Monthly Archives: April 2013

Much ado about something

“All this for one man?” the headline on the Facebook post screams, making its disapproval clear.

The headline is superimposed over a montage of photos taken from the manhunt in Boston organized to apprehend Dzhokar Tsarnaev, the second of two suspects in the Boston Marathon bombing on Monday, April 15. The other suspect , Tsarnaev’s older brother Tamerlan, was shot to death by police on Thursday.

The message is obvious. Why is Boston spending so much money to catch one man whose whereabouts have been narrowed to a relatively targeted area?

Of course, the post has drawn the usual rash of heated comments from people who are quick to be suspicious of any organized effort that appears to be costing the taxpayers money.

But for what it’s worth, here’s my take:

No. All this fuss is not being made for one man. If it were, I would agree that it’s a little out of proportion.

But it’s not being done for him. It’s being done for some 600,000 people.

That would be the estimated population of Boston.

 

 

 

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Articles, Quick takes

You can’t make this stuff up

In today’s headlines, we have this little gem from The Huffington Post:

New Hampshire Republican lawmaker Peter Hansen drew outrage from his own party when he sent out an email to his colleagues on the official legislative electronic mailing list earlier this month in which he referred to women as (and here I am quoting him directly) “vagina’s.”

Here’s the direct quote:

What could possibly be missing from those factual tales of successful retreat in VT, Germany, and the bowels of Amsterdam? Why children and vagina’s of course. While the tales relate the actions of a solitary male the outcome cannot relate to similar situations where children and women and mothers are the potential victims.

Am I outraged too? You’d better believe it. I am shocked and appalled. Everyone knows you don’t form a plural by adding apostrophe “s.”

On the other hand, it does sort of figure. After all, this is probably only one of the countless ways in which he daily proves himself to be an utter ignoramus.

2 Comments

Filed under Articles, machismo, Misogyny, Quick takes

Almost famous

Sometimes opportunity doesn’t exactly knock. Sometimes it just rings the doorbell and runs away again before you can answer.

I was pleasantly surprised late one recent afternoon when I received an email from HuffPost Live, the online news network of the Hufffington Post. They were doing a segment on scent-related technology, and I was being invited as as a guest. If you check way back to the early mists of time on this web site, you’ll see that one of my early posts about a year-and-a-half ago was about the untimely demise of my sense of smell (anosmia) after an accidental encounter with white vinegar.

Don’t ask. You can go read it if you really want the gory details. It’s in the November 2011 archive.

Out of the blue

Still, that brief blog written shortly after the vinegar incident is the only thing I’ve ever written about it. I’ve given the matter little thought since then; certainly I’ve never pretended to be any sort of expert on the subject.

So the email came out of the blue as far as I was concerned, and I had to do a bit of a scramble just to remember when, exactly, I had written about it. I couldn’t remember what I’d said, either, so I had to print out the post so that I could read it over and highlight passages I thought might interest them.

I was a little apprehensive waiting for the appointed time of the live segment, hoping that the conversation wouldn’t stray too far from the two or three catchy phrases I wanted to share with the listening audience.

But I was ready. If there’s one thing I’ve learned about the breakneck pace of our high-tech information age, it’s that the fast-paced world of journalism has no time for expert guests to hem and haw while they try to figure out their main idea. If someone needs a quote from you, he or she needs it now. Right now. Not five minutes from now, when you’ve had time to think about it. Right now as in right this second.

Ready … set … no go

Therefore, I had my key phrases highlighted, my main ideas memorized, by laptop camera poised at just the right angle to de-emphasize my double chin.

Then I waited.

The appointed time came and went–the featured speakers were introduced one by one–the lively conversation began, and I sat poised in front of the camera, smiling, waiting for a call that never came.

Was I disappointed? Sure I was. But there was a slight sense of relief as the discussion unfolded and I quickly realized I simply had never thought about the subject in the same detail as had the selected guests. Two were scientists who specialized in the olfactory system. Two were authors who had written entire books about  anosmia compared to my meager 727-and-some words. The fifth guest was an artist with an entirely different perspective.

Don’t get me wrong. I would have done my level best to be articulate and interesting, and certainly I would have welcomed the exposure. We writers are grateful for any chance we can get to promote our work. But the selected guests were simply more immersed in the subject than I was, and therefore they were better for that particular segment.

It’s all good

Still, I am proud that something about my work stood out enough for the staff at HuffPost Live to consider me worth inviting. That feels like a pretty decent feather in my cap.

