Raising gay-positive children



Fri Jul 6, 2012

Proud new world

The spirit of Pride carried over into this week with a string of celebrities coming out—and thereby moving us ever closer to the ideal of raising our children in a homophobia-free world.

Long before I had a son, I used to wonder about the morality of bringing a child into a world as messed up as this one. But after a week like we just had, I couldn’t be prouder.

It began last Sunday when I took my two-year-old Emile to his first Pride Day parade. He loved it, as he is a big fan of both rainbows and parades (though the oomcha-oomcha decible level necessitated periodic breaks to blow bubbles in a nearby park). I brought him, and will continue to do so in the years to come, because I want E to grow up thinking that all sexual orientations are equally normal. But Sunday’s celebration took on even more resonance as the week rolled along first with Anderson Cooper and then, more momentously, Odd Future’s resident R&B crooner Frank Ocean coming out in cutting-edge casual style—via, respectively, an email interview on a blog and a Tumblr post.

We may not have solved climate change, defeated famine or stopped war, but homophobia took a hit this week. And this week’s events built on the momentum from this past May when Obama finally came out in favour of same-sex marriage—and found his stance immediately supported by the unlikely likes of Jay-Z, T.I., 50 Cent and others. (That same month, Tom Gabel, frontman for punk-rockers Against Me!, came out as transgendered to a wonderfully positive reception and began presenting herself as Laura Jane Grace.)

Ocean’s letter was hailed by Def Jam Records founder Russell Simmons as a game-changer: “Today is a big day for hip-hop. It is a day that will define who we really are. How compassionate will we be? How loving can we be? How inclusive are we? I am profoundly moved by the courage and honesty of Frank Ocean. Your decision to go public about your sexual orientation gives hope and light to so many young people still living in fear.”

(Some of those very young people have felt fear thanks to the trolling slurs of Ocean’s controversial Odd Future crewmate Tyler, the Creator. But Tyler’s supportive tweet also acknowledged this isn’t news to him—“My Big Brother Finally Fucking Did That,” he wrote—which at least lets the kids who may have been negatively affected by his lyrics know that, in real life, he’s not a homophobe. And hopefully OF will smarten up much like Eminem once did.)

Also this week, an Olympic soccer player revealed she was gay, still a rarity in the sports world, and France decided to legalize same-sex marriage and adoption, joining progressive nations like Canada, Spain, Argentina, Belgium, Denmark, Iceland, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, and Sweden.

Freedom is on the march and, as a parent, it gives me great relief to know that, as Emile gets older, this topic will become less and less of a concern.

For our part, we are totally open to all of Emile’s interests, regardless of gender sterotyping. So while he loves his dinosaurs, superhero comics and fedora hat, he also loves his doll, My Little Pony and the adorable fairy dress he’s occasionally adorned in when we pick him up from daycare.

All we want in life is for him to be happy with who he is, and while there’s a 90 per cent chance he’ll grow up to be straight, there’s also a ten per cent chance he’ll be gay. Doesn’t matter to us. Thing is, it’s easy to say that you’ll love your son regardless of his eventual sexual orientation. Love is something you can control. (Or not—I love Emile pretty uncontrollably.) But you have no power over other people, and times remain tough for gay kids.

It’s 2012 and we still have a mayor who refuses to appear at Pride and publically funded Catholic schools discriminating against their gay students. We still have homophobic bullying and a sad need for “It Gets Better” videos.

A recent report on homophobia in Canadian high-schools found that 55 per cent of “sexual minority” students were verbally harassed (including by teachers) and 10 per cent were physically harassed. Also, nearly 10 per cent of straight kids were physically harassed for their “perceived” sexual orientation.

But a week like this wonderful one provides encouragement that it is, in fact, getting better, that people are changing, that society is evolving. And, for parents, it reminds us that we need to contribute by raising out children accordingly, teaching them that who we love is who we love and helping them shape this proud new world.

In a preface to Frank Ocean’s beautiful letter about falling in love with a man—the singer never defines his sexuality, which adds to its amazingness—he writes: “We’re all a bunch of golden million dollar babies. My hope is that the babies born these days will inherit less of the bullshit than we did.”

