December 12, 2011

Strong Parodies

There's a meme taking the internet by storm.  It began with this Rick Perry "Strong" campaign ad, but has since become the basis for several funny parodies.  I love parodies, so I thought I'd share some of my favorites with you.  Here's the original campaign ad:

November 5, 2011

Don't Watch This Video

If you're happy with the status quo, don't watch this video.

If you're a member of a private social club in Chicago, don't watch this video.

If you're a supporter of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, don't watch this video.

If you're one who doesn't believe in peaceful civil disobedience, don't watch this video.

If you're unsure of the aims & purposes of Occupy Wall Street, don't watch this video.

If you're not ready for some changes around here, don't watch this video.

November 1, 2011

The Shorter End Of The Stick

Shorter University, a Baptist university in Rome, Georgia, decided last week to begin requiring its employees to sign a "personal lifestyle pledge."  Among other promises, the pledge includes the promise that an employee will "reject homosexuality."

Shorter's president, Dr. Don V. Dowless, says that teachers and administrators who don't sign the pledge could lose their jobs:  "I think that anybody that adheres to a lifestyle outside of what the biblical mandate is would not be allowed to continue here." Adhering.  Like tape?  Like red tape?

Get A Job

If you have a job, I'm happy for you.  Truly.  None of my usual sarcasm here.  But for the friends that I have who are out-of-work or evicted or foreclosed-upon, this blog piece is for you.  You know who you are.  Long-term unemployment takes a toll on a person financially, of course, but also socially and emotionally.  Demographically, according to a study by the Pew Research Center, long-term unemployment has "left a larger footprint among black workers, older workers, and blue-collar occupations."  Males have also been hit particularly hard and, recently, young people are beginning to bear more of the jobless burden, according to this Department of Numbers report.  Ultimately, none of these numbers even begin to tell the full story, because as the recession drags on more and more people have dropped off the demographic radar -- either by becoming permanently unemployed or permanently underemployed. 

"It's the economy, stupid." 

By posting this blog piece, BlogHer has agreed to donate $5 to Starbucks for my efforts.  Starbucks, in turn, is donating $5 million dollars to fund small business loans and other projects with the intent of stimulating job creation.

Beginning today, you can also donate to this fund through the website, or at Starbucks, and 100% of your donation will go directly to the fund.  Donors who contribute $5 or more will receive a red, white and blue wristband with the message “Indivisible.” 

Every $5 donation will result in $35 in financing to support community businesses, because the CDFI lenders will issue $30 in financing, on average, for each $5 donation. You can read about some of the fantastic success stories at the Create Jobs for USA site:,default,pg.html.

October 31, 2011

I've Got Your Number

Today is October 31st, 2011 and on this day, give or take a few days, weeks, or months, the population of the world is arbitrarily set to reach 7 billion people.  The population of the earth has doubled during the past 50 years.  Next week, I'll turn 50, which means that I've been here to witness the earth doubling over.  I was the 3,115,745,978th person brought into the earth on the day that I was born, although my mom can hardly be held accountable for all of that.  I was also the 76,838,271,249th person to have ever lived throughout history.  Curious about your number?  Follow this link but don't forget to enter your birthdate the European way (first day, then month, then year):

October 28, 2011

October 20, 2011

The End

Moammar Gaddafi is dead.

Osama bin Laden is dead.
Let's leave Libya, Afghanistan & Iraq. 

The end.

A related post is "The War Works Hard."

October 6, 2011

Apple Crisp Recipe

This time of the year, in the heart of the U.S. Midwest, a visit or two to the apple orchard is always in order.  My grandparents operated a wonderful peach and apple orchard in southern Illinois (Berthold Orchard) so I grew up with strong opinions about varietals.  My favorite apple is the Jonathon and this has never changed.  I use either Jonathons or Granny Smiths for this recipe, because they have the perfect texture and tartness.  I leave the skin on because this is where the good stuff is and I think it adds flavor & a little "al dente" to the dish.  My family likes things a little light on the cinnamon but you can safely double the amount of cinnamon in this recipe if you think you'd like a heavier cinnamon taste.  Jonathons are the perfect eating apple so be sure to pop a slice into your mouth while you're baking.  Drink some orchard apple cider for the full effect.

