Saturday, March 29, 2014

This is my first grade class photo. Can you spot the real japolina?
    My teenage boys are growing up in a very different world than I did.  My childhood in South Florida was quite carefree.  We played in the street. We ate white flour and sugar without worrying about anything other than a cavity.  Unless we were not home by dark, our parents did not really know exactly where we were or what we were doing. If we were up to no good, one of the neighbors would call our Mothers and tattle.

    Today,  I have the technology to "track" my kids' iPhones. My son was recently out of state on a week long field trip.  I was able to see exactly where he was at any given time.  My other son recently started to drive on his own. He is forbidden to touch his phone unless he is in a parking space. The other day, it took him a very long time to run an errand and I was able to click on an app and see that his car was moving towards home.  My kids hate this technology. Too bad, so sad. That is life.

    Safety was never a big issue when I was in school.  Today's kids have a reasonable fear of possible guns in their schools. They have "code black" drills where they must pretend that a shooter is roaming the halls. This makes me sad but I suppose that the drills may save lives and are better than putting our heads in the sand and hope that it will never happen.

     Gun violence aside, and despite what you see on tv, in many ways, my kids are growing up in a much better place than I did.  

    For example, I only had a set of  World Book Encyclopedias and the library to research a topic. When my kids are interested in something, they are able to research it online until their eyes cross. When a new hobby or interest pops up, they can watch videos, read articles and immerse themselves in it. They are going to be so much smarter than my generation; mini-experts on tons of topics.

     Even better, this generation is going to be the most tolerant and open generation ever in US History.  My kids know that words and phrases that we casually tossed around when  I was a kid such as "Retard", "Midget" and "Faggot" are not only politically incorrect but mean and hurtful words (FYI, Midget is a very offensive word.  People with dwarfism prefer to be called "Little People")

     My kids know people who are openly gay, I sure did not until I went to college, and even then, there was not a lot of openness about it.   My children  are growing up in an era where Gay Marriage is celebrated and probably by the time that they have children, it will just be called "marriage". Along with the Bible Group, Science Society and Debate team, there are over 50 special interest clubs at my son's high school, including a  LGBT club.  My kids are growing up learning that "Love is Love" and that you should be true to yourself, whatever that self is. 

     When I was in school, I read Anne Frank's Diary and knew that the holocaust was horrible but not a lot about it, and I was raised in a Jewish home. My kids have spoken to actual Holocaust survivors. (This is amazing because soon there won't be any of them left. If you ever meet one or get the chance to hear one speak, I would highly recommend it

   When I was in High School, the smart kids were not the coolest. Thanks to the magic of Facebook, I've learned that those geeks playing dungeons and dragons on Saturday nights instead of going to the parties are now CEO's and surgeons. These were cute, sweet boys that did not have dates, like ever, in high school. In today's high school world (at least around here), the kids getting good grades and into good colleges are like rock stars. The partiers and "bad kids" are considered losers in many circles. 

    So while life may have been a little simpler and less scary in the old days, I'm excited for this generation's future. 

Then Rapunzel Bobbed her hair and went to law school...

Thursday, March 27, 2014

When I was in my last year of college and studying for the Law School Entrance Exam (LSAT), my Dad cut out a cartoon from  The Wall Street Journal and mailed it to me. The comic featured a mother reading her little girl a fairy tail and the caption  read "Then Rapunzel bobbed her hair and went to law school". It was his way of saying " honey…go for it, you'll never regret having a graduate degree." It hung on my wall during law school and sat on my desk when I practiced law.  It reminded me that I may be a  Jewish American Princess, but I still could kick ass in a career and live happily ever after. 

 During my visit to Disney World, I was never so happy to be around teenaged boys when I saw this at every corner...

All over the hot, sunny and humid theme park, there were little princesses with their parents. Many of the Princesses were not only wearing the ornate, yet itchy looking princess gowns, they were in princess shoes, had princess hair do's, princess jewelry and princess makeup. They looked ready for  coronation but the funny part was that the parents looked like everyone else in Disney…Shorts, no make up, hair messy, sweaty etc.  Totally shlubby.  The message was that the Princesses were the royalty and the parents were their hired help.

There is even an awful place in Disney called the Bippity Boppy Boutique. This a "magical" beauty salon when little girls with parents smart and rich enough to get a reservation ahead of time get all princess-ed up. The basic $55 package includes hairstyling and make up. The $200 Castle package includes hair, makeup and costumes. You can make your day even more magical by adding a $33 photo package, or more princess crap paraphernalia.  
Luckily, the princess beauty salon was not on our agenda!

I played with Barbies and wished that I was a real princess when I was a little girl but the fantasy ended there. Besides sending me cartoons about Princesses getting a real education, my parents always encouraged me to be smart and hard working. I was loved and adored but never told that a Prince would make my life complete or that my beauty would ever be enough. I fear that this might be the message (either subliminal or directly) that this whole Princess culture is sending.  I forgot the story of Disney's The Little Mermaid until on the ride at the park. The little Mermaid was not happy until she stopped being her true self (a sea creature who is loved and adored) and became human and married the Prince.  In my mind, I guess I really wanted her to live her truth and  go back to being a happy fish and forgot the ending! 

