Friday, August 31, 2012

Addicted to Technology

When I was in high school and college it never occurred to me that I would have to eventually use computers. That was the age of the electric typewriter. Computers were humongous and out of the reach of the average humanoid. Computer geeks spoke a foreign language like COBOL (?) and never left the basement of the science building.

Sometime around 1985 the insurance company that employed me bought desk top computers. They didn't do much - but they did revolutionize the way we worked. Still - the average schmuck did not have a computer at home.

Sometime in the mid 1990s my brother gave me his old 386. I had dial up internet through my phone company. My world changed. My next move was a brand new Gateway desktop with Windows 95. From there I've morphed into a maniac.

Today, I rely on my personal technology and felt bereft if even one machine fails to function. My marquee favorite is my Apply Mac Book Pro - but I've had problems with the mag charger failing, which has left me
Mac-less twice since April while I waited for a replacement part. Because Turbo Tax business does not support Mac, I have to keep a Microsoft laptop on hand for the Harrington Traveling Photographic Artists business applications. I need my iPad2 to play Angry Birds and to take with on travel. It is also a great e-reader while lying in bed because of the back lighting.

And of course, I have a Kindle2 to ready while on travel or commuting, a Kindle Fire to watch videos, a Droid for personal communications, a Blackberry for business and a work issued laptop.

For a person that never thought she would need any computer skills, I've become tethered to my technology.
I'm addicted to Face Book, Yahoo, email, and online shopping. I think I should blame my husband - he first introduced me to eBay - the world's mall and garage sale - and started my on my downward spiral.

But, really, I'm not an addict. It isn't denial. I could stop any time. If I really wanted to. Really. I could. Probably. Maybe. Ok...I could just keep the iPad2, and the Mac...and the Droid....well, the Kindle is already paid for and really doesn't take up too much space.....

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Gift of Al Anon – Unexpectedly Leading a Meeting on Tradition Seven

The Gift of Al Anon – Unexpectedly Leading a Meeting

Throughout my years as a member of Al Anon, I’ve had the privilege of leading numerous meeting including a speaker meeting where I shared my story. Leading an open meeting or a group meeting involving any of the 12 Steps falls well within my comfort zone.  But, until this evening, I’d managed to evade leading a meeting on any of the 12 Traditions of Al Anon.  Despite having read the 12 Traditions, which afford suggestions as to how the An Anon groups should guide themselves, I’d never really thought about the 12 Traditions speaking to me personally.

Since the member who had originally volunteered to lead the meeting was unable to attend, I was asked to step in. So I picked up a copy of the book, Paths To Recovery, knowing I would find inspiration, and found just what I needed for the meeting and for myself. Although Paths To Recovery is  a book I not only own, but have read, it was not until this evening, in the midst of sharing during a meeting about Traditions 7, 8, and 9 that it dawned on my how these Traditions actually apply to me personally on a daily basis.

In particular,  Tradition 7 resonated with me today: “Every group ought to be self-supporting, declining outside contributions.” This had always meant, to me, that the group was financially self –supporting. It also meant that as an individual, I should be financially self-supporting. But, the readings in Paths To Recovery lead me to a new and deeper understanding of my role within the group and my role in my everyday life.

Essentially, my readings and sharing reinforced what I’d already learned in Al Anon but had never associated with a Tradition – I cannot depend on another person for my happiness. My attitude, my happiness, my sense of peace and serenity is up to me. I need to depend on what lies within me for my spiritual, emotional, mental, physical and social wellbeing. If somebody disagrees or is angry with me – it is not my problem and I do not have to react or respond. I do not have to give them any power over me, my moods, my thoughts, my attitude, my sense of self or let them occupy my head or spirit. Al Anon has given me the tools to get my life together, accept my blessings, let go of resentments and the trash of the past, and move forward, one day at a time, with inner peace and serenity.   

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The 3 C's - Having No Control Over Others

Lessons of Al Anon –The 3 C’s

As I’ve readily expressed I’ve been a grateful member of Al Anon for many years. My first meeting, in fact, was 10/15/1993. It is hard to believe it’s been nearly 19 years.

Many people come to Al Anon hoping the group will provide a solution to curing the alcoholic or alcoholics in their lives. However, we find the only solution to serenity lies within ourselves. We must focus on ourselves, work to change our own attitudes, and work towards self -knowledge and self-improvement.

One of the hardest lessons is learning to accept the 3 C’s. We did not cause the alcoholism; we cannot control the alcoholism; we cannot control the alcoholism.

