Friday, May 28, 2010

Stalk me at Wiscon!

Feminist Friday usurps Foodie Friday today – despite my many food adventures in South Carolina. (I'll write more about those later.)

In any case, I'm at Wiscon, now, and want you to find me.


Well, I should have some copies of the NEW Bad-Ass Faeries 3: In All Their Glory, and even if I don't, I'll have BAF copies and BAF 2, as well as The Unicorn & The Old Woman… And other Poems.

There's also this really nifty bunch of panels that I'm on:

Flesh-Colored Bandages and Skin Jobs in Real Life & SF

Friday, 5/28; 4:00-5:15 PM

Senate B

Fat Sex – There's More to it than YS PLS

Friday, 5/28; 10:30-11:35 PM

Conference 5

The Future of Food (Look – still a food mention for Foodie Friday!)

Saturday, 5/29; 2:30-3:45 PM


The Cultural Construction of Sexuality

Saturday, 5/29; 4:00-5:15 PM


Broad Universe Rapid Fire Reading

Sunday, 5/30; 4:00-5:15 PM


Oooh – and a Broad Universe Party starting at 8PM Sunday Night. Feel free to De-Con-Press with us over wine, beer, tea, coffee, some tasty aperitifs – and, of course, our favorite books. The location will be announced on the flyers – or ask a Broad!

See you there!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Faerie Gates and Gardens

I'm spending today/Wednesday at Brookgreen Gardens, one of the must-go places whenever I'm down here at Myrtle Beach.

In fact, the Gardens figured in when I asked Danielle about what sorts of stories she needed for the new Bad-Ass Faeries anthology. She said something to the effect of not having received anything post-Apocalyptic… or with gangs… or with demigods, well, I took it as a challenge to include as much of that as possible and texted Christy.

That night, a scene popped into my head.

It took place in Brookgreen Gardens.

This weekend, Bad-Ass Faeries 3: In All Their Glory debuts. I'm hoping to have some copies for Wiscon – and Danielle is having a Legendary Triple Launch at Balticon – that promises to be Bad-Ass for all you faerie-lovers.

In celebration of that, I'm giving you all a sneak peak – cameo setting: Brookgreen Gardens!

Nancy could smell the salty swamp that had replaced the entrance fountain. A pile of rocks stood like a cairn in the center. She struggled to remember what statue the stones commemorated.

Timo slowed his bike alongside her and Morrow. “Where’s the Gate?”

“The Children’s Garden.”

“Is it blocked or protected?” Morrow asked. “This was a public place.”

“It was token-activated. You need a Faerie token to get through.”

They left the motorcycles and wandered past brick and glass piles that had been the visitor center and gift shop. More kudzu and vines Nancy didn’t recognize—a sickly purple—overgrew both structures. The copper children that once stood saluting an American flag had fallen into warped monuments of deformed bodies around an unadorned flagpole.

The world swam as fear-tainted memories spun in her mind, twisting like the surroundings. She stumbled, unable to see. Vikar caught her before she collapsed.

Timo squatted before her. “I can still feel it here. You’re going to go home.” Her eyes were drawn to his necklace. She could see what resembled electric sparks in its depths. What was the story behind that token? He continued, “I can feel it.” He looked at the rest of the gang. “Can’t you all?” He was met with three nods.

Dee whispered, “This really the last one?”

Timo replied, “If there’re others, they’re too small or private like this one . . . we’d never find them unless someone knew about them.” Grinning wickedly, he transformed into a red squirrel, circled around them, then disappeared into the trees. He looked alien in the barren garden.

As they entered the Palmetto Grove, Nancy looked at the wrought iron statue of Orpheus and Eurydice. Vines had pulled Eurydice from her pedestal and half into the ground. Hades was reaching to consume her because Orpheus had so impatiently looked behind. The demigod’s harp lay in pieces on the ground, tainted by lichen.

Staring over her shoulder, she walked into Morrow’s tense back. “Huh?”

“Hand the human over...”

Please, make sure to purchase your copy of Bad-Ass Faeries 3: In All Their Glory this weekend! It's already available via Mundania Press here. Or, if you're going to Balticon or Wiscon, look for it in the book rooms!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Automatic blog updating, Vacation, and Painful Sushi

Dees auto blog update thingies… I needz to figurz it outz.

I suppose that also goes with, you know, writing blog posts ahead of time, too.

Yeah… working on that.

