Friday, February 29, 2008
She chose to reclaim her virginity through prayer and supplication. Meanwhile others have taken the more drastic measure of actually having their hymen surgically replaced. (I must admit, I’m still scratching my head trying to figure exactly how that works.)
And apparently, this story says, “revirginization” is becoming more and more popular.
So, let’s get real for a second – if you could re-claim your virginity, would you? And furthermore, why?
Or, are you one of those folks who tossed it and never looked back?
Thursday, February 28, 2008
I’m talking about Michelle Obama.
She’s awesome. What I admire most is her ability – and determination – to balance her family and her career.
There are times when I struggle with how I want life to be. Do I want to be a devoted mother, with my family being the focus? Or do I want to put this $50,000+ degree in print journalism to use and accomplish all my career related goals? For some reason, in my mind, there’s no way the two can be meshed together.
Michelle Obama is an example of those two lives meshed. The Obama’s two daughters are her focus but she’s also a successful lawyer and executive.
Alone she’s interesting, but coupled with her husband, the Obamas display a type of love and partnership in their marriage that some – like me, the product of a single-parent household – find it hard to believe exists anymore.
The two have made it no secret that Michelle Obama was hesitant to support another campaign. She questioned how it would be run and how it would affect her family. Only after she got answers she was satisfied with, did she give the OK her husband was waiting on. Now, not only has she given her OK, she’s proved to be his biggest fan and supporter. She is even taking a hiatus from her job as V.P. for Community and External Affairs at University of Chicago Hospitals to participate on the campaign trail.
I’ve read dozens of articles about her and what she’s doing (Check out Newsweek’s package) but what sealed the deal for me was listening to her talk about her husband. Her conversational manner was disarming and when she spoke, the mix of adoration for her husband and being able to intelligently speak about his platforms was entertaining, informative and refreshing. She wasn’t too soft or too harsh. To me, she was real.
Loved it. I could go on and on, but I won't. (You're welcome.)
My boyfriend once bought up the point that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is also pretty awesome. While I give Rice her props, Michelle Obama is more real to me. Not to downplay Rice’s accomplishments, but it’s truly the successful balance of home and work lives that gives Obama the edge, in my book.
Decide for yourself and let me know what you think. Here’s part of an interview she did for CNN’s Anderson Cooper.
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
I realize that people do occasionally riot and protest and strike these days, but definitely not as often as what we saw in the news in the '60s. I agree with Adam that we still need to honor our individual and our collective historic past and learn from it. But is our generation passionless? Are we "Generation, Huh?" or "Generation Who Cares?" Look at how we sometimes get hyped up but then don't follow through -- look at our attempts to "Rock the Vote."
So -- what are you passionate about? What do you think about our generation? Are we passionate or far less than those who came before us?
Monday, February 25, 2008
Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. leads research into the lineage of Morgan Freeman, Tom Joyner and Maya Angelou, among others. He shares his discoveries with each one, and they find out something they didn't know about themselves.
But the best part is that it happens on camera. You can see snippets from the videos. My favorite part about this is seeing raw, unscripted emotion from people whose public images are the stuff of pop culture legend.
Aside from the fact that one of these gets quite a lot of coverage on this blog, the interviews with Tina Turner and Chris Rock are my favorites for one reason: We get to see them cry. That's right. Chris Rock, the smart-mouthed joker, and Tina Turner, the picture of a rock 'n' roll survivor, shed tears.
Turner finds out an ancestor sold land for a price far below its value in Tennessee to build a school for black students -- one she later attended. And Rock learns, among other things, that one of his relatives, who was a freed slave, signed up to be a solider for the Union during the Civil War.
These examples are reminders of how important the past is to the present. Emotional reactions alone show that. It certainly makes me want to pin down more about my families' not-so-distant past, especially when it comes to sacrifices my grandparents and their parents made.
We haven't talked much on this blog this year about black history month, but this series is a good reminder that this is American history. I haven't done great research into my genealogy, but I am fairly certain I don't have black roots. But I am still proud when I hear stories like these. This nation was built on the shoulders of many great people whose stories deserve to be told.
So listen and share.
Friday, February 22, 2008
We were without both early on Monday. At first, I was infuriated. I was expecting several e-mails and I knew I had to send out a bunch of electronic messages. I also expected to call a bunch of people--but how could I look them up without searching for numbers on the World Wide Web?
Since we couldn't work, the least we could do was party in the newsroom, right? Wrong.
Then I noticed Maggie Martin, a 43-year Times veteran, typing away on her computer.
