Archive for December, 2010

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five.

December 24, 2010

There’s a point when I think I rely on too many electronics. In fact, I’m currently sitting in the Detroit Airport with a laptop, a Kindle, an iPod, a camera and a cell phone. Thank goodness I keep it simple. There’s a slew of other items that I could have: handheld game systems, Fitbit (I do want one), a second cell phone, iPad (though that might just replace the laptop), external hard drive, wireless mouse, etc. Despite that – I’m still carrying FIVE different devices.

And all of them will require, at some point this week, some power charging (side note: airports are notoriously bad at having power outlets, which baffles me). Now not only am I carrying the device, I’m carrying the cords and/or batteries. It’s no wonder devices are getting smaller and purses are getting bigger.

This is when I think, Wouldn’t it be great if I could have one device that does everything? You know what that means? It means that if all five of my devices were packed into one – my entire life would be on it. That would be so simple. Except I lost my cell phone once. IT SUCKED. At that point, my phone didn’t even do anything beyond 300 texts a month and phone calls. So it also means that when I lose it or break it or it malfunctions, I’ll be utterly and completely out of luck. I don’t think I’m ready to put all my eggs into one basket quite yet.

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best thing today.

December 22, 2010

Someone complimented how I look. Doesn’t sound like much, right? But this person waited for me to finish a full conversation with someone else after a meeting. And then proceeded to tell me how he liked my whole outfit – fur vest, purple boots, new haircut – and how it was all working together. It was kinda awesome.

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snobby.

December 21, 2010

It’s official. It kills me to admit it, but in the last two years, I’ve become a snobby traveler. It makes me feel so incredibly pretentious, but it’s  true. After traveling with status, it’s going to be hard to go back. Even now, I have an unreasonable annoyance when it’s assumed (I guess because of my age) that I don’t have status. And then, I feel ridiculous because I’m annoyed that I can’t skip through a line – how elitist does that sound? Either way, status seems to be like Tivo – you don’t realize how much you need it until you have it. You just don’t know what you’re missing.

1) Free checked luggage – I know, who even checks luggage these days for fear of losing it? And remember back in the day when this used to be standard? Either way, I’m a huge proponent of checking bags. I hate dragging a suitcase around an airport and I hate having to fight for overhead space.

2) First class upgrades – There’s a reason why first class costs more. I don’t know if it’d be worth it if I were booking personal travel, but getting upgraded is just about the best thing ever. It’s almost good enough to make up for delays. And if it doesn’t, then at least you can drink to feel better. But more than just the free drinks and extra space (for you and your bags), the flight attendants are nicer, they hang your coat up, you get a pillow and blanket, you get fancy snacks, you get a warm towel, you might even get a meal. You even have a specific first class bathroom. Weirdly, I get unreasonably annoyed about people in coach using this bathroom – and I have no idea why because I don’t ever use the bathroom on planes. Still, first class is still a special thing for me and even with status, I’m sitting in coach more than half the time.

3) Priority everything – From picking seats, to going through security, to boarding the plane – status gets priority and it will definitely be the hardest thing to give up. It’s hugely helpful to bypass lines to check tickets/ID for security and boarding the plane first means your pick of overhead compartments.

4) Check-in gift – Status at hotels seems to get you less, but one nice thing is they usually give you a check-in gift. My usual hotel offers a bottle of water or a snack. At my hotel in Alabama, I got half a bottle of wine and a pint of ice cream. But beyond that, hotels are much better than airlines with their amenities. In general, if you ask for something (forgotten toiletries, a higher floor, wake up calls, holding luggage, later check out time), hotels are amazing at attempting to accommodate your request. Airlines should take a hint.

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designer.

December 18, 2010

Almost three years ago, I read an article about designer babies – or more specifically, the ability to screen embryos for certain characteristics, allowing the parents to then, knowing those qualities, choose to implant or not. It’s not hard to see how this is controversial. And it seems it’s not going away – and in fact, it’s getting trickier as PGD (pre-implantation genetic diagnosis) is getting good enough for cosmetic choices (hair/eye color).

See, when it started, PGD was originally used to weed out extremely detrimental disorders. That’s a good thing. No parent wants a child born with a deadly disease or a high risk of one. But the trouble starts when they start targeting non-disorder/disease traits – gender and cosmetic appearance. And then what about the “negative enhancements” – when parents want the child to have a disability that also affects the parents (e.g. deafness)?

