I swear

stockimages, freedigitalphotos.net

stockimages, freedigitalphotos.net

The curse of language arts

My 42-year-old husband swears his parents have never heard him swear.

I wish my 9-year-old could make that claim.

His latest favorite expression is “Oh, Jesus!”

I don’t where it came from. He certainly didn’t get it from me. My expletives tend to be a lot more colorful.

He didn’t get it from his father, who saves his swearing for his own generation (although it’s mostly regarding another generation).

Even the Cartoon Network doesn’t use that particular phrase.

Koss, on the other hand, weaves it loudly into conversation at every opportunity. On a recent Sunday we went for his and hers cheap haircuts at Fantastic Sam’s. The place was crowded with families on their way home from church. We sat side by side as our locks were chopped. I smiled proudly at my well-behaved little angel. He beamed back at me and said, in his loudest voice, “Oh Jesus, Mom, look at all that hair on the floor.”

I hope the 12 sets of eyes that turned to stare at me were praying for my hair and not my soul.

And if you were one of those people in the store, and you were praying for my hair, could you ask for some natural highlights in a color other than gray?


How do you explain to a kid that some people get pretty offended when you take a certain someone’s name in vain?

I’m sure it was just coincidental that a few days later my package of art supplies from Thailand had been opened and inspected by the Office of Homeland Security. And I’m sure those little clicks on my telephone line were just static.

The Cuss Control Patrol is a force to be reckoned with these days. I read about a Michigan man who faced a possible jail term of up to 90 days and a $100 fine for swearing in front of children, after he was dumped from his canoe. Thank goodness they weren’t around when I slammed my finger in the car door.

Unless you’re on TV or in the movies, swearing these days requires a certain stealth.

My clever niece sneaks in potty talk by telling stories about other kids in her preschool. “Ethan said poo poo. Can you believe he said poo poo? That’s all he says. Poo poo. Poo poo. Poo poo. That Ethan.”

I try not to encourage her by laughing, but I can’t help but admire her subversive skill.

Apparently we have a subversive family.

A few years ago, my son and his father collaborated on a book about the evil adventures of Mr. Dr. Big. When Koss returned to school and proudly shared the creation with his kindergarten class, his teacher changed “they kicked his butt” to “they kicked his tushie” before reading it aloud.

I guess my Offend-o-Meter needs a tune up.

The writer in me knows that superheroes don’t kick tushie, they kick butt. But apparently the mom in me should know better.

Even if I can get past the somewhat distasteful idea of deciding on a list of unacceptable words for my child’s ever-expanding vocabulary, and stop myself from swearing in his presence, I still have another huge challenge ahead – keeping a straight face.

Sure, children swearing can be embarrassing, but it can also be downright hysterical. Some of the biggest laughs in “Meet the Fockers,” come from the baby’s first word, “*%^hole.” And I’ll never forget the litany of swear words coming out of my friend Ari Echt, when he was only 2. His vocabulary could rival a truck driver’s, and his gravelly voice made it all the more amusing.

So I think I understand the distinction. It’s funny when other kids do it, but it’s not funny when your kid does it.

Especially when Grandma’s around.

Or at a birthday party last weekend, for example.

“Hey fartface.”

“Shut up, bonehead.”

“In your face, stupidhead.”

I giggle to myself and then remember, I’m a mom and I’m obligated to turn the Offend-o-Meter up a notch.

Oh Jesus!

Share your favorite phrases with email . Originally published in the Santa Barbara Daily Sound on February 27, 2009. For more columns visit LeslieDinaberg.com.

Noozhawk Talks: Leslie Dinaberg Sits Down With Kendre Sanborn

Kendre Sanborn, pausing for a quick reflection at Arroyo Burro Beach, is about as an involved school parent as one can be. (Michelle J. Wong / Noozhawk photo)

Kendre Sanborn, pausing for a quick reflection at Arroyo Burro Beach, is about as an involved school parent as one can be. (Michelle J. Wong / Noozhawk photo)

As president of both the Santa Barbara Area PTA Council and the Hope School
District Educational Foundation, not to mention the busy mother of three children,
Kendre Sanborn certainly has her hands full. Here she tells Leslie Dinaberg
about how she juggles it all.

Leslie Dinaberg: How did you get involved with the area council PTA?

