Archive for the ‘Personal’ Category

Before one talks about Islam and the Middle East these days, it is important to start with a context.  There is so much disparaging that I believe it is critical to show the side of life and belief that are not talked about or portrayed on Western media channels.

Unlike Western languages, Middle Eastern languages are symbolic.  A word is more than a concept or a group of letters or set of grammatical rules.  A word is a philosophy.  The above image showcases Compassion. I do not read or understand the language so I will share the explanation from the page from which it is shared:

Bismil-Laahir-Rahmaannir-Raheem is the soul of Islam which recognizes and honors the very existence and all Blessings, Compassion and it’s the very source of all Mercy from Almighty Allah Subhaanahu wa Taala who responds to our moral integrity and our tremendous love for Him . This is said at any tasks that Muslims take before entering a house, eating, reading a book and also beginning any prayers.

I find it appropriate for this blog post because I use this post to join my voice to those of outsiders begging for compassion for Raif Badawi and those like him.  For those unfamiliar with Raif Badawi, you can read a summary of his story here.  Before you start pontificating about Islamic barbarism, I’d like to remind everyone of a certain period in Western History called The Holy Inquisition.  Those who claim the West has become more civilized would have to answer the question my heart friend labeled by others as an atheist has asked: if you believe in a loving God, why must honoring his love be done through the destruction or demeaning of others?

Many Western countries believe in the separation of Church and State.  In this belief lies the assertion that each should have no authority over the other.  In the Middle East the approach has been Church and State are one.  Muhammad was both a religious prophet and a military general.  He brought unity to the Middle East.  You can read a brief account of his life here.  His legacy was preserved for centuries but now the current state of chaos and destruction has many questioning and looking for the path that will restore safety and order.  An insight on some of the debates.

I do not know the sum totality of Raif Badawi’s writings or talks.  All I know is the little I have read in the link I have shared.  A see a man bitter about the level of despair he is living in and desperate for a change that will bring peace and order so he can sleep soundly knowing his wife and children are safe and healthy.  In anguish we say many harsh things that, in a calm state, we would most likely have said a little differently.  Add to this the mixed blessings of youth that has not yet been tempered by aged deference to the status quo or to patience.

Most importantly, I cannot tell people of another country how they should administer their own laws or what they should believe and do.  What I can do at this time is share my confusion.  The Islam I grew up watching as an outsider was so peaceful and benevolent it made me feel Christianity often feel short on the true meaning of God and Love.  The Islam I see today is factionalized and violent.  The writings and principles of Islam have not changed so what has happened?

There are times in any culture and history when a person or an action becomes symbolic of a much larger meaning than the context in which it originally took place.  Raif Badawi and others are becoming such symbols.  Throughout the Islamic diaspora there is open debate on the rights to self-determination, religious practice and self-expression.  Here are views from Malaysia and Britain.  As an outsider, it is hard for me to understand how flogging anyone will settle such debates.  Catholics have tried flogging and self-flagellation  both of which still have supporters.  However, for most (myself included), such practices alienate people from religion, acceptance and tolerance.

It is important to note that daily life still goes on despite chaos and conflict.  Here is an image from a caligraphy workshop:

Fear and terror should have no part of daily life.  Hence, for me the debate is not about whether Raif Badawi should be flogged, imprisoned or exiled.  The debate is about what is the best mechanism to practice Bismil-Laahir-Rahmaannir-Raheem in the current Middle East?  As an outsider, I humbly beg for mercy to be shown as a symbol of compassion and tolerance during such difficult times.


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Sharing Faith

#Give Faith, #Build Leaders, #Positive Prophecy, #Give Happiness, #Practice Kindness, #Seek Knowledge

I participate in a group designed to build women leaders and celebrate the feminine side of power. On the work/life side is StudioG http://www.studiogsandiego.com/#!studioglabs/c6os. On the Faith/Reflection side is Resurgence.  The goal is to create a safe space for women to explore their identity and their ability to be agents of change in the world.

Men are welcome and encouraged. As women we know what it is like to be excluded from “power circles” and are deliberately focused on being inclusive. However, we do caution that the group is a conflict free and complaint free zone. You come to the group with positive energy, positive language (about yourself and others), positive attitude (irrespective of what you are going through in life) and a desire for growth (at all levels of your personality and life).

As a group, we learn to embrace and celebrate our differences through the Path Elements Profile (PEP)™ http://pathelementsprofile.com. Shelly Shepherd honors her last name by shepherding us to overcome our creative tensions and pursue our destinies. We shared the delight of hearing Laurie Beth Jones read her forthcoming book The Contessa Chronicles which teaches us, among other things, that Wisdom is a woman and the real strength that taught Solomon and other wise men. (Evidence for non-believers http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wisdom_literature and http://www.women-philosophers.com/Teachers-of-Socrates.html). It also gives a liberating and deep felt belly laugh window into the possibilities of Divine Family.