I'll keep you posted. Assuming this damned hotel WiFi lets me…

Meantime, one of the many particularly cool things of this trip:

My husband is a Bushido Legend!!

No, he hasn't been playing with swords, but he did beat the Spicy Tuna Maki Challenge at the Bushido Restaurant in Charleston, SC.

(My very important role in this matter was cheering him on, documenting, and making sure the waitress kept him stocked with tea.)

I'm very proud of him!!

Now… to bed!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Southern Eating

Every year Scott and I go on vacation down to Myrtle Beach. (Potential robbers: We have a security system and friends in police and fire!)

In any case, we are here… in the land of fried chicken, fried pork chops, vegetables like fried okra and that heavenly concoction of liquid sugar flavored with tea (aka sweet tea).

It's not at all good for my diet.

On the other hand, I do an awful lot of walking down here: walks along the beach, walks through Brookgreen Gardens (looking for hidden gates to Faerie), and walking around the shopping stops. Oh – and horseback riding. :)

But Southern food is definitely a great cuisine. While I see lots of "Southern style" cooking up North, there is very little that actually resembles what I eat down here. We hit the "cheap" buffet restaurants, yet the food is still good quality. Also unlike the "affordable" restaurants back home, the servers are also all extremely polite, so eating out is always a pleasant experience.

(Except for the aforementioned diet guilt, of course.)

As a food reviewer, the overall flavor, quality, and service down here is always high. On the other hand, while these buffets have plenty of selection, they are all very similar… it's clearly Southern and American cuisine. There was some "teriyaki" chicken, and nachos, and tacos… but they were still "American." There are more Japanese restaurants around here now, and some Italian-American restaurants, but there is not a lot of ethnic restaurants nor any restaurants that cater to "healthy" or organic eating. There aren’t a lot of bistros or coffee houses – and that I miss.

Now, Myrtle Beach is also a "tourist" town, so there would be a lot of conformity and touristy places – those familiar restaurants that families can all go to because they know their picky-eating family members will eat something. It's not a real college town, and it's not urban… so I'm sure that has a lot to do with the lack of diversity.

The question is, what do you think is more important: Have a few things that are ALWAYS good? Or have a wide diversity where a cuisine or restaurant could be excellent – or just "different"?

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Meet the Voices in my Head

I'm far too distracted to do any useful blogging right now. My mind knows I'm going on vacation (next few blogs will be coming from Myrtle Beach (there's a reason for that particular link - you'll see next week!) and Wiscon!), and my characters are already fighting for who will get the time I don't dedicate to horseback riding, painting, or -gasp!- perchance… relaxing!

First things first: A giant THANK YOU! to K.S. Augustin who already donated towards the BSER Blogathon! You've met her here before for the Great Broad Blog Out, but now I get to ask even more fun questions of her… Homework: Go buy her books! They are HOT!

Now, thanks to second hand advice and conversations from my friend, Victoria Durm, per her meetings with Mark David Gerson, I'm going to introduce you to a few of the people who are contending for my attention.

Heather MacArthur is an 12-year-old with the good fortune of living in a haunted and magical castle in Scotland with her crazy family, and the questionable luck of… living in a haunted and magical castle in Scotland with her crazy family. She lives in a potential series of novels that started off as an idea for a short story.

Aurelio Sangreleyes, a vampire of more than a few centuries, is torn between the duties of protecting his race and a blood promise to protect a 15-year-old orphan (Sophia Marquez) - whose duty seems to be driving Aurelio crazy. Aurelio lives in a comic I'm writing with my friend Stef Gannon in which the story wouldn't manifest itself in any good writing until I realized the comic book medium.

Thomas is a "biomech" who dares challenge the status quo of human-android relations by falling in love and risking everything for the human he loves. And, if that's not bad enough, he insists has a soul and has the data to prove it. He lives in two different novels, one that's about 2/3 drafted, the other only a synopis. (Thomas also looks like David Tennant.)

Alec Bradshaw is having some "issues" with immortality and immortal beings. During the Apocalypse. Oh, and he's supposed to help stop said Apocalypse with the unattainable girl he loves. Alec lives in the novel (and potential sequels) that I'm currently working with Christy on.

Kyra Starbard is meant to continue the family legacy of interpreting the future from the stars' songs. Her deafness, incurable by the best medics, breaks her mother's heart and pushes her father to explore anything to help his little girl--including the expensive purchase of a telepathic alien servant to help Kyra communicate on a planet inhospitable to unfixable genetic defects. She is currently querying agents with her best friend, Marne.

