Stirring the pot, raising hell and rearing children in the Bay Area

Politics and Rants

My Facebook Login, My SS and my Rx Prescriptions

Posted on Mar 26, 2012 in Politics and Rants |

Letting it all hang out online?

I’ve been reading for a couple of weeks about employers asking for candidate’s Facebook profile information, and watching the “WHA?!” response from the online community as a whole. I’ve got some thoughts on the matter, and more than that, some tips:

1. Your online persona is completely transparent, even if you think it is not. Period. If you look me up on Facebook, I’ve got pretty good privacy settings, but that won’t keep you (or anyone else) from somehow finding out that I went off on a tirade at my kid’s third grade teacher after he went missing for 40 minutes last month. When the teachers’ union came to me asking me to take down the post, I refused. But I was also reminded that, privacy settings or not, your posts are not private. Not a one. Even the private ones.

2. You have a right to your online persona and no employer can make you give up your private information. Unless, they do. If you’re a public person or a face of a brand or the name behind a brand (even more so for us entrepreneurs) your employer, in my opinion has some right to be concerned about your public persona online and offline. I can hardly be a coke-head stripper by night and be the face of BabyCenter in the day. I get it.

3. Check yourself. No, really. Run a Google Search on yourself frequently, or better yet, set up a Google Alert for your own name (sorry if your name is John Smith, that might give you some inaccurate results). Look at photos of yourself online, make a policy about photo sharing, tagging and blogging and stick to it. I have a strict policy about my kids online. You might want to, also.

4. The world of online communities dates back to CompuServe days and days when we used AOL accounts to troll around chat rooms. Its very core was the ability to communicate from our pajamas with people anywhere in the world, empowered by our ability to speak freely and anonymously. I recall in 1996 when someone in a chat room I used on AOL turned out to be questioned in the disappearance of another woman from our chat room. His name was revealed, unraveling, for me, the mystery of online communities. There is a name — yours — behind every word you say online.

5. Believe in transparency. I believe deeply in transparency online. From a brand perspective, transparency is known to deepen trust between people and products. From a personal perspective, I want to drop-kick the blogs that discuss how perfect life is — as though life is a perfectly set Instagram photo. The ups and downs of our lives are what make us as people, and as brands, humanized.

Should employers be asking for Facebook logins? Not a chance. Should candidates be aware that what we say online is fair game for judging your character? Absolutely.

To save you the five minutes, here is what the Internet says about me… there is comfort in transparency.

Samantha Fein: Google Search

On Twitter: Garza Girl

On Facebook: Samantha Fein

On LinkedIn: Samantha Fein

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The Day We’ve Waiting For

Posted on May 1, 2011 in Politics and Rants |

Wikipedia, by 8 p.m. PST May 1

The news broke on Twitter, and as of this post, we’re still waiting for the President to address the world with the news that Osama bin Laden is dead. Eight years to the day after Bush’s “Mission Accomplished” banner, 10 years after the world’s heart broke on September 11, thousands of childless mothers from war. People are singing at the gates of the White House, “God Bless America” and our national anthem. I wish there was a “God Bless the Whole World’ anthem.

The news brings surges of emotion — for 9-11, for the pain, the loss, the great financial burden, the sadness — and then, relief, joy, “die motha flippa” type exhilaration.

Osama bin Laden is dead.

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Pinkie Toes

Posted on Apr 13, 2011 in Featured, Rants |

Pinkie Toes

My son once wore nail polish. It was black, or maybe it was blue. I would only let his little 3-year-old tootsies be painted “boy” colors. And really, the only reason I let him get his toe nails painted was because his twin sister was getting hers painted, and, well, there you go. On another transgender moment in parenting, I once let him wear  fairy wings, a pink princess dress and pink Fancy Nancy high heels too, but he ditched them before he could get to the grocery store, claiming, “Girl stuff can’t go in my car seat,” (dang fairy wings).

I’m pretty hard core about boy stuff being boy stuff and girl stuff being girl stuff. I’m sure it comes from raising my son in a same-sex household by two women and a twin sister; I’m particularly sensitive to making sure my Thing 1 is alllll boy.

JCrew got nailed today when Jenna, the company’s president and focus of their email marketing campaign, was photographed with her son painting his toenails bright neon pink. Conservative media went completely postal saying insane freak-o-matic things on-air, accusing JCrew of ““blatant propaganda celebrating transgendered children.” Transgendered children? What the smack are you talking about? Fox News went on to claim that the little boy would need therapy some day for his neon pink tootsies. And then I got mad.

There is little to celebrate about the painful acknowledgement of a transgendered child. And what the hell is in that nail polish that could make someone transgendered? Whatever it is, Glen Beck has been using too much of it. Or maybe I used too much of it and it made me fall in love with a woman — or wait, maybe not enough bright neon nail polish. That’s it! My mom didn’t paint my nails pink enough! That’s how I must have ended up with La Gringa. Oh, it’s so clear now.

I know a child who is transgender. The pain for the parents is unsurpassed. The sheer love for the child is a force of nature — they protect their son so passionately, working with therapists and family members to try to ease the pain for the child and themselves.  The child, a boy, identifies as a girl. He always has. And let me tell you, it wasn’t damn nail polish that burdened this poor child’s soul. Being transgender is no joke. But neither is a mother’s love.

