Random Thoughts

How Responsible Tourism Can Challenge Patriarchy in India.

I would love to go see what difference, if any, a year has made.

The Shooting Star

Over the course of my travels in India, I’ve found myself in some strange predicaments. Once, I was in the home of a middle class family in the mountains, ready to pounce on delicious local food after a long, back-breaking journey. But when I arrived in the dining area, I found myself joined only by the men of the family, as the women served, and then waited on us from a distance.

I sat in awkward silence, not sure if I should join the women in the kitchen and further the house’s patriarchal traditions, or eat with the men as the women waited. I could imagine the same scene playing out in hundreds of households across the country.

At the end of the awkward (though delicious) meal, the elderly male head of the household said to me with a disconcerting confidence: I think I’ve figured out why you ate so little, it was probably because…

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Human Issues, Random Thoughts

Spammers, Stalkers, and Trolls – Part 2 (or possibly Part 947 :::rolls eyes::: )

Since getting called out in January for trying to comment on my blog, my stalker, Melissa David, has been so quiet we started hoping she had finally gotten help and moved on. She’s blocked from our Facebook accounts and we’ve stopped updating profile and cover pictures to try to make her lose interest. Our Instagram accounts are set to private, we stopped using Tumblr all together, and we don’t put family pictures anywhere she can get to them, since she really loves attacking our children and grandchildren.

sorryEven still, I can see when she lurks on my blog thanks to WordPress analytics, and my Pinterest analytics show a disproportionately high number of visits from the New York area. This inspires me to try not to post anything that might accidentally provoke her. Unfortunately, she’s perpetually convinced everything we do has something to do with her. I had to stop tweeting anything that would indicate where we are traveling at any moment, especially trips to New York, because those really set her off.

I do still haveimg_3454 her name on regular rotation for morning prayers. I can’t shake a lingering feeling she’s really needs all the prayers she can get. The IP address she used during the last comment spam harassment episode indicate she’s using Dunkin’ Donuts free wifi to appear she’s living in a respectable neighborhood instead of a shelter or the projects, which just makes me sad for her on so many levels. Single and alone, destitute, no family, childless, alcoholic. Wildly obsessed (for seven years) with someone she’s never met. I pray for her for all that and in general; however, I have to admit, she has rarely come to mind otherwise.

IMG_6572Then, a week or two ago, totally unprovoked and out-of-the-blue, we started receiving random letters and packages. At first, it was just a catalog here, a free sample there. Obviously it was her (using random homophones of my name is typical of her often middle school like tactics), but again, feeling more pity for her than anything, we chose to ignore it.

Unfortunately, narcissistic sociopaths do not like being ignored.

IMG_9318The mailings increased every day. More types of junk mail, more weird name spelling, more Jr. High obnoxiousness. Plus-size clothing catalogs. Religious brochures. Adult incontinence product samples.

She must have enjoyed some pretty intense drunken binges and several late night Google searches accompanying her daily visits to my social media sites. How miserable does a person have to be? I cannot even imagine how much time it would take someone to do all this. All just to get my attention? I might feel special if it weren’t so incredibly creepy. Of course we still ignored her. I’d still be ignoring this if it hadn’t continued to get worse and worse.

IMG_0900 3-downThe past two days, I finally reached the point where I decided to publicly call her out (and hopefully shut her down again) because of the OTHER victims in this ridiculous stalker prank. All of this costs people money to send, but the bulk magazine and bulk mail advertising is one thing — but making people send us things using Next Day Fed-Ex is something totally different. Especially when it isn’t a regular envelope. In just the past two days, we’ve received three books that cost the senders between $4.00 and $8.00 each. Why would someone do that to people?

IMG_7865The other victims are our postal workers. Today alone we received 14 POUNDS of junk mail. The mail carrier had to get out of his delivery car and make two trips to bring it all to the door. The ONE DAY pile is 9 inches tall.

Seriously? These poor people have to work hard enough every day. I could not possibly care less at her pathetic attempts to garner my attention, but I’m pretty irritated that she’s involving total strangers. It’s just so immature and gross.

Sadly, outside of calling her out on her obnoxious stalking, I imagine there is little we can do to help the other victims. We’ll cancel what we can, obviously, and we’ve reported it to the Postal Inspection Service. Will they be able to do anything? I doubt it. It’s not like anyone is going to set up a sting operation at Dunkin’ Donuts.

