Geek. Pirate. Mom

The Life and Times of Whitney Drake

Archive for August, 2011

Let’s Just Stop This Now, Shall We?

Late yesterday, on my Twitter feed, I saw a few friends ranting about a t-shirt being put out by JC Penney. Since I was already frustrated and exhausted, I thought I’d up my daily rage intake and see what the fuss was about.

I was not prepared for what I saw.

If you can’t quite read it, JC Penney was selling a t-shirt that says, “I’m too pretty to do homework so my brother has to do it for me.”

Just think about that for a minute. I’m all for clever t-shirts. But this goes beyond a funny t-shirt to a t-shirt that reenforces a dangerous notion, that girls should be more interested in what they look like than school.

Yes, this is dangerous. Already, if you look at any women’s magazine, 90% of the editorial content will be about making yourself look better. 100% of the ads will be pushing that ideal as well. Eating disorders are becoming more common in younger girls, who look at the images of celebrities that are plastered everywhere and aspire to become that.

Not only that, we keep pushing this fantasy of the “reality star.” Where all you have to be is someone who looks good, and fame will follow. Kids are too young to realize that particular brand of fame is fleeting- that a reality star who doesn’t have any actual talent usually doesn’t hang onto the public’s attention for more than a couple years. Or that the young actresses who get cast on TV shows that aren’t particularly talented actresses, but are really pretty, have short careers too. It only takes growing a little older to suddenly find yourself out of work.

I should share that the JC Penney story has a happy ending (sort of). After the outcry from the internet and media, the t-shirt has been removed and they issued this apology:

jcpenney is committed to being America’s destination for great style and great value for the whole family. We agree that the “Too pretty” t-shirt does not deliver an appropriate message, and we have immediately discontinued its sale. Our merchandise is intended to appeal to a broad customer base, not to offend them. We would like to apologize to our customers and are taking action to ensure that we continue to uphold the integrity of our merchandise that they have come to expect.”

While this shirt was pulled, it should never have made it onto the sales floor. Not only did someone design it (probably hired to create a bunch of “clever” tees in a short period of time), but a buyer thought it’d be appropriate and decided to buy up those t-shirts. There were plenty of opportunities for someone to have seen the shirt and asked JCP if this was a good idea.

I hope that more retailers wise up. Every couple years, someone tries to sell a t-shirt like this, or put out a toy that belittles intelligence (remember that Barbie who said “math is hard!”?). Hopefully, the internet continues to galvanize and point out that this is just plain wrong- and not accept a quick apology. After all, my boys both apologize when I catch them doing something wrong. It doesn’t mean that they know not to try it again.

Yes, I have boys, not girls. But obviously, I’m a woman, and was a girl. A smart girl at that. I skipped kindergarten (back when it wasn’t an academic class) because I knew how to read. I excelled in math, science and reading. In middle school, I started to teach myself simple commands in BASIC and wrote text-based programs. When we had to take part in the school science fair, I didn’t just do a project that I thought would earn me a passing grade- I thought of one that I thought might take me to the state science fair. (Alas, I didn’t make it past the county level… but I tried)

I was lucky that my mom always encouraged me to learn more, and taught me from an early age that there was nothing wrong with being a smart girl. We went to museums, zoos, and just about anywhere that my sister and I wanted to go that was learning related. My parents encouraged us to learn how to use computers- which seems like a silly thing now, but back in 1989, not everyone had computers at home.

We as a society should be doing that for girls. We still fill commercials with toys that encourage boys to innovate, build and learn, while we encourage girls to nurture babies and look nice (link: Here’s a great YouTube video about that from 2010). Not saying that nurturing is a bad thing, but I say there’s no harm in letting little girls play carpenter with pretend tools or giving them erector sets to see what they come up with.

But the first step is making sure that we keep telling companies that t-shirts like this are unacceptable. We should be telling girls that being smart is the way to make it in the world.

What I Did For Love (and for a few hours alone)

Today was the Little Kidlet’s second day of school. I dropped him off, and while he was shy in the new class, he wanted me to leave.