I wondered what she could be doing. And by this time, a bunch of us were flipping out about the lack of technology in our room. One frustrated editor discovered a way to send instant, electronic messages through the system we use to write our stories. Our executive editor announced that we would find a work-around for posting online updates (of course we would).
Apparently, Maggie heard the commotion and she said, "You can still write your stories, Ashley. I'm typing my column and I don't need the Internet for that."
Oh, that's right...I could type up some notes for a story and type the stories for which I already obtained all the information needed. And there is a thing called a phone book--I could look up necessary numbers that way. And for those e-mails, I could just call people for the information I needed.
I was astounded by all the work I learned to complete without my editor, PR representatives, sources and friends constantly sending me messages. It was easy for me to work without the temptation of breaking to search the web for latest celebrity gossip. I actually got a LOT done.
Us Generation Y-ers are used to technology. In fact, we crave it (at least I do). When we are without it, we often find ourselves lost and frustrated--like I was on Monday. But I guess that's the difference between the awesome and amazing Maggie Martins of the world and me.
What do you think?
Thursday, February 21, 2008
But it did remind me of this interesting story I recently ran across about text messaging privacy, written in light of the controversy surrounding Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick and his chief of staff Christine Beatty.
Of course, I’ve already talked about that on here. However, this story gave some interesting, useful information that even I wasn’t aware of.
Like the fact that basically anyone out there can easily intercept your text messages using an inexpensive radio kit or even creating their own similar devise.
As for the tips, they gave some of the no-brainers, like “Don’t ever text personal information such as your PIN number, password or banking info to anyone.” (Gee, you think?)
But, then there were some tips that were new to me, like this one: “Those concerned about privacy can send anonymous text messages with services like AnonTxt.com.”
Anyway, you can check out all the tips for yourself. Or do you even care? Is text messaging privacy something you ever think about?
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
To my naked eye it looked white with a shadow creeping over. But my camera gave it a reddish tent, which was a lot cooler.
Here is an example of my somewhat lame attempts at catching it in a photo. I don’t have a tripod and was trying to hold my breath and prop my elbows on top of my car. I also tried to use a long exposure. You can see I moved a little bit with that second moon sort of forming on the right side.
Plus I was standing, say, 240,000 miles away from the object in view.
Did anyone get a good view or shots of the moon?
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
Now that we're all back into work, did anyone actually dwell on the meaning of Presidents Day? Whether you worked or you were off having fun, what did you do to celebrate the occasion? Did you think -- at all -- about the current president or past presidents?
Speaking of presidents, I saw this (Former President Bush endorses McCain) on TV this weekend. I'm pretty sure we all know where former President Clinton stands on the campaign trail. What do you think of former presidents giving their political endorsement? Does it say, or weigh, any more than other organizations who endorse a candidate?
Or do we even care what anyone else thinks of the candidates?
Monday, February 18, 2008
I have two words for you.
Co-workers Tarah Holland, Nishia Livingston, Ashley Northington and I headed to Hot Wheels skating rink in Bossier City in search of something new to do Saturday afternoon.
What we got was a good workout, some good laughs and some believe a few bruises.
It had been years since most of us dared to get out on the hardwood on four wheels…and it showed.
I’m not sure if I ever stood completely up, always bracing myself for a fall and Ashley spent quite a bit of time looking up from the floor.
In the end we may have spent more time sitting on the bench than skating on the floor, but it was there that the dozens of kids in the rink – on their skates and on their butts – reminded me of a valuable lesson.
When you fall, get back up and try again.
Those kids out there didn’t have a care in the world. They didn’t care if they collided with another kid or got tripped by someone else’s skate. They simply laughed it off and got right back up.
We were too consumed by the fear of falling (and possibly hurting ourselves) and too busy trying to look like pros.
Those kids were just busy having a good time.
Be it skating, a task at work or a personal goal, one fall shouldn’t stop us from completing what we set out to do.
Friday, February 15, 2008
At least, that’s what the doctor said it was. And I should accept that coming from a licensed medical professional. I realize that.
But it’s the way he arrived at this diagnosis that's got me scratching my head. In fact, I’m still scratching my head about several doctors’ visits I’ve had in the last year or two.
With each visit, lately I’m feeling more and more like I’m going through a drive-thru window at a fast food restaurant more than I am seeking medical attention, check ups or whatever.
First, let me clarify: This is in no way an attack on the medical community at all because Lord knows we need them. They work as hard as, if not harder, than many other professionals out here.
