Tuesday, June 7, 2016

If the Founding Fathers Went to Hogwarts

Because it's important to mix and match your fandoms! (Disclaimer: some of the people mentioned are classified as "founding fathers," but I'm more inclusive than that, so have added some important people who, for certain reasons (biological or otherwise), will never had that elite classification.)


Traits: Energetic, determined, mischievous, intelligent, deeply sympathetic, self-sacrificial, sincere

Is remembered for: Advocating for public education for girls

Memorable Quote: "I've always felt that a person's intelligence is directly reflected by the number of conflicting points of view he can entertain simultaneously on the same topic."

House: Hufflepuff


Traits: Private, quiet, disliked by many for his views, feared unrest and destabilization, argumentative, strove for black and white justice

Is remembered for: Blaming fasting for the reason he didn't get reelected

Memorable Quote: "The happiness of society is the end of government."

House: Slytherin


Traits: Political, leader, well-respected, decisive, agitator, influential, worked for the greater good

Is remembered for: His namesake beer

Memorable Quote: “It does not take a majority to prevail ... but rather an irate, tireless minority, keen on setting brushfires of freedom in the minds of men.”

House: Gryffindor

Traits: Outdoorsy, leader, ambitious, protective of his group of people, confrontational

Is remembered for: "His" furniture and leading the Green Mountain Boys (shout out to the 802!)

Memorable Quote: "It is bad policy to fear the resentment of an enemy."

House: Slytherin


Traits: Strives for personal glory, perseverance, ambition, being flip-floppity, brilliant, epicurian

Is remembered for: Killing Alexander Hamilton in a duel

Memorable Quote: "Law is whatever is boldly asserted and plausibly maintained."

House: Slytherin


Traits: Honest, humorous, faithful, eccentric, creative, intellectual

Is remembered for: Electrical experiments

Memorable Quote: "Being ignorant is not so much a shame as being unwilling to learn."

House: Ravenclaw


Traits: Brave, works for the common good, likes action and adventure, seeks glory

Is remembered for: Being hanged as a rebel spy

Memorable Quote: "I regret that I have but one life to lose for my country." 

House: Gryffindor


Traits: Ambitious, cunning, unafraid of conflict, concerned with his reputation, polymath, vain, arrogant, prideful, uncompromising, protective of people in his corner

Is remembered for: Founding America's first national bank

Memorable Quote:  “A nation which can prefer disgrace to danger is prepared for a master, and deserves one.”

House: Slytherin


Traits: Ambitious, political, highly efficient, devoted, family-oriented

Is remembered for: Starting the first public orphanage in NY

House: Hufflepuff


Traits: Integrity, consistency, bravery, popular, outgoing, showy, friendly, influential

Is remembered for: His comically enormous signature

Memorable Quote: "There! I guess King George will be able to read that without his spectacles!"

House: Gryffindor

Traits: Private, deep thinker, stoic, creative, ambitious, polymath, quill skill

Is remembered for: Writing the Declaration of Independence

Memorable Quote: "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants."

House: Ravenclaw


Traits: Sagacious, able to see practical application of theories, works for the common good, unafraid of conflict, fearful of power

Is remembered for: Being a staunch advocate for the Bill of Rights

Memorable Quote: "The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse."

House: Hufflepuff

Traits: Passionate, persuasive, fiery, devoted to his cause, quill skill, agitator

Is remembered for: "Common Sense" and "The Rights of Man"

Memorable Quote: "These are the times that try men's souls."

House: Gryffindor


Traits: Honest, virtuous, wise, dislikes philosophical discussion, self-sacrificial, works for the common good, traditional

Is remembered for: His honesty, his virtuosity as the first president of the USA, resigning from power to show America's strength

Memorable Quote: Observe good faith and justice toward all nations. Cultivate peace and harmony with all.

