Chicago attorney Marc Cooperman, who has represented a toy company in lawsuits involving Beanie Babies’ names, hit the nail on the head when he said he believes Ty Inc. got what it wanted in its release of the Sasha and Malia dolls that “were not intended to bear the likeness of President Barack Obama’s daughters”: PUBLICITY.

I would suspect that the company knew when it introduced the two dolls, they would cause some commotion and the company would get some press out of it.

All proceeds from the sales of the Sasha and Malia dolls, which have been renamed “Marvelous Mariah” and “Sweet Sydney,” will apparently be donated to charity.

Maybe now we can all move on to the next Obama saga, saving our economy from economic collapse.

In the Chinese calendar, today (Jan. 26) begins the Year of the Ox, also known by its formal name, Ji Chou. 己丑

The Chinese calendar has been in continuous use since about 2600 BC, predating the Western Calendar in present use by more than 2,000 years. The Chinese calendar, begun by Emperor Huang Ti, is also a yearly one, with the start of the year based on the cycles of the moon. As a result, the beginning of the year can fluctuate from late January to mid-February. A complete cycle takes 60 years, made up of five cycles of 12 years.

The Chinese calendar names each of the 12 years after an animal. According to legend, Buddha summoned all the animals to come to him just before he transitioned out of his earthly life. Only 12 actually showed up to bid him farewell, and as a reward, he named a year after each of them, in the order they arrived to send him off. According to Chinese tradition, the animal that rules the year in which a person is born has a profound influence on their personality.

Ox Years

1913
1925
1937
1949
1961
1973
1985
1997
2009

The Sign of the Ox

The Ox is the sign of prosperity that comes through fortitude and hard work. Being born under this sign indicates a born leader who is quite dependable and possesses an innate ability to achieve great things. These people tend to be dependable, calm, and modest. Like their animal namesake, those born under the Ox are unswervingly patient, tireless in their work, and capable of enduring almost any amount of hardship without complaint.

Ox people need peace and quiet to work through their ideas, but they can be stubborn, so when they’ve set their minds on something, it can be very difficult to convince them otherwise. An Ox person has a very logical mind and a systematic approach to whatever they do, though they have tremendous imagination and an unique appreciation for beauty. These people tend to be extremely intelligent, but they speak little. When necessary, however, their words are eloquent.

People born under the influence of the Ox are kind, caring souls, logical, positive, filled with common sense and with their feet firmly planted on the ground. Security is their main preoccupation in life, and they are prepared to toil long and hard in order to provide a warm, comfortable, stable home for themselves and their families. Strong-minded, stubborn, individualistic, the majority are highly intelligent individuals who know their minds and don’t appreciate being told what to do.

The Ox works hard, patiently, methodically, reflectively, and intelligently. Tenacious and self-sacrificing, these people enjoy helping others, but also have very active minds.

Rarely driven by the prospect of financial gain, the Ox is not extravagant and the thought of something like piling up credit card debt makes them quite nervous. The possibility of taking a serious risk could cause the Ox sleepless nights.

Those born under the Ox tend to be truthful and sincere, so they find the idea of wheeling and dealing in a competitive world distasteful. They are welcome almost everywhere because of their honesty and patience, and are reported to have the most beautiful of faces in the zodiac. They have many friends, but are wary of new trends, even though they can, every now and again, be encouraged to try something new. People born in the year of the Ox make wonderful parents and teachers.

It is important to remember that the Ox people are sociable and relaxed when they feel secure, but occasionally a dark cloud looms over such people and they engage all the trials of the whole world and seek solutions for them.

Interesting Side Note

Barack Obama was born August 4, 1961, making him both a Leo and an Ox.

Gifts for People Born in the Year of the Ox

Because people born under the Ox tend to love stability and tradition, they are most comfortable, at peace, and happiest at home. They tend to prefer the color violet. Appealing gems and stones are jade, emerald, moss-agate, and lapis-lazuli.

Great gift ideas include kitchen accessories, gardening books, cookbooks, and bonsai trees.

Hobbies they tend to enjoy include bodybuilding, baking, gardening, music, and sewing.

Anything that enhances their home environment will likely be appreciated by people born under the Ox. If they venture away from home for a vacation, though, it’s generally to do some hiking or rock climbing.

I’ve mentioned before that as a marketer, I have no general opposition to sales and entrepreneurship. Making things and selling things – it’s a large part of what makes the world go around. Michelle Obama’s anger irritation with the Ty toy company, though, is understandable – even warranted – in my opinion. I went back and reread the story, and Michelle’s own word for Ty’s actions was “inappropriate.”

Those who claim that Michelle and Barack used their daughters as part of their political campaign are misguided. How soon they forget Barack’s anger when the cameras followed him and Sasha through their Chicago neighborhood on Halloween. The girls are smart and beautiful – and a cherished part of what makes the Obama family so special. The two times we’ve seen them boldly and publicly were Election Night and at the Inauguration, as we should have.

If you want to talk about displaying kids for political gain, you need look back no further than Sarah Palin dragging her infant son around till all hours, only to have her youngest daughter care for him. And the pregnant daughter and fiance-by-force. And the son in the military. Give me a break, you folks who can’t/don’t/won’t see reality for what it is.

