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When She's on Top by C. X Brooks coming Sat. 4/14 from BlackOpalBooks.com


Monday, December 11, 2017

Snuggling at Home on a Snowy Weekend

Mother Nature's power + home as a safe haven + a stocked pantry + Robert Frost's poetry = Quality time spent with loved ones along with the consumption of delicious goodies 

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Learning from the Best

They say that a picture says a thousand words. These images represent countless opportunities that the HSN American Dreams Academy offers (for free!) to its attendees to meet other entrepreneurs who share their hopes and fears, setbacks, triumphs, and hard lessons learned. #HSN #AmericanDreams #AmericanDreamsAcademy  

If the HSN American Dreams Academy invites you to attend one of their entrepreneur events, please accept.

Say yes to direct access to brilliant keynote speakers who are generous in sharing their time and expertise, camaraderie, information, encouragement, resources, and opportunities to learn, network, and grow offered in one convenient location.

Even if you’re painfully shy or experiencing setbacks or feeling unsure about how, or if, to keep going with your idea, please accept the chance to attend. A-listers from various professions, disciplines, and industries will educate and inspire.

Here are the people and organizations that made this HSN American Dreams Academy (in collaboration with the University of Tampa and Quirky.com) at American University in Washington, D.C. an awesome, enriching experience:

Carmen Bauza, Erin Borges, Chris Gassett, Daymond John, Jill KErnes, Lou Lentine, Linda McMahon, Dr. Kevin Moore, Steve Records, Lissa Regets, Kavita Shukla, Laurin Sydney, Dara Trujillo, Gina Waldhorn & Dr. Rebecca White (Go Hokies!)

Swag and guidance provided by:

FreshPapers, GoGo gift bags, Quirky.com & The Startup Club: #1 The Big Idea by J.J. Bamberg, Melanie Staggs & S. Taylor

Impressive entrepreneurs met, and business cards personally exchanged with:

Susan Castriata                       cuchinasafe.com
C. Lee Cawley                        HoldingHangers.com
Valeria Cole                            teadorabeauty.com
Sheila Donaldson                    TheNewNudes.com
Durango Dog Company
Tami Harrison                         seedvolagetech.com
Dr. Sherrie Massop                 SRMP Labs, LLC
Mari Matos                              Hillabeans.com
Sherrill W. Mosee                   minkeeblue.com
Angelyn Myers                       My “Buddy” Towel
Bret Newman                          SoundVerter
Ashley Powdar                       rubysampson.com
Quinn at Purse Paparrazzi
Camille Jeannine                     theasalicollective.com
Trenise Watson                       asilinaturals.com
Ann-Marie Watt                      refineful.com
Candace & Anthony Wiliams The Journey Pillow
and the charismatic young woman who invented a delicious (non-dairy?) whipped cream—available in Kroger & other stores; her picture is on the canister—that she let me taste it atop a scrumptious mini pie square, and the fabulous Spanish woman with her back supporter for wearing under clothes

Special thanks to Stacey, CEO of ybf Beauty, for moving bureaucratic mountains to help our fellow entrepreneur from the Caribbean, and for being the perfect test model for my @SwimMission #swimcap prototype during her WomensLeadership Facebook Live broadcast on Saturday 11/18.  

Oh, and the lunches from Bistro Box were delectable and very generously portioned.

Also, Amtrak’s MARC train made for an easy, comfortable, safe, and convenient affordable trek into D.C. 

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Timeless Truths

Inspired by life's simple pleasures during challenging times.

Friday, October 13, 2017

5 Strands for 5 Swim Skills Woven Bracelets

Coming soon!
5 strands for 5 swim skills woven bracelets

Can you execute the following 5 swim skills (that equal water competency) in sequence?*

  1. Step or jump into the water over your head.
  2. Return to the surface and float or tread water for 1 minute.
  3. Swim in a full circle and find an exit.
  4. Swim 25 yards to the exit, then... 
  5. Exit from the water without using the ladder. 
@SwimMission #Swimcap is inspired by statistics from the American Red Cross that state only about 60% of U.S. residents have mastered the 5 swim skills that equal water competency. That percentage is lower among black and brown people, who are also 2 to 3 times more likely to drown than their Anglo peers. [CDC]  

Once the challenges of inherited fear of the water, negative family attitudes toward swimming, cultural stereotypes, access to certified swim instruction and facilities have been addressed, protecting hair is the final obstacle for girls and women to overcome before they're able to learn to swim and to incorporate water sport into their lives. 

My SwimMission swim cap is designed to protect all hair types from the damaging effects of being saturated in chlorinated, salt or fresh water, especially very thick, curly, long high-maintenance hair--braids and locks, too. 

