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Explain Yourself: Slacktivism Fundraising

December 6, 2012

This is the time of year when everyone is raising money for a good cause. Not long ago, everyone was raising money to help the victims of Hurricane Sandy. All of this is a good thing. The more we can help others, the better. My husband works for a non-profit organization that helps homeless men, women and children, and I’m proud that his heart and his time go into such a worthy cause.

I’m telling you this so that you’ll know I’m not a heartless person when I say what I’m about to say.

I have an issue with fundraiser “matching.” For example, when a company says they’ll donate one dollar for every Facebook “like” they get, up to a certain amount.

Just a few minutes ago I saw someone on Instagram write that they would donate a dollar to a children’s hospital for every “like” their photo received, up to 200 likes.

Here’s my question:

Why not just donate the money anyway?

Actually, I have more questions:

What purpose does this serve? Are you trying to make me feel better for clicking a button?

For buying the pink spatula rather than the yellow spatula, because now you’ll give money for breast cancer research?

What’s your end game?

I know for companies it’s often good public relations or a better tax break, but what about the rest of the world?

Does anyone give more money because someone else said they’d match it?

What bothers me the most is when companies do this. When they say they’ll give X amount to Y organization up to a certain amount. So unless X amount of people buy your product, or agree to be bombarded with their email marketing, poor, sick children won’t get the help they need.

Why is this okay? When did this become something everyone expects from everyone else? And if more people buy into your scheme than you agreed on, are they just out of luck?

This reminds me of chain emails or Facebook posts that implore you to forward them if you really love Jesus or care about supporting the troops. If you really love Jesus, you’ll post his photo to your Facebook wall. Otherwise people will obviously think you’re a Satan-loving puppy killer who spends their spare time stealing all the shoelaces from the shoes at the old folks home.

The only difference is that this actually has something on the line. These companies and these people really will give someone money. So we get to feel better about our slacktivism, and the company gets good publicity, and the individual gets to feel like they spurred on the masses. Everyone feels good about themselves, for doing absolutely no more than what they’d already decided to do anyway.


Cupcakes and Awana

November 5, 2012
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Knowledge you may need to know for this post to make sense: Awana is a Bible club that many churches use for their children’s ministry. It’s like a curriculum to help teach children about the Bible.

I have only one, solitary memory of Awana. For all I know, I could have attended Awana for a full year, every Wednesday taking part in the meetings. But any memories I may have had have been completely shut out, only to leave a memory wrapped entirely in a cupcake. One long-lost cupcake.

I was in K-4 at the time. K-4 is what some private schools have before kindergarten. It was a small school and had only one or two K-4 classes that met in a separate building with its own playground. I have sparse memories of that small building. Memories of someone’s dad taking the class for a ride in his convertible around the parking lot. Or the memory of one of the teachers wearing orthopaedic shoes with really thick soles.

In my class was a red-headed girl we’ll call Summer. I don’t remember much about her, except everyone seemed to think she was weird. I shudder to think that even at four years old, we were already dividing people into the cool and not cool camps. But Summer was placed firmly in the not cool camp. Now that I think about it, though, I could just be remembering her that way because of my Awana experience. And because she threw up in class once.

This private school was part of a church, and on Wednesday nights we’d go to church, and I’d take part in Awana. Or at least I took part once.

On the night in question, someone had brought the class cupcakes. Each child in the class would receive a cupcake to take home with them. There were just enough cupcakes for each child to have one cupcake. One. At the end of class as we waited to be picked up by our parents, Summer grabbed her cupcake and left with her parents and younger brother, while I was still wrapping up my craft and waiting for my parents.

Then it happened.

Summer rushed back into the classroom and grabbed a second cupcake. It was the last cupcake. There were no cupcakes left. The passage of time could be adding a few details to this traumatic experience, but I remember seeing her in the distance, surrounded by dusk, as she gave the cupcake to her brother.

Guys. You’re probably thinking “Tiffany, it was just a cupcake.” Well first of all, just a cupcake? I bet you’re the same kind of person who spoils the surprise ending of a movie and then asks “Oh, you probably wouldn’t have watched it anyway, right?” It’s not just about the cupcake. It’s the principle of the thing.

