How Can We Judge?

seahawks-logoAt this point I am sure everyone has seen or heard about Richard Sherman’s comments following the NFC Championship Game, which the Seahawks won on an amazing defensive play by the Seahawk cornerback. While the outcome of the game was as so many hoped, at least here in Seattle, the reaction to Richard Sherman’s post-game interview (as in seconds after the game ended) has been so surprising.

So many people judging a man who, in the heat of the moment, made comments that expressed his pure raw emotions. He is not known for holding his tongue even in the best of times. Sunday night he hardly had time to think about “sanitizing” his comments after helping his team win the game. Sure his comments were brash and unfiltered and probably deserve to be criticized for his decision to focus on a personal rivalry with an opponent, but his character doesn’t deserve to be attacked. Who hasn’t said something in the heat of the moment that they have regretted in hindsight? The answer is no one. We all have because we are human. So why should he be held to a different standard?

Richard Sherman is from Compton and one of the worst school districts in the country. He worked hard studying when others were not, graduating second in his class and earning a scholarship to Stanford. In his third year in the league he is considered one of the best, if not the best, cornerback. This is a man that has graduated from Stanford, started a foundation and is an active part of the community. He is an intelligent and thoughtful man who admitted publicly that he regretted the way in which he showed emotion after the game.

Disliking him for his attitude is one thing. But the hatred is unfounded, hypocritical and just plain ignorant. We as football fans cheer on human beings and expect them to play an, at times, barbaric game with total disregard for their long-term health. Yet we also expect the same individuals conduct themselves without imperfection. Richard Sherman is an intelligent and talented man who has defied the odds and achieved the pinnacle of success in his career. Isn’t this what we all strive for? So why is it that some are so quick to build people up only to swiftly tear them down? While some may find Richard Sherman arrogant, all should be disgusted by the unfounded hate.

It is been refreshing to see some articles coming to his defense. Kudos to those that had the perspective and guts to speak their minds – just like Richard. These are some of my favorites.—Dont-mess-with-Sherman-241238021.html

I hope that in the future others will think before judging and calling names of someone they know little about.

Do You Forgive?

In the wake of Lance Armstrong’s interview with Oprah, several news sites have posted the question “Do you forgive Lance Armstrong now that he has confessed?” In short, I don’t.

I will admit I didn’t watch the entire interview; it was long and I got frustrated with his demeanor early on. He appeared more calculated than sorry. To me it looked like he was acting and not truly sincere in his remorse for lying people about doping and attacking those who challenged him. But the question that kept bothering me the most was “Why is he doing this now?” In my opinion, his actions over the last ten years indicate there is likely a calculated reason. I don’t believe he suddenly had a change in conscience given his admission that he needs to control situations.

I am generally left with a feeling of being cheated and fooled. I am not a big cycling fan, but I definitely paid attention during his Tour wins. His story was one of such great triumph — a cancer survivor that went on to become the greatest endurance athlete of our time and an inspiration to so many. I like to see the good in most people, but am having a hard time finding the good in him. It all just feels so dirty and tainted. His legacy will be forever linked to the rapid and growing erosion of public trust in professional athletes.

How do I explain this to the boys and use this situation as a teaching moment? Sure there are many angles to take; cheaters will always get caught, treat others as you want to be treated, never use drugs. In my mind the most compelling one is actually a lesson in karma. What goes around usually comes back around – a potent injection of humility and disgrace.

Rated R for “Ridiculous”

Over two years ago I wrote about this as well, but I feel compelled to do it again.

watching tvSaturday we were watching the University of Washington Huskies play the University of Colorado Buffalos on the FX television network at the crazy early morning time of 10:30am. That is just too early for college football, but that is another post. At least two times in a 30 minute span they showed a promotion for FX’s show American Horror Story. The show is gruesome and exactly what the name implies and is completely inappropriate for young children. Yet, for some reason the network felt it was appropriate to air advertisements that contained graphic scenes of people who were bleeding and maimed – all on a Saturday morning during a college football game. Can someone please explain to me how a decision like this gets approved by television executives?

