My kingdom

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LinkedIn — Friend or Foe?

This morning I logged onto my LinkedIn account to see what updates awaited me, and at the urging of the LinkedIn interface, searched my gmail account to see if any new connection possibilites arose. LinkedIn diligently searched my gmail contacts and decided there were about 200 connections as yet unexplored.

200 connections?!

I combed through the list and got it down to 85, and sent out invitations to join my network. The way I see it, having more LinkedIn connections can’t hurt. You never know how you can help someone and vice versa. Admittedly I do feel foolish sending a connection invitation to someone from whom I bought a chair via craigslist. Or Kijiji nowadays. Craigslist has fallen out of favour and Kijiji has gotten more popular. The search options on Kijiji are way better and also there is a thumbnail next to each item. Craigslist has actually now added thumbnails too but no matter, since Kijiji outshines Craigslist in other ways.

On Tuesday this week I popped a scout camp application in the mail on behalf of Boy midget to attend as a Leader in Training this summer. This application included a 500-word essay about himself, plus 2 references from unrelated parties. In my mind right now he is a newborn giraffe wobbling on his legs. He is learning to make his own way in this world. So proud of that kid.

 

And so back to LinkedIn. I do enjoy seeing what old friends or ex-boyfriends are up to. Did their world fall apart after we broke up? It’s interesting to note the career progressions. I’m not going to turn this into a gender discussion of how having children necessitates slowing a woman’s career at least a little bit. (It does.) I currently have 165 connections and I’m sure 80% of them are acquaintances at best, people with whom I have chatted just once in my life. But still, whenever I am looking at job listings it’s interesting to see what connections of mine work at that company or are connected to the company in some way. LinkedIn reminds me of grade school/high school a bit, in that the home page will tell you how many people have viewed your profile in the last week. I didn’t ask for this info and I’d rather not have it. I do not care and this data is meaningless. And what if you don’t have a career, burgeoning or otherwise? I suppose it’s a good tool for prospective employers to check you out before the interview. And I suppose it’s good for ex-loves who want to stalk you. But I don’t know that having LinkedIn is helping me professionally in any way.

I think a great addition to the LinkedIn tools would be to allow geographical, educational, and professional analysis of one’s connections. Actually one of my acquaintances works in the sales department at LinkedIn, selling HR solutions to various companies. I’m not sure how happy he is there, considering his comments about drinking a lot of red wine during the evenings after work. But hey, I guess this works for him. Now if I could get a developer’s contact info, I could really effect some change there.

I’ve got some problems with the Royal Bank online banking system interface. When completing an electronic transfer, there is a limit to the amount you can transfer using this method. However, the error message doesn’t pop up until you are in the very last step of completing said transfer. Human Factors and Quality Assurance at RBC needs to step it up a notch. Also at their ATMs when depositing funds using a deposit envelope, the writing on the envelope doesn’t match the user interface on the machine. It’s very annoying once you notice the discrepancy.

The first time

The first time I realized some kids weren’t given what I considered to be their birthright occurred when I was about 10 years old (I think). It was just after ballet class and I was talking to the lady who collected the money from parents. My dad had just forked over money for my sister and I to take lessons that week (the significance of which I now understand since I do the same every week for piano, sewing lessons and allowances) and I noticed the lady had a gap between her front teeth. It wasn’t an ugly gap, just unusual for me to see in an adult. Pretty much all the adults I knew had straight teeth, or dentures, or didn’t smile/talk/otherwise show their teeth. Or at least I hadn’t noticed anything other than teeth without gaps. Gray or yellow and/or misshapen, sure, but no gaps.

I asked her why she had a gap in her teeth, why hadn’t she gotten braces? She made the motion of rubbing her thumb and first 2 fingers together, to signify money. I didn’t understand this gesture, having never seen it before. So she spelled it out: her parents hadn’t had the money to get her braces for her teeth. This information bewildered me, as I was unaccustomed to being told No for the reason of no funds. I was quite familiar with No you don’t need that toy, or No it’s too much money for a toy, but not It’s too much money for us EVER to be able to buy you this basic dental necessity (in my opinion at the time). I looked at my parents a little differently after that. They didn’t have to buy me braces (which they did when I was a teenager) or take me to see a dermatologist, or any of the other myriad of things they did for my benefit. But they did those things anyway, with only the goal of seeing me grow up having every advantage they could afford to give me. Boy midget most definitely needs braces. Holy crap his mouth is a mess. Girl midget has an adorable gap between her front teeth and I hope she never wants to fix it. Because it’s adorable.