I have been part of the group for 9 months. In this time, I have identified systemic improvement as my core value and started to explore what it means to be 10x bolder in advancing sustainability. I have also had the honor and priviledge of watching others blossom. Liz has taken her passion for healthy living and launched her own wellness training series http://lizzardfit.tumblr.com/ plus got her mom to join the group! Molly has found her voice and is using her Human Resources skills to teach us all how to create a life full of possibilities that we WANT and controlwww.discovercareercompass.com.

Then we have members like Leslie Bailey who bring forth Quijotesque goals. Leslie told us, I want people to have FAITH. I don’t want fights about God and religion. I want people to share love, happiness and the belief that good IS in this world protecting us at all times. Well, this goal is definitely not a solo act!

Leslie asked that we help her reach her goal by “sharing an encouraging quote or verse. It should be a favorite text verse/motivational poem/prayer/meditation that has lifted you when you were experiencing challenging times.”

I guess this doesn’t carry the same “legitimacy” without an explanation of what I’ve found most challenging in life.  My arrival to San Diego in 2010 was an arduous journey.  I left the safety of family and friends to come to a city where I knew no one because I was 100% sure I’d get the help I needed to reach my goals.  For the first 3yrs I mostly found hatred (granted there were kind people).  The personal cost was high and for a six month period, statements like these (stated as “normal conversation” below my apartment window so that there was no proof of harm and I would be dismissed as crazy) were a daily occurrence:

On Wed, Mar 7, 2012 at 9:08 PM, Sara Smith <sis010771@yahoo.com> wrote:

On my birthday in November 2011, I couldn’t take it anymore and ran away by driving off terrified.  I got arrested for speeding and failing to yield to police.  In March 2012 I was arrested for “felony evasion of police.”  I spent 12 months in jail (I refused to post bail, I told the first defense attorney she was completely incompetent so she declared me mentally incompetent, I decided to exercise my constitutional right to refuse to co-operate with mental examination and got put in a state prison hospital with forced medication).  The first label assigned was schizophrenic.  This was then changed to bi-polar.  Ironically, all those who have made the “diagnoses” have never talked to any of my doctors or family or friends (even though I’ve been on this planet for 43yrs and have never had such labels assigned to me before).  Very triumphantly they have declared themselves the triumphant discoverers of a “truth” everyone else missed.

Soooo, when I hear about campaigns to create controversy by banning words like “bossy”  I think, if you really want controversy, why not ban hate speech?  Answer, as despicable as it is, in the US Constitution it’s protected by the 1st Amendment.  The irony of my situation is that the Coronado Police did their best to help me.  They warned, this is dangerous territory and you cannot deal with this alone.  We know this is hard but try to keep yourself away from people like these.  I was too focused on proving I had the same rights to exist to listen.  The one label that I do accept out of all of this is “oppositionally defiant.”  Telling me that this approach doesn’t win friends and influence people is like telling me I’m black.  Really???? I must have not seen this EVERY time I look in the mirror so thank you for pointing out the obvious (I AM being sarcastic).

At StudioG we learn to find ways to harness our nature for the benefit of others.  When I was released from jail (pled guilty just to get out) family and friends insisted I should go back to safety.  However, my oppsitionally defiant side took over: I’m staying right here in the same city where I experienced the unthinkable because I’m going to finish what I came here to do – build myself professionally and become a sustainability thought leader.  As if by magic, everything started to transform and on a daily basis people who are 100% committed to helping me reach this goal have started to mentor me (most without knowing the struggle behind the struggle – at least until now).  They are doing everything they can to make my life easy and happy.  They push me to reach beyond anything I have imagined for myself (here I thought I was a big dreamer).  In short, when Leslie says, have FAITH, it pays off, I can testify to that!

The biggest lesson learned over the past 3 years is that we have choices.  I should have chosen to handle things differently but I didn’t.  Those full of hate could have chosen to be nice and kind people but they didn’t.   In the end, it was a zero sum game.  I don’t know what price they paid and I really don’t care.  Living a life consumed by such hatred is prison and hell enough.  I thank God and the Universe EVERY DAY that I’m not them!!!  I also give thanks for getting away from them and finding safety in San Diego.  I won’t lie and say there was no urge for vendetta.  However, that would turn me into that and that is NOT my life!  During trials like these one has to learn to be good just because.  While in jail, there was no reward for being good.  I was shell shocked to hear how hard other women’s lives have been and what they have survived.  My belief in a system that yields justice was destroyed and replaced by the knowledge of a system that delivers punishment at all costs.  Yet, in that hell, the very people I was always told to stay away from (repeat criminals) are the ones who protected me and taught me how to survive because they realized I would never make it without their help.  Every day I felt the guilt of knowing that, in my world, nobody would give them the same help because they would always be “a criminal.”  I’ve sought refuge in a gated community and made sure that I don’t live alone.  I will never accept breaking the law as a norm or as a solution but I feel an obligation to create a world where people are not trapped by “the system.”

