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Topics - PowerMan72

The latest from CNN's The Frisky . . .

Link to CNN article

Rescued by knight with 'shining bank account'
By Wendy Atterberry, The Frisky

Recently, a wonderful, terrific, incredible thing in my life happened, but I'm still having a little trouble embracing the good news.

Two weeks ago, my husband of four months dipped into his life savings and paid off the remainder of my student loans.

This was no small feat, of course; the amount left on my loans for graduate school were big -- enough to finance a luxury car, or an extended trip around the world, or serve as a down payment for a small New York apartment.

Instead, Drew, my husband, used the money to pay off a debt I'd accrued before I even met him, a debt I lost plenty of sleep over wondering how I'd ever crawl out of.

That, in the end, I had this modern-day version of a knight-in-shining armor come rescue me, the damsel in distress, is something that's stirred a complicated mix of emotions in me, most prominent among them gratitude, but certainly a large dose of guilt and shame as well.

Back when Drew and I were just talking about marriage and no proposal had been made or a ring slipped on my finger, I made sure he understood what kind of "liability" he was dealing with. And a liability was exactly how I saw myself.

Financially, the only thing I could bring to a marriage was a big negative. In addition to student loan debt, I also had quite a bit of credit card debt, too, from the months of unemployment I'd been forced to live off plastic.

With an M.A. in English and a desire to make a living as a writer, of all things, I knew my earning potential was certainly limited. I also realized I'd likely be paying off debt for many years to come, and the financial contribution I could make to a household would be relatively small.

Sure, I could offer companionship, love, trust, humor, intimacy -- even my amazing banana bread -- but you can't hang your hat on that stuff; you can't pay a mortgage with knowing smiles and baked goods. And as much as marriage is built on the things I can offer in spades, in the end it's a financial institution, it's a merging of finances, and I'm a liability.

But Drew was steadfast. He wanted to marry me despite my debt, and he proposed. Before the wedding I managed to pay off my credit card debt and felt proud of that small accomplishment, but the amount of my remaining student loans still weighed on me. I worried that in this economy I could find myself unemployed and wouldn't be able to manage the minimum payments. I worried about having kids when I still owed so much money. I worried that my debt would hold Drew back from the prosperous future he deserves and that one day he'd regret marrying me.

"I don't want you to worry anymore," he told me shortly after the wedding. "Will you let me pay off your student loans?" The question came as a surprise -- until a few weeks earlier, I didn't even know Drew was in a position to pay them off at all and I still hadn't imagined such an offer. "It was my plan long before we even got engaged," he told me. "I always knew I wanted to pay off your debt once we married -- I just didn't want you to feel weird about it."

Here's the thing I learned: feeling weird outweighs feeling worried any damn day of the week. Yeah, I feel a little weird that my husband paid a large sum of money shortly after we married, like some odd kind of reverse dowry or something.

I feel weird that as an educated, 33-year-old independent woman, I didn't take full responsibility for my own bills. I feel weird that in letting my husband pay off my debt I might be reinforcing archaic gender stereotypes. But both of us knew all along that once we married, our finances would merge. His money would become our money; my debt would become our debt. It's something I warned him about. It's something he married me in spite of.

So, "weird" as it was to let my husband pay off my huge student loan debt, it would have been weirder to continue paying the exorbitant interest rates each month when we had the money to pay the whole thing off immediately. I let my husband pay off my debt and now we get to start our marriage with a clean financial slate.

Instead of paying hundreds of dollars a month towards my debt (I was paying more than double my minimum for the last year), I can add that money to my household contribution. Yeah, I feel a little weird about it all. But mostly? I feel incredibly grateful that after so much anxiety about love, money, and my future, things finally seem to be falling into place.

Just when I thought I was out of the hole, it seems now I'm indebted to the universe.
Sounds to me like Mom and Dad both participated in the "punishment". Why is only Dad being charged?!! Mom needs to be in a jail cell also. The kid(s) need Grandma and/or protective custody plus counseling. And lots of hugs, ice cream, and chocolate chip cookies. What a mess.


Father Accused of Waterboarding 4-Year-Old Daughter
Monday, February 08, 2010

Joshua Tabor, 27, of Yelm, Wash., allegedly beat the child before holding her head under water Sunday night in the family's kitchen sink, The News Tribune reported.

Tabor reportedly told a police officer that he and his girlfriend "held her down on the counter and submerged her head into the water three or four times until the water came around her forehead and jawline," according to the newspaper.

The suspect said he punished the girl for "refusing to say her letters."

Tabor, a soldier at the Lewis-McChord base in Tacoma, Wash., has been charged with second-degree assault of a child and is set to appear in court Feb. 16.

The suspect reportedly told police that his daughter was afraid of water "and was squirming around trying to get away from the water."

"Joshua did not act as though he felt there was anything wrong with this form of punishment," the police report said.

Tabor's girlfriend also told authorities that the girl had "severe bruising on her entire back" and had locked herself in a closet to hide from her father, the newspaper reported.

Oh no. Wars have been started for less than this . . .

20+ million men without access to wives + widespread poverty + an oppressive regime = TROUBLE.

Look out for a sharp spike in Chinese aggression after 2020. Very bad, and China is a nuclear power too.


Study: China faces 24M bride shortage by 2020

(CNN) --
Some 24 million Chinese men of marrying age will find themselves lacking wives in 2020, partly because of the country's one-child policy, which has led to the abortion of female fetuses, state media said Monday.

Sex-specific abortions have led to a large male population born since the 1980s, the China Daily newspaper said, citing a study conducted by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

The gender imbalance means that the next decade will see many intergenerational marriages: young men married to women much older than them, the study said.

China's Communist Party implemented the one-child rule three decades ago, amid fears that the country would not be able to feed a skyrocketing population. The policy has prevented about 400 million births, China Daily said.

Couples living in cities are barred from having more than one child, unless neither parent has siblings. In rural areas, the law allows for a second child under certain circumstances. And the guidelines are looser for ethnic minorities with small populations.

Enforcement varies, but usually takes the form of fines to discourage extra births.

The policy has curbed population growth, and has led to forced sterilization in some parts of the country, the U.S. State Department said. Because of a traditional preference for male heirs, many Chinese also have aborted female fetuses, according to human rights groups.

Even within the country, calls to overhaul the law have increased in recent years, China Daily said.

But China has said it will maintain its one-child policy for at least another decade.

Nearly 200 million Chinese will enter child-bearing age in the next 10 years, Minister Zhang Weiqing told China Daily two years ago. He said abandoning the policy during this period would cause "serious problems and add extra pressure on social and economic development."

"After the new birth peak ends, we may adjust the policy if there is a need," he said.

China's population, which stands at about 1.3 billion, is growing at the rate of 0.6 percent. It is expected to peak around 1.6 billion by 2050, the U.S. State Department said.
Main / Facebook Fun
Jan 07, 2010, 03:30 PM
I am having way too much fun with social networking. Earlier today, I updated my Facebook profile with the following quote:

Pat Robertson: "Feminism is a socialist, anti-family, political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians."

