Maurice Sendak Has Died - What Shaped Him?

Maurice Sendak and the wildest things of all

A teacher reads the late author's famous kids' book to a group of abused teens, who listen like a roomful of children at story time.

Maurice Sendak illustration
Maurice Sendak, the author and illustrator of "In the Night Kitchen," "Where the Wild Things Are" and other children's classics, once told NPR's Terry Gross that as a kid he thought that "adults seemed mostly dreadful." Sendak's death was announced Tuesday. (Illustration by Maximillan Kornell / For The Times / May 11, 2012)

Maurice Sendak's death was announced Tuesday just a few minutes before I was due at the residential foster home and school where I volunteer, teaching writing to abused teenagers.
Sendak, the author and illustrator of "In the Night Kitchen," "Where the Wild Things Are"and other children's classics, once told NPR's Terry Gross that as a kid he thought that "adults seemed mostly dreadful." I suspect the kids who find themselves in our foster care system would agree.
I got to the school library before the class arrived, so the librarian and I had a moment to grieve about Sendak. She told me that she and her husband had just been talking about his 1967 book, "Higglety Pigglety Pop! or There Must Be More To Life." She said it was that book that helped them throw over their old life and move to California years ago.
Our conversation was interrupted by a scream in the corridor. An amazing, prolonged, nightmarish scream, produced by a child beyond the brink. I've read about screams sounding inhuman, but this was the first I'd ever heard.
There was no explanation.
When I first toured the school I was shown a few small, soundproofed rooms, each with a narrow bench-bed inside. Details were few, but I was told that the children could be volatile and self-destructive and sometimes needed isolation. When the unearthly scream subsided, I imagined the screamer being ushered into one of those freak-out chambers to roar his terrible roars and gnash his terrible teeth.
Transitions from one class to another are delayed when there are disruptions in the hall, so my kids were late trooping in. There were two new faces. Other faces were missing, including some I'd become quite fond of.
I'd been discouraged from asking questions about my students' lives, and so I know very little about what situations land them here or take them away.
I am endlessly curious, of course, about the big, burly, painfully blushing shy boy who likes art books; the too-cool-to-smile but clearly sweet boy always eager to read his writing out loud first; the chatty ones; the pierced and tatted; the ones nodding on meds; the giggly; the sullen; the pregnant. But when the librarian says, "Trust me, you don't want to know their stories; it's best to just think of them as kids," I try to do just that.
On Tuesday, I asked the class if they knew who Maurice Sendak was, and none did. I asked if any of them knew the book "Where the Wild Things Are," and a few said they'd seen the movie.
In 1993, Sendak told NPR, "Children surviving childhood is my obsessive theme and my life's concern." In a 1986 interview with Gross, he said, "Being a child was being a creature without power, without pocket money, without escape routes of any kind."
Looking around at the captive young people in this class, his statements seemed truer and far more relevant than in most classes I visit. Sendak's own childhood, like the ones he portrayed in his books, was fraught with peril, isolation and fear. It's appalling but not surprising that many adults have found his vision of childhood alarming and want to keep it from their innocent babes. Sendak's "In the Night Kitchen" is 25th on the American Library Assn.'s list of most frequently banned or challenged books.
When I told my class of wild things that I was going to read "Where the Wild Things Are" to them, there was a little affronted snickering at the idea of picture books for such big galoots.
I thought about telling them that Sendak had based the wild things on his own Jewish Eastern European immigrant relatives. As he said in a 2004 interview with Bill Moyers, "These people didn't speak English. And they were unkempt. Their teeth were horrifying. Hair ... unraveling out of their noses. And they'd pick you up and hug you and kiss you, 'Aggghh! Oh I could eat you up!'"
But I didn't give any introduction, figuring Sendak would want these kids to see the wild things as whatever demons of their own needed taming. I started reading and the whole class was instantly silent and still, like a room of children at story time, which is exactly what they were. Listening to Sendak's words, watching his pictures expand to fill the pages, and shrink back down again.
In "Where the Wild Things Are," Max, in his wolf suit, gets sent to bed without supper. But after his great adventure out-wilding the wild things, he returns to his room and finds his dinner waiting for him, still hot.
Unlike Max, my students can't count on dinner to be waiting for them, but they clearly understood Max, and heard Sendak as clearly as if he were still alive, and would be forever.
Amy Goldman Koss' latest novel for teens is "The Not-So-Great Depression."


"Crying it Out" is Stressful!