On one hand, this is a choice. Is it really different from when you select a partner for certain characteristics (looks, intelligence, no diseases)? We can look at China’s population and see that they’ve done extremely well at manipulating the gender of their younger generations. And that was without all this fancy technology.

Obviously, the concern is that at some point, PGD could open up a whole new can of worms in terms of discrimination. Sure, hair and eye color might not be too significant. But where do you start to draw the line? What if you could improve height, athletic ability, intelligence, shade of skin color? Given how much competition there is to make your child the best without genetic modifications, these screenings would make parents crazy. And becoming more homogeneous isn’t so good either (example: China’s years of gender selection is now coming back to bite them).

But what I find most interesting, and most difficult to form an opinion on, is the “negative enhancements”. This is when parents who have a disability would choose that disability in the child. The classic example seems to be deafness. As someone who can hear, I would never choose for my child (if I had that choice). I would never choose for them to be blind, color-blind, a dwarf, or have some food allergy. But deafness (and the rest I listed) isn’t a crippling disability – it’s often seen as just a different normality. And as parents, isn’t it better when your child is like you? So should parents be allowed to make that decision for their child?

side note – This doesn’t even touch on the “is an embryo alive” debate. That’s much more than I can handle.

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motel.

December 15, 2010

Talk about bad travel. The snow that hit the Midwest this past weekend caused major delays and cancellations for flights on Sunday and Monday. So even though I was heading down toward Miami, I had to make it out of Madison and out of Detroit. Obviously, not happening. It’s always bad when your flight’s already delayed by the time you get to the airport. Even worse, when I’m trying to check my bag and the Delta agent tells me there’s a good chance I’ll miss my connection, so it might be better to hold onto the luggage.

Good call. After almost a 2 hour delay, me and my team end up in Detroit on the phone trying to find us 12 hotel rooms for the night – in addition to rescheduling rental cars, canceling hotel rooms and rebooking flights. So at least I had my luggage. Another 2 hours (hotels in the area were booked full), we’re on our way to the Howard Johnson (aka HoJo). And to our surprise, it’s a motel.

The sad truth is motels are not nice places. Cheap, $55 a night motels near the airport in Detroit – even worse. We check in – my room is out the door, in the long building on the left, around the backside. That means I’m walking outside, in the snow and ice, around this building, where there are few lights and I can’t the main building (so they obviously can’t see me either). Along this walk, I come upon two co-workers who should have a room a couple of doors down from me. See, they were getting to their room when a guy in a car pulls up, rolls down his window to start talking to them, and then starts getting out of his car. So they pretended they had the wrong room – because they don’t want this guy to know which room they (two young girls, by themselves) are staying in. Clearly, this makes me feel better about the place.

I get to my room, lock the door, close the shades – but really, I’m freaked out. It seems weird since I’m in hotels alone all the time now. But airport hotels in general are shady. This place was beyond sketchy. I kept hearing somebody walk by outside and knowing the door leads directly outside (not to a hallway) makes a big difference. Plus, as my co-workers figured out, it’s way easier to act sketchy and watch people from a parking lot than creep out in a normal hotel lobby. It was this terrible fear that someone could break into my room and no one would even notice.

Suffice to say, I didn’t sleep that much. I ended up calling the ex-boyfriend, figuring if I talked to someone for 10 minutes, I’d calm down and feel back to normal. A half hour later, still the same – so I attempt to stay up, end up drifting in and out of sleep for an hour (lights on of course). The ex-boyfriend calls me back and stays on the phone with me for another hour until it’s 3:30am and I need to leave in 2 hours. Feeling like that for a whole night was awful. And I have never been so happy to get to my normal Residence Inn the next day.

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reaction.

December 12, 2010

I watched this clip of What Would You Do?, where they stage a teenage boy coming out to his parent (mom or dad) in a coffee shop and the parent being extremely upset about it. The point of the scene is to see how the other people in the coffee shop react when they hear the parent say things like, “my son is not gay”. As you can guess, some people step in, and others do not.

I would not – at least I wouldn’t say anything to the defense of the boy. The fact that I don’t agree with what the parent is saying does not give me the right to butt into their family business. It does not give me the right to tell other people my opinion without being asked or berate the parent publicly. Being a straight female with no children of my own – I have no realm of relatable situations. What could I say that would actually change the parent’s opinion? Nothing. They’d look at me and say “Who are you to tell me how to handle this? You have no idea how this feels.” And guess what – I don’t. However, in the situation on the show, I think it is appropriate to say that their discussion is offending you and ask them to refrain from being so loud or public – as the man who told them to take it somewhere else did.