Then I came to pick him up. He was in tears (he’d just had a fight with a kid over a toy) and I was asked to pick up his backpack from the preschool office.

Now, the Little Kidlet has food allergies and carries an epi-pen with him. Not knowing what was in store for me, I thought that filling out all those forms authorizing the school to care for my child was enough to bring them. I was informed that they’d need something from his allergist for the epi-pen to even be there. Worried that they’d tell me he couldn’t attend preschool (which meant no 3 hours of peace and quiet while he’s in school, and while his big brother’s in kindergarten), I left, on a mission.

I admit, I was mad. Not because there was another form to fill out, but because the preschool’s health paperwork (a good 10 double-sided pages) asked multiple times if my child had food allergies and what medications he takes because of them. Each time, I made sure to note that he carries an epi-pen, even though we haven’t had to use it yet. Not once did they mention that I needed the letter, back when I’d have time to work out when I was going to visit the allergist’s office.

Instead, I was calling the allergist’s office to find out about this mysterious letter. Which I was told that the school should have given me (the school told me the doctor’s office would have it) and that they would gladly fill out and fax back for $15.

So I went online. It’s California law to have dosage instructions laid out for the school and signed by a doctor, so I’d have to do this. The sooner, the better. So I drafted my own letter and called the allergist to confirm their hours. Only to discover that they aren’t at their office that’s near the LA/OC border (closer to me), but down in Orange. What’s usually a 30 minute drive on streets if I hit every single light, turned into 45 minutes on the freeway in traffic. Which feels like an hour and a half on the road.

I found the building, parked my car and handed over my letter. I explained that it’s a private school that had no letter, and she took it to the back to see if they could sign it. Immediately she came back, informing me that it had been over a year (one year and a month, to be exact) since the Little Kidlet had been seen by the allergist. I asked them why I’d only just received a reminder to make an appointment if it had already been a year, and explained the situation again. He needed it for school, he hadn’t had any major outbreaks… and I was willing to make his appointment right then and there.

They brought me the paperwork.

I got home, and realized that somewhere in the narrow passageways at the building’s garage, I had to have scraped up against a yellow pole. A neon yellow pole. Which left transfer all down my car. Thankfully, I didn’t lose any paint from mine, and it came off with a little elbow grease and some wax. Thanks Father-in-law!

Honestly, before my kids came along, I would have never gone to that much trouble. I don’t even know that I’d put that sort of a rush on anything for myself (evidence: I managed to put off going to the grocery store for a week because I didn’t feel like going out in the heat).

I did it mostly because I love my son and I know how much fun he’s having at preschool. But there’s a part of me that did it because I’m really looking forward to those 3 hours of alone time- something I haven’t had regularly since the Little Kidlet was born.

Beginnings and Ends

Today was the first day of preschool for the Little Kidlet. If I said I wasn’t nervous, I’d be lying.

I wasn’t nervous when his brother started preschool. You see, I wasn’t always a stay at home mom. I worked in advertising and my son went to a daycare for a little over a year, one that was structured like a class. So he had a framework of reference for teachers and how to play with other kids.

A few of the daily pictures I took while he was in daycare

The Little Kidlet was in daycare, too. For a whopping 3 months, when he was a baby. So, no, that doesn’t really count.

While not a picture of the Little Kidlet from daycare,
I loved this picture so much I had to share it.
(That’s a super soft eyepatch from a Build-A-Bear outfit)

I worried. I worried that they’d have forgotten that my stubborn child halted his potty training (which it turned out they had forgotten, but after I reminded them, put him in a group of kids that are being potty trained). I didn’t worry so much about the food allergies, since I’ve had numerous conversations with the school about it and will be bringing his own food for him to eat. I worried that his stubborn streak will show up and he’ll meltdown when it’s time to leave the playground. While they didn’t confirm that, he did leave school with a smile on his face.

