Who: Geeta Simons — Philadelphia mom, radio producer, musician and instructor at Girls Rock Philly
System: “I use duck tape for just about everything. It’s a musician’s best friend, but I also use it for baby stuff and fashion mishaps.”
By the way, is it Duck tape or Duct tape? “I always thought it was ‘duct’ as in ‘I am finishing this duct work with my duct tape. And it is, but the brand name is Duck.” And originally it was made from cotton duck cloth. So it’s actually both. Here’s further explanation.
Here are Geeta’s Top 10 Uses for Duck Tape
1. Band promotion: “Taping up band flyers to a telephone poll. Works really well on brick walls.”
2. Multiple music uses: “Taping extra guitar picks to a mic stand; muting a snare drum head or cymbals; keeping the 9 volt battery in a guitar effects pedal; taping set list to monitor; taping guitar case shut (note: don’t do this if you actually like your guitar.)”
3. Fashion Mishaps: “Taping a stiletto heel back onto a shoe (note: this didn’t work so well). Taping a vinyl catsuit back together - this worked remarkably well ! Duck tape + rock pants = yes.”
4. Antique Repair: “Taping shut my vintage leopard hatbox that serves as a gig bag.”
5. First Aid: “Used once with a bar napkin to make a makeshift band-aid when I cut my hand on broken glass that I didn’t see on the dark corner of a grungy stage.”
6. Volunteering: “To make a man-sized guitar strap fit a little girl guitar for a student at Girls Rock Philly.”
7. Baby-Proofing: “Used with wash rags for makeshift baby-proofing at a hotel. (why are all sharp corners eye level for two-year-olds?)”
8. Airline Travel with Baby: “When you check your stroller at the gate (so you can wheel your kids around the airport and also restrain them from running off), the airline staff basically just throws the stroller into the bottom of the plane. Usually something is broken or missing when you get it back. If you put it in a bag, you’ll at least have the broken pieces to put back on, and you’ll get less scuffs. So you fold up the stroller, then put one enormous garbage bag over the bottom, and another over the top, and make a Duck tape belt to seal the two together. Then, if something does break off, Duck tape it back on, by all means!”
9. Hotel Safety: “Used to cover the locks of bedroom and bathroom doors so toddlers don’t lock themselves in and us out.”
10. Peace & Quiet: “Used to tape the power switch of annoying electronic toys into the “off” position (toys that I can’t throw out because they were given to us by alternately vengeful or well-meaning grandparents.)”
As someone who was told, “You must eat as many peas as you are old,” I can appreciate the bit of autonomy and respect she gives her daughter as well in the lessons in healthy eating. I’m curious what other parents think and whether you agree?
Who: Dori Fern, Brooklyn-based digital media strategist, blogger, latke award-winning chef
Her System: Dori has four commandments for her kids at dinnertime. She writes about it in depth on her blog. Here they are, in summary:
1. You don’t have to eat dinner if you don’t want. But…
2. This is the only dinner I’m going to make. Getting yourself an apple or carrot or the like if you’re hungry is acceptable.
3. If you don’t eat dinner, you don’t get dessert.
4. Please don’t insult what I’ve cooked. It hurts my feelings.
How did these commandments evolve? When Dori’s (then) four-year-old would not eat and complain that she didn’t like the dinners Mommy was dishing, Dori developed her meal-time manifesto.
“I’m sure some kids do have more finicky palates than others, but picky eating can also be a child’s way of asserting their independence, ” says Dori. “Parents think if they get better recipes, or if they can figure out what their kids like, they will get their kid to eat. But the truth is, what most parents want is peace. Yes we want our kids to be healthy, well-nourished, but let’s assume that what our pediatricians say is true: that our kids are probably going to be just fine. What we really need to give them is a framework that empowers them while reducing conflict.”
She has a younger brother, too. Is he also a picky eater? “Oh no. He’s always loved to eat everything and between him and I geeking out over food all the time, she started to feel, ‘well, if I’m going to be a part of this, I’m going to have to start liking more things.” She’s not a super picky eater, I just knew what she needed was independence and choice.”