Kendre Sanborn: When I was the Vieja Valley PTA president I hadn’t been on the board before. I knew nothing but wanted to get involved. I thought the best way to learn about PTA was to go through all the trainings that PTA offers and so I kept
seeing the same volunteers over and over again. And when there were issues
going on with our PTA they were really helpful and came to my aid whenever I
needed anything.

LD: And now you’re heading up the whole thing. What area does that

KS: There are 27 schools currently, from Montecito all the way to Goleta. I don’t
know everything that it entails yet because I’m still kind of learning everything,
but we basically meet to make sure that everyone is up to their standards, …
they have all these criteria that they need to follow to be in good standing. It’s our
board’s job to make sure that all those groups are in good standing. Then
another thing the area council does is send out information to the presidents
about legislation that is going on. There are a lot of areas that we cover; we’re
giving information constantly to these PTA presidents.

LD: Is there anything interesting legislatively that is going on?

KS: Right now they are really pushing that the governor doesn’t cut budgets to
schools. They’re also looking at the stimulus package and they’re really keeping
an eye on that, because if each individual state gets money then PTA really
wants to make sure that the schools get money.

LD: You’re also president of the Hope School District Educational Foundation.
What does that group do? (Laughs) <Editor’s Note: Leslie Dinaberg is also on the
board of the Hope School District Educational Foundation>

KS: We do fundraising to enrich the educational programs at Hope, Monte Vista
and Vieja Valley Elementary Schools. And we also work to encourage
collaboration and communication among the three campuses. Right now we’re
working on our Fourth Annual Golf Classic, which will be held May 15th at Glenn
Annie Golf Course.

LD: And what is that fundraiser for?

KS: Well, the state and federal budget cuts have forced our school district to cut
funding for our library program in half. So the golf tournament money will be
used to help restore the library program.

LD: Great cause. Now you also volunteer at your kids’ schools, right?

KS: Yes, my two older kids go to Santa Barbara Middle School and I volunteer
once a week to help serve lunch and then I was helping as an ambassador,
where we talk to potential parents.

LD: What do you do at Vieja Valley?

KS: Wow talking about the things I do makes me realize I have a lot on my
plate. I count and deposit PTA money, volunteer in the classroom once a week,
and I’m on the committee for the honorary service awards. We will soon be in the
process of finding people to honor at our school.

LD: What about the area council event?

KS: The area council usually has a Reflections reception, which is a really neat
thing. They usually put on a reception for all the winners for our area. (The
National PTA Reflections Program is an arts recognition and achievement
program for students, which provides opportunities for students to express
themselves creatively and to receive positive recognition for original works of art.)
Then there’s also an honorary service award event held once a year. This is an
event for all the volunteers who are recognized at their schools to also be
recognized at a community level.

And also with Reflections, if you’re a winner for the area, then the district has a
reception as well, so all of those people attend, and it’s really neat to be

LD: Let’s shift a little bit to talk about you. I know you’re really busy with volunteer
work now, but what did you do professionally before you had kids?

KS: I finished my master’s in clinical psychology and I was working on my hours,
you have to complete a certain amount of hours to be certified. During that time I
got married and had my first child. I was fortunate enough to be able to stay
home with him. I really wanted to stay home and be with my baby. So from then
on I stayed home.

LD: I know you’ve traveled a lot. What are some of your favorite trips?

KS: Africa. And more specifically I really like Kenya and Tanzania; also going to
the Artic was really neat. We’ve been to Japan, which was pretty cool. Next week
we’re on our way to Antarctica. I haven’t been before but that’s one of my
husband’s favorite places. … We took Andrew on his first international trip to
Australia and New Zealand when he was 14 months old, and he traveled so well
it made me realize, “wow, we can take him anywhere.” Then the other two just
grew up doing it. They learned how to behave on a plane.

LD: And so do you guys take a big trip every summer?

KS: Yeah. … The funniest thing. Eric was traveling a lot for business at one point
and he had a lot of miles, and he was taking Andrew to some places to help gain
a lot of miles. During the early 90s, a lot of airlines said if you fly here you get
triple the miles, so he would take Andrew to Japan for the weekend just to get
miles, and of course to see Japan. He ended up acquiring a lot of miles.

