Archive for the ‘Culture’ Category

July 4th Reflections on the Confederate Flag

July 4, 2015

It has been several years, and I plan to re-post this every year until we are free from that flag. Thank you.

Pamela Kay Noble Brown

July 4th stands for freedom and independence.  Upon reflection, those who favor the Confederate flag flying on the State Capitol grounds of Columbia, South Carolina, do have this right.  But why in the name of compassion and empathy would they want to?

The Confederate Flag is a banner that yet waves over the State Capitol grounds of Columbia, South Carolina.  It has been waving since 1962. It is time that the proud citizens of Columbia, South Carolina, take down the Confederate Flag.  Columbia’s city slogan is “Famously Hot”.  South Carolinians should be hot about this embarrassment hanging over our city.

Many people in favor of keeping this flag flying argue that it is a part of history, and as such, should not be forgotten, or removed.  This, however, is a part of history that is nothing to be proud of. Many of the Confederate Soldiers fought for the cause of…

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No matter how hot it is, you’ll never catch me without my _______________

June 17, 2015

Whew, the heat. Ahem. Let me try to start over to see if I can chat with you dear readers this afternoon without my keyboard melting beneath my very hands. Chances are if you reside in the southeastern part of the United States, you are in the midst of a heatwave. In South Carolina we have spent the last four or five days with the temperatures climbing up to 100 degrees during the afternoons. Most people are waiting until nightfall to go run their errands, but last night it was still 97 degrees as late as 9:30 p.m., so what’s a body to do? The funny thing is that there are some things we just will not sacrifice to keep ourselves cool.

Photo Credit:  brookelicious.deviantart.com

Photo Credit: brookelicious.deviantart.com

Case in point, everyone knows that heat plus humid equals hair that is a mess. Even as I walk around with a cup in hand to catch the sweat as it drips off of my face, you will not see me without a hairhat. What’s a hairhat? Well I’m glad you asked. It is my fond term for wigs, weaves or any other thing that doesn’t grow out of your scalp, but does serve to make you feel well put together when you leave the house. They’re hot and miserable, but look oh so cute. 

Photo Credit:  laremihandmade.blogspot.com

Photo Credit: laremihandmade.blogspot.com

Another thing we will not sacrifice is some sort of a sleeve once our upper arms have reached a certain level of elasticity or, shall we say, lack thereof. Sundresses abound and it is hard in this season of the year to find something with a little material. No one would dream of wearing long sleeves in this heat. Why that would be practically suicidal. And that’s why I and other women are forever grateful to the sainted person who invented the shrug. These marvels usually extend to just above the waist and offer coverage to the arms without being too hot. For the summer you can find them in flimsy gauzy materials that let the breeze in, while at the same time making your shoulder/upper arm area look great.

What is that one thing you won’t go outside without, no matter how hot it is?

Cheers to a fabulously hot spring and summer.  Do stay safe and I would be remiss if I didn’t remind us all to check on our elderly friends and family to make sure they have air conditioners or fans.

Hats off to Ma and Pa West; family values winning out

June 4, 2015
So far, so good. The Wests seem to be winning. (Photo Credit: www.flickr.com)

So far, so good. The Wests seem to be winning. (Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com)

It seems that several sources, including the NY Daily News, are reporting that Kanye West and Kim Kardashian are expecting another baby. Unconfirmed rumor has it that the couple may even be expecting twins. And honestly, if it is true, most of us have to admit to a bit of surprise at this growing family.

 
They always seemed like an unlikely pair even when they were just dating. He just seemed so hyper and manic, given to outbursts at the most inappropriate times. And she appeared to be a groupie whose fame was predicated on homemade videos of the impolite kind. But lo and behold, they met and fell in love, and by all accounts seem to be loving and wonderful parents to their baby girl named after compass points. Well her daddy’s last name is West, so an argument could be made for giving her the first name North.

 
So though I may have been a little skeptical at the beginning, I must say I am really starting to enjoy watching this family expand. And I’ll tell you why, although I’m sure it won’t be popular in this age of everything goes. The fact is I love that Kim is having all these kids with her…wait for it…husband. What a novel concept right?

