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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The Brenda Bag – Making a Life Statement

The CloserImage via WikipediaI am a fan of ‘The Closer’ and the main character, Deputy Chief Brenda Leigh Johnson. One of her trademarks is her big black bag. Her purse is oversized so she can put all manner of items inside, including case files.

In more than one instance, her bag and the contents therein have been useful props in creating a particular impression of her choosing. Like many women, I have multiple bags of multiple sizes that I use for various occasions. However, lately I find myself drawn to my own ‘Brenda Bag’. My life circumstances currently dictate that when I go out, I must take a number of items with me, and they all just fit better in my “Brenda Bag”.

The bag you carry can create an impression, as Brenda’s use of hers illustrates. In her case, her big bag is like her life – disorganized, but everything she needs is there. Others carry bags that are compact, or highly organized with pockets, zippered sections, and slots.

What type of bag/wallet/briefcase/messenger bag/backpack do you carry and what does it say about your life?


A Photo of Brenda with her bag

The Closer – TNT

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Monday, December 29, 2008

The United States No More – Russian Prediction

An interesting article in the Wall Street Journal caught my attention last night. In it, a Russian professor predicts the division of the United States, with each part joining up with or being ruled by a foreign entity. While I do not believe it would ever come to that, I can see some states wanting to separate. However, again, I do not really think it will come to that.

With the article is a map illustrating how Prof. Igor Panarin believes the U.S. will be divided. First question: If this came to pass, would you stay where you are or would you move to a specific region in order to be affiliated with a different country? In this illustration, there is no longer a U.S. section – all are under or affiliated with other countries.

I would have to move, and my move would be in an eastern direction – though I am not sure how far east I would move.

Second question: What do you think the likelihood is of the U.S. becoming a divided nation?

As if Things Weren’t Bad Enough, Russian Professor Predicts End of U.S.
In Moscow, Igor Panarin’s Forecasts Are All the Rage; America ‘Disintegrates’ in 2010
Andrew Osborn. Wall Street Journal (online). December 29, 2008

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Step Back in Time – Victorian Pins and Greek Architecture

I have a very talented friend who I want to honor and support today. This multi-talented entrepreneur has two talents in particular that I want to blog about.

The first is her Handmade Victorian Pins (and more!). These lovely pieces of jewelry and other items are reasonably priced, and some are antiques. Each pin comes with a unique (written) story. The means of ordering is detailed on the site for the pins and other items.

The next item is related to her talent as a photographer. She recently took a trip to Greece (pre-riots) and got some great shots of the area, including some amazing photos of doorways and windows. That may sound odd, but once you see the photos you will understand why they caught her eye and are now part of a gorgeous 2009 Calendar.

2009 Doorways and Windows of Greece Calendar

For now, the way to preview the photos and order the calendar is via Facebook (use the link). If you have any trouble with either, please let me know and I will assist you. I have ordered my own calendar, and soon I will be ordering a pin (I need to make up my mind as to which one I want first!).

Please note I get nothing for sending business in her direction or in the direction of the other entrepreneurs I list in my directory, other than the joy of helping support other entrepreneurs.

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Thursday, December 25, 2008

Eartha Kitt Tribute – Symbol of Feminine Sexiness Passes Away

Photo of singer Eartha Kitt.Image via WikipediaMy first exposure to Eartha Kitt was in her role as ‘Catwoman’ on the 60’s television series, “Batman”. One of three women to play the role, she grabbed attention as the only black woman to play the role (to that point in time). She got my attention by being the one to produce what I considered to be the best Catwoman purr ever.

Since that time, she captured the attention and imagination of the world with her striking eternal feminine sexiness, voice, accent, and style.

Some of my favorite Eartha Kitt songs are: Santa Baby, I Don’t Care, This is My Life, I Love Men, and Where is My Man. In addition to acting, dancing and singing, this amazing woman penned three books and lived life to its fullest as a single woman.

Today, news broke that this remarkable woman died due to colon cancer at age 81.

Please enjoy these musical treats from Eartha Kitt. At the bottom of this posting is a listing of sites with more information about her life and her passing.

Santa Baby by Eartha Kitt

I Love Men by Eartha Kitt

Where is My Man? By Eartha Kitt

I Don’t Care by Eartha Kitt

This is My Life by Eartha Kitt

More information may be found at:

The Official Eartha Kitt website

Singer, Actress, Dancer Eartha Kitt Dies of Colon Cancer at Age 81
Associated Press/ December 25, 2008.,2933,472987,00.html

The Purrrfect Diva
Eartha Kitt Had a Taste For the Best Things in Life. Wil Haygood, Washington Post Staff Writer. Washitnton Post (online). Posted Decebmer 25, but listed as December 26, 2008.

Eartha Kitt listing at The Internet Movie Database (IMBd)

Singer Eartha Kitt Dies
US Magazine (online). December 25, 2008.

‘Santa Baby’ Singer Eartha Kitt Dies.
Aaron Parsley and Stephen M. Silverman. People Magazine (online). December 25, 2008 6:00 p.m. eastern time.,,20249101,00.html?xid=rss-topheadlines

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Thursday, November 20, 2008

Political Parties and the U.S. Government – Democracy Requires More than One Voice

Citizens registered as an Independent, Democra...Image via WikipediaI have never believed that our government should be controlled by one party. In a democratic society, there is more than one school of thought that needs to be addressed, and many voices that need to be heard.

While I lean more centrist to conservative, I recognize the value of having a healthy mix of liberal ideas and plans in the rule of the country, side-by-side with a healthy mix of conservative ideas and plans. I believe having a good mix of both protects the people and ensures more is done for the ‘common good’ of the people as a whole than for party lines.

I have watched as the parties have changed over the years, primarily the Republican Party. There was a time when each of the two major parties had clear doctrines and clear stances. Now both have become a mish-mash of extremism and centralism, overlapping each other in some areas.

When it becomes more about getting votes than standing for something, the people suffer. When it becomes more about poll numbers than doing what is right for the people as a whole, the country suffers.

I am aware of a movement to return one party to its roots and get back on track. Though I do not agree with every statement made (especially when the other party is attacked), I do believe the overall concept is a good one. The movement is one to rebuild the Republican Party, and the link leads to the Facebook portal for it.