 Pushing the princess agenda this far seems a little extreme. The little princesses running around Disney World looked adorable but many of them were very bratty and demanding.( There may be nothing uglier than a little girl in a princess dress at the 
"happiest place on earth" having a total shit-fit over not getting a churro.) 

Are these little Princesses growing up to think that they are really royalty even though their parents are wearing t-shirts advertising beer? 

Am I off base here? Without being an uber-feminist, I still think that encouraging this agenda may be a little misleading. Are these little girls just having fun or are they getting misled into thinking that the only way they will live happily ever after will be to have some Prince rescue them? None of my good friends had girls who were into this Princess culture and I don't have girls so tell me, what do you think?

A Case of Mistaken Identity? (My royal treatment at Disney World)

Monday, March 24, 2014

   My husband was away on business so I had the hair brained idea to take the boys to Disney World.  I call this idea "hair brained" because lately I cannot drive more than .7 miles with them both in the car and not yell.  Orlando is 250 miles away so that could possibly be a lot of yelling. I  did not think it through and when I saw a commercial advertising a three day ticket to any 3 Disney Parks for $129 (Florida Residents only), I started trolling the internet for a good last minute deal on a room.

    When heading to Mickey's House, I love to stay on the monorail line. This means one of three hotels; The Polynesian Resort, The Grand Floridian or The Contemporary. * These three hotels are often way more expensive than other hotels in the area, so when I saw a  Florida Resident's Rate for the Contemporary that was not too much more than the rate at the local Hilton, I jumped on it. 

     I left really early in the morning to drive to O-town. Leaving while everyone but me was half-awake made the yelling less likely. During our drive up there, we received an e-mail inviting us to try out a new restaurant in the Magic Kingdom that they were testing out. I really did not think anything of this  V.I.P. invite.

  However, I did start to think that maybe they thought I was someone else when I checked in at the hotel. 

    When I reserved my "cheap" Florida Resident Discounted Room, I was certain that we would be getting the worst room with a view of the dumpsters. I did not care because we were only planning to sleep and shower there.  When we checked in, we were informed that we were upgraded to a 2 bedroom/2 bathroom suite. This room goes for $1200 a night in LOW SEASON.   The room was lovely with gorgeous views. When we moved in, there were drinks and chocolates waiting for us.  

Beach View (Definitely not the dumpster)
    The room had three showers, two televisions, two pull out couches and a comfy King-Sized bed. It also had two mini-fridges and great views from every side. This was perfect for me and three teen boys (We inherited a cousin over in Epcot, when he heard about our suite)

  We then found out that the room came with concierge lounge privileges which means light meals/snacks and beverages available for free. This was icing on the cake. Three kids (plus me)  probably ingested enough food and sodas to cover the entire price that I paid for the room. 

This is what we did not eat in the Concierge Lounge!
   My niece wondered why Disney was giving me the royal treatment (they actually give every guest great service but I was getting Princess service). I explained that I think that they had the wrong Japolina. There are two other women in South Florida with my name. One has a similar middle initial and is also a lawyer. The other one has a husband with the same name as mine, a child with the same name as mine and she went to the same undergrad University that I did. (After getting emails and phone calls for each other, we became Facebook friends).  Anyway, the other Japolinas must be Disney V.I.P.'s or just plain fabulous. I wonder if the right Japolina was in my crappy room. If so,  too bad, because I wasn't moving.

     We had a great time and came home fat, broke, tired and with aching feet. The perfect Disney Trip.

*Why Staying at one of the three hotels on the monorail is a great idea 

1. If you can get a good deal, it may be worth the extra money to stay on the monorail. It gets very hot and crowded during the afternoon at the parks, and often they are open late. It is perfect to head back to the room or the pool for a few hours until the parks cool down. It is also amazing when you are traveling with a tired or sick kid. One parent can take the kid back to the room without ruining everyone's day. (personal experience). You can spend hours with a cranky-puss just riding the monorail around in a circle. It calms them  down in a way that only Disney magic can. (personal experience)

    We rode the monorail to Epcot in the morning and to the Magic Kingdom after dark. The park is gorgeous at night and much less crowded. Instead of watching the parade and fireworks, we hit the rides during those times. We literally walked right on to some of the most popular rides without having to wait a minute!!! Not waiting is unheard without a fast pass. Lines are usually at least 20 minutes long, even longer for the "good rides". 
A five minute line for Pirates of the Caribbean! That is my type of wait.

     When were were finally too exhausted for any more fun, when we  we just hopped on the monorail for a five minute ride to our room. No driving. No getting lost in Orlando (personal experience). 

2. When you stay at the three hotels, they don't charge for parking. You don't have to pay to park at The Disney Theme Parks and you don't have to pay to park at your hotel.  This does not sound like a lot, but it could be as much as $40 saved. The cost to park at a Disney Theme Park is $15 a car and the last time that I stayed at the Loews Hard Rock Hotel at Universal, they stuck an extra $25 (PLUS TAX) on my bill (PER NIGHT)to park.

