Love, waking up realizing that although she was too drunk to give consent she had sex the night before. I also can't have my daughter thinking that it's chic to give head in a limousine, even if she were to politely ask the driver to roll up the Partition please. So the argument that we as Black people need to support her is moot, if supporting her has a negative counter effect on my daughter. I don't mind if Beyoncé sings mostly about sex, money, liquor and haters now. I don't care that she walks around in a onesie every time her feet touch the stage. It's her prerogative. But, I don't buy her music or watch her videos anymore. Nevertheless, I was sucked into the whole Formation debate. So here I go.

    It seems to me that everyone is either over-evaluating or overhyping the release of Formation. Let's begin with a look at the lyrics. She goes into a repetitive trap song rant about haters, making money, her sex, hot sauce, collard greens, loving her daughter's afro, loving being Creole, and not being a member of the Illuminati. No matter how hard people try, they cannot convince me that there is anything political about those lyrics. Not once does she mention Black Lives Matter, racism, or even stop killing us. Still, privileged white people are outraged at the political message of a song that is completely non-political. Black people are waving a Beyoncé flag praising her for speaking out on Black issues, despite the fact that she has yet to utter a single word on the subject. Are people delusional? Are they reading a version of the lyrics that I haven't? Granted, I am no longer a fan. But the lyrics are the typical, "I got haters" lyrics that every musician eventually releases. My favorite example of this is Britney Spears. When she released her Blackout album, she hit the ground running with Piece of Me. "I'm Mrs. Ex No Longer Rich and Famous. I'm Mrs. Oh My God That Britney's Shameless. I'm Mrs. Extra Extra This Just In. I'm Mrs. She's Too Big Now She's Too Thin. You want a piece of me." It was an excellent clap back at all of her "haters" (a term I secretly wish would die a violent death). Formation is Beyoncé's clap back song. It is not a political statement. And you know what? I'm okay with that. It has a good beat that I can dance to, you know, if my kids aren't home. I'm not okay with people turning it into a mantra for a movement because it is far from that. To do so would actually set the movement back.

    Let's look at the video. It's 4 minutes and 49 seconds long. It is an excellent homage to the streets of Louisiana. Every image can be attributed to a heritage that is at home in that state. Everything from African culture to Creole culture, famous paintings and photographs in live art format. It was a beautiful work of art that was somehow politicized. Maybe it was the less than 10 seconds of a hooded boy dancing in front of cops before they raise their hands and the camera cuts to an image of "stop shooting us" spray painted on the wall. Here is where the line between "she's advocating for Black Lives Matter" and "She's talking about the violence in the streets of Louisiana" is drawn. The fact that there are arguments about the meaning proves it is unclear. One thing's for sure, Beyoncé is proud of Louisiana. It shows in the video. But at what point did she say Black Lives Matter? At what point did she mention Sandra Bland? There is something despicably opportunistic about releasing a potentially socio-politically controversial video on the anniversary of Sandra Bland's birthday. The song is a clap back. The video is about Louisiana pride. Where does Sandra Bland come in? Why evoke that association and memory by releasing this video on her birthday if not to capitalize on her murder? Beyoncé has never spoken publically about racial or social injustice. She talks about her hips, her money, her billion dollars on the elevator, but not Black Lives Matter. I also find it suspicious that after all that Jay-Z has done for protestors in private, he felt the need to release a press statement announcing to the world that he just donated $1.5 million to Black Lives Matter movement. It "coincides with the same time his wife is releasing a non-political song with a politically suggestive video, on the anniversary of Sandra Bland's birthday. 

    And Lastly there is the Super Bowl 50 Halftime debacle. You can read my review of the halftime show as a whole. But the summation of Beyoncé's part is, she marched out in the shape of an "X", did the same dance moves she's done for the past 10 years, and evoked the memory of the Black Panther Party. It was at this point I hit my Beyoncé Formation limit. Yes, I liked the black band on the leg in memory of the dead. Yes, I liked the play on words "get in formation", being get information. But that was about it. I was outraged that she misappropriated the memory of the women of the Black Panther Party merely for career advancement. Women in the Black Panther Party were intellectual equals to their male counterparts. I was never upset with the exclusion of black women from white feminism, because the Black Panther party defined black feminism. There was no need to alter the natural state of our hair or walk around disrespecting ourselves, looking like prostitutes because we were more than just our bodies. We are not the sex objects that white America had reduced us to. But that message was buried in Beyoncé's performance. 

