Wednesday, February 04, 2009

From NY Times: almost 100,000 sex offenders on MySpace

Facebook, get a clue. Internet predators are everywhere, and it is up to the company (that would be you) to help insure the safety of your users. The same goes for Yahoo, MSN and any other company that offer, chatrooms and chat applets.

MySpace Turns Over 90,000 Names of Registered Sex Offenders
Published: February 3, 2009

MySpace provided two state attorneys general the names of 90,000 registered sex offenders it had banned from its site in response to a subpoena.

The figure is 40,000 more than the amount previously acknowledged by MySpace, according to Attorney General Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, who along with Attorney General Roy Cooper of North Carolina are among officials pressing social networking sites to adopt more stringent safety measures.

“Almost 100,000 convicted sex offenders mixing with children on MySpace — shown by our subpoena — is absolutely appalling and totally unacceptable,” Mr. Blumenthal said in a statement. “For every one of them, there may be hundreds of others using false names and ages.”

Last year, MySpace, owned by News Corporation, and Facebook.com agreed to set security standards after the Web sites were criticized for not doing enough to protect minors from sexual predators lurking on social networking sites.

Facebook, a privately held company based in Palo Alto, Calif., said the company was still working with Mr. Blumenthal to respond to a similar subpoena.

The disclosure renews the debate of whether social networking sites are a haven for sex offenders. “This is just the tip of the iceberg on MySpace,” said John A. Phillips, chief executive of Aristotle, a company that supplies identity and age verification technologies for companies like the New York State Lottery, breweries and film studios. “These are just the convicted sex offenders” who used their real names.

MySpace’s disclosure follows a report by the Internet Safety Technical Task Force, a panel created by 49 attorneys general, that said the issue is overblown. It concluded the problem of bullying among children, both online and offline, was far more serious than sexual solicitation of minors by adults online.

Mr. Phillips, who served as a member of that task force, has been critical of the report. Ernest Allen, president of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, said the figure was “disturbing” but that there is no way to know how large the presence of online predators really is.

“We don’t know if that’s 80 percent of the population targeting kids on the Internet or 1 percent,” Mr. Allen said.

He commended MySpace for removing convicted sex offenders from its site. “This clearly reinforces the fact that there are a significant number of people who seek access to kids online,” Mr. Allen said.

Hemanshu Nigam, chief security officer for MySpace, said the company had spent the last two years purging problem members from its site.

“The reality is there are 700,000-plus sex offenders living in the streets of America,” Mr. Nigam said. “What we did was build cutting-edge technology to figure out where they might be living on the Internet and remove them from our site.”

MySpace reported that its community grows 10 percent year over year but has also reported a 36 percent drop in the number of registered sex offenders trying to create profiles.

John Cardillo, chief executive of Sentinel Tech Holding, the company that makes the software MySpace uses to find the sex offenders, said that Facebook had become a haven for convicted offenders blocked from creating accounts on MySpace. Mr. Cardillo, who has approached Facebook about using his technology, said he could find 8,000 offenders on Facebook.

Barry Schnitt, a spokesman for Facebook, said that Mr. Cardillo’s figures were inflated. He also said the company actively monitors its Web site and users for suspicious activities.

“When you search for people on Facebook, you don’t get much information — a name and a thumbnail,” Mr. Schnitt said.
_______________________

Support Literacy and Adult Education


The Senate is now debating its Economic Stimulus bill with the final vote scheduled for today (February 4). At this point adult education is not included in the list of allowable uses for $79 billion in state education stabilization funding included in the Senate bill, and there is no other designated funding for adult education in the Senate package.

However, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and perhaps other Senators have agreed to introduce an amendment to the bill to support inclusion of literacy and adult basic education as eligible programs to receive funding under the state stabilization fund of the stimulus bill. Adult education organizations are continuing to urge that the Senate includes funding for Title II
of Workforce Investment Act as part of any stimulus bill passed.

Please do take the time this morning to call your legislators. Ask them to support adult literacy and workforce skills preparation in the stimulus bill.