The 4th rule feels like just good manners? “The 4th rule is really the rule that gets violated all the time. You don’t shit on the meal somebody just made. It’s a bit frightening how de-socialized children are these days which is in part parenting, but really it’s society in a big way, everything is so coarse.”
Ok so #3 if you don’t eat your dinner, you don’t get dessert. How very Pink Floyd of you. What constitutes not eating dinner? “I don’t really have a hard and fast rule on that. Just attempting to be a member of the dinner table team is kind of it. Eat some of what’s on your plate. I feel like some parents have an equation on this. Parents need to get out of the negotiation business. You can make your kid really neurotic, so I think it’s really important not to get too crazy about it. Talk to your kids about what it means to be healthy. What kind of vitamins does broccoli have? Where do you get vitamin C from? And having those conversations about food so they’re aware and can be in control of their health and well-being. It’s a very tricky track because you don’t want your kid growing up with an eating disorder or a fetishism about food. You just want to be a part of helping them make good choices.
Right, when I was a kid my parents made me eat my age in peas. And I HATE peas. Stillto this day I hate peas. And I’m like, “You can’t make me eat 45 peas, damn it! ”
That kind of proves my point. Pickiness in general is just a response to being a child. I went through a thing in college when I learned to love the foods I didn’t like which were beets and Brussels sprouts — widely disliked foods for kids who grew up in the 70s because they were coked so badly. I just didn’t want to be ruled by food habits based on childhood dislikes.”
You write that your daughter never insulted your cooking again after you gave her these “rules.”
Never. She agreed to the terms and kept up her end of the bargain. And because they respect my wishes, I really try to not make stuff that my kids don’t like, just like I would for anyone eating at my table. My daughter doesn’t like mushrooms, my son doesn’t like nuts in foods. Do I never make things with mushrooms or nuts? No once in a while I’ll make them if I’m in the mood and I know there are other options they like on the table. It’s a balance.
Dori today with her kids. [Photo courtesy Dori Fern] [top photo: iStockphoto]
(Me, circa 2005, having a salad and starting a diet.)
It’s time. Or at least that’s what I’ve said about every time, since about 1982.
It’s always time and it’s never time to lose weight. There’s always a new artisanal grilled cheese shop waiting for me to experience. Damn you Brooklyn.
This time it’s different. This time I’m in pain. You mean vanity hasn’t prompted me to try and lose weight? Nope. The fact that I’m a fashion hound and can’t shop anywhere but tasteful and drape-y Eileen Fucking Fisher? Nope. That I do my best to afford a first-class ticket so I don’t have to worry about oozing into my neighbor’s spot? Nope. The fact that my 5-year-old niece likes to giggle and say to me, “You’re fat!” and then slap my belly with her little paw.
And funny thing that thing called love. My husband and I like to tell each other, “Every day is not a celebration.” Because sometimes happiness is yet another great excuse.
Back to the pain thing.
At the end of last year, in an effort to ignore the food part of losing weight, I’d decided to sign up with a trainer three days (and a thousand dollars later) a week. At the same time, stairs had become a problem; I would grip the railing, huff and puff to reach the top of several flights of subway stairs and notice my legs, feet and knees hurt all the time.
The trainer idea sounded smartish. Except that my 20-something, former professional soccer player trainer — I’ll call him Guillermo — decided to have 255 lbs of me running laps on the treadmill and jumping dup and down from those aerobic step benches. When I’d complain about the sharp pain in my knees and “maybe I have arthritis?” he just waved me off laughing, “I always thought I had arthritis after a match but it probably just means you’re really getting a workout!”
Uh, yeah… turns out, it was arthritis. And, an MRI indicated a torn meniscus in both of my knees. Ugh. Major ugh. I can’t say it was the trainer’s fault, exactly, it’s possibly something that I’ve had for a while (have an MRI and you don’t what the heck they’ll find.) I may never know.
I traded my trainer for a physical therapist, and after six weeks of massage, ice, stretching and strengthening to help alleviate the pain around the torn-up knees, I started to feel a bit better. When my doctor told me surgery wasn’t entirely necessary, at least for now, I asked him if there was anything else I could do to help alleviate the pain. He said, in words a bit more diplomatic than my five-year-old niece, “Lose weight.”