One time Andrew and I were on a trip and we were coming through Atlanta on
our way home and I was checking in at the counter and the agent said, “Okay our
flight is really full but we can upgrade Andrew, but you’ll be in coach.” And I said,
“okay fine, as long as I’m kind of close to first class.” And they said “fine, so
where is Andrew? And I said, “He’s down here.” He was seven or something and
he was so low to the ground they couldn’t see him. The agent was laughing
saying “oh my gosh; the flight attendants are going to love this. Will he be okay
by himself?” And I said, “oh absolutely”. Our kids have traveled a lot.

… For spring break we’re going to go to Bhutan and Nepal.

LD: Is there any place you’ve never been that you’ve always wanted to go

KS: Yeah, I want to go to India.

LD: Do you guys totally have it down in terms of what to pack? Five people is a
lot of people.

KS: You would be shocked. When we check into hotels people are like “oh, is
this everything?” And we say yes and they are amazed. We totally have it down.
Usually we travel with about two suitcases.

LD: That would impress my husband.

KS: And two backpacks. Now it took a while to get to that (laughs) but when you
start traveling a lot you learn a lot of tricks. For instance you only pack for about a
week, and then you learn to find a place to do laundry and obviously you want to
find the least expensive places to do your laundry, especially with five people.
But sometimes you have to pay high prices but it’s a great way to not over pack. I
definitely miss my shoes when I’m gone.

Vital Stats: Kendre Sanborn

Born: December 5, Santa Monica, California

Family: Husband Eric, children Andrew (13), Emily (11) and Claira (9)

Civic Involvement: Area council PTA President, HSDEF President, Volunteer
Vieja Valley School, Santa Barbara Middle School

Professional Accomplishments: “I’ve definitely seen how organizations work
and what it is like going into an organization and being able to know what I need
to do and get it done. And also being able to get along with people and be
respectful of their issues.”

Best Book You’ve Read Recently: “I love to read. I’m reading ‘The Shack.’ It’s
really interesting because it’s kind of religious but not in a dominating way, it is
not pushing one particular religion. It’s about a way to live your life and relate to
other people.”

Little-Known Fact: “My husband and I have made more than 2,000 loans to
individuals and their families all around the world who are in less fortunate
circumstances than our own – mostly through KIVA.org, a San Francisco based
micro lender.”

Originally published in Noozhawk on February 17, 2009. Click here to read the article on that site.

Noozhawk Talks: Leslie Dinaberg Sits Down With Dave Davis

Dave Davis

Dave Davis

After almost 25 years as the City of Santa Barbara’s Community Development Director and a City Planner, Dave Davis now brings his expertise to the Community Environmental Council (CEC), where he serves as CEO/Executive Director.

Leslie Dinaberg: Did you ever think you would end up working for the CEC after retirement?

Dave Davis: The simple answer is no … but it’s great. It was taking all the things I had
learned for 30 years and applying them from a community standpoint of being an
advocate for positive change. … It was liberating for me to really focus on what
needs to be done.

LD: It sounds like a very unique opportunity.

DD: It really was. So did I ever envision it, no. But boy it slapped me upside the
head and there was no denying that yeah, I want to do this. I want to put my
effort behind it.

LD: That’s terrific. What are some of your priority programs?

DD: Starting the energy program … to create a blueprint for Santa Barbara
County. We found a nice little jingle, “Fossil free by ’33.”

… We basically set the priorities. They are really simple. Within in this region
focus on energy efficiency, personal energy efficiency and building energy
efficiency, secondly transportation efficiency, and that includes everything from
hybrid cars to mass transit and so forth, alternative fuels, building as many
literally, renewable projects within the region as possible.

LD: What do you mean by that?

DD: Wind, solar, wave. What this blueprint does is it actually inventories the
potential for any of those categories here in Santa Barbara. When you look at the
state of California and …the amount of land that you can actually do major wind
projects boils down to a very, very small area, two or three spots, and we happen
to be one of them. In and around the Lompoc Point Conception area, and
offshore outside of the islands, there is a significant potential for wind
development over the years that could supply major amounts of energy-not just
for Santa Barbara, much more than we would ever use-that we would be
supporting the energy use of Southern California.

… The big solar projects for us are inland, Cuyama Valley those areas out there,
that’s where the potential is. But there is on top of essentially almost every
significant rooftop the opportunity to do major solar distributing to the community.

… Financing is just so expensive, so one of the things we’re working on …
there’s been recent legislation which allows cities and counties to float low
interest revenue bonds which are then paid off by people who want the solar on
their houses and their payments go onto their property taxes over 30 years.