Babies left to cry stay unhappy hours afterwards as stress hormone remains high


Don't be fooled: Babies continue to be unhappy for hours after crying as the levels of stress hormone cortisol remain high, but just keep quiet about it, a study has found (file picture)
Don't be fooled: Babies continue to be unhappy for hours after crying as the levels of stress hormone cortisol remain high, but just keep quiet about it, a study has found (file picture)
It is a blissful moment for any parent, when a once fractious baby finally learns to fall asleep without a murmur.
But mothers and fathers should not be lulled into a false sense of security, because their child may actually still be upset.
A study found that levels of the stress hormone cortisol remain high in ‘cry babies’ even in the days after they have apparently learnt to settle themselves.
In other words, the child is still unhappy but just keeping quiet about it.
The research will reignite the debate  about the pros and cons of controlled  crying – letting unsettled babies sob themselves to sleep.
Sticklers for routine, such as childcare guru Gina Ford, say that if babies cry during designated sleeping hours they should not be picked up.
But others, including fellow author and childcare expert Sheila Kitzinger, claim mothers should be guided by their instincts and not by prescriptive routines.
The study involved tracking hormone levels in babies and their mothers.


Many of the children, who were aged between four months and ten months, had trouble getting into a routine or settling without being comforted.
During the study they were put to bed and left to soothe themselves to sleep, and the length of time that they cried was logged.
More research needed: The brevity of the study means it is not clear if cortisol produced by the babies does eventually drop, so a larger one is now underway
More research needed: The brevity of the study means it is not clear if cortisol produced by the babies does eventually drop, so a larger one is now underway
Their mothers stayed in a room near enough to hear any cries but were not allowed to go to their children. Levels of cortisol were measured in the women and in their babies on the first night of the study and on the third.
By the third night, the infants cried little before dropping off. However,  their levels of cortisol remained high, the journal Early Human Development reports.
In contrast, the amount of cortisol in the mothers had dropped, suggesting that they had relaxed due to the lack  of crying from their baby.
How babies filter out information
Wendy Middlemiss, a researcher at University of North Texas, said: ‘Although the infants exhibited no behavioural cue that they were experiencing distress at the transition to sleep, they continued to experience high levels of physiological distress, as reflected in their cortisol scores.
‘Overall, outward displays of internal stress were extinguished by sleep training.
‘However, given the continued presence of distress, infants were not learning how to internally manage their experiences of stress and discomfort.’
The brevity of the study means it is not clear if cortisol produced by the babies does eventually drop. The researchers are now doing a longer study, to see if the hormone’s level falls with time, as babies learn to cope with going to sleep alone.
Siobhan Freegard, of the parenting advice website Netmums, said: ‘I don’t think anybody would ever say that you shouldn’t use controlled crying – it is about getting the balance right.
‘If you are on maternity leave with your first child and can have a nice lie-in and breastfeed the baby in bed, that is very different to being a single mum who needs to go out to work or no one will eat.
‘I have been advised many times to try controlled crying, but it caused me much more stress than picking up the baby and doing what comes naturally.
‘But I know other mums who have found controlled crying short, sharp and successful.’


EOD Widow, Well Worth Our Time On Memorial Day

For Marine's widow, Memorial Day has extra meaning

Staff Sgt. Joseph Fankhauser was killed in Afghanistan last month when he stepped on an improvised explosive device. 'We live with death' in Explosive Ordnance Disposal, his wife, Heather, says.

Joseph and Heather Fankhauser
Photos in their home at Camp Pendleton show Marine Staff Sgt. Joseph Fankhauser with his wife, Heather. (Don Bartletti, Los Angeles Times / May 23, 2012)