If you know of any other grassroots movements to rebuild, restructure, or otherwise change any of the U.S. political parties, please let me know and I will review and add them here.

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Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Post Election - Can We Truly Be 'United' States?

Image courtesy Senator Obama Press Kit.
The election is over and Senator Barack Hussein Obama has been declared the 44th President of the United States. His term will begin in January of 2009 and run for four years.

There are strong emotions on this day after the election on both sides of the political fence. What happens from here on out is not just up to our leaders, but to 'we, the people', as well.

One friend who was strongly pulling for Senator McCain very graciously posted a statement to the effect that as people who love this country, we should now pray for President-Elect Obama and his family, and show our support to our president. That we should not behave as some have toward President Bush, but we should honor the office of President and treat our leader with the respect he deserves as our leader, regardless of our differences in philosophy or values.

A writer for whom I have tremendous respect wrote a beautiful article calling for unity and expressing some of the same sentiments: "A Call for Unity - Bridging the Political Divide for a Stronger America".

In a day and age of disrespect and ignorance, can we live up to the call for 'Change' that was such a huge part of our new President's campaign?

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Sunday, September 7, 2008

Compare the Candidates

The House Financial Services committee meets. ...Image via Wikipedia Informed voters are smart voters. There are ways to get to the truth about the candidates, the issues, and where each stands in this election. Below are factual and non-partisan resources for discovering the truth behind the hype.

In one section, I did add links to an evaluation project a newspaper is working on of senators and their voting track record. The Washington Post is doing the evaluation as part of a “U.S. Congress Votes Database” project. All congressional votes since 1991 are listed. The site updates vote information several times daily.

The project is ongoing, and will continue to expand. The information provided in the project is all matter of public record and may be accessed free through various government websites. The Washington Post is simply compiling it in one place and in a highly user-friendly manner. Listed below are links to the sections for Sen. McCain and Sen. Obama. To look up information regarding other members of congress, please see the home page for the project.

What do the candidates claim are their stands on various issues?
Barack Obama

John McCain

What is their voting track record?

John McCain
Washington Post: “John McCain has voted with the majority of his Republican colleagues 88.3% of the time” in the 110th Congress. John McCain has missed 63.8% of the votes in the 110th session of congress.

Barack Obama
Washington Post: “Barack Obama has voted with his Democratic colleagues 96% of the time” in the 110th Congress. Barack Obama has missed 45.5% of the votes in the 110th session of congress.

NOTE: Because the claim has been made, I felt it appropriate to include a link to further info regarding the matter:
State Legislature – New York Times, Dec 20, 2007 (This is in reference to his voting ‘present’ 130 times rather than ‘yea’ or ‘nay’ on issues)

Side by Side Non-Partisan Comparisons:


Beyond the Media and Debate Accusations:
Who Tells the Truth, Who Lies, and Who Flip Flops on Issues?

Non-partisan evaluation of fact vs statements from the candidates and others

Bill and Resolution Sponsorship in 110th session of congress
(Info via THOMAS – US Library of Congress)
McCain: 38

Obama: 129

Financial Disclosures – 2007

Barack Obama (PDF file)

John McCain (PDF file)

What I have learned through my own checking of the facts, is that both candidates have lied (or been given inaccurate information to relay in their speeches and interviews), both sides of the campaign have lied and been involved in ‘spinning’ the truth/facts, both candidates have strong points, and both candidates have flaws.

I don’t know how much more there really is for me to write about regarding facts about the office, the election, the parties, etc. If you want me to cover something else, please let me know – and if I think of something else I will add it.

Otherwise, this session of Dani’s Discover with Me: Government 101 session has now concluded.

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Thursday, September 4, 2008

The True Power of the Office of President of The United States of America

George WashingtonImage via Wikipedia What is the true scope of power and the responsibilities of the President of the United States of America? Before electing anyone to the office, it is important to understand just what they have the power to do, and just what their responsibilities are.

The Department of State lists the official and constitutional criteria, powers, and responsibilities of the president.

Over at, a more historical look at the development of the role and powers is covered.

A brief but technical description is available from Cornell University's Law School website.

And finally, a less technical description created for children is available from the government at Ben's Guide. This version may make the technical descriptions a little easier to comprehend and digest.

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Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Who Can Say One Positive True Thing About Senator John McCain?

John McCain official photo portrait.Image via Wikipedia In a forum of which I am a member, a challenge was issued: Who could say one positive true thing about Senator John McCain? Though several attempts were made, the issuer of the challenge shot them all down until one forum member shared the following:

Senator John McCain Heroically Grants a Dying Mother Her Final Wish

As stated in the article, it is not about politics, but it does say something very powerful about the man behind the office and the campaign.

Want further true insight into the men behind the campaigns? Check out this interesting article by Nancy Benac, By Their Offices Ye Shall Know Them.

There are many things to consider before electing a president. Getting to see the man behind the campaign is one way to ascertain his character. There are other ways to get to the truth behind all the hype.

Truth and Pants on Fire Detector. Want to know how much truth or fallacy is behind the claims made in email, in speeches, and in ads? Check out the non-partisan truth detector at A new feature is the "Flip O-Meter" that reveals true flip flopping by the candidates.

Want to know the actual voting record of the candidates? Such things are a matter of public record and accessible through the government's U.S. Senate website.

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Saturday, August 30, 2008

Partying with American Political Parties

The western (front) side of the United States ...Image via Wikipedia Today's post is dedicated to the political parties of the United States of America, and voting.

The Directory of American Political Parties offers a listing of the political parties in the USA along with a brief description of each.

The Political Philosophy Quiz is by far the most accurate I have seen lately at revealing where a person stands in political philosophy. The quiz assesses responses to determine leanings in the conservative/liberal, pacifist/militarist, libertarian/authoritarian and capitalist/socialist spectrums. With the results comes a recommendation for political party based upon the results.

Now that you know about the various parties and which most closely fits your beliefs, it is time to register to vote.

Not sure how to register to vote? The Rock the Vote website can guide you through the process. Also, the Register to Vote site offers information related to registering to vote and how to make an informed decision before you vote.

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Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Is Honesty Always the Best Policy?

