Monthly Archives: February 2019

And Then There Were None

Ain’t technology grand?  I had two laptops.  Yes, two.  One, a full size model, many years old with many, many miles.  As Fred Byrd, a Used Car Manager I worked with years ago said about a car I traded in, and it certainly would have applied here, “Well, you certainly have enjoyed your car.”  The other is a much newer, handy little light weight, very portable model.  In a matter of days, I had NO working computers.  And I have been used to always having technology at my finger tips.

So here’s how it went:  The old one had been running slower and slower.  Finally, it just didn’t want to work at all.  Oh, it would “boot up,” but that’s as far as it would go.  Later, a trip to the Geek Squad, who said “patience” was key (and all my patience has never gotten me any further with it) convinced me that it was time for a new computer.

What happened to the other one?  A mistake on my part, and one I want to share with you in hopes that I can prevent any of you from making a similar one, became an expensive lesson.  See, I accidentally deleted a couple of emails I thought were real important at the time, so I started on a mission to try to retrieve them.  It’s a long story involving my Gmail, my iPhone, Apple Tech Support, and what I thought from a Google search, was a bonafide Microsoft help desk that could help me.  The result was a very long lecture showing me, after I trustingly gave him control of my screen, that I had been hacked and someone in like Nebraska somewhere was accessing my computer.  Oh, they could help me get it cleared up alright, with a $400 commitment to use their security program.  Funny, I hadn’t had any trouble with this laptop until I called the number for help.  After what seemed like hours, I finally extricated myself from his clutches.  The next time I started my cute little “extra” laptop, I had an error message telling me an application was open on my computer and to call the number on my screen to resolve the problem.  I couldn’t get rid of it and I couldn’t open any programs.  What was the number you may ask?  Why, it was the number I had called for help of course.  I have now come to learn about “ransomware.”  Thence, the trip to the Geek Squad with two defunct laptops in hand.

The ransomed laptop was an inexpensive one, for sure, and I was able to get it “wiped,” but to the tune of about half what I paid for it when I bought it.  Yeah, I could have just given it up, but I REALLY wanted that bunch out of my world completely.  I did sign up for some security and tech support for this and up to about five more computers, which I will def apply to my new one.

This brings me to the next step…

So many choices!  I looked at so many laptops – I had to take photos to help me remember which I thought I might like (and could afford).  Did I want Intel or AMD, and what was the difference?  Did I really need a 15.6 inch screen again or would 14 inches do?  Oh yeah, and then there’s touch-screen or not.  How about a 2-in-1 versus a “regular” laptop?  You probably already knew this, but this one, I learned, converts to a tablet.  The list goes on.  And the price goes up.  I sure hadn’t planned on or budgeted for a new computer, but like everyone, I depend on it so much.

I’ve opted for the smaller 2-in-1 for now and, so far, I do like the touch-screen.  I have 90 days to decide for sure, one of the joys of being a COSTCO member.  Best Buy only gives you two weeks to change your mind.  Technology really is grand, I suppose, when it works.

About Jan Schim

Jan is a singer, a songwriter, a licensed body worker specializing in CranioSacral Therapy, and a teacher.  She is an advocate for the ethical treatment of ALL animals and a volunteer with several animal advocacy organizations.  She is also a staunch believer in the need to promote environmental responsibility.

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Food as a Weapon of War

Using food as a weapon of war goes back to the dawn of civilization.  Torched granaries are often found in the ruins of ancient cities destroyed by war.  In Medieval Europe, war usually meant laying siege to castles and towns until the enemy population was starved into submission.

Richard the Lion-Hearted used siege warfare to defeat his rebellious French barons.  Then he ordered that their fields be sown with salt condemning the local Gascony population to starvation because nothing could grow in salted fields.  That was the point for Richard.

In 19th century America, killing the buffalo was an intentional government policy aimed at destroying the primary source of food for the Plains Indians.  Eventually starving Indians agreed to confinement on reservations in return for regular rations of food.

