Equality, When?

Yesterday was Women’s Equality Day, the 93rd anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, giving women the right to vote. Who knew? Maybe in seven years there may be some fuss about the Centennial, but overall, little attention is paid to this right, one for which women in the past handcuffed themselves to public monuments, went on hunger strikes, were force fed, and even died for (albeit in England, and maybe not intentionally). While the path to voting in this country was not as bloody, it still astonishes me that when my own mother was born, women still did not have the vote.

But then again, when I got my first credit card, it wasn’t mine, really, it was in my husband’s name. Despite the fact that my salary was equivalent to his, I was not allowed to carry a card in my own name. When I had a child, despite returning to graduate school five days after the birth (yes, I was crazy), I was dropped from the program, told that “A woman with a child cannot stand the rigors of research.” My subsequent fifteen year career as a researcher with three children put the lie to that one.

I remember shopping for a car, and being asked when my husband could come in with me. I walked out and found another dealer, where I bought a car, then showed it to my husband. At that point I was already forty years old! Fortunately, because of public records and chatty colleagues, my salary has always been on a par with that of my co-workers, but that was often not the case with other women in my department. While a male colleague might brag that he had demanded a five thousand dollar raise, no woman I knew ever had the temerity to try that, or at least never bragged about it. And today, after some increases, a woman makes ninety-one cents for every dollar a man makes, taking education and experience into account.

The attempt to pass an Equal Rights Amendment came to an ignominious end in 1982. First introduced by Alice Paul in 1923, in 1972 it was finally passed by both houses of Congress, and sent to the State Legislatures for ratification. They had seven years in which to do it.Thirty five states ratified the amendment, out of a necessary thirty-eight. Even President Richard Nixon endorsed it.The approval period was lengthened to ten years, and still the additional three states could not be found. Amazingly, there are still attempts being made to see it adopted.

What does it mean that, in the Constitution of the United States, women, by law, are still not guaranteed equal rights?

An ad trying to lure women smokers in 1968 touted a delicate, thin cigarette, and boasted “You’ve Come a Long Way, Baby.” I won’t even begin to address that cringeworthy “Baby,” or the significance of her hairdo, but it is clear that even today we still have a long way to go.

My Quasi-Retirement

I never expected to retire from full time work. After all, my father worked (quite literally) until the day he died at 74, and my mother persisted as an Operating Room nurse until 85, when they inconsiderately closed the hospital on her. After I returned from Canada to New York, I became the Executive Director and chief fundraiser for a non-profit. I even had lunch scheduled with a vice-president at Lehman Brothers the day the music died there. So did my lunch. And a year and some into the recession, my job as a fundraiser was eliminated, along with many of the sources of the funds we were raising.

Next up was a plan to work as a Consultant. With backgrounds in higher education, development, and Board building, a group of colleagues and I set out as Dinter Consulting LLC to take the world by storm. A terrific concept in theory, in execution, not so easy. Over the past few years we have written grants for national, state and city agency funding, carried out an executive search, and done executive coaching, but the need to constantly drum up new business has been daunting. None of us are marketing experts, and so we depend on the referrals from past clients and colleagues, and they can be slow in coming.

To my shock, however, I have found that occupying myself apart from work is amazingly easy. I remember thinking that when retired people claimed there were never enough hours in the day to do all they wanted to do, I thought it was a pretense to cover how bored they must be. Now I find myself on that side of the fence (mostly), wondering how I ever had time to work!

Since we are blessed with having a house in Buffalo, where Phil works, and a condo in Brooklyn, for alternate weekends with family, there is some responsibility in maintaining two domiciles. Then there is my need to meditate every day for twenty minutes. And study Spanish online. And work out at the gym. And walk six to ten miles. And write, either this blog or a novel I am working on, not to mention revising the novel I already wrote and am looking into self-publishing.

I signed up for an online course with Dan Ariely of Duke University, one of those dreaded MOOCs, but found that I didn’t have the time to keep up with all the requirements. I thought it was a terrific course, one of the most stimulating I have ever taken, and intend to re-enroll at some point when I am not so busy.

So is this retirement? Whatever it is, I am enjoying it. Once we land in one place I want to start volunteering again, and maybe using that Spanish. And the Galapagos Islands and Barcelona are calling.

Well Broken

I don’t watch television. In fact, I cut the cable cord years ago. Of course PBS doesn’t count, because “Sherlock” and “Downton Abbey” are cultural enrichment,and I need to polish my accent for when I go abroad. And I only watched “The Sopranos” in binge mode on DVD long after each season ended. That was more Proustian, recalling my childhood in an Italian neighborhood, where my brother and I were welcome to spend hours reading comic books in the local bookie joint, Gurpy’s Stationary. In retrospect, I suppose we were serving a a “beard” when police raids were imminent. In any case, we were never swept up in one.