I love her, with all my heart, and if ever I k...Image via Wikipedia I was commenting elsewhere about my mom being killed by a drunk driver, and it got me thinking about various aspects of the case. One of the things that struck me was how on the one hand I was given total access to the police reports, witness accounts, coroner's report, photos, etc. (An off-duty officer witnessed the incident). On the other hand, I was told multiple times by multiple people, unsolicited, that my mother 'died instantly' and 'didn't suffer'.

The truth is, she died a horrific death and did NOT die instantly.

So, the question becomes, is it better to create a lie or to tell the truth? It ticked me off to no end that I was lied to. I never asked if my mom suffered, or if she died instantly, yet others decided to tell me that 'pretty little lie' despite some of them knowing I had copies of all the reports and photos. Maybe they thought I wouldn't look at any of it, or maybe it was just 'habit' for them to say those empty words to people who have lost a loved one.

I compartmentalize, so for me, lies upset me far more than truth. I can deal with truth - I can review it and work with it and get past it. Lies are another story. Trying to work past the lies frustrates me - I am a person who prefers to deal in truth - even when it hurts. I think lies do far more damage than the truth ever could, anyway.

So, let's supposed I was not the type to compartmentalize. I get told (unsolicited) that my mother didn't suffer, and died instantly. I feel relief and peace that she went quickly and peacefully. Then I go to court or read the reports - WHAM! Suddenly I am hit in the face with the harsh cold reality that she died horribly and not immediately. I would be shattered!

I now give the floor to you: where are you in the truth/lie issue? This isn't about right or wrong - this is just about how other people view it and handle it.

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Successes and Failures

le James Caird près de la Géorgie du sudImage via Wikipedia I have discovered that I might very well define success and failure differently from others.

I set major goals for myself and a lot of minor goals that lead up to the major one. I always allow for flexibility because sometimes life has other plans for us. ;-)

To me, every time I accomplish a goal, even a minor one, it is a success. To me, every time I adapt quickly and well to one of life's curve balls it is a success. To me, every time I take another step forward in progress, learning, or growth it is a success.

I don't view 'failures' as 'failures'. I have learned that from these challenges and setbacks can come some of our greatest successes. In looking back through history, we can see that there were many 'setbacks' before there were 'successes' in inventions, for example. In fact, some inventions came about by accident - the inventor was trying to make something else - so technically that could be classed as a 'failure' since they didn't create what they were aiming for. However, they made something wonderful - so how could that be anything other than a 'success'?

I have learned to view my life as a journey. Every time I have a 'success' it is like coming upon a sign along the way that reads, "You're on the right path - keep going!", and every time I have a 'setback' it is like coming upon a sign that reads, "Wrong way - please take another path" or "Ooops! You're trying to run before you can walk. Please practice walking some more and then come back this way again."

I wasn't always like this. My dysfunctional upbringing taught me to set myself up for 'failure' and to look at 'failure' as end-of-the-world-shameful-humiliation'. I now shake my head in wonder that I ever bought into such nonsense.

Mistakes and setbacks are part of the human condition and part of the life experience. As we learn to put them into their proper perspective, it becomes easier to learn to love and accept ourselves - and others.

Life is a lot sweeter when you set yourself up to succeed.

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Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Put Down the Gun and Call Someone

Photo © Chance Agrella

I read something in the news today that has really been bothering me.

Arkansas Democratic Party Chairman Dead After Shooting Inside Party Headquarters

I will never understand what goes haywire in a person's head that leads them to the conclusion that their troubles will somehow be made better by shooting or killing someone else - and/or themselves.

No, it will not make YOUR life better - and it will in fact spread your misery around to others. Put down the gun and pick up the phone. Call a suicide hotline - a trusted friend - any member of the clergy. CALL SOMEONE. Cry, rant, rage, vent - get it all out.

Then, when you are drained and more clear headed, they can comfort you and help you find ANSWERS and SOLUTIONS that WILL make your life better. Don't YOU and those around you DESERVE that much? Seriously.

National Suicide Hotline
1-800-273-TALK (8255)
Free Service 24/7

Monday, August 4, 2008

Government 101: Types of Government Rule - Democracy, Republic, and more

A White photo of President Bush, VP Cheney, an...Image via WikipediaDue to this year being an election year as well as the year the Olympics are in China, many aspects of government, freedom, and laws have been on my mind.

Like many, I have mistakenly referred to our government as a 'democracy', when in fact we are a 'republic'. I have also observed that many Americans do not understand the basics of our governmental structure - or what the President really does (i.e. his role, responsibilities, and limits in power).

Over the course of several posts, I will be covering these basic concepts for your benefit as well as my own. Educated and informed citizens are responsible citizens who know not only how to elect the best people, but know how to 'demand' the best from those in office.

Types of Government by Alverno College (Wisconsin)

Types of Government by Country

If there is any particular aspect of how our government is set up or how our electoral process works that you would like me to cover, please contact me.

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Sunday, August 3, 2008

Summer Olympics 2008: Learning Chinese is Fun

NTD_TV.Image via WikipediaI recently discovered New Tang Dynasty TV (NTDTV) on Youtube, and I am really enjoying it. With the upcoming Olympics in China, I found some videos by NTDTV to be especially timely.

Learning Chinese is Fun

Episode 1 - 10:10

Episode 2 - 12:14

A friend who regularly does business in China told me once that when you learn Chinese it is crucial to pay careful attention to pronunciation as one word can mean many different things based solely upon its pronunciation. He gave an example with a word that had, I think, 6 different meanings based upon pronunciation. One was 'horse' and one was something he wouldn't define but said it was something bad.

Though the show is geared towards children from grades K-2, I think even adults can benefit from the repetition and easy pace. If you need it for business or something important I would suggest a different method of learning - but for casual knowledge and interest, this show is a great fit.

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Saturday, August 2, 2008

Outrageous Behavior in the Senate

Work of the United States Senate, Credited to ...Image via WikipediaSummer is here, and the time came for the Senate to take a summer break. The nation is in crisis with high fuel prices crippling the country. So what did the public servants we elected and we pay with our tax dollars do?

Shut down the senate and went on a five-week vacation - starting at 2:49 in the afternoon. Guess they wanted an early start for the weekend on their trips - while many Americans struggle to afford to go to work and eat.

