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Maybe this will help. Or not.
Maybe this will help. Or not.

I almost forgot to write this blog

My memory sucks.

I am actually surprised I remembered to write this blog at all.

I will embarrassingly admit that I started this piece a while back, saved it and then never even recalled its creation or need for completion until I was opening another document and stumbled upon "Blog Memory." It was lying dormant, waiting editing in my Document file, abandoned not from malice or disinterest, but from pure ignorance of its existence.

The alarming nature of this incident indicated a need for some immediate brain healing and investigation into why I seem to be suffering from a lack of retention.

I’ve always been a "list writer." But, these days especially, if something is going to get done, it has to be catalogued on my "list." Even, then I have to actually remember to jot it down on there. Growing up (and to this day,) my mother utilized her "Famous Yellow List," a single sheet torn from a mini legal pad, that inventoried her endless "to dos" while also housing coupons and other important slips within it’s single fold, secured with a single silver paper clip. I took on this modeled behavior, which has evolved into an almost compulsive use of the Reminders App, born out of and maintained due to necessity.

But, I wonder if my dependence on "the list" has contributed to my brain getting lazy. Kind of like GPS has become my inner compass’s crutch. I’ve never really possessed a good innate sense of direction, but now I don’t have one at all. It’s become so easy to plug in an address and let Siri tell me where to go instead of knowing how to get there. Could this reliance on computerized mapping also have affected my memory? I haven’t had to actually remember how to get anywhere in ages! Perhaps my poor recall skills are a yet another symptom to fuel my dislike of technology.

I’m pretty sure my memory has been on the decline since my early twenties. Or at least I think it has been. I really can’t even remember when this all started. My ability to retain i…

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No, we can't even just be friends, Facebook.
No, we can't even just be friends, Facebook.

Farewell, Facebook!

This ain't no resolution. This is a mother trucking manifesto.

I’m going to tell you how I really feel and then, I’m going to actually do something about it. No apathy here.

Maybe this is just a phase. But, this is totally about me – not you, nor anyone who chooses to continue to engage with you.

I’m just … not that into you anymore.

I need some time apart, to navigate without you for a bit. I realized a while back that my relationship with you has totally disconnected me from reality. What you deliver to me is in no way authentic. It’s a specifically sorted collage of only what you and your users want to show me, allowing the mind to create false stories around this show of selective truth.

My relationship with you has caused me to become cut off from so much. I feel a deep disconnect from culture – true culture that I can corporeally experience. I am ashamed at how out of touch with real news I am, influenced into accepting your "feed" as an alternative to more journalistic sources. Newspapers and telecasts replaced by your relentless roll filled with gossip and half-truths.

Most disturbing is that I feel your presence like Big Brother, watching my every move so that EVERYONE is privy to details of my daily life or special events – even when I myself do not share this information. I miss the anonymity of daily life. And not only do you track and broadcast my activity, but you then use it to try to sell me anything that may be within my demographic interests.

I miss my life before you, when my privacy didn’t need a policy.

I don’t think I’m better than you or anything like that.

*I just don’t feel BETTER after I interact with you.*

Honestly, most of the time I feel worse. I am sensitive to your emotion-manipulating advertising and non-consensual social and psychological experiments. I am defenseless to the portal of spontaneous energies you deal to me via the screen of my digital devises. But, I will no longer be a victim to your p…

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Ellen Cook volunteers her time and talents to Flashes of Hope.
Ellen Cook volunteers her time and talents to Flashes of Hope.

Local photographer offers Flashes of Hope for kids with cancer

Photographers capture moments, preserve emotions and convey feelings through the images caught by the shutter of their lens.

For families dealing with childhood cancer, the moments captured by photographers like Whitefish Bay’s Ellen Cook through the organization Flashes of Hope at in-hospital photo shoots provide forever precious memories.

Flashes of Hope was founded in 2001 by the parents of a child with cancer. The completely volunteer organization now has chapters in 55 cities and photographs more than half of the children diagnosed with cancer in the United States each year. Families are given reprints, enlargements and a disk at no charge.

Cook reflects, "For too many families, these might be the last images of their children." In fact, 25 percent of the children photographed do not survive.

Flashes of Hope deals solely with childhood cancer and since 2009 have been fund raising for childhood cancer research through the Kick-It Program. Childhood cancer research is a highly neglected area, which according to Flashes of Hope’s website, "receives only 4 percent of U.S federal funding for research R&D in (the) pharmaceutical industry (while) adult cancer research 60 percent ... children's cancer research (is) close to 0 percent." Additionally, most childhood cancers have no known cause and do not discriminate based on economic status, ethnic group or geographic area making all families vulnerable.

Cook, an in-demand professional photographer in Milwaukee and beyond known for her distinct ability to artistically document family events like weddings, pregnancy and infant to senior portraits has spent the last five years as one of many area photographers that donates time and talent to Flashes of Hope.

She sees her service as a way to use her creative passion and express her gratitude for her two healthy children while giving families with children diagnosed with cancer the gift of beautiful portraits and memories. She has done shoots at Children’s Hospita…

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A few extra calories at a holiday meal won't make you Santa-shaped. Promise.
A few extra calories at a holiday meal won't make you Santa-shaped. Promise.

Give yourself the gift of smart eating

Christmas decorations and retail holiday gift sets have been on display since the end of September, so it’s not surprising that nutritional propaganda about holiday eating started being jousted at consumers in conjunction with the early onslaught of sleigh bells and gift wrapping.

Mixed messages in the media abound with images of indulgent holiday classics like iced fruit cake juxtaposed with the latest diet fads and fitness trends in anticipation of Jan. 1.

Last month, I opened up my complimentary subscription to "Cooking Light" and saw an article touting how to save 555 calories at Thanksgiving. I could not stifle the guffaw as I examined the visual of two plates side by side, comparing 20 calories saved by choosing cranberry sauce over gravy or the 27-calorie deficit from putting 4 ounces of light and dark meat turkey on your plate versus 4 ounces of white meat with skin.

While these sensible swaps are great ideas to integrate into healthier daily eating habits, it seems really trivial, borderline shallow and unnecessarily obsessive to be worrying about a few hundred calories on one or two really special days of the year when you are hopefully surrounded by friends and family that will love you whether you are at your "happy" weight or a few pounds over.

It’s a given that this time of year includes an inevitable packing on of the pounds, but I am certain this is not just happening from a single meal at Thanksgiving or one Christmas dinner. It’s from a collective burning of fewer calories since most people engage in less activity due to colder temps and shorter days and repeated increased calorie consumption from more social eating and drinking with the boost in holiday get-togethers.

No one’s diet or training program was ever totally sabotaged from one indulgence. And certainly not from a few bites or even an entire satisfying holiday meal made special by Grandma or Auntie June. Healthy eating and living is a true lifestyle choice; it’s not a temporary…

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