So here I am again.
But this time, I want to do it right and I want to do it for good. The doctor suggested I perhaps try medical weight loss or a nutritionist, two approaches I’ve never tried - and I’ve tried them all. I’m by no means a diet newbie; in fact at one point I was the editorial director for AOL Diet and Fitness.
I was definitely overweight then, but it didn’t matter, I was just hiring well-heeled nutritionists to write and edit the copy… and occasionally star in hilarious “Aol Beach-Ready Boot Camp” videos with Jillian Michaels (thankfully I can’t find those videos anywhere).
Honey, I know everything there is to know about dieting, it’s just that putting it into practice thing.
The trick is that my brain has to be completely focused, a little “fooled” and in the game. I remind myself that this is only temporary; that slice of pizza is in my future, just not right now.
It’s also about not battling myself and anyone who’s ever called me “fat” throughout my life. As in, “F you, I can have that cheeseburger and fries, I can do whatever I want! Fat is a Feminist issue, people.”
It is, until your legs start to give out and you can’t get up the stairs anymore.
So in my true system-obsessed fashion, and the way I approach everything when I have a myriad of options (finding an apartment, hiring the right person), I create a spreadsheet. A spreadsheet detailing each possible option, service, doctor, nutritionist, hospital, private office, group that I might want to try.I detail their services, what kind of specialist they are (nutritionist, endocrinologist, dietician, integrative doctor), their website, phone and rates as I get them. Then I create a 1-5 ranking system based on the qualities I’m looking for: Are they Nearby? Expensive? Professional? Are they comprehensive? Meaning, do they address body and brain. And finally, do I like them? Then I tally up the scores to get a good picture of which way I should be leaning. Here’s a fuzzy abridged version which is a work in progress. If you’d like the template I’m happy to send it along.
So stay tuned, I’ll be tracking the methods, doctors and approaches I like as I go.
Wish me luck and share any doctors, nutritionists, tips or techniques that have worked for you, below.
(This is last weekend at 826 NYC’s “Scrabble for Cheaters.” The last time I will “cheat” for a while.)
Here at system headquarters we’re hoping to take our show on the road and we need YOUR help.
Vote herefor our panel, “What’s Your System LIVE!” for Internet Week New York’s the Make Your Stage “Productivity” category .
Our panel of “system addicts” will talk about their own lifestyle hacks and habits: from how they manage their insane social media lives to how they force themselves to floss every day to maybe even carving a pig. Expect a fun, lively Q&A featuring a wide variety of busy New Yorkers offering real (and ridiculous) solutions. We’ll invite strong interaction and insight from the audience, asking everyone, “What’s Your System?”
Our esteemed troupe of systematizers:
Gretchen Rubin Author, The Happiness Project and Happier at Home @GretchenRubin Sara Jenkins Chef, Porchetta and Porsena, @porchettanyc John Shankman Publisher, The Awl, @JohnShankman
Who: Teresa Misagal — Manager, Blue Ribbon Sushi; Photographer. Her Tumblr: Dailola
System: Teresa has two dogs Dailo (12), an Australian Shepherd and Lola (4) an Aussie mix, and she very often fosters another dog. It’s quite a sight when Teresa, who’s all of five feet tall, walks three bright-eyed, frisky herding pups down the streets of Williamsburg, Brooklyn. To make dog-walking a little easier she uses a hardware-store-bought carabiner and connects the three separate leashes together.
What are the benefits to this system? “I can easily lock up the dogs ouside a store, when I go in. It works really well on the gate outside Blue Bottle, where I go every morning for coffee.”
Why did you start this system? “When I moved to Williamsburg, stores weren’t as receptive to letting the dogs come inside to grab coffee, like they were in Soho. So I had to figure out a way to tie them up outside. I noticed this deli near me use a larger carabiner outside that you could use to hitch up your dogs, so I got my own.”