Once they were on reservations, Indian agents routinely withheld rations from “hostile” Indians who objected to forced assimilation.  When starving Indians left their reservations in search of food, newspapers published lurid accounts of attacks on white settlers, conveniently omitting the reason why the Indians were off the reservation.  Then the military would hunt down the Indians and force them back onto the reservations….where their food rations were withheld because they were “hostiles”.

Today food is still used as a weapon of war from Yemen to Syria to Venezuela to the refugee camps run by the United Nations.  In Yemen and Syria, each side prevents the distribution of food to areas they consider hostile.  In Venezuela, Nicolas Maduro’s regime gives food only to party loyalists and recently ordered the military to block the border with Columbia to prevent a convoy of food from reaching starving Venezuelans.  U.N. refugee camps are routinely blockaded to prevent food deliveries.

Another threat to U.N-supported refugees arises from the erratic behavior of the U.S. government. The current U.S. administration continues the practice of reducing financial support of the U.N. citing a variety of reasons. Since the U.S. covers about a quarter of the entire U.N. budget, a loss of American funding means that millions of Rohingyas, Palestinians, Yemenis, Darfuris, and countless others are threatened with starvation since less money means less food is distributed in refugee camps.

Using food as a weapon is usually justified as a suitable punishment for an enemy.  A starving enemy is too weak to fight. While undeniably true, this justification should be rejected as barbaric and inhumane.  Using food as a weapon of war is a collective punishment against civilians.  Collective punishment targeted at civilian populations is prohibited under the “crimes against humanity” laws enacted since World War II.

Individually we may feel helpless, but collectively we have the power to remind governments of their U.N. treaty obligations. Ending the practice of using food as a weapon of war is a humane and ethical goal. It’s also a pragmatic goal. After all, we may someday find ourselves on the “enemy” side of a war.


About Norma Shirk

My company, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor, helps employers (with up to 50 employees) to create human resources policies and employee benefit programs that are appropriate to the employer’s size and budget. The goal is to help small companies grow by creating the necessary back office administrative structure while avoiding the dead weight of a bureaucracy.  To read my musings on the wacky world of human resources, see the HR Compliance Jungle ( which alternates on Wednesday mornings with my new history blog, History By Norma, (available at To read my musings on a variety of topics, see my posts on Her Savvy (

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The Other Side of the Couch – How to Change the World An Hour at a Time

Image result for reading to children


I have a new granddaughter.  She is nine months old now, and I am delighting in watching her become the person she is meant to be in this world.  Even at this young age she has decided preferences, and she has two devoted parents, not to mention grandparents on both sides who are wild about her.  This little girl is surrounded by so much love and care.

Human babies come into this world as the most fragile and helpless of creatures.  They are totally dependent for food, shelter and protection on their parents.  For their brains to develop properly they must receive these things, AS WELL AS the intangibles of loving and responsive interaction with caring adults.  We learned years ago that children who are physically cared for but emotionally ignored grow up with impaired ability to attach.  This distortion of attachment impairs adult relationships in major ways.

Dan Siegel, author of The Developing Mind, describes a baby’s brain as a first draft – the child has some hard-wired processes (handedness, various kinds of talents like perfect pitch), but the expression of many of the genes a child carries is also determined by environmental experiences. Nature vs. Nurture? No, Nature AND Nurture.  Both are significant in the development of a cohesive self.  Human beings are meant to develop in the context of relationship.  The human brain is a relational organism that does not develop well in isolation from others.

Does this mean that the many children across the world who are born into war, into poverty, into natural disasters are doomed?  It does not – because human beings also have a remarkable ability to persist in the face of very challenging circumstances.  Sometimes the existence of even one adult in a child’s life who responds to them with care and concern is enough to give that child the hope for tomorrow that is needed to surmount the troubles of today.  Teachers, aunts, uncles, caring neighbors – all have a role to play in helping kids in difficult circumstances.