But I’m skipping ahead, aren’t I? This morning, TheBoy made a bunch of rice in the steamer, so that I could make plain onigiri for the Little Kidlet’s snack (he loves rice, so it seemed like a smart choice). The boys were still asleep, so I turned on the light in their room (a sure fire way to get them up if you have about 20 minutes to wait), and started making onigiri.

We’d already told the Oldest Kidlet that he was staying home with Daddy today (he doesn’t start kindergarten until Wednesday), as I realized that the Little Kidlet had never been at the preschool without his brother. I thought that might make it hard for him to want to stay. I’d been reminding the Little Kidlet that he started school today, and quite happily he told me he was going to school. Not a bad start.

I fed him, finished packing his things, and TheBoy got him dressed. All this time, he was happily telling everyone and anyone that he was going to school today. TheBoy was more than a bit sad- after all, our baby was hitting a new milestone. And it made it a little worse that he was so eager to stop being the baby.

We drove to school, where he happily held my hand (a first) and carried his backpack with pride. It was obvious, to me, at least- that he wasn’t going to make a fuss about leaving. He was a litle shy at first, but I am too. Then they put out some toys on one of the tables and he dove right in.

See? Mom not needed at all.

The Oldest Kidlet had a trial run of kindergarten, not that long ago. He met his teacher, some of the kids that will be in his class… and in general had a blast. So I know that the last thing he’s going to be worried about is going to a new school. He’s actually been sad every day he hasn’t been in school.

For the last week and a half, I tried to make the most of the last bits of time that my kidlets and I had together.

I picked up burgers from a fast food place, and we had a picnic out in the backyard. We built elaborate Rube Goldberg type machines using Hot Wheels sets (one of them is a chain effect setup- he just keeps changing what triggers it). We spent two days at Disneyland and the night at a hotel. Who knew? A night at a hotel is one of the most exciting things you can do for two little kids. They also got to go to their great-grandparents’ house, which has a pool! All the fun things that you could do without passing out from heat exhaustion.

There were plenty of tantrums, meltdowns and arguments. But I think it’s safe to say that we had a memorable end to our summer.

Evil Thomas.

In 2009, the Oldest Kidlet got a toy that we still talk about in this house. Evil Thomas.

He’s actually “Let’s Go! Thomas” – a toy which puffs on his own and responds to voice commands.

Cute, right? WRONG. There was something sinister about this toy… you see, it was easy to think you turned him off. The power switch had three settings. ON OFF DEMO So it was very easy to put it on demo when you thought you were turning the evil thing off. In order to come to life when someone tries to play with him, he has motion sensors built in.

Quite often, we’d put him away and wind things down for the night. But if you walked past the living room into the kitchen, it’d be enough to trigger him. Dead of night. “Hi, I’m Thomas!” Then he’d start singing, with cheeks that light up. Tell me that isn’t terrifying.

Naturally we called him Evil Thomas. “Sorry, I had to make sure that Evil Thomas really was turned off.” “Dammit, Evil Thomas!” “I swear, if we split up, you have to take Evil Thomas.”

The younger brother-in-law and I used to joke that we’d hide him somewhere upstairs to freak the other one out. But neither of us could do it- we just weren’t sure what you’d have to do to retaliate beyond it, short of something criminal.

So what happened to Evil Thomas? As soon as the Oldest Kidlet started to take a shine to another toy, Evil Thomas went out with our monthly donation to a local charity. To the family that bought him- I am sorry, but you’re just lucky I didn’t douse him in holy water first.

An apology.

I have been out of sorts for the last few weeks. I’ve been a little overwhelmed by Back to School stuff, and a lot of personal stuff.

I miss Jerad, and since his birthday, I’ve beating myself up for still feeling like I’ve been betrayed by him. The lonelier I feel, the worse I feel about being mad at him. Weird, I know. Since I can’t remember if I’ve written about why I was upset, it’s because there was a lot he seemed ashamed to tell me. Both about the fact that he was drinking again, and that he was hiding how sick he was- because between the two, if he’d told me… I might have been a little peeved, but I would have moved heaven and earth to make sure he got to the doctor. Plus, having finished the previous seasons of this incarnation of Doctor Who, I just keep being faced with a lot of conversations that we should have had. Man, death sucks.