 
I actually stopped watching “Keeping Up With the Kardashians” because it seemed like almost every nine months we were force fed a pregnant Kourtney happily counting up reasons not to get married, but, instead, to keep procreating. Not the best message to be sending out to the impressionable young ladies watching the show. But now with the Wests doing their own thing, I think they might have a viable chance at a spinoff. I would definitely watch. Life is so funny, huh? What with the Daddy Jenner news, who would have thought Kanye and Kim would be some of the more traditional members of the family? You just never know.

Bruce Jenner has in essence exposed the medical profession; it can be done

June 2, 2015
Has to be one of the fittest grandpa's in recent memory (Photo Credit es.wikipedia.org_

Has to be one of the fittest grandpa’s in recent memory. Wait till you see how well he cleans up. (Photo Credit es.wikipedia.org)

Was Bruce Jenner right or wrong to introduce himself publicly as a woman when he’s got a wife (ex, soon-to-be ex, oh I don’t know, it’s all so confusing) and children? After all, he presented himself to the world as a father and husband, so does this mean the whole family image was a facade? Well those are interesting questions and I’m sure they will be tackled around endless dinner tables. So we will leave that trip down Alice’s wonderland for another dinner party.

My thoughts, well actually my rant today, is on the subject of Bruce’s hair, or his hairline to be more precise. I can’t believe the apparent disparity in the availability of treatments for the haves and the have nots. Take a quick look around the office, grocery store, church or wherever you happen to be the next time you have access to view a sizable gathering of female heads. I submit to you that almost half of the women in any group (ages 30-65) will have the beginning of thinning around the edges, or maybe a touch of thinning right at the crown of the head. I confess I suffer from edges so thin that it’s been over a year since I’ve been able to comfortably pull back my hair in a carefree bouncy ponytail. Suffice it to say that bangs have become one of my closest and most constant companions.

Granted, articles abound offering theories on why this trend seems to be occurring. Some say the hormones in the foods we eat are unhealthy and that hair volume and vibrancy is an indicator of our overall health. I’ve also read that the stress we put on our hair in the name of good grooming (perms, curly kits, dyes, extreme heat and braids) can have long-term detrimental effects. All of these things may be true, and if so, it’s likely that the blame for the condition of each of our heads of crowning glory lies squarely on our own shoulders, literally. Whatever the reason, there is clearly a problem as evidenced by the late night reign of hair rescue infomercials like those for the Bosley Hair Club.

My point is that if a man, that’s a right a man, can have a hairline as thick and face-framing as Jenner’s on the Vanity Fair cover, there is no reason the common woman shouldn’t be able to get the same thing. We should not have to sweat under hot wigs in 100-degree weather. We should not have to avoid standing near light bulbs for fear the reflection might show a peek of our scalp. The hair extension industry should not be poaching nearly a billion dollars annually of our hard-earned money, simply because we feel we have no other choice.

Whatever hormones Jenner was given to facilitate his transformation obviously had a positive effect on his hair and edges. Doctors around the country should immediately start making this a part of thinning hair treatment, and insurance companies should not give them any flack. In their silly little bottom line books, the big insurance giants may initially balk at covering these costs by calling them cosmetic, rather than medical concerns. However, when you’re happy chemicals are released in your body and brain that have an overall uplifting effect on the body, and can foster good health.

I believe it would increase our self-confidence, and sense of freedom to let our hair literally blow in the wind. If the technology exists, and unless that hairline was drawn on it clearly does, then let’s use it to the advantage of all women. Hair thinning around the edges, doctors say live with it, it’s a part of aging. Yet Jenner has great edges at 65. Hairs sprouting on the chin, doctors say live with it and use tweezers. Yet Jenner’s chin is as smooth as a baby’s bottom. Well I say enough is enough. Obviously something can be done. Why should transgenders have all the best doctors, and why can’t our doctors in Middle America take lessons from them for the benefit of all society? One for all and all for one. Let’s do it!!!

Student Loans: They’ll make you an offer you can’t refuse, even though you probably should

May 28, 2015
Student loan debt can end up having a death grip on many of our young graduates. (Photo Credit:  www.flickr.com)

Student loan debt can end up having a death grip on many of our young graduates. (Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com)

Student Loans. These two words can strike fear into the hearts of everyone from the newly graduated entry-level employee to the CEO who has been with the company for 25 years. Why is this? Because chances are they both are making payments. Sounds farfetched? Well it is not. The student loan gang has resources that make mob organization collections seem like Avon ladies ringing doorbells to pick up their money. No matter how many years have gone by, no matter how many times you’ve moved, changed your name or entered an FBI witness protection program for an unrelated matter, the Student Loan Mafia (SLM) will find you. They won’t break your leg, but the incessant calls can make you feel like banging your head against a wall.