According to a Fox News article, the Democrats left but the Republicans had a pizza party with those walking by on the street. Republicans urged the senate to continue in session until something is done to give Americans fuel cost relief NOW. The Democrats apparently think we can afford to not have enough money to buy food, pay the mortgage, and get to work.

I find it outrageous that with the current state of affairs in this country and given the fact that they work FOR us - were elected BY us - and are paid BY us, any member of congress would feel they have the right to take a vacation while we suffer rather than put in the time to get us the help we need right now.

Working into the summer break would be incentive to reach an agreement on immediate relief so they could enjoy a break before they start the next session - in which they could address the long term fuel relief issue.

Read more about it HERE

Want to know who voted to break for summer and who voted to stay (and who didn't vote at all)?

46 Democratic yes to vacation votes, 1 Republican, and 1 Independent. Who voted no - stay and work? 40 Republicans. Who didn't vote (not present or didn't have the backbone)? 8 Republicans and 4 Democrats. But, don't take my word for it, read the votes HERE.

Had those non-voters voted against the break, it would have kept the Senate in session, hopefully long enough to get immediate relief for us. As it is, the vacationers won and we get to endure at least 5 more weeks of high prices and mounting financial stresses.

Want to see how many days the senate was actually in session this last time? View the calendar HERE.

Want to know what they did during this last session? Read a summary HERE.

UPDATE (8/4/08): One of my favorite writers offers his perspective on the situation.
Nancy Pelosi's Innovative Solution to Save Energy and Find New Oil

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Monday, July 21, 2008

Calling All Puzzle Lovers: Decipher a Clue to Solve a Murder

America's Most WantedImage via Wikipedia
On America’s Most Wanted, a gruesome unsolved double homicide was featured. Though one of the victims tried to leave a clue behind written in blood, the killer was able to wipe most of it away. Sealant on the garage floor has left investigators unable to recover more of the clue.

Investigators need your help in deciphering the clue. According to the show, they believe six to eight words were originally written. All that remains is one letter, and one possible 4-lettered word with jumbled letters.

Read more about the case HERE
View the clue by clicking on “View Larger” on the bottom photo (Jeep mudflap, garage floor)
View the entire AMW episode HERE

To review, investigators believe the top letter to be an “S”. They believe the first letter of the word below is an “S”. They believe the second letter of that second word is either an “E” or an “O”. They believe the third letter of that second word to be either an “L”, a “J”, or an “I”.

What do you think? What words or phrases do you get from the message? Look carefully at the way the letters were formed, and imagine writing while laying down, dying, with your killer close by. What would you write – what could the message say?

Please submit real tips to America’s Most Wanted. You may do so with complete anonymity by calling 1800-CRIMETV, or by clicking HERE The case is referenced on the AMW website as “Unknown Ron And Christine Jabalee Killer”.
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Saturday, July 19, 2008

To Blog or Not to Blog - That is the Question

Photo © Chance Agrella
Over in one particular writer's blog I enjoy, the debate has been raging on as to whether writers should censor themselves on personal blogs or not. The reason being that so many 'employers' now troll the internet to check up on potential or current employees.

I have always been of the mindset that what people do in their off-time is their business. This goes both ways - employees and employers. I do agree that professional ethics do need to be considered in business settings. If someone repeatedly shows up to work hung over and it affects their ability to work, then their off-time behavior does become company business. However, if a school teacher wants to post a picture of herself in a bikini on MySpace, that is her business. Unless, of course, she called in sick to go on a national show and had the picture done there - that makes it the school's business.

Though I do find myself censoring my posts to a degree so I don't come across as harping on the same thing over and over or so that it is clear I am making a point, other than that, I freely blog about whatever I feel like blogging about. This is my creative outlet and my expression of my personal thoughts and views that does not show up in my professional writing, unless asked to include it.

If a potential employer doesn't like that I am LDS, a single mom, or love animals - they are free to hire someone else - despite their prejudice. I would rather not work for someone who is prejudiced against me as I prefer to work in a harmonious setting. Prejudice is not conducive to such a setting.

That being said, I have never had a prospective employer tell me that I either got or didn't get a job because of anything I had blogged about in my personal blogs. My professional writing has gotten me gigs, but I can't say my personal blogs have done anything other than give me an outlet, and get my readers free stuff.

When it comes to personal blogging, what are YOUR thoughts and experiences?

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Dani Hits the Airwaves – Across the Blogs Radio Show

Photo © Chance Agrella
I tuned into one of my favorite bloggers doing a guest appearance over on Blog Talk Radio today, and I even called in! It was suggested that I take my blogging experience to the next level and do a radio show. I write multiple blogs, but the suggestion was made to combine them all into one radio show, rather than try to figure out which one to devote a whole show to, or try to do shows for each.

At first I thought perhaps that would be a little too ‘multiple personality’ as I cover such a variety of topics in my blogs. Then, I thought it would be a good thing as it would allow me to talk about whatever was on my mind or in the news, and it would allow you, my audience to talk about whatever was on your mind or in the news, as well.

I am tossing around a few ideas right now, and if I did this, I would devote a ‘segment’ to each of the topics/areas I cover in my blogs.

I would like to get guests on my show, and one thought is to use many of YOU as my guests. Want your 15 minutes of fame? No need to cyberbully or injure yourself for YouTube – come on the show and share your story, your thoughts, and your expertise! Guests don’t even have to be in my home studio – you can “call in” by phone, Skype, or online. The show would have the ability to take callers, as well, by the same means.

I don’t want the show to get all Jerry Springer, but I do want to share stories that people can relate to or learn from. You can plug your new blog, book, or business, too.

Interested in advertising on such a show? Contact me and we’ll set up a sweet deal for you with my show and Blog Talk Radio.

Musician or indie band? I need theme music for this show, so you can get free exposure (aka advertising) by creating my theme or letting me use something you already have that fits with my show. Alternatively, I may get an ASCAP license or whip up something simple, myself. Contact me with your details and ideas, if you are interested. Please be sure to send me a link to your website/your online music samples.

So, what do you think? If I did this, would you listen or be a guest? I could archive shows so you could listen anytime, and I could put players on my blogs (I think).

Whether in the comment section here or by my contact email, please let me know what you think. There is some work involved in setting something like this up, and I am hesitant to jump into it unless I know it is going to be of interest to you.