3. The Disney Service is amazing at these hotels. Every single employee that we encountered in the hotel had paid serious attention during their Disney Training. We called for extra blankets at 11:00 at night  (we had that cousin who stowed away) and Tiger must have delivered them because they were there in seconds. 

4. Even though my boys are teenagers, they still love riding the monorails and love that they run right through the Contempoary Hotel.  I love that they can ride the monorail to the game rooms or cafes in the other hotels while I chill out. Disney seems safe to let them roam a little more freely than I would at other hotels in Orlando. 

5. Disney has recently implemented a fast pass plus system and guests of Disney Resorts get extra perks. When we checked in, they gave us these bracelets. 

My husband thought that this looked like one of those ankle monitors that you
wear if you are on house arrest. I don't think that those come with Mickey embossed on them. 

This bracelet was our room key, charge card, park ticket and "fast pass" for the weekend. Because we bought our tickets ahead of time and were staying at a Disney Resort, we were able to book up to three rides/shows/attractions per day  before we left Miami. We were able to change our choices during the trip using a Disney iPhone app.  I really loved having the room key on my wrist. If you've ever been locked out of your hotel room in your PJ's (personal experience)  understand why this is a perk.  I think that the bracelet can be used to get photos taken of you in the park by their photographers but we were not into that. 

6. Waking up and looking at Space Mountain or Cinderella's castle is almost as nice as when I ride my bike on the beach at sunrise. 

  Space Mountain is  really is that close to the hotel

You know that I don't like to complain but...

Monday, March 10, 2014

Well, I do like to complain (I can't help it, it is in my DNA. I come from a long line of bitchers and moaners). Regardless, I don't like to complain on my blog that much because, really, who likes a whiner other than other whiners?

This is what I look like today but less smiley!

Too bad, so sad. I am whiny today.  I'm tired and  cranky and hate that Daylight Savings Time started this week! My son's school starts at 7:20 a.m. He has to be at the Bus Stop at 6:30. This is insane in itself, but the fact that the sun is not supposed to  rise today until 7:40 a.m., makes it totally crazy!

It's bad enough to have cranky teenagers in my house.  I'm glad that I'm not the teacher trying to educate a class of 16 year old zombies while it is still dark outside!   

Who is responsible for this stupid early Daylight Savings Time? Who do I direct my complaints to? Barack Obama?  Valdimir Putin? The boss of the sun? NASA? 

I do love when the sun does not set until late during the summer but it is still officially winter, even here in Miami. I'm not happy...

A Social Media Cautionary Tale...

Saturday, March 1, 2014

   Last week I wrote about my decision to keep my blog anonymous. However, just because you're "anonymous" or your settings on your social media sites are "private", does not mean that what you write might not get you in trouble one day.

   Without getting into a legal discussion, please know that whatever you post on the internet can be discovered if you're ever a party to a lawsuit. A judge is very likely to make you produce anything that you have posted to the internet, even if anonymous or "private".  This applies to what your family posts too.

  Recently, 69 year old Patrick Snay learned this the hard way.  Snay was the headmaster of a fancy prep school here in Miami but a few years ago, the school did not renew his contract and he sued for age discrimination. The school settled with him and agreed to pay $10,000 in back wages plus $80,000 for other damages and pay his attorneys fees. It was a win for him. The agreement contained a confidentiality clause prohibiting him from talking about the case.  These clauses are often standard in settlement agreements.

   Snay's daughter Dana was so excited about the results of her father's case, that she could not resist posting this to her 1200 Facebook friends immediately after it was agreed to.

“Mama and Papa Snay won the case against Gulliver.
Gulliver is now officially paying for my vacation to Europe this summer. SUCK IT.”

Supposedly this is a photo of Ms. Snay (source Yahoo! Shine)

   Besides making her parents so proud with her classy Facebook photo and post, she cost them $80,000. The school's  lawyers found out about the post within four days of the settlement and successfully asked the Court to invalidate the  agreement. The Florida appeals Court ruled that the settlement agreement was violated and that the school did not have to pay  the Principal.( The case can still be appealed to the Florida Supreme Court)

    You've probably seen the news stories about people posting their illegal acts online and it leading to problems for them ( example:  Miami Fraternity was suspended from campus after posting about drug dealing and hazing) and how posting about what you're doing can lead to people robbing you (example: woman's home was robbed after she posted that she was going out to see a concert. The burglars were her Facebook "friends" ) but did you know that it is possible that comments that you make on your blog or others can 
also get you in trouble?

   Courts have found that bloggers may have a free-speech right to write what they want to online but are not protected from being sued for their comments, even if posted anonymously!  If a Court finds that your online comments are defamatory, you could be liable for them. The legal line drawn is between "opinion" and "fact". If you call your ex-boyfriend a "liar or a loser", that is likely to be found to be an opinion and free speech. But if you write something like ,"Dr. Jones is the worst dentist. He overcharges people and performs work that does not really need to be done", it could be found to be defamatory. 

    So tread likely and think before you hit "enter". 


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