It was, and is, in my nature to be a fixer. It did not make sense that I could not fix my loved one’s alcoholism.  At one point in my life, I thought it was my responsibility to fix somebody else’s problem.  I also morphed that concept of duty into other aspects of my life. That is why it became so critical that I accept the concept of the 3 C’s as a universal understanding.

To believe I have such a power over another person to exercise control over what he or she does or becomes is hubris. It is an inflated sense of self. Or, it is a belief if such insecurity that I would believe it when another blames me for his or her problems.

The fact is, I am powerless over other people, places and things with the exception of my own attitude. I have control over how I react to situations, comments by others, opinions, insults, praise, how I want to start my day.  This is a precious gift. By acknowledging I have no power, I also acknowledge I have no responsibility for the actions, words, decisions of others.

I celebrate the freedom in the gift of knowledge that it is not up to me or within my power to change another human being. Each of us has our own higher power. Thankfully, I’ve learned that valuable lesson.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Publishing's Dirty Little Secret

I love books and read voraciously. hardcover, softcover, electronic on my Kindle, iPad2 and Mac Book Pro. My sources include Book of the Month Club 2,, Costco, the occasional galley courtesy of and electronic galleys from

The galleys that I read are provided with the proviso that I will write a review on Bookbrowse, Amazon, BOMC2, and my Blog. There is no requirement that the review be positive - only that the review is an honest opinion. As a consumer, I rely upon the reviews of real readers to give me an assessment and an opinion of a book. 

This story from the New York Times (link above) exposes the dirty little secret of today's publishing industry.....people are paid to provide positive 5 star reviews of newly published books. Some of the reviews are for self published tomes; others are for books published by smaller houses.  Many of the "reviewers" do not even read the book. They use stock language to praise a book and lure unsuspecting   readers into buying it.

For years publishers have used blurbs by reviewers with newspaper critics and other authors to give promote new books. I always took those blurbs with a grain of salt. However, in my naiveté, it never occurred to me that many of the reviews I've read on and other sites have been totally and completely fabricated. 

The one site I do trust is The members pay to belong and are occasionally given the opportunity to review a galley through "First Impressions". It is expected the reviewer will provide a legitimate assessment of the story, writing, plot developments and readability. 

I've been blessed with the opportunity to review some galleys through Bookbrowse and a couple of other sources. They don't pay for the reviews. I agree to review the books because I am afforded the chance to read books I might otherwise have not purchased, to encourage people to read a good story, to draw a potential reader to a new author or a story that might not otherwise be promoted, because reading is fundamental - to steal from a public service announcement from my youth. 

There is something almost sacred to me about book reviews. Week after week I've read the book reviews in the New York Times, USA Today, The Washington Post and yes - the reviews posted by readers.  The reading public relies upon these reviews to make informed decisions about the quality and readability. Fortunately, has discovered the source of some of these shams  and has removed them from its site. Kudos! And kudos to the New York Times for exposing this scam.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Why is there so little community outreach on the issue of teen pregnancy?

The curious attitudes of teens today towards pregnancy continues to amaze me. A 19 year old girl who has been dating a nephew announced her pregnancy on Face Book including sonogram pictures and the baby's name explaining she wanted to wait until after her high school graduation party. Her friends are excited because the baby daddy has a job. Never mind that he is still a high school student. And, for all of those proponents of home schooling - please note baby mama was home schooled. In addition to missing the classes on sex education and economics, she can't spell worth a damn!

She has expressed overt anger on Face Book because baby daddy's grandmother did not appreciate reading about the impending birth on Face Book. Her friends did point out, of course, that the grandma may just be old fashioned. She has no clue that she has probably resigned herself, baby daddy and her child to a life of struggle or hardship. She can only see she is now the center of attention.

The attitude expressed by this young woman is not unusual...that is the problem. Conservatives argue that birth control should not be readily available and abortion should be illegal. Teens should just say no. But that is no solution. The fact is, teens have sex. It is fun. It is cool. It feels good. It is a way for girls to seek love or acceptance. 

Instead of sanctimonious posturing, both sides of the political aisles should engage communities to reach out to young people and educate them on the cost of teen parenthood. Explain to young men that once named as a biological father, he will face 18 to 21 years of child support payments.....often through wage garnishment. Explain to young women that she has a significantly higher probability of living in poverty if she is an unwed mother....even if the baby daddy pays. Few get a college education, a well paying job, the opportunity to buy a house, the chance to travel. Explain that having a baby won't help you keep the man. 

The kids pays a huge price as well including poverty, parental alienation (often caused by the mother who is bitter towards the man who didn't marry her), emotional and psychological problems, and a high probability of continuing the cycle.

