Instead of offering something frightful—there have been enough election shenanigans, thank you—thought I'd throw a bone to Mad Men fans like me and Burbmom who are bereft at having to spend the first Sunday without a new episode:
If you haven't picked up a UNICEF donations box for your kids to haul around tomorrow, please do. Ask your kids' teachers or school or even your neighbor for one, if you don't see them loitering at your library or favorite coffee joint.
Here's why: Pennies really do make a difference. Just six cents gives thirsty kid some clean water to drink (The lack of safe drinking water kills about 4,500 kids per day.). Two dollars provides nutrition for a hungry child somewhere in the world.
This is heavy stuff for most little ones, so I just tell mine the change helps poor kids who maybe had to go without dinner or a bath or who don't have a change of clothing. That's enough to blow their spoiled, yet impressionable, American-middle-class-kid minds.
Now, I know the day gets crazy, and kids often forget to hold up the UNICEF box in their mad dash for sugar. The Dude and I help bolster intake by emptying our coin pockets each night. Grandparents are an easy target, too.
It's easy to get the money across. If your school doesn't collect the boxes, you can take it to a CoinStar machine at a grocery store (most have 'em), among other options.
Final plug: I've had a chance to observe the UNICEF staff up close, and they are truly a dedicated and capable bunch, so your efforts won't be wasted.
I thought it was just neurotic me, sleeping fitfully in the waning days of this fitful election. But an unscientific poll of my friends and neighbors reveals widespread agita, too. Looks like we're catching electionitis.
There are a number of symptoms of electionitis, including:
• A Pavlovian reaction to pundits sitting around a desk debating the debates;
It is for Karen and Kristin Ingraham. According to MSNBC.com, mother and daughter were once united in supporting Hillary Clinton, but have since gone separate ways. Karen supports McCain now; Kristin stands firmly in Obama's camp. And tensions have run high. The article's right: "During one of the most heated presidential elections in this country’s history, party lines are being drawn among loved ones of every kind."
I don't know the Ingrahams but I've heard plenty of stories like theirs: dads and sons; in-laws and in-laws; best friends. A friend who was canvassing in Pennsylvania said she spoke to a couple who were on opposite ends of the partisan continuum. And the bickering wasn't that pretty. This election seems to have magnified differences more so than usual. And how can it not, given the negativity that has permeated it throughout?
I suppose it's good that a lot of people feel invested in the country's future. For years, we'd been hearing how voter turnout was shrinking, and now the tide may be reversing. Not much good comes from apathy, after all.
But has politics become too personal? When a friend opts to vote for someone you'd never ever consider, does that say something about them? (And does your reaction say anything about you?)
Honestly, I don't know the answer. I sometimes have trouble separating vote from voter. But I'm trying. If we want our own elected officials to cross party lines—a lot more can be done this way—how can we not do it ourselves?
I can't leave Mad Men alone, either, and mainly because my favorite character is Peggy, who had a big moment on the last show where she revealed to Pete, the father of her baby, why she gave the child up. She "wanted other things."
Now, my partner thinks Peggy is a psycho, but I think she's brave, and honest with herself. She would have been absolutely miserable in the mom roles of the time and the kid would have borne the brunt of it. In fact, all of the adults seem so damn miserable that the kids look permanently shell-shocked on the show, either fetching drinks or being smacked or told to "Get to your room!"
I'm hearing a lot about adoption these days. Close friends of ours are pursuing an open domestic adoption, and we're helping translate notes from an orphanage for a baby adopted from my partner's native country. The love and hope on all sides is overwhelming in both cases. The babies are treasured, ultimately, and they'll know it.
By the way, I still think Peggy gave up the child to her sister.
Warning: Totally gratuitous post. (I am SO tired of being so serious.)
Tonight's the finale of the seriously addictive Mad Men, and last night, Jon Hamm was the guest on Saturday Night Live. If you watch the AMC series you know that one of the mysteries of his character, the genius ad man Don Draper, is how devastatingly attractive he can be even at his lowest. He's unfaithful, deceitful and smokes. (The charm's not lost on me but I'm not sure I'd be such an easy mark, easy on the eyes he may be. I am not a fan of bad boys. But I digress.) Hamm playfully tweaked that image on SNL; have a look ...
My daughter recently requested a campaign button for her book bag, and the other crafted a handsome "VOTE FOR..." sign for our front window.
I hung the sign and ordered the button, but with some reluctance. My kids are young; not even tweens, and I can only assume they're getting their political opinions from me, as neither FOX News nor Countdown with Keith Olbermann are part of their normal t.v. fare. I like that they're espousing views with which I agree, I must admit, and I do want my candidate to win.
But is it fair? What if they take grief from other kids on the opposing team or, perish the thought, adults? They are far too young to make their own decisions about the issues; they're not even tweens yet. Perhaps they should wait until after puberty to wear propaganda.
On the other hand, it's cool that they think they can change the world with their small actions, which is what democracy is all about.
Have you seen those commercials about how high-fructose corn syrup isn't really that bad for you? You know, girl offers boy a popsicle, boy recoils because it has HFCS and girl says, well, what do you think you know about it? That it has the same calories as sugar, is made from corn, and is o.k. in small quantities?
Boy takes popsicle. Would you? I would. It looks hot out there, and girl is right. Still, I won't allow HFCS over my doorstep - no, not me, nor any of my folks. Here's why:
It plain doesn't taste good. I'm a girl who grew up having Karo corn syrup on her pancakes, so I recognize well the bland sweetness it lends to everything it touches. Try going without it for a week and you'll see what I mean; that addictive undertone is gone. I never realized my bread was actually cake.
That leads me to another problem with HFCS: It's freakin' everywhere. Sure, it might be o.k. in small quantities, but what if my kids are getting it in bread, crackers, salad dressing, spaghetti sauce, chicken nuggets, fruit salad, granola bars and juice? What if my kid has a weight problem? It's ridiculously hard to avoid the stuff.
It may indeed metabolize differently than plain sugar, too. As the Mayo Clinic reported, it has been shown in some tests to convert into fat more readily and to contribute to diabetes and high cholesterol, though findings are far from clear.
Lastly, I think the corn industry needs a smack down. It's like the big marshmallow man in Ghostbusters; a good thing grown vast and monstrous. Growing so much corn is hard on the earth; it robs soil of vital nutrients and non-organic varities require vast amounts of pesticides. Why do we have so much? Prices for HFCS are kept artificially high by farming subsidies, which keep trashy snacks cheap.
Obesity, not just overweight, affects some 30 percent of adults and sixteen percent of children in this country, potentially plaguing them with lifelong health problems and costing the rest of us an estimated $75 to 115 billion in health care costs per year, much of which we, the citizenry, are paying for via Medicare, Medicaid, small businesses and premiums. There's also the estimated $4.5 billion the Department of Health and Human Services has spent in education and prevention on the issues since 1993, according to The Washington Post.