Child Pornography in the Name of Art

Yet another way has been found to exploit children. In the news are reports about the father of a naked 6 year old cover girl. Nude photos of the 6 year old girl were featured in Art Monthly magazine, which also showed the girl’s nude image on its cover.

The girl’s father is angrily protesting comments about the inappropriate and disturbing photos with talk of children’s sensuality. He references a photo of his own child with a pacifier in this article by calling it a clear illustration of the hedonistic nature of children.

Children sucking on a pacifier is not an illustration of their hedonistic and sensual nature – it is a sign of them seeking comfort in the manner in which young children do. It comes from infancy when babies are held close and fed with a bottle or breast. That time is comforting to them, and as they age, when they need that feeling of comfort, they no longer have bottle or breast (usually) to turn to. They opt for a substitute such as a thumb or pacifier. It really is as simple as that.

Children are innocents, and to put adult sexual behaviors, drives, stimuli, and fetishes upon them is disgusting and incorrect. It says far more about the perversion and sexual stimuli of the one spewing it than it does about the child(ren).

I find the behavior of adults who see adult sexuality in children to be disturbing. I find the behavior of parents who see nothing wrong with displaying their young child’s nude image for all the world to see as disturbing. I find the behavior of not only displaying those images, but then adding sensual and sexual connotations to them to be disturbing.

I also find disturbing the choice of Art Monthly magazine to publish nude images of a minor child in the name of art. Thinly veiled child pornography is still child pornography no matter what other pretty names you try to give it.

Shame on you, Art Monthly magazine!

Friday, July 4, 2008

Americans Attacking America: Why America is Great

I am getting quickly tired of listening to Americans attacking America. Its one thing to disagree with policies and politicians. It is something entirely different to lump all the citizens, the policies, the culture, the politicians, the beauty, the glory, the history, and the traditions of this country into one big target for their hate and disappointment. The level of disrespect and ingratitude I hear in the voices and statements made by the whiners who attack this, their own country, deeply saddens me.

I, personally, am not going to apologize for my existence, my love of my country, and my willingness to die for the rights of each and everyone of these whiners to their free speech self-serving whining. I am tired of hearing it, and I am tired of seeing otherwise intelligent people spewing it – but I will always defend the right to free speech, which includes their right to whine.

And that, dear fellow citizens, is one of the great things about this country – we all have the right to whine. The government doesn’t kill our families because we say we think the government or any politician in particular sucks. The government doesn’t torture and kill us because we have posted real images of or breaking news about our leaders caught in the act of committing crimes.

We have the right to publicly spew orally and in print idiocy, falsehoods, unflattering truths, opinion, fact, and pretty much anything we want – short of hate speech, libel, and slander.

We have the right to pursue our education as far as we wish, and to work in the field of our choice. We have the right to have as many children as we wish, to marry whom we wish, and to live as we wish. We can freely travel across the country with no need for papers or permission. We have the right to freely move to another country, and even freely give up our US citizenship, if we so desire. We have the right to vote as we wish; and we have a voice in the creation of laws and in the election of our leaders.

We have the right to a fair trial and to representation. Our rights as citizens of this country are graciously extended to visitors to our country. Many nations and peoples worldwide view our own Declaration of Independence as the model for their own freedoms and laws.

Every year, we welcome into our fold citizens from other nations who choose to come to our country to have and achieve what they feel they cannot in their own nation. Every year, we send billions of dollars worth of aid in the form of money, resources and supplies to other nations in need. We quite freely share our abundance – moreso than the oil rich nations.

We are a relatively young country, and yet – look how far we have come. We have gone from a group of rebels wanting to be free to one of the most powerful countries in the world – and a world leader in many regards.

Our nation is blessed, and of course it is not perfect. That is because people are not perfect and people are the heart and lifeblood of what makes this country great – and imperfect. For all of our imperfections, we still have much to be proud of and much for which to be grateful.

I, for one, am proud to be an American and to live in this magnificent country where I am free. Cue Lee Greenwood:

Video courtesy of Fuzzy700

I wish you all a happy and safe Independence Day weekend.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Hooked on Widgets

My latest fun widget find (besides the Stargate clock)


This game is addictive and zany. Thinking outside the box is a plus to win this game.

I have to admit, I am getting a bit addicted to widgets. As much as I want to keep my blogs and websites looking streamlined and clean, I have a hard time not adding stuff I think is fun or might be helpful. Oy!

I am thinking its time to 'clean up my act' and reorganize my blogs so there isn't so much stuff in the side panels. Its not that I am looking for more stuff to do, but I have considered writing a blog just about widgets so I have a place to load up all my favorite widgets while keeping my blogs and websites clean.

What do you think? Do you like a little bit of clutter, or do you like bare-bones sites? Is the clutter ok if its fun or informative? Should it only be strictly related to the site?

What is YOUR opinion about widgets and blog/website clutter?

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Confetti Cakes - Amazing Edible Art

Not too long ago I posted on my Feathers, Fins, and Fur blog about a sculpted dog cake made by Confetti Cakes. The video clip I included showed how they made the cake. It was very interesting to watch.

I love art, I love food/cooking, and I used to decorate cakes. So many of the cakes they create look like the real thing, and the process can be very time-consuming. I am totally amazed by the talent and work that goes into creating each of their cakes. So, today, I am posting two videos regarding Confetti Cakes owner Elisa Strauss and her amazing creations here on the Junk Drawer blog.

The first video aired on PBS showing the owner, Elisa Strauss, making a sushi board cake.

The next video clip shows a compilation of Elisa Strauss clips from various shows. Along the way, you get to see more of the amazing cakes she has created, and pick up a few tips to try at home.

Have you ever made such a fancy cake? Would you ever try?

Monday, June 23, 2008

You’re a Writer? How Much Do You Make?

Photo © Chance Agrella
One of the first things out of the mouth of people who find out what I do for a living is a question about how much money I make. I cannot remember any other profession in which I have worked that got this reaction. I have no idea why people feel they have free license to ask such a rude and inappropriate question, but I am not alone. Other writers experience this same phenomenon, and it leaves us all scratching our head.

Though it truly is a rude and inappropriate question, there are those who are genuinely curious as to what writers in general can make. The answer to that question is that there are simply too many variables involved for there to be one set answer.