A short time later, I got this angry reply from a high school classmate that I have not seen in years . . .

"i have kept my mouth shut, or my fingrers from typing for days now. this i can't let go. it is comments and beliefs like this that keeps hate alive in our world. i am a women's studies major and a proud feminist. that DOES NOT mean that i am a lesbian or that i hate men. i happen to be married to a man i love very much and proud to be the ... See Moremother of 2 boys who i believe will be strong, loving, wonderful men one day. feminism does NONE of what mr. robertson says in his above quote. the overriding theme of feminism is equality. feminism does not state that all women should be lesbians or leave their husbands, blah blah blah. it states that women should have a choice. if you still have questions i'd be happy to share my feminist theory texts with you or just give you titles as i treasure the books and would hate to see them go up in flames in your book burning. reading your status honestly makes me sick to my stomach."

My response:

OK, so I will take you at your word that you are not a man-hater, a lesbian, or an opponent of traditional family/values. Unfortunately, many of the feminist icons, leaders, and thinkers are. Please challenge this so I can start posting quotes taken directly from feminist literature, most of which is still in use today - advocating the destruction of the traditional family, hatred of males, support of homosexuality, etc. That sort of leftist anti-male garbage makes me sick.
Main / Kids Tattooed By Parents
Jan 04, 2010, 02:34 PM
Can you say white trash?


Details emerge in Suggs' alleged domestic violence incident
By AARON WILSON, Landmark News Service
Published 12/08/09

GREEN BAY, Wis. - Baltimore Ravens Pro Bowl linebacker Terrell Suggs stands accused of pouring bleach on and delivering a blow to the chest of a Baltimore woman named Candace Williams during an alleged confrontation late last month, according to court records.

The league office is monitoring the situation under the NFL personal-conduct policy.

"We will look into it, but have no comment beyond that," NFL spokesman Greg Aiello wrote in an e-mail to the Times.

Suggs' attorney, Eric Gordon, didn't respond to an interview request Monday afternoon seeking comment.

Williams filed a complaint last Friday that led to a temporary restraining order being granted by the presiding judge that prevents Suggs from seeing her and mandates him to leave their home in Windsor Mill. The judge also ordered that Williams, 26, may drive Suggs' luxury sport utility vehicle while the matter is pending.

A hearing on the case is scheduled for Friday. Suggs hasn't been arrested or charged with a crime.

Meanwhile, Williams has requested that the NFL player be ordered to attend domestic violence counseling as well as be required to supply her with money for living expenses.

Per the complaint, Suggs allegedly struck Williams in the chest, threw a soap dispenser at her head and spilled a bottle of bleach on the woman and their son on Nov. 29.

The district court judge stated in his order that Williams' chest clearly had a mark on it.

Williams alleged in the filing that Suggs has caused her to previously suffer a busted lip, a broken nose, black eyes and bruises. Per the report, a rash was also caused on her son from the bleach.

Williams, who attended a boxing match in Las Vegas with Suggs earlier this year, claimed in the filing that she is Suggs' fiancée as well as the mother of his two children.

Suggs hasn't returned a telephone call and a text message seeking comment.

A three-time Pro Bowl selection, Suggs did not make the trip with the team for a 27-14 Monday night loss to the Green Bay Packers.

It's the third consecutive game that Suggs has missed since spraining his left medial collateral ligament during an illegal block by Cleveland Browns quarterback Brady Quinn.

According to Williams, the fight stemmed over a dispute regarding game tickets.

She wrote in her filing that that Suggs' best friend as well as his cousin were present during the alleged altercation.

Williams stated that Suggs was angered by not knowing who the tickets were for that she wanted to attend the Ravens' game against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

At first, Williams wrote, she thought Suggs was joking around with her. However, an argument and fight allegedly ensued with Suggs on the other side of a bathroom door that he "stiff-armed."

In the filing, Williams wrote: "So me, still thinking he's playing, I kick his arm off the door to close it, the whole time laughing thinking we're playing and he throws bathroom soap thing at my head."

Williams also wrote that Suggs cursed her and accused her of injuring his arm.

She acknowledged spitting on his chest in retaliation.

Then, Williams wrote that the former NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year knocked her down, grabbed her neck and held an open bottle of bleach above her while threatening to drown her with the cleaning product.

According to the report, the bleach spilled onto her and their son.

Then, Suggs allegedly told her to leave the residence before he went to the Steelers game.

The Ravens are aware of the court filing and are monitoring the case.

"We are aware of the situation and have discussed the matter with Terrell," Ravens senior vice president of public and community relations Kevin Byrne said Saturday when the news broke about the restraining order. "He will have his opportunity to tell his side of the story at a later date."

Weekly Countdown: A woman's place could soon be in the NBA
by Ian Thomsen

This will be the sports equivalent of putting a man on the moon ... and I'm not the only believer.
5 reasons to believe a woman will play in the NBA

• David Stern thinks it will happen. On Tuesday in the conference room outside his NBA office in Manhattan, I asked the commissioner whether we'll see a woman playing in his league someday.

"Sure," he said matter-of-factly. "I think that's well within the range of probability."

He went on to explain his reasoning as well as jokingly ask that I seek out other opinions, so that he wouldn't appear to be pushing this most progressive and liberating pursuit down the throats of his players, coaches and executives. But he knows, I know and now you know there is a good chance it's going to happen, simply because the most important man in basketball has hereby declared it could and should happen.

The context is important, because this was not some kind of pet project that he leaked to me. Last month an SI editor asked me to come up with several thoughts on professional basketball for the next decade, and one of my predictions was that a woman will be playing in the NBA. Then I decided to ask Stern about it. Last week I requested a meeting with Stern and I made sure to mention that I would be asking him about the possibility of a woman playing in his league, because I didn't want to catch him off guard. You'll be able to see that he had thought about this, and that he fully realized the impact of what he was saying.

How else was he going to answer such a question? If he'd said no -- that there will be no women playing in the NBA -- then he might have been viewed as criticizing or diminishing the talent of his own WNBA. Therefore, some will respond to Stern's declaration by accusing him of cynically trying to prop up the women's league.

My own impression is that Stern was not seeking to take on the goal of signing a woman to play in the NBA. But now that he has answered the question, I am certain he will embrace the mission.

Stern's entire career demonstrates that his perspective and ambitions eclipse the needs of the WNBA. If a woman were to play in his league -- and play well -- it would have the liberating impact of Jackie Robinson's 1947 breakthrough of baseball's color barrier, but on a much greater scale. This would make news around the world. Thanks to Stern's stubborn success in feeding NBA video to every continent, women almost everywhere would have access to and be personally inspired by the pictures of a woman playing in the league of Michael Jordan and LeBron James. It would be an athletic achievement without precedent.

