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What makes the Chinese New Year different?

Happy New Year! It’s the year of the Rooster, the 4715th year of the Chinese calendar. Cheers! Shouldn’t we all enjoy celebrating two beginnings each year? The American traditional New Year’s is too quick after the holidays. In most cases, I’m not ready to start my resolutions, eating right and being disciplined. It takes me a few weeks to get back into the ‘groove’, you know? Only about a quarter of the World’s population still observes this way of counting time, so why not be a little different?

Like the Hebrew/Christian calendar, the Chinese calendar uses the moon and moon cycles. Unlike the traditional calendar, it changes based on the first New Moon each year. The Chinese calendar also utilizes leap months instead of days.

To find the beginning and length of each Chinese year, first you must determine how many new moons are in the year. Then figure out when the sun’s longitude is a multiple of 30 degrees. So, the Winter equinox begins the longitude at zero. The Spring Equinox is at 90, Summer 180 and the Autumn 270. Then it begins again. These dates are called the Principle Terms and are used to determine the number of each month. It’s important the Winter’s solstice always falls in the 11th month. Using the Chinese calendar, the months begin at the new moon.

Instead of the year’s running in a consecutive order with a set number of days, the Chinese year changes and runs in a sixty-year cycle. Each year within the cycle gets its own name that repeats every sixty years. This name is made up of two components, the Celestial Steem (which has ten changing names) and the second is the Terrestrial Branch which is the branch where the animal zodiacs come from (and has twelve changing names). It takes sixty years for them to line back up and start-over.  Currently the year is xin-you. The Celestial Steem, xin, has no English translation however the ‘you’ part is the Rooster or Cock and that year begins today, January 28, 2017.

According to Chinese lore, the first day of the year is not for laundry, taking out loans, taking medication, sweeping your floor, or eating porridge for breakfast. Furthermore, New Year’s Day is not for wearing white or black, but instead, bright colors to celebrate. Bad luck gifts are thought to be scissors, pearls or pears.

Fun Facts: The New Moon is the absence of a moon, the darkest night each month and the origins of the word ‘lunatic’. Beyonce, Yoko Ono and Eric Clapton were all born under the sign of the Rooster as well as Serena Williams, Michelle Pfeiffer, Benjamin Franklin, Dolly Parton and Joan Collins.

Here’s to 4715! May it be your best lunisolar year yet! It’s never too late for new beginnings.


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Linda Sarsour Sharia Law – Women’s March Retaliation

Linda Sarsour is a Palestinian-American activist and executive director of the Arab American Association of New York. There are 2 words in that sentence that instantly make conservatives lose control of their bowels – “arab” and “palestinian.”

I’m writing this because Linda Sarsour helped to orchestrate the 2017 Women’s March which was a huge success. As a result of this success she is now being defamed by conservative media. What are they saying? Oh the typical “she’s a terrorist – crap your pants America” line they always use. What’s great about it this time though is the evidence they’re using – some incriminating tweets! Let’s take a look at them shall we?

Sarsour is a Muslim advocate no doubt. She has fought for the freedom of religion and at times has advocated for Muslim’s rights to practice Sharia in the U.S. – To be clear, she’s not advocating that it become the law of the land, which is what conservatives are saying. She is fighting for equal rights of Muslim’s to be able to practice Sharia if they see fit. In the same way that Judaism or Christianity is free to practice their culture’s religious traditions among their believers.

The extreme right wing blog “The Gateway Pundit” posted this article about Sarsour’s ties to “Hamas terrorists” (spooky!) and her “support of Sharia law” (GASP!!) – So let’s examine these scary tweets. They obviously have this conservative pundit very scared and upset…

This first example pretty much lays it all out there right? “If you are still paying interest than Sharia Law hasn’t taken over America. #justsaying” – that’s obviously blatant support for Sharia Law – or a sarcastic joke that’s poking fun at people who are dumb enough to believe Sharia Law is actually a problem in the United States.

linda sarsour sharia law
Example #1 of Sarsour “Supporting Sharia Law” LOL!