    Yes, Beyoncé is entitled to freedom of sexual expression, but she had no right to reduce the memory of the women of the Black Panther Party to sexual stereotypes in booty shorts. She had no right to associate the Black Panther Party with racial stereotypes by going on about hot sauce, materialism, and haters. She crossed the line. This was not an honor. This was single handedly undermining the years worth of hard work that went into reversing negative stereotypes about black women. Police officer Daniel Holtzclaw raped several black women because he viewed them as being nothing more than sexual objects. He knew no one would care about them because to White America, Black women are nothing more than big lips, big asses, that twerk and have sex with anyone who is willing. Beyoncé succeeded in confirming that stereotype. She is an influential musician. Young women everywhere will think they are being true to the movement when they rock their afros and booty shorts. Their mouths will say they are "conscious" or "woke" but their behavior will send the message that they are nothing more than sex objects that will drop it down low for the almighty dollar. This was not what the Black Panthers stood for.

    Formation is a clap black song, strategically released on Sandra Bland's birthday. The video was purposely socio-politically charged to keep Beyoncé's name in our mouths long after the single falls off the charts. Although she has yet to say anything publically in support of the Black Lives Matter movement, she will forever be tied to it because of her video and Super Bowl performance. To the Beyhive, this is one of her best singles yet. They're proud of her implied support of Black people. Her Super Bowl wardrobe and "X" formation are good enough for them. From this moment on, no one will ever be able to say to them that she has done nothing for her people. As for me, I need more than a suggestive video and a halftime twerk show to believe she is actually a supporter of the movement. Until then, I'd appreciate it if she stopped undermining it.

    Super Bowl 50 Halftime Show Review

    The Super Bowl 50 Halftime Show was predictably disappointing. The headliner was Coldplay. The featured stars were Beyoncé and Bruno Mars. Therein lies the first mistake of the halftime show.

    It's common sense that the special guest performers should never overshadow the main performer. Super Bowl 49 had Katy Perry and Missy Elliot. No one really remembers Katy's performance. We all remember the shark and some remember the metallic lion. Which is a shame, because she really put on a show. Kay Perry is a largely universal star who was instantly upstaged by the return of a legend. But that qualified as a good show because the headliner, Katy Perry, gave such an awesome performance it was like a two for one concert rather than an embarrassing upstaging. It's like the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Nirvana on the same ticket, or paying to see Taylor Swift and getting Mick Jagger as a surprise guest. Katy Perry with Missy Elliot was an awesome show. Sadly, that was not the case with Coldplay, Beyoncé and Bruno Mars.

    I am not a fan of Coldplay. I don't dislike them, but I have never heard a Coldplay song before the Super Bowl. From what I gather, people either love Coldplay or hate them. Unlike with Beyoncé, there is no in between. Some love Beyoncé, some hate her, and others are neutral because they can only handle her to a certain point in her career. A friend of mine referred to Beyoncé as the Kevin Bacon of the music industry. She's everywhere and really needs to learn that it's okay to say no. And then there was Bruno Mars. Everyone loves Bruno Mars.

    Although I know nothing of Coldplay other than their new video and their Super Bowl performance, I dare say that it was flawless. Every note sounded right. The lead singer was on point. I loved the beautiful flowers. But what I did not like is how rushed the Coldplay performance was. Mind you, I am not a fan and after hearing the songs, I won't be anytime soon. But my children were enjoying the show. I really feel that we would have gotten more out of the performance if Beyoncé only showed up as the Hindu / Indian goddess who's image she was appropriating in the music video. But instead, she came out blaringly loud, promoting her new single. Someone really dropped the ball there. Two of the three artists are promoting a new single released within a week of each other. They really should not have both been at that the same venue. At the very least, Coldplay should have had more stage time and transitioned into the single with Beyoncé. From there Beyoncé could transition into her new single and then lead into Bruno Mars. What happened instead was Bruno Mars showed up at the end of Coldplay's act and shut it down. The stadium as well as my living room erupted in cheers and dance. No one can sit still when Bruno Mars is dancing. There he was, singing a song that is about a year old, leading into an MC Hammer song that is about 20 years old, and managing to make us all ignore the two artists that were promoting new singles.