Sent from my iPad

Friday, August 24, 2012

Celebrating Freedom of Speech on My Road to Serenity

Celebrating Freedom of Speech on My Road to Serenity

One of the most treasured rights of American citizens is freedom of speech, the freedom to express an opinion. My blog is an expression of my thoughts and opinions and should not be accepted necessarily as absolute fact. In my experience I have found there are generally at the very least two sides to every story.

One of my favored champions and observers of American democracy, Alexis de Tocqueville, mused that Americans might be hesitant to speak freely more because of social pressures rather than fear of retribution or retaliation by government - which is a significant concern in less democratic nations. And that is an apt observation. I think that many of us, myself included, have erred on the side of silence and rather than perspicuity in the desire to maintain a semblance of détente. But silence too often allows resentments to grow into boils that must be lanced or molehills that become mountains. We Americans are blessed in that we have the right, afforded by our Constitution, to express opinions that others may find distasteful or unpleasant. Sometimes truth can be unpleasant.

There are those who may disagree with the content of some of my posts. That is their right. I’ve learned, however, through my years in Al Anon, that it is healthy for me to express my opinion and point of view and let go of any reaction by others. For my serenity I need to be true to myself and not pander to others to maintain a sense of harmony. It is what it is.
Another tenet of my program is the full appreciation that I have no control over other people, places and things, only my reaction to them. If I offer an opinion and someone disagrees, that is his or her right and as an American who believes in liberty and the constitution, I will defend their right to disagree. However, it is that individual’s problem, not mine.

And generally if there is an over the top reaction, I’m reminded of Shakespeare’s Hamlet in which Queen Gertrude offers “the lady doth protest too much, methinks” – which is generally interpreted to mean that the more one offers a passionate defense against a taken position, the more likely one actually believes, underneath it all, that it is true.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Remembering Gene Kelly, Born 100 Years Ago Today

Remembering Gene Kelly, Born 100 Years Ago Today

As I was commuting my 90 miles to our nation’s capital this morning listening to my usual NPR, there was a piece on the enduring appeal of Gene Kelly, noting it was the 100th Anniversary of his birth.

I love musicals! My parents always had show tunes playing on the stereo.  Whenever a musical was on television, we watched. The music was magical. The pure escapism appealed on so many levels. And the dancing! Such joy and celebration of life in the dancing!

No dancer made me smile like Gene Kelly. Such an engaging personality that always felt approachable – unlike Fred Astaire who seemed of another world. Gene Kelly had a smile that lit up a screen and a voice that sounded like velvet brushed backwards. He portrayed an everyman, fit and strong and virile. He made athletic dances seem easy. And his pairings with Cyd Charisse….powerful!

While it may be trite to say so, there is no dance on film that can bring a smile to my heart and grin to my face like the classic dance performed in “Singing in the Rain”, that Kelly famously filmed with a 103-degree temperature while he was singing and dancing in the rain. Such an expression of absolute joy!

So, I’ll post this celebration of Gene Kelly and go back to watching “Cover Girl”….as my heart melts while he pines for Rita Hayworth!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Avoiding the Blame Game

Avoiding the Blame Game

It is difficult to take the high road and avoid playing the blame game with the issues involving my niece. My initial reaction was to blame her parents for the troubles she’s experiencing. They’ve bred resentment in her because her brother has been the favored child, aka “the prince”. From babyhood the mention of his name melted his mother’s heart. He was awarded a scholarship to a private academy because of his athletic ability. So that he would “fit in” his parents bought him expensive clothes, pandered to his whims and ensured that he was afforded every opportunity to succeed.

Alternatively, my niece was sent to public schools until she rebelled and they agreed to home school her in lieu of sending her to a private high school as well. But, she received little guidance and was separated from her friends. While my nephew was provided with Lacoste polo shirts my niece settled for Kohl's and the occasional splurge at Abercrombie. There was equity, of course, because she had a TV in her room.

When her mother was having surgery for an undiagnosed condition, her brother received up to 5 calls per day from her dad. She received none.

But, the inequity of her childhood and teen years does not excuse her behavior. She has been given the tools to know right from wrong. She has received love and support. Her grandparents and aunt have tried to compensate by providing additional nourishing. But we may have been wrong. Maybe trying to right the inequity made the situation worse. I don’t know. All I know is it is inappropriate to spread blame for any situation. That is the factor of personal responsibility. When one reaches adulthood, one has to make choices. Sometimes they are good and sometimes they are less than good. We all have choices – no matter what our background. At 19, we often make unwise choices. I can only hope that wisdom results from the consequences of bad choices.