Your colleague at Literacy Powerline,

Margaret Doughty
501 E Bayshore Dr.

Palacios, TX 77465
(832)721-5915

margaret@literacypowerline.com

www.literacypowerline.com

Eulogy

For Alexis

The body of 13-year-old Alexis Glover was found Friday 1/9/09 in a shallow creek near PWC's McCoart Administration Building, two days after she went missing. Alexis had sickle cell anemia, Reactive Attachment Disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder. Alexis was adopted when she was six.

One needn't know the river
to know the way it flows--
that's the way the Buddha knew
beneath the Bodhi tree. He
emptied his mind into water,
washed his thoughts away,
came to know an afterlife:

The feather becoming the fawn,
dawn passed into Banyan Tree,
the no-shores-needed mind.

The shell of every walnut
rises up to drink, parched
Orchid tongues finally wetted.

Speaking in the language of trickles--
that is how it is
even for the smallest stream:
flowing, rising, flowing,
then weeping one more time,
go peaceful little girl,
into ocean again.


Katherine Gotthardt
Revised 2/10/09

Another revised Haiku


The Troops

Mystery of moving--
Soldiers? Canadian Geese--
Fields marching in flocks.

Katherine Mercurio Gotthardt
Revised Feb. 2009

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Hoping for a sip of justice

Is justice finally coming around? Is this a good omen for people like me? I hate to personalize everything, but you and I are all part of the corruption universe.

I received this from Glen in FL, advocate for accreditation reform. FL is one place the white collar criminals from Union Institute operate.

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/31/us/31florida.html?ref=us

It seems FL has as many problems as IL (a la Blagojevich).

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/01/29/AR2009012902202.html

And how 'bout those leaders who don't pay their taxes?

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/01/30/AR2009013003793.html?hpid=topnews

So can we expect justice to trickle down? Or is this too much to hope for?

Friday, January 30, 2009

I'm Grumpy

Do you ever wake up frustrated and angry with the whole world?

I don't.

But I do get on my computer and read comments in the newspaper.

I don't know why I do this because all it does it piss me off.

I usually tell people, well, if it pisses you off, then don't read it. But sometimes, you have to read it because if you don't respond, then the most ignorant, hateful postings become the norm.

Perhaps I should start feeling less responsible for the education and welfare of humankind. Maybe this is a real fault of mine because intellectually, I know you can only do what you can do. But I push myself in every way, including this way. It's my nature.

My dad used to say, "Don't do it half assed." Well, I don't.

"Do or don't do. There is no try." I believe this, but there comes a time when you have to say, "enough is enough. You can't do any more." So I suppose that's the difference between "doing" and just "trying."

It's that "wisdom to know the difference" that always gets me, that "accept the things I cannot change." I don't accept them. I struggle with them every day, especially if they involve my family and me.

Part of it is that I want justice. Someone told me, "There is no justice in this world." But if we all have that attitude and don't do anything about it, there WILL be no justice in the world. It's self-fulfilling prophesy.

Then again, there is something to be said for giving yourself a break. I took a little one last night....worked on crafts...made punch-outs for cards and scrapbooks. I love that little pile of paper fences, frames, hearts, mountains, trees and flowers I get when I use my die-cutter.

Then I went on to my stamps. I used as many stamps as I could with every color I could. This turned out to be a good exercise in de-cluttering since half of my stamp pads were dried out.

Then I colored some of the stamp imprints with watercolor pencils. Coloring is a kind of meditation. I bet pencil and pen artists know this--that is, if they are not frustrated with their own artistic limitations. I don't paint as much as I would like to because of that. I want art to be a relief, not a painful exercise.

Maybe I should just shut off the computer today. But I won't because I have story material coming in all the time. I write to people to get the material, so I think I should at least reply to them. They were good enough to send it, after all. People who give us stories are giving of themselves, I think. Writers owe them something for this.

It makes me feel bad when I have not lived up to this standard of gratitude. There are so many people in the world who just don't give a damn or won't give you the time of day. We should reward or at least THANK those who do.