That’s my hope, too, and thanks to the bravery of people like Ocean, that inheritance will one day be assured.

Spanking linked to mental illness, Says Study

Although the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) strongly discourages spanking, at least half of parents admit to physically punishing their children. Some research suggests that as many as 70-90 percent of mothers have resorted to spanking at one time or another. A new study published in the journal Pediatricsmay cause parents to think more carefully before laying a hand on their little ones.

Related: Should Your Child be Spanked at School?

Researchers examined data from more than 34,000 adults and found that being spanked significantly increased the risk of developing mental health issues as adults. According to their results, corporal punishment is associated with mood disorders, including depression and anxiety, as well as personality disorders and alcohol and drug abuse. They estimate that as much as 7 percent of adult mental illness may be attributable to childhood physical punishment, including slapping, shoving, grabbing, and hitting. The study reports that spanking ups the risk of major depression by 41 percent, alcohol and drug abuse by 59 percent, and mania by 93 percent, among other findings.


Watch: Prescription drug abuse on Yahoo! News

“We’re not talking about just a tap on the bum,” study author Tracie Afifi, PhD, of the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, explained in a statement. “We were looking at people who used physical punishment as a regular means to discipline their children.” However, the analysis excluded individuals who reported more severe maltreatment such as physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, physical neglect, emotional neglect, or exposure to intimate partner violence.

“It definitely points to the direction that physical punishment should not be used on children of any age,” said Afifi. Researchers concluded, “It is important for pediatricians and other healthcare providers who work with children and parents to be aware of the link between physical punishment and mental disorders.”

The physical punishment of children is legal in the United States, although it is banned in at least 24 other countries. It’s worth noting that 19 states also allow corporal punishment in schools. Earlier studies have linked spanking toddlers to increased aggression in older children. Spare the rod, spare the child?

The truth about House Hunters (HGTV)

If you’ve noticed, I’ve mentioned a few times that I love watching HGTV and in particular the show House Hunters. Well, guess what? the show is fake. I realize it’s a reality show but since it’s on HGTV, didn’t think they would fake a show about finding a home.

Here’s the story..


Whenever I mention the popular HGTV series “House Hunters,” I get e-mails from readers asking, “Do you know the truth about that show?” I just got another one from someone saying, “I’m surprised more people don’t know how ‘House Hunters’ really works. I was so mad when I found out!”

It’s actually not a secret–the show even explained it in a newspaper article a few years ago, but it doesn’t seem to be common knowledge.  Here’s what it said:

For quicker turn-around, producers sometimes choose buyers who are already in escrow with one of the three locations shown. The other two choices that are filmed, are only shown to allow viewers the option of making the choice themselves.

Did you catch that? The house hunters aren’t actually house hunting in some of the episodes because they already bought one. The producers show them two other houses and they pretend to consider them. Then they pretend to deliberate, and pretend to choose the house that they already chose from the beginning.

house hunting couple

Based on the number of e-mails I’ve gotten from people who have written to tell me that they know someone who was on the show and “faked it,” this must be a fairly common practice.

It makes sense from a production point of view. It prevents the problem that we see so often on HGTV’s Property Virgin, in which the house hunters don’t end up choosing anything at all.

Property Virgins-Sandra

According to that same article, the participants get only $500 for being on the show. I was surprised that they earn so little–especially if there’s acting involved! That was a few years ago, though, so maybe they earn more by now.

There can be long hours of filming each house–I heard that they often have to reenter the same room many times until they get it just right for the camera. (This explains why sometimes the sun is blazing when they enter the house, but it looks dark outside in later scenes.)

6/11 Update: A reader named Nate tells me:

It is still $500 for four full days if filming. Furthermore, it isn’t just sometimes fake – it is ALWAYS fake. I’ve just gone through this process. They won’t even consider you for the show unless you already have a purchase agreement signed, and have access to both your new home and your former home for the duration of the filming period.

