Tuesday, April 26, 2011

A Voluntary Pledge: A Story

My husband Dave works for a company that is located on a busy road.
Not a wide road, only two lanes, but a busy one.

Across from his company, there is a grocery store, which includes a cafe, sushi counter, sandwich shop, and salad bar.

To get from Work to Grocery Store, employees must cross this busy road. 
There are hundreds of employees, and so at any given time during the day, you can see handfuls of them jogging across the road to go grab a cup of coffee, or a sub, or sushi. 

When I say jogging, I should also say, sprinting.  Because although it is a direct route, the cars going down the street do not slow down.

A pedestrian cross was installed.  And still the cars did not slow down.

A yellow BE CAREFUL sign was installed.

And the cars did not slow down.

I have both crossed this road as a pedestrian (and nearly been hit), and driven this road (and nearly hit someone).

When I was nearly hit, I was infuriated that the driver was not paying attention enough to see me.  The nerve!

But, when I nearly hit someone, I saw that this particular spot in the road sort of popped up.
And that while I respond quickly to traffic lights or stop signs, it took me another 1/2 second to register the BE CAREFUL sign, mixed in with the many worker bees that covered the sidewalk on both sides of the road.  Be Careful?  What should I Be Care....oh look!  Someone's on my windshield.

I also realized that while STOP grabs my attention, BE CAREFUL feels more like a suggestion.
The yellow sign feels like, Would You Please Take A Moment And Look Around You, Kindly?

This was not a pseudo problem, not a mere annoyance.  Three employees were struck by vehicles this past year, and sustained injuries.

A traffic light was installed.  And guess what?  When the light is red, cars stop.    
No one has been struck by a car since the installation.
There is no more confusion, or sprinting across the road while trying not to slosh your latte.

I tell this story here because in reading this article in the NY Times, I read this sentence:
Since 2006, 17 major corporations — including General Mills, McDonald’s, Pepsi, Coca-Cola and Burger King — have taken a voluntary pledge to reduce marketing of their least nutritious brands to children, an effort they updated last year to include marketing on mobile devices.
I take a voluntary pledge to drive cautiously every time I get in my car.
But, sometimes I fail.

When I've been pulled over for the occasional infraction, I don't say, "But I took a pledge!  Didn't you see the agreement that I wrote up this morning that I signed myself?  I said I would try!  Awwww man!  Why you always on me!"

People who run corporations are people.  Some of them are impeccable drivers, and some of them are not.  When the rule is the same for everyone, regardless of whether they've made the Girl Scout's Promise, both the consumer and the company are protected.  In a way that is fair, and universally understood.

Sunday, April 24, 2011


I meant to pick this book up and read the back cover, and then put it back down and perhaps add it to the goodreads list, but then I went ahead and bought it and have been laughing all night.
Bossypants [Book] 
But, if you are The Anonymous who hates SNL and feel that every time you have to read or see something redeeming about that show that it kills you, STOP. 
I do not want to kill you.  I don't.

If you do not have that sensitivity (and I'm not mocking sensitivity, because do you know what I'm sensitive about?  Velvet.  I actually feel like I am going to die when I touch it, and sometimes my siblings would throw a velvet blanket on top of me as behavior deterrent, and it worked), then risk reading on:
Let's talk about the hair.  Why do I call it 'yellow' hair and not 'blond' hair?  Because I'm pretty sure everybody calls my hair 'brown.'  When I read fairy tales to my daughter I always change the word 'blond' to 'yellow,' because I don't want her to think that blond hair is somehow better.
 My daughter has a reversible doll: Sleeping Beauty on one side and Snow White on the other.  I would always set it on her bed with the Snow White side out and she would toddle up and flip the skirt over to Sleeping Beauty.  I would flip it back and say, 'Snow White is so pretty.'  She would yell, 'No!' and flip it back.  I did this experiment so frequently and consistently that I should have applied for government funding.  The result was always the same.  When I asked her why she didn't like Snow White, she told me, 'I don't like her hair.Not even three years old, she knew that yellow hair is king.  And, let's admit it, yellow hair does have magic powers.  You could put a blond wig on a hot-water heater and some dude would try to f&@k* it.  Snow White is better looking.  I hate to stir up trouble among the princesses, but take away the hair and Sleeping Beauty is actually a little beat.
* (I herein omit the full word because it's Easter, and writing fuck on Easter just seems wrong.)

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Not My Life

My parents have lived on the same block in the city of Rochester for centuries.
They are a fixture, and can tell you who lived where, and when, and how many kids they had, and what color the house used to be, and what suburb the family moved to for better schools.  

On their block, one such house belonged to a family with 6 kids, 2 parents, and many pets.
When that family moved out, a couple moved in.