Lily Minor knows that graveyards are safe because her mother never locks the doors there - and when decision proves dangerous, the cemetery angels come to life and dead relatives come to their aid. Lily lives in a short story that is basically done with some minor edits from my correspondence writing group.

… And those are just who is on my mind right now. Demanding immediate attention. I tallied it up and I've got about 15 worlds in my head, with 2-4 (or more - Heather's 1 of 5 siblings and has two "interesting" parents!) major characters in each.

So, if you're wondering why I may seem distracted, it's THEIR fault!

To my writer friends, who is on your mind??

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The Broad Pod Episode 4: Maternal Lines

The Broad Pod May Episode by Broad Universe  
Download now or listen on posterous
May Broad Pod.mp3 (12358 KB)

Welcome to the May episode of the Broad Pod!  Join Sue Burke, Theresa Crater, Karen Romanko, Roberta Gregory, Kathryn Hinds, with hostess Trish Wooldridge, as the Broads celebrate motherhood through stories for the whole month!

Posted via email from The Broad Pod posterous

Monday, May 17, 2010

Advertise AND make the world a better place for horses? Blogathon!

I know I've got a lot going on that some of you have caught glimpses of on Twitter and Facebook, but today, I want to dedicate my Manic Monday to the 24-hour mania I annually dedicate to the Bay State Equine Rescue.

A few years back, my friend, Shira Lipkin, pointed me towards and the Blogathon Event.

Basically, bloggers around the globe dedicate 24 hours, posting every half hour, to raising money for their favorite charities. It's wicked, crazy cool!

So, every year around this time I start begging my friends and colleagues to sponsor me for this event!

And I do my damnedest to make it worth your while.

What do I do?

I promo the hell outta ya!

I'm offering:

  • Your own blog interview: I interview you, include pictures you provide, and tell the world why they need to hire you or buy your products/books/etc. - $40 sponsorship
  • Your own blog feature: 700 words of your own to tell the world about yourself with up to 2 pictures. - $35 sponsorship
  • Sponsor one of my blog posts: I'll give you a 50-word blurb before one of my planned posts about equine rescue, horses, horse care, or equine legislation. - $20
  • Twitter/Facebook-mania: Why people should buy your product/hire you in 140 characters or less. Posted to both my Twitter and Facebook accounts. - $10

Both the interview and the feature include Twitter/Facebook Mania.

And early sponsors get more promotion. For example:

Thank you Massachusetts Horse for donating advertising for the BSER Blogathon! Massachusetts Horse is entirely dedicated to the equine culture in MA - and even beyond. The magazine offers horse care information, legal articles, trail reviews, spotlight articles on Massachusetts equine businesses, youth groups, and non-profits. It reaches over 10,000 people with each bi-monthly issue - and is donated to libraries, youth groups, and horse clubs all over the state. Please visit their website at for more information on subscribing or advertising with them.

If you sign up as a sponsor before July, I'll include ad copy for you each week in one of my regular blog postings: Manic Monday, Writerly Wednesday, or Foodie/Feminist Friday.

Now, on top of all the promotion, your donations are entirely tax deductible because they go right to the Bay State Equine Rescue, a 501(c)3 organization. We are an entirely volunteer run organization dedicated to making the world a better place for horses, and your donation will go directly to help horses in our care or who need our rescue.

Do you like promotion?

Do you like to know your advertising dollars are going to a good cause?

Want to find out more?

E-mail me! trish (at) anovelfriend (dot) com

And let the world know about you - while helping horses in need.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Ready for Rhubarb?

Have you ever cooked with rhubarb?

I didn't even know what it looked like until I met my husband. It grows around his house like crazy! One of the times I visited during a college vacation, she handed us this bag of stalk-things and my Then-Fiance-of-Awesome was very excited.

Me, not so much. It looked like juicy celery with some red lines in it. Granted, it tasted better than celery (which isn't hard in my mind), but it was SOUR! The flavor, to me, was a sour citrus with a not-quite-as-bad-but-almost celery-like consistency.

Dipping it in sugar definitely helped, but I was done with my drive-back-to-college snack about a third of the way down my first stalk.

Then, I tried strawberry rhubarb jam. And then Pie. And I was hooked. When you cook it, the consistency softens (like celery - which I do like cooked) and it adds a whole other dimension to anything fruity you mix with it. I've had good luck mixing it with peaches, and my friend from Broad Universe, commented that it's absolutely divine with raspberries! Down south, you've got a lot of rhubarb pies (not even mixed with fruit!)