The blah and self-loathing put a stop to nearly all my creative work, and for that I’m sorry. I’m getting back to my projects tonight- getting a sketch of a tattoo to a friend, and workup for my novel. Tomorrow I will blog about the last couple weeks. Not the self-loathing part, but the wonderful things that did happen.

Gluten-free Chicken Katsu

In the past few weeks, I’ve fallen into a pattern where I wasn’t trying anything new, food-wise. I am a decent cook, but there are a lot of things I don’t make on a regular basis. Chicken is one of them. So I decided to challenge myself to making one new thing a week. I figure it gives me a couple days of wiggle room in making them- which is key when you’re a stay at home mom to two kids 5 and under. They just don’t give you the time you need. Chicken Katsu was a dish that immediately popped into my head.

After I left Disneyland, I started working in the front office for an oral surgeon in Orange County. The office manager was a girl not much older than me, and once a week when the doctor was out for a long lunch, we’d try to take a long lunch ourselves. We’d go to a little Japanese curry house that was sort of nearby, and she’d urge me to try various items from the menu. Most often I’d get the chicken katsu.

I always wanted to take TheBoy, but things never worked out. The curry house had odd hours, and combined with our odd work hours- we could never get there. So I pledged to learn to make my own katsu.

I’m very comfortable shallow frying in a pan, so when I found a recipe for chicken katsu that wasn’t deep fried… I was excited. While the curry recipes looked a little time intensive, I had tried tonkatsu sauce before, and found a recipe that looked easy enough to make.

I’m going to share the gluten free version. All the ingredients are easy enough to find, so it shouldn’t be difficult.

Tonkatsu sauce (adapted from this recipe)

1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce (Lee & Perrins in the US is gluten-free)
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup Bragg’s amino (this was originally soy sauce- but most soy sauces aren’t gf. Bragg’s has a similar flavor profile and is also made from soy. It’s also a lot easier to find in stores than tamari or a gf soy sauce)
1/4 cup ketchup
1 Tablespoon smooth dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice

In a small saucepan, combine all ingredients but the dijon mustard and all-spice. Using a whisk, make sure the ingredients are combined well (make sure that the sugar dissolves and the ketchup seems to vanish into it). Stir it regularly until the sauce reduces by about 20%. Add the mustard and allspice and whisk until it’s well combined. Pour it into another container (it’ll help it cool faster) and set it aside.

Chicken Katsu (adapted from this recipe, All Recipes)

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons GF all-purpose flour (use your favorite mix)
1 egg, beaten
1 cup GF panko bread crumbs (or toast your favorite GF bread and make breadcrumbs)
vegetable oil

Now, the traditional dish is tonkatsu, which uses pork. But chicken is pretty common here in the states.

First, let your chicken breasts come a little closer to room temperature. I then got out a Ziploc freezer bag, which is important because you want the thicker plastic. Put a chicken breast half in the bag and flatten it out with a meat hammer (the flat side) or a heavy pan until it’s 1/2″ thick. If you thought half a chicken breast wouldn’t ever feed an adult, now you can see why- it flattens out to a pretty decent size.

Now, set up your dredging stations. You’ll need three dishes/plates that have some depth to them (pie pans work well). In one, put your gluten free flour. If you’re worried it isn’t enough, just put a little more in there. In another, crack in your egg and whisk it thoroughly. In the third, pour the breadcrumbs. Take some salt & pepper and season the breadcrumbs well. I use white pepper (if you do, use a little less than you’d use of black paper) so that you can’t see the pepper.

Get a cookie sheet and line it with paper towels, and get tongs ready. Now, fill your skillet (I use my cast iron pan for shallow frying) with about 1/4″ of oil and heat it on medium, medium-high heat… depending on how hot your range is. While the oil heats up, you can start with two of the chicken breast halves.