At some point, The Female Brain and The Male Brain should be compulsory reading for anyone that plans on representing themselves as media, conservative, liberal or trans-political. The chemistry of a human — from the love of lacy panties and pink nail polish to the soothing sound of crashing cars and jackhammers — is imbedded in who we are from long before our toes were painted. The sheer irresponsibility of the media to pounce on the sexual identification of a child, and in this case, a specific child named Beckett, is abhorrent. Shame on you.

I signed the petition in support of the ad. And, more importantly, I just bought the Tranny polish from Jcrew.com and will put it on every man and woman I know — to “celebrate” the beautiful, tortured transgender children among us.

Sign the petition.

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Rape, Fame and the Ass in the Superbowl

Posted on Feb 4, 2011 in Featured, Politics and Rants |

Rape, Fame and the Ass in the Superbowl

I can’t wrap my head around how the National Football League could allow a three-time rapist to star in the SuperBowl. I truly do not understand how the Steelers could employ a repeat rapist — I don’t care how badly you want to win, rapist belong in jail and in hell, not as the star of your football team.

I am a for second chances. I am a true believer in mistakes being catalysts for change and growth. Ben Roethlisberger has earned none of these chances. In the past seven years, he’s won two SuperBowl rings and raped three women — and those are only the women who have stepped forward. There are no chances left for this rapist — none. Go to hell and get off my TV.

It’s old news to hear of celebrities and sports stars getting special treatment, being allowed to return to play and work and lead teams (Hello, Charlie Sheen). People’s livelihood relies on big celebrities. One could argue that the Pittsburg Steelers wouldn’t have made it to the SuperBowl without Ben Roethlisberger. One could argue that he has done his time with league suspensions, slaps on the hand and a dropped third case. One could argue that how a guy throws a football has nothing to do with his misconduct off the field. One could argue the girls are drunks! are users! are seeking fame! But I am wondering why we continue to to find loopholes for men who rape women and then cheer them on to victory, Emmy awards and SuperBowl rings? [Don’t tell me about the fact he wasn’t convicted. Read the transcripts, the history, the court docs. The guy got off on technicalities and loopholes. That’s like saying OJ is innocent because he wasn’t convicted.]

I wonder what kind of courage it would take for players to refuse to play with a three-time rapist? I wonder how powerful and united a community could feel if it chose to tell its team they would not be fans of an organization that employed a three-time rapist. I wonder how defiance would feel by refusing to buy tickets to a football game to see a three-time rapist throw a ball. I wonder what kind of incredible grassroots support corporations would get if they refused to run ads during a game that is starring a three-time rapist. I wonder what kind of kudos, praise and viewership FOX would gain if they refused to air a game starring a three-time rapist.

It sounds like a pipe-dream, doesn’t it? But why? Why is it unreasonable to ask ourselves to be brave enough to stand against Ben Roethlisberger, the football player, the rapist? Why is it unreasonable to ask our sports teams to refuse employment to a man who forced his 250-pound-frame onto three separate women?

Ben Roethlisberger, the three-time rapist, will star in the biggest sporting event of the year this coming Sunday. He will be cheered and high-fived and will make millions this weekend, and, perhaps, another SuperBowl victory. And somewhere, the women he raped sit wondering why their courage is not matched by us.

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Do You Hear the People Sing?

Posted on Feb 3, 2011 in Politics and Rants |

For a week, I’ve had “Do You Hear the People Sing? song from les miserables stuck in my head. As image after image come through from Egypt, it keeps ringing,

Do you hear the people sing?
Singing a song of angry men?
It is the music of a people
Who will not be slaves again!
When the beating of your heart
Echoes the beating of the drums
There is a life about to start
When tomorrow comes!

…and then the thugs come out and start beating people. And then they trash museums and poison their own countrymen. And you know what they respond with? Protecting their brotherhood who stop fighting for freedom to pray; protect their museums; protect each other. And when the un-obeyed curfew rises in the morning, they are there again.

Will you join in our crusade?
Who will be strong and stand with me?
Beyond the barricade
Is there a world you long to see?
Then join in the fight
That will give you the right to be free!

…and now they are beating non-Egyptians, journalists, amnesty workers and teachers. Now they are gearing up to punish the people fighting for their basic rights to live freely. And instead of retreating, they bring onions to put over their mouths to cover the tear gas and work without sleep in the makeshift hospital in the lobby of the mosques.

Will you give all you can give
So that our banner may advance
Some will fall and some will live
Will you stand up and take your chance?
The blood of the martyrs
Will water the meadows of France!

…and journalists are reporting that they are afraid for tomorrow, a holy day in the Islam faith. They are afraid of what will happen in retaliation to the peaceful protestors, they are afraid of what the government doesn’t want them to see, doesn’t want them to report. And we wait here, around the world making spaghetti and meatballs, going to playdates and drinking wine while they fight for their lives.