Ever notice how the house the participants choose is almost always EMPTY when they walk through it on the show for that “first time” and the other two are still furnished? That is because they have already closed on the home they “choose” and just haven’t moved into it yet. The other two “non-chosen” properties are comparable homes found by the participant’s realtor just for purposes of the show.

Suzanne Whang headshot

Another thing I get a lot of e-mails about is Suzanne Whang’s absence. Have you missed her? I told you what happened to her in this post.

So there you have it–a few more insights into how one of HGTV’s most popular series works. What do you think? Does it bother you that there aren’t always real decisions being made? I still watch, but now I try to figure out which couples are faking it. ;-)

Apparently, you can judge 90% of a person’s personality based on the shoes they wear

And I am not one of the 90%..so there..

AM I the only one who doesn’t give a rat’s ass what shoes you wear? I used to think running shoes were so geeky, but that was when I was in my 20’s, now that I am high 30’s running shoes are all that I wear. Not because of the style but because they’re comfortable. I would wear ankle high running shoes because of the ankle support. So, I wear shoes based on comfort, comfort is # 1 for me, style is second..when I’m in the elevator or talking to someone I rarely look at their shoes..well, unless if they’re old and ugly.

P.S Those are not my legs in the picture below..

Actress Charlize Theron’s high heels at a recent press event. (Michael Sohn/AP)

Researchers at the University of Kansas say that people can accurately judge 90 percent of a stranger’s personality simply by looking at the person’s shoes.

“Shoes convey a thin but useful slice of information about their wearers,” the authors wrote in the new study published in the Journal of Research in Personality. “Shoes serve a practical purpose, and also serve as nonverbal cues with symbolic messages. People tend to pay attention to the shoes they and others wear.”

Medical Daily notes that the number of detailed personality traits detected in the study include a person’s general age, their gender, income, political affiliation, and other personality traits, including someone’s emotional stability.

Lead researcher Omri Gillath said the judgments were based on the style, cost, color and condition of someone’s shoes. In the study, 63 University of Kansas students looked at pictures showing 208 different pairs of shoes worn by the study’s participants. Volunteers in the study were photographed in their most commonly worn shoes, and then filled out a personality questionnaire.

So, what do your shoes say about your personality?

Some of the results were expected: People with higher incomes most commonly wore expensive shoes, and flashier footwear was typically worn by extroverts.

However, some of the more specific results are intriguing. For example, “practical and functional” shoes were generally worn by more “agreeable” people, while ankle boots were more closely aligned with “aggressive” personalities.

The strangest of all may be that  those who wore “uncomfortable looking” shoes tend to have “calm” personalities.

“Shoes have great variety of styles, brands, looks, and functions. Because of this variety, shoes can carry individual difference information, but do they? We suggest that the answer is yes,” the study authors wrote.


And if you have several pairs of new shoes or take exceptional care of them, you may suffer from “attachment anxiety,” spending an inordinate amount of time worrying about what other people think of your appearance.

There was even a political calculation in the mix with more liberal types wearing “shabbier and less expensive” shoes.

The researchers noted that some people will choose shoe styles to mask their actual personality traits, but researchers noted that volunteers were also likely to be unaware that their footwear choices were revealing deep insights into their personalities.

You aren’t your job

When meeting new people, most of them would ask what do I do for a living. I really never understood why. It doesn’t define who I am. I rarely ask people what they do because it really doesn’t matter to me. My opinion wouldn’t be any more favourable or less if they’re a doctor or a waiter. But wait..there are exceptions of course; pimps, escorts, flight attendants, terrorists, porn star etc. Flight attendants because they’re never around. It’s a persons character and personality that I was more interested in. If I was a waiter and met a doctor we could still have lots in common, and besides it’s can be fun, we can role play the doctor.

When we meet people, the first piece of information we share is often tied to our career.


“Hi, I’m Lisa.”

“Nice to meet you, Lisa. What do you do?”

It’s a way to make sense of social order. But in many other countries, people achieve the same goal by sharing what village their family is from, or how many children they have, or how old they are.

In Canada, career is king.

Even in our justice system, strong assumptions are made about who a person is based on what they do.