I asked if we might see a woman playing NBA basketball within a decade.

"I think we might," said Stern. "I don't want to get into all kinds of arguments with players and coaches about the likelihood. But I really think it's a good possibility."

• It would be a huge story. "It would be a ridiculous story,'' agreed Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers, meaning that the level of interest would be preposterous. "It would be great for everyone ... if it can happen. The key is whether the person is playing, or is she just on the team? The story will die down if she's just on the team and not playing a lot. But if she is playing and helping the team improve and win, then it really is a huge story."

The ultimate goal of developing a woman player is an unexpected but natural progression for Stern, who has used social initiatives such as Basketball Without Borders -- in which NBA players run clinics and camps around the world -- to help grow his business internationally. The success of a woman player would introduce the NBA to enormous audiences who wouldn't otherwise have been interested.

"The public would be excited about it," said New Jersey Nets general manager and interim coach Kiki Vandeweghe. "Whether you're in China or Europe or Africa, basketball is a common language and it breaks barriers. It's a language that's spoken all over the world, and this is another barrier that it would bring down. It's exciting, and it's a logical next step."

The pursuit of "the first woman" will also create new respect for the WNBA. From now on every great player in that league will be viewed from a new perspective. Is she good enough to play with the men? What does she need to improve in order to make that leap?

Some NBA owners will be interested in hiring the first woman player, even if it's only to sell tickets. "That would work if you had the right woman, and particularly if she were a player who played," said Nets president Rod Thorn. "Initially it would be, 'Wow, I've got to see this, I never thought this would happen so I've got to see it ...' If she were a solid player and a contributor, then definitely it would help."

• Women's basketball continues to improve tremendously. When I asked Dallas Mavericks All-Star Dirk Nowitzki whether a woman could play in the NBA, he asked me if I was serious. I don't think he meant disrespect; it was just that he had never considered the possibility. "Skills-wise, yeah," he said, meaning they could shoot and handle the ball at an NBA level. "But physical-wise, it's tough. Even all the little guys are pretty strong in this league and pretty athletic."

Many in the league will doubt whether a woman can match the speed and strength of the world's best male players. "I don't think its going to be physically possible," said a league GM who asked to remain anonymous. "I think they have the necessary skill sets: If you give me the best of the best in the WNBA and put them on the (free throw) line with the best of the NBA, I think you'll see they shoot the ball as well as men.

"But think about the overall speed, athleticism and strength (in the NBA). They can't take the pounding, the wear and tear, the quickness, the strength. It's not possible for them right now. Why does (women's coach) Pat Summit at Tennessee have boy managers? It's because she wanted her team to play against the boy managers (in practice) because they're better than the girls on her bench. Many programs across the country have done that.

"I love the discussion, it's great for basketball and it doesn't hurt the NBA one bit. Would someone do it for PR? Maybe. But it's not going to happen. They can't play."

Stern acknowledged the skepticism while tempering it. "If you look at world records, let's say in track and field, you'll see how the women have moved up to what would have been records several decades ago for men," said Stern. "And you watch [the WNBA] and you see the shooting percentages, the passing and the like.

"An issue that I have is when you look at tennis, and this is the argument against me," continued Stern. "As great as the women are, and actually in some cases I think their serves are served at a higher speed than men on the tour, like Serena's (Williams) first serve --you still get the sense that they wouldn't do well on the men's side of the tour.

"But in basketball, where it's a five-person game and you have zones and you can do a variety of other things -- a fast person with a good shot that can play on the team? I think we could see it in the next decade or so ... I'll leave it to the real experts to talk about the muscle factor. But there's going to be a very strong woman who has all the moves, who's going to want to play, and she's going to be good."

Thorn emphasized that the terms of the debate will continue to change because women players keep improving. "I'm a fan of the WNBA -- I go to games, I watch games -- and the athletic ability of women basketball players has made such a jump up in the last five or six years it's unbelievable," said Thorn. "I don't think it's a complete leap of faith to say somewhere down the road someplace there may be somebody that's good enough to play.''

Who is to say that the women's equivalent of LeBron James won't show up as a freshman at Tennessee or Connecticut four or five years from now? By launching the discussion now, Stern will has abruptly created an environment in which pro and con will hash it out, and in that way the league will prepare itself eventually for the day when a woman shows up for the opening of NBA summer league in Las Vegas.

• NBA rules changes have opened the door. This discussion would not have been possible a decade ago, when the NBA enabled a more physical style of play on the perimeter 15 feet beyond the basket. "With the hand check, the strong defenders could just stop you," said Thorn, 68. "K.C. Jones -- I remember him my first year in the league -- he would put his hand on your waist and just move you wherever he wanted to move you. Now if you tried that, you'd have three fouls before you'd get started and you'd be on the bench."

Now when you see smaller NBA guards running free on the three-point line, think about whether an athletic woman could do the same things. "That was designed to create opportunities for skilled players," said Stern of the abolition of hand-checking. "So the question becomes: When the woman comes with the high skill set, will she be able to play? And I think the answer is yes, I think so."

The model may be WNBA MVP Diana Taurasi, the 6-foot swingman who led the Phoenix Mercury to the league championship. She can shoot, handle the ball, she's strong and -- as important as anything -- she is aggressive. In order to overcome the physical deficiencies, the first woman in the NBA would be a terrific shooter and ballhandler with the vision to make plays for others, and she would have to be fearless and confident and outrageously athletic, by WNBA standards.

"But you don't know" said Vandeweghe."We have a lot of guys in our league who are specialty players -- they come in and can just flat shoot it. Who's to say that somebody from the WNBA couldn't do the same thing?"

Much as Branch Rickey carefully chose Jackie Robinson to break the color barrier based on his skills as well as his temperament, so is Stern likely to urge his teams to be patient in making sure the first woman is equipped to succeed. Maybe she'll be the next generation of Los Angeles Sparks star Candace Parker, or Tamika Catchings of the Indiana Fever.

"I wouldn't say it's implausible because I think people have been saying that about different groups of people forever and they've been proven wrong," said New York Knicks president Donnie Walsh. "I'm sure there'll be a girl who'll be on this level, and if there is, she'll probably play in the NBA.

"I look at the WNBA games and I'm amazed at how good these girls are," continued Walsh, 68. "I told Larry Brown once, 'I think they're better than you and I were in college.' He got mad at me, but I was serious. I said, 'Larry, they're just like we were. They play under the rim, they're not jumpers, they can't dunk and all that. But they know how to play and they can drive, they can shoot. They're good.'"

• The first woman will be greeted with newfound respect. Ann Meyers Drysdale, now GM of the WNBA champion Mercury, remains the only woman to sign an NBA contract. She had been a three-time All-America guard at UCLA before signing in 1979 with the Indiana Pacers, who released her before that season.