House: Hufflepuff


Traits: happy, kind, helpful, gregarious, trustworthy, strong convictions, private

Is remembered for: Refusing to attend her husband's inauguration because she opposed his being president

Memorable Quote: The greater part of our happiness or misery depends on our dispositions and not our circumstances.

House: Hufflepuff


Traits: persuasive, pedagogical, values education, quill skill, organization, ambition, likes order and rules

Is remembered for: Being America's greatest lexicographer

Memorable Quote: “The foundation of all free government and all social order must be laid in families and in the discipline of youth."

House: Ravenclaw

Friday, June 3, 2016

A Blog for Cats

When I was in second grade, Mike Tine said to me at the bus stop, "If a cat comes onto my property, I'm gonna shoot it." I remember him wearing a baseball cap with the Chevy logo in place of a baseball team, chewing on a golden wheat stalk, and proudly rolling a pocketknife back and forth in his palm, though probably only two of those things are true.

Cats have been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. Despite all the old wive's tales that warned parents that cats would suck the breath out of babies, I made it through child - breath intact - with a bevvy of feline friends by my side.

Although I don't remember him well, Sullivan (Sully) was, I suppose my first cat, although I have earlier photos of Jocelyn sleeping in my crib. I remember being at my aunt Leigh's and my mother speaking to the vet because he had feline leukemia and we had to put him down. I don't know how old he was when he went, but I will credit him for my endless affinity to large orange cats.

Then came the ignorant years, before mom and I heeded Bob Barker's plea to spay and neuter your pets. The slew of cats that we had then were bountiful, graced each year with a litter of kittens that we would give away, much to my heart break. I would have kept every last one of them until all the corners of my house were laden with cats. We had another fluffy orange cat, Toodles, named after the Peter Pan character and Ta-Ta, a name my mother hated. When we moved to Brook Street, Ta-Ta got hit by a car and we got Eliza, named after Eliza Doolittle and eventually the first syllable became too cumbersome and she was just Liza.
Bartholomew, L.C., and Leopold

Liza and Toodles had several litters of kittens, but I kept two. Cats, not litters. Rascal (my most normative and shameful cat name) and my gay little prince cat, L.C. (Little Cow) who saw me through leaving for college. Whenever we took him to the vet, L.C.'s name was written as "Elsie," a name which I didn't know existed, but apparently all the vets thought was normal. L.C. let me hold him on my hip, drag him around with me, and, even though my mother said, "Never ever ever" slept on the bed beside me.

Jojo Bean
Long after Liza and Toodles were gone, Rascal left - he just wandered off - and we got Bartholomew and Leopold to accompany L.C. I was a junior in high school and we had finally answered the spaying and neutering call, but not the "keep your cats indoors" one. L.C. was probably 11 or 12 by this point. Bartholomew was nearing a year and Leopold - Poly-pants - was a wily little eight week old kitten with a white mustache, white paws, and a little heart on his belly.

These were the years of heart ache and devastation for the cats I loved. After I left for St. Mike's L.C. died of old age (and, I like to imagine, of sheer heartache). Polypants went outside one day and never returned. An ex-friend of mine adopted three kittens two of whom were killed by her dog and the other of whom, Girlie, we took in. She also died too young of the perils of outside.

One of my favorite cats of all time came to me from a neighbor. His name was Jojo and he was
another tuxedo kitty. Jojo loved pipe cleaners, stealing my clothes, and me. He was very protective of me, but he was also a pain in the ass, even more so than a normal kitten. So we got him a friend: Jonfen. Jojo barely made it past three before he died and Jonfen, a somewhat dimwitted but extremely good-natured orange tabby, wasn't far behind him.