A few years ago, I was Juror #12 in a murder trial. With the Tori Stafford trial generating so much discussion over the past few weeks, I can’t help but recall the experience.

I was surprised to see how occupation was such a key factor for lawyers on both sides when deciding whether someone was challenged or accepted.

In fact, the lawyers had access to only three pieces of information about those in the potential pool. What we looked like, where we lived in the GTA, and our occupation.

That’s it. The stakes were high and the lawyers made their choices based on what they believed to be true about business owners, teachers, analysts, priests, etc. Never had I seen a more meaningful demonstration of the importance our society places on occupation.

As we spent days and weeks together, it was interesting to see our own preconceived notions about each other fall away. We, too, had made initial assumptions based on the three data points available.

With occupation and identity so closely tied together, it’s no wonder people find the idea of changing jobs or careers overwhelming. Who are we if we can no longer introduce ourselves as “Bob in IT” or “Sarah at XYZ Company?”

So, here are two suggestions to see yourself and others as more than a job title:

Introduce yourself to people you meet using something other than your occupation. Where you were born, the hobbies you enjoy, the problems you like solve, anything really, as long as it isn’t your job. And, when you meet someone, ask them a question that isn’t tied to occupation. Open yourself up to the broad range of personalities and perspectives that can’t be shoehorned into a career.

There are many other experiences and factors that define who you are. Introducing yourself with your current job title ensures you’re constantly repeating something that one day may no longer be true. You are conditioning yourself to “be the job” – even if it is a job you don’t like or don’t want (or don’t have) anymore.

Career change doesn’t have to be threatening to your identity or risky to your sense of self. You are much more than your job. Once you believe this, others will too.

Lisa Taylor is the President of Toronto-based Challenge Factory, the only company in Canada where you can test-drive your next career. Challenge Factory provides individuals and companies with innovative talent and career programs targeting new graduates, mid-career professionals and Boomers seeking Legacy Careers. With clients across the country, Lisa is often called upon to speak and write about topics related to career transition, employment trends and workplace demographics.

Man who fathered 30 kids says he needs a break—on child support

Listen Up! I say, there are people out there who have kids when they shouldn’t. Let’s face it, it happens. But not everyone thinks twice or plan before they bring those soon to be victims into the world and that there is a huge responsibility involved in raising kids. You’re life changes dramatically. Unless your emotionally and financially ready and able to take care of kids, DO NOT HAVE KIDS!  Kids should not be an inconvenience to your life, you’re brought them into the world, they didn’t ask, now that you brought them into this world do your fuckin part and care for them like a caring parent should. And if you have kids and are in a bad relationship, love your kids more than that bad relationship.

There are too many stupid people in this world who have kids as if they’re popping out Cabbage Patch Kids.

Like ah d’oh, um What? Now I have to take care of them for 18 years???? No one told me that!

Perhaps your head was up your fuckin ass when you spread our legs or sperminated that woman. Sex without contraception equals babies…. HELLO!!!!
I just don’t get the stupidity and selfishness.


Desmond Hatchett (YouTube)

And you thought Octomom had her hands full—a Tennessee man who has fathered 30 children is asking the courts for a break on child support.

Desmond Hatchett, 33, of Knoxville has children with 11 different women, reports WREG-TV.

The state already takes half his paycheck and divides it up, which doesn’t amount to much when Hatchett is making only minimum wage. Some of the moms receive as little as $1.49 a month. The oldest child is 14 years old.

Hatchett explains how he reached such a critical mass: He had four kids in the same year. Twice.

Back in 2009 when Hatchett was in court to answer charges that many of the mothers were not receiving child support, he had 21 children. At the time, he said he was not going to father any more kids, but he ended up having nine more in the past three years.

The state cannot order Hatchett to stop making babies. He hasn’t broken any laws, according to the report.

The Link between Fat and Cancer

Everyone seems to know that being overweight and obese is bad for your health, but many people don’t know exactly why. Increased cancer risk is just one reason, but a big and important one.