But it’s mostly about the cupcake, to tell the truth.

This is America, and in America, like all other civilized countries, you don’t just take an extra cupcake without making sure everyone else has gotten theirs. If there aren’t enough to share with your younger brother, you either share your own cupcake, or teach him a life lesson by telling him only the big and strong get ahead and get a cupcake. But you don’t just take someone else’s cupcake.

I’ve thought long and hard about this incident, and I think the reason I have a hard time sharing food can be traced back to Summer and her thieving ways. What if this is the last time I ever get to eat Pizzeria Combos because someone buys all the other ones in the world? What if they decide to stop making pizza, and so this is the last time I get to eat a piece of hand-tossed pizza with pepperoni and green peppers.


Or maybe I’m just way too attached to delicious food. Either way, I’m never naming any future daughters Summer. There’s no telling what kind of troublemaker she’d turn out to be.

2012 Endorsements: Things That Matter

November 1, 2012

When I was was studying journalism in high school and college, it was driven hard and fast into our heads that the media is supposed to unbiased. Don’t take sides. In fact, some journalists don’t even vote, much less register with a political party, in order to remain unbiased.

But that doesn’t really matter any more and everyone endorses one thing or another. So that’s what I’m doing today. These are my endorsements for everything that matters in 2012.

Pitch Perfect: Surprisingly funny, with a lot of likable characters, and just enough unlikable characters. The only flaw I’d change is that it took too long for them to start singing “cool a Capella.” If they’d started doing it before the final 20 minutes, it would have been….pitch perfect. Zing!

“Go On”: Oh Matthew Perry, you will always be Chandler first, and every other character you’ve played second. I’m glad that Hollywood didn’t give up on you after “Studio 60″, because I think they’ve finally found a new show for you that is just enough Chandler, without being a carbon copy. This show is quirky (but not too quirky), heartfelt (without being cheesy) and pretty stinking funny.

“Newhart”: Don’t hate! It may be a bit old(ish) and there’s no drama, but this show holds up. Add to that its awesome theme song, and you’ve got the making of a relaxing evening.

Sriracha sauce: Not sure what to do with the chicken in your fridge? Put Sriracha on that thing! Can’t decide if you need to use a sauce on your rice dish? Put Sriracha on that mother! Looking for an excuse to eat Sriracha sauce? Grab the first thing in your fridge, douse it in that red-colored miracle sauce, and fill your face! I endorse Sriracha sauce because that junk is so good it makes my nose run from its spiciness. Win.

First Aid Kit: No, not the thing you keep in your medicine cabinet, but the group. The band. The musician. I’m not sure what kids are calling it these days, but their music is good. Throaty with a bit of twang. I don’t really know how to describe it, it’s just good music.

Anything by Daphne Du Maurier: She’s most well known for Rebecca, which Alfred Hitchcock made into a movie starring Laurence Olivier, but that’s not all she wrote. She also wrote the novella on which Hitchcock based The Birds. But if you only read one of her books, make it Rebecca. The first line alone is worth the cost of the book.

Pinterest: Yes, if we’re going to be a Debbie Downer about it, it’s full of unattainable goals and most of the thing people pin will never get accomplished. But it’s great for inspiration and for posting funny things like this. So, haters gonna hate, but Pinterest is awesome.

What am I missing? What would you endorse in 2012 that doesn’t involve a voting booth or attack ads?

The Absolute, Final and Definitive Reason for Why the NFL is better than College Football

October 29, 2012

I can give you a whole list of reasons why the NFL is better than college football. You may come back at me with false reasonings such as “college kids play for the love of the game!” In reply I will say “Bulllllllshuckyduckyducky.” One word: scholarships. Two more words: The laaaaaadies. Three more words: Free stuff everywhere.

In all honesty, I would probably love college football if I had a favorite team, if I could keep track of the 4,329 teams, or if they had a playoff system. But since they don’t, I like the NFL.

But the real reason. The final reason. The ULTIMATE REASON is this:

In the NFL, you are never subjected to hearing the first twenty seconds of “Carmina Burana” played by a marching band every 10 minutes.