… Lastly when it comes to renewables there, is potential within the region for
wave energy. This is really new technology, … but again when you get off of
Point Conception area, the wave frequency, wave height, again we have a
resource potential there which outstrips our usage here.

LD: So you’re got this blueprint and you’ve got these plans …

DD: … so the last thing here is to move this out into the community and public
policy. … We formed a coalition with the architects, the American Institute of
Architects, the AIA; the Santa Barbara Contractors Association, the Sustainability
Project and Built Green Santa Barbara, and we went to the city and challenged
them to work with us to develop the most energy efficient ordinance in California,
if not the country, and we did. And adopted it. And it’s been in effect and we’re
going to the county in the very term to move that policy also out into the

LD: In the county, because of the fires, there’s a lot more building going on now
than we would have ever thought.

DD: Now let’s go into another example. So the fire happened and we were all
affected in one way or another, emotionally if not physically. …Again, we pulled
together our same coalition …We held a community forum up at Montecito
Covenant Church and we had 250 people.

Our coalition, led by us, went to the city and the county and said we want to
develop a plan not just to fast track these guys, but to basically put them on a
whole other process that they avoid the pitfalls of rebuilding. So we worked …
that if in fact they come in and they want to build better, they don’t go down
through that whole process of boards and committee and reviews, so they have
an independent review to look at those architectural, energy, and fire resistance
improvements and that they would move, not just to the head of the line, they
would go on consent calendar, that they would move directly on to the consent
calendar of the design review board so that they can go immediately into building
their house.

LD: It seems like incredible timing for that.

DD: Yes. …If you went in and tried to retrofit those big old houses it’s really
complicated. But now people can actually think was that the best place to put the
building. Did it need to be over here? Did the road need to be wider? Did the
materials need to be fire resistant? And while I’m doing this could the materials
basically save me money energy efficiency wise?

And I must tell you, the night we set up this forum it was one month to the day of
the fire we held the forum, which was pretty quick to get people out, organization,
everybody there. Not knowing how traumatized people would be …we really
actually hit a nerve. … People came up to me and said this is the first time since
the fire that I felt any sense of help. I teared up because it was really personal. …
This was just a great opportunity for the community to come together.

LD: What do you think would be the single thing that we, as a community, could
do to improve our energy efficiency?

DD: There isn’t one, there’s really two. They are at the heart of what I’ve been
talking about. On the South Coast, the biggest things that we can do is one,
make our buildings more energy efficient. … The second thing … if we could
develop aggressive social carpooling techniques, it would be significant. …
Young people, they’re geared to do it. Generationally, they’re going to do it, if we
can give them the tools and encourage it, then you start pushing it up to old folks
like me, we could go a long way.

LD: That’s actually a great use of technology.

DD: The other thing too, if we build the freeway, … that third lane being an HOV
(high occupancy vehicle) lane and running buses from Ventura like they’re doing.
They’re going through the roof with their subscriptions and carpooling of three
people per car. It would make a difference not just on the freeway but on the city
streets and in the parking lots.

LD: That has a good synergy with your work as a board member at MTD

DD: Oh absolutely. To my glee I found with my retirement that I could pull
together all the good things that I wanted to accomplish and do them. Not bad.

LD: If you could pick three adjectives to describe yourself, what would they

DD: Clearly I’m passionate, and that goes from my avocations to my vocation;
knowledgeable, both from the standpoint that I’m now a community elder, and
that I have basically always loved to seek knowledge and continue to. You know
the thing that I loved about my job with the city was that it brought me into
contact with so many different fields of expertise and knowledge. …. The other
one I would say is basically I’m happy, that Joie de Vivre, let the good times

Vital Stats: Dave Davis

Born: New Orleans, Louisiana, July 15, 1948

Family: wife Jean, son Jesse (30) and daughter Nora (27)

Civic Involvement: Board member, Metropolitan Transit District, board member,
UCSB Economic Forecast Project; CEO/Executive Director, Community
Environmental Council

Professional Accomplishments: City of Santa Barbara’s Community Development
Director and City Planner for almost 25 years; taught planning and environmental
studies at UCLA and Moorpark College; Downtown Organization Citizen of the
Year; Citizens Planning Association Planner of the Year, American Planning
Association National Social Advocacy Planner of the Year; Lifetime Achievement
Award, Santa Barbara American Institute of Architects; Jacaranda Award for
Lifetime Achievement, Santa Barbara Beautiful.