Data indicate 14% of cancer deaths in men and up to 20% of cancer deaths in women are attributable to obesity. A 2002 comprehensive expert review by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), the same body that classifies carcinogens, concluded that, globally, obesity is a cause of 11% of colon cancer cases; 9% of postmenopausal breast cancer cases; 39% of endometrial cancer cases; 25% of kidney cancer cases; and 37% of esophageal cancer cases.


More recent data from the American Cancer Society (ACS) suggests that being overweight and obesity are also related to mortality from liver cancer, pancreatic cancer, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, and myeloma (cancer of plasma cells). Finally, most recently, an expert panel with the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) and World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) conducted an updated review and concluded there is convincing evidence for a relation between obesity and esophageal, pancreatic, colorectal, postmenopausal breast, endometrial and kidney cancers. They found evidence was probable for a relation between obesity and gallbladder cancer, as well as, abdominal fat and an increased risk of pancreatic, endometrial and postmenopausal breast cancers. New evidence also suggests that obesity increases the risk of developing the aggressive forms of prostate cancer.

Overall, we estimate that being overweight and obesity causes approximately 20% of all cancer cases. Experts now estimate that the total health burden of being overweight and obesity, combined with a lack of physical activity and poor diet, equal – or might even exceed – that for cigarette smoking.

 Why does obesity increase cancer risk?
Understanding the mechanism by which obesity increases cancer risk requires us to understand the tumor biology, and it also helps us target our prevention strategies. While we often talk of cancer as one disease, tumors in different parts of the body act differently (which is why treatment approaches vary by tumor site). This means that the mechanism by which one cancer develops may not be the same mechanism for another. Cancers are also complex and develop over many years, or sometimes decades. As a result, more than one mechanism can link a complex cause, like obesity, with this complex disease. This means that different mechanisms can initiate the tumor early from those that promote its growth or metastasis later.

For example, in colon cancer, evidence points to insulin pathways mediating the effect of BMI and risk. We know that people with diabetes, a disease characterized by dysregulation of insulin, have a higher risk of colon cancer. Studies of blood glucose (blood sugar) levels and colon cancer show a direct relation between higher glucose and subsequent risk. Providing further biologic rationale, c-peptide, a marker of insulin production, also shows this positive relation. In animal studies, injecting insulin (as opposed to saline) significantly increases colon cancer risk. In addition to insulin mediating the relation between obesity and colon cancer, we see a role for it in endometrial and pancreatic cancers.

While strong evidence points to hyperinsulinemia as a direct pathway from obesity to colon cancer, we also have good evidence that inflammation is an important risk factor for colon cancer. Obesity promotes systemic inflammation.

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) have shown promise as chemopreventive agents, but concerns exist regarding the side effects associated with their long-term use. In observational studies, where large groups of healthy people are followed over many years, regular use of aspirin and NSAIDs is associated with a decreased risk of colon cancer and colon polyps, which often progress into colon cancer if not removed. Celecoxib, a prescription anti-inflammatory drug, has been shown to decrease the number of colon polyps in people with inherited polyp syndromes. All of this points to inflammation as key in colon carcinogenesis. Since we know obesity increases levels of inflammation in the body, it is likely that inflammation is also part of the obesity-colon cancer mechanism. (Note: NSAID and COX-2 use is associated with some serious side effects, highlighting the challenges of relying on chemoprevention as a cancer prevention strategy. Before starting regular NSAID use, talk to your doctor.)

In cancers of reproductive organs, such as endometrial and ovarian cancers, obesity may also act through hormonal mechanisms. Adipose, or fatty, tissue is estrogenic;  and estrogen is a powerful hormone, acting to increase cell proliferation and inhibit cell death in the endometrial tissue. This combination promotes cancer growth.

Finally, obesity can also place mechanical stress on the body that increases cancer risk.  For example, obesity increases the risk of hypertension (high blood pressure), an established risk factor for kidney cancer.

