Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Open Letter to Gawker Hackers

Okay, hawkers, you've made your point. I should have used different passwords for each of my accounts, but it was so much easier to remember that my son's birthday followed by my blood type would access my email accounts while the last four digits of my social security number and what my driver's license says I weigh would get me onto ebay, Paypal, Etsy, You Tube, GoDaddy, Amazon and assorted sites I used in my quest to find the tastiest olive oil.

I don't remember ever visiting gawker, but apparently there was a time when I was curious about whether or not Gwyneth Paltrow might have been photographed eating carbs in a trendy Soho restaurant as I had an account. That was my undoing as having a Gawker account made it possible for you to pass yourself off as the online me.

Would you use my Etsy account to buy a hand loomed scarf? My Amazon account to push some obscure author to number one? My PayPal account to score elite tickets to "The Merchant of Venice" or a New York co-op? I was desperate to create new passwords and would now take it more seriously, avoiding using my birthday or schools I'd attended that you could know from Facebook, and not being lazy like those who grasp at the most popular passwords: 12345, password, lifehack, qwerty, abc123, 111111, monkey, consumer, 0, letmein, trustno1.

AOL provided instructions for strengthening a password, which helped me arrive at a formula impossible to penetrate. The trick is to mix capital and lower case and accompany the letters with numbers. I capitalized the second letter of Hackers to make my password a most improbable "hAckers" (clever, no?). And I split up the word by inserting my area code, 212, at different points between the letters. I don't mind telling you I feel slightly smug and just hope Julian Assange doesn't spread this around on WikiLeaks.

Seemingly the only site not penetrated by you is my web site - www.sybilsage.com. But you and everyone else should feel free to go there and buy mosaic art with complete confidence that you will be completely secure.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Advice to Tea Party: Use Your Words (Unless You Don't Know Any)

It's clear that Tea Party enthusiasts have forgotten what the rest of us learned in high school about the Constitution and evolution, but the pummeling of MoveOn.org member Lauren Valle reveals they're also ignoring the basic lesson taught in nursery school, "use your words." Valle, carrying a sign in a group of Rand Paul supporters, was knocked down, her head repeatedly stepped on. This attack was then characterized by campaign coordinator Tim Profitt as "passion," who mistakenly believes "passion" is a synonym for "violence".

I, too, am angry, and have been since George W. Bush was said to have been elected. My condition, if diagnosed, would be called "Keith Olbermann Syndrome," the symptoms being an obsessive, unbridled fury at right wing politicians and pundits as well as a handful of relatives. There's no effective medical treatment for this fury so I turned to a homeopathic remedy, mosaic art.

For years I've been breaking plates, using the shards to design vases, picture frames, lamps, planters and candlestick holders. When Sarah Palin appeared on the scene, I needed to find an acceptable outlet for my anger and channeled it into mosaic political satire, which led to my Breaking News series. This includes vases that pay homage to Stephen Colbert and the environment and edgier cremation urns done with red, white and blue American flag plates and small pictures that comment on our current crises -- financial fraud, job losses, political sex scandals and right wingers. These and the more benign items can be seen by going to www.sybilsage.com.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Studies Show Parents Are Not Happier Than The Childless

According to an article in New York magazine, a number of studies have revealed that parenting is not necessarily a source of happiness. Creating babies, therefore, may be something you shouldn’t try at home. Children, like Toyotas, appear to be a disappointment and may, in fact, find themselves being recalled.

In 2004, back when people still had jobs, a survey was done of 909 Texas working women. They ranked childcare sixteenth in pleasurability out of nineteen activities, behind housework, napping, exercising, preparing food, shopping and watching TV. I have to assume they don’t get the same programs we do on the East Coast. I wasn’t among those queried, but I got far more enjoyment from singing "Wheels on the Bus" to our son and participating in the process of his evolving into a competent young adult than I ever have on a treadmill. Given how parenting is perceived in Texas, one wonders about the popularity of the pro-life movement there. Toddlers would be well advised to hide their parents’ guns.

But these perceptions are not limited to Texas. Other studies claim that parents are more depressed than the childless and report that childcare is seen as drudgery. As a Hollywood scriptwriter, I had what is considered a glamorous career, yet I found being with my son far more compelling than watching rehearsals of "Growing Pains." Being a mother is the most important role I’ve had, the most challenging and rewarding. Parenting is dynamic, requiring repeated reassessing and revising, which keeps it fresh. Sure, having a child adds anxiety and stress, but that’s the case with anything you take seriously.

Dogs, ironically, continue to get good press and are credited with providing emotional support, particularly in difficult times. I’m baffled that pets are getting better press than children. My relationship with our Tibetan terrier was far from reciprocal. I did all the giving and caretaking with nary a thank you. Unlike our son, who learned to go to the bathroom by himself, the dog made it clear that the antique rug would suffer should I be selfish enough to go to dinner and a movie.