Let me backtrack and say that student loans have seemed like a Godsend to many, including myself, who might not otherwise have had the opportunity to pursue a post graduate degree. For that I am eternally grateful. But if I had known then what I know now, I would have never taken out one of those loans. I would have worked, saved up some money and then taken one class at a time, paying cash, until I obtained my degree.

However, for many of us, the lure of that money paying for classes gave us the opportunity to fully focus on our studies and exams without having to concern ourselves with grueling work schedules. And truth be told, after the loan check came and the classes were paid for, there was usually a little something left over to get a few groceries to eat and gasoline for the car. Okay, looking back it was a pretty sweet life.

Then came the big crock at graduation. The Secretary of State of Georgia at the time gave a riveting speech that had us believing the job world would welcome us with open arms because we’d furthered our education. She said, “You will find that your degree will almost immediately command $10,000 more onto your salary.” Strange that I can remember her quote so vividly after 11 years, but there are two reasons for that. One, we believed her and it had us graduates cheering wildly and bursting with hope. And two, it’s vivid because of the betrayal I felt when it never happened, at least not for me, at least not yet. I can’t help it because like the saying goes, hope springs eternal, doesn’t it?

Back to my original point of this post which is the stress the SLM puts on people. There should be some kind of clause written in the student loan contract that allows the loan to be forgiven if you come out owing $100,000 and most starting salaries are around $26,000. That’s just way too much of a disparity to be reasonable. The poor graduate ends up skipping the rent every other month in order to pay the loan. It becomes a vicious cycle as the next month it is the car payment that is passed over in lieu of paying the SLM. The collectors, who probably owe loans themselves, are desperately cutthroat in their attempts to solicit payments. Now to be fair, they do give you six months after graduation before the first payment is due, but sometimes it takes long than that to secure the kind of salary that can handle those payments.

These things being said, the SLM does have a right to be paid. Anyone raised with any sense of right and wrong knows that if you borrow some money, the correct thing to do is pay back what you owe at the agreed upon interest rates. So it’s just something that I and other SLM debtors will have to deal with until we make our last payment.

P.S. Congratulations to all of the graduates this year. Keep all of your options open and before you put ink to paper to take out a student loan, please consider the military, Peace Corps and other ways to finance your education. There are also professions like teaching, firefighting and others that will pay off your student loans if you work for them. The possibilities are endless. Your accomplishment in obtaining your degree is to be admired and, despite my rant, is something that you should always be proud of. Enjoy your day and bask in the celebration.

Is a snowman better than no man?

May 26, 2015
Set the standards for the love you want, and then relax and revel in it.  (Photo credit: kolibanat.deviantart.com-)

Set the standards for the love you want, and then relax and revel in it. (Photo credit: kolibanat.deviantart.com-)

There was a very interesting conversation this morning on the Tom Joyner Morning Show. They were discussing relationships. The guest was an author who’d written a book about the interaction between men and women. She said that she’d like to start a movement wherein women would not take any crap. My grandmother and mother often used the phrase that some women seemed to think “a snowman is better than no man”. That means that a man whose professed love, loyalty, commitment and honesty were as fleeting as the ice in a snowman melting on a hot day, had just as much of a chance of finding a good woman as a true blue man did. And this is because some women would rather take any kind of treatment than to be single.

She wants women to set higher standards for the kind of treatment we receive from men, right down to the smallest details. I’d never really thought about texting in a negative way because it is so much a part of our society. But this author said that texting to ask for a first date is an absolute no-no. She said that a woman who allows this is setting the stage for herself to be associated with just another of a man’s gadgets or playthings. She said it is up to the woman to require that she be treated well, properly courted and formally asked for a date via an actual telephone call.