Last night we introduced a new member to our family; an Xbox. Yippee. We have been fighting against having an Xbox for at least 4 years now, and have finally given in. I’m a softy, I can admit it. Good thing my small offspring don’t read this here blog. My biggest complaints against having one were the expense (we found a good used one online) and the disruption of the living room (of which we have only one in our house in which we all converge). The second reason is still a factor, but not a big enough one for me to say No, apparently. For years Boy midget has been patiently listening to my reasons for not having an Xbox. He thought it all over and presented his own arguments in a calm manner. And when he requested to have an Xbox for his birthday this spring my icy demeanor melted. He is paying the monthly subscriber fee out of his allowance and he is also saving up his money to buy Halo 4. He is nothing if not industrious, and has been asking to do extra jobs around the house to further his goal. So fine. Let’s see how this goes. Girl midget is just as excited about this, and I’m positive the older kids are going to have a rollicking good time with this toy too, if they ever manage to get a turn playing with it.

Dogs Update

A few months ago Boy midget was diagnosed as allergic to dogs (and cats, feathers, and dust mites). Because we all love having dogs in the house, this diagnosis was quite a blow. So we decided to stage an experiment, wherein we got the dogs out of the house for a period of time to see if Boy midget was doing better healthwise. Turns out the difference after the dogs left was immediate. Even the rest of us who are not allergic to dogs noticed the air felt cleaner and lighter.

At the mere mention of permanently removing Ellie and Pickle, Boy midget bursts into tears, angry at his own body. After much consideration, we are installing air cleaners. 1 will be in the boys’ room, and 1 on the main floor of our house. The dogs return to our home tomorrow, to what I’m sure will be a joyful reunion for all. I am hoping the air cleaners will be a permanent solution we are all looking for here.

Meanwhile, I am busy working on ponchos for Barbie dolls.

The Body. The Power.

I have been thinking about this post for months before attempting to put fingers to keys and pound out some meaningful, uplifting words about accepting myself for what I look like, instead of berating myself or promising myself I will look better someday by harnessing my will power properly. Or stopping eating foods I know are ‘bad’ for me. Or focusing more on the goal of wellness. Chemicals and preservatives sometimes taste good but they are false idols that keep me from accomplishing an epiphany and being above all appearance judging. So I will stop eating these, not weigh myself or judge myself or think about what I look like. I will bury myself in the goal of achieving perfect health. I will then look great, but not care about what I look like. Because that’s not what this is about, right? It’s about having such a healthy body image and such amazing self-worth, that I am above thinking about what I look like (even though I will look great because I have both of these things). How was that? Does that just about sum up the veritable deluge of information we are fed every day?

Also, I will buy local and so become a Locavore, eschew evil sugar (even brown sugar and honey are bad for you and addicting), dairy (yes, even butter – it’s for the greater good), meats, and gluten. And probably caffeine, because it allegedly alters personality.

I shall wear only natural fibers, and contrary to what evil marketers will tell you, bamboo doesn’t count, with natural dyes (so I don’t develop multiple sclerosis when I get older), oh! and I won’t forget to floss my teeth so my gums don’t expel my teeth at age 45.

I am proud of my body for having produced two perfectly healthy children who will grow up and continue to make me proud. I have fairly good stamina and coordination. I can hold my own on a bike ride and I am energetic enough to walk my 75 pound dog two times a day, work full time, bring home the bacon and fry it up in a pan. My husband thinks I’m the hottest thing on two legs.

Food is a pleasure, a gesture of love, and the setting around which family traditions, bonds, and holidays are formed. So how can I believe food is the enemy? Frankly, I don’t think bread and potatoes with butter, food that has sustained my people for hundreds of years, is bad for me. And no amount of brain washing or fat shaming is going to change my mindset.

Dieting doesn’t work, that’s what we’re told now. So to lose weight and be healthier, we are supposed to eat what our body tells us it needs. Sometimes my body needs raw cookie dough. Actually that’s not true, it’s my brain that needs it. But that’s part of my body. And if I satisfy my brain, won’t it be sated, and then start craving salad with no dressing? That’s the theory of some writers, specifically Geneen Roth. I have read two of her books, in which she expounds on her theory of treating yourself with kindness as if you are a small child. Denying yourself a certain food will cause you to perseverate on said food and rebel by eating lots of it, eventually.

Because I’m a mother, I also have to be aware of how my self-image affects my children, especially my daughters (I have a blended family, with 5 children all together). So I don’t say negative things about myself out loud. One day a few years ago, my youngest son, 8 at the time, suggested I not wear a bathing suit (I was wearing one at the time) because my legs were fat. I replied that my body is beautiful and strong, having produced perfectly healthy children. He acted like my response was a good one.

A small anecdote about my recent trip to Paris, a city I love and have visited many times:
During our trip, I fell down a set of stairs and broke my ankle. After I returned from hospital back to our apartment, I learned how to negotiate walking using my crutches. My Mom, trying to be helpful, said I would probably lose a lot of weight because walking with crutches is so taxing. I could lose 40 pounds, she said. I replied that I don’t want to lose 40 pounds. Is this the truth? Sometimes it is. But I’m not above wanting to look attractive in the way I define attractive.