    Beyoncé's performance is one of the most overrated halftime performances I have ever seen. How long is she going to continue to do the same dance moves before her fans demand to see something new? I could predict her every move. Swing the hair, drop it low, pop it, twerk it, dry hump it, pose. She's been doing the same moves since she was Crazy in Love. And can someone please beg her to take off the onesies and roll up that rogue stocking? The Super Bowl is a family friendly event and there she was being sexually inappropriate on my flat screen tv, causing my children to have to leave the room until the halftime show was over. That should not happen. Then there is all this hype about her making her performance political. Not one single word she uttered was political. The song Formation has absolutely positively nothing to do with Black Lives Matter or the Black Panther Party. So why, did she decide to concoct a routine with dancers dressed as Black Panthers? She proved to the world how out of touch she truly is with her own people. How could she possibly think it was okay to sexualize the image of Black Panther women, who's main goal was to remove the sexual stereotypes and reaffirm their intellectual equality? Her performance was disappointing on so many levels. She literally and figuratively fell flat on her ass.

    I really hope the producers of Super Bowl 51 take a moment to remember that politics have no place in sports. I hope they take time to remember that there are children watching the show with their parents and shouldn't have to be ushered out of the room when the halftime show begins. We have reached the point where we only watch the halftime show to see what controversy will unfold.

    Saturday, January 30, 2016

    Beware The Silent Facebook Friend

    Ponder reality for a moment. Consider your friendships, relationships, and acquaintanceships. Within each unique bond lies a multitude of personality differences. Some people are crass, others provide intentional comic relief. Some are accidentally flirtatious, and others are perpetually cynical. Though a handful may be grouped together, no two friends are exactly alike.

    Now ponder your enemies, frenemies, and those who fall somewhere in between. Your enemies are quite aware of their relationship status with you and as a result of the mutual animosity, you have no contact with one another. Your frenemies are either in denial or have readily accepted your relationship for what it is. They have thusly reciprocated contributions to the façade that is your "friendship". Those who are in between are swiftly swinging to either end of the spectrum.

    There is one category missing from distinction, the Silent Ones. They lack classification because the nature of your relationship remains undefined. In the real world, a friend has made clear to you at least, that they are in fact a friend. The same can be said of an enemy. Even those who lie in between are inevitably headed toward classification as friend or foe. But in the real world, no one calls the Silent Ones "friend", for their intentions are unknown.

    Now let's examine cyber space. Social media is our collective alternate reality. In the realm of Facebook, we are but SIMS exercising free will. We say, do, and become what we want with often the most minor of consequences. There are most certainly exceptions. But by far, most of our actions on Facebook are free of consequences. It is this free range environment that enables our unbridled behavior. We even have the freedom to hand pick our very own audience by way of making, accepting, and denying "friend requests". We can perform for that audience at will and ad nauseam every minute of every hour if we so choose. We often crave their feedback through "likes" and "shares" and outbursts in the "comments" section of our posts. Some people are lonely and desperate for even the most fleeting of interactions with the other SIMS in the Facebook realm, while others are merely actors seeking to entertain or to be entertained.

    So then, what parts do the Silent Ones play in the realm of an alternate reality? Why be there in the first place? If the purpose is not to perform, be entertained, or to be socially sustained, why exist in the on Facebook at all? The simplest answer is observation.

    Much like the mythical beings commonly known as The Watchers, The Silent Ones exist only to observe. Their responsibility is to document all that they see or hear us do and say. They do so by scrolling through our posts and clicking on each and every photo in our photo albums. They even sift through our friends list to familiarize themselves with the type of people with whom we choose to associate. All the while, they never type a single word. They never click "like" or "share" for to do so would expose their presence. Better to remain silent and therefore forgotten. It is the only way to continue to go about rummaging through our lives whether they be factual or fictional portrayals.

    In the real world, we would never allow such a thing to go on. We would distance ourselves from the Silent Ones for they cannot be trusted. No one trusts the unknown. We do however attempt on some level to explore the unknown. Should a Silent One expose their reasoning for being the way they are, shy perhaps, afraid to say anything because they know it will get back to someone they cannot afford to disappoint, we would be willing to trust them. Understanding breeds trust. But one cannot understand a mystery. The Silent Ones must offer information to receive it in return from us. But this is not true in the realm of Facebook. There, all that is required is the acceptance of a friend request. With one click of a computer key or one tap on a smartphone screen, we have granted the Silent Ones unrestricted access, backstage passes to our lives on social media.