The words we use are important.  Every day we can make a choice to try and destroy people’s emotions or to uplift them.  Positive Prophecy is the act of saying and doing things that uplift others to goodness and greatness.  Helping others do what is right.  I cannot let criminals into my life but I can use my voice to tell others to stop the hate and stop the abuse.  Let’s build a world where people hear good things from the day they are born until the day they die.  There are many other female leaders who have called for this and all I’m doing is adding to the chorus.

One of the videos we watched the first Unlocking Your Genius series I attended is

Martina McBride’s  Anyway http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6uLtyzRgmyI&desktop_uri=%2Fwatch%3Fv%3D6uLtyzRgmyI#

As a Catholic, this aligns well with Mother Teresa’s Do It Anyway prayer.http://prayerfoundation.org/mother_teresa_do_it_anyway.htm

I’m no Mother Teresa but, every time I feel discouraged, I think of her other reminder:

“We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop.” http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/m/mothertere121243.html

And practice her prayer….

Sooo, even if you are not religious and even if you don’t believe in God, please help Leslie reach her goal by posting  your favorite text verse/motivational poem/prayer/meditation that has lifted you when you were experiencing challenging times.

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To my nephews (sons) Scotty and Dasi:

I always promised your Mom that if anything ever happened, I would care for you. The problem is I’ve never given this Mom thing daily practice. While I learn, here are some lessons to remember:

Little things (most important first)

Your Mom was (is) the personification of love and faith. She wanted us all to understand and experience the rapture of God’s love. I look around me and often find it difficult to believe. Your Mom never had that problem: “make it through another day,” she would say, “you will see…” Sometimes days turn into years. She taught me to look for little signs along the way. A baby’s smile. Stories from those who have experienced miracles. A flower. People helping people or risking their lives to save someone/something for no good reason. “You’ll never see these things if you don’t look. That’s why the Bible says ‘seek and ye shall find’.” Here is a video of what love looks like through my eyes (by the way, no graffitti – you need to respect property that is not yours; use a canvas or cardboard) . Here is a video of what love looks like through your Mom’s eyes (she loved images like these – make plans to find such places and take your own pictures).

Make time for the little things. Your Mom would say, “Cecilia, on those VERY special days (she’d consider them miracles and bless God for witnessing) that you actually go to your Church, why don’t you ever invite me?” I would laugh and say, “because I don’t plan. On those rare occasions that the Spirit moves me to go to mass, I just find one and go.” I should have planned! I always thought there would be more time.

Work hard, even when you are too tired to go on. Play and relax as well. God willing you find work that you love so you enjoy work as much as you do play. There is no need for stress or anguish in this world. Get the maximum education there is but don’t loose your common sense. Somethings once lost are lost forever. Even complex things have a simple purpose (e.g. your brain keeps you alive).

Stand your ground and be proud of who you are but NEVER put others down even when they are stepping on you. Cream just floats its way to the top, dissolves, and makes everything yummy (plus is very slippery if stepped on). Be like cream!

What I learned about death from your aunts and uncles: “We like to say that those who have passed are lost. The reality is we know exactly where they are. We get confused because we feel them in our hearts and picture them in our minds but cannot hear them with our ears or see them with our eyes. Yes we miss them but we should rejoice for the pleasure to have known them and been with them.” Always remember that you are the delight of your parents and that when we see you, we see them.  Your presence in this world keeps your Mom alive for us.

Big things (most difficult second)

ONE: Talk to us when things are bothering you or don’t make sense. You may not like or agree with what we have to say and, yes there may be other better ways but always remember, compared to us, you are young. If we don’t know everything, you certainly don’t either. We have seen a lot in this world and are here to protect you, as best we can, from what is bad so that you can spend your lives enjoying what is good. There is no need to repeat our mistakes so when we tell you you are making a mistake, listen!

TWO: Speaking of bad, there are people in this world (from all incomes, colors, places, professions, even “faiths”) who are right proper Devil worshippers. They look like everyone else, they may even be beguiling and seem sweet or appear in need of help (some even beg for help asking you to give them strength and show them the way). You will recognize them because they speak intolerance and negativity (they will even have facts that are valid, but misconstrued, and reasoning that passes logical tests but fails ethical ones). They will never leave room for other arguments and will even calmly and patiently take time to dissuade you so they can teach you something better. Evil’s best disguise is to look more seductive than or just like good but something will always be off and they will tell you something is off with you. You will see the glimmer of pride in their eye when they feel superior to someone else. Some are boastful others appear meek but they thrive on fear and distrust (ill intentions). Dysfunction is logical to them and always someone else’s problem (while professing or promising to help you get rid of it). They avoid putting their real beliefs in writing or displaying them publicly. They talk of drama instead of going to the theatre and supporting the arts. When they see kindness they call it weakness. When they hear the truth, they mock it. In Africa we say they act like hyenas and jackals (remember the scenes from the movie Lion King). However, this is an insult to hyenas and jackals. The animal brain functions on instinct. The human brain can distinguish the subtleties between good and evil and makes choices. When such people attack you, first, come to us immediately. Trust your aunt who has tried to fight such people alone – the military does not send lone soldiers to fight wars and such people (even when they first appear individually) never travel alone. Second, if we are not there or can’t get to you immediately, know that we will get there. Third, don’t defend yourself using their beliefs, words or tactics. The battle with them is a long war not a short skirmish. If you let their ways creep into your life, you’ll win the battle but lose the war. Take it from a Catholic (we’ve taught a lot of Holy wars).