Making fried anything is easy. You just need to be smart about it. When dredging, try to use one hand for dipping in the flour, and the other hand for egg & breadcrumbs so that things don’t get too messy. First, coat the chicken in the flour- front, back and sides. Tap the chicken in the plate to get off any excess flour (the flour is necessary to make the egg stick). Then, put the floured chicken into the egg and coat it thoroughly. From there, put the eggy chicken into the breadcrumbs and make sure it’s covered. When you have two, gently slide them into the hot oil.

How will you know the oil is ready? If you look at it, it’ll have a slight shimmer to it. And as the original recipe mentioned, if you put a chopstick into it, bubbles will form around the chopstick.

Now, sliding. Don’t drop the breasts in, otherwise you’ll splatter yourself. So lead with one edge of the chicken breast and sort of push it across the pan, lowering the rest of the chicken breast into the oil. Repeat with the other chicken breast. It’ll take about 3-4 minutes per side- flip when its nicely golden (mine were a little bit more brown, which I expect was the breadcrumb- it didn’t taste burnt). Use a pair of tongs and remove the chicken to the paper towel lined cookie sheet and let it drain. Repeat with the other two pieces.

Serve with the tonkatsu sauce over rice.

A bit wordy, I know, but my recipe posts are for people like myself who are learning to cook from recipes and/or watching cooking shows. If you try this, let me know how it turns out!

The Wired Mom: What’s in a name?

Okay, I guess this Wired Mom is a thing now. Awhile back I thought I’d write a tech blog from the POV of a mom, but I just couldn’t populate a blog full time. So… I guess I’ll just do these posts as they come up and make a category so that you can weed through my tech posts quickly if that’s what you’re looking for.

What is in a name? Since the internet began, people had to figure out what name they were going to be known as. What AOL address they had, chat handles, etc. Some people used their real names from the start, while others preferred pseudonyms to hide behind. I had both. I actually was able to get my initials+drake on AOL, and had a screenname that I used for posting around. I was 10thIndian, as I loved reading Agatha Christie. That lasted until I found Livejournal and started to post using Wingedkiare, or variants of that s/n. That’s also when whitneyd surfaced.

Then came Facebook, which asks users to use your real name to connect. Though there are a lot of people who don’t. One of my “gaming friends” is named Lily Evans. Last week she had another Harry Potter related name. It’s just how it is. Where Facebook asked you to use your name, Google Plus insists. Plenty of users found themselves locked out of Google Plus because they weren’t using their legal name on the service.

Admittedly, I do not use my legal name. I write under my maiden name because that’s the name I first started to write as. Also, my parents gave me a perfect stage name, so why not use it? It gives my husband and children a little bit of extra anonymity, which I like.

I do see the downside of using legal names. It makes it easy to stalk someone, when we’re all using real names on the internet. Blizzard (the gaming company best known for World of Warcraft) tried to make their boards use real names, and the players became extremely upset. Female gamers, who had been harassed by male players (yes, it happens, see: this site which collects gamer reactions to female gamers across various platforms. NSFW) complained, and after a Blizzard moderator posted using their real name, people dug up any and all information about him that they could. Blizzard decided to make it an opt-in program, rather than mandatory.

Not only that, but it blurs the way we can separate our online personas from our real lives. Once upon a time, I had a job in advertising and was writing fanfiction (some of it a bit racy) at the same time. Did I really want our clients to be able to find that out about me just by Googling? No.

Some say it’s as simple as not using the service, which is true in a casual way. But if you’re a writer, artist or musician- why should you be barred from using a service simply because you prefer people to know you under a certain name? Are they going to Jay-Z go by Shawn Corey Carter?

I do understand that Google wants to keep there from being 400 people pretending to be Justin Beiber, or from saying that they’re the Coke Polar Bear Cub… but why force people to stop using a name that they’ve already branded themselves as on the internet? What if I’d written that tech blog, and you knew me as The Wired Mom? Why force me to call myself Whitney Drake when nobody would knew me as that?

I really enjoy using Google+. I’ve met a lot of wonderful writers, artists and musicians. I can’t imagine how many more I’d get to meet if Google would relax their name policy.