Best Book You’ve Read Recently: “Three Cups of Tea” by Greg Mortenson and
David Oliver Relin

Little-Known Fact: Until a few years ago Davis was an avid surfer, and once
surfed 20-foot waves in Kaui’s Hanalei Bay.

Originally published in Noozhawk on February 17, 2009. Click here to read the article on that site.

Noozhawk Talks: Leslie Dinaberg Sits Down With Teri Coffee McDuffie

When it comes to women’s self-defense, you can’t beat confidence — and a well-timed poke under the Adam’s apple.

Teri Coffee McDuffie, courtesy photo

Teri Coffee McDuffie, courtesy photo

“One of the most important things women need to know about their safety is that there are ways you can help avoid being picked as an intended victim,” says Teri Coffee McDuffie, owner and founder of Santa Barbara Women’s Self-Defense. McDuffie talks with Leslie Dinaberg about how she learned to be capable, confident and in control-and how she’s teaching others to do the same thing.

Leslie Dinaberg: How did you get started with Santa Barbara Women’s Self-Defense?

Teri Coffee McDuffie: I’ve been training in martial arts for 26 years. After about five or six years, I realized that the majority around me were men … and I thought, why is that? Women need it far more than men … so why aren’t more women doing this?

I realized it’s because we have much more commitment in life to family, to our husbands, to what’s going on with children and life. Fulltime careers kind of envelop us, and there’s not much time to fully commit to martial arts.

So I thought, how can I take this program that I’m doing in martial arts and take snippets of the best of what I’m learning and create a small program that will be basic and simple and make it something they can do in a short period of time? I designed it about 20 years ago.

LD: Obviously safety is the number one thing, but what about physical fitness?

TCM: Anybody can do it. … We’ve trained people that are 87 years old, kids that are ten years old; we’ve done people with physical disabilities in every way.

… At the Braille Institute because we are teaching the senior citizens over there and some of the people do have sight disability. …. In the fall, we had a class of ten and we’re going back in the springtime. And we volunteer there, that is a lot of fun.

LD: How long is the course?

TCM: In general we have an eight-hour course, and it’s divided numerous ways for people’s convenience.

LD: It sounds like you’re working with a wide variety of ages.

TCM: Yes, but the most frequent group that comes in here are in their 40s and 50s because they seem to be the group that truly understands the need for it in their lives in terms of feeling more completely and fully balanced.

… It’s really hard to get actually the target group for victimization, which is the college age. …We can’t get them to recognize that they can be one of those victims.

LD: I think in the college atmosphere the perception of strangers is different than anywhere else too.

TCM: Absolutely. … But 90 percent of people that are attacked, it’s done by somebody that they’ve met or know.

LD: Really?

TCM: It’s a friend or somebody that they’ve been acquainted with, like somebody bumping into them every day, saying hello, somebody that drops off their mail, somebody that they meet in the grocery store that’s bagging their groceries, that says hi to them, that they have some comfort level with.

LD: That totally flies against my assumptions, because you would think I would know where to find that person and identify them.

TCM: It has to be somebody that’s going to have that kind of vulnerability and the more vulnerable people are going to not react when they are attacked, they are going to be more fearful, they are going to be the victim.

… Everybody can be a target. It’s not about how cute you look. They’re looking for attitude, appearance and how you’re walking around. It’s about how you’re presenting yourself out there in terms of vulnerability. That’s what they’re looking for. It can be anybody.

LD: There’s such a fine line, as a parent, you want to teach your children to be strong and self-confident and cautious, but at the same time you don’t want them to be completely scared of every stranger that talks to them.

TCM: Great, now what you just said right there is what we battle against because we have so many mothers out there saying, “I’m not sure if I can have my daughter take your course because what I’m worried about is she’s going to end up paranoid.”

And we say “No, if your daughter takes this course, she will feel so much more in control because instead of feeling fearful that things will happen to her, she’s going to reverse that and take control of more of her life and take control of situations so things don’t happen to her.

LD: What are some of the things you teach?

TCM: We tell people they have so many different choices. What we start out doing is just showing just a simple strategy. If someone walks up to them and they feel uncomfortable because they’ve violated their space, we give them an option such as saying, “stop” in a big voice, or they just step back instead of stepping forward and put their hands up and use their voice.

LD: How long does it typically take for people until it the strategies become instinctual?

TCM: I think very quickly because we do it frequently during the class.