    Whether or not we aim to, at some point we all share more of ourselves than we should. And though we've forgotten about the Silent Ones lurking in our friends lists they haven't forgotten us at all. They now wield the power to use a photo, comment, post, screenshot, or video that we posted at their discretion. Perhaps the most unsettling part about that is, we still don't know why they're there in our friends list in the first place.

    The next time you come across that friend who overshares, or that other friend who posts every five minutes, or the other friend that only posts once a month but always clicks "like" or "share" just to let you know she cares, be grateful. Be grateful that they are showing you who they are be they, crazy, crass, conspiracy theorist, or political analyst. But should you ever find yourself in a position where you cannot figure out how private information about you was revealed to people who aren't on your friends list, look no further than the Silent Ones.

    Friday, January 29, 2016

    Make Your Own Dusting Spray

    I ran out of Pledge one day. It was then that I realized I had the same bottle of Pledge for over 5 years. My furniture just never really acquired dust. I have more electronics than furniture, arguably, so I do go through electronic dusting spray every other month. When I went to the store, I found that I didn't like the chemicals in Pledge or the build up. I tried the Up and Up brand from Target. It had significantly less build up but after one use, the can ceased to dispense anymore. It would hopelessly clog itself. So I stopped buying dusting spray.

    I tried using a mix of soap and water in a spray. It got rid of the dust and prevented resettling, but only for about an hour or so. I found that when the dust did settle again, it was sticky because of the soap, making it even harder to remove the second time around. I pretty much stopped dusting after that until a janitor told me that he uses an orange oil and water spray to dust his home. He had a lot of old wooden furniture and it worked wonders. The water thins the oil so it can be sprayed and the oil removes dust and prevents it from resettling. But what about the stickiness that sometimes comes from not dusting in awhile, or that persists on ceiling fans? Good old fashioned vinegar does the trick. So I combined these elements to make a dusting spray that worked better than Pledge, was organic and environmentally friendly, and of course, cheap!


    2 parts water
    1part vinegar
    1 tbsp. of olive oil per part of vinegar
    a few drops of citronella oil (or other favorite scented oil)
    Small spray bottle

    Shake the bottle vigorously to mix the oil and water before each use.

    For my first bottle I used 2 cups of water, 1 cup of vinegar and 1 tbsp. of olive oil. I like the smell of citrus so I used citronella. The furniture was shiny but not oily or greasy. The dust stayed gone for about a week or two before I needed a rag dampened with the spray to touch everything up.

    Mastering Kindergarten Sight Words

    If your preschooler or kindergartner is in the process of memorizing sight words, you may be in need of some tips to get things moving smoothly and quickly. Your child may be stuck on certain words or have some difficulty applying certain phonetic rules to irregular words. After reading the list of Sight Words Level 1 you may have noticed that sounding out words works perfectly but doesn't work with Sight Words Level 2. Here are some tips that come from a kindergarten teacher to help your child master sight words.

    Make Flash Cards

    Flash cards make learning easier. This method is best when information needs to be memorized and recalled on sight. At first, you want the words to be in the same order that they appear on the sight words lists. Then as your child begins to memorize them, mix the words. Set aside any words that prove difficult and have them reappear in the stack more than once so that your child will see it more often.

    Increase Frequency

    Flash cards or simple list reading must be done at least twice in a day for your child to commit it to memory. If your child is not in school yet go through the flash cards in the morning, before lunch and before bed. Studies show that information is more easily retained if it is acquired before sleeping. If your child is in school, have them do their sight words after they come home and have had a snack or lunch and again before bed.

    Supportive Reading

    When choosing books to order from Scholastic, or from the library, look through the books to see if the words form your sight word list are featured. Find a book where the sight words appear more than once on each page of the picture book. The child is more likely to commit it to memory if they see it in their favorite books. If your child is tired of flashcards, read bedtime stories to them that feature their sight words.

    Real World Application

    When looking at signs or packaging in stores, look for sight words. Point them out to your child to get them in the habit of recognizing a word on sight. No matter the context the word may become more easily recognized thus improving the ability to master a list of sight words.


    PBS and other public channels can be your best friend. With shows like Sesame Street and Super Why, your child will definitely come across their sight words. Also, shows like Super Why or The Electric Company on Netflix will show a child how to break down a word to sound it out. Netflix is filled with a library of public television shows that you may not have even heard of, that will help your child master sight words.


    Have your child trace or write the words on large, lined paper that you can find at any dollar store. have them sound out the letter they are writing. When they attempt the sight words again, they are more likely to remember them.

    You can find a list of level one sight words here and level two sight words here.