I used to wonder if my husband exaggerated her crude and bitter ugliness when he told miserableme stories about her, but I realize after years of her torment that he was actually generously flattering. What right does an uneducated, homeless, unemployed prostitute have to do this to people?

This tasteless prank illustrates how very basic she really is. The epitome of classlessness. These hardworking folks – just trying to make an honest dollar hauling mail in the South Carolina heat. WTH?

Just because someone she doesn’t even know is living the life she thinks she wants but doesn’t think she can have? If she would just get a job and take her meds regularly – plus get a sponsor and stay on her AA program – I’m sure she could find some guy to marry, get a little house in the suburbs, plant a garden, learn to cook. I’ll even unblock her on Pinterest so she can repin my life to her heart’s content – I would wish anyone a wonderful life like mine… even her. I am the first one to say I’m blessed far beyond what I deserve.

I guess I need to keep praying for her. Maybe I need to take her off rotation and add her to the daily list.

Luke 6:27-30 – 27 “But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. 29 If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. 30 Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back.

Romans 12:20 –  On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”

If you feel so inclined, please pray for a woman named Melissa David.

UPDATE 5/21/17:

Sadly, the harassment continues. She must have wanted to make absolute sure I knew it was her since she’s using calling cards. “Ericunt” is, apparently, her favorite pet name for me. The fake email addresses she keeps using to order stuff online (from the U.S. Government!!) follow the same pattern she has used on all of her fake profiles and her personal gmail address (erroin76heroin – anais77nin).

Only someone with absolutely nothing to lose would risk felony charges for stalking, mail fraud, slander, and identity theft over and over again. It’s so sad! Continually attacking innocent people demonstrates a complete lack of morals.

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Just for Fun, Random Thoughts

Painting, Pinterest, and Procrastination #redecorating

We’re getting ready to redecorate. Well, I say redecorate, but we never really got around to finishing the decorating when we bought the house three years ago. Recently, my husband and I have started feeling artsy and inspired to take on the redecorating ourselves. I have a vision of a warm, inviting kitchen with a Tuscan color scheme and old world / southern country French accents and my husband is determined to master the Tuscan faux paint technique.

Innocently but inevitably, this drove me to Pinterest. The vortex. The black hole. The incessant time suck addiction which has, of course, taken over my every conscious free moment. A thousand pins on 20 boards later, we haven’t bought any paint brushes, but I’ve planned out my next 5K, 10K, and half marathon; created a reading list through 2023; and planned the next three vacations (India, Germany, and Budapest – I didn’t even know I wanted to visit Budapest).

Like most women, I pretty much planned my wedding on Pinterest. And our vow renewal ceremonies every five years until we die. You did it, too. Don’t lie.

Pin pin pin pin pin.pants

I mean, seriously. Look at these gold jamavaar cigarette trousers with diamanté embroidery that I now have to buy!! —————>

Even with all the distractions, I managed to find a lot of great decorating ideas. The husband has at least four different painting techniques he’s going to try out and we actually landed on a color for the kitchen (three shades of color, actually) that will complement the living and dining rooms nicely (if we ever get around to finishing them).

Thanks to Pinterest, I also located my two artful contributions – hand-painted ceiling medallions and stenciling for the archways. Right now, since it’s all in my head and no where near a reality, the project will be easy, not at all exhausting, and a wonderful fun bonding experience for me and my husband. Aren’t you excited for us? Wanna help?

Random Thoughts

9 signs he loves you for who you are #Blessed

My husband and I will celebrate our anniversary in a couple days and today this timely article popped up in my blog feed. All these years together and we still look forward to seeing each other every day after work. These are my sweetie to a tee, and I can definitely say I am one lucky lady. I wish all my readers this kind of love… if not now, then in the near future. Cheers!

1. They love the things about you that you don’t necessarily love about yourself. When you’re running around your apartment like a chicken with its head cut off because you forgot where you put your keys only to realize they’re in your hands, your SO isn’t annoyed, they’re one part amused, and two…

via 9 Signs Your Significant Other Loves You For Who You Really Are — Thought Catalog

Random Thoughts

Meet and Greet: 3/11/17

Meet and Greet! #amwriting #blogging

Dream Big, Dream Often

 dreambigwallpaper-pinkombre

It’s the Meet and Greet weekend everyone!!  Strap on your party shoes and join the fun!  

Ok so here are the rules:

  1. Leave a link to your page or post in the comments of this post.
  2. Reblog this post.  It helps you, it helps me, it helps everyone!
  3. Edit your reblog post and add tags.
  4. Feel free to leave your link multiple times!  It is okay to update your link for more exposure every day if you want.  It is up to you!