One question in the midst of the commentary was how the Obama girls are being harmed by these dolls. The mere fact that their father is now the most scrutinized man on the planet will affect these girls’ lives in ways unimagined, and in ways far more sustained than having toy likenesses made of them. But that doesn’t make Ty’s position right. It’s hard to argue that this is anything other than profiteering by Ty.

Not sure whether it warrants a full-fledged boycott, but I know I won’t knowingly be buying or recommending Ty toys as stocking stuffers anytime soon.

Just my two cents, for what their worth.

UPDATE, 25 Jan. 3:06 p.m.

Not being the denizen of the Internet (or the blogging world) that I am, my sister hadn’t heard or seen any of the bruhaha surrounding the Obama girls dolls. Her opinion, succinct and common-sense as ever: Michelle and the Obama family have much bigger/more important things to worry about. These dolls are the least of their concerns, and she would have been much better off just letting this go without any public comment. My sister may have a point…

obama2What an absolutely and utterly amazing day. The people, the majesty, the TV and Web coverage, the history, the swearing in, the speech, the man. Tears, laughter, cheers, gratitude, hope, and pride are among my personal experiences of this day.

The only other inauguration I remember was Reagan’s. I was in 8th grade at St. Agnes School, and they actually wheeled in a TV so that we could watch not only Reagan’s inauguration, but the release of the Iranian hostages. As a lifelong Democrat, you’d think I would have memories of Clinton, but no. I don’t even remember where I was or what I did just four years ago, when Bush claimed his second term.

So in honor of this great day, I offer the Inauguration Stocking, a creative way to preserve the moment and create an heirloom gift for your favorite Obama supporter.

Steps Involved in Making Your Own Inauguration Stocking

You will create this stocking by finding a photo you like and using an iron-on transfer to place the image on a suitable cotton-based fabric. Iron-ons take some work to do well, but they’re easier than you might think. I will do my best to give you step-by-step instructions, including a materials list.

Materials List

  • An inkjet printer compatible for use with iron-on transfers
  • Regular paper for printing previews of your design
  • Iron-on transfers, which you can purchase either at the fabric/crafts store or at most office supply stores
  • Iron – on the cotton setting without steam
  • Fabric or pre-made stocking to decorate – it should be at leas5 50 percent cotton (I generally use muslin or old bedsheets for my photo transfer stockings)
  • An swatch of the same material to test the image-fastness

Directions

  1. The first thing you need to do is find the picture you want to use. Lord knows that by the end of the day, you will have loads to choose from. MSNBC always has a great photo collage of these events, as does Huffington Post.
  2. Print a preview of your design on regular paper. It should look exactly the way you want it to appear on the stocking. If you’d like words on the stocking, make sure to include those with the image. Adjust and print previews on regular paper until you are satisfied with the appearance of your design.
  3. NOTE: You will be using a MIRROR IMAGE to iron onto your fabric/stocking, so the image must be flipped when you print it. Follow your printer directions to flip or “reverse” the image. If you’re not sure whether your image needs reversing, look at it in the mirror. If it looks backwards, you should flip the design. (This is an especially important test if your iron-on includes text.)
  4. Print your design onto iron-on transfer paper. You’ll want to print two if you plan to do a test version first.
  5. Carefully cut out your design, leaving about a one-quarter-inch border.
  6. Set your iron to the “cotton” or hottest setting, and turn off the steam.
  7. Test your design by ironing it onto a sample piece of material.
  8. As an alternative to an ironing board, a low, flat surface like a workbench might allow you to press harder when you iron.
  9. Following the directions for how long to apply pressure, iron your design onto your fabric or stocking.
  10. Allow the design to cool and peel the paper backing from the iron-on transfer.

NOTE: You will likely want to clip and save the instructions for cleaning the material with your iron-on transfer.

Next Steps

If you have used a pre-made stocking, you can choose to embellish it with jewels, baubles, or fabric paint. If you are making your own stocking from scratch, you’ll next need to choose a pattern for the stocking that best suits your image. Then, you will follow Laura’s special abridged stocking creation instructions:

Cut.

Sew.

Decorate.

Hang.

Stuff.

Enjoy.



Though envy isn’t an emotion I generally give into, I have to admit that the green-eyed-monster has bitten me when it comes to those who are living, working, and hanging out in Washington, D.C. this week! What a time this is. And what a celebration tomorrow will be. I anticipate that come Wednesday morning, we will hear a very loud swoooooshing sound that is the collective sigh of relief being uttered around the world.

Although I will miss the live goings-on in Washington, I have arranged a little Inauguration Bash at my favorite Phoenix restaurant, Pie Zanos Kitchen. We’ve got about 40 people who’ve RSVP’d so far.

I invited my friend, Adrian, but she said, “Oh, no, girl. I’m going to get myself a nice bottle of wine and curl up in front of my TV in my Ojamas.” When I told her the party wasn’t getting started until 530 p.m. or so, she said she was sure that by then, she’d be in no shape to drive. I love Adrian!

But Ojamas? Never heard of them. Now that I’ve seen them, though, I’m really likin’ ’em.

He will have been in office almost a year by the next official stocking stuffing occasion – but Ojamas might just be the perfect gift for the Obama supporter in your life!