Regardless of the mechanism (or mechanisms) at play, it is clear that being overweight and obese increase cancer risk. We also know that changing weight can change cancer risk. Gaining weight from early adulthood to later in life, even modestly, increases cancer risk. For example, in a Canadian study, men who gained 21 kg (46.2 lbs) or more since age 20 were at a 60% increased risk of colorectal cancer as compared to men who had gained 1-5 kg (2.2 to 11 lbs). Another study of men and women found that, compared to those who had remained BMI-stable, those who increased their BMI from age 30 or 50 to cancer diagnosis were at a 25-35% higher risk of colorectal cancer. Similarly, a study of US nurses found that women who lost 10 kg (22 lbs) or more after menopause, and kept it off, saw a 50% reduction in breast cancer risk.  Losing 10 kg might seem like an impossible task for some women, but that same study found that women losing just 2 kg (4.4 lbs) still saw their risk go down.


Obesity causes a substantial proportion of all cancers, and emerging evidence suggests adult weight loss reduces cancer risk. To maintain a healthy weight, focus on eating a diet rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains, avoid sugary beverages and junk food, and build physical activity into your daily life. These factors not only help in maintaining a healthy weight, but we have evidence that they protect against cancer on their own. For example, people who are physically active have a significantly lower risk of several cancers, including colon, breast and endometrial. Fruits, vegetables and whole grains contain important compounds, like folate, which we’ve seen in some studies to lower pancreatic cancer risk. It might sound cliché, but increasing physical activity and avoiding weight gain are, and have always been, important tools in the fight against cancer.

Do You Show the Real You?

Which of These Figures Represent Who You Are?

Imagine the illustration below represents three sheets of paper placed side by side a few inches apart. The left sheet has an irregular squiggle, The center sheet is blank and sheet on the right has a small diamond-shaped dot in the middle of the page.



Conduct the following thought experiment before you read the rest of the text.

Examine the sheets. Which sheet of paper left, center or right is more like your real self? Which of the three seems like a better picture of all of you, with all your hopes, fears, and weaknesses, as you are at this point of time. Which comes closest to representing the way you feel about yourself? Can you elaborate on why the sheet you chose represents who you are?



The majority of people choose either the squiggle or the blank sheet. Almost none chose the diamond-shaped dot. Yet, the sheet with the dot is the most centered and solid and has the most feeling and potential. The blank sheet feels empty and meaningless. The one with the squiggle creates an impression of disturbance and incoherence.

You may wonder if the descriptions are accurate. To convince you, let me propose another thought experiment. Suppose you are with the person you love more than any other person on the face of the earth. And suppose you just made the three pieces of paper we have been looking at. Imagine that you are asked to give the sheet of paper that most represents your love to the person. Which of the three do you give? Most likely, you will give “C” because it feels valuable, feels worth giving, and feels the most meaningful of the three.

The majority of us feel an emptiness and incoherence in our lives which is why we think of ourselves as blanks or squiggles instead of diamonds. Yet we know the diamond-shaped dot was what we wanted to select but, in some way, our sense of self made us feel unworthy and so we rationalized why we selected the squiggle or the blank. It is the same way in life.


We are tacitly taught that we exist and just are. We have been taught that all people are true to their own genes, environment and nature. We are conditioned to be objects. We are taught to be “Me,” instead of “I.” When you think of yourself as “Me,” you are limited. The “Me” is always limited. When you believe how others (parents, teachers, peers, colleagues, and others) describe you, you become that. You might want to be an artist, but others might tell you that you have no talent, training, or temperament to be an artist. The object we have become will always say, “Who do you think you are? You are just an ordinary person. Know your limitations and live within them.”
SEIZE THE DAY. There is a Japanese masterpiece film IKIRU about the life on an old man that captures the essence of what it means to be a “Me.” Ikiru is a civil servant who has labored in the bureaucracy for thirty years. He determines his self worth by how others see him. He thinks of himself as an object and spends his life preventing things from happening. He is a widower who never remarried, as his relatives told him he was too old and unattractive to remarry. He is the father of an ungrateful son who despises him because he is not rich. He does not strive to better his career as he has been told by his supervisor that he lacks the education and intelligence to be anything more than a clerk. In his mind, he pictures himself as a worthless failure. He walks bent over with a shuffling walk with defeated eyes.