  5. Share this post on social media.  Many of my non-blogger friends love that I put the Meet n Greet on Facebook and Twitter because they find new blogs to follow.

See ya on Monday!!

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Random Thoughts

Ten Cliches That Make Agents Roll Their Eyes

John M. Cusick

f3fc3c45fd59bc3cb7fe8ad224519132Great books break these rules all the time. I’ll say it again: great books break these rules ALL THE TIME.

But here are ten cliches agents see so often in queries and samples, they make us go “ugh, not again.”

  1. Characters running hands through their hair. This move almost certainly springs from the era of Jonathan Taylor Thomas hair.

    2015-07-29-1438212463-9583390-hairgelformenlonghair-thumb
  2. Dead parents. It needs to be said, even though everyone does it, including me. But remember, grief is not a shortcut to character development.

    gsawredo2
  3. Redheaded best friends. Poor redheads, always relegated to the position of bestie. Also, why are best friends so often the fun one, while the hero is a stick in the mud? Yes, shyness is relatable, but it’s okay for your main character to be a firecracker, too.

    pretty-redhead-young-teen-girl-freckles-20448276.jpg
  4. Alcoholic moms, especially ones that drink boxed wine. Like ‘Busy Dad’, ‘Drunk Mom’ has become a shorthand for suburban ennui and inattentive, embarrassing parenting. Unless…

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Random Thoughts

New Site Design #amwriting #blogging

thefaulknerportableI got some good advice from my friend Tess after my blog post yesterday. If I really want to shake off the negativity, I need to lighten up. Not just my content, but also my site design. I agree!! I’ve had that old design for a long time and really liked the idea of making a change. I had a lot of fun selecting just the right colors and fonts and layouts. I think the end result is bright and happy. I hope you like it, too.

In addition to a new look and feel, I made some changes to make navigating the site easier. On the main page, I ditched the boring Categories section and added an Archive by date and a Category Cloud instead. I moved the Creative Commons License to the footer, so it’s still on every page, but isn’t taking up space on the side bar.

My favorite addition, however, is content I’m starting to add to provide additional value for my readers. On the side bar, I’ve created a couple of lists for links – kind of like a custom blogroll. I follow around 600 blogs, so I thought I’d use some space to introduce my readers to some of my favorites. While I’ll likely keep a couple of links static, I really like the idea of rotating the list to highlight different blogs, and especially to give some newer blogs a little attention.

In addition to the links, I’m adding resource pages (where I may put some more permanent references to some of the top blogs in each of my industries. So far, I’ve added a resources page for Agile, and plan to add pages for Writing and User Experience, too. I’ll see how that goes and decide if everything still works together or if I need to think about creating more than one blog (one for writing and one for technology).

I hope you enjoy the changes and additions. I’m certainly open to comments and suggestions, too, so please feel free to send them my way!

On Writing, Random Thoughts, Spiritual

Goodbye Negativity – I don’t have room for you in my world #amwriting #ampraying

I woke up this morning in Atlanta with the same awful headache that plagued me the entire DevNexus conference. Despite having looked forward to today’s Atlanta Writing Workshop for many weeks, I made the decision to just come home. Disappointed and cranky, I found a seat at breakfast as far from other humans as possible and stared at my phone, in case anyone thought to, I don’t know, make eye contact or something.

As I made the rounds on the social media sites, I found myself moving from cranky to irritated to angry, which has become a too-familiar pattern in these months since the election. I wandered around until I landed at the @realdonaldtrump Twitter account. Spiking my mood, I retweeted some snarky thing to no audience in particular – I guess so I’d feel like I have at least some kind of voice in this surreal new world – but instead of making me feel empowered, I felt even more deflated. I looked back over my Tweets for the past several weeks and realized all the emotion, all of the anger and fear and disappointment and confusion, had made its way onto my page.

My husband likes to say that anything that does not provide value and add something to your day should be cut out of your life. He’s much better than I am about cutting things (subjects, people, whatever)  completely from his world. Not that he isn’t interested or engaged in all this Trump-craziness – we both have to be, as so much of what has transpired so far has impacted our professional lives directly in one way or another – but he doesn’t get as emotionally invested as I do. He sent his strongly-worded letter to Senator Graham; whereas, I write the letter, make the phone call, attend the town hall, Tweet about it, etc..