Meanwhile, I do have a host of subjects about which I have written extensively. Migraine, for instance, or sibling violence, or bullying, or sexual assault. Those are my areas of expertise. And someday, I hope some enterprising journalist will need an expert source on one of those areas, will comb the existing blogs and find something in my words that’s worth a second  look, and come calling for my opinion.

And I won’t have to re-read anything I’ve written, and I won’t need a moment to collect my thoughts, because it’s all in my head.

When that happens–when opportunity gives my door a good solid knock–I’ll be ready.

1 Comment

Filed under Articles, Chronic migraine, Essays, Quick takes, Uncategorized, writing

Poem-A-Day for April 15

Today’s poetry challenge from Writer’s Digest is to write a poem about some sort of infestation. Looking over some of the selections from earlier this morning, I find the usual infestations of insects and love/obsessions, plus some rather inventive ideas about infestations. Mine isn’t so much inventive, perhaps, as it is timely. This is about an infestation that is all too common in our schools.

Sign of the times

 
It could be just a hoax.
 
Some kid wanting a day off from school,
Or some kid who’s angry and doesn’t know how else to say it,
Or maybe just some kid writing stuff on bathroom walls
For no reason.
Who knows?
But it was in my inbox from corporate HQ,
And all the local schools are on alert,
(Although many have dismissed it as a copycat prank)
And most important,
My daughter had heard it, and was concerned.
 
And I don’t want my town to be next in the headlines.
And certainly not my daughter.
There have been so many towns
In so many headlines,
And so many daughters,
And so much national grief.
 
So today she has a headache
Which I informed her yesterday she would wake up with this morning.
That’s your story, and you’re sticking to it, I said.
Be consistent, and tell everyone you have a headache, I said,
Even your best friends.
And I thought, how ironic,
That the best proof I have today of my parental excellence,
Is how thoroughly I’ve coached her on how she should lie
In order to be safe.
 
 
 
 

2 Comments

Filed under classroom, education, education, Gun violence, Poetry, Quick takes, student, writing

“Broken” poem for Friday, April 12

For today’s selection, I’m back to my source at Writer’s Digest. Robert Lee Brewer suggests writing a poem about something that’s broken. I’m finding that I like the compactness and natural cadence of haiku, so I’ll use that form again.

Melancholy

Tears that once flowed free
Fall back on my aching heart
And lie there, burning.
 
 
 
 

Leave a comment

Filed under crying, Poetry, Quick takes, tears, Uncategorized, writing

Poem for a cold, rainy day

I wasn’t inspired by today’s Poem-A-Day challenge from my usual source, so I decided to use my own idea. Because you can never have too many flower haikus.

Jonquils

Against the brick wall,
Bowing their luminous heads;
Cold rain stains the earth.
 
 
 

Leave a comment

Filed under Poetry, Quick takes, Uncategorized, writing

Poem for April 10

For today’s prompt, Robert Lee Brewer at Writer’s Digest challenges readers to write a suffering poem. “A person or animal in the poem could be suffering,” Brewer writes. Or, he adds, “The poem itself could be suffering.”

Here’s my response:

Homework assignment

 
She came to class today, hat pulled low over her ears.
 
He pulled her hair out in clumps, she says.
She should never have gone out with him, she says,
When she had a paper due about global food injustice.
She should have known better.
 
This is not the first time it’s happened.
It’s been a pattern since her earliest days;
Men coming in and out of her life like so many jackals stalking their prey,
Waiting for some small unguarded moment that will allow them
To seize the opportunity.
 
She doesn’t say it, perhaps doesn’t see it,
Perhaps is hoping against hope that someone else, finally, will see it.
There is another kind of injustice playing out here;
Something else she could write a paper on,
That is much more pressing than the human-rights abuses
Committed by faceless corporations against nameless multitudes.
 
This is a tyranny that is hers alone to explore,
And I will be asking her to walk across a field of broken glass
That lies deep within her own soul,
To embark on a treacherous journey
That no one ever volunteers to undertake,
And whose destination is far from certain.
 
Write me a paper, I tell her,
In which you tell me what you already know,
But no one has been willing to hear you say.
Tell me, I say,
Because so many have said everything is all your fault,
And you know and I know that it’s not,
Tell me all the reasons why not.
I’m listening. I believe you.
 
And in her eyes, terror and hope.
Her journey begins.
 
 

Leave a comment

Filed under academia, compassion, crying, education, Poetry, Quick takes, Rape, student, tears, Uncategorized, writing