Thursday, October 7, 2010

Dear Tom Barrett: Please stop exploiting my disease

As a juvenile onset diabetic, I find Tom Barrett’s ad exploiting juvenile diabetes and claiming “Scott Walker says he would ban stem cell research” annoying and offensive at best. His statement is an outright lie, and I really wish politicians like Barrett would stop exploiting my disease for political gain.

Despite the purported medical promises of embryonic stem cells, they have so far have yielded no results. Adult stem cells, rather, are already being used by doctors to restore vision and vocal functions, increase movement and walking ability in spinal cord injury patients, and improve pumping performance in cases of heart-failure. In fact, more than 50,000 patients are helped with adult stem cell treatments every year; this is the type of research Scott Walker promises to fervently support!

If the mother of the son with juvenile diabetes in Barrett’s ad were to ask me “How can you be against hope?” I would encourage her to look at the facts. Proven results, tremendous potential, and reason to hope have already been found in research from adult stem cells. I urge that mother, and anyone similarly affected by a chronic disease, to vote for Scott Walker, the candidate who supports the research possessing the most hope to someday cure me, and her son.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Jimmy John's = Epic Win

Granted: Annie + 2010 blogging = epic failure.

But every now and then I still get the itch to get on my soapbox. Like today, for example, when I took a midday promenade a few blocks over to Jimmy John's, ordered a Beach Club-NO MAYO-on French, and in true Jimmy John's fashion, my sandwich was waiting for me down the counter before I could put away my thirty cents change.

Enjoying my sunny stroll, I meandered back to my office, grabbed a napkin and soda, and took a seat to unwrap what I expected to be the deliciousness that was within. But when I unwrapped, I did not find my delightfully fresh beach club-NO MAYO-on French, but rather something resembling a sandwich. I couldn’t quite tell, because there was putrid white glop oozing from every possible angle of said sandwich-like structure.

Instead of whining and complaining and trying to control my gag reflux as I attempted to purify my purchase from the oozing slop , instead I called up my friends at Jimmy John’s, explained the situation, and the phone guy pleasantly agreed to deliver a new sandwich, SANS MAYO, to my office. A scruffy dude arrived a few minutes later, full-smile, happy to exchange my new sandwich for the rancid glop in my hand, AND... he gave me a full refund. In a day when customer service seems to have gone to the crapper, it totally made my day.

So, just to be clear, I have absolutely nothing profound or theological to offer in this post. Just that the Jimmy John's on Brady Street = Epic Win.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Lessons in ebonics from my 73-year-old father

Below, please find my beloved 73-year-old father's attempt to "learn computer tech lingo," as he calls it... looks more like ebonics, to me. The funniest part, is that in his attempt to be tech savvy he unknowingly posted the following through my mother's account:

Connie Lastname
der Glen gud lukn hat- im tryin 2 lern komputr tec= weed luv 2 hav u bak 4 a hok futbal gam or suner=glad 2 no ur famlys duin wel,& soz rz-lots to diskus,luv ,jtn

"Gud lukn hat." Good luck in Haiti? Good looking hat? Gouda, Luke, and HazMat? I haven't a clue! Also, did I see that right? Did my father just type, "luv?" LUV? Is this the beginning of the Tribulation? Because that wall post leaves me more distressed and troubled than I've ever been.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Part Two: The Dos!

The best practical description of love I've ever heard was this: "Love is when you give someone enough of your heart that they have the power to break it, but trusting they won't." Sounds risky, huh? You bet it is. So now that you know what to avoid, if you’re looking for love in the new year and putting your fragile little heart out on the line, be sure your new interest stacks up to these dos, and is worth that wonderful risk. Good luck!

Do date someone who shares your interests. Once I dated a guy who asked if I was ready to leave an Iowa football game in the middle of the fourth quarter... um, no. We broke up three days later. Since then, I’ve learned to make it clear early on in a relationship that my two non-negotiables are Catholicism and Hawkeye football. If there is something you care about to your core, be sure the person you are dating can at very least tolerate your passion for it, if not engage in it with you.

Do date someone who has him or herself figured out. Unsure of career path or vocation? Ditch 'em. A life plan does not need to be scrolled in blood script, but if you're old enough to be dating to discern marriage, you're old enough to know the general direction toward which you are headed. If you don't know that general direction, you are not ready for marriage, and therefore probably should not even be dating.

Do date someone who has a network of friends and respects family. Dating sets up discernment which sets up marriage, which is all about relationship – most importantly with God, followed by one another, and then your children, but even on from there as your life extends to your church, community, network, etc. Look to the family and friends of the person you are dating to be sure he or she is able to cultivate and sustain stable, long-lasting, emotionally intimate relationships.