October 3, 2011

So You Think You Can Write?

If you're already writing eloquent comments in response to some of my blog pieces (you know who you are) and you've always wanted to publish something, I want you to strongly consider submitting a written piece to ViewsHound ( before October 16, 2011.  You could win a $250 cash prize for doing so.  And, even more importantly, so could I . . .

During my three months of submitting written pieces to ViewsHound, I've earned $260 in prize money and I've never had a piece rejected.  They are very good about publishing various points of view so even if (especially if!) you disagree with something I've written, this is your chance at rebuttal.  I'm a big advocate of written expression and I think that more people have this skill languishing inside of them instead of being developed.  Writing is like any other skill in life:  the more you do it, the better you get and the more confident you feel.  So . . . get back on that horse and ride.

Here are the official instructions:

"Go to a great site I use called ViewsHound, at, sign in and enter "Debutopia" for “Where did you hear about us?” Then submit an article, photo or cartoon for them to publish. Whoever recruits the most new authors wins $250, and your submission could win you $250 too, in addition to ViewsHound’s daily cash prizes. Please do it today and let’s see if we can win!"

On Monday, October 17th, 2011 the $250 prize money came my way!  I'd like to thank you if you were one of my readers who submitted a written piece to ViewsHound.  If you didn't submit a piece, remember that it's never too late to start writing.

September 29, 2011


Event: Catastrophic earthquake
Date:  01/12/2010
Magnitude:  7.0
Epicenter:  Léogâne
Aftershocks: 52 of a magnitude 4.5 or greater
Fatalities:  316,000
Injuries:  300,000
Homeless After Quake:  1,000,000
Homeless Now:  1,000,000
Foreign Aid Response:  Ineffectual
Damaged Homes:  250,000
Damaged Businesses:  30,000
Date I Took This Pic:  9/27/2011

Haitian Braids

I just returned, late last night, from a week-long visit to my mom's small orphanage in Bon Repos, Haiti, just a few miles north of Port-au-Prince.  My mom uses her teacher retirement benefits and, as she always reminds me, my "inheritance" to feed and care for sixteen Haitian children.  I took a lot of pictures while I was there and I have many stunning faces and smiles digitally captured.  I thought long and hard about how to represent this trip without revealing the individual identities of the children.  I wanted to respect their privacy but I also had a strong desire to show the beauty and individuality of these kids.  Since the majority of my mom's children are girls and haircare is a serious daily preoccupation among them, I decided to take and display images of braids and braiding to give you just a glimpse into the rich texture that is the culture of Haiti.  My own hair was braided and rebraided several times during the past week, with less-than-satisfactory results. Most of the children, during play, braided each other's hair or grabbed a doll for a more cooperative form of braiding.  

September 20, 2011

Bon Repos

In about six hours, I'll be waking up to catch an early morning flight to Port-au-Prince, Haiti.  My mom has a small orphanage in Bon Repos, which is only a few miles north of the airport.  I'll be there for a week and won't have a way to reliably keep up-to-date on the news or react to it by blogging.  One of my favorite things in this life is to grab my passport, stuff a few things into my backpack, and wander off to actually see parts of the world instead of just reading about them.  My only regret about this trip will be that I won't be able to share it with you until I return.  I'll be taking pictures and making notes for future blog posts, don't worry, and I'll miss writing new posts as much as you'll hopefully miss reading them.  We'll "talk" soon.        

September 18, 2011

How Pretty Your Hair Is

This video, called "Grandpa Gets A Webcam," has quickly become one of my favorites.  This older couple, vexed by their inability to use their new webcam, is being unknowingly recorded.  Grandpa is cutting up while Grandma's trying her best to figure out how to "take a picture."  Just when she starts to get irritated with him, he shifts gears and begins complimenting her hair.  Then he decides to try to talk her into lowering her dress and showing off her . . . well, you'll see.  If the current trajectory of my marriage is any indication, this will be Scotch and me in about twenty years or so.