This though is perhaps the most damning evidence of all – “Interest free?” “Sounds nice doesn’t it?” She just said Sharia Law “SOUNDS NICE DOESN’T IT!”

linda sarsour sharia law
The most damning evidence of Sarsour’s support for Sharia Law

As if to show directly how sad and scared they are, Gateway Pundit also uses this as an example of why Sarsour is an extremist:

sarsour sharia law
This is so scary!!!

Women tying hijab’s? TERRORISM!

As if to show that the American right has no understanding for anything that requires nuance or reading comprehension… “Patriotic Rosie” here calls out Sarsour as being a hypocrite for supporting women’s rights and Sharia law simultaneously. I’m sure Patriotic Rosie is an expert on Sharia and knows that elements of it actually already practiced in the UK and *gasp* Israel. The only country that follows it to the letter is Saudi Arabia – a U.S. ally.

Better to live in fear as a scared pathetic tool of racists and xenophobes than to educate yourself on the reality of the world around you.

In closing, if you “believe” that Linda Sarsour is an extremist who is trying to push Sharia Law on America you are either willfully stupid or a liar.


(Linda Sarsour Wikipedia)

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Women’s March on Washington, 2017

As I got ready to join thousands of women for the Women’s March on Washington I periodically checked in on social media to watch as our numbers grew. Some ladies seemed confused, why are we marching? What do we hope to accomplish? At this point, there is so much. Where do we begin?

One of the first things I noticed upon arriving at the Civic Center in downtown Albuquerque is the diversity of the protests. Of course, the main message; women should have control of their own bodies. They should be able to make the decisions regarding their unborn babies without having to convince a totally stranger of what’s best for them. Dare I say it? … Abortion. An issue that has been in and out of the spotlight more than any other I can remember. Laws have been passed, repealed, passed again. Isn’t it enough already? It’s 2017, shouldn’t we be able to trust that women of every walk of life know what’s best for their individual situation? Which brings me to the next outrage.

Rape and sexual assault. Here’s another way women don’t have equal footing in the world. It’s acceptable, excusable and almost expected in many situations. Why though? Seems barbaric to me that we teach our girls how they can or can’t dress, speak and act instead of teaching our boys to keep their hands to themselves. Wouldn’t that be easier, just teach boys/men it isn’t okay to grope, grab or force themselves on women? Time and time again I’ve heard, ‘boys will be boys’. C’mon, really? Let’s be the change in this conversation. It’s time.

That brings me to the next point of our march today. Equal pay for equal work. Again, I’m appalled knowing many of my women friends don’t get paid the same for the (often superior) work they do. They are overlooked for promotions due to their gender, and the fact they may become a mother one day. It just doesn’t seem right in a country as wealthy and forward thinking as America women don’t get compensated the same as their male-counterparts.

Speaking of this progressive (ish) way of thinking, LGBTQ rights were represented in the march today. As if who we choose to love affects anyone other than the person we’re loving. As if it inconveniences folks that a couple can be more than the traditional man/woman. Another discrimination that is completely baffling to me. Maybe the world knows there’s enough people and being a homosexual is the way to correct the overpopulation problem this planet is experiencing… just a thought.

Climate change, immigration reform, bullies and corporations buying our government and its officials were also a part of the protest. The direction this country is headed is frightening. If you’re not at least a little scared/nervous, I hate to say it, but you’re not paying attention. Read. Fact check. Do your homework. Let’s avoid history repeating itself, please.

There are many, many, many reasons to come together today and celebrate the diversity of us as women, us as human beings. There are many reasons to want to protest, to have a voice, to be heard. In the words of a great man named Bernie Sanders, “Black, White, Latino, Native American, and Asian American, gay or straight, male or female, native born or immigrant we will fight bigotry and create a new government based on love and compassion, not hatred and divisiveness.

March on sisters… March on! #womensmarchonWashington #2017

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Today in History: The First American Novel “Power of Sympathy” Published

Power of Sympathy
“Power of Sympathy” was the first documented American novel.