THREE: Help your father! He works very hard to give you every opportunity. He gets tired and frustrated just like you do. He misses your Mom even more than you do. She was his soulmate, best friend, guide and source of happiness. Keep this blessing alive by helping him the way she would help him. It is you who carry her blood in your veins not us. We are here to remind you, love you and support you. Make sure everything that you do is something that would have put a smile on her face. You know the one I mean.

FOUR: Don’t pray like I do. “Dear Lord, those with a lot of accumulated knowledge often lack common sense. For an all knowing, all powerful being, you don’t have any common sense. When I asked you to save Hildah, common sense would have told you I meant keep her here with us happy, healthy, wealthy (you sometimes forget we need money). Don’t talk to me about your wisdom when you can’t show me common sense and don’t tell me about mysteries I can’t understand because if you really were smart you could explain things in ways that I CAN understand!” Your mother was very afraid that God will send me a personalized lightening bolt someday so that I gain instant enlightenment, literally! In case she’s right, pray her way. “Dear Lord, I know you are all powerful for you sent your son Jesus as a sign of LOVE. [Sidenote: not everyone belives in Jesus or God and you must respect that. However, just about everyone in this world has heard of this crazy preacher who was willing to die for his beliefs and forgive his tormentors. There is even a book about it and several movies.] You blessed me with two sons and you know I love them more than my own life. You know full well that I did not want to leave them but I will not question your wisdom. I will trust that this is the best decision for me, for them, for my husband, for my family and for my friends. Please protect them at all times, especially when they are not listening or aware they are in danger. Please instill in them your strength and all powerful wisdom so that they can make this world a better place for everyone. Let them bring your kingdom of peace, love and happiness to this earth, one person at a time. Let those who know them believe, protect and help them for we are all your children and must see ourselves in each other. AMEN (meaning: thy will be done).”

To the World:

When Hildah was alive, she was always near her sons. They may not have a biological mother but they still have a mother in me their aunt. Let no one say I cannot be reached or be found. Even if something were to happen to me, I have written this so that what is expected of them is clear. If anyone tries to harm them or cause them trouble, you now know the face that will come after you.

I need to deal with a challenge they have faced up front. My nephews would get frustrated by people who put them down for being African. When their mother was alive, she would face such people on their behalf and stun them with the grace of her presence. I am not as tactful or peaceful. I also don’t want anyone questioning them when they share what I tell them so I am writing it here for ALL to see. Despite negative images, stereotypes and propaganda, THIS, is Africa (click to see video). We are clans not because we are primitive and backwards but because we know the importance of keeping track of family (not just immediate but 12 to 18 removed along with their spouses and their children). If you have chosen to forget or lose your connections you may laugh at our dependence on oral history but the human mind, especially as a collective, is a better supercomputer than any invention and holds more details than any written or visual record. Scott and Dasi Nanji belong to the Mobit and Nanji clans from Cameroon (West Africa). They are also answered for in the East and I hereby formally request for the Karachuonyo and Nyakach clans (Kenya) to accept and welcome them and grant them safe keeping.

[Note to family: yes, they tell the truth when they say “Aunty Cecilia says not to send money.” In case you haven’t heard me directly, we are not billionaires living at the Ritz and there is plenty of money to be made back home plus a better lifestyle. They are still children and will decide how to handle these issues when they are grown men and settled. Right now their priority is their school fees and then it will be establishing their careers. Like me, Hildah came to the US after high school; we’ve been here so long it is what we know and we have responsibilities to the kind Americans who were shocked we would venture so far from family and have welcomed us into theirs. They have asked that we stay and show success here. For these boys, America is home. It is where they were born and raised. Different from what we are used to, yes. On the bright side who would have ever thought the first black US President would have Kenyan blood and serve two terms! What other country has a Constitution that protects such things? As for the country people (for non-Africans, “country people” does not denote rural; it means the people who share a land/area/region and culture as their own): The ones in Connecticut taught me as much US history and culture as they could in 4 years. The ones in Pittsburgh taught me we value the same things as people. The ones in Colorado showed me their natural landscapes and asked if I found them as pleasing as ours, to which I readily replied yes. The ones in California have taught me, “don’t talk like us, talk like yourself. We love learning from other people. Oh, and here are some fresh vegetables you might actually like.” I actually look for veggies now, can you believe! I have yet to live South but, when I visit, they eat and talk like we do! These are a special people and there is a lot to learn and share. Hildah lived in Pittsburgh but traveled all over to see friends and family plus places on a map. She asked that her body not be taken home and burried in Pittsburgh so her sons could visit on Mother’s Day. This request has been honored. My wishes for burial when I die – no screaming because I am most singularly unanimous in my decision. I don’t want headaches over my dead body; it will have served its purpose by that point. Burn my body (cremation) and spread the ashes in as many locations as you think my body should be. This way I will achieve in death what is impossible in life – to be physically present in multiple places at once. Hildah was going to make sure you all did this even if she didn’t agree with cremation. Now I’ll just have to hear you gasp for my own self.]