If you liked this post, you might like:  "A Close Shave," "Breaking A Bittersweet Spell," or "The Big Five-Ohhhhhhhh!"

It's Your Turn!

Debutopia has been up and going for just over four months now.  She's had 12,806 pageviews and now has 102 pages to view.  Those are the numbers.  I'm a firm believer, though, that numbers never completely tell the story.

For each one of those pageviews, there is an untold, behind-the-scenes story that represents the interaction between each reader and each published blog post.  Sometimes, through your comments and social feedback, I'm privy to some of the stories.  More often, however, I'm not.  Now it's your turn.  I want your feedback.

Please take the time to post a comment to this blog post today -- right now!  I'm especially interested in hearing constructive feedback in three general areas:

1.  Content (comments about the quality and focus of Debutopia posts themselves)
2.  Community (comments about what it means to be part of the Debutopia tribe)
3.  Technical (comments about the layout and functionality of the Debutopia blog)

My old high school classmate Bill Floeter, just this past week, found a typo on one of my blog posts that completely changed the meaning of what I was trying to express.  He took the time to kindly and gently point it out to me and, because of this, I was able to instantly improve the quality of my blog.  If Bill had said "Deb, you ignorant slut, stop making mistakes," I still would have fixed the mistake and felt grateful that he had pointed it out. That's just how big my shoulders really are.  Don't get any ideas, Bill.

Commenting anonymously is just fine, especially if your comment contains the word "slut."  I can't promise that I'll react to each and every one of your comments, especially if there is reader discord or if my technological skills inhibit me from making the necessary changes, but I value you and your input.  Without readers, I wouldn't be writing. And that's a fact.

For a blog entry about Debutopia's 100th post:  "A Hundred High Fives."
For an entry about Debutopia's 10,000th pageview:  "10,000 Clicks; 10,000 Hours."

September 16, 2011

A Hundred High Fives

I confess.  I fall in love easily.  It's almost a tragic flaw, this trait of mine.  I have a private stock of beautiful people that I've collected over the years -- people who stir some portion of my soul or intrigue a piece of my intellect.  Some of these people have been in my life since the very beginning, others have been folded in along the way, and yet others are happy new surprises.  I'd like to tell you about my happiest new surprise. 

Last evening, my oldest son and I were talking about a chance encounter that he had fifteen months ago.  He was in Berkeley, California, sipping something at the Teance tea bar, when he was lucky enough to met another Teance customer, a young terminally happy woman named Sara Lahey.  It was a case of one extreme extrovert accidentally meeting up with another extreme extrovert so you know that the sparks were flying that day.  This situation was a near-miss for me, since I was on that trip but didn't fly out to meet up with my son until a day later.  For me, Sara was "the one that got away."

While my son and I were reminiscing about that trip, Sara came up in conversation. That conversation led to a Facebook friend request, which led to a brand-new friendship (less than twelve hours old!), which led to a cascade of happiness.  Sara is the mind behind the Hunting Happiness Project, which has the goal of bringing happiness to the world.  The Hunting Happiness Project has spun out some sweet concepts, one of which is an idea/video called "A Hundred High Fives."

Through a sheer (and very uncanny) coincidence, this Debutopia blog entry of mine is the 100th entry that I've posted.  It is my hundredth high five to you.  If I could reach out and touch you right now, I would.  Short of that, these brief words will have to do.  Life is good -- better, even, than I deserve or expected.  Celebrate being alive!

If you liked this, you might like "10,000 Clicks; 10,000 Hours."

September 2, 2011

Yarnbombing And Lichen It!