I'm my own therapist this morning, as you might have guessed. And I think I'm a workaholic, except that since I work from home, I don't neglect my family. This is good. If I were working outside the home, I might get insane and then feel guilty for working all the time.

People say workaholics are the way they are because they want to escape their family. This isn't the case with me. I'm just compulsive. I'm a compulsive writer and reader, which isn't always a bad thing. But it is when it gets in the way of my mood or motivation to do anything else.

I read email all day. I write just about all day. Then I read Agatha Christie. Then I go to bed and wonder why I have insane dreams all night and wake up tired. Then people wonder why I need a nap. Hello? If your brain never stopped, you would be tired too.

See how grumpy I am this morning?

....later that day.....

Whew! Naps really help. I think I've been seriously sleep deprived.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Tag! You're It!

I'm tagging people today, but probably not 25 people. Do I even KNOW 25 people who would do this??

Once you've been tagged, you are supposed to write a note with 25 random things, facts, habits, or goals about you. At the end, choose 25 people to be tagged. You have to tag the person who tagged you.

1. I love to laugh and laugh loudly.
2. I'm a natural introvert, a practiced extrovert.
3. If I changed my middle name again, I would choose "Justice."
4. Lately, I have cold feet. Literally.
5. Sometimes I think I smell like pizza dough.
6. When I was a kid, I thought if my head split open, inside would be harlequin ice cream.
7. Do you notice a theme here?
8. I'm getting lap band surgery in 24 days.
9. 24 days is too long to weight.
10. My dog Sallie butt-scoots across the rug.
11. I'm going to be a famous writer--but probably when I'm dead.
12. John Updike died today. I couldn't stand that guy.
13. Am I being irreverent?
14. Public speaking scares me.
15. I tell myself, "Get OVER it!"
16. I have ADHD.
17. Sometimes I get depressed and anxious.
18. Overall, I'm grateful.
19. I can't think of what else to say, if you can believe that.
20. My poop smelled like broccoli this morning.
21. I can never remember how to spell broccoli without spell-check.
23. Why am I into smells so much this morning?
24. I love scrapbooking.
25. I love my family.

I bet you're sorry you read that.

More than $50,000 down the drain...and this is a drain on the economy

Another lawyer telling me I can't do anything about this student loan issue...not that I don't have a case, they add. Duh. I KNOW I have a case, and I KNOW I've been working on this since 2002. That doesn't matter to lawyers who don't want to fight statute of limitations even though it's the lawyers who prevented me from fighting this in court in the first place. When someone wants 5-10 thousand retainer from a student, what do they expect? I don't respect these people. And I wouldn't recommend any of them, except possibly to Union Institute and "University" which deserves what they get.

Of course, the scumbags at Union Institute and "University" got away with ripping me off, with ripping off the government and with what amounts to white collar crime. Do you think the government cares though? Look at their bailouts. You don't see them bailing students out, do you--students who have been ripped off in a corrupt system. Let me remind you that student borrowers have no...I repeat no....consumer rights.

The government tries to blame the accreditors and accreditors, good 'ole boys and girls' clubs, try to avoid government scrutiny.

But I have been down this road before, haven't I, and I am repeating myself.

No matter.

Even if no one goes to jail, even if on paper Sallie Mae tries to collect on this loan, even if I struggle the rest of my life, justice will be served.

When you sow fraud, deceit, irresponsibility and ignorance, you get it all back in this life or in the next one.

You reap what you sow, Roger Sublett.

The same goes for you, Department of Education.

And Sallie Mae?

We know she shall burn in hell.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Transitional Assistance for Former Drug Offenders/TANF Welfare Ban Opt Out.

Thanks to SALT for providing this testimony.


STATEMENT TO

THE OFF-TO-RICHMOND HEARINGS

ON BEHALF OF

SOCIAL ACTION LINKING TOGETHER (SALT)

January 10, 2009


Mr. Chairman, and members of the Budget Committees, thank you for the opportunity to speak to you on behalf of CURE & Social Action Linking Together (SALT).