Now, despite my constant comparison to celery, it's not in the celery family. It's in the buckwheat family according to And there are a whooooole bunch of different varieties, and the website has some great facts and recipes - so do check it out for more info than I can give you (without just writing you a bunch of quotes or plagiarizing from them.)

I haven't tried it in any savory dishes yet; nothing comes to mind as really working in my head - but if you have, please share in the comments.

The most common application, in this house, is strawberry rhubarb jam and strawberry rhubarb pie. (Down the road in Charlton, we've also had really good strawberry rhubarb wine!) In fact, strawberry rhubarb is H-of-A's favorite pie, hands down.

In any case, last Friday night, H-of-A harvested a ginormous bag of rhubarb. (See the pix above, that's AFTER harvest!), so we had his mom over and canned up a bunch of jam, and, of course, made some pies.

Now, me being me, I just had him buy me some pre-made pie crust because I hate making pie crust. My favorite brand, honestly, is Pillsbury. I've tried others and just not been as satisfied with the texture or flavor. I do dress up the crust with a wash of butter and milk - both the bottom and top crust - and then just fill it and bake.

Here's the recipe we found online… which I cannot track down, so I apologize for not having a link. (I think it was one of the many from

2 cups sliced strawberries (we quarter or cut them into six chunks, depending on the size of the strawberry. This makes them about the same size as the rhubarb chunks.)

3 cups rhubarb (cut into 1/2 inch slices, with the stalks also halved if they are more than 1/2 inch thick)

1/2 cup sugar

3 tablespoons tapioca (which I learned, this weekend, is really just grated cassava)

1 tsp. fresh ground nutmeg

Mix all your ingredients together (gently enough so you don't squish the strawberries) and let them sit for 15-20 minutes. That's just enough time for you to take out your pie crust and let it come to room temperature. For my milk & butter brush, I microwave-melt 3 tbsps butter and add a shot of milk. Unroll and lay the bottom crust of the pie. Brush it. Fill it with the now-macerated filling. Top it with the 2nd crust. Fold and seal the two crusts together. (I'm a fan of the fold under and squish method, personally.) Brush the top with more butter/milk mix, cut breathing holes (release your inner paring-knife artist if you're me… or not). Foil the edge of the pie. Bake in a pre-heated 375 degree Fahrenheit oven for 25 minutes. Remove foil from the edges. Bake another 25-30 minutes or until golden brown. (Add another 10 minutes - or 2 commercial breaks - if you have a 10" pie pan.)

For people who have issues with sugar: I have been told by people who's cooking skills I trust, you can swap out part or all of the sugar for Splenda ®. Since the H-of-A DESPISES the flavor of Splenda, this will not happen in this household. HOWEVER, if you've got some really sweet and juicy strawberries, you might be able to cut down the sugar content to a heaping 1/4 cup and add a pinch of salt.

Now, go enjoy the fruits of the season!!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

What do you Question?

"There's no real answer here, you know."

Aimee said that in the tail end of last week's conversation about freedom, rights and responsibilities regarding creative thinking.

It sounds like a conversation ender. It sounds almost depressing.

But it’s not.

It's the point.

Well, part of the point anyway. Even if there isn't an answer, you learn how to think by discussing things. Knowing you will come to an answer, or requiring an answer limits your creativity in thinking. By not assuming there even is an answer, you can explore a topic thoroughly.

I wish more of my students did this.

I cannot keep count of how many papers I receive where a student will assume s/he (at the enlightened age of 18-22) has THE ANSWER, so the paper doesn't explore a topic, it rehashes "known" information.

Hell, I'm guilty of that. Someone on LiveJournal called me on it. A statistic I'd heard from three different people who I generally trust to "know" things: Wrong. And I didn't even think to question it because I believed I had an answer. Or at least a fact, which is an answer to something.

The thing about questions - questions rather than answers - is that they can disturb the status quo more than answers.

"This is how it's done."


"This is what it is."

"How is it like that?"

By being willing to ask, to question, we can find logical fallacies, incorrect facts, causes as opposed to correlations.

And maybe answers. Or at least a little closer to answers because, at this level of evolution and comprehension, it's possible that we CANNOT know the answers.

So, what do you think you know?

What do you question?