Probably the best (and geekiest) way to explain Google+’s naming policy from Ryan Estrada. Click to view it full size.
By Ryan Estrada

The Wired Mom: Social Networking Stuff.

First, there’s a repost going around Facebook that’s sort of overstating a new feature. Secondly, Twitter got a bit of a revamp- let’s call it New New Twitter (Which I guess would make it the Ramona of Twitter versions). But let’s go over Facebook first.

ALL THE PHONE NUMBERS of your contacts are now on facebook! go to the top right of the screen, click on ACCOUNT, click on EDIT FRIENDS, left side of screen and click CONTACTS. you will see ALL PHONE NUMBERS FROM YOUR CELL PHONE (FB friends or not) have been published. TO REMOVE, go to the right column below Phonebook Contacts, and click on “this page.” please repost this on your status, so your friends can remove their numbers and thus prevent abuse if they do not want them published. -The copy/paste I’ve been seeing all day.

When you use Facebook’s app on your mobile, it’ll ask if you want to sync your contacts with Facebook. If you decided to do this, all the contacts from your phone will show up in Facebook. That way, when you get phone calls from FB friends, you’ll see their profile pics. And when your future contacts sign up for FB, it’ll let you suggest you add them.

This information is not viewable to the world. The page that you see with the numbers is only visible to you. If you want to opt-out, go to your FB app and turn off the sync feature. Then, follow the directions in the message and your phone’s contacts will no longer be listed.

You’ll still be able to see anyone who put their cell phone number in FB and shared it with you. If you’d prefer that nobody see your phone number, from the Accounts drop down menu, click on Privacy Preferences, click on customize settings, and if you scroll all the way down, it’ll let you select who can see your phone number. This applies to your profile and to who can see it from the Contacts list. It keeps pulling it from my mobile app, so I set it to be visible to “Only Me”. Voila. I even had TheBoy verify it for me.

The other news story of the day is that New Twitter got an upgrade to New New Twitter. Remember how you used to have a tab for @mentions and another to browse through Retweets (you could see all RT’s, posts of yours that were RT’d and RT’s by others)? No more. Now the @username tab has absolutely anything that has to do with you. Yes, it is now the most narcissistic (yet utterly useless) tab you’ll find. In it, you can see a stream of every @mention, who followed you, and who retweeted or favorited your tweets.

I will say that the new @username tab has a lot of good information- but there’s no way to refine it. I liked being able to see a list of what tweets of mine were retweeted, as well as all my @mentions & @replies together. Twitter, if you see this, a drop down would be nice.

There’s also the activity tab. Want to see who the people you follow, retweet and favorite? Now you can spy on them. I use this phrase intentionally, because it’s more than a little creepy. Do you really think that Wil Wheaton wants everyone to see someone he follows? No. Hopefully there’s an opt out for that that doesn’t make you make your entire profile private. (Yes, I know I can just see who they follow by clicking on their profile… but then that means I have to want to spy, not just have it handed to me by Twitter)

Obviously, I’m not entirely happy with these changes. I don’t mind the @mememe tab as I’m calling it. I just wish there was a way to refine it so that I can see what I’m looking for right now, not everything.

Your thoughts? I don’t mind changes to websites- but the lack of refinement and spying factor of the Activity tab make the Twitter changes a bit odd to me.

Update 8/11: I logged in this morning to find that I no longer have New New Twitter with my account. Obviously, I can’t say what’s going on with it- if maybe they’re testing it through different accounts. But at least I can find what I’m looking for quickly. Phew!

Update 11/8: New Twitter is back. And the @username tab now has a button you can check to only show mentions.

Tales from the Car

Since we’ve been on summer vacation, there haven’t been a lot of trips in the car with all of us. I’ve tried to time errands to where I only have to take one trip out a week with the boys. Not because I don’t enjoy it, but well, loud little boys in a car are even louder than usual.