On the Puerto Rican side, talk about Catholics and Holy miracles (caray! Pues, nunca es lo que uno espera hacer sino lo que Dios mande). I have two sons and I need help from Mamaseses and Papaseses! We’re like white rice (found everywhere in the world) so please help me look after these boys and call me if they misbehave. Ya tu sabes

The final song played to celebrate Hildah’s life before the burial: My God is good, I will lift him higher! Followed by two Christian words known and spoke in all languages: Hallelujah, Hossana! (apologies for poor image and bad sound in the video) .

Hilda Memory

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It has been years since I tried to wax poetic so here goes….

For the past 8 weeks I have been participating in a Sunday reflection group where we discuss faith (not as in religion but as in faith that overcomes all obstacles) and the role of women in society. Before the group, I could only state that I know women as leaders are different but I could not tangibly express why. While we all encompass both male and female energy, many don’t think of women as a force, let alone a powerful force. We are symbiotic and balance. If we are excluded, imbalance occurs.

The following ode defines women

Female Energy:

I am Presence. I have existed before time.
Many have attempted to defeat me and have failed.
Their brutality is their weakness.
My strength is existence itself. My force is life.
Truth has me as counsel because my voice, although soft,
rings deep and shifts the unseen.
Even if I stand alone among you, silent and fully covered,
you will know I exist and I am undeniable.
I nurture life and life radiates from me like a beacon through darkness.
My adaptability is infinite. Richness and abundance flow through me.
I am the completing embrace of love. I am the victory of wisdom!

Contrast this with men and the need for both is clear.

Male Energy:

I am Determination. I have built the structure and order of things.
I give form and shape to the invisible.
Many have attempted to destroy me and have failed.
Their ignorance is their weakness. I am the voice of reason.
My strength is universal. My force is direction.
Truth builds on me because I incorporate all things.
If I were to stand among you alone and raise my voice,
you would not notice I am naked because my voice can move mountains.
Life exists because I create it and protect it. My dependability is steadfast.
Wealth and luxury flow through me.
I am the forming embrace of love. I am the victory of conception!

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Single-hood reflections…

Alright, I’m more than aware that I am not the only single person on the planet looking for a GOOD relationship.  I got the idea of posting about it from another blog.  The woman on this blog announces herself as bitter which left me scratching my head a bit.  Initially I thought it would be a conversation of how the label of “bitter” gets randomly applied to single women as a reason for their being single but, no, this person seems to be bonafide bitter about a number of things (you can see for yourself).

The term I would use instead of “bitter” is disappointed.  Men in general are highly attractive creatures, to say the least.  There is nothing more reassuring than a positive relationship with a man who is secure with himself.  There is a jovial frankness only the male perspective can provide (women can be funny and direct but this is not the same thing).  Then there is the practical side of having someone who can lift heavy objects etc.  The physical benefits are self explicit since puberty.

Where does disappointment come in?  Three types of dangers in “super hero/successful male” or “nice guy” clothing:

Overblown ego – wait until I’m ready, however long this takes.  Answer: no thanks! I may hate being single but I’m not a doormat.  However I can point you to a wide range of prices on doormats…..

Controlling and domineering – do things my way and you’ll be happy; do things your way and I’ll destroy you (emotionally, mentally, reputation,….).  Since compromise is evidently not part of this equation, we may both end up dead.  Hence, best I direct you towards punching bags you can have a wonderful relationship with….

Help me – I need XYZ in my life and you’re the type of woman that can help me build it.  This sounds like the perfect team relationship at first until the Pandora’s box of unfinished help me’s pours out.  We all have a better person or thing we are striving towards and the hard lesson is one cannot do for others what they won’t do for themselves.  I have no human fix-it certifications or any aspirations of acquiring them.

Now I’m quite sure there is a corollary female typology but I’m not interested in dating or marrying women and this is very self-interested (i.e. my blog) so I’ll leave that analysis for those who want to engage in it.