Another thing she strongly discourages is women setting up residence in the world of wonder. In this scenario, the man, whether consciously or subconsciously, keeps the woman in a slightly off balanced state of mind with his inconsistent behavior. She said if a man is more than 10 or 15 minutes late (especially for the first 2-3 dates) and has not called to apologize and let you know that he is on the way, you should let it go. Better yet, if he stands you up without calling at any stage in the game, let it go.

I agree, because we are not detectives, well not many of us, and we should not have to be “wondering” all the time. Wondering if he is coming, wondering if he’s in a car accident unconscious and can’t call us, wondering is his phone acting up again, wondering why we didn’t immediately ask for a family member’s number so we will always have a way to reach him.

Yes, although wonder can be an awe-filled state of joy; too much wonder in a relationship can lead to a constant state of question-filled doubt. So when it comes to love maybe we can all just agree to leave Wonder to the business of making bread, and leave the romance to Cupid.

 

 

Outdated irrelevant dinosaur…or do good manners still matter?

April 21, 2015
You catch more bees with honey than vinegar. (Photo credit:  www.flickr.com)

        You catch more bees with honey than vinegar. (photo credit:  http://www.flickr.com)

Good manners. Whether they were drilled into us, cajoled into us or we were simply following the examples lived by our parents, at some point in most of our lives, the concept of civility survived and thrived in our interactions with others. For the most part it’s all good. However, there are always a few bad apples in the bunch that tend to give the others a bad name.

This thought came to mind as I was eating some peanuts leftover from a certain restaurant that I frequent. I won’t mention the name, but this eatery is known for its good food, relaxing atmosphere, and allowing its patrons to toss peanut shells on the floor. You can also take a bag of the peanuts home to enjoy later, hence the ones I’m crunching on now.

But back to the story. I had called in a to-go order and the person on the phone said it would take about 15 to 20 minutes for my order to be ready. I was already near their location, so I decided to sit in my car and play with my phone to pass the time. A white SUV pulled up alongside of me and a couple got out with a little girl who appeared to be around three or four years old. She yelled hello in an effort to get my attention from the phone. I looked up and she was beaming as she told me they were going to eat. I said I was waiting on a to-go order, partly to make conversation, and partly to let her parents know I wasn’t some suspicious character in the habit of lurking around the parking lots of diners.

About two minutes later this same family came speed-walking back to their vehicle as if they couldn’t get away from the place fast enough. The dad was carrying the little girl whose smile was gone as she told me they were not going to eat. I asked the parents if everything was okay, to which the father replied, “Those heifers didn’t even look up, let alone greet us.” I expressed that I was sorry they’d had to put up with such rude behavior. They said they would not spend their money at a place where someone couldn’t spare two seconds for a quick hello or welcome.

So I walked in, truthfully but, as it turned out, naively thinking it wouldn’t happen twice in a row. Sure enough I walked in, and there were four young ladies at the counter with their backs to the door, whispering and giggling. Now I’ve worked in plenty of restaurants, and it is grueling work. So I don’t blame the hostesses (who appeared to be in their late teens/early 20’s) for taking a moment to laugh. My concern was that quite a few moments passed with no one acknowledging me at all.

Finally a manager came out and asked had I been helped. I said that not only had I not been helped, but that I hadn’t even been greeted. Furthermore, I told her that I know of at least one family they’d lost as customers for the same reason. After she made sure I had my order, she told the girls that they would have to do a better job greeting the guests. She reprimanded them in a quiet, professional tone and told them she didn’t need to hear any excuses, just needed them to do better. They cast shy glances and thanked me for coming as I made my way towards the exit. I felt better and will continue to eat there. They are young, and we’ve all been in the same situation. Hopefully this was their first adult lesson that old-fashioned good manners still go a long way. I thank you.

 

Senseless Death Results in Surprisingly Low Voter Turnout

March 16, 2015
Will Empty Voting Booths be the death of our next generation?  (Photo Credit:  commons.wikimedia.org)

Will Empty Voting Booths be the death of our next generation? (Photo Credit: commons.wikimedia.org)

After the tragic death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, it seemed as if the country was ripe for a change. The shooting of the unarmed Black teen by White Ferguson Police Officer Darrell Wilson occurred in August 2014, and is still a topic of hot controversy. The story brought about massive protests, in Ferguson and nationwide. The majority of the protests were peaceful, although some did get out of hand, leading authorities to don riot gear and threaten tear gas.