My Best Girl - Emily Louise
A year before I graduated from Smith College, I adopted Emily, my contraband kitty who I had hoped would solve all my problems. Her shelter name was Bootsie, and I saved her from that horrible eternity. In return, she gave me a really sweet little face to gaze at while I wondered if she actually liked me, which I didn't discover she did until after six months of living with her.
My Sweet Desmon

After I finished college and moved out, I adopted Desmond Huey
Samson giving head butts
Lewis Jones: the Bub. And then Samson came along, his story of abandonment tearing my heart in two. I didn't care if he lived two weeks or two years - that poor cat was coming home with me. He was the best cat ever. His little heart loved so much and his big ol' belly flopped towards the sky was a sign of his eternal trust, just
as his feet waddling after you on your way to the bedroom were a sign of his eternal devotion.

After he died at the ripe old age of 17.5, my husband and I waxed content with our little family: just us and Emily Louise and Desmond Huey Lewis Jones. Until the Cat Who Has No Name entered.

His shelter name was Kiki and he was only supposed to be with us for a couple of weeks until he gotover his cold. I hated the name Kiki and started calling him Weezy, because that's what he did most of the time. He, like Samson, seemed so grateful to have people who cared about him and let him snuggle up on the bed or the couch that resigning him to a life of "maybe someone will adopt him" seemed to cruel. So, he came home with us, just a week before we left for Turkey. (Shout out to my mother!) He's been through several names since, and I think we've finally settled on one: Hamilton. (Fully Alexander Hamilton)

Boo Radley
Turkey has gifted me with a colony of cats who know my footsteps and my voice, let me pet them, sit with me when I go outside to read, and always make me smile. Boo, of course, came to live with us after two tragic accidents and now I am so happy that he has a forever home. In our spare room (Boo's room, I call it) now I have a little kitten whose right eye is swollen shut, dripping with whitish mucus, and who generally hates me for taking her inside, trying to clean her eye, and forcing antibiotics down her throat. That I'm also the person who feeds her seems to have evaded her knowledge. I'm hoping that, with a few days of treatment and a safe, clean place to sleep and all the stinky wet food that she can eat, she'll get better and I can return her to her three siblings and mom.

Cats are amazing animals with distinct personalities and quirks that are unbelievably endearing. I remember all my cats so well because they were family - they ARE family - and because their lives have so enriched mine. I am so grateful to have known and loved so many tremendous cats in my life and I hope to know and love many more. Send good thoughts to the sick little kitten in Boo's room and, if you have a cat, consider yourself the luckiest person on earth. 

Friday, April 15, 2016

In Defense of "F.R.I.E.N.D.S."

This article has been making its way around social media, and I, being an avid Friends fan, was very intrigued to read this particular (and rather apocalyptic) interpretation of the show. If you're not interested in reading it, this is an abstract of the article:

Friends, author David Hopkins argues, is a Greek tragedy wherein Ross Gellar, family man, professor of paleontology, and all around decent human being, is doomed to an Oedipal existence in which his closest companions actively seek to thwart his intelligence and eventually create a person as simple as they are. By doing so, the show subliminally encourages us to the do the same.

Where I think Hopkins is hitting the nail on the head: Ross' job is regularly looked down upon. Whenever Ross talks about dinosaurs, his friends pretend to fall asleep, roll their eyes, or groan. The only character who seems to care about Ross' career is his short-lived girlfriend, Mona, who is very interested in his doctoral dissertation. I have often imagined that, if I were friends with them, I would be interested in Ross' career and he and I would talk about literature and science.

Hopkins mentions that the laugh track in the show limits our own ability to determine what's funny. While I agree with this wholeheartedly, Friends was not the first show - nor was it the last - to utilize the canned laughter and choreograph our responses.

Ross certainly does have a tragic hangup on Rachel. The causes are numerous and speculative, as nothing is directly stated, but certainly Rachel represents for him a teenage ambition to be noticed and loved by someone popular; this is perhaps an opposites attract situation; Ross ultimately sees in Rachel something good and worthy to be loved.