The point of all of this?  If you’ve read Malcolm Gladwell’s book Outliers you learn that there are two components to success: (a) those you have no control over, e.g. other people/your environment, and, (b) the amount of time you spend perfecting what you do.  No use worrying about (a) so I decided to tally the amount of hours I spend on relationship issues, more specifically, on relationship issues suited to me and my personality.  The initial result was that I spend 80% of my time on work related issues, 20% on personal issues, and 0% on relationship activities!  This made me VERY bitter (and disappointed) at myself for not realizing the obvious sooner.  There is no magic relationship fairy that will come and give me the answers to the best place to find men that I like who are single and looking for someone like me (evidently read too many fairy tale stories growing up…).  Most importantly, at 42yrs of age, it is pretty evident God is not answering so I’ll have to ask humans for answers instead.

My first objective was to identify a good screening tool.  Friends and family have tried to help over the years but I’ve found that their conceptualization of what I want and what I actually want tend to be universes apart and no, I do not want to “broaden my perspective” (still love and deeply appreciate all those who have tried to help me).  Online tools are zero friction and I’ve examined everything from free to $5,000 a pop.  Reviews (complaints) are not much different irrespective of price so money spent on screening tools is not a relevant criteria/has no effect on quality outcome.

In keeping with my me-centric universe, the two things I was able to gain from this exercise were:

1. a better understanding of myself;

2. a personality description that is 100% me from a site I would NOT recommend (see site complaints); unfortunately it has given the best personality analysis of any site I’ve tried:

Essential elements of my personality
RACP – Risk Taker, High Energy, Cautious, Seeks Predictability
This person is willing to take a chance on love. This is an intense person and will go after what they want with a singular focus. But, this person does understand that risk has to be managed and wants to minimize loss or hurt. This person proceeds with caution on romantic commitments and even then, while they may fall passionately in love, will make sure to look closely at the areas that might undermine the relationship. This person knows the kind of life they want to lead and is looking for a person to share it with. This person tends to go for a specific type rather than fall in love with people hugely different from one another. This person definitely needs someone who shares the same vision: A high-octane life organized around friends, a devoted partner, and a life style they intend to develop together and maintain.

Essential elements of a complementary personality
SDHI – Structured, Dominant, Hot, Introvert 
This person is a tough cookie. They have well-developed opinions, enjoy decision-making and will passionately argue their position. This person is accustomed to retreating to their own counsel when they have deep thinking, or emotional repair to accomplish. They need someone to help soften some of these characteristics, someone who can help them express their emotions and calm things down. This person needs someone strong. While they expect to have center stage most of the time, they won’t respect someone who they can walk all over. This person needs someone who completes them rather than repeats them!

The Duet® Compatibility Test is available for FREE on PerfectMatch.com.

Add to this must be age 42-50yrs, college educated (at least Master’s degree – education is not a status symbol or measure of intellect but it is a “right of punishment” and it helps to talk to someone who has been through the same agony), height 5’10” to 6’4″ (I like tall men and I like wearing heels but I’m only 5’2″ so above 6’4″ walking arm-in-arm gets awkward), athletic/average build, plus enjoy hiking, beaches, and dogs (oh yes, and love ME…lol!).

So that’s about it for now.  Let’s see if the internet fairy can do what the relationship fairy has failed to do…..(-:  In the interim, please post ways of meeting single men that are not bar focused and don’t need one to check with the police department either (yes, I am trying Meetups).

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I really should have titled this post “The Danger of Hubris for all of Us” since it is a condition that readily affects any one of us.  However, as an eternal student of political science and public policy, I will focus my attention on my current source of alarm.

Last night President Obama did something during his State of the Union address that might have been overlooked by many.  He stated he understood the Constitution called for separation of powers (i.e. Executive Branch, Legislature, Judiciary) but then proceeded to rebuke the Supreme Court justices seated before him for their recent decision on campaign finance contributions.  Ironically, the only justice I saw visibly react with anger was Justice Sotomayor who happened to be in the minority (5-4) dissenting opinion.

Personally, I was infuriated.  The last time I was this infuriated by a President was when George W. Bush declared that the U.S. had the right to unilaterally remove a foreign head of state.  8 years and no WMD (Weapons of Mass Destruction) later, I am still incensed by that decision.  Do we have a right to stop those who commit acts of terrorism against US citizens?  Yes.  However, removing foreign heads of state, whether publicly or through covert action, is simply wrong!  A read of the Federalist Papers would show the Founding Fathers were particularly concerned about issues like this.  It sets a bad precedent, namely, if we have the right to remove a head of state in another country, other countries have the right to do the same to us.  The only reason it hasn’t happened yet is, thus far, we have more money and military power.  If that balance were to ever change, God help us!

It is for this very same reason (balance) that great pains were made to create a system of government here in the U.S. where each branch of government is expected to act independently of the other.  The Founding Fathers called this A System of Checks and Balances.  The State of the Union address is full of symbolism and decorum.  There are protocols to be observed.  Even “less formal” addresses call for observance of protocols.  When the President addressed Congress last year and a Republican member yelled out he was a liar during his speech he was rightfully and immediately rebuked by both sides.