And really, maybe it’s my fault for watching too much “Grey’s Anatomy” or “ER” through the years, but I coulda sworn a standard doctor’s visit entailed some level of warmth, hospitality and at LEAST a question-and-answer period.
(For the sake of anonymity, I’m not going to name the place or anything like that.)
But my recent experience all started when I tried really hard to go to my primary doctor just to find out what the heck was going on with me.
Unfortunately, that office was completely booked with patients, probably suffering with the same thing I have or the flu or whatever other “heebie jeebie” out there, because God knows it’s all going around everywhere.
So I was put on a waiting list, but I didn’t want to take a chance on not getting to a doctor before the day’s end, so I went to another facility that handles this kinda stuff.
After waiting forever just to see the doctor, when I got in there he basically listened to my heartbeat, looked down my throat with the light thingy and promptly diagnosed me with bronchitis.
I was amazed. I coulda sworn I thought they would have had to take some blood, swab my tongue, take some DNA or something before arriving to a conclusion like that.
My eyes widened, reflecting my shock and he mistook it for alarm: “Don’t worry, it’s pretty common this time of year. I will have the nurse bring you the information for your prescription. Thank you and have a nice day,” he said.
This entire process took all of 5 minutes and I tried as hard as I could to ask as many questions as I could quickly think of in that brief time frame, but by the time he completed that sentence, his hand was on the knob and he was on his way out.
So I finally managed a “Wow, that was pretty quick!” And he smiled and said “Yes.” And that was that. He was outta there, while my mouth hung open with “But, but...”
And I’m still scratching my head trying to figure this whole thing out.
I know in these hard times of lay-offs, strenuous work hours, cutbacks and everything else that, just like journalism and many other industries, even healthcare has to struggle to keep afloat, but is this really what I should expect now when it comes to a doctor’s visit? Is this the norm or did I just pick the wrong time of day or place to go?
My medical peeps, will you help me out on this one?
Thursday, February 14, 2008
What do you think when you hear or read the word blackberry?
I had a funny realization this week when I got an e-mail with the word blackberry in the subject line.
But it wasn’t a BlackBerry you plug into the electrical socket. It was the blackberries you pull off a vine.
I may seem a little dumb for not putting that together immediately. I know the AgCenter focuses on, well, agriculture. (I was in 4-H from fifth-12th grades.) But when you’re glancing at your inbox you have to process a lot of information quickly. Read. Save. Delete. (Especially when you get an e-mail every day saying you’re reaching the maximum storage space Outlook allows.)
Still, it’s funny the images some words paint in our mind because of the way we use them now. My BlackBerry Curve has cost me plenty of money, so I can blame that mental slip on that. But four or five years ago, I probably would’ve thought about juicy, reddish berries growing on the side of a country road.
Here are some other words that name something different today than they did years ago: Mouse, diva, gay.
Who’s got more examples like those? (Yes, this post is definitely a writer/geek/nerd post.)
Wednesday, February 13, 2008
“Ashley, Ashley, Ashley! Who loves you? Who loves you?” She motioned towards a green and brown box from Pro Flowers.
I smiled. I told her, without even opening up the box, that they are from my father.
“No they aren’t,” someone else in the newsroom said.
Before I knew it, I opened my box in front of a very captivated audience. Roses. And just as I thought, they were from my daddy.
Everyone else looks in the box. Ooos and ahhs followed.
“Who are they from?”
“My Daddy,” I replied.
That’s right. My Daddy sent me flowers. Not some love interest. Not some man pretending to like me. And not myself pretending that my "boyfriend" has sent me a special treat.
I didn’t think my audience was quite as captivated as they would have been if I’d told them they were from a boyfriend.
Tomorrow there will be more audiences crowded around unsuspecting (or suspecting) co-workers as they open their flower boxes or they get their teddy bears and chocolates.
There will be more ooohhhs and aaahhhss. And it won’t stop there. There will be questions of what the fellow worker will do for the holiday and who, exactly, is the gift from. The questions, of course, will be answered with a smile and details of what’s to come for the night.
And there will be no time to generate a true, private and personal reaction to the gift. Not really. Instead, time will be spent answering questions.
Friday will be even worse. Last year, I didn’t have the nerve to tell my co-workers I’d spent the evening arguing over dinner and helping my male friend pick out a flat screen television at Best Buy. It wasn’t romantic enough.
As much as I love Feb. 14 for being the official day to let another person know how much you care for them, I hate was it does to us. We get crazy. We start acting like we live on the set of some romantic movie. And when our loved ones don't get us the gifts we think we deserve, we get mad.