LD: There’s certain element, at least in my own thought process, of embarrassment. What if that person wasn’t really walking toward me?

TCM: We talk about that it’s okay to be embarrassed and be wrong but be safe. Listen to your instincts, it’s important, and if you’re wrong you’re safe.

… When you’re choked, this one is just a good one to know, you find someone’s Adam’s apple and then right under the Adam’s apple you just take your fingers and expand it straight in. It doesn’t hurt them, but it does make them extremely uncomfortable. No matter how powerful they are, no matter how big they are, they will back off to that. It doesn’t take any strength whatsoever.

LD: That’s also not intimidating. I think some people can’t picture themselves jumping around, but poking someone in the Adam’s apple seems doable.

TCM: Yeah and if somebody jumped on you and all of a sudden they’re choking you, you can reach out in the dark and find the Adam’s apple. We do different scenarios like that. … The things that scare you in your mind, that are so big in your mind and you can have a visual release from that.

LD: You mentioned doing some mobile training where you go into businesses?

TCM: We go into places of business and we do whatever structure works for them. … It’s really good for the employees in terms of morale boosting, because they feel better getting in their cars at night and it’s just a safer environment for everybody.

LD: Do you go to martial arts competitions?

TCM: Yes. I go to national competitions all the time. … It’s wonderful because you get to meet people from all around … year after year you become bonded with those people. We’re one huge family. …I’m going to Korea this year to test for sixth degree in the fall.

LD: If you could be invisible anywhere in Santa Barbara, where would you go and what would you do?

TCM: When the women leave here and have taken the course-if I was invisible, so I didn’t have to be a voyeur-I would like to follow them around a little bit and see how they’re walking around in terms of their attitude and empowerment. How they are looking out in the world.

LD: Can you recognize from the posture of somebody that has been trained in self-defense?

TCM: You bet. From the first day they’ve been in this course to the last day they’ve been in this course, they are like night and day … it’s just amazing.

Vital Stats: Teri Coffee McDuffie

Born: San Francisco, CA; November 13, 1959

Family: Husband, Ian McDuffie

Civic Involvement: Braille Institute, Obama Campaign

Professional Accomplishments: Owner/founder of Santa Barbara Women’s Self-Defense; Five-time national champion, fifth degree black belt; Certified martial arts instructor.

Best Book You’ve Read Recently: Gift of Fear by Gavin DeBecker.

Little-Known Fact: “I’m very shy. A lot of people wouldn’t think I’m very shy but that’s probably what has really driven me to do all of these other things that I’ve done is because I am moving in the opposite direction of what I want to do, which is just curl up and hide in the corner, which is absolutely what I want to help people not do.”

Originally published in Noozhawk on February 15, 2009.

The Irresistible Pull of Irrational Behavior

2118114…is willing to accept that she creates her own reality except for some of the parts where she can’t help but wonder what the hell she was thinking.

Brian Andreas, Storypeople

If you ask my husband, I live most of my days on the flip side of reason.

It’s not that I don’t believe in the principles of logic, it’s just that Leslie Logic has a life-and a mind-of its own. Whether I’m squeezing a three-hour project into a 79-minute block of time, justifying that chocolate calories don’t count if they’re eaten standing up, or complaining that my back hurts as I put another three pounds of “emergency supplies” into my purse, somehow it all makes sense at the time.

Given my tendencies, it was no surprise that I was tempted to check out, Sway: The Irresistible Pull of Irrational Behavior, a recent bestseller in which authors (and brothers) Ori and Rom Brafman attempt to explore several of the psychological forces that derail rational thinking.

I always like books that make me think twice about truths I hold self-evident, and “Sway” is one of those rare books that explains the obvious in ways that are not obvious at all.

According the Brafman’s there are certain “sway factors” that influence our decision-making, including:

* “Loss aversion” – when we engage in irrational behavior when we perceive potential losses. The bigger the stakes, the higher the risks we are likely to take to avoid those losses.

Ah, like at cocktail parties, where you’re only interested in what your significant other has to say when that cute young thing is flirting with him. Or at Nordstrom, when you’re ready to walk away from those sale-priced black boots that are indistinguishable from the three pairs you have at home, but can’t live without them when another gal comes sniffing at the leather.

* “The swamp of commitment” – where past success using certain strategies reinforces the likelihood of our using the same strategy over and over, even when common sense tells us another way might be more successful in a new situation.