I took this picture at Morton Arboretum in Lisle, Illinois just this week.  I first noticed this tree from my perch on a 12-foot high platform built around a 60-foot tall Sycamore tree, a lookout point above the arboretum's one-acre Maze Garden.  I was instantly irritated when I noticed this tree because I thought that it had been painted and I felt that an arboretum, whose mission it is to plant and conserve trees, had no right to defile one of their own trees.  I decided to get down off the platform and go investigate.  As I got closer, the "paint" on the trunk started looking lacier and I soon noticed that somebody had lovingly crocheted a tree cozy.  That somebody is Ohio artist Carol Hummel, in a work of art that she calls "Lichen It!"  In her artist statement, Hummel says that she is creating a "visual and fun reminder of the crucial long-term relationship between man and nature."  Her work won me over.

August 25, 2011

10,000 Clicks; 10,000 Hours

Have you heard about the "10,000 Hour Rule"?  In order to achieve expertise in a cognitively complex discipline, such as is demonstrated by pilots and surgeons and musicians and chess champions, it takes 10,000 hours of practice.  That's four hours of practice a day for ten years running.  That's a lot of practice.  Often, too, all this hard work is out of the public eye and not really all that much fun.  Intellectually complicated tasks take more than mere intelligence, they also require many hours of mind-numbing work.  In his 2008 book Outliers: The Story of Success, Malcolm Gladwell constantly reinforced this theme:  that genius is not the only or even the most important ingredient for success.  I'm no genius and the jury's still out on whether or not this blog represents an "intellectually complicated task" but by the time I go to bed tonight I will have had 10,000 hits on my blog and I can tell you, with all honesty, that underneath the surface of my writing there has been a lot of good old-fashioned hard work.

August 9, 2011

Homemade Bread Recipe

Have you ever wanted to try your hand at making homemade bread?  I bake all the bread that our family uses, for several reasons.  It's much less expensive to make your own bread, especially if you're buying flour and yeast in bulk.  I buy twenty-five pound bags of bread flour and one-pound bags of active dry yeast.  I keep the yeast in the refrigerator to make it last longer.  The flour gets measured out and put into the freezer, six cups to each freezer bag.  Six cups of flour is exactly what I need to make two standard loaves of bread.  The other reason that I bake all our bread is that the quality is much, much higher than what you can buy in the store.  It tastes better, has a better texture, and gets to be enjoyed when it is fresh from the oven.  Part of this improved quality has to do with the fact that homemade bread doesn't have any preservatives or artificial ingredients.  I use a little honey (instead of sugar) in my recipe because honey acts as a natural preservative.  I also refrigerate some of my bread after slicing it.  Refrigerated bread dries out a little bit but it makes great toast, french toast, and grilled cheese sandwiches.  If you find that your bread is still succumbing to spoilage, you can always refrigerate half the dough and only bake one loaf of bread.  The refrigerated dough will last several days in the refrigerator and it can be used for pizza crust, breadsticks, cinnamon rolls, or just to make another loaf of bread. 

July 27, 2011

Laundry Soap Recipe

I love discovering ways to save money on everyday products and I also get a lot of satisfaction out of making things using my bare hands.  I have several friends who make their own laundry detergent and I’ve recently joined their ranks.  It only takes me about 90 minutes and $3 worth of ingredients to produce 5 gallons of liquid laundry detergent.  My husband, Scotch, does up all the dirty laundry in our household but this is one way that I can contribute – besides just adding to the pile of dirty clothes!  I also make our automatic dishwashing soap but I’m still tinkering with this recipe.  When it’s perfect, I’ll share it with you, too.  Lately, I've had several friends ask me about the process for making laundry detergent so I thought it would just be more efficient to add this as a post to my blog.

May 18, 2011

Tweeter Dee & Tweeter Dum

I've been following the U.S. Secret Service on Twitter ever since last week when they established a new account.  It fascinates me to think about a man in a trench coat and a fedora, blending in on a park bench with his concealed piece while tweeting away on his Blackberry.  Normally their tweets are really dull.  Nothing top secret, understand:   nothing about grassy knolls or underworld spies like you might think.  Most of their tweets have been about recruitment fairs mixed with modestly-phrased bragging about 50K runs.  And they refuse to follow anyone else on Twitter, which I don't think is playing well with others.  When I last checked Twitter at 9:45 p.m., they were being followed by 19,773 people but not one of us made the cut as a followee.