WHAT is their obsession with this song? And why do they always stop before it gets really good? Every time I am subjected to hearing it, I hold a candle of hope in my heart that they’ll keep playing and really get into it. That they’ll blow the doors off the stadium. That candle is quickly distinguished and I’m left with nothing but a disdain for marching bands, and by extension, the entire establishment of college football.*

Instead, they just play 15 seconds and then—I can only assume—sit back and revel in the glory that they feel they deserve for playing a song that every other marching band in the country plays. 

I don’t think I can stress to you the amount of annoyance I have for this moment in college football. It’s not the song itself. It’s the frequency with which they play it, and the fact that THEY NEVER FINISH THE SONG.

Why this song anyway? Is it supposed to be intimidating? Because there is absolutely nothing intimidating about playing the first 15 seconds of any song. That would be like deciding to invade a country, then getting to their shore, seeing the big dunes you’ll have to climb over, and just deciding to have a picnic on the beach instead.

The only thing that could make it worse is if they play it on the vuvuzela. And if that every happens I can guarantee you I’ll need to buy a new television, because mine will be thrown outside on the lawn.

*Calm down, people. I don’t really hate it that much. I just get annoyed. FINISH THE SONG.

(In case you don’t know what song I’m referencing.)

How Hawaii Turned Me Into a Math Hater

October 25, 2012

I’m pretty sure I’ve read somewhere that a person’s feelings toward math during the first years of algebra determine whether or not they’ll be good at math later, or if they’ll just give up and read Jane Austen.

Actually, I know where I read that. It was on this blog, right now, and it’s true. I don’t have a study to prove this, but sometimes you don’t need to put a bunch of kids in a fake classroom and watch their reactions through a two-way mirror to know something is true. I know it’s true because of Hawaii.

In the eighth grade, students who had shown themselves to be “above average” were put into a pre-algebra class. I was one of those students because I’m really good at faking that I understand what’s going on. It’s all in the eyes. If you maintain eye contact with the teacher and don’t wrinkle your eyebrows, they’ll think you understand neuroscience in the second grade.

But before algebra came along, I think I really did understand math. Multiplication, division and fractions! What else does a person need to know?

However, the school system thought I was smart enough to start algebra, so I did. And this is the year they decided to try something new called Hawaii algebra. The big premise behind Hawaii algebra is that you teach yourself. Each student goes home, reads the lesson, completes a few equations, and then learns everything they did wrong in class the next day.

Let’s just take a minute to revel in how stupid that is.

Hey kids! We know this whole algebra thing is completely new to you, but we think you’ll enjoy it. Just think of it as a mystery where you’re going to spend the next several years of your life trying to find out who Mr. X is! Except we’re not going to tell you anything about Mr. X and then put you in the middle of this corn maze and let you figure it out for yourself. And if you make a mistake, the maze will catch on fire and you’ll spend the rest of your life thinking you’re horrible at math and might as well major in philosophy.”

We started to “learn” algebra backwards and spent each day in class re-learning what we thought we learned in class. I began to hate math and going to that class. I honestly remember not having any clue what was going on. Though, somehow, I managed to get a B in that class. Pity from the teacher? Or maybe I understood more than I thought, but just hated the methods.

But I’m left with the question as to why anyone would think this was a good idea. Who in their right mind thinks every single child in a classroom can just read an explanation of a mathematical practice and understand it? The University of Hawaii apparently. And so began my life-long hatred of mathematics. The sweet lure of books had been calling my name for a long time, and her siren call grew louder each time I entered that classroom.

But at least I didn’t end up majoring in *philosophy. Instead, I majored in journalism, which we all know is a thriving industry that is sure to outlive mathematics.


*Calm down philosophy majors. I’m sure it’s a lovely subject of study and will come in handy when you’re looking for employment. Besides, It’s not as though a single person outside of teachers and nurses ever actually use their major when finding a job.

Voting: Do you have what it takes?