There is an unspoken protocol between Presidents and the Supreme Court – they are not to publicly criticize each other.  The Supreme Court is the guardian of the Constitution and the President holds supreme power in the land as the elected representative of the people via powers granted by the Constitution.  This Court has not made any public remarks (jointly or individually) about the performance of the current President.  If they did they would be wrong.  However, President Obama has made a public statements disparaging the Court and yesterday, in my opinion, completely overstepped his bounds by rebuking them face-to-face during his State of the Union address.

How is a Court to judge independently if it is to be subject to public ridicule by the President?  Do we not criticize foreign leaders when they undermine the authority of their courts by making disparaging public remarks about their decisions? Al Gore gave us the ultimate display of proper statesmanship when the Supreme Court refused to hear his appeal over the contested election against George W. Bush.  Gore did not like the decision but he said he had to honor the decision because it was the separation of powers that made this country great and if the Court deemed that it was not a Constitutional issue he would abide by their ruling.

There has been much talk about the growing dissatisfaction with Washington politics.  As an Independent who voted for President Obama I am finding myself increasingly dissatisfied.  When one discloses who one voted for the first question people ask is why?  Right or wrong, my reasoning was as follows: There were 3 viable candidates (in reality there were more but for me it got down to McCain, Hilary and Obama).  I really like Hilary and wanted a female President but, as she herself stated in last night’s Travis Smiley’s special report on her role as Secretary of State, she takes a lot of advice from Bill.  I did not want to have any more of Bill Clinton’s influence in the White House (he already had his 2 terms).   McCain I could not support after he picked Palin as a running mate.  This left me with Obama and the fact that he would also be the country’s first black President was a bonus.  Overall I had some reservations but I did not fundamentally disagree with anything he said or represented.  The one thing that attracted me most to him was his promise of Change.

Granted he has only held office for 1 year and it takes a good 3 years before a President really gets his stride.  He is taking on a lot and pushing through a lot of reforms so on that front he is upholding his promise.  However, I did not vote for a Change in the protocol that needs to be observed between the 3 branches of government.  On the issue of campaign finance reform, I find his anger to be a double standard.  President Obama won in large part due to unprecedented campaign contributions from the general public.  Hence, the issue is not whether or not campaign contributions should be allowed, it is an issue of who they come from.  Last time I checked, corporations and special interest groups are also protected by the Constitution.  In fact, the Court ruled that they have the same First Amendment (free speech) rights that individual citizens do.  If we are going to be against money influencing Washington politics then the stance needs to be against ALL financial contributions not just the ones that we do not like.

Money and politics have always been a bad mix.  When in school I once asked why state capitals tend to be in the most remote unfathomable locations.  It was explained that this was a deliberate attempt to keep politicians away from the financial centers of power in each state.  Being the nation’s capitol, DC draws financial power like a magnet.  The sad reality is that it does take money to get things done.  However, when politicians bemoan their plight and talk about the perils of lobbyist dollars in the 3rd party as if they themselves have never accepted financial contributions of any sort I just have to scratch my head.  Here I’m not just referring to the President but to all members of Congress.

First of all, as Secretary Clinton told a Pakistani government official who was complaining about the “strings” attached to the recent U.S. aid package: “we are offering you the money but you do not have to take it!” All this hullabaloo about campaign finance reform and the simplest of all solutions is never discussed: don’t take the money!  Much easier to pretend to be victims of an unstoppable system that needs legislating than to take personal responsibility for letting oneself be unduly influenced by money from vested interests.

Do I like the fact that the Supreme Court overturned regulations put in place to attempt to curb the nonsense that has been going on (not just special interest advocacy but all the slander and negative campaigning)? Not one bit.  Do I believe the right decision was made?  Absolutely.  We cannot continue to abdicate our individual responsibilities by blaming others.  Individual citizens have a responsibility to pay attention to what goes on in government AND to fact check information that is given.  Politicians have a responsibility to serve the people who elected them and, like it or not, these people include special interest groups.  I have a special interest in environmental conservation.  My only problem is that I am too poor to make any major contribution to sway anyone’s opinion on this issue.  If I had the money I would.  It is not the Supreme Court’s fault that I am poor.

As an individual citizen, I am able to write this blog and enjoy the blessings of living in a country where I can write a blog post like this and not end up in jail or tortured for what I have just said.  And yes, I do believe a President is protected by the First Amendment as well.  However, it is not a question of free speech it is a question of decorum.  When the President of the United States speaks, the entire world listens.  Last night the message that went out is that it is ok to undermine the Court by lambasting it publicly for a decision.  The First Amendment protects his right to do so but, in my opinion, it was extremely bad protocol and bad public policy.

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Let me start by saying that we all view the world through our own biased filters.  As a data analyst and policy analyst, my bias is for data and in-depth information.  My all time favorite quote summarizing this belief comes from a cartoon I once saw:

In God we trust.  All others bring data!