May 15, 2011

An Unexpected Twist

I can't help myself; I love Andy Borowitz.  He has a way of looking at things and making delightful connections that I really enjoy.  If you have twenty minutes to spare and if you're not too grossed out by medical tales, you might want to listen to Andy talk about the time that he got his colon into a twist (don't click on the link if the little ones are still awake or if you're sensitive to adult language).  After all the previous caveats, you should know that this ends on a very sweet note.  Funny audio -- but I'm really glad that it didn't happen to me:


Reading a book, seeing a movie, and listening to music can be costly in terms of time and/or money.  I normally try to do my homework before deciding to invest in anything cultural.  Pet Rocks, Gogo Boots, Chia Pets, and Flowbees have burned me enough to know that you just can't hop on board every little platform that comes chugging along -- or you could end up with a closet full of decoupaged wall-hangings in no time flat.  Recently I've been hearing and reading about the dystopian novel 2030 by Albert Brooks, whom you might know as the voice of Marlin the Clownfish in Finding Nemo.  Or maybe you just know him as "Al," who knows?

May 14, 2011

In Praise of John McCain

I can probably count on one hand the number of times that I've agreed with Republican Senator John McCain (Arizona) over specific political issues.  He has had several really fine moments, though.  The first that stands out for me came when one of his supporters, Gayle Quinnell, told the crowd at a McCain Rally in Minnesota that "Obama is an Arab." McCain took away the microphone and emphatically said, "No ma'am, [Obama's] a decent family man, citizen, that I just happen to have disagreements with on fundamental issues."  I liked that because it showed maturity and an unwillingness to resort to personal character attacks.  This also came at a time when McCain and Obama were both running hard in a tough Presidential race.  The stakes were high and the temptation must have been there for Senator McCain to ride the wave of this comment while it seemed to flow in his favor.

Amy Myers

My newest hero is Amy Myers, a Cherry Hill, N.J., high school student who has drafted a fine letter challenging U.S. Congresswoman Michele Bachmann to a "Public Forum Debate and/or Fact Test on The Constitution of the United States, United States History and United States Civics."

Unabomber Auction

I can't be the only one wondering how owning this bad boy might change my writing style.  This could go a lot of different directions: my career could really explode or it might just bomb out. The L3 Smith-Corona portable manual typewriter that Kaczynski used to type most of his documents, including the "UNABOM Manifesto," was seized by the FBI in April of 1996 and has been out of ribbon ever since.  This is the first of 51 lots of Kaczynski’s personal belongings that the government will be auctioning off online beginning next week, just in case you've been hunting and pecking for some gruesome stuff.  Pictures of these items have been posted on Flickr for our viewing enjoyment. Here's the Washington Post link:  Don't bid on the grey sweatshirt; I've already called dibs.

Misogynists, Unlisted

Whoa!  Imagine my surprise.  I called around town looking for a good misogynist and found out:  1) they aren't widely listed and 2) they don't actually give massages!  As a woman and one very sore from all this extra spring gardening, I take offense.  Deep offense.  Almost as deep as the deep tissue massage that I can't get from any of the misogynists that I called.  Why advertise this if you're not planning to follow through?  That's the problem with people nowadays -- very little follow-through.

May 13, 2011

Ming the Merciless

I'm feeling a little full of myself right now because I just scared the kolaches out of my friend Josie Byzek on Facebook.  I sent through this link to "The Interactive Scale of the Universe" and she got squeamish seeing a 7-metre-long earthworm.  Sissy.  It was long, yes, but it was virtually long.  That's a case of size not mattering if there ever was one.  And then Josie reposted the fright to freak out her friends.  You gotta love a woman like that.

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