October 24, 2012

I have a lot of reasons for never becoming a politician. Including the fact that I don’t like spending much time in large crowds, and because deep down, in my heart of hearts, I really want to steal library books. Perhaps the biggest reason I would never be elected, even if I wanted to run for office, is that I think voting should be a privilege. A privilege one earns after proving you aren’t a moron. But apparently the Constitution says voting is a right, and everyone except felons are allowed to take part in this “right.” Even so, I put together a sample quiz in case anyone decides that people who use texting abbreviations on job applications shouldn’t be allowed to vote.

Instructions: At the end of each question or statement is a point value. You’ll either deduct or add points to your score. So if you answer yes to the first question, you already have -10 points. But don’t worry! You may still be allowed to vote.

  1. You’ve voluntarily watched more than 1 episode of “Jersey Shore.” -10
  2. You read more than 60% of your assignments in high school English. +10
  3. You’ve ever given a child who can’t count to 100 a Red Bull or Mountain Dew. -10
  4. You can name the three prominent American citizens who were assassinated in the 1960s. +10
  5. You ever thought Andy Griffith’s name was Andy Griffin. -10
  6. You believe assigning chores for children to do is a good idea. +10
  7. You think Franz Ferdinand is just the name of a band. -10
  8. You can name the four presidents on Mount Rushmore. +10 (Bonus +10 if you know when they were president.)
  9. You’ve ever purposely taken up more than one parking space. -10
  10. You know why December 6 is an important day in the history of the United States. +10
  11. You think the season premiere of American Idol or The Bachelor/ette is an important day. -10
  12. You can name all 10 amendments on the Bill of Rights. +10
  13. You didn’t know their is a difference between Veterans Day and Memorial Day. -10
  14. You saw the grammatical mistake in the previous statement right away. +10
  15. You’ve ever taken a child younger than 10 to see a rated R movie. -10
  16. You think that even children older than 10 shouldn’t see a rated R movie. +10
  17. You have no idea why every scandal ends with the word “gate.” -10
  18. You had to Google YOLO the first time you saw it and then judged the person who used it. +10
  19. You don’t believe in blind spots or using turn signals. -10
  20. You believe that Sister Act 2 is the perfect example of a sequel that is better than the original. +10

Now tally up your score! The results are below:

50 points or more: Congratulations! You get to vote and help choose the leaders of this great country of ours. You’ve proven that you don’t take advantage of the brain you were given and might just choose a politician based on their ability to lead and make wise decisions.

Less than 50 points: I regret to inform you that you will not be allowed to vote in the upcoming election that isn’t real because this quiz means absolutely nothing. While everyone else is voting, maybe you should take that time to read your high school history book or maybe watch the John Adams miniseries from HBO. With a little work and a weekend in driving school, you too can vote!

Do you have anything you’d add to the test?

The Return

October 23, 2012

I’m pretty good at making excuses. My favorite excuse for this blog has been “I’ll start next Monday.” But Mondays are the worst. The only thing Mondays are good for are football and saying “Monday is the worst day of the week—let’s not start something new on Monday.” And so taking a break from blogging to get married turned into taking a six-month sabbatical.

But no more, my few friends who will still check this blog! No more! Because today is Tuesday! And Tuesday is a great day to start something new (or restart something). This is my grand announcement to all five of you who asked when I would start blogging again. Tomorrow we’ll kick things off with a quiz. About politics. But don’t let that scare you off because I promise you won’t actually need to know anything about politics to take the quiz.

Since this is just a short blog post, I’ll leave you with this question.

Do people in Japan always cook dinner in front of their entire family, tossing rice and vegetables at each other, and making volcanoes out of rice? You’d think that would get old really fast. Why else would every Japanese restaurant feel the need to make us watch a show for our meal? I just want my food without having to applaud the cook for not gouging anyone’s eye out with a spatula. Could there be a more awkward way to get a meal? I’m trying to talk to the people I came with, but I feel obligated to ooh and ahh the guy throwing the sharp objects around. “Oh that’s nice! Good job throwing that ball of rice in my friend’s mouth! Did you have to go to school for this? Or is this an ancient Japanese tradition passed down from generation to generation? Oh! You learned this is New Jersey? Well isn’t that nice. Can I have my food now?” No, you can’t. You have to watch them light a smiley face on fire first.

Welcome back!


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