I’m Carla Peterson, Director of Virginia CURE, and I appear here to ask your support for Transitional Assistance for Former Drug Offenders/TANF Welfare Ban Opt Out.


SALT joins CURE in believing that America is the land of second chances and that when the prison gates open that the path ahead should be an opportunity for a better life.


Each year, Virginia releases roughly 10,000 men and women from its prisons. Seventy five percent are parents. All Virginians have a stake in the success of these families.


That’s why SALT and CURE advocates urge an end to the lifetime ban on Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) benefits for otherwise eligible individuals who have been convicted of drug-related felonies. Due to the joint efforts of SALT/CURE, in its 2005 session, the General Assembly enacted legislation to lift the lifetime ban that had prevented these ex-offenders (unlike persons convicted of any other crimes) from ever receiving food stamps. However, these individuals are still prevented from ever receiving TANF benefits, even after they had paid their debt to society. We note that thirty-four states have lifted or modified this ban.


SALT, joined by CURE and Virginia Catholic Conference (VCC), believe it is critical to lift this lifetime ban, since it has the effect of punishing the ex-offender’s family, especially children, and hindering the person’s successful re-entry into society upon release.


This TANF Welfare Ban Opt Out legislation is essential for the following reasons:

  • The ban unfairly punishes one group of former inmates who have paid their debt to society, and punishes their families as well.

  • Parents reentering their communities after incarceration often need public benefits to reunite their families, pay rent, and buy food, clothing, and other necessities. The denial of assistance to such parents as they attempt to rebuild their lives is counterproductive.

  • The ban makes it more difficult for individuals to enter or complete substance abuse treatment programs, or maintain recovery from addiction. It limits the effectiveness of community-based treatment programs, which rely on their clients to use TANF benefits to help cover room and board expenses.

  • The ban interferes with the ability of ex-offenders to find work, return to school, or enter job-training programs to gain essential skills to become competitive in the labor market.

  • TANF benefits provide a lifeline for women trying to escape domestic violence. Many women with drug-related convictions began using drugs as children when they were being physically or sexually abused. Providing them and their children with essential assistance enables them to avoid returning to an abusive environment.


The purpose of the SALT/CURE proposed bill in the Virginia General Assembly, patroned by Senator Patsy Ticer & Delegate Phillip Hamilton, is to lift the ban on TANF. The bill that passed the Senate during the 2008 session included the passage of a budget amendment by Sen. Charles Colgan before it was defeated in the Appropriations sub-committee in the House.


SALT and CURE are again working for passage of this much needed legislation and Senator Ticer is patroning during the 2009 session in Richmond. Additionally, Congresswomen Barbara Lee (D-CA) has introduced HR 5802 (FAIR ACT) that repeals nationally the unjust policy that prohibits ex-offenders who served their time from receiving food stamps during their re-entry into society. We are working with national CURE to get Ms. Lee to lift the ban on TANF under HR 5802, as well.

We urge your support for both measures.

Finally, a snow day

Snow days. My younger daughter in the shower singing, "I've got the joy joy joy joy down in my heart...." Sallie the mutt frolicking in the snow, jumping on the kids. Soaked boots in the shower stall. Mud on the carpet.

It's all transient, isn't it?

Kids aren't kids for very long.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Weighing in on the day

So I spent the day with needles in my arm and wrist, x-rays on my upper torso, sensors on my chest, paperwork in my mind and stress throughout my body.

This is how they make sure you really want to go through with lap-band surgery. They torture you first. If you persevere, then they will go ahead with it.

Mind you, this is AFTER you've waited at least six months while making useless trips to your primary care doc so you can prove yes, indeed, you do have a weight problem that is a little more serious than pinching an inch. This is AFTER the three-hour classes, visits to the nutritionist, the sleep study, the upper endoscopy and the psych release. Did I miss anything?

Almost needless to say, but I will say it anyway, if I didn't know I had my surgery coming in less than a month, I would have started wailing and gnashing my teeth in the hospital lobby. Instead, I muttered to myself, "Patience, Katherine. Patience."