"I had been liked by the media at that time," said the 5-9 Meyers, but that changed when she joined the Pacers. "I recall at the press conference that I was attacked pretty good by the media. You know: what are you doing, you're taking some guy's job, you can't compete, you're too slow, you're going to get hurt, you're too small, da-ta-da. But somebody gives you an opportunity, you're supposed to say no?"

It will be different this time because of players like Meyers Drysdale and Nancy Lieberman, who will coach the new NBA D-League franchise in Dallas after a playing career that included games in the men's minor-league USBL as well as on the summer league teams of the Los Angeles Lakers and Utah Jazz. The escalation of women's basketball over the last decade has made Taurasi and Parker stars in their own right, to the point that you now see LeBron James and Kobe Bryant attending U.S. women's games at the Olympics.

But it's important that the NBA get this right the first time. "If she was truly a full-time player rather than a modern day Eddie Gaedel," said Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban of the dwarf who played major league baseball in a 1951 publicity stunt, "it would be enormous."

Would the other players respect her?

"If she could play," answered Cuban. "If it was a marketing ploy, they would resent her taking a job."

That's why, in order for this to have universal meaning, I'm convinced Stern and the NBA will wait for the right player to come along. If she really is the LeBron James of women's basketball, then she'll be welcomed by the stars throughout the NBA, and in turn the best players on her NBA team will have no choice but to respect her.

If anyone is going to be nervous, it will be the opponents playing against her. "That's right, the guys trying to guard her won't want to get beat," said Dallas Mavericks assistant coach Dwane Casey. "I see the women's game coming closer and closer to the men's game. You see NBA coaches who are now coaching in the WNBA and you see them using a lot of the same principles -- offensive schemes, pick and roll, defensive sets. The physical part will be the worst for a woman, and it will be on defense more than anything else.

"But technically, all of the things they need are already there," said Casey, 52. "Before I leave this earth I'll see it -- or at least I'll be close to seeing it."
Main / Feminist books for five-year-olds
Dec 05, 2009, 06:32 AM
Oh, for the love of God! That poor little boy . . .

Feminist books for five-year-olds

Amazing guy -- but I'm just not into him
By Justine Fields

(The Frisky) --
Aren't we single ladies always on the quest to find the perfect man? Just yesterday, I was on that quest. And then I met him. For the sake of this post, let's call this perfect man John.

John is smart, nice, good-looking, Jewish (which matters a lot to my mother), and would spoil me rotten as my boyfriend. He's not just your average amount of smart; he's employed at a top Web company (one you use on a regular basis) and is destined to be more successful than anyone I know.

He's not just your average amount of nice; he has mastered chivalry to a T and is so caring that it makes my judgmental soul squirm. And he's also not just sort of good-looking. Rather, every time one of my friends meets him, their first response is: "Wow, John's hot." I can totally tell they're eying him for themselves.

Oh, and did I mention that John's after me like Tyra on the search for "America's Next Top Model"?

I should be in heaven, right? But I'm not. Because as perfect as he is, John just doesn't make me want to rip my clothes off. And I don't know why.

I just don't have an inkling of a crush on John. Despite all of my friends thinking he's handsome, I don't find him all that attractive. I try to take a step past the superficial and focus my attraction on his kind nature and gifted mind, but it's not working.

We've had lunch dates at my favorite eateries (he even sacrificed meat for one meal to dine with me at my favorite vegetarian restaurant) and spent late nights talking. We even took a trip to the local farmers' market and he paid for my breakfast burrito -- around my parts, it doesn't get more first date than that. Plus, we've also had the usual unexpected run-ins on the street and in each instance the butterflies just aren't fluttering. I'm just not that into him.

Well, that is, when I'm with him, I'm just not that into him. When I'm bored and daydreaming the day away (which is often), I am soooo into John. His looks, his charm, his success ... and he likes me?!?! Of course I have a crush on him when he's not around! He is my perfect guy.

But something is just not in sync when we're together. The birds don't sing, the sky doesn't shine a special kind of blue, and I'm not hoping that our time together will last forever. What else could I possibly want? Why aren't my hormones having the usual reaction to him?

Now at this junction, I could say that John couldn't possibly be the perfect man since I'm not attracted to him, but I just don't think it's possible to get more perfect than John. Any other guy would be a second-rate boyfriend. Comparing John to my past flings of cheaters and liars, he fairs like a golden god.

I get so frustrated and fed up with myself for wanting to pass up this ideal man, so I try to force myself to like him. And yet, even the thought of holding John's hand still makes me feel like a pre-teen embarrassed to hold her mom's hand when crossing the street.

It's been about a month and I'm not sure how much longer I can go leading John on before it's just terribly cruel. I don't want to hurt him. But at the same time, I'm not ready to give up. I think we could have a future, but only if we take it baby steps at a time.

It makes me think of that scene in "The Wedding Planner" when Jennifer Lopez's father explains that when he first met her mother he had to grow to like her, then lust after her, then love her. But it's an absurd comparison because (a) her father had a pre-arranged marriage to someone he didn't know and (b) it's a J.Lo movie.

I'm fully aware that I might come off as a crazy person right now, but let's stick to the cliché that love (or hopeful love) makes people do crazy things.

Google apologizes for results of 'Michelle Obama' image search
By Saeed Ahmed, CNN

(CNN) --
For most of the past week, when someone typed "Michelle Obama" in the popular search engine Google, one of the first images that came up was a picture of the American first lady altered to resemble a monkey.

On Wednesday morning, the racially offensive image appeared to have been removed from any Google Image searches for "Michelle Obama."

Google officials could not immediately be reached for comment.

Google faced a firestorm of criticism over the episode. First, it banned the Web site that posted the photo, saying it could spread a malware virus. Then, when the image appeared on another Web site, Google let the photo stand. When a Google image search brought up the photo, an apologetic Google ad occasionally appeared above it.

The ad redirected users to a statement from Google which read, "Sometimes Google search results from the Internet can include disturbing content, even from innocuous queries. We assure you that the views expressed by such sites are not in any way endorsed by Google."

The California-based company then explained that search results rely on computer algorithms that take into account thousands of factors.

"The beliefs and preferences of those who work at Google, as well as the opinions of the general public, do not determine or impact our search results," it said.

The company said that the integrity of its search results is extremely important.

"Accordingly, we do not remove a page from our search results simply because its content is unpopular or because we receive complaints concerning it."

A user alerted Google to the picture via an online help forum two weeks ago.

The altered image can be found here, although clicking on this link will take users to a photo that many will find offensive.

The Internet was abuzz Tuesday and Wednesday with reaction to the image. Some online users demanded that the photo be blocked, while others said it should remain on free speech grounds.

"There is no way to defend this heinous incident," said a Twitter user who gave his name as Alheli Picazo of Calgary, Canada. "People often claim their right to free speech to mask blatant racism and insulting bigotry and always seem to get away with it," he told CNN via e-mail. "When it comes to issues of discrimination, hiding behind free speech just doesn't cut it."