When he is told that he has terminable cancer, he looks back over the wasteland of his life, and decides to do something of note. For the first time in his life he became the “I,” the subject of his life. Against all obstacles, he decided to build a park in a dirty slum of Tokyo. He had no fear and felt no self-defeating limitations, he ignored his son when his son said he was the laughing stock of

the neighborhood, he ignored his relatives and neighbors who begged him to stop. His supervisor was embarrassed and pretended not to know him. Because he knew he was going to die, he no longer cared what other people thought. For the first time in his life he became free and alive. He worked and worked, seemingly without stopping. He was no longer afraid of anyone, or anything. He no longer had anything to lose, and so in this short time gained everything. Finally, he died, in the snow, swinging on a child’s swing in the park which he made, singing.

Ikiru became the subject of his life. He became joyous instead of miserable; he inspired instead of being indifferent, and he laughed at himself and the world instead of feeling humiliated and defeated. Ikiru “seized the day.” 


Rent Oprah Winfrey’s apartment for $15,000/month

Oprah Winfrey’s 4,607-square-foot Chicago co-op apartment in a 1913 Beaux Arts building is now available to rent for $15,000 a month. What exactly does $15,000 in rent fetch these days on Lake Shore Drive? Views of Lake Michigan, from the library and master bedroom, for one thing.

For another, that master bedroom is a whopping 1,200 square feet in size, and includes a his-and-her bath. There are also two other bedrooms, 3.2 baths, a solarium, a gourmet custom kitchen, a butler’s pantry, a wine room, and a two-car garage.

A spacious and elegant living room highlight’s Oprah’s available apartment.
Photo: rubloff.com

Winfrey bought the sixth-floor property for $5.6 million in 2006, but never moved in. It was reported in Chicago Magazine that she was afraid of nosy neighbors peeping in. She tried selling it for $6 million beginning in June 2008, and withdrew the property from the market in January 2009.

A large master bedroom in Oprah’s apartment for rent.
Photo: rubloff.com

This co-op is but a small part of Oprah’s real estate collection. Winfrey also owns residences nearby in Chicago’s Water Tower Place, and in Elmwood Park, as well as in Merrillville, Ind., Montecito, Calif., an estate in Maui, Hawaii, to name a few.

10 first-date fumbles men make

Me? I am the last person you’d want to take advice from for 1st, 2nd and maybe 3rd date impressions. I do everything wrong.For example;  I am not crazy about superficial dating sites, because that’s all it is, is superficial. But someone who moved from California to TOronto kept messaging me. I am not into body builders, but I kept open minded. He kept messaging me and asked if I wanted to talk on the phone. So we did. He’s not too familiar with Toronto which I knew, he asked where I was located I told him where, he said “oh is that in the Don Mills area?” I replied “And you’ve been here how long?”. I was being sarcastic, a smart ass, it obviously didn’t work. So he said we have different communication styles and ended the conversation. I said, Next.

If you can’t or don’t get me, if you don’t have a personality, a sense of humor it’s not going to happen. Move on. Perhaps I can work on sensitivity lessons.

Some people may think I was rude, I didn’t think so. If someone said that to me, I would of said ‘Don’t be an ass” and continue and see where it goes.

1. Going on a rant about a former significant other. No good can come from talking about an ex-girlfriend on a first date. Saying something positive about an ex is threatening, and saying something negative is just plain annoying. My friend Leslie agrees: “My favorite annoying first date is the guy who spent the entire time describing in detail how nasty his ex was,” she says. “By the end of the date, he had pointed out the restaurant where she threw a drink at him and the street corner where she screamed at him about his lack of affection.” The first date is about the two of you getting to know each other. Bringing the ex into the conversation makes it seem like three’s a crowd.

2. Divulging too much personal information that’s not flattering. Take a hint from comedian Chris Rock, whose dating advice goes something like this: When you first meet someone, you’re not you. You’re the ambassador of you. In other words, this is not the time for full disclosure. I went on a first date with a guy who told me that he takes antidepressants, that he tends to be a slob, and that his family doesn’t get along. “I’d really like to see you again,” he said, “but I think I should be upfront about who I am from the beginning.” Even worse are guys who reveal unflattering personal information without even realizing that it isn’t helping their case. “My dog is my life,” a guy told my friend Sherene on their first date. “I’ve had the dog since I was a kid,” he continued… and then he added shamelessly: “I also live with my parents.” The information was bad, but the fact that he had no idea it was bad made it horrifying. Remember: it’s a first date, not a therapy session!