Normally I do not editorialize on news reporting because I believe all information is valuable.  However, CNN’s current hype and hysteria approach to “news” makes it unbearable for me to watch.  “Experts” telling others what they should think about issues, often while screaming or raising their voices.

  1. What makes them an expert?
  2. Even if there are experts, where is the data to support their statements and theories?
  3. How has it been evaluated and scrutinzed (let alone why can’t we see it)?
  4. Why the need for screaming and loud voices?  Doesn’t everyone’s television set in this day an age have a volume adjusment control where one can raise the volume to above normal levels if one so desires?

Ok, the argument is the average viewer does not have the intelligence and attention span to understand the issues so they must be “simplified.”  First of all I take great offense to be called stupid.

Take the current reporting on the economic crisis.  Inquiring minds want to know: what exactly, specifically, in detail, brought on this global disaster?

I consider myself an average viewer.  Last time I checked I do not have a nobel prize in Economics or even a degree in Economics for that matter.

At the same time, I am definitely not the target audience for shows like The Real Housewives of New Jersey.  I shudder to think that anybody could live like this on a daily basis and if it is true and this is what “average” means then perhaps I should be making arrangements to go live on the space station.  Is it a wrong way of living?  I have no clue.  My basis for determining right or wrong is based on whether harm is caused to others and there does not appear to be any apparent harm being caused here plus those involved are (I hope) making a tidy sum from letting their behavior be portrayed on national television.  It is simply way too much drama and angst for my personal preference.

Back to economics and current global financial meltdowns (now this to me is real life drama and much more gut wrenching than any horror film).  A professor I had in undergrad once told me:

Never complain about a problem without also offering a solution.

Ok, in order to offer a solution I first need to understand the problem.  I watch CNN and, other than being told how bad things are, I cannot understand what the problem is.  I have asked others if they are getting a better understanding than I am and the consensus seems to be general confusion.   Then I see a BBC report such as this one

Global Credit Crunch Probed http://news.bbc.co.uk/player/nol/newsid_7000000/newsid_7000600/7000655.stm?bw=bb&mp=wm&asb=1&news=1&ms3=54&ms_javascript=true&bbcws=2

Which immediately raises the question in my mind, how is all this funny money even possible?

Ah, PBS has a very enlightening documentary called The Ascent of Money which explains the history of our modern financial system.

Current financial crisis in historical context  http://www.pbs.org/wnet/ascentofmoney/featured/watch-full-program-the-ascent-of-money/24/

Episode 1: From Bullions to Bubbles (a history of the origins of money) http://www.pbs.org/wnet/ascentofmoney/featured/the-ascent-of-money-episode-1-from-bullion-to-bubbles/44/

Episode 2: The Bonds of War (how public debt became currency) http://www.pbs.org/wnet/ascentofmoney/featured/the-ascent-of-money-episode-2-bonds-of-war/90/

Episode 3: Risky Business (how insurance became currency) http://www.pbs.org/wnet/ascentofmoney/featured/the-ascent-of-money-episode-3-risky-business/97/

While I do feel there is an anti George W Bush bias in the mortgage crisis explanation (i.e. the discussions about Enron implicate Bush but the activities described range from 1995 to 2001 which, considering the 1st year of a new presidential term is a transition year, are activities that took place entirely under the Clinton administration).   I also wonder what the hype over going off the gold standard is all about because the entire system has been based on trust and belief since its inception; we have simply substituted the belief that gold is valuable for a belief that certain currencies are valuable.

For those who find the PBS documentary too long, I recall a link a friend had sent which provided a great visual summary of what caused the mortgage crisis.

The Crisis of Credit Visualized http://www.vimeo.com/3261363

Notice something yet?  No need to understand 3rd order derivative calculus or have a degree in Keynsian theory or investment banking  in order to follow these explanations.  Why can’t we see more reporting like this and less hype?

Back to the funny money.  It is obvious that, even with the artificial construct of trust being a historic principle, something went gravely wrong here.  With this basic understanding of the problem, I now need data:

  1. How many bad loans (dollar terms, percentage of all loans)?
  2. How many of the bad have been classified or rated as good?
  3. Can we separate the good from the bad ones or is the financial entaglement the equivalent of trying to remove a gene from the human DNA sequence?
  4. What exactly are the bailouts targetted at doing?
  5. Yes, I know putting liquidity into the market but for whom? Are we strengthening good assets or pouring all this money into giving liquidity to those who are holding mostly bad assets?  If the latter, why are we doing this?

These are the issues I would like to see reported.  Not other people’s opinions on whether or not we have a problem  In my opinion, unless you just landed from another planet outside this galaxy, the problem is self evident.  What we need now is in-depth reporting that will enable us to come up with solutions to this mess.

Do I think my posting this will change CNN’s reporting style?  Nope.  However, perhaps if others read, start saying and posting the same sentiment, maybe, just maybe, a change can happen.

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