The need to protect their hair health and appearance keeps too many girls and women from accessing the water safety, medical and mental health, physical fitness benefits, fun and employment opportunities that having strong swim skills offers.  

My SwimMission swim cap is prevention-over-cure hair care for swimmers.  

*Don't swim alone or where swimming is prohibited or dangerous. 

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Down on One Knee

For me, as an African-American woman whose ancestors were enslaved in this self-proclaimed land of the free, loving the United States of America often feels like staying in a relationship with a mostly good man who shows potential for greatness despite his many flaws, weaknesses, and numerous past mistakes.

While being constantly prodded to step up, stand out, lead, dominate, win, conquer, he struggles to overcome his disappointments, failures, and setbacks that make it hard for him to move through life as his best, most ethical self. He needs some more time to mature before he’s willing to commit to a life-long relationship of equally yoked partners whose union nurtures and serves the best interests of the united individuals, their extended families and their various communities of friendship, work, faith, study, recreation, etc.

Like the long-suffering girlfriend of many years who slides from presumptive anticipation (Emancipation Proclamation) to optimistic patience (Reconstruction) to subtle hints and compromises (Booker T. Washington’s strategy), then to less-than-subtle suggestions (W.E.B. DuBois’s strategy), explicit demands (1950s – 60s Civil Rights Movement) that escalate before ultimatums and threats lead to volatile conflicts (shouting matches and riots) as the norm, this African-American woman, observing herself from the outside looking in, keeps investing her energy, talents, time, and love into the well-being of the U.S.A. even when it doesn’t reciprocate.

Even when it disrespects, dishonors, abuses, and dismisses her, she just works harder to use her achievements to demonstrate her worthiness to receive equal access to all human and civil rights along with all of the protections, rights, and privileges of her full-fledged citizenship, already paid for multiple times in the blood and toil and suffering of her enslaved ancestors.

After waiting for a proposal, she makes one of her own: Let’s get engaged with local, state, and federal law enforcement to eliminate racial and other biases in policing https://trustandjustice.org/resources/intervention/implicit-bias while keeping everyone’s safety as the top priority.

When the country makes promises, then breaks those promises, then excuses itself from being responsible for this habit of betrayal by shifting the blame, and refusing to hold itself accountable for breaking faith again and again and again over the course of multiple generations, she still believes in the potential for a U.S.A. that practices the highest ideals of what it preaches. It’s a 21st-century version of Jacob, Rachel, Leah, and their uncle, Laban, where Jacob represents oppressed black people. Rachel is a symbol of oppressed people’s ultimate freedom to live, love, and prosper. Leah represents the bait-and-switch of not delivering what was originally offered and accepted. Uncle Laban equals Uncle Sam, who isn’t evil, but is always looking for ways to get disproportionately more for himself than he gives to Jacob in exchange for Jacob’s labor. Jacob received what he had rightly earned after 14* years. Black people are still waiting one-hundred fifty-two years after the end of the U.S. Civil War.

A true love of country that is healthy abides and endures, sacrifices and forgives because it is freely given. It can’t be coerced or mandated or legislated. It can’t be bought with money.
My love for the U.S.A. is a grown-up love. The country’s strengths and weaknesses, beauty and ugliness, shady past and future possibilities inspire a commitment to invest myself in its success. The fundamental element of that success is to achieve the reality of ending the attitude of perpetual open season on people who embody otherness.

One day, the spirit of the Declaration of Independence will apply as if written with these words: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all human beings are created equal… One day, every reference to man/men will unquestionably translate to human/humans.

In 1857 Frederick Douglass said, “Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.”

Professional athletes and others are joining the #TakeAKnee campaign to amplify the voices of demand for social justice for all of us.

*Some scholarly debate exists about the details, but ultimately, Jacob was scammed into working twice as long as the original agreement.

Friday, August 25, 2017

TGIFree Reads Friday!


Right person. Wrong time.
First fate works for these young lovers, then it conspires against them.

How will destiny swim g around in their favor?

The erotic sensibilities of Anais Nin collide with the legacy of Loving v. Virginia and the emotional connection of "This Is Us" in this assortment of snapshot tales about the Fullerton family's journey to an extended circle of love and commitment years before the present-day events that occur in Dodging Eros, Through Past, Present and Pleasure, an experimental concept novel using elements of spoof and theater of the absurd as upbeat social commentary about the politics of pleasure when social class, gender, and ethnicity intersect with different kinds of privilege.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Dodging Eros e-Formats Sale 5/15--5/26



inspired by supportive small publishers with mighty hearts, the summer reading season and upbeat, diversity-is-mainstream contemporary erotic (non-BDSM) fiction about grown-ups in love 

Monday, May 8, 2017

Book Jackpot

Finding never-used overstock hardcover and trade paperback books at the $1 store satisfies the cravings of my inner book hoarder.

inspired by an insatiable need to be #bookrich

Monday, April 17, 2017

From the Bibliocrimes Files: Coffee Rings

Illegal smuggling of Arabica plants? No.