Monday, May 10, 2010

Happy Happenings

This Manic Monday post is brought to you by…

Moms and Happiness!!

I hope all the moms out there had a wonderful Mother's Day! Many hugs & blessings to you all!

Newsy Newsiness…

I have a partial MS request out for Kyra - the novel I >just might< href="">Stained Glass Creations and Beyond) drawing for me - and we had some great times using her hubby and each other as models.

We're also working on a more serious schedule than, "once a month, if we can possible, maybe, find one day a month where we are both free." J

And… we found a grant and are looking into it!

- more finger crossing! -


BAD-ASS FAERIES 3: IN ALL THEIR GLORY is coming out end of this month!!!

Our head editor, and my friend, Danielle Ackley-McPhail, has details about the Legendary Triple Launch Party in Baltimore over Memorial Day Weekend. If you'll be at Balticon, PLEASE GO!! There are some fabulous prizes to be won, there's always great food (I’m sending Danielle my famous macaroons), and just a Bad-Ass good time!


And you can still see my poem from the Eye on Life Poetry Contest at Poetry Locksmith here!


This week in my blog, I've got planned a more essay-like response to the conversation on Freedom, Rights and Responsibilities of Creativity that I shared with Dr. Aimee Weinstein. Then, Foodie Friday will cover my adventures with strawberry and rhubarb and thickening agents. (Confession: Mostly, it was adventures of the Husband-of-Awesome with said ingredients: I followed directions and managed not to sneeze, cough, hack, pass out, or slice off a finger while following instructions.)


The one real down note: Allergies are kicking my butt… so that's the end of this post. : ) !

Friday, May 7, 2010

How do you like your Ham?

(Photo taken from the Isador's Fan page - Justin, I hope that's ok? :) )

Over ten years ago (God, I’m old! ;) ), I had the wonderful opportunity to be an exchange student in Spain, where I was introduced to the first ham I actually liked. (Mind you, growing up, “ham” was that square, watery mess in cans). The ham I had in Spain was Jamón Serrano, sliced thin right off the dry-cured back leg of a pig. It melted like butter with just a hint of salt and a rich meat flavor. I loved it! Unfortunately, it was not one of the things I could bring home with me… nor was it readily available in the United States. Until now. :D

Most people who play with food are familiar with the Italian brother of Jamón Serrano, Prosciutto, particularly Prosciutto di Parma (from the Parma region) or Prosciutto di San Danielle (guess what region ;) ). Now, if you ask a Spaniard or a Spanish ham dealer/fan, Jamón Serrano predates Prosciutto; it was brought to the Roman emperors upon one of the many conquests of Spain and Italians learned how the Spanish made it, and created their own version. Feel free to do your own food research though… J

In any case, I was terribly excited when my favorite deli, Isador's in Oxford, started carrying it! In fact, I pitched a version of the below recipe to Justin, the owner, and he made it and posted it on the Isador's Facebook page!

While the price tag for Jamón Serrano is high - Isador's has it for the best price I've seen Stateside at $14.99 per lb - it's totally worth it to me. It’s a taste of heaven and the unforgettable Spanish trip. If you want a treat, definitely pick it up. As a comparison, it’s a little less salty than Prosciutto, with a milder, sweeter flavor and more buttery texture. To give you more incentive to try it, here’s some easy, informal recipes:

Appetizer: Easy Jamón Serrano & Basil Wrapped Peaches

(Summer Peaches from California were on sale during the same shopping trip & inspiration struck. This would make a really impressive app, too.)

Like Prosciutto, Serrano is easy to tear into long strips. You can make a little go a long way by tearing each slice into 2-3 strips.

Cut a ripe, juicy peach into ¼ inch wedges. Wrap each with a strip of Jamón Serrano and a basil leaf. For an extra presentation & flavor kick, serve on a bed of baby greens and drizzle with good balsamic vinegar. Some of the Facebook fans of Isador's also suggested serving it with Sherry - which I totally support!

Eat & enjoy.

Jamón Serrano & Peach Wraps

(for one wrap)

1 slice Jamón Serrano
5-7 slices peach (1/4 inch or thinner)
1 slice Manchego cheese (or 1 tablespoon of grated Manchego, give or take)
1 thin slice Vidalia (or other sweet - Isador's has organic ones!) onion
Handful of baby greens
Basil leaves
Good balsamic vinegar
1 organic, whole grain wrap (or any wrap, but if you're going to visit Isador's, that's what they have. :) ).