The Power of Sympathy: or, The Triumph of Nature (1789) is an 18th-century American sentimental novel written in epistolary form by William Hill Brown, widely considered to be the first American novel. The book was published by Isaiah Thomas in Boston on January 21, 1789. In the story, the characters’ struggles illustrate the dangers of seduction and the pitfalls of giving in to temptation. The book also “advocates the moral education of women” and the use of rational thinking as ways to prevent the consequences of such actions. In other words it’s a story that reinforces Puritanical Christian doctrines by scaring women.

The novel reflects early American interest in the role of women as both the representatives and the safe keepers of the country’s moral health. It show examples sexual temptation, displays the disastrous effects of giving in to seduction, and explains ways for the young girl to avoid this fate. The book is very didactic, (warning against sexual profligacy in both men and women) yet also takes on a sympathetic tone toward the seducer and the fallen woman. It urges the community to view the repentant sinners with compassion.

The book is historic in that it is considered the first novel by an American-born writer in the United States. The book was originally published anonymously. It’s story line is an example of sentimental romance written in epistolary form. Letters between the two main characters are a dialogue. The two young men who both have a love interest; Harrington has fallen in love with Harriot, who is beautiful and virtuous, but poor and beneath Harrington’s station in life, and Worthy is engaged to Harrington’s sister, Myra. Myra and Harriot are also friends, and their exchange of letters communicates Harriot’s dilemma of maintaining her virtue, even though her poverty makes the prospect of marriage to Harrington unlikely.



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NY Times Retracts Editorial Saying Rockets Can’t Fly

”Whoever undertakes to set himself up as judge in the field of truth and knowledge is shipwrecked by the laughter of the Gods.” – Albert Einstein

The New York Times is a respected paper. Some might even call it a beacon of journalism, but that doesn’t mean it’s unquestioningly right 100% of the time. Back in 1851 the Times published one of it’s most memorable errors. Errors will be errors but this one is special not only because of how wrong it was but because of the tone the original author took.

On Jan. 13, 1920 the NY Times published an editorial about how rockets could not fly in space. The NYT opinion writer took to task one Robert H. Goddard, the rocket pioneer. The writer gleefully mocked Goddard as lacking even a basic high school education, here’s the actual quote:

”That Professor Goddard, with his ‘chair’ in Clark College and the countenancing of the Smithsonian Institution, does not know the relation of action to reaction, and of the need to have something better than a vacuum against which to react — to say that would be absurd. Of course he only seems to lack the knowledge ladled out daily in high schools.”

A correction was issued by the paper on July 17, 1969 just a day after the Apollo 11 launch to the moon. This correction surprisingly contains no reference whatsoever to this launch.

A Correction: On Jan. 13, 1920, “Topics of the Times,” an editorial-page feature of The New York Times, dismissed the notion that a rocket could function in a vacuum and commented on the ideas of Robert H. Goddard, the rocket pioneer, as follows:

‘That Professor Goddard with his ‘chair’ in Clark College and the countenancing of the Smithsonian Institution, does not know the relation of action to reaction, and of the need to something better than a vacuum against which to react—to say that would be absurd. Of course he only seems to lack the knowledge ladled out daily in high schools.”

Further investigation and experimentation have confirmed the findings of Isaac Newton in the 17th Century and it is now definitely established a rocket can function in a vacuum as well as in an atmosphere. The Times regrets the error.

Given the way journalism is today the Times gets bonus points for issuing this retraction even though it was a full 49 years later. Being able to admit when you’re wrong and correct those errors is an incredibly important part of journalism… one that doesn’t seem to really exist in the new millennium.