Book vandals who set their dripping coffee mugs to mark their place in a library book! (Odds are high that they don't do that to books they've purchased for their personal collections.) Someone owes W.E.B. Griffin, William E. Butterworth IV and future borrowers of this book an apology.

inspired by carelessness with shared resources

Monday, March 27, 2017

EPA Rematch

Someone shared this recent political history reminder with me over the weekend. It encouraged me to remember to keep fighting the ethical, environmentally sane fight regardless of significant challenges and setbacks (Flint, MI, Corpus Christi, TX...). Hope it does the same for you.

An insurgent Republican captures the White House and unleashes a furious, in-broad-daylight assault on our environment. He installs a champion of polluters at the EPA, who moves to cripple the agency, slashing its budgets, undoing public health protections across-the-board, and all but ending enforcement actions against bad actors.
    Donald Trump, right?
    Yes ... but also Ronald Reagan.
    We have seen this movie before, colleagues, albeit the circumstances differ in key ways.
    This brief account of how environmentalists a generation ago fought back offers up lessons-learned and tactics worth emulating.

Before Donald Trump, there was Ronald Reagan

When the Reagan Administration in the 1980s launched its all-out attack on environmental and public health safeguards, we and our allies  mounted an unprecedented mobilization effort that exceeded expectations -- an object lesson for all of us in the trenches today.

``Environmental organizations launched an effective counter-mobilization that included aggressive fundraising, publicity, and coordinated action with congressional allies,’’ recalled Rutgers University political scientists Daniel J. Tichenor and Avram Fechter. That effort, they wrote, showcased ``the resiliency of many oppositional groups even when they are under assault from a breakthrough president.’’

Like Trump, Reagan appointed an EPA administrator (Anne Gorsuch) who opposed the very mission of the agency.

So drastic were Reagan’s proposed EPA budget cuts that a 1982 Washington Post headline read: ```Strangulation’ Budget Revealed for EPA.’’

By 1983, the agency's budget had been slashed 30 percent and its workforce reduced from 14,269 to 11,474. EPA enforcement actions plummeted by 84 percent during Reagan's first year in office.

Gorsuch had ``induced many of its best professional staff to quit, and has sabotaged the agency's enforcement effort by continual reorganizations and cutbacks. She has scrimped on the science and monitoring that must underlie effective regulation,'' a 1983 New York Times editorial fumed.

But environmental groups fought back with a vengeance. Leaders of 10 large environmental groups, calling themselves the Group of Ten, forged an alliance and set out to show Americans exactly how the Reagan Administration’s actions were imperiling their well-being and quality of life.

NRDC and the other environmental groups produced two influential reports that helped turn the public against Reagan's war. We also delivered to Congress a million signatures on petitions calling for the ouster of Interior Secretary James Watt. A grassroots group, called ''Save EPA,''  sprang up. NRDC published an ad in the Washington Post, styled as an open letter to EPA staff, with this message: ''Don't Give Up.''

The first report was called ''Indictment: The Case Against the Reagan Environmental Record.'' It summarized 220 administrative policies and actions that undermined efforts to control pollution and protect public health.

``We found an across-the-board pattern of lawlessness and heedlessness with regard to the nation's natural resources unequaled since the days of the robber barons a century ago,'' NRDC's Richard Ayes told the New York Times. Some 7,000 printed copies of ''Indictment" were to be distributed to members of Congress, stakeholders and the public.

The second report was called ``Hitting Home,'' a 66-page document that detailed an array of imminent health threats, such as dangerous levels of the insecticide toxaphene in Great Lakes fish, risks of pesticide contamination faced by Texas farmworkers in the Rio Grande Valley and damage caused by acid rain from New England to Wisconsin and Michigan.

''The hundreds of people across the country who helped prepare this report are angry and more than a little frightened. They believed the laws were in place to protect their health, their land and the extraordinary beauty of their nation's great parks. Now all this is cast in doubt,'' said ''Hitting Home.''

The report concluded that the severe budget cuts at EPA would make it more difficult for states to carry out their own air, water, hazardous waste and pesticide programs. Said the New York Times:

``The report specifically criticized EPA's cuts in aid to help states carry out their own air, water, hazardous waste and pesticide programs... It said the grants had been cut by up to 50 percent at a time when state legislatures were unable to take over the programs. In New York State, officials have said the cuts may force them to shut down half the state's 250 air monitoring stations.''