CAMP PENDLETON — Marine Staff Sgt. Joseph Fankhauser had been inAfghanistan'svolatile Helmand province for barely two weeks when he stepped on what the military calls an improvised explosive device. He was on his fifth combat deployment.
There had been a rainstorm, the ground had shifted and was soft, and the usual signs of a hidden bomb were not there. It was a joint patrol: Marines, British forces and Afghans. Only Fankhauser, 30, was killed.
"It gives me a kind of peace that it wasn't a mistake" but rather an accident, Heather Fankhauser, 35, said of her husband's death. "It wasn't anything he could have done. Lots of other guys, guys with families, were there that day, and they'll be going home, and that's how my husband would want it."
Joseph Fankhauser was a technician with Explosive Ordnance Disposal — an elite unit within theU.S. militarywhose goal is finding and defusing the buried bombs that are the enemy's weapon of choice. It is an especially tight-knit fraternity that has seen 111 of its members killed from9/11through January, according to a listing kept by the privately run E.O.D. Memorial Foundation.
Of those, 41 were Marines, 34 were in the Army, 20 the Air Force, and 16 the Navy.
At his funeral in Oceanside on May 7, Fankhauser was praised for being a perfectionist and helping bring home hundreds of Marines from his earlier deployment to Afghanistan by finding the bombs that were meant to kill and maim.
More than a hundred EOD Marines attended the service at the Eternal Hills Memorial Chapel. Marines in their dress blues stood along the walls of the chapel. Their wives, many with tears in their eyes, sat in the pews.
"He was fanatical about everything," said Robert Luke, a former Marine who is now a bomb squad detective with the San Diego County Sheriff's Department and served as one of Fankhauser's pallbearers. "He made sure everything was in order, no short cuts. He never made mistakes. In EOD when you make a mistake, people die."
Heather Fankhauser had arranged a video montage of pictures of her and her husband at Disneyland and Balboa Park, their "second" wedding (their first was by proxy while he was deployed) and Joseph playing with the family dogs.
There was some laughter at some of the playful pictures. But the chapel fell silent at a picture of the flag-draped casket arriving at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware.
At the end of the funeral, as Marines, one by one, walked slowly to the front of the chapel, they left their EOD badges on the top of the casket, the ultimate sign of respect. Some were limping from combat injuries.
Gunnery Sgt. Brian Meyer, who lost his right leg and several fingers in Afghanistan in March 2011, did not know Fankhauser but still wanted to show his respect. "He was EOD," Meyer said, as if no further explanation was needed.
Fankhauser, who grew up in McAllen, Texas, and enlisted in the Marines just days after graduating from high school, was assigned to the 7th Engineer Support Battalion, 1st Marine Logistics Group. He was killed on April 22.
"Two days later four men came to my door telling me that my life was over," Heather said. "I have to move forward, but I don't want to."
Heather wears a bracelet bearing the names of 18 Marine EOD techs killed in Afghanistan in 2010. She used to have a bracelet with the names of those killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, but then the names grew too numerous for one bracelet.
Like several EOD widows, Heather got a tattoo in her husband's honor after his death. Hers says "4-22-12. Forever." Other widows have chosen tattoos in the design of the EOD badge. There is also a tattoo that says simply, "EOD Wife."
Joseph Fankhauser had three deployments as an infantry "grunt" before switching to Explosive Ordnance Disposal. Heather had alerted him to the plea from Marine Corps headquarters for more volunteers for EOD as the two wars thinned its ranks. She knew the risks.
"We live with death in EOD," she said. "When your husband goes to EOD, you know there's a good chance you'll lose him."
Heather and Joseph had met the modern way: online. She was living in San Diego and he was deployed. When he came home, their first date was in the Gaslamp District.
When they decided to marry, he was deployed again. They married in a proxy ceremony, seven years ago this October.
Heather said she will never regret her husband's choice to become a bomb tech. He was happier and felt more challenged and more vital than he had in the infantry.
Her biggest regret is that their attempts at having a child were unsuccessful. "We had wanted a baby forever," she said.
Heather does not think she will attend any of the picnics or other social gatherings that are common ways many Americans, civilian and military, will celebrate this Memorial Day. She said she wants to spend her time with people who remember that the holiday is meant as a day of reverence for those who have worn their nation's uniform.
She may attend the Memorial Day ceremony at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery in San Diego, where the keynote address will be made by a Marine general.
"I want to see it," she said of the ceremony. "I want to feel it. Maybe if I see the love and support, it will feel right again, because now nothing feels right. I don't want to go to a pool party or barbecue."
Heather was at the Dover base when her husband's casket arrived. She was accompanied by a casualty assistance officer from Camp Pendleton. Four other Explosive Ordnance Disposal technicians were on the tarmac, along with the white-gloved Marine "carry team" to lift the casket gently from the cargo plane.
Days later, when her husband's body arrived at the mortuary in Oceanside, she stayed with the casket all night. "I couldn't leave him alone," she said.
When his unit returns from Afghanistan later this year, there will be a ceremony and his ashes will be interred at Rosecrans.
Until then, they are in an urn that she keeps in her bedroom. "It's like he's somehow still with me," Heather said. "There's no right way to do this; there's no right way to be a widow."
She could stay in her Camp Pendleton home for another year, but she may leave sooner. The Fankhausers had a plan in case he did not return from deployment: She would buy a home in San Diego and go to college, maybe become a therapist or counselor.
"When your husband is EOD," she said, "you have to have a plan."