From the first touch of his tiny fist on my chest to today’s amusing instant message, my son has enhanced my appreciation of life. From him, I learned much of what I know about men, that I can’t persuade him or maybe anyone to use sunscreen, that there comes a time when backing off should replace being there, that teasing can be an expression of affection and that when my computer gives me trouble, I should reboot. Without him, life would be far less meaningful, my world would be smaller, I’d certainly not be as happy as I am and I’d be totally depending on Tech Support.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

with the news that spirit airlines is now charging $45 to place a carry on bag in an overhead bin i am beginning to think that heidi had a good idea. for those of you who are too young or too illiterate to have ever read the classic - heidi is the story of a young swiss girl who is sent away from her beloved, but poor, grandpa to go live in the home of a wealthy family and act as a companion to their invalid daughter.

heidi had no luggage. heidi wore all her clothing, all at once. now it's true that heidi probably didn't have an extensive wardrobe and i am betting that she only had one pair of shoes but i still think it is a good plan. when my husband and i travel i am the one who always takes the lions share of the luggage. therefore, from this time forth, when we travel, i am going to wear all my daytime clothing at once while the husband will wear all my evening clothes.

he doesn't know about this plan yet but i am sure he will agree once hears that we can save the $45 luggage fee.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Lying About Your Age: When is it Okay -- by Sybil Sage

One of the perks of turning 65 in New York is you become eligible for a Senior Metro card that allows you to use public transportation for half fare, so I was surprised to see a 67-year-old friend whip out a regular card as we were heading into the subway. Responding to the puzzled look on my face, she explained, "Oh, this is the one I use when I'm with a guy I've met online, where I claim to be 62."

She doesn't look 62 and she certainly doesn't look 67, but even shaving off five years hasn't been productive because most men our age are looking for women who are much younger. Another friend who's also posted her profile on dating sites refuses to misrepresent her age, which created a conversation about when it's okay to lie about your age.

I lied about age when I was using fake I.D. to get served before I was of legal age and again, this time about my son's age, to take advantage of a photography package being offered to children under the age of two, scheduling the session at nap time so he'd be tired and not articulate enough to raise suspicions, stuffing his mouth with Gummi Bears to keep him from talking. But recently, after repeatedly getting rejected by online surveys and imagining it was because of my age, I took to claiming I'm ten years younger than I am. Even so, I'm rarely accepted and unlikely to answer enough questions to get the $10 Amazon.com gift certificate I crave.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

More than 15 Ways to Get 15 Minutes of Fame - by Sybil Sage

With the excessive media coverage, ever-growing number of bloggers and You Tube, it's now almost impossible to avoid getting fifteen, if not more, minutes of fame. Some surefire methods:

Lose a tremendous amount of weight, be the spokesperson for Jenny Craig, gain it back and parlay that into a television show;

Become his mistress, or better yet, have the baby of a married politician and pose for Vanity Fair; in the event you're male, pretend you've fathered said baby and write a book;

Crash a White House state dinner;

Get mauled by a 200-pound chimp or keep one as a pet;

Admit to having been sexually abused as a child, best if the perpetrator was famous;

Cover yourself with tattoos and have an affair with the husband of an Oscar winner;

Use all three of your names and assassinate a world leader;

Make all of Julia Child's recipe and blog about it;

Write a fake memoir, get support from Oprah and then have a family member reveal the truth;

Sing beautifully while looking frumpy;

Join the astronaut program and drive across the country to lash out at a romantic rival;

Have your school prom canceled because you intend to bring a same sex date;

Hide a bomb in your shoe or underpants;

Text message while piloting a commercial aircraft and forget to land;

Be nine years old and deliver your mother's baby;

Attach yourself to someone likely to come to as tragic an end as Michael Jackson or Anna Nicole Smith;

Become a religious leader, teacher, doctor or dentist and, in that capacity, have sex with someone;

Transgender, but start by having a famous parent;

Be named a "person of interest" in an unsolved murder case;

Preach to a congregation attended by a presidential candidate and make outrageous statements;

Gain stature as a super model and throw objects at your assistant;

Land a plane safely in the Hudson River;

Father the child of Sarah Palin's daughter and pose for a magazine spread;

Be a high profile athlete and then take steroids, attack another athlete or be attacked, admit to a sexual addiction or conduct dog fights;

Admit to running a huge ponzi scheme or be a family member of one who does;

After being in the administration, write a tell-all book blaming everyone else;

Gain fame and try to leave Scientology;

Be the oldest person in the world and die, but be aware your 15 minutes will be posthumous;

If all else fails, be named Britney, Lindsay or Paris and go to parties.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Are You Prepared for an Emergency? - by Sybil Sage

It was easy to be prepared for emergencies when there were only two, and all you had to do was make a note of the nearest fire exit and to crouch under the desk at school in the event of a nuclear attack. Guys didn’t have to be told (after the first emergency) to keep a condom in their wallets and girls (after one surprise mishap) figured out it’s wise to carry tampons in their purses. But emergencies, like drugstore chains, increased almost daily, making it harder to feel you’re up to speed.