Where I think he's missing the point: Ross isn't the only intelligent one, even though he's the only one mentioned to have an advanced degree. Chandler, for example, is incredibly witty and shows
above average grasps of language and language manipulation by virtue of his jokes and sarcastic asides. In fact, Hopkins clearly hasn't made it all the way through the show because he is grossly oversimplifying the characters. He calls Joey "the goofball," Phoebe "the hippy," Monica "obsessive-compulsive," Chandler "sarcastic," and Rachel, "the one who shops." Although none of this is out and out wrong, it is, as I said, too general to be fully accurate.

Joey is the goofball and arguably of the lowest academic intelligence on the show. However, he possesses a more innate interpersonal intelligence and is one of the most loyal characters on the show. Phoebe is sort of a hippy, I would state that she's more a free spirit, equipped with street smarts and strong convictions. Monica is a bit OCD, but she's a very talented chef, a motivated individual, and fiercely competitive. Saying Rachel is "the one who shops" neglects the growth she makes throughout this show. Initially, she is a spoiled, daddy's girl who relies on her parents' money, but - albeit with a lot of luck and help - she climbs the career ladder and becomes a head buyer with a multi-national fashion company. Whether or not we like fashion, it's hard to argue that Rachel didn't grow to do well for herself.

While he doesn't directly assert that Friends is responsible for the reelection of George W. Bush in 2004, Hopkins heavily implies it, as well as implying that the majority of stupid things happening in America now (from social media politics to Donald Trump) are the direct result of Friends having been on the air.

TV shows, by virtue of being TV shows, tend to lack intellectualism. We, the audience, are not forced to think, imagine images, or connect any dots for ourselves. Suggesting that Friends is the reason Kanye West thinks he can run for president when many other shows perpetuate similar stereotypes against intellectual people is unfair, unfounded, and, in my personal opinion, unjust to this show that, at its heart, valued loyalty about all else.

Help Me Out Here: Am I Missing Something?

I came across the meme on the left on a university friend of mine's Facebook newsfeed and I'm having a really hard time comprehending this one. As I understand (and, please, please, please, tell me if I'm interpreting this wrong), I should support the Muslim county clerk's decision to deny a customer a marriage license on the basis that the customer is not wearing a hijab and that, in not supporting her - which, in this case, I don't - means that I'm supporting Christian privilege.

Firstly, is it not the same religious right of the woman customer to choose whether or not she wears a hijab? Secondly, is it not the actual job of the Muslim clerk to provide a service (be it supplying marriage licenses or something else) to the town she serves?

I do support the autonomy of the clerk to actively find someone else to help the customer. But if no one else can be found, the clerk's refusal, while religiously understandable, seems unethical given her job and the freedoms that are supported by the American Constitution, under which she serves, as a working person in America.

Please, please, please let me know where I'm going wrong. I feel like there's something simple that I'm missing, but I can't help feeling that this meme (as many obviously are being that they're, you know, memes) is grossly oversimplifying this issue and eagerly pointing the privilege finger. And I'll be honest, I point the privilege finger a lot because it's worthwhile and it is a privilege to be taught about privilege (or have your privilege checked) as opposed to experiencing a lack of it. So, I beg of you, tell me where I'm going astray in my logic. 

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

A Ranty Type Blog

So, I've been doing yoga everyday for about the last two months and today YouTube suggested I watch a video from a vlogger called BananaBlondie108. Mostly out of boredom, I clicked on it and trolled around her page a while. It didn't take long for me to glean her perspective: military veganism, high and mighty yoga, anti-everything that contrasts with that. I consider myself a very open person and refuse to believe that the choices I make with my life supersede and are more righteous than another person's. Similarly, I believe that the choices other people make are valid, but I expect that they garner the same respect I give to them. If you choose to be a vegan, that's great for you. If you choose to binge drink every Thursday, fine. If you collect firearms, please be responsible. It doesn't mean that I am under any obligation to do any of these things.