Free Passes to Parks for Active Military

Active Duty Military: Free Annual Pass to National Parks Starting 5/19 ($80 Value!)

As a way of saying thank you to those who are serving our country, all Active Duty Military Members will be able to snag a FREE Annual Pass to National Parks (an $80 value!) beginning tomorrow, May 19th (which is Armed Forces Day). All Active Duty men and women – Army, Marines, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, and activated National Guard and Reserves – can get their pass at any national park or wildlife refuge that charges an entrance fee by showing their military ID. Each family member will also be able to obtain their own pass even if the service member is deployed or if they are traveling separately.
The Annual Park Pass which is valid for one full year will provide access to National Park Service Parks, US Fish & Wildlife Service Lands, Bureau of Reclamation Lands, Bureau of Land Management Lands, US Forest Service Locations, and US Army Corps sites. Where there are entrance fees, the pass covers the owner and accompanying passengers in a single, private, non-commercial vehicle at recreation sites that charge per vehicle. At sites where per-person entrance fees are charged, it covers the pass owner and three accompanying adults age 16 and older. There is no entry fee for children 15 and under.
Head on over to the National Parks Facebook page for more information, or click here for more information.
Important Note: While the pass is not available to veterans and retirees, many of these individuals are eligible for other discounted passes, such as the Senior Pass, granting lifetime access to U.S. citizens over 62 for $10, and the Access Pass granting free lifetime access for permanently disabled U.S. citizens.


Gay to Straight Conversion Therapy Lawsuit

Oregon man says psychiatrist tried gay-to-straight ‘conversion therapy’ against his wishes

KATU 2/Associated Press - In this undated image taken from video courtesy of KATU 2, Max Hirsh, 22, speaks during an interview in Portland, Ore. Hirsh, who is openly gay, contends an Oregon psychiatrist he was seeing was practicing “conversion therapy” to change his sexual orientation. His experience is the subject of an ethics complaint filed on May 8, 2012, by the Southern Poverty Law Center, which plans to take the same action in other states as part of a national campaign to stop therapists from trying to make gay people straight.

PORTLAND, Ore. — Max Hirsh says he sensed something wasn’t quite right when the psychiatrist focused on his failures with sports and teenage girls, as well as his deficient relationships with older men, particularly his father.
Hirsh became convinced of the psychiatrist’s rationale for those questions by the fourth session, when he essentially told the openly gay Hirsh that his true sexuality was in the closet.

“But you’re heterosexual,” Hirsh recalls the psychiatrist telling him.
Hirsh insisted he was gay; the psychiatrist wasn’t buying it.
“He said ‘No,’ like he had some extra information about my sexuality that I didn’t,” Hirsh said.
Hirsh, 22, contends the Oregon psychiatrist was practicing “conversion therapy” to change his sexual orientation. His experience is the subject of an ethics complaint filed this month by the Southern Poverty Law Center, which plans to take the same action in other states as part of a national campaign to stop therapists from trying to make gay people straight.
The complaint sent to the American Psychological Association and the Oregon Psychiatric Association arrived in what has become something of a watershed month for opponents of the form of psychotherapy. California legislators advanced a bill to the state senate that would ban children younger than 18 from receiving conversion therapy. And Dr. Robert Spitzer, a prominent retired psychiatrist, apologized to the gay community last week for a “fatal flaw” in his influential 2001 study that found conversion therapy to be a successful option for some people.
Hirsh’s experience with the psychiatrist, who he was seeing because he was depressed, could not be independently verified. The Southern Poverty Law Center blacked out the doctor’s name in a copy of the complaint supplied to journalists, and Hirsh and his lawyer would not identify the doctor. Christine Sun, the law center’s deputy legal director, said the psychological associations require confidentiality when investigating complaints.
The American Psychological Association, in a 2009 resolution, said mental health professionals should not tell gay clients they can become straight because there is no solid proof that such a change is likely. The law center wants its anti-conversion effort to spur tougher restrictions and, down the road, more legislative action, such as what’s occurring in California.
“Our immediate goal is for the APA to take these allegations seriously and ultimately ban conversion therapy by its members,” Sun said.
Supporters of what is called reparative therapy contend the overwhelming majority of gay people are not born that way, and those who want to change should not be denied access to qualified professionals.
David Pickup, a Los Angeles-area counselor who specializes in reparative therapy, said he has helped many clients “maximize their heterosexual potential,” when they have come to him because they believe there is a cause-and-effect reason, such as sexual abuse, for their same-sex attraction.


