About those college loans

sea wall Santa Barbara Harbor
Flags along the seawall at Santa Barbara harbor. Photo is from my summer beach vacation.

Whatever you think about forgiving college loans, something jumped out at me on Twitter yesterday.

There were a lot of people on Twitter in favor of college loan forgiveness who are pompous elitists. I was going to use stronger language but I stopped myself.

Here is one of the tweets I saw:

She implied that a person who didn’t go to college is lazy and partied their senior year. Also, that a college graduate is “more understanding and well-rounded.”

Someone else tweeted that a nail salon owner took PPP money “wink wink” to pay her staff. Does this person believe shop owners aren’t honest? Seems judgmental to me. But then I’m being judgmental also.

Someone else commented that people who decided not to go to college in favor of working SHOULD have taken out a loan.

I saw over and over that college is the only path to a success for an enriched life.

I know many people who did not go to college. For example, in my high school graduating class probably 25% went to college. That estimate is probably too high. Our small town was filled with small businesses and farmers.

Our good friend who died Thanksgiving night never went to college. He was hardworking and spent his days managing and fixing up his 300-plus rental units. He enjoyed his work. He had two adult kids he loved to travel with. Would his life have been better with a college education?

I have another friend who owns a construction company who ironically builds buildings at California universities. He has a waterfront home with a yacht parked out front at his private dock. He and his wife have kids and grandkids who fill their life with joy. They spend their summer weekends on their boat at an island that they helicopter back and forth to. Would he have been better off going to college?

Another friend has owned several auto mechanic and tire shops. He and his wife are proud of their family and work hard at their business. They devote their free time volunteering at their church.

My point in this rant is that college is not the only path to success or a life filled with joy. I have a college education because it was never an option in my family not to go. My dad was first generation college grad with his parents immigrating from Finland. On my mom’s side, I’m not sure how many generations went to college. My great-grandfather owned a printing press and a newspaper. My husband’s grandmother was in the first class at UCLA that graduated women. So, yes, our kids were off to college, too.

In my humble opinion, college does not guarantee success nor happiness. Life is what you make of it.

Do you have any thoughts about the college loan forgiveness? How about whether a college education makes you a more understanding person as I read on Twitter?

The desert in bloom

We went away for the weekend to Puerto Penasco and came back home to warm weather and the desert busting out in bloom. What I’ve discovered is the blooms don’t last long. One day a cactus may have a gorgeous flower — the next day it’s gone.

I’m amazed at how many flowers are in blossom in the Sonoran Desert.

I have a little plant guide from the McDowell Sonoran Preserve called “Wildflowers” that categories native blossoms by color. I’m doing my best to use the book to identify the plants.

Here are blooms I saw during my morning walk:

Hedgehog cactus in bloom.
Palo verde tree in bloom.
budding hedgehog cactus
Buds on a hedgehog cactus.
purple blossoms.
This looks like Desert Hyacinth according to the wildflower book. But since it’s in a yard, it might not be a native desert plant.
Century plant with tall bud
The neighbor’s Century Plant keeps getting taller, but hasn’t blossomed yet.
red blooms on hedgehog cactus
Another blooming hedgehog cactus.
red flowering desert plant
I’m not 100% sure but the closest I could find is called Hackberry Beardtongue.
Honeysuckle orange blooms
Honeysuckle in my back yard.
Pink Fairy-duster pink blooms
Pink Fairy-Duster. Isn’t that a great name?

Red Four O'Clock
Red Four O’Clock

What is blooming in your neighborhood?

Thoughts about women’s athletics

women's swimming meet poster
My daughter featured on a women’s swimming meet poster for her University.

You’ve all heard about the controversy swirling around transgender Lia Thomas winning events at the Ivy League and NCAA championships.

First, as Kaitlyn Jenner said, Thomas isn’t breaking any rules — she followed NCAA stated rules. Jenner also said it’s not fair for someone who went through male puberty to compete against women. They are taller and stronger. They have bigger hearts, lungs, feet and hands. Those things don’t change with hormone suppression.

The swimmer who got bumped out of finals by one place (she was 17th and there are only 16 spots) wrote a letter to the NCAA. She’s supportive of Thomas but thinks the NCAA rules are not fair. I read she was banned from Twitter for expressing her opinion.

I know several women swimmers who competed against Thomas at the Ivy League champs and NCAAs. I watched them when they were young race against my daughter. The woman who got second place at the Ivy Leagues Champs to Lia Thomas in the 1,650 (the mile) used to race my daughter in So Cal. She was younger and would be in the lane next to my daughter, drafting at her hip. My daughter couldn’t shake her but would touch her out in the end and say “Who is that?!”

I feel for this young woman who lost the title of Ivy League Champion. I wonder how her parents feel?

Prior to 1972 and Title IX, there were few opportunities for women in college sports. Since then, we’ve taken women’s athletics for granted. Yet 50 years ago, most colleges didn’t have women’s sports.