A Twitter user who gave his name as Jerry Wright of Hoboken, New Jersey, disagreed.

"I am absolutely disgusted by this picture, but the Internet has thousands and thousands of offensive images. Should Google get rid of all of them? Where do you draw the line," he asked CNN via e-mail.

In 2004, Google posted a similar note of apology when a search for "Jew" pulled up anti-Semitic sites as top results.

Among the factors that Google uses to rank its results is how many sites link to an image or a Web page. Users have sometimes artificially inflated a search ranking through coordinated efforts, known as "Google bombing."

With Google letting the Obama image stand, a Twitter user who identified herself as Jill Harper of Indianapolis, Indiana, suggested a different tack: Point out the person who posted the photo.

"Instead of Google deleting the photo, there should be a campaign against the person who posted the photo," she said by e-mail. "Make a publicized attack noting the outrage of displaying such an offensive photo. This way, the person who posted it would feel the public outcry to pull the photo."

France to ban 'psychological violence' in marriage

(AFP) - 4 hours ago

France is to pass a law banning "psychological violence within the couple" and study the idea of tagging violent partners to prevent them stalking their victims, the government said Wednesday.

Prime Minister Francois Fillon announced the measures in a speech to mark the United Nations' tenth International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, promising legislation in the first half of nest year.

"It's an important step forward: the creation of this offence will allow us to deal with the most insidious situations, situations that leave no visible scars, but which leave their victims torn up inside," he said.

"And we are going to experiment with electronic surveillance measures on the Spanish model to monitor the effectiveness of restraining orders against a violent spouse," he added.

Spanish judges now have the power to force convicted a wife-beater to wear a watch-sized electronic bracelet that triggers an alarm if he gets too close to his former victim and gives her a chance to call the police.

Since June, 58 men have been tagged and police have been called 222 times.

Last year, 157 French women were killed by their husband or partner.
The Comments section is already filling up.



Child support rates outdated
But down economy could doom proposed overhaul
Published 11/08/09

State officials want to increase how much most people pay in child support, arguing that the current guidelines were developed in 1988 and no longer represent the real cost of raising a child in Maryland.

The math is just too old and children will suffer if the guidelines aren't updated soon, said Stacy L. Rodgers, deputy secretary for the state's Department of Human Resources.

But the push for change comes during hard economic times - when more and more parents are losing their jobs and asking the courts for permission to pay less in child support - and follows three similar attempts in the past eight years, all of which died in the legislature.

"It's difficult to have people in this economy pay more on anything," said Del. Samuel Rosenberg, a Baltimore Democrat and vice chairman of the House of Delegate's Judiciary Committee.

Almost 500,000 children across the state, including more than 13,800 in Anne Arundel County, are eligible for child support, according to state and county statistics. The median child support order in the county is $276 per month.

While pitching the state's child support agenda at a public hearing last week in Hanover, Rodgers said that most noncustodial parents should be paying more in child support.

She said the state's current guidelines -which are usually followed by county judges when they order child support - are based on how much it cost to live in 1988, when the average new car cost $10,400 and a gallon of gas cost $1.08.

"The guidelines have not kept pace with the cost of living," she told about two dozen people Thursday on the fourth stop of a six-stop tour of the state. She noted that Maryland ranks No. 1 in the nation when it comes to per-capita income, but falls to 41st in what parents pay for child support.

The new guidelines would increase the amount most noncustodial parents pay, some by a few dollars each month and others by hundreds. However, the lowest-income families - those with a combined family income of less than $1,400 a month or $16,800 in a year - would actually see their child support payments go down a little.

Rodgers said that it may sound "counterintuitive" for the state to recommend a noncustodial father pay less in 2009 than it would have recommended in 1988, but officials believe the move will encourage more parents to pay their child support.

Rodgers added that the state wanted to make sure its working poor were able to "maintain a minimum standard of living" while still paying their child support. She said that child support represents about 20 percent of a poor person's income, but only 16 percent of a wealthy person's income.

The proposed change - which requires approval by the legislature - would primarily affect new cases. The new guidelines would not be applied retroactively, but would apply to any modifications parents seek in the future.

Tough times

The economy is taking its toll on Maryland's families, state officials said.

According to statistics maintained by the county's Office of Child Support Enforcement, the number of noncustodial parents in Anne Arundel seeking decreases in their child support increased 43 percent between the first 10 months of 2008 and the same period in 2009. The number of custodial parents seeking increases in child support rose 35 percent at the same time.

Joseph A. Jackins Jr., executive director of the state's Child Support Enforcement Administration, also noted that the number of people paying their child support with unemployment benefits jumped about 67 percent between 2008 and 2009.

Rodgers acknowledged the economy is tough, but she still believed it was in the best interest of the state's children to modify the guidelines now.

Jackins added that the proposed changes will take time to implement.

"This is more of a vote for the future," he said.

Rodgers also discounted the state's past failures to update child support guidelines - which occurred in 2001, 2002 and 2009. She said in the past, the state proposed complex bills to change several things at once, including some issues that raised the ire of legislators.

"There were so many pieces that sometimes it was hard to get a consensus," she said.

This time, the state is focusing only on the basic guideline formulas.

Rosenberg said a similar bill to change how the state collects child support died in his committee last year because he and his colleagues thought it needed more work. He said he would give the changes "serious thought" this year.

Naysayers abound

There appears to be plenty who still need swayed, though.

Several fathers - some of whom attended Thursday's hearing in Hanover - said they can't make their current child support payments.

"I am hamstrung by the system," said Paul Young of Elkridge.

He noted that child support payments are already tied to how much parents earn and argued that is the best way to make sure parents are paying enough to support their children. And if the state must change the guidelines, he said, now is not the time.

"There is just too much uncertainty right now," he said.

Chris Storey of Laurel called the state's proposed changes "draconian."

"They seem to be arbitrarily adjudicated," he said, arguing that the state wants him to pay too much. "It doesn't cost that much to raise a kid."

Other people argued that the proposed changes in the guidelines are designed more to help the state recoup money than to help children of single parents.

Serena Holthe, a lawyer who works with poor families in Baltimore City, said most of the custodial parents she deals with have signed over their child support rights to the state in exchange for welfare money. If the state increases the guideline amounts, that will only increase how much noncustodial parents must pay the state, not how much the child receives, she said.

Others attacked the state for not going far enough with the proposed changes.

Robert Knisely of Severna Park argued the state should just link the guidelines to the Consumer Price Index. That way, he said, the state would apply cost of living increases or decreases every year rather than waiting 21 years to update the guidelines.

"The program ... doesn't make sense," he said.

Main / A Surprising Phone Call
Nov 05, 2009, 12:56 PM
I just spent 20 minutes on the phone with Glenn Sacks - Executive Director of Fathers & Families. It was a real honor to speak with him after following him all these years. It sounds like F&F is doing good work up in Massachusetts (e.g. HB1400 - Shared Parenting). Glenn says they just hired some paid staff, a full-time experienced lobbyist, are working to build out the organization, and eventually expand into other states. Really encouraging stuff that got me re-energized. If I wasn't broke as a joke right now I would definitely donate some money.

