2011 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Syndey Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 10,000 times in 2011. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 4 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.


i forgot my password

I often find myself cracking up when I forget a password to an online site because the questions they ask are so random. But then I undoubtedly wind up angry at the robotic prompts that demand to know my favorite vacation town, the street I grew up on and the model of my first car.

I think I have 75,012 passwords, for every site I’ve ever used. Even with a great memory, it would be impossible to remember them all.

I’ve come to the conclusion that a quality board game could be derived from the security questions used on major websites.

It could be called Security Breach. Or maybe Codebreaker?

In my head, the game involves a Monopoly-like board, with different challenges, based on which password you forgot and why.

For example: If you forgot your online banking password, you might receive an insufficient funds penalty and move back five spaces. And if you forgot your hotmail password, you would be docked for a lack of correspondence and forced to pay $200 to the banker password keeper.

There also would be opportunities to guess other peoples’ security answers, so the game is best played with people you know.

You win by reaching the center of the board first, the reset zone.

Katie B. – can we patent this!?

is the melting pot getting gray?

In elementary school, I learned about Native American culture, and how different tribes introduced American settlers to critical skills like crop irrigation, hunting and medical care.

In junior high, my social studies class watched Roots, and explored the impact that slavery had on the United States.

In high school, I took history courses that discussed world wars and what was gained and lost through generations.

In college, I enrolled in courses about Latino authors and different world religions.

Today, I interact with people from a variety of cultural, religious and ethnic backgrounds on a daily basis. I feel fortunate to have had a well rounded education that taught me about different kinds of people and cultures. At home and at school, I was encouraged not just to tolerate, but to embrace all people.

It’s strange to think that today, some of the courses I took without a second thought, might now be illegal under a law passed in 2010.

In its text, HB 2281 “prohibits a school district or charter school from including courses or classes that either promote the overthrow of the United States government or promote resentment toward a race or class of people.”

That makes sense. I’d be very alarmed with any school that offered courses on overthrowing the government or resenting a particular race. I’m also not a proponent of segregating students by race to learn about their own race or any other. But I’m concerned that this law is taking us down a slippery slope, where Arizona students risk losing more than any legislators will gain.

We have a responsibility to continue educating each other and our children about all kinds of people, so that our society becomes more rich in tolerance. Unfortunately, the hours spent supporting, opposing and interpreting this law have likely caused more contempt than anything else, in an irony that will continue to unfold.

What to do with…

…the envelopes from all your wedding cards:

1. Buy a photo box from Michael’s for $2

2. Cut out your names (repeat 50 times)

3. Glue ’em

4. Cover entire surface with glue or Mod Podge

5. Feel smugly satisfied at finding a reason for not throwing them out months ago

Let me know if you can find your handwriting.

Hanukkah: doggy style

This content also appeared on Yahoo Voices following a request for author submissions on memorable Hanukkah gifts.

As a kid, Hanukkah is a magical time of year. It’s not just the presents and the candles, but the feeling you have that something truly special is occurring, that has happened for centuries. As an adult, I often spend this time of year reminiscing about how my family spent Hanukkah when I was growing up, and how one day I’ll have children to celebrate with and traditions to create.

When I was five or six, I was probably the most animal-obsessed child in the United States (this continued through an embarrassing point in junior high). I spent every waking minute dreaming of what it would be like to live on a farm and have all kinds of pets. My room was covered from floor to ceiling with photos of animals, books on pet care and an assortment of trinkets and keepsakes I’d acquired over the years…I think I saw myself as a cross between a veterinarian and a zookeeper, who knows how I seemed to everyone else!

My parents did their best to humor me – I was particularly fond of dogs, and even volunteered to walk neighbors’ pups since I couldn’t have my own. You see, my brother had severe allergies and asthma, and a dog was completely out of the question. I never resented him for this (yet made him think I did), but I still longed for the day that this dream could become a reality.

Despite knowing it was an impossibility, I still asked for a dog that Hanukkah, because there was nothing else I could think of that I truly wanted. You could imagine my surprise when, on the first night of Hanukkah, my mom walked out with an enormous box, that she claimed was making noises and squirming a bit.

Was it a dog? No. Well, not quite.

It was the largest stuffed dog I had ever seen. I mean – this was a HUGE stuffed animal. I’d never seen anything like it and fell in love instantly. I knew this was nothing like having a real dog, but it was so close, and in my young mind, it was all I wanted. I treasured that dog – who I called Rusty – for years, and he still lives in my childhood bedroom.

As an adult, I have two very real dogs in my life, that bring me endless joy (and disasters). It’s true, nothing’s quite like the real thing, but sometimes the next best thing is all you need.

I’m so appreciative that my parents found a way to bring me what I needed that year in a way that fit our lives. And 20+ years later I still remember that Hanukkah gift above any other I’ve received.