So I spent a lot of time trying to determine if this (my preference to not say anything) is bad. Am I assisting homophobia by not saying anything? Does the situation change if it were a different kind of intolerance – say racism? For example, what if the boy is telling the parent he’s in an interracial relationship and the parent is commenting that it’s unacceptable because <enter terrible stereotype here>? What happens if that race happens to be Asian? I don’t have answers, but what are yours?

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pixar girls.

December 8, 2010

The theme of this week seems to be gender. I was pointed to an article from a few years ago about Pixar’s lack of female characters. I find these observations interesting because I would never notice. But when it’s listed out – oh my, how did I miss it? Because male = neutral is our default mode. It’s similar to the unisex clothing. Male gendered items work for both males and females, but female gendered items are strictly female. And princess movies are geared toward little girls, but anything that attempts to have little boys as the audience won’t have a main female lead.

But this is not a rant by any means. I don’t feel I have a right to throw a fit about something I wouldn’t notice on my own. Just something interesting to share that somewhat fell in line with my post earlier this week. What I found really interesting is the author’s update about WALL-E. I’m impressed that she was able to look past the automatic genders we assign to the main characters. I don’t think I could do that. Even if I was consciously trying.

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uni.

December 5, 2010

As in unisex. There’s this store that’s attempting to have a unisex collection of kids clothing. They haven’t completely gotten rid of the separate boys and girls sections, but they have made a separate “uni” section as well. Can they get some applause for recognizing that little boys and girls aren’t all that different? And babies – let’s be honest, it’s hard to tell if they’re not dressed in the stereotypical boy/girl color.

But if you look really closely, do you notice that all the unisex clothes are actually stereotypically boy clothes? Looking at any single item in the unisex collection, I would automatically think I was looking at the little boys section. Not that I would expect to see pink and ruffles and bows somehow integrated into male clothing. But unisex seems to mean solid primary colors or stripes. Except it’s still pretty masculine. Even this top, that’s described as paisley. Good try – that’s not paisley because no boy would wear paisley. Why is there a lack of polka dots? Why is there a lack of pastels or really anything other than “bright”? Why is there a lack of any sort of print of stars or dogs? It seems that girls can wear boys’ clothes, but boys cannot wear anything remotely feminine.

And yet weirdly, as of recently, it kind of flips when you hit the teenage years. Let’s take a look at hipster fashion – which I guess is almost too common to be called out specifically anymore. Females wearing flannel and thermal. Males wearing skinny jeans and fitted everything. Even the androgynous ironic/vintage/indie band T-shirts tend to look slightly more feminine than masculine. Even accessories – ties, shoes, sunglasses – who can tell if it’s made for girls or boys? But this gender neutral fashion sense is completely in line with the main point of hipsters – to “rebel” against the mainstream. It doesn’t make the clothes any less gendered. It makes you look at the person and think “they’re trying to break boundaries but they just look like they shopped in the wrong section”.

What do you think – can clothing ever be gender neutral?

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death with dignity.

December 1, 2010

Over Thanksgiving, my family had a weirdly morbid conversation. My mom’s brother apparently has a concern that if you are listed as an organ donor on your driver’s license, this may have a small chance of negatively impacting your care in a hospital. In discussing how I think that concern is ridiculous, the topic of physician assisted suicide (and the fact that it’s illegal) came up. And then, I learned about Oregon’s Death with Dignity Act.

The Death with Dignity Act basically allows physicians to prescribe lethal medications for a patient to use to end his life. A couple important things to note for clarification purposes. The patient is the one administering the drug, not the physician. In order to get a prescription for a lethal medication, a patient must be fully capable of making all his health-care decisions and must have a terminal illness that gives them 6 months to live. The patient must make 2 oral requests (15 days apart – which is already 1 month of the 6 you have left to live) and a written request. And if it’s suspected the patient is suffering from a psychological disorder (i.e. depression), then the doctor can ask for a psych evaluation. So essentially, it’s physician assisted suicide in very very select situations. Except the Act specifically says it is not suicide, so insurance benefits aren’t negatively impacted.

I’m surprised I didn’t know about this Act earlier. It’s actually been around for over ten years – although only just recently it was upheld by the Supreme Court. And I hope eventually other states adopt similar policies.

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