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My Suicide Experience


An act which one once legal in England, but only if you were deemed sane (1823). This Latin word originated in the mid-1600’s. Just the word itself leaves me with a knot in my stomach and an ache in my soul. It breaks down ‘sui’ meaning self and ‘cide’ meaning ‘a killing’ (pesticide, decide, homicide, insecticide, etc.) The mere mention of it brings heartbreak to anyone who has been a survivor. Over the years I’ve known many that have taken their own lives, from my elderly neighbor, to my best friend’s older sister, to a good friend from high school (after her daughter hung herself). Then there are the most famous self-killings, Robin Williams, Curt Cobain, Hunter Thompson and Ernest Hemingway. None of these people were ever in my little social circle and have become a distant tragedy, until…

Today in (my own) history was the most horrific day I hope I ever have to live through. It started on a Sunday morning as the sun peaked over the eastern horizon. I heard my husband’s cell phone ring from the pocket of his jeans (which were on the floor). Then my own cell phone vibrated from the charger in the kitchen. Then the house phone rang. By that time, we both knew something was wrong and we each were dashing to the handset of the landline. My husband reached it first. I looked at my cell phone to the missed call, it was my brother-in-law. The two spoke briefly.

“We’ll be right there,” my husband said, “love you, brother.” After he disconnected, he turned to me. “The boys killed themselves last night.”

“What boys?” I asked, still foggy and waking.

“Cory and Christopher.”

My knees buckled and I hit the floor, tears stung my eyes as I pounded my fists on the ground and began to sob. “The boys” were my nephews and it happened to be the youngest (Cory’s) 19th birthday. Him and my daughter were only three months apart and growing up were a lot like siblings. At one point, Cory was the son I never had. Isotopes games, a cat skeleton, tree houses, sleep-overs, sandcastles and a live turtle found in the back yard started to ping through my memory. The idea of him dead was unfathomable. The idea of him dead by his own hand, incomprehensible. Christopher was more than ten years older and I knew him through family gatherings (specifically Thanksgivings). He was always the life of the party, handsome and funny.

Although not all suicides are gun related crimes, this one certainly was. This is the way I understand it to have happened. After an all-night party binge, Christopher said something along the lines of “F**k this life” and put his pistol to his head right behind his left ear and pulled the trigger. Cory called 911 and reported his brother had just killed himself, “…and I’m next.” He then put his own gun to his temple and shot. Christopher’s bullet had gone in and out in one hemisphere of his brain. He was still alive. Cory’s went all the way through both sides and he was dead before he hit the ground. Christopher survived about fourteen hours. That’s when hell really settled over our family.

Losing anyone, in any manner is grim, even when it’s expected as with old age or a terminal illness. Suicide is a different kind of loss. It’s a grief that rocks you to your core, the sadness doesn’t stop. It’s as if a hand grenade went off in your family or circle of friends. The direct blame lies on the deceased. This causes conflicting feelings from rage to remorse, anger to empathy and a load of ‘what if’ and ‘if only’. My blame raced to the liberal gun laws in this country, specifically this state. I was angry they had such easy access to something so spontaneously lethal.

Some of the things I’ve learned from losing ‘the boys’ are you never get over a suicide when its someone close to you. There’s an innocence lost within yourself, something that will never be the same… ever. And that life is precious. It’s the only one we get and it’s our own responsibility to make it marvelous. For anyone reading this that has contemplated suicide, that last sentence is the most important. I’ll pass along the suicide prevention line for your reference. Wish it was an easy one to remember, like 1-800-DON’T-DO-IT but it’s more complicated than that. 1-800-273-8255 (well, actually that spells ape-talk, so 1-800-APE-TALK. That’s definitely easier.)

My next blog will be happier, I promise. Until then, rest in peace Cory and Christopher. I’ve missed you madly the last seven-hundred and thirty-one days and will still… every day.


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Happy Birthday Diane Keaton! (handwriting analysis)

Happy 71st birthday to Diane Keaton, an actress that’s been around as long as I can remember. Her role of Kay-Adams Corleone in The Godfather in 1972 launched her long standing career. She’s starred in almost fifty films and more than a dozen television series. Her most recent big screen project was the voice of Jenny in the 2016 animated movie, Finding Dory. An author of two books as well as a contributing blogger for the Huffington Post. She’s a model and a photographer. Her love affair track record includes Woody Allen, Warren Beatty and Al Pacino. At the age of fifty, after the death of her father, she embraced motherhood and adopted a child. Five years later, she adopted another. She’s against plastic surgery and all for the restoration of historical buildings specifically in the Los Angeles area.