There are many different types of work for writers, and many different genres and arrangements within each one. Some writers are freelance, and some are contracted/salaried. Some writers work full-time (or more), some only work part time. Some work primarily for print, other work primarily online. There is a world of options outside of books when it comes to writing. White papers, technical writing, advertising, slogans, press releases, web content, web articles, magazine articles, newspaper articles, scripts, graphic novels (comic books), resumes, songs/lyrics, poems, tests/quizzes, educational programs, newsletters, brochures, and so much more. One fact remains the same, however, and that is that most writers cannot get rich on their writing. Most cannot make a decent living as a writer, and must have another source of income.

Even if you write a book that is published, any advance may be small and spent long before the book is published, and afterwards, on average, authors are only paid about twice a year in royalties – remember that the advance was paid against future royalties. Very few published authors make a lot of money from writing, and of those, most need to continue writing for many years in order to keep money rolling in. Children’s book author J.K. Rowling’s success was a fluke in the writing world. Most authors are not that successful, even after many years and multiple published book titles.

For many writers, writing is not about money or getting rich quick. For them, writing is in their blood – it is their passion and as necessary to them as the air they breathe. They may be among the “starving artist” class, but they are joyfully so. They are living their dream and would not have it any other way.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Do I Have to Pull Over for a Cop on a Dark Road?

A really funny story as a lead in to an interesting topic:

If the video does not display, CLICK HERE

If someone tries to pull you over, what are your rights?

According to a police spokeswoman in this Washington Post article, civilians have some options
Caldwell said motorists have options when being pulled over. "Pull over in a well-lit spot where you feel safe," Caldwell said, "but be sure to acknowledge the officer. If you're hesitant or have any concern, ask for the officer's official credentials, and you can ask for a uniformed officer to respond" if a non-uniformed officer makes the stop."

I have heard that you can call dispatch on your cell phone and give them information so they can verify if an actual officer is trying to pull you over or not. They can also relay to the officer any concerns or hesitation on your part.

Best advice: call your local police department and ask for the laws in your state regarding your rights and options when being pulled over. Do this before it happens, so you know what your rights and options are if it does.


Fox News: On the Record with Greta Van Susteren. June 20, 2008. Your Stomach Will Hurt From Laughing [video]. Greta Wire Blog.

Jackman, Tom. 2008, January 8. Police in Fairfax say Cop-for-a-Day Failed to Pull Fast One on Real Officer. Washington Post. ppB01.

Irresponsible Canadian Justice Promotes Irresponsible Parenting

Photo © Chance Agrella

I find it ironic that the ‘bad parenting’ claim that is so often used in association with misbehaving youth is now being encouraged by a Canadian court justice.

In this article, “12-Year-Old Grounded for Too Much Internet Use Gets Punishment Overturned in Court”, a father who grounded his 12-year-old for her misuse of the internet including posting inappropriate photos of herself was taken to court by said 12-year-old. The Justice, in her laughable ‘wisdom’, deemed the consequence of no school outing for the girl as “too harsh”.

Does the Justice have children? Does she have higher than a two digit IQ?

To undermine parenting and to determine that breaking family rules and behaving inappropriately is not a big enough deal to warrant missing a school trip is ludicrous.

Her ruling sets a nasty precedent for unruly children everywhere – don’t want to follow the rules? Take mom and dad to court and maybe a lame-brained judge near you will overturn mom and dad’s authority in favor of your juvenile delinquency. After all, if you don't turn into nasty little delinquents whatever will these family court judges have to do?

Gimme a freakin’ break!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

How to Lose Friends and Alienate People

Photo © Chance Agrella

I make it pretty clear to those who get my email address that I am not interested in forwards, and I don’t want my email address publicly listed in recipient lists. The way to hide email addresses is to put them in the “BCC” field rather than “TO” or “CC”.

Despite this request for respect of my personal boundaries, there are a few people in my life who chose to continually and repeatedly ignore it. These people got blocked and ignored, and lost their spot in my life.

It may seem harsh, but there is a bigger issue at play than spam. The issue is respect for my personal rights and boundaries. There is simply no room in my life for anyone who feels their right to be annoying, inconsiderate, and rude outweighs my right to not be subject to it.

While I do not have to explain my reasons, for those who wonder why anyone would possibly not want their inbox deluged on a regular basis with jokes, ‘news’, and ‘warnings’, I will explain.

#1-I own and operate my own business. As such, I am the recipient of literally hundreds of email messages each day that I must address. I am not looking for more email to deal with.

#2-I do not have the time nor the inclination to deal with crap that has no relevance to my life and is largely falsehoods being circulated and re-circulated by people who don’t have the common sense to check out the information with or any other myth-busting organization before they senselessly panic people or ruin lives with completely fabricated nonsense and malicious untrue attacks on the character of others.

#3-While I welcome email from friends and family that update me on the latest news in their life, I, again, am not interested in forwards.

It is not ok to spread lies and falsehoods about others.

It is not ok to scare people with fabricated stories under the guise of relaying true stories of crime and true warnings of danger.

It is not ok to deluge others with mindless twaddle.

While society at large has become increasingly self-absorbed, I will forever maintain that there is absolutely no excuse for trampling the rights of others in the interest of self.

Don’t like it? Recognize that I am not the kind of person you want to associate with and lose my email address.

Crappy Customer Service – The New Way to Do Business

Not to date myself here, but ‘back in my day’ the rule about ‘the customer is always right’ was a big one. It was drilled into our heads at every place I worked. Another rule pounded into employee heads was how important great customer service was – to always be friendly, courteous, and helpful. It was part of our job to smile and say ‘Hello’ to each and every customer. It was also our job to go above and beyond the call of duty for customers. Happy customers will come back and will tell their friends about their wonderful experience. Unhappy customers will not come back and will shout to the moon about how awful their experience was.

I was taught that when dealing with money, you not only count back the change, but you place it in the customer’s hand – coins first. This is because not only did you count the change back coins first, but it is easier for the customer to control the money you give to them if the coins are in their palm, and the bills are on top. If you count back the change to the customer, you both know they were given the right amount or can catch a mistake. In all the time I worked as a cashier, the only time my till was ever off at all was when another cashier had access to it. Counting back change is a check and balance system for accuracy.