It worked up until I had to spend an hour plus just to REGISTER for the x-rays, blood work and EKG. Why so much time? My paperwork got screwed up.

Now, understand I already hate paperwork. Most people do, but for me, paperwork is something I really have to concentrate on, something that takes me a long time to complete. So when I have gone through the trouble of completing all my paperwork to the best of my ability and someone else makes an error, I'm not as kind as I ought to be, especially after sitting in registration for more than an hour, especially when it has literally taken me a year to get to the point where I can sit in the registration room.

I admit I was rude to the people who confused my paperwork and me in the process. But sometimes, being rude is the only recourse left. And I know my version of rude is pretty lame compared to the rudeness of others who can rude me right out the rudeness arena. Still, I don't even like getting into the ring, never mind putting on the boxing gloves. I'm not saying I'm so rarely rude that you might think I'm disgustingly sweet. It's just that I'm not comfortable being rude, and if I am spontaneously rude, I feel bad afterward even if the rudeness was warranted.

But I digress.

The point is, my right arm hurts, right up to my shoulder, from the invasion of my pulse with a needle. My brain hurts from spending literally 7-8 hours dealing with doctors and other medical varieties. And I missed my nap. So you can imagine my disposition.

Actually, no one is really noticing because I'm venting on the computer and not in the family room. And I'm not half as spun up as I was this morning, waiting in the registration room. By the time I hit the x-ray area, I was too tired to stew. I think God makes us sleepy in the afternoons so we can't stress out 24/7.

What do I have left? I have to lose five pounds (which I am stressed about). I have to have a telephone interview with a nurse (which I want to get out of the way). I have to have a pre-op visit with the surgeon (which I also want to get out of the way).

At least a baker's dozen times I have wished my surgery date were closer. I doubt there will be any cancellations, however. Too many people have already elected to be mutilated with a laser and pumped up with pipe-parts. It's like how it was standing in the voting line back in November--you can barely see the entrance but you know it's there. Once you get there, the rest won't take so long.

"The weighting is the hardest part."

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Jewish and Muslim communities working with Unity

Dar Al Noor Mosque,
Congregation Ner Shalom, and
Unity in the Community
Invite you for an evening of dialogue
Sunday, February 8, 2009

3:50pm-6pm
Dar Al Noor Mosque
5404 Hoadly Rd
Manassas, Virginia

Featuring the PBS film “Cities of Light: The Rise and Fall of Islamic Spain” with a facilitated dialogue following the film.


Saturday, January 24, 2009

New Name and Design

It's official.

While this blog is still associated with www.luxuriouschoices.net, it needed a color and name change.

Thus, the new template.

And I hereby dub this blog with a name that reflects my personality.

"Tenacious Poodle" it is, then.

Why?

Because I asked my husband what words he would use to describe me.

He said "a tenacious poodle."

Because I never give up.

And because when I got my hair done, I looked like a poodle for a couple of weeks until it calmed down.

And because toy poodles are known to leap at their opponents.

Note the Yoda quote. "There is no try."

Scream and yell, but never say "die."

Wait, isn't that 007 and not Yoda?

Yoda is more powerful.

And cuter.

How Much Do You Trust?

Do you trust people? If so, when? How do you know whom to trust? How do you know if someone trusts YOU? How can you tell a wolf in sheep's clothing?

Inquiring minds want to know.


First Response:


"'Do you trust people?'" is a very broad question. I trust almost everyone to not grab a fork and stick me in the eye with it for no reason. I do NOT trust most people to do what is right, if doing something a little wrong will benefit them, etc.

Trust is such a tenuous thing. It's not easily earned, but very easily lost."


Second Response:


"I don't trust people to NOT stick me in the eye with a fork.

Damn mother forkers."


Third Response:


"I go on instinct and experience. My instincts on whether or not to trust someone are usually spot-on. Also, if someone proves to be untrustworthy, then they have to earn my trust back. These days, I'm not sure I'm as confident as others about the being stabbed with a fork thing! Ha! I can think of a few people who could use a fork in the forehead!