3. Making the date feel like a job interview. Let’s face it: A first date is a kind of job interview (for the position of significant other). But if a woman is going to put on a cute outfit and blow-dry her hair for you, try not to make her feel like she’s in the room with the head of human resources. She’d rather have a casual conversation than be subjected to obvious probes, like: “How long has it been since your last relationship?” Just as bad are men who try to suss out key information by dropping calculating questions into the conversation. My friend Sara found it particularly irritating when a guy tried to figure out her age by asking her opinion of the 1972 Olympics and then saying, “Oh, but you couldn’t possibly remember that” in a questioning tone. Really?

4. Having too much attitude. Laurie, a single woman in New York, was asked by a man during their first date what TV shows she watched. When her date learned that she didn’t like the show Seinfeld, he didn’t believe her. Then, he wouldn’t let it go for the entire meal. “He just couldn’t fathom my not liking that show,” Laurie explained. “It was as if I’d just said, ‘Yes, I live my life without consuming any liquids.’” Guys, if you want a second chance, don’t spend the first one trying to convince your date that she’s not normal because your passion for a syndicated sitcom is not reciprocated.

5. Visibly admiring other women. Most men know better than to stare at other women while on a first date. But it’s just as exasperating if your date asks you what you thought of the latest blockbuster hit, and your response is to go on a tear about how beautiful Angelina Jolie’s lips are. If you think the woman sitting across from you is ever going to be secure enough to kiss you after that, think again.

6. Complaining about the chosen venue for your date. Don’t ask your date to “pick any place you want to go” only to whine about it once you’re there together. That happened to Liz, who chose a place with a lunchtime tasting menu for her first date. Not only did the guy grumble, but “he proceeded to tell me that he had eaten a big breakfast and wondered who could eat a three-course lunch,” she recalls. “I told him ‘I could’ and pointed to myself — and then to every other diner in the restaurant.”

7. Arguing combatively with your date. It’s one thing to talk about current events if there’s a lull in the conversation, but it’s quite another to ask your date’s opinion on anything from the Middle East to the upcoming election cycle and then get into an argument with her, no matter what she says. That happened to 29-year-old Melissa when she and her date got into it about public versus private schools. “I was annoyed that he fought me on so many things — especially on our first date,” says Melissa.

8. Eating your date’s dessert. Unless you’re at a Chinese restaurant, there’s a reason you each have your own plate. Just because a woman might eat more slowly than you do doesn’t give you license to take a bite of her meal — especially without asking first. In Liz’s case, her date didn’t even wait until she’d taken a bite herself before diving in. “When my dessert arrived,” Liz says, “my date reached across the table and speared my gateau au chocolat with his fork. Talk about annoying!”

9. Not walking her to safety at the end of the date. Almost as off-putting as the overzealous man who goes in for a kiss too aggressively is one who leaves his date standing there on the street at the end of the night instead of walking her to the safety of her car or a taxi to give her a ride home. This irked my pal Julia: “True, we were going in two different directions — but, hello? Take care of the girl first!” she says, adding: “Stuff like that usually points to bigger problems.”

10. Saying “I’ll be in touch” after the date goes badly. Your date knows that the evening went badly, and you know she knows it, too… so why say that you’ll call when it’s obvious that you won’t? Here’s a better suggestion: “I’d like him to say, ‘Good to meet you, take care,’” says Monica, who feels that men can still be nice without lying (or making a woman sit by the phone for no reason).

And by the way, my friend Paul heeded some of this advice on a recent date. There were no rants about his ex-girlfriend, no “I’ll be in touch” at the end of a lackluster dinner. Of course, this was a complete turn-on to his date, who thought he was a great catch and has since set him up with a friend of hers. Paul now promises to save his “funny” stories for, oh, at least their second date.