PodAt the end of yoga class in the juvenile justice center, everyone lays down for a rest. This week, to help the kids relax, I asked them to think of or imagine a place all their own, someplace comfortable, where no one would interrupt, where they were OK, just as they are. The room fell quiet.

Then one boy said, “Here.”

No one sniggered or lifted a head to see who said it.

He probably didn’t mean he liked being in jail. No one likes being in jail.  Who knows what’s going on in his life that would make incarceration seem better? Still, it was an acknowledgment of sorts. Not something you hear every day from an inmate.

An army of people run this place, teachers, tutors, counselors, lawyers, nurses, staffers. How many forgo better salaries in order to help young people untangle their problems? Kudos to all of them — kids included. When things go wrong in a kid’s life, really wrong, finding a way back is hard work.

It’s the dark season here in the Northwest. Sometimes, when skies are gray for the fifth day in a row, when my fingers ache with cold, it’s easy to forget to be grateful for the rain that’s finally come. Likewise, when kids make return appearances in detention for a second or third time, it’s discouraging; but maybe, sometimes, it’s what they need.

There was wisdom, too, in the boy’s response. Where is your special place? It’s here. It’s where we are, right now.

Wherever you are, whether it’s celebrating with people you love, dealing with challenges, or just going about your life, warm wishes on this American holiday of thanksgiving.




Tech for Troglodytes: News Flash — Carbonite and El Capitan

Do you use Carbonite to back up your files? Do you have a Mac and did you recently update to El Capitan? If you answered no to any of those questions, thank you for visiting, and maybe Scribbler can be of help sometime in the future.

If you answered yes to all three — news flash.

El Capitan, OS X 10.11.1 and Carbonite aren’t jivving very well. Don’t worry. Backups are going fine, but for the time being at least, getting to files is an issue. Example:

Me: Are my photos safe and secure on Carbonite? Let’s find out.

Click on Carbonite Preferences on my toolbar:

Screen Shot 2015-11-01 at 3.56.31 PM

Click on “Restore” which should show me what Carbonite has backed up. Wait! What’s this? Nothing there? Hmm. I must have messed up somehow.

Screen Shot 2015-11-01 at 3.58.31 PM


Actually, no, no mess-up on my part. This is a glitch between El Capitan and Carbonite. For the time being, there is only one way to restore files. It is not from the toolbar. It is from System Preferences. Carbonite is on the case, but in the meantime, here’s the workaround:

Hover over the apple symbol in the upper left corner of the screen, click System Preferences.

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Click on the tiny grid symbol at the top of the screen about 1/3 of the way from the left:

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It’s in the middle of this picture.

Now click on the Carbonite lock symbol in the bottom left corner.

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See it? Bottom row on the left

Re-click on “Restore,” and …

Screen Shot 2015-11-01 at 4.28.33 PM

There they are.

Lesson: when something doesn’t make sense, especially right after a new operating system is rolled out, there usually is an answer, it’s usually simple, and it usually has nothing to do with anything we’ve done or not done. Cheers —

BPA in receipts: Five ways to reduce your exposure

A buddy warned me not long ago, to avoid handling cash register receipts because they cause cancer. True or false?


Mores studies are needed, but probably true.


Lowdown: Bisphenol A (BPA) is used to line aluminum cans, in medical equipment, food packaging — and in heat-sensitive paper used for ATM, business and store receipts.  BPA and chemically similar compounds mimic estrogen, potentially causing health problems, including increased risk of cancer, heart disease and diabetes.

BPA is absorbed through the skin, and cashiers who handle receipts without gloves have elevated levels of BPA in urine samples. Absorption may be aided by lotions and sunscreens designed to breakdown dermal barriers. Substituting Bisphenol S (BPS) is not a solution. It causes similar problems, and lingers longer in the environment.

What to do: 

  1. Ask for an electronic receipt
  2. Wash hands after handling receipts
  3. If you are a cashier, wear gloves
  4. Support companies who stop using BPA and BPS. Appvion, Inc. has developed receipt paper that uses vitamin C as a thermal developer, and at least one grocery chain, PCC Natural Markets , has gone BPA and BPS-free.
  5. Push for more studies by the EPA and the FDA to determine how much exposure to BPA is safe.

Red fibers are added to help consumers identify this as BPA and BPS-free paper. Photo source: Fast Company.

High Heels

Forgive me Nordstrom for borrowing your ad, but OW. What is the appeal?


When we’re traveling, it’s amazing how many women we see wearing high heels — even stewardesses. That can’t be fun on a red-eye. They are the ones shimmying in and out of their shoes, and standing on one foot to relieve the other, as if they need to relieve something else.


Louis XIV wore them first.

There are benefits to heels: they make you taller, and stilettos, like the daggers they are named for, double as weapons. High heels show off calf muscles and force  a hips-forward, butt-wiggling gait, signaling you-know-what. Men are appreciative. Heels also signal status. You can’t wear five-inchers if you work in the fields, or have to walk miles to get home. You could argue that tall shoes support the economy. Nobody can wear a pair of those Kate Spades more than once before moving on to something more conducive to locomotion. At $350 a pop, that’s an impressive pump.

But don’t tell me high heels are comfy, or practical, or a sign of power and independence. I’ve worn them, mostly when I was young, for special occasions. OK, and sometimes for work, way back when. At my first post-college job, one of my bosses asked how tall I was without, uh, those (indicates my shoes).

Photo on 10-14-15 at 9.40 PM.

My feet survived high heels, although my bunion bones are sensitive these days.

Maybe he was just curious.

Whatever was going on in those foot-binding Chinese mamas’ minds, recreates itself whenever anyone puts on a pair of sky-highs. What a commentary on human behavior, that we hobble ourselves. Heel, we say to dogs. Hmm.

Gun Control. Yep.

I know, I know, speaking up for gun control means opposing people who are armed, including a subset of psychopaths who might decide to shoot me.  Admittedly, that risk is remote — although we just hosted the fourth school shooting in our state since 1998, so not infinitely remote.

Gun fever here burns bright. One of our legislators, a gun-owning former prosecutor, was recently on the verge of a recall vote because he sponsored a background check law.  If someone like him struggles to tighten up laws, why even try?

After this week’s bloodletting, however, I’m ready to sound off, and so should the majority of Americans who agree. The psychopaths can’t shoot all of us. It’s time to:

  1. Track gun sales. 65% of US citizens agree.
  2. Ban automatic and semi-automatic weapons. 58% US citizens in favor. These guns are not for self-protection or hunting. These have one purpose: to kill people. They are also thrilling. I suspect automatic-weapon-high is one reason many fight to keep them.
  3. Ban assault-style weapons. 55% favor.
  4. Ban high capacity ammunition clips. 54% favor.

The Second Amendment is not under threat. Want a gun to protect your family from robbers? Great. Fearful of the federal government? Bogus. Assault weapons are tinker toys when up against a soldiers in Ohio or Nevada with joysticks and drones. Hunters — buy whatever rifles you want, as long as they don’t spray bullets.

Police in Great Britain, Ireland, Norway, Iceland and New Zealand don’t even carry guns.

If you haven’t seen this, here’s balm for the disheartened, courtesy of Australian stand-up comedian Jim Jeffries (if the link doesn’t work click here):

For those brave enough to fight for a ban on automatic weapons, bravo. Here’s my support, commitment and vote in favor.