For the record, I was paid for a day that I didn't actually work a few weeks ago. Though it would have benefited me A LOT to keep it, I called the secretary and told her. She thanked me profusely, and took one of my vacation days in exchange."


Fourth Response:

"I can't trust my instincts. I feel like I don't have good ones because I tend to assume everyone is nice and that assumption almost ruined my life. I know now, intellectually, NOT everyone is nice. Then I start to over-think it and get nervous. So I end up not trusting until I know someone very well. And that takes a long time."


Fifth Response:

"In general yes (I trust people). Of course it depends on the situation. I have a very good instinct about this usually and I tend to be on the lookout until I know people well."

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Let's Put the Blame Where it Belongs

Ah, the mommy wars.

"I'm a better mother than you because I stay home with my kids."

"I'm a better mommy because I maintain my identity through my career and teach my kids a work ethic."

"I'm better than you because I home-school."

"I'm better than you because I work part-time to supplement my husband's income while I spend time with my children."

"I'm better than you because I breastfeed, sleep with my children AND home-school."

"I'm better than you because I earn a living and keep my family from suffering income-related stress."

STOP! We moms need to stick together instead of playing mommy-one-upmanship (or in this case, mommy-one-upwomanship).

Why do we do this to ourselves and other moms?

It could be any of the following or something else:

1. Someone and/or some group tried to tell us how to live our lives. We believed them. We never considered that we do have choices. We feel bad when we don't meet the expectations of whatever standard was advertised. So we try to make ourselves feel better about our choices by putting down others for THEIR choices.

2. We are frustrated because employers don't support working mothers. They don't provide daycare or flexible schedules.

3. We don't have enough money to stay home with our kids and resent those who do.

4. We don't have enough money to stay home with our kids but suffer financially to do it. We don't understand moms who don't want to suffer like this.

5. We are rebelling against traditional roles and try to inflict our beliefs on others.

6. We honor traditional roles and try to inflict our beliefs on others.

7. We allow personal prejudice to get in the way of making friendships with people who are different from us.

8. We make assumptions about people who are different from us and never bother to challenge our own assumptions.

9. We believe we are superior because of our choices. But sometimes, this feeling of superiority is a coping mechanism for an inferiority complex.

10. We are perfectionists and are frustrated by what we perceive as our own human weaknesses.

11. We never bother to think about WHY we do the things we do.

Painful realizations, yes?

I think all moms have made these mistakes at one time or another. I know I did. I used to think all stay-at-home mothers were rich brats who wanted to bring other rich brats into the world.

Then I tried juggling a traditional 9-5, full-time job with mothering two children (children with special emotional and learning needs, no less). Throw in housework and daycare and you have a recipe for failure. I soon discovered that women who stay at home with their kids usually do so for reasons other than philosophy.

Though we live from one paycheck to another, I'm blessed that I have been able to work from home. I have flexibility. I maintain my career. I am intellectually stimulated. And I can take care of and enjoy my children who are rapidly growing into teens. This was more difficult when they were younger and were running amok. But a flexible schedule meant I could work at night or during their nap time.

Our stressors might be different, but every mother has them. Stay-at-home moms face challenges all their own, potential isolation being one of the most difficult. Working moms face exhaustion and time management issues. Part-time workers face scheduling and income problems. And all moms deal with ordinary parental stress.

It is time to stop the mommy wars. The prejudice and fighting only serve to weaken families and society--they don't remedy the underlying, greater causes of poverty, stress, perfectionism or resentment.

Moms, band together! Make your choices, yes. But accept others' choices as well. Let's support one another no matter what our choices may be.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Social Justice and MLK

"We are still called upon to give aid to the beggar who finds himself in misery and agony on life's highway. But one day, we must ask the question of whether an edifice which produces beggars must not be restructured and refurbished."

--
Martin Luther King, Jr.

Amen.

Alexis' Story

Sometimes, the only way I know how to deal with this kind of sadness is through poetry. Though I didn't know Alexis, her death has touched me deeply.