This is a particular pet peeve of mine. We are very conscious of the movies and TV shows that we allow our kids to watch, figuring that sports are a safe place. However the networks continue to show inappropriate ads during “family time” viewing. Some people might say “well just change the channel or pause it until the ad is over.” But you don’t know they are coming and then it is too late.

In the past I have tried to find a contact either at the network, sports league or FCC and have been unsuccessful. It is so frustrating — what am I supposed to do as a parent? There should be criteria for the networks to follow. They have ratings for programs now; shouldn’t they be able to show only commercials with the same rating? It seems to me that during sporting events and/or before 8 p.m. they shouldn’t show ads that for movies or TV shows that is greater than PG-13 or TV equivalent.

What do you guys think?

Where the Girls Aren’t

Last week the Our Lady of Sorrows high school in Phoenix forfeited the Arizona Charter Athletic Association’s baseball championship game against Mesa Preparatory Academy, because Mesa Prep’s second baseman is a Paige Sultzbach, who just happens to be a girl. They cited their policy prohibiting co-ed sports. In a statement to Fox News, Our Lady of Sorrows stated that they believe in “teaching our boys to treat ladies with deference, we choose not to place them in an athletic competition where proper boundaries can only be respected with difficulty.” Paige Sultzbach tried out for the baseball team because there isn’t a softball team at Mesa Prep. She not only made the baseball team, but actually beat out boys for playing time at second base.

My first thought was, “What year is it? Aren’t we past all this?” The 40th anniversary of Title IX is coming up in about a month and Our Lady of Sorrows’ decision is an unfortunate reminder that discrimination still exists. I feel bad for Paige and all of her teammates, because they lost out on the opportunity to prove that gender doesn’t matter — if you are capable and prove it, then isn’t that enough? They deserved the chance to finish their undefeated season with a legitimate win for the championship.

I wonder what this is teaching all of the boys and girls involved and those that are reading about it in the news? As these children grow up and prepare for the rest of their life, they will face environments where men and women work side by side each day. Isn’t it better to teach them as early as possible to exist and work as a team while respecting each other? Women struggle for equality in the workplace and in life already and we don’t need a school, let alone a Catholic one, reinforcing these archaic views. This decision by a school that claims to follow the teachings of Catholicism seems incongruous and inconsistent with the letter and message sent by Pope John Paul II to women of the world on June 29, 1995. In the letter posted on the Vatican’s web site, Pope John Paul II states:

“…There is an urgent need to achieve real equality in every area: equal pay for equal work, protection for working mothers, fairness in career advancements, equality of spouses with regard to family rights and the recognition of everything that is part of the rights and duties of citizens in a democratic State. This is a matter of justice but also of necessity.”

My mom instilled in me that my sister and I could do anything we wanted regardless of our gender. We are strong women who are now raising four boys. Our boys are respectful and loving and consider women as their equal, not the lesser sex. If only everyone saw it that way.

Parental Guidence Suggested

Why are we in such a rush to have our children grow up? It seems like kids today are asked to be mini-adults basically from birth. There is a palpable and pervasive parenting style that appears to be more the norm than not in which children are pressured to be the best – the best athlete, the best musician, the best scholar. While it is not surprising, it is still shocking the extent to which some parents push their children at such an early age to be better at everything than their peers. Now, don’t get me wrong I think some competition is healthy. But when it comes at the expense of a childhood, what is the point?

What happened to the days when kids could just be kids? There was a time not long ago when they didn’t need to be reading in preschool, hitting pitches at age five, or watching Transformers or Iron Man at six. As a parent there is so much pressure to keep up with everyone else that you begin to consider things that you would have thought were completely inappropriate before. Even if you are confident in your morals, it is hard not to question them when the mob is forging ahead without questioning why and at what cost.