I think F&F is in good hands with Glenn on board.
*** LINK TO CNN ***

American jailed in Japan for trying to reclaim his children

TOKYO, Japan (CNN) --
Had this custody drama played out in the United States, Christopher Savoie might be considered a hero -- snatching his two little children back from an ex-wife who defied the law and ran off with them.

But this story unfolds 7,000 miles away in the Japanese city of Fukuoka, where the U.S. legal system holds no sway.

And here, Savoie sits in jail, charged with the abduction of minors. And his Japanese ex-wife -- a fugitive in the United States for taking his children from Tennessee -- is considered the victim.

"Japan is an important partner and friend of the U.S., but on this issue, our points of view differ," the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo said Tuesday. "Our two nations approach divorce and child-rearing differently. Parental child abduction is not considered a crime in Japan."

The story begins in the Nashville suburb of Franklin, Tennessee, with the January divorce of Savoie from his first wife, Noriko, a Japanese native. The ex-wife had agreed to live in Franklin to be close to the children, taking them to Japan for summer vacations.

Savoie in March requested a restraining order to prevent his ex-wife from taking the children to Japan, saying she had threatened to do so, according to court documents obtained by CNN affiliate WTVF and posted on the station's Web site. A temporary order was issued, but then lifted following a hearing.

"If Mother fails to return to Tennessee [after summer vacation] with the children following her visitation period, she could lose her alimony, child support and education fund, which is added assurance to Father that she is going to return with the children," Circuit Court Judge James G. Martin III noted in his order on the matter.

After that ruling, Christopher Savoie tried to have Martin recuse himself, as he was a mediator in the case prior to becoming a judge, said Marlene Eskind Moses, Noriko Savoie's attorney. But that request was denied, as Savoie earlier said he had no concerns about Martin hearing the matter.

Following the summer trip, Noriko Savoie did return to the United States, and Christopher Savoie then took the children on a vacation, returning them to his ex-wife, his attorney, Paul Bruno, told CNN.

But days later, on the first day of classes for 8-year-old Isaac and 6-year-old Rebecca, the school called Savoie to say his children hadn't arrived, Bruno said. Police checked Noriko Savoie's home and did not find the children.

Concerned, Savoie called his ex-wife's father in Japan, who told him not to worry.

"I said, 'What do you mean -- don't worry? They weren't at school.' 'Oh, don't worry, they are here,' " Savoie recounted the conversation to CNN affiliate WTVF earlier this month. "I said, 'They are what, they are what, they are in Japan?' " VideoWatch Savoie talk about how much he misses his kids »

The very thing that Savoie had predicted in court papers had happened -- his wife had taken their children to Japan and showed no signs of returning, Bruno said.

After Noriko Savoie took the children to Japan, Savoie filed for and received full custody of the children, Bruno said. And Franklin police issued an arrest warrant for his ex-wife, the television station reported.

But there was a major hitch: Japan is not a party to the 1980 Hague Convention on international child abduction. The international agreement standardizes laws, but only among participating countries.

So while Japanese civil law stresses that courts resolve custody issues based on the best interest of the children without regard to either parent's nationality, foreign parents have had little success in regaining custody.

Japanese family law follows a tradition of sole custody divorces. When a couple splits, one parent typically makes a complete and lifelong break from the children.

In court documents filed in May, Noriko Savoie denied that she was failing to abide by the terms of the couple's court-approved parenting plan or ignoring court-appointed parent coordinators. She added she was "concerned about the stability of Father, his extreme antagonism towards Mother and the effect of this on the children."

Noriko Savoie could not be reached by CNN for comment.

Bruno said he helped Christopher Savoie pursue legal remedies to recover the children, working with police, the FBI and the State Department.

"We tried to do what we could to get the kids back," Bruno said. "There was not a whole lot we can do."

"Our court system failed him," said Diane Marshall, a court-appointed parent coordinator who helped Savoie make decisions about the children. "It's just a mess."

But Moses, Noriko Savoie's attorney, told CNN that the children's father had other legal options.

The International Association for Parent-Child Reunion, formed in Japan this year, claims to know of more than 100 cases of children abducted by non-custodial Japanese parents.

And the U.S. State Department says it is not aware of a single case in which a child taken from the United States to Japan has been ordered returned by Japanese courts -- even when the left-behind parent has a U.S. custody decree.

Facing such statistics and the possibility of never seeing his kids again, Savoie took matters into his own hands.

He flew to Fukuoka. And as his ex-wife walked the two children to school Monday morning, Savoie drove alongside them.

He grabbed the kids, forced them into his car, and drove off, said police in Fukuoka.

He headed for the U.S. consulate in that city to try to obtain passports for Isaac and Rebecca.

But Japanese police, alerted by Savoie's ex-wife, were waiting.

Consulate spokeswoman Tracy Taylor said she heard a scuffle outside the doors of the consulate. She ran up and saw a little girl and a man, whom police were trying to talk to.

Eventually, police took Savoie away, charging him with the abduction of minors -- a charge that carries a jail sentence of up to five years.

Bruno said if the situation were reversed and a Japanese parent had abducted a Japanese child and fled to America, U.S. courts would "correct that problem, because it's a crime."

He said he has "concerns about Japan ... providing a place for people to abduct children and go to. The parent left behind does not have recourse." He added, "the president and his administration should do something to correct this."

The consulate met with Savoie on Monday and Tuesday, Taylor said. It has provided him with a list of local lawyers and said it will continue to assist.

Meanwhile, the international diplomacy continues. During the first official talks between the United States and Japan's new government, the issue of parental abductions was raised.

But it is anybody's guess what happens next to Savoie, who sits in a jail cell.
*** LINK TO ESPN ***

WOW! This one knocked me flat on my ass. How the hell did they derive that title from this story?!! Talk about misleading . . .

Tuesday, August 11, 2009
Report: Pitino says he paid for abortion news services

Louisville coach Rick Pitino told police that he had consensual sex with and paid for an abortion for the woman who has been charged with trying to extort him, the Louisville Courier-Journal reported on Tuesday.

Karen Cunagin Sypher was federally charged in April with demanding cars, tuition for her children and finally $10 million. Police interviewed Pitino, who is married, regarding the incident last month, and according to the newspaper, he said that he gave the woman $3,000 to have an abortion.

Police records obtained by the Courier-Journal show that Pitino said he had sex with the then Karen Cunagin at a Louisville restaurant where he had been drinking on Aug. 1, 2003. He denied Cunagin Sypher's allegations that he raped her at the restaurant and then again later at a different location.

Pitino told police that Cunagin Sypher called him about two weeks after the initial encounter and said that she was pregnant. They arranged to meet at the condominium of Louisville strength coach Tim Sypher, whom she did not know at that time but would later marry.