I was taught that even if the customer is ornery, while you did not have to take abuse, you should make every effort to be understanding, helpful, and pleasant. I cannot tell you how many times I calmed, pleased, and diffused the temper of irate customers by doing exactly that. I even had customers apologize to me for their behavior.

In the case of returns and exchanges, the same rules applied – courtesy, the customer is always right, and do everything within reason to make the customer happy. Even if they are unhappy with a product, they would be so happy with the customer service and with the easy return/exchange policy, they would feel assured they could make purchases with the store that they would ultimately not regret – the store would fix any problems.

Nowadays the rules have changed. Customers are treated as the enemy. Change is virtually thrown at customers by growling sourpuss cashiers who don’t even look at their customers, much less say ‘hello’ or smile. More than once I have counted back my own change after picking it up when it was thrown at me to find they had made a mistake and shorted me or overpaid me. When I brought it to their attention, they did not even care. Does the end of shift/day till counts not matter anymore?

Need to make a return or exchange? Good luck with that. Not only have policies at stores changed so much that it is difficult if not impossible to do so, but often customers are treated as if they are criminals trying to bilk the store simply because they want to do so.

If you used your card in making the purchase, while they likely immediately took the funds off your card, they won't immediately replace them on returns. You have to wait 3-5 days for 'processing'. Many stores push or will only give store credit now. No funds will be returned.

The online world of business is much the same. So much effort is put into developing a great website, marketing, and advertising that customer service is overlooked or ignored. Over the years, out of all the websites I have contacted with questions or problems I would estimate that only 10% ever responded. Of those, about 75% were form letter type responses that rarely addressed the actual concern in my contact.

Recently, the Hershey Company had something on their website asking for suggestions. I used the listed method of contact to give them a suggestion. They replied – with a form letter reply apologizing for my unhappiness with their product and letting me know a coupon was in the mail to me. Huh?

While I appreciate the thought, I did not complain about their product, and from a business standpoint, they just wasted the cost of the coupon, the mailing, and the savings from the coupon. With one customer, it may not seem like much, but Hershey Company is already struggling financially and if this is how their customer service operates, I doubt I was the only person who got a form letter and coupon. By the way, I never used the coupon. If it was a ploy to get me to buy the product, it did not work.

With so many choices available online, it is crucial that business up the level of their customer service in order to compete. With rare exception, there is not a business around that cannot be easily replaced by unhappy customers.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Manson Family Member Susan Atkins Who Reportedly 'Didn't Care' About Her Victims Wants Compassionate Release

I could not believe the CNN headlines I read today! "Ex-Manson follower dying, seeks release from prison" reports that convicted murderer Susan Atkins has sought a 'compassionate release' from prison because she has been diagnosed as terminally ill. The kicker is that it might actually be granted.

In the wee hours of a day in August of 1969, the very pregnant Sharon Tate and four others were brutally murdered by Charles Manson's followers. View Crime Scene Photos to see how brutal it was. This was not their only murderous crime. Another account may be found here.

There is some dispute as to her exact involvement in the murders in the early hours of that August day, but reports are that at the vary least, she rounded up the victims; tied up, struggled with, and stabbed one victim; held down the pregnant Sharon Tate while she pleaded for her baby's life and was repeatedly stabbed; told the pleading victim "Look b****, I don't care about you. I don't care if you're going to have a baby. You had better be ready. You're going to die and I don't feel anything about it..." and then a few minutes later killed her; tasted Sharon's blood; and wrote the word 'pig' on a door with Sharon Tate's blood. Her behavior immediately following the murders is just as disturbing, including reports of other things she wanted to do but did not have time for.

Later that day, the group, including Susan "Sadie" Atkins would kill again.

Eleven times this murderer has been denied parole. She had no compassion for any of the victims, including a pleading pregnant woman. After her conviction, she reportedly bragged in prison about her part in the murders. Her sentence was the death penalty which was later commuted to "life" due to the death penalty being dropped in California. The death penalty was later reinstated in that state.

Considering she has been denied parole eleven times, terminal illness should have no bearing on that. She was given the death sentence/life for her part in eight murders. Let her finish her sentence as it was ordered.

Compassionate release? Gimme a break!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Following Your Dreams

Photo © Lokigirl616

Over on one of my favorite writing gig boards there was an article about balancing parenting and freelance writing. It got me thinking about my own situation, and about the concept of following your dreams.

I have wanted to be a writer for as long as I can remember. Granted, while I was growing up, there were also a lot of other careers that interested me, too. However, the one constant other than astronaut and pilot was writer.

My earliest memory of the desire to be a writer was in second grade. We were given the assignment of writing a fictional story. I can't remember all the details, but I do remember after reading mine, the teacher had me read it in front of the class. The teacher and my classmates were laughing hysterically as I read my funny vacation story that involved a volcano.

As a teenager, my grandmother was the first family member to take an interest in my writing. Not only did she cry as I read her some of my love poems, but she told me I had a gift, and told me I got it from her mom. Her mother wrote beautiful poetry that had been published. My great-grandmother died when I was a baby, but she did get to spend time with me, though I don't remember her. Until the day when my grandmother told me that my great grandmother wrote poetry, I did not know.

The rest of my memories about writing consist of teachers and others who read my writing encouraging me to continue to write and complimenting my writing skills, while others in my life discouraged me and told me it was not realistic or practical to go into writing. They never read my writing, they just told me I was a dreamer and I would never succeed at writing.

Fast forward to today. I actually make a living as a writer, have won one award thus far as a professional writer, and I am continuing to advance in my career.

I see my son dream about different careers and I am careful to not discourage him from doing what it takes to achieve them. Despite the naysayers he has around him, he sees me doing what I love and have always dreamed of doing, and it gives him hope.

When it comes to following your dreams, where do your beliefs lie?

Friday, June 6, 2008

Susan Saradon - Unwitting McCain Supporter

Susan Sarandon's threat to leave the country if Senator John McCain becomes our next president has the potential to sign, seal, and deliver his win. McCain supporters everywhere thank her for her unwitting support to their cause.

Most average citizens are sick to death of the Hollywood elite spouting off about things they nothing about, and whining about not getting their own self-involved way.