For Alexis

The body of 13-year-old Alexis Glover was found Friday 1/9/09 in a shallow creek near PWC's McCoart Administration Building, two days after she went missing. Alexis had sickle cell anemia and post-traumatic stress disorder as well as autism. Alexis was adopted when she was six.

One needn't know the river
to know the way it flows--
that is the way the Buddha knew
beneath the Bodhi tree.
He, emptying his mind into water,
washing his thoughts away,
came to understand an afterlife:

The feather becoming the fawn,
Banyan tree lighting the dawn,
immortality of everyone's energy,
the no-banks-needed mind.
The shell of every walnut
rises up to drink, while parching
Orchid tongues finally are wetted.

Speaking in the language of trickles--
that is how it is
even for the smallest stream:
flowing, rising, flowing,
then weeping one more time,
go peaceful little girl,
into ocean again.


Katherine Gotthardt
January 14, 2009

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Worldwide Domination

On to more important things. No, it's not the Inauguration. No it's not the war in the middle east. No it's not the closing of the local fire station because of inept government. And no, it's not the impending end of the world.

It's me.

Heh heh. Yes, it's me. Egotistical, isn't it? Disgusting, isn't it? Self-centered, isn't it?

Yup.

But necessary.

At least for a few hours anyway.

I'm the center of the universe. And since everything is perception, if no one else wants to recognize the new center, it doesn't really matter. The point is...tonight I shall indulge in Agatha Christie until my eyeballs fall out. I shall play find-the-hidden-object games on the computer until I go blind. And play Scrabble with Hubby without trying to win. I shall ask the children to do the dishes and put the laundry in the dryer. And I shall soothe myself because I've lived on protein shakes and chicken today.

Tomorrow I will return to my regularly scheduled program of whatever it is I have to do as the non-center of the universe. But tonight...whahahahahah!

I have taken over the world!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Food and Fraud

Well then, it has been an incredibly busy week around here between kids, house work, regular work and yes...appointments! Yesterday I had a three hour nutritional seminar in which we were told what we can't eat. Now, I knew this was coming. I've known for awhile I have to cut down on my coffee, so today, I did just half a small cup and subsidized with herbal tea. It isn't bad too far. I hope the headaches don't come, though.

The other tough thing will be the pre-surgery diet. Okay, now I know I have to cut down, but going to 1000 calories a day is going to be nearly impossible. I'm not trying to be negative. I'm trying to be realistic. How the hell can they expect you to do that after all these years of failing at diets and engaging in bad eating? I'm not saying I'm not going to give it my best shot, but the consequences aren't going to be good. Okay, maybe I AM being a little negative, but history has taught me if you do the same thing over and over, you will get the same results. In this case, the results won't be good. I think I will call my nutritionist about this because I don't want to fail.

These two items are probably the most stressful. The liquid diet and pureed food for a month I think I will be able to handle because the band will be on and the hunger will be under control. Exercise isn't a problem. I've conquered the structure thing--no grazing. And I eat lots of vegetables as always. I don't generally do fast food and I only crave sweets about once a month. I'm good if they aren't in the house, which they hardly ever are.

This morning, I'm off the see the lawyer about those damn student loans. I'm trying to not get my hopes up because...history has taught me, if you do the same thing over and over, you get the same results. Now I HAVE changed my delivery to a one-pager which is better than the binder I used to hand over. What lawyer wants to read a broke student's binder?

I TOLD you it has been a busy week!

So.....wishing myself luck with a couple of arch enemies.....food and fraud.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

PWC Neighborhood Conference Feb 7, 2009

From: "Patricia M. Reilly"
Subject: Neighborhood Conference Feb 7, 2009


Greetings!

Last year the Department of Public Works held a successful Neighborhood Conference, “Building Community.” I’d like to extend an invitation to you for this year’s conference to be held Saturday, Feb. 7, 8:30am – 3:30pm. The conference seeks to prepare neighborhoods to meet challenges in a down economy, offering 4 sessions with 2 classes in each session from which to choose. Session tracks have been designed for Neighborhood Improvement and for Common Interest Communities but attendees may choose the class that will best meet their needs. Details of the classes, as well as a brochure and a stand-alone registration form, are available at www.pwcgov.org/neighborhoodconference.

