Is there any good news anymore?

tough-times-newspaper-640x480I fear we may have entered a dark period in history. I say this because sadly there is little on the news today that even shocks us anymore. Wars, plane crashes, school shootings, bombings, natural disasters, terror attacks,  missing children… we flip past these news stories today like they’re re-runs of Friends.

Is this because the world really is a worse place today than it was for our parents or grandparents? Or is our media coverage just more technologically advanced and expanding to farther parts of the globe giving us a better compilation of what is really going on in the world?

Of course we could argue either side of that debate till our heads get dizzy.

One thing we can be sure of, all this bad news coverage has desensitized us in some way. Just yesterday an Algerian plane was (shot?) out of the sky killing all passengers on board and no one is even batting an eyelash. When I turned on the news this morning, it wasn’t even the main story!

Now that’s a scary situation.

But what are we supposed to do? We can’t continue to turn the other cheek but if we were to be seriously concerned about every disaster out there we’d have people jumping out windows left and right.

I am left with no answer and rather distraught. I suppose all we can do is take the news by stride and remember all the beautiful things left in this world that really are worth living for.

How do you feel about all the bad news coverage?

Put your cell phone down, be human again.

 

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A few weeks ago I participated in a momentous occasion that happens only once in a lifetime, college graduation. As I sat among my peers, I looked around, and instead of seeing bright, young, and accomplished faces, I saw my entire class, heads down, texting away.

I sat in frustration.

This is the most impressive moment of our lives so far and people are so terrified of fifteen minutes of boredom that they are willing to miss an entire ceremony to fiddle with their phones instead. WHO ARE YOU EVEN TEXTING? All of your friends are sitting next to you! And, if you don’t recognize anyone sitting around you, maybe that’s because you’ve been glued to your cell phone for the past four years.

This article has been so long in the writing, I don’t even know where to start. I have so much hostility towards not only our generation, but also anyone walking around with their face pointed down towards their electronic soul mate.

I am TIRED of having to constantly ask my friends to please put their phones away when we are out to dinner and am sick of having to frustratingly repeat everything I say in between their texts.

I am TIRED of almost getting hit by reckless drivers who are more concerned about updating their facebook status than the fact that they almost just killed me.

And I am TIRED of feeling that my words are not important or that I am no longer interesting because everyone around me is constantly looking down instead of at my face.

Just think: Humans have had to sit and “be with their thoughts” (as my sister likes to say), for thousands of years. Until now, it was a skill that was learned at a young age, beaten into you by your parents, and practiced your entire life. We no longer have to be with our thoughts. The second a person fears they are not being fully entertained; the cell phone is whipped out in replacement.

I fear that our relationships with other humans have morphed into this bionic entangled mess that we can no longer even sort out. Never in the history of the world have we had the ability to have 30 different conversations with 30 different people, but not have to say anything of importance. Our conversations have gotten so lazy and superficial because there is no fear of getting hung up on, or walked away from.

If you were talking to a real human and you asked them “How was your day?” and they paused for 30 minutes and replied “good, lol”, YOU WOULD WALK AWAY! But you can’t walk away from a text so you no longer have to keep the conversation engaging or say anything of importance for that matter.

And I am not just blaming our generation; our parents are just as bad. “Research has shown that even newborns are primed to gaze into a mother’s eyes seeking social information. This is partly how bonds are formed”, states NBC news. But parents no longer look at their children for they are too busy getting to the next level of fruit ninja.

My patience is completely gone and I am no longer polite when I ask people to please give me their full attention as I am giving to them. Cell phones were made to supplement our lives, not BE our lives. Please, leave your cell phone in the car and get back to being human.

France bans Niqab: Liberation or subjugation?

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As a social anthropologist, as well as a feminist, it is hard to decide exactly how I feel in regards to the French ban on wearing full-faced veils, called a niqab, in public areas. (See different veil descriptions here).

Of course, the law is said to not necessarily be “targeted” towards muslim women, or Islamic beliefs, and was made to aid public safety and liberation. But seriously, who else were they really referring to? (Note: motorcycle helmets are exempt from this law). As well to note, France has a long history of stigmatizing Muslims and many feel this banning is a direct hit.