Volunteers Neededd

La Posada Homeless Men's Shelter in Carlsbad. 

It's a great opportunity for anyone, but also high school students in need of community service hours.  Anyone interested please contact Kate Bartels at or 760.889.6062.


Cash Not Accepted - Living a Cashless Life

Living a cashless life

We seem to be heading toward a society where cash simply isn’t welcome.

How much cash is in your wallet right now? Don’t know, do you? That’s because our society is hurtling toward cashlessness. Just about everyone from Starbucks to taxi cabs to your cable company take plastic these days, and a couple months ago, Slates Seth Stevenson decided to speed up the clock a bit and start living a cashless life.
While it’s gone smoothly so far, says Stevenson, there are still some things that cash is much better for. Tipping for one. Stevenson found himself accidentally stiffing a bell boy at a hotel because he had no small bills to give him for his trouble. In fact, he had no bills, period. He’s considering carrying low-denomination gift cards in the future for these moments.
The other transaction category that cash is still king is in the realm of elicit activities. You can’t buy pot with a card, right? Or can you? Stevenson approached a dealer to find out.
“I asked the guy… ‘Will you accept a $20 Target gift card for this gram of marijuana?’ He sort of scratched his chin and said, ‘Well, I do live near Target; I do need some household wares, so okay. Fine.’”
That’s how close we are to a cashless society. But fear of technology (not everyone has a smartphone and the know-how to use apps like Square) and “the man” (many people don’t want all their money easily trackable by the government and credit card companies) will keep our wallets full of the green stuff for a least a few more years.


Katie Beckett - Cool t-shirts

Katie Beckett Leaves Legacy For Kids With Disabilities

May 19, 2012
Katie Beckett died Friday morning in the same hospital where she'd once made history. Beckett was 3 years old when her case changed health care law. She was 34 when she died. NPR's Joseph Shapiro explains why she was important to other children with disabilities.
Copyright © 2012 National Public Radio®. For personal, noncommercial use only. See Terms of Use. For other uses, prior permission required.
Katie Beckett has died in Cedar Rapids, Iowa at the age of 34. She was just 3 years old when her case changed health care law. NPR's Joseph Shapiro has more.
JOSEPH SHAPIRO, BYLINE: Katie Beckett died Friday morning in the same hospital where she'd once made history. In 1981, Katie Beckett was living at St. Luke's Methodist Hospital in Cedar Rapids. She was stuck there because of a clash between advancing medical technology and antiquated health care law.
Katie was just 5 months old when she contracted a brain infection. She got treated at the hospital and she pretty much recovered, except that she still needed to use a ventilator to breathe for much of the day. Medicaid, the government health insurance program would pay, but only if she lived in the hospital. So Katie Beckett was stuck at St. Luke's until she was 3 years old. And then President Ronald Reagan heard about her.
PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN: Now, by what sense do we have a regulation in government that says we'll pay $6,000 a month to keep someone in a hospital that we believe would be better off at home?
SHAPIRO: It was cheaper, just one-sixth the amount, to care for Katie Beckett in her own home. President Reagan changed the Medicaid rules, and the little girl went home.
At the time it was thought there were maybe 100 or 200 more children like her. But in the years since, more than a half-million disabled children have gotten their care at home, using what's now called the Katie Beckett Waiver. Senator Tom Harkin, the Democrat from Beckett's home state of Iowa, was a chief author of the major disability civil rights law that came later. He says Katie Beckett was important to his understanding, too.

Copyright © 2012 National Public Radio®. All rights reserved. No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to National Public Radio. This transcript is provided for personal, noncommercial use only, pursuant to our Terms of Use. Any other use requires NPR's prior permission. Visit our permissions page for further information.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR's programming is the audio.


elephant purple on yellow by jogdragoon - Mind activating elephant

Don't know why I like this site... fresh and different. Cool Things


Operation Appreciation Day - Saturday, May 19th, 2012

2012 Schedule of Events

10:00 AM   SPONSOR BOOTHS OPEN      Pier Amphitheater
10:00 AM   MILITARY DISPLAYS OPEN     Beach Area
11:00 AM   CHILDREN'S AREA OPEN       Betty' s Lot
11:30 AM   OPENING CEREMONIES        Pier Amphitheater
                 Oceanside Fire Department Color Guard
                 Honor Guard Presents Colors
                 Bonsall West Elemetery School Choir performs
Noon    MEAL SERVICE BEGINS        Community Center
12:00 PM    Live Entertainment       Pier Amphitheater
3:30 PM     MEAL SERVICE ENDS         Community Center
4:00 PM     SPONSOR BOOTHS CLOSE   Pier Amphitheater
4:00 PM      CHILDREN'S AREA CLOSE Betty's Lot
5:00 PM      LCAC LEAVES TO SEA          Beach Area


A Nation of Whiners?