My daughters are particularly beautiful, and many strangers comment on it. One person suggested my youngest should be a model. I quickly replied that with her smarts she is meant for bigger and better things than that, and that models are terribly insecure and unhappy. Maybe if I say these words enough in her presence, they will be tattooed on her brain? There’s your happy ending – I am determined to break the cycle of negative self-talk, in terms of body image and self-worth.

Winter

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There are some really good things about winter:

Statutory holidays off work

New Year’s Eve

White pristine snow, whether it be packing or fluffy

Crocheted hats and scarves

TV programs

Snow days

Candles

Baking

Watching my dog frollic on the beach without having to worry about getting a sunburn

Empty beach, no tourists

Cuddling under the covers

Hot chocolate

Soup

Rosy cheeks

Warm socks

The smell of a wood burning fireplace

 

 

You couldn’t possibly understand

I work miracles in the kitchen. How is it that I can spend a good amount of time planning and then executing recipes for dinner, the result of which goes uneaten? I’m not sure how I manage to spend so much time on a food item that gets rejected. This happened again yesterday. I prepared skewers of tofu and pineapple, made an asian sauce to pour on top, then baked it while I made some rice to go with it. It looked and smelled great, and I personally liked it a lot. Surprisingly, the problem wasn’t the tofu. The midgets did not like the sauce. FYI, I didn’t create the sauce on the fly, I actually followed a recipe. The midgets know by now that if I cook a meal and they don’t like it, they are on their own as far getting fed. At age 9 and 11, they are fully capable of finding something to eat on their own.

For your reference: http://www.vegetariantimes.com/recipe/teriyaki-tofu-pineapple-kebabs/

Don’t count on getting the same results as I did. Like I said, you couldn’t possibly understand my superpower!

 

Waterworks, USA

In 2004 I spent a vacation with first husband, 2 little midgets (age 1 and 3) and my parents in Virginia. While we were there we visited Busch Gardens and Waterworks USA. Last week I was reminded of my trip to Waterworks because of a comment my husband made about Wild Water Kingdom. He said when you go there, because everyone is in his or her bathing suit, everyone looks naked. I’m not all that comfortable with public nudity. I’ve been to a nude beach not that long ago, and I breastfed both my midgets for what seemed like years, but still.

Ok so apparently I am ok with others seeing me partially nude. That’s still a far cry from me witnessing everyone around me not wearing figure-flattering or at least figure-covering outfits. This brings me to a question: is it possible to put on a figure-flattering bathing suit when you don’t conform to the societal norm? Of course Oprah magazine would have you believe yes it’s possible. Either no one who goes to water parks reads Oprah, or her advice is unheeded, orrrrrr it’s impossible to look physically ‘perfect’ when you’re not, no matter what bathing suit you wear!

Another great pastime of mine was reading Men Seeking Women ads on Craigslist. This is some of the most honest, entertaining, revealing information I have ever seen.

Here are some sample headlines I plucked off of there today:
pregnancy? – 25 (toronto)
Any Asian females with unusually wide hips and a big butt? – 35
Looking for A FILM COMPANION – 27 (Toronto) — This guy actually is just looking for a woman to see movies with and go on dates.
Do you need a place to live ? – 57 (Toronto)

I find the ads funny for many reasons, one of which is that the ads read as if men are placing an order for pizza. Requests for specific body types are the norm, as are hobbies, interests and personality traits. And then there is the other part of the equation, where the men describe themselves. The descriptions are mainly physical, since that’s what men think is important in describing themselves. Craigslist provides no template (unlike Plenty of Fish or eHarmony, even Lavalife (remember that?!) had suggestions and headings), so you are reading what that man thinks is the most important information he should provide.

Contrast those headings with Women Seeking Men:
Smart, Curvy, Hourglass-figured woman wants LTR – 28 – (Mississauga)
Looking for an adventure – 19 – (downtown)
Jewish Woman Seeking Jewish Man For Long Term Committed Relationship – 47 – (York Region)

You notice right away that there are no requests for specific body types. Races and ethnicities yes, but body types no. Also, women’s ads are not offering worldly possessions or promises of exciting dates. Women are offering up themselves and asking for committment or pampering. It’s quite the difference and interesting to say the least. Craigslist reduces men and women to strict archetypes based on supposedly out-of-date stereotypes. Most of the people posting on Craigslist are fine with traditional roles and encourage their continuing.

I met husband through an ad on Craigslist. I have been reading those ads for years and I saw his. Why did I decide to respond to his ad, out of the hundreds posted? His had a grammatical error, and I pointed it out to him. True story. He won me over via email through his turn of phrase. Yes, truly a match made in heaven.