Layer meat, peaches, onion, greens & cheese on wrap, roll, eat & enjoy.

You could also stick through with toothpicks and slice it up as an appetizer and sprinkle a plate with a few tablespoons of the manchego.

Buena Comida!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Critical Thinking, Freedom, Your Right & Responsibility to Creativity: At What Cost?

In which, Trish goes Socratic…

A while ago, my friend, Dr. Aimee Weinstein, & I had a cool idea about having one of those fun intellectual conversations via Yahoo! Messenger. We've bumped ideas around for a while, but many of our conversations keep coming back to the ideas of personal freedom and liberty, discipline, education, and the differences between the countries in which we each live: U.S. and Japan.

As writers, we wanted to have some fun in scholarly discourse - and we'd like to invite you to join us!

Trish: Discipline, in and of itself, though... isn't the problem, right?

Aimee: Well, we're relying on parents to discipline kids and teach them self control, but the parents don't do it! "We" meaning Americans.

Trish: How many parents have a sense of discipline, though? ... One of the things we're working on in our Tai Ji course is the importance of dedication/discipline in practicing... and for a lot of the students - all adults - the concept is difficult.

Aimee: Ah, so you and I should blame our parents for failing to teach us discipline? That just takes the problem back one generation.

Trish: Well, you and I would be exceptions. We have discipline. I get frustrated at peers that don't. I don't know when the issue became like this in the U.S, but it's right around our generation, I believe. Before that, I think the culture of our country had a much stronger sense of discipline. If you worked hard enough, you could reach the American Dream. Now, with much of our generation finding this "American Dream" such a disillusion, why strive for it, perhaps?

Aimee: That's a really pessimistic viewpoint. It's almost like citing the Nazi view: work will make you free.

Trish: I think the original discussion started from how SAFE things are in Japan. One can leave their wallet in the park, and reasonably expect to still have it and their money intact. But, there is a much stricter police rule there... and much less room for individuality.

Aimee: Right. There's even peer pressure with these thing. Like jaywalking. I do it if I'm somewhat alone at an intersection and there aren't cars coming, but if there's a crowd of people, there's too much presure to wait for the light - even if the street is empty.

Bow to the will of the collective.

Trish: We still have a certain degree of that in the U.S. People who stand out too much in the crowd, who are too different, are ridiculed and bullied. You wear what "everyone else" wears; you like and share the things all your friends do.

Aimee: That's a very teen mentality, no?

Trish: Yes and no... it's a pressure for all of school. But look at adults... and the freelance or work-at-home culture. How many work-at-home people or freelancers are ridiculed for not having "real" jobs because they don't want to conform to the 9-to-5, business mentality? And, if a guy isn't into sports, he gets ridiculed by his manly peers. Women who don't like to clean their house, so help them G-d, must have something wrong with them!

Aimee: But in the U.S. a strong person can shrug his or her shoulders and be proud of his or her individuality. There's less of an option for that in Japan. It's more than ridicule - it is ostracization and there's a high suicide rate because of it.

Trish: Definitely true. I suppose the question is, how much is the opportunity for individual freedom worth? It was either Franklin or Jefferson that said something like "The person who sacrifices liberty for safety deserves neither."

Aimee: I have heard that. It's very applicable now post 9/11. What freedom do we give up for the security of knowing (in theory) that there's not a bomb on our airplane?

Trish: That's the thing - and related to critical thinking - that level of security is not a realistic goal, even in a full-on police state. There are creative individuals out there, and they are always going to be ahead of security measures. Realistically, the heightened security hasn't stopped any new attacks. Unless we force people to wear handcuffs for every flight, a properly trained individual can freely "carry" at least eight deadly weapons. Or, a laptop or netbook battery has enough of a charge to blow out the side of an airplane.

Aimee: Am I supposed to applaud that type of creativity??? Kidding!

Trish: If people take individual responsibility, or feel empowered to take individual responsibility, on the other hand - could we not take care of ourselves? Like the people who downed the plane before it hit the White House. You can't have positive creativity while stifling negative creativity.

Aimee: There's a relationship between personal responsibility and creativity.

Trish: Absolutely, I agree. Creativity is empowering. If one can harness his/her own creativity, one should take responsibility for that kind of power.

Aimee: This is still not what people believe in Japan - it's a socity of rule-followers where the nail that sticks up gets pounded down. It's been part of the ethos for centuries and look how safe of a society it is here.