For a Nation of Whiners, Therapists Try Tough Love

Therapists say "stop whining about your problems." Elizabeth Bernstein on Lunch Break looks at why we are whining more these days and the need to cut it out.
Sharon Rosenblatt was talking to her therapist fast and furiously about her dating life, when the woman suddenly interrupted her. "Haven't we heard this before?" the therapist asked.
Was Ms. Rosenblatt offended? Not at all. The 23-year-old, who works in business development for an information technology company, says she specifically sought out a tough-love therapist after graduating from college and moving to Silver Spring, Md., two years ago.
'No more complaints. I don't want to hear about this one more day.' —DOUGLAS MAXWELL, New York
"When there's unconditional love from my therapist, I'm not inclined to change," Ms. Rosenblatt says. Previous therapists, she says, would listen passively while she complained unchallenged.
Whining, as defined by experts—the therapists, spouses, co-workers and others who have to listen to it—is chronic complaining, a pattern of negative communication. It brings down the mood of everyone within earshot. It can hold whiners back at work and keep them stuck in a problem, rather than working to identify a solution. It can be toxic to relationships.
How do you get someone to stop the constant griping? The answer is simple, but not always easy: Don't listen to it.
Moms, and bosses, are good at this. Some therapists are refusing to let clients complain endlessly, as well—offering up Tough Love in place of the nurturing gaze and the question "How does that make you feel?"
They're setting time limits on how long a client can stay on certain topics and declaring some topics off-limits altogether. Some are even taping clients so they can hear how they sound and firing clients who can't stop complaining.
"Talking endlessly about your problems isn't going to help," says Christina Steinorth, a marriage and family therapist in Santa Barbara, Calif. She tells her patients in the first session: "If you are looking for the type of therapy where I am going to nod my head and affirm what you are feeling, this isn't the place to come."
When clients whine, Ms. Steinorth has them make a list of how their life could improve if they stopped complaining and started working to solve their problems. She suggests they set aside a 10-minute window every day and do all their whining then. For clients who still won't stop, she suggests they consider discontinuing therapy until they are ready to move forward.
'I want whiners to ask themselves: "Would I hang out with this person?" ' —JULIE HANKS, Salt Lake City
Sometimes it feels like we're a nation of whiners. Many of us learned this behavior as children, when we got what we wanted by wearing our parents down. In adulthood, whining—or venting, as I like to call it when I'm doing it—can be a coping mechanism, allowing us to let off steam.
"A lot of whiners don't know they whine," says Julie Hanks, a licensed clinical social worker who has a therapy clinic in Salt Lake City. "I want them to ask themselves, 'Would I want to hang out with this person?' "
Television encourages us to whine, thanks to shows like WE tv's "Bridezillas" or A&E's "Monster In-Laws," about people who do almost nothing else. Technology, meanwhile, has trained us to expect instant gratification and become frustrated when we have to be patient. Facebook can make us feel that everyone else has it easier.
According to the Seattle-based Gottman Institute, married couples who flourish have a 5-to-1 ratio of positive-to-negative interactions within "conflict conversations." In couples who divorce, the ratio is less than 5 to 1.
The good news is that it is possible to get whiners to stop. Ms. Hanks, who takes a tough stance on whining, says it is critical to build a rapport with a client. She often challenges patients to go an entire session without talking about pet topics, such as their mother or their ex. You can ban overvisited topics at home, too, she says, as long as you pay attention to real problems. She sometimes audiotapes sessions, so clients can hear themselves whine. She has even taped herself at home, to learn how she relates to family members.
'Sooner or later, the listener tunes out your whining.' —FRAN WALFISH, Beverly Hills, Calif.
Ms. Hanks says it is important for the listener to understand that whining masks a deeper, more vulnerable emotion. For example, a person might complain about a boss, but what he is really feeling is fear that his career is stalled. "Whining is just a powerless complaint," she says. Understand this and you can get to the root of what is wrong.
Fran Walfish, a Beverly Hills, Calif., licensed psychotherapist, has a three-step stop-whining program. First, she points out the behavior, sometimes mirroring it back to a client, using both the same words and tone.
"The goal is to create self-awareness," Dr. Walfish says, and in a neutral way.
Next, she points out that there's a pattern to the complaining. Finally, she asks the whiner what he or she plans to do about it.
"When someone whines to you, it is an indirect way of saying, 'You fix it,' " Dr. Walfish says. "You want to put the responsibility back where it belongs, in the whiner's lap."
Some people create a no-whining zone.
Douglas Maxwell, a licensed psychoanalyst in Manhattan and president of the National Association for the Advancement of Psychoanalysis, says constant complaining is often a "resistance," and the person whining is often unaware of it.
With a client who gripes incessantly about a problem without making progress, he will say: "Stop. No more complaints. I don't want to hear about this one more day. You must talk about something else."
Often, clients don't take this so well, Mr. Maxwell says. They resist his attempt to break through their barriers and even transfer their anger onto him. But he holds his ground—and says he is prepared to repeat his ban as often as he has to.
Sometimes, Mr. Maxwell will use humor. "Here we go again," he might tease a patient.
"Once you draw the line in the sand, you have to hold that line," he says. "Otherwise, anything you say as a therapist loses its effect."
Crybabies, Be Gone!
Often, people don't realize they are whining. The trick: Raise their self-awareness without using accusatory or sarcastic language.
Go gently: Even therapists say this conversation sometimes ends with the client walking out. Start by telling the person who is whining how much you appreciate him or her.
Use a tone of genuine curiosity. You want to get to the bottom of the problem together. You may want to mirror the negative communication. 'I don't know if you hear yourself, but listen to what you just said.'
Point out there's a pattern. Say, 'Do you realize it's the fifth night in a row you've talked about this?' Offer to tape future conversations so the person can hear for him or herself.
Open up the conversation. A person whining about work may be feeling unwell, or stuck in his career. Ask, 'Is there something else that's wrong?' Explain that it is hard for you to hear the real issue because the person's tone and attitude are getting in the way.
Ask the person what he or she plans to do about the problem. Hold them accountable.
Suggest alternatives. The person might want to write down a list of complaints and leave it in a drawer. Or keep a journal and circle repeated complaints in red pen. Or spend an hour at the gym, or do something outdoors with you.
Set a time limit. For 10 minutes a day, the person can whine unfettered—and you will listen. Then time is up. Do this once a day, once a week—or challenge the person to a 'whine-free day.'
Give positive reinforcement. Say, 'I love to hear good things about your job.' Praise each increment toward healthy communication.
Write to Elizabeth Bernstein at or follow her column at