Do date someone who understands the merits of interdependency. I was once broken up with because I was "too dependent." I tried to convince him I could be less dependent… which, in hindsight I see was a totally dependent plea. See, the truth is I want interdependency. I want someone to have my back, to support me through tough times, to encourage me when I’m down, and who expects the same from me. Throughout a relationship, and especially in marriage, there will be times when both parties need to rely and be dependent upon one another. And as two persons in the marital union of one flesh, that is necessary as well as totally appropriate. If that concept is not understood, say good riddance.

Do date someone who appreciates those three little words. There's a critical exchange that goes like this: Person A: "I am sorry." Person B: "I forgive you." So often pride and stubbornness make simple disputes escalate into substantial issues. Learning the forgiveness exchange is a fundamental concept that, unfortunately, is widely under-used. I dare you to go practice today.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Dating Dos and Don'ts (part one: the don'ts)

My friends must think I’m some kind of a dating expert, because they come to me for advice on an almost-daily basis. Today a friend asked me when it was time to cut his losses and quit waiting for his woman to fall in love with him. Yesterday a friend came to me to be convinced online dating is a totally acceptable means of meeting people. The day before that, I coached yet another friend through a response to an e-mail from his crush. My favorite example was when one of my best friends begged me to sit down in front of her computer to flirt with her crush on instant messenger, pretending to be her.

On the one hand, the fact that friends come to me is quite perplexing, because I've both had and contributed to more broken hearts in my short-lived dating career than is healthy for any human being to endure in a lifetime. On the other hand, it makes perfect sense because I've been there a time or two billion and can speak from experience.

A good friend asked me this week when my “How To” book on dating would be published. Can’t say I have a book deal… yet. However, now that we're through the holidays and it seems all my friends are breaking up and embarking on new dating adventures, I can offer you my top-ten dos and don'ts, all straight from the precious source of experience, to help guide your 2010 dating escapades. So here is part one: the “Don’ts.” Come back for the Dos!

Don't date anyone who drops the L-bomb within five dates. If this happens, end the relationship immediately. It is not love, never will be, and I assure you nothing good will come of a relationship wherein the concept of love is so atrociously misunderstood.

Don't date anyone whose last name is actually a first name.
This was first announced on MTV back in the early 2000s, but I was reminded of the principle by a best friend the other day. I can't explain why this is, but it's true... a few times over.

Don't date a perfect Catholic. Here's the thing – being Catholic is all about being REAL. We don't pretend to be perfect. We screw up, hurt people, and make mistakes. And then we march into the confessional and beg the Lord for forgiveness. If you want to date someone who is seemingly perfect and doesn't ever need forgiveness, go ahead. But don't be surprised when you learn that was just a phase and he falls off the deep end and is a baby-daddy two years later.

Don’t date someone who is already taken. This might seem obvious, but you’d be surprised. Is your interest still crying over her ex while in your arms? I’ve been her. Or does he already have his emotional intimacy needs fulfilled by another woman, like, oh ya know, his mother? I’ve dated him. These are not good signs. Men already taken by mothers, or women already taken by exes, are not available for your taking, so do not try until they decide for themselves to move on.

Don't date someone who reduces marriage to sex. It is very good to wait until marriage for sex. However, be sure the person on this path has not become so obsessed with the idea of sex-and-marriage that he or she ends up convinced sex and marriage are synonymous. Yes, of course, sex = "the marital act," and that is very good. But if you are dating someone who reduces the vocation of marriage to the freedom to have morally permissible orgasms, you have a bad egg.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Did I peak too soon?

I was kind of a big deal back in my elementary school days as a Longfellow Longhorn. By the fresh young age of 11, I had already been:

*Elected President of student council;
*Voted by my elder class to be the first crossing guard of my 6th grade year;
*Star of the all-school musical;
*Winner of the all-school T-shirt design contest (my design featured Uncle Sam, shocking, I know);
*All-time record holder of the sit-and-reach in gym class (this still belongs to yours truly, FYI);
*Selected as one of only two people in the school to take the entrance exam for the double-advanced math track; and
*Recipient of awards/certificates/plaques from the Iowa City City Council for being such a super star.

Let's be honest -- I was an exemplary kid and rocked that school like it had never been rocked before. I wish I could say I have kept up with my record of excellence throughout my life, but as it turns out, I set the bar for myself too high to keep up with. Now, I'm just a normal girl who went to a normal 4-year school, got a normal job, and is living a normal life. No more excellence for me. It turns out, I peaked early.