My granddaughter is lucky – she will likely never have to lack for love or response.  Millions of other children are not so situated.  Perhaps you have an hour a week to do something as simple as read a book at an elementary school in your city.  Being read to is one of the most important ways that children learn to love and appreciate books; this leads to better reading skills, better success in school, and better ability to connect to others.

How to change the world – one hour at a time.  Think about it!

About Susan Hammonds-White, EdD, LPC/MHSP

Communications and relationship specialist, counselor, Imago Relationship Therapist, businesswoman, mother, proud native Nashvillian – in private practice for 30+ years. I have the privilege of helping to mend broken hearts. Contact me at

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Recovering from the flu: Lessons Learned


As I sit here writing this post, I am finally feeling more like myself than I have in a couple of weeks.  Two weeks ago, after a lovely weekend getaway with my husband, I got hit with a terrible bout of the flu.  I am not someone who picks up all sorts of little viruses from everyone I meet.  When I get sick, I REALLY get sick.  And this time was no different.  I had the fever, body aches, upper respiratory congestion, all of it.  And while my sweet husband tried valiantly to help with hot tea, soup and sympathy, there was pretty much nothing he could do to make me feel better.  My daughter, god love her, even sent an order of chicken soup from Whole Foods, along with a massive box of saltines.  And honestly, that was about the most helpful thing someone could do.  Mostly I just lay in bed trying to get comfortable.

So why am I engaging in this self-pity?  Well, this is the first time I’ve been sick while owning my business.  And that changed everything for me.  Much like a mom being sick while trying to care for small children, I had all the guilt and shame of not being able to care for my business “baby.”  Thank goodness I have a partner who could shoulder some of my tasks and was patient while I convalesced.  But honestly, no one could have been harder on me, than me.  And while I tried, I really did, to carry out at least some of my duties, I could barely lift my head off the pillow.  And as the week trudged on, I just kept beating myself up for not being able to do much of anything.

The second week of this flu, my fever broke and I felt less achy.  But the weakness and exhaustion continued for several more days.  I tried to do one big thing each day, and then spent the afternoon in bed.  I even tried to work out a bit, take a Pilates lesson, anything to get my body moving.  I haven’t felt that fatigued since I had mono as a teenager.  One day, I met with my partner, then had coffee with another business contact, and proceeded to go home and fall asleep on the couch.

Okay, I’m whining, I know it.  And while I’m also aware that my business can certainly survive a week or two of my absence, it was the unplanned nature of the absence.  Both my partner and I take vacations from time to time. But those are planned for and expected.  And of course, the randomness of getting sick also makes me feel out of control, and who likes that feeling?

So here I sit, feeling pretty normal except for a lingering cough, trying to figure out what I can learn from this situation.  Of course with any luck, I won’t be sick again for awhile, but there are other unpredictable situations that come up in life.   I guess for me, the biggest lesson is that it’s okay to be…human!  Getting sick is part of being human.  So is a family or pet emergency, a household repair or car breakdown.  In short, living life brings unexpected situations, both good and difficult.  Being a business owner surely complicates things, but if I’ve built a solid infrastructure, it can withstand these bumps in the road.  And I’m pretty confident that if I’d been a bit kinder to myself, I may have recovered a little quicker, or at least I wouldn’t have felt quite as fraught with worry.

So, here’s to a healthier body and a calmer, more forgiving (of myself) spirit.

About Barbara Dab

Barbara Dab is a small business owner, journalist, broadcast radio personality, producer and award-winning public relations consultant.  She is the proud owner of Nashville Pilates Company, a boutique Pilates studio in Nashville’s Wedgewood/Houston neighborhood.  Check it out at  She is also the creator of The Peretz Project: Stories from the Shoah: Next Generation.  The Peretz Project, named for her late father-in-law who was a Holocaust survivor, is collecting testimony from children of survivors.  Visit  If you are, or someone you know is, the child of survivors of the Shoah, The Holocaust, and you would like to tell your story please leave a comment and Barbara will contact you.

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