According to her handwriting she has the personality traits to back all of the above.

To find authenticated autographs of hers, I turned to eBay. (each said they come with a COA-certificate of authenticity-so we’ve got to believe they’re genuine, right?)

The three I found all showcases her sense of humor and generosity. She is able to think on her feet and change directions quickly if need be. The letter D is the letter of sensitivity and in her earlier signature, there is more of a concern over what others will think. As she matures and becomes more confident in her career, her D closes indicating a woman who is not so worried about criticism or judgement. (this is common with anyone, not just actors/actresses)

Diane’s IQ seems to be higher than average, she’s personable and friendly yet private. Her circle of true friends is probably small, almost intimate. She’s a self-starter and confident in her looks and sex appeal.

In the three signatures I looked at, the K in Keaton changed, the earlier two looking more like a K and the latter one the K looks like a squiggly line that could be an N or M. One thing that I’ve been asked at least a dozen times is “why does my signature become less legible the older I get?” The answer is, as we age, the majority of us worry less about what others will think of us. Diane’s examples show this if you look chronologically. When we’re younger, we want to impress people, we want people to know who we are and what we stand for. Our signatures are legible. As we age we care less about impressing others. We know who we are and our values, personality, and idiosyncrasies are set. This shows in the breakdown of the legibility of our autographs as Diane’s does in these examples.

Although overall, Diane is an remarkable individual, there are indications of a temper that simmers just under the surface of her cool exterior. (Like most people) She likes to get her way. Those that work with her most likely know their limits and don’t push too hard.

It was a pleasure to get to know this iconic woman through her handwriting. Happy Birthday! Here’s to many more!

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Utah’s Journey to Statehood

Mormon Pioneers
Mormon Pionners were a large part of the West being settled

Utah had been around for about fifty years prior to President Cleveland granting the statehood on this day (January 4th) 1896.

Mormon settlers had begun to enter the Salt Lake Valley while the land was still owned by Mexico in 1847. Fortunately for them, the Americans won the Mexican war the following year while President Polk was in office. In the treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, Mexico had to give what is now the American West to the United States.

The Mormons immediately wanted to form their own state and name it Deseret-a word from the Book of Mormon meaning honeybee or referring to the ‘bee crown’ in ancient Egypt. The terrain it would encompass included parts of New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, Arizona, California, and Nevada. The members of the church elected all LDS leaders and voted in Brigham Young to be the official governor of Deseret.

Congress had other ideas.

During this time, the Civil War was still headline news and slavery was a hot topic. States were individually voting to keep or abolish it. The leaders in Washington knew creating such a humongous state wouldn’t be in the best interest of the country. It would give too much power to the west. Congress formed the Utah and New Mexico territories under the Compromise of 1850 giving them each their own control and vote regarding slavery. The Utah territory (which most still called Deseret) was cut substantially in size but was still bigger than modern Utah, including the majority of Nevada and a bit of Colorado and Wyoming.

President Fillmore appointed Brigham Young as the official territorial governor and (much to the local’s dismay) added some non-Mormon leaders to the administration as well. Somewhere along the line in 1852 some of the leaders made a public announcement that many of the Mormon families engaged in a plural marriage, or polygamy. Many politicians in the east called polygamy ‘the twin to slavery.’ They were denied statehood based on that revelation.

Another decade passed and Deseret was still not a state. While Abraham Lincoln was president an act called the Morrill Act was passed giving land rights to several states and territories. During that same year, the Morrill Anti-bigamy act was passed. This act limited church and non-profit ownership. There were no federal funds allocated for the enforcement of this act leaving Utahns to govern their own marital status.

It was documented that President Lincoln compared the LDS church to a log he had encountered as a farmer. He said, “[It] was too hard to split, too wet to burn, too heavy to move, so we plow around it. That’s what I intend to do to the Mormons.” The messenger was instructed to return and give the message ‘If he will let me alone, I will let him alone,’ regarding Brigham Young and his territory. Again, Utah was denied statehood.