I'm sure my faithful readers have noticed that I've been on winter hibernation from my blog as of late. Well, that's actually an excuse. The truth is that, spiritually, I've felt a little dry lately, and haven't had a whole lot of inspirational words to share. It's not like I've fallen off the deep end by any means, but, I just haven't had any quality material. I think this is in part due to Young Life and Confirmation being on winter break, as I find being a spiritual leader for others really helps me keep my own faith life in high-gear. But because of this winter break, I haven't been praying as much as I should, I've been acting prideful, and have felt kind of selfish with my time, money, heart, etc.

Regardless of the cause of this rut, I am left wondering, will this dry spell end soon? Or rather, did I just get my spiritual peak in life too early? Gosh, I hope the latter is not true. And I really don't think it is. I know everyone's faith walk is a roller-coaster over the course of a life, but I was recently reminded of how fervently I used to pursue my faith, and by comparison, it seems my spiritual engine has been stuck in low gear lately.

Life is good. Life is great, really. The holidays were wonderful, I am looking forward to 2010, my Hawks won a BCS game, my Confirmation class earlier this week was stellar, I have a solid new Archbishop as my shepherd, my job, relationship, and friends are all good, and Jesus and I still love each other. So emotionally, I'm great. But spiritually, I'm sluggish. I guess the first step is to recognize that.

Hopefully, I'll be out of this rut soon enough and will be back to inspiring you regularly. Until then, thanks for your prayers.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Meatloaf and Ovaltine

It's meatloaf and Ovaltine, Poison Control and bathroom behavior bartering, chards of glass and new shoes.

I was on parental-assistance duty for Thanksgiving this year while my sisters frolicked about in the Tennessee sunshine. As my sweet mother is in pain and recovering from double joint replacement surgery, and my beloved father is, well, my father, it was an interesting, although not unusual, visit. This recap is provided mostly for my sisters' entertainment, but as it's pretty amusing in general, I'd like to share with y'all a typical day at home, as a temporarily-only-child, assisting parents upwards of 65. Enjoy...

8:00 - Awake to Dad's voice-alarm booming, "Annie, get outta bed. I wanna find the list of Cool Tools judges on the computer internet service world wide web monitor machine so I can send them my garden seeder."
8:15 - Arrive in kitchen, clean Dad's sticky "Magic Juicer" slop from walls, counter, and floor, before getting my sanity-saving coffee.
9:00 - Clean bathroom number one.
9:30 - Clean bathroom number two.
10:00 - Make deal with Dad that I'll help him with the internet if he'll promise to start flushing toilets.
10:05 - Help Dad find list of judges from a DIY Network show based on the first name of a judge from a 2007 episode.
10:45 - Explain to Dad why typing "My Email" into the Google search bar is not the best way to access his Yahoo account.
11:30 - Call hospital on-call number to track down doctor on duty, on vacation weekend, because Mom might have accidentally taken the wrong mix of post-surgery pills.
11:35 - Prepare to call Poison Control before getting call back from on-call doctor.
12:00 - Make lunch for 82 million cousins stopping through to say hello.
13:00 - Go grocery shopping for weekend, fielding a question from Dad, on my cell while in the dairy aisle, about how to change font size in Microsoft Word.
14:30 - Do laundry of Mom's hospital-esque bed's 24 pillow cases.
15:00 - Buy new pair of Anne Klein shoes on Mom, as "thanks" for coming home to help.
16:00 - Fill up tank of premium gas on Dad, as "thanks" for coming home to help.
16:30 - Arrive home to living room floor of Dad's shattered glass of juice.
16:35 - Clean Dad's shattered glass of juice.
17:00 - Clean bathroom number one, again.
17:15 - Clean bathroom number two, again.
17:30 - Say hello to cousin installing a downstairs, walk-in shower in bathroom number three.
17:45 - Make dinner of World's Largest Ever Meatloaf, so the parents, and the cousins stopping through, can be fed the following week.
20:00 - Peacefully watch Forrest Gump in living room, with volume actually at a controlled level because Dad has his "audio ears" headphones on and working, while sipping Ovaltine and eating pie, being thankful I have two working legs, a place to call home, and two married parents who love me a whole lot.

It's not always pretty, and it's sometimes very messy, but that big, old, beautiful house on Summit Street with the creaky floors that is full of family love and cherished memories, will always be home sweet home.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Your opinion doesn't matter.

There was a first-of-its-kind lawsuit filed this week in Milwaukee County of lawyers fighting lawyers over an internet advertising dispute.