BananaBlondie108's videos - at least the ones I watched (and I didn't watch any in full because she annoyed me profoundly) - serve to enforce her cause. And this is her right as a person: she is permitted to have a belief (or many beliefs) that she validates. Just as I am, and just as you are. Where I believe she misses the mark by an astonishingly wide margin is in her blatant attack on anyone who does not follow her chosen lifestyle and in her propagation of the idea that only certain bodies can be healthy.

On her channel she disses Oprah, Weight Watchers, meat eaters, dairy eaters, people who don't do yoga, and in one tremendously offensive video, she uses her children to help her insult her overweight pediatrician. You can watch the video here, but I don't recommend it. In this video, made in the car probably on the way home from the pediatrician's office, both mom and children are on a rant about how they could possibly follow the advice of their overweight pediatrician. Everyone in the car agrees that the advice is sound, scientific, and based in medicine, but everyone in the car also agrees that the doctor doesn't follow the advice.

And just how do they know that? I hear you ask, as I did. Well, because isn't thin. In fact, in BB108's words, "Her (the doctor's) message would be much better received if she were an example of the advice that she's giving."

Now, of course, I wonder, did BB108 ask the doctor if she followed her own advice? Did BB108 ask the doctor what she normally eats in a day (not that it's any of her business)? No. She went out on a limb that reaches so far past the realms of science that it hits parallel universes in the head and just assumed - and continues to assume as referenced in a video recorded the next day - that the doctor couldn't be eating and living healthily because her body failed to look a certain way.

She did issue an apology video because she was "mortified" and because her "goal is never to offend people." Now, congratulations or whatever on apologizing, but I feel like she's gotten it wrong for a couple of reasons. Firstly, I continue to hear her say that she isn't "politically correct" and "abrasive," hinting that the only reason she's apologizing is because she called the doctor fat. Secondly, in her apology she continues to propagate the idea that, because the doctor carried visceral weight (weight around the midsection), she couldn't possibly be following the advice she gives, which BB108 classifies as the "truth of the matter."

One of the biggest issues I hold with both her initial video and her "apology" is the fact that she can't own up to the fact that her children hold the views they do because she has taught them as such. Several times in both video she alludes to the fact that even her children noticed as some sort of justification and validation of her assumption about this doctor's health. News flash: Your children learn what you teach them. So, for instance, when she refers to the doctor's "gunt" with her children in the car, you can bet that that's a word that's now in their vocabularies for the next fat child they encounter.

As a fat person, I know firsthand how difficult it can be to have doctors believe what you tell them. I also know how difficult it is to have people believe what you tell them about health. Because, obviously, fashion and the conflation of health and beauty are more valid than science and personal experience. Most people see me and assume they know about my health without knowing anything about me. I have to work harder to be validated and often am not. Once, I went to the doctor and I told him my workout schedule, which, at the time was 5-6 days a week, weightlifting, cardio (running and Zumba), and pilates. When I left the room, I looked at the chart and he wrote "3 days a week, low to moderate exercise."

I feel like I'm circumventing the point and maybe there isn't a real point aside from the fact that I'm annoyed by this video and the continuation of bad science in health related fields. If you're frustrated, too, misery loves company, so leave me some comments.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

23 Things Animals Can Teach Us About Our Lives - Advice in Pictures

So, I love Pinterest, and if we're not friends on there you should find me so I can steal your cute/innovative/handy-dandy ideas, too. For me, it's an excellent place to store recipes (that I'll never remember I pinned there), scrapbooking templates, projects (that I'll never remember I pinned there), and umpteen photos of cute animals. Let's be honest, mostly cats. This week has, thus far, been mostly grey and unfortunately cold here in Bursa, so I think some cute animals photos are in store for today.

1. This eager looking kitty in a kitty hide away. 
Lovely kitty:

Why is he peeking out? Because life is so much better when it's shared. But from a place you can easily escape back into your hole. I mean home. 