The day is not about caring, it's about the show--the stories we tell people, especially our coworkers.
There are the girls (and I call us girls because that's what we start acting like), like me, who grin and endure it. We answer the questions in detail. And we sometimes gather with others to see what another has been gifted.
There are other girls, too. Obnoxious girls. They flaunt their gifts and practically shout their Valentine’s Day plans for the entire world to hear. The girls like me only smile at their ridiculousness.
Then there are the bitter girls. These are the girls who are normally happy, but get depressed around Feb. 14. Any sign of love or happiness near V-Day makes them want to upchuck.
I’m not doing it this year. I will not participate in the craziness. I will avoid the show. It’s too much pressure.
I will celebrate my singleness with friends.
And I’m going to try very hard not to wish I was stuck in some romantic movie scene.
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
In the midst of this moving adventure and hearing snow stories from home -- the University of Idaho and nearby Washington State University closed Jan. 31 for the weather for the first time since 1990! -- I am reminded of an interesting moving story.
In December 2003, my nearly ex-husband and I got a 24’ U-Haul stuck in the snow on the UI campus after the attendant at the U-Haul store told us that we didn’t need chains for the truck and they didn’t have studded tires available for it either but that “it’s heavy enough that you won’t get it stuck.” We proved him wrong. It got stuck when the bumper got caught up on a pile of snow. AND, the truck couldn’t get traction because the snow had melted for a little while, then refrozen to create ice on top of packed snow. Oh -- and on top of THAT, we were moving boxes into our Married Student Housing apartment in -20 degree weather!
Anyway, now, I’m in the process of unpacking. UGH! Do you have any helpful hints to help me keep my sanity? Do you have any interesting moving stories? What roommate nightmares do you dare share?
Monday, February 11, 2008
"Are you happy --really?" the headline reads.
It certainly got me thinking.
A guest on the show, psychologist Dr. Robert Holden has dedicated his life to studying happiness. He is the founder of the Happiness Project in England and also is the author of 10 best-selling books, including "Happiness Now!"
Dr. Holden said those looking for happiness often don't realize they already have it, the article states. He recalled a conversation that he had with a spiritual teacher some time ago.
"'You have to understand that the pursuit of happiness is a mistake,'" said the teacher, Holden recalled. “'It's like, you don't chase happiness out there. You learn that you're happy inside you, and then you go running.'"
That made me think a little bit more. So much so that my cynicism broke just enough to let it make some sense.
We often find ourselves in absorbing situations – whether short-term or whether they threaten to swallow us whole, but some of us seem to lose sight of the fact that, though the situation may be difficult, it hasn’t entirely altered our complete "inner spirit."
When I used to think about the more than 1,000 miles that separate me from my family, I believed that I was anything, but happy. But now, I’m coming to realize that when 4:30 p.m. rolls around each day, I get the first of two or three phone calls from my older sister. A few hours later, I call my mom to ask her about her day or she calls me to ask me about mine.
Rather than sadness, those times are undoubtedly when I smile the most and laugh the hardest. Yes, it’s also when I miss my family the most, but at the same time, I realize I’m actually happy – I just miss them.
I’ve frequently confused missing my family with unhappiness. Yes, it still sounds a little weird to me, but it does make sense – for me anyway.
From now on, I’m going to try to do a better job of differentiating between the two.
If you’re unsure of your happiness, try this Happiness Quiz on Oprah.com and don't forget to share your thoughts here.
Sunday, February 10, 2008
Friday, February 08, 2008
Sadly a New York City medical examiner report confirmed some suspcions this week: He died from an overdose of oxycodone, hydrocodone, diazepam, temazepam, alprazolam and doxylamine.
I happen to occasionally tune in to "The View" with my grandmother. Shortly after Ledger's Jan. 22 death the co-hosts were speculating on whether or not drugs contributed. Even though it was not clear then, I think Elisabeth Hasselbeck made a great point. She said the media seem to focus on female stars who appear to be in trouble with drugs or otherwise. Among those are Louisiana's own Britney Spears, Lindsay Lohan, the Olsen twins, etc...
But either the Heath Ledgers and Colin Farrells of stardom aren't partying enough to make photographers notice, or we only care when it looks like a formerly good girl is being unladylike. That to me reeks of a double standard.
And I hate that the very industry I work for seems to keep it going. Giving media consumers what they need versus what they want can mean finding a difficult balance. I'd be a tough one to convince that anyone needs as much star power as some of us put out there. But since we do, I feel like there should be some sense of responsibility to portray the state of things accurately.