The Holocaust, Sins of the Father,0,4625482.story


The Holocaust and the sins of the father

In trying to find out more about who I am, I discovered the truth about my father.

By Les Gapay
May 6, 2012

A friend of mine got a lifetime achievement award recently, and it got me to thinking about the Holocaust again, something that's never been completely out of my mind for the last 22 years.
Randolph L. Braham and I are an odd couple to be friends because our families were on different sides of the Holocaust. His emails to me over the last 20 years have always been signed Randy, but I call him Professor Braham out of respect.
Braham is distinguished professor emeritus of political science at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, director of the Rosenthal Center for Holocaust Studies there, and the author of more than 60 books on the Holocaust. His parents and many relatives were killed — murdered in cold blood is more accurate — in the Holocaust in Northern Transylvania, which during World War II was part of Hungary. Braham himself was in a forced-labor camp during the war.
My late father, on the other hand, was one of the perpetrators of the Holocaust in Hungary.
His name was Laszlo Gyapay, and he was the mayor of a large city in the Transylvanian portion of Hungary during the war. In 1944, he created a ghetto where Jews were required to live. Ultimately, 36,000 Jews were sent from Nagyvarad to the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland, most to their deaths. My father was convicted in 1946 of anti-Jewish war crimes in absentia and sentenced to life in prison. But I knew nothing about his past growing up as a child in Montana, where we settled in 1951 after living for 51/2 years in West German camps for displaced persons.
It wasn't until after a divorce in 1987 that I started trying to find out more about who I was, a search that ultimately led to the truth about my father. In 1990, I traveled to Hungary, where long-lost relatives and a friend of my late mother told me about my father's role during the war. I then began trying to learn everything I could about his actions.
After I found a mention of my father in one of Braham's books in 1991, I phoned him in New York. He was surprised by my call, but very kind and helpful and referred me to other works of his, including one that contained the war crimes judgment against my father and others. He sent me various documents over the years and even translated them when necessary.
Concerned about what effect the revelations were having on me, he also offered some advice. "You should do as I do," he said. "Treat your research like a surgeon doing an emergency procedure on his own mother. You can't afford to get personally involved."
It was difficult advice to follow, especially after I began talking to Hungarian Holocaust survivors in New York and Europe who remembered my father. One told me about an exhibit mentioning my father in a Jewish museum in Budapest. A couple said conditions in the ghetto had a reputation as being the worst in Hungary. Others blamed my father personally for what happened to them in the ghetto and at Auschwitz.
I also visited the scene of my father's war crimes in what is now the city of Oradea, but was then called Nagyvarad. There, I met with a handful of surviving Jews who showed me the former ghetto, including the chambers where Jews thought to be hiding valuables were tortured.At Auschwitz, I saw the barracks and bunks that some of the survivors I'd interviewed had lived in.
When I first wrote about my discoveries in the early 1990s, my former wife and two daughters were supportive, but my three brothers quit speaking to me. In Hungary, the stories split my relatives, with half cutting me off and the rest offering to help with my continuing research.
I was moved by the reactions of some Holocaust survivors. In 1992, I got a letter from Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel, who noted that I had discovered, as he had, that the way "to cope with the anger of truth" is "in your words." Braham invited me to be his guest at the dedication of the Holocaust museum in Washington in 1993. I sat with him and his wife while President Bill Clinton and others spoke.