I get this one too, which is why I can’t stop myself from studying the ground every time I go to the Arlington Theatre, where I once found a $20 bill on the floor. Irrational maybe, but apparently this is common enough behavior to be able to write a best selling book about it.

I was somewhat comforted to find that I wasn’t alone in this regard.

Then, when I queried my friends about their irrational behavior, I got all sorts of responses I could relate to, even more than the examples in the book. Like Penny, who “went to the gym and ran six miles, then stopped by See’s Candy on her way home for a snack.” Or Melanie who said she devours “People” magazine whenever she can get her hands on it, even though she doesn’t even know half the people in “People,” thanks to being 40+ years old.

Then there’s Miranda, who shops online when she’s supposed to be working and admits, “I would be so wealthy if I didn’t give a damn about clothes.” And Candace, who pretends to be a health nut with her children but steals candy from their party favor bags to eat when they’re not looking. Or Polly, who says she always blames her husband and her kids when she’s the one running late.

Or Priscilla, who watches “Gossip Girl,” “One Tree Hill” and “90210” with her seven year old daughter, but covers her eyes during the kissing scenes. No wonder these people are my friends. How can I not love Denise, who says her irrational behavior is immediately responding to my emails and ignoring all the work her boss wants her to do? And my favorite response, from Darlene, who wrote, “by the irresistible pull of irrational behavior, do you mean when I say @#$%* it, and do whatever feels good at the time?”

“Yep,” I texted back.

“Well, I’m usually under the influence of wine or margaritas and in the company of friends like you, my dear. Why don’t you stop by after you finish your column tonight?”

When Leslie’s not giving in to the irresistible pull of just about everything but work, she can be reached email . Originally published in the Santa Barbara Daily Sound on February 13, 2009. For more columns visit LeslieDinaberg.com.

Praising the pusher

Dr. John Bonica

Dr. John Bonica


During your childbearing years, no four syllables have more power to start arguments than that one, simple word.

They are designed to take away pain, but epidurals also bring on rationalizing, pontificating, preaching, complacency, guilt, self-righteousness, ambivalence, and flat out fear. That syringe is full of much more than simple anesthetic. For many women, it’s a shot of undiluted shame, a guilt-ridden admission that they couldn’t take the pain.

I say so what. Pain is NOT everybody’s friend, and that’s where this wonderful invention comes in. I say we simply celebrate the wonderful man who invented the epidural.

How fitting it is that as Valentine’s Day approaches, we can salute the birthday of the dearly departed Dr. John Bonica, the man who pioneered this wonderful invention for his wife, Emma, who nearly died giving birth to their first daughter.

Forget the diamond- and ruby-studded push presents that are all the rage in certain circles. Can you imagine a more romantic gift than a husband who hands you a large needle full of medicine that will take all the pain away?

Oh baby. I swoon just thinking about it.

Now don’t get me wrong. I know all about the advantages of natural childbirth. After reading a million books on the subject of birth and the importance of having a “birth plan” -not realizing then that my time would have been MUCH better spent reading about parenting-I was planning on going drug free. I really was.

For one thing, needles always give me the heebie jeebies. I have to close my eyes just to get my blood tested, otherwise I worry I might faint from the wooziness.

Plus, I had been through a few surgeries and medical complications at that point, and had always been told I had a high threshold for pain.

I figured natural childbirth would be a snap.

Okay, maybe I’d need to squeeze that tennis ball extra hard and grunt a few times, but how hard could it be?

I was begging for drugs before I even had the hospital gown on.

My fear of needles was absolutely nothing compared to the blazing pain in my back when the contractions started. I would have gladly shot a thousand needles into my body-with my eyes wide open-to make the pain stop.

When the anesthesiologist finally came to give me my epidural, he was handsomer than George Clooney and Brad Pitt combined. And let me tell you, no offense to my husband, but that epidural was better than the sex that got me pregnant in the first place. And because I finally stopped squeezing his hand from the pain, he agreed.

Nothing makes you value human life more than giving birth to a 15-pound baby with a 21-inch-wide head-unless of course it’s trying to do it without an epidural.

Thank you Dr. Bonica.

It’s been a lot of years since Leslie’s epidural, but she still remembers it fondly. Share your labor pains with email . Originally published in the Santa Barbara Daily Sound on February 6, 2009.For more columns visit LeslieDinaberg.com.