So you consumers of all things paparazzi, do you think coverage of the partiers is fair? And what do media practitioners owe you?
(Photo courtesy of The Associated Press.)
Thursday, February 07, 2008
Anyway, I know we’ve talked about shacking on here before but I ran across this story and thought it was worth sharing since they're talking about our age group and all.
Forbes magazine basically did a survey on the best cities for couples ages 20 to 34...unmarried, cohabiting couples, that is. (Apparently, cohabitating couples are a growing demographic among folks ages 20 to 34.)
And get this, Dallas topped the list. Who knew? Three other Texas cities landed in the top 10 as well – Houston, Austin and San Antonio…
Meanwhile, places like Cleveland, Ohio; Providence, Rhode Island and even Miami, Fla. hovered at the bottom of the list.
Now, in all fairness to our great city of Shreveport *coughs* they only selected the country’s largest 40 metropolitan areas for this study. Otherwise, I’m sure we woulda made the cut *coughs again.*
But anyway, what do you y’all think? Could the city of luuuuuuuuuvvvv really be right next door? I’ve never actually thought about it like that...Do you agree with their list? Do you know of some places they didn't include?
Wednesday, February 06, 2008
As of September, nearly 1,250 persons in Northwest Louisiana were living with HIV or AIDS. About 68 percent of those cases were blacks, while 30 percent were white and 2 percent were of other races. Nearly three-quarters of those people were male.
Tomorrow is National Black AIDS Awareness Day and it's so important to know your status.
I know I've talked about this before, but I think this is something we all can do--regardless of our race.
Here are some local happenings for the day:
* The Brotherhood Task Force of Northwest Louisiana will hold a candelight vigil for anyone affected by HIV or AIDS from 6-6:45 p.m. at its office at 838 Hope St. in Shreveport.
* The Task Force and the Philadelphia Center of Shreveport will put on a Runway Ball at Central Station, 1025 Marshall St. in Shreveport, Thursday night. The task force will offer HIV testing, and both organizations will provide prevention information.
*The Louisiana Prevention and Treatment of HIV/AIDS and Substance Abuse program, will hold an open house from 7 a.m.-7 p.m. and a Girls' Nite Out from 7 p.m.-8 P.M. at 1545 Line Ave., Suite 222, in Shreveport. The open house will allow people to get information about the project's prevention and referral services, while the girls' night out event will provide substance abuse and HIV prevention.
I'm going to get tested.
Will you join me?
Tuesday, February 05, 2008
So, how lazy are Americans today, when it comes to voting? Are young voters any more or less lazy? I found this, emailed by a coworker:
"You might find this interesting -- answer 10 questions at http://www.votechooser.com/ and find outWhat? Seriously? Are we that lazy?
which presidential candidate is most similar to you!"
But, I have to admit, this site does help if you haven't paid any attention to where candidates stand. You can see which of your political stances match where the candidates stand. Before this morning, I couldn't have told you who I would vote for, if I wished to share. Plus, even if you disagree -- i.e., I agree with only five answers of any of the candidates -- you can see which issues you would be willing to compromise on and on which ones you'd rather hold your ground.
Now, I wouldn't recommend basing your vote on what this web site says. I would suggest you be a little more responsible than that by checking to make sure the candidate you like most from this site really does line up with the issues you choose. ("Trust, but verify.")
So -- what do you think? How lazy do you think that Americans are today, when it comes to voting? Are young voters any more or less lazy? Is it good to have these Web sites out there to do the legwork for you? Or is it a downfall of how lazy we have become that some people could actually rely on a questionnaire to choose our next president?
By the way -- don't forget to go vote today (or Saturday for us Louisiana folks!) After all, you've already done the hard work of 'researching' the candidates, right?
Monday, February 04, 2008
Twenty-two states will hold primaries tomorrow and candidates are heavy into their final push for support. There are 1,023 delegates up for grabs for the Republicans and 1,681 delegates up for grabs for the Democrats.
The talk this election year about young voters and the impact that they have started early-on in 2007 — and rightfully so. The importance of presidential elections and the issues that face the country and the world are, now more than ever, of great importance to all voters.
According to the Youth Vote Coalition, 51.6 percent of people age 18-30 are registered to vote. In the 2004 presidential election, turnout among voters age 18-29 jumped nine percentage points, or 4.3 million voters, over 2000, according to Young Voter Strategies.
We know what many of the national hot-button issues are, but as a newcomer to the area, I want to know what issues are of importance to young voters in the Shreveport-Bossier area - both national and local issues?
What matters most to you and why?