I’ve interviewed swimming stars and coaches for my website socalswimhistory. One story is about Bonnie Adair, the Loyola Marymount head swim coach who as a swimmer held 35 National Age Group records. She talked about when she was college age and there weren’t many teams for women swimmers.

Her freshman year of college was pre-Title IX, and there were limited opportunities and college programs for women. She was training with Jim Montrella for the ’72 Olympic Trials and didn’t want to change up her training regime, so her freshman year she was a commuter at UC Irvine and lived at home with her parents. She said during those days she swam 11 practices a week and lifted weights. 

Looking back, she said it was unfair that the women stayed at home and didn’t get to experience college life.

“All of a sudden when school began, there would be all girls in our training group. The fast guys went off to swim at UCLA and USC. We were freshmen and sophomores in college, and we stayed with our club team to train. We lost that experience of being a freshman away at college.”

https://socalswimhistory.com/2017/02/03/bonnie-adair-held-35-national-age-group-records/

Prior to the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles, women weren’t allowed to compete in the marathon.

When I was in high school, one of my friends and I joined the Boys Golf Team because there wasn’t a girls team. We went to practice every day, but we never once got to compete in a match. We were not the worst players, either.

My daughter and her friends who swam, put in years of hard work and sacrifice beginning at age five. They benefitted so much from swimming and being part of a team. I’m glad my daughter had that experience. I hope that other women get the same experience, too.

What are your thoughts on women’s sports? Did you know how limited the opportunities were 50 years ago? What are your experiences with women’s sports as a mom or competitor?

You know you’re officially old when….

Video of Alexandra and Christy Simpson playing viola during our Christmas vacation.

My son’s girlfriend’s sister is playing in a concert in Scottsdale. She and another sister will be staying with us. I looked up the concert and guess what?

I only knew one of the artists listed as headliners for the four-day concert. How did that happen? I don’t feel like an old fogey. I used to be really into music. I kept up with music when my kids had their ipods. We listened to the radio driving to and from school and the pool.

We had a huge music festival called Coachella near our old home. My kids would go. We had friends of our kids stay with us for the concert, too. I knew the headliners if not the lesser known groups.

Here’s a link to our guest’s website with her bio and videos. She promised to play for us while she’s here since the concert she’s playing in is sold out. We’re so excited and have invited neighbors to join us for our own private concert.

Here’s the list for the upcoming concert. How many do you know?

DIPLO

With Special Guest

COLE SWINDELL

SAM HUNT

With Special Guest

RUSSELL DICKERSON

MACKLEMORE

With Special Guests

QUINN XCII AND AYOKAY

KYGO

With Special Guests

SAM FELDT AND FORESTER

Do you keep up with current music? Or do you prefer to listen to music from your youth?

Christmas crew in Santa Barbara

It’s that time of year….

I’ve noticed changes during my morning walks. A few homes have Christmas decorations. Because of our desert locale, the decorations are so very different than the ones I’d see in Southern California. In both homes, we were in the Sonoran Desert, but this end of the desert is wild, while Palm Springs was tamed and manicured. The yards and decorations in Palm Springs were traditional strings of lights along eves and a few inflatable Santas.

The weather has gotten colder and cups are placed on cactus (cacti?) in our new neighborhood. The cactus can freeze and die from the top. That’s why we use styrofoam cups to give them a little insulation. We moved here December 15 last year and I was spending countless trips to grocery and hardware stores unable to find anything styrofoam. Amazon to the rescue.

cactus wearing styrofoam cups for the cold weather
The community cacti are decked out in styrofoam to protect them from cold weather.

saguaro cactus wearing Santa caps.
A neighbor has dressed up their saguaro in Christmas hats. I like the simplicity.
Christmas decorations in the Sonoran Desert.
This yard is all decked out!
Reindeer and Santa light display.
I’ll have to go back at night to get the full effect of this display.
Cactus with cups
Another cupped cactus.

What type of displays do you see in your neighborhood? Do you think there are more or less displays than pre COVID days? Do you put up lights or decorations?

My one Christmas decoration out besides poinsettias. I bought this in the 1990s at Target and love it.

Thoughts on the Time Change

Golden Gate Bridge view from Marin Headlands.

This is the first year of my entire life that we didn’t change our clocks. It turns out Arizona doesn’t fall back or spring forward. I’m thrilled. This time of year my body naturally starts to wake up earlier. I like having the extra time in my mornings. Then bam! We have to change our clocks and I’m back to waking up what feels like early — but it’s really not. Does that make sense?

My husband went to the Bay Area this weekend to move my son and his girlfriend from their tiny apartment into a more spacious house. They had been in the apartment for five years and my son was stressed. He said this felt like the first time he’s really moved. He explained that his earlier moves were to college into a dorm room, from a dorm room to a co-op and finally into the apartment in the Bay Area. He didn’t have much to move besides books and clothes. After five years he now has “stuff.” Big stuff like a desk, bed, dresser, a full kitchen with stuff like a rice cooker, dishes, pots and pans — and a plethora of plants.

