October 29, 2013

All Over the Map

I don't know about you, but I've seen lots of maps lately. Maybe it's because I live in D.C., which is chock-full of representatives that depend on the demographics illustrated by those maps for their jobs. Maybe it's because D.C. prides itself on its Metro system (HAHA okay, Metro prides itself on its Metro system), so the the D.C. Metro map is also fairly ubiquitous in this city. 

Lately, Time magazine's "America's Mood Map" has been making the rounds on social media. It's fun to play with and to see where you end up and how close it actually is to where you currently live. It's also interesting to take the quiz multiple times to see if you get the same response. For example, I took the quiz in the morning and got Maine--independent and temperamental. In the afternoon of the same day I retook the quiz and was told I should be packin' my bags for North Carolina, which ranks high in the relaxed and creative category. I think this just means I'm not a morning person. 

One of my favorite maps of late is Slate's United Sports of America. For the states (Mississippi and Alabama) and district (Columbia) in which I've actually resided, I think it's 100% accurate. Mississippi calendars and weekend plans are often defined by deer huntin', and even if you're not a fan of the Crimson Tide (what, you don't like to win?) the Alabama vs. Auburn Iron Bowl is considered one of the fiercest rivalries in college sports. D.C.'s sport is kickball, which might sound random unless you've lived here. Adult kickball leagues have their roots in our nation's capital, probably as a great way to let off some steam after a long day at the office. 

United Sports of America map
via Slate
Some of the sports seem questionable, like cornhole (Ohio) and pumpkin chunking (Delaware). Likewise, some states seem to have gotten the shaft; New Jersey is the home of youth soccer, and Utah is the state for you if you're looking for church basketball. Interesting to say the least. 

October 9, 2013


I posted a few days ago about the government shutdown and the World War II veterans from Mississippi who stormed the National Mall so they could see the WWII Memorial. Their memorial. As the shutdown continues, it means lots of different things to different people. Although D.C. doesn't have its own "state" budget, Mayor Vincent Gray has deemed city employees essential, so our trash is getting picked up and we're still getting parking tickets (and in all honestly, a host of other government resources that I'm too lazy to enumerate). So far, for me it's more of an annoyance than a life-altering incident.

It's easy to complain and moan about how ridiculous Congress is acting over this, and I think [most sane] people across the political spectrum agree that a government shutdown is in fact, ridiculous. Trash building up on the National Mall is a sad sight to see, tourists spending money to travel to national parks and memorials that are closed are understandably frustrated, and many businesses are losing money because of reduced spending. However, this is a good time to keep things in perspective and differentiate between irritants and actual tragedies, like cancer patients not receiving treatment, veterans and their families not receiving benefits, and other harmful, serious and potentially life-threatening effects of the government shutdown. 

A friend (not the author) shared this Facebook post about keeping things in perspective. It's a good reminder for everyone.