In gearing up for the Oldest Kidlet to start Kindergarten (his school is trying out a “test week” to get the kids acclimated to the school), I had to finish up doctor visits so that his paperwork would be complete. And thought I’d get Little Kidlet’s paperwork and TB test done as well since he’s starting preschool.

On our way down to the pediatrician, I was in the fast lane. In the slow lane, I saw a Land Rover with two surfboards strapped to the top come into view. I thought, “I really hope those are tied down well, they don’t look-” and suddenly, the surfboards came loose. One flipped through the air, zipping across three lanes of traffic in front of my car and landed between the fast lane and the carpool lane. The other slid off the back of the Range Rover and was immediately run over by a semi. Thankfully nobody was hurt, but that was a scary moment, watching that surfboard fly through the air.

As I tried to collect myself (my heart was practically beating out of my chest), I heard this from the back seat. “Why don’t people tie stuff better to their cars? Did the surfboards break?” I said that they did. “Do they cost a lot?” (The Oldest Kidlet is just starting to learn about money and value) I said that they do. “Then why wouldn’t they make sure they were tied down really good? That’s stupid.”

On the way back, I watched as two people were racing each other through traffic. And I thought they were stupid, too.

The next day, I had a headache and needed caffeine. (I’ve had a headache this whole week, actually) How bad was this headache? My pain reliever alone wasn’t getting the job done, so I put the kids in the van and left. We were all in pajamas and sneakers- hey, we were just going through the drivethru at the coffee place. On the way home, we were stuck in traffic and I was busy rocking out to “Beat It” as I often do.

The Oldest Kidlet said, “Like from Back to the Future.” Since we were in an area where it wasn’t uncommon to see vintage cars, I thought he’d seen a neat car. “No, Mommy, the song. That’s playing when Marty goes into the Future.” That’s right, he remembered that “Beat It” was playing in the background of Cafe 80s. (He’s definitely my kid)

The next day as we were driving back down to the doctor (almost an hour drive in the car, just so the assistant could look at the Little Kidlet’s arm and confirm he didn’t have TB), the Oldest Kidlet asked if we’d get to see more surfboards on the road. I laughed, and quickly said no. “At least we’ll get to see Mr. Potatohead.” (He’s currently on the top of the Discovery Science Center) I turned my attention back to the road.

A free lesson in advertising.

Want to know what’s wrong with America? We’re lazy. I’m not talking about obesity and all that- but just look at your Facebook stream sometime, and look at all the posts asking people to copy/paste a message. Do I support the troops? Have I lost someone to cancer? Yes. I just won’t repost it.

Why? Copy/pasting something isn’t activism. We copy/paste these messages and feel like we’ve done something, when we haven’t done anything at all.

I’m going to give you all a free lesson in direct response advertising (which is what I did in my prior life). Direct response advertising is just what it sounds like- it can be anything from the mail you get that urges you to call a company, to an informercial that asks you to call now. The point is… they end with a call to action to get you to do something. Call now. Visit our website. Jump off a cliff. (Just kidding)

If you want to make a difference on Facebook? There’s one simple way to do it, include a link. Link to a charity you believe in, someone who’s fundraising for the cause, or an event that’s related. If you want to show how much you care about the troops, or how much cancer has affected your life- give me something to think about, a way for me to show that I care as well.

No, I’m not going to address the political reposts- the ones that are meant as jokes, but written to divide us. No matter which side they mock, I’m against them. I think the nation could use a little less dividing, don’t you?

Here are a couple of things that I would like to call your attention to (and they’re mostly related):

Prayers for Gianna – the daughter of a woman I worked with at Disneyland has hydrocephalus (the build up of fluid around the brain) and is facing a developmental setbacks that seem to be caused by something else. They’re looking for answers and haven’t found it yet. This is a FB page set up by the family asking for prayers and support.

Their Everribbon page – if you’d like to help them pay for all the tests and care Gianna’s needed.

Doctors Without Borders – They do amazing work around the world, getting medical care to the corners of the world that need it. Given the ongoing issues in Haiti and the current drought in Somalia… there are plenty of places that could use your help.

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