You can read the full story here, but basically, the plaintiffs claimed the defendants purchased the plaintiffs' names as keywords for internet advertising, without written consent. Therefore, the plaintiffs claim the defendants violated Wisconsin Statute 995.50 (2)(b) which says, "the use, for advertising purposes or purposes of trade, of the name... of any living person, without having first obtained the written consent of the person," is considered an invasion of privacy.

The defendants' purchase of the plaintiffs' names for advertising purposes is a clear-as-day violation of the statute. But after reading blogs, media stories, and readers' comments, I've noticed all of the commentary basically says the same thing: "It is aggravating for the plaintiffs, but legal in my opinion."

Hey, guess what? Your opinion doesn't matter!

The opinion that matters is that of the law. The question the court must answer is, "Did Defendants use, for advertising purposes, Plaintiffs' names without written consent?" The answer is an obvious yes.

The annoying and over-used personal opinion factor, rather than application to and interpretation of the law, leads me think about how many people apply their my-opinion-logic to their own decisions. Thank Goodness that as members of the Church, we have our own objective statutes and "laws," if you will. The "law" to guide our decision making is set forth by Christ himself, who gave the keys to the Kingdom to Peter instituting the Church, which, continues to give us authoritative moral guidance, standards, and "law," through the inspiration and cooperation of the Holy Spirit. Like it or not, it is what it is. Take it or leave it, folks.

Here's my point: It baffles me how so many Catholics choose the my-opinion-logic, rather than the Jesus-said-so logic, on moral decisions. It absolutely baffles me. That is all. Also, thank God for grace.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Clearly, I need a husband.

Disclaimer: I like slightly facetious writing. Let's review its definition before we begin.

Facetious: 1: joking or jesting often inappropriately (just being facetious) 2: meant to be humorous or funny, not serious (a facetious remark)

Ok then. So, I am currently watching a facebook message chain wherein my two brothers-in-law are fighting for the title and glory of officially being crowned my momma’s “Favorite Son-in-law.” Both of them are really great men, and their continued ambitions to earn my momma’s love are rather endearing; it’s making me think of all the reasons I need a quality husband, too.

CRITTER KILLING: Since last winter, I’ve had this really ugly eight-legged critter living in my basement and he only comes out when I’m home alone. I’ve tried to have visitors hunt for him, but he never shows his face unless I’m alone. Sometimes I try waiting until he comes out and then calling someone to come quickly, but it’s never quick enough and he retreats into hiding again. The critter keeps getting bigger and I want him dead. Clearly, I need a husband.

FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT: I am terrible with finances. I spend more than I should on shoes and sushi and not enough on paying off my car. Yesterday I got a call from Time Warner because I missed my cable and internet payment – not because I couldn’t pay it, but because I just forgot. I’ve been a Netflix subscriber for six months now, but my second rental, which was from April, is still sitting next to my DVD player. The thing is, it’s not that I’m wasteful. Rather, that it’s just me and I don’t think or care about money the same way providers do, so I don’t think about it very often. Clearly, I need a husband.

I DON’T SPEAK CAR: I know my car Bert is blue, has four doors, and is adorable. Beyond that, I’m pretty clueless. Apparently, you’re supposed to get your oil and brake pads changed regularly. So just to be safe, I took Bert into the mechanic today for an overdue oil change and to have his brake pads checked. The mechanic started talking about synthetic materials, rotors, and calibers. To me, it sounded like “I want to take your money even though your car is running just fine.” I didn’t really know any better, so I said ok. Clearly, I need a husband.

And then, of course, I could talk about all of those beautiful spiritual, vocational, Sacramental and sacrificial reasons, but regardless, my point is this: Whoever came up with that whole independent woman mantra is not my friend. I am helpless and need to be rescued – at least when it comes to critters, financial management, and cars. Clearly, I need a husband.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Jesus loves our veterans

Jesus said it best...
"No one has greater love than this, to lay down one's life for one's friends." ~John 15:13

But Ronnie did pretty well, too...
"The willingness of our citizens to give freely and unselfishly of themselves, even their lives, in defense of our democratic principles, gives this great nation continued strength and vitality. I urge all Americans to recognize the valor and sacrifice of our veterans through appropriate public ceremonies and private prayers." ~President Ronald Reagan, October 26, 1981

Ok, Ronnie. Here's mine... May our Lord protect and bless those who did, do, and will serve. May the rest of us learn a greater appreciation for the value of patriotism embodied by our veterans' true and noble love for our country. And in their honor, may we all desire and work to make the United States the land of goodness, hope, and freedom for which they fought. Amen!