Do you hear the people sing?
Singing a song of angry men?
It is the music of a people
Who will not be slaves again!
When the beating of your heart
Echoes the beating of the drums
There is a life about to start
When tomorrow comes!
When tomorrow comes!

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To Cairo, With Love

Posted on Jan 31, 2011 in Featured, Politics and Rants |

To Cairo, With Love

I’d been traveling about five months when I got to Cairo on a eerie late afternoon during Ramadan. Americans had been advised to avoid the mid-east region and I’d gotten out of a scary situation in Istambul just days after the USS Cole had been bombed in Yemen. I had chosen Cairo as a safe place to lay low until the high drama of the attack settled down. It also happened to be election time at home in the US and there was a lot of ridicule flinging around the media and streets. I’d heard that in Cairo, I’d be safe.

I landed in Cairo, and, as I walked through the airport, heard an American voice. As a rule traveling, I avoid Americans at all costs. It wasn’t until I walked by him that I realized the man was calling my name. I was, quite literally, shaking and just walked right past him. He stopped me, gave me his card and I kept walking. The card was white and crisp with dark blue writing. It was from the US Embassy in Cairo. They were waiting for me. I think. I’m sure they were there to help. I think. I’m sure they wanted to ensure my safety. I think. I’ll never know, because I bolted as fast as I could, making my way through a rough customs transition and into a parking lot where a man grabbed my backpack, offering a taxi and instead tried to ram his tongue down my throat. Even that didn’t convince me to turn back toward the American dude calling my name. Forget that. I was safer with the Egyptian French-kissing hoodlum.

I’d been sick for a few weeks with a parasite. It took me awhile to figure out that it was something I needed real medical care for and I chose to check in to the best hotel I could find. I loved traveling, but a girl’s got to get a bubble bath and a doctor every now and again. I found myself in the street during an insane rush hour in Cairo. In the middle of the street stood a tall, broad Egyptian man. To this day, I refer to him a “Abuud,” although I never knew his name. He took my backpack, wrapped himself protectively around me, screamed at cars between us, and walked me to the door of The Four Seasons hotel. Finally, I felt safe. Safe in Cairo.

Despite being the season of Ramadan, I was taken care of beautifully over the next several days. I went on a pre-arranged date with a very nice grad student, and despite the fact he took me to “TGI Fridays” on the Nile (no joke), I had a wonderful time. I received medical care from a serious doctor and her nurse. I walked the streets without fear, tried foods, bought goods and drank warm Coke. I laughed at the insanity of the cars bolting without order through the streets, and watched the  seemingly organized chaos between people in the stores and grand mall. I was not afraid of the military presence; I liked it. I wrapped myself in the beautiful sound of the call to Muslim prayer and the pure, unfaltering dedication to faith and fasting. I found Cario to be crazy, beautiful, western, eastern, unique.

southern egypt

Happy somewhere in southern Egypt

I traveled to the southernmost part of the country and up the Nile and was struck by the stench and dirtiness of the Nile. I asked about public service announcements that droned on and on — they were to warn Egyptians to not bathe or wash clothes in the Nile. The contamination was causing disease and death. The more remote, the sadder I became. I drove through rural desert,  often, with military stops ensuring my safety. This was not Cairo. Not so safe.  Area after area was filled with extraordinary history, mind-blowing artifacts and edifices,  combined with desolate poverty and signs for Internet cafes. It became confusing.

I had one moment in time where I became angry. I saw a man hitting his children after I’d given them pencils, candy and small Legos. I watched him beat two of them, throwing — literally throwing — one of his children into a makeshift house. The children had black in their mouths, ripped jeans, no shirts. They smelled. I made eye contact with a couple of kids and my adrenalin starting rushing. I saw a nearby white delivery van. I thought I’d steal the kids, throw them in the van, pay with my big American dollar bills, my jewelry, whatever and beg the driver to scram. I’d drive to the embassy and claim refugee status for the kids. I’d adopt them, bring them home and raise them with dental care, clothes and vows that in my home, there would be no beatings by a half-dressed uneducated man. But reality hit me as the van drove off –– it is not my place to force my reality onto those of anyone else.

It still isn’t.

I’ve been watching the destruction of Cairo and Alexandria for seven days — the images of places I’ve been, streets I walked, people that all look familiar. I watch the protests against their leader and against our own leader for not renouncing the Egyptian government and I can’t help but think of that day in Abu Simbel where I learned that my reality is not the reality of others. I know that everyone is awaiting what America will do for the Egyptian people, but the truth is the same today as it was for me in that small town: the Egyptian people must take care of their own reality and we must ensure we are doing our best to respect their quest without forcing our democratic style on them.

The good people, like my “Abuud,” will rise to the top. Those are not the looters, the burners of buildings. The true Egyptians are making human road blocks to protect their national treasures, their history, their culture and museums. The good people of Egypt are where I choose to focus my mind this week. As the city burns and the protests become uprisings and the government becomes uprooted, I am reminded how safe I felt in Egypt, how strong the people are, how full of faith and history the Egyptian youth are. I choose to remember my love of Egypt and how dearly I hold it in my heart today and hopefully, can show to my own children someday, in-tact, full of freedom and peace.

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