We learned the Heimlich Maneuver (when and how to do it), CPR (with and then without the breathing), to toss off high heels if being chased by a rapist or pickpocket, how to slide out of a plane, which alarm system to install in our homes and pets, how to launch an Amber Alert, when it’s appropriate to call 911 and give Ipacac to our children, to sleep with a flashlight next to the bed if in an earthquake area and, more recently, how to handle an out-of-control Prius — though not yet told what to do if one is coming directly at us. For most other things, we turn to our nearest ER or Tech Support.

Adding to the overcrowded list, however, an article in a recent issue of Newsweek, by Raina Kelley, offered 12 ways to deal with being taken hostage, something I hadn’t — even in my most anxious state — considered. The head of the New York Police Department’s hostage-negotiation team advises:

1. Don’t be a hero
2. Do what you’re told
3. Don’t speak unless spoken to
4. Get comfortable, but never turn your back on the captor
5. Don’t make suggestions
6. Don’t try to escape
7. Let medical needs be known
8. Be observant
9. Answer only "yes" and "no"
10. Signal the police if your captors are listening in on the line
11. Don’t be argumentative
12. Hit the floor

This list should be memorized by anyone like to go on a boring date or attend a contentious family dinner.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Why Can't Congress Do Its Personal Best? - by Sybil Sage

Switching between events in Washington and Vancouver was confusing. There was more discord and hostility demonstrated by America's elected officials than there was among the competing athletes, who, unlike our politicians, were hoping to do their personal best, as opposed to members of Congress, clearly determined to annihilate "the other side."

Among the Olympic contenders, only Russian figure skater Evgeni Plushenko was a sore loser, dubbing himself the "platinum medal winner" and carping about his opponent. It's as if he'd been coached by Fox TV to ignore the results and try to undermine the opponent who'd outscored him. Evan Lysacek, judging by his grace under pressure and ability to take the high road, may have have been mentored by President Obama.

Missing from both events was the pre-program red carpet with Joan Rivers and Melissa commenting on wardrobe choices, decidedly less colorful at Blair House than at the Olympic Stadium.

After watching the Health Summit, America might want to turn the Washington Mall into a large "kiss and cry" area.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Will Jenny Sanford's Book Tour Hit the Appalachian Trail - by Sybil Sage

It would have been a thick compilation if Jenny Sanford had chosen to write a book about wives of politicians who’ve been caught cheating (let alone those who haven’t yet been caught), enough to read on a flight to Asia, but she chose to tell her own story in a memoir titled Staying True, and it’s truly a case of making lemonade out of a very public betrayal.

What would any of us do if we were to find ourselves in her position? It’s a little fuzzy for me as I’m not one who plans ahead. I don’t scope out exit rows on planes or read "what to do in the event of a fire" in public buildings, nor have I made arrangements to deal with my death. My hope is that if I have no contingency plan, dreaded things won’t happen. And under that heading comes finding out that my husband has been fooling around. Cheating, after all, is not limited to politicians, who don’t, curiously, approach it any more competently than they do health-care reform.

Take Tiger Woods – which seems, as we've learned, to have been a popular sport. Elin read his text messages and went after him with a golf club. We haven’t heard how David Letterman's wife responded to the favorite nations policy he applied to interns. I’m sure I wouldn’t be as inclusive as Elizabeth Edwards, who supposedly invited the "love child" to join her family for Christmas. I don’t celebrate Christmas, mistresses or love children, and I certainly am not looking to pick out more "Secret Santa" gifts.

Silda Spitzer’s unwavering devotion is something we all value in an employee or family pet, but she’s been harshly criticized for being too supportive. Yet she appears to have inspired the TV series "The Good Wife," and as a TV writer, we’re always looking for stories. But I like to think I’d be as elegant as Jenny Sanford and ridicule my ex in a book that gets favorably reviewed in The New York Times. Having said that, this is a book I hope never to write.

Jenny Sanford may be the new role model for the wife who’s been spurned. She had agreed to adjust the wedding vows so that the pledge to "forsake all others" was eliminated, which would have been an issue for most of us, but after he admitted to not having forsaken all others, she and her friends were spirited enough to make jokes about "hiking the Appalachian Trail," code for aerobic adultery.

After her book tour, I hope she’ll consider leading tours on the Appalachian Trail. The area must be suffering as tourism has surely fallen off now that men don’t dare tell their staff or wives, "I’m going hiking on the Appalachian Trail."