When President Buchanan came on the scene he fired Brigham Young as the governor and sent Alfred Cumming to be the new man in charge as well as a twenty-five-hundred-man army to make sure there were no problems. During this same time, 1864, Nevada became a state and a large chunk of Deseret was granted to them. Again, they applied for statehood, again they were denied.

Later, in 1872 and again in 1882, Deseret applied for statehood and was rejected both times. In 1876 Colorado was granted statehood and took another small slice of Deseret. By this time the Utah territory had made polygamy a misdemeanor instead of a felony, a huge relief for those still practicing plural marriage. In 1881 the People’s party was dismantled and the citizens were forced to follow suit of the rest of the country and join the Republican or Democratic party. There were over a thousand convictions of unlawful cohabitation between the years 1884 and 1893. (One of which, I believe, was my great-great grandfather… at least so the story goes.)

1890, Wyoming was granted statehood and took another chunk of Deseret for itself, creating the unique shape and boarders of modern Utah.

Congress passed the Enabling Act in 1894 to set many areas on the path to statehood, however; polygamy was banned across the board. It took two more years for Utah to finally reach their goal of statehood. By that time, the government had a mix of Mormon and non-LDS affiliates and Utah was voted the named opposed to Deseret.

After forty years of being denied by Congress and losing more than half of their original acreage, it seemed a good exchange for them to officially give up polygamy to become the forty-fifth state.

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Today in History: Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein

One hundred ninety-nine years ago today, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein was published – anonymously. There have been debates regarding the amount of influence Percy Shelley, her husband, had in writing that fictional masterpiece. In those days, women weren’t taken seriously as authors and many, including Mrs. Shelly, wrote under their partner’s names or used a pseudonym. Jane Austen was just as vague as Shelly publishing her first works under ‘A Lady’. Sigmund Freud’s daughter, Anna, often published her child-reading advice under her famous father’s name so the guidance would be taken seriously by the reader.

More examples; Charlotte Bronte, the author for the famous novel Jane Eyre wrote for years under the name Currer Bell. Her sisters, Anne and Emily became Acton and Ellis Bell. Lousia May Alcott wrote several small fictional pieces under A.M Bernard until her most prominent novel, Little Women was released. It then made sense for a woman to write about women and seemed fitting for her to unveil her true identity.

In 1929, Virginia Woolf stated that in order to write, a woman needed her own income and her own room. (A Room of One’s Own). She continued to predict during that time a women’s revolution would occur due to the increase in literacy for middle-class ladies. We can all be grateful for this progression.
And here I thought I was so original to use my own initials and pseudonym when publishing but alas, I’m merely following a long-standing trend. Even though feminism and women’s rights have cultivated in the writing profession, many have written under a gender neutral names throughout the decades.
One would correctly guess by the nature of the book that Mary Poppins was written by a woman even though P.L Travers could be either male or female. For the record, her real name is Pamela Lyndon Travers.

Joanne Rowlings was asked by her publicist to use a gender neutral name, J.K, to attract male readers. She commented she didn’t care at that point what they called her, (Enid Snodgrass perhaps) she was just eager to get her novel, Harry Potter, out to the world. It was said she channeled ‘her inner bloke’ when she published The Cockoo’s Calling under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith in 2013. It’s really all about the reader not the writer, right?

Have you read any of Erika Leonard’s work? Most likely you have, but would you have picked up Fifty Shades of Grey had she published under her full legal name instead of her initials and the made-up last name James? (Or her previous pen-name Snow Queen Ice Dragon?)

Some author’s like Nora Roberts write under different names for different genres. J.D Robb is Nora’s alter ego when she writes her true crime stories, In Death. When talking crime, a man would obviously be more of an expert in that field, right? Of course.
Recently I read a blog by an up and coming author Victoria Griffin. She wondered if she should be ashamed of her name due to the publishing industry’s gender bias in which she showed proof. Her nickname growing up was Tori and in hindsight, she wonders if her works would have been better received had she published under a gender neutral name.

In a world where women make only a fraction of what their male counterparts make, is it any wonder we women are wanting to become anonymous… just like Mary Shelley did in 1818?