How did you get into fostering? ”I had two dogs, Dailo and Momo. When Momo passed away, I thought Dailo needed a playmate. I was going to buy from a breeder but then discovered New Spirit 4 Aussie Rescue where I found Lola. After Lola acclimated to her new environment, I was started thinking about getting a third dog. Which is kind of crazy — I don’t have a big apartment. Our condo rules are you can only have two animals per apartment. So I thought why don’t I foster, it’s temporary. I think now I’m going to keep doing it, in the end it’s really rewarding. Otherwise they’d be stuck in a shelter. You’re helping them acclimate. And they become more adoptable that way.”
[Boru and Dailo. That’s Lola peeking through the back!]
You just got a permanent home for your last foster dog. Is it hard to let them go? ”Yes and no. I just got an email from the new owner, they are so happy. I feel so blessed to be a part of getting them together. They said they were really glad that I’d shared with them so many photos, videos, of Boru in so many different situations that they felt like they could handle their new dog.”
Did they give the dog a new name? ”Yes, his name was Tarzan which he never seemed to respond to. The new family call him Boru, after a king of Ireland, Brian Boru. It’s perfect, it was St. Patty’s Day weekend when he got adopted and he’s a very red-haired dog.”
Read more about Teresa and see more photos of her puppies on her Tumblr, Dailola
System: “In order to know which of my golf shirts are just pressed, and which have been worn once, I hang the newly cleaned shirts with the hook of the hanger facing away from me; if I’ve worn it once the hook of the hanger faces towards me.”
And all your shirts are hanging in the same direction: ”That’s right.”
[photo: Aly left, aka @alywalansky and Allie aka @dearstormer during Aly’s Park Slope Beauty Bounty stoop sale]
It’s 8 a.m., the hour formerly known 9 a.m., and I’m catching a taxi to Target to get blankets, batteries, flashlights. I’m attempting to meet Congregation Beth Elohim’s deadline of 10 a.m. - that’s when volunteers are loading up and driving out to the Rockaways, Staten Island, and other coastal spots devastated by Hurricane Sandy.
The taxi driver, who seems particularly conversational, asks me what I’m up to today. I tell him that I’m shopping for supplies for folks in the Rockaways.
He looks back at me, “I live in the Rockaways…” He says, “Thank you so much… “
“How are you doing?” I ask.
“I haven’t been able to work until today. We haven’t seen any of the news. Our house was flooded and…”
He doesn’t finish and I don’t want to press him further.
I’m not a congregant at Beth Elohim, and I don’t happen to be Jewish, but it’s only a few blocks away in Park Slope and it’s a very organized, concerted effort. I’d heard about their drive through their Facebook page… which I’d read about on New York Times’ reporter Jodi Kantor’s Facebook page… which I heard about from my ultra-connected friend Lauren Young, on Facebook….and so on and so on. Social media has been an amazing source of volunteering and giving opportunities — and, of course, confusion and misinformation, too. I arrived at Red Hook yesterday with supplies only to be told they weren’t taking any more, just hot food, then I was directed to a community center down the street who was happy to take the goods. A little chaos after a crisis like this is to be expected.
But since we’re all about systems here, I thought I’d share a few opportunities and “systems” from folks helping people through this terrible tragedy. Warms the heart and soul…
1. System: Drive Donations to Staten Island, Rockaway Beach
Cars loaded up with gas seem to be one of the most in-demand items right now, especially for New Yorkers who are typically subway dependent and car-free. So folks like Jody Jones decided to ask for donations via Facebook, pick up the loot and head out to the Rockaways for door to door delivery. Good egg that one.
2. System: Sell Goodies in Your Beauty Closet For Charity
Today at noon, Aly set up shop on her stoop and has been hawking her beauty stash for charity. Aly wrote on Facebook, ”Take as much as you want, and give as much as you can - every single cent of proceeds will go to the Red Cross for Sandy relief. If you have no interest in products and want to donate, we’re currently fashioning an adorable donation jar! And…I shall bake cookies! Fresh homemade from the heart cookies! Starting at noon, tomorrow, November 4 - until we run out of stuff! If you have anything you too want to add, or just want to hang out, that is where you will find us!”