According to the police report, Pitino told her that he had five children and she had four, and that he didn't know what he wanted to do. Pitino said Cunagin Sypher had decided to get an abortion but claimed to not have health insurance. Pitino then gave her the $3,000. He told police that the two did not have sex at the condo or at any other location.

According to the report, Cunagin Sypher married Tim Sypher about six months later and, though she saw Pitino at team events, he claims there was never "any strange behavior." Cunagin Sypher and Tim Sypher are now estranged and divorce proceedings have been initiated.

The criminal complaint said Tim Sypher brought Pitino a written list of demands from his wife, including college tuition for her children, two cars, money to pay off her house and $3,000 per month. The demands later escalated to $10 million, the complaint said. Tim Sypher has not been charged in the case.

Cunagin Sypher reported the alleged rapes on July 9, about two months after she was indicted for extortion and lying to the FBI.

Sgt. Andy Abbott, the commander of the police department's sex offense unit, asked Cunagin Sypher during one interview why she waited until after she was indicted on the extortion charge to report her allegations.

She gave varying answers, according to transcripts, saying she wanted to forget about it, then that Pitino threatened her and finally that "they kept throwing crumbs to keep me happy." She didn't say what they were, the newspaper reported.

Abbott asked Cunagin Sypher in the interview why she was coming forward now, only after she was charged.

"Because ... where we are, it seems like retaliation," Abbott said.

"I know it does," Cunagin Sypher responded.

Cunagin Sypher told police she met Pitino at the restaurant and asked him to speak to her sons on the phone, which he did. She said the place's owner gave Pitino the keys at the end of the night and asked him to lock up when he left. She alleged that Pitino then forced himself on her.

In one of her interviews, Cunagin Sypher did not disclose that there was a witness to the event at the restaurant, Vinnie Tatum, an executive assistant to Pitino. According to Abbott's report, Tatum said he didn't see what happened but heard "only the sounds of two people that seemed to be enjoying themselves during a sexual encounter."

Louisville commonwealth's attorney David Stengel declined to prosecute the case in July.

Steven Pence, Pitino's lawyer, told Tuesday night that there is no reason why Pitino would take a leave of absence in light of the information from his client's police interview being made public.

"I can't see any reason why the coach would take a leave of absence for being victimized by a woman like this," Pence said. "He doesn't deserve to be punished for something he hasn't done. I can see no reason why he would take a leave of absence when he was being extorted. He has done nothing illegal."

Kenny Klein, assistant athletic director in charge of communications at Louisville, added that Pitino hasn't made any suggestion that he would leave the program. He said that athletic director Tom Jurich and the administration are behind Pitino.

Jurich said in a statement that "Coach Pitino has been truthful with us about this matter all along and we stand by him and his family during this process."

Louisville University president James Ramsey said his thoughts were with Pitino and his family.

"Several months ago Coach Pitino informed me about the alleged extortion attempt. I've now been informed that there may be other details which, if true, I find surprising," he said in a statement.

Pitino hired longtime friend Ralph Willard, former head coach at Holy Cross, to be his top assistant in June. But Klein said there was no indication when Willard was hired that he would take over for Pitino on an interim basis.

Pence told that Pitino's involvement in the case would only be for one day when he is called as a witness, adding that there will not be any legal burden on Pitino during the trial. The date of the trial is still pending.

"The coach is a witness," Pence said. "He's not subject to any penalty. He's not reporting to a probation officer. He's a witness. He'll show up one time and that will be it. This is not Pitino vs. Sypher. It's the United States government vs. Sypher."

At least one coach close to Pitino told Tuesday night that there was no reason to believe Pitino would step away from coaching.

"We will have this tried in court," Pence said. "We're not going to address the facts in this case until the time is right and that time right now is a pending federal trial."

Pitino isn't expected to make any public statements on the matter until he is in court.

Pitino is Catholic and brings along close friend and spiritual adviser, the Rev. Edward Bradley -- a priest in Henderson, Ky. -- on many team trips. Bradley often prays with the team before games and is a fixture near the Louisville bench.

There was no answer late Tuesday at the priest's office where he also lives.

Neither Sypher nor her attorney, James Earhart, immediately returned calls from The Associated Press seeking comment. Earhart told the Courier-Journal he hadn't received the records and couldn't comment.

The newspaper obtained the records under the Kentucky Open Records Act.

The case became public in April when Pitino released a statement saying someone had tried to extort him. Pitino said he reported it to the FBI, and Sypher surrendered to authorities a few days later when she was named in a criminal complaint. At the time, several media outlets declined to air interviews with Sypher about allegations against Pitino because they were personal and unsubstantiated.

Pitino just finished his eighth season with the Cardinals, leading Louisville to a 31-6 record and the Big East regular-season and tournament titles. The Cardinals lost to Michigan State in the regional finals of the NCAA tournament.

Pitino has coached two NBA teams. He went 90-74 with the New York Knicks from 1987 to 1989 and 102-146 with the Celtics from 1997 to 2001. senior writer Andy Katz and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Clinton snaps at student seeking husband's views

KINSHASA (AFP) - Hillary Clinton on Monday showed a rare flash of public anger on a trip to Africa as a student asked for her husband's views, putting him in his place by saying she is the United States' top diplomat.

At an open forum with young people in Kinshasa, a university student took the microphone and asked about the involvement of China and the World Bank in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

"What does Mr Clinton think about it?" he said to the befuddlement of the crowd.

Clinton replied in a forceful voice: "You want to know what my husband thinks?

"My husband is not the secretary of state, I am. You ask my opinion, I will tell you my opinion. I'm not going to channel my husband."

Clinton, whose husband Bill Clinton was president from 1993 to 2001, is a forceful advocate for women's rights and narrowly lost in her own bid to be the first female US president last year.

Bill Clinton has mostly stayed out of the spotlight as his wife represents the United States overseas, although last week he travelled to North Korea to negotiate the release of two detained US journalists.

Former president Clinton, who has actively promoted African development since leaving the White House, is not joining his wife for any part of her seven-nation tour of the continent.

Hillary Clinton has made women's rights a top priority on the Africa trip. She will head Tuesday to Goma, in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo, to meet survivors of soaring sexual violence.

Clinton said she would press President Joseph Kabila to take action, noting that some members of the Congolese military were responsible for the mass rape.

"We are now in the 21st century. It is no longer acceptable for there to be violence against women in the home or in the community," she told the students.

"People need to stand together against it," she said.

"I hope that here in the DRC there will be a concerted effort to demand justice for women who are violently attacked and to make sure that their attackers are punished."
Main / DNA Evidence frees 23-year inmate
Aug 08, 2009, 06:04 AM

And the beat goes on . . . Another man falsely accused and convicted of rape.
I don't get it. Rape is a very intimate crime. How could the "victim" not know that this was the wrong man?!! I suspect that she did know and simply didn't care.