It was initially hard for me to wrap my head around the obligatory wearing of the niqab in many predominantly Muslim countries (pun not intended). My initial instinct was to feel sorry for the women who have to wear such hot and restrictive coverings on their face, head, and hands when in the presence of nonrelated men or in public spaces.

However, a few years ago one of my college professors started off her class with this cartoon.

cartoon

As cheeky as it is, I was surprised by the fact that not all women are forced to wear veils, but instead many women choose to do so to get closer to god. And while yes, some women are forced by law, religion or culture, others instead like how veils act as a buffer.

Queen Rania of Jordan recently said on the Oprah Winfrey show that, “I want people to see who I am — for who I am — and not for how I look and not for my physical features, but rather my intellectual capabilities.” And that, I believe, is something we may be missing in our western world.

In regards to France, is the banning of the niqab an infringement of a person’s right to religious freedom and expression? Or is one step forward toward the liberation of women’s rights?

Jean-Paul Garraud, a member of the right-wing party agrees, saying the ban should be kept in place because “We are here to defend our democracy and not to tolerate treatment enslaving women.” Interior Minister Manuel Valls, from the Socialist Party also agrees that “The law banning the full veil has nothing to do with Islam but it is a law liberating women.”

However, the issue stays the same. In Afghanistan, women are punished if they are not covered, in France they are punished if they ARE covered. Either way, men are still controlling women through means of material culture.

For me, the line is drawn when wearing the veil is by requirement and no longer by choice.

Why Cats are Better than Dogs

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Don’t get me wrong here; I love all animals, every shape and size. (Except cockroaches, those are disgusting creatures that should have never graced our planet). But other than that, I am a huge animal lover.

That being said, I am about to make my case as to why cats are just all around better pets than dogs.

1. Cat owners are smarter than dog owners.

            – A recent Wisconsin University study has found that not only are cat owners smarter than dog owners, but they are also more open-minded, sensitive and less likely to be conformists.

2. Cats have a lower carbon footprint (pawprint?) than dogs.

- Cats eat less, therefore pollute less. It is said that over a lifetime a dog has the same environmental impact as a Hummer whereas a cat is more like a Volkswagen Golf.

3. Cats are better companions for those with Alzheimer’s, autism and asthma.

- When people with Alzheimer’s had a cat at home they were less likely to have outbursts, plus they are easier to take care of than high-energy dogs.

4. Cats lower cholesterol.

            - Scientists now believe that cats can help lower the chemical compound triglyceride, which causes high cholesterol.

5. Guys with cats are sexy.

            - Surveys have shown that over 90% of women find men who like cats more attractive than those who don’t. Purr-baby, purr.

6. Cats make you healthy

- Researches are proving that cat owners are less likely to have strokes, heart disease and some types of cancer.

7. Cats are better hosts.

- While dogs get overly excited when you have guests over (not to mention the sniffing and clawing) cats prefer to observe new arrivals from afar.

8. They just smell better

- Because cats are constantly grooming themselves they are much cleaner animals than their smelly drooly counterparts.

9 . Cats don’t need to be walked.

-  amen to that.

10. Quieter than dogs

- No loud barking or whining at the door, cats are much easier to hide in a “no-pet” zone.

If that didn’t convince you, this picture sure will.

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Summer Weekend Escapes

If laying poolside in your backyard just isn’t cutting it for you this year, plan a weekend vacation! Take a few days away and treat yourself to some much need R&R (Rest and Riesling that is).

* All destinations are projected from Springfield, MA

1: Freeport, Maine. freeport maine

3 Hours – $

Known for their fabulous outlet shopping and outdoor activities, Freeport is more than just the home of L.L. Bean. Located right on the water, you surely won’t run out of things to do in this coastal town. You can score great deals at Bed & Breakfasts all along the shore and you’ll have more seafood to eat than you even know what to do with.