Who: Meg Davis, Exec Director Asia Catalyst, Prospect Heights
“We volunteered in Prospect Park today, sweeping up 600 bags of leaves and debris from the storm. 170 volunteers on our shift, including about 50 US Army soldiers. Cos you know, they don’t do enough Monday through Friday…”
“I’ve been in touch with The Shore Fellowship Church in Atlantic City. I’ve sent them supplies from Brooklyn and have reached out to many friends who also love the shore and urged them to participate. I plan to continue sending them packages this week. As well as get to the Rockaways to volunteer as soon as I can fill up my car.”
5. System: Start a Sandy “Spinoff” Relief Group
Who: Occupy Sandy Relief NYC - not a single person, but deserves a shout-out
So impressed with these guys. No matter what your politics are regarding Occupy Wall Street, this offshoot, has done an amazing, organized and enthusiastic job of rallying volunteers and delivering help to the people who need it the most.
Who: Kat Kinsman, Managing Editor of Eatocracy, Brooklyn
With the power outage in Lower Manhattan, many restaurants have suffered loss of revenue over the last few days, tipped and hourly employees have lost income and a lot of food had to be thrown out. How to help now that the power is back on? Go out and eat sillies. Eatocracy’s Kat Kinsman is doing just that and posting lots of great images on Twitter and Facebook of restaurants that are open and ready for your hungry self.
[photo: Kat Kinsman]
Kat writes on CNN: “Many of us are using the Twitter hashtag #dineoutNYC to spread the word, and encouraging fellow diners to #tipBIG (in cash, when possible) and also, on the advice of Anthony Bourdain, send a $20 back to the dishwasher, as they often don’t share in tip pooling.”
7. System: Cancel a Marathon and Keep the Relief Coming
Who: Michelle Cleary, NYC
Michelle Cleary started an amazing Facebook page called “Cancel the 2012 NYC Marathon” to rally support for canceling this year’s arguably ill-timed event. Nearly 50k followers later, you have to think her efforts made some impact. Unfortunately, though she’s tried, she can’t change the name of her page, but it has become a virtual clearinghouse of relief efforts.
Stephen writes: “We all love to donate clothing we don’t need anymore. But you know that other pile? The one where you hoard the really expensive things you bought on sale, hoping one day they’d fit you? That brand new sweater with the tags still on it that was just too close in appearance to your other sweater? That coat you borrowed from a friend who you haven’t spoken to in 10 years? The pair of jeans that are just “a bit young” for you? That pair of chinos you keep meaning to get tapered? That pair of shoes that are too tight, that you swear one day you’ll wear them for a week and break them in? I just donated that pile to the Red Cross.”
9. System: Deliver food door-to-door to home-bound elderly
Who: Jonathan Kirk, Architect, Brooklyn
Jonathan writes: “Spent the morning delivering food to home bound elderly in Red Hook Brooklyn. All of the public housing is still without power. ConEd is still pumping water out of the basements to begin restoring power.”
If anyone in the Brooklyn area would like to sign up to deliver food to the elderly, her’s a great resource at CBE: http://www.volunteersignup.org/38CJJ
10: System: Sponsor a Specific Family in Need
Who: Sara, Registrar, Massachusetts (and my sister)
This is a really cool organization and great for folks in another state. Family to Family, according to their website, allows you to sponsor a displaced family,
Sara writes, “I have 5 down jackets (men’s, women’s, kids, a bunch of wool sweaters, men’s pants). In the wash now. I’m about to go through my daughter’s old clothes, sneakers, etc now. Kids grow so fast that many things are almost new.”
AND her brilliant SECOND SYSTEM: Gather unused airline toiletry kits and hotel shampoos that are packed with useful necessities - assemble into care packages. NICE!
11. Host a Bake Sale to Benefit the Devastated NY Aquarium
Who: I’m not entirely sure, but I just had to share this adorable photo:
White Shoulders = My first boyfriend who had a penchant for the cloying perfume. I liked it then. Now it recalls a stuffy Greyhound bus trip to Penn State.
Rubber cement = The smell of pasting up stories on flats with an X-acto knife and some version of rubber cement (when we used to do that sort of thing in the newspaper business.)
Harry’s Habanero hot sauce = My writing retreat at Dairy Hollow. I found this rockin’ hot sauce in a local health food store and used it on my eggs every morning. Consequently, it also makes me want to write when I use it! A useful smell.