Today I think I reached my threshold. Between the news stories and the posts on Facebook and the Tweets, I feel like I’m drowning in Trump – suffocated by his narcissism, ignorance, bullying, and ugliness. Strangled by every word I hear about what he’s said or done today or what his minions have said or done. Making things worse are all the fights I’m witnessing on social media between my friends on the Trump Train and my friends wringing their hands in delight at the thought of derailment.

My dear friend Tess gave up on Twitter a few weeks ago. I don’t think I want to give up Twitter completely because I very much enjoy the socializing with my fellow writers and readers, but I knew before I left that breakfast table that I needed to find a way, somehow, to remove the negativity from my world. I want to do it, however, without sticking my head into the ground. I still need to be engaged serve as an advocate and defender. Surely there is a healthier option.

As I started the drive back to Columbia, I looked at the next book in queue in Audiobooks – Fervent: A Woman’s Battle Plan to Serious, Specific and Strategic Prayer by Pricilla Shirer. Really? When I’m wallowed down deep in pissy attitude? I literally rolled my eyes. At God. I knew I was supposed to listen to it whether I wanted to or not. As I pulled out of the parking garage, I took a reluctant swipe at play, determined to not enjoy it.

Strategy 1 – Your Passion – Getting It Back When It’s Gone. I realized my morning bible time had all but disappeared, replaced by my morning ritual of “catching up on the news” before and after work each day. When was the last time I had some Bible time? It had gone the way of my writing and running and other things I’d been passionate about. WTH?

Strategy 2 – Your Focus – Fighting the Real Enemy. Have I been putting all  my time and energy into fighting the wrong battles? Worrying about things I can’t change and ignoring the tools at my disposal that could truly make a difference?

Strategy 3 – Your Identity – Remembering Who You Are. At 45, I have reached a point in my life where most superficial things don’t really bother me much. I realized listening to this, however, that I was still really shaken by how “less than my best” my conference presentation was, especially in comparison with my colleague Doc Norton‘s presentation on a similar topic. Two thoughts. 1) Had my passion and focus here, for my work, been impacted, too? 2) Is there any person on the planet who isn’t at least a little insecure?

Strategy 4 – Your Family – Fortifying the Lives of Those You Love. Oh my family – a constant source of joy and worry. I don’t care how old your children get, you never stop worrying about them. And the grandkids, my little treasures, when was the last time I wrote each name in my prayer book and prayed for them as individuals?

Strategy 5 – Your Past – Ending the Reign of Guilt, Shame, and Regret. Every time I think I’ve accepted God’s forgiveness (and forgiven myself) for the many sins in my past, BAM!! out of the shadows comes some reminder. This is another area where my energy is often misdirected–when I should pray fervently and pity those people who would seek to hurt me rather than be irritated or angry.

Strategy 6 – Your Fears – Confronting Your Worries, Claiming Your Calling. All of the strategies struck me, but this one perhaps most. I am the Queen of procrastination and most of the time, it’s easy to point to why. I did it with my conference presentation. DevNexus is a really really technical conference. I’m an English major, not a computer engineer. Even being an application development manager and understanding (most) of every session I attended, I still worry every time I present there. I do the same thing with my writing. I’ll do anything BUT write the closer I get to the completion of a project.

I still have Strategies 7 through 10 to go, but I’m not stupid. I got the message loud and clear on why God wanted me to read this book. And why now. I have spent way too much time and focus on the things that not only add no value, they just make me angry or sad. And every time I retweet with some snarky response, it not only brings me down, it spreads the fever to all my readers. That’s not fair to them. That’s not why I keep a Twitter account in the first place.

So, my first strategy to implement is reorganizing my schedule and focus to spend my time and energy on what’s most important. Clearly I need to lay off the political posts, never look at Trump’s Twitter, and make my first activity every day my bible time. I need to be praying for the president, not trolling him.

It is also time to stop researching my books and finish writing them. I have more than enough material and continuing to read about things like neglected foster children and heroin overdoses just makes me angry at the world and the systems with holes as big as elephants in their safety nets… and they aren’t even central to the story! It’s just procrastination, like my other book, which I know I’ve been avoiding finishing because I’m absolutely sure there are a hundred Agile experts who know way more than me and should probably be writing that book themselves. What’s that? Is that Strategy 3 and Strategy 6 calling?

I do hope, through all of this, that I find the right channels to be heard and affect change in healthy, positive ways. I would guess that, after the quite direct messages I received, something to that effect is in order one way or another. I’m always amazed by where God takes me when I stop rolling my eyes and start listening to him.