 
The cutting down of this young man brought out leading activists from all over the United States, and social media platforms exploded with offerings of support from observant users in many other countries. America was poised on its tiptoes for change, as it seemed that even Fate was holding her breath to see what the unleashed fury and grief that had been building through the centuries was going to bring. And then, in the big reveal, the curtains swished open to reveal nothing. That is, the poll booth curtains. For all the talks and marches, the most recent Ferguson elections in late 2014 netted an increase of only four percent more people showing up at the polls.

 
Voting is something that you do not have to pay to do, unlike many in past generations who were hurt and killed in the fight for the right to cast their ballot. Voting is something that many employers will give you time off to do before the polls close. And the majority of precincts, as well as radio stations, will provide information on how to get a free ride to vote. If your health allows, there is no reason not to vote…ever. That cop who committed cold-blooded murder on a teen, allegedly, is bad; but what can be said about all of the so-called supporters that can’t be bothered to lift a finger to vote for local authorities that could improve the situation? The word suicidal comes to mind. Let’s not kill ourselves with apathy. I thank you.

Sodom, Gomorrah and American TV

January 9, 2015
What happened to the days when the whole family could watch TV together? (Photo Credit:  en.wikipedia.org)

What happened to the days when the whole family could watch TV together? (Photo Credit: en.wikipedia.org)

This is one of those posts that I didn’t necessarily want to write, but felt compelled, almost duty bound, to compose. Some would probably call me a TV fanatic, because I love the talking box. I enjoy watching almost any and every kind of program. Regardless of the critics’ reviews, I normally give it a chance and make up my own mind. However, it seems that a lot of programs, in their efforts to be politically correct, are going overboard and showing too much.

Soap Operas

These types of shows have always been a guilty pleasure. The fantastical situations and years-long story lines keep us enthralled on a daily basis. Kudos to the writers, because as hard as it likely is for writers of weekly shows to keep things interesting, it must be quite a daunting task for serial writers to dream up back-to-back plot twists every day.

That being said, I don’t know if some of them are running out of ideas, or just trying to be inclusive, but something is a little off. For instance, there is one soap that features an hourglass in the opening credits. For the last few months, they have had a big buildup to a wedding between two men. Yes a fanfare-filled, Prince Charming wedding on daytime TV. Now these types of relationships have often been implied, but they showed the whole ceremony, right up to the kiss. But it didn’t stop there. Where I think they crossed the line is in repeatedly showing the couple in bed caressing each other and kissing all over. Once upon a time, sponsors would have balked, pulled their ads, and the scenes would have been deleted, but apparently this is a new day.

Reality Shows

There is one show that featured a former Olympic champion, his wife and the escapades of their three daughters. Then the story branched out as the grown kids began to take over one city after the other. I confess that I used to watch this show, but one day a light bulb went off. The oldest daughter, and the one who should have been setting the example for her kid sisters, is nonchalantly spilling out baby after baby, without so much as a howdy do, despite the fact that their children’s father still has not made an honest woman out of her. Like this is the norm. It was so aggravating to see this type of behavior celebrated, when it is so hypocritical. Let that happen in certain neighborhoods and economic classes, and it immediately brings out stereotypical comments of how “those” poor kids never have a two-parent stable home. But when you’re rich, it’s glorified? No ma’am, it doesn’t work that way. So I stopped watching.

Primetime Drama

It seems as if all of my favorite nighttime melodramas are being shot, live on location, in the polished-up burnt ruins of Sodom and Gomorrah recently. There is one which features a female lead who has the president wrapped around her little finger. And she specializes in handling things that could turn the nation’s capital upside down, if they were to become public. But lately all of the president’s men have been getting an abundance of screen time.

Then my show about the gubernatorial candidate’s family’s love-hate relationship with the housekeeper’s family is spinning out of control. Now to be fair, so far the plots have centered on the patriarch’s son, who is not into men, allowing little peeks and touches, to basically just toy with the judge’s son, who is struggling with coming out. Got all of that? But the show has thus far avoided the gratuitous mat-wrestling tussles that pass for love scenes.