My husband called me in disbelief after driving to Uhaul. The moving truck my son reserved wasn’t available. It turned out all the vehicles at Uhaul had their catalytic converters stolen! They had to drive two towns away to get a Uhaul — and they lost valuable hours. Welcome to the Bay Area!

I had a quiet weekend writing and reading. I really enjoyed my time alone. Here’s to Week 2 of NaNoWriMo.

What are your thoughts about the time change? Do you adjust to it easily or do you find it a pain?

Tweet from Arizona Senator Sinema.
A tweet from our Arizona Senator about the time change.

Are parents harming kids by posting pics online?

Tiger and pumpkin Halloween kid pic
The first Halloween for my kids together.

What do you think the long term outcome will be for parents posting every moment of their kids’ lives on social media?

I’m not pointing fingers, because yes, I was guilty of this myself.

Do you remember when once a year relatives or close friends would come over and the slide projector and screen would come out? Or, when you sat with a bowl of popcorn on the carpet with the cousins at your grandparents house watching old slides of your parents?

For decades parents have loved to photograph their kids. That’s because our kids are the most gorgeous and special human beings on the planet. Even Lucy took lots of photos of Little Ricky. There’s an episode about that.

I took tons of photos of my kids when they were babies and toddlers. I took less and less as they got older until our phones got cameras. I was guilty of taking photos whenever I could. And posting them on Facebook. Now, I don’t take as many photos of my kids, because when we’re together, I just want to be with them in the moment. And I’m not as active on Facebook, either.

I wrote the following post six years ago wondering what would happen when parents post photos of their kids all the time. Well, six years later, we’ve seen plenty of negative things. Some positive, too. Did we have “influencers” six years ago? When you read the excerpts of the articles I included, please remember they are dated. But they were already seeing issues.

Post from October 2015:

First Christmas photo shoot with a real photographer for my baby girl.
First Christmas photo shoot with a real photographer for my baby girl. ‘Kat in the Hat.”

Thank goodness we didn’t have Facebook when my kids were young. We barely had internet. We had a modem and I could send files of work to a printer. There was no way to share every minute detail and selfie of our day. Instead, I took my film downtown to the photo shop that made double prints. Then I wrote a card or letter by hand to my mom or dad and inserted the photos and mailed them the old fashioned way. Here’s the end result of my old fashioned film and camera. A closet with shelves filled with photo albums.

Stacks of photo albums in a closet
A few of my photo albums, filled with real live pictures.

My fear is that we are raising kids who think they are more self-important than they really are. Their every move is recorded and shared with the world. As they grow older and have their own Instagram, Snapchat etc. will they try harder and harder to get noticed? Will the photos get more outrageous and provocative? Look at me????

Christmas photo shoot 1996.
Christmas photo shoot 1996.

I’ve been reading articles about this phenomenon. Here’s a related article I wrote on whether or not our kids get too much glory. Following are some excerpts and links from CNN and US News. Some report skyrocketing anxiety and depression as a result of too much social media.

“The 2014 National College Health Assessment, a survey of nearly 80,000 college students throughout the United States, found that 54% of students reported experiencing overwhelming anxiety in the past 12 months and that 32.6% “felt so depressed that it was difficult to function” during the same period. The study also found that 6.4% had “intentionally, cut, burned, bruised or otherwise injured” themselves, that 8.1% had seriously considered suicide and that 1.3% had attempted suicide.

Ease up on the pressure. Do we really have to be noticed all the time? Does every second have to be a beauty contest? Our kids need to stop feeling that they have to outperform their peers every minute of every day. They need to know that they don’t have to market themselves constantly, and that social media can be a mechanism for fostering collaborative relationships — not a medium for fueling competition, aggression and irresponsible behavior that contributes to anxiety and depression.” More from CNN here.

Here’s another article with an interesting point of view on selfies and a teen’s self worth. Read more from US News here.

“Social media use can turn into a problem when a teen’s sense of self worth relies on peer approval, Proost says. Whether they’re posting from the football game bleachers or on a family vacation, teens can access social media anywhere and at all times. And because of the constant connection, it can be dangerous for young people overly concerned with others’ opinions. They may feel like they can never escape the social environment and are constantly faced with peer pressure.

“The mental health outcomes that we’re starting to look at now are things like body dysmorphic disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, depression and anxiety,” Proost says. “We are starting to see those things creep up and be related conditions to excessive [social media] use.”

If we know an overuse of social media can be fun, but also have consequences that negatively impact our children—why are we leading and feeding them down this road? 

Don’t get me wrong. I love FB. I’m learning Instagram. I LOVE that I’ve reconnected with friends and family and get to share in their lives. I say to keep an eye out for when it gets out of hand.

What are your thoughts on a generation of kids whose every move has been recorded and shared? Do you think moms should post photos of their kids all the time on social media? Do you think that has an effect on the children’s social media habits?