Ms Sarandon is not concerned with what the regular folks in this country want - for if the majority elects Senator McCain, then clearly the majority want him in office. Ms Sarandon is only concerned with getting what she wants and if she doesn't get what she wants she will display her childish tantrum by moving to Italy or Canada.

Goodbye. Sayanora. Farewell. Bon Voyage. Adieu. Ciao. Antio sas. Aloha. Selamat jalan. Au revoir. Arrivederci. Itte irasshai. Nwenda kiambote. Tikala malamu.

I support free speech, and I support the rights the citizens of this country have to not only publicly disagree with the government, but to freely leave this country for any reason they choose.

Contrary to what the mouthy Ms. Behar says, Ms Sarandon and Mr Robbins do NOT fit the definition of "Patriot". The official definition of a "Patriot" is one who loves, supports, and defends their country.

I would add, that a patriot is also one, who in their love of country, finds positive and respectful ways to make changes when the leadership shows it is comprised of less than perfect people, or when flaws appear in the system.

So, fare-thee-well to Susan Sarandon and, I am assuming, Tim Robbins. I wonder if we can give their space here to two immigrants who would be thrilled to live here?

For the record, she is not the first celebrity to make such a claim, but she would be among the very very few who have moved elsewhere if she followed through.


Goodbye in 450 Languages.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Virtual Health Care: See Your Doctor Online

I wrote a short article about the money and time-saving benefits of virtual medical care, and I think it is an interesting topic for discussion. I couldn't include all the information I found in the article I wrote, but what I found is amazing and feasible.

I can't reprint the article, but I can give you a link to check it out.

Virtual Health Care: Online Doctor's Office Visits Coming Soon

What do YOU think about virtual health care and being able to consult with your doctor via email and IM for most things? What do you think about the application of virtual health care as a means of creating more affordable health care?

Monday, May 26, 2008

Honoring Our Troops This Memorial Day 2008

Photo © Chance Agrella

I wanted to post a few things today that would help honor and remember our troops.

From A Family Remembers Their Medal of Honor Recipient. A riveting story about Medal of Honor recipient, Lt. Michael P. Murhpy. The end of the story will bring tears to your eyes.

From that same story, a link to photos of the medal and a few recent Medal of Honor Recipients.

From Riderless Horse Adds Poignancy to Military Burials. The history of the riderless horse and the explanation of its symbolism and current usage.

From, an AP story about President Bush honoring the troops in Arlington, Virginia.

Also from, a video, U.S. Soldiers Mark Memorial Day.

Fox News Special: Company of Heroes courtesy of Hulu (1:20:37)
*NOTE: a caution at the beginning of this special warns that it is not for children and contains language and images that may be disturbing.

And, a personal note to my cousin and her husband who are members of the Marines. She is the first female in our family to serve, and the only member of our family in our generation to serve:

“S, I am so very proud of you and J!!!! I keep you both in my prayers. Be safe, and keep up the fine work. Hope to see you soon! Much love, ME.”

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Memorial Day Weekend USA – A Tribute to the American Solider

What you do is something many would not. Regardless of your personal and religious beliefs, you serve your country with honor, and do as your country dictates for the sake of its people and the people of other lands.

Your daily life is difficult, dirty, and partaken under some of the most extreme conditions in the world. Some honor and respect you – while others revile and despise you – and still you march on, doing what you feel is the right thing to do.

Your sacrifice, your service, your selflessness have not gone unnoticed. Today, I pay you tribute and honor you for all you do for me, my family, the country we share, and for so many others across the globe.

From the bottom of my heart, on this Memorial Day Weekend, and every day, I thank you. You have my love, respect, support, and prayers. This tribute is for you.

Fox News Special - V for Valor: American Heroes in Iraq courtesy of HULU TV (39:05)

Toby Keith’s American Soldier from Beevmeister

Project Never Forget honors fallen soldiers by offering a free photo charm to family members.

Until Then - a photographic and musical tribute from the employees of GSC Distributing. The music is from the Brigham Young University Choirs. The song is titled, “Homeward Bound”. The presentation was created by T. Clegg. is a site completely devoted to honoring our servicemen and women. The man behind the site also personally sends out care packages to our troops. Check the “Ways to Write/Support Our Troops” link on his site for more information.

K-Love’s Wall of Prayer for our troops is a place to post a name (First name only please) of a soldier to be prayed for. Please respect the safety and security of our troops by not posting full names, dates, locations, troop movements, etc.

Dear American Solider Letter Writing Campaign from American Family Radio
. Write or email a letter to an American Soldier to let them know how much you appreciate them.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Military Service Makes McCain Unfit for the Office of President of the United States?

There are reports that Democratic Senator Harkin has stated that Sen. McCain’s military service makes him unfit to serve as the country’s president.

I vehemently and most adamantly disagree. Since the President of the United States is also the Commander-in-Chief for the military and must make decisions that affect our military, I think it is a benefit to understand how the military truly functions, and what serving your country during a time of war means.

Our country’s defense and foreign aid through military support systems must be run by those who understand it best. Those who have never been in the military do not understand the intricacies involved, or what goes on in war situations. How can they possibly tackle such an important aspect of running our country when they have no background with our military, and perhaps even have protested against it? Common sense dictates that it would be those who would be unfit to run the country due to their skewed perspective.

I personally think it should be a requirement that anyone running for president should have some military experience as well as other life, diplomacy, and business experience in order to make the best decisions possible for our country.

Too often too much power is given over to advisers who may have their own agendas or may put their own spin on things. If our president has a solid background in the areas that truly count, he will be less likely to be steered wrong, and more likely to spot inconsistencies and agendas in the Intel he is given.

I come from a proud family history of military service. In my youth, I did consider joining, but at that time women were not allowed to be fighter pilots (which is what I wanted to do), and a high school injury cast doubts upon my being able to pass the physical with both the Navy and the Air Force. However, I have worked as a civilian on two different military bases, and have dated many military men. I understand there is a difference between military personnel and civilians, as well as how the military operates versus how civilian enterprises operate. In this day and age, we need a leader who understands those things, too. Only such a person can see how to have the best of both worlds in order to produce the best possible outcomes for us, and for the others in the world who need or ask for our help.

Video created by Littlebrat672
Copyright © 2008 - 2011 Daniella Nicole. All rights reserved.