It is hard to sit back and let you kids enjoy life, pushing them just enough to keep them motivated, as others are repeatedly pushing their children to the point of burnout before the third grade.

If you choose to dig in on an issue that is important to you, such as movies, then you risk being labeled as the outcast of the group. I try to be pretty conservative about what movies the boys should watch. The pervasive violence in movies today is troubling to me, but I will save that for another post. A number of Jack’s friends have seen movies such as Transformers and Star Trek (a few of them have older brothers, so that changes the rules, ask me about Will and Star Wars sometime). As a result, he asks to watch them frequently because “so-in-so is allowed to watch it.” What am I to do?

I really want to mimic some other friends who are also conservative and wouldn’t let their ten year old watch Avatar, because it was rated PG-13. He was ten, not six. I just don’t know how I am going to hold out until I am ready for him to watch movies like that. I feel like the ratings are there for a reason and more often than not, are a good benchmark.

Kids are kids for such a short period of time – why are parents compelled to force their children to grow up so soon? Life isn’t a race. It’s a journey comprised of all the vivid memories you collect along the way at all stages. Don’t waste it looking beyond.

Fighting for science

A few weeks ago I attended the Issaquah Schools Foundation luncheon. The Issaquah Schools Foundation (ISF) is a non-profit organization that helps fill in the funding gaps between state funds and what our schools need to education our children effectively. At the lunch we learned how the state has issued new elementary science standards, but pulled back the money that was set to pay for the program. (This is a whole other rant for another day.) Currently 50% of 5th graders are not meeting the science standards because there isn’t a uniform district wide curriculum.

As a scientist (even if I am not currently practicing I will always be a scientist) I believe that early exposure to science is critical for our kids. Not only do they learn basic science principles, but problem solving and critical thinking skills. There are so many areas of science, from biology to environmental science.  Kids have so much imagination and wonder it is fun to watch them put the dots together.

The ISF is currently running a fundraising campaign to fill in the gap left by the state removal of funds and get the elementary science initiative rolled out. To help this process I have created a personal fundraising page and hope that you will join Jim and I in trying to meet this goal. Please give whatever you can, no matter how small, our kids are worth it.

If you have any questions about this campaign please contact me. There is also more information on my fundraising page and also ISF’s Got Science page.  Thanks everyone for your support.

Inappropriate movie trailer

We were watching the NASCAR race on Sunday afternoon (Yes we were watching NASCAR and we do it often, let the heckling begin) and a trailer for the movie Piranha 3-D. If any of you have seen the trailer you will know what I am about to say. It is a horror movie that looks like a modern Jaws; I guess it is actually a remake of a late 70s movie. People are attacked by the fish with horribly large teeth and pulled down into the water. They don’t show any blood, but there is plenty of screaming and running.

I can’t believe that they would put on trailers for horror movies like this when children will be around watching the TV, especially during sporting events. How many times on the weekends do you have the TV on a baseball or football game and are not sitting or standing right next to your child.  In our case on Sunday I was able to get Jack out of the room before he saw to much, because this wasn’t the first time we have had this happen.

A few years ago during the World Series they were advertising another horror movie, I believe it was for the Grudge or Grudge 2, but don’t quote me. Jack was much younger and actually start to cry because it scared him. This was during the World Series, come on who thought it was appropriate.

At that time I tried to find an email address or form on FOX’s website to give feedback and how awful it was. There should be standards, like you can’t advertise R rated movies until after 9 p.m. or at least not during shows or sporting events that kids will be watching. It is absolutely ridiculous.

We wonder why our society is more and more violent. Jim and I comment all the time on the number of horror movies that are being made. For that matter we comment on how many cartoon movies are being made too. Now horror movies are not my cup of tea, I am to easily scared and will have nightmares about them (yes nightmares, I actually couldn’t sleep for 3 days after watching Untraceable.) I am not saying that they shouldn’t be made or advertised, but just not when kids will see them.

I wish there was a way to let the networks know how we as parents feel about things like this, but haven’t found a good way to do it. So as for now this is the best I can do.