Each Halloween, the couple would take photos of the neighborhood kids that came collecting candy, and one year they hung a poster on their front walk with 10 years of evidence of my terrible costumes.
I had no idea that I dressed as a waitress 3 years in a row, and can only guess that by the time I got to our attic chest of costume pieces, all the good stuff had been taken.
The 4th year I had a breakthrough and managed to put together some semblance of Amelia Bedilia.  Which looks just like a waitress, but with a nametag.
Labels do make a difference.

In December of last year, the husband, Richard Young, passed away.
A documentary he had been working on, which explores the worldwide abuse of children through the sex trade and underage labor practices, will be shown May 1 in Rochester at The George Eastman House.

A quote about the film:
Good films stir emotions and may even spur filmgoers to action. In this case, they will feel anger toward the abusers and deep empathy for the abused and will, hopefully, leave the theater richly, if painfully, informed and deeply moved.
If you are local, or local-ish, and interested in attending, you can read more here.

If you are not local, but are interested in a powerful look at a modern slave trade, here's the trailer:

Product Placement

Question: When you are on youtube, are you capable of watching one video, the one thing you went there to see?
Or do you click on one of the links on the side, until you find you are watching a video of someone else's cat make strangely human noises?  In the nation of Georgia?

If you have self-control, congratulations.  Please send me some.

So I am listening to this song, intentionally, on youtube.
And after listening to it, I look over to the list of profiled music videos, and see Avril Lavigne's What the Hell?
And I think, What the hell, and click on it.

Initially, I wondered What the Hell!  Because it had nothing in common with the song I'd just listened to.  Except that Avett and Avril....what the. Heck.
The video has cr-a-zy product placement: Sony tv, computer, phone, Converse sneaker line-up, Avril's perfume, her clothing line.  You must see it now, right?  Video and product placement breakdown here.

It's not unlike Britney's video Hold It Against Me, and if the trend continues, it looks like every new pop video done by a female will have them dousing their body with perfume before turning on their Sony product. 

Which makes the Avett Brothers video even more salient.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011


President of J. Crew is criticized for running this photograph of her son:

PHOTO: A new ad for JCrew shows the company's president painting her son's toenails pink.

Full article by Brett Michael Dykes here.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Dermatology, Then and Now.

I just finished Jane Eyre yesterday, and it has instilled in me the desire to address everyone I encounter as Dear Reader.
As in, Dear Reader, do you believe Mr. Rochester frightens me?  If you do, you know me not!

Anyway, not resisting that urge, dear reader, I will tell you this: I have whiled many an hour in the office of various dermatologists.  There was the one in South Dakota when I had that rash, which turned out not to be a rash at all, but scabies, contracted from cuddling with too many stray dogs.  That dermatologist, dear reader, would not step past the door, and placed a prescription for very strong drugs on the counter, as I stood near a window ledge, rubbing my back vigorously against it for some relief.
I don't believe he even shook my hand.

Did you know that when you have scabies, someone has to administer a cream on your body to the places you cannot reach, such as your middle back?
And did you know, that when you have just moved somewhere and know each acquaintance about 10 days, it is a great test of humanity to find a person to do this chore?  To say, "Hi, I have parasites crawling under my skin, and they are at this moment burrowing tunnels and laying eggs.  Oh, and it's highly contagious!  Would you be a love and slather this on my back?"

The infrequent cases aside, I began my visits and continue them because I am a freckled person.  And sometimes my freckles decide they would rather test the boundaries of their lot in life, and change form.
Sometimes a freckle begins life shaped like Ireland, then revolts and becomes Nigeria in too short a time.

And I seek the dermatologist, and sit there while uprising freckles are examined, and answer questions like, "Have you ever had a blistering sunburn?"

Hasn't everybody?  Isn't that how freckled people tan?  Because after the blisters have finally burst and scarred, there is one heck of an afterglow. 

Having seen dermatologists over much time and in every location in which I've lived, I have noticed a marked change in what is hanging on the walls and set upon the tables.
My first visit, I recall, the waiting room had a poster with photographs of moles that had changed shape or color.
Pertinent information.

This week, upon visiting, there is no trace of such pertinent information.  There is however, many a pamphlet letting me know that when this aging process becomes so incredibly uncomfortable, there is relief, such as fillers, and the phantom promise that some man may nuzzle my cheek after I avail myself to such injections.
There are pamphlets letting me know that if I am finally dissatisfied with the length of my lashes, well, Brook Shields can help me with that.

Strangely, the desire arises to thrust my back against some protruding ledge and scratch until there is relief.  Though I swear I haven't cuddled a stray dog in years.

Sarah Haskins on DPs

Thanks to Brooke for pointing this out.