Perspective. Got stuck in the lone checkout line at Safeway behind a woman buying groceries with her EBT card (food stamps). She had her teenaged son with her and a huge stack of coupons. I’ve been having a frustrating week. I was wearing coat and tie and probably had a grumpy look on my face when I arrived. The woman working the register kept looking at me apologetically as time went on and the line grew.  
The shopper had a coupon for almost every item. She went through that stack of coupons four times slowly because she was missing one. I think she had coupons for apples, soup, pasta, rice, beans, and bread. She was missing a 60 cent coupon for her two cartons of almond milk. She had a list and had calculated to the penny what she could buy, had $70 on her EBT card and $20 or so on a check she had written but she was $1.20 short to finalize the purchase. 
I was tempted to pass the woman two bucks but she was already starting to radiate with awkward embarrassment. Her son stood behind her and stared at the floor. Finally the shopper asked the register worker if there was any way she could look through the weekly flier and find the coupon she needed and the worker started paging through it for her.  
My irritation dissipated the longer I stood there. Its been a long time since I agonized over $1.20 for food. I’ve never had to do it with a crowd behind me. I could see the time and care she had put into her shopping trip, calculating the cost, clipping coupons, buying cheap healthy food.  
I relaxed. I smiled. The coupon was finally found and the sale made. The register worker kept thanking me for my patience. I suppose these days most folks expect a certain amount of eye-rolling and grimacing when a customer is inconvenienced for a few minutes. We’re very busy people. 
By Monday the shutdown will have cost me enough from a plane ticket change fee and a lost weekend of National Guard wages that it will sting. But I won’t miss a meal, or even skimp. I won’t miss a mortgage payment. I won’t fear for my phone or electricity being shut off. I have friends that may. I’m grateful for all that America has given me. I’m glad my wife has a good-paying job. 
Not everyone is so lucky. We have young National Guard soldiers here in Washington State that rely on their drill pay for food and lodging and on military tuition assistance to pay for college. They won’t be getting either due to the shutdown. Each of them volunteered to serve in their nation’s military during time of war, uncertain of the cost.  
This will likely, hopefully, be resolved before my young soldiers or friends in federal service even have time to apply for food stamps or unemployment. But not, perhaps, before a few missed payments, missed meals, and sleepless nights. It bothers me to see them treated this way.
The Legislative Branch of our government has its work cut out for it. I’d like to see them take up that task with the same zeal, teamwork and selfless sense of service to nation and community I see in the young soldiers and law enforcement officers that work for me. I’d like that a great deal. 
All I did. The best I did today, was to stand patiently in line behind someone less fortunate than myself and not act like a complete ass. The woman at the register seemed appreciative. Almost like she expected me to be annoyed. Is this what we’ve come to? Is this what people expect.
Patience. Compassion. Persistence. Teamwork. I expect these attributes of my most junior employees. I expect them of myself. I expect them of my government.

October 8, 2013

Shopping for a Cause

Several years ago, my friend Bree invited me to a Stella & Dot jewelry show that a friend of a friend was hosting. At the time, I had never heard of Stella & Dot but as there were to be mimosas and brunch, so I accepted her invitation gladly. It turned out that Stella & Dot is a jewelry line started by two friends who named the company after their grandmothers; you can only order through a registered Stella & Dot personal stylist which is a nice little personal touch in this day and age of anonymous online shopping. I purchased a necklace at that first show and have been a fan ever since.

I've been to several parties and trunk shows throughout the years since, and more often than not I leave with a gift for someone or something sparkly for myself. The line has branched out from necklaces, bracelets and earrings into accessories like tote bags, wallets and scarves. Lucky for me, my sister is a stylist so I can order whenever I want!

I just found that in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, throughout October 100% of net proceeds from Stella & Dot's Breast Cancer Awareness Boutique will support the Noreen Fraser Foundation. Take a look at the collection on the current trunk show and fight breast cancer in style! http://www.stelladot.com/ts/cujt5

Learn more about the Noreen Fraser Foundation:

October 1, 2013

Shutdown, Schmutdown

Well, the federal government officially shut down this morning at 12:01 a.m. I was awake catching up on Nashville (OMG DEACON) and reminiscing about Snood with my fellow insomniac Kelly when the shutdown began. The earth did not tremble, the lights did not go out, and sirens were not sounded. Basically, the government continued to do nothing, as usual. (If you're wondering what happens to us folks living in the District of Columbia since we are not a state, our illustrious mayor Vincent Gray has deemed all D.C. government employees "essential", meaning parking attendants will still be waiting for your time limit to go over by ONE MINUTE before ticketing you. If you weren't wondering, well, now you know.)

Anyway, the #shutdownpickuplines hashtag on Twitter has been entertaining while the finger-pointing and mud-slinging from both sides reminds me a lot of pre-school.

The best thing I've read today is the story of the Mississippi veterans storming the World War II Memorial on the National Mall. Located on national park grounds, the memorial was officially closed today, but National Park Service personnel and perhaps a Congressman or two simply move the metal barricades and let the veterans inside. 

via Buzzfeed

F*ck yeah, America.