But my intellectual snobbery is increasingly being tested as more and more engaging and intriguing shows are available off the tube. We resisted “Breaking Bad” for years, despite our daughter Yael’s fervent pitch, “It’s about a chemistry professor with cancer who starts to cook meth to provide for his family. You’d really relate, Abba.” Abba (Phil) didn’t think so, but finally we agreed to watch the first episode dating from four years back on streaming video from Amazon, a bargain at only a few dollars. From minute one of episode one, we were mesmerized. A disheveled man standing in the road in his tightie whities waving a gun, as sirens are heard in the background-then cut to three weeks earlier to show how he got there? Hooked! We watched four episodes that night, staying up till two in the morning, an hour I have not seen in years. And the next night, and the next, the marathon continued. Each episode left us with a cliffhanger, and the end of each series left us dangling from a helicopter by a frayed rope. It took a few weeks, but we finally caught up, and have now been waiting months for the final season.

The hype for its debut on Sunday night was huge, and apparently the audience was double that of a year ago, almost six million watchers. We were not among them. We don’t have cable. Ah, but Monday night Amazon was streaming it for one dollar and eighty seven cents. After months of waiting, what’s an extra day? All of the final eight episodes will cost less than a night out at the local movie theater, without the deafening sound system, half hour of ads, running commentary and flashing cell phones. And it is superb drama.

So what changed? Moi? Actually, I don’t think so. It is the quality of the offerings that is different. I even read an article last week comparing Walter White (that chemist) to Macbeth, and making a pretty good case of it.

So “House of Cards” and “Orange is the New Black” and “The Killing” are waiting, and I am back in the world of “Madmen”-I had those lamps and glasses in the sixties! There are a variety of ways to watch, free and otherwise. PBS releases its shows the day after airing, free for a few weeks. HBO requires a cable subscription for subsequent viewing. Since I am the Amazon Queen and subscribe to Prime, many films and shows are free there, others pretty cheap. And I have finally bowed and am taking my free month, then paying around eight dollars a month for Netflix for all we can gorge on.

As for Tony, I think he was shot dead. That is why the scene cut to black. I can share a minute by minute scholarly analysis with you if you like…


Things I Spied (I)

Roaming the Internet as I do, I seldom remember how I got from here to there. A few weeks ago I mentioned John Green as the author of “The Fault in Our Stars.” The name is hardly uncommon, but I was amazed to find that the same John Green has created a series of YouTube videos called Crashcourse. In them, he is the young, hip history professor you wish you had, using visuals and graphics to teach the things you wish you had learned about.

And a curse on you, PowerPoint!

I just watched the controversial thirteen minute one on “Reconstruction and 1876,” another topic that my numerous American History courses in school managed to tastefully ignore. Actually, I had heard that it was controversial, though I didn’t find it so. But it was definitely a downer. So much opportunity lost, and lost again!

There is a Crashcourse Chemistry Series, a World History one, and  Biology as well as Literature, all of which I am setting out to explore.

Another recent find is Storybundle for E-books. Jason Chen assembles a collection of six to eight novels around a theme: mystery, romance, science fiction, and you pay what you wish to download all of them to your desired E-device, within a limited time frame. In other words, how cheap can you be? I paid fifteen dollars for the mystery bundle (yes, that cheap), enjoyed every one of the offerings, and have now paid a lot more to follow up with some of the authors I discovered there. Of course Jason doesn’t see that money, the authors do.

In the recent science fiction bundle was a previously unpublished gem “High Opp” from Frank Herbert (of “Dune”), and which, like the best science fiction, is wise about people and incredibly prescient about the future. In this case the future is run via opinion polls-sound familiar? Now I am into “The Disappeared” by Kristine Kathryn Rusch, one of the few women writers for science fiction I have encountered. My interest in the genre has been renewed.

And an update for afficionados, the (Unofficial) Dr. Who bundle was just released today, and you have two weeks left to snap it up (or down).

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And finally there is my Auxiliary Brain, Evernote. I have been using it for over two years now, and can’t imagine how I functioned without it. The Evernote app sits on your phone, tablet and desktop computers. You configure notebooks that have meaning for you. Then when you have an E-mail, a recipe, a receipt, or a great wine you can save the information in Evernote. Just forward the E-mail, or clip the recipe or take a photo of the wine (the clipper and camera are part of the app) and voila!

 Evernote has an incredibly good search engine, and you can further identify an item with Tags. Some of the Notebooks I have set up are Recipes, Health, Wines, Photos, House and work-related notebooks, such as one for each client and a general one for ideas and inspiration. You can even enter handwritten notes and retrieve them through a search or annotate your entries with handwritten notes, using Skitch, another app which integrates with Evernote.

Evernote Food is another integrative app, which co-opts the recipes from my Evernote Recipe file, and displays them with the attached photos prominent. High class foodie porn. It also provides suggested recipes from all over the web when you search for one of yours.

The apps are synced across my computer, iPad and iPhone, so all the information is available at all times. Possibly better than my brain.

I don’t claim to be an expert at the possibilities with Evernote, just a very satisfied user.

It will come as no surprise that every so often I have to purge my iPhone or iPad because they have run out of memory, but these are real keepers.

Hope you will check them out and enjoy.