Trish: I know... that's why it's such a conundrum. I mean, who doesn't want to feel safe? The U.S. citizens are moving in that direction by giving the gov't so much more power, currently. I mean, Obama reinstated the Patriot Act. And with the new Health Care reform, we're being forced to let the government "keep us safe" with healthcare options. As a culture, is it worth moving in that direction?

Aimee: Frankly I don't think so. I'm too much into my personal liberty. I want to decide what I eat, what I watch and even what healthcare coverage I have. Speaking of that, did I tell you that all Japanese people on the National Health insurance have to have their waists measured yearly? This is to prevent what they call "metabolic syndrome" - aka obesity! Then if the measurement isn't within guidelines, then they have monthly measurements until it's right.

Trish: I remember you saying that, and while, yes, the US has a major obesity problem (myself included), such a ruling frightens me because forcing people to do that can cause so much harm. A) It can force them to pay increased premiums. B) Force them to pay for extra visits C) Force them to follow "approved" and potentially costly treatment programs.

Aimee: It really is another conundrum though. We rely on parents to teach kids about healthy eating, keeping themselves safe, making smart decisions, etc. And a lot of parents abdicate this duty. Frankly speaking, though, that's their choice. I don't want the government telling me these things like they do here in Japan.

Trish: I agree. And the government/culture here still does try and take a power from parents in a sense. There's so much on how one can/should discipline one's child - and how a parent can get in trouble for spanking or yelling. You've got that problem of people being unable to distinguish a border between firm parenting and abuse.

Aimee: Well we're back to the whole McDonald's debate. I don't agree with the Santa Clara Board of Supervisors decision to take the toys out of happy meals so kids won't demand the meals. It's the parents' responsibility to teach the healthy eating and to indulge the kids sometimes.

Trish: I'd agree with you on that, too. But, how can we get the parents to take care of their children and educate themselves? Do we legislate mandatory education for parents? I mean... it sounds awful, but there are an awful lot of stupid/horrible parents in the US - because they don't know better.

Aimee: Education is the answer in my mind, but not legislation. People have to participate of their own free will too.
Trish: The U.S. doesn't hold education in very high esteem, unfortunately. It's "not cool." In Japan, if I'm not mistaken, education and educators are highly respected - proven with financial backing?

Aimee: Respected yes. Paid well? Not so much. But it's very impressive to be a teacher or especially a professor.

Trish: Do the schools get $ they need, though? Are there teachers or professors who are barely living above poverty level based on the cost of living?

Aimee: Education [in Japan] is all nationalized. I'm not sure how the teachers are paid.

I read about a program recently - it's for kids under 3 - specifically with parents who are teens. It's aim is to break the cycle of teen parents. They grab the babies of these teens and educate them. It's in New York - they're sorry they can't get to the teen parents, but it's nearly too late for them. But they can get to the children and teach them.

Trish: How do they educate them, though? And is it mandatory/by choice? And how much does it cost for parents to enroll their children?

Aimee: But I do know that teachers in the US can barely live in the communities in which they teach.

It's not mandatory at all. And it's free - but it does take a commitment by the teen parent. It's a new-ish program that aims to take these kids through to high school and aims to keep them "clean" throughout - with parental support. It's for smart teen parents who realize the mistakes they've made and want better for their kids.

Trish: That sounds very cool. And it sounds like a step in the right direction. So, we're agreed that improved education might be a means to handle the conundrum of personal individual freedom/creativity/critical thinking/safety?

Aimee: Yes, I would say that we are. But one caveat. I think it's overboard here in Japan. There is a point at which it goes too far.

Trish: Good point! Where does it go too far?

Aimee: When personal liberty is impinged upon.

Japan is a society based on the collective. There are no individual liberties. No thought for or plan for the individual.

Trish: That kind of brings us back to the root of the problem, because if we cannot infringe upon personal liberty, then people have the right to be ignorant - which causes societies problems.

Aimee: You're right. But it has to be balanced.

Trish: In the U.S., regarding safety, there is a very strong correlation in regards to safety and gun laws. The fewer gun laws in a state, the fewer murders or violence involving firearms. The two states with the most gun laws, MA and CA, have, significantly, the highest murder and firearm violence in the country.

Aimee: We could get into a lot of imigration debates - as well as debates on the severity of punishments. Another reason Japan has such a low crime rate is that the penalties are severe for crimes and suspects can be held for 45 days in Japan without being charged with a crime.