Main / They grow up so fast!
Jul 21, 2009, 09:43 AM

It looks like our little Amber is all grown up . . . * SNIFF * . . . I'm sure my invitation got lost in the mail.

Adopted by a man who used to date my mom

By Kate Simonson with Meghan Daum

The summers of my youth were filled with the kinds of activities that were common to every kid in the 80s but are considered almost death-defying these days: tree climbing, bike riding without a helmet, and daylong road trips spent in the backseat of the family car, where we bounced around like Super Balls, nary a seat belt in sight.

Still, my mother was safety-obsessed about some things, like swimming lessons. Year after year, she forced me to take them at our local pool in Iowa City. Having to go against my will seemed all the more unfair to me, since my mother could not swim and was actually afraid of the water.

But my mother reasoned that if water came between her children and their safety, she would be helpless.

"I can't save you," she would calmly state in answer to my pleas to bow out of the lessons. "So I'm going to do everything in my power to make sure you can save yourself." Real Simple: Mother-daughter relationships

It's no wonder she embraced this philosophy of self-reliance. She knew how unexpectedly life can rob you of someone you care about. My parents adopted me as an infant and went on to have a biological child -- my brother, Jason -- a couple of years later.

My dad was an electrician, and he died in an accident on the job when I was three. After his death, my mother had to raise us alone, and she was acutely aware that she was truly on her own, with no backup plan. She was fiercely strong and yet constantly fearful.

I have almost no memories of my father. Instead I remember Mike Fieseler. He was a former industrial-arts teacher whom my mother dated off and on for much of my childhood. Jason and I weren't his biggest fans. He was a man of strict rules, while my mom's approach could be more properly deemed overindulgent leniency. Share your bonding with dad memories

We resented having to share the spotlight with him -- a sentiment that was particularly strong every Christmas morning, when we had to wait for him to arrive before we could open gifts. (There is little a man can do to endear himself to children less than delaying Christmas-morning gratification.) And when they stopped dating, when I was 15, I wasn't unhappy to see him go. Real Simple: Small, helpful gestures with big impact

Then, on February 18, 1991, when I was 17, my mother suddenly died of a brain aneurysm. One minute she was laughing with friends, enjoying an evening out; the next, she was unconscious on the floor. She never woke up. Just 19 hours later, she was dead, leaving my 15-year-old brother and me orphans.

In the moments of shock and horror that followed, my relatives all gathered in the hospital, and I went home with only a close friend for company (Jason followed a while later). We spent that night on our own. I was numb; it had all happened so fast. I could barely think beyond the immediate moment.

The next morning, my grandfather, aunts, and uncles were still immersed in their own mourning. Shell-shocked as I was, I knew I had to let people know what had happened. I saw my mother's address book lying where she had set it only days before and started dialing. One of the phone numbers I found was Mike's.

Even though he lived about an hour away, it felt like he was there in an instant. As soon as he walked in, he took charge -- and took care of Jason and me. Among other small kindnesses, he gave me a credit card and said, "Why don't you buy something to wear to the funeral?" He gave me permission to be a 17-year-old -- to focus on the more mundane issue of what I was going to wear instead of weighty adult concerns. Real Simple: Father's Day gift ideas

Generally, when children are orphaned, a family member comes forward to take them in. This didn't happen in our case. Everyone had a good reason, I suppose. My mom's father was too old to assume responsibility for us; my mother's sister and her husband had three kids of their own and weren't able to take in any others; her other two siblings were both single and worked long hours. The guardian named in my mother's will was a babysitter that none of us had seen in 15 years.

But I can tell you this: Abandonment, even for very good reasons, feels awful. It was heartbreaking and terrifying to have lost the person we loved most and then to be set adrift.

Months passed and it felt like our relatives could offer no reassurances. The only news we got was that if Jason and I remained without a guardian, we would have to enter foster care. Our mother was gone, and there was nothing we could do to save ourselves.

And, once again, there was Mike. After the funeral, he was a constant presence. He made sure that food filled the cupboards, the bills were paid, and the lawn was mowed. (Mike's adult daughter, Linda, pitched in and took care of his house.) He made sure I went back to school even when it was the last thing I wanted to do. His overbearing personality -- the trait I had hated the most -- is what comforted me the most and got me through those difficult days.

Mike says that Linda came up with the idea to make his role with Jason and me official -- he could become our guardian. He was on board right away. Mike still says he never considered not doing it; caring for us was simply the right thing to do. One day he made us his offer. In a moment where the grief of loss and the pain of being unwanted threatened to capture my very breath, this man, whose only tie to us was having dated my mother, said he would be honored to take us in.

From that moment on, everything was different. His girlfriend, Patty, threw us a "guardian party" when the paperwork became official. It was just a small gathering, but it made us feel special. I received a key chain with my initials, and I remember thinking that the idea behind it was so lovely.

Over the years, Mike has become not merely a legal guardian but a real father to me. When I fell into depression in college, unable to get past thoughts of my mother and all I had lost, he was there to listen.

When my husband, Eric, and I bought our first house, Mike spent weekends installing insulation and repairing our gutters. He never wrote me off as a good, mature kid who could handle everything herself. He walked the line between trusting me and recognizing when I might need help. And what more could you want from a father than that?

His was an unconventional path to parenthood, to say the least. It is not by birth or adoption that I consider this man to be my father; it isn't even through his presence in my childhood. It is rather by sheer good luck on my part.

Before he made that generous offer, I felt as though I had lost my mooring and the waters were flooding in; afterward, I simply felt rescued. If my mother had taught me to be strong and depend on myself, Mike imparted his own lesson -- that the world will provide for you, even when you least expect it.

Eight years after Mike stepped forward, he walked me down the aisle. Four years after that, I gave birth to his first granddaughter, Emily Michl Simonson. (Mike's legal name is Michl.) The name is a reminder of my saved past and a promise for the future, and I hope one day Emily will see that as well. Because as much as I plan to teach her to swim (indeed, she's now six and enrolled in lessons), I also want her to know this: No matter how fast the waters rise, no matter how hard it may be to keep her head above the waves, someone will throw her a line.


Why are there so few men driving the roads?

Somebody tell me.

When my daughter was born, long, long ago, my responsibility for her hit me like nothing ever had before. At that time, I realized her and my wife's vulnerability when they were away from me in our car. I hoped some decent man would come to their aid if it was needed.

But if other men were expected to help my wife, didn't I have to do likewise? It was an epiphany, and since that time, I have pulled over and changed countless flat tires for women, gotten gas for them, even installed a new radiator hose.

What a joy it has been too. What is so easy for a man most women won't even attempt. Denise Hubner would be alive today if a decent man had stopped to help her with her flat tire. After many such men passed her by at night, a monster stopped to abduct and murder her.

So here's the deal: Be a man. Help someone's wife, daughter, mother, sister.

You'll be glad you did. It's important stuff.

Posted by: BozoBama