2. This monotone cat family.

This family is proving to us beyond all probable doubt that everything is black and white with shades of grey.

3. This like mother/like daughter duo.

cat ♡:

Proof that even in kitty-dom the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. 

4. This integrated family.
Cute kittens with mommy:

Because love knows no color.

5. This determined cat and this equally determined chair.

Because challenges are all about perspective.

6. This zenned out kitty.
Cats can sleep anywhere:

Because sometimes you wake up in the morning, look at your to do list, think about all the responsible things you will have to accomplish before bed, and you just go back to sleep.

7. This cat who has mastered his chakras. 
E-excuse me... But, I would like you to pet me again. I am sorry if I disturbed you, but I liked being petted.:

Whenever you feel yourself collapsing in gate pose (which is obviously a metaphor for life), just internalize this little kitten and imagine your head, heart, and hands reaching forward. 

8. This cup of joy.
What I always want to see in a morning cup of coffee.:

Because some things are more necessary than your morning boost of caffeine.

9. This panda whose little heart overfloweth.
I love you!:

Because, in your heart if not in your mind, you know there is someone who you love soooo much that you would squeeze to their arm and look at them with such unbridled love, even if there was a camera pointed at your face.

10. These Origins of Love
Two kittens make one heart. (KO) Angelic kitties. Don't be fooled! Naughtiness dressed up in furry clothes! Precious though. At times. Mostly naughty.:

Because someone will always be there to expand your heart.

11. This epic fail.
The cute but tragic but, let’s be honest, more cute than tragic Panda Slide Accident of 2008. | Community Post: The 50 Cutest Things That Ever Happened:

Because you won't be good at everything.

12. This blatant show of materialism.
Humorous, Funny and Cute Animal Photos: Humor Page: Archive:

Because some things ARE really important.

13. This tactile monkey and the eager-beaver recipient. 
Unlikely animal friendships - monkey and kitten (hva):
Because when you see a cat you have to touch it. Or when a monkey wants to touch you, you have to let it.

14. This star-gazer.

Now that cloud looks like a........:

Because sometimes it's okay to slow down and revel in the wonder. 

15. This sunny shower.
Always find a reason to laugh. It may not add years to life but it will surely add life to your years.:

Because you, too, can sing and dance in the rain.

16. This cat who shows his love. Literally.


We all could learn a little something from this kitty. This cat has taken the sometimes negatively connoted expression, "Wear your heart on your sleeve" and has turned it around to "wear your heart on your nose," which he does in order to remind us everyday how much he loves and appreciates us.

17. This jovial fellow.

Baby elephant showing off...captured my heart:

Because why not make every movement a dance?

18. The Gun Show

Young gorilla showing his guns by Laurie A. Rubin:

Because you are so strong. Just as you are today.

19. These juxtapositions.


Because you've got two choices: You can hang on for dear life or you can own your wobbly rung and literally make it your bed. 

20. This sense of wonder.

Can I eat it?:

Because flowers really ARE amazing. 

21. This Phoebe Runner

How could you not smile looking at this? Who says elephants can't fly??? Just look at this!!!!:

If you're a FRIENDS fan, you've already gotten it and you can move it. If you're not, let me explain. Phoebe takes up running with Rachel, who prescribes to the school of conservative, form-following, breath-controlled jogging. Phoebe likes to run like she did when she was a child. This elephant is Phoebing. And so should we!

22. This cat who knows what he wants and isn't afraid to ask for it.

* * MEDICAL AFFLICTION: DIAGNOSIS: Severe self- loathing KITTEN: " If dis wuz mirror here, me woulds destroy meself." PROGNOSIS: With intense therapy, kitten can lost interest in current affliction. All will be well for a bright future.:

Because when you need a hug, you should ask for one. 

23. This wise old prophet.

22 Cats With The Most Beautiful And Unique Coat Patterns In The World:

Because inside all of us is a little Dumbledore.