Alas, one of my new favs has also taken the plunge. This fast-moving suspense piece takes the usually boring law classes and has the teacher do what thousands of real life professors long to do. This educator, who is also an attorney, has found a way to keep her students totally engaged by having them apply what they learn in class to the cases they help her solve. The show has some killer, literally, plot turns that keep the viewers on the edge of their seats in anticipation. Be that as it may, this show might be one of the worst yet, as far as aggressive, thrust-it-in-your-face, male-on-male groping.

I guess part of the problem is that these images are not just alluded to, but they are lingered on in overly-long close-up camera shots and angles. I feel that this constant and increasing exposure will desensitize us to the point where we feel any and everything is acceptable, because we see it all the time. Of course, if something offends us, we can always turn our heads. But when it gets to the point where you have to avert your eyes during the majority of the show, then Houston, we have a problem.

There are no immediate fixes or solutions. We don’t want to go back to the days of strict artistic censorship, but we do want to maintain a standard of dignity and decency. While we work on this, I’m thankful that some of the channels are now running some of the past gems in syndication. Those old “Andy Griffith”, “Sanford and Son” and “Perry Mason” reruns are looking pretty good right about now.

 

 

Three ways to beat the ding dong guilt.

January 6, 2015
Now you won't have to slink back to your car at the sound of these.  (Photo Credit:  en.wikipedia.org)

Now you won’t have to slink back to your car at the sound of these. (Photo Credit: en.wikipedia.org)

Now that the holidays are over and we’ve enjoyed the warm fuzzy feelings, let’s explore another feeling that we often sweep under the rug. For want of a better term, I call it ding dong guilt. Why you ask?  Well because it refers to the feeling you sometimes get in the pit of your stomach when you’re all caught up in the merriment on the city sidewalks, and run smack dab into a cheery, or in some cases not so cheery, person ringing their chimes.  I won’t name any organizations, but suffice it to say that the representatives normally have on an apron and loudly clang clarions over a black kettle.  And they are usually blanketed over the entryways of EVERY store in town before and during the holiday season.

Don’t get me wrong. The first couple of days that we hear the winsome peals, our faces light up with joyous smiles because it’s like a symbol that Christmas is coming. It brings sentimental remembrances of earlier times when to grandmother’s house we went, as well as joyous anticipation of creating new memories as we celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. But there is something a little embarrassing about rolling your buggy full of food out of the grocery store to feed your family, and having no change left to put in the pot to feed the hungry. And you can’t help but feel a tad remorseful when a clerk has to help you lug all of the toys you’ve brought for your little ones out to the car, and there’s nothing left to donate to kiddies who won’t wake up to any toys, save what is given through the kindness of others.

Well, that was 2014.  Starting this year and every year forward we can put those doldrums behind us. Here are the top three ways to beat ding dong guilt:

3.  Plan Ahead

It is the beginning of the year, so we have 10 full months before the November takeover.  So make it a family project and set aside a love jar. Whenever you come in from work, or the kids come in from school, put all of the change in this jar. By the end of the year, you should have multiple jars, or one huge jar.  Why not make it fun and instead of a piggy bank, buy or make a huge bell-shaped jar.  Some time in October you can have a fun night with some popcorn and hot chocolate, and spend a few hours as a family counting out and rolling the coins in wrappers. Then take the coins to your bank, exchange them for bills and happily be prepared to drop a gift at every store.

2.  Explore the Meaning

This is a great catalyst for family discussion and growth. You won’t be so tempted to grimace when you delve into the reasons behind these calls for aid. Honestly, in this day and age, when the majority of states still have their minimum wages at $7.25 per hour, a simple turn of misfortune could have any of us in dire straits indeed. So even though we may not be able to be our brother’s keeper 24 hours a day, we may learn to welcome the opportunity to do what we can when we can.

1.  Imagine

There’s a song by the late great John Lennon that expresses it beautifully.  The lyrics read:

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world…

You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will live as one.

Even though you will not be at the home of each and every recipient of your contribution on Christmas morning, allow yourself to imagine.  Picture the astonished screams of the child who never ever really thought they’d get a bicycle. Feel the joy of the mom who envelops her child in a warm coat, and knows that now that child won’t have to stand shivering from the cold at the school bus stop every morning. See in your mind the awed face of a little girl sitting cross-legged on the floor cradling her very first new Barbie doll after a short lifetime of hand-me down toys. Silent tears of happiness stream down her face because she never knew that Barbies came with two arms and legs.  Imagine…