H1N1 flu vaccine

Jim and I had an interesting discussion last week about the H1N1 vaccine and the government. We both felt like the government (CDC, FDA and whoever else is involved in the flu vaccines) has really laid an egg this year (No pun intended.) They have gotten the whole country panicked about H1N1, but they haven’t been able to supply the vaccine to fill the need they have created. At the same time there are conflicting news reports about how mild or severe this flu actually is. I felt that it is extremely irresponsible to cause this situation and then leave us to deal with it. As a parent what do you do.

Over the weekend people where lining up at 3 a.m. for vaccinations at Snohomish County clinics and I am sure that is happening across the county. They interviewed one woman who had been to clinics in 2 other counties the previous weeks, getting turned away at those because of lack of supply. So she got her 2 kids up at 3 a.m. and was standing in line for 6 hours in the cold and rain to get them vaccinated. She didn’t even get to have a shot because she isn’t in the high risk category. This is ridiculous. We are just doing what they have told us to do, get our kids vaccinated.

Luckily we happen to have an appointment at our pediatricians office last week and they had just gotten some vaccine in, so both boys were able to get vaccinated. If we hadn’t been so lucky, we would have been among those people on Saturday morning waiting in the cold.

This whole process has been so poorly managed, from the start with the news reports of the inital outbreak (I remember a quote from the CDC chairman saying “People will die.” Even if that is true you don’t say that in a news conference) to the distribution to the counties and clinics. King County has been so secretive about their supply you don’t even know if they have it.

It shouldn’t be this hard to do the right thing. We were lucky to have been in the right place at the right time for the first dose, who knows what we will have to do to get the 2nd dose like we are supposed to. This isn’t even for Jim and I, who know what we will have to do to get our vaccinations.

Lastly I want to share some valuable info I found about the safety of the vaccine. I have heard a lot of people saying how it hasn’t been tested and is it safe. It is manufactured exactly the same as the regular vaccine. So if you believe that the regular seasonal flu shot is safe, then believe this one is too. There was an article in the Seattle Times a couple weeks ago about how the vaccine is produced. I couldn’t find that one, but here is a NY Times article that is good as well.

I hope that if you choose to vaccinate you are able to find it and don’t have to stand in line for 6 hours in the cold to do so.

Well placed intentions, but…

I get so sick of answering questions. How are you? How is William doing? Is he eating? I am so tired of telling the same thing over and over again. I know people are just trying to keep up on how we are doing and be supportive, but it is exhausting. I just don’t know what to say anymore. He ate half of his normal day worth of formula yesterday, what do I say? I don’t know why this is happening and so far the doctors don’t know either. I want to say call someone else and ask them. I just want to crawl in a hole and wait for this to be over, if only it were that simple.

The other thing that is hard (again I know that people are well intentioned, but…) is when they say, “well, at least you know what to do this time.” Or “look how great Jack is now, it will all work out.” I know they mean well, but it doesn’t help. I just makes me think we have been through all this once before and I don’t want to go back to shoving a tube in my child’s nose so he can “eat”, spending the night at children’s hospital for surgeries or procedures, guessing when the right age for a feeding program will be and holding my breath every time he gets a cold wondering if this will bring all of the pain memories back. I want to be able to make baby food and feed a child other than my nephew. I want to have cheerios on the floor for Mulligan to clean up. I want to see the funny face when he gets to have his first birthday cake and gets frosting everywhere. I missed all of this before and thought I would get the chance this time. It would make me feel better if instead of saying the above they said boy this sucks, you guys have really gotten the short straw.

I say all of this and then think of all of the families that are dealing with bigger problems like cancer, autism and other diseases. One trip to Children’s Hospital puts everything in perspective. This is our challenge and we will meet it head on like we did with Jack, but from time to time we are allowed to feel sorry for ourselves and cry or get angry. We wouldn’t be human if we didn’t have those moments.

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