The conference will take place in the PWC government buildings at 1 and 5 County Complex Court, Woodbridge VA, 22192. Registration is required; a fee of $25 includes breaks, a box lunch and conference materials. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.

I look forward to seeing you this year!

Pat Reilly

Patricia M. Reilly

Neighborhood Coordinator

Prince William County, Department of Public Works

5 County Complex, Suite 280

Woodbridge VA 22192

phone 703 792-6892

fax 703 792-5969


Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Neighborhood Discussion Circles

Thank you to Kisha Wilson-Sogunro, Neighborhood Services Coordinator, City of Manassas, who sent this to me and others. Forward it along!

Happy New Year!

We’re using the momentum from the neighborhood conference to bring our next project right into the neighborhoods. The City of Manassas is launching a pilot program that will bring together neighbors for circle discussions on revitalizing our neighborhoods in 2009. Each circle is a 6-session, 2-hour per session commitment and we are encouraging people from all different backgrounds and viewpoints to participate.

Facilitators trained through a donation from George Mason University will lead the discussions in five neighborhoods in the City of Manassas.

The goals of the pilot are: 1) to engage neighbors in developing neighborhood improvement projects; 2) to find common ground on such maintenance issues as graffiti, trash, vacant homes, crime and more; and 3) to lay the groundwork and develop the action forum for neighborhood improvement using the 2009 Week of Hope program, which will bring more than 1,000 out-of-town volunteers to the City of Manassas in June – August 2009.

Participation in each neighborhood circle is limited to about 15 participants. Child care will be provided. Locations of the meetings in each neighborhood will be announced.

Please select the circle you would like to participate in:

CIRCLE 1: Weems Neighborhood, City of Manassas

Tuesdays, Feb 3, 10, 17, 24, March 3, 10, 7-9 pm

CIRCLE 2: Wildwood Neighborhood, City of Manassas

Wednesdays, Feb 4, 11, 18, 25, March 4, 11, 7-9 pm

CIRCLE 3: Georgetown South, City of Manassas

Tuesdays, March 17, 24, 31, April 14, 21, 28, 7-9 pm (no circle on April 7 – Spring Break)


CIRCLE 4: Point of Woods 1 and 2/Cannon Ridge, City of Manassas

Wednesdays, March 18, 25, April 1, 15, 22, 29 7-9 pm (no circle on April 8 – Spring Break)


CIRCLE 5: Wellington Neighborhood, City of Manassas

Tuesdays, March 17, 24, 31, April 14, 21, 28, 7-9 pm (no circle on April 7 – Spring Break)

I will need an interpreter.

I will need child care.

Number of children

Ages:

I would like to be trained as a facilitator. I understand this is a one-circle, six session

commitment. Facilitator, training is scheduled for Sat., Jan. 24 from 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at GMU-Prince William Campus, Room OB110-L in the Occoquan Building.

I would like to sponsor neighborhood discussions by providing meeting supplies (paper,

pens, name tags), refreshments or prizes.

Name:

Address:

Phone #:

E-Mail:

To make the circle discussions successful, it is important to have a range of perspectives and backgrounds in every circle. What do we need to know about you to place you in the circle?


If you are NOT a resident of the neighborhood, please tell us why you would like to be included.

Participants who attend all six sessions of their neighborhood circle will be eligible for prize drawings to include gift cards from local home improvement centers and a Grand Prize of a “Front Yard Makeover” of their property.

All FIVE neighborhoods will receive volunteers and resources support of their neighborhood improvement projects through the 2009 Week of Hope program. All FIVE neighborhoods will be invited to a one-day get-together of ALL participants to review ACTION PLANS in May 2009.

Please forward this e-mail to anyone you think may be interested!

For more information, please contact: Kisha Wilson-Sogunro, Neighborhood Services Coordinator, City of Manassas, 703-257-8240