Trish: In Texas, the state with the fewest laws, has the least violence and murder.

Aimee: You and I speaking the same language - educate - don't legislate!

Trish: Hehehe... it's kind of hard to have a debate when we agree on so much.

Aimee: Discussion in lieu of debate! It's fascinating!

For the rest of our discussion, visit Aimee Weinstein's Blog tomorrow!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Birthday Fabulosity

I have the most awesome and caring friends & family! J

I was offline all of Friday and Saturday, then panicked today seeing that my inbox was wellllll over the 200 messages - way more than my usual weekend load.

The majority was all birthday wishes!!

So, despite waking up with nasty asthma issues today (heat and humidity spike), once I got to email, I was feeling as happy as I was on my birthday and on Saturday.

For those of you who want to know how all of your positive energy was put to good use, here's how my days went:

My friend, Aimee Weinstein, let me go to bed early by covering my Foodie Friday blogpost! Here are 2 pix she sent me while she was making her Shrimp Parmagiana for her hubby-of-awesome:

Apology: Those are the only pix I have to share. I was too busy with everything to stop and remember to take pictures.

Friday started with the usual chiropractor appt. that Scott and I go to. (Writers, a good chiropractor is golden - especially since we spend so much time on our butts!) Since our chiro is already westbound from our house, I just headed right to my mother's place (where I grew up), in Springfield. Now, breakfast was great, but the strange and interesting thing is I agreed to go through some of the crap that was still in my attic bedroom that my mom (very kindly) has continued to hold onto for me since "I have no room in my house" or "I don't wanna go through old stuff now and then have to cart it home and find places for it!"

I was actually in the mood to do it this time, for some strange reason (Note: No, it's still not carefully put away in my current house.). So, besides reliving most of my pre-teens and teens via my EXTENSIVE (read as: I could open a friggen store) collection of costume jewelry. In addition to the jewelry and craft items I didn't bring to the house because I have craftier and even-more-artistically-inclined friends to whom I gifted some really cool stuff that I just don't have time to play with, I found even more of my art. More comic book creations (HOW did I forget how much I loved comics and comic art?) and some pretty cool still-lifes that I'd drawn in classes I took.

Lesson: I need to make time for my art. Maybe not all the extensive crafts I did when I was younger - but it's a part of my creative self I need to honor.

In fact - thought! - I found some beautiful cameo lockets that would look fabulous in steam-punk inspired necklaces. I asked Renée, Sean and Stef - the professional artists - if they could design necklaces for me… but, why couldn't I do it on one of my next visits to the glass studio? It doesn't have to be a long commitment to regular beading, but it would honor that part of me that needs to create beyond the keyboard.

:D See - even personal blog posts can be a discovery method if you're willing to listen to yourself! :D

Besides my stroll down pleasant memory lane with my mom and thinking creatively outside of words, I indulged in a long afternoon nap, and then went out to dinner with the husband-of-awesome (at a restaurant I also get paid to review - so, damnit, it was productive, too!). Dinner was fabulous. We came home to drop off some stuff (because the carload of "stuff" isn't something you want to park in Worcester), and then condensed ourselves to just one car (Yay! I didn't have to drive anymore!), and headed off to Sweet!, a great dessert-only café with fancy drinks and fancy coffees. I ordered a chef's selection.

The cheese cake was good, the fancy bread pudding was delicious, the bites of the spicy hot-chocolate sundae Scott had were great, coffee was most excellent!


Croissant Donuts. Filled with Peanut Butter. Deep Fried. Sugar Coated. With Chocolate Sauce.

-Let's pause a moment in deep, meditative appreciation.-

Where was I? Oh - yeah. Fabulous birthday!

My Beltaine (May 1st), was also exceptionally great. We spent it in CT and it included grilling, more jewelry perusal, and another 2-hours of killer psycho-tennis that exercised our laughter muscles as much as anything else.

(For those unfamiliar with psycho-tennis, it's basically try and keep the ball moving and can include up to 6 people in the same game while equally trash-talking and supporting each others' fragile egos… while trying not to soil ones panties due to extreme laughter and horrible, horrible puns about balls.)

So, the moral/purpose to this post? Besides hopefully entertaining some of you … Don't forget to enjoy life. I have more writing fodder, more energy, and more overall jubilation from being disconnected from my e-life for those days. Also, though I didn't get to read all of your wonderful messages on my actual birthday - they manifested anyway. :D

Thank you - and spread the love!

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