Many survivors, including Wiesel and Braham, have said that the Holocaust caused them to question the existence of God. But for me, immersing myself in that horror ultimately sent me back to my Roman Catholic faith after an absence of 30 years. After discovering my father's secret past, I found myself going to cathedrals and churches in Eastern Europe to grapple with it all. At first I wanted God to send my father to hell for his actions, but after a couple of years I started praying for his soul (and hoping that he had asked for forgiveness before he died). I also prayed for my mother, whose views on my father's actions I never knew.
Last year, I re-read Wiesel's Holocaust memoir "Night." He tells of witnessing some hangings of concentration camp prisoners at Auschwitz who were found to have arms or were suspected of sabotage. "Bare your heads!" the head of the camp would yell after each hanging that the other prisoners were forced to watch. Ten thousand caps came off simultaneously. Then "Cover your heads!" Someone asked where God was when a young boy was hanged, and Wiesel heard a voice within him say, "He is hanging here on this gallows."
Not long after reading that, I attended a Good Friday service in Palm Desert. While pondering a giant crucifix of Jesus hanging on the wall, Wiesel's words came back to me: "Bare your heads," I thought. "Cover your heads." There is God, I thought, hanging on that cross made from a tree. I then said a prayer for the Jews of Nagyvarad, but I knew it wasn't necessary. If there is a God in heaven, they are there by his side.
Les Gapay is a freelance writer in Rancho Mirage.


The Science Behind Hitchcock's The Birds

The Science Behind Hitchcock's 'The Birds'

When thousands of frenzied seabirds invaded the coastline near Monterey, Calif., in the summer of 1961, the scene played out like a Hollywood horror movie. The Santa Cruz Sentinel reported a “rain” of birds known as Sooty Shearwaters slamming into homes and other shoreline structures.
“Dead and stunned seabirds littered the streets and roads in the foggy early dawn,” the newspaper reported on August 18, 1961.
Two years later, a similar plotline made it onto the big screen through the eyes of filmmaker Alfred Hitchcock—in the Macabre form of The Birds. The master of suspense and mystery, responsible for Psycho, Rear Window and other classics, happened to be visiting the area during the bird invasion. The event fueled inspiration for the film (along with a chilling avian story published in 1952 by British author Daphne du Maurier).
And now scientists have produced fresh evidence of what caused the birds to go crazy.
A team that includes Mark Ohman of Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego recently reported in Nature Geoscience that high quantities of Pseudo-nitzschia, a type of phytoplankton, produced a neuro- toxin that likely moved up the food chain and was eventually gobbled up by the birds.
The researchers say the neurotoxin—known as domoic acid—poisons the brain and “causes symptoms such as confusion, disorientation, scratching, seizures, coma and even death.”
The key behind the new findings was the ability to travel back in time to study ocean samples from a half-century prior. The California Cooperative Oceanic Fisheries Investigations (CalCOFI), one of the world’s longest continuous marine monitoring programs, provided the necessary samples now stored in the Scripps Pelagic Invertebrate Collection, a library of archived marine samples. Such resources allowed Ohman and his colleagues to study the gut contents of several specimens of grazing zooplankton that were captured off Monterey prior to the bird frenzy.
It is an example, says Ohman, of how detailed and carefully preserved geo-referenced materials can provide answers to questions that were never anticipated when they were being collected.
—Mario C. Aguilera, ’89