The report itself added:

``California, the Carolinas, Florida, Illinois, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Washington, all tell the same stories: less sampling of air and water quality, cursory reviews of permits for new sources of pollution and fewer inspections of existing sources.''

''Hitting Home'' found that the administration's cut in funding for research into Great Lakes pollution -- from $30 million to $3 million -- had forced the virtual shutdown of the environmental agency's Large Lakes Research Laboratory at Grosse Ile, Mich. That's the very lab that had found the levels of toxaphene in Great Lakes fish were double the allowable federal limit.

The report also said the administration's refusal to issue tighter air pollution standards on coal-burning factories and power plants was leading to the death of hundreds of lakes from acid rain. It estimated that the loss in fishing and tourism business in New York and New England was $2.5 billion a year.

And that problem is spreading, ''Hitting Home'' warned, noting that 2,200 lakes and 1,700 miles of streams in Wisconsin and Michigan could be in jeopardy because of high levels of acidity.

The report concluded that the administration had done nothing to crack down on improper pesticide spraying in the Rio Grande Valley in Texas, even though large numbers of workers had experienced symptoms of pesticide poisoning.

In the face of such threats, it was no surprise that environmental groups saw a surge in membership and contributions; at the same time, public officials encountered a widespread public backlash against the Reagan Administration's environmental policies.

A New York Times/CBS News Poll in the fall of 1981 found a large majority of the Americans supported strong protection of the environment even if it required economic sacrifice.

``The poll results suggest that the policies of the Reagan Administration, which would relax environmental laws to ease the economic and regulatory burden on business and industry, are out of tune with the sentiments of most Americans,’’ the New York Times said.

The resistance movement grew to such an extent that ``even many business leaders became apprehensive, in part because they needed an EPA whose actions were predictable and whose officials were competent, and partly because they recognized that, as the traditional public villains of environmental politics, they would be the ultimate victims of political recriminations if the public believed that EPA was being corrupted,’’  Richard N.L Andrews wrote in ``Managing the Environment, Managing Ourselves: A History of American Environmental Policy.’’

The Reagan Administration's overreach even turned off some Reagan's allies. For example, Wyoming Sens. Alan K. Simpson and Malcolm Wallop ended up co-sponsoring legislation that sought to bar oil and gas exploration in their state's wilderness areas. ``Constituent pressure,'' a Simpson aide explained.

``It's hard to get up and argue that you have to let the big steel and chemical companies pollute so they can make more money,'' another Hill staffer said. ``There are a lot of voters who are still suspicious of Big Business. People can see clean water and they know when they're breathing clean air. But many of them don't understand why they should give these up to promote productivity.''

One environmental activist told the Washington Post: ``These guys don’t want to go home and explain how they voted to gut a pesticide bill or a clean air bill.’’

At the end of the Reagan era, to be sure, eight years had been lost during which significant progress could have been made toward a safer, cleaner environment. But as the N.Y. Times also noted in 1989:

``... the environmentalists acknowledge that their worst fears were not realized... (and) the laws, agencies and public lands survived the Reagan years more or less intact.’’

Colleagues: Thanks for reading. The threats we face are even more dire than during the Reagan era, but we are stronger, smarter and better resourced than ever before. And given the strong public support for environmental protection and  climate action, we can do even better than our elders did in the 1980s. We must.

NRDC Action Fund

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Black Card


Credentials, please.

Unlike the black Amex that has no limit, the boundaries for black people are constantly being reduced and redrawn according to arbitrary standards of authenticity and legitimacy depending on the narrowness of the mindset of the person/s sitting in judgement.

It's 2017. We're all human beings.

Shouldn't this debate about who's authentically black have expired by now? (Coming from someone who was called Oreo, zebra, etc. in school.)

Saturday, January 14, 2017

The Golden Rule


It took me a few days to gather my thoughts about the content of this mural. My first reaction was that if those of us who are members of marginalized groups want to be seen as full-fledged human beings of equal intrinsic value by the police and all of society, then we need to offer the same consideration in return.

My next thoughts were about freedom of expression and art as social commentary, peaceful protest and non-violent rebellion against the status quo. If it's a choice between a mural with dehumanizing imagery or a physical clash of civilians versus law enforcement, the art is the lesser offense (at least in the short term). But for me, depicting cops as pigs is as offensive and dehumanizing as depicting black people as monkeys. Neither image contributes to creating a society where every person's humanity and citizenship are equally acknowledged, respected and protected.