Recommendation: Family Trip

2 Provincetown, Cape Cod

3 Hours$$ provincetown ma

Located along our own beautiful shoreline, Provincetown is the ultimate New England weekend hotspot. Known for their eccentric nightlife, tasty restaurants, and quirky shops, P-Town is just a short ride down the cape. Chances are you’ll find yourself in the middle of a very fabulous parade.

Recommendation: Girl’s Weekend

3: Newport, Rhode Island

2 Hours – $$$newport, rhode island

One of my favorite cities in the United States, Newport is a stunning coastal town speckled with sailboats and stores galore. Only a short drive east, Newport has some of my favorite secondhand shops around. Famous for their Rockefeller mansions and boat tours, Newport is a must-do this summer.

Recommendation: Romantic Getaway

4: New York City, New York

2 ½ Hours – $$$$New York City

What else is there left to say, its New York City! Shopping, theater, history, its all there at the tip of your fingers and its only a few hours away by bus or train. Pack your things, leave a note, and take yourself on a weekend adventure. You deserve it.

Recommendation: Solo-vacation

5: Montreal, Canada

4 1/2 hours – $$$$montreal canada

Montreal is the closest you can get to a European vacation, while only driving a few hours north. French cuisine and music, Montreal is a spectacular city full of amazing architecture and museums. Oh, and don’t worry about thew whole language thing, most people are bilingual and will speak to you in English if need be. How magnifique!

Recommendation: Worker’s retreat.

My ChicBuds Story: Corny but True.

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The following article is a true story:

Two weeks ago my boss asked me to write a review on ChicBud’s Portable Phone Charger. My first thought was that it was stylish and cute and planned on writing a review on how practical its credit card shape was. I threw it in my purse and didn’t think twice about it.

Fast forward to yesterday.

I was driving home from Northampton to Western Mass and thought I would stop at the grocery store to pick up a few things on my way back. When I came out of Big-Y 20 minutes later I was shocked to find that my Pt-Cruiser was completely dead. And I mean flat-line dead. After a few minutes of swearing I decided to call my mom as a last resort to come pick me up. I was even more shocked to find that my phone was ALSO completely dead and since my car had no battery, I couldn’t charge me phone. How convenient.

As I started looking around the parking lot for the nearest jumper cable carrying pick-up truck it suddenly dawned on me. I THREW MY PORTABLE PHONE CHARGER IN MY PURSE!

I was then able to call my mom and she came to rescue me. This may sound totally clique, but Chicbud’s portable phone charger really did save the day! I’m really glad I have one.

What it’s like applying for a Job in 2014

Job-Search

Applying for a job in 2014 is sort of like going to the dentist. Every single part of it sucks from beginning to end but you do it because you have to and because it’s not acceptable to be a toothless person in today’s society.

First: Gather all your supplies: Resume, food, and water strong alcoholic beverage.

Then: Go through a brief moment of excitement and confidence as you think, I’m qualified, I’m responsible, I’m determined! I’m gonna apply all day and night until I get a response!                                                           -45 minutes later, get off Facebook and open up a job search engine. Indeed, monster, Juju, doesn’t matter they all suck out your soul.

Next, Type in a job: Professional Bloody Mary Taster and Wild Game Cat Tamer come up with zero results. Type in office Assistant: 54,086 results.

Great, start there. Start reading qualifications and realize you need to have a doctorate and upwards of 35 years experience for an entry-level internship position. Also realize there have been 433 reviews and its located in Bumont, North Dakota.

Apply anyways.

After that: Spend hour and a half writing a terrible cover letter that doesn’t remotely describe you and contains about 12% of the truth.

Waitress Changes from:

-     Serves food to patrons and prepare dishes at tables request.

To:

-       Present fine menus to dignified guests and make thoughtful recommendations towards personal preferences and tastes.

To:

-       Personally served the president of the United States and chief of staff hand-raised grass-fed beef on specialty imported Moroccan utensils.

Next: Debate for 30 minutes whether or not to include a photo. Look through all your facebook pictures and contemplate between the one of you kissing a llama or the keg stand of ’08. Decide on the llama, you wanna keep it professional.

Last but not least: Hit the submit